Date: 11/09/2020 | COVID-19, Commercial Property, Energy & Natural Resources, Planning, Residential Development, Construction
Extensions to Planning Implementation Periods
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government enacted emergency legislation aimed at assisting planning authorities, developers, landowners and the construction industry to regain momentum as Covid-19 lockdown eases. Usually, development granted Planning Permission, Conservation Area Consent (“CAC”) and/or Listed Building Consent (“LBC”) (all together, “Planning Consents”) must be commenced within 3 years of their grant or they lapse and a new application will be required.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) and Coronavirus (Scotland) (No 2) Acts 2020 temporarily change the default timescales, providing a grace period for commencing development where existing Planning Consents risk expiring before they can be implemented. Under these Acts, Planning Permissions expiring between 7 April and 6 October 2020 and CACs and LBCs (required for some heritage projects in addition to Planning Permission) expiring between 27 May and 6 October 2020 have been automatically extended, to be capable of implementation until April 2021.
As lockdown easing evolves and some commentators anticipate the Scottish economy will take years (rather than months) to return to 2019 activity levels, legislators seek to further extend the Planning Consents grace period. The Town and Country Planning (Emergency Period and Extended Period) (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SS1 2020/254) were laid before the Scottish Parliament on 25 August 2020 and, unless Parliament annuls them, will come into force on 5 October 2020. The Regulations enable qualifying Planning Consents expiring before 31 March 2021 to be implemented until 30 September 2021. As under the earlier Acts, no amendments to the Planning Consents themselves are necessary and extensions under the Regulations will apply automatically, by law.
The easiest way to avoid such confusion would be for planning authorities to require developers to specify in pre-commencement submissions (such as the Notice of Initiation required before development begins) that they intend to rely on an extension under the Regulations. However, there are no legal requirements or practice guidelines to this effect in place at the date of this article, without which there may never be a consistent approach among authorities to showing extensions on the planning register. In light of this, anyone carrying out due diligence is recommended to proceed with caution when considering any Planning Consents granted after 31 March 2018 and expiring before 31 March 2021.
For further information, please contact our Head of Planning, Jacqueline Cook.
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