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Planning News - 22 March 2018

Published: Thursday, 22nd March 2018

Raab announces changes for permitted rural development, Updated guidance for applications affecting playing fields, Government offers free advice on neighbourhood 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 minister Dominic Raab has announced changes to permitted development rights that mean up to five houses can be created from existing agricultural buildings on a farm, rather than the current maximum of three.

According to the government, “several hundred” homes are created each year through the conversion of agricultural buildings. These changes are expected to increase this number.

The changes aim to help communities make the best use of existing buildings to help meet local housing needs “more efficiently”. They will also make sure the developments are “in keeping” with the character of the area and safeguard people’s privacy.

The new measures, says the government, will also help farmers to adopt the latest innovations in modern farming practices by increasing the size limit of new agricultural buildings on larger farms from 465 square metres to 1,000 square metres.

Raab said more creativity is needed if housing needs of rural communities are to be met.

“That’s why I’m changing planning rules so rural communities have more flexibility on how best to use existing buildings to deliver more much-needed homes for families.

“This is part of our comprehensive reform programme to build the homes Britain needs.”

Applicants will have an extra year to convert storage and distribution buildings into new homes to help relieve local housing pressures, added the government.

Harry Burchill, planning policy officer at the RTPI, noted that the delivery of affordable rural housing is an “important priority” for the planning system, however, “the use of permitted development rights to meet this priority is not an approach consistent with local plan or even neighbourhood plan led decision making”.

“The institute previously raised its concerns about chipping away planning powers from local authorities through the introduction, and extension, of permitted development rights. In practice, the so-called bureaucracy permitted development rights are designed to circumvent still exists in the form of prior approval applications - for a fraction of the fee. More importantly, however, it is unclear how the incremental relaxation of planning regulations will assist the government in delivering the right homes in the right places. Our work studying the location of development goes some way to addressing this question and we will be interested to see how additional homes on agricultural land, allowed through permitted development rights will effect this picture.” 

The regulations will come into force on 6 April 2018.

12 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Sport England has updated its policy and guidance on planning applications that affect playing fields, with the goal of protecting and enhancing the opportunities for people to take part in sport and activity.

The move is also aimed at making the development and assessment of related applications more efficient and effective for everyone, including applicants and local authorities.

Sport England is a statutory consultee on all applications that affect playing fields.

The body’s policy is to object to applications unless they meet with one of five exceptions, including:

Where proposals will improve the use of a playing field for sport;

Where replacement playing field land is to be provided; and

Where a robust assessment has adequately demonstrated there is an excess of playing field land.

It is urging councils to read the updated policy and guidance as well as consult with them at an early pre-application stage on relevant proposals.

Charles Johnston, property director at Sport England, said: “Where necessary we will object to applications but we would much prefer to work collaboratively with applicants from the outset to look for opportunities to protect and enhance provision that make the process smoother, swifter and produces better results for everyone.

“By providing clearer and more detailed advice the updated guidance will help applicants, local planning authorities and other parties understand our role and how we assess applications, along with the information we require. We hope that it will prove valuable, both to applicants and local authorities, particularly for larger or more complex applications.”

Sport England said its policy is consistent with provisions in the National Planning Policy Framework – paragraph 74 of the current document, and paragraph 98 of the revision, now out for consultation.

More information about the updated policy and guidance can be found on the Sport England website.

15 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Housing minister Dominic Raab has announced that communities across England will be able to get free access to expert advice and guidance to help make their neighbourhood vision a reality.

The free help will include financial support and the latest planning expertise from trained professionals, to guide them through the process of preparing a neighbourhood plan.

Some 2,300 communities across England have started the process of neighbourhood planning, with 530 plans approved in local referendums.

These plans will give local people a say in the development of their area, including where homes, schools and businesses should be built, and the infrastructure needed to support them.

Raab said: “Neighbourhood plans are a powerful tool to help communities shape their local area, making sure the right homes are built in the right places. It’s vital that communities have the right support and advice available to help deliver a plan that meets their own ambitious aspirations.”

