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  • Overview

    2021 has been a busy year for the planning world, and 2022 looks set to echo this. Here, we explore a couple of the key factors that are set to have an impact over the next 12 months.

    The Environment Act

    The Environment Act 2021 received Royal Assent on 9 November 2021 and is now in force, subject to further secondary legislation yet to be drafted by the Secretary of State. This is a wide ranging piece of legislation, but of particular interest to developers is the need to deliver 10% increase in biodiversity (biodiversity net gains), to be managed for at least 30 years (reviewable by the Secretary of State) for all new developments. The requirement is not set to come into force until Winter 2023 but it will obviously play a key part in forward planning for developers, large and small.

    The Act also see the introduction of Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) – new spatial strategies to cover the entirety of England – led by a “responsible authority” in each area. Statutory guidance is to be given to Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) explaining how they should take LNRSs into account.

    In addition, there is a new Species Conservation Strategy – which places a duty on LPAs to co-operate with Natural England and other LPAs etc to safeguard the future of ‘at risk’ species.

    Along with a raft of other measures relating to the implementation and monitoring of long-term targets, the introduction of the Office for Environmental Protection to oversee compliance, and various other obligations relating to waste, air and water quality, and resource efficiency, the Environment Act’s over-arching purpose to protect the natural environment is set to have an uncomfortable relationship with the government’s “ambitious” house-building targets.

    Permitted development rights

    The Court of Appeal decision on the challenge to the change to Permitted Development Rights is still outstanding as at the date of publication. This should be finally decided early next year and the impact of this decision will have considerable repercussions.

    If the challenge is dismissed and the new PD rights come into force, this means a whole additional group of commercial buildings, such as retail, restaurants, light industry, nurseries and gyms, can be converted into homes without seeking planning permission (subject to certain criteria being met).

    The new PD rights were originally introduced in 2020, to help meet the shortage of residential housing. However, they were challenged as opponents feared they would have a detrimental environmental impact, and risked people being housed in poor-quality accommodation.

    Working from home guidance

    The recent High Court decision in R on the application of Sage v Secretary of State for Housing, Community and Local Government [2021] EWHC 2885 (Admin)

    has indicated that government planning guidance on working from home will be reviewed, potentially widening the assessment criteria for when planning permission is needed to run a business from home.

    This could potentially have a very wide-ranging effect as the government seeks to clarify for applicants the difference between “ancillary” and “secondary” uses.

    With the recent announcements on further restrictions on work-place attendance, this is likely to take a bit of a back seat for the near future but it is a nod to the fact that local authorities are paying some attention to the approaches taken by some to take advantage of the situation that they find themselves in (often through no fault of their own).

  • Related Services

    Planning

    Our planning team is expert in the negotiation and drafting of planning obligations as part of first instance applications or appeals.

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Jargon Buster