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The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have been responding relatively quickly to issues arising as a result of COVID-19, with many measures being introduced to boost the construction industry. This post focusses on the latest update which was introduced into the House of Commons on 25 June as well as new permitted development rights to build upwards which are due to come into force on 1 August 2020.

Business and Planning Bill

Following mounting pressure from the development sector, the MHCLG earlier this week announced measures to extend the deadlines for implementing planning permissions, as well as other measures to help the construction industry, including speeding up planning appeals and more flexible construction working hours.

The Business and Planning Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 25 June for its First Reading. The progress of this Bill is set to move fairly quickly with the Second Reading and Remaining Stages all taking place on 29 June 2020, before being passed to the House of Lords for its Second Reading on 6 July 2020. The Bill includes the following:

Construction working hours

  • Provisions enabling applications to be made to the local planning authority to vary existing conditions setting out construction hours and documents specifying times during which construction activities can be carried out.
  • Modifications can enable construction activities to either be carried out for a longer period on a particular day and / or, for the whole or part of a day which was not previously allowed.
  • Local planning authorities will have 14 calendar days to consider the application.
  • Should the application not be determined in this time, the revised working hours are deemed to have been consented; and
  • If the application is approved, these modifications should cease to have effect no later than 1 April 2021.

Guidance accompanying this suggests that local planning authorities should not refuse applications to extend working hours until 9pm, Monday – Saturday without very compelling reasons and goes as far as to say that in some cases even 24-hour working may be justified.

Extension of duration of planning permissions

  • The implementation date for planning permissions that would lapse between the date of clause 17 of the Business and Planning Act 2020 coming into force and 31 December 2020, is automatically extended until 1 April 2021;
  • Where permissions have already lapsed or would lapse between 23 March and the date the provision comes into force, the extension would need to be applied for and ‘an additional environmental approval’ granted, in order to extend the implementation date until 1 April 2021. The additional environmental approval relates to EIA and habitats requirements. If the local planning authority fails to determine the application within 28 days, the additional environmental approval is deemed to be granted (subject to any agreed extensions). No additional environmental approval is to be granted or deemed to be granted after 31 December 2020, unless granted on appeal; and
  • The Bill contains similar provisions relating to outline planning permission (including extending the deadline to submit reserved matters application) and listed building consents.

Appeal procedure flexibility

Following the recommendations of the Rosewell Review, the Bill also enables PINS to use more than one procedure at the same time when dealing with an appeal in order to speed up the process.

Spatial development strategy

The Mayor’s spatial development strategy will be available for inspection online only (expiring on 31 December 2020).

Building upwards

This has long been spoken about with previous proposals being put forward in 2015 and the government announced that it would consult on the right to build upwards back in 2018. Permitted development rights to construct up to two additional storeys on an existing detached block of flats have been introduced in amendments to The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 and are set to come into force on 1 August 2020.

Regulation 22 inserts Part 20 into Schedule 2 of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 and provides that this type of development is permitted, subject to certain conditions and limitations, including:

  • the existing building must be less than three storeys high;
  • the existing building must have been constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 5 March 2018; and
  • the floor to ceiling height of any additional storey must not be more than 3m high or more than the floor to ceiling height of existing storeys.

If you have any queries, please do get in touch.

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