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Planning round-up 11 August 2016

Published: Thursday, 11th August 2016

Javid rejects solar farm contrary to inspector’s advice. LSE report urges strategic housing for green belt . 40-home scheme allowed despite conflict with Sussex neighbourhood plan. And more stories...

Javid rejects solar farm contrary to inspector’s advice

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has gone against the advice of the inspector who held the recovered inquiry and dismissed an appeal for a six megawatt solar power project earmarked for a green belt sheep farm in Kent originally refused by Sevenoaks District Council.

The Secretary of State concluded that the scheme represented inappropriate development in the green belt and that the “very special circumstances” needed to justify the development did not exist. He also said the proposals were in conflict with both local and national development policies.

View the recovered appeal: Skinners Farm, Skinners Lane, Edenbridge, Kent

LSE report urges strategic housing for green belt

Strategic housing development should be allowed in the metropolitan green belt to halt its piecemeal development and alleviate pressure on the wider South East, according to a new report from the LSE.

Dr Alan Mace, assistant professor of Urban Planning Studies at LSE and one of the authors said: “We have reached point where we cannot keep on disregarding the green belt as an option for well thought out development. Brownfield sites simply cannot supply enough land to meet projected housing needs in London and the wider South East.”

The report argued that one way to achieve strategic development would be along a limited number of corridors. These would be made up of a chain of centres along public transport links.

As well as additional housing, these corridors would provide commercial and industrial space. Corridors would be bounded by 'green wedges' with green spaces which would be improved environmentally, aesthetically and for recreational purposes.

The report proposed a 'pioneer corridor’ running out to Cambridge to test the feasibility of this approach.

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40-home scheme allowed despite conflict with Sussex neighbourhood plan

Despite being contrary to an emerging neighbourhood plan, a 40-home development in Sussex has been allowed on appeal by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid. The scheme, proposed by developer Crest Nicholson, had been refused by Mid Sussex District Council. The proposals, for a site in Haywards Heath, had been recommended for approval by the inspector who held the recovered appeal inquiry.

Javid acknowledged that the scheme wasn’t in accordance with either the development plan or the neighbourhood plan. However, he also agreed with the inspector that the planning authority could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing sites and that the relevant development plan policies for the supply of housing were “out of date”.

The Secretary of State went on to conclude in his decision letter that the adverse impacts of granting the proposed development were limited. He insisted that the harms did not outweigh “substantial benefits which would result from the provision on new housing and affordable housing to boost supply as required by the National planning policy framework”.

View the recovered appeal: land north of Birchen Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex

Bristol developments

  • Campaigners have complained that proposals for a tower block in Bristol city centre, part of the so-called Redcliff Quarter development providing new shops, bars, restaurants, homes and a hotel are out of scale with the surrounding area and will ruin the skyline.
  • Meanwhile the city council has given the go-ahead for the redevelopment of a site close to Bristol's historic former marketplace in the Old Market Conservation Area. As well as residential and commercial space the scheme will provide accommodation for more than 200 students.

London round-up

  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed that he intends to introduce a tougher definition of affordable housing in new planning guidance due to be issued this autumn.
  • The Mayor has just approved plans for the first major housing development at the Old Oak regeneration site in West London, after intervening to boost the number of affordable homes in the scheme. The Oaklands development will see 605 new homes built, together with a nursery, health centre and commercial space. A target of 50 per cent affordable housing has been agreed for the development, following an intervention by Khan to boost the number of affordable homes through investment and a profit-sharing mechanism. Of the 242 affordable homes, half will be for social and affordable rent, with the other half being for shared ownership.
  • A planning application has been submitted to Tower Hamlets Council for the demolition of the two main 1970s-built brutalist blocks of the Robin Hood Gardens estate in east London and their replacement with 268 new homes.

Chester local plan progress

Cheshire West & Chester Council started public consultation this week into part two of its local plan which includes land allocations and detailed policies on development in the borough until 2030.

This identifies sites to meet employment needs at Gadbrook in Rudheath, Chowley Oak, Hampton Heath and Farndon, and the safeguarding of a route for the Chester Western Relief Road and a fifth Park and Ride at Hoole.

Issues such as green belt boundaries, the number of new homes to be built and how much employment land should be provided were adopted last year in part one of the plan.

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Manchester free school

A 7,900 square metre free school is to be built in Rusholme, after Manchester City Council approved its own plans for Enterprise Academy Central, which would create 1,050 new school places for 11-16 year olds.

Designed by Ellis Williams Architects, the academy will be a three-storey building, in a horseshoe shape around a central courtyard on an eight-acre site at Lytham Road, currently disused playing fields formerly used by the University of Manchester.

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Accessibility shortfall

One in six of the UK’s disabled population is “trapped” in housing which does not meet their accessibility needs, according to a report from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

View the report (pdf)

Local plan backlog

Around 60 per cent of English councils still do not have an up-to-date adopted local plan eight months before a key deadline, according to analysis by specialist trade publication Inside Housing. Ministers have previously warned councils to have a plan setting out housing priorities in place by next March or face potential government intervention.

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Lyons urges councils to do more on housing

Local authorities should play a more central and ambitious role in tackling the housing crisis, Sir Michael Lyons has insisted.

That was the central theme of his RTPI Yorkshire Annual Lecture. The ex-BBC Trust Chairman and chair of an independent inquiry into the future role of local government in 2007, argued that stronger and more effective strategic planning by local and devolved authorities was needed.

Sir Michael said that public sector-led place-shaping and strategic planning should be much higher on the agenda. Public planners and local councils needed to be more ambitious and pragmatic, he insisted.

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Farmer who hid mock Tudor home behind hay bales back in the planning fray

Robert Fidler, the Surrey farmer who fought an unsuccessful ten-year battle to retain an illegally built mock Tudor building in the green belt, is back testing the planning system.

He has submitted a prior approval application to Reigate & Banstead Borough Council to convert two grain silos at Honeycrock Farm into two single storey studio flats.

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CBRE’s Robinson steps down

Stuart Robinson is stepping down from his role of chairman and head of planning at property consultancy CBRE to act as a consultant to the company on part-time basis.

Legal round-up

Roger Milne