Category Archives: Development


Could Micro Housing alleviate the housing crisis or is it a passing fad?


Urbanissta’s Legal Beagle – Farhana Hussain, examines the topic of micro housing in the UK.

  • What are micro homes?
  • Who would be the target audience?
  • Has the need for larger homes become less of a priority?
  • House costs and affordability

Farhana’s findings…

I recently submitted my dissertation and it was centred upon whether micro housing could solve the housing crisis. I’ve observed a number of micro housing schemes popping up across London, so, I thought, why not do a blog on my findings and address what’s been making the headlines. Is there room for micro homes in this current climate, how affordable are they and could they really alleviate the housing crisis?


I find that there is a common perception that rising housing prices have forced developers to sacrifice space and quality by seeking higher density and higher revenue per sqf to offset rising land value and construction costs and so offer affordable housing. It is thus widely believed that the introduction of micro housing capitalises on this pattern. Apartments and houses that are small by traditional standards are currently being sold at 20 per cent below market rate in London, and are now being considered in urbanising locales, particularly high-density cities where affordability is stretched.

What are Micro Homes?

A working definition of micro housing is a unit of less than 500 sq.ft, with a fully functioning kitchen, bathroom and WC. A small room at 160 sq.ft with a communal kitchen, bathroom, etc., is not to be considered a micro home as it does not fall under this definition. It is difficult to pinpoint the ideal unit size. Furthermore, for micro homes to gain popularity on a meaningful scale, and so potentially alleviate the housing crisis, it is important to understand that these homes need to be targeted at a specific audience and serve a specific purpose, particularly if they fall below minimum space standards.

Who would be the target audience?

London has a target to deliver a minimum of 55,000 homes per annum for the next decade. As in the image below, the biggest age group in Inner London is 25 to 29 olds and in Outer London it is 30 to 34. The Households and Household Composition in England and Wales report for 2001-2011 showed an increase of 564 single-person households, the highest proportion of which was in London (35%). With the highest population in London being below the age of 30, it is evident that not enough is being done to house this audience. This is reinforced by the 37% over the ten-year period in the number of 20 to 34-olds living with parents.
Has the need for larger homes become less of a priority?

Yes and no.

The needs of society are not the same as they were at the time of two World Wars. The economic status of the country, digitisation, lifestyle changes and under-occupancy may all have contributed to the reduction in minimum standards, while the increase in one-bedroom households is more likely due to cost limitations rather than personal preference. Nevertheless, the evident demand for one-bedroom homes in London, where the largest age demographic is between 25 and 29, indicates that there may be a market for micro home. Micro housing appeals mainly to younger audiences for whom location, economics and privacy are important, or to older generations looking to downsize.

House costs and affordability

Due to the housing crisis, housing costs of all types and tenures are rapidly increasing across the UK, particularly in London and the South East. Affordability, however, is not just confined to private ownership: tenures of all types are now disproportionate compared to average income, with almost three million households in the UK now spending more than a third of their income on housing. Thus, it is widely agreed that the supply of affordable housing is at an historic low and requires urgent policy intervention. In order to improve affordability, it is estimated that 300,000 new homes are needed in England every year, more than double the current rate of building.

London has seen a slight increase in affordable housing, with many local authorities making the provision of affordable housing a prerequisite in securing planning permission. There has been a rise in shared ownership and sub-market rented homes, yet questions remain over just how affordable they really are, and to whom. Some of these ‘affordable’ homes require the occupiers to be on incomes over £60,000, double the average London household income. Clarity over what is meant by affordable housing is therefore paramount, and to whom we are relativising the housing cost. With middle-income households demanding homes at 60-80% of market prices, this by no means infers a reduction in the need for social rent for low-income households.

Within the overarching definition, the London Plan’s supporting texts set out criteria to assess affordability based on different schemes:

Affordable housing includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing… and should: (a) meet the needs of eligible households including availability at a cost low enough for them to afford, determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices; (b) include provisions for the home to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households; or (c) if these restrictions are lifted, for the subsidy to be recycled for alternatively (London Plan, 2016).


Further details for each scheme stipulated by the policy are listed in the table below


Type of housing Criteria
Social rented housing Guideline target rents are determined through the national rent regime or provided by other bodies under equivalent rental arrangements to the above, agreed with the local authority or with the Homes and Communities Agency.
Affordable rented housing Affordable rent is subject to rent controls that require a rent of no more than 80% of the local market rent.
Intermediate housing Affordable to households whose annual income is in the range £18,100-£64,000. Two bedrooms, suitable for families; the upper end of this range will be extended to £74,000.
London living rent Yet to be rolled out by the government.



Despite the government’s efforts and the 56%  increase in residential consents, closer analysis indicates that there has not been any increase in the areas where affordability is most stretched ( see image below. Source: Savills, 2017).

