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Planning round-up 8 October

Published: Thursday, 8th October 2015

Green belt figures. Latest deprived neighbourhood analysis. PM pledges homes building crusade. National Trust urges tougher AONB regime. Thumbs down for Woodstock development. And more stories...

Green belt figures

New figures show that there has been a decrease of around 2,000 hectares overall of green belt in England between April 2013 and the end of March 2015 largely because of new local plans adopted by 11 local authorities.

These latest figures show that the extent of the designated green belt in England as at 31st March 2015 was estimated at 1,636,620 hectares, around 13 per cent of the land area of England.

Since these statistics were first compiled for 1997, there has been an increase of 32,000 hectares in the area of green belt after taking account of the re-designation of some green belt as part of the New Forest National Park in 2005.

View the statistics

Latest deprived neighbourhood analysis

The Department for Communities and Local Government has updated the English Indices of Deprivation 2010. This provides a measure of relative levels of deprivation in 32,844 so-called small areas or neighbourhoods in England. Most of the indicators used for these statistics are from 2012/13.

The majority (83 per cent) of neighbourhoods that are the most deprived according to the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation were also the most deprived according to the 2010 Index. Some 61 per cent of local authority districts contain at least one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England.

Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Kingston upon Hull, Liverpool and Manchester are the local authorities with the highest proportions of neighbourhoods among the most deprived in England.

The 20 most deprived local authorities are largely the same as found for the 2010 Index, but the London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Haringey have become relatively less deprived and no longer feature in this list.

However seven of the 10 local authority districts with the highest levels of income deprivation among older people are in London. Tower Hamlets is the most deprived district with regard to income deprivation among both children and older people.

View the statistics

PM pledges homes building crusade

The PM promised a “national crusade to get homes built” in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Wednesday (7 October). However he unveiled no new proposals, though he did confirm that the Party’s Starter Homes initiative would be centre-stage.

David Cameron said the Government would achieve more house-building via “banks lending, government releasing land and planning being reformed”.

He told delegates:” I can announce a dramatic shift in housing policy in our country. Those old rules which said to developers: you can build on this site, but only if you build affordable homes for rent. We’re replacing them with new rules. You can build here, and those affordable homes can be available to buy.”

He added: “Yes, from Generation Rent to Generation Buy”.

View more information on the Conservative Party Conference

National Trust urges tougher AONB regime

Ministers have been urged to update national planning guidance for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with nine tests highlighted by the National Trust in a new report.

The report, prepared by consultancy Green Balance, also suggested that ministers should make clear how they intend to deliver their commitment to safeguard AONBs with a Ministerial Statement to Parliament.

The report found that local authorities with less than five years of housing land supply were the main cause of pressure to release land for development in sensitive locations in English AONBs or their settings.

View the press release

Thumbs down for Woodstock development

Plans to build up to 1,200 houses on part of the Blenheim Palace Estate at Woodstock have been rejected by Cherwell District Council. The scheme had already been refused by neighbouring West Oxfordshire District Council.

A primary school, shops, transport interchange and football training facility were also included in the planning application.

Pye Homes’ proposals for 1,500 homes, on land owned by the estate, were reduced to 1,200 in June. Local residents opposed the proposals and the International Council on Monuments and Sites said the development would harm Blenheim Place and grounds, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

View the story on the BBC news site

One in five offices to homes conversions blocked

Nearly one in five of around 5,000 applications to convert offices into flats across England were blocked by councils over the period April 2014 to June 2015 according to research by property consultant Daniel Watney LLP.

This analysis showed that 916 out of 4,887 applications for office-to-residential conversion were refused on ‘prior approval’ grounds, which is still required where certain regulations or consents are needed.

In London, one in four (493 out of 1,959) was refused while the average for other cities was one in 10.

View the press release

London round-up

  • Revised outline plans have been approved by Harrow Council for the redevelopment of a former Kodak factory in north-west London to include 1,800 homes. The site is in a designated London Plan Opportunity Area. The council has also given the green light for a regeneration programme in the borough at Wealdstonel involving a new purpose built civic centre and around 1,000 new homes, including 400 affordable units.
  • The Hounslow Local Plan has now been formally adopted by the borough council. The strategy reflects an indicative target in the London Plan of 822 dwellings per annum.
  • A planning inspector has granted planning permission on appeal for the construction of a building with a two-storey basement in west London, despite an adopted planning policy by the planning authority (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) restricting basement developments to one storey.
  • The London Assembly is examining whether a new land value tax in the metropolis would cut the number of unused sites under private ownership while boosting public investment in infrastructure.

Solar powered Balcombe

Balcombe, the West Sussex village which has been at the epicentre of protests over fracking, has received planning permission from Mid Sussex District Council for a 5 megawatt community solar farm.

View the news story on Guardian.co.uk

Pig farm permit appeal

The company behind a proposed pig farm for 24,500 animals in Derbyshire is to appeal against a decision not to grant it an environmental permit.

The Environment Agency said the scheme at a site near Foston would result in significant “odour pollution”. About 34,000 people signed a petition against the plans, which were first lodged in 2011.

The company, Midland Pig Producers, has confirmed its appeal is being dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate.

View more information

Rayleigh housing scheme

Outline plans for a new neighbourhood of up to 500 new homes to the west of Rayleigh, Essex proposed by Countryside Properties have been given the go ahead by Rochford District Council

The 46 hectare site has been allocated for housing under the planning authority’s adopted core strategy. The scheme includes provision of 35 per cent affordable housing. The master plan for the development involves extensive areas of public open space. Part of the site is in green belt.

View the press release

Herefordshire core strategy ’sound’

The planning inspector examining Herefordshire Council’s core strategy has found the strategy sound subject to modifications which the local authority has accepted. It plans to formally adopt the local development plan later this month. It has a minimum housing requirement of 16,500 dwellings (825 dwellings per annum) over the two decades up to 2031.

View more information on the Herefordshire Local Plan Core Strategy

Go-ahead for Smethwick hospital project

The long-awaited £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital project has cleared its final hurdle after detailed permission for the project was approved by members of Sandwell Council’s planning committee.

The “super hospital” is expected to open in Grove Lane, Smethwick, in late 2018 and will serve more than half a million people living in Sandwell and West Birmingham. Construction is expected to begin in January.

The new hospital will have around 670 beds and 15 operating theatre suites and has been designed to meet the best international and national standards.

The current Sandwell and City Hospital sites will continue to be used for health activities, although parts of them will be developed for housing once the super hospital is complete.

View the press release

Clark backs MK homes scheme

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has allowed an appeal for outline planning permission for a 53 home scheme on a brownfield site at Woburn Sands near Milton Keynes originally refused by the city council.

Clark agreed with the inspector who handled the recovered appeal that the scheme proposed by Frosts Family LLP was in a sustainable location and would mean the replacement of a semi industrial development in a rural area and a consequent reduction in heavy lorry movements.

The SoS, like the inspector, acknowledged that the scheme breached local plan policies but agreed the benefits of the project outweighed these objections, particularly as the council could not demonstrate a five year supply of housing land.

View the decision letter

Kent theme park delayed

The developer behind ambitious proposals for a £2bn theme park in north Kent has said further research into the traffic and environmental issues must be undertaken before formally applying for a development consent order under the 2008 Planning Act.

The proposed 400 hectare London Paramount resort on the Swanscombe Peninsula, near Dartford, would be twice the size of the London Olympic Park, and include 5,000 hotel rooms and a water park.

The planned attraction is anticipated to have around 50 rides based on films and TV programmes. Provided it gets the go-ahead the scheme is not now expected to open by Easter 2020 as originally planned. The company has now said the start date will be 2021.

View the press release

Legal round-up

Cheetah enclosure clobbered

A couple who built an enclosure for cheetahs without planning permission in the Lake District National Park has lost their appeal to save it.

Dee and Daniel Ashman put the building up at Predator Experience at Ayside, Newby Bridge near Grange over Sands in South Lakeland. The Lake District National Park Authority originally refused the scheme retrospective planning permission last September and subsequently issued the couple with an enforcement notice for breach of planning control. The couple appealed the decision, however this has now been dismissed and the enforcement notice upheld because of the development’s “harmful effect on the character and appearance of the landscape of the area.”

Objectors said it was “becoming a zoo”, while the Planning Inspectorate said it was “alien and incongruous feature in the landscape”. The couple has been given six months to remove it and find a new home for the animals.

View more information on the appeal

Roger Milne