Planning is changing. On 1 April 2015, the Department of the Environment will transfer responsibility for the majority of planning functions to local government. This change will allow local councils to shape how their areas grow and develop.
Changes to planning From 1 April 2015,
Following transfer, the 11 new councils will be responsible for:
- local development planning – creating a plan which will set out how the council area should look in the future by deciding what type and scale of development should be encouraged and where it should be located
- development management – determining the vast majority of planning applications
- planning enforcement – investigating alleged breaches of planning control and determining what action should be taken
DOE will retain responsibility for:
- determination of regionally significant applications
- regional planning policy
- planning legislation
- oversight and guidance for councils, including the power to ‘call-in’ and make the decision on an application that has been submitted to a council
New improvements will be introduced to make planning a speedier, simpler and more streamlined process. They will make it easier for the public to access and take part in the planning process and help deliver faster and more predictable decisions.
New planning processPlanning applications will be categorised as local, major and regionally significant with councils responsible for determining all local and major applications. Each council will establish a planning committee to consider and decide these applications but not all applications will come before the planning committee for decision. The vast majority of applications will be delegated to experienced planners to decide. The council will publish a Scheme of Delegation that will set out these different categories of applications. The applications that are likely to come before the committee for decision may include large developments, contentious applications and those that receive a number of objections.
Planning applications and planning queriesCurrently all planning applications and planning queries should be directed to your local area planning office where experienced planners will be able to advise you. This will be the same process after 1 April 2015. The only thing that might change is the location of your local office.
Each new council area will have its own local planning office so you may find that your nearest planning office is much closer than before. These new offices will open before 1 April so before visiting or calling your local office, check the list of planning offices at the link below, which will be updated as each new office opens.
Benefits of this new approach
The reform of planning will bring many benefits, including:
- local decision making - local councillors know the local environment, local needs and views of local people and so are best placed to make the decisions on how their area should grow and develop
- meeting local need - councils will be able to approve planning choices suited to local communities and will have greater freedom to respond to local need. They will also be able to ensure that the needs of local businesses are taken into account which can help create jobs and growth in the local economy
- community involvement - the new local development plan process requires councils to consult with local communities. This gives you a real opportunity to have a say in shaping the look and feel of your local area
On 1 April 2015, DOE will transfer to councils any major or local applications that have not been determined. The council will be responsible for making the decision on these applications, along with deciding all new major and local applications that are submitted after 1 April.
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