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Category Archives: News

Planning Industry Developments

Planning Industry Developments

There are a number of developments in the pipeline that will impact the planning industry from last month’s budget…

Following on from our blog in November and the recent budget announcement, there are more impending changes that will affect the industry:

Planning application fees

One of the other notable changes that appears close to fruition is the long-anticipated increase in application fees. At the end of last month, the draft regulations made provision for approximately a 20% increase in all existing fees to be paid to LPAs (Local Planning Authorities). However, it is now apparent that the fee increase will not come into force before January 2018. The draft regulations were approved by the House of Lords’ grand committee on 6th December. The proposal will now be debated next week in the House of Commons and all things being well, the regulations should come into effect early next year.

Various consultants have expressed the opinion that while applicants might be happy to accept the fee increase, this is on the basis that it is ring-fenced for use solely by planning departments. However, they also believe that the fee increase will result in few tangible improvements to the planning service, or improve or speed up decision-making. This is despite the fact Communities Minister, Lord Bourne, said the new planning fees could generate in excess of £75 million of additional income for LPAs, which is equivalent to the average salary of 1,600 planners.

Apex Planning Consultants is happy to say we have seen improvement in some planning departments with streamlined processes and enhanced service provision among planning officers, but this is all too often a rarity and the system still breaks down when the political dimension takes hold.

There has, however, been declarations of intent to address the lack of plan-making progress – Secretary of State, Sajid Javid announced at the start of November that he had formally begun the process of removing plan-making powers from 15 of the 70 authorities that have failed to produce a local plan since 2004.

You can read the full article here. However, there is still scope for these LPAs to retain their plan-making powers, so this may just be a shot across the bows to stimulate meaningful activity and tangible progress. But, is this really a viable course of action?

Planning resource

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 allows the Secretary of State to take the plan-making powers of LPAs away. ‘Planning Resource’ recently stated that a ‘DCLG source’ (Department for Communities and Local Government) indicated that such powers are unlikely to be brought in-house by central government, and the options being considered include the Planning Inspectorate and planning consultancies.

The former already has a significant resource issue dealing with planning appeals, which are frequently placed in abeyance until a Planning Inspector can be assigned, so this option is probably unlikely. Larger planning consultancies may have the resource and expertise, but it remains to be seen whether any can demonstrate that they would not be prejudiced by clients’ interests within or adjacent to the local authority area.

In addition, the funding that will be made available may be crucial before a larger consultancy decides it would be interested. But, if the Secretary of State does enforce this power it could sound the death knell to the long-standing division of roles in the planning system.

More news from the Autumn Budget:

  • Stamp duty for first-time buyers has been abolished on the first £300,000 of their property price (on properties up to £500,000). This will certainly give the housing market the feel-good factor, even if it doesn’t actually add much financial value.
  • There’s good news for house builders and developers as the housing market is to be supported by a £44bn injection and planning reform, which should lead to five new market garden towns and another 300,000 houses by the middle of the next decade.
  • There’s also £1.5bn for the Home Builders Fund, which provides loans for SME housebuilders that are struggling to get finance.
  • Closer to home, there is the promise of 100,000 new homes for Oxfordshire by 2031.
  • Councils also get more power – they will be able to charge 100% council tax premium on empty properties, there will £1.1bn in the pot to help unlock strategic sites and regenerate housing estates, and there is to be a review to consider allowing the compulsory purchase of land that has been banked by developers for financial reasons.

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

 

Budget looms large over planning issues

Budget looms large over planning issues

Planning hits the headlines at this crucial time… With the Budget looming, the world of planning has again hit the headlines for several reasons. Of course, there is the usual abuse directed toward the delivery of housing – it’s the fault of the greedy developers / incompetent local planning authorities (*delete as applicable!) – which… Read more

Changes to planning policies could speed up housing delivery

Changes to planning policies could speed up housing delivery

Two recent Government announcements could help developers get homes built with fewer delays… There have been a couple of major developments in the planning world recently. Statement of Common Ground The first is the requirement for councils to produce a Statement of Common Ground with neighbouring authorities. This initiative is one of several consultation proposals… Read more

Housing crisis – is it the developers fault?

Housing crisis – is it the developers fault?

Are greedy developers at fault for the lack of land for housing, or are there other factors contributing to the UK’s housing crisis? An article in The Guardian earlier this year claims that the housing crisis is being worsened by greedy developers, who are hoarding land in a bid to sell it on at a… Read more

How technology is changing the face of house design

How technology is changing the face of house design

Holographic, virtual designs are set to change the way architects and developers work and interact with planning authorities and potential buyers… The advance of technology is changing the way we live and work on an almost-daily basis – just look at how smartphones have become such a staple of everyday life. And the architectural industry… Read more

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… Read more

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

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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