Planning

We can advise on all aspects of law and policy in relation to planning.  Advising upon major infrastructure projects and more complicated negotiations is our forte but to "coin a phrase" (and unlike large practices), we will advise upon objections to planning applications.

 

 Planning Applications

Planning applications have to be determined in accordance with Section 38(6) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which requires that they are "determined in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise".  The interpretation of Development Plan Policies is often not easy.  Equally, there is a wide range of material considerations which can be weighed in the planning balance by the Local Planning Authority.

 

We can submit planning applications on a client's behalf or more generally work alongside retained planning consultants on large applications where the issues are complicated or there is a likelihood that the application will be taken to planning appeal.  We can also draft objections to planning applications on behalf of residents or action groups.

 

Achieving a commercially workable planning permission is our objective.  Advising upon the planning conditions is an integral part of the process.

 

 Interpretation of Planning Permissions

Interpretations of permissions which have already been granted is an increasingly important part of our advice.  It is particularly important in the current climate to ensure that permissions, once granted, are implemented within the timescales set out in the consent.  Failure to comply will mean that the planning permission will lapse and a new application might be required.  There is always the possibility that permission would not be renewed particularly if planning policy, which changes frequently, has changed in the meantime.

 

 Negotiation and Drafting of Section 106  Agreements

We have very extensive experience of negotiating and drafting complex Agreements.  Increasingly, we are required to include mechanisms which ensure viability reviews are carried out as "part and parcel" of the phasing of development primarily in relation to large schemes.

 

Agreements must comply with the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010.  Achieving the best commercial outcome is of course our driving objective.

 

 Development Plan Representations

The kingpin to the planning process is the Development Plan.  The system has undergone considerable changes over the years and the most recent system is the Local Development Framework which requires local authorities to promote the;-

 

  • Core Strategy, which sets out the policy principles that will apply to applications in its area; and

 

  • the Development Plan Documents comprising a suite of planning documents which lay the foundation for  the allocations of, for example, housing, employment and detail within the local authority area.

 

 

Such allocations establish the principle of development and plainly it is important for all developers to ensure that representations are made in a timely manner and also in order to put the best case forward.

 

Equally, it is important for those objecting to a Core Strategy or Development Plan Document to ensure that they are made in time.

 

 Planning Appeals

We do not generally recommend a planning appeal unless this is the last resort.  Appeals, like any litigation, are expensive, time-consuming and ultimately not without risk.  Nevertheless, in the event of an impasse we are not reluctant to "take the gloves off" and we have very considerable experience taking through appeals in relation to all aspects of planning.

 

 Environmental Assessment

Environmental Assessments are often required on larger schemes.  However the requirement for assessment is in most cases a matter of discretion for the local authority and if it is possible to argue that an assessment is not required this will save considerable time and cost in the process.  If an assessment is required we will advise on the documentation and ensure that it is robust.

 

Community Infrastructure Levy - CIL

 

We can advise upon all aspects of this Legislation including objections to the Draft Charging Schedule, relationship with Section 106 Agreements, interpretation of the Charging Schedule and calculation of the sums payable.

 

Vacant  Building Credit

 

The availability (or not) of Vacant Building Credit can impact very substantially upon the commercial viability of a scheme.  The interpretation of the guidance (which is not clear) is an area upon which we can give advice.

 

 High Court Challenges

An interested party is always able to challenge a decision by a local planning authority by way of Judicial Review or a Planning Inspector (Secretary of State) by way of Statutory Review.  Proceedings for the former must be taken as soon as possible or in any event no later than three months from the date of the decision complained of.  In the latter case, there is a strict six week challenge period.

 

We are again very experienced in taking such challenges and regularly work with planning QCs and other nationally rated Barristers in the field.