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Planning News - 15 February 2018

Published: Thursday, 15th February 2018

Brownfield registers show land for a million homes, Major Norfolk offshore wind farm plan updated, Mayor seeks to boost SME housebuilding in London and more stories...

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

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At least one million homes could be built on brownfield land, with more than two-thirds of them deliverable within five years.

An investigation into brownfield land registers by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) reveals three of the next five years’ worth of government housing targets could be met through building on brownfield land that has already been identified, easing pressures on councils to continue releasing greenfield land unnecessarily and preventing the unnecessary loss of countryside.

The analysis found that 17,656 sites identified by planning authorities, covering more than 28,000 hectares of land, would provide enough land for a minimum of 1,052,124 homes. This could rise to more than 1.1 million once all registers are published, said the CPRE.

The areas of England identified as having the highest number of potential deliverable homes include London, the North West and the South East, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.

Planning campaigner Rebecca Pulling said the analysis shows government estimates of brownfield capacity had been “wide of the mark”.

She added: “Contrary to what the government, and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure. Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.”

The registers have found sites for more than 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission. More than a third of these sites are on publicly owned land.

The CPRE said that as public authority developments should give a significant opportunity to provide affordable homes, this presents scope for homes built on brownfield land to help towards local need.

12th February 2018
Huw Morris,The Planner

The company behind proposals for potentially the world’s biggest offshore wind farm has unveiled updated plans following a major consultation.

Hornsea Project Three will feature up to 300 turbines positioned 120km from the North Norfolk coast which, if built to full capacity, could supply up to 2.4GW of electricity for more than two million homes.

Under the updated plans by Danish green energy specialist Ørsted, the area where the cables come onshore, known as the landfall zone, has been refined to avoid crossing Kelling Heath Site of Special Scientific Interest.

A cable corridor has been refined from 200m wide to 80m and will take power from Weybourne to a new substation at Swardeston south of Norwich. An onshore booster station will be built near Little Barningham if required.

The project will also use horizontal directional drilling technology at more than 70 ecologically valuable points and crossings along the route, avoiding the need for trenches.

“The planning process is iterative, so we initially presented a wide search area and then have relied on local knowledge, environmental assessments and information from local authorities and other statutory bodies, landowners and members of the local community to refine the design,” said project development manager Stuart Livesey.

Ørsted said the construction period has now been reduced to two phases, meaning the project could be up and running within eight years instead of 11.

It expects to submit a planning application later this year, and if it is successful, construction is expected to start in 2020.

12th February 2018
Huw Morris,The Planner

A programme to make small publicly owned sites accessible to small homebuilders is to be piloted in the capital by the Mayor of London.

To kick-start his ‘Small Sites, Small Builders’ programme, Mayor Sadiq Khan has directed Transport for London (TfL) to bring forward 10 of its small sites – with capacity ranging from between two and 42 homes – for development.

These initial plots will deliver 111 new homes, of which 68 per cent will be affordable. SME builders will compete for the land through a bidding process with standardised legal contracts.

Two of the sites are to be dedicated specifically to community-led housing groups. Land on Cable Street near the Shadwell DLR in Tower Hamlets and a site at Christchurch Road in Lambeth are to be earmarked for community-led housing. Both will deliver 100 per cent affordable housing, according to the mayor’s statement.

As they progress, these pilot projects will be assessed with a view to determine how and when the programme can be further used by other public landowners in the capital.

Khan said: “London's housing market has been over-reliant on large developers building the majority of our homes on large brownfield sites. The number of small sites coming forward has halved in the past decade, and we have lost almost a third of all small and medium-sized homebuilders operating in the capital.

"Through my new small sites programme, I want to make more public land available to help contribute not only to tackling the housing crisis in London, but also to reinvigorating our small and medium-sized homebuilding sector. I also want to provide more opportunities for Community Land Trusts, which is why I have earmarked two sites specifically for community-led housing.”

Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at TfL, said: “As one of the biggest landowners in London, we're in an ideal position to help provide the homes that London desperately needs. These 10 (sites), at locations across London, are the first of a number of small sites that we'll be bringing to market.”

Barry Mortimer, director of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) London, said: “If we are to build the 66,000 new homes we need each year in London we need to unlock the potential of small and medium-sized (SME) housebuilders. We welcome this move by the Mayor of London, which will help bring forward a small number of small sites across the capital and give SME builders the land they are crying out for.

