Sunday, 19 November 2017

Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife looking to classify their development as 'extra care housing' >>> >>> >>> "The advantage of a scheme falling within a C2 Use Class should not be underestimated."

The developer at Knowle says its plans would be rendered 'unviable' if it can't get a certain classification:

The appellant has submitted a viability report which indicates that in the event that the proposal is considered to fall within class C3 (rather than C2) the provision of affordable housing either on-site or off-site would make the proposal unviable.

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: District Council publishes 'proof of evidence' prepared by Cornwall Council planning officer

The District Council sees it rather differently, as a commentator has noted:

The applicants have put forward a proposal to build 113 units, which they believe meets the C2 classification and an age requirement (aged 60 and over) for a site with a Local Plan allocation of 50 (C3) out of a total allocation for Sidmouth of 150. 

The Local Plan clearly states in both its vision and strategy that "affordable homes are a top priority for this council" and that future developments should result in "more balanced communities". 

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and balanced communities

And before he changed his mind, the senior Planning Officer dealing with the original application made it clear that the applicant had certain obligations: 

Our conclusion based on this assessment and a Counsel opinion is that the proposed units should be classed as C3 (dwelling houses).

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife appeal >>> submission from Vision Group for Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: PegasusLife appeal >>> devastating critique of District Council's developer-commissioned Care Housing Needs Assessment
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home?

It is clear, then, that developers in general would rather have their development labelled as C2.

As this helpful little piece of legal advice suggests:

C3 or not C3: Planning Use Classes for Retirement Housing

Louise Crook is a solicitor in Worcester, specialising in Health and Social Care property

18th November, 2016

It is clear to all that an ageing population means that there is more of a need than ever for retirement housing to be delivered. This is, however, easier said than done, with a lack of understanding in local authorities about retirement accommodation often causing issues when seeking planning permission.

A particular problem in the planning process relates to the ambiguity over the appropriate Use Class for different types of housing. The debate over whether retirement housing falls within a C2 or C3 Use Class is still causing delays, or in some cases, preventing schemes coming forward altogether.

The issue centres around whether retirement housing falls within the definition of a normal ‘dwellinghouse’, which is a C3 planning use, or whether it falls within the definition of a C2 planning use, namely that it is ‘residential institution’ where care is provided to residents.

There is little dispute that a traditional residential care home where residents benefit from meals and other facilities being provided communally would fall within a C2 use. Extra Care Housing, however, where residents have self-contained accommodation, but combined with communal facilities and the availability of personal care is not as clear cut.

The advantage of a scheme falling within a C2 Use Class should not be underestimated. Whilst Local Authorities have rigid planning policies setting out appropriate locations for housing development, C2 schemes are not necessarily bound by these planning policy constraints. Planning permission is increasingly being granted for C2 retirement housing on sites where market housing would not be permitted, including town centre sites and in protected countryside, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Additionally, as more and more Local Authorities introduce Community Infrastructure Levy, Local Authorities are imposing a fixed charge per square metre of floorspace for C3 development. This can be up to £500 per square metre in some areas for C3, but there is usually a zero charge for all C2 development.

The value of a development falling within a C2 Use Class instead of C3 for the financial viability of a scheme has lead to this argument being considered by the Courts in a number of cases. Of particular interest was the Leelamb Homes v Maldon District Council case, which ruled that a minimum care package of two hours per week was sufficient for a scheme to be C2.

As a result, a it is increasingly common to see Local Authorities permit a scheme on the basis that it is C2 Use Class if a minimum care package of two hours per week is secured in a Section 106 obligation prior to planning permission being granted.

National planning policy has also changed this year to support the delivery of retirement housing. From March 2015 local authorities became required to use population projections to assess housing need by age group, and use this information to meet housing need.

These statistics have certainly given authorities food for thought: the current population projections predict that in 30 years’ time over 65s will make up more than 25% of the populations in the vast majority of local authorities, and up to 40% in some seaside areas.

The true impact of these changes to planning policy remains to be seen, but it looks hopeful that these changes, together with the possibility of securing a C2 use with a minimal care commitment, will give the sector more flexibility to deliver innovative and profitable schemes.

C3 or not C3: Planning Use Classes for Retirement Housing - Harrison Clark Rickerbys

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