This week the States of Guernsey has approved a policy letter to update the Planning Ordinance that enhances and extends the number of exemptions under which islanders and businesses will not require planning permission to carry out development on their property and land.
There is now a longer and more extensive list of exemptions that will make it easier for households, businesses, charities, utilities and different States departments to undertake works that are considered “development” under Planning Law.
The Development and Planning Authority (D&PA), officers, and the political committee have worked very hard for over a year to bring this policy forward and it has been very well received by the States and community.
This is a good example of how the D&PA can be flexible to adapt to the changing circumstances and help meet States’ strategic objectives and emerging priorities.
Here are just some examples of what the new Exemptions policy attempts to do:
- Simplify development of all sorts of residential and commercial improvement works, some of which are quite substantial such as reroofing, installation of dormers, erection of a porch (up to 6sqm) and further relaxations on extensions, garages, sheds and greenhouses on domestic curtilage land.
- There is a whole new class of exemptions relating specifically to flats.
- Support energy transition through relaxation on the installation of solar panels and electric charging points including those on listed buildings as well as small-scale air-source heat pumps and placing external insulation render.
- Improve climate change adaptation through the requirement for hard-surfaced areas to be permeable to reduce run-off and flooding risk.
- Support more remote working and businesses setting up from residential premises.
- Support more residential use in town by allowing conversion of upper floors of retail units to flats.
- Reduce planning process for States departments such as Traffic and Highways, Ports and Environment and Infrastructure as well as utilities. This includes installation of bus shelters, cycle shelters and cycle hoops, water refill stations.
- Supporting charities, public events, douzaines and arts in allowing for longer displays of signs and advertising, installation of temporary art installations, erection of heritage sigs and interpretation boards, parish signs.
- Remove barriers to domestic and small-scale commercial growing and animal husbandry by allowing the erection of polytunnels, greenhouses and small sheds on agricultural land and larger structures on domestic curtilage land.
It’s important to note that each exemption will have restrictions related to size, height, number and proximity to site boundary, so it will be key to check the details of the Exemptions ordinance once it’s drafted by law officers next year and signed-off again by the States.
The policy letter also included a completely new class of exemptions which allows a change of use of certain hotels or self-catering units to residential use.
The list is comprised of visitor accommodation sites that have not had a valid boarding permit since 31 December 2020 and have not been actively promoted as part of the active tourism accommodation bed stock. Several of such locations including Idlerocks and Forest Park have been left derelict and unused for many years.
The purpose of this exemption is to allow for controlled movement in the industry and encourage owners to develop the properties for alternative uses, such as housing. A planning application would still have to be submitted to receive an approval for development.