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Local Plans Required for Economic Growth

 

The region's largest business membership organisation believes councils face an avalanche of planning applications after missing the deadline to submit local plans.

NECC warns that a lack of robust local plans in the region threatens to create uncertainty for potential investors, particularly in large-scale sites for housing.The region's largest business membership organisation believes councils face an avalanche of planning applications after missing the deadline to submit local plans.

None of the regional local authorities met the 12-month deadline set by the Government a year ago today when it launched the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to simplify the planning system and boost development.

The North East Chamber of Commerce warns that a lack of robust local plans – development blueprints designed to stimulate growth - in the region threatens to create uncertainty for potential investors, particularly in large-scale sites for housing.

However, no local plans presents an opportunity for development in the North East as it is hoped it will lead to an influx of planning submissions, with suggestions that developers have already drafted applications to submit from today's deadline.

NECC Planning Policy Advisor, Amy Michie, said:

"Local plans represent an opportunity for local authorities to shape the face of the North East and stimulate investment. It is disappointing that one year on no council in the region is yet able to provide a clear steer on sustainable development when they could be putting a big "open for business" sign over the region.

"There has been progress recently to simplify the planning system and prevent it being a barrier to growth. NPPF introduces a presumption in favour of development, which means that all applications according with its policies must be approved.

"Now the 12 month deadline has been reached and there are no local plans, planning authorities must assess applications against NPPF. While this is not necessarily bad news for developers, a lack of plans causes uncertainty for investors who feel comfortable knowing potential projects fit into local economic growth plans.

"The flip side of this is that developers are readying numerous planning applications that will probably gain approval under the new guidelines, despite them not fitting into draft local plans currently being devised."

Planning is vital to the North East, the potential for further development in the region is far greater than in most areas of the country with huge capacity for population growth and business development. There is also huge demand for both housing and commercial development.

NPPF replaced more than 1,000 pages of national planning policy notes with a single document, in an attempt to simplify the planning system. It sets out policies and priorities, which must be applied nationally to determine planning applications.

Amy said:

"The success of the NPPF relies on local authorities adopting high quality local plans that send a clear signal to the market that development will be welcomed and the specific areas where this should be focused.

"We are concerned that there is a lack of co-ordination among councils in producing local plans. Local Authorities must talk to each other to ensure a uniform approach and not negatively impact on neighbouring authorities.

"NECC is urging councils to ensure business has a strong influence in the preparation of pro-growth plans that must be adopted as quickly as possible to attract developers and bring vital investment to the region.

"In the meantime, we hope that developers taking advantage of the lack of local plans do so responsibly and provide a boost to development in the region."