2021 looks like being another interesting year for Town Planning in the UK.

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

National Planning

The Planning for the Future White Paper consultation closed in October 2020. The government are currently considering the responses received and have undertaken to issue a formal response in the spring. Any changes in planning legislation are expected to feature in the next Queens Speech pencilled in for May.

The revised Standard Method of Assessing Local Housing Need was announced in December 2020. The current method was retained with a 35% uplift to be applied in the 20 largest cities.

The government are currently consulting on draft revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (“the Framework”). The text has been revised to implement policy changes in response to the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission “Living with Beauty” report. This consultation closes on 27 March 2021.

During February the government updated the Planning Practice Guidance relating to Self-build and Custom Housebuilding by the inclusion of measures to strengthen requirements for councils to take into account local demand for self and custom-built homes when preparing local plans or making decisions.

The Government are proposing a Spatial Framework Plan to guide development in the Oxford to Cambridge Arc. More details can be found here. In the meantime, the England’s Economic Heartlands Strategic Transport Forum has submitted a Regional Transport Strategy to the Secretary of State.

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

Following the further examination hearing sessions during December, the Inspectors have provided their further views and the Main Modifications are published for public consultation until 5th May 2021. To keep up to date with the latest news visit the CBC website.

Bedford Borough Local Plan

Bedford Borough are continuing work on the Local Plan Review. A draft plan is due to be published for consultation in mid 2021 – Details of the Issues and Options responses and Call for Sites submissions can be viewed at: Bedford Borough Local Plan Review 

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

Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP)

Following the further consultation which ended in February the Council will be sending the responses to the Inspector. He has advised that he may wish to hold further hearing sessions prior to writing his final report. Further updates can be found here.

Buckinghamshire Local Plan

Chiltern and South Bucks were in the process of preparing a joint Local Plan. Following a Planning Inspector’s initial findings this plan has now been withdrawn and the new Unitary authority will be focusing their efforts on a new Buckinghamshire Local Plan.

Further updates on the Strategic Plans in Buckinghamshire can be found on our website: Planning in Buckinghamshire

 Cherwell Local Plan

The Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 (Part 1) Partial Review – Oxford’s Unmet Housing Need was formally adopted as part of the statutory Development Plan by the Council in September 2020. This Plan provides the strategic planning framework and sets out strategic site allocations to provide Cherwell District’s share of the unmet housing needs of Oxford to 2031. A review of the Local Plan has now commenced. Further details can be found here.

Cambridge Local Plan and South Cambridgeshire Local Plan

Consultation on the Greater Cambridge Local Plan ran during January and February 2020.

The Councils are currently developing the evidence base for the plan and testing possible growth levels and strategic spatial options and aim to consult on a Preferred Option in summer or autumn 2021. More details can be viewed here.

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

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council Joint Local Plan

Following the Pre-submission (Regulation 19) consultation on the Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan at the end of 2020, the plan is expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination. For further information click here.

Uttlesford New Local Plan

Uttlesford have commenced work on a New Local Plan for the district. The Issues and Options consultation will run until 21 April 2021. This consultation can be accessed here.

Rutland Local Plan Review

The Regulation 19 Consultation Local Plan Public Consultation ran until 6 November 2020. The Council are now considering the representations received.  More information can be found on the Councils Local Plan Review page.

Dacorum Local Plan

The Council are now considering all comments submitted during the consultation on the Emerging Strategy for Growth (2020-2038) which closed on 28 February 2021 – visit the Dacorum website to find out more.

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan

The Examination of the new Local Plan continues with Stage 9 Hearing Sessions being held during February and March 2021 – the Councils updates can be found here.

St Albans Local Plan

St Albans City and District Council is preparing a new Local Plan 2020-2038. It will affect what can be built, and where, up to 2038 in the District. – The Councils webpage will be updated throughout the plan-making process.

Hertsmere Local Plan

The publication of the new draft Local Plan for the borough is now expected in May 2021, following which there will be a six-week consultation period, before it is submitted to the Secretary of State for examination. Visit the Planning for Growth website for more details.

