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London Forum Updates

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Government refuses MPs social housing call

Posted on: 8 October 2020 at 11:35:44
The Government has failed to commit to a number of recommendations put forward by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee of cross-party MPs regarding the delivery of social housing. See an article here.
That is very serious for London where 47% of all new homes should be for social and low-cost rent.
That does not seem to be understood by Ministers in MHCLG who are proposing instead that boroughs should deliver a minimum of 25% of onsite affordable housing as 'First Homes' for discounted sale and a minimum of 25% of offsite contributions for affordable housing should go towards First Homes, even though they would be affordable by only 2% of Londoners, as the GLA has demonstrated.

Access to Mayor's planning cases

Posted on: 8 October 2020 at 10:14:50
Peter Kemp, Head of Change and Delivery, Planning at the GLA has relaunched the websearch for referred applications, enabling you to track, comment on and monitor decisions on applications referred to the Mayor.
Comments can be made on live applications and the facility covers also the GLA responses to Local Plan consultations.

'Changes to the Current Planning System'

Posted on: 1 October 2020 at 21:34:03
London Forum has submitted its response to this consultation, as notified in the update of 6th August below.

Better office conversion standards

Posted on: 1 October 2020 at 21:19:33
New homes delivered through Permitted Development Rights will have to meet new space standards as well as all new homes delivered through permitted development needing to provide adequate natural light.
See Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick's announcement on 30th September 2020 here.

GPDO & UCO Amendments: Guidance and Scrutiny

Posted on: 19 September 2020 at 15:08:28
The planning lawyer Simon Ricketts, a partner of Town Legal LLP, produces some helpful briefings on changes to the planning system. In a recent blog he has drawn attention to guidance published by the Government for new rules on permitted development and on high street use classes. Details of those were given in earlier updates below of 27th July and 5th August.
Simon's latest blog on them is here.
The links in it to guidance published on these subjects should help civic societies in liaison with their Council(s) on the approach being taken in managing the effect locally of the new rules.

London Councils demand funding for low cost rent homes

Posted on: 9 September 2020 at 15:58:44
The capital is facing the most severe homelessness crisis in the country. London Councils, representing London's boroughs, has issued a statement on the urgent need for Government funding of the types of affordable homes London needs.
The government instead says it will rebalance grant funding in favour of affordable homeownership tenures such as shared equity and it is demanding the provision by boroughs of 'First Homes' for sale. Neither of those are affordable by most Londoners.

Post Pandemic Economic Growth

Posted on: 29 August 2020 at 15:35:45
The Economy committee of the London Assembly has published its response to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s inquiry on post pandemic economic growth.
The committee interviewed guests on this subject at a meeting on 4th August 2020 and published a transcript.
On Tuesday 8th September 2020 at 10.00am the committee will hold a formal meeting principally to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on London's high streets. The agenda and reports are available here. This meeting will be held virtually and members of the public are welcome to watch online here.

'Planning for the Future' new consultations

Posted on: 6 August 2020 at 09:59:12
Further to the earlier update on 4th July 2020 on planning changes, much of which is still relevant, the Government published a consultation on reform of the planning system in England with a closing date of 29th October 2020. It introduces three new categories of land for development and applies different decision criteria for each of them on planning applications.
Another consultation to 1st October covers changes to the Standard Method for assessing local housing need, securing of 'First Homes' through developer contributions in the short term until the transition to a new system, supporting small and medium-sized builders by temporarily lifting the small sites threshold below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing and extending the current Permission in Principle to major development.
The alarming implications for London's boroughs of the proposed new Standard Method for assessing housing need numbers has been covered in a report by Litchfields.
A third consultation to 30th October 2020 is a call for evidence on the Government’s proposals to improve the transparency of contractual mechanisms, such as land options, to exercise control over land.
Civic and community groups are asked to study the documents and let London Forum have comments for use in its responses.

New High Street Use Classes

Posted on: 5 August 2020 at 15:20:49
Further to the many topics and links below in the update 'Planning future high streets', the Government has changed the use classes that are applied to different types of businesses in town centres and elsewhere.
The changes will come into effect on 1st September 2020 and two of the new use classes have been extracted from the legislation for information, as here.
They could mean the loss of valued local shops which could be converted to other uses without permission by Councils. Explanation has been sought from Government on new Use Class F2 which might be used to save some shops.
A set of comments by Ashtons Legal on these changes, including consideration of the implications for out-of-town centres, is here.
Out of town business parks could become shopping centres, contrary to long standing Government policy in the National Planning Policy Framework for ‘Town Centres First’. A permission for a new allowed E3 out of town use could subsequently have the building converted to restaurant or retail with no further need for planning permission.

More social housing is needed

Posted on: 29 July 2020 at 22:57:31
Since the earlier update on this subject, the Communities and Local Government Committee has published its findings on the supply of social housing. They report that in 2019, less than 7,000 social rent homes were built, despite evidence that England needs around 90,000 more social rent homes a year for the next fifteen years. They estimate an increased central government grant of £10 billion is required. It is suggested the Government should amend the Land Compensation Act 1961 so that local authorities and development corporations can compulsorily purchase land at a fairer price, which could reduce the cost of a social housebuilding programme by up to 40 per cent. Changes in the rules for Right to Buy are recommended.
The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has written a letter to the Government asking for more funding for social housing.
The National Housing Federation has launched Homes at the Heart, a national campaign and coalition calling for a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing. They wrote on 25th June 2020 - as here - to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in support of social housing being at the heart of recovery.
A Digital Housing Week event on social housing supply held on 24th June 2020 had a presentation by the Deputy Mayor for Housing, Tom Copley. He gave details of initiatives to achieve more affordable housing with an emphasis on delivering social rented homes. Links are given to a bid for Government funding, the delivery of social homes by Councils and the Housing Delivery Taskforce which he chairs.
There is a campaign by SHELTER for more social housing.
The Local Government Association in a report is calling for a renaissance in council house building and they explain why it is important.

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