Government changes to Permitted Development Rights

The Government’s reforms to the General Permitted Development Order came into effect on 30 May. This includes the office to residential changes of which only 17 councils gained an exemption. Eric Pickles has said that “by simplifying the (planning) process and relaxing some rules, we can provide a helping hand to those eager to boost their high streets or rural communities”.

The key changes are as follows:

  • Change of use from B1 (Office) to C3 (Residential) for up to three years 
  • B1, C1/2, D1/2 classes can change permanently to a state funded school 
  • Increased limits for home and business extensions (size limits to be doubled) for up to 3 years
  • Agricultural buildings under 500 sq m will be able to change to A1/2/3, B1/8, C1 and D2 use
  • A1/2/3/4/5, B1, D1/2 change to A1/2/3,B1 uses for up to two years (only premises up to 150 sq m)
  • Increase in permitted development thresholds for business change of use from 235 sq m to 500 sq m from B1/2 to B8 and B2/8 to B1

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013 can be found on the Government Legislation website. 

Nick Boles looks to create happiness (and houses)

In a newspaper interview, Planning Minister Nick Boles pronounced that the total human happiness created by house building is greater than the economic, social and environmental value of an arable field. Expressing his argument for greenfield development, he stated that Councils which refuse to sanction more house building are “deeply irresponsible”.

Further reduction in National Planning Guidance due later this year

Following his report published last December, Lord Taylor is working with the Government to produce an online resource providing user friendly guidance by autumn 2013. Lord Taylor identified 237 guidance documents of which 103 are out of date in the context of the NPPF. The new website would sign post towards best practice advice from third parties and allow the cutting of 7000 pages of planning guidance.

The Centre for Retail Research forecasts 22% drop in the number of high street stores

The study concluded that 164 major or medium size companies will go into administration over the next five years. This will lead to the loss of 22,600 stores. The closures will not be spread evenly across all centres and those which are likely to fare better will be those with a prosperous catchment, close to areas of new growth with new housing and young families, and easy to reach tourist areas.

Independent Transport Commission seeks a bigger hub

The study by the ITC notes that Heathrow and Gatwick will be at full capacity by 2020 and Stansted and Luton by 2030. To improve long haul connections a single hub airport with at least three runways is required. It identifies three options, an expanded Heathrow or Stansted, or a new airport in the Thames Estuary; however, if Heathrow is not expanded it would have to close which would have huge local implications.

Legal Challenge to Expansion of Lydd Airport

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Lydd Airport Action Group have commenced legal action against the permission granted in April to increase passenger capacity at Lydd Airport in Kent to 500,000. Both organisations appeared at the public inquiry which considered the application, following which the Inspector recommended approval. This recommendation was then accepted by the Secretaries of State for both Communities and Transport.

Further government cuts to Department of Communities and Local Government

As part of the Chancellor’s 2015/2016 spending review Government departments have been tasked with finding up to 10% in budget cuts. It was confirmed this week that DCLG will be making further cuts, this is additional to the cut in admin costs by 40% and staff numbers by 60% since 2010.

Regeneration of Royal Albert Docks by a Chinese Developer

This week the Mayor announced a deal to lease the Royal Albert Docks Enterprise Zone to ABP China, which represents the first direct investment from a Chinese developer into London’s property market. The aim is to create a third financial district which will be a base for Asian companies looking to setup in the west. A masterplan for the 35ha site will be submitted by the end of this year.

Increase in Housing permissions

The House Builders Federation has announced this week that the number of planning approvals for Q1 2013 has risen by 10.5% compared with this time last year. The HBF also found that there have been 144,427 housing permissions granted in England up to March 2013 which is a 22% increase on the previous year.
The executive chairman of the HBF said “The overall trend in residential permissions is very positive and reflects both the principles of the new (reformed) planning system and an improving market”.

Greater London Authority to dispose of surplus Met police properties

Stephen Greenhalgh, the deputy mayor for policing, has approved the disposal of 36 properties owned by the Metropolitan Police, including police stations in Marleybone, Hackney and Highgate, in order to generate £88m. The disposals do not include New Scotland Yard, which was approved for disposal last year.

EU Report on the UK’s Green Belt

The EU has released a report this week which offers guidance on budgetary and economic policies for the UK. It comes to the conclusion that the Green Belt policies are a constraint on the supply of housing which remains high. It goes further to state that the recent ‘Help to Buy’ scheme could increase housing demand more than supply which will increase house prices.

Higher financial contributions under CIL for Student Accommodation

Estates Gazette has reported this week that the increase in CIL charges compared to s106 agreements could threaten the viability of student accommodation. Under s106 student accommodation did not have to provide affordable housing and this could be one of the reasons why CIL is being charged at a higher rate of up to £10,000 per student bed which compares to the current average of £2,000 under s106. The Student Accommodation committee of the BPF has proposed to challenge this at the public examinations.

High CIL rates restrict development

The consultation on the government’s reforms of CIL closed this week. In its submission the BPF stated that Local Authorities are putting a brake on economic recovery by setting CIL charges too high. BPF chief executive Liz Peace anticipates that some authorities which have adopted their CIL rates will have to alter them downwards in the future.

Local Plan News

Westminster City Council’s post-examination modifications are available for comment until 10 July 2013.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has undertaken a full update of its Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2013 which will be available for limited consultation 24/05/13 – 07/06/13.

South Gloucestershire Council has commenced work on the Policies, Sites and Places DPD which will seek to deliver the requirements set out in the Core Strategy including the allocation of smaller scale (non-strategic) sites for various types of development. There are no sites set for consultation.

Chesterfield Borough Council starts consultation on its Community Infrastructure Levy. The Borough proposes four residential zones charging between £0 and £80/sqm and will only impose the charge on retail commercial development at a flat rate of £80/sqm. More information can be found their website.

Dover City Council is seeking views on the focussed changes to their Land Allocations Pre-Submission Local Plan by 11 July.

Exeter City Council has been asked by the examiner to look again at its CIL proposal of £80 per sqm for residential development. This was calculated on a 25% affordable housing delivery as set out in the adopted Affordable Housing SPD, although this is different to the adopted Core Strategy which seeks 35% of affordable housing. Thus the council needs to reconsider the level of CIL to meet the 35% target.

Salford City Council has started consultation on an updated Hot Food Takeaways SPD which has been reviewed following the introduction of the NPPF and recent planning appeal decisions.