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Planning round-up 24 November 2016

Published: Thursday, 24th November 2016

Devolution developments. Affordable homes dip. ‘Pay to stay’ policy ditched. Call for national housing fund. Final green light for Cumbrian pipeline project. And more stories...

Devolution developments

Councillors from across Cambridgeshire have voted to progress a devolution settlement for the county. The decision made by the seven councils comes after an agreement from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) to back the deal which should unlock millions of pounds of new government funding alongside decision making powers to improve transport, create housing and boost local jobs.

The deal includes:

  • A new £600m fund to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs
  • A new £100m housing fund to be invested over the next five years to build more affordable homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • A new £70m fund to be used to build more council rented homes for Cambridge over the next five years because house prices are so high in the city.

Members have also agreed for their council to become a constituent member of a combined authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Meanwhile in a separate but related move, proposals to devolve powers to Norfolk and Suffolk with an elected mayor have been scrapped in their present form after King's Lynn and West Norfolk Council voted to reject the deal.

Read the news story.

Affordable homes dip

An additional 32,110 affordable homes were delivered in England during 2015-16, according to the latest figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This was 52 per cent lower than the previous year. The department insisted this reflected the transition to the new affordable housing programmes, with supply planned to increase over the next five years.

The affordable homes delivered in 2015/16 comprised 6,550 social rent, 16,550 affordable rent and 9,010 affordable home ownership, shared ownership and intermediate rent.

New build homes accounted for 89 per cent of all affordable homes provided in 2015-16, with the remainder from providers acquiring existing private stock.

There were 29,170 affordable housing starts on site in 2015/16, as reported by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority.

In a separate but related development, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published a paper which sets out measures that would make it easier for landowners to offer their land for affordable housing. The document proposes changes to tax legislation and to councils’ waiting list systems for social housing.

Read the DCLG news story.

Read the CPRE news story.

‘Pay to stay’ policy ditched

The government has ditched its proposed so-called ‘pay to stay’ regime under which higher income social tenants would have had to pay rents closer to market rates to stay in their homes.

In a written Commons statement Planning and Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said local authorities and housing associations would still have local discretion to introduce such a regime.

Read the research briefing.

Call for national housing fund

Think tank ResPublica has proposed the creation of a £100bn national housing fund to underwrite the construction of 750,000 new homes for working people.

Its report, ‘Going to scale: How a national housing fund can unlock Britain’s housebuilding capacity’, argued that the drastic shortage of housing among working people could be plugged with such a government-backed fund over 10 years, providing up to 75,000 extra new homes a year.

ResPublica said nurses, firefighters and young professionals were all struggling to get on the property ladder, with the number of new homes totalling only 143,500 last year, 56,500 less than the 200,000 needed each year over this Parliament to hit the government’s own targets.

Read the report: Going to scale.

Selby grounds garden village project

Selby District Council has decided not to progress proposals for a new garden village of up to 10,000 new homes at a former RAF airfield in the Church Fenton area of north Yorkshire.

The council worked alongside a range of other organisations, including the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding enterprise partnership, to create an 'expression of interest' which was submitted to central government.

However local residents were unhappy with the prospect and now the council has decided on concentrating on meeting immediate housing need in the district.

In a statement the council said: “Selby continues to face some shorter-term challenges in terms of delivering the new homes people need.  We want to concentrate our efforts on these short-term needs to support our residents. 

We want to focus on ensuring we have a five-year land supply and our growth plans for the next decade.  This will allow us to deliver housing now, rather than diverting efforts into looking at much longer-term opportunities.  We believe this will better meet the needs of people living and working in our area.”

Read the news story.

NPPF revisions delay Staffordshire local plan

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has decided to delay the next stage of its draft Local Plan until after the government makes promised revisions to national planning policy.

A spokesperson for the council confirmed that the next stage of the plan has been delayed until the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has been issued.

The council will then assess the implications for the draft Local Plan and update the timetable. In the meantime, work continues on the evidence base for housing need, employment projections and green belt together with further work on green infrastructure, flood risk, transport and open space.

Consultation on the publication version of the plan had been originally scheduled for November/December with submission expected to take place in February next year.

Final green light for Cumbrian pipeline project

United Utilities has received the last of three planning approvals needed to progress with a £300m pipeline project across West Cumbria, linking Thirlmere Reservoir to the rest of its regional network.

At the start of this year United Utilities submitted its planning application for 100 kilometres of new pipeline to Allerdale and Copeland Borough Councils and the Lake District National Park Authority. Last week Allerdale BC was the last of the planning authorities to approve its section of the new network.

Known as the Thirlmere transfer West Cumbria water supplies project, the scheme includes a new 31.6km below-ground water pipe (aqueduct) between Thirlmere and Bridekirk; a new water treatment works, north east of Bridekirk near Hags Wood and two service reservoirs – one at Moota Hill and another at High Leys.

Read more information

Manchester approvals

A 1,100-space car park and 150-bedroom hotel, some 4650 square metres of offices and nearly 200 flats in the Green Quarter of Manchester were all approved by the city council’s planning committee last week.

Oxford and Brighton housing study

A new study from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) on the location of planning permissions granted for housing in Oxford and Brighton has revealed different patterns in the two city-regions, but also common challenges. 

In Oxford, some 81 per cent of housing permissions were outside existing built up areas and the green belt, while in Brighton the relevant proportion was 54 per cent.  Only one per cent of permissions in Oxford were within 10 minutes walking distance from a railway station, while in Brighton the figure was 80 per cent.

In Oxford and Brighton, 64 and 58 per cent of units respectively were within 10 kilometres of major employment centres.

The study mapped the location of planning permissions for 71 major housing schemes (with 50 units or more) in the city-regions of Oxford and Brighton between 2012 and 2015 and in relation to major employment areas and railway stations.

Read the news release.

Go-ahead for shale gas drilling in Nottinghamshire

Nottinghamshire County Council has approved an application by onshore hydrocarbon energy company IGas to drill two exploratory shale gas wells at a former Cold War missile launch site in the north of the county. The permission does not involve fracking.

Read the media statement.

Cold shoulder for Humber Bridge project

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has given the thumbs down to ambitious proposals for a new visitor centre and glass lift at the Humber Bridge as well as a mixed use development including a hotel, restaurant and an office block and a business unit.

The hybrid application, submitted by the Humber Bridge Board, was for a 10-hectare site in open countryside to the west of Hessle some eight kilometres from Hull city centre.

Councillors took the advice of officers who recommended the scheme should be rejected on the grounds the large office building providing 5,575 square metres of floor space represented inappropriate development contrary to local and national planning policies and was in conflict with the ‘centres first’ approach for main town centre uses.

Third time unlucky for Cheshire water sports scheme

It was third time unlucky for a company proposing a water sports and outdoor activity project in a disused Cheshire quarry.

The scheme, earmarked for the former Mere Farm sand quarry in Chelford, had been rejected then approved but now rejected again by Cheshire East Council. The rejection follows a procedural glitch then concern over biodiversity issues. Now developer Cheshire Lakes is considering an appeal.

London round-up

  • Westminster City Council has granted planning permission for developers Qatari Diar to transform the listed US Embassy in Grosvenor Square into a 137-bedroom hotel, spa and ball room for 900 guests. Approval has been granted subject to the building retaining its most iconic elements, including the large gilded aluminium eagle on the roof.

  • London mayor Sadiq Khan has directed Transport for London (TfL) to provide advice and assistance to local authorities including Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead, as they prepare for a joint legal challenge with Greenpeace over the government’s green light for a third runway at Heathrow. It is likely that TfL will be named in this action as an interested party. As and when that is the case, the mayor will take a decision on joining the legal challenge.

Legal round-up

  • The judicial review of North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to allow fracking at Ryedale near the North Yorks Moors National Park was heard in the High Court this week. Read the news story.
  • Welsh Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates had agreed to a High Court order quashing his decision to list a derelict former school in Wrexham on the basis he failed to provide adequate reasons. The successful legal challenge came from the county borough council which wants to clear the site to make way for a new school. Read the news story.
  • The Ministry of Justice has announced it won’t proceed with a proposal to increase the cap on the costs of claimants lodging judicial reviews on planning and environmental issues.

Roger Milne