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Planning News - 26 January 2017

Published: Thursday, 26th January 2017

250,000 social rented homes could be lost by 2020 – CIH. Redhill cinema scheme approved. Planning tool upgraded to help London’s transport challenges. And more stories...

This weeks planning news in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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250,000 social rented homes could be lost by 2020 – CIH


Nearly 250,000 of the cheapest rented homes could be lost between 2012 and 2020 in England, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).

The predictions follow the publication of figures by the government earlier this month, which suggested that the total number of homes available for social rent fell by more than 120,000 between 2012 and 2016.


Additionally, while 44,600 new homes were built for social rent during that period, more were lost because housing providers converted them to higher affordable rents or sold them under Right to Buy, the CIH said.


CIH predicts that more than another 120,000 social rented homes will be lost between now and 2020. The projections suggest that 161,669 of the social rent losses will come from local authorities and 82,485 from housing associations between 2012 and 2020.


Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive at CIH, said: “The loss of so many of these types of homes is extremely worrying at a time we need more not less.


“It is positive that the government has announced new investment in housing in recent months but many of the homes which will be funded will still be out of reach to many people.”


However, over the last four years, Alafat said there has been a “very significant” decline in the number of homes at social rent.


“If the government really wants to solve our housing crisis it must recognise that building more homes at genuinely affordable rents will be crucial to help those who need housing the most. We are urging it to consider how, at the very least, it can prevent this decline. We should be seeing an increase in numbers, not a significant decline.”


Read more on the UK Government website:

Live tables on rents, lettings and tenancies


Local authority housing statistics data returns for 2015 to 2016

Laura Edgar, The Planner
24 January 2017





Redhill cinema scheme approved


Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s planning committee has approved a £40 million multiplex cinema, restaurants and shops in Redhill town centre, Surrey.


The redevelopment will include a six-screen cinema and up to 11 glass-fronted shops and family-style restaurants on the ground and first floors. There will also be 153 studio, one and two bedroom flats for private rent in the buildings, that will range from five to 13 storeys.


The scheme features basement car parking and access, cycle storage and public realm.


Marketfield Way surface car park and a number of other retail and commercial building fronting Redhill High Street will be redeveloped to provide the mixed-use scheme.


According to the planning officer’s report, the site is recognised as the “main focal point for economic and cultural provision” within the council’s 2014 core strategy due to its “good” transport connections.


It also features in the Redhill Town Centre Area Action Plan Consultation Draft 2012.

The decision to approve the development was made in line with the planning officer’s recommendation.


The core strategy notes that the development should provide 30 per cent affordable housing. However, an open book viability appraisal was submitted with the application suggesting that developer profit would be just 11.5 per cent.


This is “far below” what is expected to provide a “reasonable developer return”, the planning officer’s report states.


When scrutinised by independent development viability experts appointed by the council, further value was extracted, raising the profit to 14.8 per cent, but this has been deemed short of the usual developer appraisal that would be expected.


A developer profit deemed appropriate for this development is 15 per cent, the report states.

The report concludes that: “The development viability has therefore been fully explored and it is concluded that it would not offer sufficient profit to enable the requirement of affordable housing in this case.”


However, to ensure that a contribution towards affordable housing is “clawed back” if the development viability proves better than expected, a clawback agreement has been negotiated.

This will see 50 per cent of any profit over and above a 15 per cent profit on cost threshold made as a affordable housing contribution.


As the council is the applicant, this is a condition, rather than a section 106 agreement.

Natalie Bramhall, the council’s executive member for property, said: “The redevelopment will provide a huge boost to our regeneration ambitions and the local economy by creating hundreds of new jobs and increasing spend in the town.


“The next step now is for the architects to complete the detailed specifications for the scheme and for us to tender the building contract.”


Construction is currently planned to start later in 2017 and be complete in 2019.

The scheme was designed by architects PRP and will be delivered by Coplan Estates.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
24 January 2018


Planning tool upgraded to help London’s transport challenges


Transport for London (TfL) has upgraded its online planning tool in an attempt to help the capital’s planners design housing and business developments for the future.


