Q. What does the purdah period mean for local government's planning duties?
A. The LGA guidance for the upcoming local elections makes clear that communications should not shut down completely, and that authorities can continue to carry out normal council business, "including determining planning applications, even if they are controversial". However, authorities are advised to "think carefully" before launching any new consultations. "Unless it is a statutory duty, don't start any new consultations or publish report findings from consultation exercises, which could be politically sensitive," the guidance states.
Q. What are the implications of the general election announcement for ongoing planning legislation?
A. The announcement of an 8 June general election, with Parliament rising on 2 May, means that there is now less than two weeks for the government to complete any outstanding parliamentary business.
The biggest piece of planning legislation that remains in the parliamentary pipeline is the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, which is designed to strengthen neighbourhood planning, clamp down on the use of certain kinds of planning conditions and streamline the compulsory purchase system.
The Bill is due to go back to the House of Lords on 26 April for consideration of the most recent Commons amendments, including the removal of permitted development rights for change of use from pubs to restaurants, cafes and shops.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said no change to the parliamentary timetable was planned.