What are LDOS? 

The ability to make LDOs was introduced through the provisions of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. LDOs (under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) provide permitted development rights for a specific development proposal or classes of development in defined locations in addition to those covered by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, without the need for an application for planning permission. LDOs have been promoted by the government due to their benefits compared to traditional planning applications which include simplifying and streamlining the planning process and increased certainty for developers leading to time and cost savings.  There are statutory restrictions, for example LDOs should not cover listed buildings.

LDOs can be time limited (often to 5 years) or permanent and granted either unconditionally or subject to conditions, including the requirement to submit commencement notices. They can also be withdrawn by the local planning authority (LPA) if the permitted development has been completed or if they are no longer serving the purpose they were required for. Failure to comply with conditions attached to an LDO is enforceable by an LPA similar to a breach of condition on a decision notice. It is therefore important that any design codes or guidance that forms part of an LDO and its conditions must be sufficiently detailed so as to allow for the clear interpretation of what is permitted but not too restrictive so as to over specify the form of development. 

What does the NPPF say about LDOs?

Paragraph 51 of the revised December 2023 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages LPAs use LDOs to set the planning framework of an area or categories of development where the impacts would be acceptable and particularly which would promote economic, social or environmental gains for the area. Consenting wind energy development involving one or more turbines via LDO  is also encouraged by the government pursuant to revised footnote 53a on the basis that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community have been appropriately addressed and the proposal has community support.

Where have they been used recently? 

Studies undertaken by the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) in 2016/17 noted that whilst the early LDOs primarily focused on the development of Enterprise Zones, by the end of 2017 there were approximately 100 adopted LDOs across 50 LPAs. 60% were being used for commercial development and around 20% for new-build residential schemes, mixed-use development and smaller scale householder developments. More recent detailed analysis has yet to be published but two recent LDOs are worth being aware of and may indicate a trend towards LDOs being used for larger scale schemes. The Government has also been encouraging the increased use of LDOs in freeports.

  • On the 20 March 2024, East Lindsey District Council unilaterally approved the Skegness Gateway scheme LDO which includes plans to develop a 136 hectare site to the west of the town, and provide up to 1,000 new homes, a school, shops, industrial space, green open space, tourism facilities, a technical college and a crematorium. The development is expected to generate hundreds of new jobs and employment opportunities and over £300m in economic benefits for the region. The LDO was confirmed despite the Environment Agency (EA) objecting to the scheme in its role as statutory consultee due to the risk of flooding in a residential area. 
  • The Gravity LDO for the  Gravity Smart Campus in Somerset was adopted in February 2022. Plans for implementation are underway and in February this year it was disclosed that this will be the new home of Agratas, Tata Group’s global battery business new UK gigafactory representing a £4bn investment in Somerset. This will create a reported 4,000 new jobs as well as thousands more in the wider supply chain.

Our team has experience in advising LPAs and promoters on LDOs. Please contact Gary Soloman, Anastasia Antoni or I if you would like to discuss a proposal.