The new year heralds a number of small but significant changes in the planning system.

  • Planning fees increase by 20% from 17 January along with new powers to charge fees for some prior approvals and for a permission in principle.
  • 15 January brings extended powers for the Government powers to intervene in the local plan process, including directing a County Council to take over.
  • From the end of January neighbourhood planning forums must be notified of planning applications affecting their area and will find it easier to modify plans already made.
  • The requirement to review local development documents every five years comes into place on 1 April.

The change that may be the most significant is an extended ability for developers to apply for a permission in principle – this has previously only been available on brownfield land. At the moment it is limited to minor development (small sites that support fewer than 10 dwellings) but if it proves popular could easily be extended to a much wider range of projects.

In other areas, progress is still delayed. The government has not yet introduced the new Housing Delivery Test or HDT though it does say that it will publish illustrative measurements. And in terms of CIL the Government has only said that it plans to issue a consultation on issues such as removing the pooling restriction 'in due course'.