News

The extension of permitted development rights to allow homeowners to extend their properties without full planning application, as well as high street conversions to offices and homes, has come into permanent effect.

The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development, Advertisement and Compensation Amendments) (England) Regulations SI 2019/907 were laid before Parliament earlier this month and do not include the right to allow upward extensions.

Under the rules, homeowners can put a single-storey rear extension on their property of up to six metres for terraced or semi-detached homes, or eight metres for detached homes.

Over 110,000 extensions have been completed since 2014 under the previous temporary rules.

Speaking about the extension, which became valid on the 25 May 2019, housing minister Kit Malthouse commented that "these measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape".

He added by making the permitted development rights permanent, it will allow families to grow without being forced to move.

"This is part of a package of reforms to build more, better, faster and make the housing market work - and sits alongside our drive to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s".

Local authorities can now consider proposals for the conversion of shops and other high street uses such as takeaways and laundrettes to offices under the prior approval process. Class M of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order SI 2015/596 already allows retail and unique uses to be converted to residential without the need for planning permission, but the new regulations would allow takeaways to be converted into housing.

High streets minister Jake Berry said "this fantastic news joins our £675 million Future High Streets Fund and our High Streets Task Force in ensuring our country's high streets are fit to thrive not just now, but in the years to come".

"Giving greater certainty to property owners and the wider industry, it will also help businesses to adjust to the changing needs of the consumer".

Martin Tett, planning spokesman for the Local Government Association said "while we recognise building extensions under permitted development has been popular with homeowners, the planning process exists for a reason".

"We do not believe this right should be made permanent until an independent review is carried out of its impact, both on neighbouring residents and businesses, and also the capacity of local planning departments".

"The introduction of the prior notification scheme as a result of permitted development for larger household extensions has led to an increased workload for planning officers and a loss of income. Any continuation of this must see councils properly resourced".

"The current process also means that councils have limited opportunity to consider the impact of such extensions on the local area because they don't go through the full planning process".

For more information on this subject, see:

The extension of permitted development rights to allow high street conversions to offices and homes comes into effect on 25 May 2019.

The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development, Advertisement and Compensation Amendments) (England) Regulations SI 2019/907, were laid before Parliament earlier this month and do not include the right to allow upward extensions.

The legislation creates a new class, JA, in Part 3 of Schedule 2 the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order SI 2015/596. It allows local authorities to consider proposals for the conversion of shops and other high street uses such as takeaways and laundrettes to offices under the prior approval process.

Furthermore, Class M of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order SI 2015/596 already allows retail and unique uses to be converted to residential without the need for planning permission, but the new amendments would allow takeaways to be converted into housing.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) group has responded to the legislation, claiming that making some development easier risks undermining local community and authority influence.

CPRE said it fears that extending this policy would enable developers to convert shops and local businesses without scrutiny, removing decisions and control from local authorities. Furthermore, local people would have little input over the type and tenure of developments on their high streets.

Matt Thomson, head of planning at CPRE said, "we welcome any reasonable measures that lead to the more effective use of previously developed land, and support the increased densification of urban areas. However, this plan is of deep concern. It presents a short-sighted attempt to increase housing numbers, undermines the planning system and ignores a variety of issues and complexities which should be taken into account for such proposals".

"A blanket approach for uncontrolled redevelopment of commercial buildings is unlikely to lead to good placemaking. It remains unclear how extending permitted development rights will ensure high-quality, affordable redevelopment - that connects with existing, and contributes to, new infrastructure - without the intervention of a normal planning application".

A number of organisations have expressed concerns about extending permitted development rights, including the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). In March, the institute urged housing and planning minister Kit Malthouse to scrap proposals that would see commercial buildings on high streets be converted into homes without planning permission.

For more information on this subject, see:

  • The Town and Country Planning (Permitted development, Advertisement and Compensation Amendments) (England) Regulations SI 2019/907.

In November 2018, a planning application for a coffee shop in Christchurch, Devon, was refused. The applicant wanted to convert a Grade II listed building from use as a shop (which is class A1) into a coffee shop (class A3). However, Christchurch Borough Council rejected the application as it conflicted with local policies.

The planning policy in question was that non-retail uses cannot cumulatively amount to more than 30% of all ground floor units within the designated Primary Shopping Frontage (PSF). The appeal site was within the PSF, and non-retail uses are already over that 30% target. In line with this policy, the planning application was refused as it would exacerbate the situation.

The applicant did not contest that the proposal conflicted with local planning policies. However, it was pointed out that extensive marketing for the vacant Grade II listed property over a long period of time had failed to attract a retailer. The appellant also took into consideration several other available properties, all of which were too small for the proposed use.

Another key point raised in the appeal was that the sale of take-away food and drinks, as well as some retail goods, was expected to make up around 40% of the total trade of the proposed coffee shop. The inspector, S. Edwards, could not ignore the fact that this retail element of the proposed use constitutes a significant aspect of the development. Given the local policy is driven towards retail rather than non-retail use, this factor had to be taken into consideration.

Furthermore, the coffee shop would bring a listed building back into use after a prolonged vacancy. This would help to sustain and enhance the heritage asset, which is a key consideration of paragraph 192(a) of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Taking all of these arguments into consideration, the inspector decided, on balance:

  • the proposed use would actually help the vitality and viability of the town centre, rather than detract from it;
  • there is a conflict with a key local policy, but there wasn't enough evidence to show that the coffee shop would have a detrimental effect, so little weight can be given to the conflict in the appeal;
  • the benefits of bringing the building back into use are attractive, as it is expected to be vacant for the foreseeable future should the planning application be rejected.

As a result of this, the Inspector approved the planning application, imposing conditions on the planning permission, including a condition to restrict the use as a coffee shop only and also restricting the hours of operation to protect the nearby residents.

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Sanders Plant and Waste Management Ltd have been fined after an employee was fatally injured when he was struck by a reversing JCB loading shovel.

Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court heard that in June 2015 a wheeled front-loaded shovel was being operated in the the main waste processing shed at the company's waste recycling facility in Morpeth. The vehicle, driven by another employee, was loading waste into both a trommel, a large waste separation and sifting machine, and a parked haulage vehicle. During the course of this operation the vehicle struck a site operative, who was fatally injured and died at the scene from his injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found evidence of a lack of pedestrian and vehicle segregation in the waste shed, meaning that pedestrians and vehicles could not circulate in a safe manner. The company had carried out a risk assessment prior to the incident that identified some control measures to reduce the risks from operating the loading shovel and a Fork Lift Truck on site. However, these control measures had not been fully implemented nor were they sufficient to manage the risk of collision between vehicles and pedestrians.

There was also no risk assessment or traffic management plan considering the safe movement of vehicles across the site.

Sanders Plant and Waste Management Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, was fined £500,000 with costs of £14,041.96.

After the hearing HSE inspector Laura Catterall said, the "HSE investigation found an inadequate assessment of the risks of vehicle movements in the waste shed and a lack of segregation of vehicles and pedestrians. There are more than 5,000 accidents involving transport in the workplace every year, and, like in this case, sadly, some are fatal".

"A properly implemented transport risk assessment should have identified sufficient measures to segregate people and vehicles and provide safe facilities".

A family member of the operative added "more than anything my whole family don't want anyone else to lose their life and another family to go through what my family has gone through and is still going through".

Launching a major, long-term strategy to tackle flooding and coastal change, Environment Agency Chair, Emma Howard Boyd has said "we cannot win a war against water" by building higher flood defences, and called for a new approach to ensure communities are resilient to the threat of flooding posed by climate change.

Opening an 8-week consultation on the new strategy, Boyd said that the Environment Agency is preparing for a potential 4°C rise in global temperature and urgent action is needed to tackle more frequent, intense flooding and sea level rise.

Among the recommendations in the strategy, the Environment Agency has committed to working with partners to develop consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience across the country. To achieve these standards, communities should have access to a range of tools which give them control of how they prepare for and respond to flooding and coastal change, based on specific challenges that area may face.

These could include traditional defences, temporary barriers, natural flood management, sustainable drainage systems, effective flood warnings and emergency response, alongside designing and adapting existing properties and new developments so they can recover quickly from a flood.

Boyd said "the coastline has never stayed in the same place and they have always been floods, but climate change is increasing and accelerating these threats".

"We can't win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences. We need to develop consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience in England that help communities better understand their risk and give them more control about how to adapt and respond".

Currently two thirds of properties in England are served by infrastructure in areas at risk of flooding and for every person who suffers flooding, around 16 more are affected by loss of services such as power, transport and telecommunications.

The Strategy calls for all infrastructure to be flood resilient by 2050 and the Environment Agency has committed to working with risk management authorities and infrastructure providers to achieve this. In addition an average of £1 billion will need to be invested each year in traditional flood and coastal defences and natural flood management. The National Audit Office has previously reported that for every £1 spent on protecting communities, around £9 in property damages and wider impacts are avoided.

As well as taking precautions to prepare for flooding and prevent damage, the strategy calls for more to be done to encourage property owners to "build back better" after a flood. This could involve home improvements to make them more resilient, such as raised electrics, hard flooring and flood doors. The Environment Agency will work with the Government, insurers and financial institutions to review how to bring about this change by 2025.

Over 5 million people in England are at risk from flooding and coastal erosion. Yet only a third of people who live in areas at risk of flooding believe their property is at risk. The Strategy pledges to build a nation of 'climate champions' working with the school curriculum to educate young people about the risk, and continuing to develop accessible digital tools to communicate flooding.

The Strategy also recommends:

  • as properties built in the flood plain are likely to double over the next 50 years due to population growth and climate change, between now and 2030 all new development must be resilient to flooding and coastal change;
  • flooding and coastal change projects should support local economic regeneration, unlocking potential for new housing and business;
  • all new development must not only be resilient to flooding but should also contribute to an environmental net gain;
  • the Government, Environment Agency and risk management authorities need to be agile to the latest climate science, growth projections, investment opportunities and other changes to our local environment;
  • in some cases, the scale of flooding or coastal change may be so significant the concept of "build back better" may not be appropriate. This may mean potentially moving communities out of harm's way in the longer term.

The Flood and Coastal Management Strategy consultation is due to run from 9 May 2019 until 4 July 2019. Once closed, the Environment Agency will review the responses and publish a final document which will then be laid before Parliament in Winter 2019.

This Strategy forms part of the Government's commitments set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan to improve the environment within a generation, leaving it in a better state than we found it.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change said "everyone can see climate change accelerating. The UK urgently needs to stay ahead of worsening impacts by adapting. The Environment Agency is doing just that by setting out their flood strategy but we won't be able to keep up with the pace of change if we don't reduce emissions to zero".

For more information on this subject, see:

The UK, Scottish, and Welsh Governments as well as Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland seek views of the public on the proposed approach to UK carbon pricing once UK leaves the European Union.

Scope

Once the UK leaves the European Union, the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations are committed to carbon pricing as an effective tool for achieving carbon emissions reduction targets. The Clean Growth Strategy states that the approach will be at least as ambitious as the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS), aiming to provide a smooth transition.

The preferred carbon pricing option would be to utilise the Political Declaration and for the UK to co-operate with the EU by establishing a UK national greenhouse gas Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) linked to the EU ETS.

However, in the unlikely event that a linking agreement cannot be secured, alternative carbon pricing options must also be considered, such as:

  • standalone domestic emissions trading system;
  • a tax on carbon; or
  • participating in Phase IV of the EU ETS.

Chapter 1 of the Consultation focuses on the proposals for the design of a linked standalone UK ETS, which covers:

  • the scope in terms of gases and sectors;
  • cap and trajectory;
  • distribution of allowances;
  • free allocation;
  • supply flexibility;
  • phases and reviews;
  • small emitter opt-out;
  • ultra-small emitter exemption; and
  • UK industrial decarbonisation fund. 

Chapter 2 sets out proposals for the main processes involved in the operation of a UK ETS, such as auctioning allowances, overall governance for the system, rules on banking and "borrowing".

Chapter 3 covers proposals on the design and operational elements particular to the aviation sector.

Chapter 4 covers the scenario whereby the UK remains part of Phase IV of the EU ETS past 2020, which is not the preferred option according to the Government.

Responding to this consultation

Responses to the Consultation can be submitted at the following website:

https://beisgovuk.citizenspace.com/heat/future-of-uk-carbon-pricing/consultation/intro/

This Consultation ends on 12 July 2019.

For more information, see the:


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