Latest news

Planning news - 21 September 2017

Published: Thursday, 21st September 2017

Sharma allots £22m for communities to help deliver housing, Sir Terry Farrell invites planning profession to make the most of IT, Cardiff Bay tidal lagoon makes progress. And more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma has announced that £22.8 million of government funding will go to communities to help them deliver neighbourhood plans.

He said the cash would give locals more of a say over growth in their area.

The allocation splits down into £5.5 million a year until 2022 and aims to provide communities with specialist support to help deliver a neighbourhood plan.

More than 400 successful neighbourhood plan referendums have taken place across England.

Sharma said: “Neighbourhood planning gives communities a powerful set of tools to shape their area and drive local growth.

“The government is committed to giving communities even more of a say in the development of their area, and that’s why we’re dedicating around £23 million between 2018 and 2022 to help groups create neighbourhood plans.”

Sharma said: “Neighbourhood planning gives communities a powerful set of tools to shape their area and drive local growth.

“The government is committed to giving communities even more of a say in the development of their area, and that’s why we’re dedicating around £23 million between 2018 and 2022 to help groups create neighbourhood plans.

“With over 400 now in place more people than ever are having their say on the location and design of new homes, shops and offices in their community. I congratulate the many thousands of community-minded people across England carrying out this valuable work.”

Trudi Elliott, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “Having worked directly with over 274 groups to help them develop neighbourhood plans since their inception, the RTPI knows how much people care about these plans and how important they are in shaping places and building public trust in the planning system.

“It’s also clear from our experience that people need support to make the plan-making experience easier and worthwhile, so this latest funding is very welcome.”

20 September 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Sir Terry Farrell CBE has called on the planning profession to embrace the opportunities presented by the continuing technology revolution.

Speaking at a ceremony at which he became only the 15th person in more than a century to be awarded the RTPI’s Gold Medal, the architect, planner and urban designer said emerging technologies were set to “transform” the planning profession.

”We may get to the point where we don’t have planning committees,” said Sir Terry, “instead having decisions on planning applications made through the equivalent of game simulators where you can press a button to decide yes or no.”

“I also think that 10 years from now, automated vehicles will be affecting city making in a huge way as they will require far fewer car parking places, lanes for traffic and so on.”

Talking about building information modelling and collaborative information technology in general, Sir Terry called the 21st century “the century of city making”, suggesting that planning would benefit from the wider pool of people becoming involved in decision-making.

“These are extraordinarily exciting times for any involvement in city planning,” said Sir Terry, “and I think town planning is at the core of that.”

Sir Terry also used his address to suggest that more should be done to credit all the individuals involved in the design of a building or a space.

“It’s unfair that a building is seen as solely the work of this or that architect,” said Sir Terry. “There tends to be an over-exaggeration of the individual and I think that’s not right. People need to shout more about what they do; it would be better if buildings had a role of honour like film credits.”

The Gold Medal was presented to Sir Terry at the Great North Museum in Newcastle. He called his receipt of the RTPI’s Gold Medal a great honour. “There’s an awful lot of proactive planning going on and I think the RPTI should be celebrating it more. My receiving of the Gold Medal is hopefully a return to a restating of planning’s value. I think planning is a great way to spend one’s life.”

19 September 2017
Martin Read, The Planner


Proposals for a huge tidal power lagoon in Cardiff Bay have made progress this week now the company has secured a connection deal with National Grid for the project which, if built, would be rated at 3,240 megawatts.

Current plans for Cardiff Tidal Lagoon comprise a 20.5-kilomtere breakwater wall, housing up to 108 tidal lagoon turbines within at least two powerhouse units.  

By enclosing approximately 70 square kilometres of the Severn Estuary, the project would pass an average of 600 million cubic metres of water through its turbines on each tidal cycle, more than 11 times the volume of water available to the pathfinder scheme at Swansea Bay.

A full application for development consent for the scheme, between Cardiff and Newport, is anticipated in 2019.

Backers of the lagoon claim it represents an Olympic-sized economic opportunity for the Cardiff Capital Region. Some estimates suggest that over 3,000 construction workers would be required on the build, with the potential to create and sustain more than 8,000 Welsh and UK manufacturing jobs in the project’s supply chain.

Leader of Cardiff City Council Huw Thomas, said: “We welcome this development as an important milestone in progressing a hugely exciting and potentially transformative project for Cardiff and the wider region.  

