Mortgage Market Update

Various sources are claiming that now is as good a time to buy a property as there has ever been, with interest rates low and the property market surging forward. We have compiled stats from various sources around the country to give you a complete view of the mortgage market, in case you are looking to invest…
To read the whole article, click here.

The Property Market Monthly Fact File – November 2015

The property market fact file is a collection of data compiled each month by our Chartered Surveyors and the propertysurveying.co.uk team; collating survey data, statistics, trends and information from the property market. This aims to provide a single place where anyone with an interest in UK property can find the information they need.

To read the monthly fact file, click here.

High Court adjourns proceedings in long running straw bales planning case

Ref. Fidler v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (2009)
A famous case of concealment from the planning authority has hit the High Court again, with proceedings for contempt of court now being heard. The case, which concerned a wall of bales erected to hide an elaborate mock-Tudor house with crenelated towers, is commonly cited in planning law…

To read the whole article, click here.

In case you missed it – Widow banned from her new property because it was the ‘wrong colour’ – leaving her homeless

Jayne Fawcett, aged 62, left “homeless” after being told that she must change the colour of the property that she designed with her late husband…

To read the whole article, click here.

New Proposals are set to introduce a more efficient appeals system, allowing business owners to better check and challenge their business rate bills.

Proposals announced on the 30th October are set to make it easier for business owners to check and challenge their business rates bills, by introducing a more efficient appeals system.
To read the whole article, click here.

Brandon Lewis announces new measures to crack down on the fight against rogue landlords

An announcement by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis earlier this month has outlined new measures in a bid to crack down on rogue landlords, trapping tenants in unsafe, overcrowded properties…
To read the whole article, click here.

George Osborne announces plans to hand local councils the power to control business rates

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester earlier this month, the Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans that will enable local councils to take full control of business rates.

At present, local councils keep up to 50% of the rates with the rest being sent to Westminster, who then redistributes them so that areas with fewer businesses do not miss out. Currently around £11.5 billion in business rates goes to Westminster, with around £9.4bn being redistributed in grants.

Described by the Chancellor as “the biggest transfer of power to our local government in living memory”, the plans will allow local councils to keep the rates that they collect from businesses as well as to set the level. It aims to provide local councils with the freedom to cut the tax, therefore encouraging companies to invest locally.

The plans, which will also allow areas with directly elected mayors to increase business rates if they invest the extra money into infrastructure schemes, has come under scrutiny from a number of critics.

Frances O’Grady, the Trade Union Congress General Secretary says:

“By devolving business rates without any national safeguards, regional inequalities will get wider. The communities that most need investment are often those with the weakest business revenue base”

Another critic, Shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham took to twitter:

“Big contradiction at heart of Osborne speech. Says wants to close North-South divide. But then announces taxation reform that will widen it.”

However, the Chancellor backs his plan by saying to councils:

“Attract a business, and you attract more money; regenerate a high street, and you’ll reap the benefits; grow your area, and you’ll grow your revenue too”,

He goes on to explain that the changes, which are due to be in place by 2020 would mean cities and communities will no longer have to go to the government with what he described as a “begging bowl”.

– – –

Following on from our article about Britain’s ‘Rising Star’ high streets, business rates are often cited as one of the greatest obstacles to high street vitality – particularly as online competitors have no such burden. It is interesting therefore, to see Mr Osborne finally putting the power to control rates in the hands of local government, though it remains to be seen whether councils will use it to bolster their beleaguered coffers or to incentivise business on their ailing high street.

BT www.propertysurveying.co.uk 10.10.15

High Court Quashes Planning Permission on Bias Grounds

Ref. Kelton v Wiltshire Council [2015] EWHC 2853 (Admin)

In this case, a judicial review was advanced by the claimant – a riparian owner 700 miles downstream – on the following grounds:

  1. Cllr Magnus Macdonald, who carried the deciding vote, should have been disqualified from voting on the Wiltshire Council Planning Committee. He was a director of Selwood Housing Association, an entity which had an interest in the affordable housing section of the 35 dwelling development in question. Cllr Macdonald received, as director, £3,000 per annum.
  1. Contamination was a risk arising from the specialist foundations required to make the development viable.
  1. The council’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening opinion for the development was flawed.
  1. Wiltshire’s conclusion that the development would not cause harm to heritage assets was flawed.

The Judge, Mr Justice Cranston, addressed each matter in turn, and his thoughts have been broken down below:

1 – Whilst Mr MacDonald had no direct pecuniary or proprietary interest in the planning application so as to be automatically disqualified from participating, the presence on the committee did raise the question of bias as defined by Lord Hope in Porter v Magill. Mr Justice Cranston summarised:

“Selwood, with Cllr Macdonald as a director, was not simply an affordable housing provider. Here it was the only provider which had been willing to give assistance on the scheme, had expressed a clear interest in delivering it, had been named by the applicants as their potential partner, and had written in support and attended the planning committee meeting when it was considered.

“In other words, its position was superior to that of any other interested providers of affordable housing because of its previous involvement and its prospects of winning the contract when the affordable housing part was tendered. Because of that, Cllr Macdonald’s private interests were engaged, as a director of Selwood, not just his interests in the cause of affordable housing. In all these circumstances it was wrong for Cllr Macdonald to have participated in the meeting.”

2 – The evidence demonstrated to Mr Justice Cranston’s satisfaction that the council’s decision on the matter of contamination was sufficiently well supported by the available information and that no significant effect was likely under the Habitats Regulations.

He stated:

“Insofar as a risk was identified in relation to the construction works, this was addressed with conditions which specifically address it.”

3 – On this point, he concluded that the screening could not be regarded as flawed.

4 – Mr Justice Cranston commented that “in my judgment there was ample evidence on which to base that conclusion and it was reasonable to reach it.” The officer’s report before the planning committee had concluded that developing the site would not harm the setting of the Bishopstrow Conservation Area or nearby heritage assets. This report was considered to be sound.

The result of these conclusions is that planning permission was quashed. Whilst points 2-4 were all disregarded, the presence of bias was sufficient to overturn the planning permission on the grounds of natural justice – nemo judex in causa sua (no one should be a judge in his own cause).

www.PropertySurveying.co.uk

SRJ

Looking for a Property Surveyor in Cheam?

Building and Property Surveyors Cheam

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chris_hunt“My surveying experience extends from a solid core of survey reports, like the HomeBuyers Survey and the House Purchase Survey, to a wide range of residential and commercial expert surveys, valuations and reports. I can highlight any and all issues and defects at your potential property purchase or your current home, making sure you have all the information you need to proceed.

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Policy Exchange want new ‘Garden Village’ powers for Councils

garden-villageIn a paper by think-tank ‘Policy Exchange’, a new policy of devolved power to local authorities has been put forward, which would enable them to create ‘garden villages’ of between 1,500 and 5,000 homes…
To read the whole article, click here.