Latest news

Planning News - 18 May 2017

Published: Sunday, 14th May 2017

Welsh ministers mull over new legislation for national parks and AONBs, Masterplanner chosen for Old Oak regeneration. And more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

Welsh ministers mull over new legislation for national parks and AONBs

The Welsh Government has announced that it is considering legal changes to the landscape protection regimes in place for national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

This follows the publication of a review of these designated areas by the Future Landscapes Working Group, chaired by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

Under consideration by ministers is whether greater weight should be given to the importance of these areas and their ecosystems in decision-making and whether governance arrangements should evolve to reflect local circumstances, rather than the current one-size-fits-all system.  

The group’s report said designated landscapes should be the leaders of the sustainable management of natural resources in their areas and emphasises the importance of joint working to achieve this.

The report proposed that “the development of a ‘place planning’ approach may be a means of meeting the need for innovative, place-based collaboration that addresses economic and environmental challenges”.

“The concept of place planning acknowledges that resources and needs differ from area to area. Place plans can represent a cultural shift, enabling appropriate development that supports national, local and community objectives for well-being," it said.

“The idea is to empower communities to enhance their influence over development sites, local distinctiveness, new green economy ideas and community infrastructure. This will be a community-led approach characterised by greater collaboration between authorities and communities, a better understanding of community needs and responsive delivery.

“Such an approach is consistent with the existing and emerging frameworks of local development plans, designated landscape management plans and area statements and is an opportunity to inform and influence their content leading to whole place plans.”

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said: “The basic principle guiding our work is seeing and understanding the role of designated landscapes not as separate excluded areas, but as a distinctive part which could contribute to good practise for the rest of our country’s landscape.”

Cabinet environment secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “Wales’s landscape is a huge part of our identity and an important national asset. It attracts tourism, outdoor recreation and local employment. It delivers benefits to our health and well-being and has been identified as having huge potential for developing greener energy solutions.”

11 May 2017
Roger Milne, The Planner

Masterplanner chosen for Old Oak regeneration

Planning and infrastructure company AECOM has been announced as the preferred bidder for creating the masterplan outlining the regeneration of Old Oak and Park Royal in West London.

The company was selected from a total of seven shortlisted bids.

The masterplan should reflect the quality and sustainability aspirations set out in the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) draft local plan and supporting studies. It should establish a new benchmark for successful long-term placemaking in Old Oak.

The masterplan should inform OPDC planning policy.

According to a statement from the Greater London Authority, the contract will allow for greater certainty for landowners, investors and stakeholders on how and when the area will be developed.

It should also allow for the development of clear strategies for delivery, funding and financing, land assembly and a business plan for OPDC as a future landowner.

A timeline for development suggests that the contract will start in May/June 2017 and preferred option refinement and first draft strategies could be ready by early 2018.

A final spatial masterplan is expected in spring 2018.

About Old Oak and Park Royal

  • Will have an HS2 and Crossrail station by 2026
  • Could deliver 24,000 new homes at Old Oak
  • Potential to create 55,000 jobs at Old Oak
  • 1,500 could be delivered at Park Royal
  • 10,000 jobs expected at Park Royal
  • Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation was established in April 2015
  • The development corporation has full planning powers for the 650.hectare site.

16 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Burnham appoints Salford mayor to rewrite Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

Greater Manchester’s new mayor Andy Burnham has appointed Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett to ‘radically rewrite’ the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).

Burnham has appointed Dennett as the portfolio holder for housing planning and homelessness. He will lead on refocusing Manchester’s housing policy to tackle the housing crisis as well as rewriting the framework.

Dennett will also work with the newly established Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network to develop solutions to the problem and “ensure every Greater Mancunian has a safe and stable roof over their head”.

Burnham said he would be listening to communities and oversee a “radical rewrite” of the GMSF.

“I will keep those high ambitions for the homes and jobs we need but there will be a substantial reduction in the loss of green belt. Our plan will build the right kind of homes in the right places.”

He also issued a call to developers to work with him to “revitalise and reshape” town centres. “I want our towns to be residential centres that are fit for the future.”

Burnham said Dennett, as Salford City Mayor, “is driving the development of social and affordable homes across the city”.

“His zero-tolerance approach to poverty and commitment to making sure local people have access to decent, truly affordable homes make him the right person for this role. I’m confident he will help me deliver the homes Greater Manchester needs.”

Dennett said refocusing the Greater Manchester Housing Fund as monies are recycled will be “critical to building truly affordable housing” and meeting housing needs.

“I will continue to build on the works of the Homelessness Action Network and the recently launched Mayor’s Homelessness Fund. A home is a basic human right and any civilised society should look to meet this need, irrespective of how much money someone earns.”

Peter Tooher, executive director at Nexus Planning and is based at the Manchester office, said the proposal to rewrite the GMSF should not come as a surprise to observers.

“The timings always seemed to point to a substantial rewrite – with the mayor being appointed in the middle of the preparation of the spatial framework and reaction to proposed green belt changes inevitable, the original timetable was always ambitious.”

It will be disappointing to those promoting green belt sites, Tooher said, but support for development from Burnham across Greater Manchester remains. “There was always going to be intense scrutiny of green belt changes.”

There is a lot to gain from recrafting the strategy, Tooher continued, “not least to place a greater emphasis on smaller towns across Greater Manchester – Stalybridge, Eccles or Leigh for example, and the housing and jobs they can provide with the right environment and infrastructure”.

The framework should be in place as soon as possible, with a clear timetable “Genuinely affordable housing is critically important, as is regeneration across the region.”

The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was published in October 2016. The draft identifies sites for 227,000 homes, some on green belt land, and aims to create 200,000 jobs between now and 2035.

Green belt sites identified in the framework include ones at Pilsworth, Carrington and Ashton Moss. The draft report said releasing some green belt is “essential” to keep up with Greater Manchester’s growth.

Read more about the framework here.

15 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Sports training centre approved in Loughborough

Charnwood Borough Council has approved plans for a state-of-the-art national sports training centre at Loughborough University.

Real estate adviser GVA secured the permission on behalf of the university in Leicestershire.

The five-storey Elite Athletics Centre (EAC) will be located at the eastern end of the campus, next to the Paula Radcliffe Athletics Stadium. It is set to provide a range of training facilities for athletes.

It will comprise a nutrition lounge and café as well rest and relaxation areas. There will be onsite accommodation – 44 bedrooms and 20 altitude rooms.

It is hoped that the centre will be used by Team GB Olympians and Paralympians training for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Tim Evans, of GVA’s planning, development and regeneration team, said: “The delivery of the EAC will represent another significant step forward for the university, ensuring that the campus offers the very best training opportunities across as broad and diverse an array of sporting disciplines as possible.”

17 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Planning Appeals

A round-up of appeal decisions

Takeaway allowed despite breaching local policy threshold of 33%

An inspector has granted permission for a retail unit in Wigan to be converted to a hot food takeaway, ruling that increasing the number of takeaways in the area to 37 per cent would not harm the vitality of the area and would be preferable to leaving units vacant.

The Planner

Proposal to build 47-home scheme around 19th century dairy building refused

An inspector has rejected plans to build 47 homes centred on a historic former dairy building in Essex, ruling that the development would be out of character with the ‘relatively open’ surrounding landscape.

The Planner

Medical centre's car park would disrupt neighbours

An inspector has blocked plans to convert a detached bungalow into a private medical centre in a residential area near St Albans, after finding that the proposed rear car park was of unsafe design and would disrupt neighbours in their gardens.

The Planner

74-home scheme would have ‘negligible impact’ on air quality and ecology

An inspector has granted permission for 74 homes near Knaresborough in North Yorkshire despite ‘deep-rooted’ opposition from local residents, after ruling that the scheme’s impact on local air quality and protected species would be negligible.

The Planner

Plan to replace Redhill warehouses with apartment blocks approved

An inspector has allowed plans to demolish four warehouses occupied by various businesses and replace them with four residential blocks containing 48 apartments after finding the proposal would not harm the area’s character.

The Planner

Public benefits of 29-home scheme outweigh harm to conservation area

An inspector has allowed plans for 29 homes to be built near the village of Gamlingay, south of St Neots, after deciding that despite some harm to the setting of a nearby conservation area, the public benefits of the scheme meant it should go ahead.

The Planner

‘Grasscrete’ car park for nursing home allowed in ‘green wedge’

An inspector has approved a 50-vehicle car park at a care home near Swansea, ruling that although the car park’s ‘grasscrete’ material would not mitigate its harm to the green wedge, the urgent need for more parking constituted “very special circumstances”.

The Planner

15 May 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner

News round up

A round-up of planning news

Still time to nominate NI’s best place

There is still time to nominate your favourite place in Northern Ireland.

RTPI Northern Ireland’s competition aims to celebrate attractive and inspiring places.

Any member of the public can nominate their Best Place in Northern Ireland. The deadline for nominations is 2 June. A panel of judges will then come up with a shortlist of their top 10 and then the public will be invited to vote for its favourite.

To nominate:

  • Use the online form on the RTPI website

  • E-mail your nomination to:

  • Tweet or Instagram ideas using #RTPINIbestplaces at @RTPINI

Tickets for RTPI Planning Convention

Tickets are still available for the RTPI’s 2017 Planning Convention.

Key speakers at the event include Janice Morphet, visiting professor at the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London; Dr Mary Keeling, global program director economic analysis at IBM and Robin Hambleton, professor of city leadership at the University of the West of England.

There will also be a session featuring chief planners from across the UK.

The convention will be held on Wednesday 21 June at etc.venues 155 Bishopsgate in London.


Engineering firm appointed to develop Liverpool cruise facility

Liverpool City Council has chosen Ramboll to lead a technical team to develop a new permanent cruise terminal facility on the River Mersey.

The multidisciplinary design team includes architects Stride Treglown and planning consultants JLL.

The team was appointed after a Europe-wide tendering process.

The team will work on developing a detailed design of the proposed £50 million facility before submitting a planning application for the former Princes Jetty, off Princes Parade, later this year.

Subject to planning approval, the Ramboll team would then project manage and assist with continuing monitoring of construction of the new facility.

Third of renters borrow to cover home costs

One in three low-earning renters in Britain has had to borrow money to cover the rent, according to latest research.

Published by Shelter and YouGov, the figures suggest that more than half a million renters on low incomes are borrowing on credit cards, overdrafts or from friends and family in the past year.

Seventy per cent of low-earning private renters are falling behind with their rent, said the homeless charity.

According to Shelter’s analysis of government statistics, 800,000 private renters are not able to save £10 a month. The charity is calling on the next government to establish a new generation of living rent homes for “ordinary working families”.

Upgrading property could cost £50,000 – research

Latest research has suggested that the cost of upgrading an older property to the same standard as a new one could cost up to £50,000.

The study, published by the Home Builders Federation, comes during New Homes Week, which aims to highlight the benefits to consumers of buying a new home.

Benefits include homes that are more energy efficient.

The research considered the work that might have to be carried out when people move into an older home, and what would have to be done to a home to bring it up to the standards of a new property that also comes with a warranty protecting the buyer from liability on structural problems within the first 10 years. This includes buying a new kitchen or improving insulation.

The research can be found here (pdf).

Welsh employment site up for sale

The Welsh Government has appointed Knight Frank, through its Cardiff office, to market the 72.2-acre Rhyd y Blew industrial site at Ebbw Vale.

Road and services infrastructure worth £1.6 million were recently installed on the site. The Welsh Government and the European Union funded the improvements.

According to Wales Online, Knight Frank is seeking buyers for plots from five acres to 36 acres, at an asking price of £100,000 an acre.

16 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner