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Exemptions from Design & Access Statements for Planning Applications and other Amendments to the Town & Country Planning General Development Procedure Order

25 March 2010 #Setting up in the UK

The latest GDPO Amendment Order which comes into force on 6 April 2010, in relation to England only, contains a variety of changes to the procedural arrangements for particular planning applications and appeals.  These changes extend the circumstances in which a design and access statement is not required to accompany a planning application; introduce a mandatory requirement for local planning authorities to publicise planning applications on their websites (for applications made on or after 1 October 2010); and reduce the period for lodging an appeal in respect of an application relating to land and development affected by enforcement notice proceedings.

These amendments do not apply in respect of any application for planning permission, consent, agreement or approval made before 6 April 2010, with the exception of the website publicity requirements which do not apply in respect of any planning application made before 1 October 2010.

Changes to Design and Access Statement requirements

Previously there was a requirement to submit a design and access statement with every application for planning permission other than for engineering or mining operations, householder development (unless within a designated area), or a material change in use.  The amendment extends the list of exempt forms of planning application to include Section 73 applications (variation of planning conditions), applications relating to non-material amendments to planning permission, and (in each case unless within a designated area) extensions of existing buildings used for non-domestic purposes where the floor space created would not exceed 100sqm, development relating to gates, fences, walls or other means of enclosure (subject to height restrictions and where not within the curtilage of a listed building), development on operational land (i.e. land used by statutory undertakers) (subject to height and cubic content restrictions), alteration of an existing building where the alteration would not increase the size of the building, and development relating to plant or machinery (subject to a height restriction).

The definition of designated area has been changed to have a more restricted meaning and now means either a conservation area or a World Heritage Site (i.e. no longer a National Park, an SSSI, or The Broads).  Consequently a design and access statement will always be required for applications for planning permission for development wholly or partly within a conservation area or a World Heritage Site except in the case of a Section 73 application, engineering or mining operations or a material change in use.

Where a design and access statement is required, the requirement to demonstrate the steps taken to appraise the context of the development and how the design of the development takes that context into account is now to be dealt with in relation to the proposed use and there is no longer a requirement to consider these matters in relation to each of the amount, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance of the development.

Amendments relating to publicity by the Local Planning Authority

The GDPO sets minimum requirements for a LPA to publicise planning applications.  In the case of applications for which an Environmental Impact Assessment is required, or where the proposal does not accord with the provisions of the development plan, or it would affect a public right of way, or the development constitutes major development, publicity in the form of a local advertisement is one of the prescribed methods of publicity (in addition to other prescribed methods).  In this context publicising by local advertisement meant publication of a notice in a local newspaper and, where the LPA maintains a website for the advertisement of applications, by publication of the notice on the website. The new requirement is that every planning application, not only those of the description set out above, must be publicised on a website maintained by the LPA.  The information to be published must include the location and description of the proposed development, the date by which any representations must be made and how they may be made, and where and when the application may be inspected etc.

Reduced appeal periods for appealing against planning decisions where there are enforcement proceedings

The normal period for lodging an appeal is 6 months, or 12 weeks in the case of a householder appeal.  A new period of 28 days has been introduced in particular circumstances.  This is where an enforcement notice has been served or is served in respect of the same or substantially the same land and development as that to which the planning application to be appealed relates. The objective of course is to minimise delays in the process, by an abuse of the procedural system, where planning applications are linked to enforcement cases. 

There are various complex rules concerning the circumstances in which these provisions apply.  For example they only apply where the enforcement notice has been served no earlier than 2 years before the planning application is made.  The start date for the 28 days appeal period runs from the date of the decision (or the prescribed date in the case of non-determination) if the enforcement notice has been served before the planning application; otherwise it runs from the date of the enforcement notice.  The normal appeal period applies if an enforcement notice is served fewer than 28 days before the normal deadline.

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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