On 4 December 2013 the Government announced a series of measures relating to infrastructure. The majority of the capital spending commitments announced are for road and rail improvements throughout the UK. Within the statement, however, are several significant changes to planning policy that are aimed at speeding up the planning process.
• Consulting on
a statutory requirement for local authorities to put in place a Local Plan, reflecting the fact that a significant proportion of councils have missed the deadline for adopting a Plan set in the NPPF
a reduction in the number of applications where ‘unnecessary’ statutory consultations occur
strengthening the requirement for planning authorities to justify any conditions that must be discharged before building can start
• New legislation to treat planning conditions as approved where an authority has failed to discharge a condition on time
• Piloting a single point of contact for cases where conflicting advice is provided by key statutory consultees
• A review of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning Regime
• Creating a new court for infrastructure to avoid delays in the planning process for major projects.
If implemented these changes could have a significant effect on the current planning procedures. There is also a potential conflict with the Government’s localism agenda which could cause further tensions and confrontations between local councils and the Government.
Other Infrastructure Measures
Other major infrastructure developments announced include:
• Redevelopment of Gatwick Airport railway station
• Road improvements on the A50
• The abandonment of the much criticised toll regime for the A14 improvements in Cambridgeshire
• A £10 million competitive fund in early 2014 for testing for superfast broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas
• Developing a new long-term plan for flood defences further to the Spending Round commitment of £2.3 billion capital investment
• Doubling the target for the sale of corporate and financial assets from £10 billion to £20 billion between 2014 and 2020, which could include the government’s shareholding in Eurostar
• Examining options to bring private capital into the Green Investment Bank to enable it to operate more freely in