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Planning news - 17 August 2017

Published: Thursday, 17th August 2017

Khan releases finalised supplementary planning guidance, London’s Garden Bridge project closed, Khan plans to make London a National Park City. And more stories...

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

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that half the homes built on public land in London will have to be affordable if they are to benefit from faster planning permission.

The measure features in Khan’s new supplementary planning guidance.

Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance sets out his approach to increasing the level of affordable housing while simultaneously increasing the speed with which decision are made using the planning system.

A consultation on proposals, which were developed following discussions with the housing industry and council, was published in November last year.

The finalised approach will allow developers of private land a fast-track route through the planning process without taking part in “costly and protracted viability negotiations that have become the norm for London”, if they meet a minimum of 35 per cent affordable housing without public funding.

According to the guidance, all developments need to be under way within two years of received planning permission. If they are not, they face detailed scrutiny of the financial modelling behind the plans. Likewise, should developments not meet the required level of affordable housing they will face further scrutiny as they near completion, and the development’s financial details will be published for the public to see.

City Hall officials have written to all of the capital’s councils to ask them to make use of the mayor’s viability team if a developer attempts to reduce the number of affordable homes once planning permission has been granted.

Khan said: "I've been honest with Londoners from the start – we can't turn things round overnight. But we're working hard to tackle the issue every day and we've already agreed to put £1.7 billion of the investment that I secured from government into 50,000 new and genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy. This investment will work hand in hand with the new approach for developers that I'm introducing today, which will allow them to benefit from a fast track through the planning system if they offer more affordable housing and get building quickly.”

The guidance also lays out a pathway for Build to Rent through the planning system. Its key principles includes recognition that all Build to Rent developments need to stay under single management and will therefore “encourage affordable homes on the development to be delivered as discounted market rent (preferably at London Living Rent levels), managed by the Build to Rent provider” and delivered without grant.

Build to Rent developments should be a development, or a block within a development, of at least 50 units and be held under a covenant for at least 15 years. Tenants or prospective tenants should not be charged upfront fees.

Johnny Caddick, managing director at property developer Moda Living, which focuses on the private rent sector, said: “Delivering homes that are both high-quality and affordable to ordinary Londoners is a key challenge the capital faces, and so the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) embrace of discount market rent is a welcome step forward and a real boost for the build-to-rent sector.”

Discount market rent, he said, can be fully integrated into build-to-rent development, which eliminates the need “for much-hated ‘poor doors’ while ensuring all residents get access to the same amenities regardless of incomes, allowing for genuine mixed communities to emerge inside buildings”.

Russell Pedley, co-founder and director at Assael Architecture, also welcomed the offer of discount market rent as an affordable housing option, not just for investors and developers but for renters too, particularly those on low incomes.

“However, the GLA could have been bolder and reformed space standards. Current regulations do not consider today’s increasingly digitalised and ‘asset-lite’ society, and by thinking creatively around how we use space we can deliver more affordable homes without compromising on living standards."

The supplementary planning guidance can be found on the GLA website.

16 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Garden Bridge Trust has announced that it is ‘winding up’ the proposed £200 million Garden Bridge project.

The charity, which was established to build and run the bridge, has contacted Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Transport for London (TfL), and the Department for Transport (DfT) to inform them of its decision.

In April this year, The Planner reported that Khan would not provide financial guarantees for building the bridge and the annual maintenance costs, a condition of planning consent which expires in December 2017.

The bridge was backed by previous mayor Boris Johnson and former chancellor George Osborne, who committed £60 million of public funding to the project, with the balance to be raised from private and corporate donations.

Khan had commissioned Labour MP and former public accounts committee chair Margaret Hodge to review whether the scheme was value for money. She recommended scrapping it to stop wasting any more public money.

The Garden Bridge Trust said it has been examining all options available to it since April, including discussions with a potential benefactor and further talks with the government.

The benefactor and the trustees have concluded that they cannot proceed with the bridge without the support of the Mayor of London.

Lord Davies, chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, has written to the mayor outlining why this decision has been made.

Lord Davies said: “It is with great regret that the trustees have concluded that without mayoral support the project cannot be delivered. We are incredibly sad that we have not been able to make the dream of the Garden Bridge a reality and that the mayor does not feel able to continue with the support he initially gave us. We had made great progress obtaining planning permission, satisfying most of our planning conditions and we had raised £70 million of private money towards the project.”

The pulling of the project, Davies continued, is a “sad day” for London, because its sends out a “message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects”.

The project will now be formally closed and contracts terminated. The trust itself will then be wound up in accordance with the Companies Acts.

14 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched plans that aim to make the capital the world’s first National Park City, using planning measures to help him achieve it.

The mayor is attempting to make London one of the greenest cities on earth.

He said he will use planning regulations to protect the green belt and incorporate into new developments more green roofs, green walls, rain gardens and habitats for wildlife.

Plans also include funding for thousands of more trees and improvements to community green spaces as well as helping London’s boroughs invest in our much loved parks.

To achieve this, Khan has launched a new £9 million Greener City Fund for London. Local groups can apply for the first £1 million of grants to help them plant neighbourhood trees and maintain green community areas.

The fund comes as Khan published his draft environmental strategy, which outlines how he proposes to target air pollution and make the city greener, cleaner and healthier.

It includes the introduction of an ultra-low emission zone in 2019; London’s first solar action plan, which could see the capital’s solar energy generation capacity double by 2030; and policies to cut waste and encourage better use of resources.

Khan said: “London is home to outstanding green spaces that I want to protect, invest in and improve as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City.

"We can also increase the amount of greenery in the city by installing many more green roofs and making our streets greener. From our famous Royal Parks, to our much-loved community gardens and urban nature reserves like Woodberry Wetlands, this ‘green infrastructure’ is a vital asset that improves air quality, boosts quality of life, conserves wildlife and attracts thousands of visitors.”

In 2015, The Planner reported on a green paper that suggested London could become a National Park City.

Campaigner Daniel Raven-Ellison put forward a model and said at the time that it did not call for new planning controls or more administrative powers. Instead, the model aimed to grow London’s green space from 47 per cent to 51 per cent and make it a 'green world city'.

Raven-Ellison said: “Making London a National Park City is an opportunity to improve the health of all Londoners. One of our main goals is to make the majority of London physically green and we very much looking forward to working with the mayor on this target. The capital is famous for being a financial, cultural and political centre, but it's an ecological centre too, with an incredible 14,000 species of wildlife, 3.8 million gardens and nearly as many trees as people. I look forward to working with the mayor through the National Park City Foundation which is galvanising a movement to turn this big vision for London into a reality.”

The consultation on the environmental draft strategy runs until 17 November. It can be found on the Greater London Authority website.

In May, the City of London Corporation won the Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment category at the 2017 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence for its scheme Planning and Delivering Green Roofs in the City of London. 

11 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

To mark 70 years of protecting England’s historic buildings, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has announced that five more buildings have been added to the National Heritage List for England.

Amongst the new listings, issued on advice from Historic England, are a cabbie’s shelter and a Jewish cemetery.

The first powers to protect historic sites were established in 1882 but 2017 marks 70 years since the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act since the system used today came into use.

The first lists were “salvage lists”, which were compiled as an emergency measure after bombing during the Second World War, to identify which buildings were special enough to be protected during post-war rebuilding.

There were over 45,000 new listings between 1947 and 1957.

The new listings are:

  • Cabmen’s Shelter, Grosvenor Gardens, London. 1906, listed at Grade II - It was built to provide cabbie with shelter and refreshments when they were on ranks, and is still used today.
  • Underhill, Holme, West Yorkshire. 1973-5, listed at Grade II - Arthur Quarmby designed this home for him and his family. It is Britain’s first modern earth-sheltered house.
  • Stockton-on-Tees Wireless Station, County Durham. 1912-13, listed at Grade II - This is thought to be the Royal Navy’s only station capable of intelligence gathering station at the outbreak of the First World War. Very few wireless stations are still standing. It is now a private home.
  • Pillwood House, Truro, Cornwall. 1973-74, listed at Grade II* - The building appears to be suspended within the treetops of a wood, with the architect, John Miller, calling it “a fun house, as well as a sun house”. Grade II* marks Pillwood House as particularly important, Historic England said. Only 5.5 per cent of listed buildings are Grade II*.
  • Funerary buildings at Willesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetary), London. 1872-73 listed at Grade II - Historic England said the Gothic Revival set of funerary buildings forms the cemetery’s focal point and is a rare survival. Many complexes in England’s Jewish cemeteries have been lost

Debbie Mays, head of listing at Historic England said: “The diverse character of our land and its people is marked in the fabric of England’s buildings and places. For 70 years the most special historic sites have been protected through listing so they can be enjoyed by future generations. Born from the destruction of World War Two, listing has allowed us to ensure thousands of places keep their special interest and help to tell England’s extraordinary story.”

7 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round up of appeal decisions.

70-child day care nursery on ground floor of home would disrupt neighbours

An inspector has refused plans to convert the ground floor of a house in Crawley into a day care nursery for up to 70 children, ruling that the use of the garden as a play area would disrupt neighbours' living conditions.

Housing scheme would harm ancient Roman fort's setting

Plans to build 52 homes next to a Roman fort near Durham have been refused despite a housing shortage in the area, after an inspector ruled the scheme would harm the 'tranquil and reflective setting' of the ancient monument.

44-home scheme in Preston ruled 'unsustainable'

Plans for 44 homes in Preston, including 35 per cent designated affordable, have been blocked after an inspector ruled the scheme 'unsustainable', despite the area's 'very marginal' housing land supply.

Block of nine flats would harm 'impressive' Art Deco building

An inspector has refused permission for a block of nine flats to be built behind an 'impressive' Art Deco building in south London, having identified harm to the character of the area, neighbours' living conditions, and parking provision.

'Orangery' extension would harm 14th-century cottage

An inspector has refused permission for a hardwood conservatory extension to a semi-detached cottage despite a similar scheme being approved for the building's other half in 2008, ruling that it would cause unacceptable harm to the building's historic fabric.

New homes afforded little weight as five-year supply is proven

A proposal for 26 homes in Wiltshire has been refused, after an inspector ruled that the benefit of new homes could not outweigh harm to the nearby conservation area because a five-year supply of housing could already be demonstrated.

Gas power plant allowed as renewable ‘associated infrastructure’

Permission has been granted for a 14MW gas-fuelled 'peaking' power plant in east Derbyshire, after the appellant successfully argued that the plant would 'contribute to renewable energy infrastructure' despite being powered by a fossil fuel.

Javid approves more wind turbines on Isle of Sheppey

Sajid Javid has granted permission for four further wind turbines on the Isle of Sheppey, northern Kent, ruling that their harm to the landscape would be considerably reduced by grouping them next to an existing wind farm.

Suspended glass extension allowed for ‘striking’ Wakefield water tower

Plans to convert a 'striking' concrete water tower in the Wakefield green belt area into a home have been approved, after an inspector ruled that the proposed glazed extension would be 'lightweight' and sensitive to the original building.

London council prioritises family homes in HMO refusal

An inspector has refused retrospective permission to convert a family home in north London to an HMO, citing the local authority's decision to prioritise the protection of family-sized accommodation in the area in order to retain "economically active families".

14 August 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Khan plans to tackle ‘not spots’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced measures to boost digital connectivity across the capital and tackle ‘not-spots’.

These include appointing a troubleshooting ‘Not Spot Team’. It will go out to London’s most problematic connectivity spots to work with local authorities and providers to identify and deliver solutions that aim to improve connectivity.

Khan will also hold a City Hall summit to bring together London’s local authorities to support them in applying for the government’s digital infrastructure funding.

He said he is writing to all local authorities in the capital to encourage all boroughs to bid for the digital funding and give guidance on how best to use access arrangements, known as 'wayleaves', to get more fibre in the ground and into buildings. These legal agreements are used to grant access to land or buildings for providers to deploy and manage digital infrastructure.

Bloor Homes buys land with planning in Derby

Strategic land promoter Richborough Estates has sold a 34-acre residential development site in Derby for £11.9 million to national housebuilder Bloor Homes.

The plot is located to the west of Mickleover and has outline planning permission for 252 family homes in a mix of styles.

The plans also include the delivery of a play area and extensive public open space.

Richborough Estates acquired the land in 2014. South Derbyshire District Council allocated the site in 2015 for residential development as part of a large urban extension.

Plans submitted for Port Loop in Birmingham

A detailed planning application has been submitted for the first phase of the regeneration of Icknield Port Loop.

The plans, submitted by a partnership between regeneration firm Urban Splash and Places for People with Landowners Canal & River Trust and Birmingham City Council, include 207 family homes. Of these, 117 will be terraced houses and 90 will be apartments.

The submission follows a public exhibition of the plans for the 43-acre brownfield site in March 2017.

Cities in the north and Scotland to be top tech start-ups

Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool will be the digital tech start-up hotspots of the future, according to online estate agents

The four cities ranked the highest from a combination of most affordable property, number of digital tech jobs and the growth of digital tech economies in the estate agents’ research.

It considered 30 regional tech hubs, including London, identified in the latest Tech Nation 2017 report. Each city was ranked by average house price, number of digital jobs and potential growth for the sector.

Manchester topped the rankings, with average house prices in the city at £161,611, more than 60,000 digital jobs and tech sector growth potential of 85 per cent, one of the highest.

Glasgow was a close second, with average house prices just £119,487, and tech sector growth potential of 81 per cent. However, the city currently has a third of the digital jobs in Manchester. Leeds was placed third, with slightly higher average property prices than Manchester (£171,052), but the second highest tech sector growth potential (92 per cent) of any of the regional tech hubs.

15 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner