Author Archives: Dean Leadon

 

The Labour Party Manifesto 2019

 

As part of our election series, with the General Election just around the corner, the Labour Party published its manifesto on 21st November 2019. The key pledges made which are of most significance to the planning profession are set out below:

Environment

  • Introduce a Climate and Environment Emergency Bill setting out in law new standards for decarbonisation, nature recovery, environmental quality and habitats and species protection
  • Introduce an Environment Emergency Act with revised standards for a healthy natural environment
  • Provide increased funding for National Park authorities and the introduction of ten new National Parks
  • Introduce a Green Transformation Fund of £250 billion over the next ten years to directly fund the ‘transition to our sustainable future’. Separate funding streams shall be made available for:
  • Developing renewable and low carbon energy sources
  • Supporting the shift towards sustainable, pollution-free transport systems
  • Supporting the decarbonisation of energy-intense industries
  • Achieving net biodiversity gains through natural environment restoration
  • Delivering natural mitigations of climate change
  • Embark on a programme of tree planting with a target of 300 million trees being planted within its first term in office
  • Introduce a new Clean Air Act, with a vehicle scrappage scheme and clean air zones
  • Provide restoration and enhancement of our water environments to ensure that 50% of rivers and lakes meet the standard of good ecological status by 2027
  • Maintain and continuously improve the existing EU standards of environmental regulation
  • Provide an extra £5.6 billion in funding to improve the standard of flood defences and respond to the increased risk of flooding, prioritising areas at risk in North West England, Yorkshire and the East Midlands
  • Reframe Green Belts by introducing a new primary purpose into the planning framework recognising the role they play in adapting to and mitigating against climate change
  • An investment of £4.5 billion will be made towards the waste and recycling infrastructure that will be required to reduce the waste we create
  • Give local government greater freedom to set planning fees and require the climate and environmental emergency to be factored into all planning decisions
    Introduce a zero-carbon home’s standard for all new homes

Housing

  • Will create a new Department for Housing and make Homes England a more accountable national housing agency and put councils in the driving seat
  • Will set out a strategy for a flourishing construction sector with a skilled workforce and full rights of work
  • Establish a new English Sovereign Land Trust, with powers to buy land more cheaply for low-cost housing. Public land will be used to build this housing
  • Developers will face new ‘use it or lose it’ taxes on stalled housing developments
  • The Land Registry will remain in public hands and will seek to make ownership of land more transparent
  • Brownfield sites will be the priority for development and the green belt protected
  • Developers will face new ‘use it or lose it’ taxes on stalled housing
  • Build more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers in every area, including Labour’s new discount homes with prices linked to local incomes

Affordable Housing

  • Deliver a new social housebuilding programme of more than a million homes over a decade, with council housing at its heart. By the end of the Parliament, Labour hopes to build at an annual rate of at least 150,000 council and social homes, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent
  • Labour will establish a new duty on councils to plan and build these homes in their area, and fund them to do so, with backing from national government
  • Scrap the Conservatives’ definition of ‘affordable’, set as high as 80% of market rents, and replace it with a definition linked to local incomes
  • End the conversion of office blocks to homes that sidestep planning permission through ‘permitted development’
  • Reform ‘Help to Buy’ to focus on first-time buyers on ordinary incomes
  • Make available 8,000 additional homes for people with a history of rough sleeping
    Introduce a new national levy on second homes used as holiday homes to help deal with the homelessness crisis

Building Safety

  • Introduce a £1 billion Fire Safety Fund to fit sprinklers and other fire safety measures in all high-rise council and housing association tower blocks, enforce the replacement of Grenfell style cladding on all high-rise homes and buildings, while introducing mandatory building standards and guidance, inspected and enforced by fully trained Fire and Rescue Service fire safety officers

Planning

  • Bring together transport and land-use planning to create towns and cities in which walking and cycling are the best choices
  • Ensure street designs provide freedom for physically active outdoor play
  • Rebalance power in the planning system by giving local government greater freedom to set planning fees and by requiring the climate and environmental emergency to be factored into all planning decisions
  • Review the planning guidance for developments in flood risk areas

Energy

  • Start a Green Industrial Revolution that will create one million jobs in the UK to transform industry, energy, transport, agriculture and buildings, while restoring nature
    Introduce a zero-carbon home’s standard for all new homes
  • Upgrade most of the UK’s 27 million homes to the highest energy-efficiency standards
  • Develop the recommendations of their ‘30 by 2030’ report to put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system within the 2030s
  • As part of heat decarbonisation, Labour will roll out technologies like heat pumps, solar hot water and hydrogen, and invest in district heat networks using waste heat
  • To balance the grid, Labour will expand power storage and invest in grid enhancements and interconnectors
  • Labour will create a Sustainable Investment Board to bring together the Chancellor, Business Secretary and Bank of England Governor to oversee, co-ordinate and bring forward investment – involving trade unions and business
  • Launch a National Transformation Fund of £400 billion and rewrite the Treasury’s investment rules to guarantee that every penny spent is compatible with climate and environmental targets and that the costs of not acting are fully accounted for too. Of this, £250 billion will directly fund the transition through a Green Transformation Fund dedicated to renewable and low-carbon energy and transport, biodiversity and environmental restoration
  • Invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Bring energy and water systems into democratic public ownership
  • Deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030
  • Under their Green New Deal, Labour aims to achieve the substantial majority of their emissions reductions by 2030

Infrastructure

  • Regulate and take public ownership of bus networks
  • Increase and expand local services, reinstating the 3,000 routes that have been cut
  • Bring railways back into public ownership
  • Introduce a long-term investment plan including delivering Crossrail for the North as part of
  • improved connectivity across the northern regions

Read our key points from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Manifesto.

Visit our blog again soon where we will give you our opinion of the General Election results.

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Community Infrastructure Levy Changes Following Review

 

Following a Community Infrastructure Levy review which began in late 2015, with the findings being published in a report in early 2017, the Government have now made changes to the CIL regulations via The Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) (England) (No2) Regulations 2019 implemented on 1st September 2019.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a planning charge first introduced by the Planning Act 2008 which came into force in April 2010 via the Community Infrastructure Regulations 2010, it is an important tool for local authorities to enable them to deliver their infrastructure requirements to support development within their local area. A local authority must consult on any proposed levy rates and these must be approved and a charging schedule be published before the levy is formally in place.

Development is potentially liable for CIL if it would create a net additional floor space of 100 square metres or more, or creates a new dwelling. There is an opportunity to claim relief or exemption from the levy but set criteria must be met and procedures followed for this to occur.

CIL Review Group

In November 2015 the CIL review group was set up with a specific purpose to:

“Assess the extent to which CIL does or can provide an effective mechanism for funding infrastructure, and to recommend changes that would improve its operation in support of the Government’s wider housing and growth objectives”.

In summary, the remit of the group was to look at the following:

(i) The relationship between CIL and Section 106 agreements in delivering infrastructure.

(ii) The impact of CIL on development viability.

(iii) The exemptions and reliefs from CIL.

(iv) The administration and governance associated with charging, collecting and spending CIL.

(v) The ability of CIL to deliver infrastructure in a timely and transparent way.

(vi) The impact of the neighbourhood portion on local communities’ receptiveness to developmental.

(vii) The geographical scale at which CIL is collected and charged.

Following examination and in consideration of the consultation responses received the key issues were identified in a report published in February 2017 as follows:

(i)  A number of local authorities had decided not to introduce CIL at all with the outcome being a heavier reliance on Section. 106 than originally expected. This has also resulted in a number of smaller developers who could afford to make some contribution not being required to pay.

(ii) The amount of CIL raised overall has been much less than originally anticipated and hasn’t been helped by exemptions.

(iii) Where CIL has been produced it had not necessarily worked well for larger sites with complex site-specific mitigation requirements.

(iv) The burden and risk of providing CIL lay with local authorities who may not be well placed to deliver infrastructure in a timely manner.

(v) Necessary infrastructure has not been provided upfront when it is needed to support the earlier stages of development because further CIL money was awaited.

(vi) Where developers were continuing to make traditional S.106 payments difficulty was caused by pooling restrictions for large items of infrastructure that needed to be funded by more than five planning obligations.

Overall, the report concluded that the adoption of CIL did not meet the initial intention of a faster, fairer, simpler more certain and more transparent means of ensuring that all development contributed towards infrastructure need. It was also found that CIL did not compliment S.106 arrangements but rather caused complications and disruptions to them.

The CIL Regulations 2019

The Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) (England) (No2) Regulations 2019 which came into effect on the 1 September 2019 is not wholly responsive to the findings of the review group but does make some notable changes summarised as follows:

(i) The removal of Pooling restrictions has occurred which no longer limits the number of contributions from Section 106 agreements to five.

(ii) Monitoring fees have been reviewed and a monitoring fee can be included if it is fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development and does not exceed the local authority’s estimate of its cost of monitoring the development over the lifetime of the related planning obligations.

(iii) The loss of exemption due to failure to serve a commencement notice has now been replaced with a surcharge.

(iv)  In the interests of transparency, there is now a requirement for local authorities to publish an annual ‘infrastructure funding statement’ these will replace existing 123 lists. These should include details of money raised by developer agreements for both CIL and S.106 agreements.

(v) Due to uncertainty in how charges should be applied further to a Section 73 permission, amendments have been made to clarify in essence only additional floor space will now be charged at the latest index rate with the previous floor space charged at the rate in place when the original development was first permitted.

(vi) A requirement has also been introduced to undertake consultation if a local authority is considering ceasing CIL charges.

A link to the CIL Regulations can be found here.

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‘Land for the many’ – New Labour Party Report contemplates sweeping changes to land policy

 

A new report commissioned by the Labour Party has proposed a number of wide-ranging changes to the land policy in Britain. Authored by a range of academics, economists and land experts, the report argues that many of the problems this country faces are down to land ownership and the way land is controlled being central to many of the existing socio-economic problems in Britain such as economic inequality, ecological breakdown, the housing crisis and repeated financial crisis.

On land and planning, the report recommended:

Complete transparency and publication of all information on land ownership, planning and subsidies as open data with the following recommendations:

  • There should be free and open access to information on who owns land, including the identities of the beneficial owners
  • There should be a fully public register of charges and options over land titles and public databases of the prices paid for all property and of public subsidies paid on land
  • Land should be registered with the Land Registry as a prerequisite for receiving subsidies
  • Local Authority Asset Registers and sales should be published as open data. There should also be a full register of planning permissions, including developer’s commitments

The removal of permitted development rights

It is recommended that the removal of the right to apply for the conversion of officers and agricultural buildings via prior approval should occur with full planning permission being required. It is claimed that the current process often leads to poor quality housing without an affordable component, and restricts the ability of communities and their representatives to shape development also leading to the uncontrolled loss of workspace.

Reform of the planning system to ‘address imbalances of power’

A key measure would be allowing local authorities to determine and adjust planning fees in order to limit ‘deep-pocketed developers exert excessive influence over decision making’. It is suggested that fees could be increased where applications are submitted more than once, particularly where advice has been not been followed, or policy has been ignored.

LAND FOR THE MANY

A formal review of participation in the planning process, with the intention of increasing public and community participation in development. To energise community participation in decisions about land use the five steps that are recommended as follows:

  • A formal review of community participation in planning, with a mandate to move away from tick-box exercises towards genuine co-creation of policy and developments
  • Establish an independent body, the Community Participation Agency, with a mandate to involve communities and under-represented groups in planning at every level
  • Introduce jury service for planning to ensure a wide range of people can influence plan-making
  • Make information on land use and planning accessible to everyone
  • Introduce a new Future Generations Champion or Team in each local authority

The introduction of Compulsory Sale Orders – measures that would permit public authorities to acquire vacant or derelict land to then be sold at public auction.

CSOs are a proposed new statutory power, giving public authorities the power to acquire land that meets certain criteria – for example, left vacant or derelict for a defined period – to be sold by public auction to the highest bidder, with community groups offered the right of first refusal. This proposal is explored in detail in a recent Scottish Land Commission report. Unlike Compulsory Purchase Orders, CSOs have the advantage of not requiring up-front public investment, as public authorities would manage the auction process but not take ownership of land. If coupled with financial support, this could offer an efficient way to transfer land into community ownership.

The creation of Public Development Corporations that would manage the purchase and sale of land in the public interest.

These Development Corporations would not replace private developers altogether but would act as the prime mover in the land market, working with various stakeholders to prepare sites for new housing developments, new towns, garden cities and urban regeneration projects. Once land has been assembled, the Development Corporations would contract out construction to housebuilders, prioritising local small and medium-sized firms, who would compete with each other on the basis of quality and design of house building. This means that the success or failure of private developers would be determined by the quality of build rather than by their ability to navigate the speculative land market.

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Alterations to the Town and Country Planning

 

In 2015 the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order was introduced which made significant changes to the planning system. These changes made it easier for homeowners to extend their properties and for commercial premises to change use.

The Government has recently ratified proposed changes to the Order, with new legislation enacting the changes coming into force on the 25th May 2019.

The relevant statutory instrument went before parliament on the 3rd May 2019 a link can be found here.

A number of significant changes are made to the Order as follows:

  • In respect of Part 1, Class A – permitted development for larger householder extensions, extensions between 3 and 6 metres for Semi-Detached and Terraced Houses and between 4 and 8 metres for Detached Houses were previously subject to an application for prior approval to the Local Authority with a deadline for completion and a requirement to notify the Authority upon completion. The prior approval process is still in place but there is no longer a deadline date for completion or a requirement to notify. In essence, this process which was originally a temporary measure has now been made permanent
  • In respect of Part 3, a new Class JA has been introduced for permitted development for a change of use of A1 (Shops), A2(Financial and Professional Services), A5(Hot Food Takeaways) or a betting office, payday loan shop or laundrette to a use falling within B1(a) Offices. This is subject to a number of restrictions including that the change of use relates to no more than 500square metres of space and a condition that an application is made to the Local Authority for prior approval. Clear guidelines are provided on the criteria to be considered in determining if prior approval should be granted including the impacts upon the highway, the impact of noise and disturbance from the surrounding premises on future occupiers and the impact of the conversion upon adequate services. There is a 3-year timescale to implement the permission once prior approval is granted
  • Under Part 3, Class M the conversion of A1/A2 properties to a dwelling house is allowed subject to the prior approval of the local Planning Authority, this has now been extended to include conversion from an A5 use into a dwellinghouse. As with Class JA there are restrictions on this which include the change of use to take place being limited to 150 square metres of space. As with class JA there are similar criteria to be considered in Class M which are already established
  • Part 4, Class D allows temporary flexible uses for up to 2 years, this has now been extended to allow flexible uses to include D1 Non-Residential Institutions. There is no requirement to make an application to the Local Authority for prior approval under this section

There are various other relatively minor changes and points of clarification made via the statutory instrument but the significant changes have been summarised above.

 

Urbanissta offers a commercial service, specialising in securing implementable planning permissions and delivering high quality landscaping schemes. For more information about our services, contact us today.

 

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