New Planning Legislation - Pre-Application Community Consultation

New Planning Legislation - Pre-Application Community Consultation

The DoE will be releasing a raft of new planning policy and legislation during March 2015 in preparation for the Councils taking over planning powers on 1st April 2015. 

One part of the new legislation requires all major planning applications to be subject of Pre-application Community Consultation. Major is defined in the legislation and thresholds are set out for a range of potential land uses. From a residential point of view for instance, major includes development of 50 units or more or a site area of over 2 hectares. The retailing threshold will affect sites outside town centres for developments of over 1000sqm or a site of over 1 hectare. The legislation also sets thresholds for all other land uses.

What is required:

- 12 weeks prior to submission of the application the applicant is to serve a “Proposal of Application Notice” (PAN) on the planning authority which sets out a description of the proposal, site location etc and details of the pre-application community consultation that the applicant plans to undertake (effectively a Communications Plan).

- The PAN also needs to include confirmation of whether the proposal is regionally significant or not and if an EIA is needed – communication with the planning authority well in advance of the 12 week period is therefore required.

- The legislation and the forthcoming guidance on the matter will set out exactly what is required, but consultation will need to include at least one public event.

- The planning authority can ask for additional or alternative forms of consultation to be carried out.

- The Communications plan has to be agreed with the planning authority, who will have the power to decline to determine an application if the consultation hasn’t been carried out to their satisfaction

- A Pre-Application Community Consultation Report must be prepared which details what consultation was carried out and how it was taken on board in finalising the proposal – this has to be submitted with the application

While the legislation becomes live on 1st April 2015, the requirement to do Pre application community consultation does not come into play until 1st July 2015.

Therefore, if you have potential proposals which are likely to fall within the “Major” category and you want to avoid Pre Application Community Consultation, then there is a window of opportunity up to 1st July 2015 to submit applications without needing to carry out the community consultation.

Conversely, if you have any proposals which you plan to submit during 2015 but which may not be ready to go in until after 1st July 2015, we would suggest that you think about engaging in this process and give yourself plenty of time to organise the submission so as to avoid delays – you really should be planning for consultation at least 4-5 months ahead of the target date for application submission.

Strategic Planning has a wealth of experience in carrying out community and stakeholder consultations for major projects (http://www.strategicplanning.uk.com/case-studies/community-consultation/). So, if you have any forthcoming projects that could be affected by the above, please contact us and we can help to plan out what needs to be done and when.

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Belfast:
1 Pavilions Office Park, Kinnegar Drive, Holywood, BT18 9JQ
Dublin:
Denshaw House, 121 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2, Ireland