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Planning round-up 25 June

Published: Thursday, 25th June 2015

D-day looms for Yorkshire potash mine. New POS president announced. Welsh planning secondary legislation consultation. Planning statistics. HCA exceeds its target. And more stories...

D-day looms for Yorkshire potash mine

Proposals for a £1.7bn potash mine in Yorkshire are hanging in the balance this week. Planning officers from North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) have insisted its economic benefits do not outweigh the harm it would cause the designated area while three councils in the vicinity are supporting the project.

The NYMNPA planning committee is due to consider developer Sirius Metal’s planning application on 30 June. The company wants to mine near Whitby and build a 37 kilometre tunnel to a Teesside processing plant.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has already approved part of the scheme. Ryedale District Council and Scarborough Borough Council have said they back the project because it has the potential to “transform” north Yorkshire’s economy.

The report to the national park planning committee argued that the proposals did not meet the “exceptional circumstances” required to justify the scheme given the environmental harm it posed.


New home for Oxfordshire planning departments

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have announced that their new shared headquarters including the joint planning department will be open to the public from 29 June.

The councils’ departments started moving into 135 Eastern Avenue in Milton Park near Didcot recently and the last few teams are now settling in.

The councils have been looking for a new home since a fire destroyed their shared offices in Crowmarsh in January. Since the blaze, caused by an arsonist, staff moved into smaller temporary accommodation in Abingdon and Sandford-on-Thames while others worked from home.

View more information


New POS president announced

Stewart Murray, Assistant Director (Planning) with the Greater London Authority, has become the new President of the Planning Officers Society.


Welsh planning secondary legislation consultation

The Welsh Government has begun consulting on secondary legislation relating to new development management provisions in the planning (Wales) bill currently awaiting Royal Assent.

Involved are measures to do with invalid applications; notices and appeals; decision notices; notification of development; consultations in respect of certain applications for approval; appeals against a notice issued in respect of unsightly land post-submission amendments, and changes to applications made under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.


Planning statistics

Latest official statistics compiled for the Department for Communities and Local Government show that between January and March 2015, district-level planning authorities in England received 121,100 applications for planning permission, up one per cent from 119,400 in the corresponding quarter of 2014.

The figures showed they granted 83,300 out of 95,600 decisions, up seven per cent from the same quarter in 2014. This is equivalent to 87 per cent of decisions, down one percentage point from the same quarter of 2014.

The LPAs decided 75 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks or within the agreed time, down from 76 per cent a year earlier and made 17 per cent more residential decisions than in the March quarter 2014.

During the year ending March 2015 district-level LPAs granted 360,200 decisions, up three per cent from the figure for the year ending March 2014 and granted 88 per cent of decisions, unchanged from the previous year.

Of 8,500 applications reported for prior approval for permitted development rights during January to March 2015 some72 per cent related to larger householder extensions, with 10 per cent relating to applications for office to residential changes and nine per cent relating to agricultural to residential changes.

View the planning application statistics


HCA exceeds its target

A total of 179,170 homes of all tenures were completed through programmes run by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) during the 2011 to 2015 spending review period. Nearly 52,000 of those were delivered in the final year.

The agency’s anticipated contribution of affordable homes over that period was 123,000. However, HCA programmes delivered 134,526 homes, exceeding the target by over 11,000.


Developers back moves to help BIDs become neighbourhood forums

The British Property Federation (BPF) has pledged its support for government proposals that will make it easier for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to participate in business-led neighbourhood plans.

Allowing BIDs to become neighbourhood forums more easily would enable them to implement business-led neighbourhood plans like one approved recently in Milton Keynes.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the BPF, said: “Businesses have a crucial part to play in the neighbourhood planning process, and it is for this reason that we would like to see steps taken to make it easier for them to participate in neighbourhood planning, to ensure that local businesses, as well as residents, get the opportunity to shape their area.”

View the press release


Power line route proposed for North West England

The potential route for a power line project that will connect a proposed new nuclear power station in Cumbria to the National Grid has been unveiled.

National Grid has chosen a route that runs overland around the coast of Cumbria and under Morecambe Bay.

The chosen corridor will run from Harker substation near Carlisle, largely following the path of existing low voltage power lines around the Cumbrian coast to Moorside.

It will then head to the Furness peninsula where it will go under Morecambe Bay to emerge at Middleton substation near Heysham.

The company aims to submit an application to build the new connection in 2017 and if it is given the go-ahead, work is expected to start in 2019.



London round-up

  • Company Cargiant has unveiled ambitions plans to turn its 20-hectare site at Old Oak Common in west London into a new £5bn neighbourhood with 9,000 homes, one-million square feet of offices and a cultural quarter but no provision for football club QPR’s aspiration for a new stadium. Old Oak Park is the capital’s Old Oak Common and Park Royal Opportunity Area.
  • King’s College has withdrawn its controversial proposals to redevelop its Strand campus, which had been called in by Communities Secretary Greg Clark after being backed by Westminster City Council .“We have today withdrawn our plans and will consider alternative options” the university said in a statement.
  • Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis has called for the demolition and redevelopment of council estates across London in a move which he said would help boost the supply of new homes in the capital.
  • A new Commission on Affordable Housing in London has been launched by the think tank IPPR. It will be chaired by Lord Kerslake, former head of the Civil Service, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government and now chair of social housing provider Peabody It is due to report next March.
  • Westminster City Council’s draft housing strategy includes proposals to partner with other local authorities and build homes outside the capital. Also proposed is a new requirement that 60 per cent of new housing developments should be affordable.


