The 2008 Planning Act, which excluded housing from the list of developments that could be approved with development consent orders (DCOs) under the streamlined national infrastructure planning regime. However, in November last year, the government announced a clause within the Housing and Planning Bill which would allow housing schemes to be approved via a DCO, albeit in limited circumstances.
Planning magazine reports that faced with having decisions over housing taken out of their hands, one might expect local authorities to raise objections. But Michael Wilks, the POS NSIP Subject Specialist, told Planning he has other concerns. "My general view of the local authority role in the Planning Act 2008 regime has been a positive one," he says. "The Act requires significant pre-application consultation, which is of benefit to everyone. There are opportunities throughout the examination to really put forward your position and have it taken into account."
Wilks says he is more concerned about the limits on eligibility. "There's no particular logic as to why there should be a threshold for 500 houses or a threshold of a mile," he says. "This quite strict criteria is going to kill off a lot of interest. A lot of infrastructure projects won't be well-related to where you want to put housing. The main beneficiaries are business and commercial schemes, and there are only one or two of those around at the moment."