Westminster City Council have announced widely anticipated proposals to introduce policy protection for office floorspace. As currently drafted, the Council would seek for proposals involving the change of use to (or replacement of) office to residential floorspace of 400sqm or more, that an equivalent amount of new office space was provided. As with affordable housing requirements, a cascade approach would then be applied. Whereby, applicants are required to demonstrate that it is not appropriate or practical to provide the new office floorspace at each step before, ultimately, providing a Payment in Lieu.

First application refused for Office to residential permitted rights

Camden has refused the first prior approval application received on the 30th May, which would have allowed the change of use of an office to residential under the new permitted development rights. Yesterday marked the end of the 56 day period with in which an application has to be legally decided. It is not yet known if any other councils have approved any prior approval applications, although, the success of the rights in adding houses to the market will depend on how many are approved.

Government announces £220m funding for affordable housing

This week ministers announced a £220m investment to build 14,000 affordable homes. Due to start in 2015, 69 housing associations and developers will receive a share of this investment to help deliver affordable housing outside of London by 2017. This is another string in the governments bow to get the housing building sector building again. The Affordable Housing Guarantee is part of a range of measures the government has put in place to get Britain building. It also includes:

  • £19.5 billion public and private investment in an affordable homes programme, aiming to deliver 170,000 new homes by 2015
  • £3.3 billion announced at the Spending Review to support the delivery of 165,000 new affordable homes from 2015 – leading to the fastest annual rate of affordable house building for 2 decades
  • £474 million to help unlock stalled, locally-supported large-scale sites – so far, the programme has helped get work restarted on nearly 50,000 new homes
  • £1 billion in the Build to Rent fund, to help build homes specifically for private rent

MP Green Belt group

Nick Boles has met with an all-party group of 50 MPs which aims to protect the Green Belt from development. Their aim is not to be a ‘nimby’ group but rather to help safeguard Green Belt land for the future, in particular from concerns that councils will build on the Green Belt to meet their 5 year housing land supply. The group will be releasing a report in the autumn. 

Mayoral CIL – Annual Return Overview

The Greater London Authority revealed annual fees generated from the Mayoral CIL in 2012/3 as £6.09m. The highest figure was from Westminster at £2.06m followed by The City at £1.01m and Lambeth at £0.8m. There was no figures shown for the amount contributed by; Hillingdon, Newham and Kensington and Chelsea.

HS2 wins latest appeal

This week the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the most recent challenge by the objectors to the HS2, although an application could now be made to the Supreme Court. The challenge included claims that the DfT had not complied with EU environmental directives, and had not consulted properly on the plans. The government is keen to start the project and doesn’t want to be held back by lengthy legal battles and will be seeking to reclaim costs from the claimants.

London underground extension to Watford

The transport secretary has issued a Transport and Works Act Order for the extension of the Metropolitan Line into Watford. This extension will result in the existing Watford underground station being closed and two new stations being opened at Ascot Road and Watford Hospital (which will serve the new health complex and Watford FC). The new line will also stop at Watford High Street before terminating at Watford Junction. This proposal will bring better transportation connections for the Watford area; which currently has a population of 81,200 and is forecasted to grow by 15% by 2030. Work is due to commerce next year, with a completion sometime in 2016.

Shale Gas ‘fracking’ guidance released

The guidance largely uses the policies from the NPPF, but some commentators have said the wording suggests applications should be approved for example; ‘Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are unlikely to be required for exploratory drilling’. This guidance could be viewed that it is predetermining local authorities not to require EIAs and is putting a positive spin on applications such as this which would have benefits to the local economy.

London Airport – debate

Gatwick Airport proposed a second runway to increase the airport capacity which would boost economic growth for the locality, which includes Croydon. This has been submitted to the Davies Commission which is looking at airport capacity in the South East/London, as another option to where the increased airport capacity could feasibly be located.

Major retail development abandoned in York

The developer behind a new city centre retail development at Castle Piccadilly has abandoned after a rival scheme was granted for an out-of-town project at Monks Cross. The scheme is now claimed to be unviable as a result of the level of out of centre space permitted.

Northamptonshire lack of 5 year housing supply

Northamptonshire District Council has failed to demonstrate a deliverable 5 year housing supply, and as result the government has approved a 220 home scheme near Silverstone, which the council had previously refused. The inspector concluded that the council had consistently failed to reach its housing target. A 20% buffer of housing sites (not 5%) should now apply under paragraph 47 of the NPPF to enable the council to hit its 5 year target.

Approval for new residential tower in the Docklands

This week Tower Hamlet’s approved a new 75-storey residential block which will become one of the tallest towers in Canary Wharf; the officers recommended approval after warning that refusal could be overturned at appeal (which would incur costs to the council). The site will provide 822 flats, 162 serviced apartments, a 240sqm office or retail unit, 70 units will be affordable and a further development at Island Point would be dedicated to providing the remaining 173 affordable houses.

Judicial review for allotment redevelopment

Earlier this year Eric Pickles approved the change of use of the Farm Terrace Allotments which will form part of the new Watford Health Campus which includes 500 homes and a new hospital. The local council argued that redevelopment of the allotments was essential for the economic viability of the scheme and would re-provide the sites elsewhere. The group behind the judicial review said there was no judicial guidance on ministerial powers to re-designate allotment sites for development and that the challenge would serve to provide clarity on this. The group are optimistic in winning and hope if they do win this will set a presentence in England, by making it harder to redevelop allotments.

Ringo Starr’s House saved

Liverpool City councilors approved the Welsh Street redevelopment which will demolish and redevelop a 5.97 ha Victorian terraced housing estate. Whilst the scheme will preserve the former home of Ringo Starr and 37 other homes which will be refurbished, Eric Pickles issued an Article 25 stop notice after the decision was made which provides him with an extended time to call in the redevelopment scheme. This follows a campaign from Save Britain’s Heritage to ‘vigorously’ oppose the controversial demolition of a traditional terraced estate.

Local Rivals

Two rival groups in Hackney have had their bids for a neighbourhood plan area designation rejected over fears of community tension as parts of both areas over lapped. If one group, had been successful they would have been able to steer the neighbourhood forum in part of the others area. The Labour run council said that ‘Designating a forum in these circumstances will not enhance community relations in the area and will not improve social cohesion’. It is unknown at this stage what will happen now.

Welsh Permitted Development Rights

New permitted development rights for homeowners will be made law on the 30th September for Wales and will include single-storey rear extensions up to 4m without planning approval (as long as conditions relating to the proximity of other buildings and site boundaries are met); allowing rear extensions of more than one storey (as long as they are less than 3m long), side extensions up to the height of the current property's eaves will be allowed (as long as they are no more than four metres tall, are at least two metres away from any site boundary, and are set back at least one metre from the front of the existing property). These changes will benefit homeowners and local planning officers as officers can focus their time on larger more complex planning applications.


The City of London Corporation – Community Infrastructure Levy Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation .

Leeds City Council – Leeds Core Strategy met its duty to co-operate with neighboring authorities. The examination is expected to start in October.

Mid-Sussex District Council – has submitted its District Plan to the Secretary of State which was jointly produced with the South Downs National Park Authority. Examination is expected this autumn.

Sevenoaks District Council – Draft Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule was submitted to the planning inspector for examination.

Waverley Borough Council – the council has requested to suspend its Core Strategy examination so that it can undertake further work to ensure it will be found sound.



Planning team presents Office to Residential talk

This week the London planning team presented the government’s reforms on the office to residential permitted development rights and the process of implementation to a packed audience of asset managers, property developers and investors. If you would like a copy of the presentation please email Adam Pyrke

Use Class Orders

As the use classes applying in England, Scotland and Wales continue to diverge under devolution, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand what uses apply where. The planning team has produced summaries of Use Class Orders applicable in each country which can be found on the Hub and on the planning pages of the external website.