This years Joint Planning Law Conference "More Light than Heat" certainly threw a lot of light on topical planning issues. 

My key takeaways include:

• Difficulties arise from what a speaker called "dysfunctional law dependency syndrome" – politicians don’t know how to "do" law to secure their desired outcomes. That has contributed to what another speaker described (referring to England) as a deeply unstable time for planning law and policy.

• Client dependency syndrome limits the influence of the planning and legal professions (both public and private sectors have "clients")

• The growing awareness of carbon payback period – but whole life costing needs to be linked to a target, otherwise how do we know when the balance pivots to demolition of a building rather than its reuse?

• Does the planning system have the skills to deal with embodied carbon – should it be a building control issue?

• Topical issues for solar projects include siting on best and most versatile land, and, for battery energy storage, fire risk (despite there only being 1 BES fire in the UK)

• The new BRE guidelines on daylight and sunlight refer to impact on existing solar panels

• We need to get the message to engineers that streets are places, not just for vehicles

• An infrastructure levy would raise revenue, but does not address how to improve delivery of infrastructure

• The implications of the Hillside judgment, about overlapping planning permissions, might seem to be an enforcement issue, but lack of certainty means it is also a potential concern for funders of projects. The good news is that insurance cover is likely to be available soon.


Neil Collar