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Local Authority Bulletin - November 2019

Published: Wednesday, 27th November 2019

Launch of Prior Approval documents, First Planning Portal National Conference, Will you be ready for the Future Homes Standard, and more stories...

As you may be aware, one of the key improvements we are currently working on is the addition of the 16 missing ‘Prior Approval’ application types to the 1APP online application service for England.

Following our earlier update on the Planning Portal group on Knowledge Hub, we can confirm that testing is progressing well, and we are working towards an end of November go-live. This deployment is currently planned for Friday 29 November from 17:30 until 00:30.

The initial implementation will be without integration to your back-office systems and therefore these applications will need to be manually downloaded from your Planning Portal account.

Please be aware that this is for an interim period until we can implement the new schema early in the new year (2020).

All ICT suppliers have been sent the new schema information to allow them to evaluate and develop their 1APP connectors to retrieve the missing forms.

A further update will be sent following our testing to confirm the go-live date.

If you have any queries regarding this change, need confirmation of your individual authority username, or help to access your account then please contact our service desk via or on 0333 323 4589. 

The Planning Portal’s first annual conference was successfully held in Hilton’s Birmingham Metropole on 14-15 November, covering many pertinent topics affecting the planning and building industry.

As we work to facilitate and transform planning and building, we have always strived to make connections in the industry, across sectors and disciplines. The conference was an extension of this work, bringing together different perspectives and connecting our customers and partners. 

The speakers and panel discussions included:
Day one

  • The political landscape we’re now operating in
    Sarah Chilcott - Planning Portal 
  • Cities, Economy and Planning - Where have we been and where are we going?
    Andrew Carter - of the Centre for Cities
  • Panel discussion - What will impact the planning industry in the coming years?
    Andy Sawford - Local Government Association, Simon Delahunty-Forrest - Birmingham City Council, Philip Hammond - LABC, Lord Matthew Taylor of Goss Moor and Sarah Chilcott - Planning Portal
  • Tech in Planning 
    Scott Alford - Planning Portal 
  • Innovation in planning technology to help us plan
    Peter Kemp - Greater London Authority
  • Launch of new data product in partnership with Esri 
    Marcus Hanke - Landclan  
  • Panel discussion - Tech in Planning
    Kevin Crawford - CIAT, including several exhibitors and representatives from Tower Hamlets Council, Urbanist Architecture and Vinzas Solutions

Day two

There was a shift in emphasis, focussing on the impact of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, relating to changes in policy and regulation to introduce a new Building Safety Programme. Speakers and panels included: 

  • Grenfell changes everything – designing building safety into planning
    Martin Taylor - LABC
  • Panel discussion - What will the building safety programme mean for planning?
    Angus Law - University of Edinburgh, Paul Timmins - ACAI and Adrian Dobson - RIBA
  • Why re-instating Heads of Planning to the Top Table within Local Authorities is so important
    Victoria Hills - RTPI  
  • Different models of house delivery building  
    Mears Housing, and Care and Housing Management
  • Panel discussion - What does the drive to build more houses mean for Planning? 
    Janice Morphet - The Bartlett School of Planning, Jason Longhurst - Central Bedfordshire Council, Chris Carr - Federation of Master Builders and John Acres, former President of the RTPI  

It was two days of thought-provoking presentations and panels to gain greater insight into what’s happening in the industry and what it may mean for delegates and their organisations.     

I would like to thank the speakers, exhibitors and sponsors who have helped to make the event possible by sharing their knowledge and expertise, and for their financial support. 

The Conference was a great success and we’ve had some fantastic feedback, due to this we are already looking ahead to next year’s conference. 

We would be delighted to welcome you and it would be great hear if there is anything you would like covered or suggestions for speakers we should invite.

If you weren’t able to attend the conference, or didn’t manage to speak to the some of the sponsors and would like to, contact us at to connect.

The UK has set an ambitious target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Homes are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions responsible for 15% of the UK's total emissions in 2018. What's more – unlike other sectors such as business, transport and energy supply – residential homes saw emission levels rise between 2017 and 2018.

Action to reduce emissions is clearly needed. That's where the new Future Homes Standard comes in, helping us towards that net zero goal. Homes being built now will still be there in 2050 so getting them built right and to high environmental standards is a crucial part of meeting the targets. The MHCLG aims to introduce the Future Homes Standard by 2025.

Initially, the Future Homes Standard will change Parts L (conservation of fuel and power), F (ventilation) and Part 6 (energy efficiency) of the Building Regulations. The aim is to bring builders, installers and supply chains closer to achieving the Future Homes Standard when it is implemented.

MHCLG has launched a consultation on the Future Homes Standard and changes to Parts L and F. The consultation runs from 1 October 2019 to 10 January 2020 and is aimed at:

  • property developers and builders
  • property owners and occupiers
  • construction industry professionals
  • manufacturers and suppliers of construction materials
  • environmental organisations
  • local authorities

The consultation relates to England only and sets out two options for improving energy efficiency standards and requirements:

  • Option 1 aims for a 20% reduction in carbon emissions, primarily achieved through very high fabric standards.
  • Option 2 aims for a 31% reduction in carbon emissions using low carbon energy sources and improved fabric standards, though less so than Option 1.

Option 2 is the preferred choice of MHCLG and the comparison of household energy costs shows Option 2 would appear to have a much better payback period than Option 1.

The uplift of the energy efficiency requirements for new homes is expected to be implemented in 2020 and the consultation will also seek views on changes to the transitional arrangements.

Much work to be done

MHCLG's view is that industry needs to develop the necessary supply chains, skills and construction practices now and new homes need to be future-proofed to enable the installation of low-carbon heat without retrofitting later.

The consultation also sets out what the Future Homes Standard may look like in order to put the changes to Parts L, F and Part 6 into context. Additionally, a consultation version of the new SAP has been published to allow consultees to model the effects of the uplift options.

MHCLG has also scheduled further consultations on energy efficiency and ventilation of existing dwellings and new and existing non-domestic buildings, Part L beyond 2025 and reducing the overheating risk in new dwellings. A further consultation on the Part F (ventilation) requirements for existing buildings affected by improved thermal efficiency is expected this autumn. 

The Future Homes Standard will be implemented through the Building Regulations, making it the national minimum energy performance requirement for all new homes in England. A consultation on the full technical details of the Future Homes Standard and the associated impact assessment with costings will be published before introducing it in 2025.

Make sure you are ready for the 2020 changes to Parts L and F.

View the consultation and have your say

This article was originally published on the CIAT website.

Good design is paramount in planning, says Joe Ridgeon, and should be a key priority of the next government

Today, we see more than ever the importance of good design in the planning process and its inclusion within national policy, which seeks to achieve well-designed places. Well thought out housing developments that eschew the norm can be inspiring places, making us feel safe, secure and at home. And this extends to the wider environment and infrastructure, which embraces all of us - from the fundamental layout of streets and pavements to the provision of useful local facilities and community services.

And we have seen the recent vindication of adopting such an approach in the national recognition of Goldsmith Street, a highly energy-efficient council housing development in Norwich, which won the RIBA’s new housing award. Providing 100 homes for Norwich City Council, the project features cleverly designed houses and flats arranged in seven terrace blocks, to create a strong and sustainable new community. 

In order to meet rigorous ‘Passivhaus’ environmental standards, every home has been carefully planned to seamlessly incorporate an array of sustainability measures, ranging from heat recovery mechanical ventilation systems and triple glazing to innovations like garden-wall letterboxes to reduce energy loss.

On the face of it, planning and developing schemes like Goldsmith Street can seem straightforward enough. But it’s surprising how easy it is to get this wrong. In balancing the demands of design and planning, I would argue that more thought needs to be given to the type of buildings and urban spaces that we want to create. More thought needs to be given to the people that will live in our houses, and how they will interact with space to create a home.

Robust questions

Those involved in property development need to be far more robust in answering some fundamentals if we are to deliver better housing schemes. Who is this development for? Who will want to live here? And why will they want to come here?’ At the start of the whole process, far more needs to be invested in thinking long and hard about what should be built and why.

"Planning and developing schemes like Goldsmith Street can seem straightforward enough. But it’s surprising how easy it is to get this wrong"

Eye-catching design in planning can generate increased value throughout the development process, differentiating the ordinary from the extraordinary. It can also help to add value and higher returns on investment for developers and builders struggling in a capricious market. It doesn’t have to cost more as quality can be secured through thinking differently, or by adopting alternative approaches.

So, what constitutes good design within the planning process? It can start inside the home with efficient, well thought through spatial arrangements. Generous and effective utilisation of space is important. The health and wellbeing of home owners can be enriched by the internal environment, so flooding spaces with natural sunlight will contribute to well-being, while designing in good air quality and ventilation will also help (energy efficient build minimises the running costs, improves affordability and minimises carbon emissions). Thinking about how homes can be designed better to ensure they meet changing future needs is also paramount, creating homes that are hopefully more resilient to changing tastes, mores and the ravages of time. Similarly, good housing needs to incorporate design elements, which make properties more adaptable to warmer winters and wetter summers in the face of climate change.

Schemes that are getting the design/planning balance right feature a mix of factors but it’s also important to consider creating a ‘buzz’ about a place. Effective place making has to be in built from the outset - it can’t be ‘created’ once a scheme is completed - and must be considered as part of a wider community consultation process, contributing to occupants’ long-term happiness and security.

Developers can undoubtedly facilitate better design through improved engagement with the customer and wider communities. But working collaboratively to test new technologies and techniques to improve build quality, while finding different ways of working, that involve a wider range of stakeholders and skills earlier on, also plays a part.

Government and, by implication, local authorities need to continually press to raise construction standards as they balance the demands of quality and long-term sustainability with speed and expediency of housing delivery within the planning system. I would also like to see more pursuance of a diverse housing stock through the encouragement of alternative developers, including small builders and those involved in community and custom build projects.


It’s clear that we all need to think about the long-term legacy for those who will live in the houses we build if we are to deliver better homes. Improved engagement with the customer, whether the homes are for sale or rent, will help. We must not overlook the great strides that have been achieved in recent decades in good design as part of the planning process, too.  

Housing is unquestionably an extremely emotive issue and the call to build and build that echoes across the land will not be welcome by everyone. But it’s clear that more houses in the right places where people want to live is paramount. 

"It’s clear that we all need to think about the long-term legacy for those who will live in the houses we build if we are to deliver better homes"

The planning landscape will continue to evolve in the face of revisions to national policy, but good design should remain front and centre when assessing the acceptability of development. Despite the uncertainty of a post Brexit landscape, house building will be a busy sector and we want to encourage smaller builders to enter the market over the next few years – and it’s vital that effective and stable planning is in place to facilitate this.

It’s crystal clear that all involved in planning and development need to think hard about the long-term legacy for those who live in the houses we build. However, in the clamour to deliver the 300,000 new homes per year this country needs, the opportunity for design innovation, and thinking beyond today’s norm, must be at the forefront of peoples’ minds.

Joe Ridgeon is director of Hedley Planning Services

This article was originally published on The Planner website.