Further changes to CIL to come into force in January 2014

Following the consultation earlier this year on further amendments to the CIL Regulations, the Government has issued the changes it expects to bring into force before the end of January 2014. These are:

• “Extending the vacancy test to cover buildings that have been in use for a continuous period of six months in the last three years. Where there is no change of use, they will also be exempt from the levy, other than where there is an increase in floorspace, or where the building has been abandoned. This will help bring empty buildings back into use

• Extending the proposal to allow credit where the levy has already been paid and the proposed development is changed. It is now proposed to apply this to any incomplete building on a site where the levy has already been paid

• Exempting highway agreements relating to the trunk road network drawn up by the Highways Agency, Transport for London or Welsh Ministers from proposals to restrict the use of highway agreements by reference to the Regulation 123 list

• Not extending the consultation period on the draft charging schedule from four to six weeks

• Continuing to enable authorities to determine at their own discretion how to consult on any amendments to their Regulation 123 lists

• Not replicating in the levy regulations, in relation to “in kind” payments, the EU procurement limits applied in other regulations

• Exempting residential extensions and annexes from the levy.”

These changes are particularly welcome for the owners of vacant buildings and residential properties.

Community led high street renewal

Brandon Lewis, the new minister for high streets, made his first key-note speech on the town centres this week. Speaking at the launch of a new Association of Town Centres report, ‘High Street Renewal Award 2013’, he restated the Government’s commitment to helping communities adapt to changes taking place on the high street. He recognised that local authorities and businesses are best placed to identify changes needed and they had to take an active role to reinvigorate high streets.

The ATCM report looked at seven towns which have received funds from the Government’s High Street Renewal Award. They were required to demonstrate practical examples of local initiatives which are being effective in reviving their high streets.

Rotherham – introduced a ‘Shop Local’ loyalty card scheme with 100 shops signing up.

Altrincham – reduced car parking charges to 10p per hour which has seen parking levels increase.

Ipswich – re-established a weekend festival based around the port waterfront which was extended to a two week festival in 2012.

Gloucester – introduced a meet and greet scheme which has boosted footfall as well as introducing a range of new events such as a history festival and Gloucester Day celebrations. It has also introduced an open air market, farmers market and car boot sale with proposals for four special night markets in the run up to Christmas.

Southampton (Old Northam Road) – physical improvements, such as new shop frontages and hanging baskets, which have regenerated the appearance and attraction of the area and have successfully, increased demand for representation in the area.

Herne Hill – a pilot scheme gave the local community responsibility for managing an area including making decision on outdoor seating. They also established a new street market and established a number of events.

Market Rasen – established an award winning market which has increased sales in local shops together with a high street facelift which was partially funded by retailers. It is proposed to open the ‘Big Corner Shop’ which will function as a local retail incubator and a community food shop for the sale of local produce.

First appeal against listing as Asset of Community Value dismissed

The Churchwell Residents’ Group persuaded the London Borough of Hackney to list the Chesham Arms as an asset of community value in March 2013, after its closure in October 2012, in order to resist any plans to convert it to housing or offices. The pub’s owner submitted an appeal against the listing, claiming the business was not profitable.

The appeal, which according to Landmark Chambers’ was the first to challenge a local authority’s decision to list an ACV, was heard last week. Judge Nicholas Warren, the president of the First Tier Tribunal, dismissed the appeal but has yet to release his written reasons.

 

Proposed Planning Bill for Northern Ireland dropped

This week the new Planning Bill was withdrawn by the Northern Ireland Assembly after two amendments turned the legislation ‘toxic’ as the environmental minister stated.  The minister is now seeking to include certain parts of the bill in a Single Strategic Planning Policy Statement which is expected in draft at the beginning of 2014.

14 new projects in line to gain Government Infrastructure Guarantee

The treasury has announced that 14 major infrastructure projects have passed the initial eligibility checks of the UK Guarantee Scheme that aims to help underwrite major schemes. This scheme is part of a number of Treasury initiatives aimed at boosting economic growth in the UK. Under this scheme the government agrees to act as a guarantor which will provide confidence to the private lender that they will get their money back if the project cannot pay. The 14 new pre-qualified projects include the following and means that there are now 40 projects at the pre-qualification stage whilst only one project has been underpinned so far, a conversion of a coal-fired power station to biomass.

    •    Helius Energy - Avonmouth biomass energy facility, cost £300m 
    •    Islandmagee gas storage project in Northern Ireland, cost £400m
    •    2 Intergen gas-fired power generation projects in Lincolnshire and Essex
    •    Countesswells mixed use development in Aberdeen
    •    Neart Na Gaoithe 450MW Windfarm in the outer Forth Estuary, Scotland
    •    Able Marine Energy Park, a new port facility on Humberside
    •    Chinook Energy renewable energy from waste plants around the UK
    •    Gasrec expansion of its network of refuelling stations for commercial vehicles across the UK
    •    University of Roehampton campus redevelopment
    •    Tilbury Green Power 60MW waste wood fired power generation plant in Essex
    •    Relocation of University of Northampton campus onto the Northampton Enterprise Zone
    •    5 Quarter Energy plant to process unconventional gas extracted from below the North Sea
    •    Ineos Grangemouth Ethane Plant near Falkirk, Scotland

These projects will now have to participate in further discussions, assessments and due diligence if they are to secure the underwriting from the government.

