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Planning round-up 28 July 2016

Published: Thursday, 28th July 2016

Makeover for UK’s first pedestrianised precinct. Development Consent Order granted for Potash project’s harbour facilities. Retail activity dips. Devolution housing deals assessment. And more stories.

Makeover for UK’s first pedestrianised precinct

Architect Sheppard Robson has submitted plans to Tower Hamlets Council to create a mixed-use scheme to reinvigorate Chrisp Street Market in Poplar east London, part of which was the UK’s first-ever pedestrianised shopping precinct.

The architect’s ambition for the project continues the site’s history of innovation. Designed in part by Frederick Gibberd and built as part of the Festival of Britain Exhibition of Architecture in 1951, the north side of Chrisp Street Market was a pioneering pedestrian retail precinct with housing above.

As well as retaining these heritage assets and setting, the architect’s master plan includes the provision of 650 high-quality, tenure-blind new homes with no net loss of social rent housing.

The new scheme, which would also see the extension of the existing Idea Store, a new canopied marketplace and a community venue, is planned around a series “podium garden courtyards" created to connect shared and private spaces. The proposals also include some 200, 000 square feet of new retail floor space, a six-screen cinema and affordable work spaces.

The plans for Telford Homes Plc and local housing association Poplar HARCA include a 24-storey housing tower which would sit alongside a range of other residential blocks.

View the press release

Development Consent Order granted for potash project’s harbour facilities

Sirius Minerals Plc has received approval from the Department for Transport for the harbour facilities element of its controversial North Yorkshire potash project. The Development Consent Order for the proposals on the river Tees include a new berth, ship loading facilities and conveyor linkage to the company's materials handling facility at the Wilton International site. The Order includes all the compulsory purchase powers needed to develop the facilities.

The harbour scheme is part of a much larger project, the potash, or polyhalite, is mined near Whitby and conveyed by means of a 23-mile tunnel to the harbour. The rest of the scheme has conventional planning permission already.

The decision letter said the Secretary of State agreed with the planning inspector who examined the proposals that apart from the so-called Southern conveyor route, “a compelling case existed” for the facilities covered by the DCO.

“In coming to this conclusion he has taken into account the strategic need for the harbour facilities to enable bulk shipping of the output of the proposed polyhalite mine, the substantial economic and socio-economic benefits of the scheme, and the provisions in the Order for compensation and for the protection of private interests”.

View more information

Retail activity dips

The number of applications to develop new shops has fallen by nine per cent in the past year according to research by commercial law firm EMW.

In 2015/16, applications fell for the seventh consecutive year and are down by nearly half (44 per cent) the number of the pre-recession peak of 11,900 in 2008/09.

EMW explained that, despite traditional retailers increasingly focusing on and expanding their online services, many are still failing to compete effectively with online retailers, such as ASOS and Boohoo.

Aimee Barrable, Principal at EMW, commented: "With online retailers continuing to win market share, high street firms have less of an appetite to open new shops, instead opting to develop online services or squeeze extra profits from existing space by changing the shopping experience or re-purposing stores to act more as showrooms or collection points."

She added: "Recent high profile closures will lead to more retail space becoming available on the market. Those retailers still looking to expand their high street presence might look to acquire some of these recently vacated stores instead of applying for any new retail developments."


Devolution housing deals assessment

What is claimed to be the first serious stock take of the place of housing, planning and regeneration in the 11 devolution deals agreed to date has highlighted that the agreements on housing have been patchy and piecemeal, lacking serious funding or new powers.

The report, from the independent Smith Institute, showed that devolution in housing and planning has widespread support, but the journey so far has been undermined by centralising tendencies from the present government as well as inappropriate national programmes and targets.

The findings, based on the views of senior officers from the combined authorities, suggest that there is a clear desire for greater consistency and greater powers and resources to meet particular housing needs and ambitions.

One key demand is for a single long-term devolved funding pot for housing to deliver scale and certainty, rather than multiple pots of money, each with strings attached. Authorities are also clear they want their devolution deals to be on a similar footing to that in London.

A formal ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ would be a suitable vehicle for taking forward devo-housing deals, the analysis suggested.

View the publication

Staffordshire power plant DCO

Last week the government approved the Development Consent Order for a 299 megawatt gas-fired power station near Stone in Staffordshire, a joint venture between developers Glenfinnan and St Modwen.

