Happy Christmas and New Year London

2017 Town Planning Review

We are reaching the end of the year and we have survived a year of potential turmoil (both sides of the Atlantic). While Brexit is having a mixed impact on local and regional economic development, what should be expected to come in planning next year?

With the Budget 2017 and Draft London Plan being the most discussed topics of the year, here are the key proposed policy changes affecting the future of planning.

In his announcement of Budget 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond set 300,000 net additional homes target while he asked for development corporations to kick-start five garden towns.  At the same time, there are proposals for the removal of section 106 pooling restrictions in some circumstances and for changes to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to allow town halls to set rates which ‘better reflect the uplift in land values between a proposed and existing use’. Another interesting point, is power given to the local councils to charge a 100% council tax on properties found vacant for commercial reasons.

Concerning the Draft London Plan, which was published for consultation last month, the most prevalent topic was the term ‘Good Growth’, while it is interesting how often the words ‘density’, ‘tall buildings’ and ‘heritage’ were mentioned. Clearly focused on affordable housing and higher densities, the new London Plan will affect the way that we build as housebuilding will permitted even in our ‘backyards to tackle London's housing crisis’, as stated in the Evening Standard’s front page on 29th November.  

Moreover, the mayor proposed borough targets for homes delivery on smaller sites to assist small and medium-sized builders and to increase housing in ‘accessible parts of outer London’. Sadiq Khan also announced his aim to protect the green belt, the social infrastructure, the industrial land, the existing office space while supporting affordable workspace.

The general feeling about the draft plan is positive. However, the experts are divided on the impact of proposals to recast policy approaches to housing density. 

Other Planning/Housing changes

Some more key changes expected to be seen next year include:

-private sector consultants and masterplanners being paid directly by central government to draw up the local plans of authorities that have failed to do it themselves;

-a £25 million fund designed to provide planning and design support for councils in areas of high housing need has been launched by the government; and

-the government wants to see a ‘renewed focus on unlocking funding from developers and other potential beneficiaries’ to build new rail links, as part of its ‘strategic vision’ for rail transport. 

To 2018...

We can’t escape the impact of Brexit talks next year we are sure. The knock on impacts will not be known until later in the year so the review will be even more interesting.

A great year for WEA Planning. More projects and the introduction of Michaela Kekeri to the team. 2018 will be hugely exciting for WEA as we look to expand our services in West and North London. 

Wishing clients and readers Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.


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