Town centres & retail planning news, October 2018


Town centres & retail planning news, October 2018

01 Oct 2018



Headline news


Civil Society Strategy promotes community involvement in planning for economic growth

In its new report, ‘Civil Society Strategy: building a future that works for everyone’ that was published on 9 August, HM Government defines the term ‘civil society’ as referring to ‘all individuals and organisations, when undertaking activities with the primary purpose of delivering social value, independent of state control’.

While the Localism Act 2011 has already ‘created new rights for communities, giving them an opportunity to take into local ownership community assets, shape planning and development in their area’, the Strategy states that with the intention of improving the use of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, the Government will explore whether ‘social value' principles should be applied to specified areas of public decision-making that include planning.

The Strategy also states that the Government aims to strengthen the right for communities to bid for the ownership of local assets and will be issuing revised guidance on the issue.

Elsewhere, the document confirms that resident involvement has been lacking in many regeneration projects to date and promises to give communities a greater say in the future.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said:

‘Growing the economy and strong communities are mutually reinforcing and I very much welcome the steps which this new Civil Society Strategy takes to build on the lndustrial Strategy approach, particularly to involve communities more strongly in local planning for economic growth, prosperity and employment.’

HM Government, ‘Civil Society Strategy: building a future that works for everyone’


Quote of the month

I’m not sure everything needs to look like Cambridge, but how many people in this room believe they have built the conservation areas of the future. Probably not that many.
[...] when we are building this number of houses, if we can get to 300,000, we are not really just building houses we are building neighbourhoods. Developments of a thousand or 500 units are bigger than most villages, and we need to think in those neighbourhood terms, we need to think about the place, the design and beauty, where it fits and what we are, frankly, leaving to posterity.
Housing Minister Kit Malthouse, in his speech to the RESI Conference 2018 on 14 September RESI Conference 2018 


New rules for pre-commencement conditions now in force

On 1 October, new rules for pre-commencement conditions come into force, as a result of secondary legislation that was made and laid in May this year.
There is now a new procedure in place, whereby applicants have to give their written consent to any pre-commencement condition. It applies to pre-commencement conditions imposed only on a grant of planning permission (but not when granted in outline) on or after 1 October 2018. The new procedure is therefore relevant to planning applications that have already been made and that will be determined from now onwards.
Lichfields has already covered the new procedure and its ramifications extensively; the PPG also explains succinctly how it operates. 

Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017, s14 (‘Restrictions on power to impose planning conditions’)The Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 (Commencement No.5) Regulations 2018Town and Country Planning (Pre-commencement Conditions) Regulations 2018 and Explanatory MemorandumLichfields’ Planning Matters, Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 – New procedures for pre-commencement conditions come into effect from October 2018Lichfields’ England Planning News, June 2018PPG, The use of pre-commencement conditions

MHCLG shortlist for Great British High Street Awards 2018

MHCLG has announced the shortlist for their competition to find Britain’s best and most ambitious high streets. The awards aim to ‘recognise and celebrate local achievements’ on the high street and ‘shine a light on great examples of how high streets can meet the challenges of changing consumer behaviour and a changing retail environment’.
38 high streets have been shortlisted, with 26 in the ‘Champion high street category’; 12 are in the category of ‘Rising Star’, that aims to find the UK’s most ambitious high streets.
Winners will be announced on 15 November 2018. 

MHCLG, Shortlist announced for Great British High Street Awards 2018


MHCLG’s first updates of Planning Practice Guidance to reflect new NPPF

MCHLG published new Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) on 13 September for ‘plan-making’ and ‘Build to Rent’.
Updated guidance was also issued on the same day, on ‘housing need assessment’, ‘housing and economic land availability assessment’, ‘local plans’ and ‘neighbourhood planning’.
In summary, the new guidance reflects the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and covers:
Most of the new ‘plan-making’ guidance in the PPG has only been reordered and revised slightly from the March 2018 draft version – specifically to accurately reflect the finalised NPPF and also to subtly emphasise strategic planning, or alter the degree of flexibility at different stages in plan-making.
The most detailed guidance is on Statements of Common Ground; the least elucidating is on plan viability.
Build to Rent
Compared with the consultation draft PPG on Build to Rent (from March 2018), there is only new guidance in relation to when affordable homes in such developments are sold off.
Housing need assessment
The ‘Housing Need Assessment’ PPG has replaced the previous PPG on ‘Housing and economic development needs assessments’. The content relating to economic needs assessment has been removed, suggesting that this may be covered in separate PPG at a later date (although Paragraph 033 of the newly published plan-making PPG gives guidance on ‘gathering evidence to plan for business’ and Paragraph 034 covers how functional economic market areas can be defined).
Housing and economic land availability assessment
The PPG has been updated in relation to housing land supply and delivery; it continues to refer to housing and economic land availability assessments.
Local plans
Much of the content in this part of the PPG has now been moved to form part of plan-making guidance. It now only covers: ‘Local Plans: key issues’; ‘Preparing a Local Plan’; ‘Publication and examination of a Local Plan’; and ‘Local plans - adoption, monitoring and supplementary planning documents’.
Neighbourhood planning
There are now new Paragraphs 96-99 (Neighbourhood Plans, and housing policies/allocations) that relate to the revised NPPF’s Paragraph 14.

MHCLG, draft PPG, draft updates to planning guidance which will form part of the Government’s online PPG (March 2018)CLG, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ (February 2017)MHCLG, Planning Practice Guidance  New PPG: ‘Build to Rent’ and ‘plan-making’Updated PPG: ‘housing need assessment’, ‘housing and economic land availability assessment’, ‘local plans’ and ‘neighbourhood planningOmbudsman guidance to help


Ombudsman guidance to help planning authorities clarify decision-making process

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman published guidance on 17 September that is aimed at improving the transparency and clarity of the planning decision-making process, in a bid to reduce the amount of complaints received.
The report considers how authorities often fail to effectively explain: how material planning considerations have been taken into account; and what has been taken into consideration when reaching a decision. The guidance also covers how local planning authorities should provide clear records of planning decisions and the reasons for them, through improved recording procedures.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Recording planning decisions

Chief Planner provides updates on planning reforms

On 14 September, Chief Planner Steve Quartermain issued a planning update newsletter outlining the Government’s progress on its programme of planning reforms.
The reforms covered include: the revised NPPF; updated PPG; the independent review of planning appeal inquiries; changes to pre-commencement conditions; the 2017/18 Annual Casework Report to Parliament; developer contributions and open data tools; design charrettes (a Call for Expressions of Interest); and the Local Digital Declaration and Fund.

MHCLG, Planning update newsletter

Land value capture endorsed by HCLG Committee but given short shrift by Housing Minister

On 13 September, the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee published its report on land value capture (LVC).
The report covers: the background to LVC; how existing methods could be improved; and the potential legislative reforms that would be required to change the current compulsory purchase regime, to remove the landowners' right to be compensated for the 'hope value' of their land (i.e. for planning permissions that could be granted in a ‘no scheme’ world’). The Committee recommends that the Land Compensation Act 1961 should be reformed, ‘so that local authorities have the power to compulsorily purchase land at a fairer price’. The Committee argues that the compensation paid to landowners should ‘reflect the costs of providing the affordable housing, infrastructure and services that would make a development viable, as well as capturing a proportion of the profit the landowner will have made’.
On 5 September, Housing Minister Kit Malthouse had spoken at a Committee session and stated that the Government had no immediate plans to bring in new mechanisms to capture increases in land values, although they were open to revisit such measures in the future. He said:
‘We have to be slightly careful in these situations not to choke off land coming forward and also to create a kind of legal game of jeopardy where everything gets snowed up in Supreme Court challenges.’
Commenting on parts of the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 that came into force last year, which seek to codify and clarify the ‘no scheme world’, the Housing Minister stated:
‘We are essentially trying to maintain a situation where you are compensated for your land on the same basis as if you have sold it voluntarily, but not necessarily with the benefit of the scheme that the local authority is sponsoring and putting in. That seems to me to be a sensible balance, so we will see where we get to on that. If there are still issues once that beds in, we can have a look at the 1961 Act again.’

House of Commons, Housing, Communities and Local Government, Increases in land value should be shared with local communities, say MPsHouse of Commons, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee report, Land value captureHousing, Communities and Local Government Committee oral evidence: Land Value Capture (5 September 2018)



The Lichfields perspective

The new pre-commencement condition measures should discourage decision-makers from including unnecessary conditions that might slow down starts on-site, or even prevent development from happening at all. We expect that at least for major schemes, councils will continue best practice - they will discuss and try to agree proposed pre-commencement conditions with applicants before issuing the notice required by the regulations, to ensure that there are no surprises at such a late stage in the determination process. It is likely that overall, the new rules will lead to the more reasonable use of pre-commencement conditions – and to applicants accepting them, to ensure that planning permission is granted
Tom Davies, Planning Researcher


Disclaimer: This publication has been written in general terms and cannot be relied on to cover specific situations. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of the contents of this publication. Lichfields accepts no duty of care or liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material in this publication. Lichfields is the trading name of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners Limited. Registered in England, no.2778116