November 16, 2011 2 Comments
After a brief period of absence, which for me has been filled mostly by Inquiries, giving seminars, taking part in long-distance mountain bike events and recovering from crashes in said riding events, here we are again.
Sadly it seems the enforcement provisions (amongst others) of the Localism Bill didn’t suffer quite so many crashes in their journey through Parliament as I did on my bike and they have survived almost completely unscathed in their originally drafted form, despite very vocal and informed criticism from many quarters.
So now we find ourselves presented with the Localism Act. Although it obtained Royal Assent yesterday the enforcement amendments are not in force and seemingly have no timetable for coming into force. Not that successive Governments ‘have form’ for enacting legislation only to repeal it years later without it ever having been in force, oh no…
I can foresee some very real problems for LPAs with the reforms to planning enforcement under the Localism Act, including (but not limited to) concentration of developer time, effort and resources to focus on enforcement where before they may have been spread more evenly between enforcement and substantive applications. The introduction of undefined or ill-defined terms into enforcement and a whole new layer of application process to some enforcement actions – ripe pickings for the High Court and in any event, open season for legal argument in other courts and before Inspectors. An entire layer of appeals processes against lots of new types of notices in relation to advertising controls – an area renowned for being straightforward, non-technical, cheap, quick and easy to administer (no laughing at the back, please). LPAs can start coming to terms with the rand-new ‘Letters of Assurance’ under what is s125 of the Act (more on those later) and, seemingly, the complete neutering of the CLEUD system.
Despite strong criticisms of what was proposed virtually no discussion seems to have taken place in Parliament as to the enforcement amendments. Next time on planningblog.org we’ll start to look at some of the potential issues arising in enforcement post-Localism. First up – determination of retrospective applications for permission.