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Local Authority round-up 01/07/22

Our Local Authority round up provides brief summaries of topical information on a weekly basis, to keep you aware of the changes and updates relevant to you.

Commercial

DLUHC launches Help to Build scheme

On 24 June 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced that the Help to Build scheme is launching, with applications being accepted from 27 June 2022. The scheme applies to England only. The Help to Build scheme was announced in April 2021 and is intended to provide an equity loan based on the estimated costs to buy a plot of land and build the home. The scheme will allow people to build a home with only a 5% deposit towards land and building costs and it can help people with specific living requirements create a home that caters for their needs.

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Government publishes Bill of Rights Bill 2022-23

On 22 June 2022, the government introduced the Bill of Rights Bill 2022-23 (Bill) to Parliament. The Bill purports to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) and create a new domestic human rights framework around the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), First Protocol and Thirteenth Protocol (Convention rights), to which the UK will remain a signatory. The Bill provides that it is unlawful for a public authority to act, or fail to act, in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right and that a court may make a declaration of incompatibility in respect of primary or subordinate legislation that is incompatible with a Convention right. These provisions are retained from the HRA 1998. The Bill’s other key provisions include detailed interpretive provisions that require a court to give additional weight to certain rights or principles (including concerning that, in a democracy, Parliament should be the decision-maker in balancing Convention rights with policy aims). A court cannot adopt a new interpretation that requires a public authority to comply with a positive obligation “to do any act.” In addition, a court may adopt an interpretation that diverges from jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. The Bill also imposes a higher threshold for victims of alleged breaches of Convention rights in order for permission for their claim to proceed, namely that they have suffered a “significant disadvantage.” In these and other respects, the Bill constructs a distinct regime to that under the HRA 1998. It is unclear how it would operate in practice and, in particular, how the courts would react to the interpretative provisions the Bill sets out.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 10) Regulations 2022 in force 23 June 2022

The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 10) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/689) (2022 Regulations) entered into force on 23 June 2022. The 2022 Regulations are made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to amend the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/855) (2019 Regulations) by amending existing regulations and adding new ones. The amending regulations introduce the following:

  • Prohibitions on the export, supply and delivery, making available and transfer of goods and technology with the potential for the production and development of chemical and biological weapons.
  • Prohibitions on the export of maritime goods and technology.
  • Prohibitions on the export to, or for use in Russia of sterling or EU denominated banknotes.
  • Prohibitions on the export to, or for use in Russia of jet fuel and fuel additives and the related provision of technical assistance, financial services, funds or brokering services.
  • Additions to existing prohibitions relating to oil refining goods and technology.
  • Extension of the prohibitions on the export, supply and delivery and making available of military goods and technology to non-government controlled Ukrainian territory.
  • Prohibitions on the import, acquisition or supply and delivery of revenue generating goods that originate in or are consigned from Russia.
  • Prohibitions on the provision of technical assistance, financial services, funds or brokering services relating to iron and steel imports.

The 2022 Regulations also introduce defences in relation to violations of the newly introduced prohibitions by making it a defence for the person charged with the contravention to show that they did not know and had no reason to suspect that they were engaging in the prohibited action. A lack of intent to violate the relevant prohibition is clearly not within scope of the defence.

For more information please click here.

UK-Gulf Cooperation Council trade negotiations launched

On 22 June 2022, the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a joint statement formally launching negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA). The GCC comprises the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. The Department for International Trade (DIT) published a document relating to the negotiations titled UK-GCC FTA: The UK’s Strategic Approach. The document sets out the government’s strategic case for pursuing the negotiations, its negotiating objectives, its response to its call for input on the potential FTA, and an impact assessment. The government’s negotiating objectives confirm that the government will seek for the FTA to address trade in goods, including a broad liberalisation of tariffs, simple rules of origin, and commitments to address regulatory barriers to trade, and trade in services, including market access commitments for services providers and investors, and increased opportunities for business travel. Other areas on which the UK will seek specific commitments include digital trade, intellectual property, government procurement, regulatory standards in areas such as competition policy, labour standards and the environment, and a mechanism for state-to-state dispute settlement. The government’s announcement highlights in particular the potential for the FTA to significantly reduce or eliminate high tariffs on agrifood products, including for example tariffs of up to 25% on cereals and 15% on chocolate.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Council at fault causing injustice for failing to review suitability of overcrowded, temporary accommodation

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) has held that the London Borough of Croydon (Council) had caused injustice to the complainant (X), whose family had been required to live in unsuitable, overcrowded temporary accommodation. X applied to the Council as homeless when she was single and without children. The Council owed X the main housing duty under section 193 of the Housing Act 1996 and placed her in a single-room studio flat as temporary accommodation. By January 2021, X had four children and complained to the Council that the flat was too small. The Council however concluded that the Council was in the correct banding under its choice-based letting scheme, but that she should now bid on permanent three-bedroom accommodation. The LG&SCO was satisfied that the Council had correctly applied its choice-based letting scheme and allocations policy, and not ignored relevant information. However, there was no evidence that it had reviewed the flat’s suitability. The duty to provide suitable accommodation was ongoing; where there is reason to believe that accommodation may no longer be suitable, a council must review suitability. Under sections 324 to 326 of the Housing Act 1985, the flat was legally overcrowded and became more overcrowded when X’s youngest child turned one. The Council appeared not to have considered the effects of the overcrowding on X’s children, whether this represented an environmental health risk or warranted a referral to children’s services. The Council had also not explained why it still considered the flat to be suitable despite stating a three-bedroom property was needed, or whether X’s home was legally overcrowded. On the balance of probabilities, the LG&SCO concluded if the Council had properly reviewed the suitability of X’s accommodation, it would have considered that it was unsuitable. The Council was at fault because it failed to properly review the suitability of the flat after X told the Council that her circumstances had changed, consider referring X to its children’s services team for support or consider whether the overcrowding was an environmental health risk to X’s family. The LG&SCO’s recommendations included that the Council should arrange suitable alternative temporary accommodation, and pay X £300 per month since January 2021. The LG&SCO recognised that the law does not require councils to provide a permanent home for people owed the main housing duty.

For more information please click here.

Office block was not within curtilage of listed building

Prior to 1 August 2021, Class O, Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (SI 2015/596) (GPDO 2015) granted deemed planning permission for the change of use of offices (Class B1(a)) to residential (Class C3). Development was not permitted where the building was a listed building, or within the curtilage of a listed building. Prior approval had been refused for the change of use of offices (Building A) to 64 flats after the local planning authority concluded that Building A lay within the curtilage of the grade II* listed Heinz corporation headquarters. Building A was constructed in 2000 on the site of a former walled garden which had been used as a car park for the Heinz offices, which was built on a country house estate and listed in 1995. Historically the site where Building A was situated had formed part of the curtilage of the listed building. The inspector considered that the extent of a curtilage was not fixed and could change over time depending on events and actions. The inspector noted an amendment to the listing entry in 2013 setting out that when Building A was constructed, around two thirds of the garden wall had been demolished, severing its relationship with the original buildings. The inspector also considered that it was relevant that Building A had never been occupied by Heinz. The inspector concluded that while the buildings were effectively within one enclosure and visually connected, the perimeter or curtilage of the business park should not be “conflated” with the curtilage of the listed building. The inspector considered the Oxford English Dictionary definition of curtilage and also had regard to the principal legal test of curtilage set out in Hampshire CC v Blackbushe Airport Limited [2021] EWCA Civ 398, that the land must be so intimately connected with the building as to lead to the conclusion that the former is in truth part and parcel of the latter. The inspector ruled that the physical and functional links between the area of land occupied by Building A and the listed building had been altered to such an extent, that by the time the prior approval application was made, Building A was no longer part and parcel of the listed building. The proposed change of use therefore fell within the scope of Class O.

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

Global mobility matters

Join Flora Mewies and Roisin Patton on 12 July 2022 at 12pm as they chat about the issues and solutions of global mobility matters. Both of whom support national and international businesses daily, ensuring their workforce can be in the right place at the right time.

At the session we will cover:

  • The new global business mobility visa route that came into play in April 2022 – how this is different from other routes and the benefits for businesses
  • How the impact of Brexit/the end of freedom of movement is impacting our clients.
  • The ways in which you can recruit from overseas
  • Employing staff to work remotely from outside the UK
  • Real world examples – what to avoid and how to manage the process effectively

For more information and to book your place, please click here.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this update, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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