Following the general election and our exit from Europe, national and local town planning and building continue and there have been a number of changes during the past 3 months.

News and updates are set out in our quarterly update below:

National Planning

Since the General Election there have been a number of national changes and announcements as follows:

  • Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report was published in January 2020. The government is now developing a new National Model Design Code which they advise will set out for the first time a clear model for promoting better design and the style of homes across the country, shaped by what local people actually want.
  • The Environment Bill was re-introduced to parliament following the general election, on 30 January 2020. The Environment Bill 2020 sets out how the government plans to protect and improve the natural environment in the UK.
  • The latest Housing delivery test results which result in one third of all authorities being subject to a sanction for failing to meeting housing requirements.
  • Christopher Pincher has been appointed as the new housing minister, replacing Esther McVey in the most recent government reshuffle.

The Planning White paper is now expected to be published in the first half of 2020.

In January 2020 the Housing Secretary confirmed the £1 billion guarantee scheme to provide credit for small and medium sized housebuilders. Further information can be found here.

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

CBC have now provided the Inspectors with additional documents to address the areas of concern and make the plan sound – the CBC Examination page is kept updated with the latest information.

Bedford Borough Local Plan

The Bedford Borough Local Plan 2030 was adopted by Full Council on 15 January 2020 – The plan can be viewed here: Bedford Borough Local Plan 2030 – adopted version 

Information updates on the Strategic Plans in Bedfordshire can be found on our website: Planning in Bedfordshire

Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP)

The consultation on the proposed Main Modifications to the VALP closed on the 17 December 2019. The council are now preparing a response to the representations for the inspector. Please click here for further information.

Cambridge Local Plan and South Cambridgeshire Local Plan

Consultation on the Greater Cambridge Local Plan – The First Conversation ended on 24 February 2020. More details can be viewed here.

Information updates on other Strategic Plans in Cambridgeshire can be found on our website: Planning in Cambridgeshire

South Kesteven Local Plan up to 2036

The South Kesteven Local Plan 2011-2036 was formally adopted on 30 January 2020. The adopted document can be viewed here.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council Joint Local Plan

The consultation for the Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan – Preferred Options; Consultation Document (Reg 18) closed in September 2019. Consultation responses will be considered and preparation of the Draft Joint Local Plan Consultation (Reg 19). For further updates click here.

Uttlesford New Local Plan

The Council are currently considering their position after receipt of the Inspectors’ letter following the Stage 1 hearing sessions. This can be viewed here.  The Examination page is kept updated with the latest information.

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan

The Council has now published the results from the recent Call for Sites and submitted further information to the Examination Inspector. The Council is currently consulting on proposed changes to the Draft Plan (site allocations). Details of the consultation are available here. The Inspector has now set out his timetable for the future of the Examination –more information can be found here.

St Albans Local Plan

The Inspectors conducting the Examination hearings have raised serious concerns in relation to the legal compliance and soundness of the submitted Local Plan. Further hearings are cancelled and a full report awaited – the Examination page is kept updated with the latest information.

East Northamptonshire

East Northamptonshire are currently consulting on two further proposed site allocations – for more information click here. The Local Plan Part 2 will be revised and then submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination later in the year.

Northampton Local Plan

The Northampton Local Plan (Part 2) consultation was undertaken between 1 May and 14 June 2019. More information can be found here.

Information updates on other Strategic Plans in Northamptonshire and the forthcoming local government reorganisation can be found on our website: Planning in Northamptonshire

National Infrastructure Projects

The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme progresses and is expected to be fully opened during Spring 2020. Further information can be found on the Highways England website.

Highways England are currently working towards a public consultation on the Oxford to Cambridge expressway. They will consult on potential route options within the preferred corridor. Further information can be found on the Highways England website.

The Secretary of State for Transport approved Network Rail’s application for the western section of the East-West Rail Link between Bicester and Bletchley on 4 February 2020 allowing main construction work to start. The decision from the Secretary of State is available here.

The preferred route for the Bedford to Cambridge section of East West Rail (EWR) was announced during January 2020. A final decision is awaited from the Government on whether to take this project forward, and to make an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO). More details can be viewed here.

The consultation on the preferred route for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road received strong support. An updated design is in preparation and will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for planning consent during summer 2020. Further details are available on the Highways England website.

The Lower Thames Crossing team are currently undertaking a supplementary consultation on the latest changes to the project. For more information visit the Highways England website.

The major work to lay the dual carriageway for the improved A421 from Eagle Farm roundabout, Milton Keynes to Junction 13, M1 is in progress and the improved A421 road is likely to be ready by the end of 2020. Updates can be viewed here.

The Central Bedfordshire Council’s Development Management Committee approved the planning application for the M1-A6 Link Road, subject to planning conditions in January 2020. It is estimated that construction will take two years. Further information can be found on the CBC website.

An application for expansion of London Luton Airport is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in mid 2020. Further information can be found on here. In the meantime, the Luton DART construction is progressing and is expected to open in 2021, offering 4 minutes transit time from Luton Airport Parkway Station to the Airport terminal.

Recent Appeal Decisions

An Outline application for up to 80 dwellings at Broad Street Clifton was allowed (13 December 2019)

An Outline application for up to 90 dwellings at Odell Road, Harrold was dismissed (9 January 2020)

An Outline application for up to 55 dwellings at Langford Road, Langford was dismissed (24 February 2020)

A number of further appeals are pending:

  • Redetermined appeal at Langford Road, Henlow (Inquiry – Sept 2019 – decision awaited)
  • Sunderland Road, Sandy (Inquiry – Oct 2019 – decision due in April)
  • Greenfield Road, Flitton (Hearing – Oct 2019 – decision awaited)
  • Oakley Road, Bromham (Inquiry – Feb 2020 – decision awaited)
  • Bower Lane, Eaton Bray (Hearing – Mar 2020)
  • High Street. Silsoe (Inquiry – May 2020)

Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

On 27th February 2020 the Court of Appeal handed down two landmark decisions relating to the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport. In the case of Heathrow Hub Ltd and Runway Innovations Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport [2020] EWCA Civ 213, the Court of Appeal concluded that the appellant’s claim on legitimate expectation, the materiality of the absence of any assurance from Heathrow Airport Ltd to implement the Hub scheme and various grounds concerning the law of competition must all fail.  However, in the cases brought by a number of local authorities, the Mayor of London, Greenpeace Ltd, Friends of the Earth Ltd and Plan B Earth, concerning the planning aspects of the ‘Airports National Policy Statement’ Plan B Earth v Secretary of State for Transport [2020] EWCA Civ 214, the Court of Appeal concluded that the challenges should succeed.  This related to the failure to have regard to the Government’s commitment to the provisions of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  The court concluded that the ANPS was not compliant with section 5(8) of the Planning Act 2008. The Court has made a declaration preventing the ANPS having any legal effect unless and until the Secretary of State has reviewed it in accordance with the Appeal Court judgement.

In the case of Finney and Welsh Ministers v Carmarthenshire CC [2019] EWCA Civ 1868, the Court of Appeal considered the limits of the power under Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to grant planning permission for development without complying with conditions attached to a previous planning permission. The case arose from a proposal to increase the height of two approved wind turbines.  The court approved the High Court decision of R (Vue Entertainment Ltd) v City of York [2017] EWHC 588 (Admin) and allowed this appeal, quashing the Inspector’s previous appeal decision because it was beyond her powers to change the description of the permitted development.

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