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Planning round-up 1 December 2016

Published: Thursday, 1st December 2016

New-build starts on the up. Local plans failing on climate change and carbon cuts. Latest land-use change stats. East Sussex homes allowed despite development plan concerns. And more stories...

New-build starts on the up

There was a six per cent increase in new-build starts during the third quarter of 2016 according to the latest statistics compiled for the Department for Communities and Local Government. These figures showed 38,730 starts (seasonally adjusted) in the latest quarter, a 10 per cent increase on a year earlier.

Completions were estimated at 37,280 (seasonally adjusted), six per cent higher than the previous quarter and seven per cent higher than a year ago.

Annual new build dwelling starts totalled 147,880 in the year to September 2016, up by four per cent compared with the year to September 2015. During the same period, completions totalled 141,690, an increase of four per cent compared with last year.

Private enterprise new build dwelling starts (seasonally adjusted) were eight per cent higher in the September quarter 2016 than the previous quarter and completions were also eight per cent higher. Starts by housing associations were five per cent lower compared to the last quarter and completions one per cent higher.

Read the latest statistics

Local plans failing on climate change and carbon cuts

Research carried out by the Town and Country Planning Association for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that the majority of new local plans in England are failing to cut carbon emissions or to plan for the scale of severe weather predicted over future years.

The study, which examined the most recently prepared plans in England, found that 70 per cent had no carbon reduction targets or any way of monitoring their progress with carbon reduction.

While plans did reflect current flood risk, they were generally poor at dealing with future climate impacts such as sea level rise and increased surface water flooding.

Only a fraction of plans had recognised the impacts of heat stress or linked climate change with human health. This is despite national policy having firm commitments on climate change.

Read the press release

Latest land-use change stats

The latest land use change statistics for 2015-16 published this week by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that the proportion of new residential addresses created, including conversions to residential use, on previously developed land was 61 per cent. This is an increase of three percentage points compared to 2014-15.

The figures also showed that the average density of residential addresses surrounding a newly created residential address was 32 addresses per hectare. This is an increase on the recorded 31 addresses per hectare in 2014-15.

Some two per cent of new residential addresses created were within the green belt. This is a decrease from three per cent in 2014-15.

Nine per cent of new residential addresses were created within areas of high flood risk, an increase on the eight per cent recorded in 2014-15.

Read the latest statistics

East Sussex homes allowed despite development plan concerns

DLA Delivery has won an appeal for up to 50 dwellings on land at Newick in East Sussex originally refused by Lewes District Council.

The recovered appeal was allowed by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid on the recommendation of the planning inspector who held the public inquiry.

Javid’s decision letter said the scheme “would contribute to the supply of housing, in a district where the full, objectively assessed, need cannot be met, where delivery is heavily constrained by other factors, and where the five year supply of housing land is marginal”.

The letter also noted that the provision of 50 additional properties in Newick would be consistent with the spatial distribution of housing in both the local and neighbourhood plans. Javid argued that the fact that the site was not allocated in the core strategy “does not indicate that it is unsuitable.”

Read the recovered appeal: land at Mitchelswood Farm, Allington Road, Newick

Bury St Edmunds master plan

David Lock Associates and Peter Brett Associates have been appointed to produce a master plan for Bury St Edmunds town centre.

The Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Working Group has commissioned the blueprint. The group includes representatives of the local Business Improvement District, the Bury Chamber of Commerce, Bury Market Liaison Group, the Bury Society, the Bury Town Trust, Bury Town Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council.

The first stage of work will see an issues and options report prepared to highlight the challenges facing the town. The report will go out to public consultation in the spring before the group forms a more detailed vision for the town centre which will go out to consultation next summer.

Read the press release

York plan delay

York councillors have been told there may be a six-month delay to the final publication of the city’s local plan because of a change in government figures on projected future housing needs and a decision by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to close military sites in the area.

The government’s summer figures relating to projected future housing needs will have to be accommodated as they were published after the consultation on the main elements of the new local plan began.

The impact on the local plan of the MOD’s decision to close Imphal Barracks, Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Strensall and Towthorpe Lines also now requires consideration.

Imphal Barracks is partly inside a conservation area and the site features several grade-two listed buildings. Both Queen Elizabeth Barracks and Towthorpe Lines include green belt land and are next to a site of special scientific interest.

An update on progress with the local plan will be presented to the local plan working group and the council’s executive next week.

Read the press release

DCLG publishes new criteria for ‘special measures’ regime

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published its latest proposals for tightening the criteria and thresholds under its ‘special measures’ regime. During 2017 the ‘speed’ threshold for considering major developments will be increased to 50 per cent, rising to 60 per cent in 2018.

In the case of non-major developments, the ‘speed’ threshold will be raised to 65 per cent next year and increased to 70 per cent the following year, 2018.

In that year the department also plans to bring in a threshold of 10 per cent in respect of the quality of decision making.

Read the guidance

Growth fund allocations loom

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons on Monday that the government would start announcing local growth fund allocations this week and hoped to have all the deals announced before Christmas.

Read more information

RTPI urges greater strategic power for planners

Strategic decisions by local authorities in areas such as economic development or education are often taken in isolation from planning departments and this needs to change, RTPI Scotland has told the Scottish government.

The institute has written to every Cabinet Secretary making the case for the planning function in each authority to be given statutory powers to be consulted in all strategic decision-making processes.

Nick Wright, Convenor of RTPI Scotland, said: “Far too often planning is seen to be just about regulation or managing conflict between different parties. As a result, many economic and social policies are not fulfilling their potential because they are ignoring the importance of well-planned local environments with good services and transport.

"A chief planning officer with the right powers will be able to broker the buildings and infrastructure needed to deliver on the ambitions of their colleagues in other departments such as education and economic development, and crucially, from among the wider community.”

Read the press release

Stormont hangs onto regeneration

Northern Ireland’s Communities Minister Paul Givan has disappointed local planning authorities with the announcement that regeneration powers, due to be transferred to the new councils, will now remain with the devolved administration and continue to be exercised by the Department for Communities (DfC).

Givan insisted that local authorities would continue to play a major role in ensuring the successful implementation of the country’s regeneration programmes.

He said he would explore whether there was a case for extending regeneration activities such as public realm schemes to settlements of less than 5,000 people and will review the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme as part of a wider consideration of how best to address deprivation.

Givan insisted: “This is not the time to tinker with who is responsible for what, or to concern ourselves with the splitting up of the regeneration budget. Rather it is the time for all the stakeholders to work together to maximise our joint effect and achieve positive change in the issues that have bedevilled this society for too long.”

Read the press release

Fleet urban extension

Wates Developments has submitted a master plan to Hart District Council for its proposed new 700 home urban extension called Elvetham Chase earmarked for a 59-hecatre site to the north west of Fleet in Hampshire.

Around 280 of the new homes would be affordable and the scheme includes proposals for 14-hectares of so-called Suitable Alternative Natural Green-space.

Colchester blocks retail and leisure park project a second time

Colchester Borough Council has for the second time refused permission for a major 11-hectare retail-led mixed-use development at Stanway on the outskirts of the Essex town because of concern over the impact on the viability of the town centre.

Planning consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners and, separately, real estate consultancy Cushman and Wakefield, had warned the council that the scheme, which involves some 30,812 square metres of commercial floor space and includes a multi-screen cinema and a multi-storey car park, would jeopardise and/or divert investment in existing and planned town centre development.

An appeal inquiry into the initial proposals, developed by local family-based Tollgate Partnership, is scheduled for January.

Rubber-stamp for Wigan community hall demolition

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has rubber-stamped prior approval for the demolition of a community hall in Atherton, Wigan originally approved by Wigan Council. The inspector who held the public inquiry recommended that demolition should go-ahead.

The original decision was controversial, triggering a 5,000-signature petition and a bid to designate the facility, Formby Hall, as an Asset of Community Value.

The decision letter said the Secretary of State agreed with the inspector that “the demolition of Formby Hall would be carried out in a safe manner that would minimise its effect on the environment and local amenity and that the proposed restoration of the site would be acceptable.”

Cornwall local plan adopted

Cornwall Council has formally adopted its local plan which sets out an overall housing target of 52,500 new homes to be built by 2030. As of April of this year, 38,000 of this total either had planning permission or had been built, leaving 14,500 new permissions required over the plan’s lifetime.

The council will now progress a number of more detailed planning documents for key sites for development around main towns and for safeguarding minerals reserves.

In a separate but related development consultation ends this week on the Rame Peninsula Neighbourhood Development Plan, the second to include measures prohibiting second-home development.

Read more information

Tram pressure in Greater Manchester

The leaders of Rochdale Borough Council and Oldham Councils have teamed up to press for direct tram services from their towns to Manchester Piccadilly station.

Currently trams from Rochdale stop at Manchester’s Exchange Square. They will eventually go on to East Didsbury when the second city crossing is completed early next year.

A move to divert some Metrolink services to the mainline station was unsuccessful at a recent meeting of Transport for Greater Manchester.

London development

  • The City of London Corporation this week granted planning permission to Aroland Holdings for their development at 1 Undershaft in the City of London. The building will have a height of 304.94 metres making it the second tallest building in Western Europe after the Shard. The project will involve the demolition of the existing Aviva Tower. The new 73-storey building will provide 130,000 square metres of office accommodation and more than 2,000 square metres of retail space. Once built the development will provide employment for around 10,000 staff. At the top of the building will be a free public viewing gallery.
  • Plans for hundreds of new homes in Croydon to be delivered by the council’s new private development company, Brick by Brick, are being submitted for planning. The schemes, earmarked for Croydon Council-owned infill sites across the south London borough, have been designed by a number of different architectural practices. Around half the new housing will be affordable.
  • London mayor Sadiq Khan has been urged to halt the construction of a 42-storey skyscraper designed by international architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) at Stratford in east London which critics say will ‘destroy’ a historic view of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Legal round-up

Roger Milne