South Wokingham SDL Extension Public Consultation

On Friday 14th June, Lightwood, in conjunction with Nicholas King Homes, shared their emerging proposals for a new neighbourhood at South Wokingham.

The site was identified in Wokingham Borough Council’s new draft Local Plan 2026-2040 for housing growth as an Extension to the South Wokingham SDL, which has been part built out already. Lightwood Strategic and Nicholas King Homes are working together to establish a coordinated masterplanning approach for the creation of this new neighbourhood to the south of Wokingham.

The event was well attended and the comments balanced and fair. The plans will now be refined in response to those comments ahead of the submission of an outline planning application later in the Summer.

Lightwood attend Planning Awards 2024

The Planning Awards 2024 took place on Thursday 13th June at IET Savoy Place, London and the Lightwood Team were delighted to have been nominated at the awards which celebrates the best in planning and placemaking.

Whilst unsuccessful this year, it was a great opportunity to network with other members of the industry and an enjoyable evening. Congratulations to all those that won!

Results 2024 – Planning Awards

Housing Secretary Michael Gove stands down

Housing Secretary Micheal Gove has announced he will not be standing in the upcoming election, making him one of many MPs to quit over recent weeks.

Naturally, uncertainty around who will the lead the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) following the election adds to the complexities the UK’s built environment is currently facing. The next Secretary of State will not only inherit ongoing issues but will be charged with ensuring policy meets the evolving needs of housing and planning, sectors which have already seen so much change over recent years. Doubtless a shift in leadership will bring different ideology, and with that, different priorities.

As we approach a new phase of leadership, the direction of housing policy and its impact on planning and land development will be watched closely by industry stakeholders.

Rishi Sunak Announces General Election

On 22 May 2024, Rishi Sunak announced he had requested permission from the King to dissolve parliament and called a general election to be held on 4 July. Parliament was prorogued on 24 May and was dissolved on 30 May with the vote taking place 25 working days later.

From a planning point of view, the main impact of the pre-election period is that the government cannot publish further regulations implementing the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act (LURA) 2023, launch any new consultations, nor announce responses to the various consultations that have closed over the past 18 months. DLUHC’s civil servants can, however, work on processing consultation responses ready for review by the new administration.

The industry is in desperate need of certainty and stability but it will now be a little while before we see how this might be achieved. It is widely expected that the election will deliver a change in administration and therefore a different approach to reforming the planning system. Even if the Conservative Party retains control, Michael Gove’s announcement on 24 May that he will be standing down at the election means that there will be a new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities come what may, which (on the past few years’ experience at least) likely means a new direction of travel.

Photo by Nick Kane on Unsplash

Appeal submitted against decision of Three Rivers

Lightwood has submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against the decision of Three Rivers District Council to refuse permission for the construction of a four bed, two storey detached dwelling with associated extension to crossover, access, parking, binstore and landscaping works in Rickmansworth.

The application was refused primarily as the local authority deemed it represented inappropriate development of garden land and a form of development that would fail to respect and would have a detrimental impact on the character of the site and residential area, despite there being other examples of such in close proximity to the site.

Proposed Site Layout, Block Plan & Site Location Plan

Proposed Plans & Elevations

Lightwood secures site in Alresford

Lightwood has secured a position on an underutilised parcel of garden land within the built up settlement of New Alresford in Winchester. The site is capable of accommodating upto five dwellings, the design of which need to respond to local context and constraints. Pre application advice has been sought from the local authority and following their response, a full planning application will be submitted.

New NPPF Published

The updated National Planning Policy Framework (“new NPPF”) was eventually published on 19 December 2023 by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities. The new NPPF is effective immediately and builds upon the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act which became law on 26 October 2023.

The new NPPF is long awaited. It follows a brief update in September 2023 to the previous NPPF and the Government’s consultation on national planning policy which opened in December 2022 and closed in March 2023.

In his speech supporting the new NPPF’s launch, Michael Gove acknowledged that the housing delivery could be stronger, identifying that there is a resistance to new development in many parts of the country. He saw that there were five factors which were crucial to winning back support for new development, being “beauty, infrastructure, democracy, the environment and neighbourhood”. The development of the new NPPF was said to be informed by these principles.

Of particular note:

  • The new NPPF confirms that the standard method of assessing housing need remains the basis which communities should plan for new homes, but the outcome of the standard method is an advisory starting point in plan making for establishing the housing requirements for an area. In his speech, Michael Gove noted that it “has always been the case that this number was supposed to be advisory for local authorities. But that principle has been honoured in the breach than in observance”;
  • In respect of the Green Belt, the new NPPF has sought to ensure it is clear there is no requirement on local authorities to review or alter Green Belt boundaries if this would be the only way to meet housing need unless it chooses to do so;
  • There is a reform of five-year housing requirements; local authorities are not required to identify and update annually a five year rolling housing land supply if their adopted plan is less than five years old and it identified at least a five year supply of specific, deliverable sites at the time that its examination concluded. The intention of this is to create an incentive for local authorities to have an up-to-date local plan in place by granting additional protection from the presumption in favour of sustainable development, noting that this protection only applies to planning applications made from 19 December 2023;
  • The new NPPF takes away the 5% and 10% buffers applied to five-year housing land supply, maintaining the 20% buffer only for those local authorities that do not have an up-to-date plan in place and score below 85% on the Housing Delivery Test;
  • The new NPPF emphasises the role of beauty and placemaking in strategic policies, to be assisted through the adoption of appropriate design codes. Michael Gove specifically noted that the adoption of design codes has been made easier and more attractive by the Office for Place – the new public body which champions beauty in building; and
  • The level of protection from the presumption afforded by neighbourhood plans is increased from two to five years post adoption, provided the neighbourhood plan identifies at least one housing site.

As a result of the new NPPF being published, Mr Gove’s assessment was that “there is now no excuse for any local authority not to have a plan in place, no excuse not to ensure that homes are delivered swiftly and efficient through that plan, and no excuse for leaving communities – and the next generation within the homes they need”.

Planning submitted for luxury home in Rickmansworth

Lightwood has submitted a planning application to Three Rivers District Council for ‘The demolition of the existing pool house and subdivision of the plot and construction of a detached two-storey dwelling, attached double garage, formation of new access drive, alteration to existing access and ancillary works.’

The application seeks to overcome the reasons for refusal of a planning appeal back in 2015. The current proposal is materially different in terms of plot size, scale, orientation and access and should therefore be considered favourably.

Proposed Site Layout, Block Plan & Site Location Plan

Proposed Plans & Elevations

Lightwood commissions John Simpson Architects

Lightwood have instructed John Simpson Architects to masterplan land at Priors Farm which comprises a significant part of the proposed South Wokingham SDL Extension in the Regulation 18 Local Plan.

At an urban design level, John Simpson Architects have advocated a fresh new approach where technology is used to serve rather than dominate the design. Since 1990, with the masterplan for Fairford Leys at Aylesbury and later at Dicken’s Heath in Solihull near Birmingham, the practice has shown how a sustainable urban alternative to the conventional suburban housing estate can work.

Lightwood attend Mole Valley Local Plan examination

The Local Plan has entered its examination Phase and the hearings will be taking place in three stages as set out below;

Stage 1 – Legal and procedural requirements
Stage 2 – Housing Need and Supply, Green Belt Alterations, Spatial Strategy, Strategic Policies and Economy Policies
Stage 3 – Site Allocations & Delivery

The Stage 1 hearings dealing with legal and procedural compliance took place on June 23rd. Lightwood submitted detailed reps addressing the Duty to Cooperate and the Sustainability Appraisal on behalf of our landowners and attended the session to elaborate on these points.

Inspector Wilders has subsequently confirmed that, from what she has read and heard to date, the Examination may proceed to Stage 2.

At the latest hearing session, the Council confirmed the progress of additional studies to assess the Local Plan’s impacts on M25, junction 9a, including the identification of any necessary mitigation. It confirmed that, subject to those additional studies, it expected to submit, to the examination, an agreed Statement of Common Ground with National Highways in August 2022. This is critical evidence that underpins the delivery of the Plan, including its housing trajectory and viability.

In light of this expected submission, to make best use of Examination time and to ensure fairness to all parties given the weight of evidence submitted for stage 2 of this Examination, the Inspector has amended the draft Examination hearings time table delaying the stage 2 hearing sessions until after the summer break.


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