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Planning News - 23 March 2017

Published: Thursday, 23rd March 2017

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords approve final amendments and pass the bill. SMEs and local authorities receive cash injection to update planning system. And more stories...

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

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The Neighbourhood Planning Bill has undergone its third reading in the House of Lords, with members approving an amendment that requires examiners to give information to, and hold meetings with, neighbourhood planning groups.

Amendment 1 was brought by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con), the parliamentary under-secretary of state, Department for Communities and Local Government and Wales Office.

He said the government amendment would enable the secretary of state, through regulations, to set out the procedure an examiner of a neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order must follow.

“In exercising the power, the secretary of state will be able to make regulations that place a duty on examiners to provide information to, and to hold meetings with, neighbourhood planning groups – the qualifying bodies – local planning authorities and others, and on the examiners to publish their draft report with their recommendations,” said Bourne.

The amendment, he continued, “strikes the right balance” between enabling reforms that can improve the dialogue between neighbourhood planning groups and examiners while allowing for any future procedures to be informed through the consultation on the housing white paper by those who will understand best how the current arrangements are working in practice.

Talking about amendment 5, Bourne said it seeks to replicate changes proposed in amendment 1. It applies in circumstances where a neighbourhood planning group seeks to update an existing neighbourhood plan in the “streamlined way proposed under clause 3 and schedule 1 to the bill”.

“This will ensure consistency for those examining a new or updated neighbourhood plan.”

Baroness Cumberlege (Con) and Lord Shipley (LD) expressed their support for amendment 1, as did a number of other members.

Both amendment 1 and 5 were agreed.

Lord Taylor of Goss Moor proposed amendment 2, which he said is aimed at empowering local government communities to bring forward settlements of the “highest quality ensuring that the value that comes from development taking place is captured to create great places and deliver wonderful facilities for those places and is not captured in excessive profits for landowners or developers”.

It also seeks to ensure that the government’s objectives in bringing forward garden villages, garden town and garden cities programme are met and that there are opportunities for small builders.

Currently, the New Towns Act gives the majority of power to the secretary of state because it comes from an era when the government was more involved in local delivery, Taylor explained.

The secretary of state “has no capacity to hand over the role of the corporations that will be set up to deliver these new settlements to the local councils that would bring them forward”.

“The principle of the amendment is to give the secretary of state the power to appoint one or more local authorities in the designated area of the new town to oversee the delivery of the new town and the new development corporation.

This is a localising measure. It hands really strong power to communities to ensure that new towns are delivered at quality,” said Taylor.

The functions that would be transferred to local authorities would be set out in secondary regulations.

Bourne said the amendment was “entirely consistent” with the aim of the bill. He said the government was in support of the amendment, as was Bourne himself.

The amendment was agreed.

Amendment 3 was withdrawn, while amendment 4 was agreed.

The House of Lords passed the bill during the session, which now returns to the House of Commons with amendments. A date has yet to be set for ping-pong, which will see amendments passed to and from the houses.

The full transcription of the third reading can be found here.

20 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

SMEs and local authorities receive cash injection to update planning system

Nine small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local authorities have been awarded a share of £200,000 aimed at supporting the development of new tools and innovations to transform the planning system.

Future Cities Catapult, a high-tech business accelerator, awarded the funds after inviting UK businesses, individuals, entrepreneurs and planning authorities to develop ideas to create a more data-driven and digitally enabled planning system.

Nearly 90 entries were received, including:

  • Using data to identify land for housing developments.
  • Managing the impact of new developments on school and GP capacity.
  • Augmented reality to allow citizens to see future developments by holding up their phone or tablet.

The full list of winners are:

  • HACT/OCSI are developing a neighbourhood insight web-tool aggregating government open-data and other data to neighbourhood planning boundaries.
  • PlaceChangers are making it easier for local councils to compile, update, and coordinate their local development land portfolio with other stakeholders.
  • The Behaviouralist are applying machine learning and satellite image recognition to identify opportunities for green infrastructure.
  • A London local authority is working on a mapping and analytics tool that brings together housing and social infrastructure data under one spatial platform to represent and test current and future growth scenarios.
  • Toolz are creating a custom-made 3D interface that would allow planning officers to assess development proposals within a live 3D model of the city.
  • Wikihouse + Southwark Planning Division are building an online tool to improve and automate aspects of householder planning applications.
  • Linknode Ltd is exploring the use of augmented reality to visualise unbuilt development proposals at public consultation.
  • Create Streets are working on an online tool permitting users to measure the quality of a place, and gives analysis of correlations between urban form with wellbeing, health, happiness and value.

ODI Leeds are working on two projects:

  1. PDFs for Planners is exploring how commonly used planning documents could update in real time from data in the cloud.
  2. ‘A clearer plan’ is bringing together existing open data in a tool for those that want to submit a planning application or understand the local housing picture.

The awarding of this money follows the launch of the government’s industrial strategy, which outlined plans to upgrade UK digital infrastructure.

The winners now have 12 weeks to develop prototypes that are designed to help achieve a more transparent, inclusive and certain planning system, according to Future Cities Catapult.

Euan Mills, planning and urban design lead at Future Cities Catapult, said: “For years we’ve heard how the planning system is broken, and how it hasn’t delivered the number of homes we need or the types of places we want to live in.

“Our Future of Planning programme focuses primarily on how we plan, rather than what we plan for, and creates critical space to experiment; allowing those involved in the planning system to think how it could be done differently.

“We’re excited to work with the winners of our open call as they develop and test prototypes to build a faster, more transparent and equitable planning system.”

Richard Blythe, head of policy and research at the RTPI, said: “Big data and digital innovation present an opportunity to create a more integrated, flexible and inclusive planning system. The RTPI is working closely with Future Cities Catapult to explore this agenda as a member of the project board, and this funding is a major step forward.”

Details about Future Cities Catapult can be found here.

16 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Guidance for housing and NSIPs published

The government has published guidance confirming the details of measures that will see major infrastructure projects that include up to 500 homes considered as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).

This follows regulations about such schemes being laid before Parliament earlier this month.

The guidance covers changes to the Planning Act 2008 made by section 160 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which received Royal Assent in May last year.

The guidance states that the government wants to ensure that the flexibility being provided to allow an element of housing to be consented under the 2008 Act “does not undermine the local planning process and the wider responsibilities for local authorities to plan for housing needs in their area”.

Therefore, the guidance sets out a maximum number of houses that can be given consent through a Development Consent Order (DCO).

The maximum number of homes that can be granted through a DCO when permanent housing is being provided based on geographical proximity to an infrastructure project should be 500. The secretary of state is “very unlikely” to consent to more than this for a single NSIP.

The figure is the same when housing is being provided based on functional need.

The guidance notes that there may be some situations where a developer chooses to provide housing for construction workers which is of a quality that will see the housing retained as, or converted to, permanent dwellings once the project is complete. In this case, “accommodation for more than 500 workers may be consented for the construction phase of the project as long as this is subsequently converted so that the number of permanent dwellings after any conversion is 500 or less”.

Additionally, a DCO application might include associated local infrastructure. This should be “integral” to the housing proposed and be proportionate to the scale of housing in the application.

Guidance on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and Housing can be found here (pdf).

22 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Devolution for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced a devolution plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which will see residents vote for a mayor on 4 May, 2017.

The deal comprises fresh powers to create new jobs, improve skills levels, build more homes and improve transport.

Funding includes £600 million for economic growth and £170 million for housing.

Javid said: “The people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough came up with an ambitious devolution deal which puts them in charge of decisions that matter to them.

“This multimillion-pound investment into the region is proof that we’re backing Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with the resources they need.”

The area will receive new planning and housing powers to manage planning across the region. This includes a £100 million Housing Investment Fund and an additional £70 million ring-fenced for Cambridge City to meet its housing needs.

Additionally, the region will control a new investment fund of £320 million a year over the next 30 years, a devolved transport budget and new powers over skills.

Wendy Hague, RTPI East of England chair said: “Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are at the crossroads of the East of England. Both are net contributors to the UK economy but also face significant demographic pressures."

She noted that the mayor, as chair of the combined authority, will have powers to a create a non-statutory spatial framework, supplementary planning documents and mayoral development corporations or similar vehicles in rural areas to enhance delivery.

"A significant challenge will be how best to establish a sub-national transport body (STB) to ensure that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and its neighbouring areas, notably Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and the Cambridge-to-Oxford arc, can best work together to influence strategic national transport investment having regard to the development plans in these areas,” Hague said.

Mayoral elections will also take place in the Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, West of England, West Midlands and Tees Valley.

More information about the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution deal can be found here.

20 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Green light for master plan of Cardiff’s ‘garden city’ project

The City of Cardiff Council has approved plans for the remaining elements of Plasdŵr, the £2 billion garden city development earmarked for the north-west outskirts of the capital.

Lead developer Redrow expects to start work on the first homes later this month.

The main application, passed by the city’s planning committee, includes an illustrative master plan for the entire 368-hectare site that borders Radyr, Danescourt, Fairwater, Pentrebane and St. Fagans.

The developers are promising to create a “world-class, sustainable community”. Ultimately the scheme could deliver well over 6,000 new homes.

The development will contribute a total of £55.7 million in community benefits including four primary schools, a secondary school, health centres, shops, offices, pubs and restaurants, leisure centres, playing fields and parks and preserved woodland.

The proposals include planned hierarchy of roads, paths and cycleways to maximise walking and cycling and the use of public transport.

Plasdwr is expected to create over 30,000 jobs during its lifetime. Wayne Rees, project director for Plasdŵr at Redrow, welcomed the planning committee’s decision.

“Plasdŵr will deliver the homes and community our capital needs, helping fuel economic growth” he insisted.

The first 126 of 630 proposed homes, which were approved by the planning authority at the end of last year, will be built on a six-hectare site to the north of Llantrisant Road, with construction of these homes expected to begin before Easter.

Infrastructure improvements will continue and work at the Pentrebane site for a further 290 homes will begin before the end of the year.

Locally, concerns remain about traffic issues. However, the development is in line with the capital’s approved local development plan.

16 March 2017
Roger Milne, The Planner

News round up

A round-up of planning news

Dissington Garden Village approved

Northumberland County Council had approved a new garden village on green belt land.

The development, six miles from Newcastle, will provide 2,000 new homes and associated local services, facilities and infrastructure provision. It will deliver substantial housing over and above the objectively assessed housing need, and contribute towards “an important government objective”, according to the council committee’s report.

The use of green belt land is justified because of “very special circumstances”, says the report. The single ownership of the land and relative absence of development constraints will also “facilitate accelerated delivery” of the scheme.

Heritage and planning services for the scheme were provided by WYG, on behalf of the developer, Lugano Dissington Estate Ltd.

Government urged to deliver on Crossrail 2

More than 70 business leaders have signed a letter urging the government to make delivering Crossrail 2 a priority.

Representatives from EY, Deloitte, Gatwick and Heathrow Airports and others hailed the “national importance” of the infrastructure project.

Crossrail 2 would improve journey times, relieve congestion and support some 200,000 new homes, as well as the same number of jobs. It would also support UK industry, benefiting regional economies by up to £1 billion each, say its advocates.

London, which will benefit from relieved pressure on the Underground, is already committed to meeting half the cost.

Innovative housing approved in Hertfordshire.

An innovative application by a major local employer to build on green belt land has been approved in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

VolkerWessels UK, a construction and civil engineering group that has contributed around £15 million to the local economy, will build 21 homes, along with a three-floor extension to its head office.

The development was deemed by the council to have minimal impact on green belt openness and wildlife, and big benefits to the local economy and community. These benefits provide the “very special circumstances” required to justify building on green belt land.

The development will incorporate ‘cutting-edge’ design, including affordable and prefabricated houses, according to the plans.

£75m road improvement scheme will unlock thousands of homes

Highways England will unlock the development of more than 4,000 homes and 10,000 jobs by investing £75 million in road improvements across the country, says the agency.

Over £12 million will come from its growth and housing fund, with the rest coming from private sector developers and other public funding.

The improvements will create opportunities around Derby, Durham, Oldham and Taunton.

The works have been announced as part of Highways England’s economic growth plan ‘The Road to Growth’, which seeks to show how it will use government funding to improve the country's economic well-being.

Housing scheme will bring 60 homes to rural Warwickshire

Following the sale of an 11-acre site by Richborough Estates, planning permission has been granted for the delivery of 60 new homes, 35 per cent of which will be designated affordable.

The homes have been designed to be in keeping with the “historic and picturesque’ nearby village of Newbold-on-Stour, explained Richborough Estates. They will have large gardens, open spaces and a low-density arrangement.

Families moving into the area will help to support existing facilities such as the local primary school, post office and pub, according to Richborough Estates’ managing director Paul Campbell.

The site is seven miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon, and four miles north of popular market town Shipston-on-Stour.

Plans submitted for new £26m leisure centre

A planning application for a new £26 million leisure centre in Dover has been submitted, to replace the existing 40-year-old leisure centre.

Facilities at the centre would include a competition standard, eight-lane swimming pool, a sports hall, squash courts, a fitness gym and a café.

The plans meet Sport England guidelines and the centre is being designed to a 'very good' BREEAM rating.

The application is expected to be considered by the local council’s planning committee in June.

Oxford regeneration scheme begins with student housing

A new £32.5 million student housing scheme will mark the beginning of redevelopment to ‘Oxpens’, a key Oxford city centre site.

Student accommodation provider Student Castle has secured planning permission for a 514-bed development that will also include 83 square metres of commercial, leisure and community space, and 290 cycle parking spaces.

Oxford City Council has earmarked development of the area as having the potential to create 750 jobs, of which this scheme will contribute 160 jobs over two years.

The council’s planning committee approved the plans on Tuesday 14 March.

21 March 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner