Following on from Ross Polkinghorne’s earlier blog, the Government has today (13 May) published a planning update introducing temporary regulations to supplement the existing statutory publicity arrangements for planning applications, listed building consent applications and environmental statements. The aim of the new measures is to introduce temporary measures ease the planning system, particularly the development management process, in light of COVID-19.

My colleague Hannah Mannion summaries the key take-aways of the update below:

  • Community Infrastructure Levy – amendments to the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 are being introduced to help small and medium sized developments.  The changes enable charging authorities to defer payments, to temporarily disapply late payment interest, where appropriate to do so.  These changes will apply to developers with an annual turnover of less than £45million;
  •  New time-limited permitted development rights – from 9 April 2020 until 31 December 2020, a new time limited emergency permitted development right came into force which allows for development by or on behalf of a local authority or health authority body for the purposes of preventing an emergency;
  • Validation of applications – all planning applications should be made online and priority should continue to be given to validate any urgent COVID-19 related applications for planning permission and associated consents;
  • Determination timescales – the government says that it “does not intend to change the determination timescales for planning applications” and developers should be encouraged to agree extensions of time where necessary on a case by case basis;
  • Publicity and consultation for planning applications – from the 14 May 2020, local planning authorities (and applicants of EIA development)now have the flexibility to take other reasonable steps to publicise applications if they cannot discharge the specific requirements for site notices, neighbour notifications or newspaper publicity;
  •  Virtual planning committees – the power for local authorities to hold virtual meetings now applies until 7 May 2021 and local authorities should take advantage of these powers to hold virtual planning committees;
  •  Neighbourhood Plans – new regulations introduced mean that no elections or referendums can take place until 6 May 2021.

The Government has also published other new guidance relating to compulsory purchase orders, local plans, neighbourhood plans and developer contributions. In addition, Housing minister Robert Jenrick is due to make a statement to Parliament later this afternoon and we will update you on that tomorrow.

These measures introduced will no doubt be welcomed by developers to progress schemes again as well as local authorities to assist with, amongst other things, going some way to meet their housing targets.