The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020/757 came into effect on the 1st September 2020. It had the effect of revoking a number of the well-established previous use classes and reorganising them into much broader classifications.
One of the most radical changes in the Use Class Order amendments is introduction of Class E Commercial Business and Service. Becoming known as the “Everything Else” classification, it has grouped together what would previously have been considered A1(Shops), Class A2 (Financial and professional services), Class A3 (Restaurants and cafes) and Class B1(Business). It also includes uses such as indoor sport and gyms, medical centres and creches which would previously have been within Class D1 (Non-residential institutions) and Class D2 (Assembly and leisure).
The effect of this change is to broaden the uses that can take place within a building or premises without it constituting development and therefore not requiring planning permission.
These changes provide greater flexibility for businesses to adapt to changing needs. Some have suggested these changes are anticipated as being short lived, to enable the high street to recover from the effects of COVID19. However, the high street was already suffering an existential crisis before the effects of lockdown and reduced footfall from the pandemic.
There is a legal challenge to this dramatic change, along with other permitted development rights that have been altered, the case being made that the new rules have been introduced without proper consultation and without parliamentary debate. A hearing is due between 8th October 2020 to 15th October 2020 to consider if permission is to be granted for the claim to be heard and if it is, for a substantive hearing to proceed.
DLP Planning have obtained planning permission for the change of use of former industrial buildings in Sheffield for use as an indoor crazy golf course, food market and bar. The concept of Ghetto Golf combines crazy golf, cocktails, and DJs in a street art infused environment.
DLP Planning successfully guided our client through pre-application discussions with the Local Planning Authority to securing planning permission this summer for an innovative leisure use of former industrial buildings. The proposal will repurpose vacant buildings located within a conservation area and help to increase the amount of footfall within this part of the city centre.
The venue will become Ghetto Golf’s fifth location in the UK and expand the leisure offer of Sheffield City Centre. As well as a unique crazy golf experience, the venue will include ‘Birdies Bar’ which will provide cocktails in a beach bar themed concept, and an indoor food market.
In support of the application, DLP Planning were required to prepare a town centre sequential assessment which assessed sites within Sheffield City Centre and London Road Local Centre for their suitability for the proposed use. DLP were successful in demonstrating to the Local Authority that there were no sequentially preferable sites for the leisure use in the city centre and nearby district centre, and that the proposal did not exceed the 2,500m2 threshold which would trigger the requirement for an impact assessment to be undertaken.
The proposal is located on the edge of Sheffield City Centre and will help to expand the leisure offer that the city centre provides. The site is well related in terms of location to the city’s two universities’ and will definitely be a popular venue with resident
s of Sheffield and its student population.
John HelyarPlanning permission secured for new Ghetto Golf venue in Sheffield
It is important to note with all the excitement generated around the White Paper that there are in fact two consultations being undertaken with two different deadlines. Both are summarized below. The first set of changes can be delivered though amendments to policy and do not require legislative changes.
Changes to improve the effectiveness of the current planning system
Responses to these proposed policy changes are due on 1st October 2020. These include:
Changes to the standard method for calculating the housing requirement:
Step 1: Changes to methodology to reflect size of exiting dwelling stock as well as population and household projections
Step 2: Changes to methodology to reflect both current affordability ratio and changes to affordability over time.
Delivering “First Homes”
These are to make up at least 25% of all affordable housing on sites
These are homes for sale at 30% market discount
These can be delivered as exceptions sites and include a small element of market housing to assist viability.
Supporting SME housebuilders – deferring CIL and potentially reducing contributions
Small Sites – Increasing the size of site before affordable housing is required from 10 dwellings to 40 or 50 dwellings
Extension of Permission in Principle to Major developments.
White Paper Planning for the Future
Responses to these proposed changes are due on 29th October 2020. The proposed changes include:
Simplification of Local Plans placing all land into one of the three categories (but each having the possibility of more detailed annotations):
Growth Areas: Areas of new development / redevelopment which would have outline approval (provided compliance with design codes).
Renewal areas: Existing built up areas where smaller scale development infill and “gentle densification”.
Protected Areas: Areas of environmental or cultural characteristics where more stringent control applies. This would include large areas such as Green Belt AONB but also small areas like residential gardens
National Design Codes, Development Management Policies and Conditions.
Streamlined Plan Making
Stage 1: Call for “Suggestions” of areas to be included in the 3 zones (6 months)
Stage 2: Evidence base and drafting of plan (12 months)
Stage 3: Consultation and Submission (6 weeks)
Stage 4: “Hearing” of comments by inspector (9 months)
Stage 5: Adoption (6 weeks)
Single test of soundness on “Sustainable Development” with a slimmed down test of deliverability OR self-certification by LPA’s
Increased use of digital technology for consultation
30/42 Months to produce new Local Plan
Changes to the standard method for calculating the housing requirement by adding Step 3 a revision of the requirement to take account constraints such as green belt and AONB as well as opportunities like previously developed land.
No 5-year land supply requirement for housing
No Duty to Cooperate
Quicker and simpler assessments of environmental impact
Reforms to S106 and Community Infrastructure Level (CIL)
The New City Road development designed by Rivington Street Studios comprises a six -storey building containing 20 flats at the corner of New City Road and Jedburgh Road, six three-storey houses and two two-storey wheelchair accessible houses. All of the units will be affordable at London Affordable Rent.
The New City Road proposal was recommended for approval at Committee in July 2020. The development is part of the London Borough of Newham’s programme which aims to provide 1,000 new affordable homes by 2022. The site previously contained garages on Council owned land, some of which were vacant and underutilised.
The proposed houses are designed to activate the street frontage with a consistent terrace, inspired by an established London housing typology which is the prevailing pattern of surrounding development. The scheme extends the terraces of Jedburgh Road and Haig Road East, finishes off an incomplete perimeter block, and enhances security and sense of community by protecting existing rear gardens.
The scheme also incorporates soft landscaping features and SuDS to improve the character of the site and its surrounding area and also contributing to the requirements of outdoor amenity space. A new central landscaped play area will be provided, which will be accessible to the new residents and the existing residents of Jacobs House. The mature trees along the front of the site will be retained.
DLP Planning Ltd have successfully achieved full planning permission for a bespoke new dwelling at Cranfield in Central Bedfordshire. The site is located outside of the defined settlement boundary. However, it is well related to the main built-up area and is within close proximity to existing services and facilities. As such, the site presents as being part of the settlement of Cranfield.
The Council accepted the case presented by DLP and in particular that the settlement envelope policies are out of date and as such do not attract full weight. Furthermore, the scheme is a sustainable form of development that will provide social, economic, and environmental benefits and this weighed in favour of granting planning permission. As such, it was concluded that any potential limited harm, by virtue of being outside the settlement boundary, was outweighed by the benefits of the scheme.
The dwelling has been designed to a high standard and to meet the needs and requirements of the client and in keeping with the local area. The materials proposed are fundamental to the design approach and the sustainable ethos of the build method, which promotes high levels of sustainability.
This planning permission is great news for our clients who are excited to start building their new home.
We are pleased to have obtained permission on several schemes in Bristol for several clients. Acting on behalf of a small local developer, prior approval was granted for the conversion of a retail unit in Bristol to create two ground floor flats. The application site is very sustainably located, requiring no off-street parking provision and informed by other successful applications DLP worked with the Local Planning Authority to agree no intrusive contamination investigation would be required at the site as its conversion required only internal conversion works.
DLP Planning also successfully supported the approval of additional solar panels on the front elevation of a house in a Conservation Area with the support of Robin Designs, Armour Heritage, Ecocetera and the local Ward Member. This followed an earlier scheme proposing a higher number of panels, to which the local conservation officer raised concerns on the grounds of the impact on the character of the Conservation Area. Drawing officer’s attention to the reduced number of panels, and a number of precedents installed without the benefit of planning permission in the surrounding area on buildings with more prominence in the street scene, the scheme was approved by delegated powers, deciding that the installation would have no harm on the Conservation Area. The client is delighted, as this scheme will allow significant improvements in the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from this private home, supporting Bristol’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
A third scheme secured the approval of a replacement equestrian barn in the Green Belt within the setting of a Grade II Listed farmhouse, following an earlier refused application for a larger barn. While the approved scheme would enlarge the barn by 40% this would be shorter in length and with internal mezzanine storage allowing the consolidation of a number of timber sheds on site and therefore minimising the impact of the barn on the openness of the Green Belt. Officers were persuaded to grant approval by delegated powers under NPPF Green Belt exception policy, agreeing with DLP Planning’s evidence that the existing provision had become unfit for purpose, and a target for theft.
We are very pleased to have been able to assist our clients in and around Bristol to deliver these developments.
John HelyarPlanning Permission Secured In and Around Bristol
The planning system plays a vital role in enabling the delivery of development that will support the UK’s economic recovery during COVID-19. The Coronavirus Act 2020, which received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020 makes provision for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to change the way in which they hold their meetings. This came into force on 4 April 2020. DLP Planning Ltd have been working across our offices to provide a schedule of LPAs current self-contingency measures that are in place in response to Covid-19.
Six weeks on from changes in legislation, we are seeing a mixed response from LPAs across England. The work DLP Planning Ltd have undertaken highlights a diversity in practice with some LPA’s already holding virtual Committees during May 2020.
Several LPAs within West Midlands and London have successfully executed virtual Planning Committees with Members determining applications for schemes that are either departures to Local Plan policies or those with multiple objections. Some of the other Regions have been taking a more cautious approach, reviewing their internal procedures and IT options for holding virtual meetings. It is anticipated that the take up of virtual Committees will spread across LPAs in England as Council’s set up their legal and IT systems. Virtual Committee meetings have been successfully facilitated by different methods, including Microsoft Teams.
In terms of work on Plan Making, there appears to be is a mixed response. Some LPAs are continuing to press ahead with policy work in line with their current timetables, whilst others are pausing work for the foreseeable future.
What is clear is the eagerness of LPAs across the UK to embrace this current crisis, with front runners setting a fast pace of change made possible by legislation. This has allowed politically sensitive applications to be progressed. DLP Planning Ltd schedule provides a summary of LPA’s current self-contingency measures and will assist clients in making decisions on their strategy for current and proposed planning applications. A link is provided to the current Schedule and DLP Planning Ltd will be providing regular updates as the situation changes.
John HelyarCOVID-19 and LPAs Self Contingency Measures
The 2019 draft London Plan emphasises the importance of delivering the homes that Londoners need and highlights the significance the lack of supply has had on London’s housing crisis. The Plan highlights the need for 66,000 new homes each year, of which 43,000 should be genuinely affordable. DLP Planning has undertaken research into the number of planning permissions granted for housing schemes (minor and major) in 2019 by London Borough Authorities (LBA) in order to establish which boroughs are performing well in helping to meet the housing targets set in the London Plan. The research project also assesses the relative performance of LBA’s in granting residential planning permissions based on the number of applications they have received.
National statistics about the number of planning applications made and permissions granted in England are released every three months by The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). It covers information on planning applications received, including decisions on applications for residential developments. DLP Planning Ltd have reviewed the 2019 figures for the LBA’s (under the District Planning Application Statistics file PS2) and found that in 2019, LBA’s granted a total of 51138 permissions.
Our investigation identifies which LBA’s have the best and which have the most challenged track record for granting residential applications. Out of the 32 London Borough Authorities, the City of London had the highest percentage rate (98%) in granting planning permissions, compared with the London Borough of Harrow who only approved 65% of the total applications for residential development that they received.
DLP Planning Ltd.’s research also demonstrated that there is a great diversity in the total number of applications received between LBA’s. For example, Barnet received 3208 housing related applications, compared to 580 in the City of London, 658 in Waltham Forest and 747 in Kingston. However, these figures do not necessarily reflect the scale of the developments proposed and total number of houses granted planning permission by Borough. Therefore, the percentage granted may not be a fair reflection on their performance. To account for this, DLP Planning Ltd weighted each LBA’s performance against the total number of granted permissions. The research and statistical analysis can be found in the link below and summarised in Figure 1: Total Planning Permissions Granted for London Borough Authorities in 2019 (Percentage).
John HelyarPlanning and Development Control Statistics: London Borough Authorities in 2019
The likely impacts of Covid-19 are clear for house builders; a decrease in the number of completions for this year and potentially longer build out rates for sites already under construction. This is expected to affect the land supply position of many local authorities across England and be a slow down on any recovery to the economy. But what could be done about this? In our recent client briefing note, Alex Roberts explores how Government can respond through policy and what local authorities should do to ensure their land supply positions are sufficiently robust.
Government have already announced there will be a change to the standard methodology to get closer to their target of 300,000 new dwellings built each year. This change may come in shortly, and could lead to some 5YHLS assessments slipping under 5 years. A change to the standard method has been discussed since it came in to place in 2018.
Whatever the alteration Government make, it will need to remain simple and be genuinely effective in achieving what is a central objective of Government policy, to boost housing (and economic) growth across England. Post the Covid-19 lockdown, the need to boost short-term economic performance will likely become even more pressing so increasing supply could take on an extra importance
We consider there are going to be different impacts for land supply assessments for the 2020/21 period and the 2021/22 period, in general we consider the challenges faced this year will be around presenting evidence that sites are deliverable. For next year, it is likely some authorities will move into the 20% HDT buffer and could have fewer applications to put into the housing supply, both factors could reduce land supplies, even in areas with previously very strong levels of supply. .
The Court of Appeal reversed the High Court’s decision in Finney v Welsh Ministers  EWCA Civ 1868. The effect of the High Court decision had been that Section 73 (S73) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 could be used to vary not just the conditions to a planning permission, but also the description of the development itself. The Court of Appeal has, however, ruled that to vary the description of development is outside the remit of S73.
Going forward, it will be important to consider the description of development at the planning application stage. The Applicant is likely to seek as much flexibility as possible in the description of development, but this must be sufficiently detailed to allow the proposals to be understood for the purposes of consultation.
Local Planning Authorities may seek to have more precise terms included in the description of development. Indeed, the National Planning Practice Guidance notes identify that before publicising and consulting on an application, the LPA should be satisfied that the description of development provided is accurate. Essentially though, the LPA should not amend the description of development without first discussing any revised wording with the Applicant or their Agent. This discussion needs to consider the implications of Finney and changes to the wording may need to be resisted.
To allow the certainty required, substantive detail can be controlled by conditions to future planning application which could then be subject to S73 application without amendment to the description of development.