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Planning news - 2 November 2017

Published: Thursday, 2nd November 2017

Hammond wants to build on green belt land, National park asks builders to consider the park for new homes, Khan calls on government to increase cash for housing. And more stories...

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

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Chancellor Philip Hammond wants to use this year’s Budget to free up green belt land for housing, but Prime Minister Theresa May is resisting his calls.

According to The Times (subscription), the Budget will feature measures that continue Hammond’s wish to tackle Britain’s poor productivity, with the lack of housing in high-demand areas is considered a key factor.

The paper reports that the chancellor has been arguing with the cabinet that some of the countryside protected by green belt regulations should be reclassified as part of a housing package that could see extra borrowing that funds build new homes.

Earlier this year, the government published its housing white paper, Fixing Our Broken Housing Market. It notes that the existing “strong protections for the green belt” should be maintained and green belt boundaries should be amended only in “exceptional circumstances”, such as when local authorities can demonstrate they have examined all other options for meeting their housing requirements.

The green belt is not on the agenda for the Budget, a senior ally of May has reportedly said.

30 October 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has urged landowners, developers, builders, planning agents and housing to consider building new homes in the park.

In an email, the national park explained that its planning polices have changed recently. One of the main objectives is to increase housing supply.

A new local plan has set out a target of building 55 new homes built in the park each year. Last year, the park said, 39 homes were built.

It is thought that a lack of affordable housing in the Dales is hindering the ability of local communities to retain and attract young people and families.

Carl Lis, chairman at the park, said: “We want to nudge builders into action.

“New build housing is now permitted in more towns and villages across the national park than ever before.

“We have put together a long list of sites that have the benefit of an existing planning permission or housing allocation. Our message is simple: if you bring forward high-quality schemes for these sites, we will approve them.”

The park’s local plan was adopted in December 2016 and since then plans for 79 homes have been approved (50 of these were delivered owing to policies allowing for the conversion of roadside barns and other other buildings to local occupancy dwellings).

Lis added: “Policies now permit more open market housing than before, making it more financially viable for developers to build the affordable and local occupancy homes that are so badly needed by local communities. Affordable and local occupancy housing is also subject to more flexible criteria. The authority will negotiate on the mix of housing provided on development sites.”

A guide to the new policies can be found on the YDNPA website.

1 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

London needs to deliver 66,000 new homes a year to meet growing demand, according to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

To meet this need, Khan has called on the government to commit to “profoundly” increase the funding and powers available to London at the Budget, which will take place on 22 November.

As a first step, he wants government funding for affordable homes in the capital to return to the level it was in 2009/10.

City Hall said it used its Strategic Housing Market Assessment to calculate the figures.

It also suggested that 65 per cent of these new homes would need to be affordable if they are to meet the needs of Londoners.

Khan said his draft London Plan, which is due to be published next month, will include “strong new measures and set ambitious targets for every London borough to move towards this goal”. This is roughly double the current rate of homebuilding.

To achieve this level of building, the mayor said more powers should be devolved to the capital, including those over public land and allowing councils to borrow to invest in homes, as well an increase in funding for housebuilding and infrastructure.

City Hall said its modelling suggests the government should increase funding for affordable housing alone in London to around £2.7 billion a year, more than five times the current spending levels.

As well as increasing the affordable housing funding, Khan wants the government to make a long-term commitment to increase funding to the levels required to meet London’s need.

Khan said: “The housing crisis is a major factor in the high cost of living in the capital, as well as putting home ownership out of the reach of many young Londoners who fear they will never get a foot on the property ladder. In the worst cases it can affect social cohesion, cause poor health, and plunge residents into poverty.

“I cannot overestimate how terrible a situation we inherited. Successive prime ministers have failed to invest anywhere near enough in building new affordable homes. The previous mayor stopped investing in homes for social rent altogether and cut the number of new affordable homes he funded to the lowest level since records began.

“This government keeps saying they understand the scale of London's housing crisis, but these statistics prove they are just tinkering around the edges. It's time for the prime minister to match her words with action and use the Budget to commit to the profound increase in investment and powers London needs to tackle this crisis once and for all.”

Kath Scanlon, London School of Economics, said: “The UK as a whole doesn't have a housing crisis – London and the South East do. The crisis stems from strong demand and weak supply, and the mayor's new figures emphasise the scale of the shortfall. London's elected authorities could do much more to address the housing issue if they had the tools that major cities in other countries take for granted – particularly around taxation.”

Kieron Hodgson, director of central London planning at Iceni Projects, said: "The key question is 'how do you unlock growth in the suburbs?’

"The mayor needs to ensure that he is not using the cheaper land prices in more peripheral locations as an excuse for ignoring the problems in central London where the housing crisis is most acute. Similarly, it is not helpful to focus on one type of residential product i.e. family homes. We need to build more of every single type and tenure of home - in every part of the city."

27 October 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Built environment organisations have launched a social enterprise that aims to place a new generation of planners within local government to help deliver more housing and address the housing crisis.

Public Practice has been developed through the Mayor of London’s Good Growth by Design programme, with local authorities and stakeholders inside and outside London.

The programme will operate across London and the South East initially, but it is hoped that it will be take up nationally. In the long-term the initiative aims to transform perceptions of public planning and build the public sector’s capacity to deliver more homes.

Public Practice is recruiting its first 16 planners, architects and urbanists for year-long placements in strategic roles within local authorities.

The recruits will receive training and mentoring, spending 10 per cent of their time taking part in collective research and development to be shared across the sector.

In doing this, the programmes aims to bridge the on-going and widening skills gap between the public and private sectors, which has been noted as one of the main barriers to delivering the number of quality homes the country needs.

According to a statement from the Public Practice team, the proportion of architects practicing in the public sector has dropped from 49 per cent in 1967 to 0.7 per cent in 2016. Nearly half of local planning authorities do not have a dedicated in-house design capacity while 96 per cent of London boroughs have said they need more planning skills but 100 per cent have difficulty attracting suitably qualified or skilled workers.

Public Practice has been established as an independent social enterprise founded by six partners: the Mayor of London, the Local Government Association (LGA), Future Cities Catapult, British Land, Berkeley Group and Peabody.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I set up the Good Growth by Design programme as a step towards realising my vision of London as a city that enables people to reach their full potential, is inclusive and where growth brings benefits to each and every community. Moving away from high-price homes towards more genuinely affordable homes for all Londoners is vital to achieving this and I look forward to seeing the first of many cohorts of talented planners and architects working in local authorities to help make that happen.”

Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said planning capacity is a “critical” issue across the country. “By supporting the creation of the Public Practice initiative we aim to provide a timely and practical way to help councils improve.”

Finn Williams has been appointed as the chief executive officer of Public Practice. He has worked for the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Croydon Council and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Public Practice’s initial board members are:

  • Jules Pipe, deputy mayor of London for planning, regeneration & skills (chair)
  • Danna Walker, founding director, Built by Us
  • Lucy Musgrave, founding director, Publica
  • Sarah Cary, head of sustainable places, British Land
  • Vincent Lacovara, placemaking team leader, Croydon Council

Applications for the first 16 placements and expressions of interest from local authorities are being invited. Details can be found on the Public Practice website.

30 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round up of appeal decisions

Funeral preparations would not disturb pub customers next door

An inspector has granted retrospective permission to convert a pair of grade II listed townhouses in Plymouth from a restaurant into a funeral parlour, despite acknowledging that it could be ‘unnerving’ for patrons of a neighbouring pub.

 ‘No essential need’ for accommodation at Devon vineyard

An inspector has blocked a rural worker’s home at a Devon vineyard because it would harm the surrounding AONB, finding no essential need that the appellant could not deal with from their current home, a five-minute drive away.

13-home Leeds scheme would ‘increase opportunities for crime’

An inspector has blocked plans for 13 new homes in Swarcliffe, Leeds, ruling that the layout of the scheme would create ‘secluded’ areas in the proposed car park which could increase opportunities for crime.

Pond brings unacceptable ‘complexity’ to historic park landscape

An inspector has refused retrospective permission for a pond within the High Weald AONB, dismissing the appellant's claims of a historical precedent and finding the pond ‘disrespectful’ to the surrounding planned landscape.

Solar panel’s harm to listed home outweighs benefits

An inspector has refused retrospective permission for a solar panel installed on a grade II listed home in Moseley, Birmingham, ruling that its environmental benefits were outweighed by harm to the architectural interest of the house.

Inspector rejects developer's 20% profit requirement

An inspector has refused a 97-home scheme near Barnsley for its lack of affordable housing, rejecting the developer's minimum profit margin of 20 per cent and stating that an affordable housing contribution would be viable with a margin of 17.5 per cent.

195 homes allowed in light of 10% lapse rate

An inspector has granted outline permission for 195 homes near Boston contrary to the local development plan, after applying a 10 per cent lapse rate to the council’s housing supply because some permissions included in it were granted up to 10 years ago.