National Grid director Phil Sheppard said: “Tidal power has the potential for highly flexible operation in the future. This infrastructure project will have a significant impact as we move towards an increasingly low carbon electricity network.”

Meanwhile, Utility Week reported that Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who was recently elected chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, asked in the House of Commons last week when the government intends to respond to the Hendry review.

She said: “The issue of the tidal lagoon does need a response from the government. It is eight months since the review.

“There is a very real risk that the investors that are needed to fund the project will walk away unless a decision is made very soon by the government.”

14 September 2017
Roger Milne, The Planner


District level planning authorities issued decisions on 87 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks or the agreed time between April and June 2017, an increase on the 84 per cent figure for the same period in 2016, according to government statistics.

The statistics show that district planning authorities received 123,300 applications for permission, a decrease of five per cent on the same quarter in 2016.

As in 2016, 88 per cent (98,700) of decisions were granted.

District councils granted 12,200 residential applications, the same as the corresponding quarter in 2016, with 1,500 major developments and 10,600 minor developments granted.

Commercial development decisions were down by ten per cent, with 2,500 granted.

They received 11,000 applications for prior approval for permitted development rights, eight per cent lower than April to June in 2016, with 1,400 of there for changes to residential use, 1,000 of which were approved.

District planning authorities reported 112,000 decisions on applications in April to June 2017, down two per cent on the same period in 2016.

According to the statistics, in the year ending June 2017, district council planning authorities granted 384,000 decisions – up one per cent on the year ending June 2016.

In total, 50,100 residential development decisions were granted – 6,600 major and 43,500 minor developments – an increase of nine per cent and five per cent when compared with the previous year.
In the year ending June 2017, 10,900 commercial development decisions were granted, three per cent down on the previous year.

Planning Applications in England: April to June 2017 can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

18 September 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A round up of appeal decisions.

Student accommodation refused in Durham despite 'proven need'

Plans for a 60-room student accommodation block in Durham have been blocked despite a 'proven need' for 4,000 extra rooms by 2020, after an inspector afforded the council's development plan more weight than the university's accommodation strategy.

Development plan outweighs extra care need despite growing shortfall

An inspector has refused plans for a 42-bedroom extra care facility in Surrey despite a shortfall in care provision that is 'likely to increase', after ruling that the scheme's conflict with development plan policies carried more weight.

Restoring illegal landfill site would ‘harm green belt openness’

Plans to restore a former illegal landfill site in the Merseyside green belt by importing 273,000 cubic metres of soil have been refused after an inspector decided that the new landform would harm the area’s visual openness.

Benefits of 175-home scheme outweigh green gap harm

Plans to build 175 homes on a ‘green gap’ between the villages of Clacton-on-Sea and Little Clacton in Essex will go ahead after an inspector ruled that the benefits of addressing the housing shortfall in the area outweighed conflict with the local development plan.

‘Unique, classically designed’ Croydon pub to be replaced with flats

An inspector has approved plans to demolish a ‘striking’ pub in South London and replace it with seven apartments and two houses, ruling that the scheme would ‘add interest to the street scene’.

Javid blocks 705-home scheme over ‘deficient’ unilateral undertaking

Sajid Javid has refused permission for a mixed-use scheme including 705 residential units in south-west London, after ruling that ‘deficiencies’ in the unilateral undertaking would put the delivery of essential planning obligations at risk.

Tilted balance not engaged despite housing shortfall, says Javid

Sajid Javid has refused permission for 212 homes on the site of a former munitions factory in Buckinghamshire, ruling that harm to green belt openness and the Chilterns AONB meant paragraph 14 of the NPPF was not engaged, despite a housing supply shortfall in the area.

Final go-ahead for 1,280 homes in Perth

A1,280 home scheme on Perthshire land first mooted for housing more than 20 years ago has been granted final approval, after a planning obligation to secure a primary school and other facilities was completed.

Pub's live music events blocked to accommodate flats

An inspector has approved plans to convert a Lambeth pub’s upper floors to flats, subject to a condition preventing the continuation of previously popular live music nights, ruling that the pub could still serve a ‘valued role’ for the community.

15 September 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner


A round-up of planning news.

London could lose its office space to permitted development

Research published by the British Council for Offices (BCO) has suggested that 13.3 million square feet of London office space could be lost to office-to-residential conversions carried out under permitted development rights.

The figure includes 7.5 million square feet of office space in the capital that has already been converted into homes since the rights were introduced in 2013.

