The Neighbourhood Planning Act was given Royal Assent on 27 April 2017. It makes some welcome changes to the system but will be seen as bad news for anyone looking to maximise the development potential of a pub.
There are new powers restricting the imposition of pre-commencement conditions without the agreement of the applicant; and the Secretary of State can make regulations restricting what kinds of planning conditions can be imposed and in what circumstances. It will be harder for local authorities to delay plan making, as the Secretary of State can now direct joint preparation of development plan documents; allow County Councils to take over the process entirely and prescribe when local development documents should be reviewed. There is a new power to take temporary possession of land, clarification of financial compensation rules, and a new merged power of CPO for the GLA and TfL.
On the other hand, the new Act further enhances the status of neighbourhood planning. It creates a new duty to have regard to a post-examination neighbourhood development plan, enhances the status of an NDP that has been approved but not adopted and makes it easier to modify an NDP or change a neighbourhood area.
Finally, anyone who owns or is thinking of buying a public house, should be aware that the Act allows the Secretary of State to make changes to existing permitted development rights that removes all permitted development rights for premises currently within Class A4 to a use outside or within that class. Although the regulations – which are imminent - will create a new permitted development rights to change from a use within Class A4 to a mixed A4/A3 use this is a significant and serious new restriction on pubs and what can be done with them.
The content of this article is for general information only. To discuss the Neighbourhood Planning Act further, please contact a member of Birketts' Planning and Environmental Law Team. Law covered as at May 2017.