News

Thursday, 14th May 2020

Changes to Planning and EIA regulation and guidance

The ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic has led to temporary amendments to the Development Management Procedure Order 2015 have been published last week, (Thursday 14th May) to enable planning and other applications to be advertised electronically. They also make amendments to the 2017 EIA Regulations to allow environmental information to be advertised and made available for inspection online instead of physically.

These changes to the publicity requirements for certain planning applications have been introduced through the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure, Listed Buildings and Environmental Impact Assessment) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 to support timely decision-making, and avoid delays to development as a result of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, while maintaining public participation in the decision-making process, the intention is to provide flexibility and avoid as much disruption as possible.

These temporary changes give local planning authorities (and in the case of certain applications for EIA development, applicants) greater flexibility in relation to the way they publicise the planning applications if they are not able to comply with a particular requirement because it is not reasonably practicable to do so for reasons connected to the effects of coronavirus, including restrictions on movement.

This will allow applications for planning permission, listed building consent and environmental statements for EIA development to be publicised using social media and other e-communications, such as online news portals, if site notices, neighbour notifications and/or newspaper notices cannot be placed. The publicity must be proportionate to the scale and nature of the proposed development.

Legislative:

Virtual Planning Committees – Regulations were amended on April 2nd, 2020 to allow for planning committee’s to be carried out using online video conferencing up until 7th May 2021. These are already taking place with varying degrees of success.

Publicity and consultation – LPA’s now have the flexibility to take reasonable alternative steps to ensure applications are publicised and consulted on properly

Community Infrastructure Levy – Increased flexibility in the regulations for small and medium sized developers to allow them to defer payments without incurring further costs to help cashflow

Neighbourhood Plans – No elections or referendums including neighbourhood plan referendums are to be held until 6th March 2021.

Permitted Development Rights (PDR) – Increased PDR allows for the temporary change of use of land and buildings to allow for testing sites and ‘pop-up’ hospitals.

Guidance:

Validation of applications – LPA’s are encouraging all applicants to submit applications online rather than via the post to avoid delays in validation.

Determination timescales – Developers are encouraged to agree time extensions with local authorities.

Local Plans – LPA’s are encouraged to keep progressing Local Plans to meet the governments 2023 target.

Compulsory Purchase – Authorities are expected to consider pragmatic ways of adhering to the CPO requirements whilst adhering to the necessary social distancing guidelines

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects – The government are working with the consenting authorities to ensure that the current circumstances have a minimal impact on the DCO process

Please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-planning-update for further information on changes to planning guidance.

Please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-community-infrastructure-levy-guidance for further information on changes to CIL regulations.