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MPs probe forestry policy

The Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee have launched an inquiry into the role of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in supporting a thriving forest economy and environment.

The all-party group of MPs noted that the forestry sector contributes some £1.7bn a year to the economy and indirectly supports 43,000 jobs. “Woods and forests, particularly ancient forests, provide many environmental benefits including enhancing biodiversity and supporting a range of ecosystem services such as water management and climate control” it pointed out.

This inquiry will investigate how effective government policies are and how they should be developed to increase the level of tree cover and balance woodland protection, including that of ancient forests, with economic exploitation (i.e. developing their potential for energy generation).

View more information

London round-up

  • West London’s Ealing Council has approved City and Docklands Property Group’s proposals to demolish all existing buildings on a 0.5-hectare industrial site in North Acton and redevelop it with four residential blocks, the tallest will be 42 storeys providing 578 flats, car and cycle-parking and roof-top gardens.
  • A programme to build hundreds of new homes on underused land like council depots and largely empty garages on council estates has been launched by Hackney Council. Around 400 dwellings, 70 per cent for social rent and shared ownership, will be provided. Waltham Forest Council is partnering with Design Council Cabe to implement and run a design review and support panel.
  • Award-winning residential developer HUB has been appointed to regenerate Croydon Council’s Taberner House site with a 500-home mixed use development which will also provide new employment and commercial floor space at the central Croydon site.
  • The Duke of Westminster’s property company Grosvenor Estates is facing an outcry over plans to convert the oldest functioning timber yard in England and a terrace of adjoining independent shops in Pimilico Road, Belgravia into a mix of large showrooms and luxury flats. There is a move to designate the yard as an Asset of Community Value.

Nottinghamshire pit housing project

Plans to build more than 800 homes on the site of Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire have been unveiled by Harworth Estates which is also proposing employment floor space, a new school, sports pitches, a country park and a zip-wire facility.

View the news article on the BBC

Somerset prison redevelopment blocked

Proposals to convert the listed former Shepton Mallet prison into 146 new dwellings, a mix of luxury flats and houses, have been rejected by Mendip District Council members against the advice of officers. Listed building consent for the proposals was approved but the embers refused the main application because of concern over parking provision and traffic issues.

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Coastal path progress

Natural England has opened the latest stretch of England Coast Path at Middlesbrough. This provides some 68 miles of sign posted National Trail designed to give walkers new and improved access and connect the urban heartland of Teesside to its open coast.

The continuous route starts at Filey Brigg and passes north through the popular resorts of Scarborough and Whitby, Saltburn and Redcar, providing stunning views of the North York Moors and coastline. It follows much of the well-known coastal section of Cleveland Way National Trail with improvements to the route.

In a related development the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed that an additional eight mile section between Newport Bridge and North Gare, which links the previously open 34 miles of coast path in Durham with the new section just opened, has also been approved and is expected to formally open next year.

Walkers will then be able to enjoy 110 miles of continuous England Coast Path from Filey Brigg to South Bents.

This is the second stretch of England Coast Path to open in the north east of England and is the longest one in the country so far; the second longest, a 66 mile stretch, opened in Kent last week.

View the press release

Cathedral funding

Some 32 cathedrals across England will benefit from government funding of £14.5m for repairs to help secure their future, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has announced.

The money will help keep buildings wind-proof, weather-tight, safe and open to the public. The largest grant of £870,000 goes to Coventry Cathedral for re-fixing the exterior slates of the Chapel of Unity, designed by Sir Basil Spence. Other cathedrals to receive funding include Bradford, Liverpool, Salisbury, Gloucester and Newcastle.

View the press release

Legal round-up


  • The village of Woolverstone has lost its battle against a major housing development in Suffolk. The parish council had been seeking to block plans for 200 homes on the derelict HMS Ganges naval base on the Shotley Peninsula, but last week the High Court rejected its appeal, saying that Babergh District Council had been entitled to grant the permission.
  • Tower Hamlets Council in east London is considering taking legal action following the unprecedented unauthorised demolition of several unlisted properties in the Coldharbour conservation area.
  • The Scottish government’s decision to grant consent for a 67-turbine wind farm in the Highlands was lawful, judges have ruled. Scottish ministers and energy company SSE have won an appeal in the Court of Sessions against an earlier ruling that the approval of Stronelairg wind farm near Fort Augustus was “defective”.

Roger Milne