Tiered Pre-Application Service introduced for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects

The Planning Inspectorate launches tiered pre-application service, with full cost recovery and smoother examinations

As part of the Government reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process, the Planning Inspectorate has launched its new Pre-application Prospectus. The Prospectus establishes the Planning Inspectorate’s new tiered pre-application service for NSIPs.

The  service consists of 3 different tiers: Basic, Standard and Enhanced. Every NSIP will receive at least a statutory minimum service and is invited to subscribe to one of the tiers at the pre-application stage of the process. 

Implementing Government’s aim for full cost recovery

The Planning Inspectorate will charge each NSIP for its pre-application service to meet the government’s aim of full cost recovery. The 3 different pre-application tiers will ensure the process of cost recovery is fair to all applicants. For example, applicants which subscribe to the Basic service from the Planning Inspectorate will pay less than those which subscribe to the Enhanced service. 

The Planning Inspectorate will only charge applicants for its pre-application service, it will not charge other stakeholders in the NSIP process.

Some applicants will pay the Planning Inspectorate for the pre-application service from 1 October 2024 and the remainder will pay from 1 April 2025. When an applicant must begin paying for the service will depend on the tier of service chosen and how far the project has progressed.

Fast-track route

Where the project is suitable, an optional fast-track route will be available if applicants pay for the Enhanced level of the pre-application service. To use the fast-track route, the project must also meet new government quality standards as defined in guidance Planning Act 2008: Fast-track process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Applicants who are not aiming for formal, fast-track designation for their NSIPs will still have their applications examined as efficiently as possible, and in less than six months where appropriate.

Looking ahead: Expression of interest for tiers

The Planning Inspectorate will launch an expression of interest from the end of May 2024. Applicants can express which of the 3 service tiers they consider is appropriate for each of their pre-application NSIPs. Upon receipt of the responses to the expression of interest, due consideration will be given to the level of available capability and capacity to meet the demand. It is currently intended that all applicants will be informed, by the end of August 2024, of the service tier available for their NSIPs.

Further information on the expression of interest will be made available to applicants from the end of May 2024.

From: Planning Inspectorate