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Planning news - 3 August 2017

Published: Thursday, 3rd August 2017

Council reviews planning decisions owing to wrong air quality data, Government frees up £54m to release land for housing. And more stories...

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

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Errors made in monitoring air quality by Cheshire East Council have affected planning applications across the area, so the council is now reviewing whether mitigation measures are required.

Concerns about monitoring of air quality were first raised at a council cabinet meeting on 12 July 2016.

A report submitted to the meeting identified data inaccuracies on air quality that had affected the 2015 and 2014 submissions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The council’s internal audit team undertook a review and then commissioned an external investigation.

The investigation’s findings suggest that serious errors have been made in the council’s air quality data for 2012, 2013 and 2014. “It is clear that these errors are the result of deliberate and systematic manipulation of data from a number of diffusion tubes.”

Additionally, phase two of the investigation included a review of planning applications where publications of revised air quality data may have affected planning decisions. The findings indicate that applications in Nantwich, Congleton, Crewe, Holmes Chapel and Sandbach were affected.

Sean Hannaby, director of planning and sustainable development at the council, said: “The planning service is currently analysing the relevant planning applications to assess whether any additional mitigation measures are required.”

He also said that in July 2016 the then director of public health assured the council that no immediate health protection measures were needed as a result of the errors. “I have been assured this advice still stands.”

The council’s air quality team has reviewed its internal processes and procedures and a number of quality control measures are in place, the council said.

“Our council website now contains the correct data and supporting information and our annual status report for both 2016 and 2017 containing the accurate data will be submitted to Defra within the next few weeks,” added Hannaby.

2 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The government has launched a £54 million package that aims to transform local communities and release land for thousands of new homes.

The package is part of a new cross-government partnership to make smarter use of government-owned property in England.

Of the money, £45 million comes from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Land Release Fund, which has been launched in partnership with the Cabinet Office and the Local Government Association’s (LGA) One Public Estate Programme.

The government said it would ensure that local councils release some of their unused or surplus land for housing, helping to meet its ambition to unlock enough council-owned land for at least 160,000 homes by 2020.

Councils are now able to bid for the funding, which could be used for land remediation and small-scale infrastructure.

In addition, One Public Estate is making £9 million available to support councils to deliver property-focused programmes. By 2020, councils on the programme are expected to have delivered £615 million in capital receipts, £158 million in running costs saved, 44,000 new jobs and the release of land for 25,000 homes.

The partnership between the DCLG and One Public Estate aims to give local authorities greater access to support from across government to release more land efficiently.

Alok Sharma, housing and planning minister, said: “To build the homes this country needs, we need to increase the supply of land available to build more homes, more quickly. As a major landowner, local authorities have a crucial role to play in this task.

“Through this innovative cross-government partnership, we will be able to work with councils much more effectively, helping them to meet local housing needs and transform local areas.”

Lord Porter, chairman at the LGA, said: “Councils are committed to building the new homes their communities need and I’m pleased to see the announcement of the Local Authority Land Release Fund as part of this next funding round. It’s great to see two government programmes aligning to offer a more coherent programme to our local communities.”

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, told The Planner: “We welcome the use of underused public land for housing purposes and for the release of money to assist in making land fit for purpose. However caution should be expressed for two reasons: firstly it may be in the best interests of a place for its assets to remain in public ownership and generate long term revenue, and secondly if the highest capital receipt is pursued to the exclusion of all other objectives, the risk is that the homes may not be affordable homes.”

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the British Property Federation, said the programme is a significant boost for local councils to release unused or surplus land for much-needed housing.

However, she said the DCLG “must ensure the funding is released effectively and at speed if this initiative is to truly support the government reach its housing targets by 2020”.

Alongside this, the government must drive forward the promised changes in the housing white paper, such as the amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework and the increase of planning fees, “to give local councils the impetus to strategically plan for and deliver a range of housing tenures”.

1 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Steve Quartermain CBE has written to local authority planners across England reminding them of the important role the planning system has in counter-terrorism and crime prevention.

In the letter, issued this month (July), the government’s chief planner drew attention to paragraphs 58 and 69 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

These recommend that local planning authorities should ensure that their policies and decisions aim to create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder do not undermine community cohesion and quality of life.

He also noted paragraph 164, which says that when preparing a local plan, local authorities should work with local advisers to make sure they have taken into account the most up-to-date information about sites at risk from “malicious threats and natural hazards”, as well as steps that could be taken to reduce vulnerability and increase resistance.

Quartermain highlighted the design section of the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), which includes crime convention and security measures.

He also writes that where appropriate, pre-application discussion between planning officers and security advisers like counter terrorism security advisers and police crime prevention design advisers “will ensure that authorities and applicants share an understanding… of the level of risk and the sort of measures available to mitigate the risk in a proportionate and well-designed manner”.

Quartermain’s letter can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

31 July 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed the consultation on assessing local housing need has been delayed until Parliament returns in September.

Speaking at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference early in July, communities secretary Sajid Javid said the government would launch a consultation on a new way for councils to assess their local housing requirements that month.

This was first announced in the housing white paper in February.

Now, a spokesperson at the DCLG has confirmed that the department “intends to publish the local housing need consultation when Parliament returns in September”.

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, told The Planner the standardised methodology “must be introduced so as not to cause a hiatus in local plan production”.

Andrew Gale, chief operating officer, Iceni Projects, said: “While the introduction of a new simplified methodology for assessing housing requirements has been widely supported by many in the industry, the government has clearly concluded that efforts to force councils to increase the number of homes in their local plans is too much of a political hot-potato.”

2 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of appeal decisions.

Javid backs custom-built homes plan in Wiltshire

The secretary of state has agreed with an inspector and granted permission to build up to 35 custom-built homes in Warminster.

Temporary short-term let ‘not comparable to renovation’

Using a residential flat as a short-term Airbnb-style let for a temporary period is not comparable to removing it from the housing supply for other reasons, such as to renovate it, an inspector has ruled.

Javid rejects Buckinghamshire green belt housing scheme

Permission to build 131 homes on a former sports ground in the Buckinghamshire green belt has been refused by the secretary of state.

Assisted living scheme approved in ‘geographically constrained’ Amersham

An inspector has granted permission for 38 assisted living units for elderly people in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, ruling that the scheme’s public benefit outweighed concerns relating to its impact on the setting of the town’s historic centre.

Noise from punchbags and ‘physical exertion’ disruptive to residents

An inspector has refused retrospective permission for a partially enclosed extension to a gym in Ruislip, West London, ruling that the noise caused by punchbag use, ‘tyre flipping’, and ‘human physical exertion’ was disrupting nearby residents.

HMO use after Article 4 direction ‘was not a wilful breach’ of planning law

An inspector has refused permission to retain an HMO that was created after a local Article 4 direction restricting HMO conversions, ruling that although there had been no wilful breach of planning laws, it still conflicted with local policy.

Leeds lock-up garage appeal dismissed for poor design

An appeal to demolish 21 lock-up garages and replace them with four homes in Stanningly in West Yorkshire, has been dismissed because the scheme would fail to deliver high-quality design.

Inspector approves Hartlepool wind turbine

An appeal to install a single wind turbine on a farm near Hartlepool has been upheld after most of the community supported the application.

Workshop conversion meets special circumstance for isolated building

An appeal to convert a workshop into a four-bedroom home on a Norfolk farm has been upheld after an inspector ruled that the scheme met the special circumstance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for reuse of a rural building.

Flats scheme would fly in face of Bournemouth conservation area

An appeal to demolish a house and build a block of seven flats in a Bournemouth conservation area has been dismissed.

Javid overrules inspector to block 760 homes in Berkshire

Sajid Javid has overruled an inspector's decision to approve two appeals totalling 760 homes in Thatcham, west Berkshire, finding "insufficient evidence" that the delivery of housing in the area is under threat.

Javid blocks wind farm despite ‘extensive and weighty’ benefits

Sajid Javid has upheld an inspector’s decision to refuse permission for 11 wind turbines in Cornwall, ruling that ‘less than substantial’ harm to nearby heritage assets outweighed the extensive environmental benefits of the scheme.

High quality modern extension allowed in Hammersmith conservation area

An inspector has granted permission for a complex development involving a three-storey extension to three interlinked buildings in the Hammersmith Broadway conservation area, praising the scheme's sensitivity to its historic surroundings.

Council must pay costs for ‘vague and generalised’ objection to holiday lodges

An inspector has approved six holiday lodges in the Stour River Valley, ordering Canterbury City Council to cover the costs of the appeal because its ‘vague and generalised’ reason for refusal amounted to unreasonable behaviour.

31 July 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner

A round up of planning news.

Maldon local plan approved

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has approved the Maldon District Local Development Plan (2014-2029).

In June 2015 the then communities secretary Greg Clark intervened in the Maldon plan – at the request of the council – to test whether the inspector who had produced the interim findings on the plan had reached an “appropriate, proportionate and balanced view” on the plan as a whole.

Following consideration, Clark arranged for the examination of the plan and appointed a new inspector to carry it out.

This inspector concluded that with the inclusion of a number of “main modifications” by the council, the plan meets the criteria in the National Planning Policy Framework. Javid decided to approve the plan.

The communities secretary's letter to the leader of the council can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

Burnham announces grants from homelessness fund

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has announced new grants from his homelessness fund to create new accommodation for rough sleepers in the city region.

A £20,000 grant will go to the charity Stop, Start, Go, (SSG), which is creating accommodation for people sleeping rough in Manchester who are ready to seek employment.

A further £3,500 grant will go to church-based charity Emmaus. which will use the money to teach homeless people trades to create an extra bedroom for rough sleepers in Bolton.

Burnham, who has been out speaking to people sleeping rough to find out what they need, said: “I am personally committed to this. I am putting my own money into the fund and I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have done the same. Together, I absolutely believe we can end rough sleeping and put a roof over everyone’s head in Greater Manchester.”

Since his Homelessness Fund was launched on May 8, 2017, it has raised more than £50,000. His first grants were awarded in June to charities from across Greater Manchester.

* Burnham contributes 15 per cent of his salary to the fund every month.

Regeneration scheme in London approved

Urbanest has received planning permission for a mixed-use development from the City of London planning committee.

The Vine Street scheme, in EC3, comprises 643 new student homes alongside ‘affordable’ offices for King’s College London. The rooms will be offered at a range of different prices.

A new exhibition space that offers public access to a preserved section of London’s original Roman wall has been created in partnership with the Museum of London.

The scheme has been designed by Hopkins Architects. Urbanest is a developer and operator of student housing.

London Fields to get new bar-restaurant

Barworks is planning a new all-day bar-restaurant, with a mini-market on site, for London Fields.

Acting on behalf of Hackney Council, CF Commercial has secured 8,800 square feet on a 25-year lease for Barworks in Keltan House, a converted warehouse.

The ground floor of the warehouse will feature a bar, restaurant and deli.

AG&G represented Barworks.

Real estate firm appointed to advise on Edinburgh Airport development

Crosswind Developments has appointed real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield to advise on the strategy and delivery of more than 100 acres of development land at Edinburgh Airport.

The site will be released following the closure of the airport’s crosswind runway, which is rarely used.

As part of the plans, Edinburgh Airport’s new company Crosswind Developments says it intends to fund a new terminal access road.

London Resort to submit DCO in spring 2018

Developer London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) has announced that its final round of public consultation on plans for London Resort will take place early in 2018 and that it will submit a Development Consent Order in spring 2018.

These events form part of the fifth stage of the programme of community engagement.

Speaking about the partnership agreement, Humphrey Percy, CEO of LRCH, said: “We plan to build over 3,500 hotel rooms, operated by our new partner, Intercontinental Hotel Group, constructing the majority of the resort and new roads and infrastructure with materials stored at and transported from Port of Tilbury, with whom we have recently signed an agreement. We are now in very detailed commercial negotiations regarding partners, the concepts they are embracing and some of the incredible creative propositions.”

The opening date is planned for 2023.

Southampton uni sports building approved

Southampton City Council’s planning committee has approved a new sports building at Southampton Solent University’s city centre campus.

Property consultancy JLL in Southampton advised on the planning application.

Work on the £28 million building will begin on Monday 7 August.

Facilities in the building comprise two sports halls, three fitness studios, a health and well-being gym, a strength and conditioning gym and teaching space.

It is expected that students will be able to use the building by summer 2019.

1 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner