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Shropshire Council plans to build and sell houses in bid to plug financial hole

Shropshire Council is planning to build and sell houses to make money as part of its efforts to tackle a financial black hole.

The council is suggesting the measure as one way of dealing with its financial deficit and says that the purchase of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres will also provide an income of £2.7 million in the next financial year.

Other projects the authority hope will raise money include the redevelopment of Shirehall as a ‘public sector hub’, the development of health centres and community hubs, and buying and developing commercial property.

The council also wants to sell its services to external clients, and look at new services it could provide.

These include a new library services initiative called “Fab Reads”, charging for the time of building control team staff, and fees for tree preservation orders.

The proposals will be discussed at Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting.

The move to build and sell houses has been welcomed by the council’s Labour leader Alan Mosley, who described the plan as a “far better” investment than the shopping centres.

He said: “It’s good to see that they’re looking at investing in housing, particularly the rental section, which would be a far better investment than the shopping centres in terms of social value.”

But he criticised proposals to sell some of the council’s services as a risk.

“Shropshire Council is desperate to try and fill the massive black hole in its finances and seeking additional income for services is one way,” Councillor Mosley added.

“However, as has been acknowledged in the financial strategy, there are massive risks in relying on income to fund future service needs.

“This is no way in which councils should be financing the provision of vital and critical resources for residents.”

The council’s commercial strategy, approved by cabinet in March 2017, intends to invest in schemes and projects which can deliver £10m to £15m of new revenue income over a period of five to 10 years with returns of investment exceeding 10 per cent.

A spokeswoman for Shropshire Council said: “As government funding dwindles, choosing where to make savings is getting more and more difficult, especially as demand on the services we provide for our most vulnerable residents increases.

“Our financial strategy sets out a number of savings we propose to make over the next five years in order to balance our (revenue) budget.

“A key part of this is raising income.

“We are continuing to review all of the services we deliver (over 150, across the county) to explore whether they can sell their existing services to external clients and identify any new ones they can provide.”

Source: Shropshire Star

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Chelmsford residents slam property developer about plan to build 120 homes and expand primary school

Residents in a Chelmsford village have criticised property developers after they relaunched an application to build more than 100 homes and expand a primary school.

Bellway Homes has submitted new plans to build on a greenbelt site at the bottom of Aragon Road in Great Leighs.

The application also outlines proposals to expand Great Leighs Primary School on the same road.

The new plans come just two months after Bellway’s initial proposal to build 205 houses on the same site were refused by Chelmsford City Council after they deemed the site “unsuitable for development”.

The land is not part of any site earmarked for development as part of Chelmsford City Council’s LDP.

Why do local residents reject these proposals?

The site is located next to the school

Bob and Lorraine Wale, who live at 17 Aragon Road, started a campaign to halt the original plans and feel that the new proposal is no better.

Bob, 55, who works as a yacht broker, said: “We bought this house five years ago knowing that we would have busy traffic twice a day because of the school.

“But if more than 100 houses are built, there are going to be hundreds of cars having to get down Aragon Road at the same time as the school run.

“This road will become jammed. Everyone around there will have to use a car as well because there are no local shops.

“They are not really considering the people of Great Leighs. We want to preserve the intrinsic character of the village.”

Lorraine, also 55, said: “We worked really hard last time out to make sure everyone knew how to object to the application.

“No one wants the development here.”

Resident reasons against Great Leighs development

  • Site was not earmarked in Chelmsford City Council’s Local Plan.
  • Would ruin countryside views.
  • Access road (Aragon Road) will be a danger at peak times.
  • Pick-up points highlighted in Bellway’s Plans are not sufficient.
  • Only one way out into the village will cause problems especially at peak times.

Debbie Niccol, 54, lives on the same road and also objects to the recent application.

“I am furious about the plans,” she said.

“The council has already outlined all of the sites earmarked for development.

“This was deemed unsuitable.”

Debbie bought her current house three years ago and moved into the area because of its ‘village feel’.

But she fears that if this plan is pushed through the character of the village will be lost.

She added: “We bought our house because we loved the village feel.

“We don’t want it to become a housing estate – once you start getting bigger it becomes a faceless community.

“There is not enough infrastructure in place.

“All of the reasons that it didn’t go through last time have not changed.

“I am absolutely sick of these developers – I feel we do not have a voice in all of this.”

Developers are proposing an access road from Aragon Road

Jackie Ritchie, who also lives in the area, said: “There are not enough transport links.

“The road will be a nightmare for the school.

“I take my son to Chelmer Valley High School and I cannot get out of my road as it is.

“The plans will not work because people will not park in the designated areas, they will park as close to the school as they can.

“I do not know if it will go through or not but I can see myself being pushed out if it does go ahead.”

The site would be located behind Kay Close, Audley Road and Aragon Road.

Bellway say they have addressed the concerns made by residents in the area by adapting the plan.

Great Leighs Primary School has also been approached for a comment.

How do the new plans differ from the old proposals?

Bellway Homes submitted an Outline Planning Application to Chelmsford City Council on February 5.

The application is for 120 new homes with public open space, landscaping and land for expansion of Great Leighs Primary School.

The site is located to the north of Longlands Farm and Boreham Road at the bottom of Aragon Road.

It is on the same site as their previous application for 205 homes which was refused by the council on November 27, 2017.

Here are the similarities and differences between the two applications:

  • 120 new homes (including 35 per cent affordable) down from 205 homes.
  • Still include fully equipped play areas and land for Great Leighs Primary School.
  • Vehicular access from Aragon Road.
  • No vehicular access to Boreham Road.
  • Parking in the development for pick-up and drop-off to the school.
  • Retention of existing public rights of way.
  • Inclusion of 15m green buffer to Sandylay Woodland.

A spokesperson for Bellway said: “We have worked in consultation with the local Council and community to take all views into consideration and ultimately, to make amendments to our plans.

“As part of this, we have significantly reduced the number of homes from 205 to 120.

“We look forward to making progress on this development, and delivering much needed new homes in this popular area.”

Source: Essex Live

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Number of farming building conversions falls 20 percent in a year

The number of conversions of farm buildings into new homes dropped 20% in the last year, denting hopes that these conversions could help solve the rural housing crisis.

According to Lendy, one of Europe’s largest peer-to-peer lending platforms, only 1,511 agricultural-to-residential conversion applications were approved in 2016/17.

This figure is down from 1,890 in 2015/16. Lendy adds that local authorities rejected 38% of all applications for converting farm buildings to houses last year.

It says converting outbuildings such as barns and stables into housing can be an “effective” way of combating the UK’s housing shortage, which is being felt “just as badly” in the countryside as it is in cities.

For example, a recent development of eight new houses in rural Cornwall had over 800 people apply to rent, demonstrating the demand for more rural housing.

As well as making unused buildings available for new housing, selling surplus outbuildings to convert can provide farmers with a vital source of additional income, according to Lendy.

‘Bank lending’

Lendy adds that in addition to the fall in applications and high number of refusals, another issue for developers is that bank lending to property developers remains low.

It says many developers can “struggle” to finance conversion projects through traditional means.

Bank of England figures show that in December 2013, over £34 billion in lending was outstanding from banks to property developers, but this plunged to just £14.8 billion in December 2017.

As a result, more and more developers are turning to alternative forms of finance, such as peer-to-peer lenders, to build more homes.

Liam Brooke, Co-Founder of Lendy, says: “Converting farm buildings is one of the easiest ways to help solve the rural housing shortage, so this sharp drop-off in approvals is very disappointing.

“Agricultural-to-residential conversions can be a win-win for everyone –farmers can unlock capital from their land and more homes get built for prospective buyers – helping to close the housing gap.

“It doesn’t make sense to have so many redundant outbuildings that have no aesthetic value at all slowly decaying when they could be turned into homes.”

Source: Farming UK

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Plans to build 350 new homes move forward

Two sets of plans that could together bring about the construction of more than 350 new homes in the East Riding are set to move forward following positive decisions at the council’s latest planning committee meeting.

Plans from Persimmon Homes (Yorkshire) and Hull and EY Hospitals NHS Trust cover development off Castle Road in Cottingham. The reserved matters application covers siting, appearance and layout.

The scheme proposes the construction of 180 houses, with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom properties.

It also includes the creation of access roads, and the provision of parking, landscaping and public open space.

Outline planning permission for a wider scheme comprising 600 houses, care home, retail, healthcare facilities and sport pitches was granted in November 2013.

The latest plans went before East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee on 15 February. Councillors at the meeting voted to approve plans, subject to the completion of the Section 106 Agreement.

Also considered at the meeting were plans submitted by Spawforths, on behalf of the applicant, for a site to the west of Howden Parks.

The outline application proses the construction of 175 houses on a 22.1-acre site.

The site was originally proposed for housing in 1996 and formed part of the former Boothferry Borough Local Plan. It was also part of a hybrid application for 630 dwellings that was granted consent in 2014, but has now expired.

Councillors voted to defer a decision until an objection from the Environment Agency is withdrawn. Once this is received, the council’s director of planning and economic regeneration will be authorised to grant approval.

Source: Insider Media

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Home ownership and property development delays

At a time when UK home ownership is under severe pressure it may surprise many to learn that there are 420,000 properties with planning permission which have yet to be built. This is a 16% increase from the previous year and begs the question, if demand is there, why are property developers not building homes?

UK HOME OWNERSHIP

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found an alarming fall in the number of young middle income adults who owned their home in 2016. Overall it is fallen from two thirds in the 1990s down to just 25% in 2016. We also know that house prices over the last 20 years have increased seven times faster than the average income of the middle 20% of households in the UK (with after-tax income of between £22,200 and £30,600).

In a perfect example of the problems facing the UK housing market we also know that just 25% of those born in the late 80s owned their own home by the age of 27. This compares to 33% for those born five years earlier and 43% for those born in the 1970s. We have seen falls of more than 10% in home ownership in every area/nation of the UK, since the 1990s, with the south-east hit particularly hard, falling from 64% homeownership down to just 32%. The simple fact is that relative incomes are much lower relative to house prices and this situation is unlikely to change in the short to medium term.

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY UNDEVELOPED HOMES?

A report by the Local Government Association has cast a very disturbing light on the property market and especially those homes which have been granted planning permission. As we touched on above, there are now 420,000 properties in the UK which have planning permission but have yet to be built. This is a 16% increase from last year and when you bear in mind the UK is falling short each year to the tune of around 50,000 newbuilds, surely this is a problem which can be addressed fairly quickly?

There is some debate as to why homes with planning permission have yet to be built and while the official statistics show that it takes on average 40 months from planning permission to completion, 8 months longer than 2013/14 this is not the whole picture. We know for a fact that building regulations have tightened over the years, developers may have outline planning permission for certain properties but when it comes to the detail it can prove excruciatingly slow where the local authorities are involved. However, it would seem that ministers have something of a radical proposal in mind!

USE IT OR LOSE IT

There is some debate as to whether the introduction of a “use it or lose it” rule for property development might focus the minds of developers. The idea is that property with planning permission would need to be completed within a predetermined time scale otherwise planning permission would be withdrawn. It is unclear at this moment in time but there may also be some kind of penalty under the proposed regulations when reapplying for planning permission which had lapsed.

Over the years we know that property developers up and down the country have land banked sites as a means of securing their long-term future projects. The idea that they should be forced to build properties on these land banks within a predetermined period of time is controversial. Where will this all end? Would it attack the integrity of the free market? There are many questions to be answered but forcing developers to build properties may curry favour with the public but could decimate the UK investment market.

Source: Property Forum

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Space on brownfield land to build up to one million new homes

There is enough space on brownfield land to build at least a million new homes, research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has found.

The analysis of Brownfield Land Registers reveals that over two thirds of these homes could be deliverable within five years, and many of these sites are in areas that have a high need for housing.

CPRE found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering over 28,000 hectares of land, would provide enough land for at least 1,052,124 new homes, which it says could rise to over 1.1 million once all registers are published.

According to CPRE, this means that three of the next five years’ worth of government housing targets could be met through building on brownfield land that has already been identified.

This would ease pressure on councils being pushed to release greenfield land, and would mean that less of the UK’s countryside would be used for new builds.

London, the north west, and the south west were identified as having the highest number of potential deliverable homes, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.

The registers found sites for over 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission, despite the “urgent need” to move sites towards development.

More than a third of these sites are on publicly owned land, and CPRE argues that as public authority developments should give a significant opportunity to provide affordable homes, it provides an opportunity for homes to be built on brownfield land to help towards local need.

Additionally, further analysis showed that there is brownfield capacity wherever there is threat to the green belt.

It found that in a number of areas with an extremely high number of green belt sites proposed for development, local authorities have identified enough brownfield land to fulfil up to 12 years of housing need.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, called it “fantastic news” that authorities have identified so many brownfield sites that are ready to be developed.

She said: “Contrary to what the government, and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure.

“Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.”

She called on the government to amend its guidance to ensure that councils have identified all of the brownfield sites in their areas, and to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure that they follow through on their commitment for all new builds to be on brownfield first.

In order to make use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE has called on the government to use the upcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to introduce a “brownfield first” approach to land release and granting planning permissions for development.

It argues that local authorities must be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable brownfield alternatives.

Source: Public Sector Executive

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LendInvest completes £16m development deal in three weeks

Property finance lender LendInvest has completed a £16m financing deal with established development finance borrower, Yogo Group, in just three weeks.

The development finance loan will fund the part-conversion and rebuild of a Grade II listed building, the former Thomas Lipton Care Home, as well as the construction of new units.

LendInvest completed this loan in record time of three weeks from initial introduction to site purchase, after the borrower was let down at the last minute by another lender. If finance had not been secured immediately the borrower would have lost the site to another potential buyer.

Steve Larkin, director of development at LendInvest, said: “Time is undeniably crucial for any developer. In this instance it was make or break, with the developer facing the prospect of losing a coveted site to other purchasers having been let down by their initial lender.

“Our team went the extra mile to ensure that this did not happen again, delivering fast, and affordable finance in record time.

“Working with an award-winning developer is always a comfort for a lender, and we have full confidence in the Yogo Group to deliver the quality bespoke living spaces they are so well known for.”

After completion, the project in its entirely will deliver 24 apartments and six houses, ranging from one to four bed units of bespoke design and available for first-time buyers.

The site is in Southgate, Enfield, North London and sits in five acres of its own grounds, providing privacy for prospective buyers and tenants.

Construction is expected to be completed by March 2019. The total gross development value is forecast to exceed £26m

George Philippou, managing director of Yogo Group, added: “Yogo Group is delighted to be working with LendInvest to deliver another one of its high quality residential developments in a unique enclave of Southgate.

“We would like to express our immense gratitude to LendInvest who have been extremely supportive of Yogo Group not only by funding the majority of the scheme but also by achieving the unachievable and ensuring a quick and smooth three week completion.

“The service and support provided by LendInvest and its lending managers have been exemplary.”

Daniel O’Neil of SPF Private Clients introduced and advised on the deal.

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Former psychiatric hospital to be site of 891 new homes

ITS approach to care was then revolutionary, and an entire village complex was supported by a working farm, church, shop and bakery before the rural idyll for vulnerable people was left to became a crumbling folly.

Now the former Bangour Village psychiatric hospital site in West Lothian –the size of 100 football pitches and including 15 listed buildings – is set to be taken over by a housing developer after lying empty for 14 years.

NHS Lothian, has a planning application going through the system for 891 homes, 800 new build and 91 conversions, and a primary school.

It is the second attempt to lay foundations for new homes there after an earlier effort fell victim to the economic downturn.

Allanwater Homes, based in Bridge of Allan, would not comment on its plans for the site but confirmed it has lodged a bid with owner NHS Lothian and that dialogue was ongoing.

It comes after renewed efforts were made to sell the site last year.

NHS Lothian, advised by the Scottish Futures Trust, appointed property advisers CBRe and Justin Lamb Associates to revive interest ahead of a planning decision through West Lothian Council.

Justin Lamb said Bangour is “probably the best opportunity in Scotland to deliver a new village in a mature landscape.”

Source: Herald Scotland

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New Black Country housing estate could be built on derelict industrial land

The 13-acre site off Darkhouse Lane, near Rosewood Primary School, will be turned into a new housing estate.

Around 142 properties would be built comprising of 30 one bed flats, six two bed flats, 51 two bed houses, 45 three bed houses and 10 four bed houses.

Plans are set to be approved subject to a Section 106 agreement at a Dudley Council meeting next week.

Affordable housing

Planning documents state: “The site is predominantly brownfield, being occupied by vacant, derelict and dilapidated industrial buildings.

“The development would also include open space and ancillary works to provide a buffer to adjacent industrial/railway uses.

“The application is made on behalf of Accord housing association and it is proposed that the entire scheme would be for affordable housing.”

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said if the scheme went ahead it would be ‘a boost’ to the local area.

“I welcome any investment in the borough as the council has been through hard times in recent years. We need to create our own new revenue streams and we can do that by building more houses and collecting more business rates.

“If there is an opportunity for commercial properties that would be great, and homes are good as well. I think this will provide a boost to the local economy in Coseley.”

Anti-social behaviour

A design and planning statement submitted as part of the application states: “Despite the site being allocated as employment land it must be noted the site has remained vacant for some time now and is subject to anti-social behaviour problems during the evenings.

“It is understood Dudley Council have expressed a willingness to consider the site’s potential for residential development.

“The design of any proposed residential development must be orientated to address the site constraints highlighted.

“The railway line to the west and coal manufacturing plant to the north have been identified as major potential noise sources.

“And early noise assessments suggest a minimum 60-metre offset of built form from these boundaries.

“This will achieve a substantial amount of public open space that will benefit any residential development and also provides sufficient space for the incorporation of a sympathetic noise mitigation feature.”

A previous application in 2013, from Darkhouse Properties (Jersey) Ltd, for 108 properties, was approved, but no development took place.

Source: Express and Star