December 4, 2020

Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

Sarah Cook, specialist Planning Law Solicitor discusses the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2020 and the impact these may have.

On 9 November 2020, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (“the 2020 Regulations”) were published. These 2020 Regulations make a number of changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“GPDO”) and come into force partly on 3 December 2020, 1 January 2021, and fully on 6 April 2021.

What do the 2020 Regulations change?

The 2020 Regulations make several amendments to the GPDO, the most prominent of which are discussed below.

Compliance with nationally described space standards

Article 3 of the 2020 Regulations requires all new dwellinghouses, constructed under permitted development rights, to be no smaller than the sizes set out by the Department of Communities and Local Government in March 2015 in their document entitled ‘Technical housing standards – nationally described space standards’.

The Government have acknowledged that some developers have used permitted development rights to provide housing that is far too small. Article 3 intends to target this issue, requiring all new homes delivered under permitted development rights to be a minimum size of 37m2 and satisfy the nationally described space standards set out in the Department of Communities and Local Government’s March 2015 document.

This requirement will come into effect on 6 April 2021 and will apply to applications for prior approval submitted on or after this date.

Extended rights for the provision of takeaway food

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government introduced a number of temporary permitted development rights. One of these temporary PD rights was to allow restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments to provide takeaway food until March 23 March 2021. So long as there is not a condition in a planning permission that prevents the premises’ use as a takeaway, the new 2020 Regulations now extend this period to 23 March 2022.

There is no obligation of businesses to re-notify their local planning authority that their premises will be providing a takeaway service for a longer period than first planned, if they notified the LPA prior to the extension of this right.

After the 23 March 2022, the premises currently using this permitted development right will revert back to its original use.

Prevention of demolishing venues

Class B of Part 11, Schedule 2 of the GPDO permitted ‘any building operation consisting of the demolition of a building.’

Regulation 6 of the new 2020 Regulations excludes the demolition of a concert hall, a live music venue or theatre from Class B. Instead, from 3 December 2020, the proposed demolition of such venues would need to be considered as part of a planning application.

This is clearly an attempt to preserve such venues. Interestingly, this exemption has not been extended to other Sui Generis uses such as cinemas and bingo halls.

Temporary use of land

From 1 January 2021, Regulation 4 of the new 2020 Regulations will amend the ‘relevant period’ of Class BA, Part 4, Schedule 2 of the GPDO.

Currently, Class BA, Part 4, Schedule 2 allows for land to be used temporarily for no more than 28 days within the relevant period of 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020. No more than 14 days within the 28 day period can be used for markets or for motor car or motorcycle racing. The new 2020 Regulations will now extend the relevant period until 31 December 2021.

However, if the developer is also a local authority, Regulation 5 of the new 2020 Regulations amends Class DA, Part 4, Schedule 2 of the GPDO to allow local authorities to hold a market for any number of days until 23 March 2022.

Development for the purposes of an emergency

Earlier this year, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the GPDO was amended to provide authorities, health service bodies and the Crown with temporary permitted development rights to respond to the emergency.

The new 2020 Regulations have extended the period in which these PD rights can be used:

Regulation 8, amends Class A, Part 12A, Schedule 2 of the GPDO to extend the right for local authorities and health service bodies to carry out development on land owned, occupied or maintained by them for the purposes of addressing emergencies from 31st December 2020 until 31st December 2021.

Regulation 9 amends Class Q, Part 19, Schedule 2 of the GPDO to extend the current time limit for removing buildings, plant, machinery and other permitted erections and restoring land to its original condition where development is carried out by or on behalf of the Crown for the purpose of dealing with emergencies from 6 months to 12 months. The requirement to restore the land to its original condition is now no longer necessary so long as the development is authorised by virtue of permitted development rights under Schedule 2 of the GPDO or following the grant of planning permission.

Regulation 10 introduces a new additional Class QA to Part 19 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO. Class QA makes provision for development carried out by the Crown relating to a pandemic.

These amendments have been made by the Government, as it is acknowledged that the fight against coronavirus is set to take longer than the earlier amendments made provision for and allows for Nightingale Hospitals and test and trace facilities to carry on without interruption.

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