Previous government support has helped around seven out of 10 of these communities progress their plans, with 365 neighbourhood plans finalised using support provided by the government.

The maximum grant available has been increased by £2,000 to £17,000, helping communities to access more resources to develop a plan for their area.

Community groups can find out more information about how to apply for funding on the neighbourhood planning website.

20 March 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


The London Borough of Lambeth’s planning committee has approved developer Metropolitan’s £1.6 billion plans for more than 2,500 new homes and community facilities at Clapham Park, South London.

Architects at PRP designed the revised plan for Clapham Park.

The development is located between three town centres – Clapham, Brixton and Streatham Hill.

The masterplan aims to create a “vibrant, inclusive series of neighbourhoods with safe, secure streets, ample public and private green space”. PRP said it builds on the existing characteristics of the neighbourhood.

Totalling 2,532  homes, it offers a variety of housing types and tenures, aimed at meeting Lambeth’s – and more widely London’s – housing requirements, with 53 per cent designated as affordable. At least 10 per cent of the homes will be wheelchair adaptable and dual-aspect properties have been “maximised”.

PRP said the design of all the homes has been optimised with delivery in mind through a kit of standardised parts, maximising efficiency and options for both modern and traditional methods of construction. The approach has “significantly” increased the number of dwellings delivered on the site and doubles the affordable homes provision.

The layout of the development aims to encourage cycling and walking, while communal gardens, play areas, jogging routes and an outdoor gym have been incorporated.

Richard Harvey, design director at PRP, said: “Home and place is at the heart of the design. This detailed approval focuses specifically on the resolution of the architecture and landscape. This ensures optimum construction delivery, design efficiency and flexibility that guarantees the estate’s future longevity and ultimately benefits the local community for years to come.”

15 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced that a high-speed rail service (HS2) to Stoke-on-Trent has been backed by the government.

As part of the plans more people would have access to high-speed, long-distance train services from Crewe as the junctions would be redesigned, and platforms would be extended

The move follows the HS2 Crewe Hub consultation.

The government’s plans for HS2 Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe would be modified to include:

Extension of Platform 5 at Crewe to 400 metres, to allow for the splitting and joining of HS2 services, which also opens opportunities to serve Stoke-on-Trent with HS2.

A more efficient design for the proposed platform on the Manchester independent lines, incorporating a transfer deck to the main station.

A change to the design of the southern connection from HS2 so that HS2 joins and takes over the central 2 lines on the existing network.

Grayling intends to ask franchise operator West Coast Partnership to include a high-speed service to Stoke-on-Trent in its market development and service plans.

He said: “We have listened to people’s views on the Crewe Hub consultation, ensuring that the town’s proud history as an epicentre of rail journeys is set to continue, as it plays a vital role in delivering Britain’s future railway.

“HS2 will be the backbone of our national rail network, increasing capacity on our congested rail network with thousands more seats on commuter services, improving vital connections between some of our country’s biggest cities and generating jobs, skills and economic growth.”

A HS2 junction north of Crewe will be considered (as part of Phase 2b). This could allow five to seven HS2 trains an hour to call at Crewe and improve connectivity on the lines from Crewe to Shrewsbury, Chester and Stoke-on-Trent.

The full response to the HS2 Crewe Hub consultation can be found on the Department for Transport website.

13 March 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


A round-up of planning news:

Office building approved in Cambridge

Cambridge City Council has approved Brookgate’s plans for new office space at 10/20 Station Road.

The proposal, which merges two existing consented buildings, will provide 14,274 square metres of space in the Central Business District at CB1 Cambridge.

Designed by architects at Perkins + Will, the new building will comprise six storeys of class B1 office space and ancillary accommodation totalling 7,421 square metres.

A basement of 3,322 square metres will feature shower and changing facilities, as well as storage areas, 98 car parking spaces for commercial tenants, and space for 482 bicycles at ground level.

Fife sites to support Heathrow expansion

Four sites in Fife have been shortlisted as major logistics hubs to support the expansion of London’s Heathrow Airport.

As part of a deal between the airport and the Scottish Government, Scotland is guaranteed a logistics hub. In total, 10 sites are on the shortlist.

Heathrow’s expansion is the first major infrastructure project in the UK to use large-scale logistics hubs and aims to create a legacy of construction excellence in the UK for future generations. The hubs will work by pre-assembling components off-site before transporting them in consolidated loads to Heathrow when needed.

Heathrow’s team has visited the former Longannet power station, owned by Scottish Power, Port of Rosyth and Port Babcock at Rosyth, owned by Forth Ports and Babcock respectively, and Westfield, which is a former opencast coal mine owned by Hargreaves.

Once Heathrow has visited the 65 sites across the UK, each landowner will be invited to make a detailed submission to Heathrow, which will be assessed on suitability, efficiency and accessibility credentials.

Tibbalds CampbellReith appointed for regeneration planning

Gloucester City Homes has appointed Tibbalds CampbellReith to develop masterplans for the regeneration of two estates in Gloucester – Matson and Podsmead.

The masterplans aim to set out a “clear vision and strategy” for future detailed design through a supplementary planning document (SPD), which Gloucester City Council would adopt.

The two estates comprise over a third of Gloucester City Homes's stock, with 1,070 homes at Matson and 450 at Podsmead. The estates have a high level of poor-quality, non-traditional stock, and suffer from significant deprivation. 

Despite the efforts of Gloucester City Homes, the city council and local residents' groups over a number of years, the area’s economic and physical situation has not improved.

It is hoped that the masterplans will transform the estates into create strong, sustainable communities where people can thrive through large-scale regeneration and investment.

£5.5m funding for development on Glaswegian site

LendInvest, the leading specialist property finance lender, has provided a £5.5 million loan to Ross Harper to fund the development of 24 new homes in Glasgow.

The development finance loan will fund the conversion of a Grade II listed former Belmont Church two miles outside the city centre, with good transport links into the city. The developer acquired the site in 2017 with planning permission already in place for the proposed works.

Once completed, the site will comprise 21 one, two and three-bedroom flats, and three two-bed mews houses with small, private gardens.

The homes are to be marketed to young professionals seeking quick access to the city.

Construction is expected to be completed by late October 2018.

Barristers announced as Northern Powerhouse Partner

King Chambers has been announced as the first chambers to become a Northern Powerhouse Partner.

This will see King Chambers work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to promote the north of England.

Partners are expected to support development in four key areas: connectivity and transport; skills, science and innovation; quality of life and culture; and devolution.

Nigel Poole QC, head of Kings Chambers, said: “Kings Chambers is committed to building the Northern Powerhouse by working with partners to develop the legal services across the North. A key focus for us will be to provide opportunities for students through our annual work experience programme and to work to attract talented graduates from right across the country.

Kings Chambers said it would be announcing a number of Northern Powerhouse Partner initiatives over the coming months.

Rooftop bar in London’s West End approved

Westminster Council has granted approval for a rooftop bar on the Edwardian grade II-listed Trocadero in the capital’s West End.

Designed by architects Darling Associates for Criterion Capital, the project incorporates approximately 17,500 square feet, and will comprise a covered bar and restaurant. Plans also include a 4,500 square foot outdoor terrace and swimming pool, which forms part of a planned 740-room hotel, also being developed by Criterion Capital.

Darling Associates is also responsible for designing the street level entrance on Shaftesbury Avenue, and vertical circulation in the building.

Over-55s development approved in Cornwall

Acorn Property Group and Somerston Healthcare Properties Ltd have been granted approval for 38 new homes on a former holiday park site in Duporth, Cornwall.

The development features the conversion and refurbishment of existing stone buildings and carefully designed new-build properties which will provide two and three-bedroom houses and apartments. The centrepiece of the development will be a grade II listed clock tower that will undergo major refurbishment works.

The Courtyard at Duporth development also includes communal landscaped open space and has access to private woodland and a private beach.

Work is expected to start this spring, with the first homes ready for occupation in 2019.

13 March 2018  
Laura Edgar, The Planner