24 June 2020

Planning Permissions Extended until 1 April 2021

The government has announced that all planning permissions due to lapse through lack of implementation, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures, will be automatically extended.

In a move which will come as good news to many (and which is long overdue), planning permissions or listed building consents already granted which would lapse (or have already lapsed) between the period of 23 March and 31 December 2020 will be extended until 1 April 2021.

This comes after a period of lobbying, with many concerned that a lapse in planning permission would put a number of developments on hold and unable to be built out, with the knock-on negative consequences for the economy. In its statement, the government acknowledges that the measures would 'prevent work that has been temporarily disrupted by the pandemic from stopping altogether.' This will provide certainty for developers that projects which would otherwise have lapsed during this period will be able to be implemented and allows some degree of future planning to take place.

In terms of when these measures will come into force, this is currently unclear with further details to follow. This follows a move by the Scottish Government at the beginning of April which introduced legislation extending by a year planning permissions which would have lapsed as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Much of the lobbying was in relation to the building and delivery of thousands of new homes, which would have been prevented had these measures not been brought in to place. Government figures alone suggest that 400 residential permissions providing 24,000 new homes would have expired this month had these measures not been brought into place. However it seems that this move will apply to all planning permissions irrespective of the nature of the development. It is important to note that those permissions which have already lapsed will be subject to 'an Additional Environmental Approval process' before this extension is affected. It is currently unclear what form this process of approval will take.

These new measures should go some way to help the industry recover from the period of disruption caused by COVID-19 and save those developments which were only delayed as a result of the government's lockdown measures, from going through the planning system again.

Alongside this announcement, the government has also announced they will introduce new measures to speed up the planning appeals process. These measures will permanently grant PINS the ability to utilise more than one appeals procedure (written representations, hearings and inquiries), with the aim of making the appeals process faster. Guidance on how this will work in practice has not yet been published.

These new measures are designed to keep construction projects up and running and maintain the pipeline of new development, helping people return to work as we look towards further easing of lockdown. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said 'taken together, these measures will help keep workers safe and our economy moving as we work together to bounce back from the pandemic.'

Disclaimer

The current global crisis is evolving rapidly, and the rules and guidance for individuals, companies and other entities to manage its implications are similarly fast moving. Notes such as this may be out of date almost as soon as they are published. If you have any questions prompted by this article or on any other matter relevant to you, please get in touch with your usual contact at Forsters.

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