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Much has been written in the local press and on social media about Planning Performance Agreements (PPA) and their use for certain planning applications.

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Uttlesford District Council would like to clarify what a PPA is, when it would enter into such an agreement, and how it can benefit both residents and the applicants using the council's planning service.

A PPA is a project management tool which councils and applicants can use when handling particularly large or complex applications.

The council's use of PPAs was approved by Cabinet in May 2017, following the best practice of many other local authorities. The Uttlesford Planning Performance Agreement Charter sets out how the council will work with applicants, partner organisations, the community and other interested parties to ensure that all large and complex development schemes are carefully considered in a constructive and open manner. The Charter - which is available to view on the website, at www.uttlesford.gov.uk/planningadvice - also establishes the council's commitment to the use of PPAs and indicates when it is appropriate for them to be used.

The ability to enter into a PPA is available to the developer of a large of complex scheme and the council will consider any such proposals.

Some key potential benefits of entering into a PPA include:

· establishing a better understanding of the needs of the application, including the relevant officer time and resources, and the scope of collaborative working

· setting a realistic timetable appropriate to the size and complexity of the application

· ensuring the best quality information is provided to the Planning Committee so it can make an informed decision on the application

The council is not allowed to make a financial surplus from these arrangements but it can properly recover the costs it would incur as a result of providing a bespoke planning service. As a result, the impact on the planning service for other applicants can be minimised. The cost of a PPA is negotiated on a case by case basis.

Significantly, the existence of a PPA does not in any way impact on the council when it makes a decision on a planning application. The council judges each planning application on its individual merits, taking into account reports from other bodies and comments from members of the public.

4 May 2018