Published: Thursday, 4th August 2016
Welsh power line project. North west National Parks extend. New Welsh regime for major development kicks-in. Northern Enterprise Zone progress. Welwyn Garden City new homes. And more stories...
Welsh power line project
Greg Clark, the new business and energy secretary, has approved proposals for a new overhead power line scheme in North Wales.
The project, the subject of a Development Consent Order application, involves a new 132 kilovolt
link between Clocaenog Forest and St Asaph in Denbighshire.
Power Company SP Energy Networks proposed the scheme to connect a number of new wind farms to the area’s electricity distribution network.
The scheme stretches for 17.4 miles and is wholly in Wales. The project lies outside the boundaries of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Snowdonia National Park.
The so-called Option B route has been given consent. There was pressure for the scheme to be undergrounded for all or part of the route, but the decision letter from the Secretary of State made it clear that he believed that this would be uneconomic. Clark’s letter said there was a “compelling case” for the scheme.
North west National Parks extend
From this week two of England’s most iconic National Parks, the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District, have extended their boundaries.
The extensions will see nearly 200 square miles, an area bigger than the Isle of Wight, subject to more wide-ranging safeguards.
The Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks have extended their boundaries by 24 per cent and 3 per cent respectively. The decision to extend the parks was formally announced last October.
The park boundaries have grown within touching distance either side of the M6 motorway, creating a band of protected land across the north west of England.
New Welsh regime for major development kicks-in
From the beginning of this month (August) all applications for ‘major’ development in Wales must show how the pre-application consultation requirements set out in the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 have been adhered to.
This includes a requirement to submit a Pre-Application Consultation Report to the local planning authority. Schemes considered as major development include:
- Residential: 10 or more units or covering 0.5 or more hectares
- Single building: 1,000 square metres floor space or more
- Any other development on a site where the area is one hectare or more.
Northern Enterprise Zone progress
Over 8,000 new jobs have been reported by Enterprise Zones in the Northern Powerhouse over the past four years.
Enterprise Zones in the North, which provide tax breaks and government support for new and expanding businesses, have attracted eight jobs per working day since 2012 and over £1m per day in private investment.
New figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that during the three months to December 2015, 1,220 jobs were created at northern Enterprise Zones, an 18 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter.
This was in part thanks to 30 new companies which chose to expand on EZs. The department said that over 8,000 new jobs have been reported by Enterprise Zones in the Northern Powerhouse over the past four years, equivalent to eight per working day.
Welwyn Garden City new homes
Law firm Dentons has helped Chase New Homes in securing planning consent for a 511-unit housing scheme in Hertfordshire set to be the house builder’s largest scheme to date.
The scheme, known as Times Square, will be built in Welwyn Garden City on the site of the former Xerox office complex on Bessermer Road.
Chase New Homes, which acquired the Xerox site in 2015, is currently undertaking phase one of the project to develop 210 residential units in three of the existing buildings under Permitted Development rights.
Now planning consent for the second phase has been secured, which will see the house builder add 66 penthouses to the buildings and also add four new apartment blocks in the grounds, collectively containing up to 511 dwellings.
New housing supply inquiry
A call for evidence on supporting new sources of housing supply, including small, self, custom and community-led builders has been launched.
The inquiry by the National Housing Taskforce is seeking evidence of measures that national and local government, and practitioners, could adopt in order to support more new entrants into the market. Submissions should be sent in by 21 September.
The National Housing Taskforce is a sectoral and political coalition convened by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Planning and the RICS.
Labour MP Helen Hayes, a former planner, is chairing the inquiry. She said: “We face huge challenges with families across the country worrying whether their children will be able to attend the same school next year, or whether to get involved in their local community, for the lack of suitable housing.
“They can’t just depend on the big volume house builders, and many might want to build or commission their own homes, individually or in groups.
“If Berliners can build one in six homes this way, then Londoners can too. We want to know how the government and sector could make that happen” she said.
Call for new powers for councils to boost housing
Local authorities need new powers to speed up the delivery of their housing plans, not a more complex planning system, the South East England Councils (SEEC) organisation has insisted.
In its evidence to the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry into the Local Plans Expert Group report, SEEC has called on MPs for action to help turn the South East’s 66,751 unused planning permissions into homes.
SEEC’s submission highlighted the growth of unused permissions (up from 54,762 in 2009-10) as proof that it is not the planning process that is holding back housebuilding.
SEEC called for council powers to incentivise developers to build approved new homes quickly, less change to planning regulation and measures to ensure all developments play a part in contributing to infrastructure needs.
- London has room for nearly 600,000 new homes over the next 10 year, according to property company Stirling Ackroyd in its latest Housing Monitor. This assessment suggested the capital has space for up to 570,000 new homes over the next decade. According to the Monitor, London boroughs saw new home approvals rise to 6,310 in the second quarter 2016, reflecting a 76 per cent success rate which was an improvement on the previous quarter’s 61 per cent.
- The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has unveiled steps to protect its last remaining launderettes in response to recent planning changes. In April the Government granted a new permitted development right for launderettes located outside conservation areas, removing the need for planning permission to change their use to residential. The council has now applied for an Article 4 Direction which would remove the new permitted development right. This is proposed to come into effect in July 2017.
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he won’t intervene in a planning row between Merton and Wandsworth Councils over plans for a new 20,000 seat football stadium, a large supermarket and 602 homes at Plough Lane on the borough boundary.
- New residential basement rules have come into effect this week as Westminster City Council cracks down on subterranean developments. New planning controls will limit basements to a single storey and will mean that new basements will not be allowed to be built underneath more than 50 per cent of total garden land.
- Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has called for clarification over the funding for the controversial Garden Bridge as he mulls over the extension of a government commitment to underwrite some of the costs of the project.
- Manchester United footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have unveiled proposals to transform Jackson's Row near Manchester Town Hall into a development known as St. Michael's, which will include a 200-room five star hotel, 153 flats , offices, restaurants and a new synagogue. Two new buildings up to 30-storeys high are planned.
- Meanwhile developer Capital & Centric has submitted a planning application to transform a grade two-listed mill complex near Piccadilly station in Manchester into a £50m residential scheme, providing 201 one, two and three bed flats. Designed by Shedkm, the scheme would see 126 flats in the existing mill and a further 75 flats in an adjacent new 10-storey building. The cluster of warehouses is on Fair Street, Chapeltown Street, Congou Street and Baird Street. Some of the mills are linked, forming a central courtyard, which would be landscaped as part of the redevelopment.
- The city council’s planning committee has just approved developer Generation’s redevelopment of the iconic Hollings building in Fallowfield, dubbed the ‘Toast Rack’, into a mixed use residential led scheme providing 210 flats.
Lakeland crematorium wins on appeal
SCP Investments Ltd, advised by Indigo Planning, has been given the green light on appeal to develop a new crematorium on the outskirts of the village of Crooklands in south Cumbria.
The plans include a 495 square metre crematorium building as well as memorial gardens and associated landscaping, providing both formal courtyard spaces and more tranquil gardens of remembrance.
The development will also include a car park and new access to the A65 road, located north of Junction 36 of the M6 motorway.
Post BREXIT fears over regeneration funding
Councils have warned that significant EU regeneration funding remains tied up in thousands of growth-boosting proposals yet to receive government approval, sparking fears English communities may never receive it and vital projects will be lost.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, is seeking urgent guarantees from the Government that local areas will receive every penny of EU funding they are expecting by the end of the decade.
Local areas in England have been allocated a share of £5.3bn worth of EU regeneration funding up to 2020.
To access the money, each area has put forward innovative proposals, for example to create jobs or build new infrastructure, and it is up to the Government to decide which projects the money can be spent on.
The LGA estimates that billions of this EU funding has yet to be released to local areas. For example, Cornwall and the North-East have both only received 20 per cent of their EU funding allocations so far and Birmingham has only received 25 per cent.
Cooperative Luton local plan
The inspector appointed to examine Luton Borough Council’s draft local plan has concluded that the planning authority has met the duty to cooperate although he noted that he felt the borough council might have done more to secure cooperation with Central Bedfordshire Council over Luton’s 11,000 dwelling shortfall.
The inspector acknowledged that relations with Central Bedfordshire were not without their difficulties. But he recognised that Luton had nevertheless made some progress on joint working and accepted that “actions taken by Luton indicated that across a range of strategic matters, engagement had been constructive, active and ongoing.”
Affordable housing call
Millions of working people will no longer be able to afford somewhere decent to live by 2024 and will need access to some type of affordable housing, new research published by the Local Government Association has highlighted.
The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is calling on new ministers to take urgent steps so councils can resume their historic role as a major builder of new homes and help tackle the nation's deepening housing crisis.
To trigger a renaissance in council house building, the LGA is calling on government to allow councils to:
- Borrow to invest in housing in the same way that they are able to borrow to invest in other projects
- Keep 100 per cent of the receipts from properties sold through Right to buy to build new homes.
- Allotment holders are set to bring a third legal challenge after the Communities Secretary again approved plans for Watford Borough Council to appropriate their site for a major housing and hospital expansion development.
- The Court of Appeal has agreed to hear a case on the extent of the duty to give reasons for grants of planning permission. The case involves South Cambridgeshire District Council’s approval of a 3,000 seat football stadium for Cambridge City Football Club at a green belt location at the village of Sawston.
- A judge has ruled that a judicial review challenge brought by a leading film production company over Westminster City Council’s grant of planning permission for a large mixed use development near Marylebone High Street was “totally without merit”.