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Local Authority round-up 23/07/21

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

More schools confirmed for schools rebuilding programme

A further 50 schools have been confirmed for the second round of the Prime Minister’s rebuilding programme. The 50 schools included in this round include primary, secondary and special and alternative provision schools. New school buildings will be net-zero carbon in operation, helping meet the Government’s net zero target and the funding will also be used for refurbishments to create modern education environments, providing new facilities from classrooms and science labs, to sports halls and dining rooms. The Department for Education is also launching a consultation to gather views on how to prioritise schools for the remainder of the programme. Education secretary, Gavin Williamson said “This programme will give thousands more young people the chance to learn in world class school facilities, levelling up opportunity and making sure every young person has the chance to succeed, progress and fulfil their potential. As we build back better after the pandemic, with buildings that are net-zero in operation, this major ten-year rebuilding programme will help to shape the education of not only children now, but for years to come.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

New self-isolation rules for critical workers announced

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that from 16 August fully vaccinated critical workers will be able to leave self-isolation in exceptional circumstances under new plans to prevent serious disruption to vital public services. Critical workers will include railway signallers, air traffic controllers and care home staff. In order to meet the exceptional circumstances requirement it is set out that this would apply where there would otherwise be a major detrimental impact on the availability, integrity or delivery of essential services. Only workers who have been fully vaccinated (14 days post final dose) will be eligible and will only be allowed out of self-isolation for the sole purpose of attending work. Those workers will be required to take a PCR test as soon as possible and then take daily lateral flow tests and they will be required to self-isolate if they show any symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

UK tries to redraw Northern Ireland trading agreement

Brexit Minister Lord Frost has announced that the UK are trying to redraw the terms of the post-Brexit trading arrangements it agreed with the EU for Northern Ireland saying that the current terms risked harming business, and were damaging the “fabric” of the UK. The government has now published a report “Northern Ireland Protocol: the way forward” in which it sets out suggested changes including the removal of customs checks on goods where the GB-registered businesses sending them have declared their final destination is Northern Ireland, getting rid of certificates and checks for food products “only ever intended to be consumed in Northern Ireland,” removing medicines entirely from the scope of the protocol and allowing labelled goods conforming to UK rules to circulate freely in Northern Ireland alongside EU-registered products. European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič has said that the EU will not agree to a renegotiation of the Brexit deal.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Scottish councils to receive housing grants

The Scottish government has announced that Scottish councils will receive £3.2 billion in housing grants over the next five years in order to meet their affordable homes targets. The funding will constitute a 20% uplift for councils. Cllr Gail Macgregor, COSLA resources spokesperson, said “We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to contributing to the cost of affordable housing in Scotland. The priority for councils, and housing associations, is ensuring rent affordability and warm, safe, comfortable homes for current and future tenants. As we look to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, councils are working side by side with their communities. We maintain a focus on our shared ambitions around tackling child poverty and climate change, alongside building more houses.”

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Widespread planning changes announced

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a range of measures which will aim to improve communities’ infrastructure, champion neighbourhood design and support walking and cycling to boost health and wellbeing. He announced the National Model Design Code which is a toolkit to enable every council and community to create their own local design requirement. Guidance is provided across all aspects of new development including tree-lined streets, sustainable drainage and design to support walking and cycling and it is expected that all councils should develop a local design code. An updated planning framework has been published which will place greater emphasis on beauty, place-making, the environment, sustainable development and underlines the importance of local design codes. He also announced the Office for Place, an advisory board, made up of industry experts, which will drive up design standards, testing and piloting the National Model Design Code with more than 20 local councils and communities. Mr Jenrick said “Today I have set out the Government’s vision for a planning system that make beautiful, sustainable and life-enhancing design a necessity, rather than a luxury. Our revised National Planning Policy Framework will ensure that communities are more meaningfully engaged in how new development happens, that local authorities are given greater confidence in turning down schemes which do not meet locally set standards.”

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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