Rural rail link report

Countryside campaign group CPRE has published a report which uses a case-study about the re-opening of the line between Plymouth and Exeter to argue that reinstating rural lines closed in the Beeching era could help revitalise rural communities and provide greater resilience against the impact of climate change.

View the CPRE report


Huge Leicestershire distribution hub extension mooted

Two planning applications have been submitted to Hinckley Borough Council, one to expand Magna Park near Lutterworth and another to create a similar distribution park hub south of the existing site on farmland.

The owners of Magna Park are proposing to extend the site by 550,000 square metres, a move they say could create up to 9,000 new jobs in Leicestershire.


RIBA awards announced

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announce the winners of this year’s National Awards, billed as the most rigorous and prestigious awards for new buildings in the UK.

The shortlist for the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best building of the year will be drawn from the 37 award-winning buildings named last week

Award winners include a beautifully-crafted wooden fishing hut on a small new estate in Hampshire; a modern malt whisky distillery inspired by the shape of a barley sheaf on Speyside; a patterned red-brick church centre and flats surrounding a listed church in Hackney and a modest and calm cancer care centre in Lanarkshire.

The architectural body insisted that the stand-out trend of this year’s awards was the prevalence of high quality new housing development.



Listed curiosities

Historic England has highlighted some 20 of the more unusual places given listed status this year. The list includes a lamp that burned fetid gas from Victorian sewers, a 1930s hairdressers’ shop, a Neolithic henge site in Yorkshire, part of Greenham Common, the focus of long-running anti-nuclear demonstrations.

View the list on the Historic England website


Palace of Westminster revamp options

Work to upgrade and restore the historic Grade 1 listed Houses of Parliament in central London is set to cost between £3.9bn and £5.9bn, according to an independent appraisal of options just published.

However, the report makes clear that, depending on how MPs and Peers decide to carry out the work and on the actual condition found when it starts, the bill could top £7bn.

The report sets out a range of options for renovating the entire Palace of Westminster complex which includes the famous debating chambers of the Commons and Lords, and three scenarios for delivering the project.

The report does not recommend a best option. A decision will be made by a joint committee made up from MPs and Peers which will assess the five preferred options presented in the report and make a recommendation to both Houses. A decision over which option to pursue is expected early next year.



Fracking report ruling

The UK’s independent Information Commissioner has told the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs it must release an un-redacted version of its Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts report. This follows a formal complaint lodged by Greenpeace. Defra now has until the end of July to publish the report in full.

View the decision notice


New South Shields transport hub

Proposals have been unveiled for a new transport interchange in South Shields as part of the £100m town centre regeneration scheme. The new-look transport interchange will include a combined new Metro and bus station to the south of Keppel Street.

The scheme has been developed in conjunction with Nexus, the public body which delivers local public transport on behalf of the North East Combined Authority, South Tyneside Council, and the developer, Muse Developments.

In a related but separate development Nexus has announced plans to invest £40m in modernising the Tyne and Wear Metro over the next 12 months. The work will focus on Metro track replacement, the refurbishment of Central Station and three Gateshead stations, improvements to accessibility and essential new technology.

View the press release


Revised Woodstock master plan

Developers proposing a major new mixed-use housing-led development at Woodstock in Oxfordshire have reduced the amount of new housing but doubled the provision for employment activity.

A revised master plan for the scheme, drawn up by Blenheim Estate and Pye Homes has been submitted to Cherwell District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, the two planning authorities involved.

Originally the scheme offered up to 1,500 new homes, a care village, a primary school, a local centre and some 7,500 square metres of employment floor space for a site on land owned by the Blenheim Palace estate to the east of Woodstock. The latest version of the project would provide 1,200 homes and 13,800 square metres of employment activity.


Legal round-up

  • Green power developer Broadview Energy has lost its High Court case challenging former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ decision to dismiss an appeal over a five-turbine wind farm in Northamptonshire against the advice of a planning inspector.
  • The Supreme Court has refused permission for a challenge by campaigners over Suffolk Coastal District Council’s adopted core strategy, concluding that the courts below “were clearly right”, it has emerged.
  • Monika Juneja, a former councilor at Guildford Borough Council who led on planning issues and who pleaded guilty to forging her qualifications and claiming to be a qualified barrister, has been sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
  • The Court of Appeal has rejected developer Larkfleet Homes’ challenge over site allocation policies in the Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan.
  • A tenant has launched a legal challenge over south London borough Lambeth Council’s plans to redevelop the Cressingham Gardens estate.


Roger Milne