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Planning and environment

Affordable housing – vacant building credit

Vacant building credit was introduced at the end of 2014. It applies when working out the amount of affordable housing contribution required for a new development; in effect, there is a credit for existing floor space, so the additional housing contribution only relates to the net increase.

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Agricultural – conversions

In April 2014 the rules on agricultural-to-residential conversions were relaxed by the introduction of a new class of permitted development (Class MB).

 

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Section 106 – monitoring fees

It is not uncommon for an LA to require a developer to pay ‘monitoring fees’ to cover the costs of ensuring that the developer complies with the terms of an s106 agreement. However, the High Court has held that such fees will often be unlawful.

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Planning – noise nuisance

DCLG has amended its planning practice guide on noise. The aim is to protect existing pubs, music venues and similar businesses from being required to install expensive soundproofing when new residential developments are built nearby (and also to protect them from statutory noise nuisance proceedings).

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Agricultural – conversions

In April 2014 the rules on agricultural-to-residential conversions were relaxed with the introduction of a new class of permitted development (Class MB) allowing change of use and some building operations. Needless to say, this change has not been welcomed by all rural planning authorities.

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Planning – Wales

The Planning (Wales) Bill is likely to come into force in 2015, and introduces a new framework for strategic planning, and the preparation of planning policies, in Wales. In effect, this is a further step towards there being a distinct planning system for Wales.

 

Planning conditions – deemed discharge

As part of its moves to speed up the planning process, the government is intending to introduce a system for deeming that a planning condition has been discharged (if the LPA has not responded within a reasonable time).

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Planning – agricultural condition

It is not uncommon to find a planning condition which restricts occupation of a dwelling to agricultural workers (‘ag-tag’ condition). 
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Permitted development – extension

In 2013 the government introduced important changes so that many offices could become residential under the permitted development regime (ie without the need to apply for planning permission). As we noted in our September 2014 issue (p27) there are now further proposals to extend the scope of office-to-residential conversions, and also other change of use categories.
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Permitted development – extension

The government is currently consulting over additional changes to the permitted development regime to allow more changes of use that do not require formal planning permission. In particular:

  • Office to residential permitted development right to be made permanent, while removing the exemptions that were granted in 2013. This would come into force in May 2016.
  • Change of use from light industrial units, warehouses, storage units, offices, launderettes, amusement arcades, casinos and nightclubs to residential.
  • A wider retail use class to bring most financial and professional services A2 uses within the current shops (A1) use.
  • New permitted development right to allow change of use from existing A1 and A2 uses and launderettes to restaurants and cafes (A3).
  • New permitted development right to allow retailers to alter their premises for ‘click and collect’ services.
  • Increase in the mezzanine floor permitted development areas.
  • To allow larger solar panels of up to 1mW on commercial buildings. 
  • The rules on extensions to houses and business premises introduced in May 2013 would be made permanent.

While these are still proposals, the likelihood is that they will go ahead. Needless to say, these could impact on the value of properties that are opened up for residential use.

 


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