Recent changes to planning: an overview


There have been several changes to the planning system in recent months, reflecting the response to Covid-19 and most recently in support of the Prime Minister’s evocation to ‘build, build, build’.

These changes take the form of new acts of parliament, new statutory instruments and changes to planning guidance.

The themes are:

  • flexibility through new rights to development and consolidation of planning use classes,
  • offering of a helping hand through extending the commencement date for permissions, resurrecting expired permissions and
  • protecting community uses and amenity.

Below is necessarily a summary of what are quite complex and involved changes. Please contact Fergus Charlton in the planning team if you require further details.

Flexibility

In a nutshell

A right to knock down vacant commercial or residential building and replace them with new residential buildings

Who can benefit?

Owners of vacant and redundant free-standing offices and light industrial premises that no longer effectively serve their original purpose, which were in existence on 12 March 2020

Who cannot benefit?

  • Owners of buildings constructed on or after 1 January 1990
  • Owners of buildings exceeding 1,000 m2 or which are greater than 18 metres high
  • Owners of listed buildings
  • Owners of buildings located in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites

Anything else I need to know?

  • Prior approval is required.
  • The right provides for the new residential building to be up to 7 metres higher than demolished premises accommodate up to two additional storeys to provide additional homes, within a final overall maximum height of 18 metres. The new dwelling or flats cannot extend beyond the footprint of the existing building and cannot exceed a maximum size of 1,000 square metres.
  • The development, consisting of both demolition and replacement build, must be completed within three years of the date of the grant of prior approval.

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2020 which inserted Class ZA the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015

Effective from

31 August 2020

In a nutshell

Existing blocks of flats can be extended upwards to create new self-contained homes 

Who can benefit?

Owners of existing flats 

Who cannot benefit?

  • Owners of flats that were themselves converted from offices
  • Owners of listed buildings and buildings located in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites

Anything else I need to know?

  • Prior approval is required
  • The rights provide for the construction of safe access to the new floors
  • The new rights allows up to an additional 2 additional storeys which must be no higher than any of the existing storeys and are capped at three metres and not result in the converted building exceeding 30 metres height

Where can I find the detail?

Introduced by Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 which inserted Class A into Part 20 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 and then amended by The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020  

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

Up to two additional storeys can be added to detached houses.

Who can benefit?

Owners of detached buildings.

Who cannot benefit?

  • Owners of buildings which were constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 5 March 2018
  • Owners of listed buildings and buildings located in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites 

Anything else I need to know?

  • Prior approval is required
  • The new storeys must be used as a dwelling
  • The extension cannot exceed the existing height by more than 7 metres or result in a building taller than 18 metres. No new storey may exceed 3.5m
  • There must be no visible support structures for the storeys on, or attached to, the exterior of the building 

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 which inserted Class AD to Part 20 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

Up to two additional storeys can be added to shops or office buildings without planning permission 

Who can benefit?

Owners of shops, financial and professional services buildings, restaurants and cafes or offices or betting offices, pay day loan shops or launderettes, or mixes of these uses with residential which are three or more storeys high.

Who cannot benefit?

  • Owners of buildings that were constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 5 March 2018
  • Owners of listed buildings and buildings located in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites 

Anything else I need to know?

  • Prior approval is required.
  • The extension cannot exceed the existing height by more than 7 metres or result in a building taller than 30 metres 

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 which inserted Class AA to Part 20 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

Up to two additional storeys can be added to shops or office buildings without planning permission.

Who can benefit?

Owners of shops, financial and professional services buildings, restaurants and cafes or offices or betting offices, pay day loan shops or launderettes, or mixes of these uses with residential which are three or more storeys high.

Who cannot benefit?

  • Owners of buildings which were constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 5 March 2018
  • Owners of listed buildings and buildings located in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites 

Anything else I need to know?

