Category Archives: Commenting on Government

 

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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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 Heathrow Expansion be affected by a hung parliament?

 

Heathrow Airport expansion cancelled

Conservative MPs have warned that the Heathrow expansion is ‘not going to happen’ following the hung parliament. Last week, Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond tweeted – ‘Heathrow expansion… not going to happen.’

 

He told The Sun: “Heathrow expansion already faced huge obstacles, not least a very strong legal challenge by Local Authorities and appalling air pollution implications.”

The proposal of a third runway at Heathrow Airport could be grounded!

This is due to as many as 40 of the Prime Minister’s own MPs being against the construction of another runway at the international airport.

If the third runway doesn’t go ahead, it would be a great relief for a lot of people. There could be an end to the major concerns about air pollution, noise pollution, climate change and the destruction of communities.

Before the hung parliament, Heathrow’s third runway was potentially going to be operational by 2026, creating £60 billion of economic benefits across a 60 year period.

The plan consists of a 3,500m runway which is said to be the first full-length runway to be built in the south-east of the UK since the Second World War. The costs involved are estimated to be a staggering £18.6bn.

Last year, the government stated that the decision to approve the plan is central to the economic growth of Britain – does this mean that the have placed more value upon the economic aspect of the development and completely neglected the law and the health risks imposed on Londoners? Well, Gatwick seem to think so. Gatwick have argued that the Heathrow expansion is illegal as it is already in breach of the EU Air Quality regulations and will contribute to prolonged breaches. It therefore undermines the current law and the decision to back the proposal is “unlawful”.

Whilst a large percentage of the Prime Minister’s MPs are against the runway, Labour MPs are divided on the issue. Their election manifesto only committed the party to expand Britain’s airport capacity.

The Conservative’s manifesto stated: “We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport – and we will ensure that these great projects do as much as possible to develop the skills and careers of British workers.”

Theresa May backed the proposal for a third runway at the airport last year. This was a turnaround for the Conservative party that had campaigned against the extra runway in 2010. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, Justine Greening, the Education Secretary and the Mayor of London are against the development.

So there could be long delays for the extra runway at Heathrow as well as dealing with the housing crisis here in the UK due to the gamble Theresa May took by doing a snap general election on the 8th June 2017.

We will do a return flight to this topic as soon as we find out more.

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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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Nitrogen Deposits in Ashdown Forest affects a number of Local Authorities

 

Nitrogen deposition in ashdown forest article

Ashdown Forest is an ancient area of open heathland and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The poor condition of Ashdown Forest however has led to concerns regarding air quality and traffic generation which are starting to impact upon the planning processes of Local Authorities close to the forest. 

After three years of monitoring the area Wealden Council has expressed concerns about damage from nitrogen emissions from motor vehicles and other sources. This has led to concerns that additional housing in the area will increase nitrogen deposition alongside roads close to the Ashdown Forest special area of conservation. We therefore explore the evolving position as we understand it from surrounding Local Authority areas.

What does this mean for you?

The nitrogen deposition in Ashdown Forest is of considerable concern to the delivery of housing. This article will update and advise you on issues affecting a number of boroughs and how this will impact decisions on potential new sites.

Wealden Council

The following planning documents are relevant to Wealden’s position:

• Wealden Local Plan Draft Submission dated 14th March 2017 Read document here

• Draft Proposed Submission Document – 15th March 2017 Read document here

Following the adoption of the Core Strategy (19th February 2013), the Council are now obliged to consider developments which would increase the use of the Ashdown Forest for recreational purposes. Having spoken to the Policy Team at Wealden, we were advised that any scheme put forward would need to mitigate its impact on the area and each application will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Pages 14 to 54 of the emerging Local Plan make specific reference to Nitrogen Deposition. Paragraph 5.16 is of particular relevance – the Plan states that alternatives and mitigation have been considered so as to accommodate growth in the area despite harm taking place.

The Council have highlighted that compensation will be required for sites that have potential to create or improve Heathland. Compensation will need to be secured with a management strategy in place before any development commences.

The Plans states as follows:

“…This means our commitments of over 5000 homes can be built but we will need to get compensation into place before we can allow the further growth in the plan to be delivered. This need to protect the Ashdown Forest from further harm means that only growth outlined in this plan can take place”.

The Draft Proposed Document 2017 states:

“The nitrogen deposition levels are affected by traffic movements originating from across the whole District and beyond so there is no specific zone. Taking into account existing levels of traffic and development commitments that are in place there is already an unacceptable level of impact from nitrogen deposition in the areas close to the forest roads. As a result, any new planning applications within the District will need to show that they will not generate any additional vehicle movements in order to be considered for approval. This applies to development in the south of the District as well as the north. As a planning authority, we cannot guarantee that new vehicle movement, resulting from a development in the District, will not involve routes near or through the Ashdown Forest and lead to consequent environmental damage. Once appropriate compensation measures are in place, new development will be possible up to the level set out in the Plan.”

Any applications made after March 2017 will be placed on hold. The Council were unable to advise how long the applications will be on hold for. The position will be monitored over the preceding months.

For applications that have been allowed, permission will not be affected.

Take note

If development is being considered in the area and harm is identified then it is likely that mitigation measures will need to be in place and a contribution will also have to be made to the Council. It is not yet clear about the sum which is required. We will cover this in an updated blog post once the information is to hand.

In addition, we are of the understanding that Wealden are currently refusing to validate planning applications – which is currently of great concern.

Wealden District Council – visit website

Lewes Council

The High Court decision dated 20th March 2017, Jay Jl quashed parts the Core Strategy belonging to Lewes and South Downs National Park as it was considered that the Joint Core Strategy would have a significant effect on the SAC in combination with the Wealden Core Strategy.

It was ruled that Wealden were out-of-time in challenging Lewes’s adoption of the Joint Core Strategy, however could dispute the park authority’s adoption of it. He noted that the plans were flawed as the Habitats Regulations Assessment that relied on “advice from Natural England that was plainly incorrect”. Download the document here.

Lewes have provided a brief update and have stated that the Joint Core strategy (JCS) for Lewes District Council remains intact as an Adopted Plan as Wealden were held to be out of time to challenge it. It is understood that any applications coming forward in Lewes District which are outside of the National Park are in line with the Spatial Policies in the JCS will therefore be considered appropriate in accordance with the policies.
Any proposals that fall outside of the scope of the JCS will need to consider whether they will adversely impact any European protected site, either alone or in combination with other plans and projects. If harm is identified, this may necessitate an Appropriate Assessment as required by the Habitat Regulations.

Lewes District Council – visit website

Tunbridge Wells

Tunbridge Wells Council have advised that no formal statements have been made in respect of the same as they are currently reviewing their position and the implications for planning decisions within the Authority.
Once Tunbridge Well’s position has been made clear, we will provide further updates.

Tunbridge Wells District Council – visit website

Mid Sussex Council

Mid Sussex Council have confirmed that they are currently seeking legal advice in respect of the issue and their position. A formal statement is yet to be published. Once we have reviewed the statement, we can reappraise the situation and the impacts.

HBF & Summary

The HBF have advised that on behalf of the house building industry they will be entering discussions with Natural England to determine how this matter will be addressed through the planning system. It is anticipated that resolution will be like the SANGS mitigation required for the Thames Basin.

The Government published on the 5th May, consultation of the Air Quality Plan (consultation ends 15th June) which affects Lewes and South Down Joint Core Strategy challenge. The consultation specifically relates to nitrogen dioxide pollution exceeding legal limits along specific roads in urban areas.

A list of English Local Authorities with one or more road consistently exceeding legal limits including the GLA, Basildon, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Derby, Guildford, Fareham, Leicester, New Forest, Reading and Surrey Heath and Walsall.

Read the consultation documents here

The matter however is of considerable concern to the delivery of housing and as such, whilst currently no solution has been agreed between all the affected parties, a solution will need to be found, however it will be necessary to keep under careful review the activities of Tunbridge Wells, Mid Sussex and Lewes, to ensure that they do not follow a similar pattern to Wealden.

We’ll be monitoring the position and will keep you updated on progress.

This is something to be mindful of in any land bids in the affected areas. 

Read the Ashdown Forest 7km Protection Zone – The Facts – download document

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Election results 2017 – where are we now?

 

It’s nearly a week after the hanging and the UK political landscape is changing day by day.

Theresa May is trying to conclude on-going discussions with the DUP, politicians are urging the government to prioritise Brexit negotiations to create a strong post-Brexit economy, and the Conservative Party are trying to reinvent themselves.

May has yet to finalise a deal with the DUP that would see its 10 MPs support her minority Tory government.

Today, 21st June 2017, Theresa May announced 27 Bills and draft Bills in a Queen’s speech that focused on the challenges of Brexit. The prime minister is under a lot of pressure after losing the Conservative Party its majority at the election, however, she was cheered by her backbenchers as she began to speak.

Unusually, the government proposed a policy agenda that will run for two years rather than just one. Jeremy Corbyn took the opportunity to remind the House of Theresa May’s election disaster. He told MPs that the policy agenda was a threadbare legislative programme from a government that has lost its majority and apparently run out of ideas altogether. The Labour leader said it was he, rather than May, who was ready to offer real strong and stable leadership in the interest of the many, not the few.

“Labour won almost 13 million votes at the election because we offered hope and opportunity for all and real change for our country,” Corbyn said.

And so the May and Corbyn battle continues…

Here are the policy measures, including the eight flagship Brexit Bills that have made it into May’s Queen’s Speech:

Repeal Bill 

This is the headline piece of legislation. It will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and aims to EU law into UK law after Brexit.

Customs Bill

As a member of the EU, the UK follows EU customs rules. This Bill will create a customs regime for the country after Brexit.

Trade Bill

Similarly, as an EU member state, the UK’s trade negotiations are conducted by Brussels. This Bill will “put in place the framework” to allow Britain to conduct international trade negotiations.

Immigration Bill

Immigration was at the core of the EU referendum debate. And this Bill allows the government to repeal EU free movement law and set its own immigration rules for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals.

Fisheries Bill

This Bill will “enable the UK to exercise responsibility for access to fisheries and management of its waters” outside the EU.

Agriculture Bill

As a member of the EU, British farmers receive payments from Brussels. This Bill, the government says, will “provide stability for farmers as we exit the EU”.

Nuclear Safeguards Bill

Brexit will mean the UK leaving the EU’s nuclear energy agency, Euratom. Powers will be now handed over to the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation.

International Sanctions Bill

This Bill will return decision-making powers on non-UN sanctions from the EU to the UK.

Other Bills:

Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

Space Industry Bill

HS2 2A Bill

Smart Meter Bill

Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill

Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

Space Industry Bill

Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill

Draft Tenant’s Fees Bill

Data Protection Bill

Courts Bill

Civil Liability Bill

Armed Forces Bill

National Insurance Contributions Bill

Travel Protection Bill

Financial Guidance and Claims Bill

Good Mortgages Bill

Draft Patient Saftey Bill

There are three more Finance Bills which the government says are needed to implement Budget decisions including a range of tax measures. Another technical Bill is included in the speech which ministers say is needed to ratify several minor EU agreements.

So, that is where we are now… let’s see what the rest of the month brings us.

 

Here’s what we had to say about the election last week…

What does this mean for the housing crisis?

Planning review delayed
It was announced today, Friday 9th June 2017, that Britain has a hung Parliament. This means that no party can reach an overall majority. Faced with the challenges of Brexit and terrorism, what do we do now?

When no single party can get enough MPs to form a majority on its own the Parliament is said to be “hung”. This happened at the 2010 General Election.

In a hung parliament, the Conservative government will remain in office. Theresa May can live in Downing Street, until it is decided who will attempt to form a new government. Theresa May has responded to the election result by promising a ‘period of stability’ despite calls from Jeremy Corbyn for her to step down.

There will be another frantic round of talks between the party leaders and their negotiating teams, as they try to build another coalition government or put either Mrs May or Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn into power as Prime Minister.

Another option is one of the two party leaders could opt to go it alone and try to run a minority government, relying on the support of smaller parties when needed to get their laws passed.

It took five days to put the coalition together in 2010 but it is generally expected to take longer than that. The first deadline is Tuesday 13th June 2017. The expected Queen’s Speech is scheduled for Monday 19th June 2017. The Queen doesn’t get involved in politics so she doesn’t have the power to choose a Prime Minister.

A coalition is when two or more parties join forces to govern as a single unit. For this to happen, it depends on four factors:

  • If the potential coalition partners have enough MPs between them to command a workable majority
  • Whether the biggest party wants to do it or would prefer to try governing alone as a minority government
  • Could the potential partners convince their respective parties that it is a good idea?
  • If they can find enough common ground on policy – the junior partners will inevitably have to ditch some of their policies but they will insist on keeping others

In the past, when minority governments have been formed at Westminster, the Prime Minister has held another election at the earliest opportunity to try and gain a working majority. After Parliament is dissolved there are 25 working days until an election can be held.

46.9 million people registered to vote, the results are in and it’s now out of our hands!

What does the election outcome mean for the housing crisis?

Potentially, if Conservative and Labour are in coalition, it will have to be a joint agreement or no laws can be passed.

For now, we can only go by the manifestos on housing as a guideline, reflecting on both manifestos.

Conservative’s manifesto on housing 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 predevelopment 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 £2.5 billion 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.

Labour’s manifesto on housing 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.

The casualties of the Election

What we do know already is that the Housing Minister Mr Gavin Barwell (Croydon) has lost his Croydon seat and we’ll be reviewing who else have been the risers and fallers in the housing and environment arena.

Just like the rest of the world, we will be keeping a close eye on our political situation. We will stay up to date on housing and planning issues, following proposals and changes.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you can be notified of important developments.

Do you have concerns and need to talk to someone about housing and planning? Contact us today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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