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Planning news - 28 September 2017

Published: Thursday, 28th September 2017

Sharma announces compulsory purchase reform, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation adds 600 homes, Welsh economic strategy stresses importance of planning. And more stories...

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

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Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma has announced a new package of measures that aim to ‘simplify and speed up’ the compulsory purchase process.

These should enable local authorities, and other bodies, to acquire land needed for development and infrastructure projects, like new roads, rail and regeneration.

Sharma said: “This government is committed to making compulsory purchase simpler, fairer and faster.  

“That is why the measures we are introducing include a clearer way to assess compensation – replacing obscurely worded legislation and over 100 years of confusing case law.

“We are also introducing a new form to make it easier for claimants to get the compensation they are entitled to, and help acquiring authorities get the information they need to assess claims more quickly.”

Measures in the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 have also come into force this week, which also intend to speed up the process, including clarifying the way compensation is calculated.

The compulsory purchase order guidance can be found on the UK Government website.

22 September 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Nearly 600 homes and a primary school have been approved as part of the development of Ebbsfleet Garden City.

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has backed Keepmoat’s application for the development at Northfleet. The scheme comprises 598 homes, a waterfront promenade, retail space, children’s park, community facilities as well as a primary school.

The development includes 149 starter homes, 38 for affordable rent and 37 for shared ownership.

The plan includes improvements to the prominent WT Henley building, which has fallen into disrepair, and pays tribute to the former Rosherville Pleasure Gardens, a Victorian tourist destination that once featured a live bear pit.

26 September 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

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The Welsh Government has published a new economic and growth blueprint that stresses the importance of planning.

The document, Prosperity for All, says ministers will introduce a new regionally focused model of economic development, working with each region to determine and drive its own sectors according to its strengths and opportunities.

This would mean a focus on a smaller number of national sectors where there are challenges or opportunities across Wales.

The administration is promising to design major Welsh Government infrastructure projects to join up public services and other developments, and to maximise regional benefits.

The report highlights the importance of harnessing the opportunities presented by major schemes like the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and plans for a new nuclear power station on Anglesey.

More effective support for the development of local supply chains and clusters should be incorporated so that economic value is retained locally to create more employment opportunities closer to home.

The report promises the introduction of a new National Development Framework, setting out a 20-year land use plan for Wales, guiding strategic development and supported by the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales.

The blueprint commits ministers to setting out a low-carbon pathway providing clarity and certainty for action and investment in the low-carbon economy by setting targets for 2020, 2030 and 2040.

Also in prospect are “a bespoke infrastructure consenting process which is responsive to business and community needs” that would support sustainable economic growth, and the decarbonisation of the country’s energy supply.

Housing is a key element of the strategy. Ministers have promised to deliver on the administration’s target of 20,000 new affordable homes by 2021, and make more homes available at affordable rent in every part of Wales. The administration will also work with local authorities ”to begin council housebuilding at pace and scale for the first time in decades”.

Roisin Willmott, director of RTPI Cymru, said: “The strategy sets planning as one of the key levers of government to help deliver its priorities. RTPI Cymru welcomes the recognition of the strategic role planning can play. We are currently working with the Welsh Government, and have commissioned Arup to undertake a study to assess the value of planning in Wales.

“We hope this will provide evidence to support investment in planning services – without well-resourced efficient services, the planning system will struggle to deliver effectively.”

Prosperity for All can be found on the Welsh Government website (pdf).

21 September 2017
Roger Milne, The Planner

The government is developing plans for the UK’s first digital intercity railway in the North as part of a £13 billion package for improving journeys in the region.

As part of the Great North Rail Project, major upgrades are being developed for the TransPennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York from 2022 to slash journey times between Leeds and Manchester to 40 minutes.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said Network Rail would receive up to £5 million to develop proposals for embedding digital technology between Manchester and York. This includes a system of advanced train traffic management allowing computers to work out how to route trains most efficiently.

Developing the plans for digital control on the TransPennine route is to be paid for from a £450 million digital railway fund announced in last year’s Autumn Statement.

Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph welcomed the commitment after doubts had been raised over whether investment would continue. “Passengers and communities across the North will want to see detail and timescales about exactly what this will mean in practice, and when they can expect quicker and more frequent services,” he added.

25 September 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

A round up of appeal decisions.

‘Unacceptably cramped’ bedsits vetoed despite DASH compliance

An inspector has turned down plans to convert a terraced house in Derbyshire into six bedsits and a studio flat. He found that although the scheme would meet minimum local housing standards, it would still be ‘unduly cramped and oppressive’.

77-flat tower block allowed despite conservation area harm

Plans for a nine-storey block of flats in Edmonton Green, North London, have been allowed after an inspector ruled that the scheme’s benefits would outweigh harm to the setting of the nearby Crescent conservation area.

Incorporating part of allotment into garden would harm green belt openness

An inspector has refused plans to convert a patch of undeveloped allotment land into private garden space because it would harm green belt openness, despite a similar proposal having been granted for the appellant’s neighbour.

Unsecured planning obligation stalls extra care bungalows

Plans to build 23 ‘extra care’ bungalows near Stratford-upon-Avon have been blocked after an inspector found no acceptable mechanism to secure a planning obligation for replacement open space, affordable housing, and care packages for future occupants.

Selly Oak restaurant adds to ‘unattractive’ daytime frontage

An inspector has refused retrospective permission for a burger restaurant and takeaway in Selly Oak, ruling that it would add to the ‘very unattractive appearance’ of the street during the day when takeaways are generally closed.

Kennels’ residential conversion would enhance site’s character

Plans to convert a dilapidated former dog kennels into a bungalow have been allowed despite their inaccessible location, after an inspector decided that the works would enhance the site’s character.

Council must pay costs for unreasonably refusing 285-home scheme

An inspector ordered Northumberland County Council to pay costs for causing an unnecessary appeal by withholding permission for 285 homes in Northumberland, calling its approach to NPPF paragraph 14 ‘wrong and unreasonable’.

Javid blocks 50% affordable scheme to protect conservation area

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has turned down a 50 per cent affordable scheme of 92 homes in Gloucestershire, ruling that the public benefits of the proposal were outweighed by harm caused to the Fairford conservation area.

Room with ‘sleeping deck’ in loft space is ‘not a studio flat’

An inspector has refused plans in east London for a single room with a mezzanine ‘sleeping deck’ in the loft space above, ruling that it would not constitute a studio flat and would therefore not meet London Plan floor space standards.

233 student flats allowed near Canterbury World Heritage Site

Plans to replace a former dairy depot in Canterbury with 233 purpose-built student accommodation units have been approved, after an inspector ruled the scheme's public benefits would outweigh any impact on local heritage.

You can access the full decision letter and supporting documents relating to the appeal stories by searching the Planning Inspectorate's Appeals Casework Portal.


22 September 2017
Matt Moody, The Planner

A round up of planning news.

2018 RTPI planning awards open for entries

The RTPI has announced that the 2018 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence is now open for entries.

There are 14 categories in the awards, as well as the winner of the Jubilee Cup – to be decided from the winners of each category.

Entries will close on 8 December 2017, with finalists announced on 12 February 2018.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Milton Court Concert Hall in London, on 24 May 2018.

More information can be found on the RTPI website.

Development consultancy partners with London council to deliver homes

SiteSales Property Group has announced that it is working in partnership with the London Borough of Newham to develop and market homes for those priced out by the London property market.

The properties will be sold under NewShare, the council’s shared equity home ownership scheme.

Unlike shared ownership, buyers of the NewShare scheme will own 100 per cent of their property from the date of purchase. A percentage of the property is bought through a mortgage and the value of the remaining share is provided to them as an equity loan from Newham Council. The new homeowners then pay an interest rate of 1.75 per cent on the loan and after a year the buyers have the option of paying off the loan in instalments, or the entirety, should their finances allow it.

SiteSales Property Group is currently providing Newham with advice on the planning and development of the new homes, and leads on the sales and marketing.

All units at the Pitchford Street development have been sold, as well as 21 two and three-bedroom houses at the Boleyn Place, Pragel Street development.

Newham Council intends that 1,200 properties will eventually be developed and sold under the scheme. So far, about 250 properties have been refurbished and sold, with 53 new-builds bolstering the numbers.

New brick factory in Leicestershire

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma has welcomed plans by brick manufacturer Ibstock to invest £50 million in a new factory in Leicestershire.

Speaking at the Builders Merchants’ Federation Members Day, Sharma emphasised the “vital” role builders’ merchants play in getting more homes built in the country.

“Delivering more homes is a key priority for this government. Builders’ merchants have an absolutely vital role to play in this, supplying the essential materials we need to get our country building faster.

“Ibstock’s major investment at their Leicestershire site is fantastic news for the building materials industry, demonstrating continuing confidence in this sector and growing consumer demand.”

He said that working together would ensure that the right building blocks are in place to meet local housing needs and promote growth across all areas of the country.

John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, noted that Ibstock’s £50 million investment is a sign that the UK building materials industry is rising to the challenges posed by Brexit and the government’s housebuilding plans.

Empty office to accommodate 48 homes

An empty former office building, and its surrounding car park and land, is set to be demolished and transformed in 48 affordable homes in Bracknell.

They will be located opposite Bracknell & Wokingham College in Larges Lane, Edenfield.

Social housing provider Stonewater has already started work.

The new development is set to provide a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments and townhouses. In total, there will 35 homes for low-cost rent and 13 homes for affordable shared ownership. It is due for completion in November 2018.

Stoneware has funded the development, along with £946,955 grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Application submitted for new pool and leisure centre in Hythe

A planning application has been submitted to Shepway District Council for a new leisure centre that includes a six-lane, 25-metre swimming pool.

The leisure centre would be located on Princes Parade, replacing the existing pool in South Road.

It will also include a teaching pool, spectator seating for up to 100 people, three exercise studios and a fully equipped 100-station gym. A large amount of open space features in the plans.

Around 150 high-quality homes, including 45 affordable units, could be built to address local housing needs and to help fund the delivery of the new leisure centre and public open space.

There are also proposals to reroute a kilometre of the existing Princes Parade road to the rear of the site to make way for an enhanced pedestrian and cycle route along the seafront, providing an additional buffer between the Royal Military Canal and the development.

Leader of Shepway Council, David Monk, described the application as “a-once-in-a-generation opportunity to breathe new life into this former municipal waste tip”.

Small housebuilders urged to be aware of alternative finance

Professional services company KPMG has advised UK housebuilders to diversify their debt, as they could face the possibility of shutting off vital access to finance.

The warning came as it became known that more than 80 per cent of UK housebuilders’ estimated £10 billion worth of debt is held by just five high street banks.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) said it appreciated the importance of helping housebuilders diversify their debt, but also thinks that more should be done in promoting alternative finance products to construction SMEs so they can successfully diversify their debt.

According to the British Business Bank (BBB), awareness of different finance products is decreasing, with 38 per cent of SMEs going to their main bank when needing a loan between 2016 and 2017.

Paul Bogle, head of policy and research at the NFB, said: “SME housebuilders have close ties with their local communities. They build homes more quickly and to a higher quality standard than major house builders. Unfortunately, they still struggle to access finance in order to build more homes.

“That is why ensuring that SMEs are made more aware of alternative finance choices is vital to tackling the housing crisis and getting Britain building.”

26 September 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner