Recently in Planning Category
Jones Lang LaSalle planning director Peter Lever discusses the proposals by government to further relax planning laws to encourage development. Lever believes local planning authorities have received a "wake-up call" from the government and will be under increased pressure to deliver more housing. Is Eric Pickles friend or foe?
Secretary of State for Communities and Local government, Eric Pickles, has issued a mininsterial statement entitled Housing and Growth. The statement looks at a number of ways which the housebuilding sector could be kickstarted.
It is clear that planning is seen as a continued obstacle to growth. Even a more flexible approach to development in the green belt - previously a sacred cow - is now contemplated.
In simple terms, many local authorities are red faced because they have taken too long to produce their development plans and are now finding that the government is taking matters into its own hands to accelerate the delivery of new homes. Eric Pickles is far from the friend local authorities, particularly in the Conservative heartlands, thought he was going to be when he initiated the Localism agenda shortly after the coalition government took power in 2010, promoting more local involvement in development decisions.
Developers are now more likely to win planning appeals, if local authorities have not got a proper strategy in place and have a record of poor-quality or slow decision making. This has led to the government deciding where schemes are placed and not the local authorities. Added to this the appointment of Nicholas Boles as planning minister, who is very pro-development and doesn't think planning works, and we will be seeing a much more emolient approach to development and, crucially, the consideration of green belt land.
It appears my blog post earlier this month about Ocado opening a temporary 'virtual supermarket' store in Birmingham's Bullring (click here for more details) has prompted some interesting feedback about legal liabilities.
Kevin Nagle, partner and commercial property expert at law firm Shakespeares believes there are risks involved in giving third parties temporary access to empty shops which could lead to costly disputes. He says: "I read your article with interest, particularly the point made by Emel Ahmet, associate director at Colliers, that this is 'a great way for landlords to utilise temporary units'.
"While the government's recently announced plans to remove planning red tape to make way for more 'pop-up' shops will be an appealing option for a number of landlords, there are risks involved. Granting occupation without having a formal tenancy agreement in place could lead to costly and time-consuming disputes."
Nagle explains that short-term, flexible leases are becoming more widely used due to the uncertainty of the property market in the longer term. He believes that where appropriate, short form leases or tenancy agreements should therefore be used to avoid unnecessary delay and keep costs down.
He adds: "Planning and other existing restrictions on the use of premises need to be properly observed before granting tenancies which would permit a change of use, as this could have adverse implications at a later date."
Well, nothing's ever simple these days! What are your views? Feel free to send your comments in via the comment box below...
In just over two weeks citizens of Birmingham, Nottingham and Coventry go to the polls to decide whether to have a directly elected Mayor. These much-anticipated referenda on May 3rd will also be held in 7 other UK cities.
In the Midlands many question marks still hang over the issues of what powers the new elected mayors may have, what policies will come to the fore and - perhaps most interestingly for the property industry - what influence these new figureheads will have over the planning regime.
In a series of special guest blog posts, we get property insiders views from Birmingham and Nottingham about the campaign and what it could mean for the regions' cities
In the first of these guest blog posts, Martin Field of Birmingham-based public affairs company RJF, gives his views...
The prospect of elected mayors in England's major cities is now no longer of concern only to political nerds and the chattering classes in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and elsewhere. The fact that a former cabinet minister is considering leaving Westminster for the regions has elevated the status of local government at a stroke.
But Byrne's move - and the subsequent coverage in the national media - has done little to move the debate beyond the personalities in play and the party political shenanigans that have ensued.
What about the policies, the actual powers - both 'soft' and 'hard' - that will be wielded by elected mayors in some of the core cities in just a little over six months' time? It's highly likely that citizens in Birmingham and other cities will vote for the change in referendums on May 3. Leicester, of course, is already a mayor-led city.
The question of powers is a tricky one, with the government's Localism Act - which triggered the mayoral referenda - infuriatingly coy about exactly what extra authority and money mayors will have. The government expects and hopes that mayors will be the dominant actors when it comes to regional transport and infrastructure projects. This raises interesting questions for a property industry still absorbing the implications of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Will mayors - some of whom may be new to politics - seek to influence planning decisions on the ground, when the legislation gives them no more authority over planning committees than currently exists for council leaders?
And, given the example of Crossrail in London, will mayors seeking grand projects implement Community Infrastructure Levies (CIL's) like they're going out of fashion?
The answers will only become clear as we move beyond the referenda on May 3 and into the mayoral election campaigns proper, when the policy platforms of candidates are opened up for scrutiny.