“This is a step in the right direction, but if we are to address London's housing shortage, we need many more of these initiatives.”

9th February 2018
Martin Read,The Planner

Conservatives on the London Assembly have requested that the draft London Housing Strategy and draft London Plan should be reviewed to include targets and provisions for new three and four-bedroom family-sized homes.

In a motion proposed yesterday, leading Conservative member of the assembly Andrew Boff warned that a continuing lack of liveable housing for families “will make it harder for families to live in London and will result in increased overcrowding and deprivation”.

Boff, who is deputy chair of both the London Assembly’s housing and planning committees, pointed out that Sadiq Khan’s predecessor as Mayor of London had worked to a target of 36 per cent of all newly built homes being discounted family-sized homes.

This target, said Boff, had been scrapped under current London mayor Sadiq Khan. Indeed, “the mayor’s London Plan actually prohibits boroughs from setting family-sized homes targets. We must reintroduce our previous target to go some way to make families feel welcome in London again and give hope to those families living in overcrowded conditions.”

The motion, supported by nine votes to zero, called on the mayor to “revisit the assumptions in his Strategic Housing Market Assessment, to ensure that suitable targets and provisions are made for new family sized-homes of three and four bedrooms, and to prevent the loss of existing family homes”.

Speaking after the vote, Boff commented: “There are 360,000 young people being brought up in overcrowded conditions in London, and we want the mayor to do more for them."

9th February 2018
Martin Read,The Planner

Cornwall Council is to become the latest local authority to build housing directly.

The council has unveiled plans to invest up to £170 million in building 1,000 homes across the county by setting up a wholly owned company.

This will buy, let and manage properties with income generated used to subsidise affordable homes.

Cornwall said the developments will be a mix of homes for private market rental with 35 per cent for affordable rent or shared ownership, 15 per cent sold on the private market and 50 per cent available for private market rent.

Two pilot sites are being developed in Bodmin and Tolvaddon, which between them will deliver 113 homes for rent and sale.

“We will deliver a mix of property sizes, types and tenures to meet local needs,” said cabinet member for housing Andrew Mitchell. Some will be for private rent, providing quality, choice and greater security for those in the private rented sector with five-year tenancies as standard. Some will be sold at market prices and others will be for affordable rent or shared ownership.

“These are homes for local people, with a genuine housing need. Consideration will be given to people who live or work locally.”

Research published by the National Planning Forum and RTPI in December reveals that 65 per cent of English local authorities are now directly engaged in housing deliveries. Councils launched at least 30 local housing companies in 2017 alone.

12th February 2018
Huw Morris,The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Shropshire council extends permitted development rights

Telford & Wrekin Council has extended permitted development rights for homeowners who want to extend or alter their property by introducing a Local Development Order (LDO).

The council has widened the scope of its LDO to include the addition of porches, thermal cladding and dropped kerbs, as well as single-storey, first-floor and two-storey rear or side extensions.

Applications under the LDO will be administered by the newly launched apT Group, which is the Midlands’ first in-house commercial development, planning, and environmental consultancy operating in the public sector.

apT Group will work with developers, residential homebuilders, and individual homeowners, and will also sell its services to clients outside Telford and in other local authority areas including Shropshire, Cheshire, and the wider West Midlands.

The council said the LDO was introduced to simplify and speed up the development process so that applicants don’t have to apply for planning permission for projects that meet specific criteria.

Homeowners or agents will be able to apply for a Certificate of Compliance, which can be submitted with a building regulations application.

For developments that meet the criteria, certificates could be issued within two weeks rather than the usual eight-week timeline of a planning application.

Restrictions apply for properties that are listed or that are within a World Heritage Site or a conservation area, added the council.

Plans for snow centre in Wiltshire

Plans for a new indoor snow centre and leisure destination have been submitted to Swindon Borough Council.

They have been submitted by FaulknerBrowns Architects on behalf of Seven Capital.

The 2,000 square metre snow centre would feature two real-snow slopes, while plans for the project also comprise a 12-screen cinema, a bowling alley, an indoor trampolining centre, a 130-room hotel, shops and restaurants.

The project would be built on former industrial land to the north of Swindon town centre, known as the North Star site. It was previously occupied by the Great Western Railway Works.

Khan launches Living Rent scheme

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a London Living Rent scheme in the Royal Docks.

He has invested £6.8 million in The Sugar Works development at Royal Wharf, Silvertown, where housing association L&Q will deliver 243 London Living Rent homes.

The development forms part of the deal struck between Khan and L&Q last year to build 12,000 “genuinely affordable” homes.

The Sugar Works development comprises a range of homes from studios to four-bed homes. Rents are up to 50 per cent cheaper than local market rents, and range from £730 a month for a studio flat and £821 a month for a one-bed flat up to £1094 a month for a four-bedroom property.

Residents are set to move in from this week.

New streetscape for Bankside

Better Bankside, the not-for-profit Business Improvement District (BID), has installed a new streetscape on Lavington Street, at Bankside in London.

The project, which is temporary and a trial, implements an experimental one-way traffic operation and uses the road space freed up to extend pavements using a specially commissioned modular ‘boardwalk’ structure.

The experimental project could be on site for up to six months, during which period Better Bankside said it would analyse the impact on how the street is used by walkers and drivers.

The Bankside Boardwalk, designed by SE1-based transport consultancy Steer Davies Gleave, was funded by a £73,260 grant from Transport for London and a £15,000 donation from a local landowner.

If successful, the project will be rolled out in other areas of London.

Community-led housing adviser training to be set up

The National Community Land Trust (CLT) has received funding that aims to help increase the number of communities-turned-housing developers.

The £180,000 from the Nationwide Foundation will enable the development of more robust and widespread infrastructure to support the sector’s growth and ensure that communities have access to the “best specialist” advice, irrespective of their location.

Local councils, housing professionals and architects will benefit from increased resources and training opportunities that will be available because of the funding, said the National CLT Network.

The proposals, developed by the National CLT Network, involve a specialist training and accreditation programme for the sector, growing the support that it is available across the country, and the creation of a centralised community-led housing website.

Leigh Pearce, chief executive at the Nationwide Foundation, said: “We envisage a future where community-led housing is thriving and where many more people, especially those in housing need, are living in homes that have been created by the community. Yet we know that the availability of help can make or break whether a much-needed scheme can get off the ground. We want to ensure that community groups wanting to deliver community-led housing can realise their vision and ultimately enable local people to establish settled lives, close to family and employment.”

PLATFORM_ to develop in Scotland

Developer and operator of private rented housing PLATFORM_ is to develop in Glasgow after acquiring a two-acre brownfield site in Central Quay.

The site was purchased from Harbert Management Corporation and XLB Property, who secured planning permission for the Central Quay masterplan last month. The transaction was brokered by GVA.

PLATFORM_ will now deliver more than 400 purpose-built rental homes on the site, which will be constructed around a landscaped courtyard and come with a host of on-site amenities such as concierge, residents’ lounge and gym. The apartments will overlook the River Clyde and sit just to the west of the city centre.

The development forms part of the Central Quay regeneration, which includes 300,000 square feet of office space.

Glasgow-based architects Keppie Design designed the plans.

Brentford schemes approved

London Green and joint venture partner Topland Group have been granted planning permission for two linked projects in Brentford, west London.

The London Borough of Hounslow approved the redevelopment of the former police station in Brentford town centre, as well a new housing scheme on the nearby Albany Riverside site.

The redevelopment of the former police station site includes 105 new homes – 57 per cent of which have been designated as affordable. It also ends a long-running search for a new home for the Watermans Arts Centre. Both the new arts centre and homes have been designed by architects Pollard Thomas Edwards.

The Albany Riverside project involves the demolition of a disused office building, as well as the existing Watermans Arts Centre, and the creation of 193 new homes designed by Duggan Morris. Plans also include a ground floor café and improvements to the Thames Path.

Carter Jonas appointed to assist Highways England

Highways England has appointed property consultant Carter Jonas to its national property management, enquiries and sales and estates contract.

The consultant will manage more than 900 assets across the commercial, rural and residential sectors for a period of up to three years.

The portfolio has an asset value of over £100 million.

Under the contract, Carter Jonas will also undertake acquisitions and disposals as well as providing landlord and tenant, professional advisory and treasury services.

The appointment begins on 1 April.

13th February 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner