Highways agreement does not overcome a ransom strip problem

In Betterment Properties (Weymouth) v James Carthy & Co, a developer tried to claim that because the highway authority had entered into an agreement under section 38 of the Highways Act 1980, the land included within the red line on the plan attached to the agreement was to be regarded as public highway.

The plan was clear and set out distinct boundaries of the road to be constructed. There were no qualifying words which indicated the plan was for identification only. Therefore the plan showed the extent of the road to be built. The court ruled that the fact the developer did not own all of the land was irrelevant. It was a matter for the developer to arrange with the landowner for the construction of the road on land it did not own.

The developer tried to argue that by virtue of the highways agreement (under which the road would be adopted as public highway when satisfactorily completed) there was a right of way between the boundary of its land and the red line boundary shown on the plan. The court rejected that contention.

Planning Performance Agreements

The Advisory Team for Large Applications has published guidance on Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs). A PPA is a framework for the management of proposals for complex development that is agreed with the local planning authority. The PPA allows the developer and the authority to project manage the process for determining a planning application within an agreed time frame.

Lands Chamber

The Lands Tribunal is now the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal and new procedural rules came into force at the end of November 2010. The website contains a useful guide to the work of the Lands Chamber and a number of practice directions and statements.

Summary reasons for the grant of planning permission

In R (Siraj) v Kirklees Metropolitan Council and another the Court of Appeal found that where reasons for the grant of permission were adequate, the fact that another local planning authority (LPA) might have reached a different conclusion did not make the decision perverse.

Provided that the LPA considers the individual circumstances of each case, reasons for granting permission need only be a summary. A more detailed reason may be required if the grant of permission is contrary to officer recommendation. A decision notice which refuses permission must set out clearly and precisely all the reasons for refusal.

In the case, the planning officer's report set out all the relevant policy considerations and properly analysed them against the circumstances of the application. The reasons for the grant of permission were adequate and the local objectors' application for judicial review was rejected.

Town or village green - inhabitants

In order to succeed in a claim for registration of land as a town or village green, the applicant must satisfy certain criteria. One of these is that the use of the land must be by the inhabitants of a locality or a neighbourhood within a locality. In the June 2010 edition of Property update we reviewed the case of R (Oxfordshire & Bucks NHS Trust) v Oxfordshire CC, in which the court had to consider the meaning of "neighbourhood within a locality".

The case of Leeds Group plc v Leeds City Council considered whether the requirement for the "inhabitants of a neighbourhood" to use land meant that the inhabitants had to come from the same neighbourhood, or whether they could come from more than one. The case also considered the "quality" of the user of the land.

The court found there was no intention in the legislation that the neighbourhood must be limited to one and the fact that the users of the land came from more than one neighbourhood did not disqualify them from making a claim.

It held that the level of use of the land must be sufficient to show the landowner that a right was being asserted. If the use was more than trivial or sporadic then it would qualify as satisfying the criterion.

National Planning Policy Framework

The Government has announced a review of planning policy in England to consolidate circulars, planning policy guidance notes and planning policy statements into a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The NPPF will be localist in approach and used as a mechanism for delivering Government objectives only where it is relevant, proportionate and effective to do so.

The Government will issue a formal consultation later in 2011, but is inviting suggestions for priorities and policies. The consultation closes on 28 February 2011.

And then there is the Localism Bill...

There has been much comment and hot air about the proposals in the Bill. The Government has published "Decentralisation and the Localism Bill; an essential guide".

While there is much to read in the Bill and the accompanying schedules, there is a long way to go and much debate to endure before the Bill will become law. Inevitably many changes will be introduced during this period.

Additionally, as is now common, much of the detail which will explain how the proposals in the Bill will be implemented will be set out in subordinate legislation, which will only come forward after the Act is passed.

In relation to planning and infrastructure, the Bill provides for:

  1. As previously reported, abolition of the Infrastructure Planning Commission
  2. Parliamentary approval of National Planning Statements
  3. Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies (following the Cala Homes series of cases)
  4. Community Infrastructure Levy - regulations may provide that some of the funds are to be passed to neighbourhoods where the development occurs. Funds may be spent on ongoing infrastructure costs as well as initial costs of new infrastructure
  5. Introduction of "neighbourhood planning" - neighbourhood plans will enable communities to permit development without the need for a planning application
  6. Community Right to Build - local authorities will be given the right to carry out development without the need for planning permission
  7. Pre-application consultation with local communities.