Rise of the EV

Andrew Tregay

17/08/2022

Written by Andrew Tregay

Andrew is an Associate Planner with BoonBrown providing planning consultancy across a broad spectrum of sectors from planning applications to land promotion. He has experience with residential, commercial and retail based schemes both big and small working for a diverse range of clients.

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As you may or may not be aware the Government has decreed that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2030 to aid the UK’s climate objectives. This got me thinking about the impact this will have on how we consider the sustainability of places, communities or settlements. At present places with limited facilities and/or lacking in public transport options are generally considered unsustainable locations therefore most new development (especially housing) is resisted. However, what happens if how we move around becomes entirely sustainable, for example via electric vehicles (EV’s). I appreciate, in reality, this is an oversimplification however hypothetically if I can get from A (let’s consider it an unsustainable location by current standards) to B in a zero emissions vehicle then is point A still an unsustainable location? Whilst true sustainability is not just about movement it appears to have become an oft mistaken focal point for decision making within planning.

This also ties into a whole raft of planning considerations, and it would appear the rise of the EV will invariably force us to alter our mindset on what we consider a sustainable location. This will have both positive and negative implications for many communities. It may open more settlements for new homes helping alleviate the crippling shortfall in housing (especially affordable) delivery across the country.

Conversely this will test the weight we accord to other material planning considerations such as biodiversity, settlement character and landscape impacts. This is of course someway off yet however consideration of future needs is the very essence of planning.

If EVs do rise as predicted, then obviously entirely new infrastructure will be required to ensure our new battery powered beasts of burden stay topped up, which is a major concern for many people who are on the fence about committing to an EV. The Government has committed to invest £1.6 billion in new charging infrastructure, both directly in charging facilities but also to grant to Local Authorities to create local funds. As part of this there are also grants for businesses and homeowners to install charging points at their properties. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) is a grant that provides a 75% contribution to the cost of one chargepoint and its installation (obviously subject to various stipulations).  The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is similar in that it offers grants of up to 75% of the cost but covers up to 40 charging points.

These grants are especially useful as we have noticed that Local Authorities are more inclined to lean in to and enforce any policies that require charging points on new developments.

In Summary

We will have to wait to see what the future holds however for the mean time developers; business owners and homeowners should take a look at the grants on offer and consider the benefits in implementing charging infrastructure now.


Flushing out the phosphate problem or just a pipe dream?

Andrew Tregay

10/02/2022

Written by Andrew Tregay

Andrew is an Associate Planner with BoonBrown providing planning consultancy across a broad spectrum of sectors from planning applications to land promotion. He has experience with residential, commercial and retail based schemes both big and small working for a diverse range of clients.

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For some time now planning applications for new residential development across most of Somerset (and in parts of Dorset) within the river catchment of the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site have been held up following the Court of Justice’s judgment in the so-called ‘Dutch N’ case[1] relating to a ruling on the interpretation of the Habitats Directive.

This issue is not new to planning or unique to Somerset or Dorset.  Numerous other protected habitats have been affected by excessive nutrients and it is widely accepted that it is incumbent upon the relevant Local Authorities to devise a strategic solution to a complicated problem.  Inevitability this a very time-consuming process.

Rather than simply waiting for a strategic solution, BoonBrown has, in conjunction with Registered Provider Stonewater, been working on a range of on and off-site solutions. Several of these have been presented to Natural England and have been well received.  As such we are now close to unlocking a number of residential development sites.

One such scheme is on a town-centre, brownfield site, and utilises elements of Stonewater’s existing housing stock retrofitted with water savings devices.  This innovative and cost-effective mitigation solution has the added benefit of reducing water consumption for existing tenants who choose to have the devices fitted.

This in turn means there is less water going through the water treatment works thus less phosphates going into the river catchment.  In this way credits can be generated to unlock stalled developments that lie within the same sub-catchment area as the existing stock, whilst at the same time protecting agricultural land from unnecessary fallowing.

We anticipate a decision regarding this innovative mitigation strategy shortly, whereupon Stonewater, in partnership with BoonBrown, will roll out the solution to unlock several other planning applications for much needed housing developments currently delayed by phosphates.

If you have any questions please contact Clive Brown, Matt Frost or Andrew Tregay at BoonBrown.

[1] Joined cases C-293/17 and C-194/17 Coöperatie Mobilisation for the Environment UA and Others v College van gedeputeerde staten van Limburg and others


The Big 'E' and Permitted Development Opportunities

Andrew Tregay

07/02/2022

Written by Andrew Tregay

Andrew is an Associate Planner with BoonBrown providing planning consultancy across a broad spectrum of sectors from planning applications to land promotion. He has experience with residential, commercial and retail based schemes both big and small working for a diverse range of clients.

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Welcome to Class E

We have been living with the revised Use Classes Order for over a year now, giving some time to reflect on its implications and the new opportunities it has created. The Governments drive to reduce perceived bureaucracy and to broaden the scope of flexible land uses may not have been popular in some circles, but it has certainly shaken the system up and provided commercial landlords opportunities to diversify their potential occupant pool without the need to engage with the planning system.

Firstly, the new E Use Class brings together quite a diverse range of uses from the now revoked A1/2/3, B1, D1(a-b) and parts of D2 Use Classes. Therefore, uses such as office, retail, some leisure, café and nurseries are all in the same use classes rather than being spread across several, leading to interesting interactions and potentially opportunities for more flexible use of floorspace. As the use of a building can move freely within its current use class (without requiring express planning permission) it should, in theory, be easier to change the occupier and open a more diverse range of potential tenants for owners without having to engage formally with the planning system.

This change is significant, and it is well worth owners of commercial, recreation or retail buildings taking another look at the potential opportunities to expand their potential pool of tenants.

As one door closes another opens…

Obviously, the changes to the Use Classes Order left many of the ‘legacy’ Permitted Development Rights allowing a change of use to residential, in limbo. The transition period is now behind us and elements of Part 3 of Schedule 2 (changes of use) such as Class O have fallen away or been altered.

Yet new opportunities have arisen… enter Class MA (part 3 of Schedule 2) boldly striding in to fill the void left by the loss of Class O and friends. Class MA allows commercial, business and service uses (Use Class E) to convert to new dwelling houses. As you might expect this comes with a number of stipulations, limitations and conditions as well as the requirement for a prior approval application. Many of the conditions will be familiar to those acquainted with the former Class O or Class P however many of the issues caused by the, arguably, limited prior approval requirements under Class O (and others) have been tightened up. Those wishing to utilise their Class MA permitted development rights must now also give consideration to natural light and impacts on conservation areas, thus requiring a more comprehensive submission especially as Class MA has not been popular with many in local government.

Overall, some doors to residential conversions have been closed however a big one has opened up and it is certainly worth seeing what lies beyond.

In Summary

Recent changes to planning Use Classes have made quite considerable changes to how different uses are grouped, with the new Class E being particularly diverse.

Class MA allows for the diverse range of uses under Class E to be converted to residential subject to a prior approval application.