Category Archives: Infrastructure


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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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.

The Legal Beagle will be back soon with more valuable information and analytics…

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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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Britain’s housing crisis – what’s the latest?


Theresa May could face a Conservative backlash over the housing crisis if she doesn’t listen to the backbench Conservatives.

The Prime Minister has been advised to force councils to build more homes in an attempt to tackle the housing crisis and prompt a building boom.

Proposals have been put in place but nothing will be published until the end of the month according to The Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, would like to see housebuilding boosted significantly.

In the housing white paper ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ published in February 2017, the Government said: “Some local authorities can duck potentially difficult decisions, because they are free to come up with their own methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’. So, we are going to consult on a new standard methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’, and encourage councils to plan on this basis.”

Sajid Javid hopes by adopting an expansive approach, which includes data about the local housing market, he can boost redevelopment in areas where prices are rising quickly. However, Javid and his allies are likely to find themselves up against Tory MPs and councillors that are wary of a planning blight. Andrew Mitchell, the former Development Secretary, publicly conflicted with Javid over plans for a housing development in his Sutton Coldfield constituency.

Housing campaigners urged the Prime Minister to be bold-faced. Gill Payne, the executive director of public impact at the National Housing Federation, said: “Getting this right will be a show of the strength of Government’s commitment to building the homes the nation needs. Getting a consistent and accurate picture of housing need is really important – it cements into the local plan the number of homes that need to be delivered.”

Ms Payne added: “Robust methodology will give a consistent and undisputable approach across the country.”

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “We hope these changes will help to simplify and join up the way councils across the country assess housing need in their areas, and it’s vital that the new proposals work to deliver as many affordable homes as possible.”

She added that Javid should tighten up the planning regime, to allow local authorities to exert more control over what can be built, where, rather than relying on the market to deliver.

“It’s important to remember that developers can still often build whatever they like, regardless of whether it meets what the council says is needed or not. The Government must now take action to change this, by giving councils more power to get housing built that will meet the needs of their community.”

Previous Governments have sought to make property ownership more affordable. Ambitious building targets have rarely been met, and George Osborne’s focus on subsidising mortgages through the help-to-buy scheme was disparaged for fuelling the boom.

Moving forwards…

Theresa May really does need more young voters

The Prime Minister’s efforts to tackle the problem may have been strengthened by the Conservative’s poor showing among the younger generation at the general election in June. A recent YouGov poll suggested that just 4% of 18-24-year-olds trust the Conservatives to deal with the issue of housing – against 44% for Labour. If Theresa May takes the appropriate steps, she could gain more support from young people.

Official figures

Homeowners could expect to pay about 7.6 times their annual earnings to buy a house in England and Wales in 2016, up from 3.6 times earnings in 1997.

The Housing need test

The housing need test is one of a package of measures radical Conservatives believe will be necessary to tackle the challenge.

Whilst in Scotland…

The Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, in a speech focusing on housing policy in Scotland, said on Friday: “It is a bedrock of Conservative belief that we should encourage a property-owning democracy. Yet increasingly, we now have something more akin to a property-owning oligarchy. Made up of lucky, mainly older, people who – by dint of having scaled the housing ladder – are now the ones who now control the country’s economic purse strings. “

George Freeman, chair of the Conservative policy forum, has also warned that young people risk rejecting capitalism if they have no chance of owning a home.

May signalled on her trip to Japan that she wants to press ahead with domestic reform, as well as complete the Brexit negotiations.

She pointed to her Downing Street speech last year, in which she pledged to right, “burning injustices”, including the fact that “if you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home”.

But diluted corporate governance reforms published last week raised questions about whether May’s minority Government will be willing to take on vested interests.

Housebuilding slumped after the financial crash from more than 215,000 homes a year in 2007-8 to 133,000 in 2012-13. It has since recovered, but has not regained its pre-crisis level.

We will keep you informed about future developments.

Read our article on the Housing white paper 2017 here. 

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£2.3 billion investment in infrastructure for new housing in the UK


UK infrastructure investment uk housing.

Things are looking up for housing!

A £2.3 billion fund which could unlock 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand was launched yesterday (4th July 2017) by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid. It was a welcome and positive move.

At the Birmingham LGA Conference, the Communities Secretary said that the investment will help to fund vital physical infrastructure projects. Life’s necessities – the building of roads, bridges, energy networks and other utilities, the absence of which continues to delay housebuilding in the UK – preventing the government from fixing our broken housing market.
Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

“To build the homes this country needs, we need to deliver the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time. By investing in local infrastructure, we can help unlock building thousands of new homes in the areas where they are needed most.
The Housing Infrastructure Fund will also make sure we have better public services in place for local communities.”

Furthermore, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Jones commented:

“Where we live plays a huge part in our lives; from the distance of our commute to the local facilities available. By ensuring we have enough housing in areas where it is needed the most, we can boost productivity and support new communities to grow and thrive.
This money is part of our £23 billion National Productivity and Investment Fund, which will ensure Britain is match fit for the future.”

The much needed new investment through the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) aims to solve this problem. It is opening for bids for local authorities across England to come forward with proposals to help get homes built faster, as from today!
Local authorities could begin building immediately once a proposal has been approved. The funding will be available from 2017-18 to 2020-21.
The fund was originally announced back in the Autumn Budget last year by Chancellor Phillip Hammond. Mr Hammond said that the money would be available for local authorities by 2020-21. The sooner the better.

Home Builders Federation Planning Director Andrew Whitaker said:

“Funding necessary infrastructure will give local authorities the opportunity to remove barriers to developments being delivered. Direct support for critical infrastructure will not only unlock more housing, it should also help to accelerate planned developments.”

“Local authorities that plan for growth should be supported and that will, in turn, allow house builders to get on and deliver the homes our communities so desperately need. HIF is an important demonstration of the government’s commitment to housing, following on from the housing white paper, which sets out a strategy to fix the nation’s dysfunctional housing market.”

“The fund will support councils to step up their plans for growth, release more land for housing and get attractive, well designed homes that people want to live in built at pace and scale.”

More encouraging comments came from the LGA Chairman Lord Porter.

“We’re pleased that the government has followed through on its commitment to invest in infrastructure linked to housing and that this to be led by councils, as we outlined on our preliminary Housing Commission findings last year.”

“Going forward, what’s crucial is that the arrangements to access this fund are flexible, especially around different housing tenures, and that all councils can access funds to deliver housing for their communities.”

“Councils know their communities, and the places in them, best and so it’s right that approaches to invest in local infrastructure are led by local authorities.”

It looks like things are moving in the right direction at last.

Read more about…

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid was appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 14 July 2016. He was elected Conservative MP for Bromsgrove in 2010.

Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones was appointed Exchequer Secretary to HM Treasury on 15 June 2017.
He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Transport from May 2015 to 15 June 2017. Andrew was elected the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough in May 2010.

House Building
What are the government doing about house building?

Homes & Communities Agency
Find out about funding programmes, regulations, land & development opportunities, design and sustainability, procurement panels and digital services.

Department for Communities and Local Government
The Department for Communities and Local Government’s job is to create great places to live and work, and to give more power to local people to shape what happens in their area.

If you wish to discuss this topic or any other on our website, contact us today.

Do you know something that we don’t know? We are always interested in hearing about planning, development, architecture and design. contact us if you stumble upon any fascinating changes to the London landscape.


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Government reveals its preferred option for Lower Thames Crossing


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

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

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


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

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

2012 – 5 options became three

2013 – Option B was discarded by the Government

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Highways England

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

The details

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

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

Why option C?

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

What do the affected local authorities think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thames River Crossing possible sites

Source:Thurrock Council

Key URLs:


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Heathrow Expansion – The Debate


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

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

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

Source – NPS – additional runway boundary

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

 Let the debate commence… 

For the development of the third runway:

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

Have your say!

Against the development of the third runway:

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

Have your say!

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

Here’s an interesting question…

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

Only time will tell…

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

We provide a summary of the NPS below:

Purpose and scope of the Airport NPS

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

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


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

Section 104 (Planning Act 2008)

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

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

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

Source; NPS Draft Masterplan of Scheme proposals


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

Establishing the need for additional airport capacity

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

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

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

Assessment Principles

General Principle

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

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

Scheme variation

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


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

Habitats Regulations Assessment

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


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

Alternative requirements

The applicant must comply with the following legal requirements:

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

Criteria for ‘good design’ for airports infrastructure

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

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


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

Climate change adaption

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

Pollution control

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

Common Law Nuisance

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

Security considerations

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


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


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

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

Specific impacts requirements

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

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

 What happens next?

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

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

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

Relevant dates for the expansion (read more)

What’s next? 

Read the planning process (here)

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

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

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

Are you for or against The Heathrow Expansion?

Have your say!

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The Housing White Paper 2017 – Part: 2


Building homes faster!

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

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

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

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

More interesting comments and headlines to follow…

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

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

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

The Government will be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part: 2 – Proposals

NPPF Amendments & Applications

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


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

Information Collation & Analysis

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

Regulation & Legislation

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

What are your thoughts? Have your say…

The consultation will begin on 7th February 2017. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will close on 2 May 2017. All responses should be received by no later than 23:45 on 2 May 2017.

This consultation is open to everyone. The government are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across the public and private sectors, as well as from the general public.

During the consultation, if you have any enquiries, please contact:

You may respond by completing an online survey here 

Alternatively you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to:

If you are responding in writing, please make it clear which questions you are responding to. Written responses should be sent to: Planning Policy Consultation Team Department for Communities and Local Government Third Floor, South East Fry Building 2 Marsham Street SW1P 4DF

When you reply it would be very useful if you confirm whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and include:

  • Your name
  • Your position (if applicable)
  • The name of organisation (if applicable)
  • An address (including post-code)
  • An email address
  • A contact telephone number

Consultation questions for Part: 2  

Question 16

Do you agree that:

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

Question 17

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

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

Question 18

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

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

Question 19

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

Question 20

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

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

Question 21

Do you agree that:

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

Question 22

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

Question 23

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

Question 24

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

Question 25

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

Question 26

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

Question 27

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

Question 28

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

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

Question 29

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

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

Question 30

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

In the papers today…

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

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

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

The third proposal – ‘Diversifying the market’.

Read the full Housing White Paper 2017 here.

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Heathrow Airport third runway plans revealed


Heathrow Airport third runway plans revealed today!

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

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

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

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

Here’s the latest Heathrow Expansion update…

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

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

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

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

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

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