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.
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’.
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.
The review made a great number of recommendations, intended to ‘…increase certainty, speed up processes, reduce duplication and minimise costs’.
- 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.
- 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.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Conservation area.
- Growth and Infrastructure Act.
- Killian Pretty Review.
- Listed buildings.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Planning permission.
- Planning policy replaced by the NPPF.
- Statutory approvals.
- Statutory authorities.
- Taylor Review.
 External references
- Penfold: review of non-planning consents – interim report 2010.
- Penfold: review of non-planning consents – final report 2010.
- Government response to the Penfold Review 2010.
- Implementation report on the Penfold Review 2011.
- Natural England's improvement plan 2012.
- Highway's Agency draft improvement plan 2012.
- RTPI's submission to the Review.
- Written statement by Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport. Proposals to simplify the process of stopping up or diverting a highway will be announced in a consultation response today. 9 January 2013.
- Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.
- The Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995. Annex A contains full schedule of possible statutory and non-statutory consultees and the circumstance under which they should be consulted.
- Written Ministerial Statement: Implementation of the Penfold Review 16 July 2012.
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