Latest news

Planning round-up 18 June

Published: Friday, 19th June 2015

MP urges axe for traveller sites policy. Developers want CPO blight changes. Rare spiders see off Plymouth homes. Heathrow neighbourhood plan. Don Valley Stadium redevelopment. And more stories...

MP urges axe for traveller sites policy

An MP told Parliament last week that the policy requiring local authorities to plan to meet the housing needs of gypsies and travellers should be axed.

Planning laws were “favourably skewed” towards gypsy and traveller communities, Conservative MP Philip Hollobone claimed during a Commons debate.

Citing examples of antisocial behaviour, the Kettering MP urged ministers to “listen to these concerns from the heart of middle England”.

But during the Westminster Hall debate, he was criticised by Labour MPs who said his comments would “stigmatise” the communities.

“I simply do not see why, and neither do my constituents see why, there should be any special provision at all in the planning system for gypsies and travellers,” said Hollobone.

He said he was not “picking” on travellers but said residents had been left “in tears” because land near their homes had been designated as potential sites for pitches.

In a separate but related development, latest government statistics showed that the number of unauthorised caravans on land not owned by gypsies or travellers had fallen by 20 per cent between January 2014 and January 2015.

View the transcription of the debate

Developers want CPO blight changes

The government should consider making it easier for property owners to serve blight notices when they are affected by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) proceedings.

That’s the view of the British Property Federation in its detailed response to the administration’s latest proposals for the reform of the CPO regime.

The developer’s lobby group argued that as a result of the experiences of HS2, Transport for London and others, there was now a significant level of understanding of the need for a re-think of blight provisions.

“We suggest that consideration of a more market-based approach to provide for a revised process for dealing with generalised blight would be welcome and that the current annual value limits for blight are in need of review as they set an unnecessarily restrictive bar on claims,” it said.

The BPF said most of the government’s current proposals were welcome but added: “CPO is a powerful tool to support regeneration and a more comprehensive reform would enable it to be used more effectively”.

View the BPF response

Rare spiders see off Plymouth homes

Developer Wainhomes’ appeal over a proposal for 57 dwellings at Plymstock, Plymouth, has failed even though the city council could not show a five year housing land supply and the provision of affordable housing would have been a benefit. The appeal was dismissed because the site was known to be one of only two in the UK which is home to a rare breed of arachnid, the horrid ground weaver spider.

Cherwell, Cornwall and North Dorset local plans round-up

  • The planning inspector who examined Cherwell District Council’s draft local plan has concluded the strategy is sound provided some modifications are accepted by the Oxfordshire District Council. The plan makes provision for sites for some 22,840 homes and 200 hectares of employment land up to 2031. Examination of the strategy was suspended last year to allow Cherwell to revise its housing figures in line with Oxfordshire’s recently published Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).
  • The examination of Cornwall Council’s draft local plan has been put on hold while the planning authority responds to the planning inspector’s insistence that the housing target of more than 47,000 new dwellings needs to be adjusted using the latest government predictions and to reflect pressure from second home and holiday property owners.
  • North Dorset District Council is considering a series of main modifications to its draft local plan proposed by the planning inspector who examined the strategy. He has insisted the changes are needed for it to be regarded as sound. The Objective Assessment of Housing Need will have to be adjusted to accommodate an allowance for second homes and there are revisions to housing locations and growth at Blandord St Mary, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, and Sturminster Newton and at Stalbridge.

View more information on Cherwell local plan
View more information on Cornwall Council’s local plan
View more information on North Dorset District Council local plan

Heathrow neighbourhood plan

Residents near Heathrow Airport on the western flank of London have agreed the boundary for a proposed neighbourhood plan. The local Heathrow Villages Forum has decided it will cover Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington, but not Cranford and Longford.

The forum has agreed the main themes of the strategy. It will have eight priorities: housing, transport, enterprise, community spaces, green spaces, heritage, health and wellbeing.

Don Valley Stadium redevelopment

Plans have been submitted to Sheffield City Council for the proposed 11-hectare Olympic Legacy Park to be built on the former Don Valley Stadium site.

The park includes an Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), 3,000-seat arena, University Technical College and an academy for 1,200 pupils. In March, the government announced it was giving £14m towards building the AWRC. It has also attracted £1.5m from Japanese electronics firm Toshiba.

The park, a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield City Council and the private sector, is due to open next year. It will incorporate the existing English Institute of Sport and IceSheffield.

Energy projects round-up

  • Plans for a £200m three-turbine tidal barrage on the Wyre estuary in Lancashire have been proposed by Natural Energy Wyre Ltd which has been granted an exclusivity deal by the Duchy of Lancaster which owns the estuary.
  • Wind turbine manufacturer Siemens has been granted detailed planning permission by Hull City Council for a state-of-the-art blade factory and associated facilities at Alexandra Dock under the terms of the Local Development Order adopted in 2012. The plans aim to assist in attracting renewable energy businesses to the port area within the Humber Enterprise Zone.
  • Proposals for a solar farm on 44 hectares of land owned by a Dorset MP on the Charborough Estate look set to be approved by East Dorset District Council. The project would be run by green power company Good Energy.
  • An opencast mine proposed by UK Coal at Shortwood Farm Nottinghamshire with a five-year life has been given final planning consent by the county council. The coal will be used by the nearby Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
  • Plans for an electricity substation and control centre near the site of a proposed tidal energy farm off the Isle of Wight have been given outline planning permission by the Isle of Wight Council.
  • In a related development Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre has applied to the Marine Management Organisation to install seabed turbines off St Catherine’s Point.
  • Shropshire Council has refused permission for a 17-hectare solar farm at Whitton near Ludlow.
  • Meanwhile, energy firm Big60Million has applied to Cotswold District Council to develop a 23.4 megawatt solar farm on land near Witpit Lane, Preston.
  • Southern England MPs lined up to complain about the Navitus offshore wind farm project when the scheme was discussed in the Commons this week. At its nearest point to the coast at Swanage the array, between 78 and 121 turbines, would be just 9 miles out to sea. There is widespread local opposition because of the wind farm’s impact on tourism and in particular the UNESCO-designated Jurassic coast. The proposals have been considered as a nationally significant infrastructure project and have been examined by a team of inspectors from the Planning Inspectorate. The scheme is due to be determined by ministers in the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the autumn.

London round-up

  • Three multi-million pound deals, just announced, will provide over 1,000 new homes specifically for private rent in London. The homes will be built in some of the capital’s most sought-after locations, including the newest neighbourhood in Stratford’s Olympic Village site. Involved will be 903 homes for rent at Stratford’s Olympic Village; 278 homes for rent at Newington Butts in Southwark and 172 homes for rent across sites in Hammersmith, Westminster and West Kensington. Work on the homes will start straight away and be completed in 2017 and 2018. Each site will include a mix of one, two and three-bedroom properties, all located closely to underground stations.
  • Communities Secretary Greg Clark has called in controversial plans by Hall McKnight to redevelop King’s College London’s Strand campus next to Somerset House in central London.
  • Chelsea Football Club is poised to reveal detailed proposals for redeveloping its existing Stamford Bridge home in west London into a 60,000-seat stadium in a move which may mean the club will have to find an alternative ground for at least two seasons. Twickenham is one possibility, it has emerged.

Swindon leisure project includes ski scheme

Plans for a leisure complex incorporating a ski centre, 5,000-seat concert venue and cinema in Swindon have been submitted to the borough council by developer Moirai Capital Investment Ltd.

The £120m North Star project is proposed to be built around the existing Oasis leisure centre. The new complex will cover more than 12 hectares and also includes a skate park, hotel, restaurants and cafes.

View more information about the development

Northern Ireland planning performance falls

The latest Northern Ireland Planning Development Management Statistics for 2014/15 show that the Planning Service failed to meet any of the Department of the Environment key planning performance targets.

It took an average of 16 weeks to process local applications to decision (or withdrawal), one week in excess of the 15 week target. Only 68 per cent of large scale investment applications were processed within six months compared to the 90 per cent government target.

Other targets to reduce the number of live cases over one year old and enforcement cases over two years old, to 650 and 400 cases respectively, were also not achieved.

View the full statistics

Green Belt stats show housing approval rise

The number of new homes being approved on green belt sites in England has increased five-fold in the last five years, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

In 2009-10 planning permission was granted for 2,258 homes, while in 2014-15 the figure rose to 11,977. In the last year alone the number of approvals doubled.

Government policy insists that the green belt should only be built on in “exceptional circumstances”.

Areas feeling the most pressure include Hertfordshire, where the Campaign to Protect Rural England claims sites for 34,000 homes have already been proposed, with another 10,000 waiting in the wings.

Legal round-up

Planners in Birthday Honours list

Both a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) official and the author of a government-commissioned review of non-planning consents were recognised for services to planning in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Jane Everton, deputy director for planning (development plans) at DCLG, received a CBE while Adrian Penfold, head of planning at developer British Land and author of the Penfold Review, was awarded an OBE.

Also recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours were: Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, who received an MBE for services to planning and local government; Ronald Simpson, secretary of Uppingham First and author of the Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to community planning; and Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of charity Sustrans, who was awarded a CBE for services to transport and the environment.

View a full list of the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015

Restoration Fund launched by Mineral Products Association

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has relaunched its Restoration Guarantee Fund (MPARGF). It represents an industry pledge which ensures that restoration of a site can still be paid for and completed, if an operator becomes financially insolvent.

The MPARGF is endorsed by government through the National Planning Policy Framework.

Download the new MPA Restoration Guarantee Fund leaflet

Roger Milne