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Amending the Regulators' Compliance Code

Date: 2/5/2013

POS Response to BIS:

Stewart Gibbon

I am pleased to submit the response from the Planning Officers Society to this consultation. We represent Chief Planning Officers in the public sector responsible for delivering spatial planning, development management and all other aspects of the planning system in England.

It is noted that Planning and Building Control are not within the scope of the Code. The statement that planning & building control are "regularly cited by businesses as being burdensome and inconsistent" is quoted but with no supporting evidence.

Planning is not the barrier to growth and is playing its part to promote and encourage investment locally. Councils are updating and bringing forward local plans which provide certainty for business, approve 87% of planning applications and working to unlock stalled sites. There are an estimated three and a quarter years' worth of homes in unimplemented units showing that local authorities are overwhelmingly saying 'yes' to viable and sustainable residential development through the planning system.

We have seen no evidence of the assertion that planning and building control are burdensome and inconsistent and would be resistant to an extension of the code in the absence of a solid evidence base.

It is also important to understand the different aspects of Planning. Essentially there are three main areas:

  1. Spatial Planning 
  2. Development Management
  3. Planning Enforcement

The first two areas are not regulatory functions. Spatial planning is the process whereby the dynamics of an area are empirically analysed, a vision and plan for the area is crafted and the community (business and residential) are engaged in the process. The final decision has to be taken by full Council (it's not an executive or delegable function) following independent examination by the Planning Inspectorate. Development Management is the process of negotiating and determining applications for planning permission. The decisions are taken in the wider public interest and to ensure development comes forward in economically, socially and environmentally sustainable ways. It is often described as a quasi-judicial process rather than a regulatory service.

Planning Enforcement can be seen as a regulatory service. DCLG have produced successive guidance and advice for the planning enforcement function. The broad thrust of that advice is similar to the Code. Currently the Taylor Review is writing and editing the whole planning guidance suite so that it is a single comprehensive resource that is succinct and fit for purpose. It would serve no purpose if there was duplication and potentially ambiguity between the DCLG planning guidance for its enforcement service and the Code.

For all the reasons set out above it would seem that little purpose would be served by including planning within the Code's provisions.

Building Control is a regulatory service but is in direct competition with Approved Inspectors for the same statutory service. Applying a Compliance Code to the public sector within this area without applying the same regime to the private sector cannot be right given the legislative aim of creating competition.

If you need further advice or information please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Mike KielySenior Vice President Planning Officers Society. 



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