DCO – the way to go?
Infrastructure planning update
March 2014 saw a small but significant landmark in UK infrastructure planning. The ‘Ipswich Chord’, a new 1.4 km railway line opened for business. This new railway is the first nationally significant infrastructure project consented under the Planning Act 2008 to become operational.
To date, rail, road and energy projects have accounted for most of the projects for which a Development Consent Order (DCO) has been sought under the 2008 Act. The potential of this fast-track consenting system is demonstrated by the fact that the Ipswich Chord project was accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate as recently as July 2011 and was granted development consent in September 2012.
The advantages of the DCO process are clear. Before an application is made the onus is on the developer to consult widely, refine the project design and undertake an environmental impact assessment. The application itself can cover a wider range of consenting requirements that is possible with a conventional planning application – including the compulsory purchase of land. Once an application is made and accepted, it undergoes a strictly-timetabled fast-track process of examination and reporting before receiving a determination by the relevant Secretary of State.
To cope with the highly variable and often intense resource demands of piloting a DCO application through this process, Savills offers a dedicated DCO examination service, used recently by energy utility RWE for the Clocaenog Forest wind farm project in north Wales.
Moves to increase the list of projects for which a DCO can be sought in preference to a conventional planning permission have been met with interest. Regulations introduced in 2013 enable the following list of business and commercial projects to secure consent under the 2008 Act regime, provided that the Secretary of State considers that the project is of national significance.
- Office use
- Research and development of products and services
- An industrial process or processes
- Storage or distribution of goods
On 9 May 2012 Savills received the first confirmation from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that a project from this list is nationally significant and will require development consent under the 2008 Act. The project in question is the London Paramount resort and leisure district on the Swanscombe Peninsula near Ebbsfleet, for which Savills acts as planning consultant. The experience that Savills has gained on other major infrastructure projects will thus be applied in Europe’s most significant leisure and tourism project so far this century.
The latest independent Scottish planning review and its impacts
27 June 2016
An independent review of the Scottish planning system has seen that further change is required to make the system fit for the future.
Changes to permitted development rights
16 March 2016
The Government has published additional and revised ‘permitted development rights’ to allow change of use of property without planning permission, coming into force on 6 April 2016.