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Planning News - 22 June 2017

Published: Thursday, 22nd June 2017

Residential approvals up nine per cent in Jan-March 2017, Councils can apply for heritage zone status, Report: Planning system fails to support industrial strategy. And more stories...

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

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In England, the number of residential planning approvals increased by nine per cent during the first quarter of 2017 compared to 2016, to 12,300, according to latest government statistics.

Between January and March 2016, district level planning authorities received 123,300 planning applications, three per cent more than the same period in 2016.

In total, the statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government state that 89,500 decisions were granted, an increase of four per cent when compared with 2016.

District level planning authorities decided 87 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks or the agreed time. During the first quarter of 2016, the figure was 83 per cent.

According to the statistics, 12,300 residential applications were approved, 1,700 (up 17 per cent year on year) of which were major developments and 10,600 (up by eight per cent) minor developments.

The number of commercial developments approved was down by two per cent to 2,600.

In total, 9,200 applications for prior approval for permitted developments rights were submitted, two per cent more than the same period in 2016. The statistics state that 1,400 of these were for changes to residential use, with 1,000 of these approved without going through the full planning process.

In the year ending March 2017, district level planning authorities granted four per cent more decisions that in the year ending March 2016, taking the total to 386,000.

District level planning authorities also:

  • Granted 50,100 decisions on residential developments – 6,600 (up 12 per cent) major development decisions and 43,500 minor development decisions (up six per cent).
  • Granted 11,200 applications for commercial developments, down one per cent on 2016.

Planning applications in England: January to March 2017 can be found on the government website (pdf).

19 June 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Councils, local organisations and groups in England can now apply for Heritage Action Zone status in make areas more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.

The scheme aims to encourage economic growth and improve quality of life in communities across the country.

Historic England launched the Heritage Action Zone project in March 2017, as reported in The Planner.

At the time, ten action zones were announced, including Appleby in Cumbria, Coventry, and King’s Lynn.

Each zone will receive funding that could be put towards restoring old buildings, retail or community space; conservation areas could be improved to kick-start regeneration or historic sites could be developed as visitor attractions.

The programme is now being rolled out to support more historic places. In addition to grant funding, Historic England is offering its services, including:

  • Advice on repairing and finding news uses for buildings.
  • Advice on planning policy.
  • Help with identifying buildings that could be listed to protect them.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive at Historic England, said: “Sadly, some places in England that are rich in heritage are down on their luck. Towns and cities that were workshops of the world, thriving fishing ports or happy holiday resorts are in need of a boost.

“Through the Heritage Action Zone initiative, we’re working with local authorities and other partners to help transform places across England and strengthen their local economies. This year we’re particularly interested to hear from those who would like to use historic buildings to tackle the housing problems facing many communities.”

Applications for Heritage Zone Status must come from partnerships – this could consist of public, private and third sector organisations – and must include at least one local authority partner.

The deadline for initial proposals is 7 August, with interested parties invited to contact their local Historic England office to discuss a potential project before submission.

More information about applying can be found on the Historic England website.

20 June 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The government’s industrial strategy aims to address the country’s long-term economic challenges, but the strategy could be stifled by the planning system.

In its report Industrial Revolution, planning consultancy Turley considers the quality of employment land evidence used by local authorities to allocate for business and make their local plans.

Looking at 10 per cent of local authorities in England, the research focuses on logistics. It suggests that there are major limitations and inconsistencies in the quality of evidence used for plan-making. This leads to the misallocation of land in relation to business needs and potentially impacts on the competiveness of places in attracting investment.

According to the study, the needs of businesses are not fully or consistently understood across local authorities, which can affect the quality of policies and land allocations in local plans, hampering a business’s ability to grow.

Additionally, Turley says employment land evidence is currently based on a lack of documented and meaningful industry engagement.

These lead to barriers to investment in sectors such as logistics. There is a shortage of land in London and the West Midlands that exists because the market outpaces planning policy and because the planning system is failing to respond to rapid change, adds the report. Further to this, some land allocated for industrial purposes is no longer attractive to the market and would be better released for other uses.

Turley is now calling for more pro-business planning system to support the industrial strategy. This should include a review by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) of the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), which advises on how to allocate land for business use.

Richard Laming, senior director at Turley, said: “Our research highlights that the planning system is a blunt tool in responding to evolving business needs. Much could be done to improve the quality of the evidence that is used to inform strategic thinking on the volume, type and location of land that businesses require. Action is required now to ensure UK businesses are fully supported by the planning system as the country prepares to exit the EU and implement its modern industrial strategy.”

Speaking to The Planner about the industrial strategy, the RTPI’s head of policy Richard Blyth said the institute’s key concerns are “how different sectors of the economy pull together, how the and housing is tied into this and how places lead on industrial policy”.

The RTPI’s policy paper Fostering Growth (pdf) includes 10 recommendations on how planning can support economic growth, including implementing customer-friendly approaches.

15 June 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has designated £21 million for a European Regional Development fund as part of his plans to make it a world-leading green city-region.

The money will be used to fund projects that demonstrate their ability to reduce carbon emissions year on year.

The fund contributes to Burnham’s ambitions to cut carbon emission and create low-carbon homes, businesses and infrastructure.

He said: “Climate change and air quality are two of the biggest issues facing us as a city-region and for the UK as a member of the international community. We can no longer ignore the serious damage our carbon emissions are having on people’s health and the world we live in.

He said the city’s economy would be strengthened by investing in pioneering green technologies which will bring more jobs to Greater Manchester.

“By reducing our energy usage across Greater Manchester we will reduce our overall energy costs, making our city-region wealthier and healthier,” Burnham added.

Burnham recently appointed councillor Alex Ganotis as portfolio lead on environmental issues across Greater Manchester. He said the plan allows the city-region to come up with creative ways to integrate smart technologies into communities, allowing every person in Greater Manchester to live in a healthier environment.

15 June 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


St Helens Council has approved plans for a £150 million logistics hub on land close to Haydock Industrial Estate.

The plans include two buildings with a total floor space of 1.4 million square feet and a new junction on the A580 East Lancashire Road.

Planning consultancy Lichfields took the scheme forward on behalf of developer Bericote Properties.

The site lies in the green belt, and so work was undertaken to demonstrate that very special circumstance existed to justify approving the project.

According to the planning consultancy, more than 400 construction jobs will be created during the two-year build phase, with 2,500 jobs expected to be created in the warehouses, shops, services and other local businesses.

Michael Watts, senior director and head of the Manchester office of Lichfields, said: “There is an overriding need for the provision of large-scale logistics buildings in St Helens, both to meet the economic needs of the borough and the wider needs of the Liverpool region – linked to Superport. We demonstrated that this need was sufficient to meet the very special circumstances test.”

According to Lichfields, when up and running the development will contribute £2.1 million a year in business rates and deliver a gross value added economic boost of £23.3 million.

Bericote Properties said it is in discussion with potential occupants for the scheme.

15 June 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A round-up of planning news

165 homes approved in Derbyshire

High Peak Borough Council has approved 165 dwellings in Tintwistle, Derbyshire.

Planning consultancy Nexus Planning submitted the plans on behalf of contaminated land specialists BXB Ltd.

The scheme will see the regeneration of a derelict brownfield site, which is located beside the River Etherow.

The land has previously been a home to a textile mill, landfill site for commercial waste and a contractors’ haulage yard. The site has since been vacant for 10 years.

High Peak Borough Council and Nexus Planning worked together to tackle issues such as biodiversity and the proposed remediation strategy.

Scottish Housing Regulator gets new chair

A new chair and three new members have been appointed to the Board of the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR), Scottish ministers have announced.

The new chair is George Walker. He has been a non-executive director in the NHS, where he oversaw finance and governance projects.

The current chair, Kay Blair, will retire in August.

The new members of the board are Siobhan White, Andrew Watson and Bob Gil.

They will join the regulator from 1 July.

More information about the appointments can be found on the SHR website.

£35m Salford plans published

Plans for a £35 million building next to the River Irwell in Salford have been published by Bolton developer Forshaw Land and Property Group.

The proposals are for land on Derwent Street in the Ordsall area. They comprise 183 apartments, a cinema, a gym and retail kiosk arranged in buildings from 11 to 27 high.

The plans have been submitted to Salford City Council by planning consultancy Lichfields on behalf of Forshaw Land and Property Group. DLA Design is the architect.

According to Lichfields, the development would support more than 230 jobs during the 18-month construction period.

Sargeant writes about housing pact

Welsh communities secretary Carl Sargeant has issued a written statement about a housing supply pact between the Welsh Government, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The statement notes that the Welsh Government’s recognises the importance of private sector building, and that both the government and the private sector know there is more to be done to ensure that housing supply meets growing need.

The Welsh Government’s priority is to increase housing supply and maximise the benefits from construction through local jobs and apprenticeships.

The pact sets out commitments from the Welsh Government, the HBF and the FMB for the remainder of the administration. The government makes a number of commitments, including:

  • To engage with the industry to help shape future housing policy and identify the most important barriers to housing supply in Wales.
  • To work with local authorities to ensure every planning authority in Wales adopts a local development plan and carries out a review where required.
  • To develop new policies to encourage growth of small and medium-sized house builders.

The HBF and FMB commit to:

  • Maximise community benefits through local investment and other targeted opportunities, including increasing provision of apprenticeships and training schemes and development of local SMEs.
  • Help develop the construction skills agenda.
  • Provide detailed evidence to inform and shape new housing policy.

The full statement can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Granton Waterfront application submitted

Places for People has submitted plans for the third phase of the Granton Waterfront development to the City of Edinburgh Council.

The development comprises 89 homes, landscaped courtyard and amenity space.

Of those 89 homes, 33 will be for affordable rent and 56 for sale, said Colin Rae, group development director at Places for People.

Property management company Places for People is aiming to build 2,000 new homes in Edinburgh over three years.                                                                                                   

Matlock site sold to house builder

Land promotion firm Richborough Estates has completed the sale of a 17-acre development site near Matlock, Derbyshire, to housebuilder William Davis Homes.

Richborough Estates had already secured planning consent for the delivery of up to 110 homes on the site. However, responding to changes in market demand for a greater number of family homes, William Davis Homes secured reserved matters planning consent for 86 homes.

The site, which abuts the Matlock Bank Conservation Area, has been masterplanned in a sympathetic manner to respect Bailey’s Tump, the historic and locally significant remains of a Second World War fortified air defence site, according to a statement by Richborough Estates.

The dry stone walls that enclose the site will be protected and more than 50 per cent of the land available will be public open space.  

The site, which has an approximate land value of £4 million, was promoted by Richborough Estates on behalf of the Presentation Sisters Trustees, an order of nuns whose convent is next to the development plot.

20 June 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner