Planning matters

Our award winning blog gives a fresh perspective on the latest trends in planning and development.

Size(mix) matters

Size(mix) matters

Simon Coop 24 May 2018
Housing issues are never far from the headlines, and one simple truth lies at the heart of the matter: we are not building enough new homes. But in addition to ensuring that sufficient new homes are delivered, we must also ensure that an appropriate mix of housing is achieved. If the emerging housing supply does not reflect the needs and demands of existing and potential future residents, there is a risk that an imbalance will emerge between the supply of and demand for certain types of residential property. The consequence would be that the prices of those properties that are more in demand would increase at a faster rate than that of the overall housing stock, exacerbating affordability issues and undermining the ability of certain sectors of the population to meet their housing needs.   The importance of achieving an appropriate housing mix is reflected in government policy, which states at paragraph 50 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): “To deliver a wide choice of high quality homes, widen opportunities for homes ownership and create sustainable, inclusive communities, local planning authorities should: “Plan for a mix of housing …; “Identify the size, type, tenure and range of housing that is required in particular locations, reflecting local demand…;” The draft NPPF launched for public consultation in March 2018 adopts a similar approach; paragraph 62 states: “Policies should identify the size, type and tenure of homes required for different groups in the community…” The current PPG provides some detail about how to identify the need for certain types of housing and the needs of different groups, but does not provide any specific guidance on how to identify the mix of different house sizes that is required. Lichfields has launched a new product, Sizemix, which provides a robust and transparent means for identifying the size, type and range of housing that is required in a local area, in line with national policy. A complex relationship Understanding the right mix of housing relies on an appreciation of the differences between housing need and demand. This difference is particularly acute in the open market sector, where households are free to occupy housing in accordance with what they want and can afford. In this context, whilst housing need draws solely on the size and structure of individual households, housing demand reflects the reality that many people will often deliberately under-occupy their homes and thereby express a demand for a property that is larger than they might specifically need. For example, a couple might only need a one-bedroom property but might want a larger property. This pattern leads to a combination of overcrowding and under-occupation. According to the latest available ONS’ standards of occupancy[1], 700,000 households in England were overcrowded at the time of the 2011 Census, of which over 400,000 were households with dependent children. A total of 3.8m households (c.20%) occupied housing in line with their needs, whilst 7m households had at least 2 spare bedrooms. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of occupancy patterns by household type. The highest levels of under-occupancy are amongst older households and couples without children, compared to the highest level of over-occupancy amongst households with children and multi-adult households. Figure 1 Occupancy patters in England by household type Source: Census 2011. Excludes social rented. Table 1 considers the relationship between household and dwelling size in more detail by illustrating the occupancy patterns of all private sector households in England. It shows that 2-person households in 3-bed dwellings form the largest household-dwelling group, with 16.1% of households falling within this group. Contrary to what might be expected, most single person households (19.9%) occupy 2 and 3-bed dwellings, with relatively few occupying 1-bed dwellings. Interestingly, a similar number of 5-bed dwellings are occupied by 4-person households as by 2-person households. Table 1 Household size by number of bedrooms Source: Census 2011. Excludes Social Rented Households Explaining the relationship between household size and dwelling type A range of factors impacts on housing requirements, in addition to household size. The fact that many people view their home as an investment means that they will often seek to buy one that they can afford, rather than the space that they actually need, even though such a property might be too large. Having spare bedrooms is viewed positively by many households; it provides flexibility for changing circumstances (such as the birth of a child) and allows visitors to stay, with both being significant factors for many people when searching for and choosing to buy a new home. Another factor that might influence the current and future demand for larger homes is the trend for working from home. There has been a steady rise in the proportion of people in employment working from home. As of 2017 this stands at 13.6% of people in employment. Increases in the number of people working from home may translate into a demand for larger housing as people seek additional space for use as an office. Whilst some changes to households result in the need for larger properties, others may create the opportunity to downsize – for example, when ‘empty-nesters’ no longer need all the space in their family home. However, as shown above, this often does not happen, with 2.4m households (84%) over the age of 65 having at least 1 spare bedroom, and just 718,000 (15%) occupying housing in line with their ‘needs’. This might relate to a lack of sufficient supply of housing products perceived to be attractive to those downsizing, but equally research suggests there is simply a strong preference from many people to remain in their existing home. The English Housing Survey shows that older households are the least likely to move, with just 2.3% of households over the age of 75 and 3.1% of households aged between 65 and 74 moving in the previous 12 months. By comparison, younger Sizemix Within the context of a need to increase the rate of house building, it is of critical importance to ensure that an appropriate mix of housing is provided to meet demand. Sizemix represents an important addition to the range of tools provided by Lichfields. It supports all involved in the development process by helping to ensure an adequate supply of the right type of houses can be delivered, in line with local requirements. Further details of Sizemix are available here. Please contact any of our offices to discuss how we might be able to assist you.   [1] Occupancy as defined using ONS standard of occupancy. Occupancy rating of -1 or less indicates overcrowding, +1 or more indicated under-occupancy.  

CONTINUE READING

GPDO – Light Industrial to Residential – Class PA
Sunday 1st October 2017, after 18 months, the world of permitted development rights waits no more: the temporary permitted development right for change of use from light industrial to residential becomes a reality. From Sunday, and for the next three years, changing the use of a light industrial building (or part of a building so used) that is use class B1(c)[1], to residential, use class C3, benefits from a new permitted development right, subject to a prior approval process and various limitations and conditions, of course.  Or more specifically: Class PA – premises in light industrial use to dwellinghouses Development consisting of a change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from a use falling within Class B1(c) (light industrial) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of that Schedule. Here are the exemptions and limitations: The building must have been used solely for light industrial on 19th March 2014 (or when last in use if not in use on or since that date), The prior approval date[2] must be before 1st October 2020; The gross floorspace of the existing building cannot exceed 500 sq.m; If occupied under an agricultural tenancy, express consent of both tenant and landlord is required, No development can begin within one year of terminating an agricultural tenancy if it was terminated for the purpose of changing the use by virtue of Class PA (unless both the tenant and landlord have agreed in writing that the site is no longer required for agricultural purposes), The site cannot be or form part of a site of special scientific interest; safety hazard zone or a military storage area, The building cannot be listed, or be within the curtilage of a listed building; and The site must not be or contain a scheduled monument. As for the application for a determination as to whether prior approval is required, the developer must submit (amongst other things) a statement proving the building was solely in light industrial (B1(c)) use on 19th March 2014 (or when last in use if not in use on that date, and not in use since) – i.e. the lawful use of the building is solely B1(c), and this was the case on 19th March 2014.  The developer must also state the net increase in the number of dwellinghouses proposed. And the local planning authority must consider whether its prior approval is required with regard to: Transport and highways impact on the development Contamination risks Flood risks; and Whether the change of use of the building to residential would have an adverse impact on the sustainability of the provision of industrial and/or storage or distribution services in that area - if the building (or part of a building, if only part is being converted) considered by the LPA as important for provision of those services. Development under class PA, if permitted, is subject to the condition that it be completed within a period of three years starting with the date of prior approval. Details of Class PA are in the April 2016 amendment to the GPDO[3] The Reaction Are we excited/worried about the changes…? Well, in respect of the latter,  LB Southwark clearly are - on Thursday 28th September 2017, they announced consultation on an immediate Article 4 direction[4] removing Class PA permitted development rights in specified locations (Local and Strategic Preferred Industrial Locations and existing and emerging site allocations for comprehensive mixed use development). An immediate Article 4 Direction would open the Council up to potential claims for compensation under the terms of  the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and the Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (England) Regulations 2015 (as amended). Not a decision taken lightly, I suspect. Others have already used Article 4 Directions, albeit a little while earlier, including LB Hounslow – where an Article 4 Direction comes into force in January 2018, and LB Islington, where it’s already in force, to name but a few. But are these councils right to be cautious, are we about to see a glut of changes of use removing light industrial space from our towns and cities? In my view, probably not. The combination of finding a building that is under 500sqm, that can be proved to be, or to have been solely in B1(c) use and that would not be deemed to impact on the sustainability of the provision of surrounding industrial and  storage uses may be tough. Particularly as the term ‘sustainability’ is not defined in the GPDO and is subject to interpretation (i.e. a matter of fact and degree that the decision-maker can decide). So I don’t imagine an office to residential-style (Class O) style rush. But I suspect a few will test the water early on, perhaps on a par with the right for change of use from retail to residential (Class M). Assuming the Government captures the statistics as they do with other permitted development rights, we’ll find out in the next few quarterly releases how popular it has been. Of course, if you do have a building you think may qualify for this permitted development right, and are interested in finding out more about how you may go about the prior approval process , please don’t hesitate to contact Lichfields. Download Lichfields Use Class Order @OwainNedin Owain.nedin@lichfields.uk   [1] Use Class B1(c): use for any industrial process, being a use which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit [2] “prior approval date” is defined in Paragraph X of Part 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) and means the date on which— (a) prior approval is given; or (b) a determination that such approval is not required is given or the period for giving such a determination (in this case 56 days) has expired without the applicant being notified whether prior approval is required, given or refused. [3] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/332/made.  [4] http://www.southwark.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-policy-and-transport-policy/article-4-directions?chapter=6&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term Image credit: Arcaid Images / Alamy Stock Photo

CONTINUE READING