DETAIL versus FLEXIBILITY – What is the optimum balance?

September 7, 2016

17:30 - 20:30

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A key issue for the current NIPA membership is whether Development Consent Orders (DCOs) are becoming too detailed at the expense of flexibility. There is a strong perception that the level of detail required in all parts of the DCO process - from pre-application, through to examination and the DCOs themselves - is increasing. This trend is leading to a range of reported concerns including:

  • the sheer time and cost of preparing detailed designs before an in-principle consent;
  • the resulting highly complex, technically dense and long documents which are difficult for the lay person wishing to engage with the process;
  • a focus on detail which may not improve the quality of decision making or the resulting project;
  • highly constrained requirements and S106 obligations; and
  • over specified projects restricting innovation and technological development during the detailed design and construction processes.

We expect discussion at this event to be centred on both how this trend is impacting your area of practice or business and, critically, what can be done to address any negative imbalances emerging. All NIPA members and non-members are invited.


Members will be aware that NIPA has recently appointed a team from University College London to conduct primary research into these issues. The team are currently collating detailed evidence through documentary analysis, interviews and focus groups with a cross-section of stakeholders involved in the process, and two detailed case studies. The outcome of their research will be practical recommendations to support achieving the right balance between detail and flexibility, in all parts of the DCO process.

The research team will be present at this discussion evening and keen to hear the debate as part of their evidence. The evening will be chaired by Professor Janice Morphet from the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL.


Pinsent Masons LLP


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Earl Street