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What the planning permission revolution means for Towcester

Author: Craig Bees Published: 25th August 2020 10:26

Big changes on the way for UK towns.Big changes on the way for UK towns.
It’s been a long time coming but now, 72 years after the Town & Country Planning Act of 1947 came into force, the current Conservative Government has announced changes that will effectively end planning permission.

The 1947 Act meant that no property could be built without the approval of the local authority (in the Towcester area that meant South Northants District Council) but this is now being replaced by Westminster governed ‘Zoning Commissions’.

The anticipated reform will give presumptive building rights to any piece of land outside areas of outstanding natural beauty, green belt and national parks.

The principles of the planning rule changes mean land will be divided into three classes: 1st for growth, 2nd for protection and 3rd for renewal. Anyone applying for planning permission to develop homes, offices and shops on land zoned for growth will automatically be granted planning permission; whilst land zoned for renewal planning permission will be granted in principle while Government officers perform checks.

Local authorities have until 2024 to designate areas for the three classes which, once agreed, mean planning departments will have little or no say over individual applications that fit the rules.

Interestingly, these changes come on top of new planning regulations coming into force this September which gives implied rights to demolish any office building and replace with a block of flats, and the right to build extra floors/storeys on your home.

A major motive behind the changes is to make the planning process quicker, less expensive and less likely to be held up by special ‘interest’ groups.

My concern is that the new planning rules do not turn shops or redundant space into new 21st century ghettos. An RICS report in 2018 showed a massive difference between the conversion of office blocks with planning permission and those without. What was interesting is that only one in five properties met the national space standards, a non-legally binding suggestion on the minimum size of home, minimum dimensions of bedrooms, natural light, storage & floor to ceiling height, whilst three in four of office block conversions that did obtain planning permission met the standard.

Worst case scenario is that the planning changes become a charter for cowboy builders or developers.
But what does this all mean for Towcester homeowners and Towcester landlords? In my opinion, one of the most important factors holding back the Towcester property market is the lack of new properties and, when there are, the lack of infrastructure surrounding them.

Fact: since 1995, only 1,917 properties have been built in Towcester.
Like all things, the devil is in the detail. Towcester residents and business owners agree that the town needs to build more homes to keep up with its growing population and the fact that people are living longer. This new planning system should lead to more housebuilding, which in turn would increase the supply of property for those trying to get on the property ladder.

Also, the proposed legislation is the new ‘First Homes’ scheme, which would allow key workers, first time buyers and people who live or work in the Towcester area to purchase their new home at 30% less than its market value and, when they come to sell it, the 30% discount would be passed on to the new buyer (if they also meet the criteria).

With regard to what can be built and where, Towcester people will get a chance to have their say up until 2024 when the zoning rules are drawn up. But once the zoning has been established, then ‘nimbyism’ will become a thing of the past and hopefully we can construct the Towcester homes we are proud of for our children and all future generations.

Be very interested to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Property Q&A: Thank you for all your questions and please keep them coming. Here’s the latest one.

Q. What defines a house in multiple occupation?
A. Simply put, a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one 'household' but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. An HMO has to be licensed by the local authority to ensure it meets safety standards, which is why it is rare to have sharers in a property.
E-mail your property questions to craigbees@bartramandco.co.uk. I look forward to hearing from you.

Badby&Farthingstone CC news: matches continue to come thick and fast as the club make up for lost time after the much delayed start to the 2020 season.

The club’s last eight matches have resulted in six wins, with the latest victories being at Everdon before last Sunday’s home win against Eydon. This after a 20/20 midweek loss to South Northants Council.

The SNC defeat was notable for promising debut performances from young bowlers Noah Eales and Lucas Whitcroft White who both took wickets.

For all club news and fixtures go to the club’s Facebook page at http://ow.ly/nKPs50APtiP

Help to Buy Scheme: still available on all Moat Lane development properties in Towcester with part exchange also considered. Contact us on (01327) 359164.

Monthly draw: the September draw will soon be up and running for your chance to win a case of Italian wines (red/whites/mixed) or one month’s membership at Whittlebury Hall Leisure Club.

How To Enter: every valuation and instruction for sale or rental between now and Friday Septembet 25 2020 will be entered, the winners being notified by e-mail.

If you’re thinking of selling or letting your property and want to win one of these great prizes on offer call (01327) 359164 and speak to our sales or lettings team.

Until next time.

Craig Bees, MD Bartram & Co

E-mail me at craigbees@bartramandco.co.uk

Visit our website www.bartramandco.co.uk and follow us on Twitter@bartramandcotow

Tel: (01327) 359164

Fax: (01327) 359166

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peter k
At 16:41 on 25th August 2020, peter k commented:
Good luck with these changes Towcester. Even the current "consultation" methods have often been thought of as an after thought once plans have been drawn up. Currently, in London, the latest wheeze is to allow developers to not only completely plan a development, but to pay the local authorities a sum of money to agree the plan.

As for the idea, currently on the table, expressed above by the Bartram Company, where areas will be designated as planning sites under different headings, it will be interesting to see whether elected officials along with their executive officers will carry out the task, or will "consultancies" be involved?

Good luck with this, West Northants Council in waiting
Dominique Y
At 11:33 on 3rd September 2020, Dominique Y commented:
This sounds like an open door to the free for all of builders who will cash in on all kinds of doubtful quality developments in the Class 1 zone at least. In Towcester, as we are not even at the halfway mark of building the Southern Expansion, how many more 100s of hectares of green fields will be purchased in order to add to the maze of streets and housing, with the elusive relief road becoming an access road to constructions on both sides? Who will define the infrastructural needs of all these new residents? Local schools are already oversubscribed, when are the ones currently on plan going to materialise? The needs of the town's 'growing population' are not being met because property prices are inflated to the limit of affordability to attract newcomers from more expensive areas, not to accommodate local needs. How long will the First Home scheme benefit the local young people who will qualify, if they are able to re-sell the property at market price, without passing on the 30% discount scheme they benefited from on purchase? There is no requirement for new buyers to meet the same criteria as original buyers. Again the term of NIMBYism rears its ugly head here, often wrongly used by those who stand to profit from a project, without suffering any of its drawbacks, when locals are trying to maintain an acceptable and adequate environment and quality of life. As it is, the existing town stands to be engulfed in a sea of tarmac, concrete, astroturf and anonymity. How much more can we sustain? How and when will residents be able to exercise their right to damage limitation and be consulted on the definition of Zones?

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