UK: Recent Changes In The Law Affecting Commercial Property And Property Development

Last Updated: 18 January 2001

Expect more Compulsory Purchase Orders. A parliamentary Select Committee has recommended that local plans should make provision for town centre supermarket sites if the sequential test is to operate properly. It also called for local authorities to exercise Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers to enable site assembly.

There has been evidence of greater CPO activity by local authorities. For example, in Wickham town centre, a successful Tesco superstore was recently CPO'd. Tesco's challenge was dismissed as the Inspector found neither the present store, or a replacement, would fit into the proposed town centre redevelopment.

New Business Rates. The new non-domestic rating list came into force on 1 April 2000. Transitional provisions will limit the increases in rates for the first year with larger increases in subsequent years. Appeals against incorrect revaluation can be made, but it is important to appeal quickly as any alteration will only have effect from the beginning of the financial year in which it is lodged. Simple proposals to change the list can be made by Internet to the valuation officer.

The change will have other effects. Compensation payable under the Landlord & Tenant Act where business leases are terminated to allow redevelopment will increase. Service charges may be affected and redistributed by reference to rateable values.

The new valuation list can be viewed on the Valuation Office Agency website http://www.voa.gov.uk Judicial Review – review of time limits.

Barristers have called for a reform of the rules governing when a Judicial Review challenge can be made. Previously the Judicial Review had to be started within three months of the planning permission issue date. Now the courts require challenges to be made within six weeks of the date of the Committee resolution.

Until the rules are clarified anyone contemplating using Judicial Review should consider attacking a resolution to grant within six weeks and not await completion of a S106 Agreement or Secretary of State decision to call-in. It should not be assumed that once the six week period has passed that there will be no challenge to planning permission. The Courts have discretion to allow late challenges or, for example, challenges to a later grant of permission linked to a S106 Agreement. The Hammond Suddards Edge team of planning lawyers has much experience of Judicial Review. Contact Martin Walker if you would like to discuss any particular case. Rights enforceable without binding agreement. A recent Court of Appeal case involving the acquisition of land by two joint venture parties has ruled that a party may obtain an interest in land even in the absence of a binding agreement, if it is the victim of inequitable or unconscionable behaviour. The behaviour in question cited in this case - Banner Homes Group plc v Luff Developments Limited - was the acquisition of a development site solely by one party despite a previous agreement in principle between the two parties to acquire the same site jointly.

Landlord & Tenant concerns. Limitations of the Landlord & Tenant Act have once again come under the spotlight following a recent court ruling. It is well known that a landlord can not grant a lease and then act in a way to make the premises substantially less fit for the tenant's original purpose. However, prospective tenants should be aware that without an express obligation in the lease, there is nothing to prevent the landlord using adjoining premises in a manner that can make the tenant's use of his own premises more expensive.

Tenants should take heed of the Petra v Jeffrey Rogers case. A chain store had taken premises in a shopping mall, which was originally planned to consist of high quality retail outlets, but the quality of tenant was never achieved. In this case, the court refused to assist the tenant.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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