UK: Planning For Homes – An Evaluation Of SPP3 Guidance

Last Updated: 27 August 2008
Article by Murray Shaw

Introduction

It is something of an irony that at the time the Scottish housing market is facing its most significant downturn for possibly 30 years, the Scottish Government has issued up to date guidance (a revised version of SPP3) on the identification of housing land and the delivery of homes through the planning system. While there have been (and there are still) issues with the system, the immediate problems are rather more fundamental – a lack of funds and a lack of buyers.

Revised SPP3

SPP3, which came out at the end of July 2008, is a finalised version of a document which went through a lengthy gestation period and was subject to consultation with many interested parties. This is to be applauded. Unfortunately, as it has only recently been issued, the document is likely to be of limited, immediate relevance to the current housing market and the issues which the Scottish Government, developers and indeed local authorities have to address.

Paragraph 4 makes reference to "pressure" in the housing system. The pressure it is referring to however, has been evident over the last 5 years, namely house price inflation and an insufficient supply. The document notes (paragraph 6) that "the relationship between supply and affordability is complex". The market now, however, is different. The issues are not simply affordability but buildability. Will house builders continue to build? Is there anyone out there who can buy (not simply because houses are not affordable, but also because they do not have access to funding to commit to a purchase)?

In many ways the current difficulties facing the house building industry in Scotland are beyond the control of the UK Government which means by definition they must be beyond the control of the Scottish Government.

Looking at the document itself, SPP3 continues many themes that were seen in the predecessor document and in its general approach it is very similar to the previous version. It stresses the importance of house building and the need for a proper, planned approach to house building. It picks up on the Government's theme, first annunciated in the consultation document last year entitled "Firm Foundations", to increase the number of completions per year in Scotland from 25,000 to 35,000 – an aspiration that seems almost impossible to fulfil at the present time. It identifies a need for quality developments – a theme which has been at the forefront of thinking for the last 4 or 5 years.

However this document goes further than its predecessor. The objectives set out in paragraph 16 have clear origins in the previous version of the document. In a number of instances it is more prescriptive, particularly in relation to the mechanism local authorities should adopt to keep the housing market in general under review. It has detailed guidance on the audit process, albeit ultimately accepting that the audit is a matter for the planning authority. Possibly more significantly, it seeks to try and plan for housing on a more positive proactive, rather than reactive basis. One of the key objectives is "allocation of a generous supply of land to meet identified housing requirements across all tenures, including affordable housing and related policy objectives" (emphasis added). The use of the word "generous" is a significant change in thinking. As noted above, the theme of generosity is one which may be out of step with reality although it will hopefully become of increasing relevance as the present difficulties recede.

Furthermore, the document looks for real flexibility with the ability to bring forward additional housing land quickly and efficiently – again possibly a pious need in the current market but beneficial in the longer term. In terms of allocations the document seeks to take a longer term view and encourage mechanisms to identify housing land for the longer term with the ability to bring that forward quickly, if necessary, having regard to market practice and issues such as completions.

Possibly 18 months ago house builders would have welcomed this thinking and hopefully in 18 months or 2 years from now they may do so again. At the present time, given market conditions and anticipation that no matter how bad they are, they are likely to get worse, this guidance seems slightly out of touch with reality.

Apart from quality, other themes are picked up from previous policy documents including sustainability.

One concept which is given greater emphasis, is the proposal that sites might be allocated for specific market sectors. The topic of affordable housing is picked up in SPP3 largely building upon the drafting in PAN74 which came out 2 or 3 years ago. To that extent there is nothing new in the need to build affordable housing. What is given greater emphasis is the ability to allocate specifically for affordable housing to allow the development of affordable housing to take place.

The document also touches upon the issue of planning gain but simply indicates that a review is ongoing. No further clarification is given in relation to the outcome of that review process. In England, it appears that the community infrastructure levy will proceed in the short term. Detailed guidance is now available. In Scotland, we await with interest to see how the Government decides to tackle that issue. One thing which is certain is that the need to address infrastructure issues has not reduced in any way whatsoever.

Conclusion

Market conditions make the immediate relevance of the revised SPP3 document somewhat limited. Hopefully these conditions will not prevail in the longer term. Certainly when the market revives there will be opportunities for house builders and if planning authorities adopt the thinking set out in SPP3 then there should be far greater flexibility for developers to meet market needs – which, despite the current crisis, will not have gone away.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.