The Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill – Garden Centres

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is currently going through its various Parliamentary stages.  Chris Primett of Malcolm Scott Consultants Ltd reviews a couple of proposed changes to planning matters which are likely to be of interest to many garden centre owners. 

Dictionary Definition of Legislation

The Four Year ‘Rule’

Firstly it is proposed to change the number of years that must elapse before a development, which has not been implemented in accordance with the planning consent granted, can be considered as being ‘lawful’. If we take as an example a 40’ container without consent used for storage of garden centre items.  If it is within your approved garden centre boundary and you have evidence that it has been on site for 4 years or longer (say from before 2018), you can, therefore at present, apply to your Local Planning Authority for a Certificate of Lawful Development.  If they have no evidence to dispute your case or on the balance of probabilities they are satisfied the requisite 4 year rule has been met then they must issue the Certificate. 

The Levelling Up Bill is proposing that in England the time period is to be extended to 10 years, in other words you will now have to prove that it has been on site continuously before 2012.  It is not just storage containers that you need to consider, it can be anything that has not been implemented in accordance with a consent.  This change will affect garden centres in several ways including their valuation; the period when enforcement action by a Council can take place; and the calculation of any CIL payments.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

Many owners will be familiar with this tax on development.  Currently you can net off against a CIL liable development any existing, qualifying development that has planning consent or is lawful. A simple example would be:

Proposed shop development:                        900m2

Existing buildings to be demolished:              -300m2

CIL liable on:                                                   600m2

If the CIL rate were, for example, £100/m2 you would owe the Council £60,000.  If the buildings to be demolished have no consent or are not lawful then the CIL liability would be £90,000.

However, and here possibly is some good news, the Levelling Up Bill is looking to replace CIL with a new tax, the Infrastructure Levy (IL).  This might be based upon the uplift in value of your garden centre as a result of receiving planning consent and not based on a flat rate per m2 which currently applies whether you are Tesco’s or a retail plant centre.  But, and there is always a but, if the Government continue with netting off existing development to be demolished against the IL liability this will still have to have planning consent or be lawful. It might be prudent, therefore, for garden centre owners to assess what development is on site and if there is no consent establish whether it is lawful. 

For further information please contact Chris at or call 07715208428