A letter dated 15th April 2020 from the City of London Law Society to the Secretary of State adds weight to calls for greater flexibility in planning. Cornerstone Chambers, reported that it encapsulates well ‘… the wide range of issues faced by lawyers and the difficulties faced by their clients – and local planning authorities. … … in summary terms it seeks:
1) Guidance for local authorities on implementation of the Flexibility Regulations that allow them to hold remote planning meetings.
2) Clarification of the position of those who wish to make use of the new PD rights to operate as a takeaway but have a planning condition preventing them from doing so [see Article 3(4) of the GDPO 2015].
3) Extension of the powers conferred by the Emergency Development Regulations.
4) Recognition of the importance of cross examination, and – where it is not necessary – adaptation of the procedures being deployed by the Examining Authority in a DCO context, so that appeals can continue to be determined – using a combination of written representations and remote hearings.
5) Modest relaxation of determination periods for applications to local authorities and the court.
6) An urgent fix to the problem facing those with planning permissions close to expiry, and those facing deadlines for submission of reserved matters.
7) Changes to notification/publicity requirements (EIA and CPOs particularly) so that documents can be made available for inspection online (recognising there needs to be provision made for those who do not have access), and notices can be served by electronic means.
8) Guidance on varying s106 obligations and encouragement to the greater use of conditions: including confirmation that “exceptional circumstances” currently exist so as to justify imposing conditions that require a s106 to be entered into.
9) Amendment of the CIL regulations to allow more flexibility as to payment.’
Brett Spiller, Director at Chapman Lily Planning endorsed the recommendations adding ‘Some of these measures were explored during the recession and as such are well rehearsed. You will see from our previous news items that have been discussing many of these issues with individual local planning authorities, but a national approach would be both expedient and create a level playing field. The recommendations are likely to remain relevant post lock down as the development industry adjust to the reality of a very different economy and harness new ways of working. It my opinion solutions can be put in place quickly and I would urge the Secretary of State to do just that’.
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