Have a look at our May 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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Brownfield Register & Permission
Government Supports Half of all Housebuilding in England
Through Housing Associations, local authority building, affordable homes, Shared Ownership schemes and the Help to Buy scheme, the government is providing and supporting half of all housing completions in the year 2016/17; a quarter of all completions can be attributed to the Help to Buy scheme alone. Although not the record high of 2014/15, a period in which the government backed 57 per cent of all housing completions, 2016/17 reinforces an emerging trend towards government dependence.
On average, 700,000 new bundles of joy are born in Britain each year, but a new study suggests this figure could be set to diminish by over 7,000 by virtue of skyrocketing house prices.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s research was presented at The Royal Economic Society’s annual conference in Bristol in mid-April. The findings suggested that, faced with the ever-mounting costs of purchasing a home (with house prices up an average of nearly 290% since 1995) would-be parents not currently on the property ladder are ensuring their heirs remain very much a twinkle in their eyes.
Supply Will Never Meet Demand
According to economists at the University of Reading, those hoping to get on the property ladder may have to rely on windows of opportunity created by periodic slumps in the market. The overall trend will remain for residential property price rises to outpace salary growth.
“The increases in housing supply required to improve affordability have to be very large and long-lasting; the step change would need to be much larger than has ever been experienced before on a permanent basis”
Value of Empty Properties in England Reaches £43.5 Billion
England has over 200,000 long-term empty homes, according to an analysis of government data.
In the capital alone, there were just under 20,000 homes sitting idle for over six months in 2016, a staggering £9.4 billion worth of property, taking into account the average house prices in London.
The Yapton Case; Made Neighbourhood Plan
Trumps Lack of Supply
A Judge dismissed all seven grounds on which a developer sought to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to reject a planning Inspector’s recommendation for approval.
The appeal for 100 dwellings in Yapton, West Sussex was allowed but consequently overturned by the Secretary of State. The Judge, Ms Justice Lang, noted that the SoS had concluded that the appeal did not accord with Arun’s Local Plan, nor the made Yapton Neighbourhood Plan.
Latest news from the sector
Ten Year High for NHBC Registrations
More than 42,000 new homes were registered in the UK by NHBC in the first three months of the year, the highest quarter in ten years according to figures just released.
They show that 42,470 new homes were registered in Q1, an increase of 17% on the 36,351 registered 12 months ago.
31,197 homes were registered in the private sector, an increase of 10% on the same period a year ago (28,278), with 11,273 new homes registered in the affordable sector, representing a 40% increase on 2016 numbers (8,073).
New home statistics for the financial year also reveal a 4% increase for 2016/17 with a total of 157,898 new homes registered compared to 151,599 in 2015/16. Additionally, new home completions for the financial year increased by 5% to 145,282, up from 137,826 in 2015/16.
For the first time in seven years, all 12 regions across the UK experienced growth in registrations when compared to the same period 12 months ago. The North East (+39%), London (+38%) and Eastern (+31%) were among the regions with the most notable growth.
NHBC Managing Director Neil Jefferson said: “These figures, with growth across the entire country, are clearly encouraging for the sector, at a time when there is considerable demand for new, high-quality homes.
“This growth in registrations, in both the private and affordable sector, is welcome news and will result in more newly built homes across the UK over the coming months.”
Countryside Sees “Excellent Growth”
Countryside Properties’ Housebuilding division had a “very strong first half”, with total completions rising 54% to 450 homes on the equivalent period last year. As of March 31 2017, the division had 29 open sales outlets against 22 at the same point in 2016.
The division’s private average selling price dropped 31% to £540,000 during the six months from October 1 2016 to March 31 2017 against H1 2016, which Countryside said was in line with its plans to reduce its focus on higher end product.
Countryside said its growth in the first half was underpinned by customer demand, government support and good mortgage availability.
Ian Sutcliffe, group CEO, said: “We have seen excellent growth in both divisions during the first six months of the year. We look forward to continuing our sector-leading growth trajectory and remain confident of making further progress on our medium-term targets.”
Bellway Beats Targets
Bellway have reported completions on 4,462 new homes in its half year to January 31 2017, an increase of 6.5% on the equivalent period last year. The housebuilder said that it expected volume growth of “at least 5%” for its full financial year (ending July 31 2017) with its average selling price set to rise to around £260,000 against the £252,793 achieved in the year to July 2016.
Total revenue for Bellway’s half year grew 5.9% to £1,148.5 million, chiefly driven by “the strong growth in volume,” the housebuilder said. The private average selling price rose by more than 4% to £291,467. Customer demand remained robust over the half year, with the company’s reservation rate increasing 6.4% to 166 sales per week. Bellway said this was helped by its divisions opening 50 new outlets against 44 in 2016.
Bellway’s Chairman John Watson said: “Bellway’s strong operational focus and consistent execution of its growth strategy has resulted in a record number of legal completions in a first half year and another excellent financial performance.
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 in Wyre for up to 270 dwellings was allowed after it was “doubtful” that the scheduled adoption of the Local Plan would be met. The Inspector went on to recognise a significant recent increase in approvals, but as supply was still not being met, it was “wrong” that the 5% buffer had not been applied to the backlog. Due to the lack of supply, housing policies could not be considered “up to date”. Furthermore due to the significant increase in the housing requirement planned in the emerging local plan, the site would “chime” with this. The Inspector noted that there had been no objection from Highways England or Lancashire County Council, concluding that contributions and works proposed to the scheme’s junctions should not be considered hazardous and the resulting impacts on capacity would not be severe enough overall as outlined in the NPPF to outweigh the benefits of the scheme. The Inspector concluded that the imposition of suitable conditions would ensure that the appeal proposal would not exacerbate flood risk elsewhere and that Garstang is clearly a sustainable place, serving as a “key service centre” and outlined the various facilities and services available there. Whilst the proposal would extend into the countryside, overall the Inspector highlighted that the development would be contained by the Nateby Crossing Lane. After concluding that the underlying reason for the original refusal was due to highway concerns which, despite potential increased traffic impacts on the A6, does not outweigh the benefits the scheme would bring, the appeal was allowed.
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.
Inspector Andrew Dove has allowed an appeal for 28 dwellings (22 affordable and 6 market) in Langton Matravers, Dorset. The main issues were whether or not the proposal could be considered as a rural exception site for residential development in the open countryside in respect of the provision for affordable housing and the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the AONB. The Inspector believed that there was a considerable local need for affordable housing, thus the boost in the supply of affordable housing rendered the site a rural exception site. With regard to the AONB, the Inspector agreed that as the illustrative site layout shows that the proposed buildings would be set away from the eastern boundary and that the proposals include a high degree of softening or screening from the new and existing trees surrounding the site, the proposal would be unlikely to have a dominating effect on the existing open setting and thus the development would also be unlikely to have a harmful impact on the wider AONB. While there would be some localized effects, these would be outweighed by the contribution of affordable housing. Other positives in the planning balance included no objections from flood authorities or highways and the protection of biodiversity on site. Despite the 5 year housing land supply being disputed, the Inspector concluded that the proposal would comply with the development plan taken as a whole and as such, with or without a supply, his decision would not be altered.
Inspector David Reed allowed an appeal for 36 dwellings in Minster, Thanet, despite the site’s proximity to a grade II listed building and the loss of open countryside and rural views. It was the Inspector’s view that the site should be released for housing development due to the lack of housing land supply and the ‘limited’ impact on the character and appearance of the area and listed building. The Inspector concluded by stating an additional 36 houses (11 affordable) in an area with a shortage of housing land would more than outweigh this minimal harm.
An appeal for 14 self build plots in Cheshunt, Broxbourne Borough, has been dismissed after the Inspector found that the scheme would constitute inappropriate development in the greenbelt. The appellant contended that the site is previously developed land and its redevelopment is therefore acceptable. However, the Inspector ultimately concluded that as the buildings on the site have been used for agricultural purposes, they do not fall within the Framework’s definition of previously developed land. Furthermore the Inspector stated that the design and layout of the scheme would be incongruous with the character and layout of the current “semi-rural” setting, as well citing concerns over local highway safety. These reasons ultimately led to the scheme’s dismissal.
An appeal for 10 dwellings in Launton, Cherwell District has been dismissed after the Inspector concluded that the scheme would not respect the rural character of the settlement. The proposals and design of the buildings were judged as not being congruent with the surrounding area, which has a rural, village-like feel. The agricultural buildings that currently occupy the site were judged by the Inspector to be part of the village and therefore adversely changing the form of the site was not acceptable. Furthermore, the design of the site would have negative effects on nearby residents and footpath users adjacent to the site. The Inspector therefore dismissed the appeal as its failure to respect the design of the current environment meant the scheme would not constitute sustainable development.
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