Chelgate Local Newsletter – July 2019
This month: All change at Basildon Council … again, Stansted growth and Uttlesford’s local plan, London sales and lettings, and Unlocking Growth in Oxford and Oxfordshire
All change at Basildon Council … again
By Michael Hardware, Director of Planning and Property
The politics of Basildon Council never provides a dull moment: for the fourth time, in as many years, the administration has changed hands again. The May local elections saw the council move into ‘no overall control’ with the Conservatives losing two seats and its slim majority.
The opposition groups have joined in an alliance to form an administration, but it has required all of the minority party members, including Labour, Independents and one UKIP. Gavin Callaghan (Lab) is the new leader with Kerry Smith (Ind) his deputy.
The impact of these continual changes in administration have led to flop-flopping in the local plan with sites added in, then taken out, and then added in again. The changes of chair of the relevant committee, now called the Infrastructure and Inclusive Growth Committee, have led to a lack of consistent leadership which has not only delayed the local plan but must be a source of huge frustration for the officers.
That frustration may all be over as the local plan has been submitted and the EiP is expected in the autumn. That said, the council is currently seeking a slight delay while it considers the implications of a ministerial direction concerning air quality around the A127. This may lead to some changes.
The new leadership at Basildon has made some bold statements. Cllr Gavin Callaghan sees climate as key saying, “this will be the greenest administration ever”. His main initial aims are to take Basildon out of Essex, making it a unitary authority like Southend and Thurrock next door, and getting the streetlights turned back on at night (perhaps in direct conflict with his climatic aspirations). He does not mention the local plan, although it is short of numbers – there are no prizes for guessing where they will be allocated: the staunchly blue town of Billericay.
Stansted growth and Uttlesford’s local plan
By Michael Hardware, Director of Planning and Property
One of the biggest upsets in the local elections was in Uttlesford where the local residents party, Residents 4Uttlesford, overturned a significant Conservative majority to take the council. The Conservatives lost 19 of its 23 seats and the residents gained 17 giving them 26 seats and an overall majority.
The residents’ group have vehemently opposed the expansion of Stansted airport and the local plan in recent years, and had vowed to reverse both if they gained power. It obviously worked and now they have to deliver on their promises. They are finding that being in power is a lot different to being in opposition.
In late June, an extraordinary council meeting was called to vote to instruct officers to refer the Stansted planning application back to the planning committee. The committee had approved the application last November, but the council had not yet issued the notice as the S106 agreement had to be concluded.
Apparently, the Town and County Planning Act provides for an application to be referred back to a committee if an officer feels there has been a material change between consent and the issue of the notice that would have impacted upon the committee’s decision. This is all subjective, but the onus is upon the officer’s interpretation, so it is not clear if the instruction is correct. The application is set to return to the planning committee in September, although by then it will be out of time and probably in the hands of the Inspector for non-determination. Whatever the outcome, this is very likely to end up in a court.
The examination in public of the local plan started at the beginning of July but there were rumours that the new administration was looking to withdraw it before then. The inspector wrote to the council broadly saying she did not want an EiP where the main objector to the plan was the council that had submitted it, so she invited the council to withdraw it. It would have been quite serious for Uttlesford if it did withdraw the plan with the Secretary of State waiting in the wings for sure.
Politically, this is a disaster for the residents’ group although it may just be a rouse – it is possible the council will withdraw the plan at the end of the EiP if it has not got what it wanted during it, which is entirely feasible.
London sales decline but lettings rise
The prime central London sales and letting markets are key barometers to market sentiment, and an indicator of how the rest of the UK will move in the coming months. Knight Frank issued its monthly update earlier indicating a fall in May of 3.6% in prime central London sales above £10m, and a decline of 11.5% in the £1m -£2m range.
It reported that Brexit is having an effect with some vendors hesitant due to the uncertainty, but other active vendors are taking advantage of the lack of supply. This in itself making a contribution to maintaining prices if only for the time being. The number of prospective new buyers, however, rose by 21% in the year to May, which suggests there is still a lot of interest out there.
The lettings market is showing similar interest with the number of prospective tenants registering for prime central and prime outer London rising by two-thirds in May compared with 2018. The number of viewing also increased by 20% with Knight Frank agreeing 19% more tenancies in the year to May compared with 2018 – this is the largest rise recorded since 2010.
The super-prime market (£5k+ per week) has seen an extraordinary start to the year for Knight Frank with 57 tenancies agreed so far – a 54% increase on last year.
It seems uncertainty is making developers think more carefully before bringing properties forward for sale, and for buyers to buy, deciding instead to rent for the time being.
The whole lettings market is, however, being hampered by changes in landlords’ tax rules and also in various regulations being brought in by council’s around the country, especially multi-occupancy.
Breakfast Briefing: Unlocking Growth in Oxford and Oxfordshire
By Kasia Banas, Consultant
Chelgate Local’s latest breakfast briefing took place last month in Oxford Town Hall where our guests discussed how potential growth in Oxford and Oxfordshire will be unlocked and managed in the coming years. Our co-hosts Lichfields, the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire Growth Board outlined how the various projects will be brought together to deliver growth in the city and the county. The Oxford-Cambridge Arc aims to deliver one million new homes but initiatives, such as City Deal, local housing through the various local plans and the Growth Deal are set to facilitate 100,000 of those new homes by 2031.
Liam Herbert, Chelgate’s CEO, opened the proceedings by giving a warm welcome to the speakers and guests gathered in the Old Library. He was followed by Daniel Lampard, Senior Director at Lichfields who outlined the drivers of housing pressure that Oxfordshire is facing such as Heathrow expansion, London’s overflow, ageing population and investment in the Ox-Cam Arc. He noted that despite many constraints in the region, Oxfordshire Growth Deal and Oxfordshire 2050 Plan provide solid solutions to the anticipated growth.
Next, Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP presented the impressive state of Oxfordshire’s economy and what the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy can deliver in the future in the context of artificial Intelligence and data, ageing society, clean growth and future of mobility. He acknowledged that maintaining the growth trajectory will be a challenge given a very tight labour market of just 0.4% of Oxfordshire population available for employment. However, a clear government support and emerging governance arrangements across the Ox-Cam Arc can contribute to the success of the project.
Finally, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council identified congestion as one of the major issues for the county. He said that A34 especially, has a major negative impact on the local economy. He also pointed out that the Oxford -Cambridge expressway is a road project first and foremost, and it was the later added infrastructure commitments alongside it that contributed to the rising criticisms of the project. He added that the often-cited number of 1million homes is highly exaggerated as it includes homes already allocated in local plans across the region. He endorsed sustainable development in the region and stressed that such sites should be located next to existing stations and employment areas, even if they are in the green belt.
The chair opened the floor for questions from delegates who asked the panellists about the potential effect of the looming political change in the central government as well as recent changes in South Oxfordshire District Council on investment in Oxfordshire. They were also curious to hear about what the authorities think is needed from developers to help deliver the homes and how to make the vision of growth more appealing to local residents.
Local Plan updates – July 2019
Ashford –The Ashford Local Plan 2030 was adopted in February 2019.
Aylesbury Vale – AVDC has advised the Inspector that it will have prepared modifications to the plan together with an updated Sustainability Appraisal by the end of June 2019. The modifications will be published by the Council to give the public an opportunity to make representations on them. This is expected to take place for at least six weeks towards the end of the summer. The Inspector is likely to consider the new representations made in the autumn of 2019, following which he will issue his final, binding, report.
Basildon – The Revised Publication Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State on the 28th of March 2019 for the Examination in Public. Paul Griffiths (BSc (Hons) BArch IHBC has been appointed by the Secretary of State as the Planning Inspector. The EiP is expected to be in the autumn. Basildon Council, however, is seeking to delay the EiP until December to consider the impact of a Ministerial Direction issued last month on air quality around the A127.
Bexley – Reg 18 consultation has now closed, and publication of the Draft Local Plan is planned for Autumn 2019.
Braintree – see North Essex Authorities (below)
Brentwood – Regulation 19 consultation closed on 19 March 2019 and the local plan is in the process of being finalised and submitted.
Bromley – The Local Plan for Bromley was adopted on 16 January 2019.
Broxbourne – The Inspector has now published a report following the additional hearing in relation the Council’s Proposed Main Modifications regarding Brookfield. When the Council has updated its list of proposed main modifications, he will review their soundness before they are published for public consultation.
Cambridge and East Cambs – Following receipt of the Inspector’s modifications, East Cambridgeshire District Council voted to withdraw the emerging Local Plan at its February 2019 Council meeting.
Castle Point – In November 2018 the Council resolved to not proceed with the Pre-Publication Local Plan and is now awaiting a decision from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with regards to the next steps. It is likely MHCLG will give directions to overturn the council’s decision and proceed with the draft local plan submission, similar to the path taken at Thanet and Wirral.
Central Beds – Further additional evidence on the duty to co-operate, landscape, heritage and transport and an update to the Sustainability Appraisal was submitted by the Council on 28th January 2019 at Inspector’s request. Hearing Sessions commenced at 10am on Tuesday 21 May 2019 and will finish on the 26th of July 2019.
Chelmsford – The inspector has found the Plan could be found sound, subject to Main Modifications identified in her Post Hearing Advice Note. The Cabinet will consider a date for consultation on the Main Modifications at its meeting on 1 July. Full Council will then consider the suggested date at its meeting on 16 July.
Cherwell – Hearings took place over four days between 5th – 13th February 2019. Receipt and Publication of the Inspector’s Report (Regulation 25) is imminent.
Chiltern and South Bucks – The consultation on the Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan 2036 and its accompanying Sustainable Appraisal report is now open from midday Friday 7 June until midnight 19 July 2019.
Colchester – See North Essex Authorities (below).
Dacorum – A pre-submission Draft Plan is expected in August 2019 while the Council continues undertaking the Duty to Co-operate and public and stakeholder engagement.
Dartford – Regulation 18 public consultation was held in June/ July 2018. Public involvement in the next stage in drafting the Local Plan is expected in summer 2019.
Dover – The council will be in the evidence gathering stage until December 2019. Consultation on draft Local Plan (Regulation 18) is expected to take place between January and March 2020.
East Herts – East Herts’ District Plan was adopted at an Extraordinary Council on the 23 October 2018.
Elmbridge – On 30 October 2018, a new Local Development Scheme was approved and sets out the work programme up to 2021. Regulation 18 consultation is due to start in August and continue throughout September 2019.
Epping Forest – The Local Plan has been submitted for approval and Ms. Louise Phillips from the Planning Inspectorate was been appointed to carry out the independent Examination. The hearing sessions finished on 12 June 2019. Her report is expected in July and will suggest some significant modifications. There is also the outstanding issue with air pollution and Epping Forest.
Epsom and Ewell – Pre-Submission Public Consultation is planned for October – November 2019.
Folkestone and Hythe – The Council submitted their Places and Policies Local Plan to the Secretary of State on the 28th September 2018 for independent examination. The Planning Inspectorate has appointed Mr Jameson Bridgwater to oversee the examination process. The hearings commenced on 14 May 2019.
Gravesham – After reviewing responses received to Regulation 18 (Stage 1) Part 1 Site Allocations, the council is gathering further evidence and together with the consideration of responses received will prepare Regulation 18 Part 2 consultation documents which will be consulted upon in Autumn 2019.
Guildford – Council decided to adopt the new Local Plan on 25 April 2019.
Harlow – Hearing sessions finished on Thursday 4 April 2019 and Council is expecting Inspector’s final report although not until the summer. Progress is expected to now be made on the town centre Area Action Plan.
Havering – Following the hearings which took take place between the 9th and 19th of October 2018, the examination was suspended to allow the Council to complete the required additional work. The reconvened examination took place on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 May.
Hertsmere – The council is undertaking targeted public and stakeholder engagement in preparing the plan (Reg 18). Issues and options consultation is expected in March 2020.
