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Planning Update: Getting Britain Building

Mon 22 June 2020

This week, we will see the introduction of measures to help the construction industry get back on its feet as we begin the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Most significantly for our clients, the Government has confirmed that it will automatically extend all planning permissions or listed building consents that are due to lapse, or have already done so, between 23rd March 2020 and the 31st December 2020. These consents will be extended to 1st April 2021. Planning permissions which have already lapsed before the provisions come into force will be subject to an Additional Environmental Approval process before the automatic extension can take effect. Our planning and development team will be enquiring further as to what exactly this process will involve.

Typically, planning permission expires after three years, unless the work begins in that time. During the pandemic, developers have been lobbying for extensions as building work has not been able to begin due to restrictions. In fact, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government have confirmed that 430 residential schemes (projects included 10 units or more) would have had expired permissions before the end of the year, meaning that over 24,800 new, and essential, properties, would not have been built. This is fantastic news for the sector as much needed housing schemes can be delivered, and further delays can be avoided as the economy continues to recover.

New measures will also see a permanent change to the planning appeals process, meaning that going forward, the Planning Inspectorate has the ability to use more than one procedure - written representations, hearings and inquiries - at the same time when dealing with a planning appeal, enabling appeals to happen much faster. In 2019, a pilot programme tested this approach and implemented recommendations of the Rosewell Review, which more than halved the time taken for appeal inquiries, from 47 weeks to 23 weeks.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

“Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this government and is an important part of our plans to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.

New laws will enable us to speed up the pace of planning appeals and save hundreds of construction sites from being cancelled before they have a chance to get spades in the ground, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and create many others.

Taken together, these measures will help to keep workers safe and our economy moving as we work together to bounce back from the pandemic.”

To speak to our planning and development team, please contact:

Richard Morgan
Helen Marks