Published: Thursday, 1st October 2015
Latest UK house-building figures. Go-ahead for huge Loughborough housing scheme. Party conferences prioritise housing. Cardiff city centre progress. And more stories...
Latest UK house-building figures
House building activity in the UK this year is set to top levels seen during 2014, according to new figures just released by the NHBC.
The new home registrations statistics reveal an increase of 11 per cent for the rolling quarter June to August, compared to the same period last year. A total of 40,101 new homes were registered in the UK during this period, up on the 36,149 new homes registered in the previous year.
The private sector increased by 12 per cent during this period (30,210 in 2015; 27,072 last year), with the public sector increasing by nine per cent from last year (9,891 in 2015; 9,077 last year).
However, registrations for August were down marginally by 6 per cent (10,362 compared to 11,037 last year) the first time since January that figures fell below last year’s respective monthly totals.
For the month, the private sector was marginally down by 1 per cent (8,401 in 2015, 8,476 August 2014), with the public sector down 23 per cent (1,961 versus 2,561 last August); this decrease follows six consecutive months of growth when compared to last year for the public sector.
Go-ahead for huge Loughborough housing scheme
Outline proposals for a 3,200-home sustainable urban extension on 465 hectares of mainly farmland west of Loughborough and close to the M1 have been approved by Charnwood Borough Council.
Developers William Davis and Persimmon Homes scheme also includes 16 hectares of employment land, retail and business units, two primary schools, sites for gypsies and travellers, open spaces including allotments, improvements to junction 23 of the M1 and the restoration of Garendon Park.
The site was identified for development under the Leicestershire District Council’s draft Core Strategy which has just been confirmed as “sound” by a planning inspector and will be formally approved by the local authority shortly.
Party conferences prioritise housing
The Labour Party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to start a “new, very large council house building programme” that would pay for itself. Housing would be a priority of any incoming Labour administration he promised in his first party conference speech as leader.
Meanwhile in his first party conference speech as Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said that the Liberal Democrats would build ten new garden cities, including five major new settlements along a garden cities railway between Oxford and Cambridge and confirmed the party’s target of 300,000 new homes to be built annually.
Cardiff city centre progress
Legal and General has signed a deal to back the £400m redevelopment of Cardiff city centre. The move represents one of the biggest-ever property deals in Wales.
The move sees the financial services giant taking a major stake in Cardiff’s Central Square project (which involves the redevelopment of over 92,903 square metres of the capital) transforming the area around the city’s station into a thriving business district.
The deal struck between the property investment arm of L&G and developer Rightacres Property includes the proposed new headquarters for BBC Cymru Wales at the heart of Central Square, the completion of the No 1 Central Square building, the proposed No 2 Central Square office scheme.
Also involved is the Interchange development, which as well as serving as the location for a new bus station and transport hub, involves plans for new office space, a 150-bedroom hotel and 200 private flats.
Energy project round-up
- Electricity generation giant Drax Power has said it will not continue with plans to develop the White Rose carbon capture and storage (CCS) project beyond the initial development phase, blaming the Government’s shift in energy policy. The project involves proposals for a 400 megawatt commercial-scale coal-fired plant fitted with CCS technology. There is now a big question mark whether the scheme will climb off the drawing board.
- Communities Secretary Greg Clark has refused planning permission for a four-turbine eight megawatt wind farm on arable land at Thorney near Peterborough which the city council was about to approve last year before it’s call-in by the then Communities Secretary Sir Eric Pickles. The scheme, proposed by REG Windpower Ltd, was recommended for approval by the inspector who held a public inquiry earlier this year’. Clark rejected this advice arguing that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community had not been addressed, citing visual and residential amenity concerns. The SoS insisted the scheme was being refused because it fell foul of the Government’s written ministerial statement of 18 June 2015 which said wind farms needed to demonstrate community backing.
- End of an era as the iconic twin chimney stacks of Cockenzie power station in East Lothian were blown up and part of the main building at the Didcot power plant complex in Oxfordshire was demolished.
- London Mayor Boris Johnson has called in two contentious schemes in the capital. They are the £800m Bishopsgate Goods Yard mixed-use scheme proposed by developers Hammerson and Ballymore which is being considered by Hackney and Tower Hamlet Councils. He has also intervened over British Land’s planning application for Blossom Street, a 32,516 square metre mixed-use scheme on the City fringe, which was rejected by Tower Hamlet councillors against the advice of officers.
- Planning and transport consultancy Arup has been appointed to help the pedestrian safety pilot scheme in south west London’s Tooting town centre. Arup will support Transport for London and Wandsworth Council to deliver a transport strategy and action plan to address pedestrian safety and to increase the level of walking in the area.
- The planning application for the Somerleyton Road scheme that would bring three hundred new homes, a theatre, chef school, children’s nursery and new business opportunities to Brixton in South London has been submitted to Lambeth Council which is closely involved in the new neighbourhood project.
- The Thames garden bridge project is looking increasingly unlikely now Lambeth Council has pulled out of negotiations for some of the land needed for the scheme, already under fire because of spiralling costs.
Brighton and Hove Albion’s new development goals
Leading Championship football club Brighton and Hove Albion is hoping to build a 150-room hotel as well as a cancer treatment centre next to its stadium.
The club said the complex at the Amex stadium would boost the local economy by £6m and create more than 80 jobs. The hotel would provide accommodation for fans as well as visitors to the nearby University of Sussex.
Before going ahead, the scheme would need to be approved by the club’s board and Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust as well as the two planning authorities involved, Brighton and Hove City Council and neighbouring Lewes District Council.
Green light for Kent out of town retail park extension
Ashford Borough Council has approved plans to expand an out-of-town retail park known as the Ashford Designer Outlet Centre.
The 9290 square metre extension will add 40 new stores, six restaurants and cafes as well as creating up to an additional 700 jobs. The plans include the largest vertical ‘green wall’ to be built in the UK. The existing outlet has 90 stores and currently attracts nearly three million visitors a year.
- The Department for Communities and Local Government has been given permission to appeal last month’s High Court ruling in favour of West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council over the affordable homes threshold.
- A riverside hotel and leisure club has decided to mount a legal challenge to Richmond Council’s decision last week to approve a hydro-power scheme on the River Thames in south west London at Teddington weir.
- Friends of the Earth NI is taking the Department of the Environment to court over what it claims is a failure to protect Lough Neagh from the activities of sand dredging.
- A High Court judge has refused to grant permission for a judicial review challenge over the Forest of Dean District Council’s grant of planning permission to the Homes and Communities Agency for a major mixed-use regeneration project. At issue was the impact of the residential-led scheme on the local bat population.
New EA chief executive named
Sir James Bevan, a 56-year old career diplomat, has been named as the next Chief Executive of the Environment Agency.
Sir James is currently the UK’s High Commissioner to India. He was appointed to the top job at the agency after a competitive recruitment process and will take up the post at the end of November.
He replaces Paul Leinster, who left the EA last week after 17 years with the green regulator. David Rooke, the agency’s current executive director for flood risk management, will act as chief executive until Sir James takes up his new role.