UK: Planning Newsflash - March 2010

Last Updated: 15 February 2011
Article by Heidi Copland

Our specialist Planning and Environment Group includes planning consultants and lawyers, and provides a complete range of planning services. We are one of the largest planning consultancies in the South East.

In this edition of our eBulletin, we look at recent news and changes in legislation. 

Of particular interest is the publication of the Conservative Party's Green Paper, which sets our their vision for the planning system, including some radical reforms. Our other articles look at rural affordable housing, the Code for Sustainable Homes, and the recently published PPS4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth.

We hope that you find the articles in this eBulletin of interest. Please let us know if there are any other areas of interest which you would like to be covered in future editions.

Kind regards

Heidi Copland
Partner and Head of Planning and Environmental


By Daniel Frisby

Originally published 8 March 2010

The Conservative's Green Paper 'Strong Foundations: Building Homes and Communities', published last week, proposes to 'abolish the unsuccessful regional planning system', 'reverse the classification of gardens as brownfield land', and 'scrap the discredited Home Information Packs'. The underlying premise of the paper is that the planning system requires radical reform. This reform includes plans to:

  • Abolish Regional Spatial Strategies and therefore enable councils to revise, in whole or in part, their existing Local Development Frameworks.
  • Introduce a tax incentive by matching the additional council tax raised by each council for each new house built for each of the six years after that house is built.
  • Enable the creation of Local Housing Trusts which will hold unparalleled power to develop new homes and community space subject to the agreement of local people.
  • Introduce mandatory pre-application consultations between developers and local people for all major projects.
  • Abolishment of the IPC with the systems already set up to be amalgamated into the Planning Inspectorate.
  • A reworking of the appeal system, including, the introduction of third party rights of appeal, and a limitation to the rights of appeal for cases where there have been an "abuse of process" in a decision contrary to a Local Plan.
  • Revisions to permitted development rights including a general right to change the use of any existing building to educational use.
  • Simplification of PPGs and PPSs.

The recognition of the housing deficit and the need to maintain a 5 year supply of land for housing remains a top priority, alongside a "presumption in favour of sustainable development". Although in the interim, draft RSS housing figures, supplied by local authorities, will be relied on.

In addition, the Party will seek a redefinition of Previously Developed Land, removing gardens and adding some agricultural uses.

The RTPI has broadly welcomed the Green Paper, but raise concern over the delays that such radical changes will bring to house building and the recovering economy. They state "We will be looking very closely at proposals that we have concerns about such as abolishing regional planning, enabling so-called third-party rights of appeal and introducing a presumption in favour of sustainable development, and will advise the Conservatives accordingly."


By Rebekah Ryder

Originally published 8 March 2010

In support of sustainable development, the Government launched the Code for Sustainable Homes, making it mandatory to place a rating or nil-rating Certificate in Home Information Packs for new build housing to show it has either been assessed at a particular Code Level or not been assessed. Whilst the inclusion of these Certificates is mandatory, compliance with the Code remains voluntary.

Many LPAs, in an effort to achieve sustainable development objectives through planning, are seeking to condition developments so that they achieve Code Level 3. This makes compliance with planning more onerous than the voluntary meeting of the Code or the requirements of Building Regulations (which is set below the Code).

The differing progress LPAs in the South East have made with the new policy system (Local Development Frameworks) has had some influence on the Code as a planning objective, and the consistency with which different authorities condition permissions for new dwellings to ensure they meet Code Level 3 or higher.

Across Sussex (as it stands at February 2010), Brighton and Hove City Council and Horsham District Council condition all residential development to meet Code Level 3. Chichester District Council condition developments through PPS1 to achieve Code Level 2 in construction. Mid Sussex, Worthing, Lewes and Wealden District Councils only condition if the applicant volunteers to achieve a specific Code as one of the benefits of the scheme. These latter authorities do, however, condition all relevant developments to meet details of supporting Sustainability Statements, a required document for any application for residential development. This situation, however, is likely to change, either because LPAs continue to advance and adopt LDFs or because the Government will launch a new means of assessing sustainable construction.

In the meantime, developers should be aware of what LPAs are asking them to achieve in terms of the (voluntary) Code, the statutory basis for this and what Code Level any condition on the planning permission requires. DMH Stallard can advise on what Code Level is reasonable for LPAs to seek, as well as appropriate conditions for permissions.


By Clare Bartlett

Originally published 8 March 2010

In response to the lack of affordable housing in the countryside, the Government has produced a consultation paper setting out guidance on how local authorities can encourage landowners to bring forward additional land for affordable housing. This will be of major interest to providers of social housing and in particular housing associations who acquire land in rural areas for affordable housing. 

Key proposals include:

  • Giving the landowner the right to retain a freehold interest in the land with housing associations / affordable housing providers paying an upfront or annual payment for the lease.
  • The landowner having the right to nominate family members or employees for affordable housing. 

All family members or employees referred would have to meet housing needs criteria and local connections tests. 

The full document can be read here:

DMH Stallard Planning has successfully delivered a significant number of affordable housing schemes. 


By Clare Bartlett

Originally published 8 March 2010

Planning Policy Statement 4 (PPS4) – Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth was published on 29th December 2009 by the Department for Communities and Local Government. PPS4 sets out the Government's policies for economic development and replaces former Government guidance contained within PPG4, PPG5, PPS6 and parts of PPS7 and PPG13.

PPS4 provides more detailed guidance for Planning Authorities on how they should plan for the future needs for economic development. In relation to retail development, PPS4 retains some of the policy objectives of PPS6, namely: 

  • Retail development will continue to be focused in town centres. Only if there are no suitable, viable and available sites within defined town centre shopping areas will other sites be considered. 
  • Retail development in town centres should protect and promote the vitality and viability of such locations. 
  • PPS4 also introduces the following changes: 
  • More stringent policy requirements for assessing the impact of retail developments outside the primary shopping areas of town centres. 
  • Removes the requirement for applicants to provide a quantitative and qualitative need assessment 
  • Local Planning Authorities now have the ability to set their own thresholds and identify their own locations where edge and/or out of centre development has to be the subject of a retail impact assessment. 

DMH Stallard has considerable experience in the retail sector and offers a full retail planning service including the completion of PPS4 compliant retail impact and needs assessments.

Geoff Smith and Peter Rainier lead our team of Chartered Town Planners - Geoff and Peter have over 50 years of combined experience and advise on Planning policy at the highest level.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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