Chelgate Local Newsletter – June 2018
In the June issue of the Chelgate Local Newsletter we discuss the Garden Village Boom, the housing crisis laid bare in NHF report, an update of the Letwin Review and a round-up of Council Local Plans
What’s new with Chelgate…
The team took on new work promoting six new schemes of residential and supported housing across the home counties. We also supported on public and political engagement for large mixed residential schemes in Oxfordshire, Leicestershire and Bedfordshire.
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Raab plants seeds for Garden Village boom
Councils planning new garden towns and villages are set to receive a boost under fresh regulations, but the devil is in the detail.
Housing Minister Dominic Raab MP has proposed shifting responsibility for New Town Development Corporations (NTDCs) from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) over to councils.
Under the new rules, NTDCs will be public-private partnerships that will oversee the complete delivery of new towns and garden communities in their area, from sourcing private investment to project development and master planning, to help to provide thousands of new homes.
While the measures have been welcomed by councils looking for greater freedom to create new towns to meet their housing need, there are still questions about how the initiative is going to be funded and what powers it will grant councils over transport and education infrastructure.
Raab will need to provide clarity around the delegation of decision making, or more development corporations could run into complexities like those faced by the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC), whose planned garden city in Kent has faced administrative and site-specific issues in recent months.
A greater role for development corporations
Previously, all NTDCs were only created by the Secretary of State and remained accountable to MHCLG, and they had to seek Treasury approval for funding over £100m.
But following public consultation, Raab has adapted the regulations to allow NTDCs to be held accountable by their respective councils, rather than MHCLG.
When setting out the reforms, Raab said: “We need to build the homes our communities need, and I’m committed to giving councils the tools they need to deliver”.
The measure is part of the Government’s programme of planning reform and targeted funding, with the aim of delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.
The right way forward?
Hugh Ellis, Head of Policy at the Town and Country Planning Association, said the change would give councils the confidence to invest in the long term and is “a massive key to unlocking investment in new places”.
The LGA have made the point that lifting the housing borrowing cap and enabling councils to borrow to build homes would be a quicker solution to the housing crisis, but it looks unlikely MHCLG will budge on this in the upcoming National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
With the need for new Garden Towns more apparent than ever, the Housing Minister is on the right track with the move to empower councils to have more of a say in master planned new towns. However, the details of how funding will be allocated and who will have responsibility for decisions on new infrastructure will need to be forthcoming quickly as Councils prepare for the new NPPF ahead of Summer Recess.
True scale of housing crisis laid bare in NHF report
A new report has revealed the true scale of England’s housing crisis saying we need to be building 340,000 new homes a year (including 90,000 for social rent) up to 2031.
The National Housing Federation and Crisis report said there was a total deficit of some four million homes and that we need to be building above the Government target of 300,000 homes per
year. The report said housing is urgently needed for the homeless; “boomerang” generation adults still living with their parents; couples who would otherwise have separated, and people in flat shares who would have moved out.
However, the shortage can only be addressed if we build the right type of homes. The report says that 145,000 of these new homes must be affordable, of which:
- 90,000 should be for social rent
- 30,000 should be for intermediate affordable rent
- 25,000 should be for shared ownership
The social housing sector is calling on the Government to take serious steps on the matter before it publishes its social housing green paper in the summer. You can read the full press release here.
Letwin Review highlights need for more housing variation
Sir Oliver Letwin, who was charged with the task of explaining the “significant gap” between housing completions and the amount of land allocated in areas of high demand, has released his eagerly awaited interim report.
As in his letter in March, Letwin does stress that the “homogeneity of the types and tenures of the homes on offer and the limit on the rate at which the market will absorb them are the fundamental drivers of the slow rate of build out”.
He urges house builders to diversify the homes constructed within each site to cater to different markets simultaneously – thus accelerating build out rates.
Different strokes for different folks
Letwin suggests developers look at providing different types of tenure – open market sale, open market private rented, ‘affordable’ rented and ‘social’ rented – as well as different forms of accommodation, such as retirement housing and student living blocks, all as part of the same scheme.
The report finds that buyers for these different tenure types don’t compete, so developers could develop more of a site at once without driving property prices down and threatening their business model.
In addition, rather than building rows of identikit semi-detached homes with monotonous landscaping and bland interiors, house builders could also offer custom- and self-build options, or simply provide a variety of looks to appeal to different tastes.
Whether builders accept this or not is another matter – they stand to lose out if they are forced to diversify their housing offer across sites.
Letwin is also cagey on how this diversification will take place, saying the ‘policy levers’ to bring this about while not harming sites economically will form the second half of his review, reporting to Budget.
Banking on land?
Significantly, Letwin finds that none of the UK’s biggest housebuilders deliberately ‘land bank’, with no evidence that developers sit on land they own and then wait for it to rise in value to maximise their profits.
He states: “Their business models depend on generating profits out of sales of housing, rather than out of the increasing value of land holdings; and it is the profitability of the sale of housing that they are trying to protect by building only at the ‘market absorption rate’ for their products.”
We absolutely didn’t need a drawn-out Government Review to tell us this, of course, but having official evidence could aid future Government funding decisions on driving up housebuilding.
What’s more, by moving towards a more varied housing model and accelerating build out rates, developers might finally be able to disprove the myth of land banking once and for all.
You can read the full report here.
Local Plan updates – June 2018
- Aylesbury Vale – Plan submitted for examination in January 2018 – the Council hopes to adopt the plan before the end of 2018.
- Basildon – An Extraordinary Meeting of the Council was held on Thursday 7th June 2018 in which the decision made by the Council on 22nd March to consult on the Local Plan, and to submit it to the Government, has been withdrawn and the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee will be asked to look again at specific aspects.
- Central Beds – Local Plan was submitted to government on 30 April 2018 and is now subject to an independent examination by a Planning Inspector.
- Chelmsford – The Development Policy Committee approved the process for submitting the Local Plan on 7 June 2018. The documents have now been referred to Full Council to agree the submission.
- Cherwell – Cherwell District Council submitted the Local Plan Partial Review (Oxford’s Unmet Housing Need) to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for formal examination on 5 March 2018.
- Chilterns/South Bucks – The Reg. 19 pre-submission Local Plan was expected to be published in June/July 2018 but has been delayed, as the Councils have been required to undertake additional highway modelling. The timetable is being reviewed.
- Dacorum – Currently reviewing 20,000 comments from Reg.18 consultation in November 2017. Expect to proceed to preferred option or pre-submission stage in 2018/2019.
- East Herts – Following the Main Modifications Consultation, the Council received a ‘fact check’ version of the Inspector’s Report on the 25th June 2018. The Council has until the 9th July to complete its fact check. Once this has been completed and the Inspector has responded to any points raised, the Planning Inspectorate will submit the final report to the Council.
- Epping – Submission of Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan has been delayed following a Planning Court ruling on 20 March 2018.
- Harlow – Reg 19 consultation is open until Friday 6 July 2018. Submission to Planning Inspectorate for examination is planned for September 2018.
- London Borough of Redbridge – The Redbridge Local Plan 2015-2030 was formally adopted at Full Council on Thursday 15 March 2018.
- Maidstone – The Local Plan was adopted last October, with the next review scheduled for 2021.
- Medway – Development Strategy consultation ran until 25 June 2018. The Reg. 19 is expected in Winter 2018.
- Mid Sussex – Mid Sussex District Plan 2014-2031 was adopted as a Development Plan Document at the full council meeting on 28th March 2018.
- Milton Keynes – The Council has now submitted the Proposed Submission version of Plan:MK to the Planning Inspectorate for an independent examination.
- Wycombe – The Wycombe District Local Plan has been submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with a hearing starting on 16th July.
- Mole Valley – Reg. 18 Preferred Options consultation to take place in late Summer/early Autumn 2018.
- Reigate and Banstead – The Reigate & Banstead Development Management Plan (DMP) was submitted to the Secretary of State for Local Government on 18 May 2018 and will now be subject to an independent examination by a Planning Inspector.
- Sevenoaks – Draft Local Plan consultation is planned for Summer 2018.
- South Northamptonshire – Reg 19 consultation is expected in the Summer 2018.
- St Albans – On 21st June, Cabinet voted unanimously to recommend the draft Local Plan for publication to Council. If Council approves the Plan in July, the Regulation 19 consultation should start in September 2018.
- Surrey Heath – Surrey Heath Borough Council’s first draft of the Local Plan is available for public consultation between Monday 4 June and Monday 30 July.
- Tandridge – Reg 19 consultation is expected to take place July-September 2018
- Thurrock – Call for sites ended on 23 April 2018. Pre-submission consultation is planned for towards the end of 2018 and submission to the Inspector early in 2019. Adoption is expected in 2020.
- Tonbridge and Malling – Reg.19 version of the Local Plan is anticipated to be consulted upon during the Autumn 2018.
- Tunbridge Wells – Preferred Options Reg. 18 consultation is completed. Consultation on a Pre-Submission Local Plan (Regulation 19) will take place from September 2019 – October 2019.
- Waverley – Part 1 – Adopted but currently fighting three challenges. Part 2 – Consultation on preferred options and draft policies (Regulation 18) until 9 July 2018.