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COVID-19: Government announces automatic extension of planning permissions

The Government has announced that it will introduce measures to extend planning permissions which were due to expire this year says commercial property agent Prop-Search.

Planning permissions typically lapse if they are not implemented within three years of issue.  However, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, developers have faced problems in carrying out the work required to implement permissions - for example, disruption to their supply chains, the difficulties of workers having to social distance on site and delays in discharging pre-commencement planning conditions.

As a consequence, the UK Government has faced calls from across the industry to introduce measures to prevent consent for permitted schemes from lapsing, particularly as Scotland introduced similar legislation back in April.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has now announced that planning permissions which were due to expire between 23 March and 31 December 2020 will be extended until 1 April 2021.

Simon Toseland, a Director of Prop-Search, said: “The measures include consents which have already lapsed; although the Government has suggested that these will be subject to an ‘Additional Environmental Approval’ process before they are automatically revived.  The full detail of how the extensions will work is yet to emerge, however, it is anticipated that these measures will form part of legislation - aiming to support the country’s recovery from the pandemic - which will shortly be put before Parliament and hopefully fast-tracked.”

He added: “The announcement is undoubtedly welcomed news for developers and should help to ensure that significant investment to date in securing planning permissions is not wasted.”

Simon went on to say: ‘’Ideally, this initiative should be complimented by a more positive approach from the planning system, which addresses and meets the new demands emerging from the shift in traditional retailing, housing and economics.’’

Alongside the automatic extension of planning permissions, the Government announced plans to reform how the Planning Inspectorate conducts planning appeals to enable them to be conducted more flexibly and therefore faster.  In addition, MHCLG also indicated that measures would be put in place to allow construction sites to operate with flexible working hours.

Thursday, July 2, 2020