Planning Quarterly Update - Legislation and Policy Edit

  • United States
  • 07/16/2018
  • © Ashurst. All rights reserved

Pre-commencement Conditions – More Red Tape
Amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 take effect on 1 October 2018. The provisions, inserted by the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017, will prevent the imposition of pre-commencement planning conditions without the written agreement of the applicant.

However, the Town and Country Planning (Pre-Commencement Conditions) Regulations 2018, which take effect on the same day, provide a work-around.

LPAs will be able to serve a notice on applicants to the effect that they intend to grant permission subject to specified pre-commencement conditions and, following the expiry of a 10 day notice period, can go on to grant the permission, unless a substantive response is received by the applicant.

Applicants who want to preserve their right to appeal pre-commencement conditions post 1 October will need to consider their options carefully and may well conclude that failing to provide both written consent and a ‘substantive response’ to any subsequent notice is their best course of action.

Amendments…will prevent the imposition of pre-commencement planning conditions.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
For those working on industrial estate projects, an amendment to the EIA Regime, coming into force on 1 October 2018, will mean that those projects under 5 ha will fall outside Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 (an increase from the previous 0.5 ha) and therefore will not need to be screened for EIA purposes.

The Town and Country Planning and Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 will also add new provisions to enable certain special consenting processes under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (modification orders, discontinuance orders and purchase notices) to be screened and will correct various errors.

New Independent Environmental Body
Following Brexit, the UK will no longer be subject to the jurisdiction of European bodies and agencies which ensure compliance with environmental law (for example the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union).

To address this lacuna, it is proposed to establish an independent environmental body for England and to incorporate environmental principles into UK policy and its legal framework.

An on-going consultation is currently considering options, however, the proposals have cast doubt on whether the body will be capable of filling the European void. In a partial fix, the newly enacted European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 contains a provision to the effect that the UK’s environmental body should be able to take “proportionate enforcement action”, meaning it could be effective at holding the government to account, however, for now, there are many unknowns, including the ultimate make-up of the body, its powers and, most significantly, its effectiveness.

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