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Planning News - 9 October 2019

Published: Wednesday, 9th October 2019

Jenrick outlines green commitment, Canada Water masterplan approved, New-build starts decreased in June quarter and more stories...

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

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Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has made a commitment to a new green standard to tackle the climate crisis and keep household energy bills low.

The Future Homes Standard would see fossil fuel heating systems, such as gas boilers, banned from new-build homes by 2025.

They will be replaced with cleaner technology, including air source heat pumps and “cutting-edge” solar panels, explained the government.

Jenrick said: “Building new homes isn’t just about bricks and mortar; I want to ensure everyone – including developers – does their bit to protect the environment and give the next generation beautiful, environmentally friendly homes that local communities can support.”

This is why, he explained, he is requiring carbon emissions to be cut by up to 80 per cent from 2025 for all new homes.

A consultation on the Future Homes Standard closes on 10 January 2020.

This announcement is just one of a number from the government this week, as it hosts the Conservative Party conference.

On Monday, the housing secretary launched a building design guide with “genuine clout” that would replace “outdated guidance”.

He also announced that permitted development rights would be extended.

The extended permitted development rules would initially apply to purpose-built blocks of flats form January 2020, but would eventually be rolled out to detached houses. These would allow homeowners to add an extra two-storeys to their homes without seeking planning permission, under the same rules that currently apply to small extensions and loft conversions.

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, questioned the move. “It is very difficult to see how this concern for better design and public involvement is compatible with a relaxation in rules on ‘building up’ and the consequent inability of neighbours to have a formal route to object.”

The government also said the accelerated planning green paper would be published in November.

2 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Southwark Council’s planning committee has granted planning permission for a mixed-use masterplan to create a new town centre in Canada Water, London.

The decision was in line with the council’s planning officer’s recommendation.

British Land’s 53-acre scheme comprises:

  • Two million square feet of workspace that is expected to accommodate 20,000 jobs.
  • One million square feet of retail, leisure, entertainment, education and community space.
  • 3,000 homes, 35 per cent of which have been designated as affordable.
  • 12 acres of open space, including a 3.5-acre park.
  • A town square, a new high street and 16 other streets.

The approval follows five years of engagement and consultation with the community in and around the plan area, as well as the council and British Land entering into a conditional master development agreement with British Land in 2018.

British Land said wellbeing is embedded in the masterplan and the building would support low-carbon living.

The planning permission also covers the delivery of the first three new buildings in the masterplan. These will deliver 265 new homes, a leisure centre, new public spaces and 330,000 square feet of workspace.

Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, said: “The masterplan provides the blueprint for an exciting new town centre that will provide thousands of new homes, particularly hundreds of new social rent homes, new jobs and opportunities, new open spaces and a brand new leisure centre for Rotherhithe in the first phase of the work. We look forward to working with British Land over the next few years to bring forward the plans and making sure our local residents are the beneficiaries of the opportunities the regeneration will provide, as laid out in the Canada Water Social Regeneration Charter.”

Chris Grigg, chief executive of British Land, added: “We have an incredible opportunity at Canada Water to create a vibrant neighbourhood for people to live in, work and enjoy. We’re hugely excited about delivering this exceptional, mixed-use and sustainable landmark development, which has been designed to support people’s wellbeing.”

2 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) statistics show that there was an 8 per cent decline in the number of homes started in the three months to June 2019 compared with the previous year.

An estimated 37,220 homes were started between April and June 2019, which is 2 per cent less than the number of home started between January and March 2019.

In the year to June 2019, 160,640 homes were started, a 1 per cent decline on the number started in the year to June 2018.

Private firms started 2 per cent less homes in the June 2019 quarter compared with the previous quarter, while housing associations started 4 per cent lower.

The ministry noted that all starts between April and June 2019 are up by 117 per cent on the March quarter of 2009, but 24 per cent lower than the March 2007 peak.


The ministry estimates that there were 45,190 completions, which is 4 per cent more than the previous quarter and 11 per cent higher than a year ago.

In the year to June 2019, 173,660 homes were completed – 8 per cent more than the year to June 2018.

Private firm completions increased by 2 per cent in the quarter ending in June. Housing association completions were also up, showing an increase of 20 per cent.

Completions between April and June 2019 are 79 per cent above the level in the March quarter 2013 and 7 per cent below the March quarter 2007 peak.

Clive Docwra, managing director of construction consulting and design agency McBains, said the figures prove that the number of homes started and completed are “still nowhere near the number required to meet the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s”.

“Brexit uncertainty continues to bite, with many housebuilding projects on hold until the picture on the UK withdrawal from the EU becomes clearer, while the weak pound means the high cost of imported materials is holding back construction.

“Demand for housing is far outstripping supply, but the figures prove there is still no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of solving the housing crisis.”

House Building; New Build Dwellings, England: June Quarter 2019 can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

3 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

South Northamptonshire Council has launched an updated Local Enforcement Plan to provide ‘greater clarity’ and guidance on the planning enforcement process in the district.

A new online form will speed up the process through which breaches are processed, said the council.

Phil Bignell, South Northamptonshire Council’s portfolio holder for planning, explained that the aim of the plan is to facilitate an “effective, proportionate, consistent and helpful” way of dealing with suspected breaches of planning control. It outlines the rationale behind the decision-making process and timescales for dealing with enquiries.

“Instead of sending multiple emails or calling the planning department several times, those using the online form will be walked step-by-step through all the information the council requires,” said Bignell.

“There are those who are not able to go online, so we are keeping phone lines open.

“But going online can be done at your own convenience and you can be certain your complaint can be dealt with from the outset.”

The Local Enforcement Plan can be found on the South Northamptonshire Council website.

2 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has formally adopted its development management plan (DMP) after a government planning inspector found it sound and legally compliant.

The DMP sets out long-term planning policies to 2027 to guide what development looks like, the standards it should achieve and how the borough’s character, heritage and environment will be protected. The plan also identifies sites where new homes, businesses, shops and facilities could be built.

The DMP’s adoption follows scrutiny of the plan, including public examination sessions led by the planning inspector and various rounds of public consultation over the past three years.

The final plan includes modifications recommended by the inspector in her initial findings, which were consulted on earlier this year.

Richard Biggs, executive member for planning policy, said: “We are pleased that our development management plan has been adopted after being found sound by the planning inspector and that the changes we needed to make were limited. 

“Councillors and officers have worked extremely hard to secure a positive plan for Reigate and Banstead based on robust technical evidence. The inspector’s findings endorse our view that the DMP will deliver the housing, jobs and infrastructure the borough needs in a sustainable way, while protecting what people love about living here.”

The DMP aims to support the delivery of the council’s core strategy, which sets out the broad locations and scale of development. Together, the core strategy and DMP will replace the 2005 borough local plan.

27 September 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner 

A round-up of planning news

Rise in electricity from renewable energy
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy statistics indicate that 35.5 per cent of the UK’s electricity was generated from renewables in the second quarter of the year – a rise of 3.5 per cent from the same period last year.

The department notes that “wind generation was the driving factor”. Onshore wind generation increased by 13 per cent, while offshore wind generation was 25 per cent higher than during the same period of the previous year. 

Portland House extension approved
Westminster City Council has granted detailed planning permission for the “repositioning and revitalising” of Portland House in Victoria, London.

Plans will see existing office space refurbished and the outside façade refreshed. A 15-storey extension will be built on the west wing of the existing building.

The building was designed and completed in 1962 by Howard Fairburn and Partners. It will be regenerated by Gensler.
Application submitted for mental clinic in York
Schoen Clinic has submitted plans for a £13 million facility to treat mental health patients at The Retreat, York.

Plans include 3,500 square metres of floor space within a three-storey building, built on 2.46-acre site. It will have 46 beds.

Reflecting the heritage of the area, local materials including brick and York stone will be used for the development, while the structure has been adapted to protect nearby trees.

The specialised facility would primarily serve the local community and expand the two existing services.
Edinburgh launches legal challenge over marina plans
The City of Edinburgh Council has said it will take legal action over the Scottish Government’s decision to approve the extension of the masterplan for Edinburgh Marina.

Ministers have recently overturned three separate planning rejections from the council, including proposals for 100 apartments known as The Moorings.

The council confirmed with Scottish Construction Now that it has begun court action.

Edinburgh Marina Holdings told the outlet that it is surprised that the council is taking the decision to court.

1 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner