COVID-19: Further guidance on the planning system

MHCLG have provided further guidance on the operation of the planning system during the continuing lockdown.

The Government have recognised the inflexibility of the CIL payment regime and have announced that they will introduce amendments to the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 to enable charging authorities to defer payments and temporarily disapply late payment interest. These amendments will need parliamentary debate and MHCLG advise that in the meantime CIL charging authorities should consider making use of installment payments, take a positive approach to their engagement with developers and exercise discretion in taking enforcement action.

In terms of section 106, local authorities are encouraged to consider whether it would be appropriate to allow developers to defer planning obligations, such as financial contributions to help remove barriers for developers and minimise the stalling of sites. MHCLG suggests that deeds of variation are used to achieve this.

New regulations are to be introduced from tomorrow (Thursday 14 May) for planning, listed building consent applications, and environmental statements for EIA development to give flexibility to local planning authorities to take other steps to publicise applications if they cannot discharge the current requirements for site notices, neighbour notifications and newspaper publicity. This is likely to include social media and other electronic communications.

Determination timescales for planning permissions will not be amended, developers are encouraged to agree extensions with the local planning authority and if necessary, appeal to the Secretary of State for non-determination.

The measures announced by MHCLG are all welcome and necessary to keep the planning system working during lockdown. One noticeable exception from the statement is guidance for developers on what to do about permissions which have been granted but because development sites have been shut down are coming up against deadlines for commencement. Extending implementation times for expiring consents is a real concern and must be addressed.

The new guidance can be viewed on the Government website.

For more information, please contact Hannah Langford, Partner in our Real Estate & Projects department.

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