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Planning news - 9 November 2017

Published: Thursday, 9th November 2017

Commercial ownership data made free, ‘Cowboy clients hampering’ SME builders, 2,000 approved Carlisle plots 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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HM Land Registry has announced that data on land and property in England and Wales will be made freely available.

If the registered legal owner is a UK company, corporate body or overseas company, the information will be free to access.

The data contains more than three million rows of information and includes the company’s name, address, price paid and country of incorporation.

HM Land Registry is offering citizens and organisations the opportunity to scrutinise the records and discover which companies own land and property in England and Wales.

Today’s release removes existing cost barriers that have previously restricted the use of this data. The aim is to support growth in the property technology (PropTech) sector, and among small and medium-sized enterprises.

Chief executive at HM Land Registry Graham Farrant said: “We are continually striving to make the best use of our hugely valuable data.

“We will be releasing more datasets in high-quality and accessible formats to enable them to be used by anyone with an interest in land and property, supporting the growing digital economy and adding to the nation’s geospatial intelligence.”

HM Registry will require registration to access its data to safeguard against fraud and possible misuse of the service.

7 November 2017
Prithvi Pandya

New research has suggested that ‘cowboy clients’ are ‘hampering’ three-quarters of SMEs in construction in their business.

The research, undertaken by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), looks at the impact of ‘cowboy’ clients, who are delaying or withhold payment without good reason or make unreasonable demands.

Nearly three-quarters of construction SMEs think rogue clients are a serious problem for their businesses. Almost a quarter of respondents have had to wait for more than four months to be paid by a client or large contractor while less than a third are always paid within the standard 30 days.

As a result, the research suggests:

  • 30 per cent have had to delay payment to suppliers.
  • 20 per cent said late payment stopped them from having the confidence to grow their business.
  • 16 per cent have borrowed additional funds from a bank or other lender.
  • 8 per cent almost went out of business.
  • 5 per cent have had to withhold wages and salaries from staff.
  • 4 per cent had to let staff go.

Sarah McMonagle, director of external affairs at the FMB, said: “There are so many horror stories of people being duped by cowboy builders. However, our research shows that there’s a flip side to this story, with three-quarters of small construction firms being hampered by cowboy clients. Typical cowboy client behaviour can include a demand for the builder to complete tasks not included in the original brief or quote and for no extra payment. The worst type of cowboy client seeks to delay or withhold payment on spurious grounds, for instance, by discovering make-believe faults.”

Late payment is having a direct impact on the ability of construction SMEs to grow and prosper, said McMonagle.

As the UK moves toward leaving the European Union, the construction sector needs to be “firing on all cylinders” and the “last thing we want to see is thousands of builders going to the wall because of their customers refusing to pay on time”.

“We strongly recommend that builders and clients do everything they can to protect themselves by using a written contract that includes an agreed payment schedule. Clients rightly demand a high level of service from their builder but homeowners also need to keep their end of the bargain by paying on time.”

* The research came from the guest questions in the FMB’s State of Trade Survey for Q3 2017, for which 348 construction SMEs responded from right across the UK.

6 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Carlisle City Council has published a prospectus to highlight the housebuilding opportunities in the city, including 2,000 approved plots awaiting development.

Proposals also include a 10,000-home garden village.

According to the council, “there has never been a better time” for the housebuilding community to shift its focus to the district.

The prospectus, Carlisle; Help us Build our Growing City, notes that the recently adopted local plan aims to deliver more than 9,500 homes by 2030, which equates to 565 a year and an overall uplift of 20 per cent on the current housing stock.

The council, alongside planning and development consultancy Lichfields, has launched the prospectus.

Colin Glover, leader of the council, said Carlisle is a city where the public and private sector “share an ambitious view of the future”.

The city “is also home to a government-backed garden village. St Cuthbert’s is the largest of the 14 garden villages in the country and is an exciting and groundbreaking project aiming to deliver up to 10,000 new homes, alongside new employment opportunities”.

Glover added: “We are keen to work with housebuilders and developers to bring sites forward to deliver Carlisle’s ambitious development targets.

“Carlisle is very much open for business and development friendly. There is strong local leadership, a can-do attitude and a great coming together of the private and public sector with a genuine shared ambition to make Carlisle the best it can possibly be.”

Dominic Smith, senior planner at Lichfields, said: “To facilitate this growth Carlisle City Council has allocated sites across the district, complementing an attractive pipeline of already consented developments.

“The land supply includes a large number of greenfield ‘ready-to-go’ viable sites across urban and rural locations, with a range of site sizes aiding diversity.

7 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Stafford Borough Council has announced that it will consider including proposals for a garden village if the government decides to build a railhead for HS2 in Stone.

The garden village would be built on Ministry of Defence land and would include homes, a school and a doctor’s surgery.

Stafford Borough Council has previously opposed HS2 proposals, but said that it is working to ensure that the area “would not miss out on any economic boost if the high-speed line goes ahead”.

This follows a recent announcement by the council that a £500 million Stafford Station Gateway masterplan would transform the area surrounding the existing railway station, which will be a hub stop for HS2.

It is now looking at the benefits that could be achieved should the railhead come to Stone, including a new permanent junction off the M6 being built to support it and boost access to businesses. A garden village could relieve the pressure to build more homes in other towns and villages across the borough, according to the council.

The council, neighbouring local authorities, and local enterprise partnerships that form the ‘Constellation Partnership’ plan to engage the government to progress opportunities that HS2 will bring. Additionally, the council is reviewing its local plan and is asking landowners to pinpoint land they would like considered for development.

Council leader Patrick Farrington said: “I have always been clear that if what is proposed as part of the HS2 project goes ahead, then as a borough we should capitalise on any economic gains that this brings.

“The idea of a new garden settlement is only at the concept stage and entirely dependent on HS2 and the government confirming their plans before we could develop ours in any detail.

“If and when they progress they would be part of the local plan and subject to detailed consultation with local residents.”

2 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of Planning appeal decisions.

'Generic' benefits of 380-home scheme outweighed by development plan

An inspector has refused plans for 380 homes, a nursery, convenience store and 60-bed care home in the East Riding of Yorkshire, after finding that the council could demonstrate a five year housing supply.

Conservation area cottage to be moved 5 metres

An inspector has approved plans for a cottage on green belt land near Tonbridge to be demolished and rebuilt five metres farther back from the road, reusing the original materials as far as possible.

'Very special circumstances’ found for Guildford natural green space project

An inspector has allowed plans to convert 35 hectares of agricultural land near Guildford into suitable alternative natural green space (SANG), despite conflict with green belt policy.

Replacement country home allowed despite harm to bat roosts

An inspector has approved plans to replace a ‘substandard’ home in a highly affluent area of Buckinghamshire with a much larger classical-style country house, despite the protected bat roosts that would be lost during demolition.

Partially subterranean green belt home would not harm openness

An inspector has allowed a home in the West Midlands Green Belt that will be larger than the buildings it replaces, ruling that it would not harm green belt openness because the additional space would be underground.

Javid approves controversial 348-home green belt scheme

Plans for the comprehensive redevelopment of Oaklands College in St Albans, including refurbishment of college buildings and 348 new homes, have been approved by the secretary of state despite green belt restrictions.

Double appeal approval for conversion of office under GPDO

An inspector has granted prior approval for two similar schemes to convert a large office in Brentford to flats under GPDO rules, despite concerns over its location next to the busy M4.

Narrow footpath thwarts 61 per cent affordable housing scheme

An inspector has refused permission for 46 homes in Cornwall because the proposed access footpath would be 80cm narrower than the minimum required width, which would ‘feel unsafe’ to pedestrians.

Inspector cites Court of Appeal ruling in contravening ministerial statement

An inspector has blocked plans to build a pair of semi-detached homes in Reading because the scheme’s affordable housing contribution would be inadequate, citing the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the written ministerial statement of 2014 relating to schemes of 10 homes or fewer.

3 November 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.

Silvertown Tunnel decision delayed again

Transport minister Paul Maynard has announced that a decision on a development consent order (DCO) to build a road under the River Thames in East London has been delayed until 10 May 2018.

An initial decision was due on 11 October, but when the day came Maynard announced a one-month extension to 10 November.

Now, the deadline for a decision has been extended for the same reason – “to enable further consideration of the effect of the scheme on air quality (including its compliance with the updated UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations published by government on 26 July 2017)”.

Jenny Bates, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth, welcomed the decision. “Alternative ways to relieve congestion from the Blackwall Tunnel exist. If the mayor is serious about dealing with London’s toxic air, he must take this chance to abandon this damaging scheme and instead invest in ways to help people walk, cycle and access public transport more easily.” 

Amy Lamé bids to protect London’s culture venues

Guidance aimed at protecting, supporting and sustaining the London’s night-time venues has been published by the city’s Night Czar Amy Lamé, one year on from when she joined the mayor’s team.

The guidance is for local authorities and developers, providing them with “urgently needed” support to safeguard the capital’s night-time economy and culture venues.

The guidance notes how local authorities can ensure that new homes built in their area can co-exist with current live music venues, night clubs and pubs. It says planning, licensing and noise teams should work together.

Land with permission sold in Coalville

An 18-acre site with outline planning permission has been sold in Coalville to housebuilder Avant Homes.

Development agency Fisher German acted on behalf of the landowners to tender for a land promoter before selecting Gladman, which secured outline planning permission for up to 180 homes. The firm bought the site to market before agreeing a multimillion-pound deal with Avant Homes.

The housebuilder has submitted a reserved matters application for the site, which is based off Greenhill Road and expected it to deliver 161 two to five-bedroom family and affordable homes.

Work is expected to being on site in December, with the first homes available for purchase in June 2018.

Reigate & Banstead local plan to be considered for consultation

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s executive is set to consider the next stage of the council’s local plan for consultation and submission to the secretary of state.

Consultation on it was also held last year.

The plan sets out where in the borough new homes, businesses, shops and facilities should go up until 2027. Policies also seek to protect the area’s character and heritage.

If agreed by the executive, the plan will be referred to full council on 14 December for approval, with the statutory Regulation 19 consultation expected to take place in the new year.

The plan will then be submitted to the secretary of state.

Ultra-low emission zone to start in 2019

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) will be introduced in central London from 8 April 2019.

This follows the launch of the Toxicity Charge in October.

The ULEZ will replace this from April 2019.

There will also be two ULEZ charge levels: £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes, and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. These charges will be in addition to the Congestion Charge.

All revenue raised will be used by Transport for London to help maintain a greener transport fleet and reduce pollution across the transport network, said Khan.

Office approved in Watford

Watford Borough Council’s development management committee has approved a mixed office and residential 23-storey building.

The building will be built on an area spanning Clarendon Road, next to Jurys Inn, and Beechen Grove.

It will replace the current office space, which has been empty since 1997, providing 126,110 square feet of grade A office space and 154 new homes.

Work on LPW Technology Ltd in Widnes approved

Halton Borough Council has granted planning permission for the completion of external works at the new LPW Technology Ltd headquarters at Venture Fields in Widnes.

The company produces metal powders and software solutions for the 3D printing industry.

The plans, produced by Black Cat Building Consultancy, aim to enable the fully serviced operation of the 65,000-square feet advanced manufacturing facility, which originally received planning permission in November 2016.

Report suggests offshore wind brings benefits across UK

As part of Offshore Wind Week, RenewableUK has a published a report showing how many parts of the UK are reaping economic benefits from the offshore wind industry.

Offshore Wind: Regenerating Regions – Investment and Innovation in the UK considers key regions in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, showing where projects are operating, being built or are planned. It also provides case studies of companies in each area, manufacturing turbine towers, blades, cables and other components as well as designing, constructing, operating and maintaining projects.

The report says UK-based companies provide nearly 50 per cent of the total content of British offshore wind farms, and that it is exporting its technology to a number of countries, including China, India and Taiwan.

The report can be found on the RenewableUK website.

Gilmorton homes approved

Harborough District Council’s planning committee has approved 43 homes in Gilmorton, Leicestershire.

The homes, which range from one-bedroom bungalows to five-bedroom family homes, including 14 affordable units, will be located north of Kimcote Road, opposite Gilmorton cricket ground.

Plans also include extensive areas of landscaped public open space, a play area, and recreational space.

Strategic land promotion company Richborough Estates secured the approval, undertaking consultation with the council, stakeholders and community groups.

Chartered surveyor and development consultant Wells Mcfarlane will manage the sale of the site on behalf of Richborough Estates.

Match-day parking rogue told to stop trading

The Planning Inspectorate has ordered a man who breached planning control by operating an event-day car park he didn’t have planning permission for to cease trading.

Supplied by Hallmark Trading Centre Ltd (HTL), the car parking spaces were rented out to provide parking to those attending events at Wembley National Stadium and Wembley Arena.

This is Brent Council’s first appeal against pirate parking in the borough. Shama Tatler, cabinet member for regeneration, growth, employment and skills, welcomed the decision.

“Following the redevelopment of Wembley National Stadium the number of car parking spaces at the venue was reduced from 7200 to 2900. The council wished to reduce car usage to alleviate congestion on local roads, promote more sustainable modes of transport and improve air quality.

“The use of the Hallmark Site, which is in close proximity to the stadium, for parking purposes was unacceptable and this decision has confirmed that our approach in serving the enforcement notice was correct.”

7 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner