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As Essex prepares for a vast increase in population, new protocol aims to streamline planning


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Will the protocol mean enhanced standards for development?

Essex has a new planning protocol.
The document, put together by local authorities and developers in the county, is intended to create “a more efficient and effective application process”, while it should also help resource planning departments”.
The development of the Essex Planning Protocol was driven by “a significant predicted growth in the Greater Essex population of almost 300,000 from 2016 to 2036, fuelling demand for housing and the supporting infrastructure”, according to the county council, which helped prepare it.
The document has been signed by the chairman of the Essex Planning Officers’ Association on behalf of 12 district and two unitary authorities, as well as by the Essex Developers’ Group, which includes such companies as Galliford Try Partnerships and Bellway Homes.
Featuring commitments under the headings of communication, certainty and consistency, resources and training, an important aspect of the protocol is support for the use of planning performance agreements (PPAs), which set agreed expectations as projects proceed and firm deadlines for decisions.
Interestingly, the document says that “developers, where appropriate, will provide financial support to authorities to secure resources via planning performance agreements, to assist in the efficient management of larger and more complex schemes”.
Mark Curle, of Galliford Try Partnerships, is chairman of Essex Developers Group. He said: “If we are to meet housing need it is essential that we all work more closely with local authorities and their planning departments.
“That’s why I am delighted to see that the country’s major housebuilders and developers have committed to the Essex Planning Protocol, which in turn should result in closer collaboration between both parties, streamlining the planning process and delivering the right homes in the right places for Essex.”