Tag: planning

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In England, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) has become mandatory from 12th February 2024. Development must now achieve a 10% BNG measured against the pre-development biodiversity value of the on-site habitat.

This 10% increase can be achieved through on-site or off-site biodiversity gains or statutory biodiversity credits. Once planning permission has been granted, the biodiversity gain condition will be imposed. A Biodiversity Gain Plan must be submitted and approved by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) before the commencement of the development.

What will be exempted from BNG requirements?

What do you need to prepare in respect of BNG in advance of a planning application?

  1. Check whether it is exempted.
  2. Consider BNG in the site selection and design.
  3. Carry out a pre-development biodiversity calculation of the existing habitat and explore possible ways, i.e. on-site, off-site or statutory biodiversity credits, to achieve BNG.
  4. Submit the application with the information of pre-development biodiversity value, completed metric calculation, a description of any irreplaceable habitat and plan(s) showing existing on-site habitat, etc. The amount of information for planning applications will vary depending on the type and scale of development, type of planning application, the on-site habitat impacted and the extent of any significant on-site enhancements.
  5. Once planning permission is granted, submit a Biodiversity Gain Plan for approval  together with the information of on-site habitat, registered off-site biodiversity gain or any biodiversity credits purchased prior to the commencement of the development.
  6. For significant on-site habitat enhancements, it must be secured by either a planning condition, Section 106 agreement or conservation covenant for at least 30 years after the completion of the development.
  7. To buy or sell off-site gain, it must enter a legal agreement for at least 30 years from the date of completing the habitat enhancement.
  8. It will be in breach of planning conditions, planning obligations or legal agreement if the BNG requirements cannot be met. The LPA could take enforcement action.  

If you would like more information on the above or would like to find out how our Planning team can help you navigate the additional BNG requirements associated with a planning application, please contact Abel Bunu, Principal Planner on 01234 362891 or David Sawford, Partner & Chartered Building Surveyor on 01234 362909.

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill received Royal Assent on 26th October 2023 and is now officially the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023. However, some of the sections relating to development management and plan-making have not commenced and will require secondary legislation.

It is intended that the Act will, among other things, help in delivering new housing, regenerating high streets and bringing vacant properties back to life.

Some of the key changes are:

All the changes are designed to ensure that developments are sustainable and more energy efficient and with the aim of speeding up the planning process.

If you would like more information on the above or would like to find out how our Planning & Development team can help you take advantage of the changes being introduced to the planning system, please contact me.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is running a consultation until 25th September 2023 on a proposal to further relax Permitted Development Rights for selected categories of development.

The Government is looking to ensure that the planning system is efficient, effective, responsive and delivers beautiful and well-designed development. This consultation requests views on proposals designed to promote the delivery of well-designed development and support housing delivery, the agricultural sector and economic growth.

Some of the main highlights in the consultation paper include the following proposals:

Change of use of buildings within the commercial, business and service use class to residential use (MA)

Agricultural buildings to houses (Class Q)

Agricultural buildings to a flexible commercial use (Class R)

Agricultural development on land over 5 hectares (Part 6, Class A)

Agricultural development on land below 5 hectares (Part 6, Class B)

Please note that the above list is not exhaustive.

Abel Bunu, Principal Planner, comments “As usual, we expect that if the proposed changes succeed, they will come with a raft of qualifying criteria to be satisfied before enjoying the Permitted Development Rights. Nevertheless, the additional flexibility offered would increase the opportunities for development of agricultural land and buildings.”

Responses to this consultation can be sent via the online link here or via email to PDRconsultationsummer2023@levellingup.gov.uk. It is important to respond where applicable as all responses are reviewed when determining whether the changes are to take place.

Please note that local planning authorities have the right to withdraw Permitted Development Rights and so it is important to act quickly before this happens.

If you would like more information on the above or would like to find out how our Planning & Development team can help you take advantage of the changes being introduced to the planning system, please contact Abel or David.

With the growth in the market of short term lets of a room or rooms in a residential property through Airbnb and other such companies, has led the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to hold a consultation on the introduction of a new use class and associated permitted development rights. The consultation has now closed but it covered the following areas:

  1. The introduction of a new use class for short term lets.
  2. The potential introduction of new permitted development rights for the change of use from a house to a short term let.
  3. The potential introduction of a new permitted development right for the change of use from a short term let to a house.
  4. How flexibility for homeowners to let out their home for a number of nights in a calendar year could be provided through either changes to the house use class or an additional permitted development right.
  5. The introduction of a planning application fee for the development of new build short term lets.

We expect that if the proposal succeeds, it will come with a raft of qualifying criteria to be satisfied first before enjoying the permitted development rights. Nevertheless, the new use class will provide an opportunity for property owners to explore new investment options for their property.

Please note that local planning authorities have the right to withdraw permitted development rights and so, if the new use class and associated permitted development rights do come in, it is important to act quickly before this happens. We will update you once any announcements have been made.

If you would like more information on the above or would like to find out how our Planning & Development team can help you take advantage of the changes being introduced to the planning system, please contact Abel Bunu, Principal Planner on 01234 362891 or David Sawford, Head of Planning on 01234 362909.

If you are planning a new building project this year, please contact us and our highly successful team can help you to get the planning process started.

The images below highlight some exciting projects we have previously been involved with and delivered a successful outcome. We are happy to advise you on the potential feasibility of your scheme and provide our expertise and practical opinion on all the factors you are likely to encounter.

You can also click and browse here to obtain further information on our services.

Whether it is a domestic or commercial project, please give us a call on 01234 352201 to discuss your ideas and to start the planning process.

Opportunities to invest in renewable energy is on the increase, helped by the fact that the Government has set ambitious targets to boost the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

With a focus on maximising the efficient use of land, the strategy supports “co-located” solar projects that are developed alongside farming, onshore wind generation or energy storage, all of which present an opportunity for farm diversification.

We have been actively involved in securing planning permission for a solar farm in Central Bedfordshire and are well placed to offer sound advice and guide you through the entire planning process.

We have the expertise to assist you and will carry out a planning appraisal to assess your land for potential renewable energy development. We will ensure you take advantage of the opportunities available and make a real contribution towards mitigating the effects of climate change by generating clean energy.

We are also acting for a number of landowners looking to agree terms with solar developers on option agreements. We are therefore well placed to advise on the commercial terms of such agreements should you be approached by a developer looking for an option over your land.

For more information or to discuss your land with our planning team, please contact Abel Bunu.

Over the last three years, we have seen a growing trend of landowners being approached by developers looking to develop new garden villages. These garden villages are often within the open countryside on land that we would not normally consider suitable for development as it is not adjoining any major settlement.

The garden village concept is for these communities to be self-servicing, with a local service centre, and to vary between 1,000 and 3,000 houses. The area of land required is significant at 200 to 600 acres per village and we have noticed a trend towards being close to a train station and/or good road connection.

The garden village concept therefore offers huge opportunities to landowners to gain the benefit of development proceeds, whilst also creating a development that they can be proud of with a focus on place making and designed with the community in mind.

The first few developments using this new concept have now received planning permission and the house builders, in particular the large PLCs, like the concept due to them being able to provide a significant housing number over the long term. The advantage to the local councils is that it provides the opportunity to locate housing away from further expansion on the edges of existing conurbations.

With the continued need for new housing sites and the Government preparing its Strategic Framework for the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, we are already involved in negotiations for a significant number of garden village sites and expect to see further proposals come forward through the planning system.

If you are a landowner and are approached about a new garden village development, please do consider it carefully and discuss it with us at an early stage. The development of such land may feel farfetched but it may now be far more likely than it once was.

Should you have any questions then please contact Andrew Jenkinson, Partner and Rural Chartered Surveyor, on 07967 964508 or email abrj@robinsonandhall.co.uk

There are a few points worth sharing with you on the ever changing world of planning.

  1. Reminder of new Permitted Development Rights that will come into effect from 1st August 2021 (see previous article here).

The changes will enable the change of use of premises in a commercial, business or service purpose (Class E) to use as a dwelling house (Class C3). This is subject to limitations and, in particular, the building must have continuously been vacant for at least three months or comprised a Class E use for at least two years and cannot exceed 1,500 square metres.

  1. Bedford Borough Local Plan

The review of the Bedford Borough Council Local Plan (adopted January 2020) is now open for a new consultation and concentrates on the following policy areas: 

The Council has defined a range of potential spatial strategies for the Plan that vary in focusing growth in the urban area to growth in villages and in new settlements proposed in both the A6 and A421 corridors. The consultation is welcoming views on these options and an opportunity to comment on the supporting documentation. The consultation runs until 3rd September 2021 at 5 pm. If you would like us to make a representation on your behalf as part of this consultation, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

  1. Emerging Central Bedfordshire Plan

The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan has been found ‘sound’ by the Planning Inspector and was formally adopted at a Full Council meeting on 22nd July 2021. The new Local Plan now carries full weight in the determination of planning applications within Central Bedfordshire’s administrative area. The Plan shall be subject to an early partial review within six months of its adoption and this shall create new opportunities for the promotion of sites.

