In Q1 2024 there have been further local and national planning updates and developments. Discover the details in our quarterly update below:

National Planning

Although certain provisions of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) came into effect in December 2023 and January 2024, there remains a significant amount that necessitates statutory legislation and is expected to be introduced throughout 2024.

The 10% Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) regulations came into effect on 12 February 2024. and Biodiversity Net Gain for small sites from 2 April 2024.

There have been recent changes to the Permitted Development regulations for Class MA (commercial (Class E) to residential (Class C3) which includes deletion of the following requirements:

  • the 1,500sqm maximum floorspace and;
  • the three-month vacancy requirements.

Two current consultations seek views on:

Local Plan Update

Central Bedfordshire Local Plan

Central Bedfordshire are progressing a Full Local Plan Review in accordance with the revised Local Development Scheme (LDS)  under the new legislation. Non-statutory consultation on methodologies for site assessment and other technical evidence is programmed for September 2024 – October 2024.  This will include a Call for Sites.

Bedford Borough Local Plan

Subsequent to the Independent Examination of the draft Bedford Borough Local Plan 2040 the Inspectors Post Hearing Letter has raised fundamental concerns about the soundness of the plan. The Council has written to the Inspector with an update to their initial response. The Inspector has now agreed to a Full Pause to allow the Council to undertake further studies. Further information can be found on the Council’s webpages.

Luton Borough Local Plan

Luton Borough Council is in the very early stages of the Local Plan Review. Their website page will be updated as the Plan progresses.

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

Buckinghamshire Local Plan

Buckinghamshire Council must produce a Local Plan within five years of coming into being, that is, by April 2025.  Background studies are expected to be publishing during 2024.

Milton Keynes Local Plan

The Council have commenced work on The New City Plan.  The Regulation 18 consultation is programmed for late summer 2024 with the Regulation 19 consultation following in early 2025. The Council propose to submit the Local Plan for Examination before May 2025.

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 Greater Cambridge Local Plan is currently on hold, due to continued work exploring water supply, and delay to the submission of the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant relocation Development Consent Order, the Local Plan Timetable Update was agreed in March 2024. Further information can be found here.

Huntingdonshire Local Plan Update

Huntingdonshire District Council has commenced a full update to the adopted Local Plan. Further information can be found here. Responses from the recent consultation and call for sites will be assessed in view of the preparation of a Further Issues and Options document being published in Spring/early Summer 2024.

Peterborough Local Plan Update

Peterborough Council have now commenced a Local Plan Review 2023-44 to replace the current Local Plan. The Council consulted on the ’Issues and Options Consultation Document‘ during 2023 and the summary of the representations received together with sites submitted can be viewed on the Council webpage. The representations received will be taken into consideration alongside a range of other evidence that the Council are gathering as they prepare the Draft Local Plan. The Draft Local Plan is expected to be published for consultation in autumn 2024.

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

Part 1 of the Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan was adopted by both Councils in November 2023. A live online Policies Map supports the Joint Local Plan Part 1 and can be accessed here.

The first public consultation on the Part 2 Local Plan is due in Spring 2024.  Further updates can be found on the Councils website.

West Suffolk Local Plan

West Suffolk consultation on the final draft (Regulation 19 proposed submission) Local Plan concluded in March 2024. 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. Following the draft Local Plan public consultation (Reg 18) at the end of 2023, the Council is now considering the comments and preparing the Submission version for consultation in summer 2024. Further details can be viewed here.

South West Hertfordshire Local Plan

An interactive map and dashboard, has been published to help understand the area and its social, economic and environmental characteristics.  All of the authorities have now endorsed a vision and objectives to guide future work.   The latest news is here.

Dacorum Local Plan

The Council are currently considering all feedback resulting from the Revised Draft Local Plan consultation at the end of 2023, and preparing a summary Consultation Report for spring 2024 before a pre-submission version of the Local Plan is published in October 2024.

Hertsmere Local Plan

The new Hertsmere Draft Local Plan is currently on consultation until 29 May 2024. For further information, visit

St Albans Local Plan

St Albans City and District Council is progressing with the production of a Local Plan. Following the consultation on the Draft Local Plan 2041 (Regulation 18) in 2023, responses are being considered and a Pre-Submission Publication draft is due for consultation in October 2024.

Three Rivers Local Plan

The Council are now considering responses received during the Regulation 18 consultation in 2023, and preparing the Regulation 19 Publication draft Local Plan which is due for consultation in September 2024. More information can be found here.

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

North Northamptonshire Strategic Plan

The North Northamptonshire Local Plan review will take into account changes since 2016, and extend the plan period to 2041. Consultation on the Scope and Issues was undertaken in 2022. A Draft Local Plan consultation is due in June 2024.

West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan

West Northamptonshire Council is preparing a new strategic plan which will guide development for the area up to 2050. The Regulation 18 draft consultation will run until 2 June 2024. For more information visit the West Northants website.

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

National Infrastructure Projects

East Park Energy is a proposed new solar farm and energy storage scheme to the north-west of St Neots, straddling the administrative boundary of Bedford and Huntingdonshire. A DCO application is in progress and a formal, statutory pre-application consultation will be undertaken in 2024, with the aim of submitting the DCO application in winter 2024/25. For more information visit

The preferred route announcement for the new Bedford-Cambridge section of East West Rail was made at the end of May 2023. Drop-in events are being across the region in May, ahead of the first stage of statutory consultation. Further information can be found here.

Following the close of the Examination of the DCO application for the Lower Thames Crossing project the Secretary of State has requested further details on a limited number of issues. Further details can be viewed here.

The Examination of the DCO application for expansion of London Luton Airport closed on 10 February 2024. The Recommendation of the Panel will be sent to the Secretary of State for Transport no later than 10 May 2024. Further information can be found here.

The Secretary of State has decided to re-set the statutory deadline for the decision on the proposed Energy Farm, to be located across four sites in East Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk, until 20 June 2024. If constructed, the Sunnica Energy Farm will connect to the national electricity grid at the Burwell National Grid Substation. For further details visit PINS website.

The Examination of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application for the proposed Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant is in progress and is expected to close on 17 April 2024. Information about the examination can be found on this page.

Anglian Water are currently planning two new reservoirs in Eastern England. One is proposed north of Chatteris and near the villages of Doddington and Wimblington, Cambridgeshire. The latest news can be viewed at  The second site is south-east of Sleaford, Lincolnshire. This is expected to be submitted for a DCO in September 2025. To keep up to date with this project visit the website.

Chilterns Beechwoods SAC

Dacorum BC and Central Bedfordshire Council now have mitigation strategies adopted and have released the moratorium on the grant of planning permissions, subject to the payment of Mitigation fees. The Buckinghamshire Mitigation Strategy is currently due to be considered by Cabinet in July 2024. Click here for more information.

Recent Appeal Decisions

  • A Hybrid application for extra care apartments, a care home, retirement bungalows and 196 dwellings at Linford Lakes Milton Keynes was dismissed (17 January 2024)
  • An outline application for 110 dwellings at Upwell Road March was allowed (31 January 2024)
  • A full application for 19 dwellings at Eagle Farm, Cranfield Road, Wavendon was allowed (5 February 2024)
  • An outline application for 30 dwellings at Richings Way Iver was allowed (15 February 2024)
  • An outline application for 9 dwellings at Greenfield Road Pulloxhill was dismissed (19 February 2024)
  • A full application for 130 dwellings on Land west of Moreton Road and Castlemilk Buckingham was approved by Simon Hoare MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Local Government, on behalf of the Secretary of State (1 March 2024)
  • Two outline applications for a total of 721 dwellings on sites North and South of Chiswell Green Lane St Albans were allowed by the Minister for Housing and Homelessness, on behalf of the Secretary of State (22 March 2024)

A number of further appeals are pending including:

    • Land to the north of Cambridge North Station (Inquiry – 6 June 2023)
    • Land To The South Of Chrishall Road Fowlmere (Hearing – 16 November 2023)
    • Land at Swallowfields, Welwyn Garden City (Inquiry – 12 December 2023)
    • Land at Cambridge Road Impington (Inquiry – 16 January 2024)
    • Land North of Stockbridge Road Clifton (Hearing – 30 January 2024)
    • Land Off Manor Way Cotton End (Written Representations)
    • Land off Barton Road Upper Gravenhurst (Written Representations)
    • Land at High Road Shillington (Written Representations)
    • Land at Dunstable Road Caddington (Written Representations)
    • Land East of A10 Buntingford (Inquiry – 16 July 2024)

Recent Planning Caselaw Updates

The courts are continuing to consider new cases following the principles rehearsed in the cases of Hillside and Fiske.

The High Court case of Dennis v London Borough of Southwark [2024] EWHC 57 (Admin) followed the 2015 outline planning permission for the multi-phase regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate. The Developer wanted to make amendments to one phase and submitted a full ‘drop in’ permission application. A Section 96A application was made to add the word “severable” to the outline description. The court clarified that the Pilkington principle on compatibility of planning permissions “may apply to outline as well as to detailed planning permissions.” The court held that there was no ‘contra-indication’ that the planning permission had been intended to be severable when it was granted. Accordingly, the outline permission was not severable, and therefore the non-material amendment was unlawful as it “significantly enlarged the bundle of rights granted by that permission”.

The Court of Appeal case of R (Substation Action Save East Suffolk Ltd) v Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero & Ors [2024] EWCA Civ 12 concerned a challenge to the East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two offshore wind farms DCOs. The court concluded that the sequential test provisions of EN-1, the NPPF and the PPG do not require an applicant for development consent to demonstrate that whenever there is a risk of flooding from surface water there are no other sites reasonably available where the proposed development could be located in an area of lower surface water flood risk. The risks of flooding from surface water are to be considered when deciding whether to grant development consent.

In a separate case the High Court (Mr Justice Holgate) has ruled on the sequential test and relationship between NPPF & PPG. In the case of Mead Realisations Ltd v The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities & Anor [2024] EWHC 279 (Admin) the court dismissed legal challenges to two refused appeal decisions. The court found PPG has the same legal status as the NPPF, with the PPG intended to support the NPPF. Whilst it is expected that the two will have a compatible interpretation and application the court found no legal justification as to why PPG could not be adopted which amends, or is inconsistent with, the NPPF. The court held that when required to consider reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower risk of flooding there may be a consideration of need but only in relation to the specific type of development rather than a general need for that use of land. It also stated that “reasonably available” has a temporal dimension. In considering a series of smaller sites as alternatives, the court commented that a decision-taker should consider whether they have a relationship which makes them suitable in combination to accommodate need/demand to which weight would be attached.

In R (Boswell) v Secretary of State for Transport [2024] EWCA Civ 145 the single ground of appeal was whether the Secretary of State had lawfully discharged the obligation to examine and assess cumulative greenhouse gas emissions likely to result from each proposed development, relating to road improvements on the A47 near Norwich. The court found “an air of complete unreality” to the claim that the SoS was at fault for not conducting a separate and wider assessment of cumulative emissions from each scheme and there was “no logical basis” for such an exercise which “could not have provided further information of any value”. The court was also “wholly unpersuaded that the decisions were in any way irrational”. Reports indicate that Dr Boswell is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Judgment was handed down in R (Together Against Sizewell C Ltd) v Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero & Anor [2023] EWCA Civ 1517 just before Christmas 2023.
The court considered whether the Secretary of State had erred in law by failing to carry out an appropriate assessment of the effects on European sites of the permanent supply of potable water to Sizewell C, either as part of the same project or cumulatively as a separate but connected project, under regulation 63 of the Habitats Regs. The court referred to the well-established principle that two connected projects may proceed separately, and their cumulative effects be assessed (whether under the EIA Regs or Habitats Regs) either in two stages or, at the second, but as soon as those cumulative effects can be identified for meaningful assessment. This “staged approach” was considered legitimate in principle and prevents “sclerosis in the planning system”. The court found that the Secretary of State’s conclusion that the permanent supply of potable water for the operation of Sizewell C was not part of the project requiring assessment as “legally impeccable”.

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