Weekly planning news
Planning news - 29 September 2022
Gains in biodiversity not ‘comfortably achievable’, suggests survey
Research has found that just 13 per cent of land promoters and developers believe that the fulfilment of the proposed mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements is ‘comfortably achievable’.
The research was conducted by green space management charity the Land Trust, in partnership with the Land Promoters & Developer Federation (LPDF) and the Home Builders Federation (HBF).
Of the 84 land promoters and developers that responded to a survey as part of the research, 35 per cent said they feel the regulations are only “somewhat achievable”, and 50 per cent said the requirements are “very challenging”.
The new regulations are set to come into force in November 2023. Secondary legislation and regulations are due to launch later this year.
The survey found that the availability of on-site land to deliver biodiversity requirements was the biggest challenge for land promoters and developers, with 89 per cent saying they foresee a likely shortage.
Of the respondents, 48 per cent think that the availability of off-site land to deliver BNG requirements is a challenge.
The provision of “appropriate administrative resource and skill set within local planning authorities” is the second biggest area of concern, highlighted by 73 per cent of respondents.
Other challenges include:
- 48 per cent – the availability of third-party BNG credits.
- 48 per cent – that BNG requirements may impact the overall viability of a site.
- 44 per cent – the 30-year term of delivery of BNG.
- 42 per cent – the availability of appropriate management bodies to deliver BNG.
- 42 per cent – the cost of BNG fulfilment to the developer.
- 73 per cent – the introduction mandatory BNG will impact the profitability of their organisation.
- 18 per cent – their organisation has either already started to, or intends to, deliver its own ‘habitat bank’ for the delivery of off-site BNG.
- 8 per cent - their organisation planned to ‘transfer the land to a charitable trust that funds the onsite BNG by capital payments paid by the developer’, while 6 per cent plan to ‘transfer the land to the Local Authority/Town Council/Parish Council that funds the onsite BNG by capital payments paid by the developer’.
- 70 per cent - favour an offset provider that delivers social and environmental value through their offset sites.
- 72 per cent - thought their organisations would be willing to offer an increase in BNG greater than 10 per cent if it strengthened their planning application. 13 per cent said this was unlikely.
Alan Carter, chief executive at the Land Trust, said: “The findings of this survey confirm the Land Trust’s prediction that there will not be a uniform approach to the delivery of BNG across the residential development industry. It is already apparent that developers will be looking for flexibility in the delivery models on offer, and in many instances seeking a partner that can take responsibility for, own and/or manage, both on-site and off-site BNG.
“The Land Trust’s principal aim is to manage our existing and future sites in a way that delivers social value in perpetuity. It was encouraging, therefore, to see 70 per cent of the developers and land promoters surveyed believed their organisation would likely favour an offset provider, like the Land Trust, that delivers wider social and environmental value.
“As the launch date for the new regulations draws closer, the Land Trust is keen to work with the market to overcome the challenges of the regulations and embrace the opportunity to deliver on-site and off-site BNG projects across the country which are both commercially viable and leave the biodiversity in a better place than before.”
Delivering mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain: Identifying the Challenges and its Impact on the Residential Development Industry can be found on The Land Trust's website (pdf).1
26 September 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
St Albans targets 2025 for local plan adoption
Councillors have approved a timetable for the production of the St Albans City and District Council Local Plan.
The plan will cover the period from 2025 to 2040.
The schedule gives a provisional date of December 2025 for the adoption of a new local plan, which was agreed at a meeting of the council's Local Plan Advisory Group on 13 September.
Chris White, leader of the council and chair of the advisory group, said: "The production of a local plan is one of the most challenging, complex and important tasks that a local authority has to undertake.
"We have been working hard behind the scenes to recruit the extra specialist staff that we require and can now move on to the next steps.
"The timetable with its ambitious adoption deadline of December 2025 will give us a schedule that we will seek to follow. It demonstrates to our residents that we are committed to working at pace to getting a local plan in place."
Three planners will join the council, focusing on the local plan, next month. They will continue the preparatory work that is already underway.
The council is aiming to undertake a Regulation 18 consultation from July next year for three months. A draft local plan will then be produced for consultation from July to September 2024. This is scheduled for submission to the Planning Inspectorate in December 2024.
22 September 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
PAC planning appeals performance nosedives
The Planning Appeals Committee (PAC) has reported that decision-making times on planning appeals have almost doubled since the start of the pandemic.
The agency has also confirmed that there is a growing backlog of appeal decisions. These had risen to 338 by the end of the 12-month period covered by its 2021/222021 review.
The commission’s head Andrea Kells conceded that “the delivery of appeal decisions has not been to a level that will address business volumes”.
Overall, the commission decided only 30 per cent of all appeals within the specified time frames against a target of 80 per cent.
Kells put the poor performance down to a number of factors. These included: “The continued impact of the suspension of submission of evidence at the start of the pandemic, hearings being delayed due to appellants preference for physical hearings which recommenced June 2021, diversion of resources to assist on the IT project, timing of appointments to the commission and a significant amount of the commissioner cohort remaining in training, meaning that the commission has been operating at reduced capacity.”
23 September 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Kwarteng announces new bill to unpick ‘complex’ planning restrictions
Giving his ‘mini-budget’ in the House of Commons today (23 September) chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced that legislation will be introduced to reduce planning restrictions and laws derived from the European Union (EU) that ‘constrain our growth’.
Among tax cuts and energy price interventions, the chancellor noted that the “essential foundation of growth is infrastructure”.
However, he described the planning system for major infrastructure as “too slow and fragmented”.
“The time it takes to get consent for nationally significant projects is getting slower, not quicker while, Mr Speaker, our international competitors forge ahead. We have to end this. We can announce that in the coming months, we will bring forward a new bill to unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws that constrain our growth.”
Assessments, appraisals, consultations regulations and “endless duplications” would be streamlined, he said.
“We will also review the government's business case process to speed up the decision-making.”
Kwarteng added that the government will publish a list of infrastructure projects that will be “prioritised for acceleration” in sectors such as transport, energy and telecoms.
The government also plans to increase the disposal of surplus government land to build new homes.
Kwarteng confirmed that there would be new investment zones, reported in the media in the run-up to the ‘mini-budget’, for which the government will “liberalise planning rules” in specified agreed sites, releasing land and accelerating development.
Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “Investment zones announced in today’s government plan have the potential to create new planning freedoms to help drive economic growth and regeneration in the areas that need it most.
“Local consent is quite rightly identified as a requirement for investment zones to be chosen, because construction and infrastructure projects cannot simply be pushed on local communities. Experience shows that a strong plan-led approach is also needed to make sure planning freedoms are introduced at the appropriate level to deliver investment zones.
“Success will therefore depend on local leadership and further detail from the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities about forthcoming planning reforms and the new bill proposed for nationally significant infrastructure.
“After all, investors will be reluctant to seize the opportunities of new zones if our planning system remains complex, its future uncertain and if planners are not sufficiently resourced to help residents and businesses enjoy the benefits of new jobs and development.”
Laura Edgar, The Planner
23 September, 2022
Housing and planning advocate Roger Humber passes away
Roger Humber, the former chief executive of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and one of the leading proponents of housing development and its links with planning in the past 40 years, has died at the age of 79.
He joined the HBF in 1975 as a planning officer before becoming its chief executive in 1979, a role he served until 1999. After retiring from the HBF, he continued to work in the development industry as a housing and planning consultant, including serving as strategic policy adviser to the House Builders Association (HBA), a trade body for smaller developers.
Humber chaired several organisations including Circle Anglia Housing Group, Ashford Landowners Group, Milton Keynes Forward and the Building Research Establishment’s construction certification expert group. He was also a stakeholder member of the East of England Regional Assembly and a member of its regional planning panel as well as holding non-executive directorships at Jones Homes and Abbey Homes and a consultancy role to external affairs specialist PPS.
“Roger was an industry stalwart who, at the HBF and elsewhere, did a huge amount to shape and position our industry,” said HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley. “I join the very many people across housebuilding in mourning his passing. He will be long remembered.”
National Federation of Builders (NFB) chief executive Richard Beresford said: “Roger was a nationally recognised authority on housing and a leading figure in the industry since the late 1960s. When he joined the NFB to create the HBA, he was already the most quoted housing spokesperson in the national media and was never short of offering his opinion on how planning and housing could and should be improved.”
21 September 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner
A round-up of planning news:
First Islands Forum to take place tomorrow
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister for Intergovernmental Relations will chair the first Islands Forum in Orkney tomorrow (28 September).
The event, led by Nadhim Zahawi, will take place at Orkney Research & Innovation Campus.
Its object is to ensure that island communities are able to discuss solutions to common challenges. There will be a significant focus for the first meeting on opportunities for net zero.
Council leaders and chief executives representing all eligible island communities across the UK will be there, alongside ministers from the Scottish and Welsh governments and representatives from Northern Ireland.
Island representatives will meet with the regulator, Ofgem, to share their views on regulatory barriers to net zero ambitions and explore next steps to address them.
A tour of Orkney is on the agenda, which will focus on renewable energy. Orkney Islands Council and the European Marine Energy Centre will host the tour.
Permission sought for Passivhaus community
Blenheim Estate Homes is seeking planning permission to build what “is believed to be the largest rural development” of Passivhaus standard homes in the UK.
The community would be located in Woodstock.
Plans include around 180 net-zero living homes that would require little heating or cooling. Of the homes, 50 per cent have been designated as affordable. The homes would be a mix of houses and apartments, private affordable rent, shared equity and homes for first-time buyers.
Locally sourced traditional materials would be used to build the homes.
Green open spaces also feature in the designs for the development. Blenheim Estate Homes is committed to delivering in the region of 70 per cent biodiversity net gain on-site, with the statutory requirement set at 10 per cent.
Liverpool Council approves waterfront restaurant plans
Liverpool City Council has approved plans submitted by Stanley Dock Properties to transform a historic grade II-listed Victorian Hydraulic Pumphouse Station in Stanley Dock into a luxury waterfront restaurant.
The £20 million development designs were submitted by Darmody Architecture and will be able to seat up to 200 diners.
The interior will feature four distinct spaces – an entrance hall, boiler room, accumulator tower and engine room.
The new restaurant is part of the £120 million (GDV) next phase of works at Stanley Dock.
St Mungo's to rebuild homeless accommodation
Westminster City Council has granted planning permission to St Mungo's to build new ‘life-changing’ accommodation in Westminster for people who have experienced homelessness.
The 217 Harrow Road development has been designed in partnership with socially responsible developer Stories.
It comprises 56 self-contained homes for people who have been homeless and will be built on the site of one of St Mungo’s existing services, which is coming to the end of its usable life.
The accommodation will be enabled through the delivery of 98 new rental homes for Westminster, a proportion of which will be provided at affordable rent in a new nearby residential building.
The project is the latest by St Mungo’s in partnership with Westminster City Council Commissioners and the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Shepshed homes get the green light
Charnwood Borough Council has granted planning permission for 50 family homes on Ashby Road in Shepshed, Leicestershire.
The vacant site is next to Crowson Close and is part of the emerging Charnwood Local Plan.
Developer Godwin said the outline plans feature an “extensively landscaped” area facing Ashby Road Central, giving residents access to shared green space. As a part of the work to increase connections with the town of Shepshed, the proposals will improve footpaths, offering active forms of travel to new residents.
Two Birmingham suburb plans approved
Birmingham City Council has approved plans for two suburbs in Birmingham to convert 25 flats and construct 25 new-build apartments.
Marrons Planning supported family-owned property developer Charles Jordan Homes.
Etna House, an existing two-storey office building in Coventry Road, Sheldon, will be converted into new homes, while an existing area of the ground floor will be retained as functioning office space. It will see the development of 11 one-bed units and 14 studio apartments.
The 25 new-builds in Yardley make up phase two of a larger scheme, which will see more than 100 units developed in total.
Phase one of Swan Courtyard, in Charles Edward Road, is currently underway, with 89 units in construction, while ground works for the recently-approved second phase of 25 units including 21 one-bed and four two-bed apartments will begin later this year.
The development will include 45 parking spaces, nine of which will have electric vehicle charging capability, and 40 cycle parking spaces to serve the apartments and office space.
Consultancy appointed for review of Royal Docks site
The Greater London Authority (GLA) has commissioned planning and development consultancy Montagu Evans to undertake a strategic review of the Royal Albert Dock development site in the Royal Docks. The area covers 35 acres.
Royal Albert Dock is in London’s only Enterprise Zone. It has planning consent for more than 3.5 million square feet of development incorporating residential, retail and commercial space.
Phase 1 of the site has been built and is being marketed for sale through PwC; it includes 21 BREAAM Excellent waterside buildings amounting to more than 488,000 square feet.
Montagu Evans has been tasked with considering the strategic development options for the remaining phases, 2 to 6. The work is to culminate in an implementation plan that will include a delivery and procurement strategy and provide the framework for the selection of a new delivery partner.
The final report is anticipated in early 2023.
Wolverhampton choose developer for Canalside scheme
The City of Wolverhampton Council has selected Legal & General Modular Homes as its preferred developer for the residential Canalside South scheme.
The agreement will see the subsidiary of Legal & General build 400 homes, subject to planning permission.
The location of the scheme is a former industrial site benefiting from frontage overlooking the Wyrley & Essington Canal and the Wolverhampton Branch of the Birmingham Main Line Canal.
The 17-acre site is on the eastern edge of the city centre and is made up of the Canal & River Trust-owned former Crane Foundry site, and the council’s former British Steel site and its land off Qualcast Road. They have been brought together under a collaboration agreement designed to ensure a comprehensive development takes place.
Legal & General plans to deliver commercial uses alongside the new homes, such as a coffee shop, co-working space, bike hire and water activities, as well as a green corridor to promote biodiversity.
LondonMetric buys Uttoxeter site from Godwin
LondonMetric Property has purchased a roadside retail site in Uttoxeter from property developer Godwin Developments.
The development site of just under an acre is situated just off the A518, next to a newly opened Lidl supermarket and is in close proximity to Uttoxeter’s main railway station.
The scheme will feature a Starbucks roadside retail store, six ultra-rapid EV charge points (150kW+), 26 parking bays as well as cycle storage and pedestrian access from the nearby Lidl food store.
Godwin Developments acquired the site in November 2021 and secured planning permission for a new commercial scheme in July this year.
Independent EV charging infrastructure company The EV Network will operate the site once built.
Crest Nicholson acquires land in Sprotbrough
Housebuilder Crest Nicholson's Yorkshire division has acquired land in the village of Sprotbrough.
The new development, allocated in Doncaster’s local plan, will be located between Melton Road and Cadeby Road.
It will be bordered by the New Lane Playground and Park to the east, as well as within easy access of community facilities including a children’s nursery, Village Hall and two churches.
If approved, Crest Nicholson will deliver a mix of approximately 70 open market and affordable homes for the community.
It will incorporate its new house type range, providing a mix of homes from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom houses, with the first completions expected in summer 2024.
Cala Home acquires Tonbridge site
Cala Homes South Home Counties has acquired a new site in Tonbridge, Kent to deliver 125 new homes.
The new site, located north of Lower Haysden Lane, Tonbridge, has full planning consent for the delivery of 125 new homes, of which 40 per cent of which will be affordable.
The scheme is set alongside open space and new ecological areas and will feature new cycling and pedestrian links and improved public transport infrastructure.
Additional benefits will support local education, social care, medical and community amenities as well as leisure facilities.
Vistry Group buys Victorian country house in Kenilworth
Housebuilder Vistry Group has purchased a former Woodside Hotel and Conference Centre in Kenilworth.
The property, a former Victorian country house, sits within 5.5 acres of land in an area that has been allocated for housing within the Warwick District Council local plan.
Land and property agency Newton LDP completed the sale of the property at Glasshouse Lane on behalf of Archel Homes for an undisclosed sum.
27 September 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner