Ten years on from the introduction of the Planning Act 2008, Copper, Barton Willmore and Womble Bond Dickinson are launching a study to capture what industry has learnt from the NSIP regime, assess how fit for purpose the existing system is, and explore how it can evolve to better meet the fast-changing needs of the UK.

Our aims are to:

  • Challenge the infrastructure and development industry to evolve the process in a way that ensures it is as efficient and reliable as it can be
  • Interrogate the overarching framework in place associated with strategic and local development to ensure the policy and systems in place can adequately respond to the rapidly evolving needs of the country
  • Explore what opportunities exist within the principles of the NSIP regime to support and streamline the delivery of large-scale, mixed use settlements
  • Understand what project risks exist as a result of misunderstanding and misinformation about the planning system among stakeholders and the public, and identify ways in which these risks can be reduced
  • Channel and amalgamate the lessons the industry has learnt to draw conclusions and recommendations concerning next steps for the Act.

The UK currently faces a number of significant challenges. The Grand Challenges set out in Government’s Industrial Strategy (the proliferation of A.I. and Big Data; the ever-increasing need for clean growth; the ageing population; and the requirements of future mobility) are joined by an exceptionally urgent need for new housing delivery in the next 20 to 25 years. Against the backdrop of Brexit, we will also interrogate the attractiveness of UK PLC as an investment prospect through the lens of the planning system.

We are entering a new era of fast-paced social, political and technological change; the challenges posed by such fast evolution can also present a real opportunity, but only if there is sufficient certainty and clarity across the planning system to respond to it.


The research will be undertaken in three stages:

1.We have launched an industry-wide survey to find out how the infrastructure community rates the Planning Act and establish specific areas of interest. We will be seeking input to ensure this study brings as much value as possible, not only to the industry but also to the country’s ability to attract outward investment and respond to its most pressing needs.

  • Those who have engaged with the DCO regime established by the Planning Act 2008 should click here.
  • Those who have not engaged with the DCO regime established by the Planning Act 2008 should click here.

2. Once we have identified some key areas of interest, the second phase will be to hold interviews and workshops to further and deepen our understanding of those issues.

3. We will use the findings from the study to drive thought-provoking debate around the future opportunities for the regime.

We have identified three research questions, which Copper director Martin McCrink, WBD’s Head of Strategic Planning Kevin Gibbs, and Barton Willmore’s Tom Carpen explore in their own words. Follow this link to find out more.

Andrew Weaver, Copper’s Director of Infrastructure and Major Projects, looks at public engagement lessons we can learn from the last 10 years here.

For further information on the study, please contact pippa.gibbs-joubert@copperconsultancy.com