Published: Thursday, 15th September 2016
West Midlands land commission. Low carbon policies and Northern growth. Metropolitan green belt under threat? MoD and Network Rail sites to boost new homes. And more stories...
West Midlands land commission
An independent panel of prominent UK property and infrastructure experts has been set up as the West Midlands Land Commission to advise the region’s combined authority on how to unlock hundreds of hectares of undeveloped land.
The establishment of the Commission came as the combined authority looked to develop an extra 1,600-hectares of former industrial sites, or brownfield land, for commercial use over the coming decade.
Councillor Sean Coughlan, leader of Walsall Council, said the new body “would provide an opportunity to consider the many aspects which affect the supply and usage of land across the West Midlands.
“That’s important because we need land to meet the anticipated growth in residential and commercial development which in turn will help drive the economy, meet future housing needs and ultimately improve people’s quality of life.” The panel has made a call for evidence to help its deliberations.
In a separate move this week, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell presented a petition to Parliament from 11,489 residents from his Sutton Coldfield constituency complaining about Birmingham City Council’s proposal to build 6,000 new homes on green belt land.
Low carbon policies and Northern growth
Two reports published this week highlight how low carbon projects can contribute to increased economic activity in the North of England and help the administration’s Northern powerhouse agenda.
One report, from the Aldersgate Group, says that 136,000 jobs in the North have already been created by the low carbon sector, citing the cluster of low carbon investment in Hull from Siemens, Associated British Ports and DONG Energy.
The second document, from the Parliamentary Advisory Group on Carbon Capture and Storage argued that energy produced using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology could become cost competitive with nuclear and offshore wind power in the 2020s.
The Aldersgate report also calls for a new government-backed CCS strategy to capitalise on the storage potential of the North Sea and build on pioneering work on a CCS ‘grid’ involving Teesside, Humberside and north Yorkshire.
Metropolitan green belt under threat?
London’s green belt is under greater threat than ever, according to a new report which claims there are now plans for 203 sites across the designated area including proposals for 123,528 new homes.
That’s the analysis in a report just published jointly by the London Green Belt Council and the London branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
It was compiled from evidence provided by CPRE branches in the Home Counties and the capital.The vast majority of the proposed homes (94 per cent) are on sites allocated by councils in their local plan documents. Metropolitan green belt is also under pressure from infrastructure such as schools and roads, the report warned.
Quashed Buckinghamshire neighbourhood plan passes second referendum
Residents of the Buckinghamshire village of Chalfont St Peter have voted overwhelmingly for a second time in favour of a neighbourhood plan. Some 86 per cent of those who voted last week supported the planning strategy. However, the turn-out was small, just 16 per cent.
The first referendum result in March 2015 was quashed after a successful High Court challenge by a local night club which objected to being designated as a community asset.
The second poll was held over the plan, this time without the inclusion of a policy abut the night club, called Winkers.
MoD and Network Rail sites to boost new homes
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has announced plans to release a further 13 sites to build thousands of new homes.
The sites are expected to provide land for up to 17,000 new homes, contributing to the government’s target of building 160,000 new homes on public land disposals by 2020. The land will include two golf courses at RAF Henlow and Southwick Park.
Meanwhile Network Rail has signalled it is finalising plans to release land for the development of around 12,000 new homes.
Nearly 200 sites across the country have been identified as suitable housing development opportunities for around 12,000 new homes. It is anticipated that land for around 5,000 of these homes will be delivered in London, 3,600 in Manchester and the North, 1,700 in the Midlands and East of England, and around 1,400 homes in the South of England.
In a separate but related move Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has committed to publishing figures showing the number of homes built on former public land, following criticism from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Green belt statistics
The latest green belt statistics for 2015/16 show that overall there was a decrease in the area of designated green belt of some 1,020-hectares (less than 0.1 per cent) as a result of eight authorities adopting new plans with revised boundaries for designated land.
This is the second largest annual decrease in the area of green belt reported in the last five years. In total in 2014/15, 11 authorities made changes to their boundaries resulting in a larger decrease of over 2,000-hectares.Access the statistics
Campaign to Protect Rural England praise for commuter hubs
High-density development near high-quality public transport services could boost businesses and jobs, create more well-designed homes and build more diverse, exciting communities, a new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England has highlighted.
The conservation body has made the point that this would also reduce pressure on the green belt and the wider countryside.
CPRE noted that the government has identified some 680 commuter hubs suitable for high density development.
The report suggested that a similar approach could be adopted for smaller places like market towns which play a key role in rural communities delivering much needed connectivity services, employment and business opportunities.
Northumberland opencast project called-in
Proposals for a major opencast coal mine close to Druridge Bay on the Northumberland coast have been ‘called in’ by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
The scheme, which generated considerable opposition, was approved by the county council earlier this summer. Among the grounds for the intervention by the SoS were the environmental and climate change implications of the scheme.
Car dependency stalls Kent development
An appeal over a 475-dwelling development in the village of Hoo St Werburgh in Kent, originally refused by Medway Council, has been dismissed because of concern over car dependency.
Crown Estate plans 660 homes in Hertfordshire
The Crown Estate has submitted plans for 660 new homes on land to the west of Cockernhoe to North Hertfordshire District Council. The site is allocated for residential development in the emerging Local Plan.
Cheshire East Local Plan makes waves
The public inquiry into Cheshire East’s revised draft Local Plan has resumed this week, two years on from when the examination into the strategy was put on hold by the planning inspector.
The authority has presented its amended development plan following comments and submissions during six weeks of public consultation earlier this year.
The revised plan includes a range of new development sites to support an increased target of 36,000 homes needed in the district by 2030.
Updated evidence, completed during the earlier suspension of the inspector’s examination, required revisions to the main strategic policies relating to housing, economic growth, development and green belt.
- An officer from Reading Borough Council has been jailed over a £42,000 fraud involving money raised from developers through section 106 planning gain contributions.
- A legal challenge is to be launched by the local council against the Welsh government's decision to give a former Wrexham school listed building status.
- Dates have now been set for the legal challenge over North Yorkshire Council’s decision to grant planning permission to Third Energy to undertake 'fracking’ operations at a site in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire.
- A resident of the London Borough of Lewisham is seeking to crowd fund a case which centres on whether those affected by a planning inspector’s decision may challenge it without a full High Court action.
- High Court judge quashes planning permission granted by Hackney Council for a new building which would have overshadowed a school playground following a successful challenge mounted by a concerned resident.
Read the news story.