As 2021 draws to an end it will be interesting to see how the government proposes to move forward with Planning and Housing in 2022.

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

National Planning

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities are expected to publish a White Paper early in 2022. There are various issues being debated and we will update our website as the Government proposals move forward.

The Environment Bill was granted royal assent on 9 November. It includes measures that will, two years on, introduce a legal requirement for developments to deliver a ten per cent net gain in biodiversity

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015 to 2035 was formally adopted in July 2021. A review of the Local Plan is expected to commence early in 2022.

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 in September 2021. Responses to the consultation are now being analysed and will assist in writing the submission version of the plan which is expected to be published in Summer 2022.  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

Buckinghamshire Local Plan

Buckinghamshire Council have launched a questionnaire survey for the new Local Plan. The online survey questionnaire is available until midnight on Friday 11 February 2022 and can be accessed here. The Council are also making a call for previously developed sites. To submit information on a potential brownfield site, please go to:

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 ended on 13 December 2021. The councils will now be developing a full Draft Plan during 2022. Further information can be found 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 Inspectors have recommended that the Plan is amended to a Part 1 Local Plan in view of further research needed. The Councils have acknowledged and agreed in principle to the proposals in the Inspectors’ letter. Further details can be found here.

Ipswich Local Plan Review

A Local Plan Review is in progress, and following Examination hearings held in 2020, the Inspectors have written to the Council setting out the next steps for the Examination. A public consultation on the Proposed Main Modifications was completed in September 2021.  Further news and updates will be published on the Councils webpage.

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.

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 that the Main Modifications consultation begins at the beginning of February. This letter can be read 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 early 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 consultation on the draft plan ended on Monday 6 December 2021, and the Council are now considering the responses received to inform the version of the Local Plan to be submitted to the Secretary of State next year. 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 and Topic Papers and the Inspector has now issued his Preliminary questions. Hearing sessions will be held virtually during January and February 2022. Please see the hearing sessions page for the Timetable and list of participants. 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). The Council has now provided responses to the Inspectors initial questions and the Inspector will finalise arrangements for the next steps in 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.

West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan

West Northamptonshire Council is preparing a new strategic plan which will guide development for the area up to 2050. A Spatial Options consultation closes on 24 December 2021. For more information visit the consultation portal

Draft Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Mitigation Strategy

West Northamptonshire Council is currently consulting on the Draft Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Mitigation Strategy which will eventually be an addendum to the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SPA SPD. The Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SPA is situated in Northamptonshire and spans from Northampton in the west to Thrapston in the east. The Draft Mitigation Strategy sets out a range of measures and associated costs to protect the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SPA from recreational pressure resulting from proposed housing growth within 3km of SPA. The consultation period closes at midnight on Monday 7 February 2022. For further information visit the West Northamptonshire consultation hub.

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

East West Rail have now contacted people whose land and property could potentially be affected by one or more options on the Bedford to Cambridge route of the EWR project. For more information click here.

A Development Consent Order Examination for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road is now proceeding and must be completed by 18 February 2022. Further details can be viewed here.

Highways England has not yet set a timetable for the resubmission of the revised application for the Lower Thames Crossing. 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 application for Permission in Principle for two dwellings in Moggerhanger was dismissed (29 October 2021)

An outline application for 7 detached dwellings at West End Haynes was dismissed (4 November 2021)

An Outline application for 8 dwellings at Lower Caldecote was dismissed (17 November 2021)

An application for a Low Impact Dwelling was allowed (9 December 2021)

A number of further appeals are pending including:

    • Ailwyns Acre, Cranfield (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Shortmead Street, Biggleswade (Written Representations – in progress)
    • West of High Street Arlesey (Inquiry – 2 Nov 2021 – decision awaited)
    • Land off Ewbank Corner, Church Street, Langford (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Rear Of 54 Bedford Road Great Barford (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • The Chequers High Street Yielden (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Whitley Road Shortstown (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Former Lidl Site Bedford Road Kempston (Written Representations – decision awaited)

Following a High Court Consent Order in January 2021, the appeal by Hollins Strategic Land LLP for up to 81 dwellings on land west of Wootton School, Hall End Road, Wootton, has been remitted for redetermination. The Planning Inspectorate is to re-open the Hearing to reconsider the appeal in the light of the High Court order.

Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

In the recent case of R (on the application of Hedges) v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2021] EWHC 2392 (Admin) the High Court confirmed that an Inspector considering an appeal against an enforcement notice was entitled to look at evidence of the actual day to day use of the site in Cornwall in order to establish its lawful use. The dispute hinged on whether the use for stationing caravans and tents had been active in the initial period of ten years following cessation of the agricultural use.

In the case of Tewkesbury Borough Council v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2021] EWHC 2782 (Admin) Mr Justice Dove held that there was nothing in national policy, either explicitly or implicitly, which requires an Inspector to have regard to previous oversupply of housing.  It is a matter of planning judgement for each individual inspector to decide how to approach oversupply, when assessing whether the Council can demonstrate a minimum five years housing land supply.

The High Court has considered the use of a building within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse for business purposes. In the case of Rikki Sage v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2021] EWHC 2885 (Admin), Sir Duncan Ouseley held that the Inspector was justified in considering environmental and amenity as material to the decision on whether the use of a timber out-building as a gym for paying clients was a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house.  He also observed that Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) is incomplete and misleading and fails to reflect the true focus of the question at issue in such cases of working at home.

In the decision of Abbotskerswell Parish Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2021] EWHC 555 (Admin) the court ruled that the Secretary of State had nor erred in granting outline planning permission for a major mixed-use development. His decision that he had the environmental information reasonably required as to the effects of the proposed development on climate change and biodiversity was not irrational and he had not failed to comply with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

In Finch v Surrey CC [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin) Mr Justice Holgate held that the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 do not require an EIA to assess the effect of Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from future combustion of oil produced as a result of 4 new oil wells, typically as a fuel for motor vehicles. This case is going to the Court of Appeal.

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