Archive for ‘Industry News’

Future Homes Commission’s Report now available!


Today the findings of the RIBA’s Future Homes Commission’s independent inquiry into the quality of newly built housing has been published. ‘Building the Homes and Communities Britain Needs’ calls for a revolution in the scale, quality and funding of home-building in order to meet the housing needs of our growing and changing population.

The key recommendations of the Report are:

•  A three-fold increase in the number of new homes being built every year

•  A new, independently managed £10 billion Local Housing Development Fund

•  A greater focus on design in all new homes

•  A more consumer-oriented housing market

•  A lead role for local government

Whether the Report will do any good remains, of course, to be seen! Commissioning expensive Reports is all well and good BUT only if people actually read them, understand them and ACT on the recommendations…

There are some very interesting statistics in the Report including a Poll that suggested only 1 in 4 people would consider buying a new home built within the last 10 years as the public perception is that Housebuilders are making rooms too small, lacking natural light and privacy from the neighbours.

Housebuilders need to read this and look at the evidence building up against the dull, cramped, dark boxes they insist on building…

Planning Authorities need to read this and look at the need for permitting development in sustainable locations and of good quality design…

Financial Backers need to read this and look at the evidence for returns on investment…


Permitted Development Rights Extended – read the draft detail here


The Government have announced that as of May 30th 2013 for a period of 3 years that single storey rear extensions may be doubled in size. To take advantage of this a neighbour consultation period has been included for the ‘larger’ rear extensions and the local planning authority will take a view on whether the larger extensions are acceptable or not.

The deadline for completion of any larger extensions is 30th May 2016 – note, this is not a deadline to apply for one but for the completion of the work.

Read the Government’s draft guidance here:

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council warn investors away from Green Belt purchase

In an interesting post on the Reigate & Banstead Borough Council website they are warning potential investors thinking of buying land at Downsway Close in Epsom Downs that “There are plots of land being offered for sale at Downsway Close (Epsom Downs) with false claims to have development or investment potential.”

To read the whole post click here

I’m not sure how I feel about this; while it is laudible that R&BBC make their feelings clear on the planning issue, there is something a little distasteful in the potential economic influence they may exert here.


Government Consultation on Permitted Development Rights Extension – Update


The Government have announced an amendment to the proposed increase in Permitted Development Rights for single storey rear extensions.

Under current consideration is a proposal to double the depth of single storey rear extensions from 3m and 4m for semi/ terrace and detached houses. This temporary change (for three years) will not apply to areas currently protected under PDR, eg Conservation Areas, AONB etc.

The latest change is to propose that should you wish to exercise the larger option then a consultation with your neighbours will be carried out by the local planning authority (you now have to formally inform them before carrying out the work)  and your neighbours will have 21 days to object. On receipt of an objection then the LPA will consider the impact of the proposals and if they agree with your neighbour then the proposal will be refused. You will be allowed to appeal this, submit a smaller proposal or submit a planning application instead.

Anyone wanting detailed advices on Permitted Development Rights should contact our nearest office.

Read more at the Planning Portal website:

Planning Permissions for new homes up 17% on last year but still not enough say HBF

BBC Business News today reported that the Home Builders Federation (HBF) had published figures that Planning permission was granted for 33,881 homes across England in July to September.  The HBF reports that this is a 36% rise on the 24,872 approvals in the second quarter, and 17% higher than a year earlier but add that this is still less than the 60,000 approvals needed each quarter to meet demand.

Under the National Planning Policy Framework, issued in April 2012, local authorities are required to work out future housing needs in their area, and then allocate sufficient land to meet it – the aim of the government being to remove obstacles to the building of new houses, and to speed up planning decisions.

According to the BBC article Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: “The increase is good news and hopefully a reflection of the positive planning principles of the new system. It is just one quarterly increase and we are still well short of the number needed but we hope it starts a trend that will continue in 2013. The new system must provide enough viable land to build the number of homes the country needs. Continuing the current low level of house-building is storing up huge social and economic problems for the years ahead and the shortfall must be addressed.”

Whether this trend will continue and we will finally see an longer term upswing in both granting of planning permission and, just as importantly, the translation of permissions in to actual built housing remains to be seen. Without increased supply then demand will continue unabated forcing prices still higher and driving more people out of the housing market.

It is simple economics – limited supply for a highly desired commodity leads to higher prices.

Farnham Herald publish our article on Planning Changes

The Farnham Herald published our three column article this week (17th October) on the proposed changed to Permitted Development Rights and our thoughts on the effect to the character of local areas – See page 2 of the paper.

Changes to Tree Preservation Order Regulations

The Planning Portal announced today:

Revised tree preservation regime finalised

The new Tree Preservation Order (TPO) regime for England involves two key
changes from the proposals for more streamlined and consolidated arrangements
consulted on two years ago, the Department for Communities and Local Government
(DCLG) has announced.

First, the Government has decided to increase the default period for the
duration of consents for work on trees from one year to two.

“This will increase flexibility for tree owners and make it consistent with
the existing period for notified work to trees in conservation areas. It remains
open to the local authority to vary this period if appropriate by use of
conditions,” explained the department.

Second, DCLG has determined that there should be a requirement for a tree
owner other than a statutory undertaker to give written prior notice to the
local authority of their intention to carry out works authorised by an
exemption, unless there was imminent danger.

“This requirement was present in pre-1999 TPOs and recommended in guidance.
The prior notice (by e-mail or letter) will not be onerous and will provide the
local authority involved with an opportunity to require a full application if
there was doubt the exemption applied, and therefore potentially may avoid
litigation,” said DCLG.

The TPO system provides the principal regulatory means for protecting trees.
Local planning authorities make and manage TPOs which prohibit the cutting down,
uprooting, topping, lopping, willful destruction or willful damage of protected
trees without an authority’s consent.

The revised arrangements are designed to create a consolidated system that
would apply to all orders by:

  • replacing the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999 (No.1982)
    (the “1999 Regulations”) so far as they relate to England
  • replacing the Town and Country Planning (Trees) (Amendment) (England)
    Regulations 2008 (No.2260) and the Town and Country Planning (Trees) (Amendment
    No.2) (England) Regulations (No.3202) (the “2008 Regulations”)
  • reducing the size of all existing and future tree preservation orders by
    retaining only the information that identifies the trees protected
  • moving subsections 198(3), (4), (6), (8) and (9), and sections 199, 201,
    203-205 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the Act”) to the new

The new regime also includes a new model order. The new regulations, entitled
the Town and County Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012,
have been laid before Parliament.”

National Planning Policy Framework now published – download here

Download a copy of the NPPF from our servers by clicking here.

As most people will have seen, the new National Planning Policy Framework has now been published. Billed as “an unashamedly pro-growth” document also aimed at helping everyone to understand the planning process and details this 65 page document has reduced, clarified and condensed over 1000 pages of previous guidance.

At the heart of the NPPF is the “presumption in favour of sustainable developement” and section 7 also states “Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development” and goes on to explain the importance that high-quality design plays in the built environment. The new policies look to restrict local authorities being over-prescriptive with details but instead to push more general design codes.

Download a copy of the NPPF from our servers by clicking here.

First Edition of the BWP Architects ‘architecture’ newspaper launched

All those who follow us on Twitter @bwp_architects may have seen the first edition of the new BWP Architects ‘architecture’ online newspaper that we launched yesterday.

Every day at at 13:00hrs a new edition will be published here

The headlines will be any updates from our Blog feed with additional stories and news items collected from around the world relating to all things architecture, planning and construction that may be of interest. Additional contect will be drawn from any of our followers on Twitter and also local interest stories for Farnham, Hastings and Harrogate where our studios are located.

Happy reading!

If you are thinking of fitting wood flooring then read this helpful advice first

The first in a new series of advice from specialist suppliers is written by wood and beyond for BWP Architects:


Anyone who has recently fitted wood flooring will tell you that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to options and styles. New technologies and advances in the way wood is sourced have contributed to an abundance of choice. In this blog post, we aim to explain your options so you are able to choose the best product for your precise circumstances.

Wood Flooring Types:

There are two common types of wood flooring and while for most properties your decision to fit one instead of the other won’t matter, in other cases it could prove a costly mistake. The most popular type is solid wood flooring. As you can gather by its name, each floor board is made from complete 100% solid wood. The second type is engineered wood flooring and while each floor board looks precisely like the solid type, they differ in their construction. Instead of complete wood, each floor board includes three or four layers of Plywood, MDF, Softwood and hardwood veneer on the top. Your decision to prefer one type to the other should be based on the particular characteristics of each technology.

Solid Wood Flooring – Because of their complete wood construction, they are regarded as the stronger of the two. Service life of a well-maintained floor could exceed 50 years. Each floor board can be sanded and stained after years of wear and tear thereby refreshing its look. Because of its natural construction, solid flooring has two common drawbacks. Floor boards are limited in size and the wood may experience a reaction to temperature changes. In some conditions the wood may expand (in hot conditions) or contract (in cold conditions), however if taken into account during fitting, it can be overcome.

Engineered Wood Flooring – Because of their contrasting construction, engineered are better suited for damp areas such as the kitchen or in properties that are located near a water source. While their service life may reach 50 years, the average service life is around 25 years. Floor boards are not limited in sizes and won’t react to temperature changes. However, sanding is not always possible and will depend on the thickness of the hardwood veneer. For most properties, be it residential or commercial, either type of wood flooring will suit. However, if in doubt you should consult with your architects.

Wood Flooring Grade:

The second consideration is the grade of the floor board. Contrary to common belief, grade is not an indication of quality, it is not an indication of durability and won’t affect the characteristics of the wood. It is in-fact an indication to how fine or how rustic the wood is. The more refine the wood is, the higher the grade is. The highest grade is ‘prime’ grade where the wood will feature minimal colour variation and minimal knots. The lowest grade is ‘rustic’ where you will immediately notice heavy grain markings, frequent colour variations and frequent knots of varying sizes. Other grades in between include select and natural. Your decision to prefer one grade over the other should be based your budget and your taste in wood.

Wood Flooring Finish:

The third consideration is the finish of the floor. Each floor board is covered in a transparent layer of coating which helps serves two important goals. In its original form, the finish is meant to provide the floor with basic protection from wear and tear, however in recent years it has been used to colour the floor in a colour different to the original colour of the wood. There are three practical coatings that you should consider.

Lacquer Based Finish – A layer that sits on the top of the wood, lacquer also serves as a waterproof coating. Useful for floor boards that are fitted in damp areas.

Oil Based Finish – A layer that sinks into the wood, oil is the easiest to repair by simply adding more oil. It is the common replacement to wax that has been used in the past.

UV Oil Based Finish – A layer that comes across as slightly glossy, thereby helping hide damage caused by wear and tear.

The Environment and Wood Flooring:

Wood flooring in most cases is sourced from sustainable forests where trees are replenished and ethically transported. If you come across a species of tree previously unknown or you wish to check their status, you can check the endangered list of trees online at Supplier displaying the FSC mark which stands for ‘Forestry Stewardship Council’ have been accredited for sourcing their woods from managed forests. Furthermore, it is in your right to ask the supplier as to the origin of their woods should you decide to check it. Most will have some sort of ethical statement.