Latest news

Planning News - 27 September 2018

Published: Thursday, 27th September 2018

London council issues Article 4 direction on permitted development, Khan approves Notting Hill Gate housing plans, Statistics show small fall in decisions made to June 2018 and more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

Brent Council has issued an Article 4 Direction that means developers will need to apply for planning permission to convert office and light industrial space into homes.

Permitted development rights, introduced in 2013, mean a developer can bypass the full planning system for certain types of development.

The Article 4 Direction, which is laid out in the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order (England) 2015, covers a number of key employment areas in the borough, including Alperton, Neasden, Wembley and Staples Corner.

Shama Tatler, Brent Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, highways and planning, explained that before issuing the direction, developers could convert properties in a “piecemeal way” that didn’t consider the quality or design of the property, or the loss of employment space.

“As every planning application is considered on its merits, by making developers apply for planning permission, it won’t stop the new homes that we need from being built, but it will allow us to ensure that the new homes meet our standards, that local issues are taken into account, that local people are properly consulted and that we ensure suitable levels of affordable accommodation are secured in each scheme.

“By going the planning route, we also have the opportunity to weigh up the economic benefits and disadvantages of each scheme to see if the loss of local employment space is acceptable and what the wider benefits might be for Brent residents.”

Elsewhere in London

Last year, Lambeth Council restricted office to residential conversions using Article 4, to protect workspace in key parts of the borough and to make sure that housing developments in the borough are up to standard, provide affordable homes, and are built in appropriate places.

Hackney Council issued the direction to protect the borough’s launderettes and warehouses, while both Southwark Council and Wandsworth Council have used the measure to protect pubs. Westminster City Council issued an Article 4 Direction to prevent its high streets from being overrun by non-retail businesses such as estate agents.

19 September 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Mayor of London has granted permission for a development in Notting Hill after working with the developer to secure amendments to the scheme, including a large element of affordable housing.

In March, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council refused the application, which at that point included 17 per cent affordable housing, and 46 homes in total.

Sadiq Khan then called in the application.

A statement from the mayor’s office explained that the council has “consistently failed” to meet targets for new and affordable homes, with no affordable homes approved last year.

Khan and his planning team have worked to increase the number of homes to 55, and the level of affordable housing to 17 to 35 per cent, with two-thirds of these homes to be marketed at social rent prices. The remaining will be capped below London Living Rent levels.

The development also comprises a medical centre, step-free access to the nearby Notting Hill Gate underground station, a new public square with permanent pedestrian and cycle access.

Khan said: “Having considering all the evidence available to me – and following hard work by my planning team to increase the level of affordable housing – I have decided to grant permission for this development.

“What’s more, the development will also include important new step-free access to Notting Hill Gate station – a major improvement benefiting local residents and visitors coming to enjoy this vibrant and exciting part of the capital.

“London’s housing crisis won’t be solved overnight – but I hope this will send a clear message that I expect developments to include more genuinely affordable housing and other benefits for local people."

20 September 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

District-level planning authorities granted 374,200 decisions in the year ending June 2018 – a 3 per cent decline on the year ending June 2017, according to statistics published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

This includes 48,800 residential developments – 6,400 major developments and 42,400 minor developments. This is a decline of 2 per cent and 3 per cent respectively when compared with the year ending June 2017.

District councils granted 9,700 commercial developments, 11 per cent less than the previous year.

Between April and June 2018, district councils received 118,100 applications for planning permission, a decline of 4 per cent when compared with same period in 2017.

They granted 94,300 decisions, 4 per cent less than between April and June 2017, but equivalent to 88 per cent of decisions, which is unchanged from a year earlier.

In total 87 per cent of major applications were decided within 13 weeks or the agreed time, 1 per cent down from a year earlier.   

Other district level statistics in the report include:

11,900 residential applications granted – 3 per cent less than a year earlier. Breaks down into 1,500 major developments and 10,300 for minor ones.

2,200 commercial development applications, down 10 per cent on a year earlier.

10,100 prior approval for permitted development rights between April and June 2018, a 9 per cent decline compared with the same quarter in 2017. 1,200 applications for changes to residential use, with 800 approved without going through the full planning process.

Planning Applications in England: April to June 2018 can be found on the MHCLG website (pdf).

20 September 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Housing secretary James Brokenshire has announced two new government funds to speed up the housebuilding process.

Homes England will be able to use the funds to help the government deliver its promise of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

The government proposes that the funds should address problems such as land contamination, infrastructure requirements and complex land ownership that prevent homes being built “where they are needed most”.

The £1.3 billion Land Assembly Fund will be used to acquire land that needs work and prepare it for the market. The government says this will make it less risky for developers to invest in it and build homes. Outside of London, this work will be undertaken by Homes England. 

The Small Sites Funds, which is worth £630 million, aims to help public landowners and local authorities that are struggling to build on land in their area. Money will go towards getting the right infrastructure in places quicker on stalled sites.

The government added that it would work with the Greater London Authority to help guarantee that the funds deliver additional homes in the capital.

Brokenshire said the government needed to act so that the homes the country requires are built.

“The availability of this investment will help us intervene in the sort of sites that aren’t yet ready to build on, or where developers have been put off.

“Developers can now get straight on with building homes, rather than overcoming the barriers to build. And in the same way we are also supporting councils that have land for housing, but need additional help to enable development.”

Sir Edward Lister, chairman of Homes England, said: “Homes England is stepping in where the market isn’t working, unlocking land and releasing sites to those developers that are committed to providing homes at pace.

“The £1.9 billion… will mean we can invest in crucial infrastructure and help local authorities to get more homes built on public land.”

17 September 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced £2 billion in funding for housing associations in an bid to give them the ‘long-term certainty’ they need to have a ‘central’ role in helping to address the housing crisis.

Speaking at the National Housing Federation Summit today (19 September), she pledged to work in partnership with housing associations to get more people on the housing ladder as well as to make sure those who cannot afford to own have somewhere they can be proud to call home.

The government has already announced several measures to support housing associations, including not extending the local housing cap to the social sector.

“You said that if you were going to take a serious role in not just managing but building the homes this country needs, you had to have the stability provided by long-term funding deals,” said May.

Eight housing associations have been given deals worth £600 million, she continued, before announcing that new longer-term partnerships will be opened up to the “most ambitious housing associations through a groundbreaking £2 billion initiative”.

“Under the scheme, associations will be able to apply for funding stretching as far ahead as 2028/29 – the first time any government has offered housing associations such long-term certainty.

“Doing so will give you the stability you need to get tens of thousands of affordable and social homes built where they are needed most, and make it easier for you to leverage the private finance you need to build many more.”

May also called on housing associations to use their “unique qualities”, such as ties with local communities and expertise and property managers, “to achieve things neither private developers nor local authorities are capable of doing”.

“Rather than simply acquiring a proportion of the properties commercial developers build, I want to see housing associations taking on and leading major developments themselves. Because creating the kind of large-scale, high-quality developments this country needs requires a special kind of leadership – leadership you are uniquely well-placed to provide.”

The stigma

May spoke about a “certain stigma” that clings to social housing, noting that some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and don’t say they live in a local authority or housing association home. She wants people to be proud of the home they live in.

“Our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens. They should not have to put up with second-rate homes. And that applies to management every bit as much as design and construction.”

She urged housing associations to use their “unique status, rich history and social mission” to change the way tenants and society view social housing.

19 September 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Build-to-rent scheme submitted in Glasgow

A £90 million 500-apartment build-to-rent planning application has been submitted to Glasgow City Council by PLATFORM_.

The site in question is at Central Quay, on the Broomielaw that runs along the River Clyde.

Planning in principle was granted for the seven-acre site at the beginning of 2018 following a masterplan formulated by Harbert Management Corporation and XLB Property, together with Keppie and LDA Design.

The development forms part of a wider masterplan at the Clydeside Central Quay area, which also includes 300,000 square feet of office space and a 150-room hotel.

The development will provide studios, one, two and three-bedroom homes alongside shared facilities including a co-working space, a shared residents’ lounge, onsite-concierge, roof terraces, a gym and games room.

PLATFORM_ has already built and operates a number of similar build-to-rent projects across the UK including schemes in Bedford, Bracknell, Crawley, Exeter, and Stevenage.

19m tonnes of gravel dredged in 2017

The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) and The Crown Estate have published their 20th annual ‘Area Involved’ report, which says that 19 million tonnes of sand and gravel were dredged from Crown Estate licences in England and Wales during 2017.

This increased from 17.94 million in 2016.

The report also found:

  • 1,057 km² – area of licensed seabed in 2017, up from 934 km² in 2016.
  • Dredging took place within 90.94 km², 8.60 per cent of the licensed area, compared with 87.53 km² - 9.37 per cent - in 2016.
  • The area of seabed dredged for more than 1 hour 15 minutes a year (high intensity) was 7.42km². It was 7.52km² in 2016.
  • 90 per cent of dredging from Crown Estate licences took place from an area of 38.30km², up from 33.92km² in 2016.

The area involved – 20th annual report can be found on the BMAPA website (pdf).

Deal signed for Exeter care home

Acorn Property Group has exchanged on the sale of two acres of land next to its forthcoming 146-unit scheme at St Leonards in central Exeter.

Care and retirement specialist Castleoak has bought the site. The firm will develop a 61-bed care home and 68 assisted living units.

The care home and assisted living units, as well as a pre-school, form part of Acorn’s plans for the site. Acorn will provide one and two-bed apartments, and three, four and five bed houses, 24 per cent of which will be affordable.

The Royal Academy for Deaf Education is moving to a new site in Exmouth.

Council bids for cash for new homes

Dacorum Borough Council has announced that it is bidding for £10 million of additional funding to help deliver new council homes.

The additional borrowing will be used to add 106 new houses and flats to the council’s overall programme up to 2022/23.

To date, the council has delivered 132 new homes, while 208 are under construction. In total, the council said the new programme will take the overall total up to 571 council homes at “truly affordable” rents.

The new homes will delivered across the borough, with most set to be built in Hemel Hempstead.

Nottingham offices approved

Nottingham City Council’s planning committee has granted planning permission for a grade A office building near the city’s train station.

The 11 Station Scheme is part of a new mixed-use project.

The offices have been designed by Franklin Ellis Architects, and will provide 50,000 square feet of space, as well as a reception, roof terraces and car parking.

As well as the office space, the mixed-use project also includes student accommodation by the Vita Group at 25 Station Street. This student element was approved in August.

Funding for nature in Scotland’s cities

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has announced a further £8 million funding for the latest phase of its Green Infrastructure Fund.

The fund, which aims to improve the urban environment in Scotland’s towns and cities, is being delivered in two phases.

The first is due for completion in 2019, and will deliver seven capital infrastructure projects and 12 community engagement projects including transformation of a derelict golf course in South Lanarkshire into a new urban park, and an outdoor recreational space in the Middlefield community in Aberdeen, with weirs and wetlands helping reduce the town’s flood risk.

SNH is inviting bids for a share in the extra £8 million funding from up to 10 major projects. It is expected that the successful projects will support some of Scotland’s more deprived urban communities to make best use of their local environment, help to tackle the effects of  climate change, attract business and boost job opportunities, said SNH.

More details about the fund can be found here.

25 September 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner