Housing

Judicial Review Appeal with Potentially Far Reaching Implications for Contaminated Land Rejected

In summary we can breath a sigh of relief and carry on as before with a system that allows contaminated land to be dealt with by planning conditions.

An appeal for judicial review was made against a Derbyshire council’s consent for a 200-home development less than 100m from a former landfill. The points of appeal in a layman’s summary were a contention that the contaminated land issues had not been adequately addressed. The appeal was rejected after concluding that there was no obligation for any potential contamination of the application site to be assessed and removed before approval was granted.

London Plan “deeply disappointing” says government

There is an excellent summary of the government’s response to the ‘intend to publish’ London Plan on the Pinsent Mason website

“The UK government has directed that significant amendments be made to the new London Plan, citing “deeply disappointing” progress on delivering much-needed housing stock. …”

It’s difficult at the moment to think about life after Covid-19 and no one knows how quickly the economy will recover but here is a reminder that at some point the need for more housing will return to the fore.

The Government is Launching a National Brownfield Map

On 12 March 2020 the Government published a policy document entitled ‘Planning for the Future‘ which sets out its plans for the delivery of housing and further reforms to the planning system.

Within the document the government undertakes to launch a national brownfield sites map in April 2020. It will also conduct a call for proposals to seek evidence on the barriers to, and opportunities in, building above stations in urban areas. We are not entirely sure why the government appear to see these two items as inextricably linked.

The document goes on to say “It is vital that we make the most of existing transport hubs, encouraging modern, green communities where people live close to public transport.”

We await the publication of the map with bated breath.

Reducing Risk & Preventing Claims on Complex Brownfield Residential Sites

Car Parts found in the garden topsoil of a recently occupied development

The title of a very informative article in the September/October AGS Magazine. If you want to take advantage of the opportunities or avoid the risks of contaminated land then this article is worth a read.

It helps to underline the fact that for a successful project contaminated land has to be addressed as an integrated part of the project and not an after thought. The latter approach often leads to delays and additional costs.

For more detailed advice we would also recommend the CIRIA guidance for small brownfield sites and contaminated land, A guide to small brownfield sites and land contamination (C773) which provides clarity and greater confidence to those looking to develop small brownfield and potentially contaminated land sites. The guide is available to NHBC members via their website.

‘UK must build flood resilient homes’ says RIBA

Currently 1 in 6 homes in the UK are at risk of flooding – a number that is expected to double by 2050

Flooding causes an average of £1.4 billion of damage each year to businesses and households

RIBA’s The Value of Flood Resilient Architecture and Design report calls for innovation and regulation change, to ensure both new build and existing properties are flood resilient and future proof

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has (Thursday 3 May) published a new report outlining what the Government needs to do to help create homes and communities that are resilient to flood damage. RIBA’s The Value of Flood Resilient Architecture and Design report stresses that the UK can no longer base its approach to managing flood risk on simply keeping the water out. The Government needs to enable communities to manage their risks. This means better equipping people and businesses to live with water; being able to stop water entering their properties and speeding recovery if it does.

The RIBA report advocates building flood resilient homes and buildings. To do this it recommends that the Government develops a new approach to tackling flooding threats, one that encourages innovation in flooding resilience in the housing and urban design sector. It recommends specific building regulations for flood resilience and resistance, thereby ensuring that these are taken up in any building exposed to flood risk.

The report concludes that embedding flood resilient design will help future-proof new developments and deliver greater value for money when investments in new flood defences are made. In addition, there is room for the UK to become a leader in this area, paving the way with innovative responses and solutions to flooding.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said:

“In the next 30 years, the number of homes at risk of flooding is expected to double. Now is the time to adapt and think creatively about how to tackle this threat. The RIBA urges the Government to step up and encourage the collaboration and innovation needed to create new homes and communities that are resilient to the devastating effects of flooding.”

 

The report makes five key recommendations for Government:

Improved decision-making processes which address a broader range of factors and potential solutions to water management issues

Pilot ‘Licences for Innovation’ to examine the effectiveness of new approaches to managing flood risk in new development to flooding and ensure all new buildings incorporate appropriate measures

Examine the potential for regulations on flood resilience to be linked to Flood Zone Designations through Building Regulations and planning policy

Regulate to ensure that all new developments in flood risk areas demonstrate reduced exposure and vulnerability to flood damage as well as broader benefits to the resilience of the local area

Encourage greater uptake of flood-resilient design by home and building owners exposed to flood risk

Patrik Schumacher, head of Zaha Hadid Architects calls for radical rethinking to solve housing crisis

A paper has been released on the Adam Smith Institute website, under the heading “Only Capitalism can Solve the Housing Crisis“, so far no great surprise.

Patrik Schumacher believes that outdated and inappropriate planning restrictions are holding back redevelopment of land in London and elsewhere. While I am sure many will disagree with elements of what is said in this paper and quite possibly its overall direction, however it certainly raises issues and asks questions that provide food for thought.

Builders Shun Brownfield Sites to Dig up Green Belt – The Times 12 December 2017

An article in The Times declares that research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that sites with the capacity for nearly 200,000 homes are missing from the official Brownfield Registers. With limited resources local authorities tend to concentrate on the larger sites, meaning that this vital resource of smaller sites is overlooked.

We have extensive experience of providing advice on small sites and are on the steering group for the CIRIA small brownfield sites report, which is due to be published shortly with advice on developing small brownfield sites.

We provide comprehensive support to guide clients through the process of obtaining discharge of contaminated land planning conditions, if you are considering buying or developing a small brownfield site do not hesitate to call 020 8291 1354 or askgo@gosolve.co.uk.

The London Plan; The Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London

The Mayor has published a draft for public consultation, about which he says “So this London Plan sets out a new way of doing things, something I am calling Good Growth.” If you have any comments the consultation period runs to 2 March 2018.

The report has quite a lot to say about housing and the use of brownfield sites.

Efficient Land Use

In a section titled “Making the best use of land” the report points out that “London’s population is set to grow from 8.9 million today to around 10.8 million by 2041… This rapid growth will bring many opportunities, but it will also lead to increasing and competing pressures on the use of space. To accommodate growth while protecting the Green Belt, and for this growth to happen in a way that improves the lives of existing and new Londoners, this Plan proposes more efficient uses of the city’s land.”

The report then develops the theme of more efficient land use:

“1.2.2 The key to achieving this will be taking a rounded approach to the way neighbourhoods operate… This will mean creating places of higher density in appropriate locations to get more out of limited land, encouraging a mix of land uses, and co-locating different uses to provide communities with a wider range of services and amenities.

1.2.3 The benefits of this approach are wide-ranging… High-density, mixed use places support the clustering effect of businesses known as ‘agglomeration’, maximising job opportunities… They are places where local amenities are within walking and cycling distance, and public transport options are available for longer trips, supporting good health, allowing strong communities to develop, and boosting the success of local businesses.

1.2.4 Making the best use of land means directing growth towards the most accessible and well-connected places, making the most efficient use of the existing and future public transport, walking and cycling networks…

1.2.5 All options for using the city’s land more effectively will need to be explored as London’s growth continues, including the redevelopment of brownfield sites and the intensification of existing places, including in outer London. New and enhanced transport links will play an important role in allowing this to happen, unlocking homes and jobs growth in new areas and ensuring that new developments are not planned around car use…

Policy GG2 Making the best use of land

To create high-density, mixed-use places that make the best use of land, those involved in planning and development must:

A Prioritise the development of Opportunity Areas, brownfield land, surplus public sector land, sites which are well-connected by existing or planned Tube and rail stations, sites within and on the edge of town centres, and small sites.

B Proactively explore the potential to intensify the use of land, including public land, to support additional homes and workspaces, promoting higher density development, particularly on sites that are well-connected by public transport, walking and cycling, applying a design–led approach.

C Understand what is valued about existing places and use this as a catalyst for growth and place-making, strengthening London’s distinct and varied character.

D Protect London’s open spaces, including the Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land, designated nature conservation sites and local spaces, and promote the creation of new green infrastructure and urban greening.

E Plan for good local walking, cycling and public transport connections to support a strategic target of 80 per cent of all journeys using sustainable travel, enabling car-free lifestyles that allow an efficient use of land, as well as using new and enhanced public transport links to unlock growth.

F Maximise opportunities to use infrastructure assets for more than one purpose, to make the best use of land and support efficient maintenance…

Delivering the housing London needs

1.4.5 To meet the growing need, London must seek to deliver new homes through every available means. Reusing large brownfield sites will remain crucial, although vacant plots are now scarce, and the scale and complexity of large former industrial sites makes delivery slow. Small sites in a range of locations can be developed more quickly, and enable smaller builders to enter the market. Building more housing as part of the development of town centres will also be important, providing homes in well-connected places that will help to sustain local communities…

Increasing housing supply

Policy H1 urges that: boroughs should optimise the potential for housing delivery on all suitable and available brownfield sites through their Development Plans and planning decisions… Boroughs should proactively use brownfield registers and permission in principle to increase planning certainty for those wishing to build new homes…

Small Sites

Under Policy H2 Small sites the report says that: Boroughs should increase planning certainty on small sites by:

1) identifying and allocating appropriate small sites for residential development

2) listing these sites on their brownfield registers

3) granting permission in principle on specific sites or preparing local development orders…

Vacant building Credit

In section 4.9.1 there is a reminder that: “In 2014 the Government introduced a Vacant Building Credit (VBC), which applies to sites where a vacant building is brought back into any lawful use, or is demolished to be replaced by a new building. The VBC reduces the requirement for affordable housing contributions based on the amount of vacant floor space being brought back into use or redeveloped. This has significant implications for delivery of affordable housing in London where a high proportion of development is on brownfield land where there are existing buildings.”

Download the plan