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Planning news - 10 September 2020

Published: Thursday, 10th September 2020

Affordable housing prospectus published, Local Authorities to get cash to clean up dirty air, Brexit: Government to fast-track development of temporary lorry parks. And more stories...

Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has launched the prospectus for the government’s affordable housing programme, which was announced in the Budget in March. 

The £12.2 billion overall investment includes £700 million to be spent on new homes through the 2016 to 2022 programme.

The £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme will be delivered over five years from 2021 to 2026, which would provide up to 180,000 new homes across England “should economic conditions allow” says the government. 

The programme is also aimed at unlocking another £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing. 

Around half of the new homes would be for affordable home ownership, while the remainder would be made available for affordable and social rent, including 10 per cent for supported housing for people with physical or mental health challenges.

Of the money, £7.5 billion will go to local authorities, housing associations and private providers outside London by government housing acceleration Homes England, while the Greater London Authority (GLA) has been offered £4 billion, as negotiations continue about what they will deliver with this funding. Homes England will publish the prospectus later this week.

The government has pledged that new homes would be made available from next year. 

Jenrick said: “Today’s announcement represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade and is part of our comprehensive plans to build back better.

“This government is helping hard-working families and prospective first-time buyers get their feet on the housing ladder in an affordable way.

“Thanks to the range of flexible ownership options being made available, more families across the country will be able to realise their dreams of owning their own home, with half of these homes being made available for ownership.”

Jenrick also announced that there will be a change to shared ownership. The new model will: 

  • Reduce the minimum initial share that can be bought in a property from 25 per cent to 10 per cent.
  • Allow people to buy additional shares in their home in 1 per cent instalments, with heavily reduced fees.
  • Introduce a 10-year period for new shared owners where the landlord would cover the cost of any repairs & maintenance. 

A consultation has been published by Jenrick on how best to raise accessibility standards for all new homes.

Nick Walkley, chief executive at Homes England, said: “The fund will support improved productivity in construction and unlock new economic opportunities across the country. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, this long-term funding settlement gives our partners the confidence they need to invest in new homes and the communities they work for.”


Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “With an unprecedented recession underway, major job losses on the horizon, and a housing emergency about to spin out of control, the government must invest more in social housing than its current plans allow for. Social homes are designed to be genuinely affordable, which is exactly what we need right now. Discounted homeownership schemes are not.  

"We welcome the fact that today’s plan points to more social homes being built than we’ve seen in the past. But achieving the step change we need to deal with the scale of crisis that we face will require the government to go further, faster. In five years it will be too late, the government must ringfence enough money and spend it on social homes now.” 

Jonathan Seager, executive director of place at London First, commented: ‚Äč"It is good news that the government is continuing to invest in building the affordable homes this country needs, but the level of investment being offered only scratches the surface of England’s housing crisis. The potential £4 billion on offer to the Greater London Authority over five years is just below what London requires every year to help meet affordable housing need in the capital. In finalising the settlement with the mayor, the government must recognise the overwhelming need for affordable rented accommodation in London."

David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said: “It is good the government has acted on our call to bring forward the Affordable Homes Programme. It is also positive that the government is consulting on how homes can be made more accessible for older and disabled people, which we have previously said should be key components of our mission to build new homes.

“With more than one million households on council housing waiting lists, it is vital that we build more housing for social rent, and we look forward to seeing more clarity around how this will be delivered.

“In addition, we would like to see the programme go further and allow councils to combine right to buy receipts with funding from the programme to deliver more housing.”

8 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A new round of government funding has been made available to English local authorities for projects that seek to improve air quality.

A portion of at least £2 million will go to successful projects. 

Established in 2013, the Air Quality Grant scheme has awarded around £64.5 million to a variety of projects to reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health. Funding has previously been awarded to test indoor air quality and the effectiveness of filter systems in schools as well as raise awareness about domestic fossil fuel burning.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “Air pollution, and in particular PM2.5, carries enormous risks to human health which is why we are continuing to provide funding to local authorities to help them take action. This is part of delivering on the ambition in our world-leading Clean Air Strategy to halve the harm to human health from air pollution by 2030.

“We know that local authorities are in the best position to address the issues they face in their areas and we look forward to receiving ideas for ways to reduce emissions and promote cleaner, greener alternatives.”

The government noted that levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – particles or liquid droplets in the air have reduced by 9 per cent since 2010, and levels of nitrogen dioxide from vehicles are now at their lowest levels since records began.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) would particularly like to see projects tackle PM2.5 and develop long-term solutions to increase awareness and encourage behaviour change.

Applications can be submitted until 12pm on 14 October 2020. Local authorities in England can apply via Bravo.

7 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

An order has been published granting temporary planning permission for land to be used in processing lorries entering and leaving Great Britain from January 2021.

The Town and Country Planning (Border Facilities and Infrastructure) (EU Exit) (England) Special Development Order 2020 has not been made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, but it does relate to the United Kingdom leaving the EU.

It is intended to guarantee that there is “an orderly transition to the new system of controls to secure the border of Great Britain from 1 January 2021”, according to an explanatory memorandum. 

Lorries, particularly goods vehicles, will be able to be stationed in the developments when entering and leaving the country. It also grants permission for associated temporary facilities and infrastructure. 

The order means consent from local authorities would not be required.

An explanatory note issued alongside the legislation states: “Development permitted by this order can only be carried out by, or on behalf of, a border department named in the order. The development must end by 31 December 2025, and all reinstatement works must have been completed by 31 December 2026.”

Those who can carry out such development are the Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs; the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and the Secretary of State for Transport.

Article 3 of the legislation grants the temporary planning permission, describes the development permitted and provides that permission is granted subject to conditions, such as those set out in schedule 2.

Schedule 1 lists the 29 councils where land could be used for lorry stationing and processing. These include: 

  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council;
  • Cheshire East Council;
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council;
  • Essex County Council;
  • Hull City Council;
  • Leicestershire County Council;
  • Portsmouth City Council;
  • Salford City Council; and
  • Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

Land not subject to the order includes national parks, World Heritage Sites, scheduled monuments and sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).

The Town and Country Planning (Border Facilities and Infrastructure) (EU Exit) (England) Special Development Order 2020 comes into force on 24 September 2020.

The legislation can be found here on

7 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Heat pumps have a critical role to play in tackling emissions from buildings in London as well as delivering the mayor’s 2030 net-zero ambitions.

This is according to a report by the Carbon Trust commissioned by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. 

Heat Pump Retrofit in London analyses the potential to retrofit heat pumps across existing buildings. It also recommends how to scale up energy-efficiency heat pump retrofit across the city and highlights the principles of good practice system design.

It is intended to guide local authorities and social housing providers on heat pump retrofit.

Tom Delay, chief executive at the Carbon Trust, commented: “Buildings and heat have been identified by the Committee on Climate Change as key challenge areas for decarbonisation in the coming decades, and so the analysis and recommendations detailed in the report to promote low-carbon solutions that are available now is very timely. As always, heat pumps are not a silver bullet solution, which is why we have provided a suite of policy recommendations, including investment in energy efficiency in buildings and flexibility in the energy system.”

Natural gas, which is mainly used to heat building and water, accounts for 37 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in London. To meet Khan’s net-zero target, a “rapid” transition from gas to low-carbon heat solutions is required and most existing buildings will need to be retrofitted given 80 per cent are expected to still be standing in 2050.

According to the Carbon Trust, heat pumps can deliver immediate carbon emission savings of 60-70 per cent compared with conventional electric heating and 55-65 per cent when compared with an efficient gas boiler. Over the coming decades, these carbon savings could increase to 90-100 per cent of carbon emissions by 2050.

But heat pumps, the trust points out, are not a like-for-like replacement for gas boilers so “good practice system design will be essential” to their effective deployment.

Heat Pump Retrofit in London features guidance for building owners on the technical options for installation and the principles of good practice system design in heat pump retrofit.

Improved thermal energy efficiency is a prerequisite for retrofitting many buildings with heat pumps, which the Carbon Trust says will require “significant” investment from the government, alongside investment and coordination with local authorities and the private sector. 

Additionally, the report finds that most building types need further financial support to transition from gas boilers. However, electrically heated blocks of flats, as well as buildings that are due for major upgrades to the building fabric or heating systems, have strong financial cases for heat pumps and should be prioritised for retrofit and energy-efficiency investment, according to the trust. 

Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment and energy at the Greater London Authority, said: “Retrofitting heat pumps and improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings are key to achieving the mayor’s ambitious target for London to reach net-zero carbon by 2030. Not only will retrofitting heat pumps help support jobs and skills vital to a green, fair and prosperous Covid-recovery, they also reduce energy bills if designed well. However, delivering this at the scale needed will require the government to step up investment and implement strong supportive policies.”

Heat Pump Retrofit in London can be found on the Carbon Trust website.

3 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The local authorities involved in the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal have launched a new £45 million fund to help stimulate the housing market in areas where there has been little new residential development.

Called ‘Homes for all the Region’, this city deal initiative is designed to deliver 2,800 new homes across the region’s 10 local authority areas. 

The main aims of the fund will be to: unlock sites that have stalled; invest in projects that will deliver housing in areas where it is needed most; generate construction activity, jobs and sustainable developments; and enhance the long-term growth prospects and competitiveness of the region through improved infrastructure, increased connectivity and regeneration.

Funding will be made to local authorities on a competitive basis and projects must deliver a minimum of 40 new homes.

The fund is divided into two sub-funds: a Housing Viability Gap Fund of £35 million, and an SME Finance Fund of £10 million. The investment advisory team at property consultancy CBRE will support the Cardiff Capital Region in managing the fund.

4 September 2020
Roger Milne, The Planner

Hertsmere revises local plan timetable

Hertsmere Borough Council has agreed that its new draft local plan will be published in spring 2021. Its publication has been delayed because of Covid-19.

Following the publication, there will be a six-week consultation period so that the public and other interested parties will be able to give their views on the plan before it is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and the housing secretary for examination.  

The council’s new head of planning Ross Whear signed off the revised timetable in agreement with the council’s managing director, Sajida Bijle, and portfolio holder for planning Harvey Cohen.  

Whear said: “The decision to delay publication of our plan has not been taken lightly. However, it has become apparent that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for additional preparatory work means it would be impossible to keep to our original timetable.

“While it is regrettable, this in no way represents a loss for our residents and businesses. In fact, it means we can spend more time getting everything right and ensuring a smooth progression to the next stage of the local plan process.”


Build-to-rent scheme approved in Gravesend

Gravesend Borough Council has granted planning permission for 242 build-to-rent homes in the town centre.

The planning team at Knight Frank advised Reef Group on the scheme.

Of the 242 homes, 20 per cent will be offered at discounted market rent and the rest for private rent. The homes, which will have one, two or three bedrooms, will be arranged across three buildings. A multistorey car park comprising 186 spaces will also be built. The scheme will offer a mix of one, two and three-bedroom homes for private rental.

The development is being delivered as part of a joint venture between Reef Group and Gravesham Borough Council.

Work is expected to start on site later this year.


Plans for student accommodation submitted in East London

A planning application for a 282-bed purpose-built student accommodation scheme has been submitted to the London Legacy Development Corporation.

The development, covering 102,700 square feet, is planned for two sites. An existing 100-bed student accommodation building, known as Poland House, would be demolished and rebuilt on one of the sites. An adjacent site, which is vacant but was occupied by a petrol station, would also be redeveloped.

The development would comprise four interlocking blocks, ranging in height from eight to 12 storeys. There would be 37 shared flats in these blocks. 

Plans also include 1,720 square feet of community space intended for use by charities and organisations to serve the local people. Enhanced public realm on Stratford High Street is also proposed, including additional tree planting.

Knight Frank's planning team submitted the application on behalf of Curlew Opportunities.


Firm selected for Runcorn scheme

Regeneration specialist Vistry Partnership has been selected to build a 100-bed independent living scheme in Sandymoor, Runcorn.

Plans comprise a mix of one and two-bedroom properties. They will be built on behalf of Halton Housing, which will own and run the facility once it is complete.

The specialist apartments, located east of Village Street, will also feature a bistro and multifunction room, available to residents and the wider community.

Terms have been agreed and the contracts are set to be signed shortly. 

Vistry Partnerships’ managing director for the North West Ian Hilliker said: “The 100 specialist apartments will transform the supply of housing for older residents living in Runcorn, and it will be a huge boost for the area.”

The Sandymoor scheme forms part of wider regeneration plans for the site. Vistry Partnerships is scheduled to build 235 houses with Together Housing. The deal will see the two partners deliver two, three, and four-bed properties, which will be available for open market sale through Vistry Partnership’s housebuilding arm, Linden Homes.


Rental homes approved in Brighton & Hove

Brighton & Hove City Council's planning committee has approved 216 build-to-rent homes to be built on Ellen Street. 

Developer Watkin Jones’s proposals will kick-start the regeneration of the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum area, including public realm improvements.

The development comprises 216 build-to-rent homes, 10 per cent of which have been designated as affordable, more than 2,000 square metres of flexible commercial space and provision for new community space.

The public realm on Ellen Street, Ethel Street and Conway Street will be improved, including the widening of pavements, street lighting, seating, new trees and planting.

8 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner