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Planning News - 16 February 2017

Published: Thursday, 16th February 2017

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Communities should have a say over pub conversions. Bakerloo Line extension to support 25,000 new homes. Report: Parks face period of decline. And more stories...

This weeks planning news in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Communities should have a say over pub conversions

The House of Lords has debated permitted development rights that might see a pub’s use change and neighbourhood planning groups being informed of national infrastructure projects.

In the final committee stage in the House of Lords, Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab) moved amendment 60, which sought to amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to provide more protection for pubs.

Kennedy said there are a number of problems that need addressing, including permitted development rights that might see a pub’s use being changed or the pub being demolished.

“The permitted development rights we are talking about here allow pubs to be changed to retail or temporary office use without securing planning permission. The effect is that local people are prevented from having a say over the future of their local pub. We should be clear that these are small businesses, not failing businesses, but decisions are often taken elsewhere and the community loses its pub without any say whatever. That cannot be right,” said Kennedy.

He noted the success of the assets of community value scheme, which was set up by the coalition government. However, the process can be costly and time-consuming.

Kennedy said the amendment would lead to fewer pubs needing to be registered under the scheme. Additionally, the developer looking to convert the pub might still get planning permission, but the amendment would allow communities and local people to have a say.

Lord Shipley (Liberal Democrats) tabled an amendment (61) that also sought to remove permitted development rights in relation to the change of use of a pub.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con), however, said that while he wanted to keep pubs open, and to do that they have to thrive, nothing in the amendment would make people use pubs. He said registering a pub as an asset of community value is a “perfectly good and satisfactory means for communities for pubs to look after themselves”.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con), the parliamentary under-secretary of state, Department for Communities and Local Government and Wales Office, said he wanted to look at the issue further ahead of the Lords’ meeting for the report stage of the bill. He asked Kennedy and Shipley to remove their amendments.

Kennedy removed his amendment, while amendment 61 was moved.

Kennedy then moved amendment 64A, which sought to insert a clause that sets out clearly a role for the National Infrastructure Commission to advise local planning authorities about how national projects will link with local projects and how the national projects might affect specific neighbourhoods through the construction phase and operation.

It also sought to provide local authorities with a similar obligation to deal with those making a neighbourhood plan.

He noted that although the National Infrastructure Commission did not make the bill, “it is important that we get this clause into the bill”.

Bourne said significant engagement is required from any projects proposed by the National Infrastructure Commission, pointing out that “applicants are required to engage and consult local communities and local authorities from the outset, with local authorities having a role in assessing the adequacy of that consultation”.

Local planning authorities have an existing duty to advise or assist neighbourhood plans groups, added Bourne, and clause 5 – discussed in an earlier Lords committee stage – aims to ensure that authorities set out the support they can provide in a more transparent way.

Bourne urged Kennedy to withdraw the amendment, which he did.

The full transcript of the session can be found here.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
13 February 2017


Bakerloo Line extension to support 25,000 new homes

Transport for London (TfL) has launched a consultation into the extension of the Bakerloo London Underground line, which could release 25,000 new homes.

The extension would run from its last stop at Elephant & Castle to Lewisham, via Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate.

TfL said the extension is vital to meets the needs of London’s growing population, which is expected to increase from 8.7 million to over 10 million by 2030.

The extension aims to support growth in south-east London through new housing, improved connectivity, increased transport network capacity and reduced journey times to key destinations, including the West End and Lewisham town centre.

Working in collaboration with the boroughs of Lewisham and Southwark, TfL says the scheme could support at least 25,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs.

Other benefits include extra capacity on London Underground for 65,000 journeys during peak times, and reduced congestion and CO2 emissions.

Four new stations are being proposed along the route; two on Old Kent Road, one at New Cross Gate, which would provide an interchange with London Overground and National Rail services, and one at Lewisham, providing an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway and National Rail services.

Alex Williams, TfL's acting managing director of planning, said: “London continues to grow and we need to ensure transport has the capacity to accommodate this growth. The Bakerloo Line extension plays an important part in these plans, improving connectivity for an area underserved by public transport where there is potential to support 25,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs.”

Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes at Southwark Council, said: “We have big ambitions for the Old Kent Road regeneration, which will pull central London further south and help transform the length of this historic thoroughfare into a dynamic new high street bustling with new homes, including at least 35 per cent affordable homes, new shops and cafes, workspaces, parks and open spaces and safer networks for cyclists and pedestrians.

“A key part of this is the Bakerloo Line extension, making this part of London more open and accessible and encouraging investment.”

TfL said it is planning to progress work towards an application for planning powers by 2020, with further public consultation after that.

This public consultation will run until 21 April. It and more information can be found here.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
13 February 2017


Report: Parks face period of decline

The contribution that parks make to public health, community integration and climate change mitigation needs more recognition, a Communities and Local Government committee report finds.

Public parks: securing a sustainable future suggests that public parks face a number of challenges, including reduced council spending, with parks management budgets cut by up to 97 per cent, and planning policy not giving them enough weight.

The committee calls on councils to publish strategic plans that recognise the value of parks beyond leisure and recreation and set out how they will be managed to maximise their contribution to wider local authority agendas, such as promoting healthy lifestyles and managing flood risk.

The committee hopes these plans will open parks to support and funding beyond their usual budgets and service areas. The government, says the committee, should issue guidance to councils to work with health and well-being boards and other relevant bodies to publish the plans as well as consider making producing such a strategy a legal requirement.

Clive Betts, chair of the CLG committee, said: "Every local authority should have a strategic plan, recognising that parks are much more than just grass and tulips and bringing in resources from outside the traditional budgets. Parks make vital contributions to physical and mental health and bring significant community benefits. They also contribute to biodiversity and climate change mitigation and can assist in local economic growth.”

He said action must be taken to prevent a period of decline that could have severe consequences.

For the committee, the government has a leadership and coordination role to play and volunteers do “fantastic” work in the sector, but the “primary responsibility lies with local authorities”.

“We will return to this to see what progress has been made before the end of the Parliament. We call on everyone who cares about parks to be our eyes and ears on the ground, particularly those who contributed to our inquiry, and keep up the pressure on national and local government."

James Harris, policy and networks manager at the RTPI, told the committee that one of the benefits of considering parks in the context of a wider approach to green infrastructure was the ability to access economies of scale.

Harris said a good evidence base is required to see what assets green infrastructure can contribute. “You can then start having those discussions with health and well-being boards, water and sewage companies, and transit authorities that are looking to take cars off the road, and to promote active travel and people walking and cycling. You can start to bring in those kinds of strategic partners, and then you get towards the point where you can start to request contributions and funding towards the upkeep.”

Devolution with regards to strategic green infrastructure networks, Harris told the committee, would be better done at combined authority level rather than at an individual local authority level.

Public parks: securing a sustainable future also recommends:

  • Public parks should remain under local authority ownership and freely available to everyone.
  • Parks minister Andrew Percy should issue guidance that sets out key principles for the appropriate governance and accountability arrangements, which could be put in place as part of any emerging or alternative models for parks management.
  • Percy should work with his colleagues in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure that parks, and green infrastructure more widely, are appropriately recognised in the government’s forthcoming 25-year environment plan.

Julia Thrift, projects director at the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) welcomed the committee’s ambition to move parks up the political agenda and create cross-government support for "these vital national assets".

“We hope that the minister responds positively to the committee’s recommendations, including requiring councils to work with local health and wellbeing boards to create green space strategies, and helping park managers measure the real value that their parks bring to society. Over time, this should help attract new funding for parks and green infrastructure.”

However, Thrift said that in the short-term parks are facing a funding crisis.

“Councils will struggle to implement the Committee’s recommendations because they are having to cut their parks budgets and reduce their staff. We welcome the committee’s announcement that it will maintain its interest in public parks and will call the government to account by returning to this subject before the end of this parliament.”

The report can be found here.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
13 February 2017


Thames Estuary to become creative hub

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has published plans to transform the Thames Estuary into a focal point for the creative and cultural industries.

The plans, produced in conjunction with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) are intended to create jobs and stimulate growth to benefit the capital and the wider South-East.

The project spans several London boroughs as well as the counties of Essex and Kent, and is expected to build on the region’s “huge success” as a cultural and creative powerhouse, which Khan said is worth £35 billion to London’s economy alone.

Across London and the South-East, there are about 1.3 million people working in the creative economy and, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, 1.2 million new workers are needed in the sector over the next decade.

But Khan said issues including rising land values, rents and the lack of large-scale, cutting-edge production space threaten the sector’s growth and competitiveness.

The proposal document identifies the potential for several large-scale national hubs. Developments laid out in the document include:

  • What would be London’s largest film studio complex in Dagenham.
  • A national theatre-making studios complex in Bexley.
  • A state-of-the-art facility and foundry for manufacturing large-scale artworks and sculptures, including the UK's biggest 3D printing centre in Silvertown.
  • Quartermaster Studios in Purfleet, the UK's leading proposed independent media production facility.
  • A home for digital creativity and gaming at the University of Essex, Colchester.

The document has been submitted to Lord Heseltine, head of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, which was launched last year.

Khan said: “London leads the way across the whole of the creative economy – from fashion to film, design to gaming, performing arts to the visual arts. It's only right that we build on this success and transform the Thames Estuary into a world-class centre for creative production – leading global innovation, developing the talent of the future and cultivating world-changing ideas.”

He urged Lord Heseltine to recommend the plan and ensure that the creative industries “are at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy”.

This industrial strategy, which was launched in January 2017, aims to “build on Britain’s strengths and tackle its underlying weaknesses to secure a future as a competitive, global nation”. It seeks to drive growth across the nations and create more high-skilled, high-paid jobs and opportunities.

Christian Brodie, chairman of SELEP, said: "The creative industries are one of the South-East's biggest success stories. As the UK competes on the world stage, we must harness the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of the creative sector – enabling its growth and extending its global reach.

"The South East LEP is looking to build upon the connectivity with London, building a unique, self-sustaining infrastructure to support creative businesses in a way that has not been seen before.”

Laura Edgar, The Planner
14 February 2017


Green light for 1,500-home scheme in Cardiff

Cardiff City Council has approved outline proposals from developer Persimmon Homes for a 1,500-home neighbourhood on the north-west flank of the Welsh capital.

The developer intends to build a mix of houses, flats and sheltered accommodation for the elderly, as well as a 1,000 space park-and-ride facility and transport interchange.

The masterplan comprises a new primary school, 16,250 square metres of office, workshop and research and development facilities, and a 2,500 square metre local centre, including shops and commercial space.

The location – at Creigiau, off junction 33 of the M4 – is earmarked for a strategic development under Cardiff’s approved local development plan.

However, neighbouring planning authorities Vale of Glamorgan and Rhondda Cynon Taf have reservations about the impact of the scheme.

Roger Milne, The Planner
9 February 2017


News round up

A round-up of planning news


Call for evidence in Scotland on building regulations

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities committee has launched a call for written evidence as part of its scrutiny of building regulations in the country.

The committee said it is particularly interested in the verification scheme and building warrant fees.

Organisations and individuals are invited to submit written evidence to the committee setting out their views on whether the building regulations in Scotland are operating effectively.

The closing date for receipt of submissions is Tuesday 28 February 2017.

More information about what the Scottish Parliament is looking for and how to submit evidence can be found here.


£170 million plan to dual Somerset road

The government has launched plans to upgrade the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester in a bid to relieve the over-congested road.

This would mean building 30 miles of dual carriageway between Mere and South Petherton.

The £170 million plan is part of the government’s £15 billion investment in the country’s motorways and major A roads between 2015 and 2020.

The government said work would include making junctions safer as well as providing better links for pedestrians and cyclists.

Highways England is consulting on two routes. The consultation runs from 15 February to 29 March 2017. It can be found here.


Contractor appointed for Oxford scheme

The Oxford Science Park has awarded a £13 million design-and-build contract for a new office building to Barnwood Construction Ltd.

Piers Scrimshaw-Wright, managing director of the Oxford Science Park, said: “Barnwood’s appointment is a result of their clear track record in delivering major buildings, often complex, to the high quality that is expected by the park’s development team.”

Barnwood will deliver grade A office and laboratory space.

Construction will start on 20 February 2017, with completion due in March 2018.



New Cornwall community approved

Cornwall Council has approved a new residential-led community, including 800 homes, on the outskirts of Newquay.

Planning consultancy WYG helped to secure the outline permission.

Chapel Gover, part of the Newquay Growth Area, on the eastern edge of the town, will include two local centres with convenience stores, cafés and business space.

The development also comprises new public open space, a village green and town square.

Chapel Gover will also make a major contribution to the Newquay Strategic Route (NSR), a new road that will run through the site.



Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners changes to Lichfields

Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners has announced the adoption of Lichfields as its new corporate brand name.

The name Lichfields comes into use from today (14 February).

The move is aimed at reflecting the dynamism of the business and the breadth of planning and development skills and services it now offers.

The company’s logo has also been redesigned.

The refresh is the latest phase of Lichfields’ growth strategy, which has recently seen it move into new sectors, post record sales, boost staff numbers and open three new offices.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
14 February 2017