Published: Thursday, 22nd October 2015
Housing project funding dispute. Swansea developments. Large sites help. Tesco sites deal. Chinese investment targets. And more stories...
Housing project funding dispute
The Department for Communities and Local Government has hit back at a BBC investigation which identified a slow take-up so far of a £525m fund designed to unlock hundreds of housing projects stalled by the economic slowdown.
The BBC said a Freedom of Information request to the Homes and Communities Agency, which runs the scheme, had revealed that 18 months after the launch of the initiative only two projects had benefitted – in Cornwall and Essex. Just over a £1m had been used up on these two projects.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis insisted: “There have been high levels of interest in this scheme that will deliver thousands of homes for hard working families.
“We are considering 86 bids for funding worth more than £250m as well as having already signed eight contracts for £11m and a further 33 contracts worth £68m are in the process of being signed.
“The remaining funding is available to support house builders between now and 2017.”
Swansea City Council and Neath Port Talbot Council have prepared a joint draft master plan designed to provide a more integrated approach to planning along the so-called Fabian Way corridor.
This stretches for five kilometres either side of the A483 Fabian Way, which forms the eastern gateway road approach to Swansea city centre from junction 42 of the M4.
Aim of the document is to capitalize on existing and emerging developments in the area. These include the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, Swansea University’s Bay Campus, the Bay Studios and the University of Wales Trinity St David’s plans for a new waterfront campus at Swansea’s SA1.site.
The draft document backs the development of a knowledge economy cluster along Fabian Way that would complement the city centre’s regeneration, create new jobs and boost economic prosperity across the Swansea Bay City Region as a whole.
In a separate but related move the planning authority is drawing a high buildings strategy which after public consultation will become supplementary planning guidance.
- Ambitious plans for the transformation of the area by Paddington station in west London whose centrepiece will be a 224-metre high tower have been revealed by the property company behind the Shard. The scheme also includes over an acre of new public realm, an open-air roof garden with panoramic views of the capital, new access to the Bakerloo underground station, 200 new homes, over 14,000 square metres of commercial floor space and shops, restaurants and cafes.
- London Mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to announce ten more ‘Housing Zones’ by next May as he revealed the identities of the last two zones of the initial 20-strong tranche. Zones in Merton and Lambeth, both in south London, have been unveiled. Johnson has also committed to publishing planning advice designed to safeguard music and cultural venues across the capital, after a report showed more than a third of the capital’s grassroots music venues were lost since 2007. In the future developers will be specifically required to mitigate potential conflicts between new developments and long standing live venues.
- The City of London Corporation has committed to build 3,700 new homes by 2025, in what will be the biggest house-building programme since the completion of the Barbican estate in 1976. The homes will be built on the City’s existing housing estates and land outside the Square Mile. Some will be social housing, and some will be offered at market rate.
- Members of the east London Borough of Barking & Dagenham have rejected plans for a 28-storey residential tower proposed for land next to Barking railway station. Officers had recommended approval.
Energy project developments
- Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee has refused permission for a five megawatt solar power farm proposed by Peel Energy for a green belt location at Hapsford on land south of junction 14 of the M56. Officers had recommended approval.
- Banks Mining has submitted plans for an open cast coal mine close to a nature reserve at Druridge Bay to Northumberland Council.
- Allerdale Borough Council is apologising to residents in Oughterside near Aspatria, Cumbria after ignoring their objections and granting planning permission for a single wind turbine near their homes. Residents complained to the Local Government Ombudsman. The watchdog decided an apology was in order. The planning authority said: “We fully accept the decision of the Ombudsman and have already made all necessary changes to policy, procedures and training to ensure that similar issues cannot happen again
- Communities Secretary Greg Clark has dismissed an appeal over a single turbine on farm land near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire against the advice of the planning inspector who held the recovered inquiry. The SoS’s decision letter said the scheme would have an adverse effect on heritage assets and the nearby Chilterns AONB and that residents’ concerns had not been fully addressed.
- The developers behind the Navitus Bay project, a huge offshore wind farm earmarked for a large area off the Dorset and Hampshire coasts denied consent recently by the Government, have decided not to mount a legal challenge over the refusal.
- A High Court judge has quashed the grant of outline planning permission for a residential development in Wiltshire over the appearance of bias.
- Lambeth Council in south London has secured a £382,000 confiscation order against a landlord who converted a property into flats without planning permission.
- A High Court judge has given the Licensed Taxi Driver Association permission to bring a judicial review challenge in relation to the construction of the East-West Cycle Superhighway by Transport for London which claims the scheme required planning permission.
- Proposals to connect Manchester’s two biggest railway stations(the subject of a Development Consent Order under the 2008 Planning Act regime) have received High Court backing despite claims they will damage a key part of rail history.
Large sites help
The Department for Communities and Local Government has published its large sites infrastructure programme prospectus and is inviting bids for the financial elements of this initiative. A £1bn Local Infrastructure Fund is available alongside planning and technical help to steer schemes of at least 1,500 new homes from conception to planning approval. This scheme will run until 2020.
International design, architecture and planning consultancy AECOM has been chosen to draw up a master plan for the Government’s flagship garden city at Ebbsfleet in Kent. Public consultation will begin next month and the strategy will be published next year.
Tesco sites deal
Retail giant Tesco is selling off more than a dozen sites in London, the South East and Bath that it no longer wants to develop to property firm Meyer Bergman as part of a £250m deal which could see the land used for residential-led mixed-use schemes which could provide up to 10, 000 new homes.
The deal includes sites in Bath; Epsom, Surrey; London (Fulham, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Lewisham, New Barnet, Tolworth and Woolwich) and St Albans.
Chinese investment targets
Chinese investment group SinoFortone has unveiled plans to invest more than £5bn in the UK focusing on waste power and food facilities in Holyhead and Port Talbot, Wales and the Paramount London TV and film theme park proposed for an extensive site at Ebbsfleet, Kent. The deals coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain this week.
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has agreed in principle to compulsory purchase over 68 hectares of land at Balcombe Road, Horley, near Gatwick Airport for a business park.
Consultation on the latest plans for the regeneration of the Anfield district in Liverpool has begun. The plans include the final phase of the restoration of Stanley Park. The move is part of a £260m scheme that includes expanding Liverpool FC’s stadium as well as creating new homes and offices.
Two more local plans make the grade
Two more local plans have been approved by planning inspectors subject to modifications. East Staffordshire District Council’s development plan provides for 613 dwellings per annum during the plan period 2012-2031.
Meanwhile Torbay Council’s strategy covering the so-called English Riviera has passed muster on the basis of 8,900 new homes over a shortened plan period of 2012-2030
Grantham homes approved
Proposals from Gladman Developments for a scheme of up to 300 new homes on the western edge of Grantham have been approved in outline by South Kesteven District Council. The site was allocated for development in the district council’s approved core strategy.
Buckinghamshire crematorium re-run
Re-submitted proposals for a crematorium on the edge of Bierton near Aylesbury have approved by Aylesbury Vale District Council, after the original scheme’s approval was quashed by a High Court judge on the grounds the officer dealing with the application blundered over the treatment of Great Crested Newts affected by the project.
The facility is planned by the Chilterns Crematorium Committee made of three neighbouring local authorities, Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern and Wycombe District Councils.
The former Coronation Street set in Manchester is to be demolished, despite a campaign to save it. Developer Allied London bought the Quay Street site in a joint venture with Manchester City Council and plans to build flats, shops and offices there.
The ITV soap was filmed there from 1982 until January 2014, when production moved to MediaCity UK at Salford Quays. Manchester City Council’s planning committee voted to approve the redevelopment last week.
Threatened heritage assets
An Edwardian swimming baths and an 18th century country mansion in south Yorkshire are among the most under-threat buildings in the world, according to a heritage group.
Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham and Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham, Yorkshire, are listed on the 2016 World Monuments Watch.
Stirling Prize winner
Burntwood School, a large comprehensive girls’ school in Wandsworth, south west London, designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has won the RIBA Stirling Prize 2015 for the UK’s best new building.