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Planning law update – September 2019

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

Our planning experts are on hand to discuss in further detail what effects they could have for you and your organisation.

NPPF provides further guidance on Annual Position Statements

The NPPF first introduced the concept of Annual Position Statements (APS) in 2018 and more recently in July of this year it introduced a process for local planning authorities to follow should they wish to confirm their housing land supply through an APS.

APS are documents which set out the 5 year housing land supply position on the 1st of April each year. These documents are prepared by the LPA themselves in consultation with various developers and other parties who will be needed for the delivery of the housing.

The APS requires the LPA to update the planning inspectorate on a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide a minimum of 5 years’ worth of housing against the LPA’s own housing requirements. In order to add potential sites to the APS they must be deliverable and in order to meet that requirement the sites need to be achievable. This means there must be a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within 5 years, the site must be currently available for development and there must be a range of locations offered. The overall purpose is simply to provide an indication of whether there are sufficient sites available to meet the LPA’s needs.

While it was previously thought that the scheme would be unpopular, 9 LPAs had indicated an intention to submit an APS as at 1st April 2019 and 3 LPAs have now in fact submitted an APS to the Planning Inspectorate.

Funding boost to crackdown on illegal development and Green Belt encroachment

Esther McVey, the new Minister of State for Housing and Planning, has announced a spending boost for councils to crackdown on illegal developments on the nation’s green belt. Speaking at the annual RESI Convention on the 12th of September she announced the move as part of a drive to protect the nations green belt for the future.

Around 37 councils will each receive funding in the region of £50,000. The money is to be used to hire new enforcement officers and fund the large legal costs that can come with bringing claims against rogue developers.

It is clear there is a wider policy initiative within government to protect the green belt with reforms to the NPPF last year underlining that only in exceptional circumstances can land in the green belt be built on.

The Government also intend to update the National Enforcement Handbook which will provide an insight into how best to shutdown illegal settlements on green belt land in the future.

Enforcement decision – Court approves inspector’s decision to grant retrospective permission for demolition

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets challenged the decision of the Secretary of State to allow an appeal against an enforcement notice requiring the interested party to rebuild three homes which had been demolished without planning permission.

The demolished homes were not listed buildings but were sited within a conservation area and were demolished by the developer without planning permission in 2016. The local authority served enforcement notices against the developer to entirely rebuild the homes. The developers had no planning permission or proposals to develop the land and the indications were that the plot would remain vacant for the foreseeable future. Rather than rebuild the homes they appealed the enforcement notice.

The inspector considered the NPPF and noted that under paragraph 196, where harm to the asset’s significance was less than substantial, it should be weighed against the public benefit of the proposals, including securing its optimum use. Despite there being no proposals for development, the inspector considered the likely future development on site as a public benefit because of the site’s location and its suitability for a new high density proposal. He therefore granted retrospective planning permission for the demolition of the buildings.

The Judge found that the inspector had correctly applied the NPPF and accepted that the absence of any proposals for development did not make future prospective development an immaterial consideration. He therefore dismissed the appeal.

A link to the Judgement can be found here.



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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