Swire thinks planning officers are poorly trained and don’t stand up to developers

Hugo Swire:

“My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be aware of my view—as he and I have discussed it—that most objections to large planning developments are based on the fact that the developments themselves add nothing to the local vernacular, do not acknowledge it and are often poorly built. That is partly owing to a lack of local planning officers and the fact that planning officers are poorly trained. Could the Government consider affiliating some of them to the Royal Institute of British Architects or the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, and empowering them so that they can stand against the volume house builders?”

Owl says: What about councillors who roll over to have their tummies tickled by developers – or who are developers themselves!!!

Or even those in your own (Tory) back yard in East Devon, who run their own planning consultancies and boast they can get planning for anything but don’t expect to be paid peanuts for it:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9920971/If-I-cant-get-planning-nobody-will-says-Devon-councillor-and-planning-consultant.html

Retirement home builders feeling the pinch …

“” … Another profit warning at McCarthy & Stone (MCS.L) triggered a sharp share price fall for the UK’s biggest builder of homes for retirees a 18.8 percent decline. …”

Could this be part of the reason? There are no affordable properties being built at the PegasusLife Knowle site:

“The Mayor of London’s Office has today welcomed a judgment handed down by the High Court that has backed the Mayor’s ‘threshold’ approach to affordable housing.

Following a legal challenge by four retirement homes developers, the Hon Mr Justice Ouseley has ruled that the Mayor’s threshold approach, which allows developments to be fast tracked through the planning system where they provide at least 35 per cent affordable housing, is consistent with the adopted London Plan.

The judge rejected claims by McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd, Pegasus Life Ltd, Churchill Retirement Living and Renaissance Retirement Ltd that this policy, contained within the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Affordable Housing and Viability, would fail to secure the maximum reasonable level of affordable housing.

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Skills and Regeneration, said; “Tackling the capital’s housing crisis is the Mayor’s top priority and this ruling is an important moment for thousands of Londoners who are desperate for genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy.

“Our guidance sets out a clear approach that makes the planning system in London clearer, quicker and more consistent. I am pleased that the Judge has backed this approach which will help us to turn around years of neglect when it comes to building the homes Londoners so desperately need.”

The Mayor’s Draft London Plan includes the same requirements on reviews as the SPG. The judgment confirms that this has weight as it is an emerging plan.

The judgment also rejected the claims of the retirement homes developers that the guidance should have been the subject of Strategic Environmental Assessment and found that the claims that the Mayor had failed to have due regard to his duties under the public sector equality duty of the Equality Act 2010 were unarguable.”

https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/judge-rules-in-favour-of-mayors-housing-approach

Cornish coastal village shows the way on second homes

“Mevagissey is following St Ives’ lead to stop too many properties becoming second homes.

Residents of the Cornish fishing port voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting the “primary residence policy” in yesterday’s referendum, making it the fifth place in the county to decide that newly-built homes should only be available to people living there permanently.

A third of eligible voters turned out – 90% voted in favour.

When you get up to one in four of the properties being a second home, you can’t deny the right of people to sell to additional homeowners. All we’re trying to do is to discourage the development of more second homes by putting this restriction on new builds.”
Garth Shephard
Mevagissey Parish Councillor”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-44366793

“Fury as housing associations redevelop and sell affordable homes”

“Housing associations have made at least £82.3m from auctioning homes in five London boroughs since 2013, according to figures seen by the Guardian. Analysis by the Labour MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, shows that Westminster, Brent, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea sold 153 properties at auction through Savills estate agents – with more than half in Westminster where sales totalled £36.4m. The true figures are likely to be much higher as the data only covers sales made by one agency. The auctions are part of a wider trend of some housing associations selling off social housing in expensive central London to fund new developments, which tenants say are unaffordable or far removed from their families, schools and work.

Buck says: “I’m dealing with a family who are statutorily overcrowded and in the highest medical priority and I haven’t been able to get them moved in over eight years. That’s because housing associations [in general] say they don’t have the stock in the area and yet they’re still selling off homes.”

Nationally, sales of housing association social homes to the private sector have more than tripled since 2001, with 3,891 social homes sold in 2016. Overall, more than 150,000 homes for social rent have been lost since 2012. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/13/fury-affordable-homes-redeveloped-sold-housing-associations

By 2036 one-third of people in Devon will be over 65 – but don’t worry, they will have PLENTY of houses available!

Owl is puzzled. Our Local Enterprise Partnership says we need 50,000 new homes in the next 5 years (published in 2017 – so say until 2023):

https://heartofswlep.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/SEP-Final-draft-31-03-14-website-1.pdf
(page 8)

Yet the Office for National Statistics says that the population of Devon will increase by just over 52,000 by 2026 (see below). Averaging a very low estimate of low 2 people per home that would mean we would need 26,000 new homes IN TOTAL in Devon in the next 8 years, not 50,000.

In fact, the same Office of National Statistics says average occupancy is 2.4 persons per household – so a more accurate figure would be 21,666 extra homes needed in Devon by 2026 – again NOT 50,000!

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2017

Someone has their sums badly wrong. 50,000 by 2023 or 21,666 by 2026.

Is it the Office of National Statistics or our LEP with its preponderance of developers and landowners?

“The population of Devon will increase by 52,100 by 2026, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In 2016 the population was 778,800. By 2026 it is expected to reach 830,900, a rise of 6.7%.

Every two years the ONS estimates how the population of England will change over the next 25 years.

Statisticians study birth and death rates, and look at how the county’s population is ageing.

In Devon the percentage of the population made up by pensioners is expected to rise from 24.8% in 2016 to 27.6% 10 years later. And by 2036 the ONS thinks over 65s will make up almost a third of the area’s residents. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/population-devon-grow-52100-1667958

“Crest Nicholson to close London office and build more ‘flat pack’ houses as costs bite”

So sad that their profit margin has dropped from 20.3% to 18%! In 2017 Crest Nicholson’s chief executive, Stephen Stone, was set to receive a share bonus worth almost £812,000, on top of a salary of £541,158, while chief operating officer Patrick Bergin was set to net £562,500, in addition to pay of £375,000.

Maybe that’s where their profits are going … just a thought …

And better not anticipate any affordable housing in their “flat pack” developments!

“Housebuilder Crest Nicholson is feeling the pinch of rising construction costs and a slower housing market, prompting it to close its Central London office and expand production of so-called “flatpack” housing structures.

In its half-year results, Crest Nicholson said that it expects its margins to be around 18pc for the full year compared with 20.3pc last year – and at the lower end of its 18pc to 20pc range – due to the “generally flat” pricing environment.

Shares in the FTSE 250 housebuilder fell more than 7pc in morning trade. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/06/12/crest-nicholsons-margins-squeezed-rising-costs/