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Planning and environment

Officers – written reasons

’Officers’ are now required to give their reasons for granting a planning permission under delegated authority. Likewise, if a planning permission is granted subject to conditions, the permission must clearly state the reason for each condition. If the permission is refused, the refusal notice must clearly and precisely state the full reasons for refusal.

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Change of use – amalgamation

Planning permission is not generally required for internal works to a building. One exception to this is s55(3) TCPA 1990 which says that a change of use from one dwelling house (which includes a flat) to two or more dwelling houses constitutes a material change of use (ie requiring planning permission). But, there is no specific reference to the converse – namely the amalgamating or merging of existing residences.

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Section 106 – dispute resolution

Section 106 dispute resolution is intended to free up protracted s106 negotiations between LAs and developers. As such, the aim is to speed up the granting of planning permissions.

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Compulsory purchase – new Act

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 makes important changes to the compulsory purchase regime: the right to enter and survey land; a new power to override easements and other rights; and changes to the general vesting declarations (GVD) regime. In addition there are changes to the advance payments regime, as well as procedural changes, and changes to the ‘material detriment’ regime. Note that further changes to the compulsory purchase rules may result from the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. For more see [2016] 346 Property Law Journal 16.

 

Designated protected area – shared ownership

It is important that developers are aware of the rules on designated protected areas (DPAs). If the affordable housing element of the development includes shared ownership, then if the site is in a DPA, the registered provider granting the shared ownership leases will have to include clauses in those leases ensuring that the properties will remain in shared ownership indefinitely.

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Change of use – amalgamation

Planning permission is not generally required for internal works to a building. One exception to this is s55(3) TCPA 1990 which says that a change of use from one dwelling house (which includes a flat) to two or more dwelling houses constitutes a material change of use. Thus, sub-division requires planning permission (as a ‘material change of use’) but there is no specific reference to amalgamating or merging two units into one.

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CIL – mezzanines

The basic rule is that the installation of a mezzanine floor in an existing building will not create a liability for community infrastructure levy. This assumes, however, that the works in the planning application affect only the interior of the building.

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CIL – surcharge

Late submission of a commencement notice can result in a community infrastructure levy surcharge.

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Judicial review – conditions

   It is not just planning permission decisions that are at risk of judicial review; that applies to all planning decisions, including conditions.

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Affordable housing – threshold upheld

In November 2014 the government introduced a threshold, below which the affordable housing rules would not apply (in essence, ten units or less with a combined gross floor space of no more than 1,000sq m; with a lower figure of five units in rural areas). That policy was subsequently held unlawful by the High Court, but that decision has been overturned by the CA. Thus, the threshold is valid. In practice, this means that most builders developing sites of fewer than ten homes will no longer have to make an affordable homes contribution. West Berks v Reading [2016] EWCA Civ 441 (access free at www.practicalconveyancing.co.uk).
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