Covid-19 Planning Relaxations – The End is Nigh!
Planning controls which were relaxed while Covid restrictions were in place will resume in full force from 1 October 2022. The main changes affect consent implementation deadlines, electronic communications, planning enforcement and permitted development rights.
Consent Implementation Deadlines
Development consents are typically issued subject to a condition requiring development to commence within three years. If not implemented prior to expiration, a consent lapses and a fresh consent must be obtained. These deadlines were automatically extended so that planning permissions, listed building consents and conservation area consents due to expire during a defined “emergency period” could instead be implemented until such later date as the legislation specified.
The final emergency period ends on 30 September 2022. Development consents expiring before 30 September 2022 enjoy a final automatic extension until 31 March 2023. Those expiring after 30 September 2022 must be validly implemented by the stated deadline or formally extended, or they will lapse.
To facilitate social distancing and working from home, electronic communications were permitted where in-person events or hard copy documents would normally be required by planning procedure. Allowances for the online publication of documents and suspension of requirements for physical public events for pre-application consultation with communities will end on 30 September 2022. Councils are taking individual approaches to Local Review Body and Planning Committee meetings, so applicants and interested parties are advised to check the arrangements in place for in-person or remote attendance.
Enforcement of Planning Breaches
In 2021, the Scottish Government issued guidance encouraging planning authorities to exercise their discretion and turn a blind eye to temporary, reasonable breaches of planning control. These included such breaches as hospitality venues providing outdoor seating and takeaway facilities without consent and retail opening and deliveries outside approved hours. The guidance ceases to have effect from 1 October 2022, after which authorities will likely revert to the approaches in their respective Enforcement Charters.
Emergency Permitted Development Rights (PDR)
Temporary PDRs were introduced in 2020 and extended in 2021 to allow development: (i) by/on behalf of local authority or health service bodies which involved temporary buildings or changes of use for facilities associated with the pandemic; and (ii) the use of Crown land for purposes related to the pandemic.
The temporary periods during which these PDR apply will not be extended any further. The Chief Planner anticipated that the relevant activities for local authority or health body developments would generally cease by 30 June 2022 and, for Crown Land, the temporary use would cease 24 months from the date it began. Unless planning permission to retain the buildings or uses is sought, the land must be restored to its previous state and use within the timescales specified in the PDR.
If you have questions or concerns about any of these issues, please contact Jacqueline Cook.