Our July 2015 issue of The Source is now available
Welcome to the second edition of ‘The Source’ prepared by the Strategic Land Team at Gladman with the specific aim of better informing you.
The Limits to ‘Early Reviews’ in Local Plans
The recent Ministerial Statement on Local Plans made clear the Government’s intention to get plans in place through both a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. The accompanying letter from Greg Clark to The Planning Inspectorate highlighted the option of finding plans sound subject to an early review and pointed towards a recent Planning Advisory Service (PAS) note on the topic.
Whilst clearly an attempt to speed up the adoption of plans, this does not represent a change to the tests of soundness. As the PAS note states “a commitment to review cannot be used to resolve matters critical to the plan’s strategy or legal compliance. It is not a panacea for addressing the difficult issues.”
Unblocking Drainage Problems
The imposition of conditions on planning permissions requiring prior approval of drainage schemes or hydraulic modelling can add considerable expense and delay to the implementation of permissions and the delivery of new homes.
The legal position in respect of a developer’s right to connect to the public sewer is set out in the Barratt Homes v Welsh Water case. In that case the Supreme Court confirmed that development has a right to connect to the public sewer network, but in some circumstances (principally when time is required for the Water Company to put in place additional drainage capacity) it may be appropriate to impose a Grampian condition to require the approval of scheme for connection. In our experience, many water companies default position in response to planning applications is to request that the council imposes a Grampian planning condition. Most local planning authorities take at face value the response of water companies without taking a balanced approach to reasonableness of such a condition.
This issue was recently considered by an Inspector at an appeal in Weedon (paragraph 77) where he took the view that as the water company had been aware of the proposal for a considerable period of time through the pre-application consultation with the developer; the determination stage by the Council; and the length of the appeal process; that sufficient notice had been provided for the water company to put in place the necessary modelling or investment plans to accommodate the waste water flows from the development. This is particularly relevant in the case of outline planning permissions where it can take 18-24 months for the first home to be occupied. In this case the Inspector adopted a pragmatic approach and considered that the water company had had sufficient time to make provision for the development.
Property Owning Democracy on Verge of Collapse
A report by PwC raises the prospect of home-owning for many people is coming to a bitter end, as it is becoming almost impossible in some areas for people under 40 to step on the first rung of the property ladder meaning that renting becomes the norm. Outright ownership is becoming the preserve of a dwindling elderly generation who have largely already greatly benefitted from rising houses prices and yet in some areas are often those who resist proposals for new homes.
Sustainable Urban Extensions – Slow Growth
A report produced by Savills on behalf of leading industry house builder Barratt Homes shows the slow delivery rate of SUE’s. It demonstrates that the majority of schemes of this type are unlikely to make any significant contribution to the delivery of new homes within the first five years of a plan period.
The report, which draws and builds on a study undertaken by Hourigan Connolly on behalf of Gladman Developments, considers how long it takes for an SUE to progress through the planning system, achieve commencement of construction and the rate at which new housing units are then delivered.
The report has tracked the progress of 84 urban extensions through the planning system over the last 25 years. On average across all sites analysed, an urban extension starts construction on the first phase of housing more than five years after the submission of an outline application.
Savills recognise that there are significant risks of longer timeframes, well beyond five years, for large complex sites, particularly those exceeding 3,000 units. Delays can occur at any stage of the process and can be due to many factors such as problems with funding, infrastructure requirements or local objections.
Build out rates clearly increase with the presence of multiple developers. However caution must be exercised in estimating annual delivery rates as these reduce for each developer as the number of builders increases. Even where sites are located in some of the strongest housing markets, around 110 units per site per annum appears to be a realistic average delivery rate.
The report shows that Sustainable Urban Extensions clearly have a role to play in solving the housing crisis. However, their genuine contribution to the delivery of a Plan must recognise that early delivery is unrealistic.
Wealden District Council withdraw 7km Ashdown Forest Protection Zone following Legal Challenge
Following a Court of Appeal decision Wealden District Council has recently made changes to its Core Strategy Local Plan, namely Policy WCS12, relating to the protection of the Ashdown Forest.
The implications of this change in policy are that development proposals in close proximity to the Ashdown Forest will no longer be automatically required to provide specific mitigation measures proposals. Planning applications will instead be screened on an individual basis and continue to be subject to the Habitat Regulations which protect the Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area (SPA). If it is determined that an application either alone, or in combination with other plans or projects, is likely to result in a significant effect on the SPA, then an Appropriate Assessment will be required to determine the implications for that site in view of the site conservation objectives.
Read the full article…
Half Yearly Results
Taylor Wimpey announce a solid performance for first 6 months of 2015. All financial indicators moving in right direction.
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