ABG Property Newsletter – September 2012

Proposed changes for house building and planning

The Government has announced a series of proposed measures with a view to boosting house building and therefore jobs and the economy. This includes slashing what is considered to be unnecessary red tape affecting the planning system.

The proposed changes include:-

  • Allowing developers to appeal where sites are commercially unviable because of the number of affordable homes that must be provided. The Planning Inspectorate will be able to set aside an existing section 106 agreement for 3 years and grant a new agreement with a reduction in the number of affordable homes.
  • A temporary 3 year increase in permitted development rights which will allow homeowners and businesses to make improvements and/or extensions to their properties. Permitted development rights will also allow change of use from commercial to residential purposes.
  • Where a local authority has a poor track record in making decisions, planning applications will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate. More categories of commercial and business development will be treated as major infrastructure for planning purposes and there will be an increased use in planning performance agreements.

The Government also proposes an increase in funding for affordable housing, rented homes and the First Buy scheme.

Squatting in residential property becomes a criminal offence

From 1st September 2012 squatting in a residential building has become a criminal offence. This marks a major change in the law. Prior to this change squatting is normally a civil matter only, unless a separate criminal offence has been committed.

This change is intended to help homeowners and tenants to recover possession of their properties more easily through being able to seek assistance from the police.

It should be noted though that the change does not apply to other categories of property, such as commercial buildings or open spaces. These property owners will still need to use civil court remedies to remove squatters from their properties.

Flat tenants obtain injunction against landlord to prevent development of car parking spaces

Under their leases each tenant in a block of flats had been granted a right to use a designated car parking space. The landlord had reserved the right to redevelop the neighbouring land, but this did not extend to the car parking spaces.

The landlord wanted to develop a new building on the common parts of the premises, including the car parking spaces granted to the tenants. He argued that he was entitled to require the tenants to accept alternative car parking spaces.

However, the tenants obtained an injunction against the landlord as the leases had granted the tenants the right to use the spaces. The landlord had not reserved a right to build on the car park spaces and so an injunction was granted.


The comments in this note are of a general nature only. Full advice should be sought on any specific problems.

Siobhan Goodacre
+44 (0)115 934 3325

Wendy Shaw
+44 (0)115 934 3303