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Local Authority round-up 10/03/23

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.


New Memorandum of Understanding outlines responsibilities of Financial Reporting Council

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines the responsibilities of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) as shadow system leader for local audit. Local audit is the process whereby a local authority’s accounts are independently verified, so taxpayers can be assured the information provided is reliable, true and fair. The new responsibilities given to the FRC aim to build a more resilient system that operates effectively so local taxpayers get the transparency and accountability they need. Neil Harris, Director of Local Audit at the FRC, will lead a new local audit department at the organisation with five key responsibilities:

  • leading a coherent and coordinated policy response to challenges arising across the local audit system;
  • facilitating stronger governance across the local audit framework;
  • leading work to improve competition, bolster capability and market supply;
  • overseeing the entire quality framework for local audit; and
  • reporting on the local audit system.

For more information please click here.

Planning and housing

Haringey Council found to have breached the Home Standard

A regulatory notice published by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has concluded that Haringey Council breached the Home Standard and, as a result, there was potential for serious detriment to tenants. Following a self-referral, RSH confirmed that the council breached health and safety requirements. It had failed to complete a significant number of remedial fire safety actions, including 4,000 that were high risk. In addition, it did not have up-to-date electrical safety reports for thousands of homes. Through its investigation, the regulator also found that over 100 of the council’s homes had serious hazards and nearly 5,000 of its homes did not meet the Decent Homes Standard. Haringey Council is undertaking a full condition survey of its tenants’ homes and has put a programme in place to rectify these issues.

For more information please click here.

Government consults on changes to GPDO 2015

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published a consultation on changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order (SI 2015/596) (GPDO 2015). The consultation covers the following areas:

  • A new permitted development right (PDR) to support temporary recreational campsites. The PDR would permit the temporary use of land (up to 60 days per calendar year) for the placing of tents, and the provision on the land of moveable structures related to the campsite use, such as portable toilets. The right would be subject to limitations and conditions to control impacts and protect local amenity.
  • Changes to existing PDRs for solar equipment and a new PDR for solar canopies on non-domestic car parks. The government is seeking views on whether the existing PDR for solar equipment should apply to domestic buildings with flat roofs.
  • Amendment to the existing PDR which allows local planning authorities (LPAs) to undertake certain development. This change would allow bodies to undertake work on behalf of the LPA. This amendment would enable LPAs to appoint charge point providers to install public electric vehicle (EV) charge points on their behalf.
  • Changes to the existing PDR allowing for the temporary use of buildings or land for film-making purposes including changes to increase the time period that the right can be used for commercial film-making and increase the site size and height of temporary structures that can be used for film-making purposes.

The consultation relates to England only and closes on 25 April 2023.

For more information please click here.

Planning permission quashed following successful appeal of council’s decision to sell land subject to statutory trust

The issue for the Supreme Court (SC) was whether the Court of Appeal was right to hold that land held on a statutory trust under section 10 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 which Shropshire Council (council) sold, without complying with the consultation requirements in section 123(2A) of the Local Government Act 1972 (LGA 1972), is freed from any statutory trust by virtue of section 128(2)(b) of the LGA 1972. Section 128 provides that a disposal of land that is subject to the consultation requirement is not invalidated because the requirement has not been complied with and any purchaser of the land is not concerned to see or enquire whether it has been (section 128(2)(b), LGA 1972). The council argued (unsuccessfully) that section 128(2) of the LGA 1972 extinguishes the rights enjoyed by the public under the statutory trust. The SC, in unanimously allowing D’s appeal and quashing the grant of planning permission, held that:

  • The rights enjoyed by the public under the statutory trust are only extinguished if the council complies with the “bespoke” consultation procedure set out in section 123(2A) of the LGA 1972.
  • If the council’s assertion was correct (that as soon as the land comes into private ownership the statutory trust must be extinguished), it would be easy to circumvent the restrictions and conditions attached to the sale of statutory trust land and there would “hardly be” any need for the protections afforded to the purchaser under section 123(2B) or section 128(2)(b) of the LGA 1972.
  • Parliament when drafting section 123(3) of the LGA 1972 had set out in clear words what was required in order to dispose of land in a way that extinguished rights of the public under the statutory trust by complying with section 123(2A) and giving members of the public the opportunity to object to the sale of statutory trust land.

Councils proposing to dispose of land should take stock of how they acquired and hold public walks and open spaces so they can formally document the powers relied upon when making any decision to sell land.

For more information please click here.

Upcoming webinars

Immigration update for businesses holding sponsor licenses

Join Flora Mewies and Roisin Patton, from our Immigration Employment team on Thursday 16th March at midday. They are hosting a free webinar updating you with the steps that should be taken by organisations to ensure effective compliance with the current requirements.

For more information or 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.

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