Brexit worries hit housing market and developers

Owl says: you can see why penalising local authorities for not getting enough new houses built just doesn’t work.

“… Simon Rubinsohn, Rics’ chief economist, said: “It is evident … that the ongoing uncertainties surrounding how the Brexit process plays out is taking its toll on the housing market. I can’t recall a previous survey when a single issue has been highlighted by quite so many contributors.

“Caution is visible among both buyers and vendors and where deals are being done they are taking longer to get over the line. The forward-looking indicators reflect the suspicion that the political machinations are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.”

He said a weakening property market could prompt a slowdown in housebuilding: “The bigger risk is that this now spills over into development plans, making it even harder to secure the uplift in the building pipeline to address the housing crisis.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/13/uk-property-market-at-weakest-since-2012-as-brexit-takes-toll-rics

“Caviar care” retirement homes renting for up to £10,000 per month in Grenfell Tower borough

“The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has approved plans for a half-billion pound luxury retirement complex that includes just five affordable homes at a time when 11 families who survived the Grenfell Tower fire are still living in hotels 18 months on.

The Conservative controlled council granted consent for the scheme on a prime site in the south of the borough that includes 142 homes, some of which will be let for up to £10,000 a month.

Dubbed “caviar care”, the scheme is designed to appeal to multi-millionaire downsizers and includes three town houses expected to sell for about £12m apiece.

The council and the developer argue that it is allowable under planning rules because the properties are classed as “extra care” homes, regardless of how expensive they are. The sale value of the mostly one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats averages £3.6m each. The developer is also marketing another luxury retirement complex nearby featuring a restaurant serving £250 pots of caviar.

The consent comes amid a growing argument over affordable housing in the capital between the Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the Conservatives. Khan said he was “extremely disappointed” at the amount of affordable housing as part of the retirement development, a factor he said was “unacceptable”.

Khan also attacked the housing secretary, James Brokenshire, for threatening to block a planning application for a separate development in the borough that would have 35% affordable homes. Brokenshire countered by accusing Khan of failing to tackle the housing crisis, saying he “simply doesn’t understand how the housing market works”. ”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/12/luxury-kensington-complex-grenfell-will-have-just-five-affordable-homes

Court case decides it is legal to re-home London homeless hundreds of miles away

“… The judge said that once London and the south east were eliminated for reasons of housing pressure, the West Midlands appeared the next available pool of supply.

The judge said: “It is, I suppose, theoretically possible that Brent might have been able to find somewhere in East Anglia or the East Midlands that was closer to Brent than Birmingham as the crow flies; but that places an onerous burden on a housing authority. Brent was not required to scour every estate agent’s window between Brent and Birmingham.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php

“Developers Have Used A Legal Loophole To Dodge Building 10,000 Affordable Homes”

“Developers have dodged providing more than 10,000 affordable homes due to the government’s failure to close a loophole in the law, HuffPost UK can reveal.

Using ‘permitted development rights’, builders have sidestepped their duty to provide affordable homes when they convert non-residential buildings like office blocks.

The rules were designed to speed up the planning process, as they allow developers to transform a property without having to apply for town halls’ planning permission – something which could see council chiefs demand social housing as part of planning conditions.

Housing charity Shelter handed an analysis to HuffPost which shows that 10,340 affordable homes have been lost over the last three years in England as a result.

Polly Neate, chief executive, said: “With hundreds of thousands of people homeless today, it’s obvious that we need as many social homes as we can get. But despite this, the government is now considering new plans that could supercharge a social housing get out clause for developers.

“Developers shouldn’t have a license to dodge social housing when so many are without a home they can afford. Instead of creating a social housing black hole, the government should halt these plans and bring down the cost of land to build the social homes we need.”

The government says the rules simplify the planning process, but for every 10 homes built using the conversion rules, three affordable homes have been lost.

As the housing crisis deepens, ministers are now considering a new plan which could allow developers to further exploit the rules.

Using the same legal mechanism, developers may be able to demolish and replace commercial buildings.

Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healey said the government must act.

