Author Archives: Jo Hanslip

 

Planning for the right homes in the right places

 

On Thursday 14th September 2017, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government published a consultation – ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places: Consultation proposals’.

The document covers six specific subjects reflecting proposals raised through the Housing White Paper published in February 2017. These are:

  • Proposed approach to calculating the local housing need
  • Statements of Common Ground
  • Planning for a mix of housing needs
  • Neighbourhood Planning
  • Proposed approach to viability assessment
  • Planning fees

The consultation period runs until 9th November 2017. The full consultation and associated annexes can be found here.

In the consultation, Sajid Javid made the following points:

  • The housing market in this country is dysfunctional
  • For too long, there hasn’t been enough homes being built, “The damaging financial crisis ten years ago compounded this problem”
  • Due to the action that has been taken over the past seven years, the situation is improving. Last year saw more planning permissions granted than ever before, while the number of new building starts is at its highest level in nearly a decade
  • The housing White Paper, published earlier this year, set out how the government are going to get England building. That they are delivering their 2015 commitment of a million new homes by 2020, and want to supply a further half a million by 2022
  • The measures in the consultation will help ensure that local authorities plan for the right homes in the right places. This means creating a system that is clear and transparent so that every community and local area understands the scale of the housing challenge they face
  • Local authorities must not waste time and money on complex, inconsistent and expensive processes. This only creates lengthy bureaucratic arguments, often behind closed doors, and isolates local communities
  • The new approach proposed will give local communities greater control so they can make informed decisions about exactly where much-needed new homes should be built. In doing so it will help to tackle the lack of affordability of housing in this country, and support those families who want the security of owning their own home

Javid said, “The proposals in this consultation provide a more robust starting point for making these important decisions. Without the right starting point, we can’t make the wider reforms to the housing market that will ensure homes are built faster, by a more diverse housing market, to meet the needs of ordinary households and communities now and in the future. Nor is this consultation just about the numbers. It’s also about how areas can work together where communities’ needs cannot be met locally. And it’s about putting the right resources into local planning authorities so their plans can be delivered and communities can see the benefit of high quality, well-planned homes. We recognise that this is not easy.”

The consultation also sets out the government’s ambition to publish a revised National Planning Policy Framework in Spring 2018. This will ensure that they not only plan for the right homes in the right places, but that they turn existing and future planning permissions quickly into homes through reforms such as the Housing Delivery Test.

Javid concluded, “Nobody likes indiscriminate, unplanned and unwelcome development. But most of us are willing to welcome new homes if they’re well-designed, built in the right places, and are planned with the co-operation of the local community. To win the support of local residents, we have to build homes people want to live alongside as well as in. This consultation is the first step in making sure all that happens – and making sure our children and grandchildren can access the safe, secure, affordable housing they need and deserve.”

The government launched their £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund earlier this year to ensure essential physical infrastructure, such as schools and roads, is built alongside the new homes we so badly need. They are going to explore bespoke housing deals with authorities in high demand areas with genuine ambition to build. The government will also provide further support to local authority planning departments with a £25 million capacity fund.

We will be doing a further blog on the details of the elements of the guidance shortly, so keep an eye out!

Click here to read the whole consultation – ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places: Consultation proposals’.

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Theresa May goes flat at the Conservative party Conference in Manchester 2017

 

One word that came away from the Conservative party conference in Manchester was ‘flat’. It was a sobering word and consistent amongst opinions of those that attended.

This week, 1st-4th October 2017 saw Theresa May perch at her stand and deal with the many challenges the conference threw at her. The mood was one of ‘cheer up Theresa’. Should we be sympathetic or believe she has brought this upon herself? I guess that is a matter of personal opinion.

Earlier on in the conference, the government announced a cash injection to secure status of ‘Help to Buy to 2021’. The Prime minister revealed that £10bn of funding for the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme will be available to ensure its continued operation to 2021. This action appeared to be an effort to appeal to younger voters. A challenge that May has faced since the vote.

The concern about the Conservative’s enthusiasm to help with the scheme is that funding may deplete too quickly.

In his speech, Chancellor Philip Hammond said, “The additional funding would be used to ensure the scheme is resourced and able to continue until 2021.”

He added, “Help to Buy: Equity Loan has achieved much higher take-up than we expected, helping 130,000 families so far with a deposit for their own home.

The figures published by DCLG last week revealed:

  • The previous 12 months had seen £2.55bn spent on equity loans
  • The Homes and Communities Agency’s annual accounts, published during the summer, confirmed that having forecast 30,000 completions, the scheme actually supported more than 40,000 households to buy a home during 2016/17
  • The success of the London Help to Buy scheme, with 40% equity loans since last year saw uptake in the capital rise by 95% in Q2 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. Help to Buy completions in London now account for 10% by number but 25% by value of equity loans

Over the last 12 months, the HBF has been engaged with Government at various levels. They stressed the need for clarity, both on the position up to 2021, but also the future post-2021. On the latter point, the government said, “We will continue to press ministers and officials on the benefits of indicating as soon as possible its intentions beyond March 2021.”

