Here are some predictions for 2017 in infrastructure planning.

Eight applications will be decided in 2017

The Planning Act’s fixed timescales mean it is reasonably easy to predict the number of decisions made each year, since every undecided application that has had its preliminary meeting should be decided during the year. Having said that I was wrong for the last two years due to a decision being delayed. This figure is only half of last year’s prediction, reflecting the reduced number of applications made.

7 of the 8 decisions will be approvals

All decisions were approved until 11 September 2015, but three have been refused since then. This year I think one of the crop will be refused –  I have an idea which one, but I’m not telling.

Two National Policy Statements will be published in draft

I made this prediction a year ago and I’m sticking to it! (i.e. I was wrong last year…)  I think that NPSs for airports and radioactive waste will see the light of day this year.

No judicial reviews of DCO decisions will be successful

A repeat of last year’s prediction. The only JR that has been successful so far has been to overturn the refusal of the Preesall gas storage decision.

The Richborough Connection project will be given consent on 8 June

There being no active five-inspector applications, this is one of two with four inspectors (the other being the East Anglia Three wind farm).  I think the decision will be made exactly a year after the preliminary meeting that took place on 6 June 2016.  It better be positive as it’s one of ours.

No applications will contain housing in 2017

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has allowed an element of housing in DCO applications, but the section that provides for this has not been brought into force yet.  It might be brought into force in April, but even if it is there may not be enough time to prepare an application containing housing and get it in before the end of the year.

The Planning Act 2008 regime will not be amended by primary legislation

Other than the bringing into force of a provision that was enacted last year, I don’t think there will be any major changes to the Planning Act regime this year.  Although it has been amended by four acts over the years, the Neighbourhood Planning Bill is the only current game in town and doesn’t contain any amendments to the Planning Act since the National Infrastructure Commission provisions were dropped.

An application for a business or commercial project will be made

I’m trying this one for the third time having been wrong for the last two years – surely being right gets more and more likely. Two commercial projects have been given the green light to use the Planning Act regime, but there haven’t been any others and neither of them has actually made their application.

The National Infrastructure Commission will publish its vision and priorities for its National Infrastucture Assessment

The first significant step in a National Infrastructure Assessment setting out the UK’s infrastructure needs to 2050 will be the publication of its ‘vision and priorities’.  I predict this will come out on time in around July.

This blog will clock up 750 posts in 2017

The only prediction within my control, and I’ve set myself a pretty easy target considering this is post number 736.  Nevertheless I hope to keep you entertained and informed as we go through what could be a challenging year.

And finally, the results of last year’s Christmas Champagne competition.  Once the sudoku grid has been filled in, it reveals the answer in the centre line, which is the word KNUTSFORD, referring to the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon DCO and is about the only infrastructure planning-related nine-letter word with no repeated letters that I could find.