Last edited 10 Apr 2015

Penfold Review


[edit] Introduction

The process of obtaining consent for development is seen by some as a barrier to growth. It can be perceived to be slow and over-bureaucratic, with too many different bodies able to prevent or slow down approval.

Following the recommendations of the Killian Pretty Review in 2008, and in line with the government’s aim ‘…to deregulate and remove barriers to economic growth’, Adrian Penfold was asked to identify whether non-planning consents were delaying or discouraging investment. Non-planning consents are those consents other than planning permission that are required for a development to proceed.

Commissioned the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), Penfold's remit was ‘…to identify opportunities to deregulate, as a means of supporting business investment in development…’.

The Penfold Review, “Review of non-planning consents” was published on July 18th 2010.

[edit] Findings

The review suggested that non-planning consents did cause delay and uncertainty for development proposals, as well as additional costs. Penfold found that whilst non-planning consents performed a useful role in regulating development (for example; protecting endangered species, tackling climate change, delivering the road network and protecting health and well-being), ‘…the complexity of the non-planning consents landscape and its interaction with the planning system impose additional costs and generate additional risk for businesses. Together, they are a sizeable factor in determining the investment climate in the UK and, therefore, in delivering sustainable development and economic growth’.

In particular, developers highlighted that heritage, highways and environment-related consents were the most problematic.

Penfold found that there was:

  • Unnecessary bureaucracy.
  • Uncertainty about the time that approvals are likely to take.
  • Duplication of roles.
  • An absence of a service culture.
  • Inconsistency between approving bodies.
  • Poor interaction between approving bodies.
  • A lack of understanding of the impacts the approval process has on development.
  • No standard approval process for developers to follow.

[edit] Recommendations

The review made a great number of recommendations, intended to ‘…increase certainty, speed up processes, reduce duplication and minimise costs’.

These included:

  • Strengthening the service culture of consenting bodies.
  • Improving co-ordination, collaboration and interaction between consenting bodies and the government departments that oversee them.
  • Improving the accessibility of information and guidance.
  • Ensuring that once the question of whether a development should happen has been decided, the focus should move to ‘how’ it should happen.
  • Simultaneous consideration of issues influencing decisions.
  • Wider adoption of best practice.
  • Reducing the number of situations in which consents are required.
  • Clarifying the boundaries between, and better integrating planning and non-planning consents.
  • Combining certain consents, for example; merging conservation area consent with planning permission and combining listed building consent and scheduled monument consent.

The review stopped short of recommending a ‘unified’ consent.

[edit] Impact

In November 2011 the government published the Implementation report on the Penfold Review setting out a programme for the implementation of the review’s recommendations. This included:

  • Scrapping unnecessary development consents and simplifying others.
  • Reforming the practices of public bodies that grant or advise on development consents.
  • Setting a timescale for making decisions on applications.
  • Making the application process easier.

In addition, a number of draft improvement plans for key public bodies was published in April 2012 (see the external references at the end of this article), and the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was drafted, setting out proposals in relation to listed buildings and conservation area consents.

In 2013, the Growth and Infrastructure Act introduced a series of reforms intended to reduce the red tape that the government considers hampers business investment, new infrastructure and job creation. See Growth and Infrastructure Act for more information.

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references