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Local Authority round-up 25/08/23

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.


7 new special free schools announced

The government has announced plans for seven new special free schools to be built which will create over a thousand new special school places. The seven new schools, which were approved through the Safety Valve application route, will provide places to over 1,000 more children and young people with SEND in Cambridgeshire, Kent, Merton and Norfolk. Local authorities across the country have been selected to deliver a ground-breaking new programme to test and refine the reforms to services for young people and families and they will help inform the development of new national standards to improve the consistency of provision across the country which is being back by £70 million of government funding. Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho said “Earlier this year our Improvement Plan set out systemic reforms to make sure every child and young person gets consistently high-quality support, no matter where in the country they live. Today we’re making sure that those reforms are informed by the experiences of real families, up and down the country, and creating the thousands of new places at specialist schools and in staff training courses that are needed to make sure our plan is a success.”

For more information please click here.

15 new free schools to be opened

The government has announced that 15 new free schools are set to open in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country and where education outcomes are poorest. The schools will be government funded but will be ran by other organisations such as academy trusts, industry and universities. Opening the new schools will provide more choice for education but it is also aimed at levelling up education across the country. 3 of the new schools will be run by the high performing Star Academies and Eton College with the schools located in Dudley, Teesside and Oldham. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said “We want to make more good school places available to families, and these 15 new free schools will bring brand new opportunities to young people from Bradford to Bristol. Free schools bring high standards, more choice for parents and strong links to industry – and all in the areas where those opportunities are needed most.”

For more information please click here.

Planning and housing

Retractable bollards in front garden not permitted development

A lawful development certificate was refused for the installation of six rising bollards which would be positioned in rows of three either side of central planting in the front garden of a dwellinghouse. The issue was whether the proposed development was permitted development under Class A, Part 2 (minor operations), Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. Class A permits the erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure. The matter in contention was whether the bollards were an “other means of enclosure”. The inspector stated that the term “other means of enclosure” was subject to the ejusdem generis rule, which meant that the proposal must be similar to a gate, fence or wall and the inspector considered that the proposed bollards did not form a continuous barrier. The gaps between them meant it was easy for a person to walk through them. The inspector accepted that when not retracted the bollards would serve to visually, and to some extent physically, separate and protect part of the front garden and house behind and in this way had some function of enclosure. The bollards were more similar in character to a fence, gate or wall than garden ornaments placed at similar intervals. However, gates and fences were typically characterised not only by their posts but also by the sections between them and it was the combined effect of these which created a character of enclosure. When retracted, the proposed bollards would have extremely little, if any, character of enclosure. The same was not true of an open gate since, although not physically preventing access, its presence above ground would give some indication of a sense of enclosure. Equally, a dwarf wall might be easy to step over but would provide a continuous solid barrier. While a post and wire fence which lacks the solidity of a wall, would have a permanent visual enclosing effect by virtue of it typically forming a continuous barrier which could not be walked through. While the bollards had a limited function of enclosure when not retracted, they were not sufficiently similar to gates, fences and walls in their appearance, character and function to represent an “other means of enclosure”. The appeal was dismissed.

For more information please click here.

LGSCO updates guidance on planning process

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has updated its guidance ‘Not in My Backyard: Local people and the planning process’. The updated guidance includes new case studies from the LGSCO’s investigations, its approach to recommended remedies and more detail on the types of complaints it was likely to investigate. In the year ending March 2023, local planning authorities (LPAs) in England received more than 395,000 planning applications and the LGSCO decided 1,906 complaints and enquiries about planning and development. 438 were investigated in detail and fault was found in 211 cases. The guidance lists a series of “common faults” found with LPA decisions, including failure to:

  • Check whether a planning application was valid.
  • Properly publicise a planning application in accordance with statute and the LPAs own policies.
  • Consider the impact of the development on neighbouring properties.

The LGSCO advise that although there is no legal requirement for an LPA to provide photographic evidence that a site notice had been put up, taking a photograph and keeping a record on file could help LPAs demonstrate that they have fulfilled their publicity requirements. A clear photographic record of site visits should be kept as this helps officers recall what they saw and help others to understand what they considered and why they reached their conclusions about the development. The guidance recommends that LPAs should develop policies for dealing with amendments to planning applications and decisions as this would enable them to make consistent decisions and enable local people to understand how amendments were considered.

For more information please click here.

Upcoming webinars

Webinar series: Data Protection

Register your interest for our on-going webinar series on ‘Data Protection’ for in-house lawyers, DPOs and senior management in private and public sector organisations. The series will run throughout 2023 providing attendees with up to date information on key Data Protection topics. The short one hour sessions will be delivered by our experts with allocated time for you to ask any questions you may have. The next in our series ‘Marketing and data protection’ will take place on 12 September 2023.

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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