Q4 of 2022 has seen some significant events and will ensure that Planning stays interesting in 2023.

In the meantime, please take time to read some of the latest news in our quarterly update below:

National Planning

Since our last update we have another new Prime Minister, and further changes at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP has resumed his role as the Secretary of State with The Rt Hon Lucy Frazer KC MP as the Minister of State for Housing and Planning.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill has now moved onto the House of Lords after a series of amendments during its passage through the House of Commons. The 2nd reading in the House of Lords is due on 17 January 2023.

More detail on the proposed planning reforms is to be set out in a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) prospectus, which the government advised would be published before Christmas.

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

Following the adoption of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015 to 2035 the Council have commenced a review of the Local Plan. The Forward Plan indicates that an update on the Local Plan Review will be considered by the Sustainable Communities OSC on 9 February 2023.

Bedford Borough Local Plan

Bedford Borough are continuing work on an updated Local Plan 2040 which has now reached Regulation 19 stage. Following the recent consultation, responses are being considered before submission to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination in Public. The responses received can be viewed here. The submission is expected to take place early in 2023. For more information click here.

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

Buckinghamshire Local Plan

Buckinghamshire must produce a Local Plan within five years of coming into being, that is, by April 2025. The Council consider that there is a limit to how much progress they can make until the government has confirmed the detail and timetable for the proposed changes. However, the early engagement questionnaire and call for sites is considered to give a good foundation for progress.

Milton Keynes Local Plan

The Council have commenced work on a new Local Plan and the next consultation is expected to take place in summer/autumn 2023.

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

Cambridge Local Plan and South Cambridgeshire Local Plan

The two Councils are exploring the issues raised in representations to the First Proposals consultation as they move towards the next consultation stage: a Draft version of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan in 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 the Councils are working on the proposed modifications to the Joint Local Plan. Further updates can be found on the Councils website.

West Suffolk Local Plan

West Suffolk have commenced a review of the local plan policies for the area. The Local Plan Preferred Options (Regulation 18) consultation in July 2022. The Council are now reviewing responses and preparing the Pre-submission Draft Local Plan.  This is expected to be published for consultation in May 2023. Further information can be found here.

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 Local Plan timetable has been amended with the draft (Regulation 18) Local Plan consultation due in Summer 2023. Further details can be viewed here.

South West Hertfordshire Local Plan

The responses to the draft Vision and Objectives are being analysed and the next stage of the SW Herts Joint Strategic Plan will be a ‘spatial options’ consultation, which will seek feedback on the appropriate amount and best locations for growth.

Dacorum Local Plan

The next Draft Local Plan consultation is expected to take place in June – July 2023 with the final plan not expected to be adopted until October 2025.

North Hertfordshire Local Plan

The North Hertfordshire Local Plan 2011-2031 was adopted on Tuesday 8 November 2022.

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan

The Welhat Local Plan Examination has been in progress for over five years. The Inspector has written to the Council asking them to go out for consultation on the proposed Main Modifications to the Local Plan. His letter and the Schedule of Main Modifications can be viewed in the Examination documents.

St Albans Local Plan

St Albans City and District Council is preparing a new Local Plan 2020-2038. The first consultation is due to take place in July – Sept 2023 – The Councils webpage will be updated throughout the plan-making process.

Watford Local Plan

The New Watford Local Plan was adopted on 17 October 2022 and can be viewed here.

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  remains at Examination. The Council are following up the Action Points following the Hearing Sessions earlier in the year, which the Inspector will consider before deciding on the next steps for the Examination process. Details of the Examination are available here.

West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan

West Northamptonshire Council is preparing a new strategic plan which will guide development for the area up to 2050. The Council consulted on the Spatial Options Consultation document from October to December 2021. The Draft Plan Consultation (Regulation 18) is expected later this year. Further updates can be viewed here.

Northampton Local Plan

The Northampton Local Plan Part 2 and its accompanying documents are being examined by two Inspectors who have stated that, subject to certain main modifications to the Plan being made, they would be able to find the Plan sound. The Council have consulted on the Further Proposed Modifications during November and December  and the Inspectors will consider the representations before issuing their final report. Further details can be found here.

