This is entry number 13 of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog.

This is a continuation of Wednesday’s blog entry on whether the new system would allow a single application to have been made for Heathrow Terminal 5, instead of the 37 applications that are often referred to having had to be made.

There were actually 38 applications, although one replaced an earlier application. Only four of these were made before the first pre-inquiry meeting was held in May 1994, a further 14 were made before the inquiry proper started in May 1995, and the other 20 were made after the inquiry started. Thus the vast majority of the applications were made late.

Would this be cured by the new system? Maybe to some extent: the extensive requirements for pre-inquiry consultation may result in missing parts of the application becoming apparent to consultees, and the IPC might refuse to accept it even if the applicant wanted to press on despite the holes. I asked this very question of Sir Michael Pitt, the IPC Chair, at a conference on the Planning Act on 21 July. He replied that the IPC would be alert to such matters, which is reassuring, but it may not pick everything up. A question mark for the new regime.

The applications were made to four Secretaries of State (Transport; Communities and Local Government; Culture, Media and Sport; and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and four local authorities (Hillingdon, Hounslow, Spelthorne and Slough). To the extent that the applications could be combined, they would all be made to the IPC. A tick for the new regime.

The applications were made by five different applicants: BAA/Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) jointly; Thames Water; London Underground Ltd/HAL jointly; HAL on its own and the Highways Agency. For these to be combined, the other applicant would have to agree for BAA/HAL to make the application on its behalf in each case, and whether Thames Water and the Highways Agency would agree to do so remains to be seen. Is the Highways Agency going to accept someone else putting in an application for a junction with the M4? Another question mark.

Of the eight types of application, most could be included as an application for development consent. Score: seven and a half out of eight.

Planning permission: tick; Highway orders: tick; Stopping-up orders (highways): tick; Four types of Compulsory Purchase Orders: tick; Scheduled monument consent: tick;

Transport and Works Act orders for the Heathrow Express and Piccadilly Line extensions: partly – they include provision for offences and (Heathrow Express only) byelaws, and as mentioned previously, these cannot be included under the new regime. It is also not clear whether you can actually construct a railway that is not an NSIP as part of an application for another NSIP. The Transport and Works Act 1992 specifically includes that word in its list of powers, but the Planning Act does not.

So to sum up, the multiple applications made for Heathrow Terminal 5 will be considerably reduced by the new regime, but not eliminated entirely. This is for three reasons:

  • the application may be incomplete and the applicant, the IPC and others may not spot this;
  • it may be difficult to persuade bodies such as the Highways Agency that an application for, say, a connecting road should be not be made by them, and
  •  the powers to make byelaws and create offences have been removed from the new regime.