Check out the latest information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).
Many of these updates – especially those being introduced by the Business and Planning Act 2020 – are a further response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, and the need to ensure that the system can continue to operate effectively and support the recovery.
The Government has indicated that it intends to bring forward proposals for wider reform of the planning system in the near future, and we will circulate a further Planning Update Newsletter at that time.
Dr Michael Bingham OBE - Interim Chief Planner.
The following updates have been recently produced by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and it contains a suite of changes to the planning system, partly in response to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and other changes aimed at improving the processes of plan making and decision taking. Hopefully, its content and the embedded web links will provide you with the necessary updates and information.
The Business and Planning Bill received Royal Assent on 22 July 2020. It introduces a series of urgent, mostly temporary measures intended to help businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality and construction sectors, to get back to work safely and quickly.
As part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 we are supporting our businesses which sell food or drink, such as cafes, pubs and restaurants by introducing a temporary fast-track process for these businesses to obtain permission from the local council for a pavement licence. These licences enable the business to place furniture such as stalls, tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises, enabling them to maximise their capacity whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.
This includes a capped application fee of £100, and quicker consultation and determination periods which means that businesses can obtain licences in a timely and cost-effective manner aiding their financial recovery. When granted, the licence also provides deemed planning permission for anything done by the licence-holder pursuant to the licence.
The Act also provides local authorities with robust enforcement and revocation powers so councils can safeguard public safety and amenity. There is a clear requirement within the Act that accessibility for highways users, in particular disabled people, should be protected, which is why these licences will be subject to a no obstruction condition which seeks to prevent unacceptable obstructions. When local authorities are determining whether furniture put on the highway would be, or already is, an unacceptable obstruction, they will also need to have specific regard to the needs of disabled people, and to any recommended distances required for access by disabled people as set out in guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
Further information on these measures can be found in the pavement licenses guidance.
We have introduced measures through the Business and Planning Act 2020 to provide for an extension to planning permissions and listed building consents which have lapsed or are due to lapse between 23 March and 31 December 2020. This extension will be to 1 May 2021.
The extension will apply automatically for permissions and consents which are extant in between the measures coming into force on 19 August 2020 and 31 December 2020. Any planning permissions which have lapsed since 23 March 2020 can be reinstated and extended subject to an Additional Environmental Approval.
More information on these measures, including the process for Additional Environmental Approval, can be found in the planning practice guidance.
The Business and Planning Act 2020 has introduced measures to provide for a temporary, fast track deemed consent route for developers to apply to local planning authorities to vary existing conditions, or the details submitted under a condition, that limit construction site working hours. This measure comes into force on 28 July 2020. Local authorities have 14 calendar days excluding public and bank holidays to consider such applications.
If an application is approved, this will temporarily amend planning restrictions on construction working hours until 1 April 2021, unless another earlier date has been requested by the applicant or decided upon by the local planning authority, with the agreement of the applicant.
More information can be found in the published guidance.
We have introduced measures through the Business and Planning Act 2020 to enable the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to apply more than one type of procedure (inquiry, hearing and/or written representations), depending on the particular issue at hand, when dealing with certain planning appeals under section 319A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or under section 88D of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 or section 21A of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990.
The Inspectorate will be updating its procedural guides shortly to reflect this new flexibility available to its Inspectors in conducting certain appeals.
We have introduced new planning regulations to reform and simplify the Use Classes Order to make it easier for high street uses to change use without the need for a planning application. This will create a new broad category of ‘commercial, business and service’ uses which will allow commercial, retail and leisure uses greater freedom to adapt to changing circumstances and respond to the needs of their local communities. A new community and learning class will allow for the protection of community facilities and infrastructure. Certain uses such as pubs and theatres will remain protected, while others such as hot food takeaways or betting shops will require full planning consent.
The regulations provide for the existing range of permitted development rights in the GDPO to be preserved as of 31 August until 31 July 2021. Individual buildings and uses will be able to exercise the permitted development right they were entitled to on 31 August 2020. The new regulations came into force on 1 September 2020.
New permitted development rights are being introduced to extend buildings upwards to create new homes and living space. Regulations introduced on 24 June allow purpose-built freestanding blocks of flats of three storeys or more to extend upwards by up to 2 additional storeys to create new homes, up to a height of 30m. This right came into force on 1 August 2020.
The Regulations also introduced time-limited measures to support businesses as coronavirus restrictions are lifted. These allow a local authority to use land to hold a market and erect moveable structures on it for an unlimited number of days until 23 March 2021, and provide an additional 28 days for the temporary use of land for any purpose (or 14 days for use as a market or for car and motorcycle racing) between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020.
A second phase of new permitted development rights to build upwards allow up to 2 additional storeys on free standing blocks, up to a height of 30 metres, and on buildings in a terrace (of 2 or more buildings) in certain commercial uses. They also allow up to 2 additional storeys on existing houses, detached or in a terrace, to create new self-contained homes or additional living space up to a height of 18 metres. Single storey homes will be able to add 1 additional storey. There are conditions and a number of prior approvals are required including on specific matters including the external appearance of the proposed development and its impact on the amenity of neighbours. The regulation amendments came into force on 31 August 2020.
We have introduced a new permitted development right to allow vacant and redundant free-standing commercial and light industrial premises, and residential blocks of flats, to be demolished and replaced with new residential units. At the same time the right will allow up to 2 storeys to be added to the height of the original building, to help create more homes, as long as the resulting residential building is no higher than 18 metres.
There are conditions and the right is subject to prior approval by the local planning authority. The regulations come into force on 31 August 2020.
We are currently amending the fees regulations to provide for a prior approval fee for homes constructed under the rights to build upwards to create new homes, and to the right for demolition and rebuild. The prior approval fee is set at £334 per new dwelling up to 50 units, and a fixed fee of £16,525 plus £100 for each dwelling in excess of 50. These amendments are subject to Parliamentary approval.
In line with the Written Ministerial Statement on 25 June (‘Planning update’) we have brought forward measures in response to Covid-19 to support the move to online inspection of documents intended to ensure the planning system continues to operate effectively.
We have taken on board concerns raised by local planning authorities and other stakeholders about the implications of Covid-19 on the ability to progress plan making. We have already published guidance on reviewing and updating the statement of community involvement. The following changes all apply until 31 December 2020.
New legislation has now come into force for local development documents (amending, on a temporary basis, regulations 35 and 36 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012). We have also brought forward secondary legislation in relation to spatial development strategies (amending the Town and Country Planning (London Spatial Development Strategy) Regulations 2000 and the Combined Authorities (Spatial Development Strategy) Regulations 2018) which will come into force on 12 August 2020. These changes remove requirements to make certain documents available for inspection at premises and to provide hard copies on request. The documents must, instead, be made available for inspection online. This will support local planning authorities and mayoral combined authorities to continue to progress up-to-date Local Plans and spatial development strategies.
Planning practice guidance has also been updated outlining how local planning authorities and mayoral combined authorities should consider the practical measures needed to ensure fair participation is possible.
Similarly, we have also temporarily modified the inspection and notification requirements that apply to Strategic Environment Assessments (SEA), through the introduction of regulation 18 in the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 ('the SEA Regulations') by the Environmental
Assessment of Plans and Programmes (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. These modifications remove requirements for physical copies of SEA-related documents to be available for inspection at an address and for hard copies to be made available. Instead, copies of the relevant documents must be made available for inspection online. Notification requirements have also been amended to reflect these changes. Planning practice guidance has been updated to support responsible authorities to meet these requirements.
We have introduced temporary changes to certain publicity requirements in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime through the Infrastructure
Planning (Publication and Notification of Applications etc.) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. The Regulations came into force on 22 July 2020 and remove obligations on applicants (or the Secretary of State, as the case may be) to include in relevant notices the addresses where certain documentation is available for inspection. Instead, applicants are required to make the relevant documentation available online and provide a telephone number for general enquiries. Guidance has been published to support these temporary changes.
In response to the impact of Covid-19, we have made a Written Ministerial Statement to support theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues. The Statement requires local planning authorities to take into consideration the impact of Covid-19 business disruption, in determining applications for demolition or change of use of these venues. Guidance on the Written Ministerial Statement.
The Government recognises that holiday parks, caravan parks and campsites may decide to extend opening beyond the summer season to support these businesses to recover from Covid-19 business disruption. In some cases, planning conditions may restrict their open season. We have made a Written Ministerial Statement to emphasise that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should not seek to undertake enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of holiday parks, caravan parks and campsites to extend their open season. Local planning authorities should also prioritise decision making for applications to vary relevant planning conditions, and take account of the economic benefits resulting from extended opening. Guidance on the Written Ministerial Statement.
On 22 July the Government published its response to the joint MHCLG and DCMS consultation on proposed planning reforms to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage. This consultation was published in August 2019 and sought views on the principle of amending permitted development rights for operators with rights under the Electronic Communications Code and the circumstances in which it would be appropriate to do so.
The government response summarises the responses received and confirms its intention to take forward the in-principle proposals consulted on, subject to a technical consultation, to enable:
The response sets out that in taking forward these proposals, we will work with representatives of local planning authorities as well as the mobile industry to develop a technical consultation on the detail of the proposals, including the appropriate environmental protections and other safeguards to mitigate the impact of new mobile infrastructure, prior to amending Part 16 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).
Derby City Council has announced further steps to help businesses recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with the introduction of new guidance on Temporary Structures.
From now until 23rd March 2021 the Council will, in certain circumstances, allow temporary structures and buildings to be placed on land without planning permission, to enable businesses to expand their footprint to support social distancing measures.
This is in addition to the introduction of permissive pavement licences announced earlier in July, which has fast tracked the procedure for adding seating outside cafes and restaurants.
The Council is committed to support local businesses in the recovery and this measure is a pro-active step taken to allow businesses to accept more customers and accommodate employees whilst still following the Governments COVID-19 guidance.
Any existing business or organisation wishing to erect (or which has already erected) a temporary structure for COVID-19 related reasons on private land should contact the Development Control team with the information listed below:
Following an initial assessment of the information, officers will either approve the proposal or work with the business to make and suggest alterations or amendments to mitigate any concerns. Where concerns cannot be mitigated then a formal planning application may be required. Where work will have a direct impact on a listed building, listed building consent will be required. The initiative does not include residential properties.