Chelgate Local Newsletter – February 2018
NPPF timetable, the Letwin Review and an MP attacks ‘predatory’ developers
New timescales for NPPF revealed
Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, is working towards an ‘Easter’ date for publication of the new draft NPPF, it was revealed last week.
The long-awaited changes to the country’s ‘planning bible’ will include the rollout of the new method for calculating Objectively Assessed Housing Need. This was met with fury from many of the Conservative government’s own councils in the Home Counties when it was initially released in September last year. The revised NPPF is also expected to bring changes to the way developers contribute to communities through the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106, after the Government said that the systems were ‘not as fast, simple, certain or transparent as originally intended’.
The newly badged Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has also launched a new consultation on regulations which would exempt LPAs from requiring written agreement of applicants before imposing a pre-commencement condition. This move is designed to respond to developer concerns about unnecessary costs and delays to development. For further details and the chance to respond to the consultation, please visit the Government website.
Letwin’s land banking team announced
The Letwin Review into Land Banking was one of the more controversial announcements coming from the Chancellor’s last Autumn Budget, as far as land promoters and developers were concerned.
Chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin MP (Conservative, West Dorset), the review is set to look into the reasons behind the ‘significant gap’ between planning permission being granted and new houses being completed.
But while the evidence suggests that land developers and promoters do not sit on swathes of land in the hope of maximising its value, Letwin has said he is committed to “finding ways to increase the speed of build-out as well as tackling the complicated issues surrounding it”Earlier this month Letwin revealed the diverse panel of housing and planning experts that is set to help write the report and make sensible, practical recommendations to speed up build out. The five-man team is made up of peers, professors and a journalist who has worked as a developer:
- Richard Ehrman – author, small commercial property developer and former journalist. Former special adviser to the Secretary of State for Employment and former deputy chairman of policy exchange
- Lord Jitesh Gadhia – Member of House of Lords and investment banker
- Lord John Hutton – (Labour) Peer and former Secretary of State
- Rt Hon Baroness Usha Prashar CBE, PC – (Crossbench) Peer with a career spanning public, not for profit and private sectors, currently deputy chairman of British Council and a non-executive director of Nationwide Building Society
- Christine Whitehead – Emeritus professor of housing economics at London School of Economics.
The review will be taking place early in 2018, with an interim report setting out the key causes of the gap to be provided this spring. The final report, which will make recommendations on practical steps to increase the speed of build out, will then be delivered to the Chancellor in time for his autumn statement.
Essex MP takes aim at ‘predatory’ developers
Essex’s housing and infrastructure became the focus of the Government last week as Rt Hon Priti Patel MP secured an ‘End of the Day’ Adjournment debate on planning in Essex.
Patel clearly feels more able to attack the Government’s planning policies now she is no longer in the Cabinet, as she called on the Secretary of State to reject a number of planning applications currently being considered across Essex.
Addressing the Commons on the 1st February, Patel welcomed the £7 million in HIF funding for flood alleviation in Maldon, before taking the opportunity to launch an attack on two ‘unacceptable’ planning applications in her constituency of Hatfield Peverel, at Stonepath Meadow and Gleneagles Way.
The two applications for a combined 260 new homes are currently not included in the Local Plan or Neighbourhood Plan and are awaiting a decision on the advice of the Planning Inspectorate later this year, after having been called in the Secretary of State.
Patel made the point that the Hatfield Peverel area is already poised to take ‘its fair share’ by accepting 250 new homes currently going through the planning process, and that it could not accommodate further growth.
Infrastructure for Garden Villages
After taking aim at “speculative, predatory developers” that submit planning applications ahead of local or neighbourhood plans being agreed, Patel also blamed the previous Labour Government’s Regional Spatial Strategies for the lack of five-year land supplies in Conservative authorities like Braintree.
The proposed waste incinerator at Rivenhall was also highlighted as being unwelcome and damaging to the environment.
Patel concluded by calling on the Government to provide essential infrastructure improvements for North Essex to allow new Garden villages to be built, including widening of the A120 and the A12.
New Minister of State for Local Government Rishi Sunak welcomed the queries, noting that the planning applications would be considered by the Planning Inspector, but a further £250m in HIF funds will be available to upper tier local authorities in England for a small number of strategic and high-impact infrastructure projects like garden villages.
Following Chelgate Local’s breakfast briefing on Essex Garden Communities in Chelmsford in December, our own Michael Hardware penned an opinion piece for PlacemakingResource, part of Planning Magazine.
It discussed the opportunities garden communities present and included views from Cllr John Spence, the new chair of the North Essex Garden Communities; Cllr Linda Haysey, leader of East Herts District Council, about the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town; and Cllr Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council, looking at technology future-proofing, infrastructure and the contribution garden towns and villages will make on the local economy. Mike Derbyshire, planning partner at Bidwells, gave an update on various other garden communities including North Uttlesford, on the Cambridges
hire/Essex border, and the new community at Dunsfold Airfield, which the Secretary of State is currently considering following a call-in.
Kent, the building site of England
The Built Environment Network came to Maidstone at the end of January and the great and good from construction and property in Kent came together at the Maidstone Masonic Centre to hear from several speakers.
The most interesting came from Andy Martin, who was the last speaker and gave an electrifying update on progress on the proposed London Resort. Most delegates had not heard of the planned world-class global destination theme park resort being progressed to the north of Ebbsfleet Garden City, on the Swanscombe Peninsular. Only 17 minutes from London by rail, the new resort will cost some £5 billion, include 3,500 hotel rooms, providing 30,000 visitors with an “authentic, immersive and engaging experiences” on its 100-hectare site.
Around 6,300 construction workers will be needed, and 13,000 jobs created when complete. Construction is expected to start in 2019 with the grand opening in 2023.
Rob Audsley from Highways England explained the progress with the Lower Thames Crossing and how the project will pump more than £8 million into the Kent economy, create 6,000 new jobs, and provide a 70 per cent increase in road capacity. The final public consultation is expected this year, with a DCO application in 2019 and the new tunnel opening in 2027.
This, combined with the London Resort, which are both being built at the same time, means Kent is going to be the place to be if you want a job in construction: over 12,500 workers of all types will be needed from next year.
Alison Broom, CEO of Maidstone Borough Council, spoke in detail about the adopted local plan and the housebuilding coming forward, as well as the Kent Innovation Corridor including Innovation Zones at Ebbsfleet Garden City, Rochester Airport and the 30-acre Kent Medical Campus, which has outline permission for 98,000m2 for A1, B1, C2 and D1 uses.
Mahbub Khandoker, development director at Countryside, gave an update on the Rochester Riverside development. It will provide 1,400 new homes and commercial space, including 25 per cent affordable. First sale completions are expected in early 2019, with the new hotel later that year and the new primary school in 2021.