Local Authority Matters


Posted by Penny Rinta-Suksi, 12th December 2018
Research conducted by the Local Government Chronicle reports that the number of Councils investing in real estate has doubled in the last two years. Not surprising given the pressure on authorities to balance budgets locally, and a common theme with our local authority clients. Elsewhere, a PublicFinance snapshot survey has revealed that a staggering 93% of Councils across England are planning to borrow more to boost activity following the removal of the HRA borrowing cap. The removal of this cap is long overdue and coming into a ‘Brexit’-saturated financial year, one can only hope it will be the catalyst for more housing as sought: certainly, there may be more land going cheap”er” if there is any truth to the rumour-mills’ concern about post-Brexit land values dropping.

With property investment high on our clients’ agenda, and housing development key to promoting and protecting sustainable revenue streams and affordable housing supply, we’ve dedicated this edition to matters relevant to these latest legal updates. I hope that you find this useful and if you would like a confidential conversation regarding your next venture, do get in touch.

HRA Council housing – back to simpler delivery structures?

It was long recognised that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap was a major obstacle for Councils seeking to build new homes. It was therefore met with applause that Theresa May announced that the cap on how much Councils can borrow against their housing revenue would come to an end swiftly before the end of October 2018. Since then, a PublicFinance snapshot survey has revealed that a staggering 93% of Councils across England are planning to borrow more to boost activity.

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The Housing Gap – An Intimidating Problem?

The gap between housing supply and demand is a perennial issue for Councils. In March 2018 housing returned to the top of many agendas following a major overhaul of the National Planning Policy. Those new planning reforms urged Councils to take on greater responsibility and accountability for delivering on housing commitments.

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Developers are warned by the Court of Appeal not to take the law into their own hands

The Court of Appeal has sent a strong message to developers not to build on land in breach of a restrictive covenant and then present the court with a fait accompli and challenge the judge not to order demolition but allow them to compensate the frustrated covenant holder instead.

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Display of Advertisements and Discontinuance Notices

The recent case of Putney Bridge Approach Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2018] EWCA Civ 2137 has helped clarify how local planning authorities should exercise their powers when serving discontinuance notices requiring the removal of an advertisement that has deemed consent and approach the question of whether to withdraw deemed consent for a specific advertisement or the whole site on which it is displayed.

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