Category Archives: Best Practice

 

Legal Beagle November Edition

 

Welcome to the Urbanissta Legal Beagle’s case work reviews – we’re tracking the decisions on proposed developments to see what precedents have been set in recent judgements 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. We’ll be giving you an updated every other month so remember to keep any eye out for our updates.

Our guest barrister, Giles Atkinson of 6 Pump Court provides a commentary on a recent decision; Catesby Estates Ltd v Peter Steer.

Here are 10 recent planning appeals, giving you insights into the latest precedents:

1. Reasons for Planning Approvals

Appeal Ref: C1/2017/1840 and C1/2017/1934
Appeal Decision Date: 18th July 2018
Appellant: Catesby Estates Ltd
Council: Amber Valley District Council

The recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Catesby Estates[1] is an interesting and important one about how to determine the extent of the ‘setting’ of a heritage asset.

‘Setting’ is defined in the glossary to the NPPF, July 2018, although the definition is unchanged from the 2012 version:

Setting of a heritage asset:  The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced.  Its extent is not fixed and may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve.  Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the significance of an asset, may affect the ability to appreciate that significance or may be neutral.

The development at the heart of the case is a proposed 400 homes in Allestree, Derbyshire.  The application was refused by the LPA (Amber Valley) essentially because of harm to the setting of the nearby Grade 1 listed Kedlestone Hall.  The land on which the housing was proposed had formerly formed part of the estate for the Hall.  Catesby appealed successfully to the Secretary of State, the Inspector deciding that the development was not within the setting of the Hall because there was no visual connection between the development site and the Hall, but the Inspector’s decision granting outline permission for the development was quashed in the High Court following a section 288 challenge.

The Inspector was found by the High Court to have wrongly assessed the impact of the proposal on the setting of Kedlestone Hall as being determined by the absence of physical or visual connection between the Hall and the land on which the housing was proposed to be built, notwithstanding the historic, social and economic connections between them.  The Inspector had found that without a physical or visual connection the appeal site was not within the setting of the Hall; in the Inspector’s judgment it was necessary for there to be a physical or visual connection for the development site to come within the setting of the Hall.

Lang J concluded that the Inspector’s interpretation of setting, requiring there to be a physical or visual connection between heritage asset and development, was too narrow.

The reason why this decision raised so many eyebrows was that it appeared to be at odds with a CA decision in Williams[2] made a few weeks before Lang J’s judgment in which Lindblom LJ (like the Inspector at Kedleston Hall) appeared to rely on the need for there to be a distinct visual relationship between heritage asset and development for the latter to affect the setting of the former.

Catesby appealed to the Court of Appeal against the judgment of Lang J and the case came before LJs McFarlane, Asplin and Lindblom who, not surprisingly, gave the leading judgment with which the others agreed.

Essentially it was argued in the CA on behalf of Catesby and the Secretary of State that the Inspector had not disregarded the other non-visual and physical considerations necessary to consider when identifying the extent of the setting of the Hall.  On behalf of Mr Steer and Heritage England, it was said, on the contrary, that the Inspector had indeed taken too narrow a view, focusing on views and visual impacts alone and that a visual connection is not necessary in every case.

In his judgment, Lindblom LJ reminded us first that ‘setting’ is not statutorily defined and does not lend itself to precise definition but it is implicit in section 66 of the Listed Buildings Act[3] that the setting of a listed building is capable of being affected in some discernible way by development, whether within the setting or outside.

Importantly, and in accordance with much of what the CA has been saying recently, he went on to make clear that the identification of the extent of the setting of a heritage asset is always a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision maker, not the court.

Addressing the apparent conflict with his own decision in Williams Lindblom J followed what he had said in that case to the effect that for a proposed development to affect the setting of a listed building there must be a distinct visual relationship between the two which is more than remote or ephemeral and which bears on one’s experience of the asset in its surroundings.  However, that does not mean that when considering the extent of an asset’s setting the decision maker should ignore the factors other than the visual or physical, such as the economic, social and historical.

Noting that the CA in another case had acknowledged that smell could harm the setting of a listed building, Lindblom drew together three general points.

First, that it is important that the decision maker understand what the setting of a listed building is, otherwise it would be difficult for an assessment to be made of how development affects it.  Second, although this is never a purely subjective exercise there is not, and nor could there be, a single approach which would apply to every case; this must always be a matter of applying planning judgment to the particular facts of a case with relevant policy, guidance and advice in mind.  Third, the effect of a particular development on the setting of a listed building is a matter for the decision maker.

In light of these points Lindblom agreed with the submissions made on behalf of Catesby and the SoS that the Inspector had not taken too narrow a view of setting, and had not concentrated on the visual and physical effect of the development, to the exclusion of all else.  The Inspector, as a matter of planning judgment, was not saying that land could only fall within the setting of the Hall if there was a physical or visual connection, he was saying the extent of the setting in this case could not be determined by the historical, social and economic connections.

The appeal was therefore allowed and the decision of the High Court overturned.

That may not be the end of the matter however.  At the time of writing Mr Steer has applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against Lindblom LJ’s decision, that permission having been refused by the CA itself[4].  The appeal is essentially on the basis that there is confusion still about the correct approach because of the Willia

Download Decision Here.

[1] In fact 2 appeals joined: Catesby Estates Ltd v Peter Steer, Historic England and SoS for CLG v Peter Steer, Historic England [2018] EWCA Civ 1697

[2] R (oao Williams) v Powys CC [2017] EWCA Civ 427

[3] In considering whether to grant planning permission…for development which affects a listed building or its setting, the local planning authority or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.

[4] On the 22nd August 2018

 

2. Benefits of the proposal are insufficient to outweigh the impact on Landscape and Setting of Listed Building.

Appeal ref: APP/X1545/W/17/3185429
Appeal Decision Date: 29 August 2018
Appellant: Endurance Estates Strategic Land Ltd
Council: Maldon District Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission. The applicant appealed against the refusal of for planning permission for an outline application for the construction of up to 45 dwellings with associated garaging, parking, public open space, landscaping, access, highways drainage and infrastructure works.

Background
An appeal was made by Endurance Estates Strategic Land Ltd against the decision to refuse planning permission for 45 dwellings and associated works by Maldon District Council

 In dismissing the appeal the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Whether the Council demonstrates a suitable supply of housing land;
  • The effects of the proposal on the landscape/visual character of the area; and
  • The effects of the proposal on the setting of the nearby listed building.

 Land Supply
The Inspector decided that the Council can be considered to have a five year supply of housing sites, with an appropriate buffer, for the purposes of this appeal.

Landscape/Visual Character
The Inspector acknowledged that the land is not covered by any specific landscape designation. However its value is derived from the fact that it would form the immediate rural setting at the edge of the Garden Suburb; its intrinsic value is its openness.  As such, the proposed development would undermine the Policy S4 which places emphasis on the protection of open space.

Setting of the Listed Building
Taking account of the low level of contribution to the significance of the historic asset that the appeal site makes, The Inspector considered that it would result in ‘less than substantial harm’ to its significance, as set out in paragraph 196 of the NPPF.  Within this level of harm the Council suggested that it should be seen as ‘moderate’ and the appellant suggests that it would be ‘minor’. The Inspector decided that minor harm that would arise.

 Conclusion
The proposal put forward a number of benefits which is considered to carry significant weight. However, the due to the harm identified in respect of landscape and visual character and the impact on the setting of the listed building, the benefits of the proposal are insufficient to outweigh this conflict and the harm arising.

In light of the above, the Inspector refused planning permission.

Download Decision Here.

3. Proposal for 2,600 units refused permission by SoS due to the less than substantial harm to the significance of a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Appeal Ref: APP/U3935/W/16/3154437
Appeal Decision Date: 13 June 2018
Appellant: Ainscough Strategic Land Ltd
Council: Swindon Borough Council

The appeal was recommended dismissal by the Inspector. On 19th August 2016 , the appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination. The applicant appealed against the refusal of for planning permission for an outline application (with all matters reserved save the detailed access off Wanborough Road) for demolition and/or conversion of the existing buildings on the site and redevelopment to provide:

  • “Up to 2,600 residential units (Use Class C3); – Up to 1,765 sq m of community/retail uses (Use Classes D1/D2/A1/A2/A3/A4)
  • Up to 3,000 sq m of business/employment use (Use Class B1);
  • A Primary School (2.2 ha); – Open space, strategic landscaping and other green infrastructure (including SUDs and areas for nature conservation);
  • Other associated road and drainage infrastructure;
  • Indicative primary access road corridors to the A420; and
  • Improvements and widening of existing route off Wanborough Road to provide pedestrian, cycle and bus access. In accordance with application ref: S/OUT/15/0753/KICO dated 30 April 2015 (“the masterplan scheme”)”

Background
An appeal was made by Ainscough Strategic Land Ltd against the decision to refuse planning permission for 2,600 dwellings and associated works by Swindon Borough Council.

In dismissing the appeal the SoS gave consideration to the following main issues.

Heritage;
Open space;
Trees;
Transport; and
Sustainable Development

Heritage
The SoS has carefully analysed the impact on the Schedule Ancient Monument and agreed with the Inspector that to achieve development of the Masterplan Site inevitably, this would involve the permanent loss of much of the remaining rural setting to the SM. The identified harm to the SM has considerable importance and weight. He further agrees that in the terms of the Framework, the proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of the SM and, as required by paragraph 134, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal. The proposal puts forward significant public benefits such as affordable housing, employment and biodiversity gains, however the less than substantial harm to the significance of the SM is not outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal.

Open Space
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that “the proposals do not demonstrate the quantity and quality of open space sought by the open space standards would be achievable within the proposed parameters and environmental constraints of the site. He further agrees that the GI parameter plans are not of a standard to be approved. He further agrees that to leave all matters to be resolved through planning condition(s) and/or a planning obligation would not be reasonable taking into account the inadequacy of the GI parameter plans. As such the masterplan proposals fail to comply with Policy EN3”.

Trees
The scheme proposed the removal of protected trees on the western side of the internal road in order to widen the access route to serve the development Site. The SoS considered that the scheme is not in accordance with a requirement of Policy EN1 criterion (a).

Transport
The SoS agreed with the Inspector in that the proposals would not achieve good connectivity within the development and to the surrounding area and not provide highway infrastructure in accordance with an acceptable strategy. He further agrees that the proposal conflicts with Policies TR1(a), DE1 and NC3(b).

Sustainable development
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that the development of the site is in accordance with the sustainable development strategy of Policy SD2 and would secure a better balance between housing demand and supply. However, the proposals do not meet a range of principles in Policy SD1 to ensure the creation of a high quality and sustainable community. As such, for the reasons given above, the Secretary of State concludes that the scheme is not sustainable development and is not supported by Policy SD3”

Conclusion
It was considered that the proposal conflicts with a number of policies, namely, Policies NC3, EN10, CM1, EN1, TR1, DE1, EN3, EN4, EN6, EN11, SD1 and SD3 of the development plan, and is not in accordance with the development plan overall.

The proposal puts forward a number of benefits including affordable housing, as such this carries significant weight in favour of the proposal. However, the proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of the SM. He considers that the proposal would not conserve the setting to Lotmead Farmhouse and would adversely affect the significance of this non-designated heritage asset.  Having regard to s66(1) of the LBCA he affords these harms substantial weight.

In light of the above, the SOS refused planning permission.

Download Decision Here

4.SoS disagrees with Inspector and rejects proposal for 120 dwellings due to conflict with Neighbourhood Plan

Appeal Ref: APP/Q3115/W/17/3180400
Appeal Decision Date: 20 July 2018
Appellant: R J & S STYLES
Council: South Oxfordshire District Council

The appeal was recommended approval by the Inspector. On 26th February 2018 , the appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination. The applicant appealed against the refusal of for planning permission for up to 120 dwellings (40% affordable) with associated access, public open space, landscaping and play space, in accordance with application ref: P16/S3441/O, dated 14 October 2016.

Background
An appeal was made by RJ & S Styles against the decision to refuse planning permission for 120 dwellings and associated works by Oxford District Council

In dismissing the appeal the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Housing land supply;
  • Whether tilted balance applies;
  • Location of housing;
  • Effects on character and appearance;
  • Integration with Benson village
  • Loss of agricultural land

Housing Land Supply
The Council and the Appellant agreed in their Statement of Common Ground that the Council had 4.1 years of deliverable housing, based on the Council’s published assessment dated May 2017. In April 2018 the Council published a revised housing land supply figure of 5.4 years, this figure was disputed by the Appellant and it was argued that there would only be a 4.8 year housing supply based on a recent appeal decision. The SoS accepted the appellants argument and decided the calculation should be based on 2017 and 2018 midpoint figure. As such, it was decided that the Council can demonstrate a 5 year land supply.

Whether tilted balance applies
As the Council could demonstrate a 5-year land supply, it was considered by the the Secretary of State that the relevant policies in the development plan were not silent or absent or out of date on the matter of housing allocations in respect of Benson. A such, the tilted balance did not apply.

Location of housing
The SoS agreed with the Inspector in that the proposals would not protect the countryside. Policy NP1 seeks to resists development where a site is not allocated and outside a built-up area. It was further agreed that SOCS policies CSS1, CSH1 and CSR1 do not rule out allocations being made on sites outside existing villages, nor does it allow development on an ad hoc basis. It was decided that the appeal proposal would not accord with the development plan, considered as a whole. The conflict with Policy NP1 was given significant weight.

 Effects on character and appearance
With regards to the character and appearance of the village, the SoS agreed with the inspector that the proposed development would not cause any significant harm to the character or appearance of the landscape, or to the village setting.

Integration with Benson village
The SoS agreed with the Inspector in that the proposed development would be a natural extension of the village and would be accessible for pedestrians, cyclist and motor vehicles. It was decided that there would be no conflict with any relevant policies, including SOLP Policy T1 or BNhP Policies NP10 and NP11.

Loss of agricultural land
The development proposals do not conflict with the advice in NPPF paragraphs 109 and 112 relating to the protection of agricultural land and soils, or with any other national or local policies.

Conclusion
It was considered that the proposal carries many benefits, particularly the provision of additional housing, including affordable housing, which carries significant weight in favour of the development. Moderate weight was given to the benefits to the local economy that would come from the proposal and limited weight was given to the provision of on-site open space and play areas, and the enhancement to the public transport facilities. The proposal however conflicts with Policies G2, G4 and NP1 of the development plan, and is not in accordance with the development plan overall.

As such, when taking into account the advice in paragraph 198 of the Framework that where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted, the SoS gave very significant weight to the conflict with the BNhP.

In light of the above, the SOS refused planning permission.

Download Decision Here.

5. Housing figures in Emerging Local Plan (Regulation 22) given limited weight

Appeal Ref: APP/P0240/W/16/3164961 Appeal Decision Date: 16 August 2018
Appellant: Gladman Developments Limited
Council: Central Bedfordshire

Land between 103 and 27 Langford Road, Henlow, Bedfordshire SG16 6AF
The appeal was mad under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission. The Inspector dismissed the appeal on 16 August 2018.

Background
An appeal was made by Gladman Developments against the decision to refuse 135 residential dwellings (including up to 35% affordable housing), introduction of structural planting and landscaping, informal public open space and children’s play area, surface water flood mitigation and attenuation, vehicular access points from Langford Road and associated ancillary works.

Preliminary Matters
When refusing permission, the Council originally put forward two reasons for refusal.  One of these reasons related to the absence of a legal agreement which  was later supplied prior to the Inquiry as such, the second refusal had been overcome.  The remaining issue relates to the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area.

In dismissing the Appeal the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issue:

  • The effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area

Landscape
The Site lies within the Bedfordshire and Cambridge Claylands National Character Area (CCNCA).  The local character the site falls within Landscape Character Type 4C, the Upper Ivel Clay Valley. The characteristics are mixed land use predominately of arable farmland and large and medium scale geometric arable fields bounded by hedgerows. The submitted LVIA concludes that the impact would be negligible which the inspector agreed with. The proposed development would replace an open arable field with built development as such, would be completely different nature to that which currently exists this was considered a major effect.

Visual
The Inspector analysed each view point and stated that views of the site would also be available from several nearby properties.  In terms of views of the Site, the most affected residents would be those living in the dwelling directly to the south of the Site.  At present they have a rural view from the first floor windows over an arable field to the woods to the north.  This would be replaced by a view of a housing estate.  Neighbouring properties would have more oblique views of the Site. The LVA rates the overall effect of this for the properties south of the site at ten years as major adverse to minor adverse and the Inspector agreed with this and considered that residents of the two northernmost properties would

suffer the major adverse effect. The inspector concluded that the development would have a major adverse landscape effect on the Site and its immediate context as well as major adverse effects on several visual receptors as well as moderate adverse on others.

Five year land supply
It was agreed by both parties that the Council have a five-year land supply. However, the Council submitted Draft Local Plan (DLP) for examination and the housing need figure of 1967 dpa is put forward.  If this figure is taken as the housing need then the appellant considers that the Council would be unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply. However, as the DLP is yet to be examined and has significant objections it was agreed between the parties that the emerging policies in the DLP should be given limited weight. However, the Appellant argued that the Housing figure of 1967 should be given material weight as the DLP has now been submitted for examination. The Inspector disagreed with this approach as the policies and figures should not be treated differently and states that until the DLP becomes adopted, the figure within the SHMA of 1600 dpa should be taken as the Council’s housing need.  Therefore the Council can demonstrate a five-year land supply.

Conclusion
The inspector concluded that the development would have an adverse impact on the landscape and its immediate context as well as major adverse effects on several visual receptors and moderate adverse on others.  The proposed development could also be seen as a small incremental change that if continued, could result in the blurring of the identities of Henlow, Clifton and Langford. Despite the economic and social benefits of the proposals, they were not individually or in combination enough to outweigh the harm that identified to the character and appearance of the area

In light of the above, the SOS refused planning permission.

Download Decision here

6.140 dwelling allowed in a village of around 700 dwellings.

Appeal Ref: APP/P0240/W/17/3190584 Appeal Decision Date: 22 May 2018
Appellant: Gladman Developments Limited
Council: Central Bedfordshire

The appeal is allowed and outline planning permission is granted for demolition of 59 Shefford Road and associated buildings and the erection of up to 145 dwellings with public open space, landscaping and sustainable drainage system (SuDS) and vehicle access from Shefford Road at 59 Shefford Road, Meppershall, Shefford SG17 5LL.

Background
A
n appeal was made by Gladman Developments against the decision to refuse outline planning permission for 145 dwellings and associated works by Central Bedfordshire Council. All maters except for access were reserved for future consideration.

Preliminary Matters
The application was refused for two reasons including development located outside of the settlement boundary and with the absence of a completed legal agreement securing financial contributions to offset infrastructure impact, including education, recreation and the provision of affordable housing, the development would have an unmitigated and unacceptable impact on existing local infrastructure. The development would therefore not amount to sustainable development

At the inquiry, the appellant questioned the validity of the council’s evidence to suggest a five year supply of land and suggested a 20% buffer should be applied. However recent case law suggested that there was not a persistent under delivery and a 5% buffer should be applied. The Inspector concluded that a 5 year HLS has been demonstrated using an OAN of 32,000 homes over a 20 year period from 2015 and a 5% buffer and that the Luton unmet need should not be included in the supply calculation.

The Inspector also referenced that a new local plan was being prepared and at an early stage of preparation and had limited bearing on his consideration of the appeal.

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

  • The suitability of the site for the development proposed in terms of its relationship with the existing settlement of Meppershall and its accessibility to shops and services; and
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the site and its surroundings.

Suitability of The Site For The Development
The Inspector referred to other decisions including Gladman v Daventry that revolved around Policy DM4 that seeks to protect the countryside for its own sake and this blanket protection applies to all areas outside of settlement envelopes irrespective of their landscape value or sensitivity.

The Inspector identified a conflict between Policy DM4 and the NPPF and identified that policy DM4 would frustrate the Council’s ability to achieve a 5 year HLS and that the policy is, therefore, not consistent with paragraph 47 of the Framework.

The inspector identified that a development of 150 dwellings would result in a material increase in the size of the existing village of around 700 homes. However, other than in respect of the effect on character and appearance, the Council has not identified any harm that would flow from that increase. No substantive evidence was submitted to show an unacceptable impact on local services. Accordingly, the Inspector found find no reason to conclude that the site would be unsuitable for the form or level of development proposed and find no conflict with the development plan in this regard.

Character and Appearance
The Inspector found that there is no risk that the proposal would lead to the village merging with any other settlement. The proposed areas of built development indicated on the Development Framework Plan would be some distance from the unsettled hill slopes and, in this respect, the proposal can be distinguished from new development being built. There were only limited views of the site from a distance and the proposal was identified as in keeping with landscape character guidelines.

The Planning Balance
The inspector concluded that the appeal site was not in an unsustainable location and there would not be a conflict with policies CS16 or SADP Policies DM3 or DM14. A conflict with Policy DM4 was identified but this was only given limited weight. the site does not fall within an designated area and the inspector identified a number of benefits arising from the provision of additional market housing including 51 affordable homes.

Conclusion
The inspector concluded that the adverse impacts of development on the landscape do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits identified and that the tilted balance in favour of a grant of planning permission therefore applies.

Download Decision her

7. Lack of 5-year land supply has lead to the approval of 123 houses in Longridge.

Appeal Ref: APP/T2350/W/17/3186969 Appeal Decision Date: 22nd May 2018
Appellant: VH Land Partnership
Council: Ribble Valley Borough Council

Background
An appeal was made by VH Land Partnership against the decision to refuse outline permission for up to 123 houses; demolition of an existing house (74 Higher Road) and formation of access to Higher Road at Land at Higher Road, Longridge.

In granting permission, the Inspector gave consideration to the main issue being whether the development proposed would be consistent with the objectives of policies relating to the location and supply of housing.

Housing Land Supply in Ribble Valley
During the course of the Inquiry, it was identified that there were a number of disputed sites within the Council’s land supply, reducing the council’s figures by 136 dwellings. This reduction led to the Council’s supply amounting to 4.5 years including a 20% buffer. The Inspector identified that even if the Council’s predictions relating to some of the sites prove to be more accurate, it would not significantly alter the housing land supply position and would only marginally reduce the shortfall within the range of 4.5 years and a maximum of 4.7 years of deliverable housing land supply. In that respect, to conclude on the compliance of the proposal with the development plan and the Framework as a whole as part of the planning balance, it is necessary to firstly consider any other matters that are relevant to the proposal. The other matters are set out below:

Highway and Pedestrian Safety
The development would not increase the demand for on-street parking or increase traffic flows on Higher Road to an extent that existing highway conditions and parking arrangements would be significantly altered or worsened. The development would not have a detrimental impact upon highway safety or preclude access for emergency vehicles.

Living Conditions
The masterplan and illustrative material submitted with the planning application demonstrate that adequate separation distances to neighbouring properties

The Inspector did not consider that the extent of those effects would result in significant harm or disturbance to their existing living conditions.

Ecology, Trees and Open Space
The Inspector was satisfied that detailed submissions could suitably incorporate existing high and moderate quality trees within the site, together with the trees and hedgerows along the site boundary and those located on neighbouring land with crown overhangs or root protection areas within the site. Public open space within the site, including useable spaces, natural play spaces, pedestrian footpath links and cycle routes, can be secured as part of the reserved matters and conditions in accordance with the illustrative details within the masterplan

Drainage and Flood Risk
The development would not be at unacceptable risk of flooding or increase the risk of flooding to surrounding properties, subject to the suitability of the detailed site layout as part of the reserved matters.

Conclusion
For the reasons given above, the Inspector concluded that the appeal should be allowed and planning permission granted subject to the conditions set out in the attached schedule.

Download Decision here.

8. Compliance with Extant Code for Sustainable Homes Condition Removed

Appeal Ref: APP/E5900/W/18/3199690 Appeal Decision Date: 17 August 2018
A
ppellant: Mr Peter Magri
Council: London Borough of Tower Hamlets

 The appeal was made under Section 78 of the TCPA 1990 against a refusal to grant permission under Section 73.

Background
An appeal was made by Mr Peter Magri against the decision to refuse permission for a variation to the Code for Sustainable Homes condition attached to a permission PA/11/01818 granted on the 5th July 2013 for 57 apartments and 970sqm of commercial space for A1, B1/D1 use as a part 7, part 8 storey development without complying with a condition attached to planning permission Ref PA/11/01818, dated 5 July 2013.

In allowing the appeal, the Inspector gave consideration to:

  • Whether the condition is reasonable and necessary in the interests of addressing climate change and achieving sustainable development.

Changes to the planning practice guidance in 2015 saw the removal of Code for Sustainable Homes(CSH)from national policy with the exception of legacy cases. The Council contended that the withdrawal of the CSH relates to planning conditions for new approvals only and that the development  in this case was a legacy case. Legacy cases are defined as residential development that are legally contracted to apply a code policy such as affordable housing through the National Affordable Housing Programme 2015 to 2018 or earlier programme, or where planning permission has been granted subject to a condition stipulating discharge of a code level which a developer is not appealing or seeking to have removed or varied.

.As the developer is appealing the condition and seeking to have it removed, it cannot be considered a legacy case.

The inspector noted that Based on the PPG, the proposal would not be required to be built to zero carbon. Nonetheless, there would be an element of conflict with development plan policies. However, in the context of Section 38 (6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act and Section 70 (2) of the Act, the great weight I attribute to the PPG outweighs the weight I afford to the conflict with the above noted development plan policies. The inspector also recognised that owing to Building Regulations Part L (2013) requirements, despite the removal of the condition, the proposal would still address climate change and achieve sustainable development.

Other Matters
The Inspector also noted that the PPG makes it clear that decision notices for the grant of planning permission under section 73 of the Act should also repeat the relevant conditions from the original planning permission, unless they have already been discharged.

It was also cited that Section 73 (5) the Act and the PPG5 are clear that planning permission cannot be granted under this section of the Act to extend the time limit within which a development must be started or an application for approval of reserved matters must be made.

Conclusion
The Inspector concluded that the condition is not reasonable or necessary in the interests of addressing climate change and achieving sustainable development. Condition 11 was subsequently removed and the appeal succeeded.

Download Decision here.

9. 5-year housing supply shortfall lead to successful Appeal for 100 dwellings.

Appeal Ref: APP/U3935/W/17/3192234 Appeal Decision Date: 18th October 2018
Appellant: Ainscough Strategic Land Limited
Council: Swindon Borough Council

Background
An appeal was made by Ainscough Strategic Land Limited against the decision of Swindon Borough Council to refuse “outline planning application (with means of access off Ermin Street/Blunsdon Hill not reserved) for the demolition of the existing Hill Cottage for the development of approximately 100 dwellings (Use Class C3), on-site recreational space, landscaping and associated road and drainage infrastructure.”.

In allowing the appeal, the Inspector considered the following main issues:

  • The relationship of the proposal to the development plan for the area;
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area;
  • Whether the location of the site is such that the need to travel would be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes maximised;
  • Whether the proposal makes appropriate provision for affordable housing, infrastructure and similar matters; and
  • Whether there are any other material considerations, including the housing land supply situation and benefits of the proposals, which would indicate that the proposals should be determined otherwise than in accordance with the terms of the development plan

Development plan for the area
In summary, Policy SD2 of the Local Plan notes that development in rural and in countryside locations outside of rural settlement boundaries will be permitted if it is in accordance with the other policies in the Local Plan which permitted specific development in the countryside. No other policies were identified to justify why development outside a settlement boundary should be permitted. Therefore, for the purposes of assessing the proposal against the terms of the development plan, as the proposal lies in the countryside it would be contrary to this part of Policy SD2 of the Local Plan.

It was considered common ground that the Council cannot demonstrate a five-year land supply and that relevant policies were therefore out of date. Although the appeal site lies outside the settlement boundary of Broad Blunsdon the Council conceded that it considered that this, of itself, was not a reason to dismiss the appeal due to the land supply position.

Character and Appearance
The Site lies within Upper Thames Clay Vale National Character Area. The Inspector identified the proposals would result in a landscape harm rather than heritage harm. As the Site has a reasonable separation distance from Lower Blunsdon and the Conservation Area, it would therefore be preserved.

In terms of harm to the landscape and visual qualities of the area, it would be contrary to Policy EN5 of the Local Plan.  It would also be contrary to Policy SD1 of the Local Plan in that it would not respect, conserve or enhance the natural environment and the unavoidable impacts would not be wholly mitigated as such would be contrary to paragraph 170 of the Framework

Overall, it was concluded that the Site would be harmful to the landscape and would have harmful visual effects.  The impacts however would be limited and would be mitigated to some extent, but not wholly, by the additional planting that would form part of this development.

Accessible location
The Site was not considered as being well related for the use of non-car modes, however is not poorly located given the proximity to the main built up area of Swindon.

Due to the location of the Site, the need for travel will not be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes maximised when compared with sites with better access for non-car modes. This is contrary to Policy TR2 and to paragraph 103 of the Framework as there would not be a genuine choice of transport modes.  This weighs against the development, but as there are alternatives that may be used by residents which gives some choice, although less likely than not, this was given limited weight.

Affordable housing
Policy HA2 of the Local Plan indicates that all developments of 15 homes or more should provide 30% of the dwellings as affordable housing.  The Planning Obligation provides this proportion and would thus complies with development plan policy.  However, the proposal would only provide 9% of the dwellings for affordable home ownership rather than the 10% set out in paragraph 64 of the Framework. Significant weight was attached to the provision of AH.

5YHLS
The appellants and the Council set out various figures as to the land supply that could be demonstrated, given an agreed base date of 1 April 2017.  These varied from between 1.9 years and 2.1 years for the appellants and 2.5 years and 2.7 years for the Council depending on the varying analyses of deliverability and the appropriate buffer. The inspector decided that which ever the figure, the shortfall is significant.

Conclusion
In bringing all the above together in the final balance, the Inspector considered that the adverse impacts of the development would not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The Inspector attached significant weight to the fact that the Site fell outside of the development boundary. Furthermore, the proposals would have harmful visual effect on Broad Blunsdon and would result in the loss of a golf course and community facility – these were all given limited weight. The inspector highlighted that there are significant benefits of the proposal from the provision of the additional dwellings both themselves and through the provision of affordable housing.

The 5YHLS was considered a serious matter which resulted in the Policies for the supply of housing in the development plan to be considered to be out-of-date. The factors above provide the material considerations to grant planning permission other than in accordance with the development plan.

Based on the above, the appeal was allowed.
Download Decision here

10. Improvements to affordable housing leads to approval by Secretary of State

Appeal Ref: APPJ2210/W/15/3141444 Appeal Decision Date: 6th August 2018
Appellant: Hollamby Estates Ltd
Respondent: Canterbury City Council

 Background
An appeal was made by Hollamby Estates against the non determination of a hybrid application by Canterbury City Council.

The hybrid application sought in detail the demolition of existing dwelling house in conservation area and two other dwellings, change of use of lagoon to allotments, ecological habitat and footpath link and improvements along Bullockstone Road. The outline elements were related to provision of 800 dwellings commercial and community development with pedestrian and cycle links, drainage sustainable drainage and open space as well as highways infrastructure.

The Council confirmed on 1st March that they would have refused the application for seven reasons comprising severe adverse impact on the highway, inadequate and unsafe works, absence of planning obligations to mitigate the impacts on the local highway network, failure to justify the 4% affordable housing provision, failure to demonstrate an acceptable impact on air quality, conflict with the Habitat Regulations and non-compliance with the development plan.

The appeal was recovered by the secretary of State on the 27th June 2016 on the basis that the appeal involves proposals for residential development of over 150 units or on sites of over 5 hectares.

The inquiry was held in January and April 2017 with the inquiry closed in writing on the 31st July 2017.

The site is subject to EIA with an ES submitted with the application in 2015. In March 2017, three addendums were submitted and in May 2017 the EIA regulations 2017 came into force. Regulation 76 of the EIA regulations allow for transitional arrangements which the inspector considered this site would fall within.

The main areas of concern were affordable housing and highways impacts. In March 2016, the appellants submitted a varied highways improvement scheme which was granted permission in April 2017.

On the matter of affordable housing the application proposed 4% affordable housing, which was contrary to the emerging 30% requirement. At the start of the inquiry, the appellant proposed an increase of affordable housing to 15% with a split of 30% rent and 70% shared ownership. This was contrary to policy which required 70% rent and 30% shared ownership.

The matters as agreed were:

  • The Kent BRIS would provide an appropriate technical solution to the requirement to improve Bullockstone Road
  • Air Quality. The ES Addendum No 2 included further assessment using updated traffic data flow.
  • The appellant agreed that the requested contribution towards strategic access management at the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay SPA would be met in full.
  • The appellant agreed to provide obligations to secure additional secondary education capacity
  • All parties agreed that using the Liverpool method of calculating 5 year supply, there is a surplus of land whereas there is a deficit using the Sedgefield approach.
  • There were no outstanding technical highways and transportation issues that would prevent a grant of outline permission. However there was disagreement regarding the timing of completion of the Spine Road which KCC contended should be completed and available for use prior to the completion of the 410th

The main matters in dispute were development viability and affordable housing.

In January 2018, a revised viability assessment was submitted showing that 30% affordable housing could be provided with a 30% rent and 70% shared ownership mix. The tenure remained unacceptable.

In March 2018, the secretary of state wrote to the appellants confirming that the main issue was meeting local housing needs and that the scheme was not in accordance with Policy SP3, that the proposal would not deliver the Herne Relief Road at the appropriate time, the proposed land use content would not meet the primary objective for the SSA, there would be a net gain in biodiversity/nature conservation, the loss of some 15ha of BMV land does not weight significantly against the development, there would be less than substantial harm to the Herne Conservation Area.

The Secretary of State advised that before making his final decision he would give the appellants six weeks to address the concerns on affordable housing and highways via submission of a revised and agreed planning conditions.

The appellants confirmed that a bi-lateral agreement between all parties addresses affordable housing provision and a unilateral undertaking with Kent County council secures developer contributions towards the Kent Bullockstone Road Improvement Scheme.

Based on the above, the appeal was subsequently allowed by the secretary of State.

Download Decision here.

 

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Here’s what you need to know about viability in the revised NPPG

 

Viability is not dealt within the NPPF, it is dealt with separately in the NPPG.
The draft NPPF stated that “where proposals for development accord with all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan, no viability assessment should be required to accompany the application”. The revised 2018 Framework removes this measure and states at paragraph 57: “Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage”

Viability should be Assessed at Plan Making Stage.
Previously discussions and considerations of viability were undertaken at the decision-making stage which may have led to delays and local authorities not securing the level of affordable housing and infrastructure they required.

