RPS Planning Update
A Written Ministerial Statement was issued by the Secretary of State for Planning, Nick Boles, on the 6th March 2014, providing an update on how the Government is progressing changes to the planning system to make it simpler, clearer and easier for people to use. He introduced the following significant changes as part of this process.
The Secretary of State drew particular attention to a number of topical issues dealt with in the new guidance, including:
Emphasising a robust position on development on flood risk sites
Confirming the prioritisation of the Green Belt over unmet housing need
Making clear that local plans can pass the test of soundness where authorities have not been able to identify land for growth in years 11 to 15 of thier local plan
On the five year supply of sites, confirming that assessments are not automatically outdated by new household projections
Local Authorities with Joint Plans can combine their 5 year land requirements now
Clarifying aspects of housing need assessment
Ensuring that infrastructure to support development is provided and its relevance is recognised in assessing site suitability
Providing for the delivery record of developers and land owners to be taken into account by Councils
Introducing guidance on renewable energy, including confirmation of the relevance of visual impact to solar farm proposals
Clarification of prematurity as a reason for refusal of planning permission
Clarification of the duty to co-operate between local authorities.
National Planning Practice Guidance
This is a final version of web-based guidance following consultation in 2013 and is the first time planning practice guidance has been available entirely online. The intention is for all the information to be located in one place making it more usable and accessible with easy links between the National Planning Policy Framework and related planning practice guidance. From the 6th March 2014 the previous guidance documents being replaced by the new guidance are cancelled.
The online planning guidance is divided into the following topics and can be accessed in full at http://planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk
- Air Quality
- Before submitting an application
- Climate Change
- Conserving and enhancing the historic environment
- Consultation and pre-decision matters
- Crown Development
- Determining a planning application
- Duty to cooperate
- Ensuring effective enforcement
- Ensuring the vitality of town centres
- Environmental Impact Assessment
- Flexible options for planning permissions
- Flood Risk and Coastal Change
- Hazardous Substances
- Health and wellbeing
- Housing and economic development needs assessment
- Housing and economic land availability assessment
- Land affected by contamination
- Land Stability
- Lawful development certificates
- Light Pollution
- Local Plans
- Making an application
- Natural Environment
- Neighbourhood Planning
- Open space, sports and recreation facilities, public rights of way and local green space
- Planning obligations
- Renewable and low carbon energy
- Rural Housing
- Strategic environmental assessment and sustainability appraisal
- Travel plans, transport assessments and statements in decision-taking
- Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas
- Use of Planning Conditions
- Water supply, waste water and water quality
- When is permission required?
Encouraging re-use of empty and under-used buildings
In August 2013, a consultation paper was issued on a further set of greater flexibilities for change of use. The purpose of the changes is to save time and money for applicants and councils, encourage the re-use of empty and under-used buildings and further support brownfield regeneration while ensuring regard to potential flood risk. Following the consultation, the following changes are proposed:
New homes: retail to residential change of use: Reforms will allow change of use from shops (A1) and financial and professional services (A2) to houses (C3). This change of use will not apply to land protected by Article 1(5) of the General Permitted Development Order (National Parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites). In addition, to increase access to retail banking and to encourage new entrants to the market, shops (A1) will be able to change to banks, building societies, credit unions and friendly societies, within the A2 use class. This does not cover betting shops or payday loan shops.
New homes: agricultural to residential change of use: Reforms will allow up to 450 square metres of agricultural buildings on a farm to change to provide a maximum of three houses. This change of use will not apply in Article 1(5) land (see above).
Change of use: Extending access to education: The Government proposes to extend the existing permitted development rights for change of use to state-funded schools to additionally cover registered nurseries. Agricultural buildings up to 500 square metres will also be able to change to state-funded schools and registered nurseries.
Should you wish to discuss any of the changes above further, please do not hesitate to contact your usual RPS contact.