Agenda item

Recent Changes to Planning Legislation, the Planning for the Future White Paper and Consultation on Changes to the Current Planning System


The Development Manager submitted a report to the Committee which outlined recent changes to Planning legislation, the Planning for the Future White Paper and consultation on Changes to the Current Planning System, in response to the challenges posed by Covid-19. One major change in legislation was the extension of planning permission; applications that had an expiry date between 23rd March and 31st December 2020 had the expiry date automatically extended until 1st May 2021. A further piece of legislation relating to permitted development rights came into effect on 1st August 2020 which allowed for the construction of new dwellings on detached purpose-built blocks of flats. Further, 2 additional storeys of purpose-built dwellings could be built on top of free-standing blocks, terraced houses or mixed-use buildings with an element of housing. Vacant office buildings could be replaced with a block of flats without planning permission also. These 3 would be subject only to the prior notification approval process; the criteria to consider such applications were listed in paragraph 3.4 of the report. The Use Class Order had undergone a change, effective from 1st September 2020, for example, a shop could now be changed to a restaurant without the requirement for planning permission. Whilst an element of control would be lost in terms of planning, it was noted that these premises would still be required to apply for premises licences so some level of control would remain. Pubs and hot food takeaways were now “Special Use Class”; planning permission was still required to change use between these classes. It was explained that a shop could change to a light industrial unit without planning permission under the change to Class E. Members’ attention was drawn to page 23 of the agenda which showed a table outlining all Use Classes changes. An extension to construction site hours had also been introduced, a developer could apply for permission to work longer hours, subject to possible conditions. Further changes included deferral of CIL payments and pavement licences. The government published their White Paper on “Planning for the Future” and a consultation paper on Changes to the Current Planning System which both had significant implications on local plan making and development management policy; both papers were currently in the consultation stage, it was noted that the Council needed to make formal comments to MHCLG by 1st October 2020 and 29th October 2020 for each of the consultation paper. It was further noted that a briefing session to Members on the White Paper was scheduled for 16th September 2020.


In response to questions, the Committee heard that regarding extensions to construction times, developers would need to apply and the Council should seek to be as flexible as possible. Environmental Health would also be consulted as part of these applications. Regarding timing of determining applications, the White paper specified a 13-week timeframe which was considered tight  for major applications; applicants were being encouraged to do more pre-application work to resolve as many issues as possible before submitting their applications. It was confirmed that should the Council be found to unreasonably refuse an application then it would be subject to costs as well as the refund of planning fee. It was confirmed that there was no green paper prior to the white paper before Members.


The Planning Policy & Heritage Manager confirmed that the white paper did pose questions throughout; the intention behind the document seemed to be to take a significant change of course in terms of planning.


The Director of Planning and Sustainability commented that the white paper represented a fundamental shift in the planning system, that permission for major sites when allocated in growth and renewal areas would be granted at the allocation of the plan; sites already allocated in the Joint Core Strategy would not be affected. The move in front-loading the system would mean less applications made so less fees and also less applications to be determined by the Planning Committee. It was noted that the Local Plan had to be produced in 30 months. It was further confirmed that the lack of a green paper was not without precedent, however it was a strong indication that the proposals within the white  paper were what the government intended to do with the planning system.


Members discussed the report.




That the report be noted.


Councillor Choudary joined the meeting at this juncture.

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