Posted by: westlancashirerecord | March 10, 2017

On Helping Poor Developers To Avoid Building Affordable Homes

As we all know, providing affordable homes is a laudable, even meritorious, ambition, even though developers believe in avoiding them like the plague. They affect the bottom line, the net income, the profits.

Readers may recall the events surrounding the Bloor Homes proposal for New Cut Lane Halsall , when the ground conditions created substantial difficulties, not to mention costs, and consequently the site would not be viable without concessions from WLBC in terms of the affordable housing provision. Viability would need to be addressed, by guess who, WLBC!

So the agents sent off some grovelling emails saying just that, read them here   [click to read]

The exchange clearly shows how much difficulty the New Cut Lane site was causing the developer. Slower sales than Warrington, Manchester and Liverpool, what a shame, why not just build there then?

By chance, we know that Bernard Greep 

[pic courtesy of Peter Brett associates] is a partner at Peter Brett Associates and has published “An Effective Green Belt Review” including “Although existing Green Belts fulfill these purposes it does not mean they should remain unchanged. Indeed, on closer inspection we could find that many Green Belts can be altered in size and shape and still meet the requirements set out in the NPPF. This is where an effective Green Belt review can provide a golden opportunity. When Green Belt reviews are undertaken as part of the formulation of new local plans they can assist in securing the release of land for housing, thereby helping to realise the socio-economic benefits of housing and lessening the housing affordability crisis.

“However, even when Green Belt reviews do inform local plans they may still fail to deliver the available benefits. Often local planning authorities take a broad-brush approach when undertaking reviews and can fail to look at the specific circumstances of individual sites. When this happens we shouldn’t be afraid to question the findings; it is possible to reverse the results of a review as proven recently in West Lancashire.

“In West Lancashire there is 94% Green Belt coverage and scarce land available for housing growth. As such, the need for further residential development sites was recognised and a Green Belt review was conducted. Peter Brett Associates (PBA) acted for a client whose land had been initially disregarded for residential use in the review. PBA argued that the site did not fulfil any of the Green Belt’s five purposes and highlighted the features that could form a new, well-defined and defensible Green Belt boundary.

After consideration, the Council decided to allocate the site for 150 dwellings in the Local Plan, which was adopted in October 2013. This is one of only two sites, out of 257 parcels that were assessed by the Council, to be released from the Green Belt”.

And on top of all that the government has told us “Local communities are not forced to accept large housing developments. Communities are consulted throughout the Local Plan process and on individual planning applications.

“The National Planning Policy Framework strongly encourages all local planning authorities to get up-to-date Local Plans in place as soon as possible, in consultation with the local community. Up-to-date Local Plans ensure that communities get the right development, in the right place, at the right time, reflecting the principles of sustainable development. Through the White Paper we are ensuring that every part of the country produces, maintains and implements an up-to-date plan, yet with the flexibility for local areas to decide how to plan in a way that best meets their needs. A wide section of the community should be proactively engaged so that Local Plans, as far as possible, reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area, including those contained in any neighbourhood plans that have been made.

“The Framework recognises the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. That is why our proposals are focussed on development in built up areas. We are also absolutely clear that Green Belt must be protected and that there are other areas that local authorities must pursue first, such as brownfield land and taking steps to increase density on urban sites. The Government is committed to maximising the use of brownfield land and has already embarked on an ambitious programme to bring brownfield land back into use.

“We believe that developers should mitigate the impacts of development. This is vital to make it acceptable to the local community and to addresses the cumulative impact of development in an area. Both the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 agreements can be used by local planning authorities to help fund supporting infrastructure and address the cumulative demand that development places on infrastructure. Through the White Paper, the Government announced that it will examine the options for reforming the existing system of developer contributions to see how this can be simplified, with further announcements at Autumn Budget 2017. The £2.3billion Housing Infrastructure Fund will deliver up to 100,000 new homes by putting in the right infrastructure, in the right place, at the right time. We expect the fund to be able to deliver a variety of types of infrastructure necessary to unlock housing growth in high demand areas.

“There is nothing automatic about grants of planning permission where there is not yet an up-to-date Local Plan. It is still up to local decision-makers to interpret and apply national policy to local circumstances, alongside the views of the local community. Applications should not be approved if the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits; or if specific policies in the Framework indicate that development should be restricted.

“Communities are also able to make representations on individual planning applications and in response to most appeals by the applicant against a local authority decision. Interested parties can raise all the issues that concern them during the planning process, in the knowledge that the decision maker will take their views into account, along with other material considerations, in reaching a decision.

We therefore do not believe a right of appeal against the grant of planning permission for communities is necessary. It is considered that communities already have plenty of opportunity to have their say on local planning issues, and it would be wrong for them to be able to delay a development at the last minute, through a community right of appeal, when any issues they would raise at that point could have been raised and should have been considered during the earlier planning application process”. Department for Communities and Local Government

And if you believe that you may also believe in fairies at the bottom of your garden!

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