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Planning Speed Read – October 2016

Government insight into the future of housing

On 6 October, Ward Hadaway attended the Housing Market Intelligence Conference in London. The highlight of the conference was a speech made by Gavin Barwell MP (Minister of Housing, Planning and London) which addressed some topical issues for the sector. He identified three key areas which he is focusing on as being plans to release more brownfield land, speeding up the planning process and introducing initiatives to help to “Get Britain Building” the much needed homes quicker. He also promised to “push very hard” on ensuring every Council has an up to date Local Plan.

Starter Homes were also discussed during the conference with comments being made that they are still on the Government’s agenda however they are now unlikely to become a mandatory requirement for every site. The most likely approach is an amendment to the definition of Affordable Housing in the NPPF. Gavin Barwell confirmed that a White Paper will be published in the Autumn that addresses the planning system and how the Government intends to meet demand and improve efficiency. There are suggestions that Starter Homes Regulations will be published at the same time as the White Paper so watch this space.

Social Housing and CIL – be aware!

As we have previously commented, the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is due to take effect in Newcastle from 14 November 2016 and is likely to take effect in Gateshead in January 2017. However, what you may not be aware of, is that the tenure of housing that can attract the Social Housing Relief under the CIL regime does not mirror the definitions of Affordable Housing under the NPPF.

Under the CIL regime, the Social Housing Relief will apply to rented and shared ownership units, but not to Discount Market Value units. Discretionary Social Housing Relief is available under the CIL regime for these units, but as yet we do not know how the Councils will apply the discretion they have.

New National Infrastructure Commission

Having been unexpectedly left out of the Neighbourhood and Planning Bill, the Chancellor has announced that the National Infrastructure Commission is to gain permanent footing by charter as an executive agency of the Treasury, and is to be in place on such a footing by January 2017. The Chancellor and the NIC have put out a “call for ideas”, inviting anyone with an interest in national infrastructure to submit their ideas that could form the subject of future studies. For more information, click here.

Proposed Extension of Permitted Development Rights

In case you missed it, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, announced at the Conservative Party Conference that he plans to extend the current office- to- residential Permitted Development Rights to include demolition of existing offices and replacement with residential dwellings. Such a move would open up development possibilities for those who have traditionally not made use of the Permitted Development Rights for conversion of office space. We will keep you up dated on this matter, so watch this space.

Quicker and easier adoption agreements

In a recent consultation (due to expire at the end of this month – click here), Ofwat have invited developers to share ideas on how the adoption of mains water and sewerage can be made quicker and easier. Our team have prepared a response to the consultation which we would be happy to share with you. By way of summary we have commented as follows:

  • We have welcomed any efforts or initiatives that promote commercial certainty for developers such as stringent timescales on water and sewerage companies (“Companies”) to agree adoption agreements, and standardise tariffs and fees in relation to their regime for adoption
  • We have pointed out that the deduction of title is an extremely important stage in the process by which adoption agreements are negotiated and have asked for guidance from the Regulator on how the industry may overcome difficulties given rise to by delays at the land registry, and other means by which the Companies may be satisfied as to third party rights in relation to off-site infrastructure
  • We have suggested that a refreshed form of precedent for adoption documentation is long overdue and have encouraged the regulator to provide more detailed guidance around detailed provisions relating to the nature and scope of developer indemnities and the mechanisms for bond reduction and release.

Should you require further information in relation to the detail of our suggested response, please get in touch.

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.

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