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Planning Law Speed Read – November 2016

Welcome to Ward Hadaway's planning law Speed Read. The aim of our bite-sized bulletins is to keep you abreast of the 'hot' topics and key legal issues relevant to you.

Second homes ban in Neighbourhood Plan held lawful

The High Court has backed a Neighbourhood Plan policy which attempts to block holiday/second homes in St Ives, Cornwall.

The Neighbourhood Plan contained a policy requiring all new open market houses to have a restriction requiring occupancy as a principle residence (i.e. a residence occupied as the individual’s sole or main home). Such restriction was intended to be secured by a planning condition.

The Neighbourhood Plan was backed by 83 per cent of the voters who participated in the referendum and the Council was therefore bound to make the Neighbourhood Plan.

However, this was challenged by way of judicial review proceedings by a local firm of architects on a number of grounds. In respect of this particular policy, it was argued that it was incompatible with article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and contrary to the Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The High Court upheld the Neighbourhood Plan, having particular regard to the purpose of the policy to “safeguard the sustainability of the settlements” in the Neighbourhood Plan area.

The notion of a restriction on occupancy is something that is already being required by some councils across the country (with areas popular with tourists/seaside resorts being the main focus).

However, the fact that such a policy has now been successfully defended in judicial review proceedings may mean that other neighbourhood plans seek to include similar restrictions.

Autumn Statement

Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement this month, and provided some grounds for optimism for developers. Of note was the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund (“NPIF”) which included £7.2 billion to support the construction of new homes, of which it would appear that approximately £3.5 billion is to be allocated to Affordable Housing, of which £1.8 billion appears to be new funding. The fund is also providing £2.6 billion to tackle congestion and transport networks.

On top of the NPIF was an additional £556 million to go to Northern based Local Enterprise Partnerships (“LEPs”), the awards to individuals LEPs to be announced in the coming months, but the announced intention was that these funds should help to improve transport connections and unlock house building.

White Paper

Unfortunately the much anticipated White Paper relating to housing that had been expected to be published at the same time as the Autumn Statement has been deferred and is now anticipated to be published by the end of the year. Several key issues have been promised to be dealt with in the White Paper, not least:

  • The future direction of the Starter Homes policy;
  • Measures to boost resources for Council planning teams, including a proposal to increase fees by an amount linked to both inflation and performance;
  • The Government’s report on the Community Infrastructure Levy review. You will recall the review carried out by Liz Peace concluded in June 2016 and it is believed that it recommended a radical overhaul of the current system with a suggestion of massive simplification making CIL compulsory for all Local Authorities with a set formula using local house prices to determine what the charge should be.
  • The Government’s response to the recommendations of the Local Plans Expert Group, which included a standard approach to calculating the 5 year supply.

Once the White Paper is published we will hopefully have some answers to those issues that have been left hanging.

Gateshead CIL warning!

Be aware that Gateshead Council is still on track to implement CIL from 1 January 2017. We have also been advised that the Council’s last day for sealing documents is 22 December 2016 so if your 106 Agreement isn’t sealed by that date it looks like relevant applications will be subject to CIL.

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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