Tory councillors have joined Labour MP Darren Jones in calling for a freeholder’s bid to add two extra storeys to a five-storey block of flats to be turned down.
Leaseholders at Grange Court in Henleaze, Bristol, are appalled at the proposal, which has been made under the government’s controversial two-storey planning give-away to freehold speculators pushed through by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.
LKP has estimated the give-away to be worth between £22 to £42 billion in increasing the values of freeholds. This reported here:
At a video meeting on November 11, 23 local residents opposed the move, and there have been 268 objections.
The issue is reported on the Bristol Live website here
Bristol residents battling to stop two extra storeys being built on top of their block of flats had a victory last night. City councillors voted nine to one against what they said was an “unusually cruel” application to extend the three-storey block of flats on Grange Court Road.
Planning consultant John Cockling is quoted telling the planning committee that there was “no good reason to withhold prior approval”.
“The application before you responds positively to new legislation intended to boost the housing supply and the local economy in the wake of coronavirus. [In fact, the proposal was aired publicly before the pandemic.]
“The legislation only allows the local planning authority to consider eight criteria.
“Other matters cannot lawfully be taken into account.”
Two Conservative councillors joined Labour, Green and LibDem councillors, in urging the measure to be thrown out. Cllr Geoff Gollop said that once the two additional storeys were completed, the building would stand at five storeys and 14m high and would “overwhelm” the neighbours.
The councillors voted nine to one that they were “minded to refuse” the application.
It is unclear what this will mean.
The government is strongly backing its measure as part of its “Build Back better” or “Build Build Build” sloganising.
The two-storey give-away to speculators in freeholds may only create 800 new homes a year, according to the government’s own impact assessment.
But far more important is that these open-door development rights hugely increase the value of freeholds in enfranchisement cases.
We await to see how it will be deployed as an argument in the courts.
Curiously, we were recently contacted by a London cladding site that was considering enfranchisement. Our advice was to push ahead with it, because while a site is covered in combustible cladding a freeholder would struggle to advance an argument for development rights.