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Adams Hendry Planning & Built Environment News Round-Up - 31st October 2018

The Adams Hendry News Round-Up highlights recent news and commentary relating to planning and the built environment.


This week’s round-up includes the recommendations from the Letwin Review into build-out rates, the RTPI’s reaction to the Autumn Budget, and the start of the HS2 archaeological excavations.


New planning rules for housing variety leads Letwin recommendations (The Planner - Requires Log-In)

“A new set of planning rules giving local authorities in England the powers to require a greater diversity of housing type and tenure on large sites is the chief recommendation in the final report of the Letwin Review into build-out rates.

The rules, which would require new legislation and an annex to the NPPF, would include greater powers to designate large single sites in local plans and to compulsorily purchase land at a rate effectively capped at “around ten times existing use value” in order to provide the affordable housing the market requires.

The review’s final report, published on Monday, also proposes that local planning authorities should be given greater powers to masterplan sites. This new powers would be exerted under the guidance of a ‘National Expert Committee’ which would have the authority to adjudicate in disputes between authorities and developers.

The RTPI gave a qualified welcome to the report, saying it signalled “a much overdue strengthening of public sector planning” but that the recommendations should be extended “across a much wider section of the housing market”.

John Acres, RTPI president, said: “The recommendations he is making today reflect a full grasp of the fact that untrammelled market forces alone have not been delivering enough homes and will not deliver what the people need."

Conducted by Sir Oliver Letwin MP, the review was commissioned by government a year ago as a means for finding a solution to slow build-out rate on large housing sites. Letwin, in an interim report in June, argued that this was due the “homogeneity” of housing types offered by volume housebuilders which in turn led to slow sales and thus little incentive to build quickly.

In his final report, the former government minister stresses that his view has not changed, while identifying “ways in which the government could increase the variety and differentiation of what is offered on these large sites, raise the proportion of affordable housing, and raise the rate of build out”.

Chiefly, Letwin recommends:  

  • a new set of planning rules for all future large sites (those over 1,500 units) in areas of high housing demand to provide a diversity of offerings, in line with a new planning policy document. This would require "limited amendments to primary legislation", "a small amount of new secondary legislation" and "a new planning policy document that could be annexed to the NPPF". 
  • a National Expert Committee to advise local authorities on the interpretation of diversity requirements for large sites and to arbitrate where the diversity requirements cause an appeal.”

Download the Independent review of build-out: Final report (pdf) from the gov.uk website.”

RTPI's first reactions to Autumn Budget (RTPI)

 “The Chancellor delivered his 2018 Autumn Budget in which he announced an extra £500m for the Housing Infrastructure Fund to support the building of 650,000 homes.  

He went on to unveil the next wave of strategic partnerships with 9 Housing Associations to deliver 13,000 homes across England and £1bn of British Business Bank guarantees to support the “revival” of SME housebuilders. 

He also announced a £675m High Streets Fund, which will help redevelop retail and commercial areas into residential areas. 

Richard Blyth, RTPI Head of Policy, said: 

“The Chancellor’s fiscal measures to support small retailers and support for local councils in England to help rejuvenate town centres and high street are welcome, but we need to be cautious about making it easier for empty shops to be turned to residential use. 

"Permitted developments rights - whether it is to convert shops to residential use or adding storeys to buildings - do not have a track record of producing quality development and we need to be cautious about their use.  

“There are welcoming boosts to England's Housing Infrastructure Fund and Transforming Cities Fund, and a £8.5 million of resource support for parishes to allocate or permission land for homes could be potentially useful to create the homes that people want. 

"But the critical state of local planning resources, a key RTPI concern, has not been adequately addressed, nor is our call for councils to be able to recover 100% of planning administrative costs heeded."”


Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes - Consultation (MHCLG)

“The government is committed to simplifying and speeding up the planning system, to support the high street, make effective use of land and deliver more homes. 

Building on existing planning reforms, the government is consulting on proposals that will allow greater change of use to support high streets to adapt and diversify, support extending existing buildings upwards to create additional homes, and speed up the delivery of new homes. 

The consultation includes separate proposals in respect of: 

  • Part 1: new and amended permitted development rights and changes to use classes, including to support the regeneration of the high street and to extend existing buildings upwards to create new homes.
  • Part 2: the disposal of surplus local authority land - rationalising and updating the rules which govern disposal of public land at less than best value.
  • Part 3: a draft listed building consent order to support the work of the Canal & River Trust.
  • Part 4: draft guidance on the compulsory purchase powers of new town development corporations”

[Consultation closes at 11:45pm on 14 January 2019]

What our household projections really show (ONS)

“Last month, the Office for National Statistics published household projections for England for the first time, which were previously produced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Richard Pereira, Director of Ageing and Demography at ONS, explains what these latest figures mean. 


Our recent household projections release sparked plenty of media headlines and not all of them were accurate. There were claims from some quarters that the need for new homes has been overestimated nationally, while some local planners also interpreted the figures to mean too many homes (or not enough in some cases) were being built in a given area. 

However, our projections are not about homes that may or may not be built, they are about households. They showed the number of households there would be in England if a set of assumptions based on previous demographic trends in population – births, deaths and migration –  and household formation were to be realised in practice. 

No one knows with certainty what the future holds, and there are a variety of reasons why recent trends may not continue and the assumptions are not realised. Therefore, it is important that projections are not viewed as predictions or forecasts, but as an indication of the future if recent trends continue. For this reason, new sets of projections are published every two years when the underlying assumptions are reviewed in light of more recent evidence…”

'Story of a nation': HS2 archaeological dig begins in UK's biggest excavation
 (The Guardian)

“Archaeologists on the HS2 rail link between London and Birmingham have begun work on the UK’s biggest ever excavation, cutting an “unprecedented” slice through 10,000 years of British history. 

The mammoth archaeological project, taking in more than 60 separate digs along the 150-mile route, is the first stage in construction of the controversial rail line ahead of main building works starting next year. 

The developers have now revealed some of their early finds including a prehistoric hunter-gatherer site on the outskirts of London, a Wars of the Roses battlefield in Northamptonshire, a Romano-British town near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and an Iron Age settlement in Staffordshire. 

Their discoveries include prehistoric flint tools, a Romano-British cremation urn and two late Victorian time capsules dug up close to Euston station in London, containing rolled-up newspaper tied with twine, calling cards and leaflets promoting temperance...”


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Suzanne Pidgeon 01962 877414 | s.pidgeon@adamshendry.co.uk