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Planning round-up 17 November 2016

Published: Thursday, 17th November 2016

New figures show scale of offices to residential activity. Success for Staffordshire housing scheme second time round. Video conferencing mooted for combined and joint committees. And more stories...

New figures show scale of offices to residential activity

Latest official figures on England’s annual housing supply show that during 2015-16 some 12,824 net additions resulted from change of use from offices under the new permitted development rights.

Overall the annual housing supply in England amounted to 189,650 net additional dwellings in 2015-16, up 11 per cent on 2014-15.

The 189,650 net additions in 2015-16 resulted from 163,940 new build homes, 30,600 gains from change of use between non-domestic and residential, 4,760 from conversions between houses and flats and 780 other gains (caravans, house boats etc.), offset by 10,420 demolitions.

Access the statistics.

Success for Staffordshire housing scheme second time round

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has allowed a redetermined appeal for an outline application for up to 100 new homes on open land in Rolleston, Staffordshire.

The scheme, proposed by Burton and South Derbyshire College, had originally been refused by East Staffordshire Borough Council and also rejected by the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles against the recommendation of the planning inspector who considered the first appeal.

The applicants subsequently went to court and that decision was quashed. Following the latest appeal hearing the proposals have been given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State in line with the advice of the inspector.

Javid said the scheme was in full accord with the recently adopted local plan and was not in conflict with the neighbourhood plan, an issue first time round.

Read the decision letter.

Video conferencing mooted for combined and joint committees

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has begun consulting on proposals to give local authorities that operate joint committees and combined authorities, but not councils as a whole, the ability to hold formal meetings using video conferencing facilities.

Altering to the rules on how these meetings are held in England would require changes to the Local Government Act 1972.

Joint committees and combined authorities “present particular geographical challenges when holding meetings”, the Department noted. It insisted there would have to be appropriate safeguards to maintain town hall transparency.

“However, given the quality of video conferencing facilities available today it is right that local authorities operating joint committees, and combined authorities, be given the ability to hold meetings on multiple sites.”

DCLG is proposing that video conferencing facilities to hold council meetings are to be available at local authority or combined authority sites that are suitable for holding a meeting with public access.

But it is stressing that “a constituent council or local authority member would not be able to participate in a meeting held by video conference from their home, or from a private premises.”

Read the ‘Connecting Town Halls’ consultation.

New settlement proposed for Surrey airfield

The directors of Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey have unveiled preliminary proposals for a new settlement of up to 4,500 new homes, retail and employment activity and schools at the airfield, located in green belt near the M23.

The proposals include a new east-west link road from the M23 to the A23, wildlife corridors integrated with public open spaces, sport and recreation facilities and sustainable drainage systems

Both Tandridge District and Reigate and Banstead Borough Councils have been asked to consider the aerodrome, which only has grass runways, as a location for strategic housing development as part of their local plans.

The aerodrome operators argue that the airfield’s future prospects as a commercial enterprise are severely limited without significant expenditure modernising the existing facilities. “Without a hard runway, the range of aircraft that can land on the grass runways is becoming increasingly limited” they argue.

Find out more about the proposals.

New University of Worcester campus

The University of Worcester has formally submitted its master plan for a new ‘green’ campus known as University Court on 11-hectares of land off Oldbury Road and Laugherne Brook. The campus would sit just across the boundary between the city and Malvern Hill District Council.

The outline planning application is for up to 1,540 student rooms, a ‘student hub’ which will include facilities like meeting rooms, a cafe and launderette, two teaching buildings and a maximum of 500 parking spaces. Around 40 per cent of the development will be green space.

Go-ahead for pioneering Preston tramway

A tramway pilot project for Preston has been given the green light by the city council.

The plans, which will see a stretch of the former Longridge to Preston railway line reinstated in Deepdale, were approved last week. Earlier versions of the project, first proposed in 2010, had met opposition.

Now Lancashire-based planning consultancy PWA Planning brought in earlier this year by applicant Preston Tram power has been successful.

Under these latest proposals the tram operation will not be open to paying customers, but will be used for training purposes, as a demonstrator for other local authorities, and to raise public awareness of trams as a sustainable mode of transport.

A new tram station, platform and tram depot shed will be built on a former coal yard while the section of the disused train line between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street will be reinstated as a tram line.

Preston Trampower’s longer term aspiration is to extend the project by linking it to the railway station and the north of the city, as well as serving the campus of the University of Central Lancashire and the Lancashire enterprise zone at Samlesbury.

Read the news story.

North west England housing projects

Manchester City Council is due to approve this week a housing strategy for the local authority over the next five years which sets out a target of 2,500 new homes to be delivered each year as one of its performance indicators.

The plan has highlighted that the £300m Greater Manchester Investment Fund unlocked by the conurbation’s devolution deal will in time allow for another 15,000 houses every ten years. A key issue for the blueprint is making better use of existing housing stock, a significant proportion of which is under-occupied.

Wigan Council has approved reserved matters from Persimmon Homes over its proposed 50-home development on land to the east of Pocket Nook Farm, Lowton. A quarter of the homes will be affordable.

Congleton scheme recommended for approval

Cheshire East Council officials have recommended approval for a Congleton housing scheme proposed by Redrow Homes North West despite opposition from Jodrell Bank.

The scheme involves 201 homes, 60 of which would be affordable, on a 7.5-hectare site straddling the former Congleton and Macclesfield borough council boundaries and is mostly classified as open countryside.

Green light for Hull Lidl

The Leeds office of planning consultancy DPP has secured planning approval for a new 2,470 square metre Lidl supermarket on Brighton Street in west Hull on a brownfield site, once occupied by a car showroom.

Totnes flood prevention project

Plans for a scheme to reduce flood risk to over 400 homes and businesses in Totnes, Devon have been submitted to South Hams District Council.

Proposals put forward by the Environment Agency involve improving the existing flood defences along the River Dart from the mainline railway bridge to the Steam Packet Inn.

Other measures include providing a new flood wall within Morrisons car park, raising Ashford slipway, the provision of flood resilience measures to individual properties and flood gates.

London developments

  • Developer Formal Investments has re submitted proposals to Hounslow Council to create a large public park near Heathrow Airport as part of an ambitious project to extract gravel from a 45-hectare site alongside the A312 and Bath Road (A4) known as Rectory Farm. Under these proposals around 175, 000 square metres of underground logistics floor space would be located beneath the park in the void created by the gravel extraction.
  • Waltham Forest Council has approved a 730-home mixed-use development on an industrial site in east London after officials agreed with an independent consultant’s viability assessment that an affordable housing provision of 21 per cent was the most that could be delivered at the almost five-hectare site at Leyton.
  • Westminster City Council’s so-called ‘Special Policy Areas’ initiative has come into effect. This ensures that five historically and culturally significant parts of London: Savile Row, Mayfair, Harley Street, St James’ and Portland Street, remain home to the world leading businesses and services that put them on the map. For instance, Savile Row, the global home of bespoke tailoring, is set to benefit as the new measures will allow the council to reject planning proposals which threaten the character of some of the city’s most iconic areas.

Trump triumph

President-elect Donald Trump's Aberdeenshire golf course has won a planning wrangle over a flag pole. Two 24m poles had been erected at the Menie course without planning permission.

Aberdeenshire councillors voted to allow one of them. Trump International appealed the refusal of the second and has been successful.

Legal round-up

  • Campaigners are seeking to crowd fund a second judicial review challenge over the redevelopment by Queen’s Park Rangers football club of a community sports ground for its training academy.
  • Cornwall Council’s decision to hold a referendum on the St Ives neighbourhood plan, which includes provisions aimed at limiting the number of second homes in the area, was lawful, a High Court judge has ruled following a challenge brought by a design and architectural consultancy involved in Cornish planning.
  • The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have successfully defended a High Court challenge over its approval of a basement development.
  • Two developers have lost their attempt to judicially review Hertfordshire County Council’s grant of planning permission for a recycling site.

Roger Milne