What is clear, however, is that the nature of politics and government in at least some of the UK's major cities is set for a shake up more radical than any seen in the past 100 years.
RJF Public Affairs' Martin Field has over 25 years experience in the property industry, specialising in planning, development and the residential sector. Management consultant Field is based in the Midlands, providing inward investment, local government policy and public affairs advice to both national and international clients through The Urban Consortium. He is also a member of the UK executive committee of the global non-profit research and education organisation Urban Land Institute. Field has been deputy chairman of Marketing Birmingham, is chairman of the Chicago-Birmingham Sister Committee and is a former member of the advisory panel for Locate in Birmingham. He is co-founder of RJF Public Affairs, which counsels organisations on issues of public policy where legislative, regulatory or governmental decisions could affect their operations, prospects or value.
What are your views on elected Mayors? Please feel free to leave your comments below.
Pic courtesy of wwarby via Flickr.com
Stuart Andrews is head of planning and a partner at law firm Eversheds. Based in Birmingham and with a national remit. Stuart sets out his thoughts (below) on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) ahead of the government's announcment on the moratorium arrangements for the NPPF, and how he thinks English council's may react within the time period until implementation?
We will apparently learn within the next few weeks that the new compact, faster and more effective planning system will have a momentary pause of a few months to allow local authorities to catch their breath. Some may call for oxygen when they realise what faces them and, no doubt, some will ask for more time. The rumour mill suggest that this will be set before the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is issued and is likely to extend until early autumn.
Whilst the NPPF should be adopted by March, the period of grace will come as small comfort to many local authorities. The fact is that council's throughout England will have to use this moratorium to set about a comprehensive planning policy review - in the absence of regional support; in reliance upon informal cross-boundary arrangements; with limited staff resource; and, the added prospect that DCLG will stop the production of regional statistics.
What will they all do? Well, there are some fairly good indicators. The current response appears to fall into four camps.
Alliance Planning director Keith Fenwick discusses the recent 'big stories' hitting the headlines with regards to planning. Firstly, the unveiling of the Draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), secondly the consultation on the registration of new town or village greens and last but not least the Judgment in the ongoing case of the Telford Trustees (Nos 1 & 2) v Telford and Wrekin Council and ASDA.
Three little birds emerged last week in the world of planning. Each with their own significance, but not all as well publicised as each other. It was Jo Moore, then a Labour 'spin doctor' who coined the phrase 'a good day to bury bad news' in the unfortunate aftermath of 9/11. Inappropriate though her comments were, it always makes me curious to check what else is being published by Government whenever a 'big story' comes along.
For planning, there was a 'Big Story' last week, with the much vaunted publication of the Draft National Planning Policy Framework ; well it made the Today programme, which counts as 'Big' in planning circles. As much interest might have been directed though to the less well publicised consultation on the registration of new town or village greens ; this one seems to have slipped under the media radar, but in its own way, is just as radical. Finally, and this really is one for the planning community, there is the Court of Appeal's judgement in R (on the application of Telford Trustees Nos 1 & 2) v Telford & Wrekin Council and Asda Stores Ltd.
The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has finally been published as a formal consultation draft after a number of false starts. One can't but help feel that the two previous 'drafts' gave the Government the opportunity to test the water before committing to the policy. So what does it do? Well as the man from Ronseal would say - it does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes the 1,000 plus pages of current national policy guidance contained in PPS's and PPG's, and condenses them into 58 pages of key Policy Principles, covering the full range of Land Use Policies. It is a well written document, and it seems pointless to try and provide a full 'summary of the summary', when DCLG (or at least its advisory group) has done such a good job already. I commend the document to you.
I will say that it has been a document unusually well received by the development sector. It sets out a very positive framework for sustainable social and economic development. It does however envisage a culture change within the public sector and by the public, which is one of seeing planning departments and local communities as enablers of necessary development, rather than as a barrier. At the heart of the planning system, it states, is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking. The primary objective of development management (or development control as it used to be known), is the need to foster the delivery of sustainable development, not to hinder or prevent development. There remain commitments to maintaining 5 years supply of housing land, and to understand and provide for future economy needs, including retail development. Economic viability of schemes gains an increased importance, and should be key in decision making.
Of course one man's 'sustainable development', is another's 'destruction of the countryside' - as with many Government initiatives time will reflect its success. But as a delivery vehicle for a pro growth, pro localism agenda, the draft is more positive, more pro development than many had feared or envisaged.