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Planning news - 1 February 2018

Published: Thursday, 1st February 2018

Plans to test for gas in Cheshire refused, Wolverhampton constructs council homes offsite, Report: Community-led housing should be part of housing shortage solution. And more stories...

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

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Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee has voted to reject IGas’s plans to carry out further tests for gas at Ellesmere Port.

Earlier this month, a council planning officer recommended that the application should be approved.

The well in question – Pentre Chert – was drilled in late 2014. The application included a flow test, aimed at enabling the company to better understand the volumes of gas it contains.

More than 1,400 objections were submitted against the application, with Friends of the Earth speaking at the committee meeting.

The campaign group argued that it should be rejected because the “proposed test site is situated just 1.85 kilometres from the town centre and only 700 metres from the closest residents”.

Additionally, the plans could have “threatened” the adjacent Special Protection Area of the Mersey Estuary, “which is an internationally important site for wintering birds”.

IGas wanted to establish whether hydrocarbon production could take place, which the company told the planning committee would not involve drilling or deepening the well, BBC News reported.

Polly Steiner, North West campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said the application did qualify as fracking.

“Councillors have listened to the hundreds of local people who have opposed shale gas testing and thankfully rejected these plans.

“Instead of dirty fracking, the government should be backing clean renewable energy which could create thousands of new jobs in Cheshire.”

BBC News noted that IGas said it would consider appealing against the decision.

Rotherham rejects plans for well

Rotherham Council has rejected Ineos’s plans to construct a 2.8 kilometre-deep well on land to the east of Harthill, near Rotherham. The company want to extract rock samples for testing.

Campaigners said approval of the application would lead to pollution and increased traffic in the area.

But Ineos had already asked the Planning Inspectorate to decide the application, claiming the council has taken too long to reach a decision, the Rotherham Advertiser reported.

This meant the application was already refused, but the council met to agree reasons for opposing Ineos’s plans. They cited access and “deficient” ecology report as its reasons.

Clark wants fracking firms to prove ‘financial resilience’

Energy secretary Greg Clark has said in a ministerial statement that shale gas firms will have to prove their “financial resilience” before they are able to drill.

Clark makes specific reference to Third Energy, which has permission from North Yorkshire County Council to frack at Kirby Misperton. The firm has failed to publish its 2016 accounts despite the deadline being 30 September 2017.

Although Clark thinks Third Energy has satisfied all the technical requirements, he said the company wouldn’t receive consent for the development until financial checks have been completed.

“I note that as of 24 January Third Energy UK Gas Limited and other related companies had yet to submit their accounts for the accounting period ending in December 2016, despite a statutory deadline of 30 September 2017 for them to do so. I have therefore asked the Oil and Gas Authority to seek further financial information from the company, including the required set of up-to-date accounts, to inform my decision,” wrote Clark.

Clark added that the government considers the financial resilience of a company wishing to hydraulically fracture as a relevant consideration.

Clark’s ministerial statement can be found on the UK Parliament website.

29 January 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The first of the City of Wolverhampton Council’s council homes to have been constructed offsite will be dropped into place at Fallings Park at the end of this month.

Four two-bedroom modular homes are being manufactured in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland, by Extraspace Solutions.

The homes are the first of their kind to be delivered by the council, in conjunction with Wolverhampton Homes. They will be ready on 14 February.

Work for the £600,000 pilot scheme started on site in November 2017. The scheme forms part of the council’s new-build council housing building programme on small derelict sites.

Wolverhampton Homes will manage the homes for the council.

Peter Bilson, deputy leader and cabinet member for city assets and housing, said: “Clearly, larger housing developments are crucial to meeting our housing targets – but the cumulative effect of smaller-scale projects like this is also vital to improving our offer.”

Shaun Aldis, chief executive at Wolverhampton Homes, added: “Modular buildings have many benefits over traditional construction including a shorter construction time, reduced site disruption and more consistent quality.

“This means we can provide more council housing, more quickly, without too much disruption to the people living next to the build site.”

25 January 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Community-led housing should be part of the ‘strategic mix’ to increase the supply of affordable homes available to local people, a new report has argued.

Community-Led Housing: A Key Role for Local Authorities notes that while different solutions are required for different markets, community-led housing can make a contribution – whether through building new homes, returning empty properties to use or introducing community-led housing into the management of existing homes.

