Masterplan Consent Areas - draft regulations: consultation

This consultation relates to proposed regulations on the procedures to prepare Masterplan Consent Areas (MCA). It sets out the proposed procedures and includes two sets of regulations: covering the main process for making MCA schemes and relating to environmental impact assessment.

Why MCAs? - The Benefits

Place Leadership Streamlined Facilitating investment in places
  • Proactive approach, local authority takes the lead, set the bar for quality
  • Agreed shared vision / ambition for the place facilitate the type of development want to see come forward
  • Collaborative working, align efforts/ new way of working: planners plan, developers develop
  • Place-based masterplan at core, supporting placemaking
  • Co-ordinated, joined up approach can provide different consents in a single authorisation (planning permission, roads construction consent, conservation area consent, listed building consent)
  • Engagement built into single process focussed on the project / place reduces consultation fatigue
  • Can be used at different scales (strategic, centres, local place)
  • See all the main conditions together
  • Supports delivery of local development plan & developments in the long-term public interest
  • Provides certainty - saving time, money and effort for developers, enabling delivery of investment & infrastructure
  • Can co-ordinate masterplanning across areas of different land ownership
  • Promotional tool, can be used as part of marketing sites
  • Supports delivery of outcomes

14. MCAs are a means to take forward place-based approaches. They are a flexible placemaking tool, grounded in and responding to a place, and how it may change to meet local needs and outcomes. Planning authorities will be able to use MCAs as part of a proactive, placemaking approach to planning and consenting. It is a new way for authorities to shape new development in their places – enabling the type and quality of development they wish to come forward in their places. With the focus on a place-based masterplan, MCAs are an opportunity for the authority to set its expectations around quality. MCAs can incentivise high quality development by providing a streamlined consent process for those proposals which comply with the scheme.

15. MCAs will allow planning authorities to plan; front-loading consideration of design, infrastructure and environmental matters at an earlier stage in the planning process. This can allow local authorities to take a leadership role in the planning of high quality places, rather than just reacting to applications put before them.

16. MCAs can be used as part of collaborative working between the planning authority, land owners, developers and investors, key agencies and the community. With the planning authority taking the lead, it can take account of local needs and aspirations, and work with developers to ensure what the scheme requires is feasible and deliverable.

17. MCAs offer potential to provide a streamlined approach to consenting, providing planning permission, plus roads construction consent, listed building consent, and conservation area consent – where provided for in the particular MCA scheme. It also offers scope to set out the main conditions of the various consents together.

18. By dealing with the issues relating to the different types of consent, and different developments that might come forward in an area in the round, it will offer an opportunity to more meaningfully engage with the community and reduce consultation fatigue.

19. A MCA approach could be used by the planning authority to coordinate development, including on large sites, where there may be different land owners. MCAs could support a range of scales and types of development, from small scale changes up to new major or national developments.

20. MCAs can make their areas more attractive to potential investors and developers by providing certainty and removing much of the risk. If the planning authorities are enabled to put in the work upfront, including community engagement, frontloading site consideration, aligning of consents and granting permission for planned development, it can help bring forward more ‘shovel ready’ sites. This can help attract investment, deliver services, infrastructure and jobs, as well as creating well-designed places in line with the Six Qualities of Successful Places.

21. MCAs will be able to be used to prioritise investment in particular locations or to secure delivery of local priorities, outcomes and proposals in the local development plan.

22. It is important to note that a MCA is not about over-simplifying the process for developers, nor does it mean a loss of standards of development, amenity or protection for the environment. A number of ‘checks and balances’ are built into the proposed process:

  • The masterplan in the scheme can be specifically tailored to take account of designated assets or particular character areas which could be subject to conditions to protect and enhance their unique characteristics.
  • Detailed design guidance / conditions can be produced upfront as part of the MCA scheme to ensure that designated assets and other valued features are preserved or enhanced.
  • Community engagement is fully built into the proposed process for preparing a MCA scheme, with early engagement required (for MCA schemes which belong to the categories of national developments or major developments), and opportunities to comment on the proposed scheme, and requirement on the planning authority to take representations into account.
  • Statutory consultees will be consulted in the preparation of MCA schemes and will have an opportunity to comment on their content and conditions, ensuring heritage, environmental and other issues are appropriately considered upfront.
  • Additionally, in a similar way to the current Notification Direction, the 1997 Act includes powers for Ministers to issue directions to authorities requiring them to notify them of proposals for making or altering a scheme. Linked to that the 1997 Act provides that Ministers can call-in any MCA scheme for their own consideration, to provide added scrutiny where necessary.



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