Natural England’s Revised Standing Advice for European Protected Species

Natural England is a consultee on many planning applications. In order to rationalise their workload and speed up response times to consultation requests, they will publish standing advice on European Protected Species (EPS) on their website meaning. The standing advice provided will advise whether there is a ‘reasonable likelihood’ of protected species being present and also on survey and mitigation requirements. It will be a material consideration in the determination of applications. This approach will mirror the approach for species protected by domestic legislation, where Natural England has been using standing advice for the past two years.

The species to which this new standing advice will apply include great crested newts, natterjack toads, dormice, bats, freshwater fish, sand lizards, smooth snakes and otters. Natural England will continue to provide advice where a proposal is likely to result in significant harm or where the standing advice is not relevant.

 

Decision issued in error can be withdrawn

In March, the Planning Inspectorate issued a decision letter approving outline planning permission for up to 180 homes in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. The following day the developer Gleeson Developments was advised by the inspectorate that the decision had been issued due to an administrative error. Hours before the decision was issued, Nick Boles – the planning minister - called the application in for decision by the Secretary of State and so the decision was withdrawn.

Gleeson took the case to court arguing the inspectorate’s decision became valid at the time it was issued and it was not subsequently possible to withdraw it. The only remedy open to the inspectorate was to revoke the permission which would lead to a compensation payment.

The judge concluded that as the application had been called in before it was issued, the decision letter had been issued without authority and so could have no legal effect. He also found it could not have been Parliament's intention to prevent the correction of a "simple and obvious" administrative mistake. He noted that proper administration required a "modest power" to withdraw decisions issued in error to be implied into the legislation.

 

Decision made in error will not be revoked

Rydale District Council has decided not to revoke permission for 260 homes which was approved when a councillor, who had proposed a motion for refusal, subsequently pressed the voting button in favour of the scheme in error. The Council’s legal advisor had warned that revoking the permission could mean paying the developer up to £5 million in compensation. The legal advice also concluded that it is highly unlikely that revoking the permission would be regarded as reasonable and lawful and could be subject to judicial review by the developer.

 

Neighbourhood planning support suspended

Support and advice for community groups that want to develop neighbourhood plans has been suspended as the company which provides the advice has been overwhelmed by demand. For at least the next six months, only designated neighbourhood forums and parish or town councils within two months of their pre-submission consultation will be able to bid for support.

 

4th Neighbourhood Plan approved

Residents of the village of Tattenhall in Cheshire have voted in favour of their neighbourhood plan this week. The referendum secured a 52% turnout with 96% of votes in favour of the plan. The document cannot be adopted however until a judicial review by housebuilders Barrett Homes and Wainhomes is determined by the High Court. The plan seeks to limit extensions to the village boundary to groups of no more than 30 homes. Barrett’s are proposing a scheme of 68 units and Wainhomes a development of 137 units.

 

Floating hotel approved for the Royal Docks

London Borough of Newham has approved proposals for a 120-metre floating hotel to be moored to the west of the ExCeL Centre, for 15 years. The Sunborn Princess will provide 140 rooms and will have an outdoor bar, sun lounge and jacuzzi. 65 parking spaces for staff and guests will be provided in the undercroft to the ExCeL centre.

 

Tower Hamlets - Community Infrastructure Levy

 

The CIL draft breaks the borough up into three zones for residential and three different zones for office development. The office zones are City fringe; north docklands and rest of the borough. Both the city fringe and north docklands fall within residential zone 1 together with the river frontage in between.

The proposed charging rates are:

 

 

Development  type

 

 

 

 Proposed CIL rate per sq. m (GIA) of development

Residential

 

 

Zone 1

 

 

 

 Zone 2

 

 

 Zone 3

 

 

£200

 

 

 £65

 

 

 £35

 

 

 

Offices

 

 

 

 

City Fringe

 

 

North Docklands

 

 

Rest of Borough

 

 

 £120

 

 

£60

 

 

 Nil

 

 Retail (except Convenience supermarkets, superstores and retail warehousing)

 

 

£70

 

 

 £70

 

 

 Nil

Convenience supermarkets, superstores and retail warehousing*

Borough Wide

£135

 

 

 

Hotel

 

Borough Wide

 

 £210

 

 

Student Housing

Borough Wide

 

£425

 

All other uses

Borough Wide

 

 Nil

Merton – Community Infrastructure Levy

Merton draft CIL proposals were supported by an independent inspector in his report to the Council. The Council will sign off approval of the levy at a council meeting in November and this is due to come into force from April 1st 2014.

LOCAL PLAN NEWS

Royal Borough Greenwich – Community Infrastructure Levy, Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation and can be found here.

LB Tower Hamlets - Community Infrastructure Levy, Revised Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation and can be found here.

Eastleigh Borough Council - Community Infrastructure Levy, Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation and can be found here.

Gedling Borough Council – Local Planning Document: Issues and Options, Statement of Consultation and Community Infrastructure Levy are all open for consultation and can be found here.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation and can be found here.