Writing in Property Week, Adam Branson reports that housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a raft of planning reforms to speed up the development of new homes, including new permitted development rights (PDRs), a register of brownfield land and a focus on “beautiful” building.
Finish competition promotes timber for high-rise extensions – construction index
(approximately a quarter of existing buildings are strong enough to carry additional floors.
Timber is the only material light enough to build quickly on to existing structures.
Add 2 Floors Free
The minister confirmed that this summer, a new PDR will be introduced that will allow developers to add two storeys to housing blocks without planning permission.
More to Come
The government will also consult on a second new PDR that would allow for the demolition of vacant commercial, industrial and residential buildings on the basis that they would be “replaced with well-designed new residential units that meet natural light standards”.
Greater SME Contribution Wanted
Commentators believe that taken together with a pledge to release a register of brownfield sites, the moves represent a genuine commitment to encouraging small and medium sized (SME) developers to contribute more to building the homes the country needs.
“The secretary of state’s announcements show clear intent to encourage SME developers and promote their role alongside the large housebuilders,” says Karen Cooksley, head of planning at law firm Winckworth Sherwood.
Smaller Firms Preferred
Victoria Hills of the RTPI’s view is that:
“New tools to allow brownfield land to be brought forward are a clear demonstration of this goal. These, taken in conjunction with the expansion of permitted development rights, show the government is trying to make it as easy as possible for SMEs to grab opportunities to build, rather than placing continued reliance on the big developers.”
Design & Location Risks
Cooksley says she is surprised by the proposed new PDRs, given the much-reported problems with the quality of some homes that have been developed under office-to-residential PDR. Organisations representing public sector planners also expressed concern that an extension of PDR would undermine the ability of planning authorities to demand affordable housing and infrastructure contributions from developers.
“We have significant concerns with proposals to extend PDR for upward extensions so that developers can avoid paying what they owe for local infrastructure and affordable homes,” says Mark Crane, lead member for stronger economies at the District Councils’ Network.
Concerns about PDR
Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), agrees.
“The RTPI has longstanding concerns about the extension of PDR, which we feel will encourage a piecemeal, short-term approach,” she says.“Extended PDRs risk poorly designed and inappropriately located housing and will make it more difficult for communities to have a say on development. It will also result in diminished developer contributions through application fees, which go towards affordable housing and infrastructure.”
Other Land Uses Ignored
The impact on other land uses is another planning concern, according to Stuart Baillie, head of planning at Knight Frank. “The key focus was on housing supply, almost to the exclusion of other land uses,” he says. “The changes to PDR potentially fly in the face of other planning policies for the protection of industrial land and will need to be carefully managed to ensure quality and affordable provisions are maintained.”
Hew Edgar, head of UK government relations and city strategy at RICS, highlights the environmental impact of giving developers carte blanche to demolish existing buildings. He argues that the carbon emissions involved in building new structures, not least from concrete and steel, outweigh the embodied carbon in existing structures.
“It is bizarre, given their net-zero commitment, that the government is proposing to make it easier to demolish existing buildings, rather than retrofitting them with the latest technology,” says Edgar. “It isn’t green or sustainable for our planet and ministers have been repeatedly told that.”
Ponder on Partnering
This ‘Good News’ for small housebuilders could be soured by the dangers and difficulties of ‘Building Upward’. In our view, based on many years’ experience of such projects, ‘Partnering’ closely with all stakeholders is essential. By integrating the IoT (Internet of Things) into our thoughts, designs and processes we can help architects and developers streamline their planning application procedures and deliver projects quickly & efficiently.
Partnering Profits People
We’ve spent years getting good at what we do. creating them to satisfy all types of design, so can help you, your buyers or tenants, adapting our business innovations and developments to your projects . This really means engaging with your whole team to deliver on time and within budget. It requires a systematic, solution driven approach which brings discipline to the process, sharing information and communications. Applying DfMA (Design for Manufacture & Assembly) defines the process of taking these to the next level; a welcome change in the overall approach to project management and development – and to those who just ‘talk about it’!
Partnering for Progress
All of this entails a shift in thinking to that already practiced by established ‘Off-Site’ MMC manufacturers. It can be quickly and easily incorporated into procedures and processes of building and development. Better still, you can make partnering arrangements with such manufacturers to gain all round benefits.
Greater Speed, Accuracy, Quality and Lower Costs
Greater collaborative ‘partnering’ between architects, builders and manufacturers will deliver these. The greater speed, accuracy and quality that can result from manufacturing components in a dry, controlled factory environment, together with the ability tom incorporate (yet to be invented) ‘Smart Ware’ gives home builders perhaps the only way of achieving this, together with improved on-site build quality AND controlling costs.
While resistance to the change to DfMA has been the norm, the wish of most UK Builders to deliver excellent customer service and top notch homes is now driving an increasing number to choose Off-Site for their developments. Also, as ‘OffSite Hub” note, architects and designers are moving toward DfMA, something we have been encouraging for over 20 years. The emergence of LA Developers will only speed up this process.
Easy Timber Frame
To assist them in doing so our “Easy Timber Frame “ now offers standard size modular timber frame elements for them to use as a design base, cutting down on technical design and engineering to produce win-win results. This virtually provides any housebuilder or architect with their own bespoke design factory facility.