Monday, 31 March 2014

District Council to protest about 'planning bribes' ............. ............................ "Intimidating councils into allowing consent to build on inappropriate sites for fear of losing at appeal and then not receiving the New Homes Bonus."

A little light reading from last year from a planning law blog looked at the Chancellor's proposal to withdraw the 'new homes bonus' and the S106 cash (or the Community Infrastructure Levy) from Councils which oppose planning applications:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Planning topics in the Autumn Statement

For reasons that I have never been able to understand, George Osborne loves making announcements about changes in planning law and practice that the government is proposing to introduce. Despite his remit being strictly financial and economic, Gorgeous George has never hesitated to trample on Uncle Eric’s turf, not to mention the territory of various other ministers, whenever he wants to big up his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Saviour of the British Economy...

Another little wheeze is to withhold the New Homes Bonus where planning permissions are granted on appeal rather than by the authority itself. So yet more grief for NIMBY-loving Tory councillors in the green and pleasant land of Middle England. This is part of a general review of the New Homes Bonus, which is intended to be completed by Easter 2014. 

Some possible sugaring of the pill for NIMBYs is offered by a suggestion that the ‘bribes’ to accept new development offered to councils (in the form of the New Homes Bonus and the neighbourhood funding element of the Community Infrastructure Levy) might be extended to individual households in the affected areas. The government clearly hasn’t figured out yet how this might work, but it conjures up the intriguing possibility that NIMBYs might be directly bribed (officially and above-board, of course) not to object to development in their own backyard. 
Martin Goodall's Planning Law Blog: Planning topics in the Autumn Statement

This echoes concerns about 'bribes' being offered to - or withdrawn from - Councils:
Futures Forum: 'Planning gain' - the replacement for S106 cash from developers - the Community Infrastructure Levy - but is it still 'bribery' by a different name?
Futures Forum: Payments and patronage in East Devon

Cllr Claire Wright reports on the District Council's own concerns about the Chancellor's proposals:

EDDC committee will protest about “planning bribes”

Sunday, 30 March 2014 2 Comments by Claire
EDDC’s scrutiny committee was asked, at its meeting on Thursday (27 March), to contact the Local Government Association (LGA) to protest about bully boy tactics threatened by chancellor, George Osborne, designed to ensure more planning approvals.
At the committee’s meeting last week Cllr Roger Giles raised the issue of the threat made by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement in December 2013.
Mr Osborne had said that he was considering removing the entitlement to the new homes bonus from councils who refused planning permission to developers who subsequently won planning approval on appeal.
Roger Giles said that all planning applications should be decided entirely on their merits. By threatening to remove entitlement to the new homes bonus the chancellor of the exchequer was trying to bribe councils – particularly cash-strapped councils – to approve planning applications that would otherwise have been refused.
The Chancellor’s threat is a gross interference with the impartiality of the planning system. There is a danger that some councils might be tempted to approve inappropriate planning applications in order to receive financial benefit.  Other councils, who determined an application fairly, and reached a decision to refuse the application, could find themselves financially penalised. Overall there was a probability that there would be more approvals of inappropriate and damaging planning applications.
The scrutiny committee agreed that planning applications should be determined on merit, and expressed concern about the chancellor’s statement.  It was agreed to ask the LGA to seek to ensure that the chancellor’s statement should be abandoned.
Photograph:  The appeal result that many of us are waiting on tenterhooks for. Will Feniton get over two hundred houses, or will the planning inspector make the right decision. It all depends on her interpretation of the national planning policy framework.  We may know the outcome by the end of this week.
1. At 09:07 pm on 30th Mar Susie Bond wrote:
‘Bully boy’ tactics is a very apt description of the Coalition Government’s whole approach to planning. This latest suggestion of removing the New Homes Bonus where planning permission has been won at appeal is yet another. Let’s hope George Osborne has a rethink.
The entire planning system is already massively weighted in favour of landowners and developers … and yet the Government is offering them yet another advantage by intimidating councils into allowing consent to build on inappropriate sites (usually in open countryside) for fear of losing at appeal and then not receiving the NHB … a financial double whammy.
And yes, Feniton is waiting.
2. At 07:55 pm on 31th Mar Paul wrote:
I guess this shows George Osborne’s lack of understanding of council finances.
The planning process is already financially biased in favour of councils approving planning applications that (in the absence of financial bias) would not be approved due to the cost of defending an appeal by a developer against planning refusal.
Fining councils who lose appeals only makes the disincentive for unbiased planning decisions worse.
EDDC committee will protest about “planning bribes”

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