What to expect from the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017

27th April 2017

This new act will affect Neighbourhood Plan Examiners, Local Planning Authorities, Town Councils and Neighbourhood Forums.

The Neighbourhood Planning Act Received Royal Assent on the 27th April 2017. The new act’s main effect will be on Pubs and their ability to redevelop into A1 Class buildings (such as shops) without planning permission. By requiring planning permission to be submitted this allows the project to go through the planning system and be open to any objection from the local Neighbourhood.

It will not only affect the production and implementation of neighbourhood plans, but also introduces legislative changes that impact upon local plans, planning applications, permitted development rights and compulsory purchase.

The main provisions of the Act – several of which require further secondary legislation or regulations to bring them into effect – are summarised thus:

Neighbourhood Planning

Decision-makers must take account of ‘well-advanced’ Neighbourhood Plans, which will now take full legal effect once they have passed a referendum, rather than having to wait for formal adoption by the local planning authority.

Local planning authorities are required to ‘actively co-operate’ in the production of Neighbourhood Plans. This measure is intended to speed up the adoption process.

Statutory procedures for the modification of Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Areas have been simplified.

Neighbourhood Planning Bodies are now entitled to receive statutory notification of any planning applications in their area, which brings them into line with Town and Parish Councils.

Local Plans

Local planning authorities will be required to produce a list of strategic planning priorities for their area. This list will be used to frame the content of future local plans.

The Secretary of State has been given new powers to direct two or more local planning authorities to develop joint plans and can also instruct County Councils to prepare plans where District Councils have not done so. This is intended to ensure quicker production of up-to-date local plans in those areas where co-operation between neighbouring local planning authorities has been slow or non-existent.

Similarly, the Secretary of State can intervene in Local Development Schemes if he/she considers that the timetable proposed by the local planning authority is too slow.

Planning Conditions

The National Planning Policy Framework tests for planning conditions have been given statutory weight – i.e. conditions must be necessary, relevant, precise and reasonable in all other respects.

Local planning authorities’ powers to impose pre-commencement planning conditions will be limited, subject to the publication of secondary legislation to define certain matters that will be exempt (such as flood risk, highway safety, ecology).

Once the secondary legislation is in place, pre-commencement conditions may only be imposed with the applicant’s prior written agreement. This means that local planning authorities will have to prepare a schedule of draft conditions well in advance of a decision being taken on any planning application, which may cause some delay in the application’s determination.  

Permitted Development for Public Houses

As allowed under the Neighbourhood Planning Act, the Secretary of State has acted swiftly to amend the General Permitted Development Order, restricting permitted development rights for Class A4 ‘Drinking Establishments’ – i.e. pubs and wine bars.

The following changes will come into effect on 23rd May:

– permitted development for the demolition of buildings within Class A4 is removed.

– changes of use from Class A4 to Classes A1, A2 or A3; a temporary flexible use; or a state-funded school, have also been removed.

– a new permitted development class allows the change of use from Class A4 to a mixed Class A4/A3 use, or vice versa.

Other Matters

Applications for Prior Approval must now be included on the published Planning Register.

Amendments have been made to the New Towns Act 1981 to facilitate the establishment of new garden towns and villages.

Procedures relating to Compulsory Purchase Orders have been simplified, principally to speed up the development of ‘brownfield’ sites.

If you are interested in finding out more information or have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact;

Rebekah Jubb – Partner rjubb@bell-cornwell.co.uk 0203 176 2789

Iestyn John – Partner ijohn@bell-cornwell.co.uk 01392 357515

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