Latest news

Planning News - 26 April 2018

Published: Thursday, 26th April 2018

Call for garden city reference to be reinstated in the NPPF, West of England submits joint spatial plan, Application submitted for Wolverhampton urban village and more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

More than 50 organisations have called on the government to reinstate a reference to garden city principles in the draft National Planning Policy Framework, which is currently out for consultation.

Councils, professional bodies, trade associations, charities, developers and designers have all signed the letter, including the Town and Country Planning Association, the County Councils Network and the UK Green Building Council.

Garden city principles include capturing land value for the benefit of the community, community ownership of land and long-term stewardship of assets, and integrated and accessible transport systems that comprise active travel choices as well as public transport.

The current NPPF, published in 2012, sets out a requirement for local authorities to consider whether large-scale developments that follow the principles of garden cities is the best way of achieving sustainable development.

It features guidance for local authorities’ decision-making processes.

But the draft iteration does not feature the reference to garden city principles.

Kate Henderson, chief executive at the TCPA, said meeting the housing needs of the nation means more than delivering housing units.

“We need to create beautiful places which offer a wide range of employment opportunities and genuinely affordable homes, while enabling more sustainable lifestyles. The garden city principles can deliver all this and are underpinned by a financial model which not only enables fast delivery but puts people at the heart of delivering new places and provides resources for the long-term stewardship and maintenance of a high-quality public realm and high-quality community facilities.

“Recommitting to the garden city principles in the NPPF is the starting point to unlocking a new generation of highly sustainable places that meet housing, employment and quality of life needs while promoting innovation. We recognise the prime minister’s personal commitment to building communities the nation can be proud of, and we urge the government to ensure the garden city principles are reinstated in the NPPF.”

The full list of signatories can be found on the TCPA website.

16 April 2017                                                                     
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Four councils have submitted a draft West of England Joint Spatial Plan to housing secretary Sajid Javid.

The local authorities involved are Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The plan has been submitted following three years of working together and public engagement to develop a strategy to help guide planning for housing and business growth across the council areas for the next 20 years.

It includes the policies and principles that have been used to determine “the most appropriate and sustainable” locations for development, says a statement from the councils.

The policies and principles have been the subject of stakeholder engagement and three consultation exercises in order to shape them.

The government will now review the plan, appointing an independent planning inspector to conduct an Examination in Public this autumn. The inspector will report back to the councils and may suggest amendments.

If approved, the councils will consider whether to adopt the spatial plan, which would sit above and guide the review of each council’s local plan.

The four councils are also taking forward the findings of a Joint Transport Study, which has been designed to help the region meet the increasing infrastructure demands that new growth will bring. It aims to identify the projects that are needed to tackle existing pressure on road and public transport networks, including reducing the reliance on cars.

A Transport Topic Paper, which provides more detail on the infrastructure investments being considered to support the growth proposed in the JSP is also being submitted.

More information on the West of England Joint Spatial Plan and the plan itself can be found here.

19 April 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Developer Countryside Properties has submitted a planning application for enabling works at Bilston Urban Village.

Countryside is the City of Wolverhampton Council’s preferred bidder for housing at the village, which could see up to 450 homes built across 27 acres of land, south of Bilston town centre and the Black Country Route.

If the application is approved, the developer will start detailed profiling of the land levels in preparation for housing on the site, ahead of a residential planning application.

Keren Jones, director for the city economy at the council, said: “We are working closely with Countryside to finalise the scheme and this is a major milestone for housing development on Bilston Urban Village.

“Our plans to develop up to 500 homes on the site will make a significant impact in achieving our housing targets in the City of Wolverhampton.

“The council has spent a lot of time making sure there is good road access, and ensuring that, with a bus-only link, cycle ways and pedestrian routes, the new housing will be well connected to the town centre.

John Gilbert, regional operations director for Countryside’s Midlands division, said: “This scheme will play a critical role in the city’s regeneration activity and, with our strong partnership model in place, the plans for Bilston Urban Village would provide residents with a vibrant, mixed-tenure neighbourhood, where the new homes are both affordable and accessible for a wide range of people.”

Some of the two, three and four-bedroom homes being developed by Kier on two other Bilston Urban Village plots are already home to some residents, while landscaping work is under way, with a network of paths for walking and cycling being created.

16 April 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The number of build-to-rent homes that are either complete, under construction or in planning in the UK has increased by 30 per cent over the past year, according to the British Property Federation (BPF).

The BPF commissioned Savills to conduct and publish the research on a quarterly basis, and this set of data is the first this year.

It suggests that there are 117,893 build-to-rent homes in the UK, up from 90,761 compared with the first quarter of 2017. This figure comprises homes across all stages of the development cycle.

When broken down, the number of completed build-to-rent homes stands at 20,863, up 45 per cent from the 14,371 built in the same period last year.

In Q1 of 2018, there were 33,075 build-to-rent homes under construction, an increase of 47 per cent from the 22,498 under construction in the same period in 2017.

In terms of the total number in planning, the research considers the capacity of strategic sites identified for build to rent that have yet to be submitted for planning permission. Local authorities and developers have put forward 17,578 for delivery on these sites. In total, there are 63,955 build-to-rent homes in planning for the first quarter of 2018, compared with 53,892 in the first quarter of 2017.

According to the research, 12,062 build-to-rent homes were completed, 12,611 were under construction and 35, 857 were in planning across London, in Q1 of 2018. This totals 60,530. In the regions, 8,801 were completed, 20,464 were under construction and 28,098 were in planning, totalling 57,363.

In the regions, the North West has the highest volume of build-to-rent homes that are either complete, under construction or in planning.

Ian Fletcher, director of real estate policy at the BPF, said the build-to-rent sector is “evolving quickly, with significant delivery in the regions and more houses, rather than just apartments, coming forward”.

So far, the sector has grown without a “planning blueprint”, but Fletcher noted that the policy for sector is adapting.

“With the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), local authorities will now have to specifically identify how many new rental homes their respective areas need. This has never before been enshrined in UK planning policy.

“Clearly, there are exemplar local authorities across the UK leading the charge, giving build to rent a chance to expand in the regions and demonstrate that it can cater for a wider range of people. The sector, however, has significant potential to deliver more professionally managed homes for all renters seeking higher-quality service and facilities.”

Jacqui Daly, director, residential investment research and strategy at Savills, added that there is “real momentum” in the sector.

“At this rate of growth, we expect that the build-to-rent pipeline could double to around 200,000 within the next two years.”

Housing minister Dominic Raab said the increased in completed build-to-rent homes is “good news”, but that the government is “restless to do more”.

He said the draft NPPF is a “crucial next step in supporting the build-to-rent sector, reforming planning rules, and helping to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s”.

16 April 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A Labour government would redefine affordable housing, suspend the Right to Buy scheme and ‘transform’ the planning system so it has a ‘duty’ to deliver affordable housing.

Launching the party’s Housing for the Many review, leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to deliver a million “genuinely affordable” homes over 10 years, most of which will be for social rent. More than 100,000 of these homes would be delivered each year by the end of the first five-year term of a Labour government.

To ensure that the housebuilding target is met, the review says that ahead of the next election Labour will undertake work to see how it can reach this level of building even sooner and enable councils to deliver as many of these homes as possible.

The social housing review was launched at the Labour Party Conference in September 2017.

Corbyn said the party would “dismiss the Tories’ farcical definition of affordable housing for the sham that it is, replacing it with a definition that understands that whether housing is affordable or not depends on how much people earn, not on how much speculators have flooded property markets”.

Social rent homes would be valued at well below marker rent levels and set up using an established formula based on local incomes, property values and the size of the property. Social rent homes would be at the heart of Labour’s affordable housing programme.

Living rent homes would be set at no more than a third of average local household incomes, explains the green paper. They would be aimed at low-to-middle income working families, key workers and younger people who want an alternative to private renting.

FirstBuy homes would be discounted so that mortgage payments were no more than a third of average local household incomes. The discount would be locked into the home so that future generations of first-time buyers benefit too. These homes would be aimed at working families on ordinary incomes, key workers and younger people.

Corbyn said the government has not only “failed” to deliver on social housing, “but made it their mission to eliminate it”.

The green paper, he continued, sets out the “radical” measures needed to address the affordability problem, including ending the “viability loophole”, to create a “new era of social housing”.

It states that the government’s approach to the assessment of housing need has “a blind spot” when it comes housing affordability. It “assumes that unaffordable housing can be dealt with primarily by increasing the overall number of newly built homes.”

Since 2010, says Labour, changes to made to developer obligations have resulted in a sharp fall in Section 106 funded affordable homes, down to just 16,000 across the country.

To address the problems, Labour has identified, Housing for the Many states:

  • A Labour government will suspend the Right to Buy scheme, ending the government’s programme of “forced” conversions to affordable rent and scrap plans to force councils to sell the best of their homes.
  • The Land Registry will be kept in public hands. Reforms will be fast-tracked so that local communities know who owns, controls and has an interest in land.
  • A new duty to deliver affordable homes, linked to a better measure of local need for affordable housing would be introduced under Labour. The party would consult on new accountability mechanisms to support councils to achieve this, including an increase in the New Homes Bonus affordable homes premium.
  • Labour plans to remove the viability loophole that “allows developers to dodge affordable housing obligations”. The party will consider a range of wider reforms to overhaul the system, including greater transparency, giving councils powers to “claw back” greater than expected profits where developments don’t include the required amount of affordable housing. Standard guidance would be set out on the Section 106 process while a team of independent viability experts would be appointed to back up councils who are in negotiations with developers over affordable housing.
  • The party will introduce a presumption that there is no development without affordable housing, including smaller and rural sites, and end the avoidance of affordable housing obligations through permitted development.
  • Labour supports and will encourage off-site production of affordable homes, consulting on how to expand the practice.
  • Apprenticeships would be a condition of receiving housing grant. The party plans to explore a national affordable housing training scheme for graduates.
  • Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, Labour plans to make safe homes for all the very highest priority, with sprinklers fitted in high-rise blocks and fire safety as the first standard in a new Decent Homes 2 programme.

The green paper is now out for consultation and wider debate. Labour welcomes “views and more detailed work to help develop our plans”. Housing for the Many can be found on the Labour Party website.

19 April 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A round-up of planning news:

Quartermain round-up for local planners

England’s chief planner Steve Quartermain has written to all local planning authorities, updating them on what has happened in the first quarter of 2018.

The letter features the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and a reminder that the consultation on it, the developer contributions consultation and one on updated planning practice guidance all close on 10 May.

Quartermain also writes about brownfield land registers, permission in principle, compulsory purchase and the unauthorised development and encampments consultation.

The chief planner’s full letter can be found on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government website (pdf).

Fareham oppose NPPF housing number increase

Fareham Borough Council’s executive committee has said it strongly objects to the government’s plans to change the NPPF, as they would result in a “significant increase” in the number of houses the borough would be required to accommodate.

According to the council, any increase would be in addition to the 8,000 new homes the council consulted on in its draft local plan last year, which covers the period to 2036.

The executive report can be found on the Fareham Borough Council website.

Second edition of BIM published

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has published the Building Information Modelling (BIM) Protocol Second Edition.

The original was commissioned by CIC in 2013 as a response to the UK Government’s BIM Strategy.

The second edition of the BIM Protocol can be found on the CIC website.

Council grants lease for development on former Peter Pan site

Brighton & Hove City Council has granted a five-year temporary lease to Sea Lanes Brighton Ltd for the development of the former Peter Pan site on Madeira Drive, Brighton.

The lease is subject to planning permission.

An outdoor heated swimming pool is at the centre of the development, which aims to bring the seafront back to its former glory and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Madeira Drive.

The pool will be supported by around 10,000 square feet of commercial space, and the development as a whole is expected to create 70 new jobs and opportunities for the local community, according to Joe McNulty, managing director of Copsemill Properties.

CITB chair announced

Anne Milton, minister for apprenticeships and skills, has appointed Peter Lauener as the chair of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

Lauener has previously been the chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships, and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

He will take up the role from 1 May, when James  Wates steps down after eight years.

3D printed house unveiled in Milan

Arup and CLS Architects have unveiled 3D Housing 05, a new 3D printed house in central Milan, as part of the Salone del Mobile design festival.

Printed on site by a portable robot, the house aims to showcase the role 3D printing can play in reducing construction waste. The organisation said it increases efficiencies during the building process and allows materials to be reused at the end of the building’s life, rather than ending up as landfill.

The concrete 3D printed house, which is the first of its kind within the EU, can be taken apart and reassembled elsewhere.

The one-storey concrete house, located in the grand Piazza Cesare Beccaria, covers 100 square metres. It has curved walls, a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The project differs from many other 3D processes in its use of a robotic manipulator, mounted on a movable base for increased flexibility compared with fixed 3D printers.

The house comprises 35 modules that have each been printed in 60 to 90 minutes; the full house has been printed in just 48 hours’ effective time.