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Planning News - 23 August 2018

Published: Thursday, 23rd August 2018

Bidding opens for garden community development support, Major consultations on regeneration and transport launched in Manchester, North West tops ‘Help to Buy’ completions and more stories...

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

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Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire has announced a new programme of garden communities, inviting garden town and village developers to bid for additional government support for projects.

He said the programme aims to enable more high-quality homes to be built and green spaces created. It expands on government plans for more locally led developments.

The government sees new settlements as part of the solution to the housing crisis and its ambitious plans to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

The programme allows councils across England and private developers that have secured support from local authorities to apply for a place on the programme.

The winners will receive tailored advice and, potentially, grant funding for help with staffing or environmental assessments, which form part of the planning process for new garden towns.

Brokenshire said: “This plan is about the government working with councils and developers to get great homes in keeping with beautiful areas in England.

“We want to help local authorities build strong and vibrant communities where people want to live, work, and raise families.

“Our garden communities programme already has the potential to provide over 200,000 new homes by 2050, and we want to go further.”

The government will be looking for strong community involvement and engagement to be at the heart of proposals. They should reflect local character and include “beautiful” green spaces near homes.

The prospectus states that the government will prioritise proposals for new garden towns comprising more than 10,000 homes, but will consider proposals for garden villages comprising between 1,500 and 10,000 homes that are “particularly strong in other aspects”.

Bidders have until 9 November to apply for support. Those that are successful will be announced in the New Year.

The garden communities prospectus can be found on the UK Government website.

15 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Two large-scale consultations have been launched in Greater Manchester setting out a gateway regeneration plan and the future of transport in the city centre.

In the first, residents are being asked for their opinions on a £1 billion Northern Gateway scheme, which aims to transform the Irk Valley to the north of the city. The second consultation will inform transport planners on services and infrastructure needed in the city centre in the next 20 years.

The regeneration project, led by Manchester City Council and investment specialist Far East Consortium, comprises 15,000 homes, a transport interchange and a river park.

The initiative is intended to regenerate all former industrial land from the Green Quarter along the river and transform Rochdale Road into an urban boulevard.

The scheme is the biggest regeneration initiative in Manchester since the rental of Eastlands following the Commonwealth Games in 2002.

In the second consultation, Transport for Greater Manchester alongside Manchester and Salford city councils are seeking the views of people who live and work in the city centre of the current transport offer. The move is in response to city centre employment levels, which are expected to rise to around 270,000 people, with up to 100,000 residents within the next 20 years.

Transport for Greater Manchester said that with more than seven million people living within a one-hour commute, the need to develop new and innovative transport solutions is essential to supporting the long-term growth of the largest centre in the north of England.

Feedback received from the consultation will go on to shape the next city centre transport strategy to support further growth. The previous strategy, published in 2010, looked to the year 2020 and saw several major transport improvements, including the Metrolink Second City Crossing, dedicated cross-city bus services and the transformation of the Oxford Road corridor.

13 August 2018
Huw Morris, The Planner

New statistics suggest that the highest proportion of property completions under the Help to Buy: ISA scheme was in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, and the West Midlands.

Released by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) today (16 August), the statistics state that in total, 146,753 property completions were supported by the scheme between 1 December 2015 and March 2018.

The stats:

  • 196,007 bonuses have been paid through the scheme.
  • The average bonus value is £800.
  • The mean value of a property purchased is £172,448 compared to an average first-time buyer house price of £188,429.
  • The media age of a first-time buyer in the scheme is 27, compared to a national first-time buyer median age of 30.

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Help to Buy continues to be hugely popular across the UK, with 420,000 people getting support so far.

“And with our stamp duty cuts and the lifetime ISA, we are delivering for first-time buyers.”

The statistical report also suggests that more than 169,100 property purchases have taken place through the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme. Buyers are offered up to 20 per cent of a newly built home’s cost so they only need a 5 per cent deposit.

Help to Buy: ISA scheme quarterly statistics can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

16 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Ashford Borough Council has seen off a bid to overturn a High Court injunction against a group that had unlawfully created a mobile home site.

The case, which involved several defendants and “persons unknown” concerned a site at High Halden in Kent.

In March, Ashford was granted an injunction preventing the defendants from using the land or carrying out works in breach of planning controls under Section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, including stationing any caravan or mobile home for residential use.

Council officers had witnessed substantial works on the site in defiance of a stop notice.

His Honour Judge Richard Parkes ruled that the injunction seemed to “have been completely ignored” and refused an application by one of the defendants to vary it to allow temporary residential use.

He decided that using the land for residential purposes had never been lawful and that it “strains credulity” for the defendants to believe otherwise and he saw no prospect of planning permission being granted for residential use.

The judge also said varying the injunction would mean some defendants using the site for residential when they had “no legal right to bring mobile homes onto the land in the first place and when there was a court order in place preventing the use of the land for such purposes”.

13 August 2018
Huw Morris, The Planner

In response to the government’s long-awaited social housing green paper, the social housing sector and interested professionals have welcomed the proposals but, overall, say it doesn’t go far enough.

Not enough to focus on overall housing numbers

Victoria Hills MRTPI, chief executive at the RTPI, welcomed the "overdue attention" to social housing and commitments to strengthen the position and status of residents.

However, she continued, "we also need to increase diversity in the housing market and especially the amount of social housing. Kit Malthouse likened making progress with social housing to turning around a big tanker, but the changes confirmed so far are barely a course correction".

"It’s not good enough to just focus on getting overall housing numbers up to 300,000 a year – we must also focus on the type of housing we are building. New social homes must be a priority. In the context of the loss of 150,000 social homes over the last five years, local authorities need more powers, including further devolved funding and financing for social housing. We need to resource the planners and housing officers who will be expected to deliver it.”

Doesn’t commit a penny

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The terrible Grenfell tragedy has shone a light on social housing and forced the country to think about the choices we face.

“Today’s green paper is full of warm words, but doesn’t commit a single extra penny towards building the social homes needed by the 1.2 million people on the waiting list.”

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, who represents social landlords to around six million people, said the green paper has been welcomed by housing associations.

“For 40 years we have failed to build anything like enough social housing. It is time the country had a proper conversation about the role and importance of social housing in ending the housing crisis.”

He explained that social housing residents are concerned about the shortage of genuinely affordable homes and they feel that recent welfare reforms have caused real hardship. Orr said there must be space within the green paper consultation to address these wider concerns.

“We also know that many tenants believe the quality of services from their landlord could be improved. We know people want to feel listened to and influence the kind of services they receive. We have been leading a national conversation with our members and tenant organisations to understand where and how we can do better. Housing associations are committed to putting the people we serve at the heart of everything we do. We want to ensure this is the reality in all our homes and communities across the country.”

However, Orr said that without “significant” new investment in the building of more social housing, “it is very hard to see how it can be a safety net and springboard for all the people who desperately need it”.

Only a small step

Judith Blake, Local Government Association (LGA) housing spokesperson, said the green paper is “only a small step” towards delivering more social homes”.

“There is a desperate need to reverse the decline in council housing over the past few decades. The loss of social housing means that we are spending more and more on housing benefit to supplement expensive rents instead of investing in genuinely affordable homes. It has also come alongside an increase in homelessness, with 79,000 families, and almost 125,000 children, stuck in temporary accommodation.

“Councils are proud of their housing and their tenants and continually work to improve how they empower their tenants to achieve a positive and responsive relationship. However, they need the freedoms and powers to invest in new and existing housing that communities want for themselves and their children.”

Blake urged the government to go beyond the “limited” measures announced so far, and to scrap the borrowing cap – something the LGA has been calling for for some time now.

“It is good that the government has listened to our concerns and dropped plans to force the sale of council homes. We have worked hard to demonstrate the need to scrap this policy, which would have forced councils to sell off large numbers of the homes desperately needed by low-income families in our communities,” Blake concluded.

Government understands crisis

Mark Farmer, CEO at real estae and construction consultancy Cast, said the green paper is evidence that the government understands the severity of the housing crisis.

"However, tackling the housing crisis head-on needs much more focus on delivering affordable homes in appropriate locations with appropriate social and physical infrastructure that can generate sustainable communities. This can only be achieved by bringing forward more public land for development and diversifying our housing market both in terms of tenure offering and methods of production. There is a unique opportunity to use innovative homebuilding techniques as a stimulus for new forms of multi-skilled training, factory and site based employment and wider social value creation.”

Consultation after consultation

Henry Moss, real estate partner at law firm Ashurst, said: “The social housing green paper is welcome, but it does nothing to fix the fundamental problem that we're not building nearly enough homes of the type people desperately need or can afford. The government's own housing white paper, published over 18 months ago, described our housing market as ‘broken’ and promised to ‘fix it’.  Since then, we have had consultation after consultation but no action.”

14 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news:

Inverness Campus centre plans revised

Plans for a major healthcare and life sciences centre serving the Highlands and Islands region have been revised after consultation.

The joint project between NHS Highland, the University of the Highlands and Islands and Highlands Islands Enterprise (HIE) is forecast to create 189 jobs.

The scheme will be housed within a building of more than 8,000 square metres on the university’s Inverness Campus. This will include a £34 million elective care centre for the north of Scotland, which is due to open in 2021 and will have 28 inpatient beds, four operating theatres and day case and outpatient facilities.

The new building will also feature a life science business incubator created by HIE to provide office and laboratory spaces for start-up and inward investment firms engaged in creating new products and services for the healthcare sector.

NPPF changes hit Fareham hard, says councillor

The government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is set to increase the number of homes Fareham is required to build, with the area “one of the hardest hit” in Hampshire.

The changes to the way housing need is calculated mean that Fareham will need to build at least 544 units a year, which is an annual increase of 124 units, or 30 per cent.

The Housing Delivery Test will be introduced in November. Councils will be measure against this to see if they have met the new housing requirements. If the test returns a below 95 per cent result, the council will be required to prepare a Housing Delivery Action Plan.

New sites will have to be found for the council’s draft local plan.

Seán Woodward, executive leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: “It appears that Fareham is one of the hardest hit of all local authorities in Hampshire.  Despite voicing our significant concerns during the consultation, the government’s publication of its changed planning rules will have an immediate effect. That places the council in a situation where we must consider planning applications in the context of the government significantly increasing our deemed housing need.”

Wellness centre gets the go-ahead

A £14 million leisure scheme in the Greater Manchester borough of Tameside, to be developed by real estate investment firm Network Space, has been approved.

Denton Wellness Centre will bring an eight-lane competition swimming pool, learner pool, spa area, fitness suite and ten-pin bowling alley to the town.

Designed by Pozzoni Architecture, the centre comprises a range of community facilities including meeting rooms, children’s soft play area and multi-use studio spaces.

The development is being delivered for Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council. Following construction (by Willmott Dixon), it will be managed by the council’s leisure operator.

Carter Jonas sells residential development opportunity in Buckinghamshire

Property consultancy Carter Jonas has sold a ‘significant’ residential development opportunity on behalf of a consortium of private landowners to Abbey New Homes.

The 15.49 acre (6.27 hectare) former agricultural site on the northern edge of Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire has outline planning permission for up to 117 new homes, with 30 per cent allocated to affordable housing, together with informal public open space with a children’s play area.

Carter Jonas worked with Gladman Developments to obtain planning permission before bringing the site to market.

Woolwich approves phase one plans for £31m creative district

The Royal Borough of Greenwich’s plans to create a “landmark destination for the arts” in the borough’s Royal Arsenal area has moved closer with planning permission granted for the first phase of a multimillion-pound restoration of historic military buildings.

This will create a 15,000 square metres heritage complex of theatres, dance studios and restaurants set between the river Thames and the new Woolwich station on London’s Elizabeth Line.

The permission is for conversion and change of use to performance and creative space for three grade II listed former Royal Arsenal munitions buildings – known as 17,18 and 19.

Trebor and Hillwood submit Bristol industrial site applications

Trebor Developments and property investment firm Hillwood have submitted a planning application for a 244,000 sq ft industrial scheme in Bristol.

Central Approach is less than a mile from the new junction 1 of the M49 motorway, and will be developed in a single phase offering three units of 134,000 square feet, 77,000 square feet and 34,000 square feet.

The aim is to make the development available for occupation during the third quarter of 2019.

The acquisition is the first following the two organisations’ announcement in March that they had entered into a strategic partnership to undertake industrial and logistics developments across the UK.

Dover Town designated as neighbourhood area

Following an application by Dover Town Council to Dover District Council, Dover Town has been designated a Neighbourhood Area to help the local community shape the future of the town.

It’s a designation that, says the council, will help it progress the preparation of its neighbourhood plan.

Dover Town’s neighbourhood area covers the six wards that come under Dover Town Council.

Acorn acquires 65-unit Devon site

Acorn Property Group’s Exeter office, in partnership with Galliard Homes, has completed on the purchase of a 7.4-acre site in Chillington in south Devon, where it plans to build 65 new homes.

Outline planning permission for the scheme was obtained earlier in the year. The development will comprise three and four-bedroom houses, 35 per cent of which will be affordable.

The deal represents the second for Acorn’s Exeter office. Subject to a reserved matters application approval, works will start early next year.

Acorn says it has it has “worked carefully with the local planners and community to make the most of the homes and the views of the beautiful local countryside”.

New playing field and area for South Northamptonshire

A residents’ group in Rothersthorpe in south Northamptonshire has been granted planning permission for a new playing field and play area.

Permission has been granted for a change of use of land bordered by Banbury Lane and Church Lane from agricultural to community use.

The Rothersthorpe Community Space Project (RCSP) wants the site to become a place for ball games and a children’s play area.

Objections to the proposals included the size of the development and the loss of both view and privacy for neighbouring properties. However, following a questionnaire sent to households in the village, 79 per cent of replies were in support, 8 per centre were against while 13 per cent offered no response.

Transport Planning Day ‘People’s Award’ deadline extended

The Transport Planning Society has extended its People’s Award nomination deadline to this coming Friday, 17 August.

The Transport Planning Day campaign seeks to encourage communities to tell professionals how transport planning has changed their lives.

People who have been involved through their communities in shaping transport projects in their area are asked to nominate individuals for the People’s Award. Communities could include parish or town councils, residents’ associations, civic societies or similar bodies.

The winner will be announced at Transport Planning Day at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London on 13 November.