“We can’t make housing more affordable if we don’t build more affordable homes, but Conservative ministers are letting developers cash in without making any contribution to the community,” he said.

We can’t make housing more affordable if we don’t build more affordable homes Labour shadow housing minister, John Healey
“These changes have given developers a free hand to dodge their duty to build homes that are affordable to local people.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government underlined that more than 32,000 homes had been provided using permitted development rights.

“We’re committed to speeding up the planning system to help deliver the homes the country needs,” she said.

“By introducing additional permitted development rules we’re providing flexibility, reducing bureaucracy and making the most effective use of existing buildings.

“Our £9bn affordable homes programme is set to deliver 250,000 affordable homes by March 2022 and we’re scrapping councils’ borrowing caps, setting them free to build a new generation of council housing.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/exclusive-legal-loophole-let-developers-dodge-building-10000-affordable-homes_uk_5c0a5b6ee4b0de79357bc719

Raynsford Report on planning: hot on problems, cold on solutions!

Executive summary here:
https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx

Honestly, Owl can barely raise a talon. Nothing new, so let’s just stick with this paragraph:

” …The defining challenge for the future of planning is not to be found in any technical fix, but in the degree to which there is consensus in favour of an effective and democratic system to manage the future development of our communities and our nation.

The institutional and technical changes are possible and achievable.

The question is whether we have the will and foresight to secure the health and wellbeing of all our communities now and for the future …”

… rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb….

Yeah, right, ok …. zzzzzzzzzzzz.

A parish councillor says planning system is broken

Guardian letters:

“The planning system is broken. At the London launch this week of Nick Raynsford’s Review of Planning in England, speakers described demoralised councillors and planners; frustration over constant changes of policy; and anger that the system is not delivering what people want. Parish councils are at the sharp end of this failure to reform the system. Communities here in Kent and across Britain are facing the threat of opportunistic, unplanned development. Landowners and developers are exploiting the fact that it takes time to prepare, consult on and get approval for a new local plan, to bring forward applications for housing development on unsuitable sites.

Additionally, where a local authority does not have a five-year “housing supply” (an arbitrary figure and a rather nebulous concept as the number of houses in the pipeline fluctuates continually), the new national planning policy framework (NPPF) dictates that councils must grant permission, unless there are overriding reasons to refuse. A developer-led planning process, crude housing targets, no joined-up regional thinking, and flawed “consultation” has resulted in communities being pitted against each other as they try to protect the environment and their health.

The Raynsford review makes 24 recommendations to create a simpler, fairer system. These include strategic regional planning, a (limited) community right to challenge in an attempt to redress the balance of power, and a duty on local authorities to plan for high-quality and genuinely affordable homes. I hope the government will listen carefully to the arguments for reform. Change is desperately needed.
Richard Byatt
Chair, planning committee, West Malling parish council, Kent”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/30/our-broken-housing-market-urgently-needs-fixing

Why falling house prices can be a bad thing

“… An analysis released this week by the property firm Savills spelled out just one of the reasons why [a downturn in property prices could be a bad thing].

A property downturn could, it estimated, reduce the number of affordable homes being built by a quarter. When prices fall, developers’ profits shrink and they retreat from the market. And when developers stop building, promises to stop future buyers being locked out of the market by building 300,000 new homes a year aren’t worth the manifestos they were written on.

What was striking about the former cabinet minister Oliver Letwin’s recent report on land banking – the much-hyped practice of developers buying up land and sitting on it while it rises in value – was that he found precious little evidence of it happening. What he did find was developers building on their sites painfully slowly, over the course of several years, because they won’t do anything that causes neighbourhood property prices to fall. A glut of for-sale boards going up all at once means buyers can take their pick and haggle hard over prices. This may be exactly what first-time buyers need but it’s what developers are primed to avoid.

The problem with relying on the market to provide is that the market works to ration the one thing voters hope mass housebuilding programmes will deliver. And that’s in good times; imagine what happens when everyone is scrabbling frantically to protect their investment in a downturn. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/30/if-house-price-crash-sounds-like-good-news-think-again