Planning application approvals on the up in London

There has been more good news for the property market this week with new data showing that the number of planning application approvals for new homes in London has increased by 46% on last quarter, writes property developer Richard Carr.

Momentum

Richard Carr London Homes

Planning approvals on the rise in the capital

Richard Carr believes this rapid increase shows that there is plenty of confidence in the market at the moment with planners putting more applications in and authorities working quicker and more effectively to get them approved.

If the government are to have any chance of getting the country out of the current housing crisis this has to continue.

In the second quarter of 2016 some 6,310 new homes were approved out of a possible 8,280 applications, an approval rate of 76%, according to the London New Homes Monitor from estate agents Stirling Ackroyd.

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Planning appeals delays have been addresses says Inspectorate

The Planning Inspectorate has openly admitted flaws within its agency and promises that appeal delays experienced by property developers such as Richard Carr have been sorted.

Shortcomings

Richard Carr Planning delayed

Have planning delays been resolved?

The new chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) Sarah Richards has insisted that the problems faced by customers during the last financial year with the PINS appeals service were to be a thing of the past. According to Richards the agency is “well advanced” with its actions designed to resolve the problems.

Speaking in the agency’s recently published annual report, Richards admitted:  “in several areas of our planning appeals service, we fell well short of our targets, and in many cases, our customers experienced significant delays”.

The admission is a breath of fresh air to Richard Carr who having worked in the industry for 30 years has always felt that planning departments hide behind excuses. He sees Richards’ first actions as the new CEO a step in the right direction.

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Is a new home building quality needed?

The government is being called upon by industry experts to improve the current new home building quality standard to put consumers first, writes property developer Richard Carr.

Recommendations

Richard Carr talks about a new home build quality

Is a new home building standard required?

Members of Parliament and a number of construction experts propose that the government sets up a New Homes Ombudsman to mediate in disputes between home buyers and builders.

The request forms a 10-part list of recommendations to improve the quality of workmanship in new homes and provide consumers with easier and cheaper forms of redress, should a problem arise.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment (APPGEBE) believe UK house builders should be upping their game when it comes to developing new build properties. APPGEBE believe they should be putting consumers at the heart of their business model and that the government should use its power to promote high quality within the industry at every opportunity.

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Has the government’s planning reforms improved the system?

According to the Royal Town Planning Institute’s president Phil Williams the government’s endless planning reforms have failed to improve the system, an opinion shared by Poole-based property consultant Richard Carr.

New approach

Richard Carr planning policy image

Has the government improved the planning system?

Williams has urged the government to look at a new approach to planning and one that will “recognise, support and invest in the benefits that planning can deliver.”

Richard Carr believes that the government doesn’t take the planning system seriously enough and see its wider benefits to the country’s economy; including jobs, investment and clearly the housing shortage.

Williams added: “endless reform has not produced better growth, better housing, or better communities.”

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Queen announces new Bill to speed up property development

As part of the Queen’s speech earlier this month, she explained new government legislation and the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, which is hoped to speed up property development in the UK, writes Richard Carr.

Reforms

Richard Carr comments on queens speech

How easy is it to speed up the planning process?

The newly introduced bill will introduce a number of reforms that will speed up the planning process and hand local communities more power regarding neighbourhood planning.

The government stated: “the new legislation would tackle the overuse, and in some cases, misuse of certain planning conditions, and thereby ensure that development can get underway without unnecessary delay.”

In the Queen’s speech she also outlined plans to streamline pre-commencement planning conditions to speed up housing developments.

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Independent panel criticises Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

Property Developer Richard Carr recently spoke out in the Bournemouth Echo about the need to rethink the way that property taxes such as s106 payments and CIL are being implemented, an opinion which is now being shared by an independent panel.

Review

Richard Carr image of Liz Peace

Liz Peace

Last week the government set up an independent panel to review CIL and look at ways in which it could be improved. Former British Property Federation CEO Liz Peace chaired the panel and told a National Planning Summit that the levy “is not providing a huge amount of funding for infrastructure” and has failed to provide a “faster, simpler, more transparent system’ than section 106.

Furthermore, she said that the review team were “not convinced that CIL has met the primary purpose of when it was set up”.

“We don’t actually think it’s providing a huge amount of funding for infrastructure, and it most certainly hasn’t provided a faster, simpler, more transparent system,” Peace said.

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MPs support increase in planning fees

A poll conducted by the British Property Federation (BPF) has found that they majority of UK parliamentarians support a rise in planning fees to help under resourced local planning authorities.

Increases

Richard Carr Planning Permission

Planning fees set to rise

61% of MPs agreed that fees should increase, whilst 47% say they should increase but with stronger guarantees on planning performance. The feeling was supported by the country’s two main political parties. Labour MPs voted in favour by 65% and the Conservative’s by 61%.

In a survey conducted by the BPF and GL Hearn in 2015, 55% of local planning authorities cited under resourcing as a major challenge, whilst 65% of applicants said they would be happy to pay extra to reduced waiting times.

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Ministers propose changes to CIL and s106 payments

In a move which has delighted property developer Richard Carr, Ministers unveiled last week details of planning reforms and ‘financial benefits’ reporting.

Developers to benefit

Get rid of CIL says Richard Carr

Richard Carr supports the reduction of CIL

The government has proposed that council tax revenue, business rate revenue and s106 payments should all be included in the new report.

Ministers also confirm that the new requirements to set out the financial benefits of planning applications would be drawn widely and take into account a variety of factors.

The report will look at and go beyond ‘local finance considerations’ and take into Community Infrastructure Levy.

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Has the government started to turn around the housing market?

In another rather bold claim, the government announced that it has turned around the housing market making the dream of homeownership a reality, writes Richard Carr.

Home owners on the rise

Richard Carr New Build Homes

Has the government turned around the housing market?

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis’ claims are substantiated by the latest figures which show more than a decade-long decline in the number of people owning their home has been turned around with more than 14 million owner occupiers on the UK in 2013.

“Hard-working families across the country are getting the chance to realise their dream of homeownership,” said Lewis.

“In 2010 there was a housing market where buyers couldn’t buy, builders couldn’t build and lenders couldn’t lend.

“Our efforts are turning that around with more than 270,000 families helped into homeownership through government-backed schemes since 2010, while the number of new homes is up 25% over the last year.”

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Application fees likely to rise for first time in four years

Property developers and building firms could be expected to pay more in planning fees for the first time in England since 2012, following an announcement from the government, writes Property Specialist Richard Carr.

Resources

Richard Carr Planning Permission s106

Do application fees need to rise?

The increase wouldn’t be nationwide, but only available for the well performing councils who could put the fees up in line with inflation.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark stated that the government would consult on the plans and he told MPs that the flexibility would be granted to councils: “providing that the revenue reduces the cross-subsidy that the planning function currently gets from council tax payers”.

Back in 2012, planning fees were increased by 15% when Clark was acting as the minister and this latest announcement is the second time in recent weeks that the government has indicated its intent to bolster the resourcing of local planning authorities.

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