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Planning News - 1 June 2017

Published: Thursday, 1st June 2017

Exploratory shale gas drilling approved in Nottinghamshire, English new-build starts on the rise, Consultation for proposed sustainable drainage regime in Wales. And more stories...

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

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Exploratory shale gas drilling approved in Nottinghamshire

Nottinghamshire County Council has granted planning permission to two separate applications to drill exploratory shale gas wells.

One site will be located off the A634 between Barnby Moor and Blyth.

This approval follows the completion of a legal agreement, required as part of the decision of the council’s planning and licensing committee on 21 March this year, to approve an application by Dart Energy Ltd to drill the exploratory wells at the site in Bassetlaw.

The Section 106 legal agreement includes several requirements, including lorries to enter and leave the site using a designated route to and from the A1, and payment of a bond that would be used to restore the site in the event that Dart Energy is unable to fulfil restoration requirements in the planning permission. The existing community liaison group must be retained for the length of the development.

Alongside the legal agreement, there are 52 separate conditions aimed at minimising the impact of the development on the environment and local communities.

The second site is on land off Spring Road, Misson, in Bassetlaw. This follows approval by the council’s planning and licensing committee on 15 November 2016 of Island Gas Ltd’s application to drill exploratory wells.

The Section 106 legal requirements include a designated route for all vehicles visiting and leaving the site, establishing a community liaison committee and the monitoring of water levels. There are 37 separate conditions in place alongside the legal agreement.

Both planning consents are valid for three years.

The council has said that no fracking is included as part of either development.

30 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


English new-build starts on the rise

New-build home starts in England rose by three per cent in the last quarter to 43,170 in the latest quarter to 31 March, compared with the previous three months.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) housing statistical release also notes this is a 21 per cent increase on the same quarter in 2016.

The number of completions for the three months to 31 March 2017 is estimated to be 39,520 – nine per cent higher than the previous quarter and 21 per cent higher than the same period in 2016.

In the year to March 2017, there were 162,880 new-build dwelling starts, an increase of 15 per cent when compared with the year to March 2016. Completions in this period totalled 147,960, up six per cent on the previous year.

The private sector made four per cent more new-build dwelling starts and 12 per cent more completions in the March quarter 2017 than in the previous three months. Housing associations made two per cent more starts and five per cent more completions in the same period compared with the March quarter in 2016.

The statistics can be found here (pdf).

30 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Consultation for proposed sustainable drainage regime in Wales

The Welsh Government has begun formal consultations on its proposed mandatory regime for sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) for new developments.

This will involve implementation of schedule three of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (pdf).

The prospect is mandatory use of SuDS compliant with national standards on all minor and major development (more than one home or sites larger than 0.5 hectares).

At present, the use of SuDS on new developments is non-mandatory, thus their use is limited and systems are not always compliant with standards. This is due, in large part, to uncertainty around adoption and continuing maintenance, according to the consultation document.

The consultation includes details of a new-look SuDS Approval Body and an approach that ensures that all new developments have a SuDS scheme that meets mandatory standards.

Currently, developers or local authorities must decide to finance the ongoing maintenance of SuDS, where they are built. However, the arrangements for this are highly variable and ad hoc.

SuDS are already used extensively on new developments in Wales. But these are variable in quality and performance, and there is currently a preponderance of ‘hard’ SuDS (largely comprising underground measures and attenuation ponds), with fewer ‘landscaped’ (vegetated) SuDS that can potentially deliver multiple benefits.

Under the new regime unitary authorities in Wales would be the responsible SuDS approving body (the SAB) and would approve new drainage systems before construction can begin. The consultation document suggests that neighbouring councils could share this function.

The government has insisted it wants to integrate SuDS more fully with local development planning at all stages. There will be an opportunity to do this as part of the review of planning guidance for TAN15, which is expected later this year.

In terms of timescales, the administration has proposed that where an environmental impact assessment is required, the SAB must determine an application for approval within 12 weeks and for other applications within seven weeks. Both limits are at least one week less than those under the planning system.

“To ensure flexibility we propose that in all cases the SAB and applicant should be able to agree to extend the timeframe provided the specified timescales have not expired.
“Should the SAB fail to meet these timescales, we propose that the application will be deemed to have been undetermined. We also propose that in these circumstances the applicant should have a right to appeal to an independent tribunal.”

The consultation paper added: “Our policy objective is to deliver effective, multipurpose SuDS in new developments that will be maintained for the lifetime of the developments they serve. To deliver this, it is vital that we enable partnership working between those involved in the design, construction and maintenance of the SuDS.”

Currently about 163,000 properties in Wales are at risk of surface water flooding (120,000 residential and 43,000 non-residential). Flooding from surface water run-off costs Wales an estimated £60 to £130 million a year – 29 per cent of which falls to business.

The risk of flooding is increasing, largely because of climate change and urbanisation. Surface run-off can be a major source of pollution, both directly and from overwhelmed sewers discharging into rivers.

The consultation can be found on the Welsh Government website.

25 May 2017
Roger Milne, The Planner


Three-quarters of electricity from renewables by 2030

At least 75 per cent of the UK’s electricity should come from renewable sources by 2030, says the author of a new report.

Switching On: How Renewables Will Power the UK, by campaigners Friends of the Earth states that with the cost of renewable energy falling and advances in grid management and storage technology, the UK can “reliably be supplied with the clean, affordable energy it needs”.

The report claims that investors can’t ignore that onshore wind and solar are becoming the cheapest energy sources.

It notes that in 2016 renewables generated a quarter of UK electricity – up from seven per cent in 2010.

Switching on suggests:

  • Wind and solar are variable but are becoming increasingly predictable. Combined with a flexible backup, energy storage and smarter grids, wind and solar should be able to form the basis of a clean and affordable energy system.
  • Citing government figures, the report states that by 2025, generating 50 terawatt hours of electricity from new wind or solar should be around £500 million a year cheaper than from new gas generation, including balancing costs. Therefore, integrating variable renewables will help reduce costs.
  • According to the report, the biggest risk to the UK’s energy supply is disruption from ageing fossil fuel and nuclear plants, as well as extreme weather affecting the grid. To counter this, renewables can be the foundation of a secure energy system.

Alasdair Cameron, report author and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s increasingly recognised that renewables like wind and solar are among the cheapest options for generating power in the UK, and it is also clear that they can be the foundation of a stable and reliable energy system.

“If we get this right we should be able to provide at least three-quarters of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, decarbonising our power supply as well as driving down costs and maintaining reliability.”

To decarbonise the UK’s electricity system, the report explains that renewable energy sources, high levels of storage and trading power across regions are the way to achieve it.

Cameron adds the renewables sector is where the “smart money” is going. He said now is the time to pressure candidates in the general election so that next government reforms the energy market.

“Electricity generation can be carbon-free by 2030, we can fall off a cliff edge or we can lead the world.”

26 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Appeals round-up

A round-up of appeal decisions

Location ‘not automatically impractical’ after landslide that cut off utilities

An inspector has granted partial permission for a conversion of two agricultural buildings to homes near Bury, ruling that although a 2015 landslide had cut off mains water and electricity to the area, it was not an impractical location for development.

Permanent toilet block for charity events ‘inappropriate’

Organisers may have to pay £1,800 to hire temporary toilets for future charity events at a rural location in Flintshire, North Wales, after an inspector ruled that a permanent toilet block constituted inappropriate countryside development.

‘No public benefit’ from altering Arts & Crafts home’s original design

An inspector has blocked various alterations to an architecturally significant Arts & Crafts-style home after finding them damaging to the house’s historic design and not requisite to achieve its optimum viable use as a family home.

Loft conversion would harm ‘group value’ of listed terrace

An inspector has rejected plans to add a roof dormer to one of 10 ‘group value listed’ terraced houses in Southwark, South London, after deciding that the houses derive architectural value from a uniform appearance that would be harmed by alterations to one of them.

Air conditioning units for existing building ‘inappropriate in green belt’

Permission for two air conditioning units to serve a recently converted barn in Maidenhead has been refused, after an inspector ruled that they constitute inappropriate green belt development because they are free-standing and therefore ‘buildings in their own right’.

‘No public benefit’ to conservation area home

An inspector has rejected a family’s plans to build a new home with ground-floor facilities for their disabled daughter, ruling that the scheme would bring no public benefit and therefore could not outweigh harm to the surrounding conservation area.

Condition to limit HMO occupants would be ‘unenforceable’

An inspector has rejected a change of use to a seven-bedroom HMO in Kent, deciding that with no effective mechanism available to restrict the number of occupants in HMOs with more than six bedrooms, the proposal would disrupt the areas’s ‘tranquility’.

29 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


News round-up

A round-up of planning news

Council decides to not determine retrospective planning application 

Basildon Council has decided against determining a planning application that sought to retrospectively allow six caravan pitches on land west of Hovefields Avenue.
Southend Standard

Calls for land north of Oxford to be saved from homes

Cutteslowe Park residents have called for Oxford’s ‘last green lung’ to be saved amid the threat of thousands of homes being built north of the city.
Oxford Times

HS2 likely to create polarisation of high-skill jobs in London, says LSE

Better high-speed rail links could lead to highly skilled managerial jobs being “geographically polarised” in London, research conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE) has suggested.
Rail Technology Magazine

Stanningley: Mixed response to new housing plans

Plans for nine houses in Stanningley have been met with local concerns. Work would include the demolition of the existing garages, outhouses and a lean-to extension.
West Leeds Dispatch

Starter homes to be built on former Stoke-on-Trent school sites

Two former school sites are set to be redeveloped to provide more than 430 new houses built at key sites across the city, with half of them available to buy at a 20 per cent discount.
Stoke Sentinel

Birmingham Airport considering terminal building for new HS2 station  

Birmingham Airport is proposing to build a new terminal at the Birmingham Interchange station in an attempt to improve passenger experience.
Birmingham Post

Mayor of London pledges £500k for North London affordable housing scheme

Not-for-profit developer Naked House has said it will provide 22 homes priced from £150,000 on land supplied by North London council Enfield by 2020, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan contributing £500,000. 
Evening Standard

Wind turbines start producing energy

The world’s largest wind turbines, standing over 640 feet with 262-foot-long blades in Liverpool Bay, officially started producing energy for the UK on May 17.
Renewable Energy Magazine

Appeal over fate of Budleigh’s old hospital garden

An appeal has been launched against a controversial planning application to build houses on Budleigh Salterton’s historic former hospital garden.
Exmouth Journal

MPA publishes long-term demand and supply study

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has set out long-term aggregate demand and supply scenarios for Great Britain until 2030.
Agg-Net 

Applicant hits out at rejection of watersports centre plans

The applicant behind rejected proposals to create an activity centre for wakeboarders, kayakers and swimmers near Alderley Edge has claimed that there was "simply no legitimate reason" for councillors to refuse planning permission.
Insider Media

26 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner