Birmingham Development Plan Submitted For Examination

Birmingham Development Plan Submitted For Examination

Birmingham, with a population of over 1 million, is the largest Local Authority in Europe, and is the driving force in shaping the West Midlands for the next generation. It’s current development plan is however vastly out of date, originally adopted in 1993, and reviewed in 2005. Birmingham was a rather different place prior to the UDP’s adoption compared to now, and whilst the regenerative successes of the city is directly related to the strength of the UDP, it’s effect has waned in recent years, especially when considering the publication of the NPPF, and it’s consideration of development plans.

On the 1st July 2014, Birmingham City Council submitted their Development Plan to the Secretary of State for examination. This marks the culmination of over 7 years of preparation; beginning in 2007 with what was then the Core Strategy. Following the abolishment of the Regional Spatial Strategies, the Localism Act of 2011, and the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework, the decision was taken to instead produce a Development Plan for the area for the period to 2031.

The Birmingham Development plan is arguably one of the most important Development Plans within the both the West Midlands and England, due to the role it will play both in directing spatial development within the plan boundaries, but also providing economic growth, social and environmental benefits to authorities outside it. The examination, and potential subsequent adoption of the plan may affect anyone with a development interest within Birmingham.

PJ Planning have extensive experience working within Birmingham, and are aware of the detailed issues and opportunities presented by the plan’s submission for examination. We have a proven track record in preparing representations to similar examinations, as well as providing written and oral evidence to the examinations themselves. With this in mind, should you require more information about how the plan’s submission will affect your development interests, or would like to know how we can provide professional services on your behalf, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

2014 Permitted Development Changes

2014 Permitted Development Changes

In August 2013 the Government published a consultation proposing five new permitted development rights:

  • To create a permitted development right to assist change of use and the associated physical works from an existing building used as a small shop or provider of professional/financial services (A1 and A2 uses) to residential use (C3);

  • To create a permitted development right to enable retail use (A1) to change to a bank or a building society;

  • To create a permitted development right to assist change of use and the associated physical works from existing buildings used for agricultural purposes to change to residential use (C3);

  • To extend the permitted development rights for premises used as offices (B1), hotels (C1), residential (C2 and C2A), non-residential institutions (D1), and leisure and assembly (D2) to change use to a state funded school, to also be able to change to nurseries providing childcare; and

  • To create a permitted development right to allow a building used for agricultural purposes of up to 500m2 to be used as a new state funded school or nursery providing childcare.

On the 14th March 2014, the government confirmed that it would go ahead with the majority of these new change of use permitted development rights as proposed. An exception to this is that the change to allow agricultural buildings to convert to residential use will not apply in areas of National Park land and other protected areas. These changes will be implemented through the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions) (England) Order 2014 (SI 2014/564), which is due to come into force on 6 April 2014.

A number of additional changes have been proposed in the past 6 months by Government. In the Government’s Autumn Statement 2013 and its Supporting High Streets and Town Centres Background Note, 6 December 2013, it was set out that there would be a further consultation on new permitted development rights to change retail use into either a Restaurant (A3) or leisure (D2) use. Whilst this has not yet been implemented, it is a consideration for the future, and something land and property owners will be keeping a close eye on. Of course, an retail use can be used for a period of 2 years as a Restaurant, however this would allow the change of use to be permanent.

In the Budget 2014 the Government also said that it will consult on new permitted development rights for change of use to residential use and to allow businesses to expand certain onsite facilities, as well as considering creating a “much wider ‘retail’ use class, excluding betting shops and payday loan shops”.

As we enter a new financial year, the planning system continues to change and evolve as the NPPF ‘celebrates’ it’s second anniversary. If you have any queries in respect of how these changes affect your land or property, or how we can assist with your planning application needs, please do not hesitate to contact us

Before Paragraph 14, The Need to Consider Paragraphs 7 & 8

Before Paragraph 14, The Need to Consider Paragraphs 7 & 8

One of the more controversial elements of the NPPF since its release in 2012 is the "presumption in favour of sustainable development" listed in Paragraph 14. In fact, some commentators proclaimed that this would "open the floodgates" to a plethora of unrestricted development, especially when considering that where the Development Plan is absent, silent or out of date, permission should be granted unless "any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole".

It has often been construed that this presumption 'automatically' applies to development, unless there are specific polices within a development plan or other material considerations that indicate otherwise. More and more however, inspectors are determining that in order for the presumption to apply, development must first be demonstrated to be sustainable, rather than it being 'assumed' when making decisions on planning applications. A key case here is appeal decision APP/C3430/A/13/2194005, where PJ Planning successfully represented South Staffordshire Council in fighting an appeal against the refusal to grant planning permission.

Definitions for sustainability have evolved dramatically since 1987 and Our Common Future, where sustainable development was cited as being: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.". Whilst this is still the most common definition of sustainable development used by academics and policy makers on an international scale, the NPPF includes its own definition of sustainable development in Paragraph 7 in order to describe how this should be interpreted on a national, and subsequently local scale. This states:

There are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. These dimensions give rise to the need for the planning system to perform a number of roles:

  • an economic role – contributing to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and by identifying and coordinating development requirements, including the provision of infrastructure;
  • a social role – supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being; and
  • an environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.

Paragraph 8 of the Framework then describes how these three roles must be assessed together rather than in isolation, as they are not "mutually dependant". The latter part of the paragraph here states how "to achieve sustainable development, economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly and simultaneously through the planning system".

In appeal decision APP/C3430/A/13/2194005, the inspector is implicit in stating that whilst there is indeed a "general" presumption in favour of sustainable development, this needs to be engaged by meeting the criteria in Paragraph 7 and 8. In this case, the inspector determined that there was questionable economic benefit, no real social value and harm to the environment. In light of this, Paragraph 54 of the appeal decision, considering Paragraphs 7 and 8 together states:

it does not represent a sustainable form of development to which the national policy presumption in favour should apply.

Effect on Decision Making

Whilst the Development Plan and Material Considerations should be taken into account as a whole, the importance of this decision is significant. The methodology is clear that in order for the presumption to apply, it must first be specifically determined if the development meets the criteria outlined in Paragraphs 7 and 8 to be classified as sustainable.

This therefore has an impact on how planning applications, in particular supporting evidence is prepared, and the means by which decision makers should determine them. In particular, it is seemingly no longer enough to simply state that because a development is in a sustainable location, or that the lack of any development plan policy makes a site automatically sustainable. This must be proven, and the need to do so will likely vary from application to application.

Insofar as decision making, local authorities will be under greater pressure to test the true sustainable merits of any planning application before applying the presumption. This must be done with trepidation however, as a mis-assessment and subsequent wrong usage of Paragraph 14 could leave the local authority open to appeal or legal challenge.

More Information

Should you require more information on how this may affect your development or local community, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a wide variety of planning services, and are happy to discuss how this report may impact you.

Parker Jowitt Planning Ltd.

Trading as PJ Planning
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Registered Address: Regent House, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 1TS