The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure and Section 62A Applications) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 introduces changes in relation to fire safety and ‘public service infrastructure’. In respect of the latter, the consultation period will be reduced from the current 21 calendar day statutory period to 18 calendar days. The determination period is reduced from 13 weeks to 10 weeks.
The changes proposed in the statutory instrument have been billed as a new fast track for public service buildings. The objective of the change is to address what has been perceived as delays and cost increases resulting from the significant amount of time that securing planning permission can take. The intention is to encourage priority to be given to public service infrastructure development applications.
Quite how the reduction in statutory consultation by 3 days will make any meaningful improvement to the efficiency of decision making on public building applications is unclear. Indeed, introducing a range of consultation periods introduces uncertainty which may be unhelpful and result in more administrative confusion over applications.
The opportunity for prioritisation of public buildings may be beneficial of course but it does raise questions over the general resource for decision makers. An appeal against non-determination is not likely to result in an expeditious outcome for such an application for instance. As it stands, the statutory instrument will apply in relation to applications made on or after 1 August 2021.