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Planning round-up 8 December 2016

Published: Thursday, 8th December 2016

Boost for private rented provision. Deal over Leeds skyscraper risks. Shale gas planning aid. HCA regulatory reform backed. Infrastructure pipeline report. And more stories...

Boost for private rented provision

A new multi-million pound project to boost housing in key cities by providing more than 2,000 homes for private rent has been unveiled by the Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell.

This initiative will unlock £400m of development and will boost the supply of rental homes in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

The project involves the national developer Dandara Group and the Homes & Communities Agency. The Group will receive £45m funding from the government’s new Home Building Fund, which makes money available to help kick-start new development and housebuilding.

Up to 1,500 construction jobs could be created across the three cities from the deal which will provide 2,062 rental homes. These include 995 dwellings in Manchester, 744 in Leeds and 323 in Birmingham.

Read the news story.

Deal over Leeds skyscraper risks

An agreement has been reached between Leeds City Council and the owners of Bridgewater Place to reimburse the costs of protecting the public from the wind danger caused by Yorkshire’s tallest skyscraper.

Owners CPPI Bridgewater Place have agreed to pay the council £903,000 to cover the outlay of public money so far, including the expense of having to close the road junction around the building during high winds on a relatively frequent basis.

Future high winds protocol-related costs incurred by the council will also be met as work takes place by CPPI’s contractors to install a complex design solution to the wind issues. The wind tunnel effect caused by the building led to a number of incidents, including the tragic death of Dr Edward Slaney.

Read the news story.

Shale gas planning aid

The government has announced it is making a further £800,000 available to help mineral planning authorities faced with shale gas planning applications.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published a prospectus setting out the terms of the assistance. Steve Quartermain, the department’s Chief Planner, has also written to planning authorities.

His letter confirmed that the scheme adopts a similar approach to the support provided last year, with the prospectus defining the ‘trigger points’ in the planning application process when mineral planning authorities can apply for funding that they could bid for at each stage.

“As before, bids should be made to the department with clear justification and supporting evidence, in line with the requirements set out in the prospectus, on why a bid is being made.”

Read the Chief Planner’s letter

Read the invitation to bid.

HCA regulatory reform backed

The government has decided to support proposals to hive-off the social housing regulatory function of the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) into a separate public body.

That proposal was one of the key findings of a review of the HCA which found that the agency was “well positioned to help achieve national housebuilding ambitions and play a vital role in creating a housing market that works for everyone.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the review concluded that the agency should continue in its current form as a public body “with a renewed and revitalised purpose of supporting housebuilding and increasing the supply of available land.”

HCA chairman Sir Edward Lister, said: “The agency has a strong track record of delivering the government’s housing targets. We are already implementing a number of changes to our operating model to help speed up delivery and promote new approaches to housebuilding.”

Read the press release.

Go-ahead for Scotch Corner designer outlet scheme

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has approved alternative proposals for an out-of-town designer outlet scheme on the A1 at Scotch Corner which Richmondshire District Council had backed.

The inspector who held the called-in inquiry had recommended the schemes should get the green light. Both were earmarked for the same 14-hectare site.

The larger of the two schemes involved some 84 units, eight restaurants and parking for 1,291 vehicles. The smaller alternative proposed 70 units, the same number of restaurants and parking for 1,138 vehicles. The larger scheme involved some 23,381 square metres of floor space, the smaller 16,178 square metres.

The decision letter noted that both schemes were consistent with local and national development policies and would boost the local economy.

Infrastructure pipeline report

The UK government has announced its latest checklist of major infrastructure projects currently on the drawing board.

This pipeline published by the government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority includes major schemes like the Thames Tideway Tunnel (aka London’s ‘super sewer’), the rollout of smart meters and upgrading the A14.

Ministers have insisted the pipeline is the largest and most comprehensive ever, with private finance making up more than half the schemes expected in 2020/21 and should deliver local projects across the country including transport, broadband, flood defence and housing.

Around 20 new schemes have been added to the pipeline since March 2016, including the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

Read the policy paper.

Essex garden communities progress

A clutch of Essex local authorities has taken a further key step on the route towards building three new garden communities in the northern part of the county.

The four local authorities; Colchester Borough Council, Braintree District Council, Tendring District Council and Essex County Council have all entered into joint arrangements to create an overarching body, to be known as North Essex Garden Communities Limited (NEGC). This body will coordinate the development of the new settlements, subject to the outcome of the draft local plan process.

Under this initiative, separate democratically accountable Local Delivery Vehicles (LDVs) operating with a high level of autonomy would be established. These would deliver the developments and ensure that a commercially appropriate approach is taken to evolve the project in the context of garden community principles.

Read the news story.

Durham pause local plan pending Housing White Paper

Durham County Council is the latest planning authority to pause its local development plan pending the government’s promised Housing White Paper in January. The paper is expected to include key changes to the planning regime for local plans as well as new housing supply measures.

The council explained: “Indications are that the White Paper will change how local plans calculate the number and type of houses needed as well as how they are then delivered.

“As the new legislation could require us to make significant changes to the work on the plan so far, the process will now be paused until there is clarity on the proposals so that these can be taken into account before further consultation is carried out.”

Read the news story.

Duty to cooperate glitch for St Alban’s local plan

The inspector appointed to examine St Albans City and District Council’s replacement local plan, has concluded that the local authority had failed in its duty to cooperate with other local authorities on cross-boundary strategic planning issues.

The duty to cooperate is a legal requirement that plan-makers must demonstrate prior to the submission of a local plan.

The inspector’s letter said: “It must be emphasised that this does not mean that St Albans City and District should be expected to accommodate additional growth, that is not necessarily the case. 

“What it does mean is that the council should give detailed and rigorous consideration to strategic cross-boundary matters and priorities and draw robust conclusions with regards to whether or not any of those priorities could be delivered in a sustainable way within the district, bearing in mind the environmental and other constraints that exist.”

The letter stressed there could be consequences for the council’s housing land supply strategy. The planning authority is considering what course of action to take. Meanwhile it is continuing with its current draft detailed local plan consultation which runs until 21 December.

Oxfordshire local plan make the grade

The inspector examining part one of the Vale of White Horse District Council’s latest local plan has decided the strategy is sound enough to be approved subject to a number of modifications.

The council expects to adopt it later this month. The modifications include the removal of three sites originally allocated for housing and the safeguarding of land to the north of Longworth for a possible strategic storage water reservoir.

Next spring the council will consult on the preferred options for part two of the plan which will cover allocating strategic sites to meet Oxford city’s unmet housing need, and small (‘non-strategic’) sites to ensure that the Vale’s own housing needs are met in full.

Read the news story.

Surrey solar farm blocked

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has agreed with the inspector who held a recovered appeal and refused permission for a 5.25-megawatt solar farm on a ten-hectare green belt site in open countryside to the east of Gatwick Airport. The land in question was to the south east of the settlement of Smallfield in Surrey.

The scheme had been refused by Tanbridge District Council. The Secretary of State acknowledged that there were no very special circumstances to justify what represented ‘inappropriate’ development.

Read the decision letter.

Green light for Bristol redevelopment

Plans to regenerate a derelict Bristol city centre site with a Radisson Red lifestyle hotel with a food court to be run by Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton, roof-top restaurant, cafés, offices and some 317 new homes has been given the go-ahead by the city council.

Detailed plans for the second phase of the Redcliff Quarter development was approved by members at a planning committee meeting last week. The development will also include what is to become Bristol’s tallest residential building - at 22 storeys.

The £180m development has been brought forward as a joint venture between Change Real Estate, Cannon Family Office and ICG Longbow.

Find out more from the Change Real Estate website.

Birmingham free school approved

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has given the go-ahead for a 700-place primary school to be built on the site of a former health centre at Bath Row in Birmingham originally rejected by the city council.

He agreed with the planning inspector who held the recovered appeal that the adverse impact of the proposals from the Perry Beeches Academy Trust in terms of traffic and amenity issues was not sufficiently severe to justify refusing the scheme.

Read the decision letter.

London round-up

  • London mayor Sadiq Khan, has announced proposals to recruit a team of entrepreneurs and business leaders to help protect London’s workshops, studios and workspaces via the establishment of a so-called Workspace Providers Board.
  • A report by London Assembly Conservative member Andrew Boff, has urged the mayor to encourage a bungalow-building boom to provide better downsizing options and free up family homes across the capital.
  • Retail giant Tesco has signalled it has identified around 15 of its major stores across London as candidates to provide sites for flats built on top of the shops and adjoining multi-storey car parks. This initiative would involve the company selling “air rights” over its stores to developers.
  • Putney and Wandsworth town centres will both become Business Improvement Districts in April next year after local firms voted through plans to boost trade and tackle key local issues.
  • The City of London Corporation has given the green light to the extensive redevelopment of 60 London Wall by LaSalle Investment Management and Citygrove Securities. The scheme will provide nearly 30,000 square metres of office floor space together with nearly 1,700 square metres of retail activity.
  • GL Hearn, part of Capita Real Estate, has appointed Matt Kinghan as a planning director in the economics team to boost the assessment of the economic and social impact of development projects. He joins GL Hearn from Nexus Planning.

Legal round-up

  • A judge has quashed the London Borough of Camden’s grant of planning permission for a basement extension, deciding that the planning committee misdirected itself over the volume of associated engineering works.
  • This week East Bergholt Parish Council mounted a legal challenge over Babergh District Council’s decision to allow a housing development which went against the emerging neighbourhood plan and raised questions about how housing need should be handled in sensitive rural locations.
  • Wrexham County Borough Council has found itself unable to redevelop a school after one Welsh minister listed the building only days after another agreed to a High Court order quashing an earlier listing.

Roger Milne