In November last year, then housing minister Alok Sharma announced a new programme of funding for community-led housing. The first £60 million was announced in December 2016, but it went quiet after that until Sharma spoke at the first National Community-Led Housing Conference.

The report, by the Housing Commission on Community-Led Housing, also sets out how community-led housing can help local authorities to achieve their strategic priorities, such as returning homes to use and empowering communities to become more self-sufficient.

Sharon Taylor OBE, chair of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network, which set up the commission, and leader of Stevenage Borough Council, who commissioned the report, said that with 12 different case studies, the report “shows that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to generating community-led housing”.

“Housing is at a crisis point in the UK. Too often we hear that people are caught in the private rental trap or unable to get on to the housing ladder. Enabling communities to create affordable homes is something that local councils can do, and this report provides real examples of how to do it. We’re encouraging all councils to commit to supporting the development of more community-led housing.”

Tony Newman, chair of the commission and leader of Croydon Council, added: “The housing markets across the UK are failing to meet the needs of local communities. We are advocating community-led housing because we recognise the shortage of public sector resources for housing. We need to harness communities’ local knowledge, commitment and resources in order to generate affordable housing.”

The case studies include projects from Brighton & Hove City Council, Glasgow, City Council and Carmarthenshire County Council.

25 January 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Councillors on Rushcliffe Borough Council’s planning committee have granted outline planning permission for up to 3,000 homes at Fairham Pastures on the A453.

The site is located to the south of Clifton and has been identified in the Rushcliffe Borough Council Local Plan, which outlines a requirement for 13,500 homes in the borough of the next 10 years.

The application also comprises 100,000 square metres of employment land, which has the potential to create 2,500 jobs, as well as deliver new shops, community buildings and a new primary school.

Roger Upton, portfolio holder for housing and planning, said: “This major strategic site will help to provide much-needed housing for Rushcliffe and contribute towards a viable five-year housing supply required by central government.

“It will also deliver more employment opportunities to this part of Rushcliffe and the surrounding area.

“We want high-quality housing and good-quality jobs in this new ‘gateway’ development.

“In reaching the decision, the planning committee took into account all of the views of those who spoke and who commented in prior consultations following the initial submission in 2014.”

Upton added that sports pitches, children’s play areas, a community park and woodland and tree planting form part of this development, too.

According to the application, the 3,000 homes will be a mix of one to five-bedroom homes, including townhouses and detached units.

Developer CWC Group, based in Derbyshire, and its landowner consortium partners have said they want to include a number of apartments and bungalows if further research indicates a need for these. Affordable housing levels will comprise a mix of affordable rent and shared ownership. The requirement has been set at a minimum of 10 per cent, but talks are continuing to raise this level if possible.

29 January 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

An alliance of 15 housing associations has announced that it will work with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) to deliver up to 40,000 affordable homes over the next 20 years.

In March 2017, the government announced a devolution deal for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region that included £170 million worth of funding for housing.

The collaboration between the housing associations, called Homes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and the combined authority are aiming to use the money to build housing of mixed tenure, including affordable rent, for people on a range of incomes.

By 2021, Homes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is aiming to have built 2,000 additional affordable homes.

According to Home Truths 2017 East of England by the National Housing Federation, Cambridge is the third most expensive place to buy a home in the region, with the average house price near 17 times the average local salary. Between 2011 and 2015, 2,000 too few homes were built in Cambridgeshire and 869 too few in Peterborough.

Currently, Homes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough own and manage 48,277 homes in the region. As part of the new deal, for every £1 the combined authority invests, the alliance will invest up to £6 of its own money.

Alan Lewin, chair of Homes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “As the first devolved authority to be established with its own housing grant programme, this is a groundbreaking collaboration for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This region is unique amongst devolved areas due to its diverse mix of urban and rural communities, ranging from world-class high-tech business centres to small agricultural communities.

“The housing associations in Homes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will work together with the combined authority, local authorities, and Homes England to provide diverse quality homes, including housing let at affordable rents, mixed tenure, and outright sale. This will ensure that there are homes for people on a range of incomes, while also supporting sustainable growth in our urban and rural communities.”

Peter Topping, portfolio holder for new homes and communities at CPCA, acknowledged that the region needs to increase the level of its affordable housing.

