Welcome planning time extensions for developers in the Business and Planning Bill

The Business and Planning Bill 2019-21 has made swift progress through the Parliamentary process and will come into law imminently. The Bill introduces a number of welcome measures to support businesses. The focus of this article is on the planning aspects of the Bill.

Does the Bill apply to England and Wales?

The provisions apply to England only but extend to England and Wales so may be applied in Wales in the future.

Will the expiry date for planning consents be extended?

Yes the time period for implementing the following planning consents will be extended until 1 April 2021:

  • Full planning permissions and outline planning permissions that are due to expire during the time beginning 28 days after the Bill becomes law and 31 December 2020;
  • Listed building consents that are due to expire between 23 March 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Where the time limit for making applications for approval of reserved matters expire between 23 March and 31 December 2020 the time period for submission will also be extended until 1 April 2021.

Will any additional approvals be required?

Where a planning permissions which expires between 23 March 2020 and the day that provisions for the extension to the expiry dates for planning consents (as set out above) come into force (which we would expect to be the date that the Bill becomes law), an "additional environmental approval" will have to be obtained from the local planning authority.

The local planning authority must be satisfied that the proposal is subject to an up to date EIA or habitats assessment where one would have been required had the proposal been the subject of a new planning application.

What about conditions that restrict working hours?

As from the end of 6 days from the day the Bill comes into law a mechanism will allow variations to planning conditions relating to construction working hours in order to allow a temporary extension of working hours for a period up until 1 April 2021.

This measure is to ensure that developers have the flexibility they need to maintain a safe working environment on construction sites during the coronavirus pandemic.

These changes do not apply to development of existing dwellings or development within the curtilage of an existing dwelling, or a change of use of a dwelling or in the number of dwellings in a building.

Will there be changes to plan making procedures?

As from the day the Bill comes into law, the Mayor of London will not be required to make the current Spatial Development Strategy available for physical inspection or to make hard copies available on request. This is time limited until 31 December 2020 unless it is extended by secondary legislation.

Will the planning appeal process change?

As from the day the Bill comes into law the Planning Inspectorate will be given flexibility to use more than one type of procedure when dealing with planning appeals (the procedures being written representations, hearings and local inquiries). This is intended to facilitate faster appeal processes. This will be a permanent change.

How will Pavement Licences be dealt with?

The process for obtaining a pavement licence will be temporarily simplified. This relates to:

  • The use of furniture by a licence-holder to sell or serve food or drink supplied from, or in connection with the relevant use of the premises; or
  • Use of furniture by others for the purpose of consuming food or drink supplied from or in connection with the use of premises:
    • in connection with the use of a pub, wine bar or other drinking establishment; or
    • use for the sale of food or drink for consumption on or off the premises

The fee for an application will not exceed £100.

Applications must be determined within 5 days otherwise a licence will be deemed to be granted. Any grant of a licence (whether or not a deemed grant) will also constitute a deemed planning permission.

Licences can be granted for a period up until 30 September 2021 after which time the "standard" process for application will resume.