April Ponderings

Added on April 23, 2018 in Recent News


With our colleagues in the agricultural team entering one of their busiest times of year, dealing with Basic Payment applications, it is only fair that the Planning and Development Team should step in to produce this month’s ponderings. Whilst we often bemoan the complexities of the planning system, we do not envy our agricultural colleagues at this time of year, having to negotiate the minefield of BPS. For those of you needing advice with your BPS applications, please remember to speak to one of our team in good time, so that they can guide you through the process.

Like BPS, the planning system is ever changing and it seldom seems that a week goes by, without the announcement of new planning guidance in some form or another. Alongside this, many of our local authorities are in the process of preparing new Local Plans, and with this comes an endless stream of new consultation events.

Of particular note within the last month, is the start of the Government’s consultation on a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). First produced in 2012, the NPPF sought to streamline all national planning policy guidance into a single, concise policy document. Unashamedly pro-development, the NPPF has helped motivate an increase in the rate of new house building from historically low levels. However, still not satisfied with current levels of housing completions, the Government’s draft NPPF introduces further measures to deliver the step change in house building which is seemingly needed.

This includes a new Housing Delivery Test, which will seek to establish whether, aside from granting permissions for new housing, these new houses are actually being built. In aid of this, there are proposals to require local authorities to make adequate provision for housing delivery from small sites rather than placing an over-reliance on larger developments, which can take a long time to deliver, and often require significant infrastructure investment.

Consultation is also taking place on introducing a uniform measure of housing need, which will have to be adopted by all local authorities and addressed in future Local Plans. For some authorities, particularly those with a problem with house price affordability, there could be a requirement for substantially increased housing numbers. In the meantime those authorities that are likely to be affected are rushing to get their current plans adopted based upon current housing requirements rather than facing the challenge of how to accommodate substantially higher housing numbers in due course.

Also at a national level, through the National Infrastructure Commission, strategic consideration is being given to the Oxford-Cambridge Arc Growth Corridor, as a means of delivering a joined up approach to the delivery of houses, jobs and infrastructure at a regional, cross boundary level. Among the ideas being tabled are a series of new towns, as well as completion of the new East-West Rail line connecting Oxford and Cambridge by 2030 and an acceleration of the development and construction of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway; a major dual carriageway between the A34 near Oxford and the A14 near Cambridge. All of this will be aided by powers to help fund and deliver the intended growth, including compulsory purchase powers.

With all this emphasis on new development, it will not come as any surprise to you that there are a wealth of developers and promoters in the marketplace, seeking to exploit the opportunities which exist. Whilst there is a clear role for developers and promoters in the delivery of new development schemes, for landowners considering entering into an arrangement, care should be taken in the choice of developer/promoter partner and the type of deal on offer. We are well versed in advising clients on such agreements and can guide you through the potential pitfalls of such arrangements.

We hope that you all safely navigate the BPS process this year and at least the weather has changed for the better to make the process a little more bearable. We would be happy to review any development opportunities that you may wish to consider after 15th May!

Please Contact a member of Bletsoes Planning & Development Team : Alistair Brodie, Peter Moore, Andrew Middleditch, Tristan Peck and Ginni Farbon

Andrew Middleditch

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