  • Prior approval is required
  • The new homes must be flats
  • The extension cannot exceed the existing height by more than 7 metres or result in a building taller than 30 metres
  • There must be no visible support structures for the storeys on, or attached to, the exterior of the building 

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 which inserted Class AB to Part 20 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

Without requiring full planning permission two new storeys can be added onto an existing two or more storey dwellinghouse or one additional storey added to a bungalow.

Who can benefit?

Owners of detached, semi-detached or terraces houses.

Who cannot benefit?

  • Owners of flats
  • Owners of homes that themselves were granted permission to be used as residential under permitted development rights
  • Owners of houses constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 28 October 2018
  • Owners of detached houses that are listed, or that are located in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites

Anything else I need to know?

  • Prior approval is required
  • The external materials used must be similar in appearance to the existing

  • Existing accommodation in the roof space of the existing house, including a loft extension, is not considered as a storey for the purposes of this right

  • The right allows engineering operations necessary for the construction of the additional storeys

  • There are restrictions on the height of individual storeys

  • There is an 18m restriction on the height of the extended building, and if the house is in a terrace it must not exceed the next tallest terrace in the terrace by 3.5m

  • The new storeys must be on the principal part of the house

  • The support structures for the new storeys cannot be visible or attached to the exterior of the house

  • The extended house must continue to be used for residential purposes

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 which inserted Class AA to Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

Land can be used temporarily for any purpose for up to 56 days from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.

Who can benefit?

Owners of detached, semi-detached or terraces houses.

Who cannot benefit?

  • Owners of flats
  • Owners of homes that themselves were granted permission to be used as residential under permitted development rights
  • Owners of houses constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 28 October 2018
  • Owners of detached houses that are listed, or that are located in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites

Anything else I need to know?

  • Prior approval is required
  • The external materials used must be similar in appearance to the existing
  • Existing accommodation in the roof space of the existing house, including a loft extension, is not considered as a storey for the purposes of this right
  • The right allows engineering operations necessary for the construction of the additional storeys
  • There are restrictions on the height of individual storeys
  • There is an 18m restriction on the height of the extended building, and if the house is in a terrace it must not exceed the next tallest terrace in the terrace by 3.5m
  • The new storeys must be on the principal part of the house
  • The support structures for the new storeys cannot be visible or attached to the exterior of the house
  • The extended house must continue to be used for residential purposes

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 which inserted Class AA to Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

Land can be used temporarily for a market from 25 June 2020 until 23 March 2021

Who can benefit?

Local authorities.

Who cannot benefit?

Private individuals unless they are acting on behalf of local authorities 

Anything else I need to know?

  • The land must not be a site of special scientific interest
  • Also permitted is the erection of moveable structures, such as stalls or awnings
  • The right will expire on 23 March 2021 

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 inserted Class BA into Part 12 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

An inspector at a planning appeal can increased flexibility in selecting the method of determination.

Who can benefit?

Parties at appeal 

Who cannot benefit?

Everyone else 

Anything else I need to know?

An inspector can apply more than one type of procedure (inquiry, hearing and/or written representations), depending on the particular issue at hand, when dealing with certain planning appeals.

Where can I find the detail?

The Business and Planning Act 2020 amending section 319A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 

Effective from

 22 July 2020

Helping hand

In a nutshell

Planning permissions that may otherwise expire for want of lawful implementation are to be extended to 1 May 2021.

Who can benefit?

Developers with unimplemented full or outline planning permissions due to expire between 19 August 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Who cannot benefit?

Developers with planning permissions that have already expired during lockdown.

Anything else I need to know?

  • The extension under section 93A is automatic
  • A similar provision extends listed building consents
  • The date for submission of reserved matters for extended outline planning permissions is also extended to 1 May 2021

Where can I find the detail?

The Business and Planning Act 2020 temporarily inserts sections 93A to 93F into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and 18A into the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

Effective from

19 August 2020

In a nutshell

Planning permissions that expired during lockdown can be revived and can be lawfully implemented any time before 1 May 2021.

Who can benefit?

Developers whose full or outline planning permissions expired during lockdown 23 March 2020 and 19 August 2020.

Who cannot benefit?

Developers whose permissions expired unimplemented before 23 March 2020.

Anything else I need to know?

  • The extension is subject to securing ‘Additional Environmental Approval’ from the local planning authority. This will turn on whether the development requires a refreshed Environmental Statement of Habitats Regulation Assessment
  • The application can only be made by or on behalf of a person with an interest in the land
  • A similar provision extends listed building consents
  • The date for submission of reserved matters for extended outline planning permissions is also extended to 1 May 2021 

Where can I find the detail?

The Business and Planning Act 2020 temporarily inserts sections 93A to 93F into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and 18A into the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990  

Effective from

19 August 2020

In a nutshell

Class E is a new broad use class which combines commercial, business and hospitality type uses, allowing flexible changes between these uses to be made without the need for planning permission.

Who can benefit?

Owners of premises that fall into new Class E.

Who cannot benefit?

Owners of premises that will not be Class E.

Anything else I need to know?

The following uses will become Class E (Commercial, business and service uses)

  • Most shops (currently A1)
  • Financial services (currently A2),
  • Cafes and restaurants (currently A3)
  • Office (currently B1a)
  • Research and development (currently B1b)
  • Light industry (currently B1c)
  • Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries and day centres (currently D1)
  • Gymnasiums, indoor recreations not involving motorised vehicles or firearms (currently D2)

Changes to another use, or mix of uses, within this Class E do not require planning permission. Bringing these uses together and allowing movement between them will give businesses greater freedom to adapt to changing circumstances and to respond more quickly to the needs of their communities

A building or use will continue to be subject to any permitted development rights that it was entitled to on or before 31 August 2020. These transitional provisions will remain in place until 31 July 2021 when new, revised permitted development rights will be introduced.

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020

Effective from

1 September 2020

In a nutshell

Fast track applications can be made to local planning authorities to relax planning conditions constraining construction working hours.

Who can benefit?

Developers with active construction programmes.

Who cannot benefit?

Developers with construction programmes for dwellinghouses (this exception does not apply to the construction of flats).

Anything else I need to know?

The relaxation can last up to 1 April 2021 after which it shall cease to have effect.

Where can I find the detail?

The Business and Planning Act 2020 inserting section 74B – 74D into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 

Effective from

22 July 2020

In a nutshell

Fast tracked pavement licence application to place removable furniture on part of the highway.

Who can benefit?

Owners of pubs, wine bars and premises that sell food and drink for consumption on or off the premises.

Who cannot benefit?

Owners of other premises.

Anything else I need to know?

  • The application is to be in writing and will cost £100
  • The layout of the on-street furniture should not block the pavement and should provide for the needs of disabled people
  • There is a seven day consultation period

  • The pavement licence, when granted, includes the necessary planning permission

  • The deemed period is one year and the licence may not extend beyond 30 September 2021, the date on which it is deemed to expire

Where can I find the detail?

The Business and Planning Act 2020

Effective from

22 July 2020

In a nutshell

Authorities responsible for collecting the Community Infrastructure Levy have been given a time limited discretion to defer certain CIL payments.

Who can benefit?

Developers responsible for paying the Community Infrastructure Levy with an annual turnover of £45 million or less who have received a CIL Demand Notice. 

Who cannot benefit?

Developers with turnovers exceeding £45 million.

Anything else I need to know?

  • The authority has discretion, it need not grant the deferral request.
  • Evidence of financial difficulties for reasons connected to the effects of Coronavirus will be needed
  • The discretionary power ends at midnight on 31 July 2021

Where can I find the detail?

Community Infrastructure Levy (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (England) Regulations inserted regulations 72A – 72C into the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010.

Effective from

22 July 2020

In a nutshell

Campsite seasons can be extended. 

Who can benefit?

Owners of caravan, campsite and holiday parks, and their visitors.  

Anything else I need to know?

  • Local planning authorities are to relax their approach to the enforcement of planning conditions limiting the season for caravan, campsites and holiday parks.
  • Local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of caravan, campsites and holiday parks to extend their open season 

Where can I find the detail?

Written Ministerial Statement dated 14 July 2020 

Effective from

14 July 2020

In a nutshell

Temporary permitted development rights allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to provide takeaway food.

Who can benefit?

Owners of pubs and restaurants.

Who cannot benefit?

Owners of premises with planning conditions restricting use as a takeaway

Anything else I need to know?

  • The right is subject to prior notification to the local planning authority
  • The right is temporary, expiring on 23 March 2021
  • The takeaway of alcoholic drinks is not be included

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020 inserted Class DA into Part 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 

Effective from

23 March 2020

Protecting community uses and amenity

In a nutshell

When determining the prior approval for new dwellings created under permitted development rights local authorities must consider both the effects of permitted extensions on the residential amenity of neighbouring properties, including the loss of light, and the provision of adequate natural light within the newly created dwellings

Who can benefit?

Occupiers of new permitted development dwellings, and their neighbours

Who cannot benefit?

Occupiers of dwellings constructed under permitted development rights that have already been approved

Anything else I need to know?

  • An assessment of the adequacy of natural light will be part of the prior approval
  • Local planning authorities are expected to exercise their planning judgement when considering the detailed floor plans and elevations in their assessment of adequate natural light in habitable rooms
  • Habitable rooms are any rooms used or intended to be used for sleeping or living which are not solely used for cooking purposes, but does not include bath or toilet facilities, service rooms, corridors, laundry rooms, hallways or utility rooms

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 amended those permitted development rights that allow the construction of new dwellings in Classes M, N, O, PA and Q of Part 3 the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015

Effective from

1 August 2020

In a nutshell

Local authorities are encouraged to take a pragmatic and proportionate approach to the enforcement of section 106 planning obligations during lockdown.

Who can benefit?

Developers with section 106 obligations falling due during lockdown.

Anything else I need to know?

  • This is guidance, not legislation
  • The guidance encourages that where the delivery of a planning obligation, such as a financial contribution, is triggered during lockdown, local authorities are encouraged to consider whether it would be appropriate to allow the developer to defer delivery
  • The amendments can be regularised by deeds of variation to the original section 106 agreement  

Where can I find the detail?

MHCLG Coronavirus (COVID-19): Community Infrastructure Levy guidance 

Effective from

13 May 2020

In a nutshell

Enhanced protection is given to theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues 

Who can benefit?

Audiences and performers

Who cannot benefit?

Owners of such venues that consider they are no longer viable

Anything else I need to know?

Local planning authorities should have due regard to their current circumstances when considering whether to grant planning permission for a change of use or demolition of a theatre, concert hall or live music performance venue that has been made temporarily vacant by Covid-19 business disruption to prevent their unnecessary loss.

Where can I find the detail?

Written Ministerial Statement dated 14 July 2020 

Effective from

14 July 2020

In a nutshell

The following community valued uses will become sui generis so will not benefit from any permitted changes of use:

  • Pubs (currently A4)

  • Takeaways (currently A5)

  • Cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls and dance halls (currently D2)

A new Class F.1 is created for the following institutional type uses:

  • Schools, non-residential education and training centres, museums, public libraries, public halls, exhibition halls, places of worship, law courts (currently D1)

A new Class F.2 is created for the following local community uses:

  • Shops less than 280m2 mostly selling essential goods, including food and at least 1km from another similar shop (currently A1)

  • Halls or meeting places for the principal use of the local community and indoor or outdoor swimming baths, skating rinks, and outdoor sports or recreations not involving motorised vehicles or firearms (currently D2)

Who can benefit?

The patrons and users of these premises, and the wider community 

Who cannot benefit?

Owners of these premises that want to change their use (they will now need to secure the grant of full planning permission) 

Anything else I need to know?

There is a period from 1 September 2020 to 31 July 2021 (known as the ‘material period’) during which transitional arrangements will allow the existing permitted changes of use to apply as if these use class changes do not apply.

Where can I find the detail?

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 amended the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987

Effective from

1 September 2020


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