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Planning News - 9 March 2017

Published: Thursday, 9th March 2017

Budget 2017: Transport funding announced for the Midlands and the North, Housing White Paper fails to address coordinated approach to tackle shortage, Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords vo

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

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Budget 2017: Transport funding announced for the Midlands and the North

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced funding for transport in the Midlands and the North of England.

Delivering his Budget in Parliament today (8 March) Hammond noted that the only sustainable way to raise living standards is to improve the UK’s productivity growth.

He said the UK lies behind Germany in productivity growth and behind the G7 average. “And the gap is not closing.”

Investment in training and investment in infrastructure will start to close this gap, he said, with the UK’s productivity challenge “at the very heart of [the government’s] economic plan”.

A key element to raising productivity is the £23 billion of infrastructure innovation investment announced in the Autumn Statement in November 2016, as part of the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), states the Budget document.

In November, £27 million was allocated to the development of an expressway connecting Oxford and Cambridge.

He has now allocated “£90 million for the North and £23 million for the Midlands from a £220 million fund that addresses pinch points on the national road network” from the fund.

The Department for Transport will shortly announce details of the individual schemes.

The Budget will see £690 million competitively allocated to local authorities to get local transport networks moving, while £490 million will be made available early in autumn 2017.

Other infrastructure funding allocations include:

  • £270 million to keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless vehicles;
  • £16 million for a new 5G mobile technology hub; and
  • £200 million for local projects to leverage private sector investment in full-fibre broadband networks.

Hammond also said a Midlands Energy strategy will be published tomorrow (9 March).

The Budget 2017 can be found here (pdf).

Hammond’s speech can be found here.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
8 March 2017

Housing white paper fails to address coordinated approach to tackle shortage

There is little evidence in the government’s industrial strategy of coordination across government departments to achieve “an economy that works for all”, with the housing white paper cited as example, according to a report.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee has said the industrial strategy, published in January 2017, consists of a long list of policy interventions but “lacks the framework for future decision-making which could be the core of a long-term strategy”.

The industrial strategy included proposals that could see businesses make deals with the government to address sector-specific problems. The housing white paper was published in February 2017, with measures to deliver more affordable homes and greater support for SME builders.

The committee’s report suggests that the government is “failing to pursue” a coordinated approach to industrial strategy across Whitehall, noting that the housing white paper doesn’t “spell out how government and the construction industry could collaborate to tackle the housing challenge”.

“This demonstrates how industrial strategy does not appear to be a priority for other Whitehall departments,” says the report. The new housing white paper is a “disappointing and early illustration that Whitehall does not appear to be joined up when it comes to industrial strategy”.

The committee has recommended that the government should consider establishing a joint unit bringing together civil servants from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Treasury, Communities and Local Government and Education departments, to provide an interdepartmental team to develop and implement the industrial strategy.

Committee chair Iain Wright said the committee is concerned that with government announcements the approach is “business as usual” and “a silo-based approach in Whitehall”.

“The government must be bold, ambitious and visionary in developing their industrial strategy to ensure the sectoral and regional balancing to which it rightly aspires is achieved,” said Wright.

Early tests such as the housing white paper, he continued, “do not suggest a government which is willing to answer the tough questions required to deliver an 'economy that works for everyone’ ”.

To achieve an economy that works for everyone, Wright said the government must bring together a “much sharper focus” on horizontal policies, such as skills and innovation, while adopting an “ambitious mission approach”.

“This could tackle challenges such as decarbonising energy-intensive industries, tacking health and social care, or automating and electrifying transport infrastructure, which will create prosperity and employment for the UK and its citizens for the long run”.

The report can be found here.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
6 March 2017

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords vote to protect pubs

The House of Lords has voted to amend the Neighbourhood Planning Bill so it removes permitted development rights relating to the change of use or demolition of pubs.

During committee stage for the bill, the Lords spent time debating the same issue, but an amendment seeking to ensure comunities had a say over what happened to pubs was withdrawn.

The session, held on 28 February, followed a tight vote in the House of Lords last week in the first report stage session, in which the house sought to clarify whether or not the government plans to restrict the capacity of local authorities to put into force relevant conditions.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab) tabled amendment 35, which he said is “simple in its effect”.

It sought to amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to provide further protection for our pubs.

The amendment states: “The secretary of state must exercise the powers conferred by sections 59, 60, 61, 74 and 333(7) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to remove permitted development rights relating to the change of use or demolition of “drinking establishments”.

Permitted development rights allow the change of use of pubs, or their demolition, without going through the planning process. “The effect is that the people in the local community are prevented from having a say over their local pub,” Kennedy said.

He referred to the asset of community value scheme, which was introduced under the Coalition government. While it has led to the removal of permitted development rights for listed pubs, there are some unintended consequences with the scheme, Kennedy said, such as the cost placed on local authorities and the community.

The amendment “will lead to fewer pubs needing to be registered under the scheme,” he explained.

“It will put them on a level footing with other businesses so that a developer, looking to convert a pub for whatever reason, would have to go through the normal planning application process. […] My amendment gives the local community a proper say in the sort of development it wants in its area and will stop local assets being lost for ever with local people having no say.”

Lord Scriven (LD) said he supported the “thrust” of what Kennedy said, as did Lord Swinfen (Con). Lord Shipley (LD) said the change is “simply a minor amendment”.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con), the parliamentary under-secretary of state, Department for Communities and Local Government and Wales Office, noted that the current arrangements "already provide protections for pubs that are valued by the community”, with permitted development rights removed from assets of community value.

Bourne said that while he and the government recognised the intent of amendment 35 and a number of supporting amendments, “we cannot support them as such”.

“I believe that there is scope for improvement in the assets of community value area. I am pleased therefore to be able to offer - as an alternative to pushing this to a vote - that the government will undertake an open and transparent review of the current arrangements in respect of assets of community value and the planning regime for pubs, including looking at permitted development rights," Bourne said.

He asked Kennedy to withdraw his amendment. Instead, Kennedy decided to put it to a vote.

Amendment 35 was agreed, 278 to 188.

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chairman, Colin Valentine, said: "Pubs play a huge community role in villages, towns and high streets across the country yet can be lost overnight without the public having a say. We are delighted that Peers have chosen to support this amendment and we hope that the Government will respond to the will of communities across the country.”

Amendments 41, 42, 43, 45, 47, 48, 49, 50, 50A, 50B 50C, 51, 52, 53, ,54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61A, 62, 63, 64, 68, 70,72, 73, 74, 76 and 77 were agreed.

Amendments 36, 39, 40, 59, 60, 66, 67, 71 and 75 were not moved.

Amendments 38, 38A, 38B and 65 were withdrawn.

Amendments 37, 44, 46, 61 and 69 were withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill will now go through third reading before returning to the House of Commons, where MPs will vote on the bill.

The full transcript of the second report stage in the House of Lords can be found here.

An updated version of the bill can be found here.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
1 March 2017

Plans submitted for garden village near Fareham

Buckland Development Ltd has lodged a planning application for Welborne Garden Village, featuring proposals for 6,000 homes, with Fareham Borough Council.

According to the council, the application relates to the whole of the Welborne area and includes remodelling of junction 10 of the M27 motorway.

The Planner reported in January 2017 that the government announced the locations for garden villages including Welborne.

The application is being reviewed by planning officers to ensure that it can be registered. Following registration, the council will consult extensively on the plans.

The council’s adopted local plan lists the site for development, allocating it to accommodate a new community at Welborne.

“Development proposals at Welborne shall deliver approximately 6,000 dwellings, phased to enable completion by 2036, and approximately 20 hectares of land for employment development, phased for completion by 2041,” it states.

Seán Woodward, executive leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: "I have given a commitment over many years where Welborne is concerned that we will not lay a single brick of Welborne until we have identified exactly what infrastructure is needed, where it is to be sited and most importantly how it’s going to be funded. That commitment is unchanged and this planning application will be scrutinised very carefully to ensure delivery of the Welborne Plan."

More information about Welborne can be found here.

The Fareham Local Plan can be found here (pdf).

Laura Edgar, The Planner
8 March 2017

Budget 2017: Further devolution for London

Chancellor Philip Hammond says an agreement has been reached between the UK Government and the Greater London Authority (GLA) on joint working to address congestion and infrastructure funding.

The Memorandum of Understanding will see the government, the GLA, and London Councils – a think tank that represents the capital’s boroughs – working together to explore the benefits of, as well as scope for, locally delivered criminal justice services and action to tackle congestion.

There will also be discussions about a task force to explore piloting a new approach to funding infrastructure, according to the Budget document. A statement from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says that the pilot, Development Rights Auction Model, would provide funding for future projects, “allowing them to be built quicker and with less reliance on government funding”.

The agreement also commits to exploring options for devolving greater powers and flexibilities on business rates and greater influence over careers services and employment services.

The government will also discuss transport funding with Greater Manchester, and a Midlands Engine strategy will be published tomorrow (9 March).

The document also reveals that the UK Government continues to “make good progress” towards city deals for Edinburgh and Swansea and is working with local partners and the Scottish and Welsh Governments respectively to achieve them.

The Budget 2017 can be found here (pdf).

Hammond’s speech can be found here.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
8 March 2017

News in brief

A round-up of planning news

Dover to review local plan

Dover District Council’s cabinet has decided to update the local plan so that it better reflects current economic conditions and is brought into line with the latest planning guidance.

The council adopted its local plan in 2010.

Local residents and businesses will have the opportunity to get involved with the review and consultations, said the council.

Much of the evidence that formed the basis of the district’s local plan is predicated on 2006 data and needs updating to reflect recovery from the recession (2008-2009), the scaling back of Pfizer’s operation at Sandwich in 2011, and the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012.

In its housing white paper, the government proposed that local authorities should review their local plans in whole or in part at least once every five years.

New study to assess high-rise accommodation

An academic project has been launched to explore whether post-war high-rise public housing in London and Birmingham still has a role to play in providing homes.

Tim Lewis, a PhD researcher at Birmingham City University, will look into the raft of tower blocks built in urban areas between the 1950s and 1970s and reassess the reasons for their construction, the problems they encountered and their viability as homes today.

The project will consider all forms of high-rise, including early architect-led ‘mixed developments’ that combined houses, low and high-rise flats, and maisonettes to form small communities.

Case studies will examine examples in London and Birmingham and explore whether the original ideals might meet the needs of modern urban housing.

Land deal completed in Hertfordshire

A deal for land valued in excess of £100 million for a consortium of house builders ahead of a major development in Hertfordshire has been completed.

The completion of the deal by Law Firm Cripps enables the consortium of Bovis Homes, Persimmon Homes, Kier Living, Taylor Wimpey and the Fairfield Partnership to start work on a new mixed-use development at Bishop’s Stortford North.

Planning permission is already in place for 2,200 homes on the 320-acre site. The community will also include two new primary schools, shops and business space, health facilities, community buildings and public open space.

Calls made for bond to raise project finance in Scotland

The Scottish Government has been urged to use its new fiscal powers to issue a bond to boost the money available for much-needed investment in infrastructure.

Organisations directly involved in the infrastructure sector want ministers to use Holyrood’s enhanced borrowing powers to find private investment for public projects.

The call, which comes in a survey by law firm Brodies, comes after Aberdeen City Council raised £370 million by issuing bonds to finance the council’s capital and infrastructure programme.

Read about this in The Herald.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
7 March 2017