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Local Authority round-up 20/01/23

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.

Commercial

Durham receives £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund

Durham City Council will receive £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund. The funding will be used to transform the Locomotion tourist attraction in Shildon so that heritage engines can run along the line and also to provide a new 18km walking and cycling route. It will also be used to reopen Whorlton Bridge and to support the rerouting of the A68 at Toft Hill. Councillor James Rowlandson, Durham County Council cabinet member for Resources, Investment and Assets, said “We are delighted to have secured Levelling Up funding which is helping Locomotion expand its visitor offer and enhancing active travel and connectivity; thereby delivering economic, environmental and health benefits.”

For more information please click here.

Sunderland receives £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund

Sunderland City Council will receive £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund in order to build a construction skills academy and develop new housing. £9 million of the funding will be used to build a construction skills academy at Sheepfolds, near the Stadium of Light which will educate people on creating innovative homes. The remaining funds will be used to build sustainable housing which will be low carbon structures that use renewable energy and constructed using modern methods. The eco housing development will be built at Sunniside and Riverside Sunderland. City council leader, Councillor Graeme Miller said that the Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy would “put Sunderland at the forefront of housebuilding, allowing us to build homes of the future that will create attractive new communities that strengthen the city’s reputation as a world-class place to live. Our innovation in Sunderland is powering the transformation of our city and its economy, creating more opportunities for our residents.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill blocked by UK government

The UK government has blocked the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from receiving Royal Assent by making an order under section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998. Under this provision, the UK government has the power to make an order prohibiting a Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament from being submitted for Royal Assent if the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe that it would have an “adverse effect” on the operation of the law on a reserved matter (in this case, equality law). This is the first time that the power has been used. It has been reported that Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, will challenge the section 35 order, most likely using judicial review proceedings. On 16 January 2022, Alister Jack, the Secretary of State for Scotland, announced that he was invoking section 35 because he had concerns that the Bill would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation. He added that, if the Scottish Government were to bring an amended Bill for reconsideration in the Scottish Parliament, he hoped it would be possible to find a constructive way forward that respects devolution and the operation of UK Parliament legislation. The Scottish Parliament passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in December 2022. The requirements of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 would have continued to apply in England and Wales.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

Foreign Subsidies Regulation enters into force

On 12 January 2023, Regulation 2022/2560 on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market (the Foreign Subsidies Regulation) entered into force (20 days after its publication in the Official Journal). The Foreign Subsidies Regulation contains a set of rules for addressing distortions caused by foreign subsidies. The new rules give the Commission the power to investigate financial contributions granted by non-EU countries to companies engaging in economic activity in the EU and redress, if needed, their distortive effects. The Regulation contains an obligation for companies to notify to the Commission concentrations involving a financial contribution by a non-EU government where the acquired company, one of the merging parties or the joint venture generates an EU turnover of at least €500 million and the foreign financial contribution involved is at least €50 million. It also includes an obligation for companies to notify to the Commission participation in public procurement procedures, where the estimated contract value is at least €250 million and the foreign financial contribution involved is at least €4 million per non-EU country. In addition, the Commission can start investigations on its own initiative (ex-officio) if it suspects that distortive foreign subsidies may be involved. This includes the possibility to request ad-hoc notifications for public procurement procedures and smaller concentrations. A notified concentration cannot be completed and an investigated bidder cannot be awarded the public procurement contract while under investigation by the Commission. The Commission has investigative powers and the powers to impose penalties for non-compliance. If the Commission finds that a foreign subsidy exists and distorts the Single Market, it may balance the negative effects in terms of the distortion with the positive effects of the subsidy on the development of the subsidised economic activity. If the negative effects outweigh the positive ones, the Commission may impose structural or non-structural redressive measures on companies, or accept them as commitments, to remedy the distortion. The Regulation will start to apply as of 12 July 2023, when, the Commission will be able to launch ex-officio investigations. The notification obligation for companies will be effective as of 12 October 2023. In the coming weeks, the Commission will present a draft Implementing Regulation which will clarify the applicable rules and procedures.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

SUDS to become mandatory for new developments in England

On 10 January 2023, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) published a report of its review of sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) and announced plans to make SUDS mandatory for new developments in England. Defra will consult on the proposals later this year. SUDS collect surface water run-off and release it slowly, rather than discharging it all straight into the public sewer system or watercourse. They mimic the way surface water run-off would have occurred had the land not been developed, using soakaways, grassed areas, permeable surfaces and wetlands. This reduces the impact of flooding and pollution. In England, the government has to date used the planning system to encourage the use of SUDS, whereas the Welsh Government implemented Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 substantively in 2019. Defra intends:

  • To implement Schedule 3 in England. Implementation will guarantee that SUDS are designed, constructed, adopted and maintained to national standards throughout the development’s lifetime. The government will consult on a full regulatory impact assessment before making its final decisions on scope, threshold and process.
  • That the SUDS Approving Body (SAB) will sit within the unitary authority or county council, if there is not one.
  • That permitted development under 100 square metres, single buildings under 100 square metres and construction work carried out by an internal drainage board (under the Land Drainage Act 1991) will not require approval.

Defra will also conduct a full analysis of the costs and benefits, including the SAB running costs and the SUDS operation and maintenance costs. The net additional cost to local authorities will be assessed and funded. There will be transitional arrangements for those developments at an advanced stage of planning at the point Schedule 3 is commenced in England, to avoid incurring additional work and costs. Defra will consult on the impact assessment, national standards for SUDS and statutory instruments in 2023. Defra expects Schedule 3 to be implemented in England during 2024.

For more information please click here.

£60 million available to councils to revive brownfield sites

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced that it will be providing councils in England with the opportunity to bid for a share of £60 million under the Brownfield Land Release Fund 2. Councils will need to successfully bid for a share of the funding which can then be used to regenerate unloved brownfield sites in order to deliver new homes and jobs. The application window is open now and will close on 31 March 2023. Successful projects will be announced over the summer and it is expected that the funding will deliver 5,800 new homes by March 2027 and create around 18,000 new jobs in the housing and construction sector. Minister for Housing Rt Hon Lucy Frazer said “We want to turn neglected areas into thriving new communities, as part of our mission level up the country. To do this we must prioritise brownfield land to deliver new homes for people, in the right places. The £60 million fund we are opening today provides another fantastic opportunity for councils to drive regeneration in their towns and cities – and help more young families onto the housing ladder.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

How to provide the best support to your employees in respect of their health and wellbeing and invest your money wisely

Despite the increase in employer investment in implementing mental health initiatives, like mental health first aiders, it appears that poor mental health of employees is at an all-time high. With this in mind it is important that employers have a health and wellbeing strategy and are able to monitor the impact of health and wellbeing initiatives. Please join us on 26th January 2023 at 10am when we will be joined by Guy Robertson Co-Founder & CEO of Dittolo and Emily Pearson, Managing Director of Our Mind’s Work.

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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