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Planning Law Speed Read – October 2017

Welcome to Ward Hadaway's planning law Speed Read. The aim of our bite-sized bulletins is to keep you abreast of the 'hot' topics and key legal issues relevant to you.

Excellence in Technology

We are delighted to announce that the Property Team at Ward Hadaway has been shortlisted for two prestigious awards: Excellence in Technology in the Law Society Excellence Awards 2017; and the Best Use of Technology in the British Legal Awards.

We have been shortlisted in both awards for the means by which we combine our plans service with the advice we provide our clients. Many of our existing clients will be aware of our Title Overlay Plan (‘TOP’) service, which works as part of the legal reporting process at a very early stage in a transaction and is produced by our Plans Technician, Chris Stones.

Many of our clients regularly use the service and are aware how the work of Chris and his colleagues in the planning technician team identify the problems and likely constraints with new sites they are looking to acquire and develop.

Organised by The Law Society – the body which represents solicitors in England and Wales – the Excellence Awards are widely regarded as being among the most prestigious legal awards in the country and received a record number of entries this year.

Meanwhile, the British Legal Awards are hosted by the highly respected Legal Week magazine in association with The City of London Law Society, with an awards ceremony attended by over 1,000 lawyers.

To even be shortlisted for such awards is an accomplishment we are very proud of and is a reflection of the relationship we have developed with our developer clients and the work they entrust us with so please accept our thanks in helping us to achieve this recognition.

We will hear whether we have won the Law Society award at a ceremony in London on 19th October, and the British Legal Awards on the 30th November.  Cross your fingers for us!

In the meantime, if you have any developments in the pipeline which could benefit from the TOP service or any of our other services, or to find out more about how it works, please get in touch.

Housing White Paper follow up: DCLG consultation open

As many of you will be aware, the DCLG has opened a consultation which seeks views on the detail of some of the proposals announced in the Housing White Paper. The consultation, Planning for the right homes in the right place, confirms the Government’s intention to publish a revised National Planning Policy Framework in Spring 2018. The draft National Planning Policy Framework is due to be published early in 2018 for consultation.

The consultation addresses a number of issues including the calculation of local housing need, statements of common ground between LPAs, planning for a mix of housing needs, neighbourhood planning, the proposed approach to viability assessments and planning fees. The consultation also asks for responses to the general question of whether more can be done to increase developer’s build out rates.

The issue of the calculation of local housing need is particularly topical locally, acknowledging that many authorities have withdrawn their emerging Core Strategy and the evidence base upon which it was prepared. The consequence of this for the calculation of local housing need can be seen from the recent appeal decision at New Hartley (PINS appeal reference: APP/P2935/W/16/3164573) where the Inspector concluded that the Council no longer had the evidence to demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing land.

For Councils without a Local Plan the new standardised methodology for assessing local housing need is to be applied from 31 March 2018.

In terms of viability assessments, the DCLG state that there has been an increase in planning obligations being contested on viability grounds and there is a perceived concern that it is sometimes unclear whether developers’ claims that a site is unviable are genuine or a negotiation tactic. The DCLG have therefore set out a range of proposals which are aimed at improving transparency and balancing genuine viability concerns with the need for LPAs to meet their policy requirements. One key question the DCLG ask is whether it is agreed that “where policy requirements have been tested for their viability, the issue should not usually need to be tested again at the planning application stage”. There is no further clarification as to what is meant by “usually” but this is clearly a key issue for developers and something that it may be worth responding to the consultation on.

The consultation is open until 9 November and responses can be submitted online.

Announcement on white paper for Social Housing

At the National Housing Federation Conference last month, Sajid Javid announced a forthcoming green paper on Social Housing. He declared it to be “the most substantial report of its generation” and that it would include consideration of the quality of the housing stock, service management and wider issues concerning the community and the local economy. The green paper also falls within the Government’s agenda of getting the right homes built in the right places (as outlined above). There is no timescale presently for the green paper but following the significant interest in the sector following the Grenfell Tower fire, it will be one to look out for.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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