Richmond become the third local authority to remove office to residential conversion rights

Richmond Borough Council has approved the introduction of an Article 4 direction removing the ability to convert offices to residential in its key office locations at Richmond, Twickenham and Teddington town centres and at the National Physical Laboratories. The Direction is not expected to come into force until 2014, leaving a 12 month period for conversions to commence.

New planning guidance on the weight of the emerging local plan

Planning Minister Nick Boles has announced that the Government will issue draft guidance on how much weight should be given to emerging plans by the end of July. Boles said: ‘We will make it clear that once a plan has reached the point that, first, it has become specific and secondly, it has gone through a fairly substantial level of public consultation, it will become something of real materiality – to use the lawyers’ phrase – as a consideration in decision-making’. This is part of the Taylor report that reviewed planning guidance.

New ‘fracking’ Planning Guidance published

The DCLG has published technical guidance to help planning authorities determine applications for the extraction of shale gas. The speech announcing the issue reconfirmed the Government’s pledge that communities near fracking sites will receive at least £100,000 per shale gas well and no less than 1% of overall revenues.

Eric Pickles clarifies the status of the ‘Development Plan’

Eric Pickles addressed the RTPI convention on planning and economic growth. He made three main points:

• The last government introduced lots of red tape which added to the decline in house building - it was a case of ‘you’ve been quangoed’. At the 2010 general election only 1 in 6 councils had an adopted core strategy.
• Since the election the current government has promoted planning as the unsung hero of economic growth, giving the local plan, once adopted, precedence over the presumption in favour of sustainable development, introducing neighbourhood plans and extending permitted development rights.
• In just over a year since the NPPF was introduced, 73% of councils have published local plans, nearly 9 out of 10 planning applications are getting approved (a 10 year high), with fewer planning appeals indicating that decisions are better.

Closure of Submissions period for Airport Expansion Commission

The period for submissions to the Davies Commission on airport expansion has now closed.

The owners of Heathrow airport have announced three options for the location of a third runway on alternative sites to the north, north-west and south-west of the airport. Heathrow said that the all three options are quicker and cheaper than any of the alternative hub options being proposed and could and be ready by 2025/29. One more additional runway will enable the airport to increase passenger capacity from 80 million to at least 120 million.

Unconfirmed reports indicate the owners of Stansted will promote a second runway, perhaps in conjunction with further capacity elsewhere.

Southbank Undercroft becomes an ‘asset of community value’

Under the localism act campaigners represented by SJ Berwin fighting to protect the undercroft from redevelopment have successfully listed the area as an asset of community value for its use by skateboarders, graffiti artists and BMX riders. The council’s decision to list it meets the statutory test that the use furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community. This listing means that if the site comes up for sale, it gives the local communities the right to put a bid to buy it within a 6 month timeframe.

Kensington and Chelsea introduce new pub protection policy

RBKC has adopted a new borough wide policy which seeks to protect pubs from being converted to residential use. The policy also acknowledges that uses such as restaurants, cafes and banks have an important role to play within neighbourhoods and are consequently also safeguarded.

Surplus office space in Wimbledon made available to start-up businesses and charities.

Charity 3Space is making the "3Space Wimbledon Business Hub" at Connect House in Alexandra Road available to start-up businesses and charities until December. The intention is to make under-used public sector space available to early stage organisations at very low cost. It is also hoped it will encourage collaboration between users through the provision of a mix of co-working spaces, networking events, meeting and event space, together with business support from Merton Chamber of Commerce.

Community benefits for hosting new Nuclear Power Stations

Michael Fallon, energy MP has announced that local authorities hosting new nuclear power stations will receive payments from central government from 2030; the level of funding will depend on the level of power generated. This funding will be spent on community benefits packages. This package recognizes the role of communities that are being asked to host such large infrastructure projects which will contribute significantly to the national energy generation and growth. This follows on from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announcing earlier this year that councils will retain 50% of business rates that host nuclear power plants.

City of London Planning Committee Approve Smithfield redevelopment

Last week planning officers recommended the office/retail redevelopment of Smithfield to go ahead. This week the planning committee voted to approve the plans. The Mayor of London will now have his thought on the project, and has 14 days to decide on whether to support, refuse or call in the application to decide himself.

Pickles approves housing appeals

Eric Pickles has issued two recovered planning appeals for housing and a judge has rejected a challenge to the third.

In Parson Cross, Sheffield he concluded that, in the absence of a five year housing supply of deliverable sites, the presumption in favour of sustainable development applied. He did not accept the council’s objections on building design and loss of open space and granted permission for 387 market houses which would be offered at low cost to make them affordable to 90% of the local market.

In Nantwich, he approved outline permission for up to 270 dwellings on land with an extant permission for 240 dwellings. Again the Council could not demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing land.  The decision confirms that the requirement to demonstrate a five year supply extends across the whole district.  The scheme will provide a minimum of 30% dwellings as affordable housing.

A legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s approval of 800 homes outside Stratford-on-Avon has been rejected by the judge who found that the housing need assessment was unimpeachable. The judge also concluded that the Inspector was entitled to reach the view that the need for new housing outweighed any potential harm to the emerging plan.

Outline permission for 750 homes granted on Greenfield land in Huntingdonshire

The district council’s development management panel approved a housing development of 750 homes on 43 hectares of Greenfield land this week, including: employment land, a local centre and open spaces. The officer’s report concluded that the proposal will help build a strong, competitive economy, whilst providing housing for future generations; this was granted against a high level of local opposition.

Increased pressure of Welsh Local Authorities to meet 5 year housing targets

A joint analysis of local authorities housing land availability in Wales has found that Wales will miss its 5 year housing provision by almost 6,600 homes (10%). Just under half of local authorities are facing significant housing shortfalls which could be down the method of calculating need which is partly based on past build rates which tend to not to be meeting demand anyway. A similar report has found that the South West also faces a shortage of 23,000 homes over the next 5 years.

Help to Buy – Success

Mark Prisk the Housing Minister said that there had been 7,000 reservations and over 1,000 sales completed under the Help to Buy scheme. The MP said that the success of the scheme was delivering a surge of business to housebuilders. This project aims to help first time buyers get onto the property ladder with 20% equity loan, interest free for 5 years for new build properties.

Draft East Inshore/Offshore Marine Plans go to consultation

The first marine plans from the emerging marine planning system have opened for consultation this week; they are East Inshore and East Offshore marine plans which cover an area from Flamborough Head in Yorkshire to Felixstowe in Suffolk. There are 11 proposed marine plans in total for England which include policies on marine development (e.g. offshore wind farms), carbon capture and storage, ports, dredging, aggregates, subsea cabling, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and recreation.


Bassetlaw District Council – has adopted its Community Infrastructure Levy which comes into force on the 1st September

Dacorum Borough Council – The inspector found the Core Strategy sound, although there were concerns over the level of housing levels which will result in a review of the document in 2017.

London Legacy Development Corporation – Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), preliminary draft charging schedule for the former Olympic Park is open for consultation.

South Cambridgeshire District Council – Proposed Submission Local Plan and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule are both open for consultation.


Colliers lets ‘The Place’

Colliers International has successfully secured the majority letting of ‘The Place’ next door to ‘The Shard’ in the new London Bridge Quarter. News UK, formerly News Corporation, has taken the entire 430,000 sq ft building and will move in next summer.