As it happened: the National Planning Summit 2016

Planning's rolling coverage of the National Planning Summit 2016, including keynote speeches from planning minister Brandon Lewis and architect Lord Rogers.

Business Design Centre
Business Design Centre

18:03 That's it! Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed today's coverage. We'll be running a round-up of all today's big stories on tomorrow's lunchtime bulletin. You can sign up for it here.

18:00 Detailed coverage of green belt session at the National Planning Summit is now online. Click here to read the article.

17:59 Detailed coverage of infrastructure planning session at the National Planning Summit is now online. Click here to read the article.

17:16 Chair Richard Garlick winding up the summit but more coverage to come from Planning on the day’s sessions! Garlick says that key topics of the day included housing density, Starter Homes, local plan production. 

17:09 At expert panel session, Lawrence Revill, Partner, David Lock Associates says it is "inconceivable that housing needs can ever be satisfied without public housing growth". Peter Andrew, Deputy Chairman, Home Builders Federation says "we need more players in the market and one of those players may be the government."

16:56 At expert panel session, Liz Peace, former BPF chief executive, says that we can’t look to volume housebuilders to meet housing need. Peace says she is "not wholly convinced" that all government's planning reviews and panels (including her own CIL review) will find "big picture solution" to problems of housebuilding. "I remain sceptical that Housing and Planning Bill will deal with housing crisis", she says.

16:49 Earlier seminar on the green belt heard three contrasting viewpoints. Ed Clarke from the Centre for Cities called for the green belt to be "re-evaluated" around the least affordable cities. Simon Trueick, partnership planning policy manager at Christchurch and East Dorset Councils, told delegates how he had taken through a local plan which allocated nearly 3,500 homes in the green belt. But Paul Miner from the CPRE said there was still strong public support for protecting the green belt.

16:45 Question Time Expert Panel just kicking off. Speakers include Peter Andrew, Deputy Chairman, Home Builders Federation; Liz Peace, Adviser on Property, Politics and the Built Environment; and Lawrence Revill, Partner, David Lock Associates Ltd.

16:36 VIDEO: Planning's editor Richard Garlick interviews housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis

16:29 Phil Graham, chief executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, says that this is a "pivotal moment for infrastructure planning in UK". He says that the UK has been very good at "sweating" its infrastructure assets but there has been a realisation over recent years that this is coming to an end.

16:15 Remember, if you're at the summit or just want to comment via twitter on any of the news emerging from it, use the hashtag #ThePlanningSummit

16:15 At a session on infrastructure, Hugh Richards, barrister at No5 Chambers, said that if National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) reports are endorsed by government, it will provide "pretty compelling evidence" for any decision taker on a relevant DCO application. He said that the NIC reports will add to the weight in favour of a grant of the DCO. "Where questions of need arise, so long as the government endorses the NIC reports, the case on need will be compelling, if not overwhelming," he said.

15:47 More comments on office-to-residential conversions from Daryl Philips, joint chief executive of Hart District Council and chief executive lead on planning matters at the District Councils’ Network, who spoke at a session on new routes for accelerating housing permissions earlier today. He told delegates that, in terms of creating new homes, office-residential conversions had been "very effective", but he warned over the future ramifications of the loss of employment space. He said: "At some point we’re going to see the impact of changes to permitted development rights on employment land we may start to have to allocate more employment land for land that is lost". But he added that "some of the fears that people had over some of these conversions - over how they would affect town centres for example - they’re not manifesting themselves because the market isn’t bringing those forward - the market is picking the good sites".

15:45 Details just in from a breakout session on office-to-residential permitted development rights. Alice Lester, programme manager at the Planning Advisory Service, said that "outside of London it’s just not seen as an issue". She said: "Even in Birmingham and Bristol they say it’s not a big deal, the properties that are being affected tend to be low-grade office accommodation, they’re boosting housing delivery, it’s annoying about S106s and CIL, but it’s not affecting their employment strategy". However, she added that the edges of London had been "really, really affected" in terms of the volume of prior approval applications they’re getting.

15:40 Ian Mackay, neighbourhood planning manager from Leeds City Council highlights a number of case studies, including the Clifford neighbourhood plan, which he says is proposing to allocate a village green for housing and to allocate a site elsewhere as a village green. He also said that a neighbourhood plan at Linton is the subject of a judicial review, with one of the claimant’s arguments being that the plan is not promoting sustainable development as it does not any allocate sites for housing. He said that the council has opted to contest the judicial review, as it believed that the legal challenge threatened to destabilise other neighbourhood plan groups in Leeds.

15:25 During a breakout session on neighbourhood planning, Pegasus Group director Paul Burrell discusses the implications of the recent Haddenham case, in which developers successfully quashed the housing element of a neighbourhood plan adopted last September. He says that the example suggests that neighbourhood planning groups and local planning authorities need to take a more thorough and legalistic approach to neighbourhood planning in order to withstand the threat of judicial review.

14:50 Liz Peace says that the bulk of responses to the CIL review from the private sector were about strategic sites. She says that the issue has been considered at length by the review panel and will be the subject of recommendations in the review’s report.

14:25 Liz Peace, chair of the government’s CIL review, has just addressed a summit breakout session. She said that the review panel is just finishing the write up of its report, but it is not clear when this will be published due to purdah. The review panel expects to finish its deliberations by mid-May, Peace said, then it will be up to the government when the report is published.

Peace (pictured below) said that the panel had approached the review with a genuinely open mind, with all options on the table, including abolishing the levy, keeping it as it is, "and a whole load of things in between". Peace said that the greatest proportion of responses to the review had come from public bodies, and that she had been surprised by how few responses that been received from the private sector. There had been very few individual responses from developers, Peace said.

Peace said that the review had found that the levy is providing limited funds for infrastructure and was not meeting its stated goals of being simpler and faster.

13:50 A breakout session on ‘What makes a local plan sound’ heard how Hounslow Council had succeeded in producing a local plan within two years. Former planning chief Heather Cheesebrough and planning consultant Michael Thornton told the seminar that key factors in this success were the presence of the London Plan to guide the strategic context, the decision not to produce a borough-wide housing needs assessment, local political support for growth and the decision to take two key areas out of the plan (housing regeneration in Feltham, and the implications of Heathrow expansion).

Former Planning Inspectorate assistant director Keith Holland told the seminar that local authorities were having major problems over defining their housing needs and working through the Duty to Co-operate. But he said that the recommendations made by the Local Plans Expert Group offered the chance to enable plan-making to progress further. Holland said that the creation of a bottom-up arrangement of local authorities working together should be established to work out how to meet unmet housing needs from London. "I accept that we won't have regional planning but I think you need something like SERPLAN - a bottom-up approach to work out how you meet the needs together. Without that, you have a huge amount of unmet need flowing around in the ether."

13:44 Lunchtime update: key developments from this morning’s National Planning Summit sessions:

- Planning minister Brandon Lewis pledged to "strongly" resist Lords amendments to the government’s Starter Homes proposals, and said that changes to the planning system would bring in a renewed emphasis on brownfield development.

- Lord Rogers has said that Britain is "nowhere near" needing to build new towns in the countryside. He said that the focus should instead be on driving up development density in urban areas.

- John Adams, head of planning at Deloitte Real Estate, told the summit that there is a need to have a debate about planning at a "super-city scale" in order to accommodate London’s growth.

- A breakout session has heard that government must not "cherry pick" recommendations from a recent report on how the local plan-making process could be made more efficient and effective and instead adopt the suggested measures as a package.

13:30 Iain Gilbey, partner and head of planning and environment at Pinsent Masons LLP, told a session at the summit that the firm was "quite excited" about the use of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime to deliver housing schemes. He said that perhaps "the thin of the wedge" is being driven into the tension between localism and the provision of major infrastructure with the inclusion now of residential development within the NSIP regime. He said: "This was something that was anathema to the regime when it was first launched and indeed an NSIP would have failed if there was any residential element included as part of it. We’re now looking at the inclusion of up to 500 homes within an NSIP application provided that there is a functional or geographical link which is up to a mile away. That doesn’t mean that 500 units have to be functionally linked to the new nuclear power station or other other significant development project - they could be totally distinct from it in operational terms provided that they are more than a mile away. That’s a major sea change politically and philosophically for the government, bearing in mind how it started this process eight or nine years ago, and we’re quite excited about this because we can see opportunities for major housing developers, local authorities and utility providers … to work together to bring forward large scale infrastructure projects and large-scale housing through a combination of NSIPs and the Town and Country Planning Act regimes, wrapping round new nodes or transport infrastructure created as a result of those projects."

13:25 Time for a quick Twitter update. Here’s what delegates have been saying about the summit online. Remember, to get involved, please use the #ThePlanningSummit hashtag.

Deloitte Real Estate’s Jeremy Castle responds to breakout session comments from Transport for London’s Richard de Cani:


Delegate Dean Hermitage calls for a standardised approach to the five-year housing land supply process.


Consultancy Dixon Searle Partnership points to comments in a breakout session that the government should not cherry pick recommendations from the Local Plans Expert Group’s report.


13:00
A new report has just been launched at today’s National Planning Summit, examining the role of car clubs in new developments. The report, published by charity Carplus, found that where local planning authorities have a commitment to low car housing, there is an opportunity to move these forward, according to Carplus associate Chas Ball. He said that in such instances developers expect to be part of a debate about parking and car clubs. "We shouldn’t forget the importance of providing people with a car from time to time in order to wean them off car ownership, Ball told a summit breakout session.

12:35 More details coming in from a breakout session earlier this morning on local plan-making. John Rhodes, director of consultancy Quod and chair of the government-commissioned Local Plans Expert Group, highlighted a key factor in local plan problems. "We did find that SHMAAs were the absolute root cause of a lot of the difficulty behind local plans. The argument about OAN, the uncertainty about it, the industry that’s developed around this that dominates local plan examinations, has got to stop. And the only way you can make it stop is by creating virtually a calculator. Instead of taking 18 months and £100,000, you take about 18 hours you work out your OAN and there’s only one answer."

12:32 Detailed coverage of planning minister Brandon Lewis's speech to the National Planning Summit is now online. Click here to read the article.

12:31 Mike Lambert, planning director at Countryside Properties (pictured below), told a breakout session earlier that local plans should be a key part of how we create better places. "In order to create successful places we need at one level that certainty, commitment and leadership from the local authority, but we need a planning system that works," he said. He also said it’s a ‘failure of the system’ if neighbourhood plans drive local plans. "I don’t think that’s the way it should be working in terms of us getting strategic decisions". "You can’t do a neighbourhood plan in a parish and expect it to have all the answers," he added.

12:30 Richard de Cani, managing director for planning at mayoral agency Transport for London, tells a breakout session that transport links are critical for unlocking housing development. He says that where we’ve seen most housing growth is where transport investment has taken place. Areas with less rail accessibility have seen less growth, he adds. De Cani says that access to rail is incredibly important for viability, with viability falling away the further you get from a rail station.

11:55 Detailed coverage of Lord Rogers’ keynote speech to the National Planning Summit earlier this morning is now online. Click here to read the article.

11:50 Greater Manchester’s statutory spatial framework will go to the level of identifying areas of opportunity, and in some cases specific sites, a summit breakout session has heard. "It will go to that level of detail," Greater Manchester planning supremo Eamonn Boylan has said. According to Boylan, that was not the initial intention - the local authorities were originally intended to pick up that level of detail - but the government’s 2017 local plan deadline has meant that "went out the window".

11:40 Eamonn Boylan, lead chief executive for planning and housing at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, has been discussing city-regional devolution in a breakout session. He says that the 10 Greater Manchester authorities are preparing what is effectively a joint local plan. "We are working on the basis that this is effectively the local plan for Greater Manchester," he said. However, Boylan suggested that a proposed Greater Manchester CIL was of limited interest. "CIL in Greater Manchester is not exactly top of the agenda as economic conditions are such that it is very limited," he said.

11:20 Next up, we have a series of breakout sessions. Stay tuned for further updates.

11:05 Summit delegates react to the planning minister's comments:

10:55 During a Q&A, Lewis responds to a question on the recent Lords defeat to the Housing and Planning Bill’s Starter Homes requirement. "The message on that one is that we have an election mandate," he said. "We will deal with that when [the bill] comes back to the House of Commons." Lewis said that the government would look at the implications of the Lords amendment, but said that he did not agree with the position taken by the Lords.

10:45 Brandon Lewis (pictured below) concludes his remarks by saying that the updated National Planning Policy Framework will be published this summer. He says that boosting housing supply is not just key for economic growth, but we also have a moral duty to deliver more homes for future generations.

10:40 The planning minister places a big emphasis on brownfield land. He says that the government wants to increase the proportion of homes built on brownfield land. Key quote:

"We need to ensure new homes are built in the right places, and building on brownfield land is what most people want to see."

10:35 Lewis says that the government wants to reinforce the primacy of the plan-led system. He says that local plans published after the introduction of the NPPF are setting higher housing targets, but he adds that we need to go further. Plans must be kept up to date, he says, adding that the government will publish information on each local planning authorities’ local plan status later this year.

10:30 Our next speaker is housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis. Says we’ve come a long way since 2010. The economy was "on the rocks", housebuilding had plummeted to "record lows" and the idea of locally-led planning was "anathema", he says. The "top-down" system wasn’t delivering.

10:20 Adams says that there is a need to have a debate about planning at a "super-city scale". He suggests that the London mayor could be afforded greater influence over strategic planning across South East England.

10:15 Adams says that the best examples of placemaking are derived from strong partnerships. He says that there should be an emphasis on vision, rather than a development control-centred approach. A stronger zoning model is required to introduce greater certainty.

10:10 John Adams, head of planning at Deloitte Real Estate, is now talking about how London’s growth can be accommodated. He says that greater density has the most important role to play. The expansion of settlements outside of London should be part of a much longer-term solution, he adds.

10:05 During the Q&A session, Lord Rogers strongly dismisses the need for new towns. Key quote below:

We’re nowhere near needing new towns. We are at least 20 years away before we’ve used all brownfield.

10:00 Lord Rogers (pictured below) has finished speaking and is now taking questions.

Some delegates have commented on the architect's speech on Twitter:

09:55 Lord Rogers discusses the potential for "new towns" to be built within cities. He says that Kings Cross is essential a new town, and adds that there’s room for a new town in the centre of Croydon. Many cities have potential for building in the centre, says Lord Rogers, who says that there is still a lot of space in central Manchester.

09:40 Today’s first speaker is architect Lord Rogers, who is speaking about the role urban renaissance can play in meeting the demand for housing growth. There is an amazing amount of brownfield land still available, he tells summit delegates.

09:35 Planning’s editor Richard Garlick opens the summit, highlighting a "bewildering pace of change" in planning. He says that the difficulty of keeping up to date is a key constraint on local planning authorities in planning for growth. This conference has been designed to offer practical insights into how this can be done, he says.

09:30 Today's lunchtime Planning Daily bulletin will include detailed coverage of the morning's key summit sessions, as well as breaking news from elsewhere, including Westminster, where peers yesterday voted to insert a neighbourhood right of appeal into the Housing and Planning Bill. Sign up to receive the bulletin here.

09:20 Delegates are starting to arrive at today's National Planning Summit, being held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, north London. This blog will bring you all the latest developments live from the event, which has been organised by Planning. Get involved by tweeting using the #ThePlanningSummit hashtag. Today's first keynote speaker is architect Lord Rogers, who is due to address the summit at 9:40.


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