Bringing you thought provoking opinion articles from our experts and the recent news from within our Planning & Development division.

Hear from Robert Smith, Head of Strategic Land at Carter Jonas

The spotlight is on large-scale infrastructure projects and has been for some time. Crossrail is soon to succeed in its aim of transporting people across Central London. As such, investment is already being ploughed into the potential development projects associated with the delivery of HS1 and HS2. However, are we really getting the most out of the £150bn currently scheduled to be invested?

Robert Smith, partner at Carter Jonas, comments “If we are to capitalise on the real value of major new infrastructure projects, we need a strategic approach. We must ensure the billions spent on new infrastructure enables regeneration/redevelopment across the whole of the UK. If the creation of value is the key driver for investment to take place, infrastructure projects could be confined to areas of high value only, causing an increase in the divide between affluent and poorer areas.” If the required strategic thinking prevails, there are many opportunities on the horizon. For example the East West Rail link, also known as the ‘Varsity Line’. “This has to be one of the most exciting new infrastructure projects, linking two of the UK’s economic powerhouses which are currently both restrained by Green Belt policies. This investment will not only provide better linkages between the two cities but a number of sustainable new settlements along the route.” In the case of HS1 and HS2, Smith says, “The regenerative benefits are already being reaped before the first train has even departed. It is a refreshing change to visit Birmingham or Sheffield and find a reinvigorated neighbourhood in place of the chaos of a building site, the benefits of which stretch substantially beyond the transport hub itself.” But is a lack of strategic thinking the only limitation currently placed on the UK’s future infrastructure projects? “No”, says Smith, “our industry needs to adopt an approach to largescale development which is not fettered by traditional thinking - less cyclical and more progressive.”

“Take Crossrail for example, at the feasibility stage they sought to explore the regenerative effects of new and redeveloped stations, including the impact further afield. For example, on the outskirts of the M25 and beyond. But will the scheme have this extensive benefit once it is operational? My concern is that as a country we are simply not bold enough when it comes to maximising the value of major new infrastructure projects. Often our industry needs to be more creative. So what could Crossrail have done differently? “A more radical approach would have been to entirely re-think the street level between Bond Street and the increasingly tired eastern end of Oxford Street, to level it to the ground and create a ‘mini Manhattan’ which would have potentially generated significantly more investment and opportunities for regeneration and development.

“Admittedly, daring strategies are difficult in restrained, urban locations where listed buildings or landmark viewing corridors restrict new development.” So could a more strategic approach to infrastructure help address the current housing crisis? There is an irony, Smith explains, in the fact that while transport infrastructure is not always linked to plans for development, in reality new developments often struggle to succeed because of a lack of infrastructure. “Just as the value of a housing scheme is multiplied with the benefit of good infrastructure, it can also attract huge investment if the wider environment is taken into account at conception.”

“However, we’re heading in the right direction”, says Smith. “There is a new breed of ‘master-developers’ looking to capitalise on the investment in major infrastructure as a core component of some significant new housing led developments. And we are also seeing a more strategic, long term approach from Government, the new Ministry of Housing, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and Homes England. But we need to realise our weaknesses and address them with further joined up thinking. Does the Ministry of Deference sit down with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to jointly determine how they could resolve many social and logistical problems together? And where does the NIC fit in? There will always be a balance to be struck between capitalising on planned infrastructure and providing infrastructure to deliver regeneration. But, as always, there is room for improvement and with more strategic thinking, the UK can capitalise on this rather than lose the potential value of major new infrastructure. If as a country if we can be bolder, then perhaps the substantial investment in major new infrastructure projects can be a genuine route to regeneration for the whole of the UK.

This article was first published in Planning and Development Insite click here to download the issue

Robert Smith
Partner, Strategic Land
020 7016 0734

Carter Jonas in the news

Carter Jonas’ London Planning team has obtained a unanimous approval at the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s Planning Committee for a large scale office extension to Harrods’ Headquarters in Hammersmith.

Harrods’ headquarters, located at 68-72 Hammersmith Road, is the administrative heart of the world-famous Harrods brand, supporting its operations across the company and the Knightsbridge store.

Designed by award-winning architects Make, the extension is over 30 metres tall and will provide the client with an extra 6000sqm of office floorspace, allowing Harrods to remain at the site and to grow its business. The proposals include a new green trellis to the front and rear that transforms the building’s frontage and offers sustainability benefits.

On the way to success, the Planning team navigated a number of site constraints including its close proximity to a number of conservation areas and residential properties immediately to the rear. The application was GLA referable and through careful negotiation prior to determination, the Stage 2 report concluded the GLA is content to allow the Council to determine the case itself.

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

David Churchill
020 7518 3348

Carter Jonas’ Planning and Development East team have secured planning permission for The West Suffolk Operation Hub, which brings together the waste collection, waste transfer, depot, fleet, landscapes and public recycling facilities for the Bury St Edmunds and Forest Heath areas. The team navigated the council through a complex and taxing planning process which was subjected to unparalleled public scrutiny. The scheme was resisted by local residents which made the case prepared by Carter Jonas all the more important. The strength of the case meant that the council was able to justify locating the site on land designated as countryside, on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds.

It is testament to the open and consultative approach of the councils and the main contractor, Morgan Sindall, and indeed the extensive public engagement throughout the planning process, that activities on site are proceeding so smoothly and without disruption to the local community. The council and contractor continue to meet with the community on a regular basis through a commitment made during the planning phase of the project.

The project is expected to complete in under a years’ time, at which point it will deliver state of the art waste handling and operational facilities for the council. In addition to the operational efficiencies the scheme will deliver over time, the extensive and carefully designed landscape planting which forms part of the approved scheme will mature to create an attractive green edge to the development which will provide a net increase in biodiversity and a welcoming approach to the development for users and visitors from across West Suffolk.  

The substantial progress of the project, which only broke ground in May this year, can be seem from recent drone footage provided by the contractor. You can view the footage here.

Carter Jonas continues to advise the West Suffolk councils on the project as the implementation phase continues.

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

Richard Sykes-Popham
Associate Partner, Planning & Development
01284 750884

On behalf of the London Borough of Bexley and Galliford Try, the London planning team has secured planning permission for a new 120 pupil Special Educational Needs (SEN) school in Sidcup, in the London Borough of Bexley. The £11.5 million contract is part funded by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

The main challenge for this scheme was the site’s location in the Green Belt. The team were initially instructed in March 2018 to prepare a Green Belt location and site sequential assessment for discussion with the Greater London Authority (GLA). The report justified the choice of location and demonstrated the acute school place need.  The scheme included a performing arts centre and an all-weather sports pitch for shared use by the new SEN school and existing adjacent secondary school. These additions helped form part of the ‘Very Special Circumstances’ package of measures required to pass the Green Belt tests.

Following positive engagement with the GLA and the local community, a planning application was rapidly prepared and submitted for submission in May 2018.  Fast-paced negotiation ensued with the GLA to robustly justify Very Special Circumstances and pass the high bar Green Belt tests.

In early September, a unanimous resolution to grant was issued by the London Borough of Bexley’s planning committee. Due to the site’s location in the Green Belt, the planning application was referred to the GLA and Secretary of State who deferred the decision to the Local Planning Authority. In mid-November the planning permission was issued.

The London planning team continue to be involved in the project and will lead the discharge of planning conditions. The school is expected to open in January 2020.  

The London planning team continues to work on a number of other school sites funded by the ESFA.  

For Further information please contact a member of our team:

Peter Edwards
020 7529 1501

Carter Jonas has secured planning permission on behalf of the Society of Antiquaries of London for a new on-site education centre at Kelmscott Manor, alongside the conservation and refurbishment of the West Oxfordshire estate’s Grade I listed heritage buildings.

Kelmscott Manor is a limestone manor house that dates from 1570 in the Cotswolds village of Kelmscott. It was built by local farmer Thomas Turner and remained in the family for generations, but is best known as the country home of the writer, designer and socialist William Morris. He lived there from 1871 until his death in 1896 drawing inspiration from the house’s architecture and garden. It featured in his work ‘News from Nowhere’ and in the background of Rosetti’s painting of Morris’ wife ‘Water Willow’.

Carter Jonas’ planning & development team worked closely with experts in the consultancy’s rural practice to vary a restrictive covenant in favour of Kelmscott Manor. They also negotiated with a neighbouring landowner to rent a small area of land for a new car park, which involved the surrender of a long-term lease from the agricultural tenant, a change of use and settling terms for a new long-term lease direct with the landowner.

The new 969 sq ft (90m2) education centre will be built on the south side of the farmyard with construction due to start in Q2 2019. Conservation repairs will begin in Q2 2020 to the listed buildings of Kelmscott Manor including the house itself, the Stable Barn that houses the cafe and the Granary Building, which contains the visitor’s shop.

Nicky Brock, Partner, Carter Jonas said: “It is a privilege to work on an architectural treasure with such a strong design heritage. The planning permission means that important refurbishment works can be undertaken to conserve the collection of Grade I listed building that make up the estate, whilst looking to the future with the addition of the new education centre. This will ensure that visitors can not only enjoy the house and its grounds, but learn more about the legacy of Kelmscott Manor and its most famous resident William Morris. The project is a good example of how we can bring together specialists across our core divisions to create a bespoke solution for our clients.”

For further information please contact:

Nicky Brock
Partner, Planning & Development
01865 297706

On behalf of the landowners and their development partner, St. Modwen, Carter Jonas is pleased to mark another milestone in the development of the new 1,500 home community at Kingsgrove in Wantage, where it has negotiated the sale of the next parcel of residential land to CALA Homes. 

Crab Hill site plan 1Following a competitive tender, CALA Homes acquired the 9.65 acre site and will be developing 174 homes at Phase 2a, Fuller’s Meadow, which is located south of the new community hub with the new primary school and neighbourhood centre.


The sale follows the negotiation by Carter Jonas, on behalf of the landowners, of a long-term development agreement with St Modwen for the delivery of infrastructure and services required for our clients to sell serviced land parcels over the coming years.


Carter Jonas had previously obtained outline planning permission for the 227 acre site in July 2015 from the Vale of White Horse District Council for up to 1,500 homes, a new primary school, a neighbourhood centre including a pub/restaurant and local retail accommodation, sports pitches, employment space and community amenities set around a central park.


Infrastructure for the services and access to the site is well underway and CALA Homes will submit a detailed reserved matters application shortly.


Crab Hill location planThe sale marks the next residential phase of the new community; the first two phases, totalling some 150 homes, are being developed by St. Modwen’s award-winning housebuilding business St. Modwen Homes, which started on site this year. The first occupiers are expected to move in this month.


James Bainbridge, Head of Planning & Development at Carter Jonas, commented: “This is the second serviced residential parcel sold by the landowners at Kingsgrove and will significantly increase the rate of delivery of much needed new homes in Science Vale.  A further residential parcel is likely to be sold during the next six months as St. Modwen’s development of primary infrastructure progresses, and we are looking forward to marketing some of the community facilities, such as a care home site in due course.”


For further information please contact:


James Bainbridge
01865 404437

The next edition of Planning and Development Bulletin will be published in January 2019, however you can keep up-to-date with our latest firm wide developments on the news section of our website.

Case studies

@ James Bainbridge
James Bainbridge
01865 404437 email me about James
@ Nick Taylor
Nick Taylor 
Partner - Head of Planning
020 7016 0733 email me about Nick Taylor
@ Colin Brown
Colin Brown
Partner - Head of Planning and Development Division
01223 326826 email me about Colin
@ Steven Sensecall
Steven Sensecall
Partner - Head of Planning in the Southern Region
01865 297705 email me about Steven
@ John Webster
John Webster
Partner - Head of Planning and Development North
0113 203 1063 email me about John

James is Chairman of Carter Jonas.  Formerly Head of the Planning & Development Division, James advises clients on proposed development projects throughout the south of England with nearly 30 years of experience in residential and mixed use development.  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 option, promotion and other development agreements, joint ventures and landowner equalisation 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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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.

Colin is a Partner and was appointed Head of Planning & Development Division in November 2020, 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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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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