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Planning news - 21 December 2017

Published: Thursday, 21st December 2017

Playing fields are being safeguarded across England, Report: Brownfield sites alone cannot solve housing crisis, Yorkshire Dales homes decision deferred. And more stories...

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

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New figures have suggested that playing fields across the country are being protected when planning applications come forward for permission.

This is according to public body Sport England.

It said its role as a statutory consultee saw 1,138 out of 1,200 (95 per cent) concluded planning applications that affected playing fields in 2015/16 improved or safeguarded sports provision.

Councils are required to consult Sport England on a development that would affect or lead to the loss of a sports playing field.

The public body said it objects to all such applications unless the developer can prove it will improve or protect sport provision.

According to Sport England’s figures, in 2015/16 46 per cent of cases where Sport England originally objected to an application, its intervention and further negotiations led to an overall improvement in sports provision.

Of the 120 applications where Sport England sustained objections, 49 were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.

Local authorities approved 62 applications (5 per cent) despite Sport England objections.

Sport England property director Charles Johnston said: “Playing fields are a vital part of grassroots sport as they are often the place where young people have their first experience of sport and develop habits that will help keep them active through life. That is why our statutory role is so important. I’m pleased the latest figures show that the safeguards we have in place are continuing to work.”

Sport England’s Active Places data shows that across England there are 21,866 playing field sites, containing a total of 70,381 pitches.

13 December 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Greenfield sites will be necessary if enough homes are to be delivered to meet demand, the authors of a new study have said.

Brownfield: The Housing Crisis Solved? considers the areas with pilot brownfield registers, comparing them with their five-year housing demand.

The pilot areas have the potential for 200,000 homes, net of normal planning attrition. But the five-year demand for housing in these areas is 275,000 homes, while 550,000 are needed over 10 years.

“The housing shortfall from brownfield is even greater than these numbers suggest,” said Neil Lawson-May of The Gracechurch Group, which sponsored the study.

According to the report, most brownfield land is not in areas of high housing need, therefore, the headline numbers present “a less accurate picture that the regional analysis”.

Lawson-May said just two regions taking part in the pilot have sufficient capacity to accommodate their five-year housing requirement once planning attrition has been factored in.

“Brownfield land can make a significant impact on the housing crisis, but it cannot solve it.”

He added that “hard evidence about brownfield site availability through the registers can help politicians and planning authorities explain to communities more effectively why greenfield development is necessary”.

The report looked at the sites identified on the brownfield registers created by local planning authorities.

The government’s new formula for assessing housing need was laid over this to see how far brownfield and can go towards meeting housing needs.

Of the 73 pilot local authorities, 67 have published their registers; the deadline for local authorities is 31 December 2017. In total, the registers identify 4,894 brownfield sites, covering 12,960 hectares, which could provide around 300,000 new homes – but this falls to 200,000 once the normal one-third attrition rate for the planning process is accounted for.

Lawson-May noted that most brownfield sites can accommodate 15 homes or fewer. “The collapse of many small housebuilders during the credit crunch is a problem for developing small brownfield sites," continued Lawson-May. "The government should consider expanding its successful Home Building Fund.”

Just 25 sites on the registers could provide 22 per cent of all brownfield homes, notes the report. Such sites should be “targeted urgently and centrally” to determine if they are sustainable. If not, “it would be better to return them to nature and build on greenfield than spend many years debating their future,” said Lawson May.

Recommendations in Brownfield: The Housing Crisis Solved? include:

  • Local people and interest groups should be encouraged to put forward sites for inclusion on brownfield registers and if sites are not to be included on those registers then an explanation should be given.
  • The registers take no account of the attrition rate between grant of planning permission and the start of development which, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government, is about one-third. The report suggests that local planning authorities publish total brownfield housing numbers from the register alongside total expected (i.e. after normal attrition) numbers.
  • The small size of most brownfield sites limits the density at which they can be built if the existing streetscape and neighbourliness are to be preserved. Where greater density is possible this is best left as a matter for local communities through the local planning authority.

* The Gracechurch Group includes Palatium Investment Management, Dominic Lawson Bespoke Planning, Crocus Valley and Bonnar Allan.

11 December 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The planning committee at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has deferred a decision on whether to grant planning permission for five new affordable homes following a threat of legal action.

The homes – two semi-detached houses and a terrace of three – would be located in Bainbridge, just outside the village’s housing development boundary, in a field to the rear of the grade II listed Rose and Crown pub.

Solicitors Hill Dickinson, acting on behalf of a Bainbridge resident, said the public had not been properly consulted. They also said not enough evidence had been put forward to prove that the properties in the application would be “wholly affordable”.

Members of the planning committee were told at a meeting yesterday (12 December) that planning officers were confident that a formal period of consultation had been heard.

However, the officers advised members to defer the decision so that residents could make any further comment on the application and more evidence be compiled.

The applicant, Horn Blower Developments Ltd, recently built eight homes on an immediately adjacent site, with the plan to build five more homes seen as phase two of the development.

The plans can be found on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority website (pdf).

In the same planning committee meeting, permission was granted for the installation of an 11 metre-high telecommunications pole and associated equipment on Fleets Laithe, north of Hetton in Rylstone parish.

13 December 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

English district-level planning authorities decided 88 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks or the agreed time between July and September 2017, according to latest government statistics.

This was an increase of 3 per cent compared with a year earlier.

District-level planning authorities received 117,700 applications for planning permission, which was 2 per cent less than the same quarter in 2016.

They granted 98,8000 decisions, a decrease of 3 per cent when compared with July to September 2016. The government said this is equivalent to 88 per cent of decisions, unchanged on the same quarter in 2016.

The planning authorities granted 12,500 residential applications, 3 per cent down on a year earlier. Of these, 1,600 were major applications and 10,900 were minor applications.

There was an 11 per cent fall in the number of commercial developments being granted compared with the previous year – 2,600.

District councils received 10,400 applications for prior approval for permitted development rights, a decrease of 5 per cent from the same quarter in 2016. Applications for changes to residential use totalled 1,500, with 1,000 approved.

In the year ending September 2017, district-level planning authorities granted 380,700 decisions, in line with the same figure for the year ending September 2016.

They granted:

  • 49,700 decision on residential developments – 6,600 for major developments, up 6 per cent on the year ending September 2016, and 43,100 for minors, up 2 per cent.
  • 10,500 applications for commercial developments, down 6 per cent on the previous years.

Planning Applications in England: July to September 2017 can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website (pdf).

14 December 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has suggested that 90 per cent of MPs think converting empty spaces above shops could help ‘reverse’ the housing shortage.

A survey by the FMB also highlights that 89 per cent of MPs say converting such spaces into homes could boost local growth in their area, while 86 per cent think it could have a positive impact on the vibrancy of their town centres.  

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said that an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 homes could be created by converting empty spaces above shops.

“This is space just waiting to be turned into residential accommodation. The fact that 90 per cent of MPs of all parties recognise the potential of our existing buildings to help solve the housing crisis means we need to be more imaginative if we are going to build the 300,000 homes a year that the chancellor pledged in last month’s Budget.”

Alongside the survey, the FMB published a report – Homes on Our High Streets.

Considering six case study towns – Bishop’s Stortford, Bridgend, Castleford, Harrow, Motherwell and Stratford-upon-Avon – the report notes that there is the potential to bring forward additional residential units across a wide range of building types in different urban settings.

To overcome challenges to development, the report makes a number of recommendations, including that local authorities should “explicitly make reference to building homes above shops on the high street within their various planning documents”.

It also recommends local authorities help find ways to overcome disparate ownership and limited building access and/ or infrastructure in order to make redevelopment of residential units easier.

Berry noted that the research highlights the opportunities that exist for creating new homes in a range of different building types.

“It demonstrates what could be achieved by innovative and ambitious development. The report puts councils at the heart of the solution.”

With the change of consumer habits and the rise of online shopping, “high streets are struggling to remain relevant,” he said. If not all space on high streets can be used for commercial reasons, “let’s make use of it for residential and help increase the supply of new homes”.

Homes on Our High Streets can be found on the Federation of Master Builders’ website (pdf).

18 December 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

RTPI responds to article on planning corruption

The RTPI has issued a statement in response to a Sunday Times (subscription) article in which a former adviser to David Cameron said planning corruption is endemic in councils across Britain.

Rohan Silva “argues that the planning authorities have been given too much power to make decisions that could dramatically affect the value of properties and developments”.

Stephen Wilkinson, president of the RTPI, said: “RTPI chartered planners are bound by a strict code of conduct. Charges of corruption are extremely rare. The planning system is underpinned by the principle that development should deliver the widest possible range of public benefits. Decisions are vested in the democratic process for which planners are vital guardians.”

Plans for Emmeline Pankhurst statue submitted

Planning consultancy Turley has submitted plans for a statue of British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst on behalf of the Emmeline Pankhurst Statute Project, in Manchester.

According to a Turley statement, the nucleus for the scheme was the WoManchester Statue Project, which seeks to celebrate women and address inequality in their representation across Manchester statutes. Currently, there is one statue in the city that is of a woman – Queen Victoria in Piccadilly Gardens.

The public voted on a shortlist of women who had made a significant contribution to Manchester and, in many cases, the country.

Milton Keynes mixed-use development approved

Milton Keynes Council has approved a £90 million mixed-use development at Campbell Park.

tp bennett secured planning permission for the development on behalf of Crest Nicholson.

The scheme comprises 383 new homes that include villas, townhouses and apartments, alongside new shops, restaurants, a pub and nursery facilities.

In addition, the plans also feature a 117-berth marina, which in future is expected to form the start of a canal link between Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Council schemes approved

Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) has granted planning consent for two council-led regeneration projects in Camberley.

Planning and development consultancy Montagu Evans advised the council.

The developments are:

  • At Ashwood House, in the town centre, 116 flats are planned, as well as car parking and communal space. The existing second and third floors will be renovated, with two floors added. A former BHS store will be split into several retail units.
  • Pembroke House on Frimley Road, will be demolished and rebuilt as a four-storey building with commercial space for the town’s businesses and 25 one and two-bedroom flats with communal areas. All flats will be affordable.

Moira Gibson, leader of the council, said: “We are pleased to be driving forward these crucial regeneration projects, making progress on our key priority of regenerating Camberley Town Centre and the surrounding areas.”

Plans for former Broomhill Hospital site submitted

CALA Homes (West) and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have submitted a joint planning application for a proposed housing development at the former Broomhill Hospital in Kirkintilloch.

The plans include 162 private and affordable homes, with the site allocated in the adopted East Dunbartonshire Local Development Plan 2, 2017.

The residential units will comprise apartments, cottage flats, townhouses, terraced and detached properties.

Of the 162 units, 40 will be affordable, ranging from cottage flats and terraced houses. CALA is expected to deliver the units for Link Housing Association.

Khan refuses estate regeneration scheme

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has refused planning permission for an estate regeneration project in Barnet, which would have resulted in the net loss of 257 affordable homes.

The application was for the redevelopment of Grahame Park estate in Colindale, including the demolition of 692 homes currently available at social rent and replace them with 435 homes.

Khan withheld his support for the scheme and told Barnet Council, which approved the application in November, that it must continue working with City Hall planners and the developer to redesign the scheme to replace the lost affordable homes.

£200m for England’s roads

Transport minister Jesse Norman has announced £200 million of funding that aims to help improve the condition of local roads across England.

It will go towards helping to repair one million potholes, highways maintenance, developing new technologies to improve highways resilience and cycle parks.

Norman said: “We’re investing record amounts at present to improve the condition of our roads, so drivers and cyclists don’t have to dodge potholes to travel safely.

“We’re also looking at how new innovations can help councils keep their roads in the best condition, saving money and planning their maintenance better.”

Consultation on remote island wind projects launched

The government has launched a consultation that includes proposals to enable remote island wind projects to apply for a Contract for Difference (CfD) in the next competitive auction for less established renewable technologies.

UK Government minister for Scotland Lord Duncan said: “Wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland have the potential to generate substantial amounts of electricity and cut emissions, supporting economic growth and delivering lasting benefits for communities.

“Enabling these projects to compete in future auctions will reinforce the UK’s position as a world leader in renewable generation, as well as providing Scottish jobs in any projects supported.

“I urge local communities, developers and other stakeholders to work together to ensure that such projects deliver lasting benefits to the islands.”

The consultation can be found on the UK Government website.

19 December 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

This is the last news of 2017. Our news service recommences in the New Year.