Buyers hunt, planners get tough

Those involved in house building will be aware of loud rumblings in central decent affordable housing.

Those involved in house building will be aware of loud rumblings in central decent affordable housing.

Demand is far outstripping supply, particularly in the North-East and North-West.

Spiralling prices mean the number of properties available to first-time buyers is estimated to be falling by the day.

Many buyers are having to borrow money from parents or take on huge mortgages, exceeding five times the household income, to get on to the property ladder. It is this high borrowing that is concerning the Bank of England.

The limited supply has led more people to seek planning permission to develop small to medium-sized sites. As a result, councils in areas including Northumberland and Tyneside are introducing policy guidance on housing supply.

This policy seeks to inhibit new permissions, requiring justification to be made if permission contrary to the new interim policies is to be granted.

Where previously permission in a village or town may have been relatively easy to attain, some councils are now restricting such permissions. The primary reason is over-supply.

Many people are asking what is wrong with over-supply if demand is still outstripping supply. It is undisputed that applications are being refused. A number of these cases are being tested on appeal and planning inspectors are giving considerable weight to the emerging policies.

This issue will be consolidated when councils prepare their local development documents as advocated by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004.

The Treasury is seeking to influence the output of housing and clearly this issue will not disappear. Planning consultants are best placed to advise on this.

* Scott Munro is a chartered town planner at North-East law firm Ward Hadaway.

Planning Applications

WARD: Alnwick

Applicant: High Buston Property Holdings

Proposal: Restoration and conversion of Bolams Mill, Bolams Warehouse and Malthouse Kiln. Partial demolition and new build to provide 33 flats, office/retail accommodation and 25 parking spaces at The Maltings and Bolams Mill, Dispensary Street.

WARD: Matfen

Applicant: Mr M Wilson

Proposal: Erection of 10 chalets with shower block and temporary marquee at Robin Hood Inn, East Wallhouses.

WARD: Lemington

Applicant: Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle

Proposal: Erection of single-storey classroom and office extension to south elevation, 2.1m-high security fence and gates around site, provision of four car parking spaces, play areas and wildlife and nature garden, levelled Tarmac area to north of building and removal of classroom and kitchen at St Georges RC Primary School, Bells Close, Lemington.

WARD: Moorside

Applicant: Gallowgate Properties

Proposal: Erection of eight-storey building comprising car parking at basement and part ground and first floors (52 spaces), retail at ground floor and offices at ground to seventh floors at south part of car park to east of Strawberry Lane and 30-34 Gallowgate.

WARD: Birtley

Applicant: Station Lane Area Residents

Proposal: Redevelopment of cleared site for public recreation, including ball court, play area and bike track with landscaping (revised application) at site of George Street Primary School.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer