There are many proposed changes ahead in terms of planning law in England, and possibly more with Brexit on the horizon, particularly for environmental issues.

Although national increases in planning fees have already been implemented, local authorities are now aware of extra costs they can charge for pre-application discussions, as well as their legal fees and administrative costs when it comes to certain agreements with landowners. These costs range dramatically between local authorities running from hundreds to even thousands of pounds.

The Government is also looking to reform the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), whilst at the same time emphasising the importance of viability appraisals in planning applications to make sure that the proposed development in a planning application is actually viable and likely to go ahead.

The National Planning Framework (NPPF) has also been revised in 2018. Further updates have been added as recently as 19 February 2019, with the key focus being on making housing development a priority and for local authorities to deliver a 5 year supply of housing.

The relaxation of certain “permitted development” rights, such as the change of use from offices to residential dwellings has encouraged a somewhat unexpected growth in this type of residential property. This, however, gives local authorities less control of the redevelopment, the design and quality of the housing, especially with no planning permission to impose conditions and a local authority is unable to charge any CIL, which in the long run leads to local authorities not being able to provide as much affordable housing.

The key for development is having local knowledge and being aware of that particular area’s Local Plan. Lancaster City Council is currently working under a Local Plan from 2004 (some Councils are working from Local Plans which are decades old!), but is in  the process of preparing a new Local Plan to bring it up to date.

Although it is always recommended to clients to have a specialist architect and/or planning consultant when carrying out development and planning proposals, our solicitors have the specialist knowledge to help guide clients alongside their appointed architect or planning consultant through planning matters, including interpreting planning conditions and the effect these can have on future development; risks of enforcement action; change of use; and the planning status of land including listed buildings and properties within conservation areas to name but a few.

We also act on behalf of landowners in respect of planning agreements with local authorities, including Section 106 Agreements. We regularly deal with many development agreements such as option agreements, conditions contracts and overage provisions.

For any property matters please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist lawyers at either our Lancaster or Kirkby Lonsdale office.