74-bed care home approved as NPPF trumps local policy

An inspector has approved plans for a care home in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, ruling that local plan policies reserving the site for employment use were outdated and did not correspond to local need, as required by the NPPF.

Javid refuses seven wind turbines in Lincolnshire countryside

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has refused plans for seven wind turbines in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, ruling that harm to the character of the area outweighed the benefits of renewable energy.

27 October 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner

You can read the full appeal decision stories on The Planner website (requires subscription, free for RTPI members).
The decision letter and supporting documents relating to the appeal stories can also be found by using the advanced search on the Planning Inspectorate's Appeals Casework Portal.


A round-up of planning news.

88 homes approved in Bottesford

Melton Borough Council’s planning committee has approved 88 new homes for a site north of Bottesford, Leicestershire.

Situated of Normanton Road, the 14.22 acre site will comprise homes ranging from two-bedroom starter homes to four-bedroomed family properties, of which 37 per cent will be affordable.

The plans also include landscaped public open space, a new 30-space car park for Bottesford rail station, a revamp of the existing station carpark and safety improvements to the level crossing.

Liberty Stones, head of planning at Fisher German, secured planning permission for the site on behalf of strategic land promoter Richborough Estates, while the chartered surveyors have been appointed to manage the sale of the site.

Guidance to ensure domestic abuse victims can access social housing issued

The government has published guidance that aims to ensure that victims of domestic abuse can access safe, long-term accommodation easily.

The guidance is subject to a 10-week consultation.

It states that local authorities should treat victims of domestic abuse, currently in safe accommodation such as a refuge, as a priority for social housing.

Victims that may have fled refuges in other parts of the country should be disadvantaged in accessing social housing as a result.

Further to this, the government is encouraging local authorities to use their existing powers to help victims of domestic abuse to remain safely in their own home without the person who has abused them, if they want to.

The consultation, which closes on 5 January 2018, can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

Hammond wants to build on green belt land

According to The Times (subscription), the Budget will feature measures that continue Hammond’s wish to tackle Britain’s poor productivity, with the lack of housing in high-demand areas is considered a key factor.

The paper reports that the chancellor has been arguing with the cabinet that some of the countryside protected by green belt regulations should be reclassified as part of a housing package that could see extra borrowing that funds build new homes.

Newham approves 29 homes

Newham Council has approved 29 new homes and the retention of a locally listed pub at 1 Maryland Point – The Cart & Horses.

The pub is the “birthplace” of Iron Maiden and is in close proximity to Stratford town centre.

The development comprises a mixture of apartments and family homes – 14 one bedroom homes, seven two bedroom homes and eight three bedroom homes.

All homes have access to balconies, as well as access to shared amenity space on the ground floor and the roof.

The plans also seek to improve the current pub, while allowing the continuation of day-to-day running during the construction process.

Work is due to start on spring 2018.

Cities need quality housing to attract skills from London

Building more quality rental homes will be ‘crucial’ to ensuring regional cities are able to attract talent that would otherwise head for London.

That is according to Moda Living, a developer and operator of private rented homes.

This follows news that the number of graduates at companies including PwC and Deloitte are requesting positions outside of London has increased, as reported by City AM.

Oscar Brooks, director at Moda Living, said regional cities should capitalise on London’s “growing unaffordability” by boosting their own housing and cultural offer.

94-home community opens

A Port of Leith Housing Association and City of Edinburgh Council partnership has delivered a new community of affordable homes in Leith.

The development, at the site of the 18th century Leith Fort, will be opened today by Scottish housing minister Kevin Stewart.

It comprises 62 homes for mid-market rent by Port of Leith Housing Association’s subsidiary Persevere Developments and 32 homes for social rent by the council. The properties are either have one, two, three or four bedrooms.

The project was funded by Port of Leith Housing Association, the council and a grant of almost £2.9 million from the Scottish Government.

New Co-op approved in Cheshire

Cheshire West Council has approved full planning permission for a new Co-op food store in Kingsley, a village near Frodsham, Cheshire.

The scheme, by Langdale Capital Limited, will see the existing local Co-op relocated from its current premises to a new 3,000 square foot store on Hollow Lane. The former Horseshoe Inn pub will be converted to accommodate the store.

Plans also include 17 car parking spaces for customers.

Nexus Planning secured the planning permission and worked with the council to secure a change of use from A4 to A1 on behalf of the Co-op.

31 October 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner