Latest news

Planning News - 14 June 2018

Published: Thursday, 14th June 2018

Raab announces development corporation powers for councils, UCO and GPDO consolidation looms, Cabinet approves third runway plan for Heathrow and more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

Housing minister Dominic Raab has launched new powers for councils that will see them able to seek government approval to establish a New Town Development Corporation.

The body would be responsible for delivering new towns and garden communities in the council area.

They will also do all of the masterplanning and project development, attract private investment, partner with developers and oversee the completion of the new settlement.

The government expects them to deliver “tens of thousands of new homes”.

The development corporations will need to involve communities in the project so they can have a say on how housing is delivered, ensuring that it is of a high quality, while councils are expected to hold them to account. Previously, development corporations were held to account by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

They will be led by council representatives, community stakeholders, experts in delivering major projects and other partner organisations.

Raab said: “We need to build the homes our communities need and I’m committed to giving councils the tools they need to deliver.

“That’s why we’re giving councils the option of applying to establish development corporations. These will be locally accountable and must listen to the views of the community to ensure that the right homes are built in the right places.”

A change to the New Towns Act 1981 will see the powers to oversee and lead the creation of new communities shift from the Secretary of State to local councils, which could see a development corporation created to deliver three garden communities in north Essex.

John Spence CBE, chairman of North Essex Garden Communities Ltd (NEGC), the council-owned company set up to oversee the creation of the three proposed new communities in north Essex, said: “Government has recognised the unrivalled potential of North Essex as an opportunity for significant economic growth and the NEGC programme as the conduit to develop new communities for the future by unlocking transport and business opportunities and ensuring no development occurs without the roads, schools, health and leisure infrastructure to support it.”

Martin Tett, housing spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said: “The LGA has long called for oversight of local development corporations to be carried out by councils, so that local communities can have as much say as possible about developments in their areas. It is positive that the government has listened to the views of local communities on local development corporations.

“We will continue to engage with the government to ensure that we can make the most of these new opportunities to deliver homes through local development corporations, and will continue to support the sector in efforts to deliver new homes. However, there is no quicker way to deliver these homes than by triggering the renaissance in council housebuilding we need by lifting the housing borrowing cap and enabling councils to borrow to build once more.”

Katy Lock, garden cities and new towns projects and policy manager at the Town and Country Planning Association, said: “New towns are an important part of the portfolio of solutions needed to address the nation’s housing and growth needs. We welcome the government’s recognition of the power of modernised development corporations but as key requirements are not secured in the legislation, the success of the regulations now rests on the supporting guidance. It is vital that the guidance document to support these regulations sets out a robust and transparent process which focuses on quality, affordability, genuine public participation, high environmental standards and on ensuring communities have the resources they need to look after assets in the long-term.”

5 June 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The Welsh Government has begun consultation on the potential consolidation of the Use Classes Order (UCO) and General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) regimes as well as changes to both.

Proposed revisions to the UCO would see existing use class A3 (food & drink) divided into three separate classes: A3 (cafe & sandwich bars subject to opening hour restrictions); A4 (drinking establishments & restaurants); and A5 (hot food takeaways including drive-through restaurants).

Also on the cards is the removal of betting offices from use class A2 so they become a unique use. This will enable the effects of each new betting office to be considered through the submission of a planning application.

The consultation also proposes to remove the need for planning permission for some minor developments to allow the planning system to concentrate on more complex development proposals.

Planned changes to permitted development rights include those affecting householder development, minor operations, houses in multiple occupation, statutory undertakers, demolition of buildings, fixed-line broadband services, renewable energy generation and small-scale hydropower.

“The UCO is now over 30 years old, and the GPDO is over 21 years old. Both have been subject to multiple amendments and revocations, not all of which apply to Wales, creating confusion for all users,” states the consultation document.

“To address the difficulty for the public to find up-to-date versions of the statutory instruments, and most importantly, the parts which are relevant to Wales, we propose to consolidate both the UCO and GPDO if the changes discussed in this document are made,” said the administration.

The consultation can be found here on the Welsh Government website.

7 June 2018
Roger Milne, The Planner


The government’s economic subcommittee has backed plans for a third runway at London Heathrow Airport. Plans were then approved by Prime Minister Theresa May’s full cabinet.

The government has published the proposed Airports National Policy Statement, which provides a framework for the expansion. It states that the Secretary of State "will use the Airports NPS as the primary basis for making decisions on any development consent application for a new Northwest Runway at Heathrow Airport, which is the Government’s preferred scheme".

It will also be be an “important and relevant consideration in respect of applications for new runway capacity and other airport infrastructure in London and the South East of England”.

The NPS comprises the specific planning requirements applicants would need to meet to gain development consent, as well as what assessments need carrying out, including biodiversity and ecological conversation, green belt, landscape impacts, air quality, community compensation and community engagement.

The proposal would deliver the third runway in a “cost-efficient and sustainable way, with a comprehensive package of measures to support affected communities and protect the environment”, the government said.

A 2015 report by the Airports Commission said London’s airports are “showing unambiguous signs of strain”, and concluded that expanding runway capacity at Heathrow was the best option over a second runway at Gatwick Airport and a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

The government has asked the Civil Aviation Authority to make sure the expansion scheme “remains affordable while meeting the needs of passengers”. It added that expansion would be financed privately.

Tens of thousands of jobs are expected to be created, while the new runway could bring up to £74 billion to passengers and the wider economy. More flights within the UK would be facilitated as a result, while an extra 16 million long-haul seats will be available by 2040, the government explained.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “Expansion at Heathrow presents a unique opportunity to deliver a multibillion-pound boost to our economy, strengthen our global links and maintain our position as a world leader in aviation.

“As we leave the EU, the UK must remain one of the world’s best-connected and outward-looking countries and a third runway at Heathrow is the best option to deliver this.

“We have listened to views through our consultations and will ensure a world-class package of measures to help any local communities affected by the expansion.”

The NPS provides for a package of compensation and mitigation measures to support those affected by the expansion, with up to £2.6 billion for compensation, noise insulation and community amenities. Additionally, it includes plans for a 6.5 hour scheduled night flight ban and noise restrictions that the government says will be legally enforceable.

Development consent for expansion would only be granted on the basis that it is delivered within existing air quality obligations, the government insisted.

Parliament will debate and vote on the NPS in the coming weeks, with a decision expected by 11 July.

The Airports National Policy Statement can be found on the UK Government website.

5 June 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Horizon Nuclear Power has submitted a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for its nuclear power station project Wylfa Newydd.

The power station, is planned for the Isle of Anglesey. Proposals comprise building two reactors with a combined capacity of 2.9 gigawatts.

The company’s submission comprises 41,000 pages, 440 documents and 400 drawings, laying out its plans for the power station and the required associated works.

Horizon has also submitted applications for a Marine Licence, Operations Combustion permit, Operation Water Discharge permit and a Construction Water Discharge permit from Natural Resources Wales.

In a statement on the company’s website, it said “Horizon has sought to demonstrate that it has developed a robust design and assessed its environmental impacts across the power station facilities and associated developments and, where possible, eliminated, reduced or mitigated these impacts”.

Earlier this week (4 June), energy secretary Greg Clark said in a statement to Parliament that Horizon owners Hitachi and the UK Government have entered into negotiations in relation to the Wylfa Newydd project.

“This is an important next step for the project, although no decision has been yet taken to proceed, and the successful conclusion of these negotiations will of course be subject to full government, regulatory and other approvals, including but not limited to value for money, due diligence and State Aid requirements,” Clark said.

The DCO application was submitted on 1 June. The Planning Inspectorate now has 28 days to decide whether or not to accept the application for examination.

6 June 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Analysis by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has suggested that the amount of farmland, forests, gardens and greenfield land lost to housing development each year has increased by 58 per cent.

In response, the CPRE is calling for a policy to be added to the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that ensures suitable brownfield sites are developed before greenfield sites are released.

The campaign group analysed a recent report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on changes in land use, saying it shows that the area of non-previously developed land lost to housing has been “steadily rising”.

It has increased from 2,105 hectares of land in 2013 to 3,332 hectares in 2017.

The loss of green land and countryside is happening despite 2017 data suggesting that the proportion of land used for housing had increased to 44 per cent brownfield, up from 28 per cent in 2016.

While this increased use of brownfield land reflects steps by the government to make sure brownfield land is used for development, “much more needs to be done”, CPRE said.

According to government statistics, greenfield sites are being developed at an average of 26 homes per hectare, with brownfield sites developed on average at 40 homes per hectare – “wastefully low densities”.

The loss of countryside is a result of a “market-driven rhetoric” as the government looks to “build more at any cost”, CPRE explained, which has led to low density unaffordable housing being built on green spaces. It claims this means the government is failing to deliver its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the CPRE, said the increase in the proportion of development taking place on brownfield land is “promising”, but the “lack of reduction” in greenfield development is “alarming for those who love the countryside”.

“Without a clear, national policy that empowers councils to refuse applications for housing on greenfield land where suitable brownfield options exist, our cherished countryside will continue to be ripped up at an alarming rate.

“Brownfield land is a renewable resource, with new sites constantly being brought forward. It is often quicker to develop than greenfield land, and the majority is in areas that people want to live, best suiting their lifestyle and needs. It also helps towards the regeneration of our towns and cities. It is a win-win for all.”

CPRE wants the revised NPPF to include a policy that ensures suitable brownfield sites are developed before greenfield sites are released, and “which prevents developers from cherry-picking greenfield sites”.

It added that more should be done to encourage councils to be “proactive” in identifying opportunities to provide new homes on brownfield sites and to use Brownfield Registers to bring suitable sites forward for development.

The government’s Land Use Change statistics 2016 to 2017 can be found on the MHCLG website (pdf).

4 June 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A round-up of planning news:

Affordable homes plan submitted in Lewisham

Local campaigner group Lewisham Citizens has submitted plans for 11 permanently affordable half-price homes to the council, as part of an estate infill development.

The homes form part of a commitment by the new Mayor of Lewisham Damian Egan to work with local people to deliver 200 Community Land Trust (CLT) homes over the next four years.

Each home will sold at a price relative to local wages, with one-bed homes to be sold for £192,000 and two-beds to go for £244,000. This is less than half the market prices for homes in the same neighbourhood, said the group.

The architects, Archio, were selected by the residents and members of the community through a public workshop.

To qualify for one of the 11 homes, applicants must be in a certain income bracket and have strong ties to the local community. If CLT homeowners ever choose to move, they have to reapply the same formula when they sell so that prices will rise with average incomes across the borough, rather than with the open market.

Applications are scheduled to open in early 2019.

Chair appointed to OPDC review group

Industry experts have been appointed by Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) to the OPDC Place Review Group.

Experts from the planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering industry make up the group, including Peter Bishop, professor of urban design at University College London and director at Allies and Morrison, who is appointed panel chair.

Bishop has held senior planning roles in central London boroughs for 25 years, working on projects such as the King’s Cross railway lands development. He was the first director of design for London, and deputy chief executive at the London Development Agency, where he worked on the London Olympic Legacy Plans.

The appointments were made following an open invitation for applications.

The Place Review Group, managed by Frame Projects on behalf of OPDC, will review and provide independent advice to OPDC on a range of planning applications, masterplans and other projects within Old Oak and Park Royal.

Designer appointed for Stirling Station redevelopment

Engineering consultant WSP has been appointed to design the transformation of Stirling Station’s forecourt.

The project is set to involve the creation of a new station forecourt area, aligning with improvements being made by Stirling Council to enhance routes to the city centre and the bus station.

ScotRail Alliance programmes & transformation director Ian McConnell said: “We look forward to working with WSP and seeing the designs for the redevelopment. Stirling is ready for a railway station that matches the dynamic and forward-looking development of the cityscape. 

“With brand new electric trains on the way, we want customers travelling from Stirling to do so from a modern station.”

Firms seek Build to Rent investment

Developer Ballymore Group and Oxley Holdings have announced they are seeking an investment partner to work with companies on their entrance to the Build to Rent market.

The investment is sought as Ballymore announces its strategic commitment to large-scale Build to Rent developments. This is to be initiated at a new development at