Strict regulations on new developments are to be lifted in Brighton and Hove following a major shake-up of the planning system.

Issues such as the 40% affordable housing targets and “car free” housing schemes have been blamed by developers for putting people off trying to build in the city.

But they will no longer be a prerequisite for successful planning applications after the city council agreed to soften its stance.

Section 106 requirements – the payments demanded by a council before planning permission is given – will also be reduced, while planners have promised to make the process as streamlined as possible for developers.

The sweeping changes to the planning system come after Brighton and Hove City Council admitted inefficiencies in the department had caused unnecessary delays earlier in the decade, meaning the city missed out on the building bonanza much of the rest of the country enjoyed before the credit crunch hit.

To make sure similar mistakes are no longer made, a service improvement board has been set up which includes the chief executive, the council leader, a developer, an architect and a planning agent, who will meet to discuss issues.

The whole process will also be streamlined, with planning officers taking a “hands-on” role with developers to make sure applications are submitted properly. Applications can also be sent in electronically.

For major projects, developers may be allowed to address the planning committee before an application is discussed.

Martin Randall, the council’s assistant director of development, planning and public protection, said:“We want asmuch certainty in the system as we can. For developers that can be more important than speed. Now, instead of sending applications back, the team will call an applicant to tell them what needs to be done.”

Mr Randall admitted the planning department had relied on temporary staff too often in the past.

He said: “Often that means there are three or four different opinions on an application. Now the team is much more stable.”

Officers will also draw up detailed planning briefs for locations earmarked for development to assist with applications.

The performance of the planning department has concerned developers and commercial estate agents for some time.

Chris Oakley, of Oakley Commercial, raised the issue with the council in December and said he was delighted with its response.

He welcomed the fact the council’s core strategy now asks for “up to 40%” affordable housing rather than demanding 40%, while he said car-free developments were good in theory but no one wanted to build them because they would not sell.

Mr Oakley said: “Trying to be pioneering was laudable but it was piling on the problems for developers who were dealing with a collapsed market.”

Simon Fanshawe, chairman of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, welcomed the shake-up but pointed out it would not have any bearing on cases such as the Gala Bingo site in Hove.

Housing association Affinity Sutton, the largest landlord in the city outside the council itself, has threatened never to build in Brighton again after its scheme for 35 homes and a doctor’s surgery was turned down.

Despite recommendation from officers, four councillors voted against the plans, while the other eight abstained.

A meeting to discuss the planning shake-up has been organised for Tuesday, May 11, at the Royal Pavilion’s King William IV room at 8am.

To attend, email