Steve Quartermain sent a general planning update to local authorities earlier this month (April 2016), outlining planning developments over the past six months.

With regard to Permitted Development Rights, regulations came into force on 6 April 2016 which make permanent the permitted development right for the change of use from office to residential; introduce a new temporary right for three years (taking effect from 1 October 2017) for the change of use from light industrial buildings up to 500 square meter to residential use, subject to prior approval; and regulations supporting the drilling of boreholes for petroleum exploration site investigation and monitoring.

There have been updates to the Community Infrastructure Levy ("CIL") and Section 106. In particular, Ministers have decided not to extend sections 106BA, 106BB and 106BC of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, requiring authorities to renegotiate unviable affordable housing requirements, and providing an appeal mechanism for this. These sections will therefore be repealed at the end of April 2016. Applications can be submitted to the appropriate authority under section 106BA until the end of April 2016, and the letter advises that if an application is submitted before that date a subsequent appeal to the Secretary of State will generally be considered. However, it is worth noting that no transitional provisions are in place yet but we would expect to see such regulations put in place to enable applications submitted before the end of April to be dealt with thereafter.

In R (on the application of West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] the Government's "guidance" in relation to the section 106 small sites threshold and vacant building credit was quashed. The judgment from the hearing on 15 and 16 March 2016 is yet to be delivered by the Court of Appeal, and this may give some indication as to how transitional provisions will develop.

The Starter Homes Prospectus was launched on 16 March. It invites expressions of interest, by 13 May, from local authorities outside of London to form partnerships with the Homes and Communities Agency to use the new £1.2 billion Starter Home Land Fund which will be used to acquire, assemble and de-risk land for quality starter home developments which can be built out by developers by 2020.

Further, the technical consultation on starter homes regulations was published on 23 March and closes on 18 May. It seeks views on the details of the regulations to support starter home delivery, and includes a proposal for a 20% requirement for starter homes on housing developments over 10 units and asks for views on specific exemptions to this requirement.

Click here to view The Planning Inspectorate's April 2016 letter can be accessed in full.