Following a lengthy Court battle with Reading and Berkshire District Council, the Government has recently won an appeal to reinstate policies preventing affordable housing requirements on small scale developments of less than 10 dwellings.
Policy now allows new small scale and self-build housing development schemes of 10 units or less (with a maximum combined floor space of no more than 1,000m2) without requiring a percentage of those houses to be acquired by registered social housing providers to be let to social tenants. This policy, combined with other measures relaxing Permitted Development Rights (Office and Agricultural to Residential) are a good yardstick of the government’s attitudes generally to promoting house building and removing some of the red tape preventing (or at least slowing down) a delivery of much needed new homes.
But how does this work in practice? The fact that it has taken nearly two years to implement this original ministerial statement and lengthy court battles in the intervening period, are systematic of the attitude of local Councils towards development. It is clear that there is a huge housing need at a national level but that this is not filtering down into the decision making process. Local Authorities are looking to any excuse and loophole to prevent development of this nature perhaps for a fear of losing control.
Having come from a small scale niche house building background myself, I am generally in favour of the policies set out to remove this significant development tax and barrier to the delivery of small scale housing schemes. The issue with having to provide affordable housing on sites at this level is that it has a disproportionately adverse effect on the viability of sites. Generally, Social Housing providers would not wish to take on small clusters of 2 to 5 affordable homes because of the management implications in maintaining them, particularly where you have brown field sites with other high abnormal costs.
This policy goes some way to delivering further housing growth but perhaps not far enough. Advanced discussions are being had within the walls of Westminster, designed towards starter homes initiatives at genuinely affordable levels for first time buyers, in lieu of the traditional social housing model upon which we are currently working. Enabling young people and first time buyers to get on the housing ladder at a genuinely affordable level rather than relying on the welfare system to bridge the gap, to me seems a more holistic solution to the current housing crisis.
It remains to be seen how these rules will be implemented, but practice and I fear that Local Authorities’ track record may once again precede them.
It has been a remarkable few months in the relentlessly evolving world of Planning Policy, with Stratford and Warwick District Councils still without an adopted Local Plan.
It remains open season for the so called “rapacious” developers with a number of high profile developments being granted consent in recent weeks and months. The issue of housing land supply remains top of the planning agenda.
Stratford District have recently issued revised proposals allocating a number of new housing sites to help meet the targets set by National Government, whilst Warwick District have essentially been told to go back to the drawing board after failing to account for housing required from Coventry City overspill. With both districts being heavily constrained by ‘Greenbelt’ boundaries this means that new development is being focussed on large urban extensions to the existing towns as well as the two proposed new settlements (Gaydon Lighthorne & Long Marston Airfield).
Other controversial planning guidance exempting small sites of less than 10 units from affordable housing have also now been consigned to the dustbin following a recent High Court Judgment at the end of July, meaning that many of the smaller sites and self-build opportunities have been rendered unviable due to this development tax.
In other news, it appears that the Permitted Development Rights allowing barns to be converted to residential dwellings have been extended indefinitely. New guidance on this point also allows barns to be converted which were previously considered “isolated”. Therefore, buildings which have been in agricultural use since 31st March 2013 and are deemed structurally capable of residential conversion, should now be given the green light by the Planners.
Here at Sheldon Bosley we remain actively involved in promoting a number of strategic sites throughout the district on behalf of landowners. With the amount of new development taking place, the town and village boundaries throughout the county are constantly moving providing an opportunity for new sites to be considered for development on a longer term basis. In addition to the more strategic work, Sheldon Bosley are also seeking planning consent for smaller scale developments of up to 25 new dwellings directly on behalf of landowners. Our team have the resources to see a project through from conception through the planning process right to the detailed design and construction. Our expertise and experience allow us to find practical solutions to the myriad of technical issues arising on any land.
If you think your land may have short or long term planning potential or simply wish to discuss planning prospects in general, contact us for a no obligation initial site assessment. Tel: Stratford on Avon 01789 292310 or Shipston on Stour 01608 661666.
Over 100 farmers, land and property owners attended at Ingon Manor Golf Club recently to be informed on new developments affecting rural property in particular. The event was hosted jointly by Sheldon Bosley, Ellacotts and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA). Topics covered were CAP reform, ID Assurance, Permitted Development Rights and Capital Taxation. A great deal to cover in just a couple of hours.
For Sheldon Bosley, Associate Partner, Laura Gaydon gave a presentation on ID Assurance; this is the new on-line registration system which farmers, and later everyone else, will need to complete in order for the new Direct Payment Scheme and Stewardship applications to be made.
Laura said “The new regime is ‘Digital by Default’, which will no doubt cause problems for those farmers who either do not have computer access or for whom broadband speeds are very slow. Sheldon Bosley expect to be helping many of their clients through the process but we are encouraging everyone to make their ID registration as soon as the system becomes live, expected to be any time now. For any who intend to leave things until next year we expect some will realise that mistakes have been made on cropping requirements or need to leave sufficient land in ‘Environment Focus Areas.’
Sam Russell also a Partner with Sheldon Bosley, dealt with the new Permitted Development Rights for the conversion of farm buildings to houses. Many of the audience were surprised to find the breadth of opportunity that this gives rise to, with potential even for steel framed buildings to gain consent for a residential use. Sam said “It is a strange but welcome relaxation in policy which sees an old Dutch Barn or Grain Store with residential potential. The fact that the existing form of the building needs to be retained does give rise to some challenge from a design point of view, but Sheldon Bosley’s Architectural and Planning team have come up with some novel approaches which appear to work well.”
For Ellacotts, Partner Mark Dickin, gave advice on how to manage inheritance tax and capital gains tax liability given the changing economic and political climate and Donna Tavernor of CLA gave the audience an overview of the proposed reform to CAP due to be introduced on 1st January next year.
Sam Russell concluded “the audience seemed to appreciate the range of topics covered and from the number of questions raised I anticipate being very busy submitting applications for farm building conversions.”