Planning round-up 17 March 2016
The Department for Communities and Local Government has laid before Parliament the regulations which make office to residential conversions a permanent feature of permitted development rights from 6 April.
The rights were first introduced on a temporary basis nearly two years ago.
An amendment to the General Permitted Development Order includes a new condition which allows local planning authorities to consider the impact of noise from commercial premises on occupants of the housing.
The time-limit on exemptions obtained for parts of London and Manchester will run out in May 2019. Planning authorities will be able to apply for Article 4 directions to remove the rights.
The change to permitted development to facilitate residential conversions will also apply to launderettes and, from 2017, light industrial up to a maximum floor space of 500 square metres.
New permitted development rights for mineral exploration which will allow for boreholes for specific monitoring purposes where there is preparatory petroleum exploration are also coming into force.
Sluggish utility companies restricting housing growth
A new Housing & Finance Institute report has highlighted sluggish performance by utility companies as a factor restricting housing growth.
The report has recommended that local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships undertake so-called Infrastructure Dependency Mapping at a local and sub-regional level to get a better handle on the needs of electricity and energy companies.
The institute also proposed that the Communities Secretary should be given powers to force tardy utilities to provide utility connections “in a timely manner”.
- London Mayor Boris Johnson has published a slew of planning guidance this week. This includes new Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) covering the so-called Central Activities Zone. For the first time this states that new residential development is not appropriate in the commercial core of the City of London and the northern part of the Isle of Dogs. The SPG pinpoints geographical parts of central London where commercial use should be given priority over new residential developments. The mayor has also published new Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance as well as the Minor Alterations to the London Plan (MALPs).
- In addition Johnson has announced 11 new Housing Zones in London funded by an additional £200m of his housing budget. The new zones, which will deliver a total of 24,554 new homes, include sites in Barking, Catford, Feltham, Kingston and Romford.
- Meanwhile Wandsworth Council has launched a competition to select a partner for the regeneration of the six-hectare Alton Estate in Roehampton south-west London where approximately 1,100 new homes will be built as well as additional social rent, affordable and private housing.
Clark blocks West Sussex homes scheme
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has agreed with the recommendation of the planning inspector who argued that an appeal over a 25-home scheme at Loxwoood, Billingurst in West Sussex should be dismissed. The scheme, eleven of whose units would be affordable, had been refused by Chichester District Council.
The Secretary of State agreed the proposals were in conflict with both the local plan, the now made neighbourhood plan and were not suitably sustainable to justify overriding the planning policy objections
The Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan was the subject of two unsuccessful judicial reviews.
Guidance on caravan and houseboat dwellers
The Department for Communities and Local Government has published draft guidance related to the new duty on English planning authorities, included in the Housing and Planning bill, to consider the needs of people “residing in or resorting” to a district in either caravans or houseboats.
It shows how the government wants councils to interpret the changes to accommodation needs assessments in both those respects and highlights the need to cooperate with neighbouring local authorities.
Bedforshire ‘mansion’ faces demolition
Extensions and alterations to a house at a green belt location in Barton-le-Clay, Bedfordshire will have to be demolished within a year following a decision by a planning inspector.
Random House, originally a bungalow, owned by Mr Syed Raza Shah, was granted planning permission in 2011 by Central Bedfordshire Council for the ‘erection of single storey side extension and roof alteration with rear dormer windows.’
But when the development was finished, the floor space had increased by 165 per cent, turning the property into a three-storey mansion.
Subsequently the building has become the focus long-running and acrimonious planning and legal dispute between the local authority and the owner.
Medway Council has announced it has selected Countryside Properties and Hyde Housing as its partners for its ambitious 30-hectare Rochester Riverside regeneration scheme.
The developers are set to transform the area over the next 12 years, building around 1,300 new homes, of which 25 per cent will be affordable housing.
They will also provide a new school, nursery, hotels, restaurants, gym, healthcare facilities, office space and a number of retail units as part of the £400m project. The developers are set to submit their first planning application by the end of the year.
Rochester Riverside has over 2.5 kilometres of frontage on the River Medway and adjoins the town centre and new railway station.
The scheme is backed by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which is the co-owner of the site and has invested around £60m in preparing it for development.
City help urged
A new report by the think tank Centre for Cities has urged greater government focus on addressing the economic challenges facing some of the UK’s fastest-growing and strongest-performing cities.
The report was published in association with the Fast Growth Cities group, which represents five of the most vibrant medium-sized cities: Cambridge, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Swindon and Norwich.
All five places enjoy higher productivity levels than bigger cities such as Manchester and Birmingham. They also have higher than average levels of employment and business start-ups.
However the report warned that these cities face a number of significant economic challenges including lack of new homes, increasing transport congestion and a growing skills gap.
Brownfield register pilots
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has named the 73 councils across England which will pilot one of the new brownfield registers. These will provide house builders with up-to-date and publicly available information on all brownfield sites available for housing locally.
They will also allow communities to draw attention to local sites for listing, including in some cases derelict buildings and eyesores that are primed for redevelopment and that could attract investment to the area.
Registers will eventually become mandatory for all councils under proposals going through Parliament in the Housing and Planning bill.
Each council agreeing to be part of the pilot project will receive £10,000 government funding to help prepare their registers.
Developer Grainger, the UK’s largest listed residential landlord, has submitted a detailed planning application to West Berkshire Council to develop land between Newbury railway station and Market Street as an “urban village” providing 232 new homes, around 950 square meters of offices as well as new station plaza, car parking and a new bus station. The majority of the site is owned by the local authority and is currently a combination of parking spaces and the existing bus station.
- Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has granted a development consent order (DCO) for a 19 kilometre long gas pipeline designed to link the proposed Thorpe Marsh combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant near Doncaster with the high-pressure gas network at Camblesforth in North Yorkshire.
- In an end of an era development Kellingley Colliery in North Yorkshire, the last deep coal mine in the UK, has been capped off. It was shut-down in December bringing to an end centuries of deep coal mining in Britain. The site has been earmarked for potential redevelopment including housing.
- Meanwhile Communities Secretary Greg Clark has agreed with the inspector who held a recovered appeal inquiry into a single turbine proposed for land west of Moor Lane, Caistor and dismissed the project originally refused by West Lindsey District Council. His decision letter concluded that the benefits of the scheme were outweighed by its disadvantages which included its impact on a Grade 1 church, appreciable harm to the local conservation area and its effect on landscape character and views to and from the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as its adverse impact on users of the Viking Way.
Neighbourhood plans support
The arrangements for claiming financial support for neighbourhood planning have been reviewed, updated and set out in new guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The letter from DCLG planning director Ruth Stanier to English chief planning officers also clarifies latest planning guidance on how planning applications should be decided where there is a made or emerging neighbourhood plan but the local planning authority does not have a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.
Affordable housing stats
Figures highlighted in this year’s UK Housing Review from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) reveal that while the government is investing a total of £42bn in the private market only £18bn will be spent on affordable rented housing, just 30 per cent of the total investment in housing.
The CIH insisted these figures meant that investment in affordable renting will fall to its lowest levels since the Second World War.
It noted that of the government’s target for new homes to be built by 2020, only 12 per cent will be affordable rented homes.
CIH research and analysis suggested that by 2020 there will be a 9 per cent loss in both council and housing association properties let at social rents, equating to the loss of over 350,000 social rented homes altogether if further investment is not made.
Terrie Alafat, chief executive of CIH, said: “We need housing policy for the 25-30 per cent of the population who will never be able to afford to buy a home of their own.”
Community pub aid
A new support and finance programme worth £3.6m over the next two years designed to help people take control of their local pub has been announced by Community Pubs Minister Marcus Jones.
TCPA good practice guides
The Town and Country Planning Association have launched a set of practical guides to help local authorities and developers create high quality new communities.
The first three guides (out of a series of six) unveiled this week cover:
- Planning for energy and climate change
- Homes for all
- Planning for arts and culture.
Another three guides will be launched after Easter on: locating and consenting new garden cities; finance and delivery and, finally, design and master- planning.
New Pins chief executive in post
The Planning Inspectorate’s new Chief Executive Sarah Richards took up her post this week. She was previously Strategic Director Regeneration, Housing and Resources at Slough Borough Council. Before that she had worked for the Greater London Council, Essex County Council and Test Valley Borough Council and helped set up and lead the Planning Advisory Service. She also had a spell as a Managing Partner for Zurich Municipal Management Services, part of Zurich Insurance.
- Campaigners are using crowd funding in a bid to challenge Greenwich Council’s grant of planning permission for an international cruise liner terminal on the River Thames.
- A High Court judge has rejected a legal challenge to Denbighshire County Council’s compulsory purchase order over a 20.6-hectare former hospital site the subject of a repairs notice the owner failed to comply with.