Published: Thursday, 10th December 2015
Funding for garden towns and starter homes. Listed building consent poll. Key devolution legislation makes waves. And more stories...
Funding for garden towns and starter homes
Ministers have announced over £9m funding in total for two proposed garden town developments, one in Oxfordshire and the other in north Essex, and to help kick-start its ‘Starter Homes’ initiative.
As part of the initiative £8m has been to local authorities to help 27 sites across England prepare for the first wave of ‘Starter Homes’.
The funding will support councils in enabling ‘Starter Homes’ on local brownfield sites that are currently underused or vacant, through measures such as clearance, remediation, demolition and site investigations.
Over £1m funding is being allocated to help both the development of the Greater Didcot Garden Town in south Oxfordshire which could provide 15,000 new homes and proposals for a number of garden village communities in north Essex involving the county council and three district councils. These could provide 35,000 new dwellings.
Listed building consent poll
A third of listed building owners polled about applying for listed building consent (LBC) said their experience was poor, according to a survey just published by the Historic Environment Forum with the support of advisory body Historic England.
However half those involved said they had a good experience of the planning process. Those who did not go ahead with their application for LBC seem to be put off by the cost of skilled professionals and the complexity of the planning process.
The survey noted that since 2012/13, the number of listed building consent applications has grown, whereas all other planning applications have stabilised at lower levels than the peak of 2004/5.
This is in the face of further decreases in local authority staff. Since 2006, the number of archaeological specialists has fallen by 23 per cent and the number of conservation specialists has fallen by 35 per cent.
Key devolution legislation makes waves
The administration’s cities and local government devolution bill has been scrutinised by both Houses of Parliament and received its third reading in the Commons this week. The legislation will now return to the Lords where peers will consider Commons amendments.
The bill make provision for the election of mayors and additional functions for combined authorities and is a key building block for the devolution of power from central to local government.
NPs voted through in Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire and West Sussex
Four more neighbourhood plans received a yes vote at their referendums last week. The Walton NP in West Yorkshire achieved a 95 per cent vote in favour on a 34 per cent turn out. The Climping NP in West Sussex achieved a 93 per cent vote in favour on a 44.5 turn out. The Harworth & Bircotes NP in Nottinghamshire achieved an 85 per cent vote in favour on a 13 per cent turn-out. While the Norley NP in Cheshire saw 95 per cent vote yes on a 20 per cent turn-out.
RIBA urges minimum space standards
The Royal Institute of British Architects has urged the Government to insist on minimum space standards for all homes, in every location. The organisation has argued that the administration’s recently introduced so-called Nationally Described Space Standard should become part of the building regulations.
The institute complained that the standard won’t solve the problem of inadequate housing because it is voluntary and too complicated for local authorities to introduce.
According to research commissioned by RIBA outside of London the average new 3-bedroom home is missing 4 square metres, the size of a family bathroom.
It also pointed out that new three bedroom homes in London are 25 square metres bigger than in Yorkshire, the size of a double bedroom and family living room. The smallest three bedroom homes surveyed were missing 9 square metres, the size of a double bedroom.
RIBA claimed its survey showed that more than half of the new homes being built today are not big enough to meet the needs of the people who buy them.
The property industry has called on central and local government to do more to recognise the importance of the logistics sector in terms of boosting the economy and providing jobs.
A report called ’Delivering the Goods’ published by the British Property Federation (BPF) and researched by planning consultancy Turley, has outlined the contribution the logistics sector makes to the UK some £100bn Gross Value Added (GVA) per year.
The BPF called on central government to recognise the important role the logistics industry plays in the wider economy as the industrial sector faces increasing competition for land from higher value uses like housing. It said local councils should ensure that industrial land is given adequate provision in local plans.
The report estimated that the logistics sector directly supported a minimum of 56,000 businesses and employed 2.2 million people, some eight per cent of the UK’s workforce. The survey found that employment in warehousing operations increased by 40 per cent between 2009 and 2013.
- Plans for up to 13 new London bridges and tunnels along the River Thames would “unlock areas for development”, Mayor Boris Johnson has insisted after launching the report ‘Connecting the capital’ which features new crossings between Fulham in the west and Dartford in the east. Transport for London (TfL) has already launched public consultations on two of the crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere, both on the east side of the conurbation.
- Proposals for the City of London’s tallest tower, One Undershaft, have been unveiled. The 73-storey skyscraper would be slightly shorter than the Shard but would be the second highest building in the capital. At 309.6 metres, it would be 80 metres taller than the nearby Cheesegrater, which stands at 224m, and would dwarf the 180 metre high Gherkin. The project involves a public square at its base, a free public viewing gallery and a sky-high restaurant.
- East London’s Hackney Council has approved a mixed-use scheme at 201-207 Shoreditch High Street which will comprise a 200-room hotel as well as office floor space including so-called “creative” facilities with shared amenities and roof terraces.
Latest official figures show 66,640 new affordable homes were delivered in the last year in England. Ministers claimed this represented the highest annual increase since 1993. The Department for Communities and Local Government also said the numbers of new affordable and social rented homes were up by nearly two-thirds in the last 12 months. The department insisted over 270,000 new affordable homes had been delivered since 2010.
Meanwhile separate figures from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) revealed that in the six months from April and September 2015 there were 10,592 housing starts on site and 9,471 housing completions delivered through programmes managed by the agency in England (excluding London) except those administered by the HCA on behalf of the Greater London Authority.
The majority (7,572 or 71 per cent) of the housing starts on site in the six months to 30 September 2015 were for affordable homes. This represents a decrease of 20 per cent on the 9,439 affordable homes reported between 1 April and 30 September 2014.
LGA housing commission launched
The Local Government Association has launched a Housing Commission to explore new routes to house building, so councils can accelerate the building of more homes.
The LGA claimed that councils built nine times more homes between 2010 and 2015 than between 2000 and 2005. The association has argued that 230,000 new homes are needed each year and private developers have failed to provide more than 150,000 homes a year for more than three decades.
Builder ‘red tape’ review
The Government has promised another so-called ’Red Tape’ review which will allow house builders a further chance to canvas the removal of unnecessary and ineffective rules and enforcement procedures.
The key starting points for the review are based on the priorities raised by the earlier Housing Implementation Task Force:
- Roads and infrastructure rules for new housing developments
- Environmental requirements, particularly EU rules such as the Habitats Directive and wider EU environmental permit requirements
- Rules that affect utilities (such as electricity, gas and water – as well as broadband infrastructure).
The Government is keen to look at the changes made to the Construction, Design and Management Regulations, as well as any examples of EU rules that are being implemented too strictly.
Bristol airfield development site sold
The former Filton Airfield in Bristol, a strategic development site, has been sold to Malaysian developers YTL Utilities.
The 142-hectare site was previously owned by BAE Systems and has been bought by YTL Utilities for an undisclosed sum.
Planning permission for 2,675 new homes and 25-hectares of office and industrial use was granted by South Gloucestershire Council earlier this year.
Green light for Salford homes
Silverlane Developments (Greengate) Ltd has been given the go ahead by the city council for 300 new homes in two landmark towers in Salford.
The £50m development, known as Norton Court, involves buildings of 34 and 14 storeys and will provide a mix of one, two and three bedroom flats.
It will also include 473 square metres of commercial space at ground level, basement car parking, landscaping and links to the riverside walkway along the River Irwell.
The 0.19-hectare car-park site is part of a wider residential-led mixed use regeneration strategy by the council which aims to deliver 1,826 homes in the area over the next 15 years.
Stratford upon Avon town centre makeover
Stratford-on-Avon District Council has given the go-ahead to UK & European Investments to redevelop Bell Court, previously known as Stratford Town Square.
The £30m redevelopment will include new retail floor space, a four-screen Everyman cinema and a new restaurant as part of a 6,503 square metre project. The 14th-century bell that previously hung in Bell Court will be reinstalled at the High Street entrance to the site.
1,800-home ‘Surrey village’ project
Dunsfold Park Ltd, the company which owns and operates Dunsfold Aerodrome, has submitted plans for 1,800 new homes, an expanded business park and community facilities including a country park to Waverley Borough Council. The company says the development would be in the form of a new ‘Surrey village’.
The council refused plans for 2,600 homes on the brownfield site back in 2008. Unlike much of the borough the aerodrome is neither in green belt or the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Power project moves
- A judge at the Court of Session has said the Scottish Government’s decision to approve a 67-turbine wind farm near Fort Augustus was “defective” following a judicial review brought by conservation charity the John Muir Trust. Lord Jones said ministers reached their decision on SSE’s Stronelairg project “in breach of environmental obligations”.
- Tata Steel has been given a development consent order to build a new power plant, which will be fuelled by gases produced at its Margam site at Port Talbot, south Wales.
- Court of Appeal judges have overturned a High Court decision which backed the approval given by Denbigh County Council for two wind turbines on the outskirts of the North Wales village of Llandrillo which resident Andrew Jedwell has been fighting for several years. The appeal court judges decided that the judge who dismissed Jedwell’s earlier High Court challenge was mistaken. They have sent the case back to the High Court for reconsideration in the light of a procedural irregularity during the earlier High Court hearing.
Tintagel bridge designs
English Heritage has unveiled short-listed designs for a new 87 metre high footbridge at “one of the most spectacular historic sites in Britain”. The heritage body plans to build the £4m structure to reconnect two sites at Tintagel Castle in north Cornwall.
Toxteth terrace regeneration wins Turner Prize
A regeneration scheme for derelict houses in Toxteth in Liverpool has won Britain’s leading contemporary art award, the Turner Prize.
The £25,000 prize went to London-based architecture and design collective Assemble, who have revamped 10 terraced houses in the area.
Judges praised what they called “a ground-up approach to regeneration and development in opposition to corporate gentrification”.