Coronavirus (COVID-19)—New measures adopted to ease planning system

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—New measures adopted to ease planning system

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has shared guidance regarding its new updates on planning matters in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The MHCLG has introduced ‘a range of temporary measures to make it easier to operate the planning system, especially the development management process, within the current public health guidelines’. These measures concern the community infrastructure levy, new time-limited permitted development rights, validation of applications, determination timescales, publicity and consultation for planning applications, virtual planning committees, local plans, neighbourhood plans, compulsory purchase, and nationally significant infrastructure projects.

As part of its temporary measures, the MHCLG announced that:

• it will help small and medium sized developers which could face issues with cashflow by amending the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010, SI 2010/948 ‘to enable charging authorities to defer payments, to temporarily disapply late payment interest and to provide a discretion to return interest already charged where they consider it appropriate to do so’

• it will introduce temporary regulations on Thursday 14 May 2020 ‘to supplement the existing statutory publicity arrangements for planning applications, listed building consent applications and environmental statements for EIA development’. Local planning authorities will have the flexibility to publicise applications by other means ‘if they cannot discharge the specific requirements for site notices, neighbour notifications or newspaper publicity’

• it has introduced changes to the neighbourhood planning process to support local authorities by notably prohibiting elections or referendums until 6 May 2021

The MHCLG also announced measures to support house building, by notably allowing more flexible working hours on construction sites with varied start and finish times. The use of technology and virtual meetings should also become the norm in planning casework.

Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Planning update

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