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Planning round-up 2 June 2016

Published: Thursday, 2nd June 2016

New Homes Bonus allocations. National Infrastructure Assessment. Scottish planning review. Housing completions. Manchester housing schemes. Green energy project determinations. And more stories...

New Homes Bonus allocations

The government has announced New Homes Bonus grant allocations worth over £1.46bn for 2016/17.

The scheme currently rewards councils with a payment equivalent to six years’ council tax for each additional new home they add to their housing stock.

The allocations show that once again east London council Tower Hamlets received the highest allocation at £28.6m. It was followed by Birmingham (£21.1m) and Cornwall (£19.6m). London boroughs accounted for nearly half the biggest 20 allocations. The Isles of Scilly Council received just £57,395.

The allocations will be the last based on six years of council tax. The government has proposed reducing this to four years from 2017/18. It has also suggested changing the scheme so payments would be reduced if planning permission for new homes is granted on appeal. Councils without an up to date local plan could face the prospect of no bonus payments whatsoever under current proposals.

View the policy paper

National Infrastructure Assessment

The National Infrastructure Commission has started consulting on its promised National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA).

This exercise will involve two stages: preparation of a vision and priorities document which will be published in the summer of next year (2017) followed by the NIA itself which will effectively set out the strategy for achieving the infrastructure priorities identified in next summer’s analysis.

This NIA will look forward to 2050 and will consider transport, energy, water and sewerage, flood defences, digital and communications and waste projects. The objectives for the NIA are threefold: fostering economic growth as well as improving international competitiveness and quality of life.

The government has decided that the Commission’s remit will not include housing supply directly. However ministers have said the NIC will be expected to “consider the potential interactions between its infrastructure recommendations and housing supply”.

View the consultation

Scottish planning review

An independent panel set up to carry out a “game-changing review” of Scotland’s planning system has called for more flexible local development plans, the definition of regional housing targets in the National Planning Framework and a new-look simplified planning zone regime. Also recommended are land assembly powers for local authorities and the creation of a national infrastructure agency.

The report, ‘Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places’, proposed “new ways of working to replace conflict with collaboration” and called for “fresh thinking on housing, with planning pioneering ideas that increase flexibility and stimulate investment”.

View more information

Housing completions

The number of newly built homes continues to rise and is now at the highest level since 2008 to 2009, according to new figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

These show that 139,690 new homes were completed in the year to March, a rise of 12 per cent on the previous year.

These latest house building figures also show that the number of new homes started is also at its highest level since 2007 to 2008.

Some 139,680 homes were started in 2015 to 2016. This continues the upward trend as both starts and completions have continued to grow gradually for the last two years.

Latest housing statistics estimate that there were 23.5 million dwellings in England at 31 March 2015, an increase of 171,000 dwellings on the same point the previous year. Some 14.7 million dwellings were owner-occupied. Of the remainder 4.7 million dwellings were private rented, 2.4 million rented from Private Registered Providers and 1.6 million rented from local authorities.

View the national statistics

Manchester housing schemes

Manchester City Council planning officials have recommended approval for four major residential schemes offering around 1,500 new homes which were due to be considered by the planning committee this week (2 June).

Most of the housing involved is in the form of flats. The tallest tower proposed is a 36-storey building. The schemes also include some commercial floor space and extensive public realm provision.

Also scheduled for approval was the 77,760 square metres Engineering Campus due to be built on Upper Brook Street, the largest project in Manchester University’s ongoing £1bn master plan programme.

View more information

Green energy project determinations

Mixed fortunes for renewable energy projects as Communities secretary Greg Clark blocked yet another solar farm earmarked for a green belt location, this time in Cheshire, but allowed a single wind turbine proposed for a farm in Cumbria.

Clark, who in each case followed the recommendations of the planning inspectors who held the recovered appeals, concluded there were no special circumstances to justify permission for Peel Energy Ltd’s proposals for a five megawatt solar farm involving a 7.7-hectare site at Frodsham, originally refused by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

However he allowed an appeal for a single turbine proposed for a farm at Great Orton, Carlisle originally refused by Allerdale Borough Council. Clark said the planning concerns of local residents had been addressed by the applicant.

View the recovered appeal: land at Common Lane, Frodsham, Cheshire

View the recovered appeal: Black Brow Farm, Great Orton, Carlisle, Cumbria

Estates regeneration initiative

The government has formally requested expressions of interest by parties who want to be involved in the administration’s new estates regeneration programme. This initiative aims to target 100 estates around England in a move which will make £140m of loan funding available.

A panel chaired by Lord Heseltine is already considering how to foster partnership models of estate regeneration and will be preparing a report by the Autumn Statement.

To be eligible for the initiative schemes must deliver regeneration through the redevelopment of existing social housing estates.

Development vehicles should be private sector bodies or joint ventures to allow scope for the involvement of public bodies and the use of public sector funding.

Ultimately schemes should deliver a net increase in new housing supply and be “value for money” according to the prospectus just published.

View more information

Lewes housing appeal recovered by Clark

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has announced he will determine the appeal by DLA Delivery over a 63-home scheme proposed for Mitchelswood Farm at Newick originally refused by Lewes District Council which was the subject of a public inquiry in February.

The SoS intervention is because the appeal site is where a neighbourhood plan has been made. In this case the neighbourhood plan does not allocate the site for housing.

DLA Delivery has argued that its scheme should go ahead because its edge of village location is not affected by restrictions which apply to many other housing sites in the area which are affected by proximity to the nearby Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area (SPA).

View more information about the appeal

MPs to probe local plan recommendations

The Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a short inquiry into the recommendations proposed by the Local Plans Expert Group to improve the local plan-making process. Deadline for submissions is 27 June.

View more information

More Cornish neighbourhood plans mull second home curbs

A second Cornish neighbourhood plan (the one for Mevagissey) is following in the footsteps of St Ives and including a policy restricting second homes. The neighbourhood plan for Fowey is also reported to be considering similar action.

View more information

Lichfield development

Regeneration specialist U+I has been granted planning permission for the Friarsgate development in Lichfield by the district council.

The regeneration project will create a major new hub for Lichfield city centre, providing new retail, leisure and residential floor space.

The new development involves a multi-screen cinema complemented by a new gym, up to ten restaurants and approximately 25 shops.

Designed by architects, Group Ginger, the mixed-use development will also provide 82 flats, 11 townhouses and a brand new landscaped public area as well as a new bus station, located near the railway station and 500 car parking spaces.

View more information

Homes proposed for former Yorkshire munitions facility

Proposals have been unveiled for an urban village on the site of a former West Yorkshire munitions factory.

The Rudgate Village development is planned for Thorp Arch trading estate, near Boston Spa, featuring 1,000 new homes, a school and care home.

Developers St Congar Land claimed the scheme had been scaled back dramatically after initially proposing around 2,000 new homes for the site.

View more information

London round-up

  • Two multi-million pound deals that will see over 1,000 new homes built in the capital specifically for private rent have been welcomed by Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis. The projects involve 636 homes for rent at The Newfoundland Building, Canary Wharf and 400 homes for rent at Ferry Lane, Walthamstow. The schemes are located close to underground stations. Each site will include a mix of 1, 2 or 3 bedroom homes.
  • The Eden Walk Shopping Centre at the heart of Kingston in south west London is set to be regenerated following the approval of proposals from developer British Land and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) for 380 homes, office space, a new shopping centre, a cinema, public car parking, as well as the creation of public spaces and the remodelling of the memorial gardens.
  • London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced backing for the controversial £175m Garden Bridge but is calling for greater accessibility and transparency.

Battle of Jutland listings

To mark 100 years since the Battle of Jutland, memorials across England with strong connections to this naval engagement in the North Sea are being protected through listing by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

Now listed is the grave of 'Boy Hero’ Jack Cornwell, posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

Impressive Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials to the Missing at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth have also been upgraded to the highest listing.

The Battle of Jutland was the most significant naval battle of the First World War with over 100,000 sailors involved on 250 ships. More than 6,000 Royal Navy and 2,500 German sailors lost their lives.

View the press release

Court brief

Preston City Council is mounting a legal challenge to what is believes is a “fundamentally flawed” decision by a planning inspector to allow the development of 150 homes in open countryside in Grimsargh.

Roger Milne