London Plan – A panel of inspectors have been appointed to review the plan and examination hearings concluded in May 2019. The inspectors’ report is awaited, although not in the near future.
Maidstone – New Local Plan was formally adopted at Full Council on 25 October 2017. The Council is already preparing its review and its call for sites closed on Friday 24 May 2019.
Maldon – The Secretary of State Approved the Maldon District Local Development Plan on 21 July 2017. A review is to be completed by 2022.
Medway – The council published updated Local Development Scheme in December 2018. Regulation 19 – Publication of draft plan is planned for Summer 2019.
Milton Keynes – Plan:MK, the local plan setting out how Milton Keynes will grow until 2031, was approved for adoption by full council in March 2019.
Mole Valley – The Preferred Options consultation is now expected to take place between 21 October and 1 December 2019. Prior to the publication of the consultation, all Council Members will have the opportunity to agree the content of the draft Local Plan at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 15 October.
North Essex Authorities (Braintree, Colchester and Tendring) – The local plan EiP was suspended in June 2018 pending submission of further evidence (June/July 2019) from the three authorities to address the inspector’s concerns about viability and delivery of the three garden communities. EiP expected to recommence in autumn 2019.
North Hertfordshire – The Inspector is currently reviewing and considering the representations made in response to the recent consultation on draft Main Modifications, of which there are many, and evidence produced during and after the hearings. Once he has completed this, he will indicate the way forward for the Examination and the likely timescales.
Oxford City – On 22 March 2019, Oxford City Council submitted the Oxford Local Plan 2016-2036 to the Planning Inspectorate. Planning Inspectors Jonathan Bore MRTPI and Nick Fagan BSc(Hons) DipTP MRTPI have been appointed to undertake an independent examination. Hearings were expected in June/July 2019 according to the LDS, and Inspector’s Report to follow in Autumn 2019. These dates are delayed with exact dates TBC.
Reigate and Banstead – Main Modifications were published for public consultation between 6 March and 18 April 2019. All responses received have now been collated and submitted to the Inspector for consideration.
Rochford – Preferred Options Document public consultation (Regulation 18) is planned for October/November 2019.
Runnymede – The Council submitted the Plan to the Secretary of State on 31st July 2018, and hearing sessions took place in November 2018 and February 2019. The Inspector has requested the Council to provide an update on progress of the ongoing work on highways matters that remains to be completed before the examination can be concluded. In this light, the Stage 3 hearing originally scheduled for July will be postponed. Subject to progress with completing the work, it is expected that the Stage 3 hearing will be scheduled around the end of October.
Sevenoaks – The Sevenoaks District Council Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination on Tuesday 30 April 2019. Karen Baker (DipTP MA DipMP MRTPI) has been appointed by the Secretary of State as the Planning Inspector. The Inspector has now issued her initial questions and the Council has responded.
Southend-on-Sea – Issues and Options consultation closed on 2 April 2019, with Preferred Approach consultation estimated to take place in Winter 2019/2020. There is potentially a new garden settlement to the north of Southend, also part of Rochford.
South Essex Joint Strategic Plan (JSP) – this is a strategic statutory local plan prepared jointly by Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend and Thurrock. Reg 18 consultation is expected in the autumn of 2019.
South Northamptonshire – Hearings took place between Tuesday 11 June and Friday 21 June. The Inspector will now provide a “without prejudice” interim view relating to soundness in certain respects as a first step. This is intended to be helpful and to give the Council an opportunity to consider what further modifications, if any, should be made.
South Oxfordshire – South Oxfordshire District Council submitted the Local Plan 2034 to the Secretary of State on Friday 29 March 2019. Jonathan Bore MRTPI and Nick Fagan MRTPI have been appointed to undertake an independent examination. Following the local elections in May, the new administration is considering withdrawing the local plan. The decision will be made at full council meeting on 18th July.
Spelthorne – The council is undertaking additional work in order to respond to the Heathrow Expansion proposals. As a result, they are now intending to hold the next public consultation on Preferred Options in October 2019.
St Albans – Following submission of the Local Plan 2020-2036 in March 2019, Inspectors Louise Crosby MA MRTPI and Elaine Worthington BA (Hons) MTP MUED MRTPI have been appointed by the Secretary of State to carry out the independent Examination. Provisional hearing session dates have been set for w/c 14 and w/c 21 October.
Stevenage – The Stevenage Borough Local Plan 2011-2031 was adopted on 22 May 2019.
Surrey Heath – The Draft Surrey Heath Local Plan Issues and Options/Preferred Options Consultation finished on 30th July 2018, and the Pre-submission Consultation is scheduled for Summer 2019.
Swale – The Council plans to hold Reg. 18 consultation in Oct – Dec 2019.
Tandridge – The Council has submitted its local plan to the Planning Inspectorate for examination and Inspector Philip Lewis BA (Hons) MA MRTPI was appointed to conduct the examination in January, with hearing dates to be announced shortly.
Tendring – See North Essex Authorities (above).
Thanet – Hearing started on 2 April 2019 but due to the Inspector’s illness the two last weeks have now been re-scheduled to take place between 9th and 19th July.
Three Rivers – Potential Sites Consultation ran between 26 October and 7 December 2018. Publication stage is planned for Autumn 2019.
Thurrock – Reg. 18 (Issues and Options Stage 2: Spatial Options and Sites) took place in July 2018. Reg. 19 was planned for September 2019 but has been delayed following the publication of the revised NPPF.
Tonbridge and Malling – The Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Local Plan was submitted for examination on Wednesday 23rd January 2019 and the Secretary of State has appointed Inspectors Simon Berkeley BA MA MRTPI and Luke Fleming BSc (Hons) MRTPI to carry out an independent examination of the Local Plan. Hearing sessions have not been scheduled yet.
Tunbridge Wells – Consultation on the Draft Local Plan (Regulation 18) from Friday 20 September to Friday 01 November 2019.
Uttlesford – The Uttlesford District Council Local Plan was submitted for examination on 18 January 2019 and the Secretary of State has appointed Inspectors Louise Crosby MA MRTPI and Elaine Worthington BA (Hons) MT MUED MRTPI to carry out an independent examination of the Local Plan. Although the new Residents for Uttlesford group took over the administration following the local elections in May on the basis of challenging the local plan, it has decided not to withdraw the plan and the hearing sessions started on Tuesday 2 July 2019.
Vale of White Horse – The Planning Inspector issued his final report on Local Plan 2031 Part 2 (LPP2) to the Council on 25 June 2019. The Inspector’s report concludes that the Plan is ‘Sound’. Adoption is likely to take place at the next full council meeting on Wednesday, 17 July 2019.
Watford – Issues and Options consultation ran from Friday 7 September to Friday 19 October 2018. First draft local plan is expected in Autumn 2019.
Waverley – POW Campaign Ltd and CPRE Surrey are attempting to overturn last year’s High Court decision to dismiss their challenges to the borough’s local plan. During the hearing, which took place at the Court of Appeal on Monday 24 June, the council’s legal representative explained that the High Court was correct in concluding that the Planning Inspector had not erred in law when allocating 50% of Woking’s unmet housing need to Waverley as part of its overall housing target. The Court also heard arguments from POW Campaign Ltd and CPRE Surrey and will make his decision in due course.
Welwyn Hatfield – Consultation on sites promoted through the Call for Sites 2019 run until 18 June 2019. According to the Council’s revised Local Plan timetable, hearings will be resumed in November 2019, with a view to consult on main modification in Jan-Feb 2020 and adopt in June 2020.
Woking – Site Allocations DPD consultation (Reg. 19) ran until 17 December 2018 and submission to Secretary of State is expected in the summer 2019.
Wycombe – The consultation on proposed modifications ran from 13 February 2019 and to 27 March 2019. The inspector will now consider the representations before deciding how she wishes to proceed with the Examination. Should the Inspector decide that no additional Hearing Sessions are necessary, her report is expected in the Summer.