Press Release: 19:01:19
In an unpredictable year, Terence O’Rourke worked alongside some of the nation’s biggest housebuilders achieving permission for over 8000 homes, including some of the largest housing permissions in the UK (using data recorded in the 2018 Planning Magazine survey of Big Permissions). At the beginning of 2019, we reflect on the projects that have shaped us and the policies that will influence housing permissions in the coming year.
Nationally, several key issues are influencing housing planning policy and subsequent housing delivery. The revised NPPF was finally published in July 2018, with the introduction of the housing delivery test, to ensure the prompt delivery of much needed new homes. Unfortunately, there was no prompt delivery of the test results, which were due in November 2018, but as of January 2019 are yet to be published.
The new NPPF also ushered in the new standard housing method for calculating housing need. However after revised household projections were published in September 2018 significantly reduced the housing need across the country the government quickly made clear they continue to target 300,000 homes a year, and a further consultation was opened on using the old figures – the outcome of this is expected early in 2019.
One of Terence O’Rourke’s largest consents of 2018 was in North Whiteley. In July, Winchester City Council approved a mixed-use development of up to 3,500 homes on a 208-hectare site on the eastern fringes of Southampton. The development will provide up to 28% of Winchester City Council’s planned housing supply as well as two primary schools and an eight-form entry secondary school, alongside extensive infrastructure improvements.
The scheme was the culmination of over a decade’s work, with every area of their close-knit team involved from the site’s promotion through to approval, on behalf of the North Whiteley Consortium (comprising housebuilders Taylor Wimpey, Bovis Homes, JGP Lakedale and Crest Nicholson). The team created the original master plan and oversaw its evolution through extensive stages of consultation and a changing policy environment. Strong place-making principles were embedded in the masterplan which created two distinct neighbourhoods knitted together by a centrally located new secondary school. The practice co-ordinated the production of planning documents, submitted the application and managed it through to an initial resolution to grant by Winchester City Council in October 2015. In the last three years, the company provided input into the legal agreement, proposed revisions to the original plans, assisted with the drafting of European Protected Species Licences and prepared a nitrogen budget for the development. The entire project was an exercise in cooperation, enthusiasm, tenacity and technical knowledge to which a larger firm might have struggled to respond.
September’s Northfields scheme came in at number five in Planning’s Big Permissions review. St George acquired the Northfields Industrial Estate in April 2017 with the intention of delivering an exemplary mixed use development of up to 2,900 new homes and flexible commercial retail, industrial, cultural and leisure uses which will generate in the region of 650 new jobs. Terence O’Rourke was appointed as a team of planners, master planners, landscape architects and architects for the site through a selection process with the Berkeley Group. A full design team was assembled to ensure that the proposals were exciting, challenging, technically excellent and viable. The London Borough of Brent Planning Committee resolved unanimously to grant planning permission, explaining that the scheme would ‘breathe new life into a worn-out and redundant industrial estate’.
In conclusion, a busy, unpredictable year certainly honed our ability to be at the forefront of change and our instinct for the unexpected. We are already working on some great new year projects to equal, or even exceed, our successes of 2018, whilst keeping a very close eye on political change and policy decisions to ensure our clients can keep ahead of the game in 2019.