Proportion of UK affordable homes approved by City Hall has doubled in number

The number of planning applications originating in London, at least 35% of the homes are affordable has increased by 45% since 2018.  The proportion of affordable homes in schemes approved by City Hall nearly doubling since 2016.

This new analysis from City Hall found highlighted the fact that the number of affordable homes approved has risen from a historic low of 22% in 2016 under the previous Mayor to 40% under the current administration in 2020.

London Mayor’s introduction of a planning Fast Track Route for schemes that include at least 35% affordable housing, or 50% on public or redeveloped industrial land, has resulted in the number of planning applications with this criteria climb significantly.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, clarified: ‘Building more genuinely affordable homes for Londoners continues to be a top priority for me as Mayor. It’s great news that my approach of holding developers to account has led to a sea change in the delivery of affordable homes in our city since 2016.

‘We still have a long way to go to fix the housing crisis, but it’s clear our approach is bearing fruit – helping us to deliver the homes Londoners can actually afford, rather than the luxury penthouse apartments that were prioritised in the past.’

Councillor Darren Rodwell, London Council’s deputy chair and executive member for housing and planning, added: ‘There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that London urgently needs more affordable homes.

‘There are currently around 165,000 Londoners living in temporary accommodation arranged by their local borough – more than the entire population of cities like Norwich or Oxford.

‘Around two thirds (63%) of the total number of homeless families in England are based in the capital. Boroughs welcome the Mayor’s progress on this crucial issue for London.’


Covid-19 outdoor safety measures could become permanent features

Measures introduced to aid high streets and hospitality venues during the Covid-19 pandemic could now become permanent as the UK Government opens consultation on the permitted development rights (PDRs).

These measures include marquees in pub grounds, street markets operating year round, and eating outside as lockdown restrictions were slowly eased following several lockdowns. New licensing arrangements could also be agreed.

The Government is consulting on making a number of these permanent as “we build back better” from the pandemic. These include:

  • Class BA of part 12 for markets to be held by or on behalf of local councils: This temporary PDR that allowed markets to be held for an unlimited number of days, including the provision of moveable structures related to this use.
  • Class BB of part 4 for moveable structures in the grounds of pubs, cafes, restaurants and historic visitor attractions: These were allowed for the first time in the grounds of listed buildings to help to support the hospitality and tourism sectors. They were able to increase capacity as they reopened.

The Government said the consultation is also looking for views on PDRs to support the “efficient development” of MOD (Ministry of Defence) sites. This includes providing more accommodation, workspace, and training facilities at fewer facilities to reduce the pressure on local authorities.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The simple reforms we made during the pandemic to help hospitality businesses, markets and historic visitor attractions make use of outdoor spaces more easily, made a massive impact. They helped thousands of businesses and attraction to prosper, made our town centres livelier and have been enjoyed by millions of us.

“As part of our vision to transform high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live, we intend to make as many of these measures permanent fixtures of British life as possible.”

The public consultation can be found on the UK Government website.


30 September 2021 by 0 Comments

45 per cent increase in planning applications submitted to councils in the UK

This is an increase of 45% when compared with the same quarter last year, when the country was in and coming out of the first lockdown implemented to stem the spread of Covid-19.

District-level planning authorities granted 99,200 decisions, up by 38% compared with April to June 2020.

Of the major applications considered, 87% were decided within 13 weeks or the agreed time, two percentage points less than in the same quarter in 2020.

The statistical release states that 9,600 residential applications were granted between April and June 2021, 5% more than a year earlier. This breaks down to 1,200 major and 8,400 minor developments.

It also states that 2,000 commercial development applications were granted in April to June 2021, 19% more than the same period in 2020 and 68,900 householder applications were decided, a 59% increase on April to June 2020.

A total of 351,700 decisions were granted in the year ending June 2021, 9% more than the year ending June 2020. Of these, 39,500 residential developments were granted – 5,100 major and 34,300 minor developments, down by 3% and 6% respectively.

Planning Applications in England: April to June 2021 can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).


