On 6 April 2009, Local Planning Authorities (LPA) were granted new powers to refuse to proceed with a planning application that: (i) is similar to another application being considered at that time by the LPA, or Secretary of State on appeal or call in; or (ii) has been determined by the LPA, or the time for determination has expired without a decision, and the applicant can appeal that decision to the Secretary of State.

A further change to the legislation is pending, which will allow applicants to appeal direct to the Secretary of State where the LPA has failed to reach a decision before the determination date, reducing the impact of the new powers on “twin-tracking” applications. This change will allow an additional period for the LPA to determine the application but also allow the appeal process to start in tandem. It is arguable that the LPA’s new powers should not be used before this change is also in force.

Development Partner, Philip Boursnell, comments: “Whilst on the face of it this impacts on the use of twin-tracking planning permissions for large-scale development projects, the LPA powers are discretionary. The use of twin-tracking may still be benefi cial for developers and should not be immediately discounted”.