Published: Thursday, 7th January 2016
New Welsh language policy kicks-in. Prior approvals on the increase. DCO changes advice. Urban study identifies gaps. Clark refuses Bristol green belt solar farm. And more stories...
New Welsh language policy kicks-in
New provisions to ensure the Welsh language is considered in the planning system in Wales came into force this week.
Under section 11 of the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 it is now a requirement that every planning authority when preparing or revising the local development plan gives consideration to how the policies and site allocations are likely to impact on use of the Welsh language in their area.
Section 31 clarifies that the language may be considered in decisions where it is material to the application. To coincide with this, the Welsh Government has issued a revised Technical Advice Note 20: Planning and the Welsh Language for a three-month public consultation.
Prior approvals on the increase
Latest planning application statistics for England have highlighted a surge in bids for prior approval. The figures show there were 36,400 such application in 2014/15 and 21,900 in the first two quarters of 2015/16, up from 15,700 in 2013/14 and just 7,300 in 2012/13.
Of 10,800 applications received for prior approval for permitted development rights during July to September 2015, some 8,800 were approved without having to go through the full planning process and 2,000 were refused.
Between July and September 2015, district level planning authorities in England received 120,400 applications for planning permission, up one per cent from 118,700 in the corresponding quarter of 2014 and granted 98,700 decisions, up three per cent from the same quarter in 2014. Over the third quarter in 2015 planning authorities granted 12,200 residential applications, up 12 per cent on a year earlier.
In the year ending September 2015, district level planning authorities granted 366,000 decisions, up four per cent on the year ending September 2014. Some 46,200 of the granted decisions were for residential developments: 5,800 for major developments and 40,300 for minors.
DCO changes advice
The Government has issued new guidance on two types of change that may be made to a Development Consent Order (non-material or material) and the procedures for making such changes. The guidance covers the boundary between a material change and needing to make a new application.
In a related but separate move the Planning Inspectorate has issued a new advice note on the assessment of cumulative effects as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment.
The guidance has been produced following the Infrastructure Act 2015 (which amended the 2008 Act) and the subsequent 2015 amendments to The Infrastructure Planning (Changes to, and Revocation of, Development Consent Orders) Regulations 2011.
Urban study identifies gaps
A study from cross-party think tank Demos has identified a gulf between the socio-economic performance of English towns and their neighbouring cities.
Against a wide variety of critical social and economic measures including health, education and employment, the report finds that three in five English towns are falling behind their urban neighbours.
The report, Talk of the Town, mapped the fortunes of the satellite towns orbiting 21 of England’s largest cities.
Broadly, the study found towns in the Midlands are the best overall performers against their nearest cities. It also identified a substantial North-South divide in absolute socio-economic performance, affecting both towns and cities.
Clark refuses Bristol green belt solar farm
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has dismissed an appeal over a 7.7megawatt solar power project proposed for high-grade farmland in a green belt location at Iron Acton, Bristol originally refused by South Gloucestershire Council.
He agreed with the inspector who held the recovered appeal inquiry that the scheme represented inappropriate development, breached Core Strategy policies and could not demonstrate that lower-grade agricultural land had been considered.
Land value guide
The Department for Communities and Local Government has published its latest set of values for both residential and agricultural land for each English district-level planning authority. The figures are purely for the purpose of policy appraisal.
- US hedge fund RiverOak has decided to use the Planning Act 2008 regime and apply for a Development Consent Order for the currently closed Manston Airport in a bid to safeguard the Kent facility for freight and executive aviation and associated activities. The company wants to compulsory purchase the site which has been touted for residential and industrial development. RiverOak has appointed Bircham Dyson Bell as its legal advisors.
- Robin Cooper, the chief executive of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) has resigned. An interim chief executive will be appointed this month. The EDC was set up by ministers to deliver the country’s first new ‘garden city’ for 100 years on land in Kent round the Ebbsfleet international rail station in Dartford and Gravesham where some 15,000 new homes are proposed.
- Meanwhile a High Court judge has dismissed the challenge by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) over the decision by Dover District Council to approve a scheme providing over 600 new homes and a hotel at Western Heights and Farthingloe in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Taylor Wimpey has been granted outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the 31-hectare Shorncliffe Garrison site near Folkestone in Kent by Shepway District Council for a housing-led mixed-use scheme providing up to 1,200 homes, 18 per cent affordable.
Neighbourhood plan progress
The Government’s latest neighbourhood planning newsletter has revealed that all 126 referendums held so far have been successful. The most recent took place in Linton near Leeds and saw 96 per cent of voters say ‘yes’ to the draft NP on a turnout of 48 per cent. Over 25,000 people have now voted in NP referendums, average ‘yes’ vote was 89 per cent and average turnout was 33 per cent.
West Midlands transport blueprint approved
Transport chiefs in the West Midlands have approved a strategic plan to help the region unlock its economic potential. The blueprint sets out the region’s transport strategy for the next 20 years.
It includes proposals for a fully integrated train, bus and rapid transit system, strategic road and rail improvements and a comprehensive cycle network, all underpinned by smart technology including ticketless travel and real time information.
The strategy, ‘Movement for Growth’ was the subject of a three month public consultation by the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA).
A key element of the plan is to help the West Midlands unlock the full economic potential of the HS2 high speed rail line which will link Birmingham to London in 2026 and later to Manchester and Leeds.
Clean air zones announced
The administration has announced plans to establish Clean Air Zones in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by 2020.
- The inspector examining West Oxfordshire District Council’s draft local plan has told the planning authority it must consider withdrawing the strategy or do more work on the overall housing requirement. The inspector said the plan’s target of 525 new dwellings per annum was too low and needed to be much closer to the 660dpa figure recommended following the Strategic Housing Market Assessment endorsed by all the other Oxfordshire councils.
- Cherwell District Council has insisted that special circumstances justified outline approval for a technology business park at the 8.3-hectare site of a former rugby ground on the northern edge of Kidlington which is located in the Oxford green belt. The scheme will provide some 40, 000 square meters of production, laboratory, storage, office and ancillary floor space.
- The council is going to court over Gladman Developments’ proposals for 54 new homes at Hook Norton, Oxfordshire allowed on appeal.
Dorset local plan sound provided early review
The inspector examining North Dorset District Council’s Local Plan has endorsed the strategy as sound providing the plan period is extended by five years to 2031 and is subject to an early review starting this March.
Green light for Wellington development
Taunton Deane Borough Council has given developer C G Fry and Son Ltd outline planning permission for 650 new homes on the edge of Wellington, 25 per cent of which will be for affordable housing. The scheme forms part of a mixed-use urban extension allocated in the Somerset planning authority’s Core Strategy.
Legal round up
- The owner of a nightclub in Brixton has been given permission to bring a judicial review challenge to Lambeth Council’s grant of planning permission for a housing development which the claimant, Louise Barron, believes would result in the club’s closure.
- A high court judge has ruled that Cornwall Council should have insisted on an environmental impact assessment before granting planning permission for a quarry near St Keverne which is expected to supply the Swansea Tidal Barrage project.
- The Scottish Government and energy company SSE have confirmed that they intend to appeal a legal ruling quashing a planned 67-turbine wind farm near Fort Augustus in the Scottish Highlands.
- Enfield Council in north London has failed in a legal action brought against the Transport Secretary over the number of trains per hour stopping at the nearest station to a major regeneration site.
- A High Court challenge against a plan to redevelop Undershaw, the former Surrey home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has failed.
- Developers who clear-felled trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order at Blacknest Park near Ascot will have to replace the woodland as required by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead following an unsuccessful challenge in the Court of Appeal.
- Developer Rosconn Group has launched a legal challenge over the adoption of Charnwood Borough Council’s Core Strategy and whether the Leicestershire planning authority’s five-year land supply position was adequately examined.
- Plans have been submitted to Westminster Council for the redevelopment of the former Royal Mail sorting office in Paddington, west London which include a 254-metre high tower designed to provide 330 new homes, retail and commercial floorspace, restaurants and public realm works.
- The Port of London Authority (PLA) has published a report setting out a strategy for making the Thames cleaner, and increasing the use of the river for recreation and transporting goods and passengers. Several new piers are proposed.
- Proposals for a 61,000-seater stadium for Premiership club Spurs capable of hosting international sporting fixtures have been approved by Haringey Council. The development, which will replace the club’s current White Hart Lane home, will also see nearly 600 new homes, a 180-bed hotel, an extreme sports centre alongside a community health centre and a new public square.
- Plans to convert an iconic flour mill not used since the 1980s into a new centre for business and enterprise in east London have been given the go-ahead by the Mayor of London’s office.
- A new tech and creative hub for the east of the city with 454,514 square metres of business space and 3,000 new homes will be built on a 25-hectare site at Silvertown Quays in the Royal Docks. The land includes the derelict Millennium Mills which features regularly as a dystopian backdrop for films and videos including Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and Derek Jarman’s The Last of England.
- Communities Secretary Greg Clark has allowed on appeal a scheme to provide 28 new homes at a reservoir in West Hampstead, north London originally refused by Camden Council. He agreed with the inspector who held the recovered appeal inquiry.
Infrastructure commission chief named
Chancellor George Osborne has appointed Phil Graham as Chief Executive Officer of the National Infrastructure Commission.
He joins the new body from the Department for Transport, where he has worked on many of the UK’s most important infrastructure projects.
More time for NPPF changes consultation
The Government has bowed to pressure and extended the period for consultation on its proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The new deadline for comments is 22 February.
HCA interim chairman chosen
Kevin Parry has been appointed interim chairman of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the Communities Secretary Greg Clark has confirmed
Parry, an existing board member will lead the HCA board for the period after current chairman Robert Napier stepped down at the end of December. He will continue the role until a chairman is appointed on a permanent basis and took up the position from 1 January 2016.
Most popular place
Liverpool Waterfront has been crowned the overall winner in the nationwide competition organised by the Royal Town Planning Institute to show off the diverse places that planners and the planning system have created, protected and enhanced for communities. Over 11,000 people voted on a shortlist of 10 places.
New Year’s Honours
Influential planners Alice Lester and Malcolm Sharp have won recognition for their contribution to planning in the latest New Year’s Honours.
Lester, programme manager at the Planning Advisory Service, was awarded an MBE as was Sharp, a former president of the Planning Officers Society.
Also honoured was John Worthington, director of the Academy of Urbanism and an Independent Transport Commission commissioner. He received an MBE for services to urban regeneration.
Peter Eversden, chair of the London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies, received an MBE for services to community engagement in planning.
Margaret Morgan, co-chair of the Ascot, Sunninghill and Sunningdale Neighbourhood Plan Delivery Group Committee, received a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Berkshire.