Category Archives: Infrastructure


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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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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£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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Government reveals its preferred option for Lower Thames Crossing


• Option C- Connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 through a bored tunnel.

The Government have been considering Thames River crossings as an alternative to the Dartford Crossing since 2009 and today the preferred option has been revealed. For over 50 years, the Dartford Crossing has provided the only road crossing of the Thames east of London and it is recognised as a critical part of the UK’s major road network carrying local, national and international traffic.

Highways England acknowledge that a new crossing is needed to reduce congestion at the existing Dartford crossing and this additional crossing could unlock economic growth, supporting the development of new homes and jobs in the region.


2009 – In 2009, there were 5 potential crossing options explored

2011 – A Lower Thames Crossing became a top 40 priority infrastructure project

2012 – 5 options became three

2013 – Option B was discarded by the Government

2014 – Highways England commissioned to undertake assessment of two potential options

2016  Highways England consult on the two remaining options, and set out option C is the preferred option.

  • Option A- site of the existing A282 Dartford Thurrock Crossing
  • Option C- Connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 through a bored tunnel.

The Route Consultation received 47,034 responses, making it the largest ever public consultation for a UK road project

• Option C- Connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 through a bored tunnel.

Source: Highways England

Today April 12th 2017-Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announces that Option C is the preferred option

The details

Option C will comprise a bored tunnel crossing under the river Thames East of Gravesend and Tilbury. A new road north of the river will join between junction 29 and 30 and a new road south of the river which will join the A2 east of Gravesend.

The project will costs between 4.4-£6.2 billion pounds and is due to be open by 2025.

Why option C?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling supported option C because the crossing would create more than 6,000 jobs and boost the economy by more than £8bn.

What do the affected local authorities think?

Thurrock Council have been very vocal in objecting to any plans that would create a further crossing within the Borough and have been committed to campaigning against the proposals, including the publication of “17 reasons against the Dartford Crossing”. In responding to the announcement today, council leaders have expressed outrage with the decision. Cllr John Kent, said: “Now is the time for Thurrock – its people, it’s businesses, and its council – to come together and fight as one.

Gravesham Borough Councilors, in which Gravesend is located, are equally disappointed with today’s decision, and remain resolutely against option C.

We can expect that this wont be the end of the Council’s fight to reject option C.

What other options are considered to reduce congestion on the Dartford Crossing

Within the east of London, there is a heavy reliance on a small number of crossings including the Dartford Crossing and the Blackwall Tunnel. TFL have consulted on river crossing options within the east. An examination is currently underway on the potential for a Silvertown tunnel.

Future options for TFL include developing the concepts of new bridges at Gallions Reach(2) and Belvedere(3).

Thames River Crossing possible sites

Source:Thurrock Council

Key URLs:


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Heathrow Expansion – The Debate


The government has got the ball rolling with the Heathrow Plan by developing a National Policy Statement (NPS) framework to assess applications despite the on-going legal challenge.

Our very own Legal Beagle Farhana Hussain invites you to have your say. Are you for or against a 3rd runway for Heathrow Airport?

  • Should we have a 3rd runway for Heathrow Airport?
  • If in a year’s time, the development of a 3rd runway cannot pass a simple legal test, where will we be? What do you think? We present you with the facts

Source – NPS – additional runway boundary

The Heathrow Expansion – if allowed, it could be completed by 2020.

 Let the debate commence… 

For the development of the third runway:

  • The expansion could potentially create £60 billion of economic benefits
  • We need more capacity! London is growing, we need to meet the requirements now for the future
  • It would give the UK and economic boost. Improving connectivity with the rest of the world. Supporting exports, trade and job opportunities
  • There would be an allocated £700 million for noise insulation. It’s worth noting that there have been 84,000 noise complaints since January 2016…

Have your say!

Against the development of the third runway:

  • The expansion would cost approximately £18.6 Billion
  • It might hamper the UK’s efforts in tackling climate change
  • The GLA suggests that Heathrow Airport would breach the EU regulations on levels of Nitrous Oxide
  • There would be a destruction of communities – potentially the village of Sipson could be destroyed, that would include 700 houses and 10,000 people might need to be re-homed. Richmond Upon Thames and Twickenham noise levels are already over 50 decibels – the level that the world health organisations considers to be problematic. Solutions to which would need to be found.

Have your say!

This isn’t an Urbanissta opinion article. Planning is our business, customers are important to us and we are always interested in your thoughts.

Here’s an interesting question…

Not long after the High Court decision to delay the appeal for a judicial review of the expansion, the government have issued a draft National Policy Statement. The decision to delay the appeal doesn’t halt the development of the scheme – so where will we be in a year’s time? What do you think?

Only time will tell…

The government considered the NPS to be the most appropriate method to put into place the planning framework for the 3rd runway. As the schemes are regarded as nationally significant infrastructure projects pursuant to the Planning Act 1998, the government have decided that a development consent application is the best way forward to deliver the appropriate scheme.

We provide a summary of the NPS below:

Purpose and scope of the Airport NPS

The NPS is an important tool in providing a primary basis for decision making on development consent applications (DCA) and any future airport infrastructure plans going forward. It sets out planning policy which will need to be considered in conjunction with any application made for a significant infrastructure project. The airport NPS sets out the following:

  1. Government policy on the requirement of a third runway
  2. The preferred location and scheme to deliver the development
  3. Considerations given to particular DCA in respect of Airport NPS


Compliance with the NPS is crucial – the SoS in making a decision would expect any proposed development to have regard to a number of components including design, implementation and delivery. In some cases, other NPSs may be relevant to the proposal, however, if a conflict arises, significant weight would be given to the recently designated NPS.

Section 104 (Planning Act 2008)

Similarly, to housing and the consideration of local plans, the SoS will give regard to the relevant NPS when assessing an application for significant infrastructure projects unless they decide that doing so would:

  1. Breach international obligations (eg. Kyoto Protocol)
  2. Be unlawful
  3. Lead the SoS into a breach of duty under any legislation
  4. Adverse impacts outweigh the benefits
  5. Contrary to legislations how decisions are to be taken

It must be noted that there is no provision in the Planning Act 2008 for the requirement of an outline application, followed by reserved matters approval unlike the Town Country Planning Act 1990. Despite this, developments can be phased.

Source; NPS Draft Masterplan of Scheme proposals


Until exit negotiations are complete, the UK remain a full member of the EU and therefore the EU legislation applies to the development of the policy and decision making in respect of the preferred scheme. This may need to be revised once negotiations are complete.

Establishing the need for additional airport capacity

The Airport Commission, in their report dated December 2013 noted that there was a need for an additional runway in the South East of England by 2030.

The following shortlisted schemes were also considered: Gatwick Second Runway scheme, Heathrow Northwest Runway scheme, and Heathrow Extended Northern Runway scheme as well as the option of a new airport in the inner Thames Estuary (this was later dismissed as… “The proposal of a new airport in the inner Thames Estuary as it was did not perform sufficiently well to warrant consideration alongside the three schemes that it decided to shortlist.”)

The Airport Commission concluded their Final Report in July 2015 that the NW Runway at Heathrow presented the strongest case in respect of expansion and was considered to offer the greatest strategic and economic benefits to the UK.

Assessment Principles

General Principle

The NPS covering NW Heathrow scheme establishes the needs case provided that it adheres to the detailed policies set out in the NPS and the legal constraints posed by the PA 2008. Furthermore, the following must be taken into account by the examining authority and SoS:

  • Potential benefits are economic, job creation and environmental improvement
  • Potential adverse impacts and mitigation measures to compensate for such (national, regional and local levels)

Scheme variation

Although the preferred scheme has been identified – NW Runway – variations can still be made to the scheme. It is noted that the NPS does not prejudice the viability or merits of an application, but rather governs the location and limits and nature of such schemes.


The examining authority determining the application will assess significant effects at all stages.

Habitats Regulations Assessment

Before granting consent, the SoS must have regard to the Conservations of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. If the relevant authority conclude, that the development is likely to have a significant effect on a European site and how it is not directly linked to the management of the site, an appropriate assessment must be carried out to assess the implications.


An objective identified by the Airport Commissions (AC) was to: “Reduce or avoid disproportionate impacts on any social groups.” At the consultation stage, the AC must carry out an equality impact assessment.

Alternative requirements

The applicant must comply with the following legal requirements:

  • EIA Directive
  • Consideration of alternatives e.g Habitats and Water Framework
  • Flood risk sequential test

Criteria for ‘good design’ for airports infrastructure

Good design is an integral consideration. Visual appearance, costs and sustainability all play a significant part in considering the scheme design.

Good design must meet the principle objectives of mitigating or eliminating any issues that may arise from an adverse impact. The scheme must also be functional and fit for purpose.


The scheme must be cost efficient and sustainable and seek to minimise costs to airlines passengers and freight owners.

Climate change adaption

The development must plan to avoid increased vulnerability to the impacts rising from climate change. Any risks must be managed through suitable adaptation measures. Green infrastructure is encouraged.

Pollution control

The SoS will assess whether the development is an acceptable use of land and impacts of the use. The Environmental Agency who issue environmental permits (EP) will review the application to check whether the scheme meets the relevant EP requirements. Pre-applications can be conducted prior to making the application.

Common Law Nuisance

When an application is submitted, the examining authority will assess how the sources of nuisance might be mitigated so that appropriate recommendations are put to the SoS before granting permission.

Security considerations

Proportionate and protective security measures must be designed into new infrastructure projects at an early stage in the development.


Measures to avoid, reduce or compensate for adverse health impacts must be considered.


The development must, in accordance with the legal requirements and best practice, satisfy the following:

  • Include clear details on how plans improve access, address accessibility and need
  • Ensure all bus/train fleets comply with legal access standards by 2020
  • Easy access and car parking provisions for the disabled

Specific impacts requirements

Any application put forward would also need to have regard to the following specific impacts requirements:

  • Surface access
  • Air quality
  • Noise
  • Carbon emissions
  • Biodiversity
  • Land use
  • Resource and waste management
  • Flood Risk
  • Water quality and resources
  • Historic environment
  • Landscape and visual impacts
  • Land instability
  • Dust, odour, artificial light
  • Community compensation
  • Community engagement
  • Skills
  • Ruling out a fourth runway

 What happens next?