Watford Local Plan

The Final Draft Local Plan was on consultation until 18 March 2021. For more information visit https://www.watfordlocalplan.co.uk/

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

East Northamptonshire

The Pre-submission Draft Local Plan (Reg 19) consultation took place from 5th February – 19th March 2021, inclusive – for more information click here.

Northampton Local Plan

The Northampton Local Plan Part 2 and its accompanying documents were submitted to the Government for independent examination by a Planning Inspector on 4 February. Two Inspectors have been appointed and Examination Hearings will be held later this year. Further details 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

Unlike the other sections of East West Rail, the Bedford to Cambridge section will follow a completely new route. As a result of the feedback from route options consultations in 2019, a preferred route option was identified. It travels from Bedford to Cambridge via Sandy/St Neots and Cambourne – both of which are proposed to receive brand new stations. Plans for exactly where the line could be situated will be consulted on later in 2021. The latest news can be viewed here.

A Development Consent Order application for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road was submitted on 26 February 2021. Further details are available on the Highways England website.

On 20 November 2020, Highways England withdrew the application for a Development Consent Order for the Lower Thames Crossing based on early feedback we received from the Planning Inspectorate. They will further develop some technical information related to some elements of the scheme before resubmitting the application later this year. For more information visit the Highways England website.

A DCO application for expansion of London Luton Airport is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate during 2021. Further information can be found on here. In the meantime, the Luton DART construction is progressing and is expected to open in 2022. This will enable rail journeys of just half an hour between London Luton Airport and St Pancras International by the fastest trains.

Anglian Water is proposing to relocate its Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant to enable the regeneration of North East Cambridge. The project is currently in the pre-application phase for a Development Consent Order (DCO) which is expected to be submitted in May 2021. More information can be found here.

Recent Appeal Decisions

An Outline application for up to 24 dwellings at Ickwell Road, Upper Caldecote was allowed (19 January 2021)

An application for 14 dwellings at Hookhams Lane, Renhold was dismissed (17 December 2020)

A Full application for 18 dwellings at Sundon Road, Harlington was dismissed (19 January 2021)

An Outline application for up to 46 dwellings at Grange Way, Willington was dismissed (17 March 2021)

A number of further appeals are pending including:

    • Roxton Road, Great Barford (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Northill Road, Cople (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Pavenham Road, Oakley (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Church End, Biddenham (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Clophill Road, Maulden (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Green End, Maulden (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Ailwyns Acre, Cranfield (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Southill Road, Broom (Hearing – April 2021)
    • Braeburn Way, Cranfield (Inquiry – 8 June 2021)
    • Grange Lane, Lower Caldecote (Hearing – not yet arranged)
    • Shefford Road, Meppershall (Hearing – not yet arranged)

Secretary of State Decisions

The Secretary of State decision dated 3 March 2021 granted outline planning permission for 500 dwellings and other development on land west of Burley-in-Wharfedale in Green Belt. The original decision dated 5 November 2019 was quashed in the High Court and the decision has been redetermined.  The Secretary of State concluded that very special circumstances existed to justify the proposed development in the Green Belt and that there were no material conflicts with any relevant development plan policies.

Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

The case of City and Country Bramshill Ltd v SoS [2021] EWCA Civ 320 considered the interpretation of NPPF policies regarding ‘isolated homes in the countryside’ confirming the earlier Braintree decision [2018]. The Court of Appeal (Lindblom LJ) went on to provide practical guidance on an assessment of whether proposed development would be likely to cause harm to listed buildings and other heritage assets, with particular reference to S66(1) of the Listed Buildings Act and NPPF paragraphs 193 to 196.

R (Parkview Homes Ltd) v Chichester DC [2021] EWHC 59 (Admin) where the High Court (David Elvin QC) considered the approach to be taken to a S73 application in the light of the cases of Arrowcroft [2001] and Finney [2020]. The court held that the permission granted imposed a new condition which was inconsistent with the description in the original permission.  The decision was quashed, including the S73 permission.

In the case of R (Monkhill Ltd) v Secretary of State [2021] EWCA Civ 74, the Court of Appeal (Lindblom LJ) considered the meaning of policy relating to development in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the revised NPPF and its relationship with the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

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