To follow on from our July update, further legislation has recently been passed relating to planning in order to mitigate against the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and to primarily extend the duration of temporary modifications to certain planning consultation requirements introduced last year.
The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning, Development Management Procedure, Listed Buildings etc.) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1398) Statutory Instrument has been passed (December 2020 Regulations). A detailed summary of the December 2020 Regulations is provided below.
Should you wish to discuss in further detail, please contact a member of the Planning team at Knights.
The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning, Development Management Procedure, Listed Buildings etc.) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1398)
24 December 2020
The December 2020 Regulations amend:
(a) Local planning and spatial development strategies.
(b) Publicity requirements for certain applications.
(c) The Town and Country Planning (EIA) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/571).
Most of the amendments are needed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Planning Practice Guidance on Consultation and pre-decision matters has also been updated to reflect these amendments. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has added a new paragraph (053) detailing information for when various temporary changes expire, as well as amending paragraphs 035, 043, 051 and 052.
The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 previously amended the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (S.I. 2012/767) in order to remove, on a temporary basis, the requirements on local planning authorities to make certain documents available for inspection at premises and to provide hard copies on request. The documents must, instead, be made available on the relevant authority’s website. The existing temporary changes, which were due to expire at the end of December 2020, are now extended until the end of 31 December 2021.
In order to extend the duration of the coronavirus pandemic modifications, the definition of "the relevant period" is extended from 31 December 2020 to 31 December 2021 in:
(a) Regulation 14(2) of Part 5 (Coronavirus: temporary modifications) of the Town and Country Planning (London Spatial Development Strategy) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1491).
(b) Regulation 36A(2) (Coronavirus: temporary modifications) of Part 9 (Availability of documents) of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/767)
(c) Regulation 13(2) of Part 4 (Coronavirus: temporary modifications) of the Combined Authorities (Spatial Development Strategy) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/827).
The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure, Listed Buildings and Environmental Impact Assessment) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/505) (May 2020 Regulations) came into force on 14 May 2020.
The May 2020 Regulations temporarily amended certain requirements placed on local planning authorities and applicants for development requiring an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for publicity and inspection of documents where the authority or applicant is not able to comply with a particular requirement due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
These amendments were due to expire on 31 December 2020.
Regulation 5 of the December 2020 Regulations substitutes a new Part 5 (expiry and saving provisions) into the May 2020 Regulations.
The May 2020 Regulations will now expire on 31 December 2021, except for certain specified regulations which will expire earlier. The duration of the remaining temporary amendments to publicity requirements is extended until 30 June 2021. These amendments are subject to saving provisions.
The amendments relate to requirements for publicity and the availability of documents at an address in the locality.
Regulation 19 of the Town and Country Planning (EIA) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/571) (2017 Regulations) is amended in order that the service, submission, sending or forwarding of the environmental statement, or related documents, may be done by electronic means, and that service of an address includes an email address (regulation 8, December 2020 Regulations).
New regulation 19A is inserted into the 2017 Regulations to enable a relevant planning authority which is unable to provide an address at which copies of an environmental statement can be inspected or obtained to make them available on a website instead (regulation 9, December 2020 Regulations).
Regulation 20 of the 2017 Regulations is amended to enable an applicant who is unable to give notice, by site display or in a newspaper, of the submission of an environmental statement after a planning application has been made to instead publicise the notice by electronic means (regulation 10, December 2020 Regulations).
New regulation 23A is inserted into the 2017 Regulations which provides an exception to the requirement placed on an applicant to ensure copies of environmental statements are available at a named address but instead requires that notices publicise where the environment statement is available online (regulation 11, December 2020 Regulations).
New regulation 25A and 25B sets out alternative requirements which apply if the recipient of further information pursuant to regulation 25(1) of the 2017 Regulations or any other information is unable to carry out certain requirements, such as the requirement to give requisite notice by publication of the notice in a newspaper, because it is not reasonably practicable to do so for reasons connected with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Regulation 25A applies from 24 December 2020 to 30 June 2021, while regulation 25B applies from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2021 (regulation 12, December 2020 Regulations).
Regulations 15 to 20 of the December 2020 Regulations set out saving provisions.
These regulations extend the duration of the remaining temporary amendments to publicity requirements until 30 June 2021 and the duration of temporary amendments to the requirements relating to the availability of documents at an address in the locality to 31 December 2021.
In summary, the requirements are modified where there is an inability to comply with a particular requirement because it is not reasonably practicable to do so for reasons connected to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the above, further statutory instruments to extend the duration of temporary modifications to certain planning consultation requirements in England were introduced earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In some cases the changes are made permanent:
These regulations came in to force on 31 December 2020 and permanently remove the requirements for a responsible authority to keep a copy of documents relating to the strategic environmental assessment of a plan or programme at its principal office for inspection, and provide for a copy to be obtainable from that office. Instead the requirements introduced in July 2020 have been made permanent, in that responsible authority must publish those documents on a public website at which the documents may be viewed and downloaded; provide a copy of those documents by email on request; provide a copy of those documents by post, unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so for reasons connected to the effects of coronavirus, including restrictions on movement; and make available a telephone number for the public to make enquiries in relation to those documents.
As well as making these modifications permanent, the regulations put in place additional inspection requirements to ensure that access to documents is maintained for those without internet access. Making the modifications permanent is in line with the government's aim to digitalise the planning system set out in the Planning for the Future White Paper.
These regulations remove permanently the obligations on applicants (or the Secretary of State) to make certain documentation available for physical inspection at places in the vicinity of the proposed development. Instead, the documents must be made available on a website. Again, this is perhaps a move to support a future digitalised system.