Labour Conference – Planning proposals

The Labour Party started to set out its manifesto for the next general election at this year’s annual party conference. The following issues were raised regarding planning:

  • 200,000 new a homes a year by 2020

Ed Miliband has pledged that a Labour Government would build 200,000 new homes a year to help meet the shortfall. He said if houses are not built at this rate, by 2020 Britain will have a housing shortfall equivalent to two cities the size of Birmingham.

  • Use it or lose it

Labour will force private developers with planning permission to use or lose the land, in order to tackle land banking. Councils will be given powers to compulsory purchase land which has been banked, and will increase planning fees for developers sitting on land banks, to encourage them to build on these sites.

  • Affordable Rent would be axed

A new model to fund social housing would be introduced which will allow developers to charge higher rents than before, but giving them smaller capital grants.

  • New review on how to boost housing supply

The former chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons will lead a review investigating how to boost housing supply which will help form Labour’s housing legislation proposals.

Conservative Conference – Planning proposals

The Conservative Party also started to set out its manifesto at its annual party conference. The following are the points raised regarding planning changes:

  • DEFRA closing loophole

Applications relating to land which is used for local recreation will now have to be made within a year of the land’s use, as opposed to previous applications which had two years. Landowners will now be encouraged to allow local communities to make use of their land, as they will be able to protect it being registered as a village green, through a new landowner statement.

  • CIL changes

Nick Boles said that councils needed to make plans for housing older people. Developers providing such housing should not be charged at the same rate for CIL.

  • Housing supply

Mark Prisk, the Housing Minister said that reform of National Planning Framework is crucial and that Whitehall had been ‘too slow’ in getting rid of surplus public sector land. He went on to say that the UK must make a better use of the existing land and housing stock that already exists.

  • What future for Nick Boles?

Nick Boles told a fringe event he uses moral arguments to convince people between 50-70 to back his reforms. He also went onto say that he didn’t think he would be the planning minister for very long, inviting delegates to ‘shoot him’ if he was the planning minister after the next election.

Planning policy amendment – October 2013

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2013 came into effect on 1st October 2013.

This amendment allows for certain minor commercial appeals to be considered through a new fast track written representations procedure. Applicable schemes comprise minor ground floor extensions to buildings in use for any of the defined uses in Part A of the Schedule which covers shops, financial & professional services, restaurants & cafes, drinking establishments and hot food takeaways. This process effectively mirrors that already in place for householder appeals.

This order also amends the other forms of planning appeals processes; in particular what documents are required to be submitted with an appeal. It requires a greater amount of information to be submitted alongside the appeal forms, such as the statement of the case and the draft statement of common ground.

Government reforms to planning system working

New statistics released by the Government show that the streamlined planning system is working as there has been a significant increase in the number of major residential developments being decided, up 14% in the year ending June 2013. Nick Boles said that the ‘simpler planning system is supporting the construction industry’. Whilst the Home Builders Federation latest report shows a 49% year on year increase in the number of planning approvals for new homes in the second quarter of 2013.

Planning Applications – National update

The national statistics on planning applications in England for the period between April and June 2013 have been released. Council;

  • decided 109,900 planning applications, 1% lower than in the same quarter in the previous year
  • approved 89% of applications, 1% higher than in the same quarter in 2012
  • decided 11% more residential decisions compared to the June quarter 2012, with numbers of major decisions (10 or more dwellings) up by 45%

In the year ending June 2013, district level planning authorities:

  • decided 418,600 planning applications, a decrease of 4% compared to the figure for the year to June 2012
  • granted 88% of applications, a decrease of 4% compared to the figure for the year to June 2012
  • decided 59% of major applications in 13 weeks (compared with 57% in the previous year)
    decided 68% of minor applications and 82% of others in 8 weeks (compared with 70% and 82% respectively in the previous year)

Special measures for 3 councils

The Government has released statistics that show 3 councils are likely to be placed into special measures. Halton, Worthing and Blaby Councils have determined fewer than 30% of major planning applications within 13 weeks and over the two periods from July 2011 to July 2013. This special measure introduced this year means that in future applicants can choose to submit their major application to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for determination rather than the local authority.

CIL Adoption target to be missed by half of councils

The extended deadline (April 2015) set by the Government for the adoption of CIL is likely to be missed by well over half of local councils, although 70% of councils are in the process of introducing the levy. These figures indicate that, on average, it is takes 24 months between the publication of a the preliminary draft changing schedule and implementation of the CIL.

Compulsory purchase order challenged by developer in a Court of Appeal

Dreamlandlive, the former owner of Margate Dreamland site (which closed as an amusement park in 2003), is challenging the CPO made by Thanet Council. The former owner argues the planned regeneration of the site will be loss making and that its own proposal provides a more viable future for the site and for the seaside town of Margate. The court is expected to reserve its decision.

Largest development in the history of Anglesey rejected

A proposal for a new 207 hectare housing and leisure development (including a 500unit leisure park, waterpark and other facilities) has been rejected by councillors against the advice of planning officers at the Penrhos Costal Park in Holyhead. The planning report said that there was a demonstrated need for the scheme and that the economic benefits weighed heavily in its favour, providing a step change in the economy of Anglesey. The councillors rejected the proposal on the grounds it would have a detrimental effect of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and over would lead to over-development. The application will now be subject to a one month ‘cooling period’ before returning to committee for ratification.

First straw bale housing scheme built in Essex

A development of 4 affordable ‘straw bale’ homes (in High Ongar) have been completed and opened by Eric Pickles. This is the first such development built in Britain by a housing association. While construction costs are similar to conventional construction, straw build houses need almost no conventional heating due to their high insulation properties, fuel costs will be 85% cheaper, and the house will reduce C02 emissions by around 60%.

Replica Crystal Palace proposed

The Chinese ZhongRong Group has announced plans to build a replica of the world famous Crystal Palace which burnt down in 1936. This development on the site of the old Victorian building will be a new cultural attraction, and is being supported by the Mayor of London and the leader of Bromley Council. Plans for the new £500m development are due to be formally submitted in the autumn of 2014.

Swansea City Centre development agreement expires

In 2008 Hammerson was selected by the council to redevelop the former St David’s Centre and car parks as part of a 600,000 sq ft retail led mixed use scheme. The agreement with the council is set to expire this week and will not be renewed by Hammerson; the council is now set to review its plans moving forward.


Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester Councils – Draft Joint Core Strategy will be open for public consultation from the 15th October and can be found here.

London Borough of Hounslow – Revised Site Allocation Policy Options for the Local Plan is open for consultation and can be found here.

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames – Pre-Publication Site Allocations Plan is open for consultation and can be found here.

Malvern Hills, Worcester and Wychavon Councils – Community Infrastructure Levy, Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule for the joint councils is open for consultation and can be found here.

West Devon and South Hams Councils – Strategic Housing Land Availably Assessment (SHLAA) is open for new sites greater than 0.25ha and able to provide at least 5 dwellings, more information can be found here.

West Lancashire Borough Council – Community Infrastructure Levy Draft Charging Schedule is now open for consultation can be found here.

Colliers News - Renewable Energy – Referrals?

Colliers International is working closely with a number of renewable energy developers who see the commercial property sector as a key market area for on-site renewable energy. On-site renewables can take the form of solar photo-voltaic panels (PV) on rooftops or a medium sized wind turbine of around 30-50m. The schemes can offer positive commercial benefits to landlords, tenants and the developer through generating clean energy. New income in the form of a Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) grant from the Government guaranteed for the life of the scheme (up to 25yrs); reduced energy supply costs from conventional means; potential for rate relief, rental income and reduction in carbon emissions overall.

We would be happy to look at any sites as small as 500 sq m such as car parks, building rooftops, or vacant units; business or retail parks not completed or land that may be banked for medium to longer term developments on greenfield sites. In return we may be able to match you up with our developer clients to get your project moving along.

Please contact Neil Gray in the Edinburgh office for more details.