First legal challenge for new office to residential permitted development rights

The London Boroughs of Islington, Camden, Richmond and Lambeth are advocating two legal actions against the recent changes to the office to residential permitted development rights, introduced on the 30th May. The High Court hearing will be held on the 4th December, the first hearing is being supported by Islington, Camden and Richmond; whilst Lambeth is bringing a separate legal challenge. The councils are arguing that they have lost their ability to protect office space as to date Islington has loss 17,000 sqm of office space which is roughly 1,400 jobs. Richmond has received the most applications for any London borough at 107.

First Neighbourhood Development Orders out to consultation

Cockermouth Town Council, in the district of Allerdale in Cumbria, has become the first council to produce a draft neighbourhood development order – in fact it has produced four. These orders effectively grant planning permission for certain types of development in specified areas. The four orders permit:

  • change of use of shops and offices into cafes, bars and restaurants in the Market Place together with the placing of chairs and tables on designated parts of the pavement;
  • conversion of the upper floors of commercial properties on Main Street for up to four flats;
  • installation of traditional timber shopfronts on Main Street and Station Street
  • installation of double glazed sliding slash windows and timber panelled doors on five streets

The four draft orders are now subject to a statutory six-week publicity period before being examined by an independent inspector at examination. It is hoped to bring the orders into force in summer 2014.

Help to Buy – update

Kris Hopkins has praised the launch of the Help to Buy scheme which has resulted in 15,000 reservations for new build homes. This is helping small builders too, over 900 builders are planning to offer the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, with over 80% being smaller builders (building less than 40 homes a year). He went on to say that the loan scheme is helping people onto the housing ladder it is also creating jobs, boosting local businesses and stimulating the economy.

Blaby Council – First council to be placed in special measures

Blaby Council has become the first council in England to be placed into special measures after failing to determine more than 30% of major planning applications within the 13 week timeframe between July 2011 and June 2013. In future, major planning applications can be submitted directly to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration by-passing the council. Nick Boles said that whilst the government wants local decision making it is vital to the economy that proposals are decided on swiftly. 

Westminster Council topic papers update

The next topic papers due to released are likely to be on Flooding and the Mayfair Special Protection area and should be available for consultation by the end of November. The council is planning to release the next batch around Christmas and these are likely to be on Housing, the Economy and (appropriately) Drinking and Entertainment. The basement topic paper is the first paper to be open for consultation; more details can be found here.

Statistics on Land Banking

Nick Boles confirmed that as of last month there are roughly 507,000 units with planning permission, of these:

  • 249,800 (49%) had started on site.
  • 257,200 (51%) had yet to start.

Of the 257,200 units yet to start:

  • 184,600 (72%) were progressing towards a start.
  • 13,500 (5%) were being sold or information was not available.
  • Just 59,100 (23%) were classed as on hold or shelved.

These figures don’t show all types of residential development (e.g. student accommodation) and don’t show planning permissions older than 3 years.

Two proposals for combined local authorities

Two consultations proposing a new combined authority for the area of West Yorkshire and part of the North East (which includes Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear) have opened. If the new combined authorities are established they will aim to deliver greater economic growth for their separate areas. Both these consultations can be found here and are open till 2nd January.


Stratford-on-Avon District Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation and can be found here.

Colliers News

Colliers International has won the contract to advise on the Canada Government’s property portfolio across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This includes all embassies and residential assets.