We recently won, on behalf of a client, an appeal against South Oxfordshire District Council with full reimbursement of costs after planning permission was refused for unreasonable and unfair reasons.
Our client originally applied for planning permission for one additional dwelling on a site in Didcot in January 2020.
The proposal was refused. The Planning Officer's decision was based on the fact that there was no evidence of how surface water would be drained after the building had been erected. This was despite the fact that the site is not in an area at risk of flooding (Flood Zone 1) and that the onus is upon the Council to produce evidence to demonstrate its concerns and substantiate its objections with objective analysis.
We advised the client to follow up this decision with an appeal based on a number of factors:
Mark Doodes MRTPI said:
"It is imperative that LPAs enforce policies uniformly across all planning decisions. It was unreasonable to ask a member of the public to foot the bill for excess surface water and river flooding protections ahead of planning permission being granted, especially when others in the same street had not had to. A suitably worded condition would have been a more pragmatic and fair approach. I am delighted we were able to secure this win and our client is now able to build his new property despite significant unhelpful delays. This appeal will have far reaching consequences in the area going forward."
More details on the case can be found here.
The Government has published a consultation which sets to overall the planning system which it says is outdated and sluggish and not focused enough on demand and design.
The consultation focuses on three main areas.
The proposed changes also aim to increase numbers of SME builders. Over the past 30 years to proportion of new homebulding built by SME builders has dropped from 40% to 12% today.
The consultation lasts six weeks and can be found here at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
The government has published new rules expanding existing permitted development rights to allow the upwards extension of certain properties and allow the replacement of existing buildings to provide new housing without planning permission.
The rules, which will come into effect by September, will mean full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings as homes and repurpose commercial and retail properties.
The Government believes that these legislative changes will reduce pressure to build on greenfield sites and deliver more homes that fit the character of their local area without the red tape typically associated with planning applications.
Upwards extensions of dwellings
The new legislation means that from 31st August 2020, existing houses built between 1st July 1948 and 28th October 2018 can be extended upwards to provide additional living space with prior approval from the local planning authority.
The legislation specifically allows for:
In order to qualify the existing buildings must not be located, or form part of:
Applicants for additional living space must apply for prior approval on the following grounds:
Upwards extensions of commercial and mixed-use properties
From the 31st August 2020, the legislation also allows for commercial or mixed-use properties built between 1st July 1948 and 5th March 2018 to also be extended upwards to provide new flats with prior approval.
The legislation considers a commercial building to comprise a building which is used for any purpose within Class A1 (shops), Class A2 (financial and professional services), Class A3 (restaurants and cafes) or Class B1(a) (offices) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order (UCO), or as a betting office, pay day loan shop or launderette.
A ‘mixed use’ in this context is defined as using two or more of the defined commercial uses or existing C3 housing together with one or more defined commercial use.
It is pertinent to highlight the government has also introduced changes to the UCO which will come in to effect from 1st September 2020. For the time being, in the context of permitted development rights, changes to the UCO should be disregarded as the legislation specifically states the that between 1 September 2020 and 31 July 2021 any references to the UCO within the GPDO should be read as if the UCO had not been amended on 1 September.
As with houses, the legislation allows for up to two additional storeys (7 meters) to be added commercial or mixed-use property of three or more storeys to a maximum height of 18 meters (or 30 meters in cases involving detached buildings in commercial or mixed use).
Applicants for new flats (including on top of houses) must meet the aforementioned qualification criteria and apply for prior approval on the following grounds:
An additional piece of new legislation allows purpose built residential blocks and B1 buildings (B1a (offices), B1b (research and development) and B1c (light industrial)) as defined in the 1987 UCO on 12 March 2020 (or a combination of both) to be replaced with new housing subject to prior approval.
To benefit from permitted development rights the building must be replaced by new housing which can comprise a single detached house or a detached block of flats. There are a number of conditions expressed in the legislation that must be complied with, including that:
In addition, a local planning authority may refuse a prior application if it considers that the proposed building/site does not meet the conditions outlined in the legislation, or if it is deemed insufficient information has been submitted to make a decision. It is possible however to appeal such a decision. It should also be noted that each building proposed to be demolished must be the subject of an individual prior approval application.
West Oxfordshire District Council have announced a new consultation for two of their emerging planning documents, the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Charging Schedule and the Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Both of the consultations are running from Friday 10th July until 5pm on Friday 21st August.
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Draft Charging Schedule
CIL is a charge levied per square metre on most new development, which is to be used for improvements to the local infrastructure such as roads and new leisure facilities. Once the schedule is adopted, the charge will apply to all future planning applications as well as those that are awaiting determination. The chargeable floorspace relates to gross internal area (GIA).
The Council are aiming to adopt the CIL charging schedule by Autumn 2020.
The proposed charge is set out in the charging schedule, the document that is undergoing consultation, and is outlined below:
Zone 1 – 10 Dwellings 11+ Dwellings Extra-care Housing Strategic Sites
Low £200perm2 £100 per m2 £100 per m2 £0 per m2
Medium £250 per m2 £125 per m2 £100 per m2 £0 per m2
High £300 per m2 £150 per m2 £100 per m2 £0 per m2
Non-residential CIL (District-wide)
All non-residential uses (except retail) £0 per m2
Food supermarket retail (A1) £100 per m2
The CIL rates above will be index-linked, meaning that the charges will change annually in accordance with the RICS All-in Tender Price Index. An updated version of the charging schedule will be published annually to reflect this.
