February 2017

An audience with the Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell MP on the Housing White Paper consultation

Members of the DLP team were in York last week for an audience with Gavin Barwell, the Minister for Housing, Planning & London. The discussion focused on the recent publication of the Government’s White Paper – Fixing Our Broken Housing Market. The Minister was keen to reaffirm his desire to obtain a wide range of views on the contents of the consultation paper in order to understand the experience of those operating within the housing market.

Despite the ongoing emphasis on the early adoption of Local Plans, audience members were keen to understand when and how issues resulting in further delays to the plan preparation process would be addressed. Although no specific timescale was provided for the lifting of the Holding Direction on the Bradford Local Plan, a standardised approach for calculating Objectively Assessed Housing Need (“OAN”) is being swiftly progressed , with a view to confirming the methodology within an updated National Planning Policy Framework, targeted for issue in summer 2017. The OAN figure calculated through this methodology should be a minimum figure and the Minister invited all Authorities to set ambitious targets above this figure to deliver the housing required across the country. Within this context it was confirmed that the White Paper had sought to define the ‘exceptional circumstances’ in which appropriate locations for Green Belt release could be made and views were invited as to whether this clarification had been successful.

Turning to the issue of housing delivery rates, the need to increase the number of SME developers, encourage local authority housebuilding programmes and support institutional investment in innovative construction methods such as modular build was acknowledged. Flexibility within the planning system to support delivery through these routes would be an associated requirement to deliver this. This could make the White Paper aspirations relating to shortening of time periods for the implementation of planning permissions and penalties for failures to deliver, all the more challenging. However the Minister made clear that Local Authorities should work proactively with the private sector to successfully deliver housing without the need for sanctions. If this can be achieved following the adoption of Local Plans it is Government’s view that incremental increases in housing delivery can be achieved.

The Government’s consultation runs until 2nd May 2017 and we continue to strongly recommend that individual companies as well as trade organisations and others respond directly to this consultation given the pressure on all to deliver more housing.

dlpAn audience with the Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell MP on the Housing White Paper consultation
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APPEAL ALLOWED AND COSTS AWARDED FOR A 9 BEDROOM HMO IN STOKE PARK, SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE

DLP Planning Ltd have successfully overturned the decision of South Gloucestershire Council and secured planning permission for an additional bedroom within a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the Stoke Park area of South Gloucestershire. The Appeal Inspector also awarded the appellants full costs.

Despite meeting both the private and communal space requirements for a 9 bed HMO, the Council refused the application on grounds that it would mean over intensification of the occupation of the planning unit. The functionality of the bicycle and bin storage area also formed part of the reason for refusal.

The HMO in question had already seen an increase from 7 bedrooms to 8 bedrooms in March 2016. As part of the new 9 bed application the applicant was able to utilise the same size bike rack that had been conditioned as part of the previous planning permission.

DLP successfully argued that the house was capable of meeting the required HMO space standards and that the bin and bicycle storage area could accommodate the necessary waste and recycling bins together with a 9 bike parking rack.

The Inspector determined that the appeal should be allowed, subject to conditions. Costs were also awarded to the appellant, with the Inspector concluding that the Council had acted unreasonably.

dlpAPPEAL ALLOWED AND COSTS AWARDED FOR A 9 BEDROOM HMO IN STOKE PARK, SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE
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Housing White Paper Update

Housing White Paper Update

After the publication of our Housing White Paper Briefing Note (7th February 2017), yesterday DLP Planning attended a seminar with Gavin Barwell MP where he provided a helpful overview of the paper and took questions from development professionals. In an open and honest session, he gave an insight into his views on how the White Paper can help tackle the housing crisis:

Key points from the session:

His introduction:

• Barwell said he is a ‘man in need of allies’ – he clearly wants to work with different sectors to move forward housing delivery.

• He was clear that the focus is on delivery – ‘people can’t live in planning permissions’. He is clearly intent on ensuring that not only are Local Plans put in place in a timely manner but homes are built off the back of them.

• He recognises that the solution will be multi-faceted. He stated early on if that planning were the only issue, the housing shortage would have been sorted out years ago.

• He went on to make it clear that he didn’t see this as a ‘quick fix’ and that he recognised that once completion rates improve there will need to be sustained delivery for many years to catch up.

On questions:

• On the need for 10% allocations in new Local Plan to be small sites (under half a hectare), Barwell made it clear that it should not just be about small individual sites, but splitting up larger allocations to ensure parts are built out by smaller builders. He reiterated a Government commitment to release public land to smaller builders and work with them in partnership rather than to sell in bulk to the volume builders. A policy is expected on this issue in the next NPPF review.

• Barwell acknowledged that the Duty to Co-Operate was not working as well as it should. He is very keen to see local authorities work together on joint plans covering strategic issues– he stopped short of saying these would be like regional plans, however he encouraged authorities to think about wider economic markets not just their own issues.

• Barwell believes in some areas, that owners/promoters are holding back delivery by not releasing land, which is why he is looking to introduce transparency is land ownership information. The measures to provide more clear info on ownership and interests through Land Registry is therefore aimed primarily at Local Authorities to help with their plan making.

• On concerns regarding the translation of the ambition of the White Paper to increase housing delivery into reality on the ground, Barwell believes attitudes are quickly changing and particularly highlighted the change in attitudes of many MPs to the housing issues over the last couple of years. He believes this change will continue which he hoped would help free up development.

• On plan making he stated that he wants there to be a ‘differentiation’ between need and what is actually planned in new Local Plans. He clearly thinks that in some areas known constraints are influencing assessments and OANs are being ‘fixed’ at the outset. He wants to stop this and wants everywhere to be ‘honest’ about housing need at the outset – even if ultimately it cannot be delivered in the locality.

• On Green Belt issues Barwell was very strong stating categorically that he ’did not believe Green Bet release is the only answer to increasing land supply’. He set out that the fact 11% of Britain is urban and 13% Green Belt means there is plenty of other land available which should be looked at before Green Belt. He also reiterated that Green Belt is not an environmental policy, it is a policy to prevent sprawl – and it has been successful. He accepted there would be Green Belt release but that this would only be after authorities have exploded all other options, including working with neighbours.

• On the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Barwell said he expects a statement in the Autumn budget about amendments to how it would operate.

• On the capacity of Local Authorities Barwell noted it was the one issue that everyone he spoke within preparing the paper agreed was an issue. There was no mention of direct Government funding but he was clear that fees can go up by 20% in all areas as long as the authorities use the increased income to pay for planning resources. A further 20% increase could be added by authorities who are delivering well against targets – a 40% increase overall.

• Barwell reiterated the importance of the private rented sector, but was clear that he was looking for a balance between encouraging delivery of new homes through the sector and protecting the rights of tenants. He is acutely aware that the role of rented housing has changed in recent years, with more families in rented accommodating and giving them security in their tenancies was one of his aims

• Finally, Barwell noted his one regret about the paper is that it doesn’t say enough about ‘place based solutions’. He spoke several times about the Government being open to offers from Local Authorities as to how they could increase delivery in their area with Government support. He suggested this would be an issue that would be addressed in more detail in due course but is something he thinks is key.
The DLP Briefing Note on the White Paper can be seen here: and the consultation runs until 2nd May 2017.

Please contact us should you have any queries.

dlpHousing White Paper Update
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Sheffield 2025: Bigger, Brighter, Bolder

Members of the DLP team attended the ‘Sheffield 2025: Bigger, Brighter, Bolder’ event hosted by the Sheffield Property and Regeneration Committee in January.

The Panel of speakers included key private sector stakeholders who are currently involved in bringing forward development within the City. This included Queensbury Real Estate, Ashcroft Asset Management, Urban Splash and the Scarborough Group.

Paul Sargent of Queensbury began by providing a much anticipated update on the new Sheffield Retail Quarter. This included confirmation that the delivery of Phase 1, comprising 140,000 sq.ft of office space and safeguarding 3,000 jobs within the City, had begun on site and should be complete by 2019. He also confirmed that work with the City Council is ongoing to deliver a retail-led scheme also including residential and leisure space by 2021, with the aspiration to bring a significant number of new high end stores to the City.

Queensbury’s strong track record of delivering difficult urban regeneration schemes in locations such as Bath should support the delivery of this long awaited scheme and Paul pointed to the potential for long term student retention as an opportunity spin off employment growth in Sheffield. He also indicated that the scheme would come forward regardless of John Lewis’ continuing commitment to the City or not.

A longer term view on the challenges of working within the political environment in Sheffield was provided by Ranald Philips of Ashcroft Asset Management, who continue to deliver phased regeneration of The Moor retail thoroughfare in the city centre. Recognising the specific challenges presented by a city centre that has long underperformed, Ranald highlighted that Sheffield is the largest city in the UK without a single high-end retailer, despite the Hallam constituency being the wealthiest outside of London. The importance of phased growth as part of a longer term strategy, which focuses on not just the retail offer, but on the City’s existing strengths required the support of the private sector in order to succeed.

Simon Gawthorpe outlined his view on the City’s strengths, based on his experience as a relative newcomer to the area. This included the quality of the public realm supporting the City’s green credentials and the contribution of the two universities, which has fed into the strength of the research and development, and digital media sectors. Many SME’s in these sectors now occupy space in the Urban Splash-led Park Hill redevelopment, which has secured the regeneration of a Grade II* listed building on the edge of the city centre.

Mark Jackson of the Scarborough Group, who have a number of development projects in the City, focused on the importance of leadership to steer growth and the need for developers to foster collaborative relationships with the local authority and the wider community, in order to gain support for proposals. He highlighted that the city needs a sensible plan for the scale of new office space proposed, so as not to dilute the overall offer. Importantly, Sheffield should not try and compete with Leeds/Manchester as part of the Northern Powerhouse, but should harness the characteristics that draw people to live in the City, including the outdoor space and knowledge economies created by the universities and the hospitals.

Overall, the Panel acknowledged that it takes time to develop a city and all sectors must work hard to secure long term growth, avoiding the risk posed by the short term political cycles. Within this context Sheffield could look to the Cambridge model of growth to develop a City building on knowledge and cultural based economies and taking care of SME businesses and foreign investors.

dlpSheffield 2025: Bigger, Brighter, Bolder
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Evidence submitted at the Telford and Wrekin Local Plan Examination

SPRU have given two days of evidence at the Examination of Telford and Wrekin Local Plan regarding the soundness of the proposed housing requirement. SPRU argued that the approach used to balance job growth with housing provision was unsound as it relied on a change in the nature of migrants compared to that in the official projections. It also relied on many more people working than presently do in the population, especially those aged over 60.

It was further argued that the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN) was most unlikely to be half of the average build-out rate of new homes in the last five years, and that the requirement of paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework, that there should be a significant increase in the supply of housing, cannot be met by reducing the supply of housing from a five year average of 900 per annum to 750 per annum. The evidence on affordable housing was also questioned and the Council are now preparing a further note to the Examination on this matter.

dlpEvidence submitted at the Telford and Wrekin Local Plan Examination
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Examination hearings resume for the Swale Local Plan

14 months after the first set of Examination Hearings on the Swale Local Plan began in November 2015, SPRU attended the resumed hearings during January and February.  These sessions discussed the Council’s Modifications to the submitted Plan, which focused on Sustainability Appraisal and site selection, growth strategy, 5 year land supply and the mechanisms for a review.

Representations made by SPRU on the Sustainability Appraisal set out issues of legal non-compliance, raised questions over the objectivity of the assessment and identified important issues such as the delivery of affordable housing missing from the Council’s assessments. SPRU’s detailed review of the 5 year housing land supply demonstrated an undersupply of housing and suggested a means to resolve this issue to the Inspector; the Council’s supply is overly reliant upon numerous large urban extensions within a small geographical area and sites where their deliverability is questionable. The Inspector indicated that further modifications would be required to make the Plan sound.

dlpExamination hearings resume for the Swale Local Plan
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Enforcement Action Avoided following Granting of Retrospective Planning Permission

DLP Planning (Ltd) has secured retrospective planning permission for ground excavations for the formation of pond on agricultural land in Harrold, Bedford.

This was a project undertaken in conjunction with be1 Architects Ltd, Aspect Ecology and EPS Ltd, who undertook the detailed plans, water and habitat surveys.  

Our client came to us following an enforcement case being opened to investigate the excavation. DLP undertook negotiations with the Local Planning Authority and quickly established the works as an engineering operation, ruling out any minerals and waste requirements.

Following initial discussions DLP undertook a full retrospective application to regularise the existing works setting out proposals for the works to be completed to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority. During the application a number of issues were raised regarding the presence of Great Crested Newts (GCN) and the limitations on any disturbance to the existing water courses including the use of spoil from offsite.

As a consequence DLP engineered a solution to use further excavated spoil from the site only, to re-grade and shape the pond to ensure it met the requirements for protected species including enhancements to the surrounding landscaping to improve its setting. This also involved the retention of previous excavated spoil, which will be landscaped to provide GCN habitat.

This permission is great news for our client who can now complete the works free from any enforcement action, within the permitted seasonal window to provide a secondary pond to complement the larger existing water body; thus enhancing the setting and biodiversity value of his land.

 

dlpEnforcement Action Avoided following Granting of Retrospective Planning Permission
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Erection of a Steel Framed Warehouse at Timber Yard in Beeston

DLP Planning (Ltd) has secured planning permission for a new warehouse building for an established timber yard in Central Bedfordshire. This was a project undertaken in conjunction with be1 Architects Ltd who provided the detailed plans for the building.

The application site has a well-established employment use on it and is occupied by a local company that is one of the main employers in the area. DLP Planning Ltd was able to successfully demonstrate that the proposed warehouse building is necessary to support the on-going operation of this local business, which supports the rural economy and employment in the area.

The proposed building was also carefully designed by the project architects to ensure that its size and scale reflected that of other buildings on the site, and was not visually intrusive in the landscape.

This permission is great news for our client and will enable this local business to operate more efficiently and safeguard local jobs.

dlpErection of a Steel Framed Warehouse at Timber Yard in Beeston
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