Permitted Development Rights: One Year on From Permanence, carried out by property consultants CBRE for the BCO, states that while Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds have all experienced high levels of notifications to local councils, London remains the city most affected, with 36 per cent of all notifications in the capital.

A higher proportion of notifications have been converted in London compared with the rest of England, with 57 per cent implemented, compared with an estimated national average of 50 per cent.

Burton health village given board approval

A £55 million health village development in Burton-upon-Trent is set to go ahead following an agreement between STRIDE, the partnership between Morgan Sindall Investments’ health brand Community Solutions, Arcadis and Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has signed an option with STRIDE to progress the development on surplus land next to its Queen’s Hospital site in Burton (Outwoods site).

STRIDE will now produce an outline planning application before the end of 2017.

It is expected the development will provide GP and community services for about 30,000 patients, extra care residences to mitigate delayed discharges, a 100-plus place nursery and accommodation for vulnerable adults.

Helen Scott-South, CEO at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust is conscious that the NHS needs to make better use of its surplus land, the development proposed, “in lieu of a standard housing development, enables a greater focus for the community in providing more seamless care”.

NaCSBA launches programme to showcase right to build work

The National Custom and Self Build Association’s (NaCSBA) Right to Build Task Force has launched a national programme of events to showcase the work of the recently established task force to help boost the supply of custom and self-build housing.

It also aims to bring together stakeholders from industry, local authorities and landowners.

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma attended the event in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. He said custom and self-building housing would be an “essential” part of fixing the broken housing market.

Aylesbury was chosen by NaCSBA as the location for the first event because the task force has been supporting Buckinghamshire Advantage to allocate a significant proportion of the 1,100 homes planned for the Aylesbury Woodlands site as custom and self-build housing.

At the event Buckinghamshire Advantage confirmed the decisions it support from the Task Force. Richard Harrington, chief executive, said: “The task force gave us clear and helpful advice, drawing on the UK and international experience of its experts. As a result, our board has agreed to target 15 per cent custom and self-build housing, amounting to 165 plots”.

Firm appointed for Bracknell town centre review

Following a competitive tender process, real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield has been appointed to conduct a town centre masterplan review by Bracknell Forest Council.

The firm will work with Allies and Morrison, which will provide urban design support to the masterplan review.

The opening of The Lexicon, a shopping and leisure destination, has brought 1,000,000 square feet of shopping and leisure space, up to 1,000 new planned apartments, 12 multiplex cinema screens and 3,800 new car park spaces to Bracknell.

Bracknell Forest Council is now seeking to identify and stimulate development activity to complement the new Bracknell, “future-proofing the town centre for generations to come”.

Architects announced for Barking & Dagenham employment land overhaul

Architects Hawkins\Brown and We Made That have won an open competition to explore the future use of employment land in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

It forms part of the area’s plans to deliver 50,000 new homes and 20,000 jobs by 2035.

The council wants masterplans that create mixed-use schemes that encourage growth in the area. The firms will set out proposals for “fully integrated living and working areas to address Barking and Dagenham’s status as one of the poorest, low-skilled boroughs”.

The plans will cover 135 hectares of industrial land alongside the intensification of retained industrial sites with new employment space.

Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This is a pivotal piece of work which will enable our new regeneration company Be First to deliver on Barking and Dagenham's ambitious plans to be London's east-end engine for homes and jobs."

Redevelopment of grade II Porthcawl building approved

Bridgend County Borough Council has granted planning permission and listed building consent for the redevelopment of a grade II listed Victorian building in Rest Bay, in Porthcawl.

The redevelopment, by Acorn Property Group, will provide 69 apartments – 39 within the grade II listed building and 34 new-build apartments.

When Acorn entered a joint venture agreement to become the development partner with the landowner, permission already existed for the site. Acorn revised the plans.

James Groombridge, managing director at Acorn’s Cardiff office, said: “The revised permission on the listed building will provide an additional 6,296 square feet of net internal space. In addition, all apartments have been carefully reviewed in order to maximise views and ensure configuration of living accommodation. As part of this review we ensured that all apartments include plenty of storage, provided individual access and private amenity space to many ground-floor apartments and increased parking standards, providing two spaces per dwelling.”

Ten homes approved in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council has approved ten homes for a site in Longframlington, Northumberland.

JT Planning provided planning and surveying services to local building firm Pringle Building Services.

The scheme will see ten large homes built at low density on the site.

The developer has provided funding for affordable housing on another site in the county.

Pringle Building Services expects to be on site soon.

19 September 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner