Have a look at our latest 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 current news and views in land & planning.
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Extent and Impact of Cheshire East Air Quality ‘Manipulation’ Revealed
An independent report into Cheshire East’s air quality monitoring has claimed that levels were downplayed by as much as 10 µg/m³ in some areas between 2012 and 2014.
Last month, Cheshire East Council admitted that data used to monitor air pollution levels in the borough had been falsified, meaning that submissions to Defra for 2012, 2013 and 2014 had contained “serious errors”.
Government Investing in Infrastructure to Boost Housing Growth
In an effort to boost the number of houses being built in England the UK Government has determined that investment in infrastructure will facilitate increased delivery of new homes.
Government Proposes Ban on New Build Leasehold Houses
The Government proposes to ban new build houses being sold as leasehold, as part of a consultation published 25th July.
As explored in previous editions, home buyers with a leasehold regularly face unacceptable fees and costs from the landowner. If these are sold on to investment companies,…
Stamping out the Duty
Following publication of an academic paper, published jointly by the London School of Economics (LSE) and the VATT Institute for Economic Research, an unnamed Cabinet Minister has urged the Chancellor to reform stamp duty on property transactions, which is being blamed for seizing up the housing market. A stamp-duty holiday could allow a temporary amnesty from paying the tax which, the paper states, hampers mobility significantly.
Uncertainty over Political Uncertainty
The Guardian have blamed “political uncertainty” for a slowdown in the UK property market, combined with low stock numbers and tax changes the housing market has been hindered, meaning prices will remain flat for the next year.
Latest news from the sector
NHBC Statistics Show Affordable Sector Rise
According to the latest statistics from NHBC, private sector registrations dropped 7% in the second quarter of 2017 against the same period a year ago. During the April to June period, 29,123 new homes were registered in the private sector, whilst in the affordable housing sector, registrations climbed 19% against the same sector last year, to 11,220 new homes. Overall registrations (totalling 40,343) represent a 1% decrease year-on-year, though 6 out of the 12 UK regions experienced a growth in registrations.
The research revealed that the continuing rise in registrations in the affordable sector was being driven by a number of larger housing associations developing homes for market rent, shared ownership and private sale, alongside an increase in joint ventures with the private sector.
Neil Jefferson, NHBC’s Business Development Director, said: “New home registrations have remained stable in the second quarter of this year, with some areas of the UK seeing significant increases in registration volumes. With demand for housing as strong as ever, the growth seen in the affordable sector is particularly encouraging.”
Bridgepoint To Acquire Miller
In a deal totalling £655 million, from funds managed by GSO Capital Partners, Miller Homes is to be acquired by private equity group Bridgepoint.
With 3 divisions in the Midlands and South, North, and Scotland, Miller is the largest privately-owned housebuilder in the UK. In 2016, Miller’s revenue was up 13% to £565 million, with a total of 2,380 completions.
Chris Endsor, Miller’s CEO, said: “2016 was an outstanding year for Miller Homes delivering operating profit in excess of £100 million for the first time and outperforming on all key financial metrics for the fifth consecutive year,” adding “GSO have been a great supporter of our business and I look forward to welcoming Bridgepoint as our new shareholder as we undertake our next phase of growth.”
Jamie Wyatt, Partner at Bridgepoint, said: “The UK regional markets in which Miller operates are in good health with a positive sales environment and an attractive land buying market. Miller’s strategic position within those markets combined with its historic robust financial performance position it well to address future growth in the UK new build housing market where demand currently outstrips supply.”
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 the small rural village of Bulkeley for 13 dwellings was allowed despite the council arguing that the development would cause the loss of BMV agricultural land and negatively affect the Peckforton Hills, a Local Landscape Designated Area. The inspector found that whilst the development would lead to the loss of some open countryside, it was of relatively low grade land and harm to the supply of BMVAL would be limited. The inspector did however find that the development would lead to moderate harm to the character and appearance of the landscape, due to its urbanising effect. Given the council’s lack of 5 year supply and the required affordable housing contribution, the inspector allowed the appeal, stating that whilst the planning considerations were finely balanced, the harms do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the positive contributions towards housing provision.
Inspector C J Anstey has dismissed an appeal for 12 dwellings in Sibsey, East Lindsey District Council, after concluding that the landscape impacts significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefits of the scheme. He considered that the site currently forms a pleasant edge to the village and the construction of dwellings on the eastern and southern parts of the appeal site would constitute encroachment into the countryside and urbanise the edge of the village to an unacceptable extent. Despite noting that the council cannot currently demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites, the positive (though minimal) contribution of housing and economic benefits, the appeal site does not meet the environmental element of sustainability and was consequently dismissed.
An appeal in the village of Barton, outside Preston, for 45 dwellings was dismissed after careful consideration as to whether the appeal site is an appropriate location for housing with regard to national and local policy and the contribution the scheme makes to housing provision. The lack of services and facilities in the village, making car trips for household goods and medical services necessary, despite being on a main bus route between Lancaster and Preston, led to the development being considered too large for the settlement. The inspector felt that this contravenes Central Lancashire Core Strategy Policy 1 which allows small scale and infill development for local needs only, in the lowest tier of the settlement hierarchy, of which Barton is a part. Given that it was found the council could demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply and that the scheme would be contrary to policies limiting development in small villages and to protect the countryside, the appeal was dismissed.
An appeal for 76 dwellings in Prestbury, Tewkesbury Borough Council has been dismissed as it was considered that the economic benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the area in relation to the AONB and special landscape area, which were afforded significant weight in the planning balance. Consideration was also given to the Prestbury conservation area and other heritage assets and weighted against the authority recently being able to demonstrate a five year housing land supply, even with a 20% buffer, which the inspector deemed appropriate.
An appealed site for 65 dwellings within Tewkesbury Borough Council’s service village of Gotherington has been dismissed on the grounds that only the economic impacts offer a benefit. Significant weight was given to the harm the development would have on the character and appearance of the area relating to the AONB. This, in conjunction with the significant weight given to the authority’s claim that it can demonstrate a five year housing land supply led to the inspector’s conclusion to dismiss the appeal despite a time-expired local plan.
An appeal for 92 dwellings in South Cerney, Cotswold District Council, was allowed as the proposal posed no risk to the visual landscape of the area or the traffic systems in place in the settlement. The inspector found that the scheme satisfied the social, economic and environmental roles of sustainable development. In addition the settlement was deemed sustainable and capable of taking growth, with the flood risk on site judged to lie within zone 1. In a district unable to demonstrate it is meeting housing demand, in combination with little weight being given to the emerging plan meant that the appeal was allowed.