Home » DLUHC picks top barrister to lead review into speeding up major infrastructure projects

DLUHC picks top barrister to lead review into speeding up major infrastructure projects

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced the appointment of a top planning barrister to lead a review into speeding up major infrastructure project delivery. 

Charles Banner KC, an expert in planning and environmental regulation, will explore whether Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects are unduly held up by inappropriate legal challenges and, if so, whether the problem can be effectively resolved.  

The review was first announced in Michael Gove’s major housing policy speech before Christmas.

Housing minister Lee Rowley said: “It is vitally important that we use every tool at our disposal to slash unnecessary planning delays and accelerate building where it is needed across the country.  

“That is why I am delighted that Lord Banner will lead a review on how we can speed up the delivery of national infrastructure in the face of costly legal challenges. I look forward to the outcome of this crucial piece of work.”  

Banner, who will be assisted by fellow barrister Nick Grant, said he was “looking forward to analysing the information available” to ascertain whether there was a case for improving the process.  

The review is expected to take three months and Banner will produce a written report with recommendations based on his research.  

It comes as DLUHC moves to introduce changes elsewhere in the planning system. The department has opened a consultation seeking views on proposals to introduce an accelerated service for major commercial applications. 

DLUHC’s proposal is that decisions on such applications would have to be taken within 10 weeks or else applicants would be entitled to fee refunds.  

The new rules would apply to applications for major commercial developments which create 1,000 sq m or more of new or additional employment floorspace.  

This Includes office, storage, warehousing, retail, general industry, research and development, light industry and advanced manufacturing, as well as mixed use developments if they meet the employment floorspace criteria. 

Local planning authorities determined a total of 1,640 such applications in the year to September 2023. 

The department also wants to end the use of extension of time agreements for housing applications and allowing only one extension of tim for other developments. 

The consultation will run for eight weeks from March.