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Self-Build Housing - Solution to the UK Housing Crisis or Grand Design dream?

September 2021 News Planning

Popular TV programmes such as Grand Designs have raised demand and expectations for building a dream home, yet there is such a stark contrast between these exceptional and often unusual…

Self-Build Housing - Solution to the UK Housing Crisis or Grand Design dream?
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Self-Build Housing - Solution to the UK Housing Crisis or Grand Design dream?

September 2021 Planning

Popular TV programmes such as Grand Designs have raised demand and expectations for building a dream home, yet there is such a stark contrast between these exceptional and often unusual schemes and the reality of a typical self-builder.

In this latest blog, Kayleigh Lancaster looks at the factors affecting delivery of self-build housing, and the steps the UK Government are taking to promote an increase in delivery.

It is estimated that around 6 million people across the UK have expressed an interest in building their own home, so why do completions remain so low?

The UK, compared to other European countries such as Germany, France or Sweden, delivers a very small proportion of housing as self-build housing, with only 10% of housing in the UK meeting the definition of self-build housing.

The Government recently commissioned an independent review into self-build housing. The Bacon Review, published on 21 August 2021, sets out a range of recommendations for how the delivery of self-build housing can be improved.

Among the recommendations contained in the review are a “small sites programme” which would encourage local authorities and housing associations to sell off empty plots which are too small for development by a major builder to families who want to build a single house.

It also calls for a “plot to rent scheme”, reducing the capital required to buy a piece of land by allowing purchasers to rent part of the value of the plot and increase their equity stake over time.

The Government’s planning reforms, which are likely to return to the House of Commons in the coming months, should also promote self-build by relaxing the planning requirements to enable homes to be built on a small scale on the edge of an existing town or settlement.

From a local perspective, we know there is strong demand for self-build housing, with this demand often coming from local people and families looking for a solution to the desire to remain within the rural communities they are part of. Often, local planning policies tend to focus new development into larger existing settlements, with a mixed approach to housing outside of the main towns and villages. There is also the competition for land, with opportunities so limited, the development industry is able and willing to pay significant sums of money for land and development opportunities, which often makes securing land for these projects much more challenging.

In April 2021, the Government announced the Help to Build scheme, which has been designed to help more people build their own homes, and is made up of a number of elements including:

  • A new ‘Help to Build’ low deposit mortgage scheme supported by over £150 million in funding.
  • Funding for local authorities to develop public land for custom and self-build housing.
  • A review into how delivery of custom and self-build housing can be increased and accelerated.
  • A law review to enable more people to access plots in their local areas.

The exact details of the Help to Build Scheme are yet to be confirmed, but may be an important catalyst in enabling self-builders to access funding that can be difficult to secure within the traditional mortgage market.

It remains to be seen what further measures the Government will introduce to support the delivery of self-build housing through changes to planning policy, but it is clear that there is growing support for this element of the housing sector, and perhaps, true recognition of the contribution which could be made to addressing the housing crisis in the UK, particularly in the rural communities.

If you need advice on a potential self-build project, or have land which you think might be suitable for self-build housing, please get in touch with us by calling 01228 586805 or email: planninganddevelopment@pfk.co.uk.

Kayleigh Lancaster MRTPI

Chartered Town Planner – Planning & Development

COVID-19 Update

July 2021

We would like to update anyone visiting our offices on our protocols with regard Covid ahead of the anticipated changes to Covid – 19 restrictions and guidance from 19th July. We…

COVID-19 Update
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COVID-19 Update

July 2021

We would like to update anyone visiting our offices on our protocols with regard Covid ahead of the anticipated changes to Covid – 19 restrictions and guidance from 19th July.

We will be keeping all Covid health and safety measures in place for staff and clients for the time being due to the recent rise of cases in the area. We politely request that clients continue to book appointments in advance and wear face coverings during their visit for the safety of our staff and other clients and to ensure our staffing levels remain unaffected.

We hope to review our protocols in the near future, as hopefully levels of infection in the area start to reduce, our staff are all fully vaccinated and when the anticipated changes to isolation rules come into force, which we currently expect to be on or around Monday 16th August.

Thank you for your continued understanding and support during these difficult times.

 

 

 

Consultation on Partial Review of Eden Local Plan

June 2021 Local Plan Consultation News Planning

Eden District Council has announced that it will be undertaking a partial review of the Eden Local Plan 2014 to 2032, and it has set out some big questions for…

Consultation on Partial Review of Eden Local Plan
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Consultation on Partial Review of Eden Local Plan

June 2021 Planning

Eden District Council has announced that it will be undertaking a partial review of the Eden Local Plan 2014 to 2032, and it has set out some big questions for Eden residents, businesses and stakeholders to answer.

The Partial Review is being carried out to incorporate new policies into the adopted Local Plan, especially in relation to addressing climate change and strengthening the design criteria that must be met by new developments.

No other parts of the Local Plan, such as employment, housing or the settlement hierarchy is currently being reviewed.

Eden District Council is inviting residents, businesses and organisations to respond to the consultation through a short questionnaire. Further details about the consultation, including how to respond to the questionnaire, are available on the Council’s website at www.eden.gov.uk/ELP-partial-review-consultation from Friday 25 June 2021.

The public consultation ends at noon on Monday 9 August 2021.

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National Model Design Code Update

May 2021 News Planning

The 14 local planning authorities in England selected to apply the new National Model Design Code (NMDC) to their areas have been announced by housing minister Christopher Pincher. These are:…

National Model Design Code Update
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National Model Design Code Update

May 2021 Planning

The 14 local planning authorities in England selected to apply the new National Model Design Code (NMDC) to their areas have been announced by housing minister Christopher Pincher.

These are:

  • Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council and Essex County Council (East)
  • Guildford Borough Council (South East)
  • Herefordshire Council (West Midlands)
  • Leeds City Council (Yorkshire & Humber)
  • Mid Devon Council (South West)
  • Newcastle City Council (North East)
  • Dacorum Borough Council (East)
  • Portsmouth City Council (South East)
  • Sefton Council (North West)
  • Southwark Council (London)
  • Hyndburn Borough Council (North West)
  • North West Leicestershire District Council (East Midlands)
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council (West Midlands)
  • Buckinghamshire Council (South East)

The national design code seeks to ensure that new developments are “beautiful, well-designed and locally-led”. Developments should also fit in with local character.

The 14 councils (see above) will take part in a six-month testing programme in which they will apply the National Model Design Code (NMDC) in their area.

Further details on the Design Code can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/957205/National_Model_Design_Code.pdf

Adoption of Lake District National Park Local Plan

May 2021 News Planning

On 19th May 2021 the Lake District National Park Authority adopted the Lake District National Park Local Plan 2020-2035 following the Examination in Public. The Local Plan and associated…

Adoption of Lake District National Park Local Plan
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Adoption of Lake District National Park Local Plan

May 2021 Planning

On 19th May 2021 the Lake District National Park Authority adopted the Lake District National Park Local Plan 2020-2035 following the Examination in Public.

The Local Plan and associated documents can be viewed here.

Do you have a question about the new Local Plan?

Do you need advice about planning in the Lake District National Park?

Contact us on 01228 586805 or email planninganddevelopment@pfk.co.uk for an initial no obligation consultation.

Future of Remote Planning Committee Meetings

April 2021 Planning

Government Ministers have written to local authorities to explain that temporary powers permitting remote meetings in the Coronavirus Act 2020 will not be extended after 7 May 2021. The letter…

Future of Remote Planning Committee Meetings
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Future of Remote Planning Committee Meetings

April 2021 Planning

Government Ministers have written to local authorities to explain that temporary powers permitting remote meetings in the Coronavirus Act 2020 will not be extended after 7 May 2021.

The letter also provides a link to updated guidance on the ways local authorities can apply Covid-19 guidance to ensure meetings can take place safely.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

The government has also launched a call for evidence on the experiences of local authorities regarding remote meetings and to gather views on whether such arrangements should be made permanent. The consultation can be viewed here and is open until 17 June 2021.

Further Measures Announced to Enable Businesses to Operate Safely and Support Economic Recovery

April 2021 Planning

On 25 March 2021, the Secretary of State laid a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament which emphasised local planning authorities should continue to take a positive and flexible approach to…

Further Measures Announced to Enable Businesses to Operate Safely and Support Economic Recovery
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Further Measures Announced to Enable Businesses to Operate Safely and Support Economic Recovery

April 2021 Planning

On 25 March 2021, the Secretary of State laid a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament which emphasised local planning authorities should continue to take a positive and flexible approach to planning enforcement action to support economic recovery and support social distancing while it remains in place as England moves towards Step 2 of the COVID response roadmap.

Specifically:

  • Where there are planning restrictions on retail opening hours, local planning authorities should not seek to undertake enforcement action which would result in unnecessary restriction of retail hours between 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday from Step 2 of the roadmap (no earlier than 12 April) until the introduction of Step 4 of the roadmap (scheduled for no earlier than 21 June) to support the safe reopening of non-essential retail shops;
  • The current Written Ministerial Statement about planning enforcement and the delivery of food and other essential goods to retailers will be extended until Step 4 of the roadmap (scheduled for no earlier than 21 June); and
  • The current Written Ministerial Statement encouraging flexible construction working hours will remain in place until 30 September 2021.

The Written Ministerial Statement can be found here.

To further support the hospitality sector as the economy reopens, it is also the Government’s intention to create a temporary permitted development right to allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to erect temporary moveable outdoor structures for the summer season.

For the first time, this will also apply to listed buildings provided there is no harm to the heritage asset.

Important Update - Supporting Housing Delivery and Public Service Infrastructure

April 2021 Planning

On the 31 March 2021, Robert Jenrick MP announced that following a national consultation exercise, the Government plan to go ahead and introduce new legislation which will allow commercial premises…

Important Update - Supporting Housing Delivery and Public Service Infrastructure
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Important Update - Supporting Housing Delivery and Public Service Infrastructure

April 2021 Planning

On the 31 March 2021, Robert Jenrick MP announced that following a national consultation exercise, the Government plan to go ahead and introduce new legislation which will allow commercial premises to become housing in an attempt to support Britain’s High Streets. These new measures will come into force on the 1 August 2021 and will apply in all areas except National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The new rules, announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, have been introduced with the aim of supporting the creation of much-needed homes while also giving high streets a new lease of life – removing eyesores, transforming unused buildings and making the most of brownfield land.

They have also announced their intention to introduce a new fast track process for extending public service buildings. These new rules will allow for bigger extensions to existing public buildings including schools, colleges, universities and hospitals.

Finally, the Government intend to consult on further changes to the Permitted Development Rights Order, which will also come into force later this year. These changes should hopefully consolidate some of the many incremental changes which have been made in the past few years and reflect recent changes to the Use Classes Order.

All of these new measures follow on from a consultation exercise which was carried out earlier this year, this is a summary of the key points:

Part 1: Supporting housing delivery through a new national permitted development right for the change of use from the Commercial, Business and Service use class to residential

A new national permitted development right to create new homes through the change of use from Commercial Business and Service uses will be introduced.

The right will:

  • have effect from 1 August 2021
  • be subject to a size limit of 1,500 sq m of floorspace changing use
  • apply to buildings that have been in Commercial, Business and Service uses for two years, including time in former uses now within that class
  • apply to buildings that have been vacant for at least three continuous months
  • apply in conservation areas, but not in other article 2 (3) land such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • be subject to prior approval by the local planning authority on specific planning matters
  • attract a fee of £100 per dwellinghouse

Part 2: Supporting public service infrastructure through the planning system

The permitted development right for public service infrastructure will be amended to:

  • allow for development of up to 25% of the existing buildings, or 250 square metres whichever is greater
  • extend the height limit for new buildings from 5 metres to 6 metres, and for the first time allow for development at existing prisons under this right
  • make university extensions subject to prior approval by the local planning authority on specific planning matters

In addition, a faster application process for new major public service infrastructure will be introduced (aiming to implement from 1 August 2021) by:

  • reducing the statutory determination period for these developments from 13 weeks to 10 weeks
  • shortening the statutory consultation period for these developments to 18 calendar days (from the current 21 calendar days)
  • requiring that local planning authorities notify the Secretary of State when they anticipate making a decision
  • making clear that the policy in paragraph 94 of the National Planning Policy Framework about the importance of pre-application engagement is extended to these types of development

Part 3: Consolidation and simplification of existing permitted development rights

The Government announced their intention to consult further on the detail of proposed consequential changes to individual permitted development rights.

For further information or to read the Government’s response in full, please click here.

Our Guide to Occupancy Clauses

March 2021 Planning

In this week's blog, Kayleigh will provide her insight into occupancy clauses. The existence of a occupancy clause, either local occupancy or agricultural occupancy can restrict who can buy…

Our Guide to Occupancy Clauses
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Our Guide to Occupancy Clauses

March 2021 Planning

In this week’s blog, Kayleigh will provide her insight into occupancy clauses. The existence of a occupancy clause, either local occupancy or agricultural occupancy can restrict who can buy or occupy a property, especially within protected areas such as the National Parks.

Local Occupancy 

Local Occupancy Clauses limit the occupation of a property to those who have an established connection to the local area. The local planning authority will specify what an ‘established connection’ and the ‘local area’ means. The aim of the clause is to prevent the property from being used as a second or holiday home and to keep rural housing affordable for local people. The Lake District National Park Authority and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority apply Local Occupancy Clauses to almost all approved planning permissions for new houses, including conversions. There are many variations of the clause; however, most of them state that the property must be the occupant’s principal residence and that the occupant must have lived or worked in the given area for a certain period of time (will be defined in the clause), or is coming to live or work permanently in the given area.

 

Previously owned local authority properties that have been sold under the Right to Buy often have a Local Occupancy Clause too. Section 106 Local Occupancy Agreements ensure that the clause remains on the property when it is sold. Therefore, new owners will need to meet the requirements of the clause. Each property that is for sale with a Local Occupancy Clause will have the specific wording included in the brochure to enable interested parties to see if they meet the requirements.

Agricultural Occupancy Clauses 

An Agricultural Occupancy Condition restricts the occupation of a property to those employed in agriculture. The aim of the condition is to keep rural housing affordable for agricultural workers. It also allows planning to be granted where there is a proven requirement for an agricultural dwelling, often where a normal application is likely to be rejected.

The usual wording of such a condition is:

“The occupation of the dwelling shall be limited to a person solely or mainly working, or last working, in the locality in agriculture or in forestry, or a widow or widower of such a person, and to any resident dependents”.

The PFK Planning team have in-depth knowledge of Agricultural Occupancy Conditions and have been successful at lifting these conditions a number of times. There are two ways in which an occupancy condition can be lifted.

  1. Full Planning Application

A full planning application can demonstrate to the local planning authority that the occupancy condition is no longer needed. First, it needs to be demonstrated that there is no need for ‘tied’ property on the holding at the time of the application, nor will there be a need in the future. Secondly, it needs to be demonstrated that there is no need for the condition from the local area. To demonstrate a lack of need it is necessary to market the property for sale. If there is no firm interest from anyone who would comply with the condition, a full application can be submitted, with all the supporting information, to request that the condition is lifted.

  1. Lawful Development Certificate

A successful application for a Lawful Development Certificate can suspend the occupancy condition; however, there must have been a continuous 10-year breach of the condition. The local planning authority will request a sworn statement from the both the applicants and third parties as evidence of the breach. Further information such as council tax receipts and the employment history of the occupants can also be used as supporting evidence. A Lawful Development Certificate will only suspend the occupancy condition. If someone who meets the condition occupies the property in the future, the suspension would be lifted and the occupancy condition would apply again.

If you would like to discuss any type of occupancy condition, or if you have any other planning queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Planning team at PFK – email: planninganddevelopment@pfk.co.uk, tel: 01228 586085

Kayleigh Lancaster – Planning Specialist 

How to secure planning approval for residential development of agricultural land

March 2021 Planning

The planning system in England and Wales is supposed to be ‘plan led.’ That means there is a legal requirement for every council in England and Wales to have an…

How to secure planning approval for residential development of agricultural land
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How to secure planning approval for residential development of agricultural land

March 2021 Planning

The planning system in England and Wales is supposed to be ‘plan led.’ That means there is a legal requirement for every council in England and Wales to have an up-to-date Local Plan to guide development over a 10 to 15 year period. This sets out the rules for exactly what can be built where.

If you want to get planning permission on your land, the first thing to do is check what the Local Plan says about your site.

The good news……..

If it is identified for development, or falls within the boundary of a town or village, any application for development is likely to be supported by the Council. For more on how to submit a planning application click here.

The bad news…………

In this article we will consider the options available to you if your land has not been identified in a Local Plan. In the majority of cases,  most agricultural sites will be identified as open countryside where development would be resisted by existing policy frameworks.

So, what options are available to you and how can we help?

Change the Plan!

If the policies in the Plan would stop development on your site, then you can try to influence the policies so they would allow development.

Each Local Plan is only intended to be in place for a fixed period of time (usually 10-15 years), councils periodically produce a new one, in some cases as often as every five years. Any change in Government and National Planning Policy can also influence the requirement to up date a Local Plan.

Before preparing a new Local Plan, the Council will gather evidence on the need for housing, economic growth and environmental issues, amongst other things, and decide how their policies need to change to reflect that evidence.

The next step in this process is for the council is to identify exactly which sites should be developed and where these should be located. This process, often referred to as a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment of SHLAA involves gathering more evidence about all the potential development sites regardless if size or location.

The aim of this document is to answer three key questions:

  • Is the site suitable for development?
  • Is a development on the site achievable, or are there issues that would prevent it being built?
  • Is the site available for development; has the owner indicated that they would sell?

There is increasing pressure being placed upon Council’s to demonstrate that new homes outlined in Local Plans will be delivered and the introduction of national monitoring measures such as the Housing Delivery Test places greater emphasis on deliverable housing sites (which may not be in the Council’s preferred locations).

This evidence gathering exercise exercise is carried out openly, with frequent opportunities for local residents, land owners and developers to comment on the council’s approach.

These consultations provide an opportunity to promote your land to the council as a potential development site, usually by submitting your own evidence to show how your site meets those three criteria.

If, after this process, your site isn’t allocated in the Local Plan, and you don’t wish to wait until the next time the council review it, there is another way you could potentially secure planning permission. This involves undertaking an assessment of whether the Local Plan is actually achieving its targets and meeting the minimum level of ne housing required. If not, there may be opportunities to pursue an application for planning permission, despite the site not being allocated within the Local Plan, in this next Section we will cover this process in more detail.

 

Is the Plan working?

When a Plan is adopted, it is intended to deliver a minimum number of homes across the whole of the plan period. To monitor progress against that target, the government has made it a requirement for every council to be able to demonstrate a ‘five-year housing land supply.’ That means that councils should be able to identify where all the homes they need for the next five years are going to be built. Usually, those sites must already have planning permission.

Recent changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, have changed the types of sites included in this calculation, Councils can no longer rely upon allocated sites or large sites with outline planning permission unless there is clear evidence of anticipated delivery within the five year period.

If a council can’t demonstrate an adequate supply of new homes, then its Local Plan clearly isn’t working. In other cases, the period that the existing Plan covers might have come to an end without a new one being but in place. That old Plan will be ill suited to ensuring an appropriate level of development continues to be delivered.

In both those cases, a council’s housing policies can be considered to be out-of-date. In such circumstances, Paragraph 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework is triggered and a presumption in favour of sustainable development is engaged. At such a time, a planning application will be judged on whether they represent sustainable development, rather than whether they meet specific housing related policies within the Local Plan.

What this means is that that greenfield, agricultural sites which are next to an existing town or village will often be considered suitable for development and looked upon more favourably.

Depending on the location, some Councils can become more resistant to this approach than others as they feel they are losing control over where development is located. However, the Government is clear that the planning system has a responsibility to significantly boost the supply of housing to help address the housing crisis we currently face. Consequently, even where councils oppose applications like this, they are frequently over-ruled at appeal.

How can we help you?

PFK Planning and Development has built a reputation for securing planning permission for new homes on land close to existing settlements. Usually through a combination of promoting land through the Local Plan process and monitoring the housing supply position.

If you have a site that you think might be suitable for housing development, please get in touch and we’ll give you our advice entirely without obligation.

Call us on 01228 586805 or email planninganddevelopment@pfk.co.uk

Naomi Howard – Graduate Planner

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