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Environmental Due-Diligence & Pre-Application Engagement

With the Government publishing its updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), we continue to explore some of the changes that are important for developers, planning consultants and architects.

Here we look at the emphasis on ‘Pre-Application Engagement’ and the consideration for due-diligence planning at the front-end of developments:

There is a section dedicated to ‘pre-application engagement and front-loading’.

It states that “Early engagement has significant potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system for all parties.”

It recommends that informed conversation and assessments at the outset will deliver improved outcomes for all.

In particular, the NPPF suggests that the “more issues that can be resolved at pre-application stage, including the need to deliver improvements in infrastructure and affordable housing, the greater the benefits.”

It also suggests that statutory planning consultees should take the same early, pro-active approach, and provide advice in a timely manner throughout the process, in order for the system to be more effective; therefore assisting planning authorities in issuing timely decisions without creating unnecessary delays for the applicants.

It also suggests that formal assessments, such as Environmental Impact Assessment, Habitats Regulations assessments and Flood Risk Assessments should be carried out at the outset to help avoid unnecessary delays.

As such, the NPPF is recommending that local planning authorities publish a list of their information requirements for applications for planning permission, so applicants know exactly what is required of them at the outset.

In all, the NPPF is gearing the pre-application stage towards due-diligence, information gathering and assessment to make the process as streamlined and transparent as possible for all involved.