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Planning round-up 7 April 2016

Published: Thursday, 7th April 2016

Gauging sustainability. Land use change stats. More marine plans. Civitas bangs drum for public housing drive. Welsh moratorium on underground coal gasification. And more stories...

Gauging sustainability

A new industry-led commission has been set-up which aims to establish a “clear-cut” set of guidelines for gauging the sustainability credentials of developments.

The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) will evaluate social, economic and environmental factors and produce a universal ‘scorecard’ to be used in assessing projects.

The SDC, set up by planning consultancy Iceni Projects, will include a wide spectrum of organisations representing interests from both residential and commercial developments.

The group includes representatives from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Birmingham City Council, Cherwell District Council, South Northamptonshire Council, Land Securities, Crest Nicholson and law firm Dentons.

The Commission is being chaired by ex-MP Nick Raynsford. Janet Askew, immediate past President of the RTPI, is on the Commission’s panel.

View more information on the SDC

Land use change stats

Latest figures on changes in land usage and residential development published by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that in 2014-15 the proportion of new residential addresses created, including conversions to residential, on previously developed land was 58 per cent, a decrease of two percentage points compared to 2013-14.

The average density of new residential development was 31 addresses per hectare. This was a decrease on the recorded 32 addresses per hectare in 2013-14

Some three per cent of new residential addresses created were within the green belt. This is the same level as recorded in 2013-14.

The figures highlighted that eight per cent of new residential addresses were created in areas of high flood risk. This was an increase of one percentage point on the position in 2013-14.

View the national statistics

More marine plans

The Marine Management Organisation has announced the next phase of marine planning will begin on 11 April with the launch of public consultation and a series of local events.

The latest suite of marine plans will cover the north east, north west, south east and south west of England.

These strategies will build on the experience gained in preparing the East Marine Plans and the draft South Marine Plan.

View the new story

Civitas bangs drum for public housing drive

A major public sector building programme is needed to tackle the housing shortage and stop property prices spiralling further, according to a report from think tank Civitas.

In it Civitas editorial director Daniel Bentley argued that that poor levels of house building are the result of an over-reliance on private sector output and that there is little prospect of the current housing shortage being overcome without resort to public investment.

His report proposed a new statutory obligation on local authorities to acquire sufficient land to top up private-sector house building to the required levels, funded by central government borrowing.

The report also called for a new contract between planning authorities and developers in which permission to build residential property is time-limited and granted on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. Failure to build out sites within agreed timescales would result in the forfeiture of the land at half its residential use value.

View the press release

Welsh moratorium on underground coal gasification

Welsh planning and natural resources minister Carl Sargeant has announced that the Welsh government’s precautionary approach to the development of unconventional oil and gas resources will be extended to underground coal gasification (UCG).

He has issued a notification direction which means that any applications for development connected to the gasification of coal which are not going to be refused by a local planning authority will have to be referred to ministers.

View the news story

Horticultural LDO mooted

Arun District Council is considering introducing a Local Development Order (LDO) for the horticulture sector in its part of West Sussex. Consultation on the draft order has just begun and will last for six weeks.

Funding for the draft LDO was secured with the support of the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).c

View the press release

EEZ jobs boost

England's 24 Enterprise Zones have helped boost employment with an extra 2,000 jobs according to new figures which show jobs grew by nine per cent in the three months up to September 2015.

Created four years ago, Enterprise Zones offer fast-track planning, tax incentives and business rate discounts to companies who locate on them.

In just four years, nearly 24,000 new jobs have been attracted to Enterprise Zones across the country, with jobs growth in the Northern Powerhouse even higher than the national average.

Enterprise Zones have now attracted £2.4bn of private investment and more than 600 new businesses across a range of key industries including the automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical and renewable energy industry sectors.

View the press release

Go-ahead for Bolsover urban extension

Outline proposals from Persimmon Homes and Strata Homes for an urban extension of up to 950 homes on the northern flank of the Derbyshire town of Bolsover have been approved by the planning committee of Bolsover District Council.

The 40-hectare site is mainly Grade 2 farmland. The proposal was contrary to adopted policy inasmuch as it involves development outside the settlement framework in open countryside on versatile farmland.

However the council acknowledged it could not demonstrate a five year supply of housing land and the proposals were in line with emerging local plan policy which included a proposed Bolsover North strategic site. Officials also argued the proposal would provide a well-planned and high quality development which would “create a sustainable addition to the town to aid its regeneration”.

View more information on the application

East West Rail corridor signalled

The Bedford – Sandy – Cambridge corridor has been announced by Network Rail as the preferred option for the central section of its East West rail link across central England.

East West Rail project aims to improve the east-west connectivity in order to support economic growth and employment in the area. Also planned are faster and more reliable train services between Oxford, Cambridge and East Anglia.

Rail minister Claire Perry said: “East West Rail is a great opportunity to transform connections across the region. The first phase, which has created new journey opportunities between London and Oxford Parkway via Bicester, is already proving hugely popular.”

She added: “We’ve agreed with the National Infrastructure Commission that they will take the Consortium’s work as an input as part of wider work to unlock growth, housing and jobs opportunities along the Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford corridor.”

View more information on the project

Green light for Portsmouth ferry terminal

Wightlink’s proposals for a new ferry terminal in Portsmouth have been approved by the city council despite concerns over the impact on the city’s congested road network.

The scheme involves a new three-storey terminal, off Gunwharf Road, which includes a second-tier car deck so more passengers can get to and from the Isle of Wight.

The scheme is a key element of the company’s £45m revamp of its Portsmouth to Fishbourne ferry route.

View more information

Village mooted for Hampshire logistics site

Developer St Edward Homes has submitted initial proposals for a new village scheme at Hartland Park, a 55-hectare site in Pyestock, Fleet in Hampshire originally a former MoD testing facility which was subsequently approved for a major logistics development.

St Edward has submitted a proposal for the site to be considered for residential development as part of Hart District Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

View the press release

Clark snubs solar farms

Communities secretary Greg Clark has dismissed two separate solar farm projects following recovered appeal inquiries.

In the case of one of the schemes, a five-megawatt proposal for a site in Lymington, Hampshire originally refused by the New Forest National Park Authority, the inspector involved had recommended the appeal should succeed.

Clark disagreed strongly, arguing that the scheme breached key policies in the relevant development plan.

The other proposal involved a solar power scheme in green belt at Barrow Green Farm, Lingfield in Surrey which had been refused by Tanbridge District Council.

Clark said there were no special circumstances to justify the harm the project posed to the green belt and the local landscape.

View the recovered appeal for Limolands Farm, Vaggs Lane, Hordle, Lymington, Hampshire

View the recovered appeal for Barrow Green Farm, Haxted Road, Lingfield, Surrey

Zero Carbon Hub closes

The Zero Carbon Hub initiative is no more. The end came on the last day of March.

The Hub was established as a public/private body in 2008 to help translate the then government’s target for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016.

Over the past eight years the Hub has supported the delivery of a zero carbon homes' programme and overseen the successful introduction of higher energy efficiency standards.

However following the decision by the government not to pursue the zero carbon target, industry funding has been withdrawn.

Last month the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee called on the government to reinstate the zero carbon homes policy.

A report from the all-party group of MPs also argued the administration should consider making energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority.

View the press release

Paramount resort application delayed again

The company behind ambitious plans for a Paramount resort in Kent has once again delayed its application for a development consent order for the £3.2bn scheme. This has raised question marks over its anticipated 2021 opening date.

Submission of plans for the project, earmarked for the Swanscombe Peninsula between Gravesend and Dartford, were originally scheduled for last year then delayed until this summer.

Now Stephen Norris chair of London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), the company behind the project, has been quoted in trade magazine Property Week as saying the application won’t be submitted until the second quarter of 2017.

The scheme is due to be handled as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and determined by ministers rather than the local authorities in Kent which are supportive of the plans.

View the news story in Property Week (subscription required)

Capital developments

The development of London’s large brownfield sites has been held back by commercial development models which too often focus on short term and gradual delivery rather than long-term investment and delivery at scale, according to a new report from think-tank Centre for London.

The report sets out new models of partnership and financing which would help transform the long-term potential of the capital’s Opportunity Areas. The report identifies the most effective types of delivery structure, as well as discussing new ways and approaches to meet the challenges of developing these areas.

The report urged local authorities and other public landowners to:

  • Develop a clear vision for priority brown field sites, while actively exploring joint-venture arrangements for developing underused land
  • Base planning on master plans that set out the character and spatial structure of new places
  • Take a long-term approach to achieving best value from the development of assets, retaining a stake in order to secure investment from and reduce risk for other partners.

Meanwhile London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced he will hold a public hearing into the highly controversial Bishopsgate Goodsyard redevelopment on Monday 18 April.

View the Centre for London press release

Turley top brass moves

Dave Trimingham has been appointed as managing director of planning and development consultancy Turley. Rob Lucas continues as chief executive.

Dave, who has been with the employee owned Turley business for 16 years, has nearly 30 years’ experience in planning and development. He has previously led both the Leeds and Manchester offices and was appointed to the Board in 2014.

From 1 June 2016, Dave will take responsibility for all operational matters within Turley’s £20m business which provides planning, design, heritage, economics and sustainability services across its UK network of 11 offices.

View the press release

Legal round-up

Roger Milne