The Chief Planning Officer writes …
… integrating the latest changes to Appropriate Assessments and a new prize for community supported design.
The Chief Planning Officer published two letters in January 2019.
The first (15th January 2019) concerns the impact of the European Court of Justice case, People Over Wind & Sweetman v Coillte Teoranta (C-323/17). The judgment found that it was not appropriate to take account of mitigation measures when screening plans and projects for their effects on European protected habitats under the Habitats Directive. In practice this means if a likely significant effect is identified at the screening stage of a habitats assessment, an Appropriate Assessment of those effects must be undertaken. The judgment was published on 12th April 2018, but has subsequently had some unexpected consequences for the English planning system, making it difficult to use planning tools such as Local Development Orders and Permission in Principle in situations where there was likely to be a significant effects on a protected habitats. It also created uncertainty around the creation of Neighbourhood Plans. In response, the Government has made changes to the Conservation of Habitats and Species and Planning (Various Amendments) (England and Wales) Regulations 2018, which came into force on 28th December 2018.
The Chief Planning Officer's letter clarifies that those neighbourhood plans and development orders which could have significant effects on a European protected site will now be subject to an Appropriate Assessment in the same way as a draft Local Plan or planning application.
The second letter (10th January 2019) announces a new category at this year's Housing Design awards, the "Good Neighbour Award". This letter invites the submission for the prize, for schemes where new homes have contributed positively to the existing communities, have gained community support and can be regarded as "good neighbours". Another example of a growing emphasis on good design, as highlighted in the revised NPPF and the launch of the "Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission" in November 2018 (see our earlier article here)
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.