At Carter Jonas, we are very aware that questions may arise around the impact that COVID-19 is having, or is likely to have, on the planning system and development market both immediately, and over the coming weeks.

As we continue to monitor the ever-changing situation, we wanted to reiterate to you that, although our physical offices are temporarily closed, our teams are still working and can be contacted on their normal phone numbers.

The government continues to issue and update advice and guidance, and we are reviewing this as and when it changes. 

We understand that all planning and development requirements are unique and need a bespoke approach so, if you would like any help in understanding how these changes affect you, or specific advice as to actions you should be taking, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

The impact of COVID-19 will be very varied. Below we set out some guidance which we hope will be helpful.

development

Our development land professionals have published a detailed Development Land Market Outlook that is being continually reviewed and updated with our latest insights. To view this report please click here.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our development professionals, please contact us.

For landowners who have recently secured planning permission for development, even in the uncertain current climate, there is still a lot of important preparation to consider undertaking before going to market that can create added value and de-risk development opportunities.

Our professionals suggest that landowners should use the time created from a potential hiatus wisely.

Setting out a strategy for market preparations now will ensure that as soon as there are clear signs of market recovery, our clients development opportunities will be the first to hit the market and reach a captive audience of developers.

To view further information on why landowners should act now, please click here.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our development professionals, please contact us.
From our development professionals collective experience of previous market downturns and the present pandemic, key to the success of progressing transactions in the current climate is a pragmatic approach to the challenges faced by both vendors and purchasers. This needs to ensure a recognition of the potential risks to both parties.

To view our guidance for landowners looking to achieve a sale in the current climate, please click here.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our development professionals, please contact us.

Planning

Throughout the current situation, our planning professionals continue to be in regular contact with local authorities and other relevant parties, such as the Planning Inspectorate and Examination Programme Officers. We are also exploring a range of further methods, alongside internal and external project teams, to ensure we can continue to work collaboratively in our clients’ best interests.

These are extraordinary times, but the planning system continues to function. From our experience so far, the following points are worth noting:

The Government’s suggested recent changes to the planning system propose some fundamental alterations to the delivery of affordable housing which could have ramifications for registered providers and developers alike.

Our planning professionals, working with our affordable housing specialists, have considered the recommended amendments, and reflected on their potential impact.

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

The Government’s White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ was published on 6 August. It sets out a package of reforms which together represent the most fundamental change in England’s planning system since the 1947 Town & Country Planning Act. There now follows a consultation period ending on the 29 October, after which primary and secondary legislation will be required for some elements We look at some of the key proposals, what they are intended to achieve, and present our thoughts on what they could mean in practice.

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

The recently announced changes to the Use Classes Order in England will have a substantial effect on our town centres. Our property professionals, working with our research specialists, have examined the potential scale of impact from these changes by looking at data on the stock of 30 of the largest city centre retail markets in England (outside of Greater London).

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Following Boris Johnson’s ‘Build Build Build’ speech on 30 June, in late July some of the first of the promised changes to the English planning system were unveiled.

From 31 August, changes to permitted development will allow for upwards extensions to create additional accommodation, as well as permit for the widely suggested right to demolish vacant commercial buildings and replace them with homes.

But of potentially much greater significance are the most major changes to the use class system since it was created in 1987, which could have far-reaching consequences for our towns and cities.

Our planning professionals have outlined their thoughts on the changes and what this means for our planning system. To view the article, click here.

For further information, or to speak directly to one of our Planning & Development professionals, please contact us.

Dominic Cummings and Jack Airey, two of Boris Johnson’s key advisers, have made no secret of their disdain for the UK’s planning system. It has been widely trailed that some far-reaching reforms are in the pipeline, with a planning policy paper expected to be published at some point this month.

On the 30 June, Boris Johnson’s ‘Build Build Build’ speech set out the Government’s aspirations for economic recovery from COVID-19. Johnson outlined that we will “build back better, build back greener, build back faster”. Also, that the Government’s investment across a variety of sectors will be underpinned by “the most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the second world war”.

However, if the measures set out by Government are a taste of what is to come, the reforms to the planning system may be less radical than initially expected.

To view the article, please click here.

For further information, or to speak directly to one of our Planning & Development professionals, please contact us. 

We firmly believe new legislation and fresh momentum is required to aid the nation’s economic recovery post COVID-19, and some measures previously thought to be ‘no go areas’ must now be embraced openly.

Our Planning & Development teams across the country have been working remotely since lockdown and have been able to observe, at close quarters, how the planning system has adapted, or is adapting, to the changed circumstances.

While we applaud our industry for its flexibility and willingness to meet new challenges inflicted by COVID-19, we also recognise that the Government should take immediate action to aid processes. Further to this, we have outlined our thoughts on what those actions should be.

To view the article, please click here.

For further information, or to speak directly to one of our Planning & Development professionals, please contact us. 

Over the last few months, the spread of COVID-19 has caused an economic and social upheaval, impacting on almost every aspect of our everyday life. For those who work within the planning landscape, whether it be within a council or a consultancy, lockdown and social distancing has posed many challenges.

However, we are delighted to see our industry adapt and evolve in many ways, including the introduction of virtual planning committees.

As we work with many councils across the UK, we have had the privilege to be involved with some of the first planning committee meetings to take place via virtual video call platforms. To aid the success of similar upcoming council endeavours, we have outlined our experience and future recommendations.

To view the article, please click here.

For further information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

Most, but not all, Planning Officers are now working from home and should be contactable, as usual but often via mobile phones. Inevitably however, some are available on reduced hours due to childcare constraints. Nevertheless, it should be possible to hold routine meetings by video conference or telephone.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

We would advise you to expect some delays as validation/registration teams are also now working remotely. While most statutory consultations can be issued by email, authorities are finding it more difficult to deal with the issuing of neighbour consultation letters under remote working. We understand that some Councils will be asking individual members of staff to visit council premises to handle outgoing post. There may also be difficulties in posting site notices informing the public that planning applications have been submitted. Some authorities are asking applicants to assist with posting site notices.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

Most local planning authorities are able to handle such meetings via video conferencing. Microsoft Teams and Skype allow the sharing of screen displays, so while not ideal, it is perfectly possible to have such meetings with participants in multiple locations. Our planning and development teams have already had a number of such ‘online’ meetings with officers and this appears to be working satisfactorily.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

There is likely to be some disruption with site visits as Councils have understandably mandated that staff should work from home. Use of aerial photography and ‘street view’ technology may assist, but these have obvious limitations which need to be recognised. Clearly, some application proposals will be more dependent on a comprehensive site visit than others, and the extent to which officers are familiar with sites (through pre-application work etc.) will also be a factor.  We are aware that some authorities are requesting video footage of sites where they are unable to carry out visits.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

The current situation does mean that public exhibitions and workshops cannot go ahead. A move to greater use of online public engagement platforms should help and we are discussing this with a number of Councils at present and planning our first event under the current arrangements.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

All upcoming planning committees have already been, or are likely to be, cancelled for a period of time. However, local planning authorities are investigating ways of holding planning committees online or via conference call, which would streamline processes. Provision for this is included within Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, and more detailed regulations are now rapidly being brought forward in England under the Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Meetings) Regulations 2020 to give effect to this. A number of authorities are also considering delegating more decisions to officers on a temporary basis by amending their standing orders.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

While some technical studies can be completed remotely, a number of those that require any form of site visit are on hold until the restrictions are lifted. A solution might be to allow submission and validation of applications with these studies ‘to follow’ when circumstances allow. Without this flexibility, it may not be possible for some applications to be submitted. We understand however that CIEEM (the professional body for ecologists) have confirmed that ecological surveys may still take place where necessary and subject to social distancing being observed. This is potentially important given the seasonality of some of these surveys.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

For the time being, appeal inquiries, hearings and Examinations in Public will not be able to proceed. The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) hopes to use the ‘recovered’ time to attempt to clear some of the backlog of case work. This will inevitably lead to delays and further backlog. ‘Virtual inquiries’ and examination are being investigated and may streamline the process.  

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

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Our specialist teams operate at national level. Select a region below to find your nearest consultant.

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 food stores 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.

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Jon leads the Carter Jonas London development team, providing strategic development advice, feasibility and viability studies, acquisition, disposal and marketing advice and advice on structuring and procuring development partnerships. He has 30 years’ experience, working initially in local government and then in consultancy at Donaldsons, Knight Frank and GL Hearn.

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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.

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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.

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Matthew has acted for a wide number of Landowner Clients including:

  • Royal Estate Sandringham
  • Crown Point Estate
  • Cecil Family Trust
  • Greene King Plc
  • North Hertfordshire College
  • Cemex
  • May Gurney
  • Pigeon
  • Advice, marketing, disposal and additional tranche disposal of 1,500 unit Residential Development in Grantham.

Project team principle for disposal of the NHC Centre of the Arts, Hitchin, securing a Development Partner and assembling a professional team to progress an application, sale and disposal of a principal asset within the College’s portfolio 

Mathew has over 29 years' experience in the property industry and has been directly involved Residential Development in East Anglia since 1998. He specialises in Land Disposals and Acquisition; Strategic Land, Promotion and Option Agreements. He has acted for a wide range of private and public sector land owners companies including Greene King, Royal Estate Sandringham; Grant Thornton, Pigeon, Crown Point Estate, Cemex (formerly RMC), The Diocese of Norfolk & Norwich and North Hertfordshire College as well as private land owners across the region.

He is Head of Residential Development at the Cambridge Office.

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

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John is Head of the Leeds office and the Planning & Development Team North. John advises clients on proposed development projects throughout the North of England.  He has over 30 years’ experience in residential and commercial 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.

John has specific expertise in Options, Promotional Agreements, Joint Ventures and Conditional Contracts, acting mainly for landowners.  John has been involved in projects such as new settlements, to city centre regeneration, provincial sites, large commercial developments and site sales.

The Development Agency team are currently instructed on 6,500 acres in 150 locations across the North West, Yorkshire and the North East.

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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   

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