For more information or to discuss your project with our Planning & Development team, please call Shannon Fuller, Assistant Planner, on 01234 362913 or email sef@robinsoandhall.co.uk

In a very unusual project, Robinson & Hall was appointed to act for a client who identified a property in Letchworth suitable for their funeral business.

The initial enquiry was from the client’s solicitors who required an experienced RICS qualified building surveyor to advise upon the condition of the property and feasibility for conversion. Before the purchase of the property, our experienced building surveyor carried out a detailed building survey and although the property was generally sound, this identified a number of significant essential repairs, including leaks through roof lights and aspects of historic poor quality refurbishment work.

On the basis of the report findings, the client was able to negotiate a £75,000 reduction in the purchase price in lieu of the necessary repair work.

Before – Car saleroom

Alongside the purchase process, the client instructed Robinson & Hall to prepare a design and obtain planning permission for change of use from car showroom to funeral parlour. Our building surveyors measured the building and prepared plans, whilst our Planning department submitted a planning application for this special use under a Sui Generis planning class. North Hertfordshire District Council granted permission, much to the delight of our client, who has praised Robinson & Hall’s team for their dedication and perseverance in securing the change of use.

Under the direction of Senior Building Surveyor, Stuart Brown, the Architecture & Building Surveying department prepared a detailed design and specification, including works to rectify defects identified in the original building survey. The project was tendered to several local building contractors and one was appointed under a Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) Contract to carry out the building works. 

After – funeral parlour

Refurbishment commenced in July 2019 but due to delays through Covid 19 restrictions was not completed until June 2020. The final cost of the building work was in excess of £600,000. We assisted our clients with contract administration and project management services through the build period.

Our client is now utilising the building with frequent on-site funerals and providing bespoke services to assist those arranging for burial in Africa.

Stuart comments “It was a very unique project and one which you do not get an instruction for every day. We were pleased to assist our clients in converting the building and adapting to meet their objectives. There were plenty of issues to overcome including navigating through the Covid pandemic. However, with careful planning, we managed to bring the project within the agreed timescales. Our client was very pleased with the completed works and the combined services Robinson & Hall provided.”

For more information or to find out how Robinson & Hall can help you please contact Stuart Brown, Chartered Building Surveyor on 01234 362923 or email spb@robinsonandhall.co.uk

Abel Bunu, Senior Planner at Robinson & Hall provides a planning update of key areas which may interest you.

New PDR for extensions above existing buildings came into force on 31st August 2020. The changes allow up to two extra storeys on an existing house or one extra storey on a bungalow. There are also extra storeys allowed on flats and some commercial buildings.

Another amendment relates to the insertion of Class ZA which allows for the demolition of a single detached building that was in existence on 12th March 2020 and was used for office, research and development or industrial processes, or a free-standing purpose-built block of flats, and its replacement by an individual detached block of flats or a single detached house within the footprint of the old building.

The right provides permission for works for the construction of a new building that can be up to two storeys higher than the old building with a maximum overall height of 18 metres.

Important points to be aware of:

Milton Keynes Council intends to introduce an ‘Article 4 Direction’ in the town centre to remove Permitted Development Rights for the change of use from office to residential accommodation.

The ‘Article 4 Direction’, if confirmed, would take effect from 2nd July 2021, and would mean that anyone proposing to change an office to residential use would be required to apply for planning permission to the Council.

It is likely that the Council will be flooded with applications for office to residential conversion in order to beat this deadline.

On 30th September 2020, the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick announced that new homes delivered through Permitted Development Rights will have to meet the Nationally Described Space Standard which start at 37m² of floorspace for a new one bed flat with a shower room or 39m² with a bathroom, ensuring proper living space for a single occupier.

No date has been announced regarding when these changes will come into force which means that there is a likelihood that local planning authorities could be inundated with applications for prior approval before the new legislation is introduced.

If you would like more information on the above or would like to find out how our Planning & Development team can help you, please contact Andrew, Abel, or Shannon.