9 November 2021
Consultation Response Submitted Online From The Head Of Planning & Environmental Services
Supporting defence infrastructure and the future of time-limited permitted development rights
Thank you for your invitation to make a representation on the Government’s consultation on the ‘Supporting defence infrastructure and the future of time-limited permitted development rights’ that has been open for consultation between 05 September 2021 and 14 November 2021.
The consultation seeks views on the future of two temporary permitted development rights for moveable structures and markets, including the benefits of the rights as they exist, and views on proposed mitigation if they were to be made permanent. The consultation also seeks views on proposed new permitted development rights for the Ministry of Defence to enable the modernisation and development of the Defence estate. You are also seeking views on equality and impact of the rights on local authorities, businesses, and the community.
This letter refers to questions that have been posed within the consultation document and is the Council’s formal response to the proposed changes to the permitted development regime.
Future of temporary permitted development rights
Right for markets by or on behalf of local authorities
Q 1.a. Do you agree that the right allowing markets to be held by or on behalf of local authorities for an unlimited number of days per year (Part 12, Class BA) should be made permanent?
Yes. Outdoor markets are seen as a positive contributor to communities, encouraging people to shopping centres and, therefore, boosting local economies, social interaction and appreciation of some of our historic spaces.
Q 1.b. Do you have any evidence as to any benefits and impacts as a result of introducing this right for markets, or have views of future impacts were the right made permanent?
No. That said, although Wealden District Council do not hold any of our own markets, the rights extend to town and parish councils who organise some of the dozen or so markets that are held at least monthly across the District, some on land leased from us.
We have helped foster these markets and hold forums to help support organisers and other interested parties. We do this on the basis that markets are viewed positively; they increase footfall to areas which, in turn, contributes to local economies and supports local communities.
It is considered options to hold them more frequently, more easily, can be supported and future impacts would likely be positive ones as people shopping locally will help make town centres more resilient given shifting patterns in shopping habits and work patterns.
Q.1.c. Do you think that there should be a limit on the number of days that this right can be used for in a calendar year?
No. It is considered that the frequency of markets is self-policing and providing a limit is not necessary as the risk of material harm from something uncontrolled is very low.
The reason for this is the nature of demand – market operators and customers are unlikely to have an appetite for markets being held too frequently, it would be counterproductive. Furthermore, there are other means of control, like the leasing of land from the District Council or licencing regimes which can control times and frequency.
Q.1.d. Do you have views on whether there should be additional restrictions on the use of this right to mitigate against potential impacts of making this permanent, including proximity to scheduled monuments?
No. Focusing on heritage assets in particular, it is not considered that impacts on scheduled monuments is a risk within the district. Similar restrictions in conservation areas or within the curtilages of listed buildings are not considered necessary as increased footfall is likely to involve in greater appreciation of these assets.
Right for the provision of moveable structures
Q.2.a. Do you agree that the right allowing for the provision of moveable structures (Part 4, Class BB) should be made permanent?
Yes. Allowing hospitality businesses and historic attractions the flexibility to continue operating using their outdoor space, especially during inclement weather, has clear benefits for local economies and communities.
That said, the right was introduced during the pandemic to allow some business activity to continue, but in a safer way having regard to public health concerns. It is considered that the public have been reasonably tolerant of these structures in response to the significance of the pandemic and its impacts, but there is some concern that if the rights are made permanent there would be a conflict with the amenities of neighbouring or nearby residents, as such tolerance would begin to wane. This is understandable given that there are currently no limits on the use of these moveable structures, so no ability to control issues that may arise such as noise and disturbance.
There have also been some issues with the types of structures being erected. These include fixed pergolas and other more permanent structures as it appears there can be a misunderstanding of what constitutes a moveable structure.
There can also be significant variation in the types of moveable structures used and their visual attractiveness. Since the start of the pandemic, as more options have become available, more attractive styles of moveable structure have been used, but it is worth noting that the type of structure and the period of its erection can be more of an issue within the setting of listed buildings and other heritage assets, where long periods of incongruous moveable structures can have a negative impact on the significance of the heritage asset.
Q.2.b. Do you have any evidence of benefits and impacts as a result of the introduction of the right for moveable structures (Part 4, Class BB), or have views on potential future impacts were the right made permanent?
No evidence of the benefits. That said, Wealden District Council is supportive of initiatives that help contribute to local economies and support local communities. This right is considered to have provided that benefit and will continue to do so if made permanent.
There is some evidence of negative impacts in the district through the misinterpretation of the definition of moveable structures and, as mentioned in the previous response, there is some concern as to the impacts if made permanent on the setting of heritage assets, where continued use of incongruous structures will cause harm to the significance of the assets. Furthermore, there could be increased harm to neighbouring amenities, due to instances of noise and disturbance from unreasonable use of outdoor space with limited ability for noise attenuation.
Q.2.c. Do you think the right for moveable structures (Part 4, Class BB) should be limited to 56 days per calendar year?
This should be the maximum limit but a reduced period should be considered as it is not considered that a longer period would be tolerated especially by those who may live adjacent to or nearby.
Consideration should also be given to a maximum number of consecutive days a moveable structure could be erected to allow for periods of respite, especially where conflicts with neighbouring residents could occur.
Q.2.d. Do you think that the right for moveable structures (Part 4, Class BB) could be greater than 56 days, or allowed for an unlimited number of days, in the curtilage of non-listed buildings?
No. Whilst there is some concern about the impact of moveable structures on the setting of listed buildings, as explained above, listed buildings are not the only properties where heritage impacts could occur. Some moveable structures can be visible within conservation areas, impacting on character and setting, and some non-designated heritage assets could be negatively impacted if moveable structures were allowed to be in place for longer periods of time.
Furthermore, heritage impacts are not the only concern. A greater period of time for moveable structures within the curtilage of non-listed buildings could still result in unacceptable impacts on neighbouring amenities from noise and disturbance and a period of 56 days is unlikely to be tolerated.
Q.2.e. Do you agree that there should be a height limit for the moveable structures of 4 metres?
Yes. But a limit of 4m needs to be qualified further. I height of 4m in the curtilage of a building with substantial grounds is unlikely to be of concern – subject to other considerations, such as heritage – but a structure of that height in a more confined space could have more significant impacts.
The consultation text states that this right would bring it line with permitted development rights for buildings incidental to the use of a dwellinghouse, however, there are additional restrictions on the heights of incidental dwellinghouse buildings. These include restrictions depending on their roof shape and proximity to the boundary as well as restrictions on the heights of eaves. Similar additional restrictions should be used to ensure that the structures erected are appropriate for the space in which they sit.
Q.2.f. Do you agree that there should be a size threshold on the moveable structures allowing them to be up to 50% of the footprint of the existing building on site?
No. This criteria is considered too arbitrary and could result in some small outdoor spaces being completely covered by a structure which, deepening on the proximity of neighbouring properties could have negative impacts. Conversely, some small properties may have larger grounds and then be unnecessarily restricted in the size of structure that could be reasonably erected given the space.
Perhaps a more practicable criteria could be a percentage figure of the property curtilage.
Whatever the approach, limits need to consider the impact on heritage assets. Concerns around the potential for noise and disturbance are also raised again as the larger the structure the more such issues could be exacerbated.
Whilst not controlled through the planning process, consideration should be given to the health and safety aspects of large moveable structures too. Such structures require anchoring and often have moveable or pliable parts. The risks of these failing and causing harm can increase the larger the structure gets.
Q.2.g Do you have any evidence of impacts specifically on heritage assets, including listed buildings as a result of the introduction of the right for moveable structures (Part 4, Class BB). Do you have any views on potential future impacts on heritage assets were the right made permanent?
No evidence of impacts since the right was introduced. Looking to the future we support opportunities for heritage assets to be visited, and moveable structures to allow flexible use of outdoor space could help achieve that, but there are concerns about the impact moveable structures, depending on their time erected, size and design will have on the significance of such assets.
Q.2.h. Do you have views on whether there should be any other additional restrictions on the use of this right (Part 4, Class BB) to mitigate against potential impacts of making this permanent?
Yes. Limits should be considered on the number of consecutive days moveable structures can be erected for as well as the total calendar days to provide respite, helping to avoid unacceptable harm to neighbouring amenities.
As above, health and safety needs to be considered including how structures remain secure during their erection and how fire safety is maintained. Fire exits could be inadvertently blocked and it is understood that fire precautions have been relaxed during the pandemic, this could be an issue if the right is made permanent.
Public Sector Equality Duty and Impact Assessments
Q.3. Do you think that any of the proposed changes in relation to the future of the time-limited permitted development rights could impact on: a) businesses b) local planning authorities c) communities
Yes, there will be an impact. It’s seen as a positive one as the changes allow for the rights to be utilised more easily allowing business to be more flexible and to increase trade opportunities.
Yes, there will be some impact. Whilst there are limited enquiries regarding these rights, extending the rights are likely to increase the likelihood of there being enquiries about their implementation and, as discussed in the previous questions, there are possible enforcement issues regarding the types of moveable structures that could be installed and complaints regarding impacts on neighbouring residential amenities.
Yes, there will be an impact. Just as businesses will be able to be more flexible and increase opportunities for trade, the changes to these rights will likely provide more opportunities for communities to shop and meet locally allowing for social and economic gains. As above there are possible enforcement issues regarding the types of moveable structures that could be installed and complaints regarding impacts on neighbouring residential amenities.
Q.4. Do you think that any of the proposed changes in relation to the future of the time-limited permitted development rights could give rise to any impacts on people who share a protected characteristic? (Age; Disability; Gender Reassignment; Pregnancy and Maternity; Race; Religion or Belief; Sex; and Sexual Orientation.
Yes, there will be some impact. Broadly speaking the rights will increase opportunities for outdoor markets to be held and allow local hospitality businesses to use their premises more flexibly. It is considered that this will increase access opportunities to shops and services to some who share a protected characteristic. However, given the possibility that extended rights for moveable structures may lead to more issues around noise and disturbance, there may be a more acute impact on those who are less able to leave their homes.
Supporting Defence infrastructure
New Permitted Development Rights and Proposed Limitations to the Permitted Development Rights
Q 5. Do you agree that new rights should be created that will enable MOD to develop more single living accommodation within the perimeter of their sites up to 25% of the existing floorspace for single living accommodation at a Defence site to support service personnel?
Q 6. Do you agree that new rights should be created that will enable MOD to develop other types of workspace up to 35% of the existing floorspace within the perimeter of their sites?
Q7. Do you agree that supporting the redevelopment of Defence assets and Defence bases will provide an opportunity for new jobs in regions across the UK and will underpin Defence’s active role in communities across the UK?
Q 8. Do you agree that the permitted development rights should be applied to the wide range of buildings needed by MOD?
Q9. Do you agree that a greater percentage should apply for the workspace provision?
Q 10. Do you think restricting the location of development to 15m from the perimeter of the military site is sufficient or would a greater distance be better?
Q11. Do you think there is scope to raise the 4000 sqm footprint trigger for prior approval on the very largest operational military sites?
Q12. Do you agree that locating taller buildings together would be a good idea?
Q13. Do you think that the exercise of the permitted development rights in flood risk zones should be subject to prior consultation?
Q.14. Do you think that the exercise of permitted development rights in relation to sites with land contamination should be subject to prior consultation?
Q 15. Do you think it is appropriate that only SSSI, Article 2(3) land, listed buildings and Scheduled Monuments should be excluded from the permitted development rights?
Head of Planning & Environmental Services