On 25th March Eric Pickles made his last Ministerial Statements as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under the current parliament. He announced a raft of changes to planning policy and guidance which included amendments to the General Permitted Development Order and a new Development Management Procedure Order.

With regard to solar  energy he widened permitted development rights to encourage the take up of much larger solar power generation on non-domestic and commercial buildings. The aim is to allow a 20 fold increase in the amount of solar power generation.

He re-iterated the government’s commitment to the importance of safeguarding the Green Belt and (if re-elected) promised to introduce a new evidence-based planning and recovering policy to strengthen protection against unauthorised development. As an aside he recently intervened in the infamous Fidler case (the man who built a castle like house hidden in a hay stack in the Metropolitan Green Belt) by dismissing his final appeal, leaving the way clear for the demolition of the property.

On parking he stated the intention to amend national planning policy to ensure that parking provision is market-led and gave further support to the provision of adequate parking within developments.

In terms of streamlining the planning system the new Development Management Procedure Order introduces a ‘deemed discharge’ of planning conditions procedure to ensure that the majority of conditions are discharged without delay. Other measures include speeding up negotiations on Section 106 Agreements and as stated above, increasing permitted development rights allowing more changes of use and to allow larger  rear domestic extensions.

Of particular interest to developers in the New Forest he made clear that the recent increase in the threshold for certain tariffs and affordable housing provision to more than 10 dwellings was government policy and this is now made crystal clear in amendments to the PPG on Planning Obligation.

Please contact us for details of any of the above.