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London on course to have the most crowded skyline in Europe

12 May 2024|

Some 583 schemes above 20 storeys are planned for the capital, more than double the 270 built over the past decade, according to New London Architecture’s 10th annual tall buildings report.  The report finds demand for office space is driving growth in towers despite slowdown in tall residential schemes. Outside of the City, the scale of towers is decreasing with schemes between 12 and 18 storeys rather than the super tall buildings completed in the last 10 to 15 years such as at Nine Elms or the Elephant and Castle. 37% of Londoners now say they could see themselves living in a high-rise home.
NLA press release here.

Campaign group launches judicial review of ‘Bloomsbury tower’ plans

9 May 2024|

An architect and veteran campaigner, James Monahan, has launched a judicial review of Camden council’s decision to approve DSDHA’s plans for a “monstrous” 19-storey office tower in Bloomsbury.  Save Museum Street, of which Monahan is a member, have said the plans would damage the setting of the Bloomsbury and Covent Garden conservation areas and the nearby grade I-listed British Museum, Bedford Square and Nicholas Hawksmoor’s St George’s Church.
Read more here.

Government must invest in building new social homes, say MPs

8 May 2024|

The cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee report  (May 8th) calls on the Government to:

  • invest to build the social homes;
  • conduct an early assessment of the adequacy of grant funding allocations and how much social rent is to be supported;
  • use land value capture as a tool to support social housing;
  • provide social housing providers exactly the same access to funds for building safety remediation as private sector landlords;
  • give greater weight to the positive benefits of regeneration so more funding can be made available for regeneration;
  • where registered providers face more financial risk, we recommend that the Regulator should engage with them more regularly.

The government have 2 months to respond.
Full report – The Finances and Sustainability of the Social Housing Sector here

Response to Accelerated Planning consultation

5 May 2024|

There were 36 questions to respond to covering a range of proposals. In summary, we acknowledged that IF implemented sensibly, on a modest scale and for applications with few complications, it could work BUT otherwise it would likely make things worse in the processing of all planning applications – causing a diversion of resources in Local Authorities when many are having problems establishing a full complement of planning staff. We made the point that most large schemes will have been many months, and most likely years in the making. So, reducing the limit from the current 13 weeks to 10 weeks for the determination of eligible applications is almost irrelevant. We emphasised that meaningful pre-application engagement with the local community should be strongly encouraged and that in our experience the main cause of delay is that almost all planning applications for major developments run materially counter to adopted local plan policies in one or more respects.


Healthy Streets Scorecard

17 April 2024|

The fifth report for the Healthy Streets Scorecard ranks London Boroughs for 2023 on how healthy their streets are according to ten indicators that are explained here.

The results by borough can be seen here.

Chief Planner newsletter to LPAs April 2024

16 April 2024|

On 15th April 2024 the DLUHC Chief Planner, Joanna Averley, wrote to local authority planning officers as here with details on Biodiversity Net Gain on Small Sites, consultation on an Accelerated Planning System, a new draft Planning Performance Dashboard for individual local planning authorities speed of decision-making, Round 2 of the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund, a register of decisions on all compulsory purchase orders and listed building temporary stop notices and enforcement warning notices.

Earlier Chief Planner’s letters can be seen here.

Two year review of Barker house building report

16 April 2024|

The House Building Federation conducted a review of progress in house building since the review by Kate Barker for Government in 2004.

They conclude England would have 2 million more homes today if her most ambitious scenario for increasing housing supply had been achieved. The HBF report is here.

HBF seeks better long-term financial footing of local planning authorities and proposes “reassessment of the recent changes to the NPPF is needed.”.

Kate Barker said she was “particularly disappointed by the failure to follow through on the supply of new social rented homes”. She has been appointed head of a new commission on behalf of think tank Radix Big Tent into the current shortage of homes.

LURB enforcement changes to take effect from April 25

9 April 2024|

The Planning Act (Commencement No. 8) and Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2024 will largely come into force on 25 April 2024. There are a raft of changes. Two key ones for local authorities are:

Section 115 amends section 171B(1) and (2) of the 1990 Act to extend the time period in which local planning authorities can take enforcement action against unauthorised development in England from 4 to 10 years.

Section 116 amends section 171E of the 1990 Act to allow local planning authorities in England to issue a temporary stop notice that has effect for up to 56 days, [increased from 28 days] providing more time for a local authority to investigate a suspected breach of planning control.  See HERE for more detail.

Accelerated planning system

8 April 2024|

Comments can be made up to 1st May 2024 on a DLUHC consultation on an Accelerated Planning Service for major commercial applications with a decision time in 10 weeks and fee refunds if this is not met.

It is proposed also to change the use of extensions of time and to implement section 73B for applications to vary planning permissions.

Second staircase technical guidance published

4 April 2024|

The government has published long-awaited technical guidance on its second staircase rule after months of uncertainty. The Mayor of London said last month work on 38,000 homes has been halted due to uncertainty caused by the lack of technical guidance. Research commissioned by the government found that when there is a second staircase in a high rise block, the evacuation time is halved. Published on Good Friday, changes to Approved Document B – the government’s building guidance covering fire safety – make clear that a second staircase is required in tall blocks of flats over 18 metres in height. It also confirmed that evacuation lifts will not be a requirement and introduced a transition period for the rules up to 30 September 2026. Full details on the design and construction of second staircases can be found here.

Gove criticises Khan for low housing delivery

4 April 2024|

The DLUHC SoS, Michael Gove MP, has written to the London Mayor with criticisms of failure to build sufficient new homes on brownfield, industrial and Opportunity Area land.

Sadiq Khan is ordered to review London Plan policies and to provide early findings by the end of June and full proposals by the end of September 2024.

Gove’s letter also mentions a new ‘Super Squad’ of expert planners to work with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the London Borough of Newham to accelerate developments.

Biodiversity Net Gain now mandatory

4 April 2024|

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) regulations have been brought into effect. BNG is an approach to development that makes sure that habitats for wildlife are left in a measurably better state than they were before the development. London Forum’s members could see how their local Council will apply the rules.

Details are in the publications of  the Government and of Natural England.