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Call The Minister: DLUHC revises "Call -in" Direction and other news....

We are all very busy in the Planning & Environment team at IM Towers* this week, so I am afraid you are getting a very quick round-up post.  If anything, it is more of a public service announcement…

So here are some things you might need to know:

The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2024

As of midday today, we have a new Call-in Direction. DLUHC has expanded the scope of the 2021 Order so that it now also covers “development affecting ancient woodland” which is defined as follows:

“For the purposes of this Direction, “development affecting ancient woodland” means development which would result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland, where the local planning authority considers that potential adverse impacts cannot be mitigated.”

ancient woodland” is defined as follows “an area in England which has been continuously wooded since at least the end of the year 1600 A.D”.

All applications which meet this definition and are received after 26 January 2024 will now be caught by the terms of the order, which states:

  • Where an LPA does not propose to refuse an application for planning permission to which the Direction applies, they must consult the Secretary of State
  • An LPA that is under a duty to consult must not grant planning permission on the application until the expiry of a period of 21 days from the date on which the Secretary of State confirms receipt of the consultation material.
  • Unless the Secretary of State has notified the authority that he does not intend to call the application in before the end of that period.

Nothing has been removed from the scope of the 2021 Order, so the consultation provisions for:

  •  Green Belt development
  •  development outside town centres
  • World Heritage Site development
  • playing field development
  • flood risk area development; and
  • commemorative object development 

all continue to apply.

Mole Valley Intervention Letter

In other news, yesterday Housing Minister Lee Rowley issued an intervention letter directing Mole Valley District Council to: 

"1. Per section 27(2)(b): Not to take any step to withdraw the plan from examination and report monthly (from the date of this letter) to my officials on the progress with the examination. In accordance with section 27(8) of the 2004 Act, the Secretary of State’s reason for making this direction is to avoid the unnecessary additional delay to having an up to-date plan in place and additional expense that withdrawing the plan and preparing a new plan would cause. 

2. Per section 27(4)(b): On conclusion of the examination, to publish the Planning Inspector’s recommendations and reasons. 

3. Per section 27(5)(b): On conclusion of the examination, to consider adopting the plan, including any main modifications recommended by the Planning Inspector deemed necessary to make the plan sound. "

The letter arrived just hours before the Council was scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss how to take their submitted local plan forward, which is possibly the very definition of cutting it close to the wire…. nonetheless, it appears as if DLUHC's appetite for local plan interventions has not diminished over the Christmas period.

Consultation on Publishing Information on Contractual Land Controls Launches 

On 24 January, DLUHC launched a consultation over their proposals for increasing transparency over the use of ‘contractual land controls’ in England and Wales - by which they mean conditional contracts, option agreement, pre-emption agreements and the like. 

DLUHC's intention is, ultimately, to create a freely and publicly accessible register of “contractual land controls” over land in England & Wales. 

The consultation seeks views on the types of information that they intend to gather and what DLUHC intends to do with it. 

As this is not a planning consultation, I am not proposing to get into the details of it, but this is definitely one to put on the radar of your development, landowner, estates management or compliance colleagues!

The consultation runs until 20 March 2024

Latest Housing Supply Statistics 

and finally…. the latest housing supply statistics have been released and they contain some pretty concerning statistics.  The most striking of which being that starts on site has fallen 68% when compared to the previous quarter and 52% when compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

It is worth reviewing the whole report for context, but I have duplicated key statistics section below.

2.1 Building control figures (seasonally adjusted)

  • According to building control figures, between 1 July and 30 September 2023, the number of dwellings where building work has started on site was 21,300 (seasonally adjusted). This is a 68% decrease when compared to the previous quarter and is a 52% decrease when compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
  • The number of dwellings completed was 39,990 (seasonally adjusted). This is a 1% increase when compared to the previous quarter and is a 5% decrease when compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

2.2 Other housing supply indicators

  • In 2022-23, there were 234,400 net additional dwellings. This is similar to 2021-22 (down by 70 dwellings, or 0%).
  • In the quarter ending September 2023, there were 58,810 new dwelling EPCs lodged. This is a 6% decrease when compared to the same quarter last year.
  • In the year ending September 2023, there were 237,030 new dwelling EPCs lodged. This is a 4% decrease when compared to last year.
  • In 2022-23, there was a 239,380 net increase in the number of domestic properties with a council tax band. This is a 3% increase from the previous year.

Right. Procrastination over. Time to get back to work!




*disclaimer - not all IM offices are in high-rise buildings. I am also working from home today - but you get the point. 


This Direction is made under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (Statutory Instrument 2015 No 595). On the 26 January 2024 a revised Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2024 (Consultation Direction) was published in response to Section 136 of the Levelling up and Regeneration Act 2023.

It requires local planning authorities in England to consult the Secretary of State before granting planning permission for certain types of development.”