Published: Thursday, 28th January 2016
Infrastructure consultation launched. Sargeant approves national developments decisions process. RTPI critiques CIL regime. Post-war public art works listed. And more stories...
Infrastructure consultation launched
A wide-ranging coalition of business, industry, academic and environmental bodies and leaders has launched a consultation on the UK’s infrastructure needs.
This exercise – dubbed a ‘national needs assessment’ – is being chaired by Sir John Armitt, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and a National Infrastructure Commissioner.
The needs assessment will be based on evidence gathered during the nationwide consultation which kicked off this week, as well as evidence hearings, research being undertaken by the Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium.
It will take into account factors such as climate change, population growth and technological ‘game changers’. It will also review different options for meeting the UK’s needs, considering affordability, public acceptability and environmental obligations.
A report will be published in October 2016 setting out a vision for UK infrastructure up to 2050 and an action plan for Government and others. The assessment will feed into the work being undertaken by the recently established National Infrastructure Commission.
As well as the ICE, the coalition includes the CBI, Green Alliance, KPMG, London First, the National Grid, Pinsent Masons, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Thames Water, Transport for Greater Manchester, University of Cambridge and University of Oxford.
Sargeant approves national developments decisions process
Carl Sargeant AM, Minister for Natural Resources, has approved the introduction of a series of changes to planning legislation in Wales. The Minister signed Commencement Order 3 for the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, which brings into force a series of powers relating to the determining of planning applications and appeals, as well as making a series of items of subordinate legislation, setting out details for implementation of the 2015 Act’s powers and designed to streamline the planning application process. The new powers and changes to existing legislation, which will come into force in March, include:
- A “Developments of National Significance” tier of major planning application, to be determined by the Welsh Ministers, will be introduced
- A statutory pre-application advice service with a national fee structure, to be provided by Welsh planning authorities, will be introduced
- From August, any submission of a planning application for major development must have undertaken pre-application community consultation in order to be valid
- Changes will be made to validation procedures, including the introduction of a non-validation appeal process
- Statutory consultees will have a duty to respond to pre-application consultations within 21 days and to report on their performance
- Requirements for Design and Access Statements to accompany applications will be revised to apply primarily to applications for major development
For more details on implementation of the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, including a timetable for further changes, visit the Welsh Government’s website. The relevant statutory instruments are expected to be laid for consideration by the National Assembly for Wales within the week. Application forms for Developments of National Significance will be available on the Planning Portal, in due course.
RTPI critiques CIL regime
The Royal Town Planning Institute has highlighted significant variations in the way the Community Infrastructure Levy is implemented in its response to the Government‘s consultation on the regime.
The Institute urged “more coordination and transparency in councils’ infrastructure delivery plans as well as in applicant viability assessments to make it less possible for private owners to claim that the financial burden of the levy is making development, in many cases affordable housing, ‘unviable’”.
The RTPI also drew attention to the disparity in CIL adoption across the country with land values acting as the main determinant.
It added that councils in places with depressed land values like rural areas do not often find CIL viable, with many councils relying on S106 agreements.
But the RTPI argued that the Government’s recent restriction that limits the number of S106 agreements on one site to no more than five was hampering councils’ ability to deliver the infrastructure and supporting amenities communities need.
Post-war public art works listed
An Antony Gormley sculpture has been given Grade II protected status – his first to be listed. It is one of 41 pieces of post-war public art in England newly protected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.
The list also includes three works by Barbara Hepworth and one by Henry Moore, opposite Parliament in London. The works newly listed depict a range of themes from the power of electricity to the women’s peace movement in Northern Ireland.
South East England rail plans
Local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and other bodies could have a greater say in the planning and operation of rail services across the capital and South East England under new arrangements proposed by the Department for Transport and the Mayor of London.
This new regime would ensure that decisions affecting transport infrastructure support local and regional economic growth. Local authorities inside and outside London would have a direct say in the way services are planned and operated.
According to a Prospectus now out for consultation this would mean more frequent services, better interchanges and increased capacity.
Proposed is the creation of a London Suburban Metro service with the potential for more than 80 per cent of stations to have a train every 15 minutes, up from 67 per cent at present today, as well as the potential for more regular services via Clapham Junction, south east London and Kent.
The proposals would see the transfer of rail services that operate mostly or wholly within the Greater London boundary to TfL when the current franchises are due for renewal. This could include inner suburban rail services from London Bridge, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Moorgate, Victoria and Waterloo.
Leeds regeneration given green light
Proposals for a multi-million pound regeneration project designed to help transform Leeds’s ‘cultural quarter’ have been given the go ahead.
The 63,638 square metres Quarry Hill scheme is located next to West Yorkshire Playhouse and across the road from the Victoria Gate/John Lewis development.
The outline planning consent is for a mixed-use development including offices, 700 flats, a multi-storey car park and leisure activities.
Approval for 580-home Ormskirk scheme
West Lancashire Borough Council has approved outline proposals for a residential-led mixed development of up to 580 new homes at Yew Tree Farm in the village of Burscough, north of Ormskirk.
The land involved is part of a 74-hectare green field location allocated as a strategic site in the adopted local plan.
As well as the new homes Crompton Property Developments Ltd had proposed 4.6 hectares of employment use, a new linear park, a care home, allotments and a local centre.
East Devon local plan must include employment site in AONB
The planning inspector examining East Devon District Council’s local plan has reported that the strategy is sound.
Crucially he has insisted that a five-hectare site on the outskirts of Sidford in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is retained for employment use for Sidmouth. The planning authority had wanted to delete it.
The inspector has also confirmed that a retirement home was an appropriate use for the site of the council’s current headquarters at Knowle. The strategy sets out where 17,100 homes will be built across the district over the next 15 years.
Southampton regeneration milestone
The £450m redevelopment of Southampton’s Royal Pier has moved a step closer after proposals to relocate facilities provided by ferry company Red Funnel from Town Quay to the Eastern Docks were approved.
A four-storey car park and new terminal building will be built to accommodate ferry services to and from the Isle of Wight.
The relocation will help free up the crumbling pier site, which is proposed to be replaced with a waterside neighbourhood providing over 700 new homes, a casino, hotel, an arts and culture ‘hub’ and new commercial and retail floor space.
A 3,500-seat arena and £40m aquarium are part of a proposed £500m transformation of Swansea city centre unveiled last week by the city council and its partners Rivington Land and Trebor.
The proposals represent the biggest landscape change since the World War Two blitz and include a new retail area and cafe quarter.
A city beach area is set to be created with bars, restaurants, offices, five-star hotels and homes which will open on to an extended promenade.
Year-long suspension of West Oxfordshire local plan examination request
West Oxfordshire District Council has requested a 12-month suspension of the examination of its local plan to allow more work to be done on housing supply and delivery and the key issue of unmet housing need from neighbouring Oxford City.
The inspector examining the development plan had concluded that the council’s proposed objective assessment of need (OAN) of 525 dwellings per annum was too low and invited the planning authority to reconsider the evidence, including a higher demographic starting point, employment forecasts and the need to increase supply to facilitate the delivery of affordable housing.
- Master planner and architect Sir Terry Farrell has proposed building a series of seven low-cost rising bridges east of Tower Bridge to ease traffic and create new floating neighbourhoods for London’s expanding population. “They would act as catalysts for mixed-use development on either side of the river, turbo-charging existing plans for areas such as the Royal Docks and Thamesmead,” claimed Farrell.
- Steve Curran, leader of Hounslow Council, has written to the Planning Inspectorate over the planning issues surrounding the installation by JC Decaux of an internally illuminated LED screen at York House, Brentford, to screen advertisements for drivers to see on the eastbound elevated M4. This involved the removal of the iconic copy of the 1920s “dripping bottle” Lucozade advertisement. The new screen was refused by the council but allowed on appeal.
- A further round of consultation has been launched over the controversial redevelopment proposals for the Bishopsgate Goods Yard, which straddles the boundary between Hackney and Tower Hamlets Councils.
- The government has announced the £371m sale to AustralianSuper, the largest pension fund in Australia, of its investment in the 30-hectare King’s Cross development.
Wirral growth strategy
Wirral Council has announced a growth strategy focused on Birkenhead in a bid to make the area the most attractive postcode for companies wanting to invest in the Northern Powerhouse.
The Wirral Growth Plan aims to attract £250m of new private sector investment by 2020, in the process creating 250 new businesses, generating and safeguarding 5,000 jobs, and providing 3,500 new homes.
At the heart of the strategy would be a revitalised so-called ‘Downtown Birkenhead’ intended to become a national centre for enterprise in the low-carbon industry, professional services, advanced manufacturing and the maritime industry.
Bournemouth University developments
Bournemouth University has unveiled ambitious proposals for new landmark developments at its Lansdowne and Talbot sites which will include new student accommodation.
Proposals include state-of-the-art facilities for BU’s highly faculties of Media and Communication, Management, Science and Technology and Health and Social Sciences.
The plans for Talbot include a landmark Poole Gateway Building for the Media and Communication, Management, and Science and Technology faculties.
The university plans to submit planning applications for the £100m scheme to Bournemouth and Poole Borough Councils in March.
Retailer opts for Avonmouth rather than Chippenham
Retailer The Range, which specialises in out-of-town home stores, is to build a major new distribution centre at Avonmouth in South Gloucestershire close to the junction of the M4 and the M49 following opposition to its original proposal for a huge distribution centre at Chippenham in Wiltshire.
The Range has bought a 22-hectare site at Delta Properties’ logistics development at what is known as Central Park where it plans to develop an 111,480 square metre facility.
Energy projects bite the dust
The Secretary of State has dismissed Green Switch Developments appeal over the refusal of its proposed 16MW solar farm near Ormskirk, Lancashire. Visual, landscape and loss of high grade farmland issues were factors in the refusals.
The Forest of Dean District Council has rejected proposals for a 50MW PV solar power scheme earmarked for over 100 hectares of farm land on the banks of the River Severn at Awre, Gloucestershire.
E.On has scrapped plans for a 115-MW onshore wind farm proposed for a site at Newton Aycliffe in Co Durham next to the A1. The company said the scheme was no longer viable citing long-standing objections from the MoD and changes to the planning and subsidy regimes.
‘Beds in shed’ crackdown cash
Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has announced that 48 English local authorities will benefit from a £5m fund to tackle rogue landlords and combat the scourge of ‘beds in sheds’.
The funding will allow local authorities to carry out more raids, increase inspections of property, and issue more statutory notices, survey more streets and to demolish sheds and prohibited buildings.
- A High Court judge has granted a final injunction to Westminster Council preventing any further demolition works or other unauthorised development on the site of a historic public house in Maida Vale that was substantially demolished last year – just before it was due to be recommended for listing by Heritage England.
- A High Court judge has ruled that residential gardens outside built-up areas should be treated as brownfield land under current planning policy following a case brought by Dartford Borough Council.
- Warwick District Council has announced it is likely to go to court over Community Secretary Greg Clark’s decision to allow appeals over 1,325 new homes at two sites originally refused by the planning authority.
- Chichester District Council has successfully defended a judicial review challenge by developer Crownhall Estates Ltd over the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan.
Williams takes over as RTP President
Phil Williams, director of planning and place at Belfast City Council, has been inaugurated as President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
He has 35 years’ experience in the public sector in London and Welsh local authorities.