In common with all aspects of day-to-day life, the property world has been hugely affected by current events. However, in terms of the planning system there is a huge push by government at national and local level to “keep calm and carry on” as much as is possible. Therefore, if they are in position to, there are several things that companies with property portfolios can do to protect themselves in the immediate term, and prepare for the future, once the storm has passed.
1. Keep monitoring local plans and applications of interest
Although there are well publicised delays to local plan examinations and planning committees, most local authorities are still doing what they can towards the preparation of local plans and processing planning applications, so it is still vitally important to keep a close eye on local plan consultations, and the progress of planning applications, that are relevant to you.
2. Take stock of what you have
Even if you are not able to actively promote development at the moment, the current situation provides an opportunity to step back and review portfolio strategy.
3. Don’t lose your planning permissions
There are rumours that the Government will announce measures to extend the life of planning permissions. However, until then make sure you are discharging any relevant conditions and planning obligations, in the interests of commencing development at the earliest possible stage.
4. Instruct ecological surveys
Such surveys are time critical, as they can only be taken at certain times of the year, and for many species we are coming into season. Despite the lockdown, a number of ecological consultants are still able to carry out surveys. To avoid missing the window, make sure these are undertaken so you don’t have to wait another year.
5. Keep your eye on the ball
Measures to encourage development and keep the planning system going are being announced on a very regular basis. Make sure that you are up-to-speed with all the changes as they happen.
As the situation is constantly changing, so are the regulations and responses that are being put in place to support the system. For example, and as reported in our previous newsletter, the Coronavirus Act 2020 has received royal assent last week to enable planning committees to ‘meet’ without being together in the same place – regulations providing further detail of this were published this week, and will be reported in full in our next newsletter. Also, some local authorities are seeking to reduce the need for committees in the first place, by expanding powers of delegation.
Rapleys will continue to closely monitor the situation and will keep you updated. If you have any questions or wish to discuss this or any other queries you might have arising as a result of the current circumstances, please contact Jason Lowes, Town Planning at Rapleys.