UK Government announces extension to planning permissions in England due to expire

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The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an array of challenges for the construction sector, including what happens to planning permissions which have not yet been implemented but are due to expire.

To implement a planning permission, a developer must ensure all pre-commencement conditions are complied with and that they carry out a “material operation” (as defined in Section 56 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990). If a developer does not commence the development within a specified period of time (which, in England, is usually three years), the permission will expire. However, the reality is that effective implementation may be difficult for developers because there may be delays in discharging pre-commencement conditions, and there are practical implications which flow from social distancing on construction sites. Accordingly, it is unsurprising that there have been multiple calls from developers and planners for the UK Government to extend planning permissions to help the industry with the coronavirus recovery.

The UK Government have now announced new measures which will extend planning permissions, which have expired or will expire between the start of lockdown and the end of this year, to 1 April 2021. According to the UK Government’s calculations, they estimate that by the end of June more than 400 residential permissions providing more than 24,000 new homes would have expired. It is not yet clear how these changes will be enacted, but these new measures will undoubtedly be very welcomed by the housing industry, and will help “get Britain building” as the economy recovers.

Please note that these changes relate only to England, and it is not yet clear whether the Welsh Government will introduce any similar measures in respect of planning permissions that are due to expire in Wales.

For more information please don't hesitate to contact a member of our Planning Team.

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