On the tenth anniversary of the Planning Act 2008’s debut, with Barton Willmore and Womble Bond Dickinson, we launched a study into how the Act can evolve to meet the fast-changing needs of the UK.

An initial survey, designed to bring focus to in-depth research that we will be bringing forward next year, seeks views from those who have been involved in the regime, and importantly, from those who have not but may see its advantages. Early indications from the survey suggest that opinions have shifted in the ten years since the Act was launched, not least when it comes to housing.

For example, the survey asks about the viability of using the NSIP regime for consenting large-scale, mixed-use settlements. So far, findings show that a large majority of respondents are open to the idea – although a wide range of conditions for its use still apply. However, the greater the societal contribution of the settlements, the more the industry perceives DCOs to be applicable for them.

Andrew Weaver, our Director of Infrastructure and Major Projects, said: “The Planning Act puts the onus on promoters to invest in deeper stakeholder relationships. Promoters who have benefitted most are those who worked out that much wider engagement than is specified within the legislation was needed to de-risk projects for the efficient delivery the Act is intended for. It will be interesting to see if this shift in attitudes to the DCO regime signifies an increased awareness of the importance of this stakeholder engagement.”

Kevin Gibbs, Head of Strategic Planning at Womble Bond Dickinson added: “As we see the Government supporting 23 new garden places and championing ambitious communities to deliver many more, it’s not surprising to see the emerging popularity for a wider use of the system. An updated system must be fit for purpose drawing on funding and expertise from both the private as well as the public sector.”

Ben Lewis, Infrastructure & Energy Director at Barton Willmore also emphasised the importance of widening this survey’s reach: “We are keen to reach many more through this initial research. Working across the English, Scottish and Welsh planning systems, our response to the housing crisis, both through infrastructure and housing, is critical to economic stability.

“We all need to more fully understand how we can ensure the most effective consenting approaches. We urge those both within and outside the regime to participate in our short survey.”

Take part in the survey:

For those who have engaged with the DCO regime established by the Planning Act 2008, please click here.

For those who have not engaged with the DCO regime established by the Planning Act 2008, please click here.