Planning matters

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Sadiq Khan has appointed his Mayoral advisors, including housing, transport and Crossrail 2
On 24 May, the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, officially appointed five of his special advisors to support the implementation of his manifesto policies; James Murray will advise the Mayor on housing policy, Val Shawcross has been appointed Deputy Mayor for Transport (and Deputy Chair of Transport for London), while Lord Andrew Adonis has been proposed as Chair of the Crossrail 2 Board.James Murray is currently Executive Member for Housing and Development at Islington Council, a role that he has held since 2010 (he announced his intention to stand down from his role as Islington councillor). During his time as lead member on housing at Islington, he launched a major building programme of homes for social rent; this delivered 1,800 new affordable homes in 2010-2014 (projected to reach ‘at least’ 2,000 homes by 2015), while the Borough’s Housing Strategy 2014-2019 sets the target for 2,000 additional affordable homes in the Borough (including 500 new council homes) to be built in four years. The strategic planning policy objective that Islington Council set for at least 50% of all new homes delivered in the Borough to be affordable has been reflected by Sadiq Khan’s manifesto pledge on affordable housing requirement.During James Murray’s office, Islington was also the first council to publish an Article 4 direction (July 2013) to remove permitted development rights for office to residential conversions. In January 2016, the Borough adopted a supplementary planning guidance (SPD) on Development Viability, requiring that information submitted as a part of a viability assessment ‘should be treated transparently and be available for wider scrutiny’. Val Shawcross has a long-standing experience at London Assembly, having served as a member for Lambeth and Southwark during the last sixteen years, before standing down at this year’s mayoral elections. Her extensive Assembly experience led her to be appointed Chair of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (2000-2008), and alternate Chair and Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee (2008-2014). The Mayor has also announced his intention to propose the appointment of Lord Andrew Adonis, as Chair of the Crossrail 2 Board. Lord Adonis, who has been long-rumoured as potential Deputy Mayor for Transport, is the current chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), a position that he has held since October 2015. Before being appointed at the NIC, Lord Adonis has been Transport Secretary (2009-10), Minister of State for Transport (2008-09) and Minister for Schools (2005-08). He was also Head of the No10 Policy Unit from 2001 to 2005. His extensive infrastructure and transport experience has granted him a wide cross-party credibility and respect, which led to his nomination as chairman of the NIC by the Conservative Government.His appointment as Chair of the Crossrail 2 Board is of no surprise, given the work he undertook as chairman of the NIC; Transport for a World City, the second report published by the NIC on 10 March 2016, has called the Government to prioritise Crossrail 2 by granting the needed funds to Transport for London (TfL) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to draw up a business case for it; in the Budget 2016, the Government granted £80 million to help fund development of Crossrail 2. It’s worth noting that the appointment’s statement clarifies that he ‘will continue his role as chair of the National Infrastructure Commission’.The other two appointments announced on 24 May are Sophie Linden, as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and Fiona Twycross as Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.  

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Self-build and custom housebuilding (sections 9-12) Local authorities (LAs) have a new duty to keep, and have regard to, registers of people seeking land for self-build and custom housebuilding - and to grant sufficient suitable development permissions on serviced plots on land to meet the related demand in their area.According to DCLG’s ‘Technical consultation on implementation of planning changes’, there may also be a requirement that LAs publish a small sites register. Neighbourhood  planning (sections 139-142) The Secretary of State (SoS) can make regulations requiring a local planning authority (LPA) to designate all of the area applied for, if a neighbourhood area application meets prescribed criteria, or has not been determined within a prescribed period. The SoS can also: prescribe the time periods within which LPAs must undertake key neighbourhood planning functions, such as arranging a referendum; and at the request of a parish council or neighbourhood forum, prescribe a procedure for intervening in a LPA’s decision on whether to hold a referendum.At the request of a neighbourhood forum in their area, an LPA will have to notify the forum of planning applications in their designated area. Development plan-making (sections 143-148) The SoS or the Mayor of London (if the LPA is a London borough) can already direct the authority to amend their local development scheme; the new Act means that such a direction can relate to the subject matter of documents specified in a scheme.Under the Act, the SoS can direct a development plan document (DPD)  Inspector to ‘suspend’ the examination, to consider specified matters, to hear from specified parties, or to take other specified procedural steps.A LPA is required to reimburse the SoS for any expenditure incurred in relation to such an intervention.The SoS can also issue a ‘holding direction’ to a LPA, not to take any step in connection with the adoption of a DPD while the SoS considers whether to intervene.  The Act also makes clear what is to happen where the SoS withdraws (entirely or partially) a direction.Retaining current default powers, the SoS can direct a LPA to: prepare or revise a document; submit that document to independent examination; publish the Inspector’s recommendations; and consider whether to adopt the document.The SoS can invite the Mayor of London or a combined authority (see Schedule 11 of the Act) to prepare a DPD for a London borough or a constituent authority of the combined authority. The Mayor or combined authority would be responsible for preparing the document and having it examined, where the SoS thinks that the LPA is failing or omitting to do something that is necessary in connection with the preparation, revision or adoption of the document. They may then approve the document or direct the LPA to consider adopting it.The SoS can also intervene in the preparation of a document by the Mayor or a combined authority, and recover costs. Planning in Greater London (section 149) The SoS can prescribe certain planning applications that are of potential strategic importance for Greater London, by reference to the Mayor’s spatial development strategy or London borough DPDs that are adopted or approved.Via a development order, the SoS can enable the Mayor to direct a London borough to consult the Mayor before granting planning permission for development described in the direction. Permitted development, planning permissions and poorly performing authorities (sections 152-157) To facilitate the proposed office to residential rebuild permitted development right, the Act enables a development order to require the approval of the LPA or the SoS for any matter related to a building operation, or the use of the land following those building operations.The SoS can designate an LA for its performance in determining applications for categories of development described in regulations made by the SoS, This will be used to extend the current criteria for major applications to include other categories, apart from householders’, for making applications direct to the SoS.With further details yet to emerge, the new ‘planning freedoms scheme’ will dis-apply or modify specified planning provisions (for a specified period), to facilitate an increase in the amount of housing in the planning area concerned.Recommendations in officers’ reports on planning applications to planning committees, or to the authority itself, are to include a list of financial benefits (e.g. s106 obligation contributions) likely to be obtained by the authority as a result of the proposed development, if it is carried out. The officer will need to indicate their opinion as to whether the benefit is material or not to their recommendation. Planning obligations (sections 158-159) There is a new dispute resolution procedure in the Act, aimed at resolving issues arising in the negotiation of planning obligations.The SoS now has the power to make regulations to restrict, or impose other conditions on the enforceability of planning obligations relating to affordable housing provision. Development consent for related housing in NSIPs (section 160) The SoS has the power to grant development consent for housing which is related to an application for a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP). This will include housing that is functionally linked to an infrastructure project, as well residential development where there is no functional link but there is a close geographical link between them. Piloting alternative providers of planning application processing services (sections 161-164) Pilot schemes will be set up, to test introducing competition in the processing (but not determination) of applications ‘to do with planning’. Applicants would be able to choose to submit their application for processing to either the LPA or one of a number of designated alternatives.Regulations are required for the details of the pilot and these would deal with fees, and may provide that any connected application must also be processed by the alternative provider selected by the applicant. Urban development areas and corporations (sections 166-168) Before designating an urban development area or establishing an urban development corporation, it will be necessary to undertake extensive consultation, but the process for making the necessary Orders will be faster. New Towns (sections 169-170) Before making an Order to designate an area of land in England as the site of a proposed new town, the SoS will have to consult extensively; if a development corporation is established, it must aim to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and must (in particular) have regard to the desirability of good design. Energy performance and sustainable drainage systems (sections 165 and 171) The SoS must carry out a review of any minimum energy performance requirements approved under building regulations in relation to dwellings in England.The Communities Secretary must also carry out a review of planning legislation, government planning policy and local planning policies for sustainable drainage in relation to the development of land in England. Compulsory purchase (sections 172-206) Amongst a range of new compulsory purchase powers relating to entry, disputes and compensation, there is also an extension of existing LPA powers to override easements and restrictive covenants to acquiring authorities, such as statutory undertakers, which do not already have these powers.Further blogs in this series cover starter homes, Permission in Principle, and the Act’s commencement; further regulations on commencement are also covered.  

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