The responsibility has now shifted towards local authorities to undertake viability earlier in the process to ensure that they set appropriate levels of infrastructure requirements. This will require greater co-operation between landowners, developers and local authorities to undertake meaningful discussions and agree what is considered viable. At decision making stage, where matters have already been agreed there may be less delays in agreeing matters of viability which wont slow down the determination of applications.

Costs and Requirements for Affordable Housing and Infrastructure Should be Set At A Level That Does Not Require Further Assessment At Decision Making Stage.
There may need to be more negotiation between landowners, developers and local authorities earlier in the plan making process to ensure that requirements for affordable housing and infrastructure are set at a level that does not undermine overall delivery of the site.

The Council may set out within their plans when a viability assessment may be required.
The PPG sets out that viability should be addressed at plan making stage, but states that local authorities can set out when viability assessments may be required to support planning applications.

The Price Paid for Land is not a Justification for Failing to Accord With the Relevant Policies in a Development Plan.
This played out in Parkhurst Road Limited v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Islington. Case No: CO/3528/2017. We discuss this below:

Parkhurst Road Limited v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Islington
The key consideration within the High Court was the price paid by the developers and the approach taken to assessing viability to justify the minimal amount of affordable housing. The appellants and the Council disagreed on the benchmark land value as the appellants used the purchase price as an acquisition cost leading to profit levels being below normal target values.

Islington disagreed with this using the same methodology excluding the site acquisition cost. The Council carried out a series of residual valuations inputting alternative affordable housing proportions of 50%, 40% and 32% which produced residual land valuations for the site of £4.98m, £7.32m and £9.35m respectively. They contended that the price which Parkhurst Road Ltd had paid for the site was excessive since it did not properly reflect the policy requirement to maximise the affordable housing component.

The viability assessment of the site has never been made public, but it is of direct relevance as its part of the weight applied to the development proposals.

When reading Justice Holgate’s decision, there are criticisms of the wider approach taken to viability:
“where an applicant seeking planning permission for residential development in Islington proposes that the “maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing” is lower than the borough-wide 50% target on viability grounds, it is his responsibility to demonstrate that that is so

Justice Holgate also recognised the inherent tension between decision makers and developers stating that:
“According to the basic principles set out in the NPPF and the NPPG, it is understandable why a decision-maker may, as a matter of judgment, attach little or no weight to a developer’s analysis which claims to show a “market norm” for BLV by doing little more than averaging land values obtained from a large number of transactions within a district…

…On the other hand, it is understandable why developers and landowners may argue against local policy statements that BLV should simply conform to an “EUV plus a percentage” basis of valuation, especially where the document has not been subjected to independent statutory examination prior to adoption. Some adherents appear to be promoting a formulaic application of “EUV plus.”

Justice Holgate suggests that RICS could consider revisiting the 2012 Guidance Note, perhaps in conjunction with MHCLG and the RTPI, to address any misunderstandings about market valuation concepts and techniques to address the “circularity” issue and any other problems encountered in practice over the last 6 years, to help avoid protracted disputes.

The Guidance Removes Flexibility in Considering Policy Requirements
The previous Guidance stated that ‘where the viability of a development is in question, local planning authorities should look to be flexible in applying policy requirements wherever possible.

This hard-line approach allows decision makers to decide an application on whether it achieves the full policy requirements or not.

A Standard Approach to Viability where Previously it was Accepted there was no Standard Answer to Viability
Again the flexible approach to viability has been removed in favour of a standard approach to be taken across all sites. The intention is probably to speed up delivery as all matters will be assessed, although the same approach cannot be used for different site characteristics such as brownfield and greenfield sites. If the standardised approach doesn’t work for a site, the Council may have to look at alternatives until one fits the approach.

Land Value Calculated on Existing Use Value plus a Premium
The Guidance sets out the approach to be taken to Benchmark Land Value, again to give decision makers more support in assessing development viability.

Premium is described in broad terms as the minimum price a rational landowner would be willing to sell their land, although there is likely to be further debate over what a premium should be and this debate is likely to delay the overall Local Plan process. .

A Return of 15-20% of Gross Development Value
The Draft PPG referred to 20 per cent return which has been the accepted level of return.

The PPG states that a lower figure:
may be more appropriate in consideration of delivery of affordable housing in circumstances where this guarantees an end sale at a known value and reduces the risk

Viability Assessments to be Publicly Available.
A Viability Assessment will only be kept confidential in exceptional circumstances, and it will be down to the applicant to justify the case for confidentiality. Within the Parkhurst case, the decision refers to the Viability Assessment never being provided.

Conclusions
The revised approach to viability whilst potentially aiming to speed up the decision making process, may have the unintended consequences of delaying the plan making process as Local Authorities, developers and landowners grapple with the revised approach to infrastructure costs and negotiate the best scenarios for all parties.

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12 things you need to know about the Revised NPPF

 

As you may be aware, the government published the revised National Planning Policy Framework on 24th July 2018. This means that the NPPF 2018 is a material consideration in determining planning applications. If you have not had a chance to read the document, you can download the NPPF 2018 here. We have analysed the changes made since the draft was consulted upon in Spring and here are 12 things you need to know:

  • Implementation
  • Viability
  • Design standards
  • Green Belt
  • Housing delivery test
  • Standardised method of calculating housing need
  • Inclusion of social rent in definition of affordable housing
  • Small sites
  • Neighbourhood development plans
  • Voluntary PPAs
  • Storage and distribution operations
  • Ancient Woodland and veteran trees

Implementation
NPPF 2018 is now a material consideration which means that the policies come into effect straight away. However, the NPPF 2018 states that, Local Plans submitted before 24 January 2018 will be Examined against the 2012 NPPF. Any Plans submitted after this date will be examined under the new 2018 policies. This could mean that part of a Council’s newly prepared Plan could be immediately out of date which may contribute to penalties/interventions.

Viability
There is a significant shift in the role of viability assessments. The 2018 Framework now requires viability to be dealt with at the plan making stage, thus shifting responsibility on LPAs as opposed to developers. Essentially, LPAs will now be required to set strategic site allocations, infrastructure requirements and a minimum level of affordable housing which they consider viable. The draft NPPF stated  that “where proposals for development accord with all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan, no viability assessment should be required to accompany the application”. The revised 2018 Framework removes this measure and states at paragraph 57: “Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage”. This provides decision makers more power in deciding whether a viability assessment is required.

Design Standards
The 2018 Framework places emphasis on the importance of design standards and contains requirements that planning policies set out clear design and vision expectations in SPDs and design codes. It states that “being clear about design expectations, and how these will be tested, is essential for achieving this. So too is effective engagement between applicants, communities, local planning authorities and other interests throughout the process…” Councils should try to “ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion, as a result of changes being made to the permitted scheme”. The policies should however be flexible and allow variety, however, as with design there may be an element of subjectivity.

Green Belt
The draft Framework published in March 2018 stated that “once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or updating of plans.” The 2018 Framework however requires greenbelt reviews to be ‘fully evidenced and justified’. Paragraph 136 of the 2018 Framework states that “Once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation or updating of plans“. LPA are required to fully examine all reasonable options to meet its identified need for development. However, this amendment appears to tighten the already restrictive Green Belt release policy.

Housing Delivery Test
No significant amendments have been made to the government’s new Housing Delivery Test. Where delivery is below 75% of the housing requirement from 2020, the Government intends to apply the presumption in favour of sustainable development

Standardised Method of Calculating Housing Need
The 2018 Framework implements a standard methodology for assessing housing need. This method is intended to simplify Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) calculations to provide a centrally-based figure. This is done by taking the Government’s household growth projections and applying an affordability ratio, and comparing local house prices with workplace earnings to identify a need figure. The 2018 Framework states that “strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas , unless the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area… ; or  any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole”. This strengthens the requirement for LPAs to cooperate with each other in meeting unmet housing requirements.

Social Rent in Definition of Affordable Housing
The term which had been omitted from March’s draft version prompting concerns from some sector bodies has now been reinstated.

Small Sites
The policy encouraging the use of small sites has now been altered to include sites of up to 1ha and medium sized sites. Development plans are now required to identify land to accommodate at least 10% of housing requirement on small sites.

Neighbourhood Development Plans
Paragraph 14 of the 2018 Framework states that presumption in favour of sustainable would apply in the absence of an up to date plan – however by allowing housing schemes that conflict with NDP it is likely to “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits“. It is suggested that where a plan has been adopted two years or less before the decision, it contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement. As such, the LPA would have at least a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites against its five-year requirement.

Voluntary PPAs
Paragraph 46 of the 2018 Framework states that Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) are likely to be needed for applications which are large or complex to determine. The suggestion of potential of voluntary PPAs were excluded from the March draft NPPF.

Storage and distribution operations
Paragraph 82 of the 2018 Framework refers to the provision for storage and distribution operations “at a variety of scales and in suitably accessible locations“. This provision requires the specific locational requirements of storage operations to be recognised in planning policies and decisions.  This was omitted from the March 2018 draft.

Ancient Woodland and veteran trees
Paragraph 175(c) offers protection to woodland and ancient veteran trees. It states that development which result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland and veteran trees should be refused unless there are exceptional reasons and mitigation in place. Veteran trees in the ancient woodland were excluded from the definition of ‘irreplaceable habitat’ in the draft Framework published in March 2018.

What do we think about the NPPF?
As highlighted in James Brockenshire’s Written Ministerial Statement, 85 of the proposals set out in the housing white paper and the Budget, are implemented in the new National Planning Policy Framework. The new rules require greater responsibility, transparency and accountability from both LPAs and developers. The amendments to Viability Assessments are ambitious and only time will how successful this approach will be. We are also disappointed to see the amendment to the already restrictive Green Belt Release Policy appears being tightened. The Housing Crisis is multifaceted in nature, exacerbated by other factors such as the shortage of construction workers, reduced LPA powers, a lack of transparency, increased demand brought on by decades of deregulation, and lax policies – the revisions to the NPPF alone cannot solve the Housing Crisis and therefore, other central government reforms will be necessary.

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Local Plan Updates and Progression August 2018

 

Local 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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Latest GDPO amendments to Agricultural Permitted Development Rights

 

On Monday 5th March 2018, the Housing Minister, Dominic Raab announced changes to Permitted Development Rights which enable flexibility for rural sites to be converted from three to up to five family homes (Class Use C3) to better meet local housing need without the need to apply for Planning Permission.  You can read his statement here.

Amendments to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) were approved by Parliament on 12th March 2018 and have come into force today, 6th April 2018.

The amendments allow buildings which currently are/were in ‘active agricultural use’ on or before 20th March 2013 to be redeveloped for up to 5 dwellings. This will allow for the following:

  • Up to 3 larger homes within a maximum of 465 sq. m. (5005.2sqf)
  • Up to 5 smaller homes, each no larger than 100 sq. m. (1076.4sqf)
  • Combination of both above options – no more than 5 homes (no more than 3 being larger homes).

The permitted floor area has marginally increased from 450 sqm (4,843 sqft) to 465sqm (5005.2sqf). As set out above, the provisions can be combined to provide up to 5 dwellings per agricultural unit subject to the floor space limitations, with no more than 3 dwellings as larger dwellings.

Permitted Development Rights are subject to obtaining approval from the LPA first. This means that you must notify the relevant LPA and submit a prior approval application before starting any work. If the Council do not issue a decision within the time frame of 56 days, then development can begin.

Restrictions
It must be noted that permitted development rights are generally more restricted in the following designated areas:

  • Conservation Area
  • National Park
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

Criteria
The following criteria will need to be met before a development can be considered as permitted development:

  • Buildings must have been used solely for agricultural use on or before 20 March 2013.
  • The new rights are not afforded to those who have used PD rights to build or extend buildings since 20 March 2013.

Please note that once the new PD rights have been exercised, there will be no opportunity to construct or extend an agricultural building for a period of 10 years.

Urbanissta welcome these amendments to the legislation, though its not a silver bullet, are hopeful that these changes will boost the number of homes created through the conversions of agricultural buildings which will assist in meeting local housing needs across the country.

The explanatory memorandum can be read here.

The amendments to the Legislation can be read here.

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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 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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EIA Regulations are changing – What does this mean for you?

 

environmental impact assessment

The role of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA) and how is it changing?

The core role of EIA is to maintain a level of environmental protection established within the current EIA Directive. The main aim is to drive effective EIA across the EU through three themes:

Harmonisation, efficiency and quality.
The EIA directive has been amended and codified a number of times since 1988. Several changes were made before adapting to the current Directive in 2014 which is required to be transposed by Member States on or before 16 May 2017.

Experts
The revised Directive introduces the need for EIAs to be produced by ‘competent experts’. The Directive does not however provide a definition for the term. It is for the LPA to decide whether the expert is competent or not.

Screening
Future screening requests require more specific information. At present, the information required is minimal, only requiring a plan, description of development and any other such information the developer wishes to provide.
Future screening requests now require the following:
• A plan
• Description of development
• Development proposal
• Sensitivities of proposed location
• Aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected
• Description of likely significant effects from a list of species
• Any other information the developer wishes to include including mitigation
This can be considered as a ‘mini EIA’ at the screening stage as the results from other assessments, mitigation measures and avoidance measures are considered in this process. The 21-day time scale for receiving a screening opinion has been retained – the option to extend up to 90 days may be agreed in writing.

Scoping
The proposal for mandatory scoping was not implemented. A scoping opinion can be requested from the LPA, the EIA will need to be based on the response given. The Directive does not clarify at what stage an EIA is required or how much information should be provided to support the request.
A broader scope of issues to be considered under the new regulations:
• Impacts on biodiversity, climate change, and landscape
• Vulnerability to accidents and disasters
The provision of additional information will require local authorities to have the relevant expertise to assess the information provided and decide if the information is sufficient early on in the process. This imposes an additional burden on the role of the LPA.

Consultation time frame
Increased time frame from 21 to 30 days to consult and comment on any environmental information.
• What will changes to the screening and scoping requirements mean to you?
Developers and LPAs are likely to face practical consequences as there will be an inevitable delay in securing planning permission for an EIA development and furthermore, increased costs. The following will be enshrined in statute and an increased burden is imposed on both the LPA and developer: the need to submit a screening report, mitigation may be considered by the LPA, ES must be based on the scoping opinion and considered during determination. It has been argued that the changes are minimal and the impacts of the new regulations are minor.
• How is mitigation to be viewed in the new process?
There appears to more emphasis placed on mitigation particularly in the early stages. Mitigation will need to be imbedded into the design if to be taken into account in the screening process. Furthermore, the progress of mitigation will be monitored from screening through to ES and implementation to ensure that there are no breaches and no significant adverse effects. Developments which do not comply with the Directives will be subject to enforcement and monitoring action.
• How do planning consultancies need to adapt?
There is also a burden on consultancies to advise clients very early on about engaging an appropriate team who can assist in ‘designing out’ any impacts and appointing a competent expert to provide an ES. Greater input will also be required at the screening stage and someone must be appointed to monitor the commitments to mitigation to avoid breaches and enforcement action. Furthermore, clients must be advised about the transitional arrangements which are as follows:

Screening
Screened prior to 16 May 2017 – existing EIA Regulations apply
Screened on or after 16 May 2017 – New EIA Regulations apply

Scoping
Scoping request and ES pre 16 May 2017 – existing EIA Regulations apply
Scoping request and ES on or after May 2017 – New EIA Regulations apply

What legal challenges might arise from the amended regulations?

• Screening and scoping challenges
• JR of screening opinion and timing of challenge
• Enforcement action for failing to commit to mitigation measures

Relevant reading:
The Amending Environmental Impact Assessment

We have a thorough understanding of the EIA, if you have any questions relating to this or any of our other articles, contact us today.

Introducing ‘The girl on the Tube’. A Planner’s insight into the changing landscape of London.
I’m the girl on the Tube, no stranger to the fast-paced life of London and I take the underground every day to and from work.
I rise up from the tunnels of bustling business people and enthusiastic tourists and step out into the streets of London. Sensibly putting comfort and practically before fashion, wearing my well-worn trainers instead of 6-inch stilettos.
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‘Step into my office’ with Jo Hanslip – coffee and a White Paper

 

I’m sitting in my office in a comfy chair with a pretty comprehensive 104-page Housing White Paper in front of me. Two coffees and a muffin later – I finish the last page of the document that was finally released on the 7th February!

I was interested and slightly disheartened to see a raft of additional supplementary documents also for review, including:

As such I knew I had quite a lot more reading to go!

All of that information was a lot to take in and a lot to sift through. So, I have decided to pass on a few thoughts in relation to the White Paper and what it means for us planners and developers. I’m going to follow this up with what I hope is an insightful summary of some of the supporting technical documents.

If you don’t have the time to read all the essential documents listed – call me. I will give you a quick synopsis and fill you in on the need to know aspects!

I do sense changing times in the media and political rhetoric in relation to the emphasis placed upon the need for additional housing, especially in a post – Brexit era where the construction industry has the potentially significant role to play in supporting the UK economy going forwards – if it was not already important! This is especially true if the recent Budget is anything to go by! As such the principals underpinning the White Paper can only be welcomed. The question will be the timescales and scale in which the ideas and initiatives proposed take to become reality.

We note that there are significant proposals to review the NPPF and Regulations as well as several consultations proposed, such as:

  • Amendments to the tests of ‘soundness’
  • Consideration given to the standardisation of the methodology for calculating land supply
  • Clarification of the presumption in favour of sustainable development
  • A 5-year review of Local Plans
  • Variation to General Disposal Consent, allowing LPAs to dispose of land without SoS approval
  • Power of direction to require Local Authorities to work together and revisions to the HM Land Registry
  • Revised definition of affordable housing

As so often is the case, ‘the proof will be in the pudding’ as to how such measures are brought into force and the period over which debate and discussion takes place on matters which so often, result in highly politicised discussion at a local level. We must hope that the Government’s intention to deliver on its promise is a strong, and implementation is effective.

There is scope for optimism if the Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell’s recent comments at a speech to the CPRE on the 20th February noting that the links between the CPRE and the department rightly, remained strong, and noting that highlighting that CPRE’s input had been taken on board, issues such as: the protection of the green belt, opposition to speculative development and its insistence on community involvement in planning and design.
Importantly however, he then indicated that whilst the Department had listened to CPRE’s concerns, and adopted many of its ideas, the Department now asked the CPRE to reciprocate with ‘positive and practical support for new homes built in the right places’.
He continued stating that the DCLG ‘counted the CPRE as a friend, because friends could occasionally disagree, they could also have honest conversations and Britain urgently needed to have an honest conversation about housing because the lack of affordable homes was one of the greatest barriers to progress the country faced’.

He indicated that there was a growing consensus about the need to build more homes. This emphasis on the need for delivery of housing and clear political pressure on the CPRE will I am sure not change the CPRE’s position greatly, but I am convinced will show the political focus on housing delivery, might just change the degree of regard had to ‘NIMBY” lobby….

Finally, if you had not read enough already, or perhaps just want to pick up some CPD points, we have summarised three of the more significant consultation documents for your review. We have created 3 summaries on the following consultation documents:

1. Build to Rent – download PDF: Document 5
2. CIL (this is 3 documents) – download 3x PDF: Document 1 | Document 2 | Document 3
3. Starter Homes – download PDF: Document 7

In addition, there are three other documents that we don’t need to summarise but simply provide reference to and offer the link to download the material.

  • Neighbourhood Planning – download PDF: Document 7
  • Rural planning Review Call for evidence – download here: Document 8
  • NPP consultation – download here: Document 6


Summary 1: Build to Rent Consultation 

A consultation paper on Planning and Affordable Housing for Build to Rent was published alongside the White Paper and seeks to make a positive contribution to affordable housing by promoting “family friendly” tenancies of 3 years and longer. The government now intends to revise the NPPF to explicitly make reference to this form of housing so that Local Authorities can consider them when developing local plans.

What are the benefits of Build to Rent housing?

  • Boost housing supply
  • Speed of bringing housing units to the market
  • Quality and choice in the PRS
  • Investment appetite

What are the potential barriers?

  • Policy uncertainty
  • Teething issues
  • Marginal financial viability and unpredictability of planning outcomes

What are the key proposals and considerations?

  • Build to Rent has not yet been formally defined. There are currently ongoing discussions on the size, tenancy length, management and ownership and typology. Although there have been suggestions for the government to include a covenant in relation to the minimum renting period, the government however, is not minded to include a minimum covenant period in the definition
  • The government has introduced a “claw-back” agreement should a developer switch out of the Private Rented Sector and into other tenures. The arrangement would enable developers or owners to change use at any stage provided they make an appropriate contribution towards affordable housing provision in the area
  • The paper seeks views on Affordable Private Rent, a new form of affordable housing, in place of other forms of affordable housing on Build to Rent schemes. There is a proposal that Affordable Private Rent requirement should be set at 20% of a site, with the minimum discount being 20% of market rent in perpetuity
  • Determination of eligibility and nomination criteria for Affordable Private Rent (APR) to negotiation will be decided between developers and LPAs
  • The following suggestions have been proposed, however the paper notes that the government has no plan to consult, or to implement them:
    • Permission in Principle in favour of Build to Rent schemes meeting certain characteristics
    • Presumption in favour of Build to Rent schemes meeting certain characteristics
    • Permitted Development Rights for Build to Rent schemes meeting certain characteristics
    • Creation of a restrictive zone or specific planning use class for Build to Rent

Summary: 2 A New Approach To Developer Contributions

A report by the CIL review team, submitted October 2016.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) review group was established by the former Communities Secretary, Greg Clark and the former Minister of Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP, in November 2015.

The purpose of the review was 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.”

The CIL Review Group were specifically requested to look at:

  • The relationship between CIL and Section 106 in the delivery of infrastructure, including the role of the regulation 123 list and the restriction on pooling planning obligations
  • The impact of CIL on development viability, including any disproportionate impact on particular types or scales of development
  • The exemptions and reliefs from CIL
  • The administrative arrangements and governance associated with charging, collecting and spending CIL
  • The ability of CIL to fund and deliver infrastructure in a timely and transparent way
  • The impact of the neighbourhood portion on local communities’ receptiveness to development
  • The geographical scale at which CIL is collected and charged

The CIL Review details the progress by LPA’s in preparing CIL:

CIL Report October 2016

 

CIL (this is 3 documents) – download 3x PDF: Document 1 | Document 2 | Document 3

Source: A new approach to developer contributions October 2016

In March 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) commissioned research into the value, impact and delivery of CIL from the Three Dragons consultancy in conjunction with the University of Reading. The investigation covered five broad areas:

  1. Implementing and operating CIL: The extent to which the levy is simpler and quicker to operate than individually- negotiated Section 106 agreements.
  2. The value of CIL: How much money is being raised and what it is being spent on (or intended to be spent on).
  3. Who is paying CIL: The types of development that are paying the levy.
  4. The neighbourhood portion of CIL: How much money is being passed on to local communities and how the ‘neighbourhood portion’ of CIL is being administered.
  5. The impact of CIL on development viability: What, if any, impact it is having on development viability.

Key Recommendations of The CIL Review Group:

  • Government should replace the Community Infrastructure Levy with a hybrid system of a broad and low level Local Infrastructure Tariff (LIT) and Section 106 for larger developments
  • Combined Authorities should be enabled to set up an additional Mayoral type Strategic Infrastructure Tariff (SIT)

The Local Infrastructure Tariff (LIT)

  • The setting of the LIT should be linked to the Local Plan process wherever possible and should feed into local and ‘bigger than local’ infrastructure plans
  • The LIT should be calculated using a national formula based on local market value set at a rate of £ per square metre
  • They recommend that the LIT should continue to apply to ‘development’ as defined in the existing CIL regulations
  • Further work by government to devise a LIT formula for commercial development that ties it to the residential rate but which does not exceed it
  • There should be a cost of collection cut-off below which local authorities do not have to collect a LIT
  • The LIT should be charged on gross development
  • There should be no (or very few) exemptions to the LIT
  • If needed in the new LIT regime, the process for exemptions and reliefs should be simplified
  • Agricultural buildings should be covered by the LIT but that local authorities should be encouraged to include this type of structure in its low or zero rated bands
  • The examination process should be replaced by a simple mechanism to address any representations on coverage or quantum of the LIT rates
  • The requirement for a Regulation 123 list should be removed and spending of the LIT should be reported through the Authorities’ Monitoring Report
  • Other options should be explored that would enable local authorities to forward fund infrastructure provision

‘Lit LIT’ and section Section 106

  • Small developments (10 units or less) should pay only the LIT and no other obligations, unless exceptional circumstances apply
  • Large/strategic developments local authorities should be able to negotiate additional and specific Section 106 arrangements and that these should be subject to strengthened Regulation 122 tests
  • The pooling restrictions set out in Regulation 123 should be removed
  • Standardised Section 106 obligations should be subjected to particular scrutiny to ensure they meet the Regulation 122 tests and that the NPPG in this area should be strengthened
  • Local authorities should be given the flexibility to offset the LIT against Section 106 and other requirements for their larger/strategic developments
  • Larger developments developers should be able to make infrastructure provision in kind, and if appropriate, the LIT contribution should be able to be delivered by way of in kind provision
  • Further measures are introduced to standardise and streamline the Section 106 process
  • Proposed heads of terms for Section 106 agreements be submitted with planning applications and that local authorities be given clear guidance on the publication requirements for Section 106 agreement

The Strategic Infrastructure Tariff (SIT)

  • Provision is made for Combined Authorities to agree the imposition of a low level ‘Mayoral’ type Strategic Infrastructure Tariff to be imposed across the Combined Authority area
  • Strategic Infrastructure Tariff should be restricted for use on a small number of major projects that will benefit the wider area
  • Further consideration is given to enabling Combined Authorities to use the Strategic Infrastructure Tariff funding as a mechanism for raising additional finance

Specific Supporting Proposals

  • Close integration between local plan-making and planning for LIT/Section 106 contributions so that the latter can properly inform infrastructure funding provision
  • Local authorities engage with delivery and funding bodies as part of their plan-making and infrastructure planning to consider ways of closing the inevitable local infrastructure finding gap
  • Government should incentivise more meaningful cooperation between local authorities over Housing Market Areas/Functional Economic Areas
  • Local authorities provide annual Infrastructure Delivery Plan updates as part of their Authorities’ Monitoring Reports
  • Closer integration at both the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan making stages between the local authorities and the community to ensure agreement over how the neighbourhood share of LIT is allocated
  • Local authorities work closely with both parishes and neighbourhoods over the actual spending of any neighbourhood allocation of LIT to ensure that the delivery of infrastructure is supported and best value obtained
  • Government should consider how environmental mitigation for small sites can be addressed as part of reforms to streamline Section 106
  • A new set of consolidated and simplified regulations be drafted
  • Government considers amendments to the regulations as an interim measure to address the most immediate issues arising from CIL
  • LIT should be a mandatory charge except where it would bring in insufficient funds to justify the cost of collection
  • Government allows for sufficient transitional arrangements to be put in place. 2020 would appear to be a sensible date for transition to be completed

Summary 3: Government Responses Toto The Consultation On Starter Homes Regulations

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 provides a statutory framework for the delivery of starter homes. The government technical consultation on starter homes regulations took place between 23rd March to 30thJune 2016. The consultation dealt with post-sales letting and resale restrictions, the starter homes requirement and exemptions, monitoring arrangements and transitional provisions.

Starter homes are one form or affordable housing available to 23-40 year olds with a discount of at least 20% below market value. The max cost for a starter home is £250,000 outside London and £450,000 in London.

In response to the questions asked and the responses received:

  • Government will restrict the sale and sub-letting of starter homes following initial sale and will set out its plans in regulations. The restricted period will be 15 years and the detailed operation of the restricted period will be set out in the regulationsRegulations. Mortgage requirements will also be incorporated into the regulationsRegulations
  • On the matter of age 40 and eligibility for purchase of a starter home, there will be no cap on age if one purchaser is under 40 years old and both are first-time buyers
  • Government will exempt injured military services personnel and those whose partner has died in service from the age restriction
  • Government are consulting on the intention to make clear through the NPPF that starter homes should be available to households with an income of less than £80,000 (£90,000 for London)
  • The government have removed the statutory requirement for starter homes on all sites, given that 78% of respondents preferred the requirement be set at a local level.  The duty of councils to promote starter homes will be triggered through section 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016
  • The proposed exemptions, transitional provisions and commuted sums will no longer be required
  • Local authorities will have the option to set out starter homes monitoring through the AMR

In response to concerns regarding market distortion, the government believes that the steps it is taking around the repayment taper will help to address the risks of market distortion. They also believe that allowing more local flexibility will also reduce the likelihood of market distortion.

Phew… that’s it for now, it’s time to step out of my office and into the sunshine!

In conclusion…

There is a new urgency to government policy. Homelessness is rising fast and a whole generation finds itself priced out with eye-watering rents that are crippling finances. Levels of home ownership have been falling sharply since 2003 – to only 51%, no wonder the government is anxious!  All before have failed, for the same fundamental reason – for decades now we have been unable to address, or even understand, the role of land in the economy.

I’m always happy to discuss the topics that we have covered so far and if you haven’t stepped into my office before, here are my most recent articles:

Hello 2017! Read more…

The East of England planning capacity. Read more…

Need planning advice? Contact us.

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From Start to Finish: How quickly do large-scale housing sites deliver?

 

Largescale Housing Developments - how quickly do they deliver?

 

This is a vital read for those affected by the trials and tribulations of planning permissions and development.

‘From Start to Finish’ is a new report written by Nathaniel Lichfield – an expert in planning, design and economics. The report examines delivery of large-scale housing schemes.

We read the report from start to finish with great interest to us and of great importance to our clients.  

Here are the 5 key findings from that report…

  1. More land should be released if more homes were to be built. Confidence in delivery through the planning system relied on ambitious and robust local plans. Where plans were not forthcoming there should be a fall-back mechanism to release land for development when required.

2. Planned housing trajectories. These should be realistic, accounting and responding to lapse rates, lead-in times and sensible build rates. Allocating more sites rather than less and a sensible approach to evidence and justification were needed.

3. Spatial strategies should reflect that building homes were a complex and risky business. Stronger local markets had higher annual delivery rates and although large sites could deliver more homes per year over a longer time period, they also had longer lead-in times. To secure short-term immediate boosts a good mix of smaller sites was needed.

4. Plans should reflect that, where viable, the affordable housing supported higher rates of delivery. Trajectories should differentiate expected rates of delivery. Some areas will want to consider spatial strategies that favour sites with greater prospects of affordable or other types of housing delivery.

5. Large-scale brownfield sites delivered more slowly than greenfield and the very largest had very long planning approval periods.Self-evidently, many brownfield sites also faced barriers to implementation that meant they did not get promoted in the first place. In most locations outside the biggest cities, a good mix of types of site was required.

And now, the answer to that question is…

How quickly do large-scale housing sites deliver?

In figures, according to Nathaniel Lichfield:

  • 70 large sites were assessed
  • 9 years was the average lead in time for large sites prior to the submission of the first planning application
  • 1 years was the average planning approval period of schemes of 2000+ dwellings. The average for all large sites was c. 5 years
  • 161 was the average annual build for a scheme of 2000+ dwellings
  • 321 was the highest average annual build rate of the schemes assessed, but the site has only delivered for three years
  • 40% is an approximate increase in the annual build rates for large sites delivering 30%+ affordable housing compared to those delivering 10% to 19%
  • 50% more homes per annum are delivered on average on large greenfield sites than large brownfield sites


Expanding on that, in the report were 2 key questions:

1. what were the realistic lead-in times for large-scale housing developments?

2.  Once the scheme began to deliver, what was a realistic annual build rate?

A desk-based investigation of the lead-in times and build-out rates on 70 strategic housing sites of 500+ homes were contrasted with 83 “small sites” of 50 – 499 homes to look at trends in lead-in times and build rates at varying scales.

Lapse rates: Interestingly, bearing in mind the current focus on unimplemented planning permissions, it includes an analysis of lapse rates, noting that DCLG had identified a 30%-40% gap between granted permissions and starts on site. Nathaniel Lichfield said it was not realistic to assume 100% of planning permission granted in any given location would deliver homes.

Planning permissions could lapse because:

1.  The landowner could not get the price he wanted for the site.

2.  The developer could not secure finance or meet the terms of an option.

3.  The development was not considered to be financially worthwhile.

4.  Pre-commencement conditions took longer than anticipated to discharge.

5.  Supply chain constraints hindered a start.

6.  An alternative permission was sought after approval, perhaps when a housebuilder sought to implement a scheme when the first permission had been secured by a land promoter.

The housebuilder’s model:  Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) – incentivised a quick return on capital after a site was acquired, building and selling homes as quickly as possible, at sales values consistent with the price paid for the land. There was little incentive to hoard land with permission.

The LGA’s identification of 400-500,000 units of ‘unimplemented’ permissions, even if accurate, was equivalent to two years pipeline supply. The data was significantly overstated unimplemented permissions because it referred to units on sites where either the entire site was not been fully developed or the planning permission had lapsed – a stock-flow analysis where outflow (homes built) was ignored. Insofar as ‘landbanking’ existed, it was in London. Read more in the report here.

Delivery of large-scale sites:  One allocation of several thousand homes could (at least on paper) mean a significant proportion of the housing requirement in a district had been met but their scale, complexity and sometimes up-front infrastructure costs meant they were not always easy to kick-start. There was also a need to be realistic about the speed of delivery with housing land supply gaps opening up as a result of over-optimism. Read more in the report here.

Lead-in Times: Larger sites generally took longer to complete the planning application and lead-in processes than smaller sites because they gave rise to complex planning issues (the principle of development and the detail of implementation). There was rarely a way to short-circuit planning.

Commencement could be accelerated if a coherent first phase could be ‘carved-out’ and implementation fast- tracked through a focused first phase planning application, together consideration of the wider scheme through a Local Plan or wider outline application.
On average, after receiving permission, smaller sites took longer to deliver their first dwelling than the largest sites (1.7-1.8 years compared to 0.8 years for sites on 2,000+ units). Read more in the report here.

Build out rates: There was a positive correlation between the strength of the market (as measured by residential land values) and the average annual build rates achieved. The annual average build-rate for the largest sites (of 2,000 or more units) was c.161 dwellings per annum; delivery increased for larger schemes, reflecting the higher number of sales outlets possible on large sites but was not a straight line relationship: on average, a site of 2,000 units would not deliver four times as fast as a 500 unit site because of the limit to the number of sales outlets and overall market absorption rates.  For the duration of the development period, the average annual build rate was 239 dwellings.  Read more in the report here.

Brownfield/greenfield: Brownfield and greenfield sites came forward at broadly similar rates, although at the smaller end of the scale, there was some ‘bonus’ in speed of decisions for previously-developed land. For the largest sites (of 2,000+ units) an extended time period (3.6 years longer) was suggested compared to the equivalent greenfield sites, once started, large-scale greenfield sites delivered homes, on average, 50% quicker.

Read the full report here. 

 

 

 

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