CgMs Newsletter

Planning Historic Buildings Archaeology
Specialist & Independent Advisors to the Property Industry

INTRODUCTION

This newsletter gives an update of noteworthy planning measures, guidance and decisions that have occurred during the Summer and Autumn of 2009.

Specifically, we comment upon:

  • Draft PPS15 - Planning for the Historic Environment
  • "Flexible" Planning Permissions
  • Proposed changes to the General Permitted Development Order
  • Competition Commission proposes a "Competition Test" for grocery stores.
  • The Infrastructure Planning Commission
  • Proposed Conservative Planning Policies
  • London's new housing design guidance
  • Data Centres and their planning use

As highlighted in this newsletter, the summer recess had been used by the Government for extensive public consultation on its continued theme of introducing measures so as to help business and housebuilders combat the recession by either removing the need for planning permission altogether - or to try and make the system simpler. The summer months were also the time when the Government chose to announce its long awaited proposals to overhaul the planning controls affecting on the historic environment.

Given the increasing pressures being made by developers, investors and occupiers to change the English Planning System in response to the recession and a possible change of Government, CgMs, in association with Property Week and Bircham Dyson Bell, are holding a major planning conference entitled "Planning for Prosperity" on 15 October 2009 at the Grange St Paul's, London. Key speakers will be from Communities and Local Government, the Conservative Party, key commercial and residential developers as well as representatives from local and regional government. .

For further details about the conference click here or contact Mike Straw.

PPS15- Planning For the Historic Environment

The Department of Communities and Local Government published for consultation on July 24th until 30 October, draft Planning Policy Statement 15 entitled "Planning for the Historic Environment." This guidance will replace existing guidance in the form of PPG15 (Planning and Historic Environment) of 1994 and PPG16 (Archaeology and Planning) of 1990.

In response to this draft guidance, Paul Chadwick, head of the archaeology team at CgMs Consulting said:

"The principal changes from the guidance are the merger of both buildings, monuments, archaeology and historic landscapes into one "historic asset" class. There is also the onus for applicants to assess the 'significance' of heritage assets before the development is designed and an application submitted. This will have timing and cost implications for all development proposals and will require an integrated approach to the assessment of the impact of the proposal upon the historic environment."

To see our more detailed assessment and for further advice of what this new guidance means to developers, landowners and property professionals, please contact either Paul Chadwick or Jonathan Edis.
 
 More on PPS15 >>

"Flexible" planning permissions

In response to the recession and its impact upon the property development industry, Communities and Local Government introduced on 1 October 2009 changes to enable extant planning permissions to be amended without the need to apply for a whole new planning application: 
 

  • Extending the time period for all extant consents before 1October and;
  • Making "Minor" amendments to extant consents.

These measures have been introduced in the light of consultation responses the DCLG received during the summer months. This resulted in DCLG revising its proposal to extend the time limits for implementation for all planning permissions, not just those in respect of major schemes as reported in our bulletin highlighted below.

There are therefore two new types of planning applications that have come into effect from the 1st October 2009.

  • Application to extend time limit

    DCLG has now introduced a new planning application where the applicant is seeking to extend the time limit for the implementation of an extant planning permission. There is also a corresponding application where an extant listed building consent or conservation area consent is associated with the planning permission, and the applicant wishes to extend the time limit for implementation for that consent also.

    It needs to be noted that is not possible to use this application procedure where the development has already commenced, where the permission or consent has already expired at the time of application, or where the permission/consent was granted after 1 October 2009. In those cases, a new application would have to be made. It is also not possible to use this procedure solely to extend the time limit for submission of reserved matters. Applicants would have to seek a replacement for the outline permission itself, which if successful would create new time limits for the submission of reserved matters and for subsequent implementation.

    Until the fees regulations are amended (expected to be in late November/ early December 2009), the fee payable for this type of application will be the same as if the application were for a new planning permission. There is no fee for the element of this application which is in respect of a listed building or conservation area consent. 

  •  Application for non material amendments (or amendments) to an existing planning permission.

    Following a grant of planning permission, it may be necessary to make small amendments to the permission, where these are non material. In such circumstances, rather than as was often previously the case where a letter would suffice from the Local Planning Authority, this application now has to be submitted. Whether or not a proposed amendment is non-material will depend on the circumstances of the case. If an application made on this form is successful, the result will be an amendment to the original planning permission. No new planning permission is created.

    Until the fees regulations are amended (expected to be in late November/early December 2009), there is no fee for this type of application.

For further background information resulting in these "flexible permissions" please click here and see our bulletin which relates to the public consultation exercise on the original proposed measures undertaken during the summer months of 2009 or contact Mike Straw for further details.

Proposed changes to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) for non residential development

Communities and Local Government has issued for consultation until 23 October proposed changes to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) for non residential development. The consultation paper seeks to reduce further the need to have to apply for planning permission for minor development - such as altering shop fronts or extensions to existing office, industrial and warehouse buildings.
 
For more information please contact Mike Straw.

 More on the GDPO >>

Competition Commission proposes a Competition Test for Grocery Stores

The Competition Commission is recommending to Communities and Local Government the introduction of a "competition test." It is proposed that planning applications for extensions to existing grocery stores or for new grocery stores of over 1,000 sq m net sales area will have to pass the test before consent should be granted by the Local Planning Authority.

For more information please contact contact Malcolm Honour, John Stockdale of Peggy Hui.

 More on the Competition Commission’s final decision >>

Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) Opens for Business

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) was formally open for business on 1 October 2009.

Established by the 2008 Planning Act, the IPC is the new planning regime that will now determine planning applications of nationally important infrastructure projects such as power stations, ports, motorways and other nationally required infrastructure projects. These applications will now be determined by the IPC and not the Local Planning Authority.

The objective is speed up the planning process for determining such major infrastructure planning applications - hitherto such projects often took many years to determine, for example, Heathrow's Terminal 5, at lengthy and costly public inquiries.

The IPC expects to begin handling applications for energy and transport projects from March 2010 and according to the IPC's chair, Sir Michael Pitt, they anticipate to determine around 50 schemes during the next year - the majority of which are expected to be energy schemes.

The new infrastructure applications will be assessed against National Policy Statements (NPSs). However, the NPPSs are yet to published because they firstly need to be consulted upon and scrutinised by Parliament.

This consultation process is now due to commence; it is the Government's intention to publish NPSs covering Nuclear Power; Renewable Energy; Electricity Networks; Fossil Fuel Generation; Oil and Gas Infrastructure; Ports and National Networks (road and rail) during the autumn. Subject to the outcome of public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny, the Government expects these NPSs to be designated over the course of next year.

The remaining four NPSs are being produced on a longer timeframe, with consultation on the Waste Water NPSs in spring 2010 and the Hazardous Waste NPS in summer 2010, with the aim of designating them in 2011. The Government also intends to consult on the Airports NPS by 2011 with a view to designating it later that year. Finally the Government hopes to consult on the Water Supply NPS in late 2010 - once the final Water Resource Management Plans are published, which are needed to inform the NPS - with the aim of designating that NPS by early 2012. Where a relevant NPS is in place, it will then take the decision. If the relevant NPS has yet to be designated, the IPC will instead report with a recommendation to ministers.

Housing and Planning Minister John Healey said:

"Improving the UK's infrastructure now and in the future is critical to maintaining and improving our quality of life, protecting our prosperity and safeguarding the environment in an increasingly competitive global economy."

The new planning system will be fairer and faster, cutting the time taken to make decisions from up to seven years down to under a year. The interests of the public will come first and there will be more and better opportunities for opinions to be heard at more stages in the process.

"Investors have told us they want certainty and predictability about how the new regime will work. From today, businesses will receive guidance from the IPC on what their applications should include and crucially how to consult with the public before they are submitted. From 1 March next year, the IPC will start accepting applications for energy and transport projects.

"The IPC will then help us develop energy infrastructure such as wind power to cut our fossil fuel addiction and meet our ambitious low-carbon goals. Reforming the system means faster decisions on many low-carbon power sources, and the country could save £300m a year."

The CBI welcomed the launch of the commission. Deputy director-general John Cridland said:

"For too long infrastructure schemes of major national importance have ended up getting bogged down in planning delays. We urgently need new nuclear power stations and wind farms to bolster our energy security and cut carbon emissions."

However this view is not shared by the Shadow Conservative Planning Minister, Bob Neil, who promises to abolish the IPC should a Conservative Government be elected. Speaking about the IPC, he said that "the people and their representatives are being disenfranchised on a massive scale by the most unaccountable quangocrats ever created" .

The Conservative's proposed abolition of the IPC and Regional Planning Agencies is likely to be a central component of the Conservative Party's Planning Green Paper to be published in October.

For further information please contact Mike Straw or Richard Tilley

Proposed Conservative Planning Policy

With the general election only months away and as the party conferences are over, we summarise in the attached bulletin the Conservative Party's proposed changes to the English Planning system in the event that they become elected.

For further information please contact either Richard Tilley or Mike Straw

 More on The Conservative Planning Policy >>

London Mayor Housing Design Guide Published

Boris Johnson, London's Mayor, has published a Draft Housing Design Guide as part of his London Housing Strategy. This document is intended to promote excellence in design quality and sustainability and remove what he has termed "Hobbitt homes" given that London has some of the smallest new homes in Western Europe.

Although primarily aimed at improving homes provided through public funding, the standards within the guide will be expected to influence good practice across all sectors of the housebuilding industry. The standards will become applicable to all housing development funded by the HCA from April 2011 onwards.

For further information please contact either Duncan Bennett or Valerie Scott.

 More on The London Mayor's Design Guide >>

Data Centres - Use Confirmed as Class B8

The question often arises as to what planning use is a data centre. Some Local Planning Authorities consider that data centres are a use class of their own - or "sui generis" and others that the use is Class B8 - storage use.

This planning issue has been clarified in a groundbreaking decision at Magna Park, Leicester, at a recent planning appeal where the Planning Inspector granted a Lawful Development Certificate confirming that a Data Centre is a Class B8 use.

The Inspector considered that although data centres inevitably comprise of the storage of computerised electronic storage equipment, this does not mean that the emphasis of the operation is on the use of computers. The purpose of the electronic equipment is the storage of data; that equipment is merely the storage and handling medium. The use of electronic equipment is no more the primary purpose of the facility than the use of racks and rails is the primary purpose of traditional clothing warehouse.

The inspector noted that in the schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, Class B8 encompassed use for "storage" or as a distribution centre. The word storage was not qualified by reference to goods or in any other way. He held that data storage might be a relatively novel form of "storage" but it was nevertheless storage.

Subject to any High Court challenge the decision should clarify an issue where there has been different interpretations between local planning authorities thereby saving unnecessary applications.

As a result of this decision, data centre uses can be regarded as a Class B8 use and consequently planning permission for use of a vacant and lawful Class B8 unit will not require planning permission for use a data centre.

Nevertheless, the Local Planning might still consider that planning permission is required for an changes to the external appearance of the building, or servicing and access requirements associated with the proposed data centre use.

For further information and a copy of the full decision letter please contact Chris Hicks

 More on Data Centres B8 Use >>

If you require further information on this Newsletter please contact:

Mike Straw, BA, BTp, MRTPI
Director, Planning
Tel:020 7832 0252   Email: mike.straw@cgms.co.uk

Erica Mortimer, BA (Hons) FRTPI FRSA
Managing Director, Planning
Tel:020 7832 1465   Email: erica.mortimer@cgms.co.uk 

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