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Category Archives: News

Post Election Update

Post Election Update

After the dust has settled… the planning and construction industries after the election:

Some things have certainly changed since the snap General Election on June 8. One of the major factors for the planning industry was the fact that Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell lost his seat, as we predicted.

In his place is Alok Sharma, a chartered accountant with a background in corporate finance. Since becoming an MP, Sharma has been on both the Treasury Select Committee and the Science and Technology Select Committee, and has no background in housing. So, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the problem of housing delivery.

Maybe he’ll adopt a more favourable position as far as house builders are concerned – their common stance in respect to viability and the need to allow for a reduction in financial/developer contributions and affordable housing provision might well appeal to his accountancy background! Or will the opposite be true – with his financial background leading him to require housebuilders to crunch the numbers even more carefully before trying to argue such a position.

Pledge for more affordable housing

In the short term, however, it seems the provision of affordable housing will not be adversely affected, because the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has re-committed itself to building more of them, slowing the rise in housing costs, bringing down the price of renting, the diversification of housing supply, and delivering the previous pledge of one million new homes by 2020.

It’s expected that the new government will stick to their pre-election principles, which were set out in the February White Paper. The Queen’s Speech said: “We will deliver the reforms proposed in the White paper to increase transparency around the control of land, to free up more land for new homes in the right places, speed up build-out by encouraging modern methods of construction and diversify who builds homes in the country.”

And one would hope that Sharma’s previous position on the Science and Technology Select Committee will stand the construction industry in good stead. It has already been made clear – at a recent Chartered Institute of Housing conference – that the industry is at the centre of a skills crisis, which is only likely to be made worse by Brexit if EU nationals (and in particular the eastern Europeans who have been propping up the construction industry for many years) start to leave in droves, as has been suggested.

Residential approvals up

In the short term, Alok Sharma will be helped by the January-March 2017 figures, showing a 9% increase in residential approvals, compared with 2016. However, while this increase in planning permissions is encouraging, it does not automatically follow that they will be implemented quicker and increase the delivery of the much-needed housing.

There is more encouraging news from the Help to Buy scheme, however, with figures showing that it has helped 240,000 first time buyers onto the property ladder.

Remaining issues

So, there are still a number of issues affecting planning and construction and a variety of solutions are needed to help: we need more homes to increase supply and meet demand, but to also help with the need to slow house price rises and ensure they are more affordable. In the short term, this means having to maintain the increase in the supply of housing permissions and encourage more housing starts from developers, while making developments viable in order to meet the infrastructure and affordable housing needs of developments and communities. We also need to ensure that there is a workforce in place with the requisite skills, which may be one of the biggest stumbling blocks not just in the short term, but the long term, as well.

If you would like to discuss your own project or just find out more about what we do, please browse the website or drop us a line at info@apexplanning.co.uk without obligation.

What will the General Election mean for planning?

What will the General Election mean for planning?

We take a look at the planning-related policies in each party’s manifesto… The prelude to the General Election has been notable for its relative silence on the matter of planning and housing development. It is possible that this was, in part, due to the protracted and extensive discussions that happened before Parliament was dissolved, which… Read more

Building to Rent

Building to Rent

Traditionally, developers have built homes to buy, but the trend looks set to change… In the past, builders constructed homes to sell to home-buyers – or they built social housing under the remit of a local housing authority. Of course, developments now usually have to provide a certain proportion of ‘affordable’ housing as well –… Read more

The Problems with Retirement Housing

The Problems with Retirement Housing

As more of us retire earlier, and with more than just a government pension to sustain us, the call for housing for the retired will grow, but will there be enough to go around? Ageing Population We are an ageing population – there are more people over 60 than there are under the age of… Read more

The Midlands Land of Opportunity

The Midlands Land of Opportunity

The Midlands looks set to benefit from more housing development, according to both the recent Housing White Paper and the Midlands Engine Strategy. The Midlands Engine Strategy was published this month, and refers to the recent Housing White Paper and its commitment to build more housing in the Midlands. The Strategy draws attention to the… Read more

Fixing the Broken Housing Market

Fixing the Broken Housing Market

A recent White Paper details how the government plans to get the right new homes built in the right places and help people onto the housing ladder. February 2017 saw the release of the White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, which details a number of broad reforms aimed at improving the housing market and… Read more

A Change of Ministerial Plan

A Change of Ministerial Plan

A Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) has resulted in major changes to the weight that is attached to Neighbourhood Plans, the question of housing supply and what developers must now take into account when preparing a planning application and any potential challenge to one for housing that has been refused planning permission. While most people were… Read more

Delay of Housing White Paper

Delay of Housing White Paper

There is some disappointment in the planning profession because the anticipated Housing White Paper failed to appear as expected on the same day as the Autumn Statement (23 November 2016). The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said it will now be published in January 2017. So, we are no further forwards in respect to Starter… Read more

White Paper Whitewash?

White Paper Whitewash?

It’s always interesting to note the timing of major announcements. For instance – the Housing White Paper is due to be published on 23 November – the same day as the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Do the powers-that-be do this in the hope that one will obscure the other? Bone of Contention We can’t be certain,… Read more

Hold on for the Planning Legislation Rollercoaster

Hold on for the Planning Legislation Rollercoaster

The planning system and process is undergoing a great number of changes, thanks to Government – and while some alterations are little more than tweaks, there are some changes that could prove more significant. New White Paper The Housing and Planning Act was passed earlier in the year, and now the Government has published the… Read more

Our Pledge To You

The primary aim of Apex Planning Consultants is to establish a clear and precise strategy that tackles the hurdles presented by the increasing complexities of the planning process and associated legislation.

This must be provided to retain our credibility and client trust, and this is achieved through our reliability to deliver, how well we keep our promise, and the expedient delivery of projects.

Important to this is our ability to be accessible to all clients and to communicate information quickly and as simply as possible.  A key focus of Apex Planning Consultants is to help clients find the solution that is right for them.

To learn more about individual projects, please take a look at our blog.

This is what just two of our clients have said:

“I contacted Apex Planning Consultants when my application to change the use of my rental property from a single dwelling household to a HiMO was refused by local authority planners.  Apex Planning Consultants launched an appeal with the planning inspectorate on behalf.  They demonstrated high standards of professionalism and great attention to detail in preparing and responding to submissions.  This led to a recent decision in my favour, which now allows me to operate the property as a HiMO.  In addition, they successfully negotiated to avoid the potentially expensive and crippling conditions which the local authority planners were seeking to impose with the inspectorate’s decision.  That is a result!”
George Bandasoah – Property Landlord – Milton Keyes

 “I used Apex Planning recently on a project, following a recommendation from my architect.  They provided planning advice, influencing the design of a large extension and additionally a planning statement to support the planning application.  I found them to be efficient, knowledgeable and very professional.  Their costs were very reasonable, given the result of achieving full planning permission on first application.  I would thoroughly recommend them.”
Darren Bishop – Homeowner – Aylesbury

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