Author Archives: Jo Hanslip

 

City of Christchurch moves from Recovery into Regeneration

 

Christchurch Cathedral January 2017

Following the earthquakes in Christchurch during 2011 that led to significant damage to the city and loss of life, a decision has been made on the future of the Christchurch cathedral in the centre of the city. Following years of the impasse between opposing parties, could this decision now signal a move forward from recovery into regeneration?

We take a look at the events that led to the decision and why the cathedral is critical to the regeneration of the City.

The Earthquake

On the 22nd February 2011, a 6.4 magnitude quake struck the city, and following damage to buildings in a previous quake during 2010, a number of buildings were already identified with the potential to collapse. 185 people died in the nation’s 5th deadliest disaster.

   

182 chairs for the 182 people that died during the earthquake

Events following the Earthquake

October 2011

Two subsequent earthquakes in 2011 further damaged the cathedral and in October 2011, the Trustees of the Church announced proposals to demolish parts of the building as the costs of repair was more than the cost of the insurance.

March-August 2012

Demolition commenced in March 2012 and in August 2012, the Great Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT) announced a High Court challenge of the demolition plans. The court put the demolition on hold in November.

That order was in place until July 2013 when a High Court ruling to lift it was upheld by the Appeal Court. In December 2013, the Supreme Court declined a GCBT appeal against that decision. Demolition was never resumed because the emergency quake powers had expired and it would require consent, which would be challenged in court by GCBT.

2014

In 2014, the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan was published by the City Council identifying actions to be taken to rebuild the city. The cathedral is central to the plan and to the city spatially.

Under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, a Recovery Plan must be developed for the central business district (CBD). All decisions to be made following the time of the plan must be made in accordance with the requirements of the plan. it also required changes to be made to the city’s district plan. to ensure the objectives of the Recovery Plan were met.

Christchurch Central Recovery Plan 2014

“The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan sets out a clear vision for the Square – an international centre and the heart of our city, with year-round activity, day and night. It’s a vision for a 21st-century city that points to a greener space, with buildings that inspire and activate, and the main square complemented by a series of smaller places[1]”.

July 2015

In July 2015, frustration became clear as the Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee wrote to the Trustees stating lack of progress on the future of the Cathedral was slowing down attempts by the city to regenerate. Cathedral Square landowners were reluctant to spend money on development next to a decaying site with an uncertain future.

September 2015

In September 2015, the Minister appointed a negotiator to mediate between the Church Property Trustees and the Great Christchurch Building Trust. Both sides along with their engineers were asked to agree on the feasibility and cost of restoring the building or replacing it with a new cathedral.

It was identified that restoration would take until 2022 and cost $105m, while a new cathedral would cost about $66m and could be complete by 2019, Deans reported. Anglicans agreed to reconsider restoration of the cathedral in December 2015.

April 2016

Regenerate Christchurch was established to lead Christchurch from recovery to regeneration.  The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 sets out the functions[2] of the Regenerate Christchurch body. The Cathedral Square and its surrounds were identified as a key priority area and a regeneration strategy for the square and surround commenced.

June 2016

In June 2016 Brownlee appointed a working Group to come up with a fully costed and feasible plan for restoring the cathedral.

December 2016

The group delivered its non-binding recommendations to government in December 2016 which formed the basis of a restoration deal between the government and Anglican leaders. This deal was delayed and amended by the Government as requested by the Church Property Trustees.

July 2017

An amended a Cathedral reinstatement plan was put forward to all parties. The deal set out the funding mechanisms for the reinstatement including a $10 million Christchurch City Council pledge, a Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) pledge of $13.7m, a $10m Crown cash contribution and a $15m government loan. $90 million was now secured. The offer also proposed new legislation, which would allow reinstatement of the cathedral to be fast-tracked, and a joint venture made up of the Church Property Trustees and a fundraising trust would govern and manage the reinstatement.

Cathedral Square January 2017

On 31 July 2017 Regenerate Christchurch published a draft concept and key moves for Cathedral Square and the surrounding area. Regenerate Christchurch.

In its first annual report regenerate Christchurch,  identified three priority areas including the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Area, Cathedral Square and Surrounds, and Southshore and South Brighton.

September 2017

Bishop Victoria Matthews took the offer to the Synod in September 2017 who voted 55% in favour of reinstating the building with a basic design. It was announced that the project would cost $93 million and would take 10 years to build.

A week following the decision by the Synod, an agreement was signed outlining the project’s commercial, financial and legal terms and approximately $90 million of the restoration cost were already secured. The agreement identified that a new Restoration Trust would be formed that will be responsible for fundraising and managing the project, alongside the Church Property Trustees and an establishment group would be set up to develop the joint venture structure and a project plan.

December 2017

The Christchurch Cathedral Reinstatement Bill had its first reading in Parliament.06 December 2017, and the $10 million Christ Church Cathedral grant was approved by Christchurch City Council[3].

Christchurch Cathedral December 2017

February 2018

Now, we move to 2018 and the City Council are now considering raising rates by an average of 5.5 percent from July this year, to address the priorities in the Council’s draft Long Term Plan (LTP)(external link), which sets out the Council’s work programme and priorities for the next 10 years[4].  A proposal to introduce a new targeted rate to cover the Council’s $10 million special heritage contribution towards the reinstatement of Christ Church Cathedral is also included in the Long Term Plan.

“Deloitte calculates the total cost of the earthquakes will be more than $10 billion”

“There you have it. A couple of heritage blips aside, Christchurch should be able to pass as a functioning, disaster-free city by 2025[5]

Cathedral and Square December 2017

 

[1] https://ccc.govt.nz/the-council/plans-strategies-policies-and-bylaws/plans/central-city-recovery-plan

[2] http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2016/0014/32.0/whole.html#DLM6579202

[3] https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/99987766/10m-cathedral-grant-approved-by-council-despite-objections

[4] http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1802/S00182/rates-rise-under-consideration.htm

[5] https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/101602318/christchurch-2025-what-will-quake-recovery-look-like

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Local Plan Update – We have been tracking all Local Plan preparation across the regions.

 

‘Step into my office’ – with Jo Hanslip

 

London Plan Updates – tracking and progression

We have been tracking and following the progress of Local Plans in the different regions of England.

A Local Plan sets out planning policies and identifies how land is used – determining what will be built where. We’ve developed this Local Plan Schedule which we hope will keep you up to date on what Local Authorities are doing on their Plans and if you have any questions contact us today.

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£866 million investment to help unlock potential 200,000 new homes

 

Up to 200,000 new homes are due to get off the ground as the government confirms £866 million investment in local housing projects. 

On the 1st February 2018, the Housing Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that 133 council-led projects across the country will receive funding to support local work that will make housing developments viable and get much-needed homes built more quickly. This £866 million is the first phase of funding from the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, which was increased by £2.7 billion in the 2017 Autumn Budget. According to the government, this latest investment will help to get work started on up to 200,000 homes.

When the investment was announced, Chancellor of the Exchequer – Philip Hammond, said:

“Today marks the first step of the multi-billion pound investment we announced at the Budget to help build the homes our country needs.This fund finances vital infrastructure such as roads, schools and bridges, which will kick-start housing development in some of Britain’s highest-demand areas. This support will help us meet our ambitious plan of building 300,000 new homes each year and ensure we have enough housing in areas which need it most.”

With the government committed to building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, this first wave of funding from the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is part of a comprehensive programme to fix the broken housing market. There will be two funding streams that make up the Housing Infrastructure Fund:

  1. A Marginal Viability Fund:This is available to all single and lower-tier local authorities in England and aims to provide a piece of infrastructure funding to get additional sites allocated or existing sites unblocked quickly. Bids can be up to £10 million.
  2. A Forward Fund:This is available to the uppermost tier of local authorities in England – for a small number of strategic and high-impact infrastructure projects. Bids can be up to £250 million.

This latest investment and will fund key local infrastructure projects including new roads, cycle paths, flood defences and land remediation work, all essential ahead of building the homes. Without this financial support these projects would struggle to go ahead or take years for work to begin, delaying the homes these communities need. Together with the government’s Industrial Strategy, it will provide high-quality infrastructure to support economic growth.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Our priority is building the homes this country desperately needs. This first wave of investment totalling £866 million will help get up to 200,000 homes off the ground, making a huge difference to communities across the country. This is just one of the many ways this government is taking action to get Britain building homes again.”

Projects from County Durham to Cornwall will receive funding including:

  • £10 million for highway infrastructure to unlock further development at the Ashton Green housing site in Leicester, helping to unlock 3,300 homes

Source – Leicester.gov.uk

  • £10 million for construction of a bypass in Botley, Hampshire, a critical strategic road infrastructure project that will help unlock the delivery of 1,000 new homes

Source – Hampshire County Council

http://documents.hants.gov.uk/transport-projects/botley-bypass/BotleyBypassConsultationJune2016.pdf

  • £3.6 million for drainage works, new roads and footpaths at the Manor Cluster, south-east Sheffield to help unlock more than 400 homes by 2025
  • £6.5 million to help build a new primary school as part of the Ilfracombe Southern Extension in North Devon. This will help unlock 750 new homes

Source – Damien Hirst

Can we get images or links to plans/images for these sites?

The £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is a government capital grant programme to help unlock new homes in areas with the greatest housing demand. Funding is awarded to local authorities on a highly competitive basis.

The government will be progressing Forward Funding projects to go through to co-development in the coming weeks, with final funding announced in autumn 2018. The investment announcement forms part of the government’s Industrial Strategy which sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

The strategy sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

The government hopes the funding will get homes built quicker and help it to achieve its target to build £300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

This £866 million is the first phase of funding from the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, which was increased by £2.7 billion in the 2017 Autumn Budget. According to the government, this latest investment will help to get work started on up to 200,000 homes.

Things are starting to happen and we will keep you updated.

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Government Plan to Tackle Air Quality Unlawful

 

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have successfully challenged the government’s plans to tackle air quality for the third time.

The two previous challenges were also successfully challenged.

 A Brief History 

The first Air Quality Plan produced in 2011 was quashed by order of the Supreme Court in 2015. The Government was made the subject of a mandatory order requiring the Secretary of State to prepare new air quality plans in accordance with a defined timetable.

The second AQP produced in purported compliance with the order of the Supreme Court was published on 17th December 2015.

In a judgment dated 2nd November 2016, Justice Garnham concluded that the 2015 Air Quality Plan failed to comply with Article 23(1) of the Air Quality Directive 2008. On 22nd November 2016, it was ordered that the Secretary of State publish a draft modified Air Quality Plan by 4 pm on 24th April 2017 and a final Air Quality Plan by 31st July 2017.

In November 2017, the government requested an extension of time for the publishing of the draft plan due to the general election and purdah. Justice Garnham concluded that the draft plan must be published the day after the local elections and that date for the publication of the final plan 31st July 2017, would be unchanged. In accordance with the amended order of the Court, a draft air quality plan and supporting technical report were published on 5th May 2017. Those documents were then put out to consultation. In June 2017 ClientEarth sought to challenge the details of this consultation but this was refused.

On 26th July 2017 (“DEFRA”) the “UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations” was published. This was the third attempt by the UK Government to provide an Air Quality Plan (“AQP”) that met its obligations in law.

On 27th July 2017, the Government published a Direction to 23 local authorities under s85(5) of the Environment Act 1995 to undertake a feasibility study to identify the option which will deliver compliance with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide in the area for which the authority is responsible, in the shortest possible time. These were:

  • Basildon Borough Council
  • Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Bury Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Coventry City Council
  • Fareham Borough Council
  • Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Guildford Borough Council
  • Manchester City Council
  • Middlesbrough Borough Council
  • New Forest District Council
  • Newcastle City Council
  • North Tyneside Council
  • Rochford District Council
  • Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Rushmoor Borough Council
  • Salford City Council
  • Sheffield City Council
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Surrey Heath Borough Council
  • Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council

Environment Act 1995 Air Quality Directions were also published for Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton in relation to clean air zones.

The Third challenge to the Air Quality Plan

This third challenge was submitted in November 2017 with arguments being heard from both parties on the 25th January 2018.The high court decision was published yesterday 21st Feb 2018.

ClientEarth’s grounds for the challenge were:

  1. The latest plan backtracks on previous commitments to order 5 cities to introduce clean air zones by 2020.
  2. The plan does not require any action in 45 local authorities in England, despite them having illegal levels of air pollution.
  3. The plan does not require any action by Wales to bring down air pollution as quickly as possible.

The decision concludes that the government have failed to produce an adequate plan to tackle growing air pollution and have failed to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution.

These 45 authorities are identified in the air quality plan as Local authorities with roads with concentrations of NO2 forecast above legal limits and assuming no additional measures. All figures are provided in µg/m3 and 40 µg/m3 is the statutory annual mean limit value for NO2, but are not required to conduct a feasibility study

These authorities are:

  • Portsmouth City Council
  • Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
  • Bournemouth Borough Council
  • Bradford City Council
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Wolverhampton City Council
  • Bolsover District Council
  • Leicester City Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council
  • Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Poole Borough Council
  • Burnley Borough Council
  • Peterborough Council
  • Reading Borough Council
  • Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
  • South Gloucestershire District Council
  • Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council
  • Blaby District Council
  • Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Cheltenham Borough Council
  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Kirklees Metropolitan Council
  • South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Southend Borough Council
  • Ashfield District Council
  • Broxbourne Borough Council
  • Chelmsford Borough Council
  • Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Havant Borough Council
  • North East Lincolnshire Council
  • Sunderland City Council
  • Warrington Borough Council
  • Broxtowe Borough Council
  • Luton Borough Council
  • Oxford City Council
  • South Ribble Borough Council
  • Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Northampton Borough Council
  • Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Dartford Borough Council

This inaction led to the conclusion that the government’s proposals are unlawful and “seriously flawed” in respect of those 45 areas, which were not expected to reduce pollution to within legal levels until 2021.

Justice Garnham ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible – as 12 of the 45 local authorities are projected to have legal levels by the end of 2018.

This decision means that if the government fails their duties to address air quality, matters can be taken directly to the courts without delay. The courts will have the powers to pass judgment on whether the government’s actions meet its obligations on air pollution under UK and EU law.

“It seems to me that the time has come for the Court to consider exercising a more flexible supervisory jurisdiction in this case than is commonplace. Such an application was made to me when the November 2016 judgment was handed down. I refused it on that occasion”

There was no ruling against the government for its decision to back-pedal on a previous commitment to legally ensure five cities implemented charging ‘Clean Air Zones’ – which charge the most polluting vehicles to enter the most polluted parts of a city. Ministers issued Directions to those five cities in December 2017 as above.

Air pollution is thought to cause and contribute to as many as 40,000 thousands of deaths a year in the UK already, especially among vulnerable people such as those with existing respiratory problems.

DEFRA commented that they had previously considered that it was sufficient to take a pragmatic, less formal approach to those areas with less severe air quality problems but have agreed that they will take a more formal approach in line with the court decision. They will continue to implement the £3.5 bn air quality plan.

If you have any questions about the topics that we cover on our blog, contact us today, we’d be happy to talk.

 

 

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The GDPR and planning applications

 

In 2015 a Council breached the Data Protection Act (DPA) when it published the information in planning application documents which it made publicly available online.

The Council was fined £150,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO is an independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

When the ICO did an investigation, they found that on the 16th July 2015, the Council received a written statement in support of a householder’s planning application for proposed works in a green belt.

The statement contained sensitive personal data relating to a static traveller family who had been living on the site for many years. In particular, it referred to the family’s disability requirements, including mental health issues, the names of all the family members, their ages and the location of their home.

The Council published the statement in full on its online planning portal later that day.

The ICO investigation found that this was due to failings in data protection procedures and training. An inexperienced Council officer did not notice the personal information in the statement, and there was no procedure in place for a second person to check it before the personal data was inadvertently published online.

The information was only removed on the 4th September 2015 when the concerns came to light.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If the same data breach was to happen after the 25th May of this year, the Council could have faced a fine of £17,000,000!

There is a new data protection law coming into force and anyone who handles data about ‘people’ has to be compliant.

Currently, the maximum fine the ICO can issue is £0.5m. After this May, larger fines of up to £17m (€20m) or 4% of global turnover will be allowed, enabling the ICO to respond in a proportionate manner to the most serious data breaches.

The GDPR is based on a set of common-sense principles:

  • A “right to be forgotten”: When an individual no longer wants her/his data to be processed and provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it, the data will be deleted. This is about protecting the privacy of individuals, not about erasing past events or restricting freedom of the press
  • Easier access to your data: Individuals will have more information on how their data is processed and this information should be available in a clear and understandable way. A right to data portability will make it easier for individuals to transmit personal data between service providers
  • The right to know when your data has been hacked: Companies and organisations must notify the national supervisory authority of data breaches which put individuals at risk and communicate to the data subject all high-risk breaches as soon as possible so that users can take appropriate measures
  • Data protection by design and by default:‘Data protection by design’ and ‘Data protection by default’ is now essential elements in EU data protection rules. Data protection safeguards will be built into products and services from the earliest stage of development, and privacy-friendly default settings will be the norm – for example on social networks or mobile apps
  • Stronger enforcement of the rules: Data protection authorities will be able to fine companies who do not comply with EU rules up to 4% of their global annual turnover or £17,000,000 – whichever is more

If you are an organization that handles data about people, you should note the following…
Identify where you or your company are storing data, for example:

  • Your website
  • Telesales – do you store names and numbers for your agents to call?
  • Direct mail – do you have completed order forms stored away with contact details?
  • Customer service departments – calls taken from potential customers and those recorded details
  • Personal contact with people – the exchange of business cards from a tradeshow or exhibition

Prepare yourself and your staff, make them well aware of the changes that are coming.

  • Make sure that they understand the principles of good data protection and that they don’t write down details of people on a piece of paper that could go astray, end up in the bin or taken home on computers or memory sticks where information could get stolen
  • Evaluate your environment and how you document personal data – where did it come from, who have you shared it with?
  • How will you audit the data? Review current policy notices and put a plan in place – procedures and timescales
  • Be compliant, review your practices and make sure that, to the best of your ability, you look after the data as if it were your own
  • Make sure your organisation’s privacy policy of how you handle data is compliant with the new rules and is up to date
  • Decide how you will be able to prove that your data is secured safely and how to seek consent moving forwards.

Do you need a Data Officer?
A data protection officer (DPO) is an enterprise security leadership role required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data protection officers are responsible for overseeing data protection strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with GDPR requirements. A DPO would be recommended for any organization that processes or stores large amounts of personal data, whether for employees, individuals outside the organization, or both. Seek advice as to whether your company should employ a DPO.

The GDPR is a very hot topic at the moment and we will be keeping you up to date with any developments.
Read more about the ICO and the GDPR  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Review of build out – house building delays

 

We need more homes, what’s the delay?

On the 14th January 2018, the Minister of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), published details about the ‘Letwin’ review. Sir Oliver Letwin, former Cabinet Office Minister was asked to chair a review into the gap between planning permissions granted and homes built.

The review:

  • The aim of the review is to find out why there is a significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned in areas of high housing demand – and make recommendations for closing that gap
  • The review should identify the main causes of the gap and what practical steps can be taken to increase the speed of build out
  • The long term goal is to support an increase in housing supply that will be consistent with a stable housing market

Sir Oliver Letwin said: “This government is serious about finding ways to increase the speed of build out as well as tackling the complicated issues surrounding it. That’s why we have set up this diverse panel to help me test my analysis and to make practical, non-partisan recommendations, as we look to increase housing supply that’s consistent with a stable UK housing market.”

Housing secretary Sajid Javid said: “We are determined to build the homes this country needs, but currently there is still a significant gap between the number of planning permissions being granted and the number of homes built. This review is vital to helping us understand how we can build more homes quickly.”

He added, ”The review will provide an interim report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report for Budget 2018.”

Mr Javid confirmed that:

  • Mr Letwin would chair a ‘Panel’ to support the work
  • A base would be provided and a team of 2-3 officials would be allocated to achieve the proposed review
  • The Housing Minister would chair a fortnightly steering group with Her Majesty’s Treasury and No.10 Downing Street teams to provide appropriate support
  • Simon Gallagher as Senior Responsible Officer would support this with an official’s group. Should it prove necessary to involve other departments he would be happy to expand to cover broader groups      

The bill will be constructed in two phases:

  • Phase 1 – currently underway – will seek to identify the main causes of the gap by reviewing large housing sites where planning permission has already been granted. This will include information-gathering sessions with local authorities, developers, non-government organisations and others. Early findings will be published in the interim report
  • Phase 2 – will make recommendations on practical steps to increase the speed of build-out, which will be published in the full report

The review will also consider how to avoid interventions which might discourage housebuilding or hinder the regeneration of complex sites.


The review team members are:

  • Richard Ehrman – author, small commercial property developer and former journalist. Former special adviser to the Secretary of State for Employment and subsequently Northern Ireland, onetime Chief Leader Writer of the Daily Telegraph, and former Deputy Chairman of Policy Exchange
  • Lord Jitesh Gadhia – Member of House of Lords and investment banker
  • Lord John Hutton – (Labour) Peer and former Secretary of State
  • Rt Hon Baroness Usha Prashar CBE, PC – (Crossbench) Peer with a career spanning public, not for profit and private sectors, currently Deputy Chairman, British Council and a non-Executive Director of Nationwide Building Society
  • Christine Whitehead – Emeritus Professor of Housing Economics at London School of Economics 

Let’s hope that the review will result in the government achieving their long-term goal.

Read the document – ‘Review of build out – terms of reference’

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Government reshuffle brings new housing minister and new department name

 

Good game, new name…

It’s another positive step in the right direction on the government’s mission to fix the broken housing market.

The Prime Minister has conducted a reshuffle of her cabinet and the ministerial team which has affected the Government’s housing portfolio.

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid remains in charge of the overall portfolio although his title has been broadened to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government reflecting the priority given to housing by the PM and a change of name for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Building the homes our country needs is an absolute priority for this government and so I’m delighted the Prime Minister has asked me to serve in this role. The name change for the department reflects this government’s renewed focus to deliver more homes and build strong communities across England.”

The DCLG, formed in 2006 has been renamed the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

An article published on the GOV.UK website on the 8th January 2018 confirmed the government’s renewed focus on housing.

Further changes were announced:

  • Alok Sharma, Minister of State for Housing who has held the position since June 2017, is being switched to the Department for Work and Pensions as he takes up a new role as Minister of State for Employment
  • Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, replaces Mr Sharma as Housing and Planning Minister at the newly branded MHCLG. He previously held the role of Minister of State for Courts and Justice

About Dominic Raab…

  • A former international lawyer who, after working for a law firm in the City, joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. There he advised on a wide range of briefs, including UK investor protection, counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism and UK overseas territories
  • After leaving the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 2006, he worked for three years as Chief of Staff to Shadow Home and Justice Secretaries, advising the Conservative frontbench on crime, policing, immigration, counter-terrorism, human rights and constitutional reform
  • He was elected as the MP for Esher and Walton in 2010 with a majority of 18,593. He increased this majority to almost 30,000 at the 2015 general election before achieving a majority of 23,298 in 2017
  • Raab served the Joint Committee on Human Rights and Education Select Committee between 2010 and 2015 and in 2016 was elected by MPs to sit on Parliament’s Committee on Exiting the EU, which scrutinises the government’s approach to Brexit
  • In terms of housing and planning interests, Raab has previously led a campaign to protect the Green Belt in and around Elmbridge. His website states that he has “campaigned consistently to maintain effective greenbelt protections, which was confirmed as national policy by the government in its 2017 White Paper.”
  • In 2011 he also called for allowing the local community to determine the balance of development as well as streamlining the bureaucracy of the planning process for the benefit of councils

Elsewhere, Greg Clark will remain as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy while Marcus Jones has been announced as the new Conservative Party Vice Chair for Local Government, vacating his role as Minister for Local Government within MHCLG.

A new Local Government Minister had not been announced on the 8th January. Further, previous Housing Minister, and more recently Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis, has been appointed as Conservative Party Chairman, being replaced by Caroline Nokes in the immigration brief at the Home Office.

Following the resignation of Justine Greening as Education Secretary, Damian Hinds is the new Secretary of State in the department responsible for skills.

Hopefully, the reshuffle and potentially a new housing game plan will boost our confidence in the government and their attempts to fix the broken housing market.

Read more about the 2017 housing white paper.

Do you have any planning needs or housing projects that you would like to discuss? Contact us today.

 

 

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The Urbanissta Legal Beagle is on the case (Dec’17)

 

Legal Beagle

Welcome to the Urbanissta Legal Beagle’s case law reviews – we’re tracking the decisions on proposed developments to see what precedents have been set in recent judgments and decisions that might be useful to you, day to day.

We provide a summary of recent decisions for your reference below and via the links, or you can download the full decision letters should you wish. Remember to keep an eye out for further iterations, in the weeks to come.

1. Car showroom replaced to provide office spaces and 142 residential unit – Harlow

Appeal Ref: APP/N1540/W/17/3172421

Appeal Decision Date: 26th September 2017

Appellant: Hollybrook (Harlow) Limited

Respondent: Harlow District Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Harlow District Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Hollybrook (Harlow) Limited against the non-determination of a planning application for demolition of existing motor dealership buildings and replacement with a development comprising 142 residential units, 1,155 sq.m. of office floorspace (within class B1) and 161 car parking spaces”.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the three main issues.

  • Effect on employment space
  • Whether the scheme make adequate provision for affordable housing
  • Effect on pedestrian and highway safety

Employment space

The site was previously used for car sales, servicing and repairs – however at the time of the appeal was largely vacant. The proposal sought to provide 1,155sq.m of offices as well as 142 residential units. The inspector acknowledged that the site benefits from extant planning permission for redevelopment of the site to provide a replacement car showroom with servicing and repair facilities, along with 102 residential units. The appeal proposal sought more residential units, however, the inspector concluded that the offices proposed would generate more employment than the car showroom – as such, the scheme would not contribute to the loss of employment space.

Affordable housing

Policy H5 suggests that the council use 30% affordable housing as a baseline for negotiations – this is increased to 33% in the Affordable Housing Supplementary document. Expert advice concluded that a provision of 8.5% affordable housing was appropriate level of affordable housing on the site. The inspector concluded that as there was a substantial need of affordable housing in Harlow, this weighed in favour of the development.

Pedestrian and highway safety

The site was considered a safe environment based on the accident records. In terms of parking, 142 parking spaces were proposed for the residential units, with offices provided with 19 spaces. The Council considered this to fall short of their requirements. The inspector, however, concluded that as the scheme is located closer to the town centre, parking requirements differ and the quantity of parking would not lead to inconsiderate parking and harm to pedestrian/highway safety.

Conclusion

The Inspector concluded that the proposal would form sustainable development and the appeal should succeed as the development not result in the loss of employment space; the proposals offer much needed affordable housing in the area, and the quantity of parking would not lead to inconsiderate parking and harm to pedestrian/highway safety.

On the basis of the above, the appeal was allowed.
Download the decision here.

 

2. Development allowed after inspector reduced affordable housing from 40% to 20% after assessing viability – Skipton

Appeal Ref: APP/C2708/W/16/ 3150511

Appeal Decision Date: 29th September 2017

Appellant: Skipton Properties Ltd

Respondent: Craven District Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Craven District Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Skipton Properties Ltd against the non-determination of a planning application for “residential development of 93 dwellings – amendments to layout and alteration of house types on plots 4 to 58 and 62 to 99 (pursuant to outline approval 63/2010/11062 and reserved matters approval 63/2013/13350) without complying with a condition attached to planning permission Ref 63/2015/15726, dated 11th August 2015.”

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Whether a condition requiring affordable housing (AH) on site would meet the statutory tests set out in the NPPF
  • Whether the scheme make adequate provision for affordable housing

Timeline background

The timeline and background of the appeal is explained below:

2012: Outline permission was granted for 103 dwellings.

2013: Reserved matters permission pursuant to outline for 103 units (41 AH units) was secured.

March 2015: MMA to vary the house types for the first 10 dwellings approved.

March 2015: Application sought to revise the house types for the remaining 93 dwellings was approved subject to a number of conditions.

October 2015: Application refused.

Nov 2015: An application to vary Condition 2 (40% AH provision) to reduce the amount of affordable housing on site to 20%.

April 2016: Application to vary condition 2 was refused.

The appeal was originally submitted on the basis that a 40% AH requirement was unviable and that provision should instead be made at 20%.  Following the quashing of the SPD the appellant has also advanced the argument that in the absence of adopted development plan policies seeking AH, a requirement for AH cannot be justified.  It is also claimed that the condition is unenforceable.

Affordable Housing

A requirement of 40% was imposed on the original outline permission, handed down from the RSS.  The current scheme has a full and separate permission which was granted in part due to the fallback provided by the previous approval10, which was subject to an affordable housing requirement. In this regard, despite the passage of time, I accept the Council’s view that the provision of affordable housing was a benefit which in part justified granting permission for a development which was contrary to the development plan, and that the absence of AH should be considered as a disbenefit which is a material consideration in any assessment of the proposal.

Conclusion

It was concluded that the provision of AH would not prevent the implementation of the scheme and would not alter the number of units provided.  “There are therefore no benefits to attribute from the alternative provision of market housing. It follows that the harm arising from the proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits in this case.” The inspector decided that subject to S106 agreements to provide for public open space and affordable housing at 20% the appeal be allowed in accordance with conditions.

On the basis of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download the decision here.

 

3. Land at Middlesgate Road, West Frampton – Boston

Appeal Ref: APP/Z2505/W/17/3170198

Appeal Decision Date: 25th October 2017

Appellant: Larkfleet Ltd t/a Allison Homes

Respondent: Boston Borough Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Boston Borough Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Larkfleet Ltd t/a Allison Homes against the non-determination of a planning application for “The development proposed is the erection of up to 215 dwellings including access off Middlegate Road West, public open space and drainage infrastructure.”

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Whether the principle of development outside the settlement boundary would be acceptable
  • The effect on landscape character and the visual amenity
  • Whether the Council can demonstrate a 5-year supply of housing land

Principle of development

The site falls in the open countryside just outside of the settlement boundary of Kirton. Policy CO1 of the Boston Local Plan 1999 (BLP) restricts development in the countryside unless it is supported by other policies within the development. It was accepted by both parties that there are no policies to support development in the countryside. It was accepted that the development proposals conflict with Policy CO1.

Landscape character and visual amenity

Policy G1 and G2 of the BLP 1999 set out a criterion which all development proposals should be assessed against. The inspector considered that the proposals could not be assessed against G1 as details such as density, scale etc would be dealt with as reserved matters. Policy G2 prohibits development which has significant adverse impacts on existing landscape, wildlife and vegetation sources.

The impact on the landscape was considered a material issue in this appeal and the council argued that the proposal would not follow any existing boundary and would cut across two fields – this would not respect the character of the existing landscape.

As the development would be concentrated around existing settlements and near main roads, the inspector considered that the development would be an extension of the existing urban area. With appropriate planting to the eastern side of the boundary and the break in development to the eastern side of the A16, it was concluded that there would be no coalescence. The proposal, however, was seen to reduce views from the Stump from Middlegate Road West which was seen to cause harm by restricting views of the important landscape feature.

The inspector concluded that the proposal would not substantially harm the general character of the area or adversely impact upon the existing landscape.  However, although there would be some adverse impacts on the landscape and the character of the area, these would not be so significant that the development would breach the respective thresholds of acceptability. In terms of visual impact, the Inspector considered the proposal to cause significant harm in terms of the loss of open views.

5-YLS

The Council could not demonstrate a five year supply of housing land. The Council argued that they had a 3.4 years supply whilst the appellant suggested that it is in the region of 1.61 years. The Inspector agreed with the Appellant and decided that the Council had less than 3.4 year supply.

Conclusion

In concluding the appeal and granting permission, the Inspector stated:

“Bringing all the above together in the final balance, I consider that the adverse environmental impacts I have identified would not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the social and economic benefits, in particular, the significant contribution to the shortfall of housing in the area.  Even if the housing shortfall was at the level the Council suggests, the adverse impacts of the proposal would not, in my judgment, outweigh the benefits.  The proposal, therefore, constitutes sustainable development as defined in the Framework. The factors above provide the material considerations to grant planning permission other than in accordance with the development plan.”

On the basis of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download the decision here.

 

4. Land north of Loperwood Lane, Calmore – Totton

Appeal Ref: APP/B1740/W/16/3164266

Appeal Decision Date: 29th September 2017

Appellant: Howard Sharp & Partners LLP

Respondent: New Forest District Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Boston Borough Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Howard Sharp & Partners LLP against the non-determination of a planning application for “up to 80 dwellings; open space; drainage”

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issue.

  • Development outside settlement boundary

Principle of development

The Site is situated on the northern edge of Totton screened by hedgerows and mature trees, some of which are protected by TPO. As the Site falls outside of the settlement boundary and within the countryside, the proposal conflicts with policy DM20 of the New Forest District Local Plan Part 2 Sites and Development Management (adopted 2014) (the ‘Local Plan part 2’), which resist development in the countryside.

Conclusion

The appeal was considered in the light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes Ltd and SSCLG, Richborough Estates Partnership LLP and SSCLG v Cheshire East BC [2017] UKSC 37 where the policies do not amount to policies for the supply of housing and restricted development. It was further acknowledged that the council could not demonstrate a 5-year land supply, as such the ‘tilted balance’ set out in the second part of the Framework’s paragraph 14 was engaged.

It was considered that although the proposal would conflict with relevant Local Plan policies, however, “it would not result in adverse effects that would be sufficient to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the scheme’s clear benefits – notably the provision of much-needed housing, including affordable housing”.

On the basis of the above, the Inspector deemed the appeal proposal as sustainable development in the terms of the Framework.

In light of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download the decision here.

 

5. Out of date settlement boundary policies given limited weight for restricting development – Hampshire

 Appeal Ref: APP/N1730/W/17/3167135

Appeal Decision Date: 06th October 2017

Appellant: Berkeley Strategic Land Limited

Respondent: Hart District Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Hart District Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Berkeley Strategic Land Limited against the non-determination of a planning application for “outline application for up to 423 residential dwellings and a community facility.  Associated vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access, drainage and landscape works, including the provision of public open space and sports pitches.”

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • The effect of the proposed development on the Local Gap between Fleet, Church Crookham and Crookham Village and impact on the setting of the countryside
  • Highway safety
  • Whether there are any material consideration which would justify development being determined other than in accordance with the development plan

Local Gap

The eastern side of the appeal site falls within a defined local gap between Fleet and Crookham Village. This is contrary to Policy CON21 whereby the policy makes clear that development which leads to coalescence of or has a detrimental impact on the identity of neighbouring settlements will be resisted.

The inspector concluded that as the development would only occupy one-third of the local gap and the remaining area between Netherhouse Copse and Crookham Village will be undeveloped – there would be no direct coalescence of the settlements. In terms of identity, Crookham derives its identity from being a settlement of rural character and appearance, largely surrounded by open agricultural land which differs from Fleet, as such, Crookham Village would not lose its distinctive character. It was decided that there would be no conflict with policy CON21.

Character and Setting

In terms of the effect on the character and setting of a settlement, it was acknowledged that the development would impact its immediate surroundings and views from further afield. Landscape mitigation was suggested as a means to soften the negative impacts. It was concluded that the impact would be localised and limited and therefore would not have a serious adverse effect on the character or setting. It was however decided that there would be a conflict with policy CON23 due to the adverse impact on the amenity and recreational value of local footpaths which would seriously detract from those qualities.

Highway Safety

The enquiry concluded that the main issue was surrounding the design of the proposed access arrangements rather than whether safe access could be achieved; namely visibility sight lines and roundabout size. The inspector agreed with the Appellant in that the Site could be accessed appropriately in terms of highway safety and would not conflict with Policy T14 of the LP or Policy T15.

Conclusion

The Inspector referred to the Suffolk Coastal Case. It was noted that “the weight to be given to restrictive policies can be reduced where they are derived from settlement boundaries that in turn reflect out-of-date housing requirements”. In light of this case, the inspector concluded that Policy RUR2 is dependent upon the out-of-date settlement boundaries of RUR1 and as such carried limited weight. Policy CON21 was given moderate weight and CON22 was considered to conflict with the hierarchical approach of paragraph 113 of the Framework and the valued landscape approach of paragraph 109.  Paragraph 14 of the Framework was engaged – the benefits were seen to outweigh the adverse impacts.

In light of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download the decision here.

Permission granted as council could only demonstrate 1.9 years supply of housing.

 

6. Land off Burndell Road, Yapton – West Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/C3810/V/16/3158261

Appeal Decision Date: 13th October 2017

Appellant: Gleeson Developments

Respondent: Arun District Council

The appeal is made under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 the application was referred to the SoS.

Background

An application was made by Gleeson Developments Limited  application for “the development of up to 108 residential dwellings, vehicular access from Burndell Road, public open space, ancillary works and associated infrastructure, in accordance with application ref: Y/19/16/OUT, dated 7th March 2016.”

In granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Housing land supply
  • The weight attaching to development plan policies
  • The impact of the proposal

Housing Land Supply

The Council failed to meet the five-year supply of deliverable housing sites. It was agreed between the parties that there has been a persistent undersupply of housing and a 20% buffer should be applied. The inspector considered the shortfall to be significant with only 1.9 years supply of deliverable housing sites at best.

Development Plan

The Inspector considered the proposal to conflict with “LP policies GEN2 and GEN3, which deal with the settlement boundary and countryside protection respectively and would also conflict with YNP policies H1 and BB1, which deal with housing requirement and built-up area boundary respectively.” As established above, the council cannot demonstrate a 5-year land supply and therefore, these policies were seen to carry limited weight.

Impact

It was accepted that there were no Landscape or design concerns about the proposal, the site is not identified as being an important gap between Yapton and Ford and there Grade II listed building would not be adversely affected. The Inspector concluded that “overall with regard to the environmental dimension of sustainability on the basis of these conclusions, there would be a neutral effect.” Socially, the proposal would provide substantial benefit and bring with it the economic benefits of construction jobs and construction-related activity. These benefits outweigh the adverse impacts.

In light of the above, permission was granted.

Download the decision here.

 

7. Out of date local plan policies lead to appeal being allowed – Gloucesterhshire

 Appeal Ref: APP/P1615/A/14/2218921RD

Appeal Decision Date: 07th November 2017

Appellant: ALLASTON DEVELOPMENTS LTD

Respondent: Forest of Dean District Council

The appeal was made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Forest of Dean Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission with a call in from the Secretary of State.

Background

The application was refused by the Forest of Dean Council in January 2014 and during the appeal, it was called in by the Secretary of State on November 18th 2014. The secretary of State disagreed with the recommendation of the planning inspector and dismissed the application in December 2015. The Secretary of State’s decision was challenged in the High Court and was subsequently quashed. The appeal has therefore been re-determined by the Secretary of State, following a re-opened inquiry. The secretary of state agreed with the Inspector to allow the appeal and grant planning permission for “delivery of up to 200 dwellings, including up to 20 serviced self-build plots and up to 37 retirement apartments, community building (up to 2,000 sq. ft.) comprising flexible A1/D2 ancillary space and new public open space”.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following issues:

  • Material considerations
  • Valued landscapes
  • The effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area
  • Traffic conditions travel by car and highway safety
  • Benefits and delivery

Material considerations

The Inspector and Secretary of State agreed that whilst the development would be in conflict with a number of Core Strategy policies, and in conflict with the Neighbourhood Plan when read as a whole, the lack of a housing land supply, which was noted as less than 3 years, rendered those relevant policies in the Core Strategy and Neighbourhood Plan as out of date.

Valued landscape

The site was not regarded as a valued landscape.

The effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area

The arrangement of the site was recognised as minimising the impact on the character of the area, both by containment and by scale. While the physical characteristics of the site would be transformed, such change would not cause significant harm to the key characteristics of the Allaston Ridge Landscape Character Area and the character of the area as a whole. The visual amenity of the rights of way would suffer significant harm, by the closer presence of buildings, by being set within managed grounds, and through the material diminution of views, however, this was given moderate weight.

Traffic conditions – travel by car and highway safety

The location of the development was recognised as a sustainable location for housing growth and no evidence was provided to suggest a site to deliver the additional housing numbers that the district requires. The harm to traffic conditions and harm to air quality also carried limited weight.

Benefits and delivery

The development of the site would make a contribution to the supply of housing. The pressing need for the delivery of new homes, and in particular those which would be affordable, would continue to provide strong justification for the development of the appeal site. The Secretary of State identified that there was nothing of material substance relating to delivery which would justify the refusal of planning permission.

Conclusion 

The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that local plan policies were out of date and were afforded limited weight. Having regard to material considerations, the harm to the character and appearance of the area, with particular reference to the loss of open countryside and the amenity of public footpaths carried moderate weight. The harm to traffic conditions carried limited weight as car usage was identified as neutral. The provision of the diverse mix of homes carries significant weight along with the provision of a new community building and employment during the construction stage carry moderate weight. The adverse impacts of the proposal did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.

For the reasons above, the Appeal was allowed and outline permission was granted.

Download the decision here.

 

8. Recovered appeal granted permission as the proposal was considered a very special circumstance – St.Albans

Appeal Ref: APP/B1930/W/15/3051164

Appeal Decision Date: 17th November 2017

Appellant: Oaklands College and Taylor Wimpey North Thames

Respondent: St Albans City and District Council

The appeal was made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Forest of Dean Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission with a call in from the Secretary of State.

Background

The application was refused by St Albans City and District Council in September 2013. The appeal was recovered by the Secretary of State on July 10th 2015. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspectors recommendation to allow the appeal and grant planning permission for “comprehensive redevelopment to provide new and refurbished college buildings, enabling residential development of 348 dwellings, car parking, associated access and landscaping, including the demolition of existing buildings”.

The application was subject of EIA.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the main issues considered by the Inspector and Secretary of State were:

  • Green Belt considerations
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • The effect on the protected trees in Beaumont Wood
  • Educational benefits
  • Enhancement of beneficial Green Belt uses
  • Housing delivery
  • The effect on heritage assets
  • The effect on the Sandpit Lane area – traffic, flooding and Rights of Way

Green Belt considerations

The site being located within the Green Belt was recognised as inappropriate which is harmful by definition. Development in the Gren Belt should not be approved except in very special circumstances. Significant weight was attributed to the harm caused by the proposed development.

The effect on the character and appearance of the area

Limited weight was given to the character and appearance of the area as the beneficial effect of the college development in landscape terms goes some way towards balancing the harm caused by the residential development. Overall the combined proposal would cause some limited harm to the character and appearance of the area.

The effect on the protected trees in Beaumont Wood

It was recognised that Beaumont Wood contributes to the visual amenity of the area and is a resource worthy of protection. The development would not harm protected trees.

Educational benefits

The delivery of high-quality education was recognised as a national and local priority and the quality of the educational offer at the College was not in dispute. The Inspector reported that many of the existing buildings are of very poor quality and are wholly unsuited to the provision of the high standard of education which the College continues to provide. The improvements to the college would only be funded through the residential development and the Council did not put forward any educational or viability evidence to suggest that development on a smaller scale could properly meet the needs of the College and its students.

Enhancement of beneficial Green Belt uses

The proposed development carries with it a number of benefits for uses and facilities within the Green Belt which were agreed by the parties as material considerations in favour of the proposal as set out in the Statement of Common Ground and afforded moderate weight.

 Housing Delivery

The benefits arising from the provision of market and affordable housing was a matter of common ground and the council’s land supply was most recently noted as 3.72 years. There was disagreement between the secretary and the Inspector regarding the policies for Green Belt development being out of date. The Secretary of State recognised that given that the Council could not demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing, and the contribution the proposal would make to meet the significant shortfall, Local Plan policies directly relating to the supply of housing must be deemed as out of date. The weight to be attached to the provision of affordable housing was afforded significant weight.

The effect on heritage assets

The removal of unsympathetic extensions to the Mansion House, along with the intention to improve the setting of the other historic features of the campus, was recognised as a benefit in heritage terms. The scale of the overall scheme and the undesignated status of the Mansion House suggested limited weight be attached to heritage matters.

The effect on the Sandpit Lane area – traffic, flooding and Rights of Way

The concern expressed by residents concerning increased level of traffic along Sandpit Lane was recognised, however, there was no objection from the highway authority and there was no detailed evidence from any other party to suggest any negative impacts. The matter was therefore neutral in the planning balance. There was no technical evidence to counter the appellants evidence on the matter of drainage. The provision of a new footpath was also at an early stage and did not weigh against the proposal.

Planning balance and overall conclusion

The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that the scheme was not in accordance with the Development Plan in relation to Green Belt and settlement policies. However, there were material considerations which indicated the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan. These included the limited harm to the character and appearance of the area and the delivery of significant improvements to the college. In light of the lack of a five year housing land supply, the proposed market and affordable housing was also identified as a significant benefit (IR 252) that carried significant weight in favour of the proposal.

Overall, the Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that the considerations outweighed the harm to the Green Belt, justifying the proposal on the basis of very special circumstances. He, therefore, concluded that the adverse impacts of the proposed development would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The appeal was allowed, and planning permission granted.

Download the decision here.

 

9. Permission granted for a mixed use development in an unsustainable location – Leicestershire

 Appeal Ref: APP/Y2430/W/16/3150720

Appeal Decision Date: 17th November 2017

Appellant: Brooksby Melton College

Respondent: Melton Borough Council

The appeal was made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Forest of Dean Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission with a call in from the Secretary of State.

Background

The application was refused by Melton Borough Council for “mixed use redevelopment of the disused education/agricultural complex at the Spinney, Brooksby for residential development (up to 70 dwellings), B1 development (up to 850 sq.m) and village shop 100 sq.m(A1) with means of access.”

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the main issues considered were:

  • Whether the proposed development would provide a suitable site for housing, having regard to the proximity of services and the benefits of the proposal

Suitability

The site constitutes previously developed land and lies 7 miles to the south west of Melton Mowbray and comprises a number of derelict buildings and a grade II listed building. The inspector acknowledged that the Site falls within the countryside with reasonable bus service, however, it is likely that most residents would use private transport for their day to day needs, as such the location was deemed unsustainable. The appellant proposed highway works as part of the scheme which included relocation of the bus stop and the installation of a pelican crossing. The appellants also proposed a village shop, however, the inspector raised doubts in respect of its long-term usage.

The Inspector referred to a previous scheme submitted by the Appellant which is located in a sustainable location and provides 21 affordable homes. The inspector states that “The King Street scheme in its current guise could only go ahead in tandem with the appeal site scheme due to the funding that the proposed scheme would provide”. When considering the Melton Theatre, the Appellant expressed that although it brings cultural benefits, there is a financial strain in subsiding the theatre and without investment, the theatre would close in the future.

The appellant’s evidence confirmed that as part of the, up to £2.1 million would be invested into the theatre to bring it up to modern day standard along with allowing the college to fund restoration works to grade II* listed building. The inspector noted that the Melton Local Plan 1999 is out of date and the tilted balance of NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) paragraph 14 was engaged. He concluded that although the scheme is in an unsustainable location, “the adverse impacts of the proposal would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the wide range of benefits of the proposal when assessed against the policies in the Framework as a whole”. The appeal was therefore allowed.

Planning balance and overall conclusion

The Inspector considered the case to present an unparalleled set of circumstances, “which although resulting in a development in a location which would not normally be ideal, presents a unique range of benefits which would benefit the Borough as a whole”.  It was considered that the benefits significantly and demonstrably outweighed the adverse impacts. As such the appeal was allowed and planning permission was granted.

Download the decision here.

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A return flight to Heathrow this Christmas

 

Mr and Mrs Bear are back pulling at our heartstrings this year for the Heathrow Christmas advert. The cuddly characters were introduced last year when the two elderly bears were travelling through the airport to be reunited with their families over the festive season.

Watch the heart-warming Christmas story (with a tissue) here.

Thankfully they weren’t caught up last week in the largest snowfall in London for nearly 5 years where passengers found themselves grounded on the runway at Heathrow Airport.

On this return flight to Heathrow, we are going to update you on the latest developments.

At the moment, the long and short haul of it is…

Heathrow’s third runway could be operational by 2026, creating £60 billion of economic benefits over a 60 year period. The plan consists of a 3,500m runway which is said to be the first full-length runway to be built in the south-east of the UK since the Second World War. The costs involved are estimated to be a staggering £18.6 bn. The government have stated that the decision to approve the plan is central to the economic growth of Britain. London is growing and we need to meet the needs now and for the future.

The Heathrow boss, John Holland Kaye, has said he is not ruling out some form of collaboration with the team behind a rival expansion plan for the airport’s third runway. The business magnate, Surinder Arora, who owns 16 hotels, a golf course and his own private airfield, is the largest single landowner on the site marked for expansion. He has revealed a plan alongside US engineering firm Bechtel in August where he claimed, the third runway project could be delivered for £12.4bn. £5bn cheaper than Heathrow’s initial estimate.

Heathrow has since changed its plans so as to bring down the costs of a third runway. However, it has been suggested that there could be a collaboration with Mr Arora’s company in some way.

According to the Telegraph online, Mr Holland Kaye said, “It would not surprise us if we do something with him as we expand the airport. He is an important local stakeholder and it would amaze me if we don’t do something together.” The Heathrow boss also said that he is working with airlines to try to keep charges close to today’s levels.

The comments come shortly after the Department for Transport issued a revised draft airport’s National Policy Statement, a document which forms part of the process of airport expansion and which will be scrutinised by the transport select committee in the House of Commons. The document welcomed competing bids for the work and stated the Government did not have a preference for who constructed the third runway as long as it met the specifications outlined by the Airports Commission.

The plans to add a runway at Heathrow have been criticised by one of the rival proposals, Heathrow Hub, which claims they will not be able to deliver the promised annual 740,000 flights.

Heathrow Hub said rather than building an entirely new runway, the northern one should be extended and used simultaneously for take-offs and landings, a solution it said could be ­delivered for less than £10bn.

The group commissioned engineering consultancy Ebeni to examine the current plan. Ebeni said a taxiway needed to link the new northern runway would reduce the number of flights, because tail fins of large aircraft such as Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s using the taxiway would get in the way of aircraft taking off, creating a possible safety risk.

Ebeni said having to wait for these aircraft to clear the space required for take-off would create delays and reduce capacity from the stated 740,000 flights a year under the current plans to fewer than 700,000.

Read the revised National Policy Statement here.

We can only hope for a happy ending with the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

As we draw near to end of 2017 and look forward to 2018, the team here at Urbanissta would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

If there is anything we can help you with to achieve your goals for 2018, contact us today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Planning for the right homes in the right places

 

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

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

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

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

In the consultation, Sajid Javid made the following points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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