  • Following consultation and adoption of the NPS, and assuming any legal challenges are unsuccessful, the NPS will form the basis for the application for the DCO which is required to permit the necessary development of the construction of the new runway
  • The critical aspect will be the impact of increased noise and air pollution and whether the government and Heathrow Airport Ltd are able to demonstrate that they can put together, and rely upon, “A comprehensive package of mitigation measures.” to overcome any harmful impacts
  • If it cannot be demonstrated that an effective and legally binding set of restrictions can be put in place, it may jeopardise the whole project as the government have made it clear that it will be a condition of approval, that the air quality legal requirements will be met

 The residents who will be affected by the expansion want to hear your views! (Read more)

The government want to hear your views! (Read more)

Relevant dates for the expansion (read more)

What’s next? 

Read the planning process (here)

Housing and planning act – changes to legislation (read more) 

The town and country planning act 1990, section 215 – Best practice guide (read more)

That’s a lot of information for you to absorb but we are interested in your opinion. What do you think should happen?

Are you for or against The Heathrow Expansion?

Have your say!

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The Housing White Paper 2017 – Part: 2


Building homes faster!

We are revisiting the Housing White Paper that was presented to Parliament on the 7th February 2017.

Stepping into the front door once more, looking at the 2nd proposal listed in the document.

But first, we are going to hurdle the shoes at that front door… Where people were very quick to put the boot in the White Paper!

“We were promised a white paper but got a white flag!” Harsh words from the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing – John Healey.

More interesting comments and headlines to follow…

You may be asking yourselves, how will the housing white paper affect you or those around you? Here is some basic information to fast track you to the answers – with more details further on in this article.

  • I want to downsize – there was no mention about cutting stamp duty or providing other incentives for last-time movers to help free up family homes
  • I want to buy my first home – there wasn’t a lot of news for first-time buyers, the government just reiterated what it’s already doing. In the shape of ‘Help to Buy’ equity loans, Isas, shared ownership and ‘Rent to Buy’ schemes
  • I’m a renter – more than four million households rent their home from a private landlord, nearly twice as many as 10 years ago, according to the housing white paper. Some of these households have to put up with below standard accommodation, but things are improving the government suggests
  • I’m a landlord – landlords have been on the government’s radar for several years and there appears to be no let-up in the white paper. Already having to contend with tax relief reductions and stamp duty rises, landlords may soon have to add extra layers of red tape to their list of woes
  • I’m a leaseholder – the government also announced in the white paper that it will act to promote fairness and transparency for the growing number of leaseholders, claiming there are currently around four million leasehold homes in England

Part: 2  The review of the Housing White Paper 2017 – Building homes faster

The Government will be:

A – Providing greater certainty for authorities that have planned for new homes and reducing the scope for local and neighbourhood plans to be undermined by changing the way that land supply for housing is assessed:

  • Amend the National Planning Policy Framework to give local authorities the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis, and fixed for a one- year period
  • Where communities plan for housing through a neighbourhood plan, these plans should not be deemed out-of-date unless there is a significant lack of land supply for housing in the wider local authority area

B – Boosting local authority capacity and capability to deliver, improving the speed and quality with which planning cases are handled, while deterring unnecessary appeals:

  • Increase nationally set planning fees. Local authorities will be able to increase fees by 20% from July 2017
  • Make available £25m of new funding to help ambitious authorities in areas
    of high housing need to plan for new homes and infrastructure
  • Consult on introducing a fee for making a planning appeal

C – Ensuring infrastructure is provided in the right place at the right time by coordinating government investment and through the targeting of the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund:

  • Target the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund at the areas of greatest housing need

D – Securing timely connections to utilities so that this does not hold up getting homes built:

  • amend national policy so that local planning authorities are expected to identify the development opportunities that such investment offers at the time funding is committed
  • consulting on requiring local authorities to have planning policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area
  • In assessing bids for these trials from local authorities, take account of which areas can demonstrate that they have policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area
  • Work together across the government

Government will review what more we could do to ensure that utilities planning and delivery keeps pace with house building and supports development across the country:

  • Government will closely monitor performance to ensure house building is not being delayed and, if necessary, will consider obligating utility companies to take account of proposed development

E – Supporting developers to build out more quickly by tackling unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions, facilitating the strategic licensing of protected species and exploring a new approach to how developers contribute to infrastructure:

  • tackle unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions by taking forward proposals, through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, to allow the Secretary of State to prohibit conditions that do not meet the national policy tests, and to ensure that pre-commencement conditions can only be used with the agreement of the applicant. A new deemed discharge mechanism for planning conditions was introduced in 2015 and we are keen to hear more from developers, local authorities and other interested parties about how this is working and if we can streamline the process further
  • The government will roll out this approach to help other local authorities speed up the delivery of housing and other development
  • The government will examine the options for reforming the system of developer contributions including ensuring direct benefit for communities, and will respond to the independent review and make an announcement at the Autumn Budget 2017
  • Woking Borough Council and Natural England have piloted a new strategic approach to streamline licencing which focuses conservation where it will bring maximum benefits to great crested newts