To exaggerate the benefits of the Help to Buy scheme for homebuyers and communities around the country, HBF last week published ‘Stepping Up’, exploring the economic benefits of the scheme to date. Its publication came as HBF published its latest Housing Pipeline study showing that the number of plots granted planning permission in the last 12 months reached the highest number since the quarterly research began in 2006.

Whilst Mr Hammond’s speech was somewhat reassuring, the rest of the conference was somewhat bland.  That said, the Conservative party appeared resilient. Theresa May was focused on fixing the broken housing market.

The Prime Minister’s much anticipated speech included the following:

  • Home ownership and housing supply – building on the announcement earlier in the week of extra funding for the Help to Buy scheme, she announced the investment of an additional £2bn in affordable housing, to be bid for by councils and housing associations to deliver new social rented homes, ‘getting government back into the business of building homes
  • Following the decision to bolster the budget for Help to Buy, the PM also used her speech to send ‘the clearest possible message to our house builders’. She said: “We, the government, will make sure the land is available. We’ll make sure our young people have the skills you need. In return, you must do your duty to Britain and build the homes our country needs.’
  • Addressing the importance of tackling the housing crisis, Mrs May said:

“I will dedicate my premiership to fixing this problem – to restoring hope. To renewing the British Dream for a new generation of people.  And that means fixing our broken housing market. “

  • Turning to the £10bn injection of funding into the Help to Buy scheme, the PM directly linked the party’s failure to secure a majority at the General Election with its inability to connect with young voters on housing issues: “Because it will take time for greater housebuilding to translate into more affordable house prices, we have introduced schemes like Help to Buy to support people who are struggling right now. But the election result showed us that this is not nearly enough. We’ve listened and we’ve learned. So this week, the Chancellor announced that we will help over 130,000 more families with the deposit they need to buy their own home by investing a further £10 billion in Help to Buy.”

The Prime minister closed the conference with a speech where she pledged to ‘renew the British dream’.

Mrs May said she would take personal charge of ‘reigniting home ownership’ and delivering affordable housing for a new generation.  If so, let’s see what she is able to drive.

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Britain’s housing crisis – what’s the latest?

 

Theresa May could face a Conservative backlash over the housing crisis if she doesn’t listen to the backbench Conservatives.

The Prime Minister has been advised to force councils to build more homes in an attempt to tackle the housing crisis and prompt a building boom.

Proposals have been put in place but nothing will be published until the end of the month according to The Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, would like to see housebuilding boosted significantly.

In the housing white paper ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ published in February 2017, the Government said: “Some local authorities can duck potentially difficult decisions, because they are free to come up with their own methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’. So, we are going to consult on a new standard methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’, and encourage councils to plan on this basis.”

Sajid Javid hopes by adopting an expansive approach, which includes data about the local housing market, he can boost redevelopment in areas where prices are rising quickly. However, Javid and his allies are likely to find themselves up against Tory MPs and councillors that are wary of a planning blight. Andrew Mitchell, the former Development Secretary, publicly conflicted with Javid over plans for a housing development in his Sutton Coldfield constituency.

Housing campaigners urged the Prime Minister to be bold-faced. Gill Payne, the executive director of public impact at the National Housing Federation, said: “Getting this right will be a show of the strength of Government’s commitment to building the homes the nation needs. Getting a consistent and accurate picture of housing need is really important – it cements into the local plan the number of homes that need to be delivered.”

Ms Payne added: “Robust methodology will give a consistent and undisputable approach across the country.”

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “We hope these changes will help to simplify and join up the way councils across the country assess housing need in their areas, and it’s vital that the new proposals work to deliver as many affordable homes as possible.”

She added that Javid should tighten up the planning regime, to allow local authorities to exert more control over what can be built, where, rather than relying on the market to deliver.

“It’s important to remember that developers can still often build whatever they like, regardless of whether it meets what the council says is needed or not. The Government must now take action to change this, by giving councils more power to get housing built that will meet the needs of their community.”

Previous Governments have sought to make property ownership more affordable. Ambitious building targets have rarely been met, and George Osborne’s focus on subsidising mortgages through the help-to-buy scheme was disparaged for fuelling the boom.

Moving forwards…

Theresa May really does need more young voters

The Prime Minister’s efforts to tackle the problem may have been strengthened by the Conservative’s poor showing among the younger generation at the general election in June. A recent YouGov poll suggested that just 4% of 18-24-year-olds trust the Conservatives to deal with the issue of housing – against 44% for Labour. If Theresa May takes the appropriate steps, she could gain more support from young people.

Official figures

Homeowners could expect to pay about 7.6 times their annual earnings to buy a house in England and Wales in 2016, up from 3.6 times earnings in 1997.

The Housing need test

The housing need test is one of a package of measures radical Conservatives believe will be necessary to tackle the challenge.

Whilst in Scotland…

The Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, in a speech focusing on housing policy in Scotland, said on Friday: “It is a bedrock of Conservative belief that we should encourage a property-owning democracy. Yet increasingly, we now have something more akin to a property-owning oligarchy. Made up of lucky, mainly older, people who – by dint of having scaled the housing ladder – are now the ones who now control the country’s economic purse strings. “

George Freeman, chair of the Conservative policy forum, has also warned that young people risk rejecting capitalism if they have no chance of owning a home.

May signalled on her trip to Japan that she wants to press ahead with domestic reform, as well as complete the Brexit negotiations.

She pointed to her Downing Street speech last year, in which she pledged to right, “burning injustices”, including the fact that “if you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home”.

But diluted corporate governance reforms published last week raised questions about whether May’s minority Government will be willing to take on vested interests.

Housebuilding slumped after the financial crash from more than 215,000 homes a year in 2007-8 to 133,000 in 2012-13. It has since recovered, but has not regained its pre-crisis level.

We will keep you informed about future developments.

Read our article on the Housing white paper 2017 here. 

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How can you protect against unplanned development?

 

You can’t, not yet.

You don’t need to be an expert to understand what goes on in Parliament. It’s easy to access information about debates that take place.

‘They work for you’ https://www.theyworkforyou.com/ is a website where you can find information about debates and other interesting facts about politicians. Do you want to know more about what’s going on in Parliament? Do you know who represents you in your area?

Most recently, the Conservative MP John Howell called for a debate concerning unplanned development for housebuilding.

The debate took place on the 4th July 2017. Mr Howell wanted a moratorium on any new housebuilding in an area where a neighbourhood plan was being produced.

John Howell, MP for Henley made the following points:

  • Developers are targeting villages that have just started the process of putting a neighbourhood plan together, so that they can get in before the community can decide where it wants the housing to go
  • A neighbourhood plan can normally take up to two years to put together but in reality, this can often be longer
  • Mr Howell suggested that DCLG considered a moratorium on new housebuilding where a neighbourhood plan was being prepared
  • To prevent communities from cheating and claiming that they were producing a neighbourhood plan when they were not, Howell said rules would be needed that show that the plan was genuine, making sure that communities are allocating sites for development, not using the plan as a nimby charter
  • It could be done by strengthening the guidance to the Planning Inspectorate and ensuring that neighbourhood plans were given more weight when, for example, they included a list of sites or initial consultation had taken place
  • He also wanted a more radical, ultra-localist approach, ensuring neighbourhood planning groups could and should have much more say over the type of housing they allocated in terms of the number of bedrooms, and have some say over affordability

At the debate, the Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said, “The best protection against unplanned development is to get a local plan in place. A local plan provided certainty for communities, developers and neighbourhood planning groups and removed the pressure on neighbourhood planning groups to fill the vacuum created by the failure of local planning authorities to keep their local plans up to date.” 

Sharma said he recognised concerns about those who sought to game the system and understood the frustrations felt by communities when plans were undermined, this was why the Government issued a written ministerial statement in December 2016 concerning an important policy for recently produced neighbourhood plans that plan for housing.

This set out the relevant policies for the supply of housing in a made neighbourhood plan should not be deemed to be out of date under paragraph 49 of the national planning policy framework where all of the following circumstances arise at the time the decision is made:

  • The neighbourhood plan has been made within the past two years
  • The neighbourhood plan allocates sites for housing, and the local planning authority can demonstrate a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites

Sharma added, “When the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 comes into force…it will ensure that neighbourhood plans have full effect straight after a successful referendum. That is earlier than at present, when neighbourhood plans only have full effect after they have been made by the local planning authority.”

He had asked officials to prepare the necessary orders to start this provision as soon as possible.

It was important the right balance was struck so delays in planning for needed homes were not inadvertently created delays. These matters would be kept under review.

The Housing White Paper sought views on what changes were needed to ensure that all forms of plan making were appropriate and proportionate. DCLG would consider how it could further speed up the neighbourhood plan process so that communities got the plans they wanted in place as quickly as possible.

He noted that more than 2,100 groups have started the neighbourhood planning process since 2012 and there had been more than 360 successful neighbourhood plan referendums.

For a bigger picture about this topic, you can visit the website ‘Planning Resource’ http://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1438723/neighbourhood-watch-call-moratorium-development-during-parish-plan-gestation – Independent intelligence for planning professionals.

Remember, you don’t need to be an expert to understand what goes on in Parliament.

The politicians work for you. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/  Think otherwise? Contact us http://www.urbanissta.co.uk/contact-urbanissta.html if you wish to discuss any of the topics that we cover on our website.

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The UK population statistics and housing

 

UK Population on housing article

The national statistics population estimates mid-2016   revealed that the population of the UK was estimated to be 65,648,000 as of 30th June 2016.

The number of people that are resident in the UK including migrants has increased by 0.8% (538,000). That is a growth rate similar to the average annual growth rate since 2005.

Has the population growth rate with the influx of migrants been responsible for the housing crisis in the UK?

According to an article on theguardian.com, Theresa May claimed that more than a third of all new housing demand in Britain was caused by immigration.

 “And there is evidence that without the demand caused by mass immigration, house prices could be 10% lower over a 20-year period,” she said.

The London School of Economics report that May cited as the source for her claim also says: “In the early years even better off migrants tend to form fewer households as compared to the indigenous population; to live disproportionately in private renting; and to live at higher densities. However, the longer they stay, the more their housing consumption resembles that of similar indigenous households.”

This reduces the likelihood that immigration is the biggest strain on housing – the new migrants tend to live in denser households and take up less living space. Migrants are more likely to rent in the private sector in preference to buying homes or living in social housing.

The National statistic show that the effects felt from immigration on housing is mixed, and location specific. Due to the fact that the UK has a lack of social housing stock, an increase in life expectancy, and more households choosing not to get married or forgoing cohabitation resulting in an increased number of smaller households – any caps on immigration could potentially harm house building rates. Not enough British-born nationals are either trained or interested in construction careers, and migrants have been filling the void.

The overview of the UK Population, March 2017 revealed how the UK population compares with the other 32 member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association. It showed that, using a 1st January 2016 population estimate, the UK was estimated to have the third largest population and the fourth highest population density.

The population increase of the UK reflected increases of 193,000 people through natural change (35.8% of the total increase), 336,000 through net international migration (62.4% of the total increase) and an increase of 9,500 people in the armed forces population based in the UK.

The annual population growth varied across the UK. In England it was 0.9%, Wales 0.5%, Scotland 0.6% and Northern Ireland 0.6%. The UK population continues to age, but at a slower rate than recent years with only a small change to the proportion aged 65 and over (18.0% in mid-2016 compared with 17.9% in mid-2015) and an unchanged median age of 40.
While the population in England grew faster than the rest of the UK, population growth at regional level ranged from 1.3% in London to 0.5% in the North East.

Comparing the mid-2016 and mid-2015 population estimates at the local authority level showed that:

  • The total population grew in 364 local authorities in the year to mid-2016, compared with 350 to mid-2015
  • While the 26 local authorities showing population decreases to mid-2016 were spread throughout England, Wales and Scotland, 17 of these were in coastal areas
  • Of the 14 authorities showing population increases of 2% or above, 8 of these were in London

Five of these local authorities were in Inner London:

  • Westminster
  • Camden
  • City of London
  • Islington and Haringey
  • The other three a block in East London – Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Barking and Dagenham

 

Altogether, there were 223 local authorities with more people moving in than out, of which 93 had a net inflow of more than 5 per 1,000 population (mid-2015) and 25 had a net inflow of more than 10 per 1,000 population. Many of those were in areas that also had a higher net inflow: South West, East of England, South East and East Midlands.

There were still local authorities within these regions that had a net outflow, showing that there is considerable within-region variation.

Equally, there were 125 local authorities with more people moving out than in, of which 50 had a net outflow of more than 5 per 1,000 population (mid-2015) and 25 had a net outflow of more than 10 per 1,000 population. London had a specific concentration of local authorities with high net outflows, reflecting the high net outflow for the London region overall. An important explanation for this is that many parents with young children move out of London.

London was the most common region of first residence for international migrants to the UK and some of these may later move to other regions, potentially also with children. Similar factors may also contribute to the high net outflows from many provincial cities.
Immigration is a major factor in the demand for housing. We found some interesting statistics from Migration Watch UK (full report here):

  • To meet overall demand it is estimated that the UK needs to build 300,000 homes a year
  • In England alone, 240,000 homes will need to be built every year for the next 25 years, 45% of which will be due to migration
  • This means we will need to build one home every four minutes for the next 25 years just to house future migrants and their children
  • Official data shows that over the last ten years, 90% of the additional households created in England were headed by a person born abroad.
  • In London all of the additional households formed in the last ten years were headed up by someone born overseas
  • In the short term the UK needs to build more homes. In the longer term any housing strategy must also address demand
  • Reducing net migration will reduce the demand for housing

All said and done, we need to build more homes so let’s get Britain building!

 

 

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£2.3 billion investment in infrastructure for new housing in the UK

 

UK infrastructure investment uk housing.

Things are looking up for housing!

A £2.3 billion fund which could unlock 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand was launched yesterday (4th July 2017) by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid. It was a welcome and positive move.

At the Birmingham LGA Conference, the Communities Secretary said that the investment will help to fund vital physical infrastructure projects. Life’s necessities – the building of roads, bridges, energy networks and other utilities, the absence of which continues to delay housebuilding in the UK – preventing the government from fixing our broken housing market.
Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

“To build the homes this country needs, we need to deliver the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time. By investing in local infrastructure, we can help unlock building thousands of new homes in the areas where they are needed most.
The Housing Infrastructure Fund will also make sure we have better public services in place for local communities.”

Furthermore, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Jones commented:

“Where we live plays a huge part in our lives; from the distance of our commute to the local facilities available. By ensuring we have enough housing in areas where it is needed the most, we can boost productivity and support new communities to grow and thrive.
This money is part of our £23 billion National Productivity and Investment Fund, which will ensure Britain is match fit for the future.”

The much needed new investment through the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) aims to solve this problem. It is opening for bids for local authorities across England to come forward with proposals to help get homes built faster, as from today!
Local authorities could begin building immediately once a proposal has been approved. The funding will be available from 2017-18 to 2020-21.
The fund was originally announced back in the Autumn Budget last year by Chancellor Phillip Hammond. Mr Hammond said that the money would be available for local authorities by 2020-21. The sooner the better.

Home Builders Federation Planning Director Andrew Whitaker said:

“Funding necessary infrastructure will give local authorities the opportunity to remove barriers to developments being delivered. Direct support for critical infrastructure will not only unlock more housing, it should also help to accelerate planned developments.”

“Local authorities that plan for growth should be supported and that will, in turn, allow house builders to get on and deliver the homes our communities so desperately need. HIF is an important demonstration of the government’s commitment to housing, following on from the housing white paper, which sets out a strategy to fix the nation’s dysfunctional housing market.”

“The fund will support councils to step up their plans for growth, release more land for housing and get attractive, well designed homes that people want to live in built at pace and scale.”

More encouraging comments came from the LGA Chairman Lord Porter.

“We’re pleased that the government has followed through on its commitment to invest in infrastructure linked to housing and that this to be led by councils, as we outlined on our preliminary Housing Commission findings last year.”

“Going forward, what’s crucial is that the arrangements to access this fund are flexible, especially around different housing tenures, and that all councils can access funds to deliver housing for their communities.”

“Councils know their communities, and the places in them, best and so it’s right that approaches to invest in local infrastructure are led by local authorities.”

It looks like things are moving in the right direction at last.

Read more about…

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid was appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 14 July 2016. He was elected Conservative MP for Bromsgrove in 2010.

Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones was appointed Exchequer Secretary to HM Treasury on 15 June 2017.
He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Transport from May 2015 to 15 June 2017. Andrew was elected the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough in May 2010.

House Building
What are the government doing about house building?

Homes & Communities Agency
Find out about funding programmes, regulations, land & development opportunities, design and sustainability, procurement panels and digital services.

Department for Communities and Local Government
The Department for Communities and Local Government’s job is to create great places to live and work, and to give more power to local people to shape what happens in their area.

If you wish to discuss this topic or any other on our website, contact us today.

Do you know something that we don’t know? We are always interested in hearing about planning, development, architecture and design. contact us if you stumble upon any fascinating changes to the London landscape.

 

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How will the reshuffle affect housing?

 

Cabinet reshuffle article

There is good news…

Theresa May has announced that Sajid Javid will remain in post as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. His understanding of the housing sector, combined with the continuity of his reappointment, will be of reassurance to the sector. 

The RTPI (Royal Town Planning Association) said it will write to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to discuss planning’s role in delivery and the implementation of the measures contained within the housing white paper 2017.

Stephen Wilkinson, president of the RTPI, said: “We will continue to work constructively with the secretary of state (Javid) to ensure the homes, jobs and infrastructure communities across the UK are delivered through the planning system. Developing and implementing a way to capture the rise in land value following public investment is critical to this delivery to ensure everyone benefits from development. I hope to discuss this and the other priorities outlined in our manifestos as soon as possible.”

Furthermore, Greg Clark will also be staying on as Secretary of State for the business, energy and industrial strategy. However, former Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell, who lost his 165 majority in Croydon Central, has been appointed as May’s chief of staff.

Alok Sharma MP will now take on the role of Housing and Planning Minister. He will be the 15th Housing Minister since 2000. Alok Sharma is MP for Reading West and is a chartered accountant. In his constituency, his campaigns show a lot of emphasis on transport and infrastructure – including improvements to local stations and the extension to Crossrail Reading.

Plans to build more homes could be delayed as the new housing minister gets to grips with the property agenda. Gavin Barwell could be a hard act to follow, he was one of the most proactive and successful housing ministers. He faced up to the vested interest groups, challenged house builders to actually build, and told letting agents to their faces that he was going to scrap tenant fees. He had a real determination to get things done.

We will follow the changes and progression as Theresa May strives to achieve stability under her leadership. Let’s hope she’s not leading a sinking ship with the reshuffle.

Watch this space…

Do you have an opinion? We would be interested to hear.

Relevant articles:

The Manifesto 2017:
http://www.urbanissta.co.uk/news/manifesto-2017-conservatives-labour-housing/

Election results 2017:
http://www.urbanissta.co.uk/news/election-results-2017-a-hung-parliament/

About the RTPI

The Royal Town Planning Institute is the UK’s leading planning body for spatial, sustainable and inclusive planning and is the largest planning institute in Europe with over 23,000 members. It is an organisation and chartered institute responsible for maintaining professional standards and accrediting world class planning courses nationally and internationally.

A charity whose charitable purpose is to advance the science and art of planning (including town and country and spatial planning) for benefit of the public. A Learned society.

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Lagos to London – a Planner’s memoirs

 

London to Lagos - planners memoirs part 1

I recently travelled to Lagos, one of the federating states in south-west Nigeria. The experience gave me an opportunity to compare the planning challenges faced in Lagos as compared to London.

This is what I found as I journeyed into one of the fasted growing cities in the world…

It was a very interesting journey, some Lagosians are people doing what they need to do to survive in extreme circumstances and others have an entrepreneurial flair with a belief that God will provide.

“Lagos is not a kind of backward situation but an announcement of the future,” the architect Rem Koolhass said. “What is now fascinating is how, with some level of self-organisation, there is a strange combination of extreme underdevelopment and development.”

The nightlife in the bustling city of Lagos is quite a spectacle. From the enthusiastic food vendors on the streets selling various kinds of sumptuous delicacies such ‘suya’ – a spicy, garnished, barbecued shish kebab – to the various ubiquitous street pubs popularly referred to as Beer Parlours or the local gin stalls.

The turquoise beach of Takwa Bay, one of the remote islands off the coast of the main bustling island is breathtaking. It captures the beauty and mystery of nature, ocean waves cascade the shoreline leaving foamy bubbles that soak into the sand. Local fishermen cast their nets and retrieve exotic fish. Small boats to commercial ships come in and out of the harbour which opens up into the vast sparkling Atlantic Ocean.

Fishermen at Takwa Bay

The multi-billion dollars land reclamation of what used to be Victoria Island Beach has been transformed into a development site known as the Eko Atlantic.

This is like a new town, growing and emerging from under the sea. The developing town has been designed to have residential skyscraper style flats, a business district, hotels and restaurants. There will be a selection of night clubs, casinos and private boat harbours. Some of the buildings have already been erected and can be overlooked from the bay. I can only imagine that the locals are fascinated as they observe daily changes on the horizon.

View of the Eko Atlantic from Takwa Bay

Nigeria

When the colony and protectorate of Nigeria were established in 1914, Lagos was declared its capital. It maintained this status until the 12th December 1991 when the capital was moved to Abuja. Nigeria is in West Africa neighbouring Benin Republic in the west, Chad and Niger in the north, Cameroon in the East and the Gulf of Guinea in the South. It is estimated that the population is over 20 million, dwarfing the entire population of its neighbouring countries.

Lagos is a megacity, with a very high population density. Tremendous urbanisation has taken place in Lagos since independence from Britain in 1960. To date, Lagos is still described as a laissez-faire urban society. Informal settlements constitute the biggest problem with urban planning in Lagos. The pre-independence and post-independence planning laws and programmes described have tried to equate Lagos with cities like London and New York, but poor planning policies and largely poor implementation of extant planning laws have been major setbacks.

Metropolitan Lagos is still the premier manufacturing city not only in Nigeria, but also at a regional scale, for west coast Africa. It is the most important seaport, with substantial import and export trade both nationally and internationally. Metropolitan Lagos is the most important mode for telecommunications and the most accessible city in Nigeria by land, air, and sea. It has thus attracted to itself the largest concentration of multinational corporations in Nigeria. It has become not only a West African regional centre but also a focus of international interaction at continental and to some extent at the world scale.

However, there is a great contrast between the local government areas populated with the rich and the middle class to those of the area inhabited by the working class. In many cases, however, there was complete disregard and a nonchalant disposition towards the environment. Open sewage can be easily seen in those poor areas, with a sea of plastic on canals path. This often leads to flooding when there is torrential rainfall.

  

The stark contrast between rich and poor

The quest of the State government to transform the entire Lagos metropolis to be at par with globally renowned cities that have enviable track records in proper urban planning and physical development is made apparent in the State Government produced Strategic Master Plans for the whole of Lagos as envisioned in the Lagos State Development Plan (2012 – 2025). Eight out of the 12 new development plans proposed for the state, are operational. They include Lekki Comprehensive Master Plan, Badagry Master Plan, Ikoyi-Victoria Island Model City Plan, Ikeja Model City Plan, Apapa Model City Plan, Lagos Mainland Model City Plan, Alimosho Model City Plan and Agege Model City Plan. The other three, which include; Epe, Ikorodu and Oshodi-Isolo Master/Model City Plans, are at different stages of completion.

The social problems of traffic control, traffic discipline, and the observance of traffic laws and regulations constitute another major problem. There is generally a low standard of traffic discipline on the part of motorists. This is aggravated by the extremely low standard of traffic control at strategic four-way intersections. In addition, traffic safety measures are poor, especially with respect to cyclists and pedestrians, particularly school children.

Traffic congestion

Road networks were laid out in specific areas as they became incorporated into the built-up area of the city. There is about 2,700 km of road, about 40 percent of which are tarred, and three main bridges linking Lagos Island and the mainland. However, inadequate land was generally reserved for road networks, with the result that some houses cannot be reached by motorable roads. In many cases, the provision of parking spaces for motor vehicles was virtually ignored.

The lack of coordination between federal, state, and local council networks results in the existence of sharp breaks in road quality and maintenance standard. Similarly, the failure of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation to integrate development of government layouts with those of private developers has produced an ineffective integration of road networks within the metropolis.

Dilapidated road

The inherent physical characteristics of many areas, especially the swampy terrain, constitute a second important challenge for efficient transportation networks. This involves technical problems in providing efficient drainage networks and in building roads of a high standard. This problem can be surmounted, provided the necessary financial resources are available and contracts for the construction works are awarded on merit to capable and experienced civil engineering firms. An integrated network of underground drainage channels, though costly for the whole of the metropolitan road network, would eliminate the perennial problem of street flooding during the rainy season in the metropolis.

Open drainage

Sustainable planning of Lagos can be achieved if planning laws are frequently reviewed to meet contemporary challenges. However, poor implementation of planning regulations is one of the most contemporary challenges confronting Lagos. Another obstacle to sustainable planning is the need to review obsolete laws that are militating against development in the state.

We’ll follow with some more details of planning issues and challenges in other internationally planning processes. The contrast of opulence and poverty is stark…..

A Lagos pool by night

Contact us if you have any questions about planning, we’d be happy to talk.

 

 

 

 

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The Manifesto 2017 – The Conservatives and Labour on housing

 

General Election 2017 planning policy

The Conservatives and Labour both agree that Britain has a housing crisis – a crisis of supply and a crisis of affordability. We have read through both Manifestos and extracted key proposals for housing.

Labour’s Manifesto proposed the following:

1. Promised to invest into building over a million new homes.
2. Build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes per year by the end of the next parliament.
3. Set up a new Department for Housing. The Department would have to improve the number, standards and affordability and overhaul the Homes and Communities Agency to be its housing delivery body and give councils new powers to build homes.
4. Through the National Transformation Fund, it would prioritise the building of new homes, including council homes.
5. Prioritise brownfield sites, protect the Green Belt and start work on a new generation of new towns to avoid urban sprawl.
6. Consult on new rules on minimum space standards to prevent rabbit hutch properties and on new standards for building ‘zero carbon homes’.
7. Ensure local plans addressed the need for older people’s housing, ensuring that choice and downsizing options were readily available.
8. Land registry would stay in public sector and ownership of land would become more transparent.
9. Pledged to build thousands more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers and guarantee Help to Buy funding until 2027, giving local first time buyers ‘first choice’ for new homes built in their area.
10. Give leaseholders security from rip-off ground rents and end the routine use of leasehold houses in new developments.
11. Suspend right-to-buy with councils only able to resume sales if they could prove they had a plan to replace homes sold like of like basis.
12. For the rental market, it would make new three year tenancies the norm, with an inflation cap on rent increases and look at giving the Mayor the power to give renters in London additional security.
13. Would legislate to ban letting agency fees for tenants.

Read the Labour Manifesto here. 

Conservative’s Manifesto proposed the following:

1. Meet their 2015 commitment to deliver a million new homes by the end of 2022.
2. Will deliver the reforms proposed in the Housing White Paper 2017.
3. Continue to maintain strong protections on designated land like the Green Belt, National Parks and areas of outstanding beauty.
4. Building 160,000 homes on the Government’s own land.
5. Enter into new council housing deals with ambitious pre-development Local Authorities to help them build more housing, using low cost capital funding.
6. Ensure more private capital is invested in more productive investments to help the economy to grown faster and securely.
7. Build new fixed term social housing sold privately after 10-15yrs with automatic right to buy for tenants.
8. Reform Compulsory Purchase order to make them easier and less expensive for councils to use and make it easier to determine the true market value of sites.
9. Continue the £2.5bn flood defence program put in place for 300,000 existing homes by 2021.
10. Encourage modern methods of construction and give councils the powers to intervene where developers do not act on their planning permissions.
11. Not just in the South East, rebalancing housing growth across the country in line with modern industrial strategy.
12. Work with private and public sector house builders to capture the increase in land value.
13. Helping housing associations increase their specialist housing stock.

Read the Conservative Manifesto here.

It is evident that both parties are placing great emphasis on the need for the delivery of new homes, which can only be positive for the development industry and country as whole, the key challenge will be whichever party gets into power, will be to ensure that the resources needed to deliver on such aspirations are available…be that in Local Authorities, on site and sales offices…… We will also need the planning system to operate in a far more responsive manner than it currently occurs. The challenge is on……!

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Handbrake turn on development plans for new homes

 

Dunsfold Airfield development public inquiry

Development plans to build 1,800 homes at the Dunsfold Aerodrome have been pulled over and questioned by the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

The plans to redevelop the Top Gear test track in Surrey to make way for new homes will now have to go to public inquiry.

The track is currently appearing in the 25th series of Top Gear, hosted by Friends star Matt Le Blanc alongside motoring journalists Chris Harris and Rory Reid.

The Dunsfold Aerodrome has been home to numerous celebrities and many of the world’s fastest cars due to its presence on the popular BBC motoring show since 2001.

The campaigners who opposed the development have taken the fight to the next level after securing that Communities Secretary Sajid Javid opted to ‘call-in’ the plans for a public inquiry. The plans to demolish the site as part of a move to build new homes were approved by Waverley Borough Council in December 2016, but campaigners have continued to fight over claims the local infrastructure cannot handle the extra population.

Julia Potts, leader of Waverley Borough Council, said she was “somewhat surprised and a little disappointed” at the setback, particularly given infrastructure commitments recently secured via negotiations with the applicant.

She added: “We need homes and we are going to need to look at developing near communities. This one ticks all the boxes.”

Supporters of the proposal said the 1,800 homes due to be built at Dunsfold, which make up the largest development planned in the borough for 100 years, are an essential part of the local plan for the area.

The planning proposal includes the following:

  • Around 50% of the 1,800 homes already planned for could be built in five years. If approved, it is intended that construction work could bring the first homes in 2017 with the new village finally completed in 10 years
  • The planning documents state that the main access to the site would be taken from the A281 via a new junction and access road with a bridge over the Wey and Arun Canal
  • The majority of homes proposed are two-bed, making up 40.6% of the development. This is followed by 31.1% being three-bed homes, 19.4% four-bed, and 8.9% one-bed
  • By 2019 it is projected that 332 homes would be built, as well as a one-form entry primary school
  • A year later in 2020 it is planned to have a further 221 homes, as well as a medical and community centre
  • A care home is planned to be built in 2022, with the primary school being extended in the same year
  • More homes and employment/business space would continue to be built over the following years
  • It is envisaged that the village centre would provide for the day-to-day needs of residents and local employees, minimizing the need to travel
  • The planning application states: ‘This village centre is within a 10-minute walk of all residential properties ensuring that it is accessible by walking and cycling’
  • Enhanced bus routes and a cycle route to Cranleigh will be provided for the development to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport
  • The new development will become a sustainable location given the mix of uses proposed and improvements to transport infrastructure that will be delivered
  • Improvements to three local bus routes are also planned from Dunsfold Park-Guildford, Godalming-Dunsfold Park-Cranleigh and Cranleigh-Dunsfold-Horsham
  • Dunsfold Park is substantially a previously developed site, which is not at risk of flooding and is not physically constrained by archaeological, environmental, landscape or ecological issues, nor designated as green belt or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • The site contains the borough’s largest employment area and represents a unique opportunity to co-locate a sustainable new settlement with a significantly enhanced employment site
  • Physically the site is large enough to comfortably accommodate the proposal and the Land Use Parameter Plan demonstrates how key assets such as the 250-acre country park will form an integral part of the scheme

The decision to call-in the application has been welcomed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is MP for South West Surrey, and Anne Milton, MP for Guildford.

Mrs Milton said: “I remain concerned that local infrastructure cannot support a development of this scale in this location.” She added, “I am very aware that we need new homes and in particular for those on lower incomes. However, those homes need to be situated in the right locations where the infrastructure, or anticipated infrastructure improvements can support them.”

Bob Lees, Chairman of Protect Our Waverley, said: “We, and the thousands who protested against this proposal, are delighted. It is absolutely right that an independent view be taken of this application.”

When the development was approved in December, Top Gear fans were upset that the country was set to lose one of its most recognisable motoring venues.

There are over 250 airfields in the UK and some are used as motoring venues. Many of them have been re-purposed as housing, there are very few remaining for motorsport.

The Dunsfold development is parked up for now and we are happy to keep watching Matt Le Blanc on our TV screens until further notice! We will make a return journey to this article in due course…

If you need advice on planning or want to discuss anything that you have read on our website, please contact us today.

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