2022 Q2 has been the launch of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which includes reforms to Planning which seek to improve the Planning process.

Some latest news and updates are set out in our quarterly update below:

National Planning

The Levelling Up, and Regeneration Bill was published on 11 May 2022 and as drafted includes a number of changes to the planning process including:

  • The introduction of National Development Management Policies set by central Government;
  • Greater weight to the development plan in decision making;
  • Removal of requirement for five-year housing land supply in areas with up-to-date Local plans;
  • Amendment to the periods for enforcement – proposing ten years for all breaches;

The government are expecting to launch a document in July setting out how they intend to change National Planning Policy;

The latest indications from the Government is that the Oxford-Cambridge Arc is now considered a pan-regional partnership to be taken forward by locally led collaboration. This was recently confirmed by the Executive Director of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc Leadership Group at a local presentation.

The Councils affected by the Chilterns Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation (SAC) have been working on a solution and Dacorum BC hope to commence a phased partial lifting of the Housing Moratorium by August.

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

Following the adoption of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015 to 2035 in July 2021, the Council have commenced a review of the Local Plan. Officers are currently working on the areas of the plan that will need reviewing. The Forward Plan indicates that they will report back to the Sustainable Communities Committee in November 2022. Further information can be found here.

Bedford Borough Local Plan

Bedford Borough are continuing work on the Local Plan Review. The Pre-Submission Local Plan 2040 is currently on consultation until 29 July 2022.

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

Buckinghamshire Local Plan

Buckinghamshire Council is beginning work on the new Local Plan for Buckinghamshire (LP4B). The Council are currently undertaking a ‘Wider Call for Sites’ (including Greenfield sites) to gather a fuller understanding of the land available for development within Buckinghamshire. This Call for Sites is open from 13 June 2022 until 11 September 2022.

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 Regulation 19 Submission document is still in preparation and is expected to be published later this year. Further details can be found here.

Cambridge Local Plan and South Cambridgeshire Local Plan

Following consultation on the Greater Cambridge Local Plan – First Proposals during 2021, the councils are now developing a full Draft Plan and the Draft Plan Consultation is due to take place in Autumn 2023. 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 Part 1 Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan is being progressed and public consultation on the main modifications is expected during Autumn 2022. This will be followed by the preparation and adoption of a ‘Part 2’ local plan as soon as possible. The letter from the inspectors (document G09) gives details on the areas each plan will be likely to include.

Ipswich Local Plan Review

The Ipswich Local Plan Review 2018-2036 was adopted in March 2022.

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

Uttlesford New Local Plan

Uttlesford are preparing a New Local Plan for the district. The timetable has been amended and the draft (Regulation 18) Local Plan is scheduled for consultation in November 2022. Further details can be viewed here.

Dacorum Local Plan

The Council have now published a new Local Development Scheme which sets out that the next Draft Local Plan consultation will take place in June – July 2023 with the final plan not expected to be adopted until October 2025.

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan

The Welhat Local Plan Examination has been in progress for over five years. The Inspector is currently awaiting the Councils response to his most recent letters. Copies of these letters can be read here.

St Albans Local Plan

St Albans City and District Council is preparing a new Local Plan 2020-2038. The Council is experiencing delays due to resourcing issues – The Councils webpage will be updated throughout the plan-making process.

Watford Local Plan

A new Local Plan is currently at Examination. Hearing sessions were held during January and February 2022. The council is currently consulting on the proposed Main Modifications and associated documents. The consultation will close on 18 July 2022. Please see the Main Modifications page for full details.

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 is currently at Examination. Hearing Sessions concluded on 5th May 2022. The Council are now following up the Action Points which the Inspector will consider before deciding on the 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. The Council are now consulting on the Proposed Modifications until 18 August 2022. 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 was undertaken at the end of 2021 and the Council are now considering responses. For more information visit the West Northants website.

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 are continuing to review the options on the Bedford to Cambridge route of the EWR project. Drop-In Events are being held across the route during July. For more details visit: https://communityhub.eastwestrail.co.uk/community-events

The Examining Authority who considered the Development Consent Order Examination for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road issued a Recommendation Report to the Secretary of State on 18 May 2022. The Secretary of State must issue a decision by 18 August 2022. The Secretary of State for Transport has issued a consultation letter inviting comments and information on various matters. The deadline for the submission of responses to this consultation was 6 July 2022. Further details can be viewed here.

The DCO application for the Lower Thames Crossing project is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in Autumn 2022. Further details can be viewed here.

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, an application to increase the number of passengers which Luton Council have resolved to approve has been “called in” for determination by the Secretary of State. An Inquiry will commence on 27 September 2022.

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 Autumn 2022. More information can be found here.

A DCO application has been submitted for a proposed Energy Farm to be located across four sites in East Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk. If constructed, the Sunnica Energy Farm will connect to the national electricity grid at the Burwell National Grid Substation. For further details visit https://sunnica.co.uk/

Recent Appeal Decisions

An application for 112 dwellings at West of High Street Arlesey was dismissed (7 April 2022)

An application for a Retirement Care Village at High Street, Bottisham was dismissed (7 April 2022)

An application for 2 dwellings at School Lane Eaton Bray was dismissed (3 May 2022)

An application for 3 dwellings at Knolls View, Totternhoe was dismissed (20 May 2022)

An application for Reserved matters for 110 dwellings at Teversham Road Fulbourn was allowed (10 June 2022)

An application for two bungalows at Sawfords Meadow Tempsford was dismissed (4 July 2022)

A number of further appeals are pending including:

    • Land off Ewbank Corner, Church Street, Langford (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Land south of Arlesey Road Stotfold (Inquiry – 3 May 2022 – decision awaited)
    • Land west of Lytton Way Stevenage (Inquiry – 7 June – decision awaited)
    • South of the Ridgeway Potton (Inquiry – 20 April – decision awaited)
    • Wood Lane Aspley Guise (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Park Farm Eaton Bray (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Cobbitts Road Maulden (Written Representations – in progress)
    • East of Station Road, Blunham (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Land North Of The Pasture Somersham (Hearing – date 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 appeal has now been withdrawn.

Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

TV Harrison CIC v Leeds City Council [2022] EWHC 1675 (Admin) follows the earlier case regarding the listing of a local sports field as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). In this subsequent case the court ruled that Leeds City Council decision to grant outline planning permission for housing on a community sports field was unlawful.  The planning permission was quashed (for the second time) and the Council will need to reconsider the application.  In this instance, the planning officer failed to mention policy N6 which sought to protect designated playing fields and as a consequence the Decision was flawed as a matter of law.

The case of Ashchurch Rural Parish Council v Tewkesbury BC [2022] EWHC 16 (Admin) provides a reminder that one cannot ‘salami-slice’ a project in order to fall below relevant EIA thresholds. The court considered whether it was lawful to negatively screen an application for a ‘bridge’ to facilitate delivery of a new garden town subject to future applications, in this case for 826 new homes.

CAB Housing Ltd v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities [2022] EWHC 208 (Admin) and associated cases, sought to challenge the decision of three planning inspectors to dismiss appeals against the refusal of prior approval under the GPDO Schedule 2 Part 1 Class AA, which provides for the enlargement of a single dwelling house by an upwards extension. The court did not accept the claimants case that amenity control was limited to properties which abutted, or were contiguous with, the subject property.  The inspectors’ decisions were entirely lawful, but future cases were not bound to follow these decisions.  This was always a matter of planning judgment for the decision maker.

The importance of an officer’s report to planning committee (or delegated) was highlighted in Thurston Parish Council v Mid Suffolk District Council [2022] EWHC 352 (Admin). The court upheld the challenge due to the District Council’s failure to acknowledge conflict with the recently adopted Thurston Neighbourhood Plan settlement boundary policy and the unlawful engagement of the ‘tilted balance’ in the light of NPPF paragraph 14.  The emerging Local Plan allocation did not outweigh the NP policy conflict.

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