Only a quarter of local authorities in the region are ready for a new planning regime set to be introduced later this year, according to new research.
The consultation period for the proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework is set to run until October but it is expected that the Government will push ahead to radical changes aimed at speeding up the planning process.
However, according to GVA, 22 of the region’s 33 local authorities are yet to agree a core strategy that reflects the potential changes which will see a new authorities forced to adopt a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’.
Craig Alsbury, director in GVA’s planning, development and regeneration team, said: “The Government is keen to see the National Planning Policy Framework adopted before the year is out. If it is, there will be a significant number of authorities in the West Midlands and elsewhere that will be caught by the new presumption and face the risk of receiving a swathe of planning applications that ought to be approved without delay.
“On the face of it, the extent to which these authorities will be able to control or resist development will be greatly reduced. This should be good news for the development industry, although developers will still need to take care to ensure that they promote schemes that are consistent with the framework overall.”
The only local authorities in the West Midlands which have adopted core strategies are Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, Rugby, the four Black Country authorities and Telford & Wrekin Council.
The remaining 22 – including Birmingham City Council – are still preparing plans for their areas.
Mr Alsbury added: “What is certain though is that local planning authorities interpret the framework differently. It is, after all, a document that only summarises the Government’s requirements and is short on detail and definitions. It will be important for all involved in planning and development that the Government ensures that this does not lead to a lack of consistency in decision making and unintended consequences.
“In local policy terms, it will be interesting to see whether the Government’s requirement that authorities produce local plans - instead of core strategies - will force those with recently adopted strategies to think again, or cause additional difficulties for those working towards adoption of their plans.”