Changes confirmed to permitted development rights and use classes

Author: Fiona Sawyer, Professional Support Lawyer, Planning, Real Estate

In our blog post of 10 December 2018 (see here), we discussed the potential impact on developers and landlords of changes to permitted development (PD) rights and Use Class A which were being consulted on by the government. Despite widespread criticism, and counter to some calls for a greater role for local authorities in securing the futures of their town centres through holistic town planning, in a Written Statement on 13 March 2019 James Brokenshire announced that the government is implementing the majority of the proposals. Some of the changes to PD rights are to be made later this spring; other changes, such as upward extensions for residential use, will be dealt with in further regulations in the autumn. We were also told that we can expect an Accelerated Planning Green Paper later this year. Whilst the changes are intended to “[simplify and speed up] the planning system, to support the high street, make effective use of land and deliver more homes”, whether this can be achieved by these changes remains to be seen. This post discusses what the changes are, and what their impact could be within the context of wider change. Continue reading

Ousting unauthorised occupiers! Government consults on dealing with trespassers 

Authors: Judith Smyth, Associate and Matthew Bonye, Partner and Head of Real Estate Dispute Resolution, London

The word “trespasser” may well send a shiver down the spine of many commercial landowners.  Trespass can take a number of different forms, from squatters in empty commercial buildings, to travellers on empty land, or protestors occupying land to gather publicity for a particular cause. While squatting in residential buildings is now a criminal offence, the criminal law does not so easily assist for commercial land. Instead, regaining possession of commercial land following incursion by trespassers can be a fraught, costly and time-consuming exercise for the landowner, often involving court proceedings and bailiffs, and resulting in an expensive clean-up and repair operation after possession is obtained. There is now an opportunity for landowners, developers and other interested parties to comment on proposals for improving the system.

The Government’s recently announced consultation on “Powers for dealing with unauthorised development and encampments” is welcome recognition that the current system needs to be strengthened to give greater powers to commercial landowners to deal with trespass incidents swiftly and without having to incur significant expense. Although the consultation is expressed to be directed predominantly at what the Government terms “unauthorised encampments” set up by the travelling community, given the statutory mechanisms for dealing with trespass are essentially the same for all categories of trespass on commercial land, the consultation has the potential to benefit commercial landowners more broadly.

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Commercial Service Charges – the RICS consults on proposed mandatory requirements

Authors: Matthew Bonye, Partner and Head of Real Estate Dispute Resolution and Judith Smyth, Associate, Real Estate Dispute Resolution, London

Commercial property practitioners and stakeholders have just under a week left to have their say on the draft text of the 4th edition of the RICS Code of Practice: Service Charges in Commercial Property (the “Code”), which is due to come into effect on 1 April 2018.  This professional statement will replace the 3rd edition of the Code, which is the RICS’s current best practice guidance.

In this blog post we look at what the proposed changes are and how landlords will be affected.

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CRC Reform – Energy usage to be reported in financial statements

Authors: Julie Vaughan, Senior Associate, Environment and Carol Shutkever, Partner, Corporate, London

News of what is to become of the CRC (formerly Carbon Reduction Commitment) Scheme post-2019 has finally arrived, in the form of a new Government consultation from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued on 12th October 2017*:

  • the obligation to buy allowances to cover energy usage will cease and be replaced by an increase in the rate of the Climate Change Levy (CCL) – a longstanding tax on high energy usage;
  • instead of reporting to the Environment Agency, disclosure of energy usage is proposed to form part of a company’s financial statements.

Disclosure in the accounts is designed to bring to the attention of the Board (and other stakeholders such as potential investors) the potential for cost savings through implementation of energy efficiency measures and thereby to contribute to Government policy in the area of climate change and energy security.

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Express your views on the proposed new electronic communications code

The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a consultation on reforming the existing Electronic Communications Code – the legislative framework that regulates the relationship between telecoms operators and landowners who provide sites for the installation of telecoms apparatus. The consultation seeks views on a revised code which is now set out in a stand-alone draft Bill. This follows the Government's unsuccessful attempt, in January 2015, to introduce the revised code as an amendment to what was then the Infrastructure Bill (see also our previous e-bulletin here).

 

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