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Evolving planning policies

Zero carbon homes design

Eco towns and large brownfield sites

Construction costs of zero carbon homes

State of the housing market


Government policy has evolved to make planning permission harder to obtain within residential garden curtilages.

The law changes causing new buildings to be more environmentally friendly and ultimately having zero net carbon emissions are decreasing building plot values.

Houses designed to be environmentally friendly often look out of place in traditional street scenes. Some plots that are currently suitable for development will not be able to obtain planning permission in the future.

When a local authorities has allocated its 5 year new homes requirement. It can then refuse all planning applications for new dwellings on the grounds of lack of demand.

There is still demand from self builders and small developers for realistically priced individual building plots.

Evolving planning policies

Politicians have made it clear that they would like to put in place planning policies to prevent developers and individuals from "Garden Grabbing". In planning terms a garden is currently regarded as "Brownfield land" but will this remain the case?

Under the terms of the Planning Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, the Government will be introducing the Community Infrastructure Levy. This allows Local Planning Authorities to effectively "tax" all planning permissions except for minor householder developments such as extensions and conservatories. The Levy will be used for infrastructure costs associated with development in the area. Each Authority will be responsible for setting its own levy. It is likely that these will be introduced from 2009. In the case of residential planning permissions, the levy is likely to equate to several thousand pounds per dwelling approved. In some areas, it could exceed this.

Many local authorities are looking to use 'Eco towns' or large brownfield sites as the route for meeting future housing requirements. And, a number of local authorities have met their 5 year requirement for the supply of new housing and issued moratoriums preventing any new permissions being granted for infill plots within their district.

For further information, please see the following links:

Community Infrastructure PDF from RICS
Infrastructure Levy Information PDF

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Zero carbon homes design

The push for sustainable homes could well have an impact beyond the value of the land. Future building design will be required to maximise the use of passive solar energy, in an attempt to reduce the consumption of conventional fuels. This will result in an emphasis on south facing windows. This will have an impact upon the design of new dwellings, which could result in planning permissions becoming more difficult to obtain, particularly in sensitive areas. This is due to issues relating to overlooking, overshadowing and whether a new development respects the overall character of the area. In addition, the use of solar panels, modern materials and sustainable drainage systems could also have a major impact upon which sites could be considered suitable for development in the future.

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Eco towns and large brownfield sites

Many local authorities are looking to use "Eco towns" or large brownfield sites as the route for meeting future housing requirements. A number of local authorities have met their 5 year requirement for the supply of new housing through this system have then gone on to issue moratoriums preventing any new permissions being granted for infill plots within their district.

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Construction costs of zero carbon homes

The Government has also set a requirement for all new homes to be built to zero carbon standards from 2016. Local authorities are consequently seeking more and more information with regard to environmental and sustainable issues as part of planning applications to ensure that new standards can be met. In turn, this can only increase the cost of submitting an application for the applicant. Ultimately, "zero carbon homes" are to be secured through a step by step tightening of building regulation standards and this has already begun. The inevitable consequence of this is an increase in construction costs and thus a reduction in plot values.

For further information, please see the following link:

Zero carbon homes may look nice, but they aren't cheap

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The state of the housing market

The United Kingdom housing market has been badly hit by a number of economic factors. This has had an effect on plot values, however realistically priced building plots are still in demand.The number of new houses being completed is falling well short of the government indications for housing need when taking into account population growth and social change. Many economic commentators are talking about a substantial "bounce back" in prices when the market recovers.

For further information, please see the following links:

Housing market will bounce back in five years
Housing: Property market will bounce back in 2010, report predicts

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