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Planning round-up 11 February

Published: Thursday, 11th February 2016

Fees increase on the cards. New Homes Bonus pay-outs. Energy project developments. Lancashire transport strategy. Local plan moves. And more stories...

Fees increase on the cards

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has announced he will consult on allowing “well-performing planning departments” to increase their fees in line with inflation.

This move was signalled during his statement to Parliament this week on the provisional settlement for local authorities covering the next financial year.

Increased fees will be sanctioned “providing that the revenue reduces the cross subsidy that the planning function currently gets from Council Tax” explained Clark.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The lack of skills and resources within local authority planning departments is a chronic problem. Allowing well-performing authorities to make inflationary increases to their fees, however, is unlikely to make a huge amount of difference in practice.

“A more decisive move is needed if we are to properly tackle this problem once and for all.”

View the statement to Parliament

View the BPF comments

New Homes Bonus pay-outs

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published the full list of final allocations of the New Homes Bonus for the 2016 to 2017 financial year.

The New Homes Bonus is a grant paid by central government to local councils to reflect and incentivise housing growth in their areas. It is currently paid each year for six years.

It is based on the amount of extra Council Tax revenue raised for new-build homes, conversions and long-term empty homes brought back into use. There is also an extra payment for providing affordable homes.

These latest allocations bring the total amount of New Homes Bonus allocated to local councils to over £4.8bn. This rewards delivery of almost one million net additional dwellings, and over 100,000 long-term empty homes brought back into use and over 270,000 affordable homes.

View the policy paper

Energy project developments

  • Danish power company DONG Energy has confirmed it will go-ahead with its giant Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm, capable of powering well over one million UK homes. It will be located 120 kilometres off the Yorkshire coast and span a huge area of approximately 407 square kilometres. It is set to become (by a considerable margin) the world’s largest offshore wind farm with an array of over 170 turbines, each producing seven megawatts.
  • Communities Secretary Greg Clark has agreed with the inspector who held a recovered appeal inquiry and refused permission for a 16 megawatt solar power farm proposed for a green belt location at Upminster, Essex. The London Borough of Havering had earlier rejected the project proposed by Green Switch Developments Ltd. Clark’s decision letter stressed the scheme represented inappropriate development in the green belt.
  • Investment group Long Harbour has confirmed it is working up proposals for up to 1,000 new homes, offices and a marina at the site of the former Fawley oil-fired power station on the edge of the New Forest National Park. Long Harbour is acting on behalf of a group of investors who acquired the power station land and surrounding 121 hectare site last year.

Lancashire transport strategy

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published a strategic transport prospectus which outlines national, regional and local transport priorities designed to boost economic performance and improve connectivity.

The prospectus highlighted that the Government’s proposals for HS2 and HS3 could transform Lancashire’s role as a gateway to the whole of the North while the regeneration of Preston Rail Station could stimulate substantial economic activity across the region.

The prospectus claimed the strategy could create 15,000 net new jobs and would contribute an additional £685m GVA a year to the UK economy.

The publication argued that faster and more frequent journeys between Lancashire’s main conurbations and between Lancashire’s towns and cities to Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, could substantially increase levels of inward investment.

Road priorities include all the major motorways which traverse Lancashire including specific stretches and junctions of the M6, M61, M65, M66 and M55 plus a potential new River Ribble crossing, to link the Preston Western Distributor and the South Ribble Western Distributor roads.

View the press release

Local plan moves

The inspector who examined the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) has concluded that the strategy is sound and can be adopted by the three councils that prepared it: Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council.

The SWDP includes provision for 28,400 new homes and just over 300 hectares of employment land as well as new retail provision focused in Worcester City and the main towns in the period up to 2030.

Brentwood District Council has this week (10 February) started consulting on its draft local plan which includes proposals for nearly 4,000 new homes in the green belt, a series of greenfield urban extensions and a garden village suburb called Dunton Hills which is planned jointly with neighbouring Basildon Council.

The inspector examining Swale Borough Council’s draft local plan has recommended that the Kent planning authority should make provision for 776 new dwellings per annum rather than the 540 dwellings per annum it was proposing due to capacity and viability issues.

The planning inspectors examining Arun District Councils local plan have concluded that the West Sussex planning authority should undertake further work on its strategy on the basis of an objectively assessed housing need of 845 new homes per annum rather than the council’s original figure of 580 dwellings per annum.

View more information on the South Worcestershire Development Plan

View more information on the Brentwood draft Local Development Plan

View more information on the Swale draft Local Plan

View more information on the Arun Local Plan

Self and custom build registers

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published draft planning guidance to support authorities in drawing up registers of self and custom house-builders.

The requirement to have such registers when planning for future housing and land use comes into force on 1 April.

The registers are in addition to the measure in the Housing and Planning Bill which will require authorities to ensure they have sufficient shovel ready plots to match the local demand on their register.

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said: “Many other countries have a track record of delivering large numbers of local homes through self-build and we’re determined to ensure self and custom house building grows significantly.”

View the press release

Broadband boost

The Government has worked with Openreach (BT’s local access network business) and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) on an agreement which aims to deliver superfast broadband connectivity to new build properties in the UK.

The new deal will see fibre based broadband offered to all new developments either for free or as part of a co-funded initiative. It is estimated that more than half of all new build properties can be connected to fibre broadband free of charge to developers.

As part of the agreement, Openreach is introducing an online planning tool for homebuilders. This will tell them whether properties in a given development can be connected to fibre for free, or if a contribution is needed from the developer to jointly fund the deployment of the local fibre network.

Openreach will make a significant contribution itself before seeking any funds from developers.

View more information

London round-up

  • Transport for London (TfL) has approved the appointment of 13 major property development companies and consortiums to a development framework which will help the delivery of thousands of homes, offices and retail spaces. The 13 organisations have been selected following a competitive procurement process that saw over 50 companies register an interest in becoming a property partner with TfL.
  • London mayor Boris Johnson has begun public consultation on a major package of cycling, pedestrian and road improvements, including reducing through traffic in Regent’s Park, new cycle links between north and south London, a segregated cycle track on the Westway flyover and action to speed up many car journeys on the A40.
  • The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation has started public consultations on its local plan which sets out how the area of west London around the site of the proposed High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail Station and the adjoining Park Royal industrial estate will be regenerated with up to 25,500 new homes and up to 65,000 jobs.
  • Trafalgar Place, part of the first phase of the Heygate Estate regeneration at the Elephant and Castle won the Mayor’s Award for Planning Excellence at the 2015/16 London Planning Awards.

Welsh round-up

Oxford JV

Oxford City Council and Nuffield College have formed a joint venture company to bring together the land in the Oxpens area in preparation for a comprehensive redevelopment of the site in a £200m mixed-use scheme.

Following this historic deal, Oxford’s West End is set to be transformed into a new neighbourhood with between 300 and 500 new homes, together with offices and commercial space for the many new and growing enterprises which want to locate in the heart of the city and near good rail links.

The JV has acquired government-owned land which will be used alongside land owned by the city council.

View more information

Reading redevelopment

RFC Prop Co Ltd, a partly-owned subsidiary of Reading Football Club, has submitted a planning application to Reading Borough Council for a mixed-use development known as Royal Elm Park next to the existing Madejski Stadium.

The proposals includes an ice rink, a convention centre, 600 new homes, a hotel, a new public square and 2,000 square metres of new retail, leisure and restaurant facilities.

View more information

Legal round-up

Roger Milne