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Planning round-up 14 July 2016

Published: Thursday, 14th July 2016

Neighbourhood planning moves / Funding for sustainable travel schemes announced / Kent lorry park plan / MPs to probe house-building capacity / Call for council-house renaissance / And more stories...

Please note that this story was published prior to the new Prime Minister’s cabinet reshuffle.

Neighbourhood planning moves

The Government has extended, by an additional six months, the Secretary of State's scrutiny of appeals involving housing proposals in neighbourhood plan areas. However the threshold has been increased from schemes involving ten or more units to those of 25 units and above.

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis announced this in the Commons last week. He added the amended criteria “would not however preclude ministers from exercising their discretion to recover any other appeal which fell outside these parameters if they considered, it appropriate under any of the criteria set out in the written ministerial statement of 30 June 2008”.

Meanwhile, the neighbourhood planning system has passed an important milestone now over 200 have been the subject of successful referenda. This follows strong support for plans in Herefordshire where three went to the polls last week.

To date more than 1,900 communities across England with a total population of over 10 million people have started to prepare neighbourhood plans.

View the full debate on Hansard

Funding for sustainable travel schemes announced

Councils across England have been invited to apply for a share of £60m of new funding to support sustainable travel projects involving walking and cycling initiatives in local communities.

The Department for Transport’s green Sustainable Transport scheme will support projects over 3 years from 2017 to 2020. It is part of a wider Government fund of over £300m to boost walking and cycling during the current parliament.

Councils are being encouraged to look at opportunities to work together on devising schemes. The successful authorities will be asked to contribute ten per cent of their scheme costs.

View further details on Gov.uk

Kent lorry park plan

The Government has confirmed that its preferred option for a major new lorry area in Kent is a site near the villages of Stanford and Sellindge to the north and south of the M20, just west of Junction 11. The site is intersected by the M20 and ministers have insisted it would have less visual impact on the setting of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty than the alternative location, land north of Junction 11.

Highways England will use powers under Section 115 of the Highways Act 1980 to develop the scheme which will require an environmental impact assessment. The administration has committed £250 million to build the facility. The project will provide parking for up to 3,600 lorries.

View further details on Gov.uk

MPs to probe house-building capacity

The Commons Communities and Local Government Committee have launched an inquiry into the capacity of the house building industry to meet demand for new homes.

Under scrutiny will be the position of the volume house builders, the role of small and medium-sized developers, the skills, size and sustainability of the workforce, the planning process and development finance.

MPs will also consider innovative ways of overcoming constraints on the industry, such as self-builds, off-site construction and direct commissioning by central government.

View further details of the inquiry

Call for council-house renaissance

Local government leaders have insisted that a "national renaissance" in council house building is required and should be central to solving the current chronic shortage of housing across all types and tenures.

That’s the central message from the Local Government Association (LGA) which has warned that the economic uncertainty facing private house builders in the wake of Brexit means developers will be unable to meet housing needs on their own.

The Government wants to see a million new homes built by 2020. The LGA has pointed out that the last time the country was building more than the 250,000 houses - 1977/78, councils built 44 per cent of the new housing stock.

According to the interim findings of the Housing Commission set up by the LGA, councils need more freedom and resources to help build more homes that plug gaps in the market - particularly building the next generation of affordable homes, homes for those in crisis and to support the ageing population.

View the LGA press release

Suburban blues

Ministers should set-up a Government-sponsored task force to decide a strategy to halt the decline of suburban areas which research says are falling behind urban centres. That is the key recommendation of a new report by the Smith Institute.

The report ‘Towards a suburban renaissance: an agenda for our city suburbs’ examines trends in suburban London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.

It found that the ere are now more people in poverty in outer London than inner London and that the proportion of the most deprived areas within the three city regions increased most rapidly in suburban areas – in the West Midlands up from 42 per cent to 57 per cent. The number of jobs in suburbs has stagnated over the last decade.

The report said a Government-sponsored task force should examine how suburbs could adapt and grow. Government should consider creating ministerial responsibility for the suburbs and establish an agency to provide information and best practice guides for “a suburban initiative”.

View the full report

Sheffield regeneration scheme

Acting on behalf of development company Urbo, HOW Planning has submitted outline proposals for a £175m mixed-use regeneration scheme at West Bar, Sheffield, to be known as West Bar Square. The project involves ten new buildings each with self-contained parking providing some 130,000 square metres of development on a site fronting Sheffield’s inner relief road.

In addition to around 500 flats and new commercial floor space, the project includes a four-star hotel, restaurants, retail units and landscaped public spaces.

Boost for Ipswich housing

Developer Crest Nicholson has submitted a new planning application for Henley Gate, a mixed-use development of 1,100 homes which will be part of the Ipswich Garden Suburb which covers 195 hectares. Ultimately the suburb will accommodate up to 3,500 new homes.

Henley Gate is one of three communities proposed for the development. In addition to the 1,100 new homes, the scheme includes a 30-hectare country park, a new primary school and a local centre comprising community facilities and retail units. 

In line with current national planning guidance for large scale urban extensions, it will be modelled on ‘garden suburb’ principles. This means generous provision of green space, a sustainable drainage system, and a wide range of local facilities.

Developers sought for Hampshire new settlement

Hampshire councils have placed a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union announcing they are looking for developers for a potential 8,000-home site in southern England.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council are joint owners of Manydown, an area of over 800 hectares of green field land which is earmarked for up to 8,000 new homes.

The notice invites expressions of interest in the first phase of the project involving around 3,200 homes but makes it clear that a successful bidder will potentially continue its relationship with the councils to deliver the remaining phases of the project.

Worcester campus proposal

Proposals for a new £100m campus, including halls of residence providing around 700 student bedrooms have been announced by the University of Worcester.

A draft master plan for the scheme – which will also include new teaching facilities and playing fields – is due to be unveiled later this month The scheme, called University Court, is earmarked for land near the existing St John’s Campus close to Oldbury Road and Laugherne and will be determined by Malvern Hills District Council.

View the University of Worcester news article

New Forest housing strategy unveiled

New Forest District Council has agreed to go out for public consultation shortly on its latest local plan review which sets out provision for some 10,000 new homes up to 2036 in the Hampshire district’s area outside the National Park.

The latest version of the local plan suggests a requirement of between 587 and 687 additional dwellings annually. The existing development plan is designed to accommodate nearly 200 new homes each year.

The strategy accepts that significant areas of land within existing green belt locations will need to be released for development to meet objectively assessed need. Currently the council is looking to accommodate over 4,000 homes in green belt.

The document has identified over 20 strategic sites in existing towns including Ringwood, Totton and Lymington where the new housing could be located.

See item 12 in the minutes from the latest Cabinet meeting

Pub rebuild required

A planning inspector has backed Westminster City Council over its enforcement notice requiring the rebuilding of a Maida Vale pub, the Carlton Tavern, after it was demolished by developers hours before the building was due to be listed. The developer, CTX, has two years in which to rebuild the pub as close to the original as possible. The pub has been designated as an Asset of Community Value.

Greater Manchester developments

  • Salford City Council has approved Bruntwood and Select Property Group’s plans for a development of more than 500 flats on New Bailey Street, while Ask Real Estate’s second office scheme at Greengate has also been signed off. Trinity Riverside, a joint venture between Bruntwood and Select, will involve two buildings of 33 storeys and 16 storeys on the banks of the River Irwell.
  • A detailed planning application has been submitted for the tallest element of Allied London’s redevelopment at St John’s, a four-building cluster next to the River Irwell reaching up to 52 storeys and offering a mix of flats, hotels and retail floor space.
  • A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal by Argonaut Holdings over a mixed-use development involving up to 375 homes close to Manchester International Airport after concluding that conditions would not ameliorate 'unacceptable noise impacts'. Cheshire East Council had refuse permission for the hybrid application for a 15-hectare site north-west of the village of Mobberley.

Newcastle Turkish bath project

The promised transformation of Newcastle City Pool and Turkish Baths has taken another step closer with the submission of a planning application to the city council.

The £5m redevelopment of the historic site proposed by Fusion Lifestyle will bring the complex back into use as a modern facility while retaining the distinctive neo-Georgian features of the 1920s building.

The plans include the restoration of the City Pool and the Turkish Baths which will incorporate a spa. Also planned are fitness facilities, exercise studios and treatment rooms.

Oxfordshire land sale scam warning

West Oxfordshire District Council has warned prospective purchasers of land advertised for sale on the popular classifieds website Gumtree that it has very limited development potential.

Cllr Warwick Robinson, Cabinet Member for Planning at the council, said the land at Turley Lane near the village of Hailey was “in attractive open countryside away from any major settlement. Steps were taken to protect this land back in 2005 when we found out that it was to be sub-divided into plots and sold off.”

“We’re keen to make people fully aware of the planning limitations on the land and caution them that they should not invest in this site for development purposes.”

In a statement the district council stressed: “The site is partly within a conservation area and bordering ancient woodland, the site has very limited potential for any form of development and housing proposals are especially unlikely to be supported. Any permitted development rights on the land have also been removed”.

Court briefs

  • Campaigner group Save Britain's Heritage has launched a legal challenge over North East Lincolnshire Council's decision to approve the demolition of Grimsby's Cosalt Buildings, a row of historic port structures. View the BBC news article
  • An Exeter residents group has launched a judicial review over the city council’s approval for a 320-bedroom student development which the group says is contrary to the ‘made’ neighbourhood development plan. View the Local Government Lawyer news article
  • Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale have applied to the High Court for a judicial review of North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to allow fracking near the North York Moors National Park. View the BBC news article
  • The High Court has thrown out a challenge to Hounslow Council’s grant of planning permission for a free school on metropolitan open land in west London. View the Local Government Lawyer news article
Roger Milne