Planning and Balconies

Balconies can be a great addition to a home: they can add extra light and ventilation to a room, provide some outside space and are a great way to take in the scenery. The right balcony can be a real selling point, increase value and make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. They need to be carefully designed to avoid any pitfalls: Security risk: making access to upper levels easier for anyone intent on breaking in, especially if the balcony is within easy reach of a wall or fence that can be climbed on. Neighbour disputes: if there are concerns over privacy/overlooking. If you are thinking of adding a balcony, always seek good planning advice from a design professional like an architect or planner. The creation of a balcony is generally not classed as permitted development under planning law – unless it’s a platform not more the 300mm high (decked area) or is a Juliet balcony which has no platform. Always obtain planning permission, or written confirmation that you don’t need it before you start work. Failure to obtaining planning permission before starting works or deviating from plans approved for planning purposes could find yourself having to reverse the works, face a fine, or possibly both. Further guidance on permitted development rights and balconies can be found via this Government article: ‘Permitted development rights for householders: technical guidance’

Types of balconies

Juliet balconies 

Named after a scene in the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, these tend to be a large inward opening window or set of doors, or sliding patio doors, with a barrier that is fixed immediately to the outside wall, or between the window or door reveals to prevent people falling out.

Cantilever, hung, and bolt-on balconies

As the name describes, the balcony protrudes out from the building  appearing to hang in the air and to be a continuation of the floor of the building, where the joists or frame extend out beyond the building line. 

Stacked balconies

These are supported both by connections to the building and also from posts or pillars that are fixed below them, providing support from the ground or another structure.

Rooflight balconies / Cabrio balcony.

These have become popular in loft conversion projects. The rooflights are designed as a window – in the closed position – but when opened they create a glazed canopy and barrier in one.
They can be installed as an individual rooflight or in a bank to create a larger window and balcony.

Roof terrace

created where an adjoining structure is used to create an outdoor space, accessible from a bedroom or upper floor space. For example, the flat roof of a ground floor extension, porch, or garage.

Some advice and tips

  • Don’t install fire pits /  barbeques on a balcony – unless the balcony and surrounding structure/barriers have been specifically designed to resist  fire from burning coals. Don’t leave any burning materials unattended. Smoking materials are a cause of accidental fires and should be disposed of safely. 
  • Be careful in bright sunlight – particularly on west-facing balconies. Wooden or plastic furniture may catch fire if a glass or similar object that could magnify the sunlight into an intense focused beam.
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended and make sure they are properly extinguished after use.
  • Don’t use balconies for storage unless you know exactly what weight they can carry. 
  • Don’t install a hot tub or other large item of heavy furniture unless the balcony and its supporting structure has been specifically designed for this.

Home For Rent Sign in Front of Beautiful American Home

£144,000 penalty for homes let without planning permission

Landlord Orofena St John has been issued with a penalty for building a number of extensions and converting them into seven flats and two bedsits without planning permission.

Brent Council had issued St John, owner of 39 Clarendon Gardens, two enforcement notices in 2017. These required her to demolish the extensions and restore the premise back to one house.

The notices were ignored, so the council took the matter to court. In 2019 St John was convicted of breaching the notices, and the matter was referred to Harrow Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

These proceedings also revealed that St John was in breach of an enforcement notice issued to 13 The Paddocks, a property that had similarly been illegally converted into two homes. Rooms were being rented out to multiple students on a short-term basis without permission.

On 1 September, the court ordered St John to pay £111,582.57 for the income received from illegally renting the properties to tenants for a profit and she was fined £18,000 in council legal costs and £15,000 for the breach of the notices.

Shama Tatler, lead member for regeneration, property & planning at Brent Council, said: “This is a significant win for Brent. This penalty sends a clear message that people will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws and renting out properties illegally.

“These laws are in place to protect our residents from being exploited in inferior accommodation and to ensure that Brent’s environment is a great place for everyone to live in.”


Multi-storey student accommodation scheme approved in Nottingham

Nottingham City Council has granted planning permission for the latest phase of The Island Quarter, which will see a 12-storey purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) building delivered.

The scheme, drawn up by DAY Architectural, will deliver 702 student bedrooms.

The Conygar Investment Company plc is delivering The Island Quarter scheme in full.

Amenities for students include sky lounges, a pavilion with views onto a private courtyard space, multi-media lounges, co-working spaces, gaming zones and areas for study and relaxation.

Construction work is expected to start on site shortly and the units will be available for students from the 2023/24 academic year.

Christopher Ware, property director at Conygar, said: “Nottingham is a world-renowned university city and the student population is growing rapidly to reflect that. Add in the demand from second and third-year students to remain in PBSA, and it is clear there is a real need for quality student beds in the city.

“This element of the scheme really supports our plans for intergenerational living across the site. One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic has been that people of all ages are reassessing their relationship with where they live, and we want to create places and spaces where people can live, work and thrive.”

The Island Quarter masterplan was granted outline planning approval in April 2019. The Planner recently reported that a series of changes to the masterplan have been made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Leonard Design Architects (LDA) and placemaking specialist Studio Egret West said the green space offering has been enhanced on the 36-acre site, as have the multifunctional public areas for outdoor events.


The UK national Government is set to intervene to rectify ‘dysfunctional’ Liverpool City Council

Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary commissioned a report by Max Caller, a local government consultant who was in charge of carrying out an emergency inspection. The result was a damning on parts of the council. The report was ordered after the arrest of five men, including the Labour mayor, Joe Anderson, last December 2020. Anderson was arrested as part of Merseyside police’s “Operation Aloft”, an ongoing investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool that led to the eventual arrest of 12 people.

It is believed to be the first time that a national government has directly intervened in the daily running of a city of this size. This in itself is politically sensitive due to the fact that Liverpool is one of the strongest Labour cities in Great Britain. The region provides 14 Labour MPs to Westminster. Liverpool last had a Conservative MP on the seat 38 years ago. The last Tory councillor lost his seat 23 years ago.

The unprecedented move comes after inspectors found strong indications of a ‘serious breakdown of governance’ on behalf of the Liverpool city council. Jenrick also said that an emergency inspection revealed a “deeply concerning picture of mismanagement”, an “environment of intimidation” and a “dysfunctional culture” at one of the biggest councils in Britain.
The commissioners who have been appointed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will be sent to “exercise certain and limited” functions of Liverpool city council for up to a period of 3 years under a controversial plan, arriving 6 weeks before the planned local elections.

Jenrick stated: “As a whole, the report is unequivocal: Liverpool city council has failed in numerous respects to comply with its best value duties. It concludes that the council consistently failed to meet its statutory and managerial responsibilities and that the pervasive culture appeared to be rule avoidance.” He also added “continued failure to correctly value land and assets, meaning taxpayers frequently lost out. When selling land, the report states that Liverpool city council’s best interests were not on the agenda,”

The city council is expected to accept the proposals emanating from the report in their entirety, meaning government commissioners would be drafted in with immediate effect. The number of councillors in Liverpool council will also be reduced from a total of 90, 72 of whom are members of the Labour party. There are also plans to change the election cycle, moving to a system of whole-council elections every four years.

Local elections will go ahead on the 6th of May and those politicians would then inform government about the best steps forward for the council with a view to not dictate but instruct. “We have given them the authority to act, should they need to, given the seriousness of some of the allegations but it is not our hope or expectation that those powers would be exercised.”
There was pressure on some of the Labour councillors to resign over the matter. Richard Kemp, the Liberal Democrat councillor and potential candidate for mayor, called for the resignation of all councillors connected to the scandal-hit departments. “This is a sad day for our city, which the people of Liverpool do not deserve.”

15th century Grade II House gifted by Elizabeth I goes on sale

A fabulous 15th century Thameside Listed House (Grade II) that was gifted by Elizabeth I went on sale, though estate agent Savills admits that the decor needs a bit of ‘updating’ as the property has been under the same ownership for 50 years without much alterations and works.

It is commonly believed to have been seized by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I from Bishop of Winchester after he annoyed her during one of his sermons and was subsequently gifted to their ancestor, Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear House. The politician, who was then the British Ambassador to France, had been previously considered by some academics to be one of the potential candidates for the authorship of William Shakespeare’s plays.  This Grade II-listed Wargrave Court, that lies in the quaint and historic village of Wargrave, Berkshire, has hit the property market for the first time in 2 generations for a sum of £3.5million. The stately home, that comes with a private island, has been owned by the Neville family and their descendants for three centuries.

The Listed Wargrave Court was built circa late 15th or early 16th century. Originally the building was used in the function of a city hall, as a court for manorial administrative purposes – ensuring local disputes were resolved, dues paid and fines levied. It was subsequently altered and further extended in the late 18th century, and then divided into three properties in 1955. Since that time, Wargrave Court has only had two owners, with the current owners purchasing it in 1978. The house retains a lot of period features, with exposed beams and original fireplaces throughout and the reception hall even has panels of late 18th century tapestry work.

The property’s main house has a gross internal area of 5,540 sq ft, the garage has a gross internal area of 432 sq ft and the outbuildings have a gross internal area of 315 sq ft.

The property  comes with has 7.7 acres of land, that includes a tennis court, and the village green which is leased to the church on a minimal rent. It also has a formidable garden with a summer house, flowers and mature shrub fencing. It also has a boathouse that one can access straight onto the river, which is a tributary of the Thames.


For more information or assistance with Listed Properties, please contact us.