Planning Insights Bulletin - March 24

Get to grips with the latest planning updates with our UK insights.

Welcome to the March 2024 edition of the Planning Insights Bulletin where we discuss:

  1. M&S decision quashed as SoS misinterprets planning policy
  2. Seizing the Opportunity: Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)
  3. An Accelerated Planning System
  4. Update to Permitted Development Right: Class MA
M&S decision quashed as SoS misinterprets planning policy

The legal dispute over the redevelopment of Marks & Spencer's store on London's Oxford Street continues after the High Court ruled in favour of M&S on several grounds. The court found errors in the interpretation of planning policies and balancing the impacts, and quashed the decision made by the Secretary of State (SoS). This case raises questions about the interpretation of planning policy and the "retrofit-first" approach. To read more about the ongoing legal dispute, please see the full article here.

Seizing the Opportunity: Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)

As the UK continues its journey towards a more sustainable and flexible energy system through the deployment of renewable energy generation, battery storage can provide essential support in managing grid stability and promoting efficient power utilisation. Our Planning team has consented in excess of 3.5 GW’s of installed renewable energy capacity over the last 10 years across the UK, sufficient to power more than 1 million homes. Increasingly, we are involved in facilitating the development of BESS, either co-located with solar and wind generation, or as stand-alone developments. Those who seize the BESS opportunity are well-positioned to shape the future of the country's green energy landscape, while enjoying attractive returns which can exceed agricultural and even industrial land values. To read more about BESS and for key contacts, click here.

An Accelerated Planning System

The government has launched its consultation on a range of proposed changes designed to speed up the planning system. One of the key proposals is the creation of a new Accelerated Planning Service that would create an express lane for major commercial development that will guarantee a decision within 10 weeks or your money back. Do the changes go far enough and will they work?

The consultation also explores options to mitigate the impact of the recent court judgements on the usefulness of large, multi-phase outline permissions. These judgements have all but eliminated the ability of developers to amend schemes using drop in permissions. The government hopes that by providing a new mechanism to allow developers to make wider amendments than previously allowed to permitted schemes, will provide developers with much needed flexibility. 

Read more about the proposed changes here.

Update to Permitted Development Right: Class MA

The much-anticipated amendments to Permitted Development Right Class MA came into force on 5 March 2024. This means that there is now no limit to the floor space that can be converted under Class MA and there is no requirement for the building to be vacant for 3 months. The amendments to Class MA provide a welcome opportunity to help boost housing numbers and bring vacant buildings back into use. For further information on Class MA and whether this could apply to your property please click here.

To discuss any of the matters discussed above or any other planning matter, please contact the team.