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Patrick Daly, Senior Planner
7 December 2017
This is likely to have been the toughest draft London Plan to date.
As I sit in a crowded room at City Hall in anticipation of the unveiling of the Plan, I can’t help but find myself reflecting on what has been a difficult year for London. Amidst a number of tragedies over the past year, mounting uncertainty with Brexit looming large in the background and a growing affordable housing crisis, Mayor Sadiq Khan and the London Plan team have had their work cut-out to deliver a draft Plan that provides a clear and decisive direction for London over what could be a challenging decade ahead.
Of course, the most unyielding issue facing London undoubtedly is housing. In the draft Plan, the Mayor has set the bar higher and seeks to deliver 65,000 homes per year; a very ambitious target given prevailing viability issues facing developers and uncertain times ahead. Surprisingly, the Plan includes a relaxation on garden land protection, which has already attracted controversy. There is also a clamp down on parking provision and abandonment of the former Mayor’s density matrix in places near key transport hubs. Indeed, the Plan goes further and states that applications that do not optimise densities should be refused; a clear message for developers then – ‘max out’ sites and get London back on track to deliver as many homes as possible. A large proportion of these new homes are set to be delivered in London’s suburbs, with London’s outer town centres likely to be dominated by islands of high rise development, which again is likely to cause some controversy. In addition, the Mayor’s new private internal standards for homes offer some confusing reading and likely confusion in plan drafting for architects.
As anticipated, the Plan specifies an expectation that half of all new homes on publicly owned land will be affordable. However, the target is set lower for private land at 35%; a concession from the Mayor perhaps and an indication that he understands the issues facing house builders. Interestingly, the Mayor has added a carrot for developers – should private developments meet the affordable housing and tenure targets, planning applications will benefit from a ‘Fast Track Route’ and will not be required to provide a viability assessment. How this ‘fast track system’ works, in reality, remains to be seen, as it will still need the co-operation of Local Planning Authorities to be of real benefit to developers.
New growth corridors have been announced: Crossrail 2, the Thames Estuary, the Bakerloo line extension, Central London, the Elizabeth Line East, Heathrow, the Elizabeth Line West, Trams Triangle/London-Gatwick-Brighton mainline and HS2. These will be key growth areas for London in the coming years as the Mayor seeks to house the predicted 10.8 million people in London by 2041.
Despite the augmented targets and new areas outlined for development, the Greenbelt and Metropolitan Open Land remains sacrosanct and even more so as the renewed emphasis is placed on the role of London’s green spaces as the ‘lungs of the Capital’. With that said, the case can still be made for ‘very special circumstances’ for key projects and indeed, this approach has been used by DPP to secure consent for a number of education developments on Green Belt and MOL sites in recent years. Very much in line with this commitment from the Mayor is the focus to make more than half of London green by 2050 and to assist, a new Urban Greening Factor ‘calculator’ provides a methodical approach for developers and Local Authorities. Again, another very ambitious target given the associated costs of installation and maintenance of green roofs and walls and this is something developers should take note of moving forward.
On sustainability matters, there is a clear emphasis to improve air quality in London, something the Mayor has been keen to tackle. Developers will be expected not to worsen existing poor air quality or create new areas that would exceed air quality limits, along with a host of other new measures. Of course, the net zero-carbon targets will be in force come adoption of the Plan and for the first time, the London Plan has set a London-wide expectation that formal accreditation to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ will be achieved on all major commercial development. Our experience at DPP leads us to believe that this is will be an extra cost burden, as the leap from ‘Very Good’ to ‘Excellent’ involves a disproportionate uplift in cost on developments.
Taking all of this into consideration, I sit here at the end of the presentation wondering whether some of these targets can realistically be met. Whilst there is a clear virtue in the Mayor’s attempt to address London’s housing crisis, I’m unsure as to whether the right signals have been sent to house builders given the current climate of uncertainty; build more homes – yes – but give more affordable housing and meet more design and sustainability standards. Looking ahead, the housing crisis may become especially acute considering the potential impact of a reduced construction workforce and a price hike in the cost of imported materials from future trading tariffs with Europe after Brexit. Indeed, I wonder if the possibility of such negative shocks to the economy has been fully appreciated during the drafting of the Plan. I suppose we wait to see the full ramifications of Brexit talks, future trade deals and the degree of restricted movement of labour to be able to fully assess the likely impacts further.
In all, a London Plan with ambitious but what appears at times to be conflicting aims.
The consultation period of the new draft London Plan is now underway and comments can be submitted until 2nd March 2018. DPP can provide further insight and prepare representations on your behalf. Should you wish to discuss further, please call the London Office on 020 7706 6290.
To view the Draft Plan click here
6 December 2017
Last week’s budget acknowledged the ‘housing crisis’ and announced a raft of new funding and measures for the housing market.
The housing package gave £15 billion of new support for house building, split between a series of measures including loans for SME builders, remediation of brownfield land and grants to local authorities to unlock housing land. This additional funding takes the commitment to £44 billion over 5 years to boost skills, resources and land and gave a guarantee of planning reform and intervention, some of which are yet to be announced.
In what feels like a somewhat timeworn, late 90’s style logic, the focus for urban housing growth has been given to ‘high-density housing around transport hubs, where people want to live, making the best use of urban sites and continuing strong protection of Green Belt land.’ A frequently used measure, with a high frequency of failure. There is no relaxation of Green Belt protection or respite from neighbouring planning reform, to go some way to delivering ambitious housing targets. The government’s failure to explore this issue means any reform changes could be significantly constrained.
Behind the budget, we see many urban housing delivery measures, including future consultations to; seek minimum densities for housing developments with greater support for the use of CPOs for site assembly, policy changes to ease conversion from retail and employment land, and a permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with housing.
A commitment was also given to a Letwin review into stalled sites with planning permission, with a measure again to impose CPO or other measures on those who delay delivery.
Intervention, where local authorities are failing to progress Local Plans, is welcomed, as are moves to force joint statutory plans. Less welcome is the suggestion that land being ‘banked’ could be subject to expanded powers of compulsory purchase. Perhaps a reaction to this measure is that major housebuilders are the leading FTSE 100 fallers since the budget announcements.
Overall the measures, including the additional funding, are much needed, however, the lack of movement or easing on issues such as Green Belt and Neighbourhood Plans is unlikely to deliver the much-needed housing to deal with the crisis.
10 November 2017
DPP are delighted to announce the promotion of Kayleigh Dixon to Principal Planner in the Newcastle office. Kayleigh joined DPP in 2012 as an Assistant Planner and quickly rose through to senior level. Her consistent and significant contributions to the growth of the Newcastle office and input on wider company efforts make this a well-deserved step up.
Newcastle Director Faith Folley said;
“Kayleigh has been a key member of the Newcastle office for over 5 years now. Kayleigh is held in high regard externally and internally to DPP for her technical ability and project management skills, especially in dealing with highly complex large-scale schemes including EIA development. This contribution and more besides to the business has led to a well-deserved promotion. Congratulations!”
27 October 2017
As the industry prepares for the forthcoming Education Estates event in Manchester next week, we are delighted to have secured resolutions to grant permission for 5 new schools in the past month.
Yavneh Primary School in Hertsmere, Glenbrook Primary in Lambeth, NAS Vanguard SEN School also in Lambeth, Langley Park Primary in Bromley and Ark Pioneer Secondary in Barnet.
Bob Robinson, DPP Director London said:
It’s been a really successful few weeks, as we have secured resolutions to grant planning permission for 5 new schools, including some on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and Green Belt where ‘very special circumstances’ were successfully demonstrated.
29 September 2017
On behalf of Durham University, DPP’s Newcastle office has secured planning consent for a new £40m high-class, state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility as part of its proposed Estate Masterplan over the next ten years.
The facility will be a central part of the University’s estate, and as well as providing additional lecture theatres, classrooms, seminar rooms, catering facilities, education labs, breakout spaces and student learning zones, it will also support conference facilities for around 500 people during University vacation periods.
Faith Folley, DPP’s Newcastle director said;
“We’re really pleased to have helped the University secure permission on such an exciting project. We look forward to helping deliver their masterplan vision, which will enable them to build on their existing £650m contribution the institution already makes to the North East, and the 10,000 jobs it supports locally.”
28 September 2017
DPP are delighted to welcome 7 new Assistant Planners to the company across all offices. In Newcastle, Lauren Hunter joins after completing a BA in Geography at Northumbria University. Alice Henderson, based in Manchester, joins following a BA in Geography from the University of Leeds.
DPP’s Leeds office welcome Rosie Allsopp from the University of Sheffield.
Cardiff welcomes two people from Cardiff University; Sian Thomas and Kate Davis.
Finally, the London office welcomes Poppy O’Flanagan from Cardiff University, whilst Dolapo David, joins from Reading University.
CEO, Gareth Hooper said:
“This investment in a significant number of talented Assistant Planners in each of our offices reflects the growth we are experiencing in every region and across many sectors. These new recruits enable us to continue to provide the excellent service our existing clients have come to expect, whilst also enabling us to continue to grow in new areas. As witnessed by a number of the current Directors, DPP has a history of Assistant Planners rising through the company and I hope the support we provide to the new recruits and the wide variety of projects they will experience, will enable this to continue”
14 September 2017
RESI 2017 kicks off in earnest today, and to follow a raft of new sector brochure launches, we’re pleased to share the latest from DPP Director, Mark Lane’s Residential team; Osian Roberts, Tim Spencer, Richard Purser, and Jo Robison. Please contact any of them if you would like further information
firstname.lastname@example.orgDPP - Residential Brochure F1 compressed
8 September 2017
As the UK’s universities begin another scholastic year, DPP are pleased to launch a second brochure from sector head, Michelle Davies; Higher & Further Education
Please contact Michelle for further information on 0113 350 9865 or michelle.davies@dppukltdDPP - Higher Education F2 under 2MB
1 September 2017
Head of Education, Michelle Davies, is pleased to launch DPP’s latest sector brochure focusing on the great work she and her team have been doing for Schools.
Please contact Michelle for further information on 0113 350 9865 or michelle.davies@dppukltd
DPP - Schools Brochure F2 webcompressed
10 August 2017
Acting on behalf of ESRG Developments, DPP Planning have secured permission for more than 360 new apartments to be built on a pair of derelict sites in Digbeth, Birmingham including one ravaged by fire two years ago.
DPP promoted two applications on neighbouring sites for re-development by ESRG, reflecting the aspirations of Birmingham Council’s ‘Big City Plan’, which aims to regenerate the area south of the city centre. Architects Whittam Cox developed the two schemes which reflect the industrial heritage of the area, whilst addressing the challenges of irregular shaped sites and overlooking neighbouring properties.
DPP Chief Executive Officer, Gareth Hooper said:
“These two applications have really tested the Council’s commitment to regenerating the area. The transition Digbeth is currently going through means that we had to work hard to demonstrate that a residential use was appropriate in a formerly industrial area. Overcoming the challenges of high density living, accessibility and viability meant that these consents pave the way for the further regeneration of the area.”
DPP are also progressing an application for a further 135 residential units in Digbeth and in pre-application discussions for another 150.
3 August 2017
National planning consultancy DPP have appointed a new senior planner, Jen Patterson, based in their Newcastle office.
Originally from Guildford, Jen has a degree in Planning and a Post Graduate diploma in Planning, both from Newcastle University.
Having worked in both public and private sectors, Jen brings to DPP, a wide range of experience with a variety of clients, and projects including rural diversification, renewable energy and both large and small scale commercial and residential.
Faith Folley, DPP’s Newcastle Director said “We are delighted to welcome Jen to the team, she brings with her great experience and additional knowledge to our ever-expanding portfolio of projects and clients in the North East. We have worked especially hard on growing our residential experience, notably with the recent approval of the landmark tower at Rutherford Street, Newcastle. Jen will be a great asset in driving forward the success we have seen in this sector lately.”
“DPP has some very exciting projects in the pipeline, a fantastic team and a great reputation for results not just for clients but also for fostering career development,” says Jen, “I’m delighted to be joining Faith’s team, and jumped at the chance of working together having known her for a while now.”
28 July 2017
DPP are delighted to announce the promotion of 4 staff across three of its five offices, including Jonathan Burns’ appointment to Associate Director in Manchester.
John Francis, Director of DPP’s Manchester office, had this to say;
“Jonathan joined us in 2008 as a graduate and has risen through the ranks to become an Associate Director and key member of the Manchester team. Although he’s an all-rounder and advises on all aspects of planning and land uses, soon after joining us it became clear he had a strong aptitude for retail and economic assessments. Since then, initially as a member of the wider team, but more recently as its lead, he has driven the main DPP retail team.”
Other promotions include; Ryan Grant (Manchester), Nicola Waller (Newcastle) & Matthew Rhodes (Leeds) all of whom go from Assistant Planners to Planners.
“Jonathan, Ryan, Nicola and Matt are all working on a range of projects across the UK, and have delivered outstanding results for our clients. These well-deserved promotions reflect the important contributions they have all made to DPP and I look forward to them continuing to develop with us.”
Gareth Hooper, Chief Executive Officer
9 June 2017
We’re delighted to announce we have been shortlisted for Consultancy of the Year award in the Wales Insider Property Awards 2017.
