As we approach the end of Q2, 2021 continues to be an interesting year for Town Planning in the UK.

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

National Planning

The Planning Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, is expected to go before Parliament in the Autumn and builds on the Planning for The Future white paper published last summer.

New Permitted Development rights for the change from Class E uses to dwellings were published in March 2021 and come into effect on 1 August 2021.

First Homes – a new affordable housing scheme will become part of the planning system from the end of June 2021.

The Environment Bill returned to parliament in May and continues its way through Parliament.

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

The Main Modifications consultation ended on 5th May 2021. The consultation responses have now been forwarded to the Inspectors and can be viewed here. 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. The Draft Plan: Strategy options and draft policies consultation has been considered by the Council’s Executive Committee and is expected to be on consultation from 28 June – 3 September 2021. – Details of the Draft Plan 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. Additional hearing sessions have been held. For information on the outcome of these sessions, visit matters arising from main modifications hearing sessions page. Further updates can be found here.

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

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050

As part of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal agreement with the Government, the six Oxfordshire authorities – Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council – have committed to producing a joint statutory spatial plan (JSSP), known as the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for independent examination by 31 January 2022 and adopted by 31 October 2022, subject to the examination process. Further details can be found here.

Cambridge Local Plan and South Cambridgeshire Local Plan

Consultation on the Greater Cambridge Local Plan was held in 2020. The Councils are currently developing the evidence base to help them develop a well-informed ‘preferred option’ for how much development to plan for, and where development should be allocated in the new Local Plan. The next formal public consultation is expected later in 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

The Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan was formally submitted to the Secretary of State for independent Examination on 31 March 2021. The Examination Hearing sessions commenced on 21 June 2021 at Ipswich Hotel (Old London Road, Copdock, Ipswich, IP8 3JD). Further details can be found here.

Uttlesford New Local Plan

Uttlesford are preparing a New Local Plan for the district. Following the Issues and Options consultation earlier in 2021, preferred options are now being prepared with further consultation expected early in 2022. Further details can be viewed here.

Rutland Local Plan Review

The Regulation 19 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 reviewing all comments submitted during the recent consultation on the Emerging Strategy for Growth (2020-2038) and will be considering how best to move forward to manage the future growth and development – visit the Dacorum website to find out more.

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan

The Welhat Local Plan Examination has now been in progress for nearly three and a half years. At the end of the most recent Examination Hearing Sessions the Inspector issued his programme for moving forward, which can be read 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

Following consultations since 2017, the publication of the new draft Local Plan for the borough is now expected in Autumn 2021. This has been delayed in order to allow time for the Council to assess the suitability of 21 new potential employment sites in the borough. Visit the Planning for Growth website for more details.

Watford Local Plan

The Final Draft Local Plan was on consultation until 18 March 2021. The Council are now considering comments received before submitting the draft Plan for Examination. For more information visit

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

East Northamptonshire

The East Northamptonshire Local Plan Part 2 was submitted to the Secretary of State on 29th March 2021.  A Planning Inspector has been appointed to undertake an independent Examination in Public (EiP) for the Local Plan Part 2, which it is anticipated will take place during summer/autumn 2021. Details of the Examination are available 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 have written to the Council following their initial assessment. 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. Various route options were issued for a consultation which ended on 9 June 2021.  A report will be published and recommendations made to the Government later this year.  A statutory consultation is expected next year when communities will be asked to give their comments on detailed proposals. The latest news can be viewed here.

A Development Consent Order application for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road has been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate, which means the examination process is now proceeding. The application can be viewed here.

Highways England plans to resubmit its application for a Development Consent Order for the Lower Thames Crossing later this year. The three companies shortlisted to build the longest road tunnel in Britain have been announced. 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. 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 now expected to be submitted in Q3 2022. More information can be found here.

Recent Appeal Decisions

An Outline application for up to 5 dwellings at Roxton Road, Great Barford was allowed (9 April 2021)

An Outline application for 5 chalet bungalows at Green End, Maulden was dismissed (27 April 2021)

An Outline application for 20 dwellings at Pavenham Road, Oakley was dismissed (29 April 2021)

An Outline application for 5 dwellings at The Former Dog & Badger, Clophill Road, Maulden was dismissed (7 May 2021)

An Outline application for 103 dwellings at Shefford Road, Meppershall was dismissed (7 May 2021)

An Outline application for up to 90 dwellings at Southill Road, Broom was dismissed (14 May 2021)

A Full application for a residential barn conversion at Cross End Thurleigh was allowed (24 May 2021)

A Full application for 3 Self-Build dwellings at Moor Lane Maulden was dismissed (3 June 2021)

An Outline application for 5 dwellings at Northill Road, Cople was dismissed (11 June 2021)

A number of further appeals are pending including:

    • Ailwyns Acre, Cranfield (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Braeburn Way, Cranfield (Inquiry – decision awaited)
    • Hall End Road Wootton (Hearing – date arranged)
    • Grange Lane, Lower Caldecote (Hearing – not yet arranged)
    • West End, Haynes (Written Representations – in progress)

Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

The case of R (McLaren) v Woking BC [2021] EWHC 698 (Admin) involved an erroneous ownership certificate, where the part owner of the site declined to enter into the S106 Agreement. The claimant argued that all material interests in the site must be bound by the S106 Agreement.  The High Court held that it was sufficient for the Council to secure the obligations on only part of the site and not all interests had to be bound by the S106 Agreement.

The issue of Natural England’s Advice on Achieving Nutrient Neutrality in the Solent Region was endorsed in the case of Wyatt v Fareham & Natural England [2021] EWHC 1434 (Admin). This was a challenge to the decision of Fareham Borough Council to grant planning permission for eight large houses, together with a paddock.  The proposal included a wetland area, delivering a ‘nutrient credit’ to offset the nitrogen resulting from the development.  The court rejected the argument that Natural England’s advice failed to meet ‘the standard of certainty’ required by the Habitats Regulations and the Habitats Directive; concluding that the requirement of the Habitats Directive is fully satisfied.

The Court of Appeal has considered the meaning of “curtilage of a building” in the case of Blackbushe Airport Ltd v Hampshire County Council [2021] EWCA Civ 398. The case related to registration of common land, and whether the land forming the operational part of the airport was “within the curtilage of a building”, namely the two storey terminal building. The court held that the correct question is whether the land falls within the curtilage of the building and not whether the land together with the building fall within, or comprise, the planning unit.

The case of DB Symmetry Ltd v Swindon BC [2020] EWCA Civ 1331 has considered whether a planning condition for employment development lawfully required the dedication of land as highway. A Planning Inspector said ‘no’ but the High Court said ‘yes’.  The Court of Appeal agreed with the Inspector.

Following the exceptional case of Thornton Hall Hotel Ltd v Wirral MBC [2019] EWCA Civ 737, the High Court have accepted a further case where a planning permission of many years standing should be quashed. In the case of R (Croyde Area Residents Association) v North Devon DC [2021] EWHC 646 (Admin), Mrs Justice Lieven has quashed a planning permission 6.5 years after it was issued, due to an erroneous wider red line area on a plan.  Those advising landowners should consider carefully whether a planning permission is truly beyond challenge after six weeks, particularly if it may amount to a “windfall” due to an error, as in this instance.

The case of Ocado Retail Ltd v London Borough of Islington [2021] EWHC 1509 (Admin) has raised some important issues of planning law, including the 10 year time limit for taking enforcement action where there has been a breach of a planning condition and the scope of the power in Section 193(7) of the 1990 Act to revoke a Certificate of Lawfulness granted under Section 191.

The proper approach to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the need to properly consider cumulative impacts was considered in the case of Pearce v Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy [2021] EWHC 326 (Admin), which successfully challenged the decision for the North Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm, due to the failure to assess a neighbouring proposal for a wind farm project Norfolk Boreas.


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