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Planning and environment

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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Takeaways – WCs?

Free toilets and washbasins have to be provided for premises that are normally used for the sale of food and drink to members of the public for consumption on the premises (s20 LG (MP) Act 1976). Clearly then, premises that are takeaway-only do not need to provide washbasins or toilets. But, what is the boundary between a takeaway and a non-takeaway?
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Enforcement notice – correct service

If someone has not provided the LPA with an address of service, then an enforcement notice can be served at their ‘usual or last known place of abode’ (TCPA 1990). In addition, there is a general provision allowing an LPA to serve such notice ‘at the proper address’ (LGA 1972).
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Conditions – interpretation

It is always important to scrutinise the precise wording of a planning condition. According to the CA, this means looking at the natural and ordinary meaning of the language in the condition.
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Planning – basements

The current popularity of basement excavations is not surprising; in many areas of London residential prices exceed £1,000psf, whereas basement construction costs are generally £400-£500psf. Hence there is a strong financial incentive to dig down.

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Reasons – officers and committees

A recent local government ombudsman report is useful for highlighting the importance of planning committees clearly recording the reasons for their decisions. In the view of the LGO, this is particularly important if the planning committee’s decision conflicts with the planning officer’s recommendation.
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CIL – split application?

Community Infrastructure Levy is generally chargeable on the internal floor space created by a planning permission. But, a recent case shows that an astute developer may be able to avoid CIL liability by submitting separate planning applications.
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SPZ – effect

Simplified planning zones were introduced by TCPA 1990 (with an earlier variant dating back to 1971). While there are relatively few SPZs, the use of such zones is intended to encourage economic development and investment. 

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AgTag – ‘dependent’

The CA has clarified the meaning of ‘dependence’ in the standard agricultural tenancy occupancy condition. It does include family members who are not financially dependent. 

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Tree preservation – seeds and saplings

A Tree Preservation Order covers ‘trees’, but does that include seeds, seedlings and saplings? 

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