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Planning news - 19 October 2017

Published: Thursday, 19th October 2017

Digital tool launched to pinpoint development land potential, Downing Street summit hears May’s pledge to boost house building, Network Rail releases sites 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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A digital tool has been launched to show the potential for bringing together land, planning and housing data from different government agencies in one place.

Under a planning pilot commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Future Cities Catapult designed a prototype to help speed up, reduce the costs and improve the quality, of plan-making and planning decisions.

The tool, known as the Land Information Platform, would help planners, real estate developers and citizens to identify and prioritise land for future development. The move aims to accelerate the allocation of land while predicting capacity and estimating costs.

Future Cities Catapult says such planning tools will automate a variety of processes, freeing up planners’ time, reducing costs, and creating a more transparent system.

“With the government’s manifesto commitment to create ‘the largest repository of open land data in the world, the Land Information Platform demonstrates one of the ways in which public information can be used to accelerate the development process, increase certainty, and improve transparency,” says Future Cities Catapult head of projects Stefan Webb.

“We believe open-source public data platforms can support an eco-system of new software for planning, much like the app store, allowing others to build digital products and services on top of this system, replacing time-consuming, expensively produced consultant reports that lie unread by man or machine.”

The prototype demonstrates how critical parts of local plan-making such as land identification, prioritisation and site allocations for development can be automated, speeding up and increasing certainty around housing capacity, Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments or other similar processes.

RTPI head of policy Richard Blyth said: “Local planning authorities would greatly benefit from new digital tools which help them to collect and aggregate land and planning data. This prototype shows the art of the possible.”

18 October 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to take ‘personal ownership’ of the drive to speed up housing development and urged sector leaders to play their part at a Downing Street summit yesterday.

The summit, which lasted 75 minutes, was attended by ministers, the chiefs of Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey, alongside representatives from local government, registered social landlords, small builders and housing professionals.

A Downing Street spokesperson said May outlined her plans to increase housing supply “which means developers, big and small, local authorities and housing associations all stepping up to play their part”.

The summit discussed how to ensure planning permissions granted by councils delivered new homes, modern methods of construction, future supply of skilled workers and help for small and medium-sized builders.

“It was encouraging that everyone around the table agreed with us about the important role councils must play and pleasing that the prime minister is taking personal ownership of this challenge,” said Local Government Association chairman Lord Porter, who attended the summit.

“The last time we were building the number of homes that the country needs, in the 1970s, councils were building 40 per cent of them.

“Councils want to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need again and are already playing their part by approving nine out of 10 planning applications.”

Commenting on the summit, Wedlake Bell planning partner Jay Das said no one person or organisation “has the magic wand” to solve the housing crisis.

“To be successful in the short term – before the next general election – the prime minister will need to focus on industrial and brownfield land, and more building by the public sector to show any real progress during her term of office,” she added.  “Any legislative reforms are highly unlikely."

18 October 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

Network Rail has launched the first of its planned series of new ‘multi-site land packages’ as well as a range of new measures to improve its work with developers.

The multi-site packages, which are groupings of different development sites, should streamline the process for unlocking land for housing, according to Network Rail.

These packages feature sites in Greater London and the South East, including two sites in Bermondsey, space for residential and commercial developments in Leyton, redevelopment opportunities in Edenbridge, Kent, and new land and an improved station in Bickley, in the borough of Bromley.

Between them, the sites have the potential to deliver 300 housing units.

Network Rail has launched the packages as it works towards its target to deliver land for 12,000 homes by 2020. In total, a quarter of this target has been released, with 200 sites identified for housing, said the organisation, while land for 2,100 new homes has been released this year.

In addition, Network Rail said it would change its way of working with developers by adopting a new approach to insurance and risk cover, a new advisory service and a new service level commitment for asset protection. All changes will be published in full over the next six months.

Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, said: “Britain’s railways create economic growth, jobs and housing by enabling connectivity. In addition, use of Network Rail’s land can and should enable more regeneration and housing directly.

“We recognise this means strong and ambitious new partnerships, so Network Rail is changing to make it easier than ever for developers to work with us to deliver exciting projects in and around railway stations and railway land. Developments of this type drive regeneration, and create housing and employment opportunities whilst creating great places for people to live, work and travel.

“We are already partnering with innovative developers who can match our ambition to deliver quality schemes across Britain, and we want to partner with more. This collaboration is a big step forward in our new approach.”

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, said: “Investment in Greater London is vitally important if our capital is to manage housing and population challenges, and greater collaboration between the public and private sectors is a key way of securing this investment.

“It’s encouraging to see that Network Rail has developed a new approach to its collaboration with developers. We look forward to seeing the results of this land unlocking process soon.”

12 October 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Stansted Airport has revised its plans for growth and will not seek to increase the number of flights it operates.

About 26 million passengers use Stansted each year – an increase of nearly 10 million passengers since five years ago. Stansted’s growth potential is currently limited by a planning cap that would prevent the airport handling more than 35 million passengers per annum (mppa).

Following a public consultation this summer, it will now apply to raise the cap to 43 mppa to enable it to meet forecast growth in the next decade. The revised proposal represents a smaller increase in passenger numbers than originally proposed at 44.5 mppa.

Stansted said this would enable growth to be met without increasing the number of aircraft movements currently permitted to operate each year.

“The feedback we received from our neighbours during our extensive consultation was clear – that they support the ongoing growth and investment in the airport and welcome a further increase in destinations and choice,” said chief executive Ken O’Toole.

“Local residents also told us that they were concerned about the proposal to increase the number of flights that the airport is permitted to operate each year. We’ve listened to those concerns and decided to adapt our proposals so growth can be met within the current cap on the number of aircraft movements,” he added.

“That means the airport’s growth over the next 10 years to serve 43 million passengers can be achieved without increasing the existing limits on aircraft movements and noise.”

Stansted said it had advised Uttlesford District Council about changes to its future planning application, which is due to be submitted in early 2018.

18 October 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner

A round-up of appeal decisions.

423 homes allowed in local gap under paragraph 14

Outline permission has been granted for 423 homes in a designated ‘green gap’ between the villages of Fleet and Crookham Village, Hampshire, after an inspector found the local plan out of date and engaged NPPF paragraph 14.

Inspector dismisses ministerial statement on affordable housing

An inspector has decided that the need for affordable housing in Richmond should carry more weight than the 2014 ministerial statement on the subject, allowing one scheme and dismissing another on that basis.

Warehouse church congregation would disrupt peaceful Sundays

Plans to conduct church services for up to 50 worshippers in a warehouse in Bexley have been refused, after an inspector decided that noise from the services would disturb local residents’ ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their homes on Sundays.

Rural boatyard manager’s on-site home would bolster security

An inspector has approved permanent on-site accommodation for the manager of a Kent boatyard despite its isolated location, ruling that it will allow him to deal with fires, floods and medical emergencies outside business hours.

Lake District home refused following World Heritage Site designation

A new home in Wasdale, Cumbria, has been refused permission because it would harm the character of the Lake District World Heritage Site, which was designated by UNESCO after the appeal had been submitted.

Refurbishing waterlogged garden vaults would harm grade II* listed home

An inspector has refused plans to refurbish two underground vaults in the rear garden of a 17th century Hampstead home, ruling that their ‘humble and functional’ character would be lost, harming the home’s significance.

Javid backs Cheshire East Council by refusing 900 homes

The communities secretary has blocked a large-scale village extension near Crewe, contending that it would undermine the spatial policies of the newly adopted local plan.

Green light for contemporary regeneration of listed 17th century pub

An ‘uncompromisingly contemporary’ plan to regenerate an unused and deteriorating 17th century Cornish pub has received permission, despite local opposition from the Butchers Arms Preservation Society (BAPS).

Javid allows 108-home scheme in light of 1.9-year supply

The secretary of state has overturned Arun District Council's decision to reject 108 homes near Yapton, West Sussex, ruling that the area’s ‘severe’ housing supply shortfall carried more weight than conflict with the local development plan.

Takeaway refused in Manchester school zone

An inspector has refused retrospective permission for a takeaway near a Manchester primary school, because it fell foul of a public health policy in the council's supplementary planning document on takeaways.

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

Search Appeal decisions

13 October 2017
The Planner

A round-up of planning news.

Crown Estate sells land to housebuilders

The Crown Estate has announced that it has reached an agreement with Barratt and David Wilson Homes for the sale of land north of Bingham, Nottinghamshire.

The 225-acre site has outline planning permission for 1,050 homes and commercial space.

It forms part of the extension of the town, with a masterplan featuring a new community to the north of Bingham, with space for new local shops, a primary school and public space.

Savills advised the Crown Estate on the sale. The housebuilder is expected to start on site next year.

Vauxhall student scheme approved

Lambeth Council has approved a student residential and mixed-use scheme in Vauxhall.

tp bennett designed the site for developer Downing.

The approval will see a 37-storey student residential building and a six-storey commercial office development built on the west side of South Lambeth Road.

It will replace an existing two-storey, 18-unit commercial office space.

The residential building will provide 841 student beds, split into studios and en-suites for five, six or seven cluster units. These will be offered at different prices.

A 201-square metre ground-floor café and reception area will also be accommodated.

Students to design Liverpool cultural building

Architectural technology students in their final year at Liverpool John Moores University have been challenged to design a new cultural building at Liverpool Waters.

The Liverpool Waters masterplan includes proposals for a cultural building in the Central Dock neighbourhood. The students have been briefed to produce ideas for how this could look once developed.

The students have visited the site and met assistant project director Ian Pollitt.

Michael Farragher, senior lecturer in architectural technology at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “This project is all about getting students out of the classroom to tackle real-life challenges and put their skills into practice on a real project. This is the next generation of architects and it’s really important that they gain the practical skills that they will need to succeed in their career.”

Contributions sought for Worcestershire minerals plan

Worcestershire County Council is looking for local landowners to contribute to its new Minerals Local Plan.

The plan aims to guide what materials are needed and how much the council needs to be able to supply, where minerals should be extracted, how sites should be restored when work has finished, and how minerals development should protect and enhance the county’s people and places.

Worcestershire County Council is looking for landowners to submit additional sites that could be suitable for mineral working and could contribute to the local supply of minerals, especially sand, gravel, clay or hard rock.

The ideal site would have proven viable mineral resources, interest from a mineral operator and would not adversely affect environmental designations, homes or businesses.

The call for sites is open until 26 January 2018.

More information can be found on the Worcestershire County Council website.

Mega-battery plant launches

A new energy storage facility at E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows biomass power station near Sheffield has now come online.

Nexus Planning secured planning permission for the extension in August 2016.

The new battery facility is capable of storing 10 megawatts of energy.

Nexus Planning said it marks an important development in the management of the national grid by enabling greater control over the balancing of electricity demand and supply.

Council supports empty homes campaign

Lichfield District Council has begun surveying the owners of properties that have been empty for a long time with the view to bringing them back into use.

As part of Empty Homes Week (16 October-22 October), the council is urging anyone who is struggling with an empty property and needs help to bring it back into use to contact it for advice.

The council also wants to hear from people who are concerned about an empty property in their area.

In the district there are an estimated 100 long-term empty properties. The council has a policy that aims to bring them back into domestic use.

Doug Pullen, cabinet member for regulatory services, housing & wellbeing, said: “Derelict properties can blight local communities and, with housing in short supply, they are wasted opportunities to create much-needed homes.

“Empty Homes Week is a good opportunity to highlight this issue locally, and to urge people to contact us if they own an empty property or are worried about a derelict property and want it dealt with.”

17 October 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner