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Growth and Infrastructure Act gains Royal Assent

Following the passing of the Growth and Infrastructure Act yesterday, options to renegotiate economically unviable section 106 agreements and to submit planning applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) where the local authority is under-performing have been made law.26 Apr 2013

The Act includes a provision which for three years will allow developers to renegotiate section 106 agreements which have made a scheme economically unviable. The Government has said it expects this new measure to unblock 75,000 developments which are currently stalled because they are no longer viable.

Developers will be able to submit planning applications directly to PINS where the relevant local authority has been placed in a 'special measures' category. Local authorities may be placed in this category where they have consistently failed to consider planning applications on time.

The Act has introduced new permitted development rights which will allow home owners to carry out rear extensions to their houses of up to eight metres without the need for planning permission. The rights will be subject to a consultation scheme under which neighbours can object to planned extensions and ask the local authority to consider the plans.

For town and village greens, the Act removes an overlapping consent process from the registration system, which the Government said conflicted with the "democratically accountable" planning system.

The Act also includes measures to simplify the planning system including a limit on the information a local authority can require to be submitted alongside a planning application.

"The common sense reforms in this Act will make it possible for local businesses to grow and to create the jobs and opportunities people need to get on in life," said Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. "It will unlock British entrepreneurship that has been jammed up for too long in red tape whilst ensuring democratic checks and environmental safeguards remain in place," he said.

"The Growth and Infrastructure Act is a major landmark for the coalition government," said Planning Minister Nick Boles. "These new laws will reform our economy so it can boost investment, growth and jobs by streamlining a lot of confusing and overlapping red tape that all too often gets in the way of people’s everyday lives," he added.

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill was laid before Parliament in October last year. It implements a number of measures announced as part of the Government's major planning and housing reform package in September.