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

Featured article from the new edition of Planning & Development Insite

In a short space of time, the private rented sector has radically changed, with the majority of homes for rent in many cities across the UK now being built by private developers and owned and managed by institutional landlords under the Build to Rent (BTR) model.

The product has evolved rapidly to meet the needs of an expanding market, offering an ever-increasing range of services, from high speed broadband to leisure centres and car clubs, adaptable floorplans and community benefits which extend beyond the scheme itself. BTR has been successful in attracting significant investment, delivering much needed units at speed, creating greater security for tenants, using innovative means of off-site manufacturing to reduce disruption through construction, and creating attractive public spaces. But how has the otherwise very well established property world responded to this new entrant? How does this ‘alternative’ product address the pressing issues that the market faces, and has policy responded sufficiently?

In a Government consultation Planning and Affordable Housing for Build to Rent (2017), no fewer than 78% of respondents (and 97% of developers and investors) considered that market failures were impeding the development of BTR, and that national policy intervention was required. David Churchill is a partner at Carter Jonas and specialises in planning. He has advised on BTR schemes from their inception and welcomes the fact that the Government has now recognised this important product. “In the past year, we have seen revisions in the NPPF which reflect the importance of BTR, and the publication of a Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) on BTR. This was widely seen as the Government finally acknowledging BTR’s potential to address the housing crisis. The PPG requires that BTR is taken into account as part of Local Plan preparation. It also establishes Affordable Private Rent as a new class of affordable housing and sets a typical expectation of 20% affordable housing provision in BTR developments. Appreciating the fact that restrictive covenants can limit a scheme’s potential for future growth, the PPG puts in place means by which covenants can be terminated. It demonstrates an understanding of the likely market and location of such developments by stating that national space standards need not apply.”

BTR has undoubtedly grown partly as a result of the introduction and extension of permitted development rights (PDR). According to the British Property Federation, 30% of completed BTR homes have been delivered through PDR. “Despite the fortuitous timing of PDR,” says David, “one of the greatest barriers to BTR investment and delivery is finding appropriate sites. Perhaps more so than other property assets, the success of BTR depends on the availability of large, centrally located sites.” BTR schemes can suffer as a result of inflexible planning regulations, David explains. “Policy requirements to deliver three and four-bedroom units, and planning rules that require a minimum of 35% affordable housing are stumbling blocks. Local authorities must realise that the benefits of BTR cannot necessarily be delivered alongside such stringent requirements. “Furthermore, BTR is a very different financial model to build-for-sale, in which developers typically benefit from sales revenue throughout the construction process. In the case of BTR, financial return does not start until the first property is let and this means that BTR cannot compete with build-for-sale on land acquisition and pricing. Yet this is not recognised in policy.”

BTR has been instrumental in exemplifying the benefits of modern methods of construction. “Modular construction, panelised systems and even 3D printing are being incorporated into BTR schemes. This satisfies the sustainability requirements, overcomes the issue of on-site skills shortages and delivers economies of scale with speedy build-out rates. Furthermore, modern methods of construction (MMC) has the benefit of creating a flexible product which can be adapted by its user over time.” Considering the significant advancements that have been made by BTR, and its recognition in statute, it is surprising that there is no specific use class for BTR. David explains; “currently, planning authorities tend to adopt their own approaches to planning requirements for BTR schemes but there is a general feeling that legislation must move towards the standardisation of planning requirements. It is widely believed that the establishment of a dedicated BTR land use class would enable local authorities to use their strategic planning powers to focus delivery of privately rented homes more appropriately.” So, is a new use class likely to come about any time soon? With the Government consulting on the possibility of expanding and merging existing use classes, this appears unlikely. “The lack of a use class could potentially work in favour of BTR,” David reflects. “While there is no separate planning use class or zoning, any suitable site could technically receive bids from BTR developers. More generally, the lack of a clear definition suits a product which has succeeded because of its ability to evolve and adapt.” Very little stands in the way of BTR development. While the market, the investment, the sites and the policy remain aligned in its favour, it shows no sign of declining.

This article was first published in Planning & Development Insite Summer 2019 edition, click here to download the issue.

Carter Jonas in the news

Carter Jonas has secured planning permission on behalf of Lothbury Investment Management from Oxford City Council for a new shopfront at The Clarendon Oxford. Facing onto Cornmarket Street, the new fully glazed contemporary shopfront is wall to ceiling height glass and sits flush to the main shopping centre frontage. The retail unit will now be occupied by fast food chain Tortilla, which has replaced jewellery store H. Samuel.

Huw Mellor, partner, Carter Jonas, said: “We have undertaken various projects at The Clarendon Oxford as part of Lothbury’s proactive approach to the management of this important city centre asset. The new shopfront creates a crisp and sharp entrance to mark the arrival of Tortilla, but is still sensitive to Oxford’s historic surrounds.”

Adam Smith, director of Lothbury Investment Management, said: “Tortilla will bring an exciting new food offer to the Clarendon Centre and Oxford and we look forward to their opening at the beginning of October. They will trade from two levels and we are confident that they will be a popular addition for our visitors.” The Clarendon Oxford is a 120,000 sq ft shopping centre in the heart of Oxford city centre. It comprises 33 retail, 4 office and 10 ancillary tenants that include H&M and TK Maxx.

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


Huw Mellor 
Partner, Planning & Development

01865 255166

The London planning team has successfully secured planning permission for Brick by Brick for 15 residential flats, including affordable housing, in Crystal Palace.

The London planning team has successfully secured planning permission for Brick by Brick for 15 residential flats, including affordable housing, in Crystal Palace.

The proposals, spread across three separate plots, were presented to Croydon Council's planning committee in August, where planning permission was granted. The London planning team successfully led the pre-application and planning application process to redevelop the underutilised garage blocks which are located in a conservation area. Daylight and sunlight impacts were a key consideration and required the team to consult with adjacent occupiers and negotiate with planning officers. The proposals will significantly enhance the street scene and will provide high quality new homes in a sustainable location.

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

Jenny Turner 
Associate Partner, Planning & Development
020 7518 3273

Planning permission was approved for the change of use of a former egg packing station to a furniture store, under storage and distribution use, for Noble Foods Ltd in Walesby, Newark.

The planning permission secures a new use of a redundant 3150sqm building and extends Deanestor Furniture Solutions presence on the Noble Foods site.

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

Alison Cheetham
Senior Planner and Energy Specialist, Energy and Marine
0113 203 1094

The Cambridge United Charities were formed to manage the properties and money that have been left to the people of Cambridge by a number of local philanthropists from the 17th century onwards. Cambridge City Council, occupied the building, known as Hobson House, since the police station closed in the 1970s.

Carter Jonas worked with Henley Homes Plc to obtain planning consent for the conversion, part demolition and significant extensions to create ‘The Hobson.’Following a review of their office accommodation, Hobson House became surplus to their requirements. As a result, the charity needed to find an alternative use for the building. The current scheme meets these objectives with the added benefit of bringing investment into the City, both through the construction phase and ongoing use as a hotel. Carter Jonas worked with Henley Homes Plc to obtain planning consent for the conversion, part demolition and significant extensions. The building is Grade II listed, and previously occupied as offices, which have been in decline for a number of years requiring significant investment. Our proposal was to provide a new lease of life as a boutique hotel, to be called ‘The Hobson’, which is ideally situated for visitors to Cambridge.

The restoration will celebrate the history of the building and the site. It will also commemorate one of Cambridge’s famous sons, from whom the term ‘Hobson’s Choice’ originated.

The application has been subject to detail negotiations with the City Council over an 18-month period, which has led to planning officers recommending approval to the scheme, and Cambridge City Council ultimately granting approval.

Carter Jonas worked with Henley Homes Plc to obtain planning consent for the conversion, part demolition and significant extensions to create ‘The Hobson.’

In leading sensitive negotiations, we were required to demonstrate that the proposed scheme delivered significant public benefits that demonstrably outweigh concerns regarding the part demolition towards the rear of the site and the replacement new-build element. Key features of the building will be preserved and restored including the St Andrew’s Street facade, the ornate entrance lobby and staircase, the wood-panelled Constable’s Office on the first floor and stained-glass windows throughout. The old constable’s house was retained and framed to fit subtly onto the Downing Place streetscape, with the extension rising to three and a half stories to the south and two and a half stories to the north. Government guidance indicates the risks of neglect and decay of heritage assets are best addressed through ensuring that they remain in active use that is compatible with their conservation. Significant investment was required to support the rehabilitation of the listed building.

One of the benefits is opening a boutique hotel and public tearoom, which promise to add vibrancy to the city centre.

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

Justin Bainton
Partner, Planning & Development
01223 326806

The next edition of Planning & Development bulletin will be published in October 2019, however you can keep up-to-date with our latest firm wide developments on the News & Events of our website.

@ 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.

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 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.

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:

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.

I can provide advice on:

Our latest publications

Planning Insite 2020
Planning & Development Insite | Winter | 2020
View articles