Friday, 25 September 2009

Developers to be offered extended consents

Place North West - 24 September 2009, 14:50

The Government's Chief Planner, Steve Quartermaine, has confirmed special arrangements will come into play on 1 October for extending existing planning permissions.

The measure is being introduced to try and help the development industry keep the prospect of stalled development schemes alive through the continuing challenges of the recession.

From 1 October application forms will be available on the Planning Portal website for those wishing to extend the life of exiting permissions. The provisions apply to all planning permissions, but the permission must be alive and unimplemented on 1 October to qualify for consideration.

The provisions also extend to separate consents given for works relating to listed buildings and conservation areas, but only if there's a corresponding planning permission which is being extended at the same time.

There's a fee of £500 for applications to extend the time limit for implementation of major developments, a nominal fee of £50 for householder development, and £170 for anything else.

Andrew Watt, partner at MAZE Planning Solutions, based in Bury, commented "The introduction of these provisions should bring a measure of relief to developers and landowners working hard to keep the prospects of a development alive. Many will have invested a great deal of time and money in securing permission in the first place, only to be rewarded by a falling demand for space and viability calculations that no longer stack up. The provisions could be particularly critical to landowners and developers for whom it is vital to maintain the book value of assets in order to satisfy lenders and keep within banking covenants."

"One word of caution - there's a twist for those with permissions that are due to expire within the first few weeks after 1 October - whilst the desired application fee levels have been identified by DCLG, the corresponding application fee regulations can only be changed by Parliament."

"As matters stand at present DCLG think that may not happen until eight or ten weeks after 1 October. In the meantime the existing fee regime stands - and that means paying a full application fee for a time extension, as if the proposal were a new application. For a major development that could run to tens of thousands of pounds."

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

An Appealing Month

Appeals have been flavour of the month at MAZE during September. We've just concluded the submission of evidence for two appeals. Both are to follow the written representations route which, in the case of an Enforcement Notice appeal for Morecambe Football Club, was forced by the Planning Inspectorate, contrary to the Appellant's request for the matter to be dealt with by Hearing. This recently introduced power enabling the Inspectorate to determine the route of appeals could well prove to be a controversial one where differences of opinion arise in more significant cases, or where an appellant feels the only way they can effectively take a planning authority to task is in person.

Morecambe FC had a modest disagreement with the Lancaster City Council over the presence of a temporary portable building which houses the Club's merchandise store at its Christie Park ground. The Club has experienced significant growth in its commercial and community activities since being promoted to the Football League in 2007 and has outgrown limited accommodation at Christie Park. Relief is on the way in the form of the new stadium complex at Westgate in Morecambe, where construction work is well underway. The Inspector has been asked to grant permission for the building until the new stadium is ready in June next year, or extend the compliance date of the Notice to cover the same period.

In Liverpool 3 years of negotiation and a 2 failed applications turned briefly positive when an officer recommendation for approval was secured for development of 24 apartments on a vacant former motor trade site in the City's Housing Market Renewal Area. The relief was short lived as progress was halted abruptly by a Planning Committee decision to unanimously overturn the recommendation and refuse permission in June. Committee appeared to be influenced more by the passionate pleas of neighbours and ward councillors than the facts of the case. An appeal was the inevitable outcome.

Both cases should be determined before the end of the year.