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COURTS AND TRIBUNALS

  1. There are indications that the Business and Property Courts will start to hear cases in person from 1 June. Plans to conduct proceedings in a social distanced manner appear to include modifying the layout of the hearing rooms and/or limiting who can be present in the court room. It is understood that decisions will be made on a case by case basis no more than a week ahead of the hearing date. 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

  1. The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020/529 came into force on 22 May 2020. As explained in the Expandatory Note Regulation 2 of these Regulations makes two amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (“the principal Regulations”). Paragraph (3) amends regulation 13 of the principal Regulations to increase the amount of the fixed penalty for repeated breaches of the Regulations up to a maximum of £1920. The increased penalties apply to any fixed penalty notice issued on or after 22 May 2020. When determining the number of notices received by a person for the purposes of calculating the amount of fixed penalty, notices received before 22 May will be counted. Paragraph (2) makes a minor amendment to regulation 3 of the principal Regulations consequential upon an amendment made to that regulation by regulation 2(2) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.
  1. The Planning Applications (Temporary Modifications and Disapplication) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Order 2020/514 Order amends the Development Management Procedure (Wales) Order 2012 and the Developments of National Significance (Procedure) (Wales) Order 2016 by inserting provisions into those Orders which modify or disapply certain requirements in relation to the period starting on 19 May 2020 and ending on 18 September 2020 The effects of these amendments are summarised in an article in Planning Resource.
  1. The Traffic Orders Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020/536 came into force on 23 May. These Regulations make provision with respect to certain traffic orders made and notices given in England, under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. They are being introduced as an emergency measure in response to the effects of coronavirus. They amend the procedure for making traffic orders and giving notices by providing an alternative means of publicising orders in circumstances where it is not reasonably practicable to follow the current publicity requirements as a result of coronavirus. They also simplify the procedure for making temporary traffic orders that are made for purposes connected to coronavirus.

PLANNING

  1. New Guidance was issued by PINS on Thursday 28 (and see also the detailed guidance) which covers:
    • Virtual appeals: PINS have been scaling up the work to implement virtual events. They have been and are holding numerous case conferences for inquiries with a view for around 10 of these to turn into virtually held inquiries in June. They are expecting the remaining ones to be re-arranged at the earliest opportunity.

While social distancing measures remain in place, PINS will seek to run hearings and inquiries virtually in the first instance to keep our customers and employees safe and to minimise the potential for spreading the virus; and ensure that we keep our hearings and inquiries casework moving: see the updated detailed guidance.

However, of potentially great significance, it is also stated that PINS are learning from each event with the aim of making virtual events their standard option for the majority of events in the future.

    • Site visits: To date 20 decisions have been issued without a site visit, and others are to follow. However, the choice to go down a ‘no site visit required’ route remains with the Inspector being satisfied that she or he has sufficient information to properly determine the appeal.
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    • Local Plan examinations: One Local Plan hearing is to take place via phone conference and one full local plan examination is to be conducted virtually in July.
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    • Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects: The examinations of four nationally significant infrastructure projects are progressing to their final examination stages with some 15 hearings to be held virtually in June (and more in July). All of these are already notified on the respective project webpages for these schemes
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  1. The Government announced last weekend a new £50 million fund for councils to support their local high streets get safely back to business. The MHCLG statement said that this was “To prepare for the reopening of non-essential retail when the scientific advice allows, the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to kick-start local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops”.
  1. The Government advice on safer public places- urban centres and green spaces was updated on 22 May. This guidance provides the owners and operators of public spaces with information and examples of measures that may be undertaken to adapt and manage public spaces in order to help social distancing.
  1. Planning Resource reported on 28 May that Property firm Colliers International has issued a statement proposing the “easing of planning restrictions to give hotel owners the opportunity of repurposing” their properties into residential use in the wake of the pandemic. The statement also said, Planning Resource continues, that “Colliers International argues that economic hardship, which is often a key variant in the planning process, may and should become a far more important and immediate factor for some hotel owners, who may see redevelopment as a way to recoup their investment or minimise their losses“. It added: “A relaxation of planning restrictions could be just what they need and would boost the economy and provide much needed housing“.

PROPERTY

  1. On 27 May, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Hackney LBC v Okoro [2020] EWCA Civ 681, clarifying that, following Arkin v Marshall,the stay in PD51Z is competent to extent to every stage of proceedings under CPR Part 55, up to a final judgment in the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal also expressed the view that paragraph 2 of PD51Z prevents enforcement of orders made under rules other than CPR Part 55. Stephen Knafler QC acted for the successful appellants.

EVENTS

1 June 2020: Rating mini webinar series – ATMs – is this cash machine free to use?

3 June 2020: Rating mini webinar series – Covid-19 related Checks and Proposals: pitfalls, tips and an update

4 June 2020: Webinar – Development Plan Issues

8 June 2020: Webinar – EU free movement law and the EU settlement scheme

Issue Authors: Stephen Morgan, Evie Barden, Nick Grant, Alex Shattock.

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