Category Archives: Development


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.

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

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 London Plan- In case you Missed it


The London Plan is the strategic planning policy document for all London Boroughs and forms part of the statutory development plan for each authority. It sets the strategic housing requirement for the whole of the metropolitan area and how this will be delivered as well as setting the strategic approach to other matters such as economy, design, heritage open space and landscaping and technical details such as renewable energy and drainage.

The current version of the London Plan was first adopted in 2011 with changes made during the course of 2015 and 2016.

The new London Plan or ‘Replacement Plan’ as it is also known was published for consultation in December 2017. This revised plan sees a step change in approach to planning decisions as it goes much further than being an overarching strategic planning document. Upon its anticipated adoption in 2019, it will come into effect straight away and the way in which it written means that authorities would not need to prepare a Part 1 Local Plan.

Whilst the Mayor is seeking to take some of the control of the function of the Boroughs, it doesn’t look to take all of them including the duty to co-operate. As the HBF wrote in their representations, the Mayor cannot pick and chose which functions they want to perform. The Mayor also proposes to set a metropolitan wide level for affordable housing at 50%
The Replacement Plan will run from 2019 to 2041 and sets a requirement of 64,935 dwellings over the first 10-year period. The capacity is made up of 400,470 homes from large sites and 245,730 homes over the 10 year period from small sites of less than 0.25 ha.

There is also reliance on increasing the number of units on those opportunity areas identified in the current London Plan and identifies approximately 9 new Opportunity Areas.

Development at Kings Cross Opportunity Area

Current and emerging Opportunity Areas. London Plan SHLAA 2017

There is a heavy reliance on brownfield land and optimising potential on:

  • Sites of PTAL 3-6
  • Mixed use redevelopment of car parks and low density retail parks
  • Intensification of residential on commercial leisure and infrastructure sites
  • Redevelopment of surplus sites
  • Small sites
  • Industrial sites
  • Sites that are allocated for residential and mixed-use development

There is also a general presumption against single use low-density retail and leisure parks.

Green Belt
The plan identifies that all the dwellings proposed can be provided within the City without extending out into the Green Belt. Policy G2 London’s Green Belt states that:
A The Green Belt should be protected from inappropriate development:
1) development proposals that would harm the Green Belt should be refused
2) the enhancement of the Green Belt to provide appropriate multifunctional uses for Londoners should be supported.
B The extension of the Green Belt will be supported, where appropriate. It’ s de-designation will not.

Given that 800,000 people commute between the City and the wider South East on a daily basis, it is questionable as to whether 65,000 dwellings can be delivered within the boundary of London. Nevertheless, the approach to Green Belt reviews should be undertaken by local authorities within their Part 1 Plans.

Commuting Patterns across London and wider region. London Plan 2017

The Plan Identifies 12 infrastructure priorities that the mayor will support within the Wider South East as they are of importance to the city. These include:

  1. East West Rail and new Expressway road link (Oxford – Cambridge)
  2. North Down Rail Link (Gatwick – Reading) including extension to Oxford
  3. A27 / M27 / A259 and rail corridor (Dover – Southampton)
  4. West Anglia Mainline, Crossrail 2 North (London – Stansted – Cambridge -Peterborough) and M11
  5. Great Eastern Mainline (London – Ipswich – Norwich) and A12
  6. Essex Thameside, A217 and A13 corridor
  7. Thames Gateway Kent : Elizabeth Line Extension and HS1 (London – North Kent -Channel Tunnel)
  8.  Lower Thames Crossing
  9. Brighton Mainline (London – Gatwick – Brighton)
  10. South West Mainline, Crossrail 2 South West (London – Surrey / Southern Rail Access to Heathrow) and A3
  11. Great Western Mainline (London – Reading / Western Rail Access to Heathrow)
  12. Midlands and West Coast Mainline (London – Luton – Bedford / Milton Keynes)
  13. Felixstowe – Nuneaton / Midlands and A14

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the removal of the density matrix within Policy DM6 of the Replacement Plan in favour of higher densities across all sites. Policy DM6 requires the submission of a Management Plan where density is exceeded in the following cases:

  1. 110 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 0 to 1
  2. 240 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 2 to 3;
  3. 405 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 4 to 6

All of these units per hectare standards are those applied to central locations suggesting that a higher density approach to new developments will be the normal approach. A high-density scheme in a suburban location may not be appropriate.

The Policy also requires that
“measures of density should be provided for all planning applications that include new residential units:

  1. Number of units per hectare
  2. Number of habitable rooms per hectare
  3. Number or bedrooms per hectare
  4. Number of bedspaces per hectare.”

So, the density matrix whilst not there will still clearly play a part in the decision-making process for authorities.

Tall Buildings

Policy D8 states that the definition of a Tall building can be made by each local authority, again suggesting the approach to higher density development wherever possible. A tall building is still referable to the GLA if it exceeds 30m.

Policy D2 requires design reviews to be undertaken at least once in addition to pre-application advice if they are:
– Above the density indicated in Policy D6
– Propose a building defined as tall building or that is more than 30m in height where there is no local tall building definition.

The approach to design should be taken by each authority within their Part 1 Plans. The approach to tall building design reviews is not helpful when read with Policy DM8.
Within Policy D3 inclusive design is promoted but no clarification is provided as to the threshold for inclusive design.

The Replacement Plan states that Boroughs should identify Strategic Areas for Regeneration in Local Plans based on a thorough understanding of the demographics of communities and their needs.

Affordable Workspace
The Replacement Plan emphasises the need to provide affordable workspace and low cost business space through Policy E3 Affordable Workspace

Basement Development
A Policy is now included on the need to assess large scale basement development along with a Policy also stating that any applications for fracking should be refused.

Public Houses
More protection for pubs is now included along with a policy requiring the provision of public toilets in proposals that involve people standing for long periods of time.

There is now clear guidance on how to deal with managing heat risks, requiring an assessment of overheating through CIBSE TM59 for domestic developments and TM 52 for non-domestic developments. In addition, TM 49 guidance and datasets should also be used to ensure that all new development is designed for the climate it will experience over its design life. The

Air Quality
Whilst air quality is addressed in reference to other policies in the current London Plan, air quality requirements are addressed as a standalone policy in the Replacement Plan, requiring development to not lead to further deterioration of existing poor air quality, or create areas that exceed air quality limits.

The Replacement Plan sets a Policy aim for development to achieve greenfield run off rates as the starting point. Development proposals for impermeable paving should be refused where appropriate, including on small surfaces such as front gardens and driveways.

Car Parking
Car-free development should be the starting point for all development proposals in places that are (or are planned to be) well-connected by public transport, with developments elsewhere designed to provide the minimum necessary parking (‘car-lite’) with maximum standards.

Those proposals with parking included need to include electric vehicle charging points.

Strategic Approach to Transport

The Replacement Plan sets out a significant list of transport infrastructure projects proposed to deliver the strategic target of 80% of all trips in London to be made by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041 and authorities in preparing development plans would need to support these projects. Such projects include the Silvertown Tunnel, Crossrail 2 and the provision of a new bridge linking south to east at Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.

Next Steps
The Examination in Public will take place in the Autumn of 2019 with the adoption of the final London Plan in the Autumn of 2019.


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City of Christchurch moves from Recovery into Regeneration


Christchurch Cathedral January 2017

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

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

The Earthquake

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


182 chairs for the 182 people that died during the earthquake

Events following the Earthquake

October 2011

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

March-August 2012

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

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


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

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

Christchurch Central Recovery Plan 2014

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

July 2015

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

September 2015

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

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

April 2016

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

June 2016

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

December 2016

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

July 2017

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

Cathedral Square January 2017

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

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

September 2017

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

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

December 2017

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

Christchurch Cathedral December 2017

February 2018

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

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

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

Cathedral and Square December 2017







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


‘Step into my office’ – with Jo Hanslip


London Plan Updates – tracking and progression

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

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

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The Review of build out – house building delays


We need more homes, what’s the delay?

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

The review:

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

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

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

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

Mr Javid confirmed that:

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

The bill will be constructed in two phases:

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

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

The review team members are:

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

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

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

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Government reshuffle brings new housing minister and new department name


Good game, new name…

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

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

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

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said:

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

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

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

Further changes were announced:

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

About Dominic Raab…

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about the 2017 housing white paper.

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



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


Legal Beagle

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

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

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

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

Appeal Decision Date: 26th September 2017

Appellant: Hollybrook (Harlow) Limited

Respondent: Harlow District Council

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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

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

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

Planning balance and overall conclusion

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

Download the decision here.

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A return flight to Heathrow this Christmas


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the revised National Policy Statement here.

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

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

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












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The 2017 Autumn Budget and the broken housing market


The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Autumn Budget to Parliament on 22nd November 2017. The Chancellor has pledged to fix the UK’s ‘broken housing market’. The investment he announced in the budget – which included £15.3bn of new funding – is meant to deliver at least 300,000 more houses by the 2020s.

He has also pledged to deliver five new garden towns by 2050 which would mean almost a million more houses.

Here is the need to know facts about housing from the 2017 Autumn Budget:

Planning for more homes

The planning system needed reform to boost land availability in the right places for homes, and to ensure that better use was made of underused land in urban areas whilst confirming the government’s commitment to maintain the existing protections for the Green Belt.

Deallocating sites from plans:

It will consult on strengthening policy to be clear that allocated land should be taken out of a plan if there is no prospect of a planning application being made.

Intervention where there is a failure to progress Local Plans:

DCLG had begun the formal process of considering intervention in 15 areas where the local authority had failed to put an up-to-date plan in place. It would shortly activate powers enabling it to direct local planning authorities to produce joint statutory plans and undertake an assessment of where they should be used.

First-time buyer led developments:

It would consult on a new policy whereby local authorities would be expected to permission land outside their plan on the condition that a high proportion of the homes were offered for discounted sale for first-time buyers, or for affordable rent. This would exclude land in the Green Belt.

Increasing housing density in urban areas :

It would consult on introducing:

  • Minimum densities for housing development in city centres and around transport hubs, with greater support for the use of compulsory purchase powers for site assembly
  • Policy changes to support the conversion of empty space above high street shops
  • Policy changes to make it easier to convert retail and employment land into housing
  • A permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes

Ensuring that planning permissions were built out faster

It was determined to ensure that land released for housing was put to the best use. It will consult on:

  • Strengthening the Housing Delivery Test with tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built, by setting the threshold at which the presumption in favour of development applied at 75% of housing delivery by 2020
  • Expecting local authorities to bring forward 20% of their housing supply as small sites. This will speed up the building of new homes and supports the government’s wider ambition to increase competition in the house building market
  • Speeding up the development process by removing the exemptions from the deemed discharge rules. This will get builders on site more quickly, ensuring that development is not held back by delays in discharging planning conditions

Review of build out:

It would set up a review panel, chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin, to explain the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permission, and make recommendations for closing it.The review will provide an interim report in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report at Budget 2018.

Register of planning permissions:

It would develop a central register of residential planning permissions from local authorities to improve information on where permissions are held and progress towards them being built out.

Developer contributions

Land value uplift:

In this year’s Housing White Paper, the government committed to responding to the CIL Review. DCLG will launch a consultation with detailed proposals on the following measures:

  • Removing restriction of Section 106 pooling towards a single piece of infrastructure where the local authority has adopted CIL, in certain circumstances such as where the authority is in a low viability area or where significant development is planned on several large strategic sites. This will avoid the unnecessary complexity that pooling restrictions can generate
  • Speeding up the process of setting and revising CIL to make it easier to respond to changes to the market. This will include allowing a more proportionate approach than the requirement for two stages of consultation and providing greater clarity on the appropriate evidence base. This will enable areas to implement a CIL more quickly, making it easier to set a higher ‘zonal CIL’ in areas of high land value uplift, for example around stations
  • Allowing authorities to set rates which better reflect the uplift in land values between a proposed and existing use. Rather than setting a flat rate for all development of the same type (residential, commercial, etc.), local authorities will have the option of a different rate for different changes in land use (agricultural to residential, commercial to residential, industrial to residential). All the protections for viability from CIL, such as the Examination in Public, will be retained
  • Changing indexation of CIL rates to house price inflation, rather than build costs. This will reduce the need for authorities to revise charging schedules. This will ensure CIL rates keep up with general housing price inflation and if prices fall, rates will fall too, avoiding viability issues
  • Giving Combined Authorities and planning joint committees with statutory plan-making functions the option to levy a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff (SIT) in future, in the same way, that the London Mayoral CIL is providing funding towards Crossrail. The SIT would be additional to CIL and viability would be examined in public. DCLG will consult on whether it should be used to fund both strategic and local infrastructure

Housing investment:

These reforms would ensure that there was more land for housing, but the private sector and local authorities would need support to ensure homes were built as soon as possible.

  • The government would strengthen the ability of the Homes and Communities Agency (to be renamed Homes England) to use investment and planning powers to intervene more actively in the land market
  • Land Assembly Fund: It would provide £1.1 billion for a new Land Assembly Fund, funded from the NPIF, enabling Homes England to work alongside private developers to develop strategic sites, including new settlements and urban regeneration schemes
  • New garden towns: It would bring together public and private capital to build five new garden towns, using appropriate delivery vehicles such as development corporations, including in areas of high demand such as the South East
  • Increasing the Housing Infrastructure Fund: It would invest further in infrastructure through the NPIF to support new housing in high-demand areas. The Budget committed a further £2.7 billion to the competitively allocated Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) in England
  • Strategic planning in the South East: Government would support more strategic and zonal planning approaches through housing deals in the South East, where housing need was at its most acute. As a first step, it had agreed on a housing deal with Oxfordshire, part of its wider strategic investment in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor. Oxfordshire would bring forward for adoption a joint statutory spatial plan and commit to a stretching target of 100,000 homes in the county by 2031, in return for a package of government support over the next five years, including £30 million a year for infrastructure and further support for affordable housing and local capacity. The government was also continuing housing deal negotiations with Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Leeds and the West of England
  • Small sites: infrastructure and remediation: It would provide a further £630 million through the NPIF to accelerate the building of homes on small, stalled sites, by funding on-site infrastructure and land remediation
  • Home Building Fund: SMEs: It announced a further £1.5 billion for the Home Building Fund, providing loans specifically targeted at supporting SMEs who cannot access the finance they need to build

Housing guarantees:

It would explore options with industry to create £8 billion worth of new guarantees to support housebuilding, including SMEs and purpose-built rented housing.

Affordable housing:

Increasing supply:

  • It confirmed a further £2 billion of funding for affordable housing, announced in October, including funding for social rented homes
  • The Budget would lift Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps for councils in areas of high affordability pressure, so they could build more council homes. Local authorities would be invited to bid for increases in their caps from 2019-20, up to a total of £1 billion by the end of 2021-22. The government will monitor how authorities respond to this opportunity and consider whether any further action is needed
  • Estate regeneration: there would be £400 million of loan funding for estate regeneration to provide new homes in high‑demand areas

Construction skills:

To deliver a workforce fit to build these homes, it was providing £34 million to scale up innovative training models across the country and was working with industry to finalise a Construction Sector Deal to support innovation and skills in the sector, including £170 million of investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.


Stamp duty land tax: It would permanently raise the price at which a property became liable for SDLT to £300,000 for first-time buyers to help young people buy their first home. The relief will not apply for purchases of properties worth over £500,000. 95% of first-time buyers that paid SDLT will benefit, up to a maximum of £5,000, and 80% of first-time buyers will pay no SDLT at all.

Help to Buy Equity Loan: 

The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme helps people to buy a home with a 5% deposit and has supported 135,000 people so far. The Budget confirmed the announcement in October of a further £10 billion for the scheme, supporting another 135,000 people to buy a new home.

Creditworthiness and rental payment data: 

The government will launch a £2 million competition, to support FinTech firms developing innovative solutions that help first-time buyers ensure their history of meeting rental payments on time is recognised in their credit scores and mortgage applications. Mortgage lenders and credit reference agencies are often unable to take rental payment history into account as they do not have access to this data. This competition will support firms to solve this problem.

Empty homes premium:

To encourage owners of empty homes to bring their properties back into use local authorities would be able to increase the council tax premium from 50% to 100%.

Right to Buy pilot:

It would proceed with a £200 million large-scale regional pilot of the Right to Buy for housing association tenants in the Midlands.

Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor – Housing:

Up to 1 million new homes were needed in the area by 2050 to maximise its economic potential, starting with a housing deal with Oxfordshire (see above) and working with Central and Eastern sections on commitments in 2018. It would also consider significant new settlements and the potential role of development corporations to deliver these using private finance.

Land value uplift:

Authorities and delivery bodies in the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor were expected to use existing mechanisms of land value capture and the new powers (subject to consultation) announced at the Budget to capture rising land values from the additional public investment. It would also encourage authorities to explore the introduction of a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff, in addition to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), supported by appropriate governance arrangements, requiring developers to baseline their contributions towards infrastructure into the values they paid for land.

Read the full 2017 Autumn Budget.

Read more…

If Britain does build a million homes, let’s not make a million more people lonely – The Guardian.

Legal & General accelerates housing investment after budget – FT Advisor

Will more housing result in more jobs in the construction sector? – Buy Association

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


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

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

Farhana’s findings…

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


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

What are Micro Homes?

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

Who would be the target audience?

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

Yes and no.

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

House costs and affordability

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

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

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

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


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


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



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

Figure 14. Affordability in England
Source: Savills, 2017

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

Can Micro Housing alleviate the housing crisis?

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

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


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

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

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