Peter Kershaw of Paris Smith’s Planning Team explains why the best laid neighbourhood plans of now and then may not always go awry.

Avid readers of the Paris Smith Planning Team’s intelligence updates may well have been spurred into action when reading our Legalease Procurement and Outsourcing Journal article titled ‘Best Laid Plans’ back in January.  If you were a developer, investor or landowner with an interest in developing land, you may well have been concerned by the trend we identified in the article that ‘Neighbourhood planning is advancing at pace and – with it – a shifting of power is taking place away from Whitehall and into the hands of local communities and local councils at all levels.’

As an antidote to this threat, you might recall that we also highlighted the growing importance of effective early engagement with local communities during major development schemes and, where possible, engaging in their neighbourhood plan-making processes to ensure that you are transparent with local communities regarding your long-term development interests in their area.

Our recent Legalease Procurement and Outsourcing Journal article in November, titled ‘Brownfield Bonanza’, elaborated further on the increasing importance of stakeholder engagement in the planning process and identified how it can also help you to optimise future developments.

As an update following these two articles, Gavin Barwell, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, has further ratcheted up attempts to strengthen Neighbourhood Planning this week by releasing the following Written Statement regarding Neighbourhood Plans in areas without a demonstrable five-year land supply of deliverable housing sites.

The full impact of the Written Statement will take time to play out and will certainly be a key consideration for future commentators, at current and future planning appeals; and in the Courts. Our Paris Smith Planning Team will continue to be monitoring these impacts carefully.

With further planning threats and opportunities on the horizon, a delayed White Paper now expected at the start of the New Year, Local Authority and Mayoral elections in 2017, and formal Brexit negotiations on the horizon leading to economic and political uncertainty, there has never been a more important time for public and private sector land owners to be fully engaged with the planning system and planning case law (and fully engaging with each other, with local communities and with private sector planning and legal experts).

If you would like to sign up for future intelligence updates from Paris Smith’s Planning Team, or if you would like to meet regarding your future planning or stakeholder engagement requirements, please do not hesitate to email me in the first instance.