As we approach the finish of Q3 of 2021 its good to see that Planning and Housing remain a focus of the current government.

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

National Planning

Michael Gove has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for the renamed Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The Planning Bill is expected to be delayed following the changes in the Department and there are reports that it is being redrafted.

In July 2021 a revised National Planning Policy Framework was published. This includes increased focus on design quality following the publication of the National Model Design Code.

The Environment Bill is currently progressing through the House of Lords and is currently due to achieve royal assent this autumn.

Natural England have now launched three new tools to help developers measure biodiversity net gain (BNG). These are intended to guarantee that new developments are “nature positive”. These comprise:

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015 to 2035 was formally adopted in July 2021. The Local Plan includes a commitment to an early review, commencing within 6 months for adoption.

Bedford Borough Local Plan

Bedford Borough are continuing work on the Local Plan Review. The Local Plan 2040 Draft Plan: Strategy options and draft policies document consultation ended on 3 September 2021 and the Council are now considering responses. – 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)

The Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) 2013-2033 has been adopted through the meetings of Cabinet on the 13 September and full Council on the 15 September. More details of this Local Plan can be viewed here.

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

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 – First Proposals is expected to run from: 1 November – 13 December 2021. Draft Proposals 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 are expected to continue through to November. 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 the Council have undertaken a Sustainability Appraisal scoping report consultation. Preferred options are now being prepared with further consultation expected early in 2022. Further details can be viewed here.

Rutland Local Plan Review

Following a Special Full Council meeting on Wednesday 1st September, Rutland County Council resolved to withdraw the submitted draft Rutland Local Plan. More information can be found here.

Dacorum Local Plan

Following the recent consultation, the Council have now agreed to indefinitely delay submission of the emerging Local Plan, citing factors including the pandemic and uncertainty over national planning policy – visit the Dacorum website to view the consultation responses.

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan

The Welhat Local Plan Examination has been in progress for nearly three and a half years. The Inspector has now requested the submission of additional sites failing which he will proceed to write a report confirming that the submitted plan is unsound and so cannot be adopted. This letter can be read here. The Council have responded with their proposed timescale as set out here.

St Albans Local Plan

St Albans City and District Council is preparing a new Local Plan 2020-2038. The next consultation is programmed for January/February 2022 – The Councils webpage will be updated throughout the plan-making process.

Hertsmere Local Plan

Hertsmere are in the process of producing a new Local Plan. A draft plan will be on consultation from Monday 11 October, giving residents and community groups a further opportunity to comment on the plan.  Visit the Local Plan website for more details.

Watford Local Plan

A new Local Plan was submitted for Examination in August and a Planning Inspector has been appointed.  The council have submitted their proposed Draft Main Modifications to the submitted Local Plan and these can be viewed in the Examination Documents at ED9. 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) and has written to the Council and provided initial questions (EXAM-05). The Council’s response will be provided in due course. Once received, the Inspector will then decide on the appropriate next steps for the Examination process. Details of the Examination are available here.

Northampton Local Plan

The Northampton Local Plan Part 2 and its accompanying documents are currently being examined by two Inspectors who 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 recent local government reorganisation can be found on our website: Planning in Northamptonshire

National Infrastructure Projects

Following the various route options for the section of East West Rail between Bedford and Cambridge, which were consulted on earlier this year, a report will be published and recommendations made to the Government. 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 Examination for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road is now proceeding. Further details can be viewed here.

Highways England plans to resubmit its application for a Development Consent Order for the Lower Thames Crossing later this year following further community consultations from July to September. 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 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 180 dwellings at Braeburn Way Cranfield was dismissed (15 July 2021)

Conversion of redundant stables to a two bedroom dwelling was approved in the Green Belt (8 September 2021)

Conversion of a building to a residential dwelling was approved in the Green Belt (8 September 2021)

A number of further appeals are pending including:

    • Ailwyns Acre, Cranfield (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Hall End Road Wootton (Hearing – date arranged)
    • Grange Lane, Lower Caldecote (Hearing – not yet arranged)
    • West End, Haynes (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Shortmead Street, Biggleswade (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Blunham Road, Moggerhanger (Written Representations – in progress)
    • West of High Street Arlesey (Inquiry – 2 Nov 2021)


Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

In the case of R (on the application of Smolas) v Herefordshire Council [2021] EWHC 1663 (Admin) the judge resolved that when considering an application for Prior Approval, the local authority should determine whether the proposal falls within the scope of the relevant provisions of the GPDO.

In R (on the application of Trent) v Hertsmere DC [2021] EWHC 907 (admin) the court found that a CIL liability notice served 2½ years after the grant of planning permission was not “as soon as practicable” as required by the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010. Any delay should be “weeks or months”.

The Court of Appeal has considered the NPPF policy for “presumption in favour of sustainable development” in paragraph 11. In Gladman Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2021] EWCA Civ 104, the applications were dismissed, confirming that decision-makers were not legally bound to disregard development plan policies when applying the “tilted balance”.  The presumption in favour of sustainable development did not change the statutory status of the development plan as the starting point for decision-making.

The case of Clin v Walter Lilly & Co Ltd [2021] EWCA Civ 136 examined the correct approach to be taken in determining when construction works are to be treated as amounting to demolition for the purposes of Section 74 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Area) Act 1990, thus requiring conservation area consent.

In the case of Malvern Hills DC v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2021] EWHC 129 (Admin), the Court upheld an Inspector’s decision that the public footpath over which an unauthorised building had been erected was not a material consideration when considering the planning merits of the building. He concluded that the separate procedures in the Highways Act 1980 should be followed to determine if the footpath route could be diverted.

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