The Business and Planning Bill 2020 was presented to the House of Commons on 25 June 2020. Amongst other things it contains the following key provisions in relation to planning and the government aims it to pass into law by 4 July:
- Construction Working Hours
Introduction of a fast track applicaiton process to vary the hours of construction on an approved scheme where they are restricted by condition. The local planning authority has 14 days to determine the application - they can refuse but only in exceptional circumstances. If there has been no determination within 14 days, the change as applied for is deemed to be approved. The change in construction hours is temporary until 1 April 2021 in all cases. This provision is not available for householder development. Further guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/construction-working-hours-draft-guidance
- Extending the life of planning permissions and listed building consent.
Where permissions have expired or are due to expire between 23 March 2020 and 31 December 2020, then the applicant is entitled to appy to the local authority to extend the life of the permission until 1 April 2021. It is intended to allow more time to commence development that has already received permission, to ensure building works aren't permanently delayed as a result of the pandemic.
The Government made a series of announcements on 13 May in relation to planning and Coronavirus: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-planning-update.
Temporary regulations for the publicity arrangements for planning applications, listed building consent applications and development with Environmental Impact Assessments.
New temporary regulations and guidance were introduced on 14 May 2020 and will be in effect until 31 December 2020 - recently extended until 31 December 2021: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/consultation-and-pre-decision-matters#covid19
Essentially, these regulations allow Local Planning Authorities to take ‘other reasonable steps’ to publicise applications if the specific requirements for site notices, newspaper advertisements, neighbour notifications or deposit of hard copy documents cannot be fulfilled for reasons relating to the pandemic. The guidance accompanying the regulations suggests for example, the use of social media and other electronic communication. It also highlights that planning authorities will also wish to consider non-electronic means of communication such as publishing notices in community newsletters, use of local radio and use of community noticeboards.
Planning Practice guidance on plan making has been updated to explain how Local Authorities can review and update their Statements of Community Involvement so that plan making can continue: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/plan-making?utm_source=5b235a27-ad78-4a8d-af75-1e81bf0c9cd7&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate#covid19%C2%A0
MHCLG have issued guidance on Neighbourhood Planning during the pandemic. Whilst no referendums can take place until 6 May 2021, current Planning Practice Guidance has been amended to set out that Neighbourhood Plans awaiting a referendum can be given ‘significant weight’ in decision making. The guidance note can be found here:
Additional up to date advice on neighbourhood planning can be found on the Locality website: https://neighbourhoodplanning.org/
In the ministerial statement on 13 May 2020 the advice is as follows: Site visits, whether conducted by local authorities, planning inspectors or statutory consultees, are an important part of the process of considering development proposals and plans. Where site visits are required or necessary, they should be undertaken in line with the Government’s guidance on social distancing and safety requirements.
Hours of work on construction sites
The government has made it clear that it would like to see construction sites operating flexible hours, which may be outside those stipulated in planning conditions attached to planning permissions. LPAs are encouraged to use discretion to not enforce against short term changes. Longer term changes may require applications to amend conditions and the advice from government is that requests to work up to 9pm Monday to Saturday should not be refused unless there are compelling reasons to do so (such reasons could include, for example, a significant impact on neighbouring uses that are particularly noise sensitive such as care homes). https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-construction-update-qa
Updated 12 January 2021