The Housing and Planning Bill was introduced to the Commons on 13th October and has started its journey through the House and should receive Royal Assent in spring 2016.
The Bill, originally intended to deal with housing matters only, is now being seen as introducing some fundamental changes to the planning system as we currently know it. The broad aim of the changes are to ensure a significant boost in the delivery of housing.
On the policy front, the Bill will give teeth to Ministers aims to ensure that the 2017 target for Local Authorities to have an up-to-date plan in place. Where they don’t, the Secretary of State will have the power to intervene, alter and to halt ongoing examinations, although how this would serve the purpose of speeding up plan making remains to be seen. It also isn’t clear at this stage how interventions will be resourced, it certainly doesn’t seem to be the case that Central Government or the Inspectorate have the resources. Perhaps one for consultancy, acting on behalf of developer-led site masterplans, to provide support? We have good experience here supporting Local Authorities in the preparation of masterplans for subsequent adoption as policy.
Related to site allocations within Local Plans, there will be a presumption in favour of development via a permission in principle for brownfield sites. It is hoped that this will provide reassurance on issues including the location of development, land use and the quantum of development to be delivered. We are aware of Council’s working to draw up registers of brownfield land and are able to support you to promote sites where relevant.
For those developments classed as Nationally Significant and following the Planning Act 2008 route, including Commercial schemes where a Direction is sought from the Secretary of State, there is now scope to include an element of housing where this is near to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project itself and is functionally linked/needed. Initial indications are that it is unlikely that this will apply to development over 500 units, therefore major urban extensions or even eco towns can’t follow this route yet. Despite the bill being housing led it doesn’t appear to be the case yet that Ministers see housing as being infrastructure of national significance.
One of the provisions of the bill is the permanent extension of the ability to convert office space in to residential. It will also be possible to demolish existing office buildings and to replace them (on the same footprint) with residential buildings.
Tristan Rhodes, Head of Workplace at Stride Treglown:
“We have seen a significant amount of secondary office stock taken out of the market since the original announcement to allow office space to be converted in to residential use. The provision of much-needed residential accommodation by reusing brownfield land and existing buildings is a sustainable way of ensuring we promote growth and safeguard the environment.
The impact of the extended legislation is that investors and asset managers can now take a long-term approach to the redevelopment of existing building stock. We are assisting a number of Clients and PRS operators to secure and redevelop strategic assets that will be bought to the market over the coming months.”
Stride Treglown Town Planning
To discuss how Stride Treglown can assist with office to residential conversion please contact Tristan Rhodes, Head of Workplace and for planning issues contact the Town Planning team.
We have taken great care to ensure the accuracy of this advice note. However, the document is written in general terms and you are strongly recommended to seek specific advice before taking any action based on the information it contains. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. The contents of this advice note are not intended to comprise definitive statements, but rather offer the opinion of Stride Treglown and provide general guidance on planning issues.