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According to a new report, local authority planning departments across England lost an average of 15% of their staff between 2006-2016. The survey was carried out by think-tank Planning Futures and the findings of the survey were reported recently at a Labour Party Conference in Brighton. The survey stated development management teams have reduced by 13% over the 10-year period and planning policy teams by 18%.

Cian Bryan, Planning Futures director, reported that the survey prompted responses from over 250 English local planning authorities, which were then followed up with phone interviews. He said the drop in staff has been as a result of increasing workloads for planning teams, with a rise in application determinations between 2011 and 2016 as the economy picked up. Bryan also said that despite the overall decline, around 26% of councils had managed to increase their planning staff over the period by investing in their teams. He said “We were surprised that the drop was only 14.6%, given the level of concern about resourcing within the industry.”

The report says, authorities have had to focus on their lawful obligation, however planning teams have struggled to meet other objectives beyond determining applications, said Bryan, adding: “We are looking at a different few years for the planning service nationally”.

The report found that the biggest strain on planning department capacity is a lack of funding due to authorities not being able to charge for development management services. Bryan said that the support of elected members, particularly council leaders, was “particularly critical” for strong planning services. The report also called for authorities to have the flexibility to set their own planning application fees and for central government to work with the Planning Advisory Service to provide planning training for all council leaders. The report said that the training should emphasise “the link between planning and the delivery of broader local government objectives, such as social and economic regeneration”.

The event was being chaired by former shadow planning minister Roberta Blackman-Wood, who revealed she would be chairing a Labour Party commission on planning. The commission would be launched next January, she said, and would look at planning department resources and the issue of committee decisions being overturned at appeal, among other issues.

Click here to find out about the Planning Consultancy services available at Carter Jonas.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Nick Taylor
Partner, Planning & Development
0207 016 0733
Nick.taylor@carterjonas.co.uk

A £54million funding package to assist councils in bringing forward sites for new homes has been launched by the government. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) recently released a statement saying that the £45 million land release fund, launched in partnership with the Cabinet office and the local government association’s One Public Programme, “will ensure local councils release some of their unused or surplus land for housing”.

The DCLG have said that councils can bid for funding “for land remediation and small-scale infrastructure, which will help bring sites forward for housing that would not have otherwise been developed”. The statement also said that One Public Estate (OPE) is releasing a further £9 million of funding in order to “support more councils to deliver ambitious property-focused programmes”.

OPE, which was established in 2013 provides technical and practical support to councils alongside funding in order to deliver property-related initiatives to raise revenue and deliver new homes. The DCLG have released a statement saying the partnership with OPA will give local authorities “greater access to support from across government and help them to release more land more efficiently”.

Alok Sharma housing and planning minister said: “To build the homes this country needs, we need to increase the supply of land available to build more homes, more quickly. As a major landowner, local authorities have a crucial role to play in this task. Through this innovative cross-government partnership, we will be able to work with councils much more effectively, helping them to meet local housing needs and transform local areas.”

Click here to find out about the Planning Consultancy services available at Carter Jonas.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Nick Taylor
Partner, Planning & Development
0207 016 0733
Nick.taylor@carterjonas.co.uk

Across England housing completions have risen by 15% over the past year, with the latest government statistics revealing that housing starts are up by 10%*. The most recent data for the quarter of April to June 2017, from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on housebuilding, has shown that new build dwelling starts in England were estimated at 41,180 in the latest quarter. This is a 3% decrease compared to the previous three months and a 10% increase on 2016.

Completions were estimated at around 40,310, this is 2% higher than the previous quarter and a 15% increase on last year. In the June quarter 2017 private enterprise new build dwelling starts were stable, with a 0% change from the previous quarter. Completions were also stable with a 0% change, whilst starts by housing associations were 19% lower compared to the last quarter and completions were 17% higher.  

The statistics also said that the London Borough of Croydon had the highest rates of completions. Areas in Kent and Gloucestershire have also been experiencing high levels of completions.

* Housing starts is an economic indicator that reflects the number of privately owned new houses (technically housing units) on which construction has been started in a given period. These data are divided into three types: single-family houses, townhouses or small condos, and apartment buildings with five or more units.

Click here to find out about the Planning and Development Consultancy services available at Carter Jonas.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Nick Taylor
Partner, Planning & Development
0207 016 0733
Nick.taylor@carterjonas.co.uk

Last year the government-commissioned Local Plans Expert Group (LPEG) announced a new simplified method for calculating objectively-assessed housing need. The LPEG chair, John Rhodes, said its impact could be ‘seismic’. In April 2016, when speaking about the report, Rhodes also said: “You could virtually work out your (objectively assessed need) at your desk in a couple of hours, rather than having 18 months of argument.”

Recently the government put forward its own simplified methodology for consultation, however there has been much debate over how it differs from the LPEG method. The government’s new methodology starts with the official household projections for each local authority area. It then applies an affordability ratio this is based on local median house prices to median work-place earnings. Where house prices are more than four times the average earnings, the multiplier would increase the housing need figure by 0.25 per cent for each one per cent the affordability ratio rises above four. However, this uplift is then capped level at 40 per cent above the level in recently-adopted local plans (for older local plans, the cap is 40 per cent above projections or the plan figure, whichever is higher). This produces the final housing need figure.

Similarly the LPEG method also starts with official government household projections. However, before reaching a "demographic starting point", these figures would then be adjusted to local circumstances, including ten-year migration trends, household formation rates for those aged between 25 and 44 and vacancy and second home rates. Having produced a starting figure, the LPEG team recommended that this should then be subject to an initial uplift based on levels of local affordability, looking at the difference between income with rents and house prices. Finally, LPEG proposed a further uplift to address affordable housing needs where required, before arriving at a final figure.

In contrast to the LPEG recommendations, the new even-more-streamlined methodology, proposed by the government, only uses the household projection figures as the starting point, removing the need to adjust to local circumstances before reaching a demographic starting point. This means the ten-year migration test and vacancy and second home rates go. The proposed method set out last week keeps the affordability test, albeit with a simpler formula, but removes the further consideration of affordable housing need before producing a final figure.

Click here to find out about the Planning and Development Consultancy services available at Carter Jonas.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Nick Taylor
Partner, Planning & Development
0207 016 0733
Nick.taylor@carterjonas.co.uk

Following his unveiling of the Housing White Paper earlier this year, Communities Secretary of State Sajid Javid has now unveiled further details of his proposed reforms to the planning system. These reforms aim to help speed up the delivery of new homes and to “fix our broken housing market. He said the planning system has failed to plan for the number of homes needed ‘for decades’ and too much control is given to those who are against new housing developments.

As well as making viability assessments simpler and more transparent, and increasing planning application fees in areas that deliver new housing, the main focus was on delivering a standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing need. Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester he said that the inability of young people to access home ownership is a “national outrage” and “the biggest barrier to social progress in our country today”. He also said “The opportunity that my generation took for granted now seems lost to so many, it is no wonder that we see so many young people angry and feeling left behind. This is a clear injustice at the very heart of our society.”

Speaking about the planning system Javid said they have “failed to plan for the number of homes we need”. He stated “Too much control is given to those who will never accept development”. Javid said it is a clear reflection of the government’s failure on housing that the Labour party are “being taken seriously again”. However he did insist that the Conservative Party has “made progress” through a record number of planning permissions being granted over the past year and an increase in housebuilding.

Of course what does this all mean for London, an area with a recognised housing crisis? The ultimate headline is that London needs to deliver over 72,000 homes a year to meet its housing need. Some may wonder where all these new homes in London will be built. Constraints such as the green belt and metropolitan open land, as well as a lack of available brownfield land may limit the number of locations for new homes. Recognising this, Javid does not suggest these new housing calculations should be “mistaken for a hard and fast target”. Instead suggests that other neighbouring local authorities may find additional capacity and are willing to take on unmet need. Still many in the planning profession are aware of the problems associated with a so-called ‘duty to co-operate’ and may be guarded in how successful this approach will be.   

London remains one of the few areas in the country with an organisation responsible for strategic planning between Boroughs in the form of the Greater London Authority and new Mayor Sadiq Khan elected on a mandate to address London’s housing crisis there is a hope London can find the means to address its new housing need figures.

If you are interested in finding out more about housing need, the Government’s proposed planning reforms and what it may mean for developments in London, then please contact our Planning team.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Nick Taylor
Partner, Planning & Development
0207 016 0733
Nick.taylor@carterjonas.co.uk

 

Hear from Lachlan Robertson

Can the consultation do that, let alone make housing more affordable?

We are all waiting eagerly for the publication by the Department of Local Government and Communities (DCLG) of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). No doubt the revised document will re-confirm the need to achieve a step change in the delivery of new housing, as the current version did. But the one critical thing that it needs to do, making housing more affordable, won’t be so easily achieved.

Assuming we are proven correct, this is a bit disappointing given all that leaping about by Government spokespersons and Q&A sessions at innumerable conferences that we are all booked into over the winter. Too Jeremiah-like? Let’s look at the evidence.

If only the titles of government documents could come to fruition, we ought to have been encouraged by the one published last February titled Fixing our Broken Housing Market. Part of that fix was dealing with the perceived problem that too much time and money was being spent on assessing what should be the proper amount of housing need that should be planned for in any given local planning authority area.

The solution is a proposed Standard Methodology for Assessing Housing Need (SMAHN) published in the recent consultation document Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places. We are told that everyone will be expected to use it come March 2018. The SMAHN is based on the assumption that the amount of housing required can be calculated from Government figures forecasting annual average household growth over 10 years and then multiplied by a “market signal” adjustment factor.

This adjustment factor is a formula which assumes that affordability is set at four times the average salary (because that’s what mortgage companies prefer) and that in areas where that median affordability ratio is exceeded, more housing, according to the formula, needs to be planned for.

The SMAHN, in other words, relies on the fundamental assumption that by increasing the supply of housing, in those areas, house prices will fall, thus making them more affordable.

For those of us with long enough memories, we can see the origins of that idea in Kate Barker’s 2004 Review of Housing Supply. Here she argued that in order to reduce house price growth to manageable levels (she suggested 1.1% per annum as opposed to the 5.1% we had last year) then we would need to build 245,000 homes a year. Yet the proposed change to the NPPF is intended to result in roughly that same number of new dwellings but will somehow reduce house prices to a reasonable median affordable ratio.

A casual glance at the variability of house process over the decades may well indicate that there is a relationship between supply and house prices, but at the levels of house building that the new NPPF will envisage, it will be nowhere near enough to cause house price falls by itself. And anyway, which local planning authority councillor wishes to increase the supply of housing in their area so that their voters find their houses falling in value?

In reality, the only sure way of changing the affordability ratio over the long term is to change both sides of the equation and not only increase supply but also raise average wage levels. This takes us into the realms of the Government’s overall economic strategy to improve productivity and wage growth … and the proposed NPPF does not seem to be the place. That issue may be more in the hands of Brexit negotiators than the DCLG.

But if that weren’t enough reason to be sceptical about the ability of proposed changes to make housing more affordable, then there is a final proposed adjustment: to cap the increase depending on the status of the Local Plan as found at the time in each local authority area. And they can still look to their environmental constraints (Green Belt etc) to claim that their capacity for growth is limited.  So the effect of this would be that if a local authority experiencing a high affordability ratio already has an up-to-date plan, then it will be years before the increase in housing supply will make … no difference to affordability!

Of course, calculating an increase in housing supply to accommodate a need to derive more affordable dwellings misses out an important sector of the market: rented accommodation. In many areas and for many people, it is the cost of renting which matters more that the ability to gain mortgages. The consultation states that this will be tackled in the forthcoming NPPF but there is no detail in contrast to the detailed formulae given for the new SMAHN.

Following the Prime Minister’s speech to conference on 4 October, we can now look forward to the detail of how the extra £2 billion promised for affordable housing will be spent and how it will make a difference to affordable rents.

The purpose of changing the NPPF to help further increase the amount of housing is a laudable one. And it’s hard not to have sympathy for the frustration that local planning authorities and our clients feel about the interminable debates at Local Plan hearings about the right amount of housing to plan for.

But to pretend that it is a tool that helps make houses affordable is to go too far. The problem is far more complex than that. Let’s hope the NPPF has something else to say that will help.

Simon Grundy

Lachlan Robertson
Partner, Planning & Development
01225 747267
Lachlan.Robertson@carterjonas.co.uk

 

Carter Jonas News

The London planning team have been appointed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to provide planning advice on a school in Walton-on-Thames - Heathside II. The ESFA is an executive agency of Her Majesty’s Government, sponsored by the Department for Education, and is responsible for schools funding, regulating academies, sixth-forms and further education colleges and delivering projects and services such as creating new schools and running the National Apprenticeship Scheme.

The London team’s initial appointment will see them carry out research to support the case for very special circumstances to justify the proposed school’s green belt location. The Heathside II School is intended to operate as a 6th form entry free school providing much needed secondary school places for young people in the local area.

For further information please contact a member of our team:

Peter Edwards
Partner, Planning & Development
0207 529 1501
Peter.Edwards@carterjonas.co.uk

Our London team has been appointed by Be Living Limited to advise on a portfolio of sites within the London Borough of Hounslow in conjunction with the council's wholly owned subsidiary, Lampton 360.  

Lampton 360 was set up by the council to generate revenue for the borough by unlocking value within its land assets and to accelerate the delivery of affordable housing on its sites. Around 1,500 new homes could be delivered across the sites with homes being a mix of tenures – 40% affordable, 40% open market sale and 20% private rent.  

Be Living Limited was selected as Lampton 360’s development partner in 2016. Carter Jonas has been appointed to initially undertake a planning appraisal for each of the sites before submitting the first set of planning applications later this autumn.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Katy Davis
Partner, Planning & Development
0207 529 1513
Katy.Davis@carterjonas.co.uk

Clare CollegeCarter Jonas recently obtained a resolution of approval for a scheme designed to meet Clare College, Cambridge accommodation needs by providing 85 rooms to provide flexible accommodation for postgraduate students and fellows of Clare College with a range of student accommodation types. Clare college is the second oldest college in Cambridge University and the scheme will provide an opportunity to "repair" the Chesterton Road and Hamilton Road frontages to the site in keeping with the adjoining De Freville Conservation area; and create new high quality landscape and external spaces.  
 
The development also includes private market housing to the south, which fronts onto Hamilton Road. The scheme has evolved in close dialogue with the LPA over a considerable period of time and has been designed to deliver a scheme that is of a high quality design, but one which respects the residential amenity of nearby properties. The proposal will bring about significant environmental improvements to the area which is a brown-field site, and in doing so, will provide an attractive development, helping to provide purpose built student accommodation, to meet the needs of the College, complimented by much needed private market housing on Hamilton Road.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Justin Bainton
Partner, Planning & Development
01223 326806
Justin.Bainton@carterjonas.co.uk

The Cambridge planning team were instructed by Madingley Developments Ltd to manage a planning application for 16 exemplar styled large apartments at Nos. 34-36 Madingley Road in Cambridge. It was a challenging job as the site is located within the Conservation Area and surrounded by Listed Buildings.  The proposals involved the demolition of the existing two detached dwellings with the 16 apartments to be arranged within two blocks along with underground at parking. A high quality development within a landscaped setting will be delivered and it is felt that the units will appeal to those looking to downsize. The application was unanimously approved by the Planning Committee in August. 

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Peter McKeown
Associate Partner Planning & Development
01865 404437
Peter.McKeown@carterjonas.co.uk

West Berkshire Barn ConversionCarter Jonas was instructed to prepare a planning application for the conversion of an existing agricultural building to a single dwelling in the open countryside. Pre-application advice was sought from West Berkshire Council who provided detailed comments on a range of material considerations. We provided advice and guidance on the acceptability of the proposals and great care was exercised in the design of the conversion to ensure no harm will result to the character or appearance of the buildings or the wider area. This helped to ensure successful planning permission was achieved.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Clare O’Hanlon 
Associate, Planning & Development
01865 404401
Clare.O'Hanlon@carterjonas.co.uk

The Vale of White Horse District Council has recently issued the Publication Version of its Local Plan Part 2. The two largest allocations in the Plan are both being promoted by Carter Jonas.

Acting on behalf of the Harwell Campus Partnership, Carter Jonas has secured a draft allocation at the Campus for new science and technology development capable of supporting at least 5,400 net additional jobs along with a related allocation for 1,000 new homes to support those jobs.

Carter Jonas has also secured a draft allocation for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation at Dalton Barracks near Abingdon for 4,500 new homes. The barracks is currently in the Green Belt.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Steven Sensecall
Partner, Planning & Development
01865 297705
Steven.Sensecall@carterjonas.co.uk

On 17th October, South Oxfordshire District Council issued the Final Publication Version of its Local Plan 2011 – 2033.

The Plan includes two major Green Belt releases: Culham Science Centre and Land adjacent to Culham Science Centre. Carter Jonas is advising the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority on the Science Centre and is promoting the adjacent land on behalf of CEG. Consistent with submissions made by Carter Jonas in response to previous versions of the Plan, Culham Science Centre has been allocated as a site for additional science & technology related development and the Land adjacent to Culham Science Centre has been allocated as a site for approximately 3,500 new homes with associated services and transport infrastructure.

For further information, please contact a member of our team:

Steven Sensecall
Partner, Planning & Development
01865 297705
Steven.Sensecall@carterjonas.co.uk

Carter Jonas planning North team have achieved planning permission for a replacement dwelling at Carr Barn, Littlethorpe. This followed a complex planning history involving a certificate of lawfulness and retrospective permission for the use of Carr Barn as an independent residential dwelling. The Council supported the replacement dwelling as it was a visual improvement on the current approved scheme.

For further information please contact a member of our team:

Simon Grundy
Partner, Planning & Development
01423 707820
Simon.Grundy@carterjonas.co.uk

A recent successful determination for the Planning North team, with the grant of planning permission for a 25 dwelling scheme in the village of Markington was secured at Harrogate Council’s planning committee on 26 September 2017.

This was a revised scheme, however the planning application was supported by the vast majority of the village and local residents. The local primary school was also very supportive as it recognised the significant beneficial effects new housing can deliver to rural communities.

Paul Leeming
Associate Partner, Planning & Development
0113 203 1098
Paul.Leeming@carterjonas.co.uk

Carter Jonas was recently instructed to progress a planning application for a large two storey extension and outbuildings. This was to facilitate the specific needs of the family, who required disability access throughout their property, set in the open moorland countryside in West Yorkshire.

Jason, has profound special needs and the main aim of the proposal was to give him the chance to interact with his family as much as possible. With full access to the family house and also sensory play space. On a more practical level, additional storage space was needed for medical supplies, equipment and mobility apparatus. This included the installation of a lift, sufficient space to easily manoeuvre an electric wheelchair and also the ability to provide suitable accommodation for an onsite carer was also a necessity. Ultimately, this was all accommodated for, but not without many difficult negotiations with the local planning authority. 

Even though this was a case with special circumstances, therefore warranting the requirement for a large extension, both the case officer and their team leader were set against the proposals. This was despite no strong policy basis, the site was not in the green belt nor an area of outstanding natural beauty or a special landscape area and there were also no neighbours that would be affected.

Permission was granted under delegated powers through a combination of working closely with the family and architects, scheme amendments, a detailed policy case and sheer persistence.  The successful outcome was an excellent result for our client, but also for all those involved in the project, in particular Jason, as the proposed works will vastly improve his ability to access the whole house and fully engage in day-to-day family life.

For further information please contact a member of our team:

Simon Grundy
Partner, Planning & Development
01423 707820
Simon.Grundy@carterjonas.co.uk

The next edition of Planning Bulletin will be published in January 2018, however you can keep up-to-date with our latest firm wide developments on the news section of our website.

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James is Head of the Planning and Development at Carter Jonas and is based out of our London and Oxford offices. James advises clients on proposed development projects throughout the south of England. He has over 20 years experience in residential and mixed use development acting for private, corporate, institutional, charity and public sector clients. This includes site identification, project management of planning and development strategies, valuation and viability appraisals, marketing and sale of development opportunities. He has specific expertise in options, promotion agreements, joint ventures and landowner agreements. James has been involved in sites ranging from new settlements to city centre regeneration and smaller provincial and rural schemes, and also provides expert witness and independent expert valuation services for dispute resolution.

I can provide advice on:

Nick is a chartered town planner and development surveyor with over 25 years' experience, gained across the residential, commercial, retail and industrial sectors for corporate, institutional and private landowners and developers. He has worked at CBRE and Drivers Jonas Deloitte. His professional experience is in three main sectors – Strategic Land / Projects, Retail / Mixed-Use and Central London. Strategic Projects / Land involves the promotion of land for commercial and residential development for landowners and developers. Retail / Mixed-Use schemes are a blend of edge of centre and town centre mixed-use schemes with foodstores and other uses, often residential. This sector includes regeneration and waterside schemes. Central London focuses on projects from Canary Wharf to Hammersmith and Camden down to Wandsworth, Southwark and Lambeth.

When he isn’t working, Nick can be found playing golf (increasingly badly) and spending time re-stocking and emptying his wine cellar to indulge his passion for wine.

I can provide advice on:

Colin is a Partner and Head of Planning across the Eastern Region, he is based out of our Cambridge office.  He has over 25 years’ experience of planning consultancy and has a broad sphere of work.  He acts for a wide range of private, institutional and developer clients and has worked on significant planning applications and appeals.

He regularly instructs Counsel, and has appeared at a number of Local Plan examinations and in Section 78 and other appeals where he has often given evidence.  He carries out much land promotion work and has a strong track record of delivering planning consents taking projects through their entire process from site identification to construction on site.  

Away from work, Colin is Chairman of the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry and of the Cambridge branch of networking group, Interact.  He is also Chairman of the Dining Rights Committee at the Hawks’ Club, a sporting club in the City for Cambridge University sportsmen. He is a regular, if poor golfer, a keen cyclist and a committed, but somewhat less dangerous skier than he once was.

I can provide advice on:

Simon is the Partner who heads up our planning team in the North and is based in our Leeds office. The Planning North team is based in Leeds and Harrogate and also operates through the Carter Jonas York, Boroughbridge and Kendal offices and working in close partnership with the Development Agency team and other agency colleagues across the region.

His 30 year career spans both public and private sectors. Simon has a strong background in planning project management and has successfully led development project teams on many occasions since becoming a planning consultant in 2003. His experience covers a full range of property sectors and development types including redevelopment of general housing site promotion, large public sector sites, education, high density and student housing, investment portfolio review, large scale mixed use development, major industrial, employment and retail proposals and leisure/hotel schemes.

Simon is an active member of the Home Builders Federation and York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Areas of expertise include:

•           Strategic planning advice for major, complex and high profile sites and development proposals  
•           Strong understanding of inter-related planning and market issues
•           Negotiation of Heads of Terms for Section 106 Agreements
•           Portfolio review and due diligence assessment
•           Development promotion through planning applications, appeals and development plans
•           Direction of heritage-related projects EIA development proposals
•           Provision of expert witness evidence to public inquiries and hearings   

I can provide advice on:

Steven is Partner and Head of Planning Southern Region and is based in our Oxford office.

I can provide advice on:

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