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Planning News - 30 March 2017

Published: Thursday, 30th March 2017

Statistics show 3% increase in planning authority decisions. Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Government proposes own amendment to protect pubs. And more stories...

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

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District planning authorities in England granted 382,600 decisions in 2016 – an increase of 3 per cent when compared with 2015, according to latest government statistics.

In total, 435,600 planning applications were decided.

In the three months to December 2016, district level planning authorities received 112,100 applications for planning permission, up by 1 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2015.

Statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government suggest that 93,600 decisions, up 1 per cent on 2015, were granted during October, November and December.

Eighty-six per cent of major applications were decided within 13 weeks or the agreed time – up from 82 per cent in the previous year.

According to the statistics for October, November and December:

  • 12,700 residential applications were decided, an increase of 6 per cent.
  • 9,200 applications for prior approval for permitted development rights from October to December 2016 were received, a decrease of 9 per cent on the same quarter in 2015.
  • 7,500 of the 9,200 applications were approved without going through the full planning process, a decrease of 10 per cent.
  • 1,600 of the 9,200 applications were for changes to residential use; 1,100 of the 1,600 were approved without going through the full planning process.

In 2016 as a whole, district planning authorities granted 49,100 decisions on residential developments. This breaks down to 6,400 major developments, up on 2015 by 7 per cent, and 42,700 minor developments, an increase of 5 per cent on the previous year.

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, said: “The increase in planning applications processed by planning authorities demonstrates the significant, ongoing contribution local authority planners make in England to delivery, particularly housing.

“This is at a time of severe resource constraints within councils. We know many local planning services are surviving on the goodwill and professional integrity of their planners. While these figures demonstrate the high performance of planners, processing applications is just one way they help create prosperous places and vibrant communities.”

The statistics can be found here (pdf).

27 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Government proposes own amendment to protect pubs

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has tabled an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill that removes permitted development rights from pubs.

This amendment would be in line with Lords amendment 22, agreed during the bill’s report stage.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark’s (Lab) amendment sought to ensure the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 removes permitted development rights from pubs.

A document listing the amendments, published ahead of the bill’s ping pong stage, states that amendment 22 would “remove any planning permission which is granted by a development order for development consisting of a change in the use of any building or land in England from a use within Class A4 to a use of a kind specified in the order”.

Further to this, it removes any planning permission that is granted by a development order for a building operation consisting of the demolition of a building in England that “is used, or was last used, for a purpose within Class A4 or for a purpose including use within that class”.

According to a statement on the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) website, Kennedy said the decision by the government to amend the bill to protect pubs is a “victory for common sense, the much-loved British pub and responsible drinkers everywhere”.

CAMRA chief executive Tim Page added: "This is a fantastic victory for campaigners who have secured the removal of a loophole which allowed pubs to be redeveloped or demolished without reference to the local community or planners.”

The list of full amendments can be found here.

27 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Oxford councils submit proposals to become unitary authority

Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council have submitted a joint proposal to the government to become a new single unitary authority for Oxfordshire.

The councils said the submission, A new council for a better Oxfordshire, combines the best ideas and feedback from local councils, residents, businesses, partners and the wider Oxfordshire community.

It makes the case for replacing the existing two-tier structure of six councils with one single council for the county. This single authority would be responsible for delivering all local services across the county, enabling it to make “substantial savings” and “improving outcomes for residents”. Savings could amount to at least £100 million over five years, says the submission.

Services such as planning and infrastructure would have a countywide approach while local issues would remain in the control of local people, states the document.

It says 15 to 20 executive area boards would be set up to support the authority. These would comprise councillors representing the area, public service partners and representatives of towns and parishes.

One set of elected members and one set of officers would be accountable for all local government services, including planning, transport and housing need. The single authority would also be responsible for delivering a strategic local plan that would establish a shared strategy for sustainable growth across the county.

Ipsos MORI has recently undertaken research into potential local government reorganisation in Oxfordshire. It was commission by Oxford City Council, Cherwell District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council to see what the county’s residents thought about having a unitary authority.

The survey found that public opinion favours keeping the current structure when it comes to management and delivery of local services.

Over two-thirds (68 per cent) of residents in Oxfordshire felt that they did not have sufficient information about what the proposal means for them and their household while 21 per cent said they did, suggests the survey.

The survey can be found here.

A joint statement by John Cotton, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, Matthew Barber, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, and Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council said the councils had “worked hard to address any concerns in the final bid – and with 70 per cent of those surveyed showing support for a single unitary, we know we are on the right track”.

“We believe local government reorganisation is vital to protect council services as central government funding is reduced, and to secure the investment in infrastructure needed to support sustainable economic growth in Oxfordshire.”

However, West Oxfordshire District Council has said in a statement on its website that many services and benefits would be at risk should the councils merge to become one.

The councils listed a number of risks in a statement on its website, including proposed A40 improvements, local knowledge and community facilities.

“West Oxfordshire’s track record of delivering local services has been proven time and time again. We are also aware of, and act on, the specific issues and challenges facing the district, such as housing and infrastructure.

“We believe an efficient and locally accountable district council is best placed to serve the needs of local residents.

“Oxfordshire County Council has repeatedly failed in key areas such as highways, transport and social care.”

It is expected that the government will make a final decision on the proposal later this year.

A new council for a better Oxfordshire can be found on the Better Oxfordshire website (pdf).

27 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Funding boost for estate regeneration

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced that more than 100 housing estates will receive ‘significant investment’ to start their regeneration.

The £32 million Estate Regeneration Fund will be distributed to local authorities and housing associations across England to speed up the building of thousands of homes.

In total, 105 estates will benefit from the funding, which aims to help schemes in their early stages.

The government said that in Birmingham the money will be used to start discussions about the Meadway regeneration with local communities, while in Milton Keynes the money will be split between seven estates.

Javid said: “For too long a number of housing estates across the country have been areas characterised by low-quality homes and high social deprivation.

“This government is determined to have a housing market that works for everyone. That’s why we’re turbocharging the regeneration of these rundown estates, so they can thrive as communities.”

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell added that the regeneration of housing estates must be locally led. “It will help more ordinary working people have the security of a decent place to live.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron last year pledged to transform 100 housing estates in Britain, along with £140 million loan funding to start the work.

In December 2016, Javid announced a new strategy and a further £32 million to regeneration rundown housing estates.

Local authorities and housing associations submitted bids for funding. Those that were successful include Aspire Housing, Gloucester City Homes, Newark & Sherwood District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and Sheffield City Council.

John Cotton, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This funding is a major boost for the regeneration project and for everyone’s ambitions for the area. We’ve been working very positively with the local community to help ensure we can meet the needs for existing and future residents.”

Guy Ingham, director of development consultancy at GL Hearn, part of Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure, said this funding is the “clearest signal yet” from the government that the estates regeneration agenda remains a key priority.

“It is important now that local authorities are able to leverage this funding as best as possible – and to ensure that schemes are delivered in proper partnership with local communities and residents. The government’s Estates Regeneration Strategy lays out the key steps for local authorities to do this.”

The full list of successful bidders can be found here (pdf).

27 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Mixed-use scheme submitted in Swansea

An outline planning application that includes shops, restaurants and residential units has been submitted to the City and County of Swansea Council.

The site, which comprises the former St David’s shopping centre and the LC car park, has been temporarily rebranded as Swansea Central. Rivington Land is managing the site’s development for the council.

Outline planning permission is being sought for the refurbishment, alteration or demolition of existing building and structure on the site north of Oystermouth Road. This excludes St Mary’s Church and St David’s Church.

A maximum of 84,050 square metres of floor space is proposed. This would comprise retail, commercial, office, residential and leisure uses, as well as a multistorey car park. According to the plans, nothing would rise above seven storeys in height.

The plans suggest that on the south side of Oystermouth Road, 40,700 square metres of floor space is proposed. This would include a new digital indoor arena, a hotel or residential building of up to 13 storeys, and food and drink businesses.

A new pedestrian bridge over Oystermouth Road, new public open spaces on both sides of the site and improved public realm are also proposed.

Martin Nicholls, director of place at the council, said: “In combination with our plans to regenerate Kingsway and other parts of the city centre, the redevelopment of the Swansea Central site will give local residents and visitors a far better shopping, dining, leisure and recreational experience.”

He said the submission of the application follows “extensive consultation” to ensure that the plans meet the aspirations of the people of Swansea.

“The consultation showed 74 per cent of people were positive about the proposals, but we have listened to all views. This is why, to reflect feedback, an element of student accommodation that was originally proposed for the development site has now been removed.

“Subject to the approval of this outline planning application, detailed design work will then take place. Discussions with potential tenants will also continue, and we hope to soon have an indoor arena operator on board to help us work on the specification of the new arena attraction,” said Nicholls.

27 March 2017
The Planner

Planning round up

A round-up of planning news

Scottish planning consultation ends soon

The consultation on the reform on Scotland’s planning system has entered its final week.

The Scottish Government launched the consultation in January 2017. It includes proposals to align community and spatial planning.

Planning minister Kevin Stewart said: “This consultation outlines major proposals for improving Scotland’s planning system, and so I’d urge everyone with an interest in planning – developers and businesses, professionals and local authorities, communities and members of the public – to use this opportunity to tell us what they think.”

The consultation, Places, People and Planning, runs until Tuesday 4 April. It can be found here.

Framework to improve infrastructure resilience launched

Cities need to overhaul their approach to risk management if infrastructure is to be more resilient to catastrophic events.

Future Cities: Building Infrastructure Resilience, by Lloyds, a specialist insurance and reinsurance market, and engineering consultancy Arup, suggests that while risk management remains a priority for cities, it is not enough on its own or by an asset-by-asset basis.

The report warns that the city officials, investors and insurers will need to build resilience within and between infrastructure systems as a “complementary approach to address infrastructure risk and uncertainty”.

It sets out three ways to help guide the planning, design, construction and operation of core city infrastructure to help them cope with disasters:

  • Prevent failure: make city infrastructure more resilient to shocks so that even if parts of it fail temporarily, the overall system still works.
  • Expedite recovery: examine ways in which infrastructure can be restarted as quickly as possible post-disaster to save lives and prevent further failures.
  • Transform performance: replace damaged infrastructure with a more resilient version as part of the rebuilding process.

The report can be found here.

Council looking for garden village delivery partner

Fareham Borough Council has published an invitation for bids from developers and investors across Europe to become the delivery partner for a garden village.

The council said it is seeking to appoint a creative delivery partner that shares its vision for Welborne Garden Village.

Applicants will need to demonstrate a track record in delivering high-quality, large-scale developments with an “emphasis on design excellence”. Experience of providing superior public open spaces and community facilities is a key requirement.

The invitation to bid notice was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) on 22 March 2017. The council is aiming to appoint a delivery partner by the end of 2017.

Earlier this month, The Planner reported that Buckland Development Ltd has lodged a planning application for Welborne Garden Village, featuring proposals for 6,000 homes, with Fareham Borough Council.

Work on Midlands industrial development begins

Infrastructure and remediation work has started on site at Kingpin, Tyseley, a £20 million development comprising industrial and warehouse units on a 13-acre canal-side site in Birmingham.

When complete, the project is expected to deliver over 200,000 square feet of B1, B2 and B8 warehouses and manufacturing units.

It is being delivered by H2O Urban, a joint venture company owned 50 per cent by the Canal & River Trust and 50 per cent by private developer bloc.

Funding for the site has been provided by Ropemaker, the property arm of BP Pension fund.

A & H Construction has been appointed to build out the scheme.

The first unit is planned to be completed by June 2017.

£1.6m Newport housing investment

Newport City Homes has announced that it will invest £1.6 million in a new housing site in Bettws, Newport.

The site in Monnow Way will include 11 new family homes (nine two-bed homes and two three-bed homes) and a bungalow equipped for those with disabilities, with two allocated car park spaces for each property.

Newport City Homes has hired Blaenavon-based contractor P&P Building to help develop the site.

Work is due to start this spring.

28 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner