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Planning News - 6 April 2017

Published: Thursday, 6th April 2017

Government launches brownfield registers. £40m to boost economic growth on the coast. Lambeth vows to protect workspace. And mores stories...

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

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Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell has announced that local authorities across England will now have to produce and maintain up-to-date registers listing all brownfield sites available for housing.

The registers will be available to the public and the aim of them is to help house builders identify suitable brownfield sites for development.

They will allow local communities to highlight local derelict or underused building sites that are primed for development.

Barwell said reusing brownfield land is “crucial” to building more homes.

“We need to build more homes in this country so making sure that we reuse brownfield land is crucial. We want to bring life back to abandoned sites, create thousands more homes and help protect our valued countryside.”

These new registers will give local authorities and developers the tools to do this.

Brownfield registers were first piloted in 2016, when 73 local planning authorities across the country pioneered the measures.

At the time the government said the councils taking part in the pilots would inform future government policy and guidance on the operation of brownfield registers.

In addition, the £3 billion Home Builders Fund, announced by communities secretary Sajid Javid at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016, will be used to support the development of brownfield sites.

Permission in principle will be used to gain planning permission through these registers. The government said this would give developers more certainty over whether a site is suitable for development.

Further legislation is expected later this year on extending permission in principle more widely through the planning system.

Jason Lowes, partner in the planning team at commercial property and planning consultancy Rapleys, noted that the announcement is light on detail, but the attempt to streamline development of brownfield land is welcome progress.

He said together the two mechanisms have the potential to “lower the initial hurdle” of bringing forward development through the planning system, which “has to be supported”.

“The owners, particularly of small and medium-sized sites, would no doubt be pleased with a relatively simple method of getting on the planning ladder, and provide them with early confidence to further investigate the potential of their land.

“Of course,” said Lowes, “the success of this venture very much depends on local authorities’ ability to keep the register up to date and implement the new permission in principle regulations. This has the potential to be a real administrative challenge and will require careful management to ensure the opportunity to increase the delivery of housing isn’t missed.”

4 April 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced a £40 million cash boost for coastal communities to create new jobs and improve local economic growth.

The investment will go towards 30 new projects, including regenerating piers and promenades.

The government said the funding is intended to help coastal tourism regain its position as England’s largest holiday sector, currently worth £8 billion to the economy each year.

Javid said: “We’re backing the Great British Coast with £40 million to create new jobs, boost economic growth and increase tourism.

“There’s a range of exciting projects set to benefit across the country, from a new conference centre for Blackpool to new beach huts and lifeguards for Hastings.

“This new funding will help attract even more tourists to our coast and help our seaside towns and coastal areas thrive.”

Projects that received funding include:

  • A 21st century conference centre for Blackpool – a new conference centre in the town’s Winter Gardens aims to accommodate 1,200 delegates.
  • Southport Pier and seafront – Improvements to the grade II listed pier including installing improved lighting, a new helter-skelter and food kiosks.
  • Lowestoft News Regeneration Scheme – An 18-month project to transform a partly derelict green space and seafront promenade into a visitor destination that celebrates cultural heritage and location.

More information about the fund can be found here.

4 April 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Lambeth vows to protect workspace

Lambeth Council has issued an Article 4 Direction that aims to prevent offices from being turned into residential units without going through the full planning system.

The council said the move will protect workspace in key parts of the borough and ensure that economic growth, job creation and a “thriving” business community can flourish in the borough.

Additionally, it aims to make sure that housing developments in the borough are up to standard, provide affordable homes and are built in appropriate places.

The Article 4 Direction will not put a stop to all office-to-residential conversion plans, just ensure that applications go through the full planning process. It covers Brixton town centre, sites in and around Clapham town centre and 10 of the borough’s designated key industrial and business areas.

It will come into force in September.

A number of other London borough have issued Article 4 directions recently. Hackney Council is looking to protect the borough’s launderettes and warehouses, while both Southwark Council and Wandsworth Council have used the measure to protect pubs. Westminster City Council issued an Article 4 direction to prevent its high streets from being overrun by non-retail businesses like estate agents. It aims to ensure that all conversions of shops to services such as estate agents, employment agencies and bureaux de change on Westminster’s high streets require planning permission.

Since permitted development rights came into force in May 2013, Lambeth Council said it has lost more than 20,000 square metres of office floor space.

Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for business, culture and regeneration, said the direction is an “important step” to protect both the business environment and residents.

“Since the office to residential permitted development rights were introduced by government we’ve seen the loss of thousands of square metres of office space – that’s potentially hundreds of jobs from the borough.

“We’ve also seen designs for residential units with no windows, or in locations that are simply unsuitable for people to live peacefully. Any residential developments as a result of these rights contain no affordable housing as they don’t require planning permission.

“The council is best placed to decide what is appropriate in terms of changing the use of certain buildings in certain areas and this Article 4 direction allows us to make those decisions properly.”

3 April 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


10,000 Build to Rent homes under construction in UK regions

There are 10,244 Build to Rent homes under construction in the UK regions, nearly double the number in London, suggests research.

Conducted by Savills and commissioned by the British Property Federation (BPF), the research notes that in Manchester and Salford at least 5,500 Build to Rent homes are under construction.

Earlier this year, the government laid out proposals in the housing white paper that could see Build to Rent recognised in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The BPF said the figures are the first sign of momentum outside of London for the Build to Rent sector.

But it does suggest that London continues to see the “strongest” longer-term figures. The city has 38,648 Build to Rent homes either complete, under construction or in planning, compared with 31,176 across the regions.

Investors in the sector have found it difficult to achieve scale but while there is room for improvement, the research notes that the size of Build to Rent developments is generally getting bigger. Twenty-four developments going through planning will deliver more than 500 new rented homes each.

Ian Fletcher, director of real estate policy at the BPF, said: “While the government now better recognises that we need a housing sector firing on all cylinders across the UK, our data is a timely reminder of Build to Rent’s contribution to solving the housing crisis. This research will further professionalise the sector, ensure it is transparent and allow us to track its growth at a time when housing is at the top of government’s agenda.”

Andrew Stanford, head of UK residential at LaSalle Investment Management and chairman of the BPF’s Build to Rent committee, added: “Options for investors have noticeably increased across the country for those willing to be involved in the development process. This bodes well for the rapidly maturing sector.”

3 April 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Planning committees suited to dealing with licensing applications

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 has ruled that it was a ‘mistake’ to set up licensing committees when the planning system is well suited to dealing with licensing application and appeals.

In its report, The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny, the committee concluded that the act is “fundamentally flawed” and it needs a “radical overhaul” including the abolition of local authority licensing committees.

The report notes that those who devised the policy thought rightly that licensing of persons and premises was not a task for the judiciary but for local government.

“If they had looked to see how local authorities regulate the responsible use of land in other situations, they would have seen that the planning system, already well established and usually working efficiently, was well placed to take on this additional task,” states the report.

The planning system has its detractors, according to the report, but it insists that planning committees are well established and have better support from experienced staff to deal with licensing applications.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 said: "It was a mistake and a missed opportunity to set up new licensing committees when the planning system was already available to regulate the use of land for many different purposes. The planning system is well suited to dealing with licensing applications and appeals, and the interests of residents are always taken into account.”

The committee was “shocked” by some of the evidence it received on hearings before licensing committees, McIntosh explained, with their decisions being described as “something of a lottery” that lack formality.

The report says there have been “scandalous misuses” of the powers of elected local councillors.

"Pubs, clubs and live music venues are a vital part of our cultural identity. Any decline in our cities’ world-famous nightlife ought to be prevented and the businesses supported. But the night-time economy needs regulating; even in these areas of cities, residents have their rights. The current systems – Early Morning Restriction Orders and Late Night Levies – are not being used because they do not work."

The report concludes by saying that planning committees are more effective and reliable, and are well equipped for making licensing decisions. Therefore, the Lords committee recommends that planning committees should take over the licensing function. “Coordination between the licensing and planning systems should begin immediately."

Further to this, licensing appeals should not go to the magistrates’ court but should go to the Planning Inspectorate.

The Lords’ report can be found here (pdf).

* The Licensing Act 2003 applies to England and Wales.

5 April 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


News round up

A round-up of planning news

Care home approved

Canterbury City Council has granted planning permission for a 66-bed care home on the site of the former Herne Bay Golf Club in Herne Bay.

The facility will provide residential and dementia care for those aged over 65. It is expected that the care home will integrate with the nearby local facilities, such as shops and churches.

The bedrooms will be en-suite while the care home will also have spacious communal areas, a cinema, library and garden room, according to developer LNT Care Developments.

Retirement development green-lit

Bath and North East Somerset Council has approved plans to redevelop a vacant car garage into retirement apartments.

PegasusLife, a specialist retirement developer, plans to demolish the garage on Upper Bristol Road to make way for the scheme, which includes a health and well-being suite and a riverside café open to the public.

Plans include a mixture of one, two and two-plus bedroom apartments and car parking, a communal lounge and guest suites.

The project team includes Barton Willmore as the planning consultant, architects Allies & Morrison and landscape architects Camlins.

Private rent developer completes new developments

Developer and operator of private rented housing PLATFORM_ has completed three developments, one each in Bedford, Crawley and Stevenage.

Henry Construction delivered the Crawley and Stevenage developments, while the Shaylor Group delivered the development in Bedford.

Each development is the first in the towns to be built specifically for rent.

The Bedford development comprises 157 apartments, a communal lounge and a dining room; Crawley features 185 apartments and access to a gym and yoga studios; and Stevenage features 90 apartments, a gym, terrace and lounge.

PLATFORM_’s customers will also benefit from the launch of the company’s app. It will allow them to pay their bills and suggest community events.

889 homes approved in Hampshire

Eastleigh Borough Council has approved 889 homes, which forms phase two of a new community at Boorley Green.

Planning consultancy WYG secured the resolution to grant approval within 100 days. The consultancy said this was largely as a result of a Planning Performance Agreement.

The developers for the scheme are Bloor Homes, Bovis Homes and Linden Homes.

The plans include affordable homes, associated infrastructure, community buildings, a games area, allotments and open space.

Eden Walk regeneration to go ahead

British Land and Universities Superannuation Scheme Ltd (USS) have received planning permission from the Royal Borough of Kingston for the £400 million regeneration of Eden Walk.

The proposed scheme, designed by BDP Architects, includes 28 new retail units, 12 restaurants and cafés, 280 new homes (10 per cent starter homes), 35,000 square metres of office space, and new pedestrian routes.

The development is expected to create around 600 jobs for local people.

Warwick development approved

Planning consent has been granted by Warwick District Council for strategic infrastructure works for the first phase of a development at Myton Green, Warwick.

The reserved matters planning application was submitted by Catesby Property Group on behalf of Europa Way Consortium.

It includes a tree-lined community spine road which will link Europa Way with Gallow Hill, 20 acres of open space, play areas and new footpaths and cycleways.

The works are expected to enable the phased delivery of up to 735 new homes.

Outline planning consent was granted in September 2015, following consultation with the public and the council.

Appeal launched against Fareham council

Foreman Homes Ltd has launched an appeal against Fareham Borough Council’s decision to refuse a planning application for housing in Warsash.

The application was for up to 180 dwellings, associated landscaping, amenity areas and access.

Chairman of the council’s planning committee Nick Walker said: “All comments made previously about the planning application will be sent to the Planning Inspector for consideration. If anyone would like to make additional comments they must be sent to the Planning Inspector by 5 May 2017.”

4 April 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner