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Planning and environment

Agent of change – new builds?

The ‘agent of change’ principle has been hotly debated in planning circles for some time. Indeed, the concept is likely to feature in the revised National Planning Policy Framework and the draft London Plan (as well as Planning Policy Wales). But, what is the ‘agent of change’ principle?

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Planning – consistency

It is well known that previous planning decisions can be a ‘material consideration’ in deciding subsequent planning applications (‘like cases should be decided in a like manner, so that there is consistency’, North Wiltshire [1993]).

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Planning – permission in principle

Permission in principle (PIP) allows you to obtain permission for the principle of proposed development, so you can then apply for technical details consent at a later stage. The end result is that a PIP, plus a technical details consent, is equivalent to a full planning permission.

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Light industrial – to residential

A new permitted development right allows conversion of light industrial (class B1(c)) to residential (class C3) without planning permission (from 1 October 2017).

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Contaminated land – successor body

The contaminated land regime was introduced as part of EPA 1990. At the time it was very controversial because it imposed liability for clean-up costs on the owner of a site, even if not aware of the pollution that had occurred in the past.

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CIL – self-build exemption

The Community Infrastructure Levy Regs allow an LA to charge a levy on new buildings granted, or deemed to have been granted, planning permission. Payment is triggered by commencement of development, but there is an exemption for self-builders.  

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Permitted development – implied exclusion?

Permitted development rights allow certain categories of ‘development’, that would otherwise require planning permission, to go ahead without such permission. An example of a permitted development was the change in 2013, when it was announced that certain classes of office premises could be converted into residential without the need for planning permission.

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Flood works – Environment Agency

If the Environment Agency wants to carry out flood defence works it can issue a compulsory purchase order; apply to the minister for a compulsory works order; or rely on its general powers to carry out works. 

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Planning – amalgamation

A change of use requires planning permission if it is a ‘material’ change of use. TCPA 1990 specifically states that the conversion of a single unit into several units will be a ‘material’ change of use, but is silent on whether the amalgamation of two or more dwellings into a single dwelling is a ‘material’ change of use.

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Housing policy – NPPF

The Supreme Court has clarified a long-running (and semantic) debate about how to interpret the National Planning Policy Framework. In particular, the Supreme Court has emphasised that the NPPF should not be given the same level of legal analysis as an Act, and must not be interpreted as such (‘it is to express general principles on which decision-makers are to proceed in pursuit of sustainable development’). Its guidance is therefore a ‘material consideration’ but it does not displace the primacy of the statutory development plan.

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