“Housing associations are a key partner in bringing affordable housing forward, so it’s great news that we now have this shared set of objectives to work from. I welcome the commitments made by Homes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in this statement and look forward to working with them to ensure we see some real results as quickly as possible.”

30 January 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

RTPI briefing on EU Withdrawal Bill

The RTPI has sent a briefing to the House of Lords for today’s debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

It states that the UK is a world leader in environmental protection and the vote to leave the European Union (EU) was not a vote to change its world-leading status.

The briefing notes that the RTPI believes a new joint body should be established to scrutinise and enforce the implementation of environmental laws and policies by the UK and devolved governments.

The briefing can be found on the RTPI website.

New Aberdeen football stadium approved

Councillors at Aberdeen City Council have granted planning consent for a new £50 million stadium for Aberdeen Football Club, as well as associated facilities.

The approval will see the old stadium at Pittodrie replaced by a 20,000-seat ground and training academy at Kingsford, Westhill. The application also comprises a football academy including outdoor pitches, and landscaping and engineering works at West Kingsford.

Councillors supported the recommendation, voting 32-9 in favour of the new stadium. The approval is subject to a number of conditions, as well as the operation of a public transport steering group.

Mixed-use development in Glasgow approved

Glasgow City Council has granted planning permission for a mixed-use quarter in Glasgow.

The masterplan for Central Quay, a seven-acre brownfield site on the western edge of the city centre, includes 400 new homes, over 300,000 square feet of office space, a 150-bed hotel, food and retail units and public realm provision.

The site is owned and managed by Harbet Management Corporation (Europe) LLC and XLB Property. Both were advised by GVA and CBRE. The masterplan was designed by architects Kepping Design.

Pennywell regeneration approved

The City of Edinburgh Council has approved the next phase of regeneration at the Pennywell Living development.

The application, by regeneration firm Urban Union and planning consultancy Barton Willmore, includes 315 dwellings, landscaping, and associated drainage and infrastructure.

The homes comprise 175 flats and 140 houses, of which 134 will be for private sale.

The plan is the third stage of four at the development. In total, more than 700 homes will be delivered and work is expected to be completed in 2023.

East London regeneration scheme approved

Tower Hamlets Council has granted approval for a canal-side residential scheme at Imperial Street in Bromley-by-Bow.

It was designed by bptw partnership and Pitman Tozer Architects.

The scheme was commissioned by landowner and property developer Lindhill Properties Ltd. It forms the first phase of design proposals within a large masterplan, a development in collaboration by five landowners across the site.

The existing scaffolding yard will be replaced by 407 homes, comprising a mix of tenure and typology, and a series of ground-floor commercial spaces.

Neighbourhood plan submitted for Longdon

Longdon Parish Council has submitted a neighbourhood plan for the Longdon Neighbourhood Area to Lichfield District Council.

This is the eighth community to reach this stage of the neighbourhood planning process.

The Longdon Neighbourhood Plan outlines how the area could be shaped in future. If approved, it will form part of the council’s local plan.

A six-week consultation will now be held for the community to submit its views. The consultation closes on 9 March 2018.

Comments will be collated and then submitted to an independent examiner.


Gloucestershire site sold with permission for housing

Land in Gloucestershire with planning permission for 95 homes has been sold to developer Bellway Homes.

The 13.5-acre site at Tutshill Corner, Chepstow, was sold by development agency Fisher German on behalf of Gladman Developments and the landowners.

To meet a requirement set by the Forest of Dean District Council, 40 per cent of the homes built will be affordable housing.

The site is close to a number of primary and secondary schools.

Three developments approved in Warsash

Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee has granted planning permission for three separate housing developments on land east of Brook Lane, Warsash.

Bargate Homes will build up to 140 new homes, Taylor Wimpey up to 85, and Foremand Homes up to 180.

Chairman of the planning committee, Nick Walker, said: “Committee members had to balance the loss of these areas of countryside against the borough’s urgent need for new housing. The decision to grant planning permission was subject to public open space and facilities being provided on site, financial contributions being paid to carry out improvements to the highway network and ensuring that affordable housing will be provided. The developers will need to submit full details of the design and layout of all of the sites to this council for approval before any building works take place.”

30 January 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner