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Town planning update: June 2023

Guest written by Linda Wright MBA DipTP – Planning Strategist


The Town Planning system in England is sometimes like waiting for a bus – there are none for years, decades even and then all of a sudden several come around the corner all at once – and keep on coming!

In 2020 and 2021 we saw a rash of changes in planning and the introduction of so called ‘permitted development rights’ – some of which in my view were ‘rash’ indeed.

As well as radical changes to the Use Classes Order – creating the new Use Class E – Commercial, Business & Service use – the most recent planning reforms introduced over the last two years have included:

  • Upward extensions on blocks of flats (to create dwellinghouses/flats);
  • Rights to demolish and rebuild blocks of flats and offices to create flats or one house;
  • One and two storey extensions (to create dwellinghouses/flats) above detached and terraced mixed-use buildings and dwellinghouses; and
  • The enlargement of a domestic dwellings by the addition of up to two extra storeys


The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

This has been grinding its way through Parliament for over 12 months now and is still going. The Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on 17th January 2023 and is now at the report stage to the Lords – although no date has been set. It has a few more stages to pass through following that, including a return to the House of Commons. The Bill could still be amended at any stage.

And, as with any Bill, there’s always a risk the whole thing will be thrown out by government before it takes effect. However, it’s best to plan for a worst-case scenario – whatever that might mean to you.


Community Infrastructure Levy

There are a number of important elements of the Bill which may come into force such as the combining of the S106 agreement system with the Community Infrastructure Levy process. This is likely to take some time to implement and could be cumbersome for Local Authorities to get to grips with – introducing potential further delays in the planning system.


The Four-Year Rule

There is also what is currently Clause 107 of the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill, which, as drafted, would abolish what is known as the four-year rule and replace it with a single ten-year rule that would apply to all breaches of planning control. Clearly this is a significant shift to what has been accepted planning practice for many years.


Register for Holiday & Short Term Lets

The Bill already includes power for councils to apply a council tax premium of up to 100% on empty and second homes in areas. But given concerns local people are often forced out of the market by short term lets, the government is proposing to go further by establishing a registration scheme for these properties.

The above matters represent a brief highlight of some of the matters proposed in the Bill that might affect property developers and investors.



In addition to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill there have recently been a large number of consultation documents issued by Central Government – some of which are still live. The important ones include:

Planning Fees increases – this consultation closed on 25 April 2023 and proposes:

  • The fees for major applications would increase by 35%
  • Non-major applications would see their price increase by 25%.
  • Planning fees would be adjusted in relation to inflation once a year
  • Fees for retrospective applications would double
  • Repeat applications would no longer benefit from a ‘free go’, meaning they would have to pay fees again.


Flexible Short Term Lets – this consultation closes on 7 June 2023 and proposes:

Planning changes would see a new use class for the creation of a new short term let not used as a sole or main home – Use Class C5 perhaps – and planning permission would be required. Also new permitted development rights, which will mean permission is not needed in areas which are not ‘tourist hotspots’ where local authorities choose not to use these planning controls. Confused? Yes me too!


I hope this has entertained and informed. If you have any queries relating to the issues above and a specific project, contact Linda at KATANA PLANNING by emailing linda@katanaplanning.co.uk

If you have any burning planning issues that you would like covered in future articles either email Linda or contact Cowgills direct.

town planning

The information was correct at time of publishing but may now be out of date.

Posted by Cowgills
31st May, 2023
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