Major infrastructure projects that deliver tangible benefits to communities, including off-shore wind farms, transport links, waste facilities and nuclear power stations, will be fast-tracked through the planning process, under plans announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities today (25 July 2023).
The government is proposing to slash the time it takes for projects to be green lit, streamlining the current system, and establishing a new fast-track route to planning approval for projects that provide community and environmental benefits.
These reforms will ensure vital infrastructure needed to grow the economy, create new jobs and promote new opportunities are not held back by slow and burdensome planning processes. They will create a resilient, dynamic approvals system as the government continues to rebuild the economy following the pandemic.
This follows the Housing Secretary’s speech yesterday which set out an ambitious plan to deliver new homes where it makes sense in our cities – such as Cambridge, inner London, and in Leeds – backed by nation-wide reforms to the planning system, including £24 million for hundreds of new planners to tackle the planning backlog.
Measures in the consultation launched today will mean faster consenting, more effective consultation and more resources. Alongside this we have announced additional support for councils to help them speed up the delivery of vital infrastructure through the second round of the Innovation and Capacity Fund.
Looking further ahead, the reforms will streamline and simplify processes for nationally significant infrastructure, ensuring that important projects do not get held up in the system.
Nationally significant infrastructure projects are large-scale developments that relate to energy, transport, water, or waste. As well as delivering important infrastructure, they also create jobs and help catalyse the development of new homes.
A group of ministers from environment, energy, levelling up and transport departments will drive progress, troubleshoot potential issues that hold up progress, and rapidly develop practical solutions to speed up delivery.
This will also, in the future, be supported by a more effective system of data-led environmental reporting based on outcomes. This will mean better, faster and greener delivery of infrastructure.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
Strong communities need to be supported by vital infrastructure; the transport links, power plants and buildings that underpin our everyday lives.
Significant infrastructure projects don’t just ensure that people can get to work easily, do their recycling, and power their homes. They also create jobs, grow our economy, and help us become fit for the future.
It is right that we make it as easy as possible for these important projects to be approved and delivered across the country.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove said:
It is vital we can deliver the major infrastructure we need to regenerate our communities and level up.
But local authorities and planners face barriers and red tape which have resulted in delays impacting on homeowners and housebuilders alike.
That’s why we are bringing forward changes to accelerate the infrastructure we need – this builds on the package of measures I announced yesterday to unblock the planning system and build a better Britain.
Local Government Minister Lee Rowley MP said:
Too many vital projects are being held up by needless bureaucracy and red-tape – we must speed up the planning process so we can get building and deliver.
These changes will make sure we have a planning system that is fit for the future and communities are kept at the heart of decision making.
We are getting on with the job of delivering the vital infrastructure that our communities need.
The consultation announced today focuses on operational reforms to the planning system that will:
*streamline the consenting process from beginning to end to ensure that the majority of projects can move through the system more quickly
*establish a new fast-track route to consent, potentially halving the time it takes for some projects to be determined
*bolster resources across the system, including at the Planning Inspectorate and build the skills needed to support infrastructure delivery
*incentivising developers to engage more proactively and effectively with local authorities and communities to ensure major infrastructure projects deliver for the communities that host them
The Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects consultation will open today and close on 19 September. The bidding process for the Innovation and Capacity Fund will run until 25 August.