Published: Thursday, 21st April 2016
Private housing activity slows over last quarter. DCO for carbon capture power plant refused. New powers for councils to scrap unwanted road signs. And more stories...
Private housing activity slows over last quarter
Despite the government promising to deliver 200,000 new homes by 2020, the latest survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has revealed that growth in the private housing sector slowed considerably during the first quarter of 2016.
Private housing workloads rose at their slowest pace since Q2 2013, with only 36 per cent more of those working in the sector reported a rise in growth rather than a fall over the first quarter of 2016. During the first quarter of 2015 that figure was close to 50 per cent.
Across all sectors, the RICS UK Construction Market Survey shows that while 33 per cent more respondents saw workloads rise rather than fall during the last quarter of 2015, this figure dropped by five per cent over the past three months.
DCO for carbon capture power plant refused
Last week the government declined to grant a Development Consent Order (DCO) for a coal plus biomass fired power station fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposed for a site next to the existing Drax power station near Selby in north Yorkshire.
The planning inspector who examined the project, known as the White Rose Carbon Capture and Storage Project, had recommended that the DCO should be approved.
However, after the examination was completed and before ministers decided the scheme’s fate the government pulled the plug on significant funding for CCS. During the examination the companies behind the project acknowledged that it was heavily dependent on government funding.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd’s decision letter made it clear that making a DCO would be inappropriate as “there is no available funding and no prospect of funding being provided and the powers of compulsory acquisition sought by the applicant for development cannot be granted”.
What was billed as the world’s first commercial scale, full chain, carbon capture and storage coal plus biomass fuelled power plant is now dead in the water.
New powers for councils to scrap unwanted road signs
New regulations come into force this week (21 April) which mean unnecessary and out-of-date road signs can be removed from English roads.
The regulations are designed to ensure that road signs that are used far longer than needed have a ‘remove by’ date as well as making sure traffic signs are visible on unlit roads.
The new arrangements will also help de-clutter streets and roads by removing adverts and distracting logos.
The number of signs on England’s roads more than doubled from 2.45 million in England in 1993 to an estimated 4.57 million in 2013, according to the Department for Transport.
The requirement to place repeat speed limit signs has also been removed, now councils can make their own decisions on how many speed limit signs are needed.
Luton Airport light rail link scheme
London Luton Airport limited (LLAL) has announced plans to build a new 24-hour light rail link between Luton Airport Parkway station and the airport terminal.
Proposals have been confirmed for a mass passenger transit (MPT) system, similar to those already in use at Gatwick and Birmingham airports, to replace the current bus service.
This new service is due to be operational in 2020 and will make it easier and quicker for passengers to reach the airport terminal, improving the journey for more than two million passengers who presently travel to the airport by train.
The light rail link is part of a broader rail connectivity improvement plan, which aims to introduce a 20 minute express rail service with four fast trains per hour between LLA and central London as part of the upcoming East Midlands rail franchise.
New inspector for Maldon local plan sets the ground rules
The inspector drafted in to continue the examination of Maldon District Council’s local development plan has outlined the updates and clarifications needed from the Essex planning authority, before the process can be progressed significantly.
The inspector has explained in letters to the council and other interested parties that interim findings on the housing evidence already considered won’t be issued as the plan’s housing provision is closely entwined with the council’s policies for economic development which have not yet been examined.
The letters also reminded all parties that the final decision on whether the plan should be approved will rest with Communities Secretary Greg Clark.
- London Mayor Boris Johnson has agreed to a delay in this week’s public hearing into the controversial Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme after a request from the developers for more time to address issues raised by Greater London Administration officers who have recommended the scheme, which straddles the border between Tower Hamlets and Hackney Councils, should be refused.
- East London’s Barking and Dagenham Council has granted planning consent for one of the biggest build-to-rent developments in the UK which is earmarked for a site in the Barking Town Centre Housing Zone. Nearly 600 new flats are involved.
- The Skyline campaign has called Westminster City Council’s approval of a 30-storey tower at West End Green on the Edgware Road in central London as ‘naive and inappropriate’. The mixed-use scheme includes 652 homes (126 affordable) as well as offices, shops, restaurants and a ‘boutique’ cinema. The height of the tower was reduced from 39 to 30 storeys following public consultation.
- Camden Council has published its final petition on the HS2 bill to the House of Lords. This urges better compensation for residents and the removal from the legislation of powers for ministers to compulsory purchase additional land outside of the railway scheme for regeneration.
Energy from waste projects in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has written to Peel Environmental Management over its proposed energy-from-waste facility proposed for a site at Bilsthorpe Business Park, Nottinghamshire announcing he needs more time to determine the proposals the subject of a call-in inquiry last year after the county council approved the proposals.
The letter noted that the Nottinghamshire scheme planned to use effectively the same technology as Air Products’ recently abandoned Tees Valley project.
Campaigners against the Bilsthorpe scheme as well as the county council and Newark & Sherwood District Council have also been informed about Clark’s move.
Meanwhile green power developer React Energy has obtained planning permission for a 12 megawatt biomass burning plant at Clay Cross in Derbyshire at a site previously used for landfill and as a scrap metal yard.
Major MOD developments in Wiltshire and Hampshire
Three planning applications for a total of 917 homes for service personnel in Larkhill, Ludgershall and Bulford have been approved by Wiltshire Council’s strategic planning committee subject to a s106 agreement.
The schemes will support the Army Basing Programme which will bring 4,000 military personnel and their families to Wiltshire under plans to transform Salisbury Plain into the Army's largest training area in the UK.
Once the Section 106 is signed, permissions will be granted with specific conditions and building the homes is anticipated to start in 2017 in readiness for the main arrival of service personnel by 2019.
Meanwhile in a separate but related development final planning approval has been granted to architects HLM by Winchester City Council for a £250m MOD training base in the city known as Project Wellesley.
HLM has designed the 92,903 square metres scheme in partnership with Skanska, part of a Ministry of Defence (MOD) project to create a new college as well as the redevelopment of its Princess Royal Barracks, in Deepcut, Surrey, for which HLM is also architect and master planner.
Salford planning out sourcing deal extended
Salford City Council has announced that Urban Vision, a pioneering joint venture between itself, Capita and Galliford Try which provides planning services for the local authority has been extended by three years to 2020.
Urban Vision was formed in 2005 to provide technical services to the council including planning, engineering infrastructure, design and highway operations.
Householder PD rights publication
The Department for Communities and Local Government has just published a document which summarises the latest technical guidance on permitted development rights for householders which covers the latest advice for improvements and extensions to dwelling houses.
Altrincham development gets go-ahead
Detailed planning approval has been granted by Trafford Council for the first phase of Altair, a £70m mixed use scheme set to create a new residential and leisure quarter on brownfield land in the heart of the market town of Altrincham, near Manchester.
The initial part of the project involves a new modern building providing some 59 new flats above ground-floor retail and leisure-activity floor space.
The Phase One plans also include a new entrance for Altrincham ice rink and a new landscaped pedestrianised area with space for outside seating and pavement cafés.
Later this year Nikal will submit plans for further phases providing more flats, retail floor space alongside new restaurants, cafés, bars and Grade A office accommodation and a new public bridge linking the development to the existing public transport interchange.
The number of planning professionals elected to chartered membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute via the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) route hit 430 in 2015, an increase of 28 per cent from 2014.There was 463 first-time applicants in 2015, an increase of 15 per cent from 2014. Some 45 per cent of them succeeded in becoming a Chartered Member at their first attempt.
Richard Summers, a Past President of the RTPI, has been appointed to a key National Trust advisory body. He joins the Historic Environment Advisory Group, which is charged with providing specialist advice to NT staff on strategic policy, major projects and property acquisitions.
- The High Court has dismissed a misfeasance in public office claim brought by the Official Solicitor and his partner against Thanet District Council and Kent County Council (as highway authority) following the refusal of planning permission for a new house in Kent.
- Cheshire East Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council have decided to mount a joint case in the Supreme Court over what are ‘relevant policies for the supply of housing’ as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.
- Stoke Poges Parish Council has filed a second challenge in the High Court against the Communities Secretary’s decision to grant prior approval for the Khalsa Secondary Academy to remain at Pioneer House, Stoke Poges. This challenge is against the government’s decision to over-rule a decision by South Bucks District Council and subsequently the recommendation of a planning inspector. South Bucks District Council has confirmed it is mounting a separate case which will be heard jointly with the parish council’s action.
- A developer has dropped its appeal against a High Court ruling which found Winchester City Council broke the law by not consulting on changes to a controversial development which included dropping a 40 per cent affordable housing commitment down to zero.
- The Vale of Glamorgan Council has successfully defended a challenge in the High Court over a decision to approve a facility for the recycling of incinerator bottom ash earmarked for a site at Barry Docks.