‘DPP’s Cardiff office continue to work with an impressive range of clients across Wales, delivering an exemplary record in securing approvals in some of the most constrained and protected sites in the region. Our track record demonstrates not only the personal ownership and pride we take in every project, but our dedication to ensuring that by applying knowledge, experience and national contacts, we can unlock difficult sites.’ Gareth Hooper, CEO DPP Planning.
DPP’s shortlisting was based on their work on nationally significant projects including Cardiff University’s centre for Student Life, the first new building to be approved in Cardiff’s Civic Centre for 36 years; the regeneration of the listed former HSBC building on Bute Street; and the leading the proposals for the redevelopment of Bradley Court in Cardiff city centre.
The winner will be announced on 29th June at Cardiff’s Mercure Holland House Hotel & Spa. Best of luck to all of those nominated.
28 November 2016
The Manchester office of DPP has submitted a detailed planning application for a new mixed-use retail and leisure development in Rochdale town centre.
DPP is acting for Genr8 Developments on its £60 million Rochdale Riverside development that will deliver around 18,580 sq m of retail and leisure floor space for 24 units, including a new Marks & Spencer anchor store as well as a Next outlet. Phase 1 will also include a new 6-screen cinema operated by Reel Cinemas while Phase 2 of the development will see additional commercial and office space, 100 residential apartments and a hotel.
Rochdale Riverside is a key element in the town centre’s £250m regeneration programme, which has already seen the re-opening of the River Roch and construction of Rochdale Borough Council’s award-winning customer service centre, library and office building, Number One Riverside.
“Rochdale Riverside is an exciting project to work on and a vital part of the town’s regeneration,“ says John Francis, Director at DPP’s Manchester office. “As well as working with Genr8 and the scheme’s designers TP Bennett Architects, DPP has provided strategic planning advice and support, including the preparation of an environmental statement.”
Phase 1 of the scheme is expected to generate over 1,000 new jobs and deliver a £17m boost to the local economy. Rochdale Riverside is being delivered jointly by Genr8 Developments and Kajima in partnership with Rochdale Borough Council, with a decision on the planning application expected in the New Year.
15 November 2016
The Newcastle office of DPP has secured planning permission for the development Milburngate, the largest regeneration site in Durham City for a decade.
A consortium of Arlington Real Estate, Carillion and Richardson Capital LLP will redevelop the Milburngate House site. Formerly home to Her Majesty’s Passport Office and National Savings and Investments, Milburngate will be a mixed-use development, providing the opportunity for around £160m of inward investment and lead to the creation of more than 1,000 full-time jobs and 650 construction roles.
Adjacent to a World Heritage and conservation area setting, it will feature an Everyman Cinema as the cornerstone of its leisure offering alongside a variety of premium restaurants and bars, 291 high- specification apartments and energy-efficient office space.
“We’re proud to be involved in such an exciting, high-profile project,” says Faith Folley, Director of DPP’s Newcastle-upon-Tyne office. “I truly believe that the redevelopment will transform the area, opening up the use of the riverside and improving public facilities. It will also be a significant catalyst in generating jobs.”
The Milburngate House site is the second key element of the regeneration of Durham’s riverside by the consortium, having previously undertaken the regeneration of Freemans Reach on the opposite bank of the River Wear, creating sustainable new offices for Her Majesty’s Passport Office and National Savings and Investments and helping retain more than 1,000 jobs.
Construction on site will start in spring next year after the demolition of the existing building, which is currently underway.
14 November 2016
The Leeds office of DPP has secured planning approval for a new supermarket on Brighton Street in west Hull.
The approved proposal will transform a former car showroom which now lies vacant into a 2,470 sq. m gross, 1,424 sq. m net Lidl foodstore.
The new Lidl supermarket will replace an existing Lidl in Hessle Road, which will be closing because it is too small and outdated to fully meet Lidl’s customer requirements and the company’s expansion plans.
“This proposal will improve the shopping offer in this part of West Hull, regenerate a brownfield site and help to increase the footfall and activity to the Hessle Road District Centre,” says Michelle Bath, Director at DPP’s Leeds Office.
Construction is due to start in January 2017.
28 October 2016
DPP’s Manchester office has secured planning permission, on behalf of English Cities Fund, for an 11 storey building as part of the ongoing regeneration scheme in the New Bailey area of Salford Central.
The new Grade A, BREEAM ‘Excellent’ development, will provide around 24,000 sqm of B1 office floor space and 830 sqm of commercial ground floor space. The building, designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, is set to complement the recently completed One New Bailey development, which houses London law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and restaurant Menagerie.
