Have a look at our July 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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Construction Growth Rebounds
to 17-Month High
The UK construction sector grew at the fastest pace seen in 17 months, as low interest rates and strong labour markets supported residential building activity.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index for the construction sector increased surprisingly to 56.0 in May from 53.1 in April, with survey results from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply surprising many in the sector.
Growing Crisis of Affordable Housing Provision in Rural Areas
New research from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), shows a growing crisis of affordable housing provision in many rural areas.
Using Government data, the research indicates that the proportion of affordable homes being provided by non-metropolitan local authorities has halved in five years. In 2011-12, 35% of new dwellings in shire districts and unitary authorities were affordable; In 2015-16, this had decreased to just 16%. Other than a small recovery in 2014-15, those years showed continued decline.
Plan Making Progress
The number of councils failing to show a five-year housing land supply in appeals has dropped slightly, but some local planning authorities face major delivery obstacles, the annual Savills planning report reveals.
Smarden Approval Takes its Cues From Suffolk Coastal Judgement
Following the report in The Source Special Edition in May, the Planning Inspectorate has issued a decision providing a thorough dissection of NPPF paragraph 14, seemingly conducted in the light of the Supreme Court’s recent Suffolk Coastal judgement, which focussed on the correct interpretation of the same paragraph, alongside paragraph 49.
South East Dominance in Neighbourhood Planning
Research has emerged that nearly half a million people across England have voted in neighbourhood plan referendums in 111 local authority areas since their inception. The number of people turning out to vote has not been equal across the country however, with over 50% of all votes cast being cast in polls in the South East in comparison to nearby London which records 1.3% of the voting share and Yorkshire and the Humber records the lowest turnout of all regions account for only 0.8% of the overall voting numbers.
What Does the General Election Result Mean for Housing?
Ahead of the general election, political parties made housing a primary political issue, each setting out strategies as to how they would tackle the shortage of residential properties across the UK. All major parties pledged to tackle the housing crisis by promising to build significantly more homes and continuously add to the housing stock to alleviate pressures.
Government Scheme to Calculate Housing Need
The Government has announced that it will be consulting on a new methodology to calculate housing need. The consultation will be published in July.
Latest news from the sector
Barratt Top, Bungalows Bottom
Barratt has resumed its pre-eminent position as most active volume housebuilder in terms of developing land through the planning system. According to research by Glenigan, there was a 65% rise in the number of units included in detailed planning applications made by Barratt last year compared to 2015. There were also big rises in units in the planning pipeline at other major housebuilders, including Persimmon (up 49%), Redrow (up 114%), Bloor (up 72%) and Keepmoat (up 61%).
Interestingly, of the 88,753 units included in planning applications amongst the top 15 housebuilders in 2016, only 66 comprised bungalows, most of those by Persimmon.
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 40 dwellings in Verwood, East Dorset was dismissed by Inspector David L Morgan. Evidence provided by the appellants failed to convince the Inspector that there would be no significant adverse effects on the Dorset Heathland SPA. The Inspector also questioned the accuracy of CIL contributions towards the site’s SANG proposal. Despite providing 50% affordable as well as economic and social benefits these did not outweigh the potential harm to the designated European Site.
An appeal for 88 dwellings in Cirencester, Cotswold District has been allowed after the Inspector concluded that the benefits of the scheme outweigh any harms. The Inspector concluded that the Council are able to demonstrate a five year supply, with the appellant not submitting any evidence to contest this. The appellant did however submit evidence contesting the Council’s OAN figure, stating that it is undercalculated. The Inspector disagreed with the appellant’s evidence stating that it appears to have included double counts on affordable housing. In specific regards to the site, it is within a rural setting and is important for maintaining the two nearby settlement’s seperate identities. The Council assessed the site as having medium/high landscape sensitivity in a study undertaken to inform the emerging Local Plan. However, the Inspector decided that although some harm to the landscape is inevitable, its low visibility, planned planting schemes and site layout would reduce this harm level to minor. Furthermore, an allocated site adjacent to this appeal site plans to have employment space that is not characteristic of the current area. The Inspector stated that as is an allocation, it undermines the Councils argument that this appeal site would be incongruous with the local landscape. There are a couple of listed buildings in quite close proximity to the site, although separated by “a significant buffer of agricultural land” leading the Inspector to state that the benefits of the scheme would outweigh any minor harms. The Inspector ultimately decided the scheme’s benefits outweigh minor harms to landscape and the setting of listed buildings.
An appeal for an unspecified amount of residential dwellings, with the site totalling 59.9 acres in Normanby, Redcar & Cleveland Borough has been allowed. As the Council do not have an up to date housing requirement the appeal firstly considered what the Council’s OAN is. The Inspector decided that the appellant’s OAN figure at 335 dpa, compared to the Council’s 206 dpa figure, is more robust as the appellant takes into account job forecasts more realistically. This ultimately led to the Inspector deciding that the Council do not have a five year housing land supply. The site was considered in relation to its proximity to services as it is relatively detached from the setlement. However, the Inspector concluded that it is not outside the acceptable walking distance to essential services. Furthermore, the appellant’s scheme to provide an hourly bus service into the nearby town and Middlesbrough for the next two years led to the Inspector concluding that the scheme would be accessible to nearby settlements. These reasons led the Inspector to allow the appeal as it would ultimately provide more benefits than harms to the local area.
An appeal for 146 dwellings in Crewe, Cheshire East has been approved in line with a previous appeal decision supported by the Supreme Court. The site had already been granted planning permission in 2014 and the inspector found no reason to question the validity of this permission offering the existing permission significant weight in this decision. Despite the loss best and most versatile agricultural land and harm to the landscape, the provision of housing in a district which cannot demonstrate a five year housing land supply and the economic benefits of the scheme outweighed these impacts. On a side note it was brought to the attention of the inspector that the adoption of the emerging local plan is expected in the next few weeks from the date of this appeal.
An appeal for 22 dwellings in the Staffordshire Moorlands village of Alton was allowed due to the absence of five year housing land supply in the district as well of the lack of harm as a result of the development. The inspector felt that the proposal would not cause significant harm in terms of traffic, flooding or living conditions of current and future residents, but would offer a sustainable location for housing.
Inspector David Cliff has dismissed an appeal in Potton, Bedfordshire for 27 dwellings despite the development not only being in an accessible location within walking distance of the town centre, but also that nine proposed dwellings were affordable. The Inspector also commented on the proposal providing moderate economic benefits from employment during construction. However, given the landscape and biodiversity harm the Inspector identified, the environmental dimension of sustainable development would not be achieved and the objections in respect of the landscape impact are particularly strong, weighing heavily against the appeal. The Inspector states that the lack of a five year supply of housing land does not automatically lead to planning permission and, in this scenario of modest shortfall in five year housing land supply, the adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. Therefore, the proposal would not represent sustainable development. The appeal is dismissed.
Inspector David Prentis has allowed an appeal in Burgess Hill, West Sussex for 73 dwellings by Jones Homes Ltd as the proposal would make a significant contribution to the delivery of housing land in Mid Sussex to help increase the Councils’ 3.76 year supply. Although the proposal would conflict with Policy DP10 ‘protection of the countryside’ in the emerging local plan, the Inspector attached limited weight to this as the geographic extent of the policy is related to a housing requirement which has yet to be settled through the local plan process. The Inspector also acknowledged that there was some degree of conflict with Policy DP16 – Setting of the South Downs National Park, however the Inspector again attached limited weight to this policy because it is currently an emerging policy subject to unresolved objections. Overall, the Inspector concluded that the proposal would not accord with the development plan. However, the framework leads to the conclusion that the adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, the proposal is sustainable development and is allowed.
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