Consultation on new PD rights for schools and hospitals

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In December, the Government launched a public consultation titled ‘Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure’. As part of this consultation, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) are seeking views on proposed new measures to support the expansion of existing, and provision of new, public sector infrastructure through the planning system.

The consultation proposes to enable schools, colleges, universities, and hospitals to expand their facilities by up to 25% of the footprint of the current buildings on the site at the time the legislation is brought into force (or up to 250 square meters, whichever is greater) by amending the existing Class M PD right (Part 7, Schedule 3, GPDO). New buildings would be permitted to a maximum height of 6 metres, except when within 10 metres of the boundary or curtilage whereby the height limit would be 5 metres. The height limits do not include rooftop plant. The consultation seeks views on extending these rights to also apply to prisons.

The amendments to Class M PD rights are intended to streamline the expansion of existing public sector facilities which benefit from the rights. For those facilities which seek to expand beyond the scope of Class M, the consultation also outlines proposals for a new, streamlined process for applications for planning permission. In situations where the proposed development would be a major planning application and not EIA development, this would benefit from determination via a 10-week fast-track process. This new streamlined process would also include shortening the respective statutory publicity and consultation periods from 21 days to 14 days.

These new types of application, of which the Government envisages each Local Planning Authority (LPA) will receive no more than 5 per year, will be required to be prioritised by planning officers, committees and statutory consultees. Furthermore, the Secretary of State will be notified once each application is validated and, 8 weeks later, notified of the formal decision date by the LPA. Ultimately, the Government are seeking to ensure that the planning system does not unduly cause delays to the vital delivery of key public service infrastructure improvements.

Comments and responses to the specific questions must be submitted via the online survey at the link provided below by Thursday 28 January. If this consultation is relevant to you and you would like advice as to how to make your views heard, please contact one of the Firstplan team.