The Infrastructure Act
By Jamie Lynch
The House of Commons passed the Infrastructure Act into UK law on 12th February 2015. The Act encompasses a number of measures to make a more efficient development process across the public and private sectors in the UK.
In a bid to speed up the development process the House of Commons has granted the Secretary of State the ability to enforce ‘deemed discharge’ of planning conditions. The implementation of deemed discharge provides that where a Local Planning Authority fails to make a decision on an application within the prescribed six week period, the applicant is required to serve notice to the Local Authority with an allowance of two further weeks to discharge conditions. Should the Local Planning Authority fail in its duty to discharge conditions within the requisite time period, a deemed discharge order would be applied to the planning conditions. The process of deemed discharge only applies to planning applications which have received consent, agreement or approval required by conditions.
The Government has made it clear that it will not be appropriate for a deemed discharge to be applicable to all types of development and conditions. As a result of Government consultation, exemptions apply to all conditions attached to developments that are subject to Environmental Impact Assessment, all conditions attached to development that are likely to have a significant effect on a qualifying European site. Furthermore, specific exemptions apply to conditions relating to S106 agreements, conditions designed to manage flood risk, and conditions requiring the approval of details for outline planning permissions required by reserved matters.
On a closing note, the Act will also make an attempt to allow the Land Registry to create on online resource tool, in effect standardising the process and improving its efficiency in aiding the development process. As well as converting the Highways Agency into a government-owned body, to be known as Highways England from April of this year.