May 2013 Planning System Changes
There are a whole series of changes which have now taken place, or which are about to take place to the planning system. The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 was enacted in the last few days, and the Planning Minister Nick Boles has signalled a Development Order enacting permitted development changes. Please find a summary of the changes set out below.
1. Affordable Housing
With immediate effect, the ability to reconsider economically unviable affordable housing provisions in Section 106 Agreements has been put on a formal statutory footing by the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. A new s106B allows a person who has an affordable housing requirement to apply to the LPA to modify, replace or remove the requirement where the requirement means the development is not economically viable,
The decision by the Council must be made within 28 days or within any other period prescribed by the Secretary of State, and cannot result in the requirement becoming more onerous.
An application may be made to the local planning authority for a revised affordable housing obligation. This application should contain a revised affordable housing proposal, based on prevailing viability, and should be supported by relevant viability evidence. DCLG have provided separate guidance in respect of what evidence may be required to support applications and appeals
Where the local planning authority does not agree with the developer’s revised proposal for affordable housing, or does not determine the application, Section 106BC provides a right of appeal to the Secretary of State.
If allowed, the outcome of a successful appeal would be a revised affordable housing requirement in the Section 106 agreement for three years, starting on the date when the appellant is notified of the appeal decision. If the development is not completed in that time, the original affordable housing obligation will apply to those parts of the scheme which have not been commenced. Developers are therefore incentivised to build out as much of their scheme as possible within 3 years.
The procedures do not replace existing powers to renegotiate Section 106 agreements on a voluntary basis.
Affordable housing obligations on sites granted in accordance with a Rural Exceptions Site policy are exempt from this procedure.
2. Appeal costs
A cost award can be made in an appeal against an appellant or local planning authority where either party is considered to have acted unreasonably. Section 2 of the Act allows the Secretary of State's to also recover his costs in such cases.
3. House extensions
The Act does not allow the long signalled changed to permitted development rights to house extensions; these are widely expected to allow single storey rear extensions up to 8m for a detached house and 6m for other houses, for a three year period. This is likely to be one of the permitted development changes expected at the end of the month. What it does do, however, is set out the requirements to be carried out in respect of any such extension, that is:
i) provide a written description, and a plan, of the proposed development to the local planning authority,
ii) the local planning authority must serve notice of the proposal on the owner or occupier of any adjoining premises, and
iii) that, where an adjoining neighbour objects, the proposed development may be carried out only if the local planning authority consider that it would not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of adjoining premises.
4. Information required with planning applications
In respect of supporting information to be submitted with planning applications, Section 6 of the Act states requirements must now be reasonable having regard to the nature and scale of the proposed development; and can be required only if it is reasonable to consider the matter will be a material consideration in the determination of the application. This will hopefully help to reduce the "it's on our checklist, therefore you've got to provide it" response from local authorities.
5. Change of Use from Office to Residential
Permitted development rights for change of use from B1(a) offices to C3 residential purposes will come into force on 30 May. Exempted councils are:
In London: City of London, Camden, Hackney, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Westminster,
Rest of the Country: Ashford, East Hampshire, Manchester, Sevenoaks, Stevenage and Vale of White Horse.
6. Retail to other uses:
Similarly, it has been signalled that permitted development for a change of use between other uses will be extended on the 30th May:
A1 (retail), A2 (high street office), A3 (restaurant) A4 (pub) A5 (takeaways) B1 (business ) D1 (non residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) to open for up to two years in buildings designated as A1, A2, A3 and B1 use
7. B class change of use
The threshold for permitted development rights for change of use from B1 (business) or B2 (general industry) to B8 storage and distribution, and from B2 or B8 to B1 is to be increased on the 30th May from 235 square metres to 500 square metres.
Buildings currently in use as B1 offices, C1 hotels, C2 residential and D1 non-residential institutions, and D2 assembly and leisure will be able to change their use permanently to a state-funded school without the need for planning permission from the 30th May. In addition, buildings of any use class will be able to be used as a state-funded school for one academic year.
9. Agricultural uses
Also from the 30th May, redundant agricultural buildings of 500 square metres or less will be able to change to a range of new business uses "to boost the rural economy"
And finally, speaking at the National Infrastructure Planning Association conference in London on the 9th May, the Planning Minister, Nick Boles remarked in a question and answer session that "if anyone comes to me with an idea for new planning legislation I am going to shoot them".
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like further information, or if you have any nominations for targets...