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Local Authority Bulletin - February 2019

Published: Tuesday, 26th February 2019

Improving the redaction on our application forms, Invalid planning applications survey, Legal landscape: How will CIL evolve in 2019? And more stories...


We are committed to assisting local planning authorities in achieving GDPR compliance. As part of this commitment, we recently reviewed the redactions we provide in the submissions we send to local authorities.

We found that our redaction provisions needed updating to provide consistent redaction across all our forms. We have been finalising the requirements for this work and we want to share the details of the upcoming changes with you.

Once the update goes live, the following details will be redacted across all application types:

  • All applicant and agent contact details (apart from name and postal address)
  • All question fields that specifically request third party names and contact details (apart from where this is a postal address)

Please note: Application downloads will still also contain a full unredated version of the form. 

This means that for third party ownership information (e.g. certificates or tree ownership), the redacted version will only show postal addresses and not the names and other contact details associated with them.

As part of the update, we will also rename the current ‘ApplicationFormNoPersonalData’ file to ‘ApplicationFormRedacted’. We feel this name sets better expectations in regard to its content.

We believe this enhanced level of redaction strikes an appropriate balance for local authorities; covering their basic GDPR needs without removing details that some authorities may want to make publicly available on the planning register.

Of course, based on the policies of individual local authorities, further redactions may be required on application forms before they are published.

Additionally, there is always the possibility that applicants will enter personal information into areas where no redaction will be applied by us (e.g. the description of proposed works or details of any neighbourhood/community consultation).

Therefore, alongside these updated redaction provisions, we will also publish guidance on the redactions we make and on the responsibilities of all parties in the provision and transfer of data and its subsequent use.

Our current intention is to get this in place for the end of March 2019, but we will provide a confirmed date in due course.


In last month’s bulletin, we sent out a survey, asking for feedback on invalidation at your Local Authority. We’d like to thank everybody who has completed the survey so far, and ask you to please complete the survey if you haven’t already:

Complete the survey

The survey should take around 15 minutes to complete and to help you prepare, a copy of the questions being asked can be found here.

The information we’re gathering is helping us to get a clearer picture of the causes of invalidation, so we can prepare to tackle the issue head on.

We are always looking for ways to improve our service in order to decrease the number of invalid applications. Previous research conducted around invalidation led to us launch ReQuestaPlan, our compliant site location and block plan tool, and more recently our Financial Transaction Service. It has also helped us to improve the advice and guidance we give to customers submitting applications, bringing down the number of invalid applications across the country.

The feedback will be collated, analysed and put into a report that we will share with local authorities and those that regularly submit applications. We shall also be conducting a similar survey with regular applicants across the different professional types that submit applications. This will allow us to evaluate feedback from all those involved in the application process to then create a complete end-to-end report.  

Remember - to avoid invalid applications occurring at your local authority, you should ensure that your planning application requirements, including your CIL requirements, are always up to date on our system.

You can find guidance on how to do that here.

If you require any further information, or any assistance in completing the survey, please contact communications@planningportal.co.uk.


The following article is provided by RTPI’s ‘The Planner’ magazine:

The community infrastructure levy is one of the more contested areas of planning. Katherine Evans reads the runes to consider how it is likely to change over the next 12 months.

Ensuring that developers contribute to the infrastructure required as a result of their schemes is an important consideration for local planning authorities. The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was introduced in April 2010 – a planning charge aimed at developers to help raise funds for these purposes.

A local authority can only charge CIL if it has adopted a charging schedule. But the government’s view is that the protracted procedure for adopting a charging schedule is a major barrier and one reason why CIL is not used in many areas.

Simplifying this process is just one of the reforms on the horizon for 2019.

Section 106 pooling requirement

Since April 2015, local authorities have not been able to fund an infrastructure project or type of infrastructure by pooling contributions from five or more separate section 106 agreements. This was designed to encourage local authorities to adopt CIL charging schedules, however, in some circumstances it can stifle development.

We are going to see a lifting of the pooling restriction in all areas. However, so that CIL remains an effective mechanism, the government will put measures in place to incentivise the uptake of CIL. There is no indication yet of what those measures will be.

Greater flexibility in relation to exemptions

If a commencement notice is not submitted before the development begins, entitlement to CIL relief is lost. Anyone not accustomed to dealing with CIL can inadvertently miss out. The introduction of a two-month ‘grace period’ was mooted, but this has been rejected owing to the complications and increased administrative burden this would introduce. Instead, we are likely to see a modification of the penalties for failing to submit a commencement notice before development is started so that these are ‘proportionate’ and do not result in total loss of the exemption.

Indexation

In 2018 the Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) Regulations 2018 came into force. These clarify what should be done in relation to permissions granted under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

But there is still concern that the indexation provisions in the CIL regulations are underperforming. CIL charges are indexed to the Building Cost Information Services (BCIS) All-In Tender Price Index. This reflects changes in contractor costs and is used to account for changes in the costs of delivering infrastructure. However, house price inflation does not rise at the same rate as contractor costs. 2019 will see a consultation on changes to the indexation of CIL rates.

Regulation 123 lists

Regulation 123 of the CIL regulations provides for charging authorities to set out a list of those projects or types of infrastructure that it intends to fund, or may fund, through CIL. Although charging authorities are required to report annually on how much CIL has been received and how it has been spent, the depth of information varies.

Viability guidance now sets out the government’s recommended approach to reporting through an Infrastructure Funding Statement – a standard template that includes anticipated contributions from both CIL and section 106 obligations, together with how these will be used.

The government will also make it clear that local planning authorities can seek a fee from applicants to cover the costs of monitoring planning obligations.

Strategic Infrastructure Tariff (SIT)

A SIT is intended to work in a similar way to Mayoral CIL:

  • Combined authorities with strategic planning powers will be able to take forward a SIT; and
  • Groups of charging authorities will be encouraged to use existing powers to deliver strategic infrastructure through a pooling of CIL receipts.

The latter will only be effective where neighbouring authorities have CIL charging schedules in place. In the longer term, the government intends to allow joint planning committees to charge SIT, and will review options to expand this further.

In brief

  • The ‘protracted procedure’ for adopting CIL charging is a barrier to take-up.
  • Potential reforms aim to make it easier for authorities to adopt CIL.
  • These will seek to balance the interests of developers and local authorities.
  • Measures may include: making it easier to claim CIL relief, resolving tensions in indexation of CIL rates; standardising reporting on infrastructure spending, and enabling combined authorities to pool CIL contributions.

Katherine Evans, The Planner. (Katherine Evans is partner and head of planning at TLT).


London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned developers to heed their advice on installing sprinkler systems in purpose built flats. One survey of fifteen purpose built flats, which were built or refurbished in 2016, found that only two buildings had sprinklers.

The government are currently consulting on building regulations in Approved Document B. The current government regulations state that new residential buildings exceeding 30 metres in height should be fitted with Automatic Water Fire Suppression Systems (AWFSS). LFB are using this opportunity to call for a change in the law, to ensure the presence of AWFSS in all buildings over 18 metres in height, including in cases where sprinklers need to be fitted retrospectively. They have put special emphasis on the importance of fitting sprinkler systems in the homes of vulnerable people.                                                                                                                           

LFB say that it is ‘shameful’ that developers are ignoring their advice on sprinklers in order to save money, and suggest that installing sprinklers is a ‘simple way to save more lives’.

They are calling on the public to make their voices heard on the issue, by contacting their local MPs.

You can read LFB’s full position statement here.