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Planning round-up 6 October 2016

Published: Thursday, 6th October 2016

Report on Welsh Permitted Development regime for non-domestic solar. Greater Manchester strategy hiccup. East of England planner drive. Teesside deal funding announced. And more stories...

Report on Welsh PD regime for non-domestic solar

The Welsh administration has published a report which sets out options for amending existing permitted development rights for non-domestic solar PV and solar thermal panels.

The document highlighted that in other parts of the UK, moves are underway to adopt a more flexible approach and to increase the capacity of non-domestic solar installations deemed as permitted development.

Present permitted development rights are based on an energy output threshold that is generally regarded as too low to meet current and future needs.

The options outlined could involve an increased permitted development right threshold, the removal of the permitted development right threshold in favour of an impact assessment approach or the introduction of an impact approach with prior notification.

Read the report.

Greater Manchester strategy hiccup

Publication of the draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) has been delayed for a month as officers and politicians finalise key elements of the 20-year planning blueprint for the city region.

The blueprint was originally scheduled for the executive committee of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) at its September meeting last week. However, it was pulled from the agenda and is now expected to be considered on 28 October.

Contentious issues include how to handle the expected green belt boundary review and agreeing the location of large industrial development sites to attract logistics companies.

Eamonn Boylan, lead officer for planning and housing at GMCA, and Stockport chief executive, told property website Place North West: “It has always been our intention to start a public consultation on a draft GMSF in October.

The planning teams working on the draft spatial framework now have a couple of weeks to ensure that the technical elements of the draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework are correct when presented to the Joint GMCA/AGMA Executive Board in October where we are seeking approval for public consultation to commence for a period of eight weeks.”

Read the Place North West news story.

East of England planner drive

The RTPI is joining forces with other stakeholders to help tackle problems around the recruitment and retention of planners in the East of England.

This initiative follows a review led by the Local Government Association and sponsored by St Albans City and District Council which highlighted that the region lacked the planning capacity and skills to deliver growth and development.

The key issues under consideration include:

  • Lack of capacity – at the time of the survey there were 114 vacancies for planners across the region
  • An ageing workforce and lack of experienced senior planners ––not enough new planners / graduates to cope with increasing demand
  • High turnover and retention issues and
  • Quality of recruitment – a lack of flexibility in local government recruitment processes.

Andrew Close, RTPI’s Head of Careers, Education and Professional Development, said:

“This review echoes the critical local planning capacity issue that our own research has found out in the North West and Scotland.

“Graduate planner numbers have been increasing over the past few years, but generally there is some evidence of a skills and capacity squeeze at middle and senior management level as a result of cuts and recruitment freezes.”

Read the news release.

Teesside deal funding announced

Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy has announced the transfer of £15m of government money directly to the Teesside region. The first payment in a total of £450m due over the next 30 years as part of the area’s devolution deal signed a year ago.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority will now bring forward proposals to invest this additional funding, alongside matched finance from other sources, to deliver key elements of its economic plan; including:

  • Supporting more young people to gain the skills required to progress into work
  • Helping people with multiple barriers to work to find good quality jobs
  • Extending high speed broadband
  • Supporting growth sectors of the economy to generate more jobs
  • Developing cultural assets and the visitor economy and
  • Creating viable business cases for major infrastructure investments.

The deal also allows for greater local controls and responsibility over public transport and bus operations, funding for over adult skills and employment training and the creation of so-called mayoral development corporations to implement regeneration projects.

Read the news story.

M4 Newport inquiry put back five months

The Welsh government has announced the scheduled November start of the public inquiry into the proposed new stretch of the M4 around Newport will be delayed until March next year because the UK government has introduced revised methodology for growth forecasting.

This will have a knock-on effect when consideration is given to the benefits of major transport schemes like the M4 project.

Ministers are insisting that this glitch won’t affect the overall timing of the project if its gets the all-clear after the expected five month hearing.

Find out more.

London round-up

  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced an inquiry into the impact of foreign investments on the capital’s housing market.
  • The mayor this week set out progress on a slew of new river crossings to be built in the next five to 10 years. These include: a new pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Rotherhithe & Canary Wharf; enhancements to the proposals for Silvertown Tunnel; a DLR crossing at Gallions Reach, Greenwich; further assessment work for a Barking Riverside-Abbey Wood London Overground crossing and further assessment of a North Greenwich-Isle of Dogs ferry, supporting new development on the Greenwich Peninsula and the Isle of Dogs.
  • British Land and GIC have been given planning permission by the City of London Corporation to build four new office blocks, one will be 32-storeys high, on the site of the former UBS headquarters in Finsbury Avenue.
  • Think tank Centre for London has published a report which estimated that the densification of large estates across the conurbation has the potential to add between 80,000 and 160,000 homes across London over the next 20 years and could meet some 20 per cent of the capital’s additional housing needs.
  • Southwark Council has given the green light for a major new performing arts university facility in Peckham, south London, on a brownfield site behind the local library.
  • Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has announced he won’t be intervening over development plans for Wimbledon Stadium involving a new 10,000-seater stadium for AFC Wimbledon, around 600 new homes and a new squash club and retail floor space at the site in south west London’s Plough Lane. Neighbouring Wandsworth Council wanted the scheme, approved by Merton Council, called-in.

Berkshire local plan delay

The timetable for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s draft local plan has been put back by six months following legal advice that strategy was open to challenge on a number of counts including over the duty to cooperate.

A spokesman said: “We have received legal advice which has impacted on the timetable set out in the published Local Development Scheme and this was considered by cabinet last week.

“The council will be carrying out a further Regulation 18 consultation on the draft plan commencing on 2 December 2016.”

Meanwhile, in a separate move, the council has shortlisted five developers as potential partners for four major mixed-use sites in Maidenhead. The locations total over 6.3-hectares and are in York Road, West Street, Reform Road and St Cloud’s Way.

Read more information

Salford regeneration

Scarborough Group International has submitted a detailed planning application to the city council for some 546 flats in the second phase of the Middlewood Locks development in central Salford.

The 10-hectare development is a joint venture between Scarborough, Hualing Group, based in China and Metro Holdings, a Singapore-listed property development and investment group. The proposals for this second phase are for four separate buildings designed by WCEC Architects.

The development site is arranged around three large basins of the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal in Salford.

Find out more about Middlewood Locks

Taunton redevelopment mooted

Developers Mace Group have submitted an application to Taunton Deane Borough Council to regenerate the Coal Orchard site in centre of the Somerset town as part of moves to reinvigorate areas bordering the River Tone.

A mix of 36 new flats, workspaces, cafes and restaurants is planned for the site. Also involved are on and off-street parking and proposals for amphitheatre-style seating on the waterfront.

Bristol snubs diesel generator project near nursery

Plans by company Plutus Energy to locate a power facility involving 48 diesel generators some 250 metres from a Bristol nursery school have been thrown out by city councillors against the advice of officers.

The decision comes after nearly 350 objections from people in the area, including parents, who were angry about the health risks of the scheme.

M55 road link delays

Unexpected ground conditions have added £3m in costs and five months to the programme for a new road from Junction 1 on M55 around the village of Broughton to the A6 in Lancashire, the scheme is key to opening up development sites with the potential for 1,400 new homes.

Legal round-up

Roger Milne