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Planning news - 24 August 2017

Published: Thursday, 24th August 2017

Northern leaders demand fairer transport deal. Second home ownership rises in Britain. £45.5m investment to unlock homes in Leicestershire and South -East. And more stories...

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

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Political and business leaders from across the north of England have met to demand a fair transport deal from the government.

The meeting follows the announcement in July by transport secretary Chris Grayling that new bi-mode trains will be used on some lines instead of electrifying them.

These technologies will be deployed on the Great Western Main Line in South Wales, the Midland Main Line, and on the Lakes Line between Windermere and Oxenholme, “instead of carrying out disruptive electrification works along the whole of these routes”.

Grayling’s announcement came at the same time that he declared his support for Crossrail 2, causing confusion and concern about the government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

Since Grayling made the announcement, about 70,000 people have signed an Institute For Public Policy Research petition calling on the government to immediately commit to HS3 and other Northern Powerhouse rail projects as well as billions of “catch-up cash” for transport infrastructure in the north of England.

Earlier this week, former chancellor George Osborne urged Prime Minister Theresa May to commit to building high-speed rail lines across the north of Liverpool. He said HS3, which was approved when Osborne was in government, would help May to “relaunch her premiership”.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester; Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council; Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region; Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council; Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council and Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, all attended the meeting.

Burnham said the event showed that “the patience of people in the north of England has run out”.

“We are getting organised and demanding the government keeps all of its promises to people here and delivers a fair funding deal for the North of England.

“We are not against our capital city developing world-class infrastructure, but it cannot be at the expense of the North. People here have put up with clapped-out trains and congested roads for long enough.

“The fact we have such strong private sector support at this event shows that this not about party politics but civic and business leaders uniting to get a fair deal for the North.”

“The government needs to show it is serious about rebalancing and revitalising our economy. We need to see clear prioritisation and a timetable for Crossrail for the North from the government as well as other vital transport improvements going ahead as soon as possible.”

Blake said: “Transforming rail connections across the North was part of the original plan to create a Northern Powerhouse and was estimated to bring £100 billion in economic growth as well as 850,000 new jobs. The people of the North are demanding a direct commitment from the government to increase investment in transport and to settle for any less would hold back the potential of the North for decades to come.”

23 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The proportion of adults in Britain who own a second home increased by 30 per cent between 2000-2002 and 2012-2014, according to analysis published by think tank Resolution Foundation.

The analysis suggests there has been a 1.6 million rise to 5.2 million in adults who own multiple properties, which equates to one in 10 people.

This, combined with a fall in home ownership since the early 2000s, has underpinned the “increasing concentration in property wealth within a declining proportion of families”, said the think tank.

The research says that 40 per cent of adults have no property wealth, up from 25 per cent in 2000 to 2002.

The value of assets held by multiple homeowners has increased by 20 per cent in real terms between 2000 and 2002 and 2012 and 2014, from £125,000 to £150,000.

Those who own multiple homes are likely to have been born between 1946 and 1965, aged 52 to 71, and account for 52 per cent of all the wealth held in additional properties. Those born between 1966 and 1980, aged 37 to 51, account for 25 per cent of additional property wealth.

People born since 1981 own just 3 per cent of additional property assets, accounting for less of it that their predecessors did at the same age.

Other statistics from the research include:

  • 88 per cent of additional property owners are in the top half of the wealth distribution.
  • 79 per cent of adults who earn income from additional properties are in the top half of income distribution.
  • 59 per cent of such landlords are found in the South-West, the South-East, East of England and London.

Laura Gardiner, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Multiple property ownership is still a minority sport, but a growing one that represents a significant boost to the wealth pots of those lucky enough to own second homes. People with second homes not only have an investment that they can turn to in times of need, for instance, in later life when care is required, but if the property is rented out they also see a boost to their incomes here and now.”

She said that, contrary to popular narrative, these second homeowners are “rarely your typical middle-income worker shoring up savings or ordinary retiree boosting pension income”.

“With young people much less likely to own a home at all than their predecessors at the same age, the growing concentration of property wealth among fewer families raises concerns not just for their living standards but for wealth inequality of our country as a whole. Recent steps to increase stamp duty on second homes and reduce tax relief on buy-to-let mortgage are attempts to address this challenge, but policymakers should consider what more can be done to ensure that home ownership doesn’t become the preserve of the wealthy for generations to come.”

More information can be found on the Resolution Foundation website.

21 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

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Highways England has announced a number of road improvements schemes worth £45 million that could create more than 6,000 jobs and 10,000 homes in Leicestershire and the South East.

The body is making a £19.9 million contribution towards the schemes from its Growth and Housing Fund, which was set up as part of the government’s £15 billion investment in roads.

Private sector developer contributions, the Congestion Relief Fund and other public money make up the rest of the investment.

The three schemes that will receive money are:

  • M27 junction 9 Whitley Way – Up to 3,500 homes and up to 250 jobs could be delivered.£9.9 million will come from the Growth and Housing Fund and £3 million from the Highways England Congestion Relief Fund. Hampshire County Council and the local enterprise partnership will, under the terms of a grant funding agreement, deliver the scheme. It is the first scheme to be supported by this fund in the South-East.
  • Anstey Lane (A46 / A560) – Up to 2,378 homes and around 260 jobs could be delivered. Some £5 million will come from the Growth and Housing Fund and £2.8 million from private developers. Leicestershire County Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership will deliver it.
  • M1 junction 23 – Up to 4,000 homes and 5,600 jobs could be created. Some £5 million will come from Growth and Housing Fund, £10 million from private funding and £3.2 million from the local growth fund. Leicestershire County Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership will deliver the scheme.

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive at Highways England, said: “England’s strategic roads are vital for economic success, connecting businesses, people and supporting the government’s agenda of employment and growth. All of these improvements and future upcoming announcements will ultimately ensure England’s major roads continue to make a valuable contribution to the prosperity of our country.”

18 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The second draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) won’t be developed until the new year and then published in June 2018, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has announced.

The time frame has been discussed and decided by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Salford City Mayor and Greater Manchester Combined Authority lead member for housing, planning and homelessness Paul Dennett, and leaders of the region’s councils.

The first draft, published in October 2016 for consultation, identified sites for 227,000 homes, including some green belt land locations. It said the release of some green belt land was “essential” to keep up with Greater Manchester’s growth.

Then in May 2017, after he was elected mayor, Burnham appointed Dennett to “radically rewrite” the framework.

According to the combined authority, the second draft will take into account concerns raised by some members of the public during the first consultation as well aim to make the most of the region’s brownfield sites and reduce the impact on the green belt.

Dennett said: “To do justice to the 27,000 responses received as part of the initial consultation, and to demonstrate continued trust and transparency in the process, we agreed a timetable with a series of steps leading up to the publication of the revised plan.

“This process will start in September with the publication of the responses to the initial consultation. This will be followed later in the year by the publication of data and associated sources of information such as population estimates which will help us calculate the requirements for housing and employment. Some of this information isn’t yet available, for example, we are waiting for the government to publish its national methodology for calculating housing need, which we expect will now be released in the autumn.

“The second draft of the plan will be developed in the new year, with a view to publish it in June 2018. Following publication of the draft plan, there will be a 12-week consultation with the public.”

He said the public would be kept up to date with the framework’s progress.

21 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning appeals.

Inspector blocks 18-home scheme despite housing shortfall

An inspector has blocked plans for 18 homes near Saffron Walden, Essex, despite the area’s housing supply shortfall, upholding all four of the local council's reasons for refusal at appeal.

70-room hotel will not replace traditional villas in conservation area

Plans to demolish two ‘good-quality Edwardian villas’ and build a five-storey hotel have been blocked after an inspector ruled that its modern design would be out of context with the conservation area in an East Sussex seaside town.

Inspector overrules local plan to allow sleeping area in converted tabernacle

An old religious meeting hall near Exeter that was recently converted into a design studio can be further altered to add a sleeping area in its roof space. An inspector ruled that the plan was sustainable development despite some conflict with local policy.

Children's care home no more disruptive than family home

An inspector has approved a change of use from a class C3 house to a care home for up to three teenagers, ruling that disruption to neighbours would be no worse than if a family was occupying the house.

Burnt-out building less harmful to conservation area than new homes

A plan to replace a derelict building in Ramsey conservation area with four new homes has been blocked after an inspector ruled that the new homes would cause greater harm to the character of the area than the existing burnt-out home.

Council must pay costs for overestimating housing supply by three years

Fareham Borough Council has been penalised for acting unreasonably by basing its estimate of five years of housing land supply on an out-of-date core strategy when refusing a 120-home scheme.

 ‘Isolated’ lion enclosure and dwelling refused near Chipping Norton

Plans for a lion enclosure and associated dwelling in west Oxfordshire have been refused after an inspector found no evidence for the special circumstances required to permit new isolated development in the countryside.

