Have a look at our April 2017 edition of The Source.
Welcome to the latest edition of “The Source” – prepared by the team at Gladman with the specific aim to inform you of curent news and views in land & planning.
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Affordable Housing Crisis
Last month, the Office for National Statistics released data on housing affordability in England and Wales from 1997 to 2016 and, perhaps unsurprisingly, reveals a bleak current state of affairs. Some of the key findings from the latest data are as follows…
Government unlikely to intervene with local plans
Back in July 2015 the planning minister at the time Brandon Lewis set a deadline for local plan by local authorities production of ‘early 2017’, with the indication that if this wasn’t met then the government would intervene to speed up the process, this stance was reconfirmed by the now current planning minister Gavin Barwell in October 2016. When the Housing White Paper was released in February 2017 there was no specific reference made to this deadline… Read more here
Appeal Court – No Flood Risk Assessment
A recent Court of Appeal decision considered Watermead Parish Council’s request to judicially review Aylesbury Vale’s granting of planning permission for a crematorium on previously developed land in Flood Risk Zone 1… Read more here
Affordable Housing Guidance Considered to be Policy
Affordable housing thresholds adopted by local planning authorities as an interim measure, whilst they are working on emerging Local Plans, could now be dismissed after Mr Justice Jay handed down his decision in Skipton Properties vs Craven District Counci… Read more here
Technological Revolution and the Planning System
A combination of nine small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local planning authorities have been selected by Future Cities Catapult to receive £200,000 to help transform outdated planning systems… Read more here
First-time Buyers and the Bank of Mum and Dad
First-time buyers’ increased dependence on the Bank of Mum and Dad is worsening inequality and hampering social mobility, a government-backed study by the Social Mobility Commission has found… Read more here
Habitats Directive Challenge Upheld
Mr Justice Jay has handed down his decision in the eagerly anticipated Wealden District Council V. Secretary of State for Local Government, Lewes District Council and South Downs National Park Authority V. Natural England… Read more here
Javid to act on Leasehold Terms
Communities secretary Sajid Javid is looking to ensure Help to Buy is only made available on schemes in which homes are sold on “fair terms”, he told the industry today.
Speaking at today’s HBF Policy conference, Javid highlighted his concern about too many houses being sold on leasehold terms leaving buyers with large ground rent charges or charges to build an extension. Read more here
Latest news from the sector
Housebuilders make Profit Track 100 league
Eight housebuilders feature in this year’s Sunday Times Profit Track 100, which tracks the UK’s fastest growing businesses.
Lioncourt Homes achieved 16th place, Strata Homes 20th and Churchill Retirement Living 21st whilst Story Homes is ranked 44th out of the 100 companies.
Lioncourt has seen rapid growth with profits of £9 million last year. Strata Homes’ profits stood at £10 million in 2015 when it sold 569 homes. Churchill, ranked 12th last year, sold 574 homes in 2016, an increase of 17% on profits of £62.8 million. Meanwhile, Story Homes climbed from 62nd place last year, with home completions rising 38% to 565 homes in 2016, on annualised profits of £22.1 million.
Robust performances continues at Crest Nicholson
Crest Nicholson have seen good sales across its areas of operation and chairman, William Rucker, said that total forward sales were 5% ahead of the same point last year, with cumulative open-market forward sales revenues (excluding PRS) of £312 million “broadly level” with 2016’s £311 million. Looking back to last year, Rucker said that Crest reached landmark sales of £1 billion in line with its target, and reiterated its commitment to furthering its targets for 2019 of 4,000 homes and £1.4 billion of sales.
“Land investment has been strong, with replenishment levels increasing to seed an additional operating division in the Midlands, following the successful launch of our new Chiltern division in 2015,” Rucker said. He added that Crest was exploring approaches to off-site manufacture, “to further support the delivery capacity of the business”.
Outstanding performance from Miller despite Brexit uncertainty
Miller Homes has updated its targets; now aiming to reach 4,000 completions a year by 2020 with an operating margin of above 20%. The targets require an ambitious 68% growth in completions in the next four years, with the firm completing 2,380 homes in 2016 (2015: 2153). Of these, 2,032 were private sales (2015: 1,848) and 348 affordable (2015:305). In its 2016 results released today Miller reported a 44% increase in pre-tax profit to £89.3 million and a 13% increase in revenue to £565 million, with a margin of 18.2% (2015:15.7%).
Miller Homes CEO Chris Endsor: “2016 was an outstanding year for Miller Homes delivering operating profit in excess of £100 million for the first time. 2016 was dominated by speculation around the shape of Brexit both before and after the vote. This had no discernible impact on the business which continued to perform strongly in the second half of 2016, with sales rates 17% ahead of the prior year. We are currently 55% forward sold for 2017. A substantial land investment programme is planned in 2017, alongside the launch of a new region in the Midlands. Our organic growth strategy will deliver a 68% increase in the capacity of the business to 4,000 homes per year with plans to deliver this by 2020.”
Interesting Appeal Decisions
At Gladman, we monitor all residential appeal decisions issued by the Planning Inspectorate, to better understand current interpretations of government planning policy.
An appeal for 500 dwellings in Princes Risborough, Wycombe District has been dismissed due to the severe impact on the local highway network. The site was allocated for development within the 2013 Allocations Plan but the reasons for refusal centred on Council’s concerns that design of the scheme was not adequate and 500 dwellings would not be possible when factoring in land for highways, a school and an odour buffer. However, the Inspector disagreed with the Council stating the Council’s plans would result in an inefficient use of land and their calculations for land required was too over cautious. The Council also challengeed the appellant’s public transport proposals. The appellant proposed funding a bus service for 10 years whereas the Council sought funding for the indefinite future. The Inspector again came down in favour of the appellant, stating the contributions proposed were adequate. On the other hand, the Inspector stated that more could have been done in designing the scheme to allow and incorporate pedestrian access with the nearby settlement such as building an underpass. Ultimately, the reason for dismissal came down to the impact on the nearby highways network. The Inspector was not able to judge planned mitigation measures as no models were available for the appeal meaning the Inspector had to purely judge the scheme on its impacts and therefore recommend dismissal.
An appeal for 20 dwellings in Holcombe, Teighbridge District Council has been allowed by the inspector despite a linked case for only 15 dwellings on the same site being dismissed. The main reasons for this difference was due to the provision of affordable housing, with the former offering 6 (out of 20) and the latter only 3 (out of 15) affordable homes. It was this discrepancy which made appeal B a more attractive proposal in the inspector’s eyes, describing the failure to offer satisfactory affordable housing as carrying significant weight.
An appeal in the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme for 128 dwellings was allowed owing to the contribution it makes to the severely lacking housing supply. Although some consideration was given to the effect the proposal would have on the area, it was decided that the housing need could not be met without some Greenfield sites being developed. Further weight was given to the scheme due to its contribution to affordable housing despite the urbanising effect it would have.
An appeal made by M. Scott Properties in Maldon District for the construction of 37 dwellings within Southminster has been dismissed by Inspector David Murray. It was common ground between the Council and the appellant that the authority had a 5 year supply of housing. Therefore, the Inspector stated that the saved policies were not out-of-date and that they were to be given weight in the planning balance. While the appellant argued that the social and economic benefits would be an advantage of the site, the Inspector deemed it not sustainable development due to the visual impact and environmental harm to the open countryside. The planning balance stated that the development went against the housing strategy and did not meet the requirements for sustainable development and therefore the appeal was dismissed.
Inspector David Spencer has dismissed an appeal for 195 dwellings in Sileby, Leicestershire. It was concluded that the highway concerns were not substantial enough to refuse this appeal. Although the appeal site would impact on views from the footpath leading out of the village, this visual harm would be relatively contained and would reduce over time. Therefore, the appeal site would only demonstrate limited impact on the landscape. Despite the Inspector noting the sustainable location of the site, Charnwood Council can demonstrate a five year supply and have a recently adopted Core Strategy, which was given full weight. The appeal site is contrary to the development strategy, which allocates 3,000 dwellings to the Service Centres. With 3,500 dwellings already committed and the appeal site located beyond the settlement limits in the countryside, it is contrary to the development plans. For this reason, the Inspector dismissed the appeal.
An appeal for 170 dwellings in East Hagbourne, South Oxfordshire District has been dismissed after the Inspector concluded that the scheme would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape. The appeal site plays an important role in seperating the distinct settlements of Didcot and East Hagbourne as well as having a distinctly rural feel due to it being screened from the surrounding land uses. The Inspector therefore disagreed with the conclusions of the LVIA undertaken by the appelant that stated there would only be “low positive” and “minor beneficial” effects from the scheme on the surrounding landscape. The Inspector instead concluded there would be “major adverse” and “moderate adverse” effects on the landscape. The appellant contended that the appeal site is not worthy of special landscape designation as there is nothing especially unique about the site. However, the seperation of Didcot and East Hagbourne and the site’s vital role in the AONB setting was deemded unacceptable.
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