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Planning round-up 10 March 2016

Published: Thursday, 10th March 2016

Latest housing stats. New planning regime for key Welsh infrastructure schemes. Community assets progress. NIC bangs drum for smart power. Go-ahead for Manchester airport expansion. And more stories..

Latest housing stats

Latest official figures show that the number of planning permissions for homes rose six per cent compared to the same quarter a year ago.

The number of major applications being processed swiftly by local authorities is also at an all-time high with a record 81 per cent decided within the required time.

The number of planning permissions granted for homes in 2015 was the highest since 2007.

According to analysis of Glenigan data also published this week permission was granted for 253,000 homes during 2015.

Government figures show that as well as rising numbers of planning permissions for homes, the number of permissions granted overall between October and December 2015 was four per cent greater than a year earlier, with councils granting 92,000 decisions.

Some 10,100 applications for prior approval for permitted development rights were received during October to December 2015, up 16 per cent from the same quarter 12 months ago.

View the national statistics

New planning regime for key Welsh infrastructure schemes

New Welsh legislation came into force last week designed to ensure that key infrastructure projects are determined at the national level and are made directly to ministers rather than the local planning authority.

The Planning (Wales) Act together with secondary legislation establishes a new process for the consenting of so-called Developments of National Significance (DNS).

This process is designed to ensure timely decision-making, particularly on renewable energy projects as well as other nationally significant developments in Wales.

Planning and natural resources minister Carl Sargeant said: “The DNS projects include energy projects with a generating capacity of between 10 and 50 megawatts, airports, railway infrastructure, dams and reservoirs, and other types of development requiring planning permission which are considered to be of national significance.

“I’m also planning to expand the thresholds to capture all onshore wind projects above 10 megawatts.”

View the press release

Community assets progress

The Community Rights movement continues to make progress with latest figures showing more than 3,000 buildings, green spaces and other valued local assets protected.

More than 3,000 assets are now listed including 1,200 pubs, over 150 local sporting facilities, including football stadiums, bowling greens and cricket pavilions, right through to Blencathra, one of the Lake District’s best-known peaks.

To promote the programme, the government has produced an interactive map listing protected assets and other community rights uses throughout the country.

View the press release

NIC bangs drum for smart power

The National Infrastructure Commission has concluded that so-called ‘smart power’ involving increased connectivity, energy storage and more flexible demand flexibility could help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets and secure the UK’s energy supply for generations.

That’s the assessment of the Commission which has published its first report urging the government to pursue additional interconnectors with other European countries. The commission has also argued that the UK should become a world leader in electricity storage systems.

View the news story

Go-ahead for Manchester airport expansion

Manchester City Council has approved ambitious proposals for a 15-year upgrade of Manchester Airport involving the demolition of Terminal 1, and a 900,000-square-foot extension to Terminal 2.

The ‘Airport Transformation Programme’ is designed to increase the airport’s capacity from 20 million to 30 million annual passengers by 2025.

This will mean the expansion and reconfiguration of Terminal 2 to become the airport’s main terminal building, along with further improvements of Terminal 3 to cater for increased demand and an expanding flight schedule.

As well there will be new stands and piers, an improved surface access road system and significant additional car-parking.

View more information

Think tank urges ministers to face-down Nimbys

Right of centre think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs has urged the government to solve the housing crisis by removing restrictions on development in the green belt and face-down opposition from Nimby groups. The think tank has also made the case for replacing the council tax with a local Land Value Tax

The Institute argued that government interventions such as the Help to buy scheme, changes to inheritance tax and higher tax for buy-to-let landlords were all steps in the wrong direction.

The think tank said that boosting homeownership should not be a policy aim in its own right as this failed to address the overall lack of supply.

It concluded that what was needed was improving affordability across the spectrum of different housing types.

View the press release

Seaside boost

Clevedon Pier, the UK’s only Grade 1 listed pier is one of eight projects to receive a cash boost to create jobs and training places, and help seaside towns attract visitors all-year round, Communities Minister Mark Francois has announced.

The schemes are to receive a share of an additional £800,000 from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

The projects are to be given the extra funding to help continue work that will create jobs, attract investment and boost the local economy.

View the press release

HCA review

The Department of Communities and Local Government has issued its call for evidence as its review of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the national housing, land and regeneration agency, gathers pace.

The DCLG is particularly interested in the following:

  • Are the purpose and priorities of the HCA correct for the future?
  • How effectively does the HCA carry out its functions and how could it do so more effectively to meet future challenges?
  • How effectively does the HCA work with customers and partners?
  • What skills does the HCA require for the future and does it possess these?
  • How successful is the HCA is in delivering its objectives and could it improve?

View the consultation

Business regulation probe

Business Secretary Sajid Javid has launched a review of the way local authorities regulate businesses. This exercise will take into account “burdens imposed by planning and building control, housing regulations, food safety, standards and hygiene, environmental protection and health and safety amongst others.”

The administration said it would seek evidence on everything “from how inspections and visits are conducted and how data is requested through to guidance, advice and how accountable and responsive local authorities are to business needs”. The scope of the review will not include fees and charges, however.

View the announcement

Hull developments

Plans for a state-of-the-art 3,500-seater music and events centre and the redevelopment of Hull’s historic Beverley Gate have been given the go-ahead by councillors.

Hull City Council’s planning committee have approved plans for the ‘Hull Venue’ this will include a 3,500 capacity concert auditorium with the flexibility to reduce to a 2,500 all-seated event and exhibition space plus 800 capacity conference auditorium.

The council has committed £36.2m towards the cost of building the complex on the site behind Princes Quay shopping centre and this investment will also modernise Osborne Street car park.

Developers Avant Homes have dropped plans to contest the affordable housing contribution of £1.8 million required under the s106 agreement negotiated with Sheffield City Council as part of the approval for an 88-home development at a former factory site in green belt on the edge of the city.

The developer remains convinced that its consented proposals won’t be viable on the basis of that s106 contribution and has told the planning authority it wants to develop an alternative scheme for the site which is acceptable in planning terms “and viable”. Officers have agreed to work with the developer “to secure an appropriate and acceptable redevelopment scheme for the site”.

View the news story

London round-up

  • London’s firms want the capital’s next Mayor to commit to building 50,000 homes a year, press the government to build a new runway in the South East and to continue to implement the existing 2050 London Infrastructure Plan. As well the CBI’s London Manifesto for the mayoral candidates has called for a stronger voice for businesses on the London Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Meanwhile a London Assembly report has urged the next mayor to ensure Business Improvement Districts play a bigger role in regeneration although it also stressed they needed stronger governance and accountability.
  • Amsterdam-style “pop-up” housing could cut the cost of London’s rental market by a third, a report from the London Conservatives has claimed.
  • Kingston Council has refused permission for the 705-home redevelopment of the Toby Jug site at Tolworth on the south western flank of London against the advice of officials.

Maidenhead make-over

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has launched a consultation on its draft West Street Opportunity Area Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which sets out proposed planning guidance for the redevelopment of one of the town’s key development sites.

Plans for the redevelopment of the area include new office and retail floor space and over 300 new homes as well as restaurants and a landmark building to create a gateway to the town centre.

View more details

Lake District Unesco bid

The Lake District is the sole UK nomination by the government for UNESCO World Heritage site status.

View more information

Oxfordshire affordable homes waiver agreed

A planning inspector has backed an appeal by a developer who successfully argued that the Vale of White Horse District Council’s requirement to provide 40 per cent affordable homes in a 200-unit scheme at Faringdon, Oxfordshire should be waived in its entirety if the proposals were to climb off the drawing board.

View the planning application details

Scottish Civic crisis claimed

Scotland is facing a crisis of civic pride, trust and identity according to Professor Cliff Hague, a planning academic from Heriot- Watt University.

He delivered the Scottish Civic Trust’s inaugural annual lecture last week and blamed the crises on a number of factors. These included the fiscal neutering of local government, a centralised planning regime, an unaccountable appeals system, the growing privatisation of the public realm and a heritage movement whose voice was becoming fainter because of an ageing demographic.

Hague also warned of a loss of confidence in the conservation movement and highlighted what he called a “shadow planning system where developers operate through privileged channels and faceless investment houses have more right to decide what should happen in places than the citizens (now third parties) who live in them.”

View a transcript of the lecture (PDF)

Legal round-up

Roger Milne