WebCAT aims to show how well connected a location is in terms of transport as well as journey times.


The previous version of the tool allowed users to choose a location and see heat maps showing how far could be travelled within different time bands using public transport. Users could also look at what the future transport networks could look like, including where the Elizabeth line will run.


The upgraded version developed with digital creative agency Mando, includes:


  • Heat maps that shows users how well connected an area is, not just by public transport but now also by cycling infrastructure.
  • Travel times from any location in London, now including the number of people, jobs, town centres, health services and schools with specified travel time bands.
  • New comparisons between differed scenarios such as cycling and public transport on the transport network now and in the future.



By including data such as how many jobs can be reached from a certain location and the number of health services in the area, TfL said planners can quickly asses the viability of any new housing and shopping developments by showing how many people are within a short or long commute of the selected location.


Alex Williams, acting managing director of planning at TfL, said: “London’s planners have a huge challenge ahead of them and WebCAT is a great toolkit which has already provided them with lots of useful data. We have now upgraded it to include a variety of new features, such as how many jobs and schools are nearby. This means that a wider range of people, for example property developers or residents, can now use it to find out more about specific locations in London and help plan what London will look like in the future.”


The WebCAT tool can be found here.


Laura Edgar, The Planner
23 January 2017


Study suggests disconnect over housing development viability in Wales


A report that looks at why viability issues are stalling housing developments assessed as deliverable in local development plans highlights a disconnect between the aspirations of house builders/developers and local planning authorities.


Longitudinal viability study of the planning process, undertaken by consultancy Arcadis (UK) Ltd for the Welsh Government, said viability was a complex issue and “open and positive engagement between stakeholders in the planning process appears to be a relatively rare occurrence.”


Case studies involving five local planning authorities (Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Neath Port Talbot, Monmouthshire and Newport) revealed that 17 per cent of sites identified as under construction or completed experienced issues with viability.


Factors included site remediation costs, infrastructure requirements, site drainage works, demolition works, the level of affordable housing contributions required and matters concerning housing types.

The report makes recommendations covering all stages of the planning process, from site identification during the preparation of a local development plan (LDP) to the assessment of sites at the development management stage.


More consistency in local authority wide viability studies is needed, said Arcadis. The consultancy also called for better ‘future-proofing’, the use of better sensitivity tests and improved dissemination of best practice and more robust guidance in the LDP Manual.




Roger Milne, The Planner
19 January 2017



Report: Estate regeneration demands a new approach


A fresh approach to regenerating London’s estates is required, and London businesses suggest that it could include building on disused spaces such as empty garages.


A report launched by London First, a business membership organisation, law firm Winckworth Sherwood LLP and planning company Terence O’Rourke, states that redevelopment of London’s public housing estates can help to solve London’s housing crisis.


The capital “needs to build a minimum of 49,000 homes a year but the city is systemically failing to meet this target”.


Jonathan Seager, housing policy director at London First, said: “It will be critical for any new scheme – either a large-scale redevelopment or building new homes in existing spaces – to deliver the right deal for residents as well as those building the homes. By unlocking more private investment, the benefits of regeneration in London will be seen.”


The report, Estate Regeneration: More and Better Homes for London, notes that there is “considerable scope” for estate regeneration to deliver more homes, but that doesn’t mean every housing estate should be redeveloped.


The challenge, the report continues, is to get more of these “typically long and complex” schemes to happen and to improve the quality of life of residents while at the same time ensuring that these schemes play their part in a “much broader effort that is required to increase house building in London”.


If estate regeneration is to work, the report recommends establishing and running an effective community engagement process. Any deal that is put in place needs to work for residents and be commercially viable and public policy must provide greater support to estate regeneration, it says.

Making use of empty space on estates has the potential to build thousands of homes, say the report’s authors. These projects, they say, could also help cross-subsidise improvements across the estate, improving the quality of existing homes or building new community facilities.


Other recommendations in the report include:


  • Where Compulsory Order (CPO) is the best option to progress regeneration, clear guidance should be provided to support the early preparation of orders so the formal process can start quickly once planning permission is granted. This aims to reduce the prospect of delay and uncertainty.
  • If schemes deliver more than new or improved housing such as community facilities, commercial space or transport improvements, government guidance should indicate support for local planning authorities to either exempt the payment of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) or to pay a reduced rate.
  • The government should abolish restrictions on the ability of local councils to borrow against the value of their housing stock, when this would be within prudential limits.
  • If the government implements starter homes through requiring a set percentage to be delivered on developments over a threshold then estate regeneration schemes should be exempt from this approach.
  • Local councils should provide clear estate regeneration policies in their local development plans.



Tim Hancock, managing director of Terence O’Rourke, said: “We need to see central government and City Hall encourage local authorities to look at the estates they have and make it easy for them to form partnerships with developers and local residents to regenerate them.


“If adopted, the series of recommendations presented in the report will go some way in helping to unlock the barriers and red tape that still exist in delivering the best possible outcomes for social and physical regeneration.”




Laura Edgar, The Planner
25 January 2017


News round up


Construction begins on Manchester build to rent scheme

Construction work has started on a 36-storey tower in the centre of Manchester, within NOMA, a mixed-use redevelopment scheme in the city.


Moda Living and Apache Capital Partners have appointed Carillion to deliver Angel Gardens, a build-to-rent scheme.


The £154 million development includes 520,000 square feet of space with 466 apartments and 220,000 square feet of commercial space. The development also comprises a range of amenities, including a gym, cinema, restaurants and shops.


The site is opposite Manchester Victoria.



Birmingham industrial unit approved

Birmingham City Council has approved a 100,075 square foot industrial warehouse unit.

Barwood Capital, a real estate and development company, and First Industrial, an industrial real estate development company, will build the warehouse.


Birmingham 100 will be constructed on a 5.72 acre site on Walsall Road, just north of Birmingham City Centre.


It will comprise a warehouse and a two-storey office capable of accommodating up to 130 people, 47 HGV trailer parking spaces and 95 car parking spaces. It is expected to be completed by autumn 2017.



New hospital to be built in Westminster

Westminster City Council has approved the construction of a new health clinic at 33 Grosvenor Place in Belgravia.


The existing office building is to be redeveloped and converted into a modern private medical facility but plans suggest it will retain its historic façade.


The applicant, Cleveland Clinics, intends to use the new 205-bed clinic to provide a variety of medical services for around 30 day-care patients and 45 daily inpatients.



Belfast residents invited to contribute to city’s development

Belfast residents, business owners and students have been invited to attend an information session to hear about plans for the city’s development.


The Belfast Agenda is the city’s first community plan. It sets out a joint vision and long-term ambitions for Belfast, and outlines priorities for action over the next four years.


The preferred options paper for Belfast’s local development plan will be published on 26 January.

The information sessions will provide people with the opportunity to comment both on the preferred options paper and the Belfast Agenda.


These are scheduled for:


  • 30 January 2pm-4pm at Girdwood Community Hub, 10 Girdwood Avenue
  • 2 February 6.30pm-8.30pm at Olympia, Boucher Road
  • 9 February 6.30pm-8.30pm at Skainos Centre, 241 Newtownards Road
  • 13 February 2pm-4pm at the Innovation Factory, Forthriver Business Park, Springfield Road



To register for one of the sessions, e-mail:

For more information, visit the Belfast City Council website.


The consultation is open until Friday 31 March 2017.



Northern Line extension tunnelling to begin

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that tunnelling to create an extension of the Northern line between Kennington and Battersea will begin in March.


Two 650 tonne machines, unveiled in Battersea last week, will create two 3.2 kilometre underground tunnels to extend the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line.


Khan said the extension will enable the regeneration of the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea areas. This includes supporting 25,000 new jobs and 20,000 new homes.



Buntingford care home approved

LNT Care Developments has received planning permission to build a 66-bed care home on the site a former Sainsbury’s depot in Buntingford.


East Hertfordshire District Council’s planning committee approved the care home earlier this month.

Construction is expected to start in February and a predicted completion date has been set for January 2018. Once completed, it will provide residential and dementia care for those aged over 65 years.


Laura Edgar, The Planner
24 January 2017