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London Forum Updates

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Delivery contracts to boost housebuilding

Posted on: 20 April 2021 at 18:56:15
Planning permissions should include a legally-binding "delivery contract" setting out "an agreed contractual trajectory of housing delivery" with penalties for developers and councils that breach them, according to a think tank report by the Centre for Policy Studies, welcomed by the housing minister, Christopher Pincher.

Convert private rented homes to social housing?

Posted on: 16 April 2021 at 19:04:35
"The private rented sector is unwilling and unable to house those in greatest need. As landlords seek to exit that sector, the government should purchase their properties for social rented housing", writes Lord Richard Best, chair of the Affordable Housing Commission (AHC) which recommended a £1.3bn National Housing Conversion Fund.

Status of Local Plans in London

Posted on: 15 April 2021 at 15:03:54
Commercial estate agents Bidwells has published a Spring 2021 update on Local Plans in boroughs. It is clear that several Councils have out of date policies and are locked into the process of preparation, consultation, examination and adoption of changes which will make it difficult for them to modify plans in the near future for design codes and for whatever is the outcome of the Planning White Paper. In March 2020, the Government set a clear deadline of December 2023 for all authorities to have up-to-date Local Plans in place.
Civic and community groups should work with their local authority to help devise new local policies to plan development and control its type and location. In some cases, supplementary planning documents may be a way to achieve that in the short term.

PDR - town centre uses to housing

Posted on: 8 April 2021 at 17:30:14
The Government proposed in December 2020 new permitted development rights to allow buildings included in its newly-created Class E in town centres, such as shops, offices, banks, other financial institutions, lawyers, architects, accountants, Post Offices, creches, day centres and indoor sports facilities and gyms, to convert to housing without needing planning permission.
On 31st March 2021 the Government issued a press statement announcing new planning laws which introduce most of the proposed changes but with more limits and conditions for prior approval. Those were in a report on the responses it had received, its comments on them and the new rules.
They include a Class MA in the General Permitted Development Order, granting deemed planning permission for change of use from commercial and business use (Class E) to residential (Class C3) from 1st August 2021.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has commenced an inquiry into the impact and affects of permitted development and seeks responses to its questions by Friday 30th April 2021. Civic and community societies should respond.
London Forum's critical response to the original consultation was submitted as here and a letter was sent to the Secretary of State about the proposals. There is a blog by Jennie Baker for Lichfields which gives comprehensive details about the new Use Class MA and another by Martin Goodall here. Comments by Zack Simons and Joey Gardiner are here. 
These proposals, as with existing permitted development, take away the full ability of Councils and their communities to control what happens and where. It could result in serious harm to district and town centres.

Chief Planner's letter on planning changes

Posted on: 8 April 2021 at 15:27:56
The MHCLG Chief Planner, Joanna Averley wrote in April 2021 to local authority planners about measures that will remain to ease the path out of lockdown.
The letter refers also to a Government response to the August 2020 consultation on 'Changes to the Current Planning System' with a decision not to raise the small sites threshold below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing. So, Chapter 5 of the National Planning Policy Framework still applies.
The Government has delayed its decision on whether or not to extend the current Permission in Principle to major development.

Jenrick backs bid to continue on-line planning committees

Posted on: 1 April 2021 at 21:59:17
The emergency measures introduced in 2020 that allowed boroughs to conduct planning committees on-line have not been renewed and meetings would not be able to be held that way after 6th May 2021. They were popular with communities and a recent survey of London Forum's members indicated how they would like to see such committees operating in future and some safeguards, as here.
The lawyer Zak Simmons has published his reaction to the ending of 'virtual' planning committee meetings.
There is a Government consultation on the subject in a call for evidence for 12 weeks from 25 March 2021.
On 8th April 2021 the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, announced the Government would back a legal bid launched by the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO), Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and Hertfordshire County Council to have the virtual meetings continue. The Minister said "we believe there is a case to be heard". Details are here.

Tall buildings policy in the March 2021 London Plan

Posted on: 1 April 2021 at 11:17:40
London's boroughs have been given more control of the location of tall buildings by Policy D9 in the new London Plan introduced in March 2021. An article by Joey Gardiner explains the implications. London Forum members should ensure their Council is taking advantage of the policy.
The 'Homes for All Londoners' draft guidance for the new London Plan is being finalised now. London Forum has expressed concern to the GLA about one part of it on daylight to homes which could influence the design of tall buildings that are approved in future. The story was picked up by The Telegraph in an article.

New London Plan from March 2021

Posted on: 5 March 2021 at 20:27:22
The Mayor published the final version of the replacement London Plan, first seen in 2017, on 2nd March 2021. It provides the basis for revision of Local Plans with the introduction of design codes. The GLA web site has key points about the new London Plan with a link at the end to the full document.
Policies for Green Belt in the new London Plan and in the NPPF have been extracted, as here.
The GLA has issued amendments to the plan in light of changes by Government to the Use Class Order.
There is an interactive on-line Planning Data Map of London which can show any of the London Plan's designated parts, such as Opportunity Areas, Metropolitan Open Land, etc.
Civic and community groups should examine Chapter 3 of the Plan and consider London Forum's briefing on the 'Homes for All Londoners' draft guidance for developing small sites, as in the Plan Policy H2.
The GLA has published the guidance documents that have to be taken into account with the new London Plan. There will be consultation in summer 2021 on guidance for Air Quality Positive,  Fire Safety,  Transport Land,  Urban Greening Factor
The lawyer Simon Ricketts published a blog on the replacement London Plan and Litchfields has commented also on it.

National Model Design Code

Posted on: 30 January 2021 at 20:10:05
A consultation was launched by Government with a closing date of 27th March 2021 on a Model Design Code and associated revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
London Forum's response to the consultation is here.
The introduction of design code standards will support the implementation by boroughs of the replacement London Plan and its guidance for the use of such codes by boroughs for suburban densification of small sites by more 'Homes for Londoners' for which London Forum provided a summary.

Guidance on Good Quality Homes for All Londoners

Posted on: 13 December 2020 at 21:10:13
The Mayor published proposals on this subject to support the suburban densification and small site housing policies in the imminent replacement London Plan and sought responses from communities, boroughs and other stakeholders.
London Forum has summarised for members the content of the draft guidance and it submitted a response by the consultation closing date of 15th January 2021.
The Mayor's guidance on this subject will become a London Plan Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) document in the summer of 2021. The state of all London Plan SPGs is here.
The newer guidance documents listed, particularly the 'Good Quality Homes for All Londoners' one, and new policies in the replacement London Plan require considerable work by boroughs' planning staff to introduce the necessary local policies and guidance. 
The relevant replacement 'Publication' London Plan policies for that have been extracted - see Policies D2 for infrastructure and D3 for DesignPolicy H2 for Small Sites and Policy D9 for Tall Buildings.
Those policies and the guidance above require there to be context and character analyses and design codes for areas and sites in Local Development Plans to control what is allowed to be built and where, including housing types and definition of where tall buildings would be allowed and of what height.
Civic and community groups should be able to work with their local authority to get the required local policies in place. Without them, there is a danger of 'presumption in favour of development' resulting in approval of schemes not intended or required.

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