Pritpal Singh Swarn Archive

Unauthorised changes to a listed building can land you in prison

A recent case in Warwickshire highlights how seriously planning authorities view the altering of listed buildings without the required permission. In this particular case the substitution of modern materials landed an architect in court. After pleading guilty to the criminal offence of carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building, Mr Shepherd wound up with a £4,000 fine and an instruction to pay Stratford upon Avon District Council’s legal fees of £10,000.

Confusion over barn conversions

Since May 2013, redundant agricultural buildings can be converted to residential units without having to apply for planning permission if the plans meet the approval of the local authority. However, it is clear from conversations with those wanting to proceed with such conversions, that interpreting some of the permitted development rules has been giving local authorities a headache.

First legal challenge to CIL on basis of a development’s future viability

The Conservatives’ pre-election promise to abolish the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was quietly swept under the carpet by the Coalition government which has not only kept the levy but has continued to tweak it. We have now arrived at the point where approximately 25% of local authorities have either adopted a CIL charging schedule or are in the process of doing so. In the first case of its kind, a developer has challenged the basis on which Chorley Borough Council set its charging schedule by citing procedural inaccuracy and that the level of the charge would undermine the viability of the development in question. Although the challenge was unsuccessful, it does open the door for other developers to query both the way in which charging schedules are arrived at and the level at which they are set.

Changes to the planning regime: permitted development rights

From the outset of this Parliament, the Government has undertaken to streamline and simplify the planning regime and, as such, has made a number of changes in support of this commitment. Since May 2013 a number of permitted development rights (PDRs) have been introduced with the most recent tranche in April 2014. The planning system now rests on a three-tier system: permitted development rights for domestic and small scale changes; prior approval for developments requiring consideration of specific issues such as highways and flooding; and planning permission for larger scale developments which have a major impact on the surrounding area.

Will failing councils herald a goodbye to 'Localism'?

Seven councils identified as facing ‘special measures’ for poor performance in processing planning applications, could face being bypassed by applicants for planning permission. Under provisions (to be published in the autumn) in the Growth and Infrastructure Act (the “Act”), applicants will have the option to apply direct to the Secretary of State if a council has been designated ‘poor performing’. This could mean that major planning applications for new housing developments, infrastructure projects and commercial developments could be speeded up.

Variations to section 106 planning obligations

On 28 February 2013, amendments to the Town and Country Planning (Modification and Discharge of Planning Obligations) Regulations 1992 come into effect. Previously, section 106A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provided that planning obligations could not be varied or discharged until the expiry of five years from the date they were entered into. A formal application had to be made to the local planning authority in which the developer would have to show the obligation no longer served a ‘useful purpose’.

Involvement of the design and build contractor with a s106 agreement and planning permission

“To carry out the Building Works in accordance with the terms of this Agreement, the Specification, the Drawings, the Planning Permission and the Section 106 Agreement…” So runs the start of many a clause setting out a design and build contractor’s obligations. But what about the planning permission and section 106 agreement? Neither can be ignored – enforcement is a real and present danger.

Highways Authorities have a statutory duty to unblock drains

A recent Court of Appeal judgment in the case of the Department for Transport, Environment and the Regions v Mott MacDonald Ltd, Amey Mouchel Ltd and Cornwall County Council [2006 27th July], has confirmed that the statutory duty imposed on highway authorities to maintain highways that are maintainable at the public expense, does extend to repairing and maintaining drains beneath the surface of the road.
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