F – Taking steps to address skills shortages by growing the construction workforce:

  • Launch a new route into construction in September 2019
  • Work across government, with the Construction Leadership Council
  • Explore whether this successful approach can be applied more broadly in the construction sector

G – Holding developers to account for the delivery of new homes through better and more transparent data and sharper tools to drive up delivery:

  • Holding local authorities to account through a new housing delivery test
  • Require more information to be provided about the timing and pace of delivery of new housing
  • The Department for Communities and Local Government will increase the transparency and quality of data
  • Subject to further consultation, large housebuilders may be required to publish aggregate information on build out rates
  • Amend national planning policy to encourage local authorities to consider how realistic it is that a site will be developed, when deciding whether to grant planning permission for housing development, on sites where previous permissions have not been implemented
  • Seeking views on whether an applicant’s track record of delivering previous, similar housing schemes should be taken into account by local authorities when determining planning applications for housing development
  • Considering the implications of amending national planning policy to encourage local authorities to shorten the timescales for developers to implement a permission for housing development from the default period of three years to two years, except where a shorter timescale could hinder the viability or deliverability of a scheme. We would particularly welcome views on what such a change would mean for SME developers
  • Simplify and speed up the completion notice process
  • Prepare new guidance to local planning authorities following separate consultation, encouraging the use of their compulsory purchase powers to support the build out of stalled sites
  • Keep compulsory purchase under review and welcome any representations for how it can be reformed further to support development
  • A new housing delivery test to ensure that local authorities and wider interests are held accountable for their role in ensuring new homes are delivered in their area
  • From November 2017, if delivery of housing falls below 95% of the authority’s annual housing requirement, we propose that the local authority should publish an action plan
  • From November 2017, if delivery of housing falls below 85% of the housing requirement, authorities would in addition be expected to plan for a 20% buffer on their five-year land supply
  • From November 2018, if delivery of housing falls below 25% of the housing requirement, the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the National Planning Policy Framework would apply automatically
  • From November 2019, if delivery falls below 45% the presumption would apply
  • From November 2020, if delivery falls below 65% the presumption would apply
  • Monitor the situation closely, and will not hesitate to take further action if required

Part: 2 – Proposals

NPPF Amendments & Applications

  • To give local authorities the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis, and axed for a one-year period
  • LPAs who wish to take advantage of this policy will need to provide for a 10% buffer on their 5 year land supply A new housing delivery test through changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and associated guidance


  • Consulting on requiring local authorities to have planning policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area, and accessible from a range of providers

Information Collation & Analysis

  • Further to improve the quality and analysis of information on housing delivery
    • Better information on delivery
    • Better information on build out rates by builders
    • Better information on the development pipeline
  • We propose to put in place a duty on developers to provide local authorities
    with basic information (in terms of actual and projected build out) on progress in delivering the permitted number of homes, after planning permission has been granted
  • New requirements for the Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) produced by local planning authorities
  • Measure housing delivery using net annual housing additions
  • Rate of housing delivery in each area would be assessed as the average over a three-year rolling period
  • Support authorities experiencing significant under-delivery in addressing the challenges identified in their action plans

Regulation & Legislation

  • Amend  legislation to remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to confirm a completion notice before it can take effect
  • Amend legislation, subject to consultation, to allow a local authority to serve a completion notice on a site before the commencement deadline has elapsed, but only where works have begun
  • The government proposes a tiered approach to addressing the situation that would be set out in national policy and guidance

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

Consultation questions for Part: 2  

Question 16

Do you agree that:

  1. Where local planning authorities wish to agree their housing land supply for a one- year period, national policy should require those authorities to maintain a 10% buffer on their 5 year housing land supply?
  2. The Planning Inspectorate should consider and agree an authority’s assessment of its housing supply for the purpose of this policy?
  3. If so, should the Inspectorate’s consideration focus on whether the approach pursued by the authority in establishing the land supply position is robust, or should the Inspectorate make and assessment of the supply figure?

Question 17

In taking forward the protection for neighbourhood plans as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of 12 December 2016 into the revised NPPF, do you agree that it should include the following amendments:

  1. A requirement for the neighbourhood plan to meet its share of local housing need?
  2. That it is subject to the local planning authority being able to demonstrate through the housing delivery test that, from 2020, delivery has been over 65% (25% in 2018; 45% in 2019) for the wider authority area?
  3. Should it remain a requirement to have site allocations in the plan or should the protection apply as long as housing supply policies will meet their share of local housing need?

Question 18

What are your views on the merits of introducing a fee for making a planning appeal? We would welcome views on:

  1. How the fee could be designed in such a way that it did not discourage developers, particularly smaller and medium sized rms, from bringing forward legitimate appeals.
  2. The level of the fee and whether it could be refunded in certain circumstances, such as when an appeal is successful.
  3. Whether there could be lower fees for less complex cases.

Question 19

Do you agree with the proposal to amend national policy so that local planning authorities are expected to have planning policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area, and accessible from a range of providers?

Question 20

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

  • The status of endorsed recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission is made clear?
  • Authorities are expected to identify the additional development opportunities which strategic infrastructure improvements offer for making additional land available for housing?

Question 21

Do you agree that:

  1. The planning application form should be amended to include a request for the estimated start date and build out rate for proposals for housing?
  2. That developers should be required to provide local authorities with basic information (in terms of actual and projected build out) on progress in delivering the permitted number of homes, after planning permission has been granted?
  3. The basic information (above) should be published as part of Authority Monitoring Reports?
  4. That large house builders should be required to provide aggregate information on build out rates?

Question 22

Do you agree that the realistic prospect that housing will be built on a site should be taken into account in the determination of planning applications for housing on sites where there is evidence of non-implementation of earlier permissions for housing development?

Question 23

We would welcome views on whether an applicant’s track record of delivering previous, similar housing schemes should be taken into account by local authorities when determining planning applications for housing development.

Question 24

If this proposal were taken forward, do you agree that the track record of an applicant should
only be taken into account when considering proposals for large scale sites, so as not to deter new entrants to the market?

Question 25

What are your views on whether local authorities should be encouraged to shorten the timescales for developers to implement permission for housing development from three years to two years, except where a shorter timescale could hinder the viability or deliverability of a scheme? We would particularly welcome views on what such a change would mean for SME developers

Question 26

Do you agree with the proposals to amend legislation to simplify and speed up the process of serving a completion notice by removing the requirement for the Secretary of State to con rm a completion notice before it can take effect?

Question 27

What are your views on whether we should allow local authorities to serve a completion notice on a site before the commencement deadline has elapsed, but only where works have begun? What impact do you think this will have on lenders’ willingness to lend to developers?

Question 28

Do you agree that for the purposes of introducing a housing delivery test, national guidance should make clear that:

  1. The baseline for assessing housing delivery should be a local planning authority’s annual housing requirement where this is set out in an up-to-date plan?
  2. The baseline where no local plan is in place should be the published household projections until 2018/19, with the new standard methodology for assessing housing requirements providing the baseline thereafter?
  3. Net annual housing additions should be used to measure housing delivery?
  4. Delivery will be assessed over a rolling three year period, starting with 2014/15 – 2016/17?

Question 29

Do you agree that the consequences for under- delivery should be:

  1. From November 2017, an expectation that local planning authorities prepare an action plan where delivery falls below 95% of the authority’s annual housing requirement?
  2. From November 2017, a 20% buffer on top of the requirement to maintain a five year housing land supply where delivery falls below 85%?
  3. From November 2018, application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery falls below 25%?
  4. From November 2019, application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery falls below 45%?
  5. From November 2020, application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery falls below 65%?

Question 30

What support would be most helpful to local planning authorities in increasing housing delivery in their areas?

In the papers today…

Housing white paper an ‘encouraging signal’ (read more)

Housing white paper makes more questions than answers (read more)

Tomorrow we will return to Part: 3 of our review of the Housing White Paper 2017…

The third proposal – ‘Diversifying the market’.

Read the full Housing White Paper 2017 here.

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Heathrow Airport third runway plans revealed


Heathrow Airport third runway plans revealed today!

Plans for the third runway at Heathrow Airport are to be published today (2nd February 2017) as the Government begins a four-month public consultation on its decision to expand Britain’s biggest airport.

We scheduled a return flight to this hot topic back in November with our very popular article on The Heathrow Expansion click here.

The government decided to expand Heathrow Airport rather than Gatwick, more than a year after the Airports Commission endorsed the third runway proposal and six years after the coalition government scrapped the idea.

We at Urbanissta are on the planning runway once more and ready to take off!

Here’s the latest Heathrow Expansion update…

  • The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, is expected to announce the launch as a sign that Britain will be open for business after Brexit!

 “Aviation expansion is important for the UK both in boosting our economy and jobs and promoting us on the world stage. Leaving the EU is a new chapter for Britain and provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world.”

  • The first step in enacting the decision about the third runway is putting in place the conditions for planning consent which will be outlined in a national policy statement. MPs will have to vote on the statement for it to become law. Chris Grayling said: “We are determined to seize that opportunity and having the right infrastructure in place will allow us to build a more global Britain. By backing the north-west runway atHeathrow airport and publishing our proposals, we are sending a clear signal that when we leave the EU, we are open for business.”
  • There will be pledges and conditions for the expansion including more domestic routes, noise mitigation for local homes and schools, legally binding targets on noise, and a ban of six and a half hours on scheduled night flights
  • The airport must also implement measures to ensure road traffic to the airport does not grow, and will be obliged to compensate homeowners at a rate of 25% above market value plus costs for any compulsory purchases needed. About 900 homes are expected to be demolished, including much of the village of Harmondsworth
  • The consultation will run across the UK, including communities that may be directly affected and people who could benefit from connections. Following the consultation and parliamentary scrutiny, the finalised statement is expected to go to a vote in around a year’s time
  • The government said the runway, which it claims will be worth £61bn to the economy over 60 years and will create tens of thousands of jobs, will only go ahead if it can be delivered within existing air quality limits and climate change obligations. John Stewart, chair of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, a local anti-expansion campaign, said: “The government will argue that a new runway is particularly important in a post-Brexit world but the stark fact remains that a third runway will mean almost a quarter of a million extra planes using Heathrow each year. That will turn countless lives upside down.”
  • A separate consultation on changes to airspace, potentially bringing new communities under flight paths, is also being launched

Once all is revealed we will refuel and return to this topic, watch this space!

For a more in depth look at The Heathrow Expansion, read more here.

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Theresa May’s 10 point action plan unveiled!


Teresa May’s 10 point action plan unveiled

The Prime Minister has launched a green paper on the Industrial Strategy for consultation.

A ten point action plan with the biggest investment in transport, broadband and energy for a generation.

On 23rd January 2017 Theresa May revealed her long term vision for delivering a more resource efficient and resilient economy. This will be supported by the government’s 25 year environment plan.

The proposed action plan will focus on these 10 important issues:

  1. Investing in science, research and innovation
  2. Developing skills
  3. Upgrading infrastructure
  4. Supporting business to start and grow
  5. Improving government procurement
  6. Encouraging trade and inward investment
  7. Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
  8. Cultivating world-leading sectors
  9. Driving growth across the whole country
  10. Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places

What has prevented the government moving forwards in the past?

  • There has been a distinct lack of clear long-term plans and budgets
  • Progress hindered by a complex planning system
  • A failure to align planning for infrastructure with planning for housing and industry

What is needed now to help achieve their goals?

Energy, transport, water, flood defence and digital infrastructure must be upgraded across the whole country. This will allow businesses to thrive and enable higher rates of house-building, making houses more affordable.

Here is a brief outline of what has been noted in the green paper:

  • House building – there will be new funding made available to enable central investment to support local growth and will fund the infrastructure needed to enable house-building on sites with marginal viability in locations with an acute housing need
  • A Housing Infrastructure fund will allow joined up planning for housing and infrastructure in areas in severe need
  • An Accelerated Construction programme will support new entrants and developers, innovative private sector partners and offsite manufacturers to ensure homes are built up to double the speed of traditional house builders
  • A total of £1.1 billion of funding for local roads and public transport networks will allow communities to fix local travel bottlenecks that hold back growth
  • The creation of new funding like the Housing Infrastructure Fund and funding for local roads and public transport networks will enable infrastructure decisions to be matched more effectively with local economic plans
  • The government will work with local government to review how to bring more business expertise into local government, for example through the creation of a modern “Alderman” type of role within local government; and work with Local Enterprise Partnership (LEPs) to review their role in delivering local growth, examining how we best practice can be spread and strengthening LEPs,  including extending the support they receive from the What Works centre for Local Economic Growth
  • On climate change, the settled policy position was reflected in the government’s commitment to meeting its legally-binding targets under the Climate Change Act. How it will continue to meet its legal obligations would be set out, as required, in the forthcoming Emissions Reduction Plan
  • This year the government will set out a long-term roadmap to minimise business energy costs. To inform this it will commission a review of the opportunities to reduce the cost of achieving its decarbonisation goals in the power and industrial sectors
  • It will work with stakeholders to explore opportunities to reduce raw material demand and waste in our energy and resource systems, and to promote well-functioning markets for secondary materials, and new disruptive business models that challenge inefficient practice

This work will be supported by the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan which will set out a long term vision for delivering a more resource efficient and resilient economy.

The Prime Minister noted that last summer’s referendum was not just a vote to exit the European Union, it was a directive to the government to change the way our country works for us, the people – forever.

The plan is to shape a new future, to build a stronger, fairer Britain. Our modern industrial strategy is a critical part of our plan for post-Brexit Britain. It will back Britain for the long term: creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and backing them to invest in the long-term future of Britain.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This active government will build on Britain’s strategic strengths and tackle our underlying weaknesses, like low productivity. This is vital because if we want to increase our overall prosperity, if we want more people to share in that prosperity, if we want higher real wages, and if we want more opportunities for young people to get on – we have to raise our productivity.”

Do you have an opinion about the points raised in the green paper?

Have your say…

Below is a sample of questions from the green paper, being posed to the general public:

  1. Does this document identity the right areas of focus: extending our strengths; closing the gaps and making the UK one of the most competitive places to start or grow a business?
  2. Are the ten pillars suggested the right ones to tackle low productivity and unbalanced growth? If not, which areas are missing?
  3. Are the right central government and local institutions in place to deliver an effective industrial strategy? If not, how should they be reformed? Are the types of measures to strengthen local institutions set out here and below the right ones?
  4. Are there important lessons we can learn from the industrial policies of other countries which are not reflected in these ten pillars?
  5. What should be the priority areas for science, research and innovation investment?
  6. Which challenge areas should the Industrial Challenge Strategy Fund focus on to drive maximum economic impact?
  7. What else can the UK do to create an environment that supports the commercialisation of ideas?
  8. How can we best support the next generation of research leaders and entrepreneurs?
  9. How can we best support research and innovation strengths in local areas?
  10. What more can we do to improve basic skills? How can we make a success of the new transition year? Should we change the way that those resitting basic qualifications study, to focus more on basic skills excellence?


Do you want to give your opinion? Send an email to:

The consultation closes on 17th April 2017.

To read the Green Paper go to:

We hope you found this article useful. If you did, please share and any feedback is welcome.

For similar articles go to:

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The RTPI’s 16 ways to address the housing crisis


The RTPI's 16 ways to address the housing crisis

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) revealed their 16 point action plan to help the government tackle the housing crisis and achieve its ambitious targets.

The RTPI’s Chief Executive Trudi Elliot has written to Gavin Barwell, the UK Minister for Planning and Housing ahead of the release of the Housing White Paper for England.

The Chief Executive wrote:

“The major house builders alone cannot be expected to deliver all the homes we need. In addition, changes to the English planning system over the last 30 years have failed to deliver the homes we need.”

The Chief Executive went on to say that there wouldn’t be a quick fix and there needed to be a comprehensive package of suggestions from the Prime Minister.

Do you have an opinion about the housing crisis?

Take a quick look at the 16 point action plan headlines from the published document. Get active on Twitter, follow #RTPI16ways and join the debate.

The published document by the RTPI contains the following…

1. Offer ready permitted sites to SME builders.

Support them in the new industrial strategy. We need to get them building again.

2. Keep Housing Associations building.

Housing Associations need to keep building homes and they need to be supported.

3. Let Local Authorities charge the planning fees they need.

The RTPI states that Planning departments have suffered greater cuts than other local authority functions, and indicate it has to stop and be reversed.

4. Require a city region wanting a devolution deal to have a plan for housing.

Create funding to have a plan to deliver the supporting homes required by those jobs.

5. Make Land Registry an open data organisation.

To allow strategically planned houses the RTPI says that they need data on who owns the land and where.

6. Create a fiscal regime that encourages ‘Build to Rent’.

As a nation there is a failure  to supply purpose-built properties to rent with longer term security.

7. Government must provide stronger direction on suitable land for housing.

Brownfield land should be made to achieve its full potential. They suggest that communities should be involved in places which are undergoing regeneration.

8. Encourage innovation in climate change mitigation.

The RTPI suggest that there is a need for mechanisms to improve the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock, and policies which ensure that new homes are compliant with carbon reduction targets.

9. Make more of the existing housing stock.

Pay attention to how the rental market and structure, and how taxation and housing benefit policy drives behaviours and the market.

10. Find innovative ways of funding affordable housing.

The RTPI suggest that we must learn the lessons from the 2008 financial crisis and cannot let the challenges that major house builders face in a downturn result in whole developments being stalled.

11. Invest in the next generation of those who will make housing happen.

Government has backed the RTPI’s planner’s bursary scheme; they states that we need to make working in the built and natural environment open and inspiring to all.

12. Get the public sector building.

The LGA and the Federation of Master builders have already stepped up and said they are up for it. Cleverly used the RTPI suggest that it can create markets and support private sector provision.

13. Align transport infrastructure and housing delivery more effectively.

Start by assessing infrastructure projects for the development land they unlock, not just their impact on speed and congestion.

14. Allow Planning Inspectors to find local plans partially sound.

The RTPI suggest that we should not  let problems with one small policy area hold up a Local Plan having the weight it needs in steering where homes go.

15. Encourage local authorities to be proactive in land assembly.

To unblock land for homes as well as wider socially and economically beneficial development.

16. Intervene in the land market and capture the benefits from transport investment.

In the longer term we need to explore the operation of the land market, an issue explored by the House of Lords in their report on the economics of housing.

Here is a summary of the statement.

  • Make brownfield land achieve its full potential. Brownfield land continues to play an important role for providing housing, but the RTPI says that:

A brownfield firstpolicy will fail to deliver its full potential if there is insufficient available funding for the treatment and assembly of land.”

  • Involve communities in regeneration. Increasing housing densities within existing town and cities may be a way to provide new housing. Development of increasing density needs to be of high quality and supported by infrastructure and facilities including sufficient open space. The RTPI advocates real community consultation on these proposals.

    We would support consultation where this is focused upon delivering change and new development – rather than is so often the issue that engagement only effectively takes place to prevent development.

  • Land within existing built up areas will not meet all our needs. The RTPI accept that one of the future housing needs will have to be met on greenfield land around our towns and cities.

The experience of our members clearly indicates that this can be done without undermining the priority to be given to brownfield sites through a planned, managed and phased approach to development.”

  • Make green belts work for everybody. Green Belt policy has been championed by the planning profession for over 60 years, however, its current role and function needs to be revisited if locations for housing are to be identified.  We would support this statement:

Green belt boundaries may well need to change, but only through careful reviews over wider areas than single local authorities, and where safeguards are put in place to ensure that development is sustainable, affordable and delivered in a timely manner, and without prejudice to the renewal of brownfield land.”

  • Better planning, not less planning. The RTPI has called for less intervention in the planning system. It has called for greater support to be given to local authorities who have worked in partnership to deliver those homes. Effective strategic planning is needed to address the housing crisis rather than put local authorities at risk of their local plans being called in.

The RTPI concludes that Planners have the skills to do the job, working in partnership with politicians and communities

In summary, in our view the main problem in planning is the over focus upon localism and lack of focus upon regional/strategic planning to ensure the difficult (but necessary) decisions are undertaken within local communities to provide the much-needed housing that this country requires. Without this additional focus – and political will – the system will continue to operate at less that it’s full potential.

Further reading about this topic:

Where should we build new homes? RTPI Policy Statement on identifying new housing development opportunities. Click here to read more (PDF).

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.

Find out more here.

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10 top tips about the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)


Community Infrastructure Levy

We speak from experience…

Urbanissta are now familiar with the principle of CIL and making reps to Examination sessions, as well as dealing with new application in CIL areas. We have however recently, had challenging experiences with CIL and considered it insightful to prepare this ‘Top Tips’ article should be of help to house builders, planners, engineers, land buyers, architects and regional builders.

What is the CIL?

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) came into force in April 2010. It allows local authorities in England and Wales to raise funds from developers undertaking new building projects in their area. The money can be used to fund a wide range of infrastructure that is needed as a result of development. This includes new or safer road schemes, flood defences, schools, hospitals and other health and social care facilities, park improvements, green spaces and leisure centres.

We at Urbanissta have experience in dealing with and have knowledge of the CIL. We have had to address questions in order to avoid or limit the risks that can be presented to us or our clients.

These are 10 Top Tips to help you prepare for and avoid any expensive lessons to be learnt from the CIL:

  1. Knowledge is power – Be aware of any changes in the CIL. To request notifications of amendment go to this site and sign up to receive updates as they happen. Read more.
  2. Don’t presume – Find out if the extant planning permission pre-dates the introduction of the CIL in the local authority area that you are planning to work in.
  3. What are the different variables? – What variation to the permission is intended to be made? Is it a non-material amendment to the permission via s96a or is it a minor material amendment that requires variation to the permission via s73?
  4. It pays to be cautious – Take caution if the permission needs to be varied via s73, you don’t want any unexpected surprises.
  5. Look beyond the obvious – What extent of the site does the variation relate?
  6. Do your research – Determine if there is any affordable housing within the proposed variation to which (if a new permission were being applied for) would have Social Housing Relief (SHR).
  7. Get confirmation – Confirm whether the extant permission has been implemented and if the development has commenced.
  8. Be aware of the risks – If implementation has taken place and the s73 area includes affordable housing for which SHR would be applied for.
  9. Plan and be organised – Social Housing Relief has to be applied for after permission is granted but before implementation has taken place. Depending upon your scheme’s unique circumstances, consider whether implementation has taken place (albeit under a separate previous permission) there is a risk that SHR cannot legitimately be applied for following the grant of the s73, because implementation has already occurred.
  10. Look at all considerations – Consider whether there is scope for CIL liability to be triggered for the whole area to which the s73 variation relates – including the affordable housing.

Tips are a great start but we have only touched the surface with this list. If you want more information on the key points we have raised, contact us for more advice.

The extent of our knowledge has resulted from extensive negotiations where we have managed to avoid an expensive CIL liabilities for clients. In addition, we have dealt with different CIL challenges where a site straddled two Local Authority administrative areas, one authority having operative CIL and the other does not.

The issues that we needed to consider on this site were:

  • The principle access to the site would be through the non CIL authority area. Implementation of a permission once issued would therefore occur in the non CIL area, however with a single cross boundary application the concern was whether such implementation would trigger a CIL liability in CIL operative administration area
  • It was concluded that implementation would trigger the applicable CIL liability if the (single) permission were implemented in the non CIL area
  • Next it was a matter of seeking to determine the most effective and comprehensive manner in which to secure permission within both administrative areas without triggering CIL liabilities unnecessarily and without submitting two separate applications
  • Prior submission, it was agreed with both local authorities that the development proposals would be distinctly phased. The phasing approach would ensure that the phases of the site were clearly defined within the CIL affected area. These phases would be delineated via condition to restrict the trigger of a CIL liability to the implantation of each specific phases with the CIL local authority area and not the wider scheme

And finally…

These are the key considerations for the transitional period whilst CIL Charging Schedules are at different stages of progress:

  • Monitor progress of CIL introduction with local authority areas whilst implementation of extant permissions has taken place
  • Consider if a permission was granted prior to CIL being introduced by an LPA, if it had been implemented and is proposed to be varied after the introduction of CIL.
  • If CIL becomes operable in the LPA area, following implementation (of an extant permission) and variations to the permission are required by s73, consider carefully what changes are required. Is Social Housing Relief required and determine if a CIL liability would be triggered on the entire (applicable) area the subject of the varied permission if SHR cannot be applied for
  • Where sites have cross boundary considerations, ensure that any CIL liability can be ring-fenced to implementation only within the CIL affected area – and not implementation elsewhere on the site

In conclusion…

We are sure that as CIL gets rolled out across more local authority areas, we’ll all experience further transitional challenges, however if in the meantime the above can prevent you from getting into any sticky and costly situations with CIL affected areas then all is well and good!

For further reading and information about making CIL work in 2016: Read more.


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