Could schools gain immunity from planning?
The Conservatives’ plan for school reform indicates that they are looking to make radical changes to the planning system.
Number one on this list is the proposal, leaked in advance of their manifesto, to enable the School’s Minister to determine applications for new schools.
This is radical - all planning powers currently lie with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It would take primary legislation to achieve this proposal, which sounds like it aims to give schools the same immunity from planning the Crown held until 2006.
We would suggest, that it would be simpler to utilise the current planning system. If there was a clear national planning policy statement for new schools, it could mean that local authorities had to accept the principle of a new school and they could concentrate on the challenge of ensuring those proposals protect residents’ amenity and ensure high quality sustainable development is negotiated swiftly at the local level.
This would almost certainly provide planning approvals quicker than the bureaucracy of the proposed 'short and focused planning inquiry'.
If you would like to discuss this further please contact Jeff Pyrah, Planning Director in our London office.