In addition, DPP has also achieved planning permission in Salford for the English Cities Fund for four new apartment buildings with up to 843 new units, a 33 storey tower, multi-storey car park and space on the ground floor for commercial units. These changes are part of a broader planning exercise to update the Salford Central Masterplan for Zones A/C. The development, created by architect AHR, borders both the St. Johns and Middlewood Locks developments.
“We are delighted to have achieved planning permission for both of these projects for English Cities Fund,” says John Francis, Director at DPP’s Manchester office. “It’s an exciting time to be involved in the regeneration of Salford and these changes reflect the current market trends and the changing cityscape of the area”.
DPP has been planning advisers to English Cities Fund, which is a partnership of Muse, Legal & General and HCA, on the Salford Central project for 10 years.
27 October 2016
DPP’s Leeds office has submitted a new planning application for St George’s Retail Park, off the city’s Middleton Ring Road.
Being developed by DPP’s client, Commercial Development Projects Ltd, the new retail development, on the site of the former Benyon Centre will be anchored by a new format Lidl store and a B&M Homestore.
“This is a significant investment in a derelict site that will help act as a catalyst for regeneration of the area,” says Michelle Bath, Director of DPP’s Leeds office. “The site was previously promoted by a supermarket but then abandoned. When the development is completed it will provide up to 140 jobs for local people.”
The decision on the new planning permission for St George’s Retail Park is expected in the new year, with construction due to start shortly afterwards.
Michelle Bath, Director and Education Lead at DPP's Leeds office, looks at the issues in meeting the demand for new school places
18 October 2016
We are sitting on a school places time bomb, particularly in Greater London and the major urban conurbations; but with imaginative and careful planning we can do something about it.
According to an official forecast from the Department for Education in July, by 2025 an extra 750,000 schools places in England alone will be needed to keep up with a population bulge.
Education is an emotive subject in the UK with debate around free schools, the re-introduction of grammars, the validity of leagues tables and perhaps the most controversial of all – parents failing to get their children into their first choice schools.
All these factors will undoubtedly be a challenge for the current Education Secretary Justine Greening. They will also challenge anybody involved in the building of the much needed schools. Where there are challenges there are also opportunities and as planners we can play a key role in the provision of extra spaces.
The role of effective planning, however, is all too often ignored in the early stages of a school project – a time when we can have the most impact and add the greatest value. Linked to the lack of places is a shortage of available and affordable land and the need to plan developments more imaginatively. For example, we should look at schools being part of mixed use residential development or favour the more challenging sites in terms of planning such as those in the Green Belt.
For the greatest impact, planners need to be involved right from the beginning of any new school build. All too often it is assumed that because a new school is a government project it will sail through any consultation. This is definitely not the case. Although people invariably say they want schools in their area, they don’t necessarily want them too close to them and a single challenge by a well-informed resident can delay the process.
DPP’s work on the Priority School Building Programme Yorkshire for contractor Laing O’Rourke highlights the value that a skilled planner can add. An accelerated timeline from the Education Funding Agency saw planning permission secured for seven secondary schools within six weeks of being appointed, demonstrating the need for in depth knowledge of, and experience in, the education sector.
Elsewhere, DPP co-ordinated the preparation and submission of outline and reserved planning applications for the development of Excelsior Academy in Newcastle upon Tyne. A publicly funded secondary school in the west end of the city, we were involved in public consultation and attendance at both high profile planning committees.
The opening time of a new school is non-negotiable – it has to be at the start of the September term. By bringing in the skills of a specialist planner in the early stages for site identification, risk assessment and advice on public consultation and stakeholder engagement for example, painful delays can be avoided.
Michelle Bath addressed this year’s Education Estates conference on Planning for Schools, examining how it is possible to de-risk the planning process by focusing on recent changes in planning legislation. This thought piece was reported on Building 4 Education‘s website.
24 September 2016
Independent national planning consultancy DPP continues to strengthen its Cardiff office with the addition of assistant planner Abbie Connelly.
An ex-Whitchurch High School pupil, Abbie, who lives in Rhiwbina, has joined the planning consultancy after graduating with a BSc in City and Regional Planning from Cardiff University.
“I’m going to be working across the full range of sectors,” says Abbie. “Cardiff really is a vibrant city and I’m excited about being involved in the challenges it faces as it grows, such as the provision of extra housing.”
“DPP is growing as we continue to win work around Cardiff and across the UK,” says Gareth Hooper, CEO of DPP. “Abbie is a recent graduate who we believe will make a significant contribution to DPP both now, and in the future, as she continues to gain experience.”
When not working, Abbie 21, enjoys skiing and photography.
Abbie’s appointment was also reported on Planning Jobs.