17 April 2015
Legislative changes around infrastructure and environment have had a significant impact on the work we do and on the responsibilities of our clients. As part of a WYG masterclass at the recent Sustainable Communities Conference, I outlined these to an audience of housing developers and local authorities and have summarised here what implications they may have. It is not an exhaustive list but does cover some fundamental changes that we need to recognise.
The Infrastructure Act came in to force earlier this year and introduced a requirement for ‘deemed discharge’ on certain planning conditions. This means that if a planning authority does not decide on an application within a prescribed period then the condition can be automatically considered as approved. For our housing developer clients this should speed up the process for approving planning condition discharge but they also need to be aware that some environment related conditions will be exempt.
The Act also included measures to control invasive non-native species. This gives government agencies power to enter into control agreements, or orders if necessary, to ensure action can be taken against harmful species. This is particularly likely to benefit the construction, development and infrastructure sectors where dealing with an invasive species can have a huge economic impact.
My final comment on the Act is regarding ‘allowable solutions’. They form part of the government's strategy for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016. Allowable solutions will enable developers to carry out measures off-site to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. These can be delivered through various mechanisms, including a third party provider or through a national carbon abatement fund. However, what constitutes allowable solutions is yet to be finalised and, as the government also intends to set a price cap, these could present significant technical and commercial challenges to developers.Keeping up to date with these changes is a fundamental part of our approach and it is important that our clients can rely on our expert advice and practical knowledge.