PLANNING in Kent is to be streamlined after key organisations involved in the process agreed a new protocol last week, in a move which has been welcomed by central government.
Efforts to tackle the ‘hugely complex and lengthy’ of obtaining planning permission come as the county faces a predicted rise of over 410,000 people in its population over the next 20 years, requiring the construction of 188,200 new homes.
The planning protocol sets out a shared approach to development by planners, local authorities and developers.
It has been formulated and agreed by all of the District Councils in Kent, as well as Medway Council, Kent County Council, Kent Developers Group, Kent Housing Group and Kent Planning Officers Group, supported by Locate in Kent.
Attempts to streamline the process were praised by Gavin Barwell, Housing and Planning Minister (pictured), who said: “Planning reform is essential to delivering the new homes this country needs in places people want to live.
“It is fantastic to see local planning bodies working together in such an innovative way to improve and strengthen the planning process.”
The planning protocol seeks to make the current process more efficient by enabling greater collaboration in the pre-application and planning application stages of the process through better communication and consistency.
Nick Fenton, Chairman of Kent Developers Group, said: “Although not a binding document in planning terms, the Protocol sets out a shared and public commitment to working together to deliver high-quality and sustainable development for Kent which we have now all signed up to.”
Eileen Martin, Chair of Kent Housing Group, also welcomed the protocol, saying a ‘tremendous amount of work’ had gone into making it.
She added: “It clearly demonstrates our commitment to collaborative joint working and clarifies what this means in practice.
“We anticipate considerable advantages and efficiencies in developing this approach further and will work with all parties concerned to maximise the benefits that will result.”
Simon Thomas from the Kent Planning Officers Group said the protocol would ensure that all new development is of high quality and ‘serves the needs of the people of Kent’.