A planning performance agreement (PPA) is a tool used by the local planning authority (LPA) to help manage planning applications. They are typically used for major applications, which are larger scale or more complex projects, although they may also be suitable for simpler projects in some cases.

The PPA is a formal framework agreement between the applicant and the LPA that allows the parties to agree timescales, actions and resources to be allocated to the application.

 


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To be most effective they should be agreed at pre-application or early in the planning application stage, but they can be agreed at any time during the process. It is encouraged that planning performance agreements are made publicly available, to encourage transparency.

The purpose of a PPA is to encourage collaborative working between the parties, as opposed to the traditional route, which can sometimes be perceived as adversarial.

Each PPA is bespoke, tailored to suit the needs of the particular application and in proportion to the scale and complexity of the project.

 

The PPA can include matters beyond the scope of the formal planning application process, such as a Section 106 and non-planning consents.

A planning performance agreement will outline the resources that are to be committed to the application, possibly including such detail as the number of hours that will be expended by the LPA officers, including the case officer and other specialist officers, such as design & conservation officers, highways and transport officers, and waste & recycling officers.


What can a planning performance agreement include? 

  • Timescales including projected milestones and deadlines
  • Key issues and concerns about the scheme
  • Details of the relevant project teams, both the client-side team and LPA officers
  • The roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • Additional consultees that will be required – such as building control officers, highways agents, etc.
  • Number and projected dates of meetings, including list of attendees.
  • Identification of community involvement required, relevant stakeholders, the processes of engagement and how their views should be incorporated.
  • Programme for discharge of conditions, if applicable

Parties to the agreement will need to review progress at regular intervals. They will share responsibility for any issues that arise, and the document may be amended if agreed by both parties. The agreement should be reasonably flexible, to allow for these changes in certain circumstances.


Planning performance agreement fees

The applicant may be required to pay a fee for the PPA, particularly for the larger, complex applications, in addition to the standard planning application fee. This may be calculated based on the number of hours that are expected to be required for the LPA officers, and should reflect the additional resources which are to be spent on the scheme.

The fee should not exceed the cost of the extra work involved, and should not deflect resources from other applications. The planning performance agreement will also outline any additional fees which the applicant may be required to pay. These may include fees for specialist surveys or consultants. 


What are the advantages of a PPA for the applicant?

There are several advantages for the applicant:

  • Certainty and transparency of the process and programme.
  • Collaboration with the LPA and a chance to influence the Council’s requirements and timetable.
  • Ensuring that resources will be available to deal with the application, via the additional fee. This can allow for more in-depth discussion and negotiation, and better overall management of the application from the LPA.
  • All parties, including other statutory consultees must buy-in to the agreement at the outset, which increases the chance of a smooth process.

How does the PPA process work?

The LPA will issue a draft version of the planning performance agreement to the applicant’s team for discussion and approval at the appropriate time during the course of the project. The PPA supersedes the statutory time limits for determining the planning application, such as the 13 or 16 week limit for major applications.

The applicant retains the right of appeal if the LPA fails to determine the application by the agreed date. The applicant has 6 months from the expiry of the deadline in which to give notice of an appeal.

PPAs are not legally binding contracts, they are considered ‘memoranda of understanding’ and there is no penalty on either party if deadlines and milestones are missed, for any reason.

A PPA is a voluntary agreement that does not affect the statutory duties of the LPA or the rights of the applicant, including the right of appeal.

 

Unfortunately, signing a planning performance agreement does not mean that an application is more likely to be approved. It should, however, give greater certainty to the planning process and help foster collaboration and transparency.


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