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Local Authority round-up 06/08/2021

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

Scottish government funds Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme

The Scottish government has announced that it will be providing around £9-£12 million in funding to councils to administer the new Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme in the first year. The scheme, which started on 1 August, will provide children in eligible pre-school settings with milk and a portion of fruit or vegetables to ensure they receive the nutrition they require. COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said “The provision of milk and healthy snacks to children is an important part of ensuring that they can get the best from their learning and contributes to their overall health and wellbeing. The scheme will provide for children at a crucial stage in their development and we have worked in partnership to ensure that as many children as possible benefit.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Welsh Government issues guidance on enforcement of conditions relating to retail distribution and opening hours

The Welsh Minister for Climate Change has sent a letter to local planning authorities (LPAs) updating them on the enforcement of planning conditions relating to retail distribution and opening hours due to COVID-19. In his letter he notes that in relation to delivery times, due to the continued pressure on driver availability, there is a risk that returning to strict enforcement of planning conditions which constrain delivery times will result in disruption to food supply chains. Therefore, the flexibility LPAs have shown to food retailers and distributors, enabling them to accept deliveries throughout the day and night, should be maintained. Due to the successful Welsh vaccine programme, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 has been significantly reduced therefore the Welsh Minister expects those stores who have extended their opening hours to revert, by 1 September 2021, to the times set out in planning conditions. Where LPAs are aware that retailers have operated extended opening hours, they should write to advise them that conditions may be enforced from 1 September 2021.

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Public health should be considered in licencing decisions

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for the Licensing Act to be updated to include a public health objective and for powers to take action against premises that fail to protect the health of their communities. The change would mean that councils can assess if new premises could exacerbate an existing public health issue, such as alcohol-related hospital admissions, when considering licencing decisions to ensure that communities are protected from harm. Currently, councils can only currently consider four issues when deciding whether to grant licences which are the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm. Councillor Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said “New licensing powers to protect and improve public health would allow councils to fully take into account the social and health impacts on their local communities as well as help reduce NHS costs. Councils do not want powers to refuse every application. But being able to consider the public health impact of new licensed premises would allow them to take a more balanced view in line with their other priorities such as creating vibrant and safe town centres and protecting people from harm.”

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Planning and housing

New fire safety planning requirements come into effect

New fire safety planning requirements, known as planning gateway one, have come into effect this week. The new requirements mean that when a planning application is submitted in respect of a high-rise residential building, it must as part of a fire statement, demonstrate that the building has been designed with fire safety in mind before planning permission is granted. This must be demonstrated in the site layout and must provide access for fire engines. Local planning authorities must seek specialist advice on relevant applications from the Health and Safety Executive, as the statutory consultee on fire safety, before a decision is made on the application. Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings, at Health and Safety Executive said “The Health and Safety Executive is now a statutory consultee for planning applications involving relevant high-rise residential buildings and will apply risk-based fire safety knowledge and expertise to evaluate planning applications. This will enable local planning authorities to make sound and informed decisions.”

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Welsh government provides £250 million funding for new homes

The Welsh government has announced that it has doubled its spending in 2021-22 to £250 million on social housing in a bid to deliver 20,000 new low carbon homes. Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, said “We have doubled our money, committing a quarter of a billion pounds this financial year, so we can get on and build 20,000 new low carbon homes for rent. This goes beyond Welsh housing need estimates. We are building at scale to address the supply and demand imbalance, homelessness, the growing second homes crisis, and the climate emergency.”

For more information please click here.

£85 million investment for affordable housing in Bromley

Bromley Council, together with an investor, has provided £85 million in funding to property management group Orchard & Shipman to deliver 300 affordable housing units in Bromley. The new properties will be managed by Orchard & Shipman for 50 years before they are returned to the council at no cost. Councillor Peter Morgan, Bromley’s executive councillor for renewal, recreation and housing, said “We are excited at the potential to increase our housing supply which will not only provide much needed housing for residents we need to support but is also another example of how careful financial management can go hand in hand with delivering housing. This is positive news for those residents who may find themselves in temporary accommodation for longer than ideal, and for council taxpayers.”

For more information 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.

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