Planning permission extension called for by Law Societies amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

Planning permission extension called for by Law Societies amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Planning and Environmental Law Committees of the City of London Law Society and of the Law Society have jointly written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, setting out suggestions for planning measures to assist in managing the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Key among the recommendations is the extension of determination periods for planning applications. This, it is believed, will remove the need for applicants and local planning authorities to inevitably agree time extensions on a case by case basis. The committees also proposed that measures should be introduced to prevent planning permissions expiring during the coronavirus period, allow for site notices to be erected, and make documents available virtually.

In addition to the suggestions listed above, the Planning and Environmental Law Committees of both the Law Society and City of London Law Society called for:

  • guidance to be issued requiring local authorities to be flexible in considering applications to:
    • vary section 106 agreement
    • defer liabilities which become due during the coronavirus epidemic

• a statement to be made to suggest that a negatively worded condition limiting development from taking place until a planning obligation has been entered into is appropriate in the current circumstances

• the provisions allowing affordable housing obligations to be renegotiated on the basis of viability, which operated temporarily during the last recession, to be revived and expanded to allow for wider consideration of viability and deliverability beyond affordable housing

• the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations be amended to allow the deferral of unpaid payments falling due in the period of coronavirus

With regard to the call for the government to introduce measures to prevent planning permissions expiring during the coronavirus period, the committees noted that introducing legislation to allow for longer time periods for implementation, or issuing guidance which could allow local planning authorities to amend planning permissions under section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to extend the time period for implementation could be potential fixes to the issue.

Source: COVID-19 and Planning Measures

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