The low zone is expected to cover the key settlements of Carterton and the surrounding area. The medium zone is expected to cover settlements such as Witney, Charlbury and Chipping Norton whilst the high charge zone covers the rest of the district, including Woodstock and Cassington. The draft zones can be seen in the figure below:
There are some exemptions to the charge, including for some residential annexes and extensions, self-build houses and flats.
The new schedule and supporting evidence can be viewed online here:
Affordable Housing Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)
The Affordable Housing Draft SPD addresses affordable housing, providing guidance to support the local planning authority, developers, housing providers and local communities on how West Oxfordshire District Council will achieve the delivery of affordable housing within the district.
The feedback received will be considered before the draft SPD is submitted for examination is published in autumn 2020, before undergoing a further public consultation prior to any further amendments and adoption. Once it is adopted, it will be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.
The current demand for affordable housing is shown in the graph below. It illustrates a significant demand for smaller 1 and 2-bedroom units. This demand is reflected in Policy H3 of the adopted Local Plan which requires that 65% of affordable dwellings should be smaller units.
The threshold for affordable housing is set out in Policy H3 and states that housing schemes of 11 or more, or which have a maximum combined gross floor space of more than 1,000m2 will be required to provide affordable housing on-site as a proportion of the market homes as follows:
– The ‘Blenheim approach’, where WODC continue their partnership with Blenheim Estate to deliver affordable housing which will be owned by Blenheim with the aim of keeping them in the rental market. Shared ownership properties will also be provided; and
– The ‘Partnership with Legacy Landowners’, where WODC aims to partner with legacy landowners to accelerate the delivery of affordable housing. They are encouraging discussion with landowners who are considering development, and are particularly interested in rural exception sites that would meet the affordable housing needs of smaller rural settlements.
It should be noted that the main delivery mechanisms will continue to be S106 agreements. An example of this can be viewed in Appendix 3 of the draft SPD.
With regards to design criteria, WODC have set out the following criteria when designing affordable housing:
In addition to this criteria, following WODC declaring a climate and ecological emergency they have begun to push for zero-carbon homes and sustainable design. In future, the environmental sustainability will become an increasingly important factor in the determination of planning applications. This is reflected in WODC expecting all applications to take full consideration of the environmental and climate change policies within the Local Plan & asking applicants to demonstrate, within the application, how the design of new affordable homes will meet or go beyond the high standards of sustainability.
The SPD is available for viewing online at the following link:
Should you wish to understand what this could mean for your land and developments or are considering making commenting on either document, please get in touch to discuss your options.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that planning permission deadlines will be extended in an effort to support the construction industry and ‘boost building’ as Britain emerges from the Coronavirus lockdown.
As part of the Coronavirus Act 2020 passed by Parliament, Councils are now able to hold virtual meetings for planning matters such as public meetings. Until now it had been requirement for local government to provide public physical access to certain planning meetings.
This temporary measure should play a part in preventing a backlog of planning applications and ensure the safety of the public whilst social distancing rules are still in force.
Councils will need to take advantage of the virtual technology to be able to adapt to these new rules. An example of this in action comes from Waltham Forest where they have confirmed that their planning committee held a meeting with four councillors in the room but up to 60 other people attending through video conferencing.
The National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) run webinars on many topics relating to house-building and renovation. This week they invited Mark Doodes MRTPI to host a Planning Webinar and lead a Q&A session. Attendees included current and future developers who all sought to find out more about the planning landscape and what best way to tackle it. Mark shared what the common planning mistakes are and how best to avoid them. You can see the full presentation via the link below....
The Environment Agency have taken measures against water pollution. New regulations dictate that businesses and home owners are now in charge of the installation and maintenance of the sewage treatment system on their property and to reduce its impact on the local environment.
By 1st January 2020, all septic systems should have been upgraded or replaced if they do not meet the new standards. Therefore, if you are the ‘operator’ of a septic tank that does not comply you could be fined. You are classed as an ‘operator’ if you own property that uses such a septic tank, shares it with another property (e.g. a neighbour), or are responsible for it under a written agreement (e.g. a tenancy).
A recent appeal decision by an Inspector has found that the legal requirement on Councils to meet the Self-Build and Custom Build demand overrules the controls set out in the Local Plan.
A planning inspector has allowed plans for 30 Self-Build plots in Woodville, Swadlincote, following North West Leicestershire District Council’s (NWLDC) initial refusal to grant outline planning permission. Permission was not granted due to development site falling outside the planning boundary in what was considered the ‘countryside’ according to the Local Plan.
At the beginning of March, the Government delivered a Policy Paper “Planning for the Future” that set out to “establish a planning system that works for the next century”.
Many critics outlined how the content of the 11 page document was much the same as policy created before, such as building on brownfield, speeding up planning, increasing housing available, but there are indeed new proposals that set out to achieve some big goals.
The key points from the Policy are outlined below: