- Special development orders (SDOs) grant permission for specified kinds of development in a given area. The Government can designate an SDO without fresh legislation.
- Though used successfully in the Cardiff Bay area in the 1990s, they remain in relative obscurity. However, the powers to designate them have not lapsed.
- SDOs could never be a normal way of delivering homes, but they could play an important role in delivering major housing projects of strategic national importance.
- One example of this is Park Royal, an area of sheds in West London. The opening of the Elizabeth Line and HS2 will soon make Park Royal into one of the best-connected locations in Europe, and maintaining it as single-storey retail and light industrial space is clearly inappropriate.
- Park Royal could be the flagship development of London in the second half of the 2020s, transforming it into a mixed-use neighbourhood in the best traditions of London’s urbanism.
- A second opportunity for an SDO might be for an urban extension to Cambridge. Cambridge urgently needs to grow if it is to maintain its position as one of the world’s leaders in life sciences, computing and other research areas. Some of the agricultural zones that border it are of low environmental value. There is scope for adding a beautiful new quarter to Cambridge through an SDO designation.
In this new briefing Samuel Hughes, the CPS Head of Housing, sets out how government can use special development orders (SDOs) to encourage potential housing projects in areas of importance to the nation.
He illustrates the opportunities for SDOs by outlining two examples in which they could be used to deliver housebuilding projects of national importance, namely in Park Royal, London and in Cambridge.