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Planning news - 27 April 2017

Published: Wednesday, 26th April 2017

MPs demand sustainable drainage drive to curb flooding, Tribunal ruling on planning status in property decisions, Liverpool approves another three-tower scheme and more stories...

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

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MPs demand sustainable drainage drive to curb flooding

Government’s policies on sustainable drainage are failing to protect communities from flood risk and miss opportunities to improve amenity and the environment, according to MPs.

Government plans to deliver one million new homes by 2020 must be achieved without increasing flooding, MPs concluded in their inquiry into the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

Planning rules must be strengthened to ensure that all new developments of any size are required to install high-quality sustainable drainage systems, they argued. Government guidance must also be tightened to reduce significantly the potential for developers to opt out from installing schemes on the grounds of cost or site practicality.

In a highly critical report, the Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee called for a significant improvement in the number and quality of sustainable drainage systems, accusing the government of only “purporting” to support such schemes.

“Instead, it has adopted sub-standard planning policies which have led to far too few schemes, many of which are of low quality, being installed in new developments,” said committee chair Neil Parish.

MPs also demanded that construction standards for sustainable drainage systems are made statutory to provide a stronger basis for enforcement.

26 April 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

Tribunal ruling on planning status in property decisions

A tribunal has ruled that a London borough can consider the planning status of property when determining applications for a private rented property licence.

The case related to applications made for licences in 2015 where the landlord had converted properties into flats without the required planning permission.

The properties in question were 682-684 High Road, Leytonstone, which was a warehouse converted into six flats; and 34 Eldon Road, Walthamstow, a terraced house subdivided into six self-contained flats. Both properties are owned by Mohammed Afzal Khan.

In both cases, Waltham Forest Council proposed to only issue a one-year property licence to allow time for the planning issues to be resolved. Property licences are usually issued for a full-term of up to five years unless the council decides they should be issued for a shorter time period.

Khan appealed this decision at a First-Tier Tribunal for both properties, and in both cases the periods of the licences were increased to five years, on the basis that compliance with planning requirements was not relevant to licensing.

But the council argued that breaches of planning regulations were relevant to property licensing, so appealed to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). 

The tribunal has now ruled that planning matters could properly be taken into account in determining a licence application. It said that inappropriate or over-intensive uses of land, especially in a densely populated urban area, are an obvious example of antisocial behaviour. 

The tribunal also ruled that when properties are developed without planning consent, “important safeguards against antisocial behaviour will have been evaded”, and therefore the areas of planning control and licensing do overlap.

Current licences on the properties should continue until 12 June 2017, giving Khan time to make new applications. The council can then use all available evidence to make a decision in relation to the new licence applications.

Waltham Forest cabinet member for housing Khevyn Limbajee said: “This is an important decision and we are pleased that the Upper Tribunal has ruled in our favour. The judgement makes a clear link between breaches of planning conditions and antisocial behaviour, which supports our decision to issue licences for a shorter time period. 

“Where planning laws have been flouted, the grant of a reduced licence period properly puts the onus on the landlord to resolve these breaches at their own expense.”

24 April 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

Liverpool approves another three-tower scheme

Liverpool City Council has granted planning permission to another triple tower development, the second such application within a week.

The 381-bed scheme was proposed by local property firm Vinco Group, on the corner of Bevington Bush and Gardeners Row in the Pumpfields area of the city.

The scheme will feature three towers ranging from nine to 19-storeys in height clustered around a communal courtyard.

The development will be called The Tannery in reference to the historic tannery that sat on the site, on the corner of Bevington Bush and Gardeners Row, from the 1880s until mid-1950s.

“The northern edge of the city still has great potential to deliver major regeneration and developments like this will give a sense of arrival for people coming into the city,” said Vinco managing director Glyn Thomas. “The scheme now also helps to plug a gap for bigger, more family-orientated developments that will help to keep the societal balance in the city centre.”

The application was submitted in partnership with London-based Niveda Group and is an amendment to a previous application for lower towers and more studio apartments rather than the one and two-beds that now represent the majority of homes in the scheme. Planning permission has been granted subject to the signing of a section 106 agreement.

Liverpool granted permission to Elliot Group’s ‘Triple Towers’ project last week, a £250 million scheme comprising three towers ranging from on the edge of the city’s business district.

24 April 2017
The Planner

Maidenhead selects town centre regeneration partner

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has chosen Countryside as the joint venture partner for a multimillion-pound town centre regeneration scheme.

The joint venture will focus on redeveloping four council-owned sites covering 6.3 hectares in Maidenhead. The sites could potentially deliver about 1,200 homes alongside shops, restaurants, offices and a cultural quarter in the town centre.

The council said redeveloping the four sites – at York Road, West Street, Reform Road and St Cloud Way – is expected to generate significant income associated with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) in the town, which will be reinvested in its services and facilities.

“With the Elizabeth Line arriving in 2019, we have a once-in a-lifetime opportunity to deliver an ambitious redevelopment programme right at the heart of the community,” said council leader Simon Dudley. “The council will retain considerable control over how the sites are developed and is committed to providing high-quality homes, including genuinely affordable options for residents so we can build a borough for everyone.”

Consultation will take place on detailed plans for each of the sites before any planning applications are submitted. Construction could start as early as 2018 subject to planning consent.

19 April 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

High Court backs ‘candy-cane’ stripes on Kensington house

The High Court has ruled that a woman who painted her Kensington townhouse with red and white stripes can ignore a council notice telling her to repaint it.

Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring launched the judicial review after earlier appeals to magistrates and Isleworth Crown Court failed.

She painted the candy stripes on the townhouse in 2015. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said the colour scheme was incongruous with the area and served her a notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to paint it white. But the High Court ruled the council had served the wrong legal notice.

Mr Justice Gilbert ruled: “In my judgment, to allow a local planning authority to use section 215 to deal with questions of aesthetics, as opposed to disrepair or dilapidation, falls outside the intention and spirit of the planning code.

"I am therefore of the view that it is an improper use of section 215 to use it to alter a lawful painting scheme.”

He said the council should have used section 102.

25 April 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

News round-up

A round-up of planning news

MPs call for more inclusion in the built environment

The government must take the lead by launching a “coherent and transparent strategy” for improving access and inclusion in the built environment.

A Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into disability and the built environment said such a strategy should cover procurement, fiscal initiatives and sharing best practice, with the DCLG spearheading the drive.

The RTPI welcomed the report for echoing many of its calls for more inclusive planning, as highlighted by recent policy and research work including a guidance note on dementia.

“At the heart of our dementia guidance note is the underlying principle that good design helps everyone, and is therefore worth the effort and the investment to make it better,” said chief executive Trudi Elliott.

Guidance on brownfield registers unveiled

Guidance explaining how local authorities should manage their brownfield land registers has been published by the government.

The guidance is comprised of frequently asked questions on the registers and permission in principle to accompany two sets of regulations which came into force last week. The government intends to publish statutory guidance by the summer.

The guidance is available here.

Rockfire buys two Welsh solar farms with investment from councils

An investment capital firm has bought two solar farms in Wales after securing backing from three local authorities for the deal. Rockfire Capital acquired Astley Farm and Pen y Cae solar farms in Wales, after working closely with Warrington Borough Council and the London Boroughs of Bexley and Newham on the deal. The two farms generate in total 10MW of solar polar.

The three local authorities are investing in environmental initiatives to generate returns which will be diverted to frontline services. The move aims to create new revenues for local community infrastructure without increasing costs to the taxpayer.

Driverless cars to be tested on UK roads within two years

A consortium of technology and transport specialists is to trial the first driverless cars on UK roads. The Driven group has received £8 million from the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles to develop and operate a fleet of vehicles with complete autonomy.

The project will culminate with the vehicles travelling autonomously from London to Oxford, with safety drives on board as a precaution, within the next two and half years. The Driven consortium is led by Oxbotica, which makes software for driverless vehicles, and other partners include the Oxford Robotics Institute, insurer XL Catlin, Nominet, Telefonica, the Transport Research Laboratory, UKAEA’s RACE facility, Oxfordshire County Council, Transport for London and Westbourne Communications.

High Court fast-tracks challenge to new environmental justice rules

The High Court is fast-tracking a challenge by green campaigners against new environmental justice rules introduced by the government.
Click here to read story.

London’s worst junctions fall under safety spotlight

The junctions with the worst safety record for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in the capital have been identified by Transport for London (TfL).
Click here to read story.

UK renewables industry sees massive export boom

UK renewable energy companies secured billions of pounds of exports for their goods and services last year.
Click here to read story.

Number of empty homes in England falls to 200,000

More than 200,000 homes in England have been lying empty for more than six months, equivalent to £43 billion of housing, according to latest government figures.
Click here to read story.