Since the middle of the last century, the planning system has become increasingly complex, and with it the legislation under which it has to operate.
Local authorities have the task of preparing plans to show what forms of development will be permitted in which areas. In doing so they are subject to a document from central government, laying down guidance, the National planning policy framework. This was issued in 2016, and revised in 2019, and is expected to be amended again shortly, in order to encourage the construction of housing.
Planning permission is required for “development”, which term embraces both “material changes of use” and various forms of “operational” activities – which naturally includes building work. These basic rules are modified in many different ways by legislation. The Use Classes Order specifies certain changes of use which do not require planning permission. And the General Permitted Development Order grants permission for a wide range of changes and work which would otherwise have to be the subject of applications to the local authority.
Given the complexities and uncertainties of the system, it is no surprise that proposals to develop land may take several years to come to fruition.
Potential areas of difficulty, where specialised legal advice may be needed, include:
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