Figure 14. Affordability in England
Source: Savills, 2017

It is, therefore necessary for developers to take advantage of market demand in order to drive the success of their market-sale programmes and generate subsidy for affordable housing. Priorities need to be shifted from aimlessly building homes to homes being built where they are most needed. Ultimately, for micro homes to make a meaningful contribution to the housing market, they should be deployed in areas of stretched affordability, particularly in London and the South East.

Can Micro Housing alleviate the housing crisis?

The UK housing crisis is made up of a number of interconnected issues, including the lack of construction workers, reduced LPA powers, a lack of transparency, increased demand through deregulation, and lax policy-making. Some have argued that the housing reform to this point, if anything, has exacerbated the problem. This would suggest that the government need to look first at stabilising the market before the crisis can be solved in the long term before diving head first into eliminating the crisis.

As highlighted above, 25 to 29-olds are the largest age demographic in Inner London; in Outer London, it is 30-34 year olds. The Households and Household Composition in England and Wales reported an increase of 564,000 single-person households between 2001 and 2011, the highest proportion of which is in London holding (35%). Taking both the above indicators together, it is clear that not enough is being done to house the under-thirty market in London.  Come micro housing developers are marketing micro homes as a potential solution for Inner Londoners, a one-bed micro home is currently being marketed at over £200,000 (after 20% discount): this would require an average annual income of at least £40-50,000. I n reality, the average for those aged between 25 and 29 is £28,000. This would suggest, therefore, that the micro housing schemes currently being implemented in London are not serving their original purpose. Moreover, it is understood that the Mayor of London has already invested millions of pounds into the development of micro homes, without any clearly-advertised criteria against which these schemes will be assessed. Given that such schemes are in their relative infancy, it would appear that LPAs are taking the initiative without empirical supporting evidence.


It appears, in practice, that current micro housing developments are solely targeting those on the higher end of this scale, effectively ignoring the majority of those who fall within it. As such, a new definition will need to be considered. Affordability must take into account expenditure, commuting costs, dependents, and a number of other socio-cultural determinants. Given that salaries and house prices differ from borough to borough, there is an argument for local authorities to be given greater powers to assess what is genuinely affordable in their areas, rather than being held to a standardised yet ultimately ambiguous definition. Furthermore, given how space standards have decreased over time, and will most likely continue to do so, the definition of micro housing may need to shift with the times as well: unless micro units are launched as a separate entity or affordable housing scheme, they may no longer by necessary as small one-bedroom properties become the norm.

Don’t miss out on Farhana’s case law reviews. Tracking planning decisions and proposed developments. Read more about Urbanissta’s Legal Beagle. 

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What’s on in London?


Urbanissta’s ‘Girl on the tube’ Kathryn Waldron, has been catching up with what’s on in London. The London landscape is forever changing – new plans, new infrastructure and more air pollution.

With a draft of the new London Plan expected in the autumn, we thought now was a good opportunity to look back at what’s been going on in London over the past couple of months.

  • Silvertown Tunnel
  • Supplementary Planning Guidance
  • Opportunity areas
  • Air pollution
  • Planning applications

1 . Infrastructure – Silvertown Tunnel

With the decision made on the preferred option for the Thames Crossing through Thurrock and Gravesend, further west into the city, the planning inspectorate has recommended the nationally significant Silvertown tunnel project to the Secretary of State. The application was submitted in April 2016 and been the subject of six month of public examination.

The Secretary of State now has until October 2017 to decide whether or not to grant the application. Should the application be successful, TFL anticipate that Silvertown Tunnel construction would begin in 2018.

The earliest the Silvertown Tunnel could become operational is 2022/23.

The new tunnel would:

  • Reduce the impact of unplanned incidents at the Blackwall Tunnel by providing a nearby alternative route
  • Cut down on queuing at the Blackwall Tunnel and approach roads
  • Include user charging at the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels to manage demand and provide a source of revenue to help build and maintain the new tunnel
  • Provide an opportunity to create new cross-river bus links in east London
  • Improve road connections to and from Docklands and east London from South London
  • Improve journey times and make travel, deliveries and servicing more reliable

The tunnel will also create opportunities for new jobs in the local area, help local employers to access new markets and reduce the environmental impact of traffic congestion.

An extensive range of detailed information about the Silvertown Tunnel scheme is in the application documents. Find out more here.

 2 . Supplementary Planning Guidance- Affordable Homes and Night Time Economy

Information about Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance.

The Mayor’s long-term aim is for half of all new homes to be affordable.

Consultation on an ‘Affordable Homes SPG’ ran from 29th November 2016 to 28th February 2017. Last week, the Mayor published the new SPG Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance. 

This SPG supersedes section 3.3 (Build to Rent) and Part 4 (Affordable Housing – Viability Appraisals) of the March 2016 Housing SPG. The rest of that SPG remains current.

The SPG sets out the Mayor’s preferred approach to implementing London Plan Policies 3.11 (Affordable housing targets), 3.12 (Negotiating affordable housing on individual private residential and mixed use schemes), and 3.13 (Affordable housing thresholds).

The SPG’s main aim is to increase the number of affordable homes delivered through the planning system. Importantly, it will help embed the requirement for affordable housing into land values and make the viability process more consistent and transparent. It will help ensure that where development appraisals take place, they are robustly and consistently scrutinised, whilst its innovative approach will also reduce the risk and increase the speed of the planning process for those schemes which deliver more affordable homes.

The threshold approach

Two approaches to affordable housing viability are being proposed depending on the amount of affordable housing being provided.

Over 35% provision

Applications that meet or exceed 35 per cent of affordable housing provision without public subsidy, provide affordable housing on-site, meet the specified tenure mix, and meet other planning requirements and obligations to the satisfaction of the LPA and the Mayor where relevant – are not required to submit viability information. Such schemes will be subject to an early viability review, but this is only triggered if an agreed level of progress is not made within two years of planning permission being granted (or a timeframe agreed by the LPA and set out within the S106 agreement).

Less than 35%

Schemes which do not meet the 35 per cent affordable housing threshold, or require public subsidy to do so, will be required to submit detailed viability information. Where an LPA or the Mayor determines that a greater level of affordable housing could viably be supported, a higher level of affordable housing will be required which may exceed the 35 per cent threshold. In addition, early and late viability reviews will be applied to all schemes that do not meet the threshold in order to ensure that affordable housing contributions are increased if viability improves over time.

Where an LPA currently adopts an evidenced approach which will deliver a higher average percentage of affordable housing (without public subsidy) the local approach can continue to apply.

On the matter of vacant building credit the Mayor’s view is that in most circumstances in London it will not be appropriate to apply the Vacant Building Credit.

Viability appraisal approach

The Mayor’s preference is for using Existing Use Value Plus as the comparable Benchmark Land Value when assessing the viability of a proposal. The premium above Existing Use Value will be based on site specific justification reflecting the circumstances that apply.

Build to rent

Build to rent is a distinct form of affordable housing being promoted by the Mayor with Discount Market rent as the affordable housing offer with homes let at London Living Rent. Any on-site affordable housing must include provisions to remain at an affordable price in perpetuity or that the subsidy (this includes the Section 106 ‘subsidy’) must be recycled for alternative affordable provision. Guidance is also provided on how Build to Rent viability assessments differ from traditional appraisals.

Culture and the Night Time Economy Supplementary Planning Guidance

A draft Supplementary Planning Guidance on Culture and Night time economy was the subject of consultation between April and May 2017. Perhaps following a number of high profile events including the closure of the famous night club Fabric and the closure of pubs in favour of residential conversion.

The SPG cites that London has 103 fewer nightclubs and live music venues than it did in 2007 and 35% of its grassroots music venues have been lost. 140 pubs are also lost each year.

This work ties in with the work of The London Assembly Economy Committee which is investigating London’s night time economy and working towards a 24-hour city.

The investigation will look at what a diverse NTE could look like, how it might be sustained and its likely impact on those who will work in it.

This supplementary planning guidance (SPG) provides guidance on implementing London Plan policies that have a bearing on London’s culture and the night time economy including:

  • Protecting pubs
  • Sustaining existing venues
  • Providing new facilities
  • Creating a more diverse and inclusive night time
  • Culture and economy
  • Agents of change
  • Places

We can expect the new London Plan to have a stronger more defined stance on London’s evening economy.

3. Opportunity Areas – Old Park and Park Royal and Isle of Dogs and South Poplar

Old Park and Park Royal

Old Park and Park Royal were identified as an Opportunity Area within the London Plan.

The Old Park and Park Royal Development Corporation (ODPC)was created in April 2015. The Development Corporation is responsible for the regeneration of the 650 hectare site where Crossrail and HS2 will meet in the north west of London. It includes areas of Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham.

The ODPC is essentially the local planning authority, and are responsible for preparing and maintaining a Local Plan or Development Plan.

OPDC carried out the first consultation on the draft Local Plan and its supporting evidence base documents between 4th February and 31st March 2016. The public consultation on the revised draft Local Plan and associated documents runs from 29th June until midnight and on 11th September 2017.

The spatial strategy for Old Park and Park Royal is the creation of one main town centre stretching from Willesden Junction to North Acton, and three Neighbourhood Town Centres. The commercial centre is to be located around Old Oak with Wormwood Scrubs to be retained as open space.

The anticipated adoption of the ODPC Local Plan is spring 2018.

Isle of Dogs and South Poplar Opportunity Area

The GLA are working with Tower Hamlets to create an opportunity area at the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar. This additional opportunity area would add to the 44 other Opportunity Areas adopted or in progress within London.

