Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Yet more interesting times

You may have noticed that blog posts have been a bit thin on the ground recently, due to the continuing pressure of work. Unfortunately, it does not look as though I am going to be able to find the time to write anything further here for at least the next 10 days.

This is rather frustrating, as there has been an awful lot going on recently, which is just begging to be written up here. Among the many recent innovations, the Planning Inspectorate has published a new Procedural Guide to Planning Appeals and Called-in Planning Applications, and the government has announced a faster planning appeals process, leading (it is hoped) to earlier decisions. This will involve ‘front-loading’ the appeals process, including a requirement to submit a full appeal statement with the appeal form, which will make a lot more work for appellants at the outset of the appeal process. The new rules will apply to appeals in respect of applications determined after 1 October, but I shall have to defer discussing these and other innovations to a subsequent post.

Meanwhile, new regulations have been published for applications under section 62A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (introduced by Section 1 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013). This is the provision that enables certain applications to be made direct to the Secretary of State, bypassing the local planning authority.

Three new statutory instruments have been made relating to conservation areas and demolition, which I have not had time to look at yet. These, too, come into effect on 1 October.

In addition to this, we have also had the new web-based planning advice that is set to replace all the old familiar circulars. I confess that at a first glance, I was not impressed, but this too is a topic to which we shall return.

As I mentioned in passing a few weeks back, further changes to planning fees have been introduced by The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/2153) (2013 Regulations). Yet again, 1 October is the date when these come into force.

Then, of course, there are Chris Grayling’s proposals for further changes to judicial review. I haven’t had time to look at these in any detail yet, but they include the idea of a special planning court, which could be a welcome innovation. But this will depend on how it is implemented. It is a subject to which I will return in due course.

Uncle Eric has not been idle himself, and on 2 September he was boasting to the House of Commons how very busy De-CLoG has been during the summer, when everyone else was away with their buckets and spades. This has included a report on the future of our high streets. (They haven’t got a future, basically.) He also touched on the plans to extend permitted development rights, previously discussed in this blog, and new guidance published on 28 August calling for councils to deliver more town centre parking spaces, to tackle street clutter and to get rid of ‘sleeping policemen’ (road humps). He also wants to encourage residents to rent out parking spaces in their front gardens. (This had already caused apoplexy among some planning officers.)

Uncle Eric also drew attention to powers introduced by the Localism Act 2011 for the listing of assets of community value, including local pubs, to prevent their sale and redevelopment. And then, of course, there was Uncle Eric’s wheelie bin crusade. And so on, and so on.

So, there will be an awful lot of material for planning professionals to digest in the near future, and a lot of changes that are going to happen on 1 October.

One thing Uncle Eric said made me laugh. He reckons that, with these various changes and the ‘simplification’ of ministerial planning advice, there is going to be little or no work left for planning lawyers to do. I think we may find that as result of some of these changes there will be more work for us than ever!



  1. The web based planning guidance had the potential to reduce the effects of the postcode lottery but it misses the target in so many ways that the lottery lives on.

    Martin, your job is probably more secure as a result of all the changes so don't spend too much time telling them where they went wrong.

    Mind you, nobody listens so we don't need to worry too much.

  2. Good afternoon,

    I stumbled upon your blog and have found much of interest. Tell me, did you see Grand Designs on Friday and do you have an opinion on the chap who got planning, but not the written judgement, and then faced legal challenge from a neighbour causing an 18 month delay in getting that written confirmation?


  3. I missed Grand Designs last Friday, so am not familiar with the case that Sam mentions. TV programmes are necessarily brief and rather superficial in their treatment of issues (especially if they are complex) and so I guess there was rather more to this problem than the programme may have implied. It is not clear from what Sam writes at what stage the council’s actions were challenged, and the precise legal process that was engaged. If it took 18 months to resolve, then it clearly wasn’t a straightforward case.