Planning Update - April 2014 - DAC Beachcroft

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Planning Update - April 2014

Published 3 April 2014

In this planning alert we look at:

  • What happens if land has been wrongfully registered as a town or village green;
  • How the listing of land or buildings as an asset of community value (ACV) is fast replacing town and village green registration as a means of impeding development;
  • The increase in local authorities seeking to restrict the impact of office to residential permitted development rights;
  • The introduction of further permitted development rights from 6 April 2014 and how this affects you.

Also last month saw the launch of our planning law Twitter feed. Please follow us @planninglawUK to receive the latest industry news and opinion from our market-leading planning and environmental legal team, specialists in residential development, health and retail.

The tide is turning on town and village greens

What happens if land is registered as a town or village green, when it shouldn’t have been?

Anyone may apply for rectification of the Commons Register and recent cases from the Supreme Court have shown that whilst there is no statutory deadline for making an application for rectification of the register, a lapse of time will be a material consideration in determining whether or not to rectify the Commons Register, but there is no presumption of prejudice simply due to a delay in applying; there must be evidence of significant detriment having occurred to others as a result of the lapse in time in submitting the application to rectify for rectification to be refused.

Meanwhile, limitations on when applicants can submit an application for designation of a site as a town or village green were introduced last year. Refinements on some of those timescales were introduced in February 2014.

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Assets of Community Value – the new town and village greens?

While the ability to apply for a site to be designated a town or village green has been reined in since the Growth & Infrastructure Act changes of 2013, the new regime of listing buildings and land as Assets of Community Value (also known as the "right to bid") is fast taking its place as the NIMBY's method of choice to put a major thorn in landowners' and developers' sides.

In the light of the Government's pro-growth agenda, is now the time to be introducing a power for local people to thwart the development of sites which have often been vacant for some time? This new power is not what development or the economy needs at a time when development is starting to pick up and the economy improve.

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Local Authorities seek to restrict impact of office to residential permitted development rights

In May 2013 the Government introduced permitted development (PD) rights to allow changes of use from B1(a) office to residential use without the need for planning permission and using only a "prior approval" process. Having lost the battle with Government over areas to be exempted from the PD rights though, local planning authorities are now making article 4 directions to exclude areas of their authority from operation of the PD rights. Many local authorities are also requiring section 106 obligations in relation to perceived impacts beyond the limited prior approval grounds of highways impacts, flooding and contamination.

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Permitted Development Rights around the corner

While the office to residential permitted development rights bed down, from 6 April 2014 further permitted development rights are being introduced to allow the conversion of:

  • Class CA: A1 (shops) to a "deposit taker" (bank, building society, credit union or friendly society)
  • Class IA: A1 (shops) or A2 (financial and professional services) to C3 residential
  • Class MA: Agricultural buildings to use as a state-funded school or registered nursery
  • Class MB: Agricultural buildings to C3 residential

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Lift off for National Planning Policy Guidance

Last month also saw the launch of the Government's new online and updated National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG). The NPPG replaces over 150 planning guidance documents, while containing over 40 guidance notes of its own.

The NPPG can be accessed here

Planning Budget

Several planning related announcements were also made in the recent Budget. In particular the Chancellor has formally recognised the 3 tiers of planning approvals:

  • Full planning permission
  • Prior approval
  • Permitted development without prior approval

This suggests that more use is to be made of the prior approval process along the lines of the office to residential and retail and agriculture to residential PD rights that are already being introduced.

  • Yet more permitted development rights were trailed, to give "greater flexibilities for change to residential use, for example from warehouses and light industry structures, and allowing businesses greater flexibilities to expand facilities such as car parks and loading bays within existing boundaries, where there is little impact on local communities."
  • The new Garden Cities initiative was formally announced.
  • £100m of funding to Greater Cambridge was announced until 2019/20.
  • The Government has committed to consult on a new right to build "giving custom builders a right to a plot from councils”.
  • Business rate discounts and Enhanced Capital Allowances are to be extended by 3 years - as an incentive for new and expanding businesses to locate in Enterprise Zones.
  • And for London, the Government is to work with the GLA and London Borough of Barnet to bring forward the regeneration of Brent Cross. The GLA has said that, working with Treasury and the local authority, it will “bring forward plans for a tax incremental financing scheme based on business rate fund a new rail station at Brent Cross on the Thameslink line”.
  • The Government will work with the GLA to develop proposals for extending the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside and to "ensure that any public investment unlocks the construction of up to 11,000 new homes”.

Environmental Claims Conference 2014

Returning for a second year Environmental Claims 2014 will discuss the latest issues affecting the industry. Anne Harrison of DAC Beachcroft, along with other leading environmental lawyers, insurance experts, flooding specialists and regulators will be speaking at this enlightening conference at the ICO Conference Centre in London on 1 May. Clients of DAC Beachcroft are offered a 25% discount off the full delegate rate. Simply register via the website and use the code SPEAKER25 to receive the discount. Multiple discounts cannot be applied.

Key topics for discussion include:

  • Future of the Environmental Liability Directive
  • Contractual claims: key cases over the last year
  • Expert witness pitfalls
  • Flooding claims update
  • Toxic torts
  • Fracking and the future
  • Waste and environmental regulation

Please find further details and book your place here


Anne Harrison

Anne Harrison


+44 (0)117 918 2731