An Opportunity Area Planning Framework is being prepared with a target of 30,000 new dwellings and 110000 new jobs, 9% of the total minimum housing requirement identified for the Opportunity Areas.

A Draft Opportunity Area Planning Framework is anticipated at any time now.

4. Air pollution

The GLA are preparing detailed guidance on air quality. Four stages of consultation are programmed of which three have already been undertaken.

16,000 Londoners commented on stage one and over 15000 on stage two. Stage 3a closed in June and responses are to be published in the autumn.

The most recent consultation considered the public’s views on proposals to:

  • Introduce the ULEZ in central London on 8th April 2019, to reduce overall exposure to air pollution and bring forward the health benefits to Londoners. This is around 17 months earlier than the currently approved date of 7th September 2020. Additionally, ULEZ resident’s vehicles that are not compliant with ULEZ emission standards will benefit from a three-year “sunset period” or “grace period” from the start of the ULEZ
  • A change to the required ULEZ emission standard for diesel vehicles to include Particulate Matter (PM) to ensure alignment with the national standards set as part of the government’s National Air Quality Plan

Whilst consultation on the London Air quality plan is on-going, the GLA has set out that the Mayor will be launching a £10 toxicity ‘T-Charge’ aimed at the oldest, most polluting vehicles on London roads from 23rd October 2017, and introducing a requirement for all newly licensed taxis to be zero emission capable from 1st January 2018.

5. Planning Applications- referrals and directions to refuse

Application referrals

For the week commencing 21st August 2017, 4 applications were referred to the GLA, including a minor material amendment for a mixed use development in Bishopsgate, redevelopment of a fitness club in Fulham and a Waste Transfer Station in Havering. .

Directions to refuse

On July 17th 2017, the Mayor directed Bexley and Barnet to refuse applications in their boroughs.

Bexley were directed to refuse redevelopment of the Howbury Park to provide a strategic rail freight interchange. The scheme is considered inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

Barnet were directed to refuse an application at Hasmonean High School for redevelopment of the school to create a combined Boys and Girls school. The scheme was considered inappropriate development in the Green Belt and it was considered that there was a lack of sustainable transport measures.

Do you need more information about planning applications? Find out more here.

Follow our series of ‘Girl on the tube’ and see what London really looks like to a Planner.

“I’m the girl on the Tube, no stranger to the fast-paced life of London and I take the underground every day to and from work.

I rise up from the tunnels of bustling business people and enthusiastic tourists and step out into the streets of London. Sensibly putting comfort and practically before fashion, wearing my well-worn trainers instead of 6-inch stilettos.”

Girl on the tube Part One

Girl on the tube Part Two

Girl on the tube Part Three

Girl on the tube Part Four

Girl on the tube Part Five


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From London to Brazil


Brazil … where the city meets the sea.

A country that is famous for its natural beauty, carnivals, beaches and rainforests. It is the largest country in South America with 4655 miles of coastline. Brazil boasts seaside splendour, vibrant culture and a wide range of tropical and subtropical landscapes.

Urbanissta’s Legal Beagle, Farhana Hussain has journeyed through parts of Brazil. Visiting places such as Recife – situated in an impressive coastal setting with an intriguing historic centre. Followed by Sao Paolo – an urban area full of high rises, crowded commercial spaces and thundering traffic.

Read on to find out more about Farhana’s journey in association with the University of Westminster.

It’s all about the experience. It’s an education, an observation of the governance, inefficiency, opportunities, developments and constraints.

Brazil … a place where serious planning and strategies are needed.

Fahrana was accompanied by others who were organized into multidisciplinary groups boasting knowledge from architecture, planning, governance, urban design and law.

Farhana’s notes…

16th May – 3rd June 2017

It’s been roughly one month since I returned back from a 2 week trip to Brazil – where the sun shines on the wealth, the poverty and the potential.

It was an experience that I will never forget, organised by the University of Westminster. My colleagues and I worked with INCITI and proposed a master plan to the NGO with our vision in transforming Recife into a sustainable City. Going beyond the boundaries of science and business to include human development, values and different culture.

We travelled to Recife, Olinda and Sao Paulo with our sketch books in hand and explored the culture, food and architecture to get an insight on the challenges and opportunities faced by the coastal city.


Recife, a beautiful coastal city sits between two rivers, Beberibe and Capibaribe. We stayed in a hotel by the coast with a view of the city from a distance. Upon arrival, I wondered why Recife looked like it was stuck in the past, lagging behind its sister cities, Sao Paulo and Rio who were well advanced, cosmopolitan and vibrant. But somehow, Recife had an undeniable charm which I had not seen in any other city – it embraced and worked with this quirk.

I came to learn that the same charming city has a slightly darker history which has contributed to its character and eerily quiet streets. The historic city is characterised by listed buildings protected by the Protection of the Historic Heritage (DPH), most of which are vacant due to the high costs involved in maintaining and renovating them. Unfortunately, there are no policies imposing taxes on vacant buildings or offering incentives to rent out the properties which in effect leave them neglected. Further research showed that these million dollar buildings are owned by politicians – the same people who create the laws and policies.

It became evident as to why the middle/lower class were being priced out. Strangely enough – there isn’t a housing crisis in Recife, there appears to be a political battle and a desperate need for policy reform and governmental restructure.


Recife Antigo consists of the initial Portuguese settlement in the 16th century around the port. Sugar cane production from Pernambuco was delivered to Portugal through Recife’s port. While Recife had port functions, Olinda was the capital. In 1630, the Dutch invaded Pernambuco, set Olinda partially on fire and Recife became the seat of the Dutch government. Count John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen became Governor General of the Dutch colony and built a new town on a neighbouring island. This city was named Mauritsstadt and the Palacio do Campo das Princesas, seat of the State of Pernambuco government, is built on its ruins.

The Dutch were forced out in 1654 of a Recife with good infrastructure, for they had built canals and improved the port and the defences of it. A flourishing Jewish community lived in Recife under them and they had to leave it because of the Portuguese Inquisition. Thus, a group of 24 Portuguese Jews who had previously migrated from Portugal to the Netherlands because of antisemitism, headed further North with the Dutch, where New Amsterdam –present-day Manhattan– was founded. The first Synagogue built in the Americas, the Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, is located in Recife Antigo, on Rua do Bom Jesus, formerly Rua dos Judeus, or Street of the Jews. The Portuguese synagogue was founded in lower Manhattan and it is located on Central Park West in Manhattan nowadays under the name Portuguese & Spanish synagogue.

Week 1 – Week one involved exploring Recife. We walked around the bustling markets – unlike the markets found in London, the market in Recife was unregulated and organic which offered a great spot for the locals to get together and socialise. I immediately noticed the divide in rich and poor after witnessing high levels homelessness.

The history of Old Recife shows that the invasion of the Dutch in 1630 –is when Recife developed its first urban plan. This explained the Dutch influenced architecture. Unlike the UK, who places great importance on preserving the character of a designated area – Recife was characterised by old 18th century buildings adjacent to modern buildings. The juxtaposition added character.

Having explored old Recife and carried out some research, we came across three areas of concern:

  • Governance
  • Movement
  • Social (and economic)

Week 2 –The second week revolved around preparing the presentation for INCITI. We were organized into multidisciplinary groups boasting knowledge from architecture, planning, governance, urban design and law. It was interesting to share knowledge and plug in gaps using knowledge from others. I was allocated a role in governance. My role included researching the governance system in Recife. The following were identified:


  • Legal instruments – IPHAN Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage is a federal institution created in 1937
  • Monitoring and control system-completely absent from planning activities from municipalities
  • Community articipatory system restricted- developer dominant – institutional structures don’t change due to politicians not willing to give up their positions
  • NGOs and academics usually the only ones to react to directives imposed in respect of the built environment
  • Built environment – conservation area – most of the historic buildings along the water front are privately owned – these are large assets worth millions of dollars (expensive rent and maintenance)

The following key stakeholders and their roles were identified:

In order to tackle the issues found, the following were proposed:

  • Set up inter-governmental forum
  • Monitoring and evaluation system (early warning system – pilot projects)
  • Community based strategy (activation)
  • Improve accountability transparency
  • Ensure transparency and equal distribution of rights and privileges

A greater number of potential competitors lead to a greater possibility that the economic conditions stemming from competition are more advantageous to users.

  • Capacity building – education
  • Penalty system for tax dodgers
  • Revenue collections
  • Community and trust – housing benefits
  • Reforming of conservation policies

We came to the conclusion that the above could be achieved using the following strategy:

  • Pilot project
  • Public/private partnership
  • Participatory budgeting / compulsory purchasing
  • Community consultation prior to implementation
  • Devolution of powers

The second area of concern surrounded movement.

Transport and Movement:

The following observations were noted during our stay:

The following opportunities and constraints were identified:


  • Promote tourism in the area
  • Increase permeability to Estelita
  • Better integration between metro, BRT, buses, bicycles and water bus
  • More bicycles hubs and cycle paths
  • Use the water ways
  • Produce a bus map for tourists
  • Separate lanes for bus, bicycles and cars
  • Fix the drains and pavements
  • Develop a pedestrian area around the market
  • Constraints: Main avenue divides east and west
  • Poor access to waterfront at Estelita
  • Concentration of buses in the north
  • Lack of dedicated cycle paths
  • High cost of public transport with poor connections
  • BRT operates only in the north of the island
  • Historic urban fabric

Having identified the opportunities and constraints, the following suggestions were made:

  • Maintain and improve the existing infrastructure
  • Fix the drains
  • Repair the pavements and roads
  • Dedicated cycle path along waterfront
  • Move the existing BRT station, connect to the metro, extend to Estelita
  • Water bus and terminal
  • Rehabilitate the tram for tourists
  • Make Estelita permeable
  • Remove the market from Danta Barreto and create a green boulevard
  • Adjust ticket pricing to allow changing mode of transport


  • It has architectural assets
  • Social interactions
  • Big space for movement
  • It has well established grid
  • River can be utilised
  • Lively street activities (street vendors)


  • Underused public space
  • State of the road
  • Land use zoning
  • Priority have been given to cars
  • Lack of green open space
  • Poor maintenance old buildings
  • Lack of housing

Strategy – Public realm

  • Improve the pedestrian pathways (Shade, continuity, material, greeneries)
  • Maintenance of sewage systems
  • Improve the public spaces
  • Dedicated bicycle and bus lanes
  • Provide more street elements (bench, trash bin, etc.)

Tenure and building typology:

  • Shopkeepers mainly own their narrow frontage multi storey properties and live elsewhere
  • Upper floors underused as storage space
  • No vertical mixed use (see also regeneration of Recife Antigo)
  • Unable to afford upkeep of historic building fabric (Catholic church as well it seems)
  • Only Chinese traders live above their shop
  • Potential for comprehensive upgrading of paved areas/public realm

Plans: Plan for Novo Recife rejected by popular protest

Redesign to allow connection on the boulevard to Boa viagem.

Malakoff Tower, in Recife Antigo

Recife Antigo (Old Recife) is the historical section of central Recife, Brazil. It is located on the Island of Recife, near the Recife harbor. This historic area has been recently recovered and now holds several clubs, bars and a high-tech center called Porto Digital.

Sao Paolo

The last 3 days were spent in Sao Paulo – a vibrant city compared to sleepy Recife. Despite the 36 degree weather and its metropolitan atmosphere – it seemed dark. I noticed numerous high rise buildings, of all shapes and sizes cramped together in the city center hub. They created visual interest but seemed to block out the sun which caused a shadow above the city. Despite this, the city was buzzing, unlike Recife. The streets were filled after midnight with office workers going out for after work drinks.

In a way, it reminded me of London.

My travels came to an end. I made many discoveries and I hope that the battle against corruption in the allocation of public sector engineering and infrastructure projects are successful.


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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, 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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Girl on the Tube (May-June’17 part 5)


Urbanissta - Girl on the Tube

13th June 2017-

We’ve had a busy few weeks here at Urbanissta-planning application preparation and submissions, team meetings, due diligence work and networking.

Today was no different as we started the morning in Stratford and ended in Old Street.

tube map


All Saints to Stratford

The journey from home to Stratford takes less than half an hour, and I love the view as the train pulls into Stratford as you see the stadium to the far left and the aquatics centre. Its also lovely taking in the view of the allotments on the right of the tracks and the parkland on the left.

I keep meaning to get up the Acellor Mittal, but something is stopping me!

Stratford Station


Stratford  has become a destination in London in itself with work leisure and housing opportunities within close proximity to the city and its regeneration continues five years after the Olympics.

I have spent quite a bit of time around the Olympic park watching the hockey over the past few weeks. I’ve also come here to watch my team play at the London Stadium. Whilst some critics view the stadium as the most unsustainable asset of the Olympics, it has become a well used round year location. The swimming pool, velo park, copper box and hockey tennis centre are also open to the public.

Green infrastructure connects all of these landmark sporting venues with the retail opportunities at Westfield through a structured landscape setting and opened up connections to the River Lea.

From the park, views of the city creep up.

view from the olympic Park

One main aspect of the Olympic village is the housing, and this was opened up shortly after the close of the games. The development continues apace at both the east village and out towards…

Pudding Mill Lane and Bow


Stratford to Old Street

Onto meeting number 2, and onto “ tech city”.  Getting out of Old Street station we never know which exit to take. I have since learnt that using the silicon roundabout as a guide, we want to face away from the Brezier apartments ( which was nominated in  the  Carbuncle Cup in for looking like someone’s posterior) and face towards the expanding hub around the Atla which is being marketed as the tallest building in tech city.

Stratford to Old Street


The 40 storey residential tower and 9 storey office building sits in a prominent location on the axis of Shoreditch, Islington, Farringdon and the City. It is in contrast to the red brick Moorfields Eye Hopsital in the foreground, but somehow it works.

Farringdon & Moorfields Eye Hospital

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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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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


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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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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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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The Housing White Paper 2017 – the final proposal!


Part 4 of 4:  ‘Helping People Now’

The White Paper set out a broad range of reforms and alongside the document, the government published supporting technical documents which provided the evidence underpinning many of the white paper proposals.

What considerations were taken and what questions were asked?

Here are 5 key consultation documents which provided the evidence…

  1. Response to changes to the National Planning Policy Framework Consultations.

National Planning Policy: consultation on proposed changes (read more)

  1. Response to the starter homes regulations: technical consultation.

Starter home regulations: technical consultation (read more)

  1. Report of the Local Plans Expert Group – summary of representations and government response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

 Report of the Local Plans Expert Group: government response to the CLG select committee inquiry (read more)

  1. Summary of responses to the technical consultation on implementation of planning changes, consultation on upward extensions and Rural Planning Review call for evidence.

Implementation of planning changes technical consultation (read more)

Upward extensions in London (read more)

Rural planning review: call for evidence (read more)

  1. Community infrastructure levy review and Three Dragon and University of Reading research report.

Community infrastructure levy review: report to government (read more)

So, how are the government going to ‘Help People Now’?

 They have proposed the following…

A – Continuing to support people to buy their own home – through ‘Help to Buy’ and ‘Starter Homes’:

  • In April 2017, the government will introduce the Lifetime ISA
  • They have committed £8.6 billion for the scheme to 2021, ensuring it continues to support homebuyers and stimulate housing supply. They also recognise the need to create certainty for prospective home owners and developers beyond 2021, so will work with the sector to consider the future of the scheme
  • They intend to make clear through the NPPF that starter homes, like shared ownership homes, should be available to households that need them most, with an income of less than £80,000 (£90,000 for London). Eligible first time buyers will also be required to have a mortgage
  • There will also be a 15 year repayment period for a starter home

The government will also change the NPPF to allow more brownfield land to be released for developments with a higher proportion of starter homes by:

  • Clarifying that starter homes, with appropriate local connection tests, can be acceptable on rural exception sites
  • The £1.2 billion Starter Home Land Fund will be invested to support the preparation of brownfield sites to support these developments
  • Through this wider range of government programmes, they expect to help over 200,000 people become homeowners by the end of the Parliament

B – Helping households who are priced out of the market to afford a decent home that is right for them through our investment in the Affordable Homes Programme:

  • In the Autumn Statement the government announced an extra £1.4bn for the Affordable Homes Programme, taking total investment in this programme to over £7bn to build around 225,000 affordable homes in this Parliament
  • Now they have opened up the programme, relaxing restrictions on funding so providers can build a range of homes including for affordable rent
  • They remain supportive of institutional investment in shared ownership and welcome suggestions for how they could assist the growth of this sector

C – Making renting fairer for tenants:

  • The government will consult early this year, ahead of bringing forward legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows, to ban letting agent fees to tenants
  • They will implement measures introduced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which will introduce banning orders to remove the worst landlords or agents from operating, and enable local councils to issue fines as well as prosecute
  • In addition to that, they are proposing to make the private rented sector more family-friendly by taking steps to promote longer tenancies on new build rental homes, as set out in Part: 3

D – Taking action to promote transparency and fairness for the growing number of leaseholders:

  • The government will therefore consult on a range of measures to tackle all unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold

E – Improving neighbourhoods by continuing to crack down on empty homes, and supporting areas most affected by second homes:

  • The new Community Housing Fund, which is supporting communities to take the lead in developing homes, including in areas particularly affected by second homes, they will consider whether any additional measures are needed
  • The government will also continue to support local authorities to encourage efficient use of the existing stock, making best use of homes that are long-term empty

F – Encouraging the development of housing that meets the needs of our future population:

  • The government is introducing a new statutory duty through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill on the Secretary of State to produce guidance for local planning authorities on how their local development documents should meet the housing needs of older and disabled people
  • They want to build on the evidence that already exists to help deliver outcomes that are best for older people.

G – Helping the most vulnerable who need support with their housing, developing a sustainable and workable approach to funding supported housing in the future:

  • The detailed arrangements for implementing the new model and approach to short term accommodation will be set out in a subsequent Green Paper which we will publish this Spring

H – Doing more to prevent homelessness by supporting households at risk before they reach crisis point as well as reducing rough sleeping:

  • The government is supporting Bob Blackman MP’s Homelessness Reduction Bill
  • Doubling the size of the Rough Sleeping Fund
  • Establishing a network of expert advisors to work closely with all local authorities to help bring them to the standard of the best
  • Exploring new models to support those that are the hardest to help
  • Want to consider whether social lettings agencies can be an effective tool

Sustainable Development and environment Proposals:

  • Together constitute its view of what sustainable development means for the planning system in England
  • The government propose to amend the list of climate change factors set out in the policy itself to include rising temperatures
  • They propose to make clear that local planning policies should support measures for the future resilience of communities and infrastructure to climate change
  • They will make some amendments to clarify the application of the Exception Test
  • Clarify that planning applications for minor developments and changes of use are expected to meet the requirements of paragraph 103 of the document
  • Planning policies to manage flood risk should, where relevant, also address cumulative flood risks which could result from the combined impacts of a number of new but separate developments in (or affecting) areas identified as susceptible to flooding
  • Planning policies and decisions should take account of existing businesses and other organisations. Where necessary, to mitigate the impact of noise and other potential nuisances arising from existing development
  • The government proposes to amend the wording of paragraph 98 of the Framework

We listened to the debate on the White Paper, here are some high-lights:

  • Nicolas Soames “Neighbourhood plans are being undermined by rogue developers.”

Nicholas Soames MP is a British Conservative Party Member of Parliament for the constituency of Mid Sussex. Soames is a former Defence minister having served in the government of John Major.

  • John Healey – “Is this it?” and later added, “This is not a plan to fix the housing crisis!”

John Healey is a British Labour Party politician and former trade union and charity campaigner, who has been the Member of Parliament for Wentworth and Dearne since 1997, and Minister of State for Housing. In 2010 he was elected to the shadow cabinet and appointed shadow health secretary. He stood down from the role in October 2011 and was succeeded by Andy Burnham.

  • Tim Baron called the White Paper an unambitious paper and that where the paper states ‘an average household annual wage was £80,000’, in his constituency average annual wage was £28,000! He called for more genuinely affordable homes and for the borrowing cap to be lifted. In response, Sajid Javid said that this was an opportunity for a cross party approach, but John Healey chose to use party politics
  • Whilst the SOS said that supply is the key to resolving the housing crisis, both Lucy Powell and Tracy Brabin criticized the SOS as supply is not the only reason, it is the rogue landlords within the Private Rented Sector that have properties which are unfit for human habitation which also plays a key part
  • One MP called for the house to address the elephant in the room which was the ideological pursuance of the Right to Buy scheme and the impact on Home Ownership and called for the SOS to confirm this was being removed – he would not confirm this
  • Many MPs asked the SOS to respond to Local Authorities requests to raise the cap so that they can build more affordable homes. Desmond Swayne MP called for greater empowerment of the public sector

Other notable points raised in the debate…

  • Capacity of planning departments – planning departments can increase their fees by 20%
  • Fees are being introduced for planning appeals
  • More measures introduced to speed up delivery including greater CPO powers through auction of sites, more straight forward completion notice processes and expiry of permissions
  • A developer’s track record can now be taken into account when reviewing development proposals
  • There is a requirement for all local authorities to show that they have exhausted all brownfield land first and have looked at density.  Density is a key area within this white paper
  • For the first time, the white paper sets out the steps that local authorities must take to show that they have looked at all other reasonable alternatives before releasing Green Belt sites

Here’s an interesting read…

Take a step back in time to when “Most people in Britain were well housed”.

The Housing Green Paper 2000 (read more)

What are your thoughts? Have your say…

The consultation will begin on 7th February 2017. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will close on 2 May 2017. All responses should be received by no later than 23:45 on 2 May 2017.

This consultation is open to everyone. The government are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across the public and private sectors, as well as from the general public.

During the consultation, if you have any enquiries, please contact:

You may respond by completing an online survey here

Alternatively you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to:

If you are responding in writing, please make it clear which questions you are responding to. Written responses should be sent to: Planning Policy Consultation Team Department for Communities and Local Government Third Floor, South East Fry Building 2 Marsham Street SW1P 4DF

When you reply it would be very useful if you confirm whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and include:

  • Your name
  • Your position (if applicable)
  • The name of organisation (if applicable)
  • An address (including post-code)
  • An email address
  • A contact telephone number

Sustainable Development and Environment Questions:

Question 34

Do you agree with the proposals to amend national policy to make clear that the reference to the three dimensions of sustainable development, together with the core planning principles and policies at paragraphs 18-219 of the National Planning Policy Framework, together constitute the Government’s view of what sustainable development means for the planning system in England?

Question 35

Do you agree with the proposals to amend national policy to:

  1. Amend the list of climate change factors to be considered during plan-making, to include reference to rising temperatures?
  2. Make clear that local planning policies should support measures for the future resilience of communities and infrastructure to climate change?

Question 36

Do you agree with these proposals to clarify flood risk policy in the National Planning Policy Framework?

Question 37

Do you agree with the proposal to amend national policy to emphasise that planning policies and decisions should take account of existing businesses when locating new development nearby and, where necessary, to mitigate the impact of noise and other potential nuisances arising from existing development?

Question 38

Do you agree that in incorporating the Written Ministerial Statement on wind energy development into paragraph 98 of the National Planning Policy Framework, no transition period should be included?

Read the full Housing White Paper 2017 here.

We hope you found our 4 part review of the Housing White Paper 2017 useful. If you have any comments or questions please contact us. We would be happy to advise you on planning or anything else you wish to discuss.

If there is a particular topic that you would like covered in one of our blog posts, do let us know.

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