Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 Made Law

This Act is one of the government’s key schemes to help promote the economy and gained Royal Assent yesterday. Nick Boles, Planning Minster said ‘These new laws will reform our economy so it can boost investment, growth and jobs by streamlining a lot of confusing and overlapping red tape.

Judicial review rules reviewed

The Ministry of Justice has announced a series of measures to prevent the launching of meritless applications for judicial review of planning decisions. These comprise:

  • Reducing the period during in which objectors can apply for judicial review from three months to six weeks
  • Introducing a £215 fee for people seeking a hearing in person after their written application has been turned down
  • Banning people seeking a hearing in person if their written application is found to be totally without merit

 
The changes are expected to come into force this summer.

New Bill proposes larger fines for deliberate planning breaches

Backbench MP Jeremy Lefroy, Conservative MP for Stafford, has introduced a bill under the ten-minute rule to allow councils to impose "substantial" fines where people deliberately and clearly breach planning rules. Any fines received would be used to benefit the local community in the vicinity of the breach.

The Planning Permission (Financial Penalties) Bill has been supported by the City of Westminster, which feels it is unable to impose fines of a size to deter breaches by large firms.

Councils can order unauthorised development to be demolished or seek fines of up to £20,000 in the magistrates' court or an unlimited fine in the crown court. Jeremy Lefroy said cases "rarely go to court and the fines are almost never imposed". Demolition can also be considered "a disproportionate penalty".

The bill seeks to introduce a fine at a level which would remove both the actual and potential financial gain arising from the deliberate breach and also impose a penalty on top. Whilst it is unlikely the bill will become law, it could stimulate a review of fines and other penalties.

Parliament approves restricted home extension proposals

The clause in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill which would allow homes in England to be extended at ground floor by up to 8 metres has been approved by Parliament, but only following the introduction of neighbour consultation proposals.

House holders proposing an extension will have to write to the planning authority providing plans of the extension. The Council will notify directly adjoining neighbours who have three weeks to object.  If there is an objection, the planning authority decides whether the impact on amenity is acceptable or not.

New CIL Guidance published

The Government has published new guidance on how the Community Infrastructure Levy should be applied. You can view the full document here.  

Amazon Self-service Locker

Online retailer Amazon has launched a self-service locker to allow customers to collect their parcels at a convenient location other than their home address. This will be an ancillary use and won’t require any planning permission. This is an effective way for retailers to enhance their existing customer experience and to increase footfall; Spar, Co-op and Martin McColl have all signed up to the scheme. 

Resolution to approve 1000 homes in Nottinghamshire

Rushcliffe Borough Council has resolved to approve an application by the Crown Estate for the development of a 91 hectare site north of Bingham. The development proposes 1,050 homes (approximately 20% affordable); business and office space sufficient to create 1,000 jobs; a primary school, community centre and local shops. Permission will be granted on the completion of a S106 Agreement which is understood to provide a £600,000 contribution to local leisure, community and library facilities.

LOCAL PLANNING UPDATE

Westminster City Council examination dates confirmed

The independent examination of Westminster’s Core Strategy to ensure it complies with the NPPF will take place 21 May – 24 May 2013. Jill Kingaby BSc (Econ) MSc MRTPI sits as Inspector.

Westminster CIL

Westminster City Council has started to prepare its CIL although there is no agreed timetable for its adoption. Any information released by the council can be found here.

LB Hillingdon – starts work on part 2 of the Local Plan

The Council is consulting on first draft proposals for their Development Management Policies, Site Specific Allocations and Policies Map, which will supersede the remaining parts of the Hillingdon Unitary Development Plan. The purpose of the consultation is to invite representations on what the policies should cover. Comments are due by 31 May.

LB Tower Hamlets publishes second draft CIL charges

Tower Hamlets is consulting on its CIL Draft Charging Schedule until June 5 2013. The Borough is sub-divided into three and seeks contributions for housing; student housing; office and retail developments. Housing contributions range from £35 - £200 per sq m depending on zone. Mayoral CIL is an additional £35 per sq m.

Consultation Open on Haringey Draft CIL Charging Schedule

The consultation of Haringey CIL Draft Charging Schedule is available to comment on from 26 April to 24 May and can be found here.

Mid Sussex - West Hoathly Parish Draft Neighbourhood Plan

A Neighbourhood Plan covering the villages of West Hoathly, Sharpthorne and Highbrook has been published for consultation. The closing date for comments is 20 May 2013.

Melton Borough Council – Core Strategy found Unsound

Melton Borough Council’s Core Strategy has been found unsound by the inspector and subsequently withdrawn. The Core Strategy allocated 1,000 homes on one site out of a total figure of 2,700. The inspector stated this site was not sustainable or viable and required the council to re-look at sites.

The inspector also required the council to increase the housing provision and the plan period to 2028 from 2026. The rough timetable for this delay is 2 years with adoption in 2015.