The Government had something approaching a “spring clean” of the planning system prior to Parliament being dissolved on 30 March 2015 for the General Election.  As a result, this month will see a number of changes coming into effect. The list below shows what you need to be aware of in terms of the dates when various pieces of secondary legislation, which were made before 30 March 2015, come into force.

1 April 2015

(i) The Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) Regulations 2015 come into force

These Regulations make further amendments to the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 in relation to:

  • extending the types of dwelling which can benefit from social housing relief from CIL;
  • amending the definition of “clawback period” whereby social housing relief is withdrawn before the end of that period and an amount of the levy has to be repaid;
  • amending the definition of “national rent regime” in Regulation 49(11) of the 2010 Regulations to include reference to the Rent Standard Guidance (which was published in January 2015).

6 April 2015

(i) Section 106 – pooling contributions

This is the date when the limitation on the use of pooled planning obligations to fund infrastructure projects comes into effect for those authorities who do not yet have an adopted CIL charging schedule in place.  For those with a charging schedule in place, the changes came in with the adoption of CIL in their area. It was thought that the date might be extended again by the Government, after the one year extension granted last year, but that has not proved to be the case.

The effect is that local authorities will be prevented from seeking planning obligations, which constitute a reason for granting planning permission, to the extent that the obligation relates to the funding or provision of infrastructure where five or more planning obligations relating to other planning permissions granted for development within the authority’s area have been entered into on or after 6 April 2010 for that infrastructure. The pooling restriction will have the greatest impact on authorities who do not tightly define infrastructure but instead use broad headings such as “education” or “open space”.

(ii) The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 come into force

These Regulations amend paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 in terms of the thresholds for Infrastructure Projects to be Schedule 2 development. The paragraph on Infrastructure Projects will become as follows:

Click here to view the table

The Government are introducing these changes in response to suggested amendments set out in the Technical Consultation on Planning last year and the Consultation Response of January 2015. The Government’s aim is that these amendments will reduce the number of applications which are screened for EIA purposes. Transitional provisions apply so that if before these amending regulations come into force it is determined that an application is EIA development then the amended regulations do not apply to that application.

15 April 2015

(i) The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 comes into force

My blog post of 27 March explains the changes that this will bring forward.

(ii) The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 comes into force

A future blog post will highlight the main changes in the newly consolidated GPDO 2015.

(iii) The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2015 comes into force

This Order amends the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 and applies, as its name suggests, in England only.

Betting offices and pay day loan shops are now excluded from being a specific use class and instead become sui generis. This means that whilst they used to be an A2 use, they no longer come within any use class and so a planning application will be required to change use to a betting office or a pay day loan shop.

A definition of “pay day loan shop” has also been included in the amending order.

There are transitional provisions which cover the situation where on the day the amending order comes into force the process of converting to a betting office or a pay day loan shop is underway.  The effect is to remove the amendments set out in the 2015 amending order and, instead, the 1987 Use Classes Order will apply in the form it existed in before 15 April.  The transitional provisions will cease 3 years after the amending order comes into force.

Already in force:

In addition to all the above changes, the Government issued two updated Guidance documents in relation to applications for development consent on 26 March 2015:

  • Guidance on the pre-application process (replaces the August 2014 guidance document and an earlier local authority guidance document which was withdrawn in 2010)
  • Guidance for the examination of applications for development consent (replaces the April 2013 guidance document).