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

National Infrastructure Projects

The Government’s Autumn Statement confirmed commitment to the East West Rail project and feedback from the public consultations remains under review. A ‘statutory consultation’ is expected to take place during 2023.

The Development Consent Application for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road has been approved and construction was due to start at the end of this year, with the road opening in 2026. However Transport Action Network (TAN) has submitted an application to the High Court for permission for a judicial review of the decision to grant the DCO. It is unlikely that a decision will be made on this until early 2023 causing a delay to the construction start. Further details can be viewed here.

The DCO application for the Lower Thames Crossing project was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2022 and has been accepted for Examination. Further details can be viewed here.

A DCO application for expansion of London Luton Airport is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate early in 2023. 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 was held during Autumn 2022 and details can be viewed here. The Secretary of State’s decision is now awaited.

A DCO Examination is in progress 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/

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 early in 2023. More information can be found here.

Two new reservoirs are currently being planned in Eastern England by Anglian Water. One is proposed north of Chatteris and near the villages of Doddington and Wimblington, Cambridgeshire. More details are available at https://www.fensreservoir.co.uk/  The second site is south-east of Sleaford, Lincolnshire. To keep up to date with this project visit the website lincsreservoir.co.uk

Recent Appeal Decisions

An application for 8 affordable dwellings on Land at Park Farm, Eaton Bray, Dunstable was dismissed (4 November 2022)

An application for 3 dwellings at Hill House, Wood Lane, Aspley Guise was dismissed (24 November 2022)

An application for 6 detached dwellings on Land off Cobbitts Road, Maulden was dismissed (6 December 2022)

A number of further appeals are pending including:

    • East of Station Road, Blunham (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Manor Farm Potton Road Everton (Written Representations – in progress)
    • Land South East of Little Chalfont Bucks (Inquiry – December 2022 – decision awaited)
    • Land at Caldecote Road/Northill Road Ickwell (Hearing – January 2023)
    • Land at Runfold St. George Badshot Lea Farnham (Written Representations – decision awaited)
    • Hiam Business Centre, Russell Farm, New Road, Maulden (Written Representations – in progress)

Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

The Supreme Court gave its judgment in the case of Hillside Parks Ltd v Snowdonia National Park Authority [2022] UKSC 30 in November 2022. The court agreed with the judgements given in the High Court and Court of Appeal.  It upheld the “Pilkington” principle and ruled that the test of physical incompatibility apples to the whole site.  However, the implementation of a physically incompatible subsequent permission does not render development already carried out under the previous planning permission unlawful.  Nonetheless, the new permission has the effect of cancelling any part of the original permission which remains unimplemented.  Care will be needed in similar circumstances to manage risks.  The court suggested that any variation application, ie a drop-in application, should cover the whole site and a plan would be needed to demonstrate how the new proposals incorporate the changes into the wider scheme.  The case raises other issues including the Description of Development, any S106 Agreement and/or CIL, including the risk of double payments, and EIA/AA where applicable.  Note: Clause 98 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill proposes a new section 73B in the 1990 Act, to allow an application to amend the description of development in an existing permission.  This may allow ‘drop-in’ applications in a specific part of a site.

The case of Schneck v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities [2022] EWHC 3335 (Admin) allowed a claim under section 288 of the 1990 Act to quash an Inspector’s decision to dismiss an appeal in a scheme to add 13 flats above an existing office building in Newbury, West Berkshire. The court concluded that the Inspector had misconstrued the Councils affordable housing policy CS6.  The court also found that the Inspector erred in this approach to a fall back position, but dismissed a further challenge in respect of flood risk.

The Supreme Court judgement in the case of DB Symmetry Ltd & Anor v Swindon Borough Council [2022] UKSC 33 was given in December 2022. This case reviewed the earlier High Court and Court of Appeal judgements.  The Supreme Court concluded that Swindon BC would have been fully justified in terms of planning policy in requiring the site owner to dedicate the access roads within the site as highway extending to the site oboundaries to enable the public to have rights of access.  This could have been secured through a section 106 agreement, but it failed to do so.  The attempt to rely on a planning condition failed, as the condition was ultra vires, and on a proper construction the planning condition did not purport to do so.  The appeal by Swindon BC was dismissed.

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