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Local Authority round-up 25/02/22

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.


Consultations launched on measures to support victims of domestic abuse

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced the launch of two consultations on existing housing rules and additional funding of £125 million to councils in England to provide support services for domestic abuse victims during 2022/23. The DLUHC is firstly consulting on proposals to introduce regulations to prevent councils applying a local connection requirement to victims of domestic abuse who apply for social housing. The government’s view is that it is not reasonable or practical to require such victims to satisfy a local connection test to qualify for social housing in another area to which they have fled. The consultation invites views on the proposed regulations, which will enable victims of domestic abuse to move to another council district and to qualify for an allocation of social housing in the new area. The consultation is also seeking to establish how councils are using the existing legislation and guidance to support domestic abuse victims who wish to move within and across local authority boundaries. The second consultation has been launched to look at the impact of joint tenancy law on victims in social housing. Consultees are invited to respond on various issues, including whether perpetrators of domestic abuse are using their ability to end a joint tenancy to threaten the victim with homelessness, whether the current guidance for social landlords provides sufficient support for domestic abuse victims who are joint tenants of a property and whether the existing law on transferring joint tenancies works for victims of domestic violence. The consultations will close on 10 May 2022.

For more information please click here.


Prime Minister’s statement on living with COVID-19

The Prime Minister has announced the government’s strategy for living with COVID-19 in England based on four principles. The first principle is to remove all remaining domestic legal restrictions. From 24 February 2022, the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test will end as will self-isolation support payments. Provisions for claiming statutory sick pay will remain in force for a further month. Routine contact tracing will end. Fully vaccinated close contacts of positive cases will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days. The legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate will be removed. Until 1 April 2022, those testing positive will be advised to stay at home. Thereafter, people who have COVID-19 symptoms will be encouraged to exercise personal responsibility (as those who may have flu are encouraged to be considerate to others). From 1 April 2022, free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public will end. However, free symptomatic tests for the oldest age groups and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 will be provided. The government is working with retailers to ensure that tests will be available to buy. Also from 1 April 2022, the government will no longer recommend the use of voluntary COVID-19 status certification, although the NHS app will continue to allow people to indicate their vaccination status for international travel. The remaining principles concern the protection of the most vulnerable with targeted vaccines and treatments with the UK’s vaccine advisory body, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, recommending that an additional Covid booster vaccination should be offered to all adults over the age of 75 and the most vulnerable over-12s this spring.

For more information please click here.

End to COVID passes and changes to self-isolation rules for Wales

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No 5) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/142) came into force on 18 February which amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1609) (Principal Regulations). The changes brought in by those regulations mean that businesses operating large indoor and outdoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls are no longer required to only admit customers who have a “COVID pass,” fully vaccinated close contacts of persons who test positive for coronavirus no longer have to self-isolate and the Principal Regulations expire at the end of the day on 28 March 2022 (rather than 25 February 2022). Businesses must, however, continue to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on their premises. This may include setting limits on the numbers of people who can gather, and on the capacity of events. The requirements to wear face coverings on public transport and in particular indoor public places also continue to apply, but the Welsh Government has announced that these will be limited to retail, public transport and health and care settings from 28 February 2022.

For more information please click here.

International Trade

UK moves into second and final phase of accession to join CPTPP free trade area

An announcement by Japan as Chair of the UK’s Accession Working Group on behalf of the CPTPP members this week has confirmed the UK’s application to join £8.4 trillion Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade area, has moved into the second and final phase of accession. The announcement means that the UK has demonstrated to members of the CPTPP that it has high standards and a fair trading economy. The UK will now begin market access negotiations in order to agree new trading relations with CPTPP countries. Those negotiations, if successful, could mean that UK exports to those countries will be eligible for tariff-free trade and will provide access to service markets. Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan said “CPTPP is one of the largest and most exciting free-trading clubs in the world. Today’s announcement is a major milestone for us joining this dynamic group of economies and means the finish line is in sight. I look forward to visiting Asia next week and flying the flag for Global Britain by holding valuable trade talks with key partners across the Indo-Pacific region and pushing to secure CPTPP accession by the end of the year. This is just one aspect of our Indo-Pacific strategy, which will benefit businesses and consumers across every part of the UK and help us to level up at home.”

For more information please click here.

Planning and housing

Parish council persuades High Court to quash planning permission for 210 homes

The High Court has quashed permission for 210 homes in Suffolk after objections from a parish council that planning committee members had been misled. Timothy Mould QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, ruled in favour of Thurston Parish Council in its case against Mid Suffolk District Council after he found that Mid Suffolk’s planning committee had been given misleading advice by officers about the application by developer Bloor Homes and land owner Sir George Agnew, both of whom were interested parties. Thurston said the planning referrals committee was given misleading advice about the weight that should be given to the relevant policies of the Thurston Neighbourhood Plan 2018-36 which was founded on an erroneous interpretation of the Thurston Spatial Strategy [Policy 1] in the neighbourhood plan and a failure to recognise that the development was not in accordance with that policy. It said this amounted to an error of law which meant Mid Suffolk failed to discharge its duty under section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. There was also misleading advice on paragraph 14 of the NPPF and the application of the tilted balance in a case in which granting planning permission for a housing development would be in conflict with the neighbourhood plan. The Court said “The planning permission must be quashed and the planning application for the development reconsidered by the defendant, on the basis of the correct interpretation of Policy 1 of the neighbourhood plan and that the release of the site for general housing development is not in accordance either with that policy or with the underlying spatial strategy and objectives of that plan.”

For more information please click here.

Council facing fresh judicial review challenge over second grant of planning permission

A High Court judge has ordered a rolled-up hearing in a second judicial review challenge over Lewisham Council’s grant of planning permission for a redevelopment of part of the City of London Corporation’s Sydenham Hill estate. In May 2021, Mrs Justice Lang quashed the planning permission for the demolition of Mais House and Otto Close garages, and for redevelopment to provide 110 residential units in a part four, six and seven storey building and a part two and three storey terrace building, and associated development on the site. The High Court judge ruled amongst other things that a conservation officer’s advice should not have been withheld from the planning committee when it approved the redevelopment. The planning committee at Lewisham Council subsequently granted permission for a second time in June 2021, by five votes to one. The Friends of Mais House community group said the summary grounds for the new judicial review are that Lewisham misunderstood policy, had no evidence and acted unreasonably in asserting that the scheme was the ‘optimum viable use’, or more accurately, that a smaller scheme was not viable. The council acted unfairly, in breach of the Statement of Community Involvement and in breach of the obligations with respect to background papers in publishing a large volume of material shortly before the committee meeting and proceeding with the meeting and the council failed to publish third party consultation responses at all in breach of the requirements on background papers. The Friends of Mais House said that the ‘rolled-up hearing’ ordered by Sir Duncan Ouseley could take place as early as April.

For more information please click here.

Upcoming webinars

Right to work update – Digital checks and other updates

Every employer in the UK has a legal obligation to prevent illegal working by checking that their employees have the right to work in the UK. Join our Immigration Employment team on Thursday 10th March at 10am for a free webinar exploring the changes to the right to work checks that are being introduced from 6 April.

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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