UK Government confirms plans to extend Planning Permissions
Legislation is currently passing through Parliament pursuant to the previous announcement from that Housing Minister of the Government’s intention to extend planning permissions affected by Covid-19 and to help the construction industry.
On 22 June 2020 the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick announced that the UK government was to introduce further measures to help the construction industry and developments.
This intention is now making its way on to the statute books as the Business and Planning Bill makes its way through Parliament. This update is that at the time of writing, this legislation is now due to be discussed in the House of Commons following amendments proposed by the House of Lords. This legislation is therefore nearing its passage through Parliament and is likely to receive formal assent shortly.
With the draft form of legislation before us, we are now able to provide more detail on how exactly the Government intends to extend planning permissions as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
Section 17 of the Bill introduces sections 93A and 93B into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The crucial points to note regarding these sections are as follows:
- will apply to relevant planning permission granted or deemed to be granted where the same relates to development of land in England. Therefore, this does not apply in the other devolved nations of the UK. Please also note that for these purposes a ‘relevant planning permission’ does not include an outline planning permission. Outline planning permissions are dealt with under Section 18 of the Bill (see below).
- will apply where the relevant planning permission contains a condition which has the effect that the development to which the permission relates must be begun during the period:
- beginning on the date on which section 17 of the Business and Planning Act 2020 comes into force; and
- ending with 31 December 2020.
This therefore means that the automatic extension will not be retrospective in effect and so will only apply where the planning permission would otherwise expire after the date on which this bill is formally enacted. This date remains unknown for now. We will have to watch this space.
- has the effect of substituting the date of expiry for commencement of the relevant planning permission to 1 April 2021
So, if a planning permission is due to expire between the date of enactment of this legislation and 31 December 2020 – the date of expiry of said planning permission will now automatically be substituted with 1 April 2021.
- will apply to relevant planning permission granted or deemed to be granted where the same relates to development of land in England. Again, this will therefore not apply in the other devolved nations of the UK.
- will apply where the relevant planning permission contains a condition which has the effect that the development to which the permission relates must be begun not later than the following periods:
- beginning with 23 March 2020 (being the date on which lockdown was announced); and
- ending with the day before the date on which section 17 of the Business and Planning Act 2020 comes into force (as yet an unknown date).
- provides that a person with an interest in the land may make an application to the relevant local planning authority for the area in which the land is situated for an additional environmental approval (“Approval”) in relation to the relevant planning permission.
- if such Approval is granted or deemed to be granted then the date of expiry of the relevant planning permission will be no later than 1 April 2021.
The legislation then goes on to set out how the application for the Approval must be made and whilst the process and detail is too complicated to summarise here, it does cover the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment and compliance with Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. However, if granted, no conditions can be imposed on this Approval.
The local planning authority has a period of 28 days (beginning on the day after the application was sent) to either grant or refuse to grant the Approval. If the local authority fails to do so within this time period then the Approval is deemed to be granted. Please note however that this 28 day time period can be extended by agreement between the applicant and the local planning authority but such extension cannot be more than 21 days.
Either way, the above process appears unduly complicated and slow and would involve developers needing to jump through a number of hoops to see their planning permission extended. How this will actually work in practice remains to be seen.
Section 18 of the Bill then also introduces sections 93D, 93E and 93F into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. These sections deal with outline planning permissions.
Briefly, these provide as follows:
Section 93D – an automatic extension to the time period for submission of a reserved matters approval where the same might otherwise have been required to be submitted between the period beginning 23 March 2020 (start of lockdown) and 31 December 2020. With the extension, any such permissions will now have until 1 April 2021 to submit their application for reserved matters approval.
Section 93E – this provides an automatic extension to the time period for the implementation of an outline planning permission where the same might otherwise have expired between (i) the day on which section 18 of the Business and Planning Act 2020 comes into force (date currently unknown) and (ii) 31 December 2020.
This is therefore similarly not retrospective but if the planning permission would otherwise expire between these two dates then the date of expiry will be amended to 1 April 2021 automatically.
Section 93F – this provides for a similar process for extension for the time period for the implementation of an outline planning permission as discussed above (in the context of Section 93B) and so as discussed above, if the date for implementation of an outline permission is/was due to expire between 23 March 2020 and the date this Bill is enacted, then a developer must first apply for an additional environmental approval. Where granted, the expiry date for implementation will then be 1 April 2021.
Finally, Section 19 of the Bill deals with the extension of listed building consents granted pursuant to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This is perhaps the most simple extension of them all – if the listed buildings consent contains a condition which has the effect that the works must be implemented between 23 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 then that condition will be deemed to instead provide that the expiry date for implementation will be no later than 1 April 2020. Notwithstanding this, as most listed building consents are supplemental and in addition to a wider planning permission, any developer will still need to ensure that the route for extending the main planning permission is also followed to ensure compliance.
If you would like to discuss this further then please contact a member of the Real Estate team.