Planning Law Update - December 2020

The month of November saw the government bring in regulations, which mean developers taking advantage of permitted development rights to create new dwellinghouses will need to meet the Nationally Described Space Standard. In other news, electricity storage (except pumped hydro) is to be removed from the NSIP regime.Meanwhile in the courts, the Supreme Court refused an appeal to discharge restrictive covenants where affordable housing was built on land adjoining the site of a children's hospice in what was viewed as a deliberate, “cynical” breach, and a PINS decision highlights the importance of following time limits when a council misses the 56-day time period for making a prior approval decision.

Legislation, law or policy



Planning (Wales) Act 2015: sixth commencement order made On 4 November, the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 (Commencement No 6) Order 2020 (SI 2020/1216) was made and a number of provisions came into force on 04 December. They include (but are not limited to) preparing and revising the National Development Framework for Wales (NDF) and reviewing the conformity of certain plans and schemes with the NDF and strategic development plan.
The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1243) have been made As detailed in our previous planning updates, the proposed changes to permitted development rights finally came into force on 3 December 2020. The regulations amend the existing law on permitted development rights (deemed planning permission for certain types of development and material changes of use).The introduction of a nationally described space standard for new dwellinghouses will come into force on 6 April 2021.

Case Law

Alexander Devine Children's Cancer Trust v Housing Solutions Ltd [2020] UKSC 45 The Supreme Court refused an appeal to modify or discharge the restrictive covenants affecting the land as this would have allowed the developer to make a profit from deliberately breaching the covenant. You can view the full decision here.
R (Rights: Community: Action) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2020] EWHC 3073 (Admin) The High Court dismissed a challenge to three statutory instruments (SI 2020/755, SI 2020/756 and SI 2020/757) which formed part of the government's response to COVID-19 and introduced permitted development rights to build up, demolish and re-build and significantly amended the use classes order.We understand that RCA are seeking permission to appeal, and will publish any subsequent updates.

Planning Inspectorate Decisions

APP/M0933/L/20/1200421 This decision serves as a reminder that the failure to state an intended commencement date on a commencement notice must meet the requirement in regulation 67(2)(c) of the CIL Regulations 2010. Simply writing the phrase 'ASAP' does not meet this requirement.
APP/J1915/W/20/3256369 The council failed to make their prior approval decision within the 56-day time period in relation to a proposed change of use of a building from offices (Class B1(a)) to 45 dwellings (Class C3) under Class O. Therefore, prior approval was deemed to have been given. View the case here.
APP/X3405/L/20/1200419 When a CIL Liability Notice is issued it is registered as a local land charge, thus binding the land. This decision highlights the importance of checking if a Liability Notice was served on previous owners. Here, the Inspector was satisfied that the new owners should have been aware of the need to submit a commencement notice before starting works, and thus their appeal was dismissed.


HCLG Committee launched survey on planning system in England The aim of the survey is to help the Committee's inquiry into the planning system in England by indicating what local communities desire the planning system to do, and how it can better be achieved because it is important that the system not only meets the challenges that the country faces, but also reflects the wishes of the local communities.The survey closed on 12 November 2020.
Article published by House of Lords Library on changes to permitted development rights Documented by us in previous planning law updates, in August and September 2020, the Government made several changes to the planning system in England. It introduced secondary legislation creating new permitted development rights and making changes to use classes.The article summarises the scrutiny the amendments have received in Parliament. For example, the main concern follows that it is feared the changes could lead to “the construction of low-quality housing, an increased concentration of fast food restaurants with an impact on the health of local residents, and reduce the ability of local authorities to shape the character of their high streets”.
Electricity storage (except pumped hydro) to be removed from the NSIP regime On 4 November 2020, the Infrastructure Planning (Electricity Storage Facilities) Order 2020 (SI 2020/1218) was made and came into force on 2 December 2020.The government confirmed that electricity storage (except pumped hydro) will be removed from the nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) regime, both onshore and offshore, in England and Wales. However, the government will retain the 50MW NSIP threshold in relation to pumped hydro storage due to the larger planning impacts of this technology.
Government publishes The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution The detailed policy paper on the Ten Point Plan can be viewed here.It is part of the government's 25 Year Environment Plan which aims to help kick start the nation's green recovery, including the expansion of protected landscapes, increased access to nature, stronger flood resilience, and the creation and retention of thousands of green jobs.The Ten Point Plan confirms there will be new National Parks, AONBs and Landscape Recovery areas in England. The designation of the new sites will begin in 2021.
Government announces a review of “Right to Build” measures The review will examine how effectively these arrangements support self and custom building, including whether they increase the land available to support these homes.Councils are currently required to keep a register of those who wish to build in their local area. On 30 October each year, coined 'Right to Build' day, councils will be expected to have granted planning permission to enough suitable plots to match the demand on their register.For advice on any of the topics discussed in this newsletter please contact a member of the planning team on the details provided below.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

Get in touch

Contact us today

Whatever your legal needs, our wide ranging expertise is here to support you and your business, so let’s start your legal journey today and get you in touch with the right lawyer to get you started.


Get in touch

For general enquiries, please complete this form and we will direct your message to the most appropriate person.