Hughes Solicitors
19 High Street
Heathfield
TN21 8LU

8:45am to 5pm
Monday to Friday
(evenings and weekend
by prior appointment)

Hughes Solicitors
19 High Street
Heathfield
TN21 8LU

8:45am to 5pm
Monday to Friday
(evenings and weekend
by prior appointment)

A glimmer of light for planning decisions during the lockdown?

7 Apr 2020 | Property law

Anyone with a planning application in progress in Sussex will naturally be concerned that an already lengthy process could take even longer than usual.

Commercial property lawyer Rod Hughes, who is based in Heathfield, notes that ‘The Coronavirus Bill, currently passing through Government, will categorically allow for the first time planning committees to hold online meetings on platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.’

Many local authorities do not believe that the legislation currently in place (The Local Government Act 1972) allows for anything other than the traditional council chamber meetings with only councillors physically present able to vote on any planning application.  Quite understandably, chief planning officers have not been willing to see their council go out on a limb before the position has become legislatively clear.

The forthcoming legislation will allow such ‘virtual’ meetings for the next 12 months, but the ability to hold online committee meetings will cease after 7 May 2021.

Meantime local authorities around the country are also looking at their standing orders with a view to delegating more decision-making authority to their senior planning officers during the current period.

The ability for councils to make planning decisions via an online meeting may be a turning point in the planning decision making process, and this could well result in shorter meetings and quicker decisions.

‘Whether these two steps will lead to a reduction in the backlog of undetermined planning applications in the South East remains to be seen…’ concludes Rod.

For further information on planning applications and property development, please contact Rod Hughes in our property team in Heathfield, East Sussex on 01435 890 101 or email rodhughes@hugheslaw.co.uk

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.