Axminster masterplan – still searching for a useable website !

THIS time managed to track down at EDDC a Powerpoint presentation of a public information session – to add to the hazy schematic and cartoons in local media! Though note it takes a LONG time to load! Getting there slowly.

“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”. ”

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.”

“‘£65,000 prefab homes go into production” [but buyers will pay at least £200,000]

So, reading the article, they will REALLY cost buyers about £200,000 minimum each – but with less need for skilled trades developers will make more profit! Neat!

“The UK is entering a new era of prefab homes with the opening of a Yorkshire factory that will build fully-fitted three-bedroom homes with a price tag as low as £65,000.

Eight houses fitted with kitchens and bathrooms will roll off the production line every day in Knaresborough, to be loaded on to lorries for delivery across the country. Experts have hailed it a revolution in British housebuilding that would slash the 40 weeks it could take to build a traditional home to just 10 days.

The factory cost of a two or three-bedroom home would be from £65,000 to £79,000, although that excludes the cost of land, on-site assembly and connecting the home to services, which could double or triple the final price.

The plant, operated by the UK company Ilke Homes, said it would produce 2,000 houses a year, rising eventually to 5,000, which would catapult it into the top echelon of volume housebuilders in the country.

Meanwhile, the insurance company Legal & General has built a vast factory outside Leeds which it said would build 3,500 homes a year, with the first two and three-bedroom homes being delivered in the past few weeks. It said it intended to build similar factories in locations across the UK, which would turn L&G into a bigger builder than Persimmon or Barratt Developments.

The term prefab has been shunned by the new housebuilders. The new buzz phrase, with its connotation of low-quality, postwar emergency housing,has instead been described as “modular construction”. Developers have been promising homes built to higher standards than those using traditional methods. They also claim energy bills would be half that of a conventional home due to better insulation.

The housing secretary, James Brokenshire, speaking at the opening of the Knaresborough site on Thursday, said the factory would help the government reach an annual target of 300,000 new homes in England. Last year nearly 220,000 homes were built in England. “This is about challenging the ways we have done things in the past. We want to see 300,000 homes being delivered by the mid-2020s, so we need to scale up and build more, better and faster. And that is precisely what this facility is about,” he said. …”

“Builders criticised for lobbying against accessible homes”

“Private housebuilders have been accused of “appalling self-interest” over their lobbying against building more accessible homes for disabled residents.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has been objecting to councils across England that wish to fix new targets to increase the number of homes with room for wheelchair users and which could be adaptable.

It has made submissions to at least 17 authorities, from Liverpool to Sevenoaks, arguing that new local planning policies seeking more accessible housing could make it unprofitable to build new homes. The submissions also question whether predictions of an ageing population mean an increased demand for adaptable and accessible housing would be certain.

Charities including Age UK, the Centre for Ageing Better and Disability Rights UK said on Tuesday they were alarmed at its objections to planning policy proposals to make greater disability access mandatory. It said only 7% of homes were classed as accessible and that building to a higher accessibility standard would cost about £500 more.

The HBF represents highly profitable housing firms including Persimmon, which recorded gross profits of £565m in the first six months of this year, during which it built 8,000 new homes – a margin per home of about £70,000.

“Without homes that enable us to live safely and independently for as long as possible, we will see increased and unsustainable pressure on our health and social care services and much-reduced quality of life for people in older age,” the charities told the HBF in an open letter.

Unless it was enshrined in local planning policy, it remains optional under national regulations to incorporate features that make new homes suitable for people with reduced mobility and some wheelchair users. It also remains voluntary to make them fully wheelchair accessible, unless town halls make it mandatory.

In one submission to Broxbourne council in Hertfordshire, the HBF said: “The key issue we have with … policies that add financial burdens on the development industry in this local plan is that they have not been effectively tested.”

Objections have been raised by the HBF where it believes councils have not taken into account the financial impact of the proposals alongside other demands such as the provision of affordable housing, and said that if a council wanted to prioritise disabled access, it should reduce its demands for affordable homes.

An HBF spokesman said: “New homes are already more accessible than those built previously, but not all homebuyers want a home that has been adapted for accessible use.

“If government deemed that all homes should be built to higher accessibility standards it could make it a requirement. Currently levels are set by the planning system, which specifically requires local authorities to provide evidence to support their demands.”

“Their attitude is appalling self-interest,” said Cllr Pam Thomas, a wheelchair user and cabinet member for inclusive and accessible city at Liverpool city council, which has faced objections from the HBF to its plan to make 10% of new homes wheelchair accessible. “If they looked at this properly they would realise there wasn’t a problem with the cost or [extending] the footprint. They need to have a social conscience here.”

Local Government Association wants two affordable housing loopholes to be closed

Permitted development rules allowing offices to be converted into housing without planning permission are exacerbating the nation’s housing affordability crisis and should be scrapped, the Local Government Association has said.

The LGA has also urged the government to drop proposed plans, contained in the Budget, to extend the rules to allow upwards extensions to be built without planning permission and allow the demolition of existing commercial buildings for new homes without planning consent.

The Association claimed that communities had missed out on more than 10,000 affordable homes in the past three years as a result of government rules on permitted development.

According to the LGA, latest figures show that since 2015, a total of 42,130 housing units in England have been converted from offices to flats without having to go through the planning system. “As a result, they included no affordable housing or supporting investment in infrastructure such as roads, schools and health services.”

The LGA added that while this amounted to approximately 7% of new homes nationally, in some parts of the country it represented a much higher proportion of all new housing. Office to residential conversions under permitted development rules accounted for 40% of new homes in Islington, Welwyn Hatfield, Mole Valley, Croydon and Derby in 2017/18.

A survey of councils in England has meanwhile found concerns about the rules, finding that:

Around nine out of 10 councils were concerned about the quality/design and the appropriateness of the location of housing as a result and almost six out of 10 were concerned about safety.

Around two-thirds thought that both contributions by developers to affordable housing and contributions for other infrastructure through section 106 agreements had reduced. A similar proportion (61%) thought that demands on local infrastructure/services had increased.

60% of councils said they were concerned about the demand being placed on health and social care services and school place planning as a result of homes being built through permitted development rules

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Housing spokesman, said: “Permitted development rules are taking away the ability of local communities to shape the area they live in, ensures homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place and have resulted in the potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes.

“The loss of office space is also leaving businesses and start-ups without any premises in which to base themselves.

“Extending permitted development rules risks exacerbating these problems.”

“Property downturn could reduce number of affordable homes built by 25%”

“major downturn in the housing market could reduce the number of affordable homes built by a quarter, the property firm Savills has warned.

Savills estimates that about 100,000 new homes a year – a third of the government’s 300,000 target – need to be priced at levels below the going market rate, whether for rent or for sale.

However, only 43,498 such homes were built in England in the financial year 2017-18, albeit 10% higher than the previous year, according to government figures.

Many were built for so-called “affordable rent”, where rental costs are capped at 80% of local private sector rents.

Negative gearing report finds housing less affordable now than at height of the boom.

About half of affordable new homes, 22,000, were built through section 106 of the housing act, for social rent, affordable rent, intermediate rent and shared ownership.

Section 106 is a planning clause requiring developers to include a proportion of affordable housing in their developments, which is often sold to housing associations.

It accounts for 53% of all affordable homes built, passing the 50% mark for the first time in six years.

However, if there was a major housing downturn akin to the late 1980s, early 90s or 2008, when prices and the volume of transactions crashed, the number of section 106 affordable homes would be halved to about 11,000, Savills predicts.

A housing slowdown is also likely to lead to fewer of those homes being constructed. House prices have been falling in London and parts of the south-east for more than a year but values are still rising elsewhere in the UK.

Chris Buckle, Savills’ research director, said: “From the end of the last cycle in 2007-8, we saw a roughly 50% fall in section 106 affordable housing completions to fewer than 4,000 homes.

“Although we are not predicting a market downturn, the housing market is slowing and this could result in fewer section 106 affordable housing completions.”

The Savills analysis comes after official figures showed the number of new homes built for social rent has fallen by almost four-fifths in a decade – while more than 1 million families are stuck on waiting lists for council housing in England.

Only 6,463 homes were built in England for social rent in 2017-18, down from almost 30,000 a decade ago.

In London and southern England the affordable housing shortage is particularly acute. An estimated 42,500 households need homes priced below market rates every year but over the last three years only an average of 5,600 were built a year, leaving an annual shortfall of 36,900, Savills says.”