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Planning Law Speed Read – December 2016

In the last Planning Law Speed Read of 2016 we look at the latest on Neighbourhood Plans, Compulsory Purchase Orders and environmental regulations.

Neighbourhood Plans

As of 12 December 2016, in specified circumstances, Neighbourhood Plans will carry weight where the Local Planning Authority cannot demonstrate a 5-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

In a ministerial statement, Minister for Housing Gavin Barwell has stated that paragraph 49 of the NPPF (that states that relevant policies should be considered out of date, where the LPA cannot demonstrate a 5-year supply) should not apply in the following circumstances:

  • where there is a neighbourhood plan that allocates sites for housing; and
  • the neighbourhood plan has been part of the development plan for less than 2 years or the planning application is determined within 2 years of 12 December 2016; and
  • the LPA can demonstrate a 3-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

The intention behind the statement is to ensure (within reason) that a Neighbourhood Plan is not undermined because of a lack of a 5-year supply of housing sites.

And ….

Gavin Barwell has signalled a commitment to look further into the issue of Local Planning Authorities seeking recovery of appeal costs where a developer pursues an appeal for a development that is not in accordance with a neighbourhood plan.

The issue arose through an amendment tabled in relation to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, and while the ability to recover costs already exists where such an appeal is considered to be unreasonable behaviour, the Minister for Housing has said he will look again at the issue, which may result in a more direct obligation to pay costs in these circumstances.

Gavin Barwell stated that: “We need to think about whether we can do more to ensure that the collective vision of a community as set out in its neighbourhood plan is not regularly overridden.”

Compulsory Purchase Orders – A useful reminder

In the recent case of Mapeley Beta Acquisition Company Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and another [2016] EWHC 2997 (Admin) the High Court rejected a challenge to the confirmation of a CPO.

The Court held that the CPO had been made as a last resort acknowledging the landowner’s lack of engagement and interest in the early stages of the proposed development.

The Court found that the landowner had failed to oppose the regeneration scheme, or the planning application and had failed to engage meaningfully with the Authority when it sought to acquire the land.

While the case contains no new law, it serves to act as a useful reminder to landowners of the need to consider schemes from the earliest stages.

Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations

In spite of the Brexit vote, until the UK actually leaves the EU, the UK remains under an obligation to implement EU Directives, and the 2014 Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) Directive is required to be transposed into UK law by May 2017. To this end, the Government has just published a consultation paper with responses required by 1 February 2017.

In the consultation document, the Government has identified what it considers to be the more significant amendments introduced by the 2014 Directive, amongst which is the clarification of what information must be required at the screening stage to determine if an EIA is required for a particular project.

From a developer’s perspective, of note is that the 2014 Directive confirms that a developer may provide a description of any mitigating features or measures of the project envisaged to avoid or prevent what might otherwise have been significant adverse effects on the environment.

This approach reflects existing domestic case law, however, the Government anticipates that confirming this in the Regulations may help reduce the number of projects requiring an EIA.

Please click here if you wish to read more or respond to the Consultation.

Durham County Council pausing for thought

Durham County Council has announced this month that it will pause the progress on their Local Plan until the Government’s White Paper is published.

As we have previously reported, the Government had anticipated that the White Paper would be published with the Autumn Statement but this deadline has drifted on a number of occasions and we are now being told to expect its publication in January.

According to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, we can expect the White Paper to include a range of radical plans to boost housing supply.

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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