If you're considering a new build or extension, it's always worth staying on top of the latest trends in planning law. At its core, after all, development is about people, so it is by nature a very sociable sort of world. Ideas spread quickly from local authority to local authority, so what's new in Yorkshire could reach Devon by the end of the week.
Currently, there's a noticeable trend towards sustainable development. There may be a housing shortage, but local authorities still care just as much about how the problem is solved as if the problem is solved – after all, they will be stuck with a bill and angry constituents if they accidentally damage the local environment.
So, what's happening with environmental, eco-friendly planning law, and how is it coming together to from a noticeable trend?
East Londoners Pay Extra For Extensions
Residents of Hackney may soon be paying as much as ten percent extra for extensions according to Homes & Property. The assertion precedes the consideration of proposals to make certain eco-friendly projects mandatory for anyone building an extension to their property.
Insulation for lofts, compulsory domestic water reductions, and double glazing are all on the list of potential eco-friendly changes.
The timing would make sense – it is during an extension that eco-friendly changes are easiest to carry out and least disruptive to make. It is also possible that during an extension the ecological impact of your house will increase, so seeking to minimise this impact seems sensible. It should also benefit the occupant of the property, through significantly decreased bills and more comfortable living conditions.
From many developer's or property owner's point of view, though, this will be little more than another rule to worry about unless they take on professional help.
Lancashire Council Blocks Fracking Company
The development control committee for Lancashire County Council all voted to prevent Cuadrilla's exploring for shale gas at a location close to Blackpool. Cuadrilla are well known for their involvement with fracking, and the process would certainly have involved fracking.
Fracking is controversial with environmental groups for a number of reasons. The famous earthquakes are usually extremely minor, to the point that it would be very difficult to detect them without specialist equipment – the major issue for environmental groups is that fracking carries a risk of groundwater pollution, and a further risk of significant methane leaks.
The development control committee here acted against the advice of relevant officials, who said the exploration should go ahead with a few conditions imposed. Planning is always complicated, and you can't necessarily rely on the recommendations of even the highest ranking officials to be listened to at the local level.
Over 300 Eco-Friendly Homes Planned For Leeds Waterfront Site
There are over three hundred environmentally-friendly homes planned in Leeds, on brownfield land near the river Aire.
The homes are innovative, zero-carbon eco-friendly builds that incorporate solar panels into their design. The homes are planned to be comfortable to live in, too, and at a relatively low cost are expected to form a blueprint for sustainable living development in the area.
They are a diverse mixture of small flats and three-to-four bedroom homes, and will be built in accordance with a section 106 agreement to make sure that 5% of the houses are affordable, and that the developers include a footbridge in their plan. Building on brownfield land is also a good move for cities seeking to decrease or at least sustain the size of their ecological footprint.
Focus On Brownfield Land Use And Garden Cities
There has been an increased focus on brownfield land use under the current administration, involving a great and concerted effort to make the most use of land that's being poorly used, rather than 'greenfield land' that encroaches upon the country and natural land surrounding a city. As well as being a move towards sustainable development in the traditional environmental sense, it's a move towards more sustainable community growth as derelict inner-city houses are rebuilt and redesigned.
Garden cities are a more ambitious and larger-scale solution to building sustainable communities that allow enjoyable and healthy lifestyles, and they too have been heavily pushed in the last few years. Garden cities are known for their green spaces and have an environmentally friendly image, and so fit in with the general drive towards sustainable development.
Royal Town Planning Institute Calls For Healthier Cities
The Royal Town Planning Institute has suggested an approach that fits in well with the drive towards garden cities. The Institute President, Janet Askew, expressed support for health-conscious city planning, saying “Cities need growth, but at the heart of that must be citizens' well-being. It makes economic sense and good planning can help to achieve both”.
Referencing illnesses as diverse as heart disease and mental health, she made a passionate case for improving our physical environments to support and enable our long-term health.
Centrally-planned garden cities and thoughtful section 106 agreements could certainly be one way that local authorities seek to implement these plans.
Town And Country Planning Association Issues Manifesto
The Town And Country Planning Association have joined the RTPI from another direction, launching a manifesto designed to "put people back at the heart of planning".
You can find out more about the manifesto, which they describe as radical, on their official website.
There is clearly an overall drive towards 'sustainable' development in every sense. Economical, ecological, and existential sustainability are all at the heart of these recent pieces of planning news. So what does that mean for the average planning project?
Well, with more emphasis put on issues of sustainability and responsibility, you might expect greater scrutiny to be put on your development at the planning application stage. Section 106 agreements may become more likely, and you might face opposition from unexpected quarters for seemingly innocuous aspects of your development. This makes it more important than ever to get your project right, and to tailor it to appeal to all deciding bodies as much as possible.
If you're concerned about whether your development will comply with your local planning authority's vision, get in touch with us to see if we can provide you with our expert planning law help and guidance.