In the recent opposition day debate the Planning Minister Christopher Pincher MP referred to the need in a new Planning Reform Act for new enforcement provisions where the parameters of any planning consent are breached.
Why is such a new clause necessary? Look at the definition of ‘breach of planning control’ in section 171A of the 1990 Act. If you are in breach of the terms of a local development order, SPZ etc. is that a ‘breach of planning control’. Indeed as new Planning Acts for example on Listed Buildings, Hazardous substances etc. have been introduced so have many duplicative provisions on enforcement, rights of entry, crown land etc.
Planning Law has got ever more ‘cumbersome’ and ‘complicated’ to use the words of the minister. When I started in planning the Planning Encyclopedia was one volume. Now it is 9, 10s of thousands of pages. Now a Barrister can’t go to an inquiry without the aid of Pickfords.
Looking through the many acts on my (nearly finished) quest to see ways in which Planning Law could be codified into one simple volume you could carry around in a paperback book length volume it struck me just how complex, cluttered and junk filled. There are still clauses that relate to wartime development and bomb damage, three clauses relating to the Scilly Islands, two clauses that only applied in 1986, one clause relating to an exemption that only applies to three rooms in one building, etc. etc. Many cross references to clauses that have been abolished.
Many parts of the corpus of planning law have become so complicated that are hard to maintain and almost unusable. It is what coders call ‘spaghetti code’ What worries me about the minister’s statement is that it means because of the complexity of planning law we need another hack. A major part of the ineffectiveness of English Planning Law is because of so many hacks make it ever more cumbersome and complicated, lets not add to that.
Why not instead we had one universal definition of planning permission for the many types of consent, one universal definition of ‘local planning authority’, one universal definition of ‘breach of planning control’ etc. etc. Currently there are six definitions of ‘the sea’ to which planning control (national infrastructure) apply.
Hope to publish my efforts next weekend after a thorough proof check.