Inspector overrules local plan to allow 50% affordable scheme

Permission has been granted for 92 homes near Gloucester, half of which would be designated affordable, after an inspector overruled local housing policy and dismissed concerns about flooding and landscape harm.

10MW solar farm refused after changes to proposal rejected

An inspector has refused permission for a solar farm in Oxfordshire as it would harm the character of the area. He refused to take the appellant’s late alterations to the proposal into account because they had not been consulted on.


21 August 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner

A round-up of planning news.

Help to Buy: ISAs opened reached one million

More than one million Help to Buy ISAs have been opened, helping first-time buyers across the UK save for a home.

The government said first-time buyers have saved over £1.8 billion in their ISAs.

Economic secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, said: “Our Help to Buy schemes continue to prove hugely popular across the country, as we support people to get on in life and achieve their dream of climbing the housing ladder.”

The government’s Help to Buy ISA scheme was launched on 1 December 2015 to provide first-time buyers with the opportunity to save up to £200 a month with the government topping up their contributions by 25 per cent, up to a maximum of £3,000.

Housebuilder buys Congleton site with permission for 170 homes

David Wilson Homes has bought a 25-acre development site in Cheshire from strategic land company Richborough Estates.

The site, known as Black Firs Park, is on the western edge of market town Congleton. It has been bought for more than £10 million.

Before selling, Richborough Estates secured planning permission for 170 homes, comprising one to five-bedroom homes.

Green space also features in the plans, as well as a commitment to retain existing boundary tress and hedgerows around the site.

Acorn buys Bristol site

Developer Acorn Bristol has purchased Brandon Yard, a 58-unit harbourside scheme in the centre of Bristol.

The development, which already has planning permission, will be led by Acorn, in partnership with Galliard Homes.

It comprises a mix of new-build homes and the conversion of two grade II listed buildings. The apartments will have one, two or three bedrooms.

The development is expected to be completed in spring 2019.

The developer's, Acorn South division has purchased a 16-bedroom scheme in central Salisbury. The site has full planning permission and work will begin in October 2017.

SNH launches coastal guidance

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has published guidance aimed at helping professionals assess the potential impacts of future development on Scotland’s coastal landscapes.

The guidance sets out how to undertake a coastal character assessment, which SNH said is central to the planning and development process as it provides the baseline information against which landscape and visual impacts are assessed.

Roseanna Cunningham, environment secretary for the Scottish Government, said: “The coastal characterisation assessment guidance will help us ensure that our coasts are taken into account when considering specific changes or looking at the broader scale of new spatial plans and development.”

Mike Cantlay, chair at SNH, said: “Coastal character assessment is the cousin of terrestrial landscape assessment in Scotland. It additionally considers the specific characteristics associated with the coast, such as maritime influences and the nature of the coastal edge.

“We’ve produced the guidance published today to help Marine Planning Partnerships, Marine Scotland, local authorities and landscape practitioners, as well as our own staff here at SNH. It will be referred to in our future advice on renewables projects and will be helpful for new aquaculture projects, as well as used to support marine planning.”

Lake Lothing Third Crossing designs on show

Suffolk County Council has published the proposed design for Lowestoft’s £90 million Lake Lothing Third Crossing.

The Department for transport granted funding for the bridge in March 2016.

The bridge will be required to open to maintain the Port of Lowestoft’s operations, the proposed crossing will be 12 metres above the high tide levels, significantly higher than the A47 Bascule Bridge, enabling a larger number of vessels to pass under the new crossing without a need for it to open.

To open the bridge, hydraulic pistons lift the bridge deck, which rolls back on the vertical part of the structure that contains a counterweight, holding the bridge at a specific angle to allow vessels to pass through safely. A control tower would operate the bridge – although no decision has been made on its location yet.

A consultation on the designs begins on 4 September, 2017.

Phase one of Thetford scheme to be delivered by Hopkins Homes

The Crown Estate and the Kilverstone Estate have announced that the first phase of the Greater Thetford Strategic Urban Extension scheme has been sold to Hopkins Homes.

The property developer will deliver around 350 for the phase, 15 per cent of which are designated as affordable, as part of an extension to the Norfolk market town.

Planning permission for the site was granted in 2014 for up to 5,000 homes, three primary schools, public open space, community and healthcare facilities, as well as a place of worship.

Pigeon Investment Management promoted the site, while Savills advised the Crown Estate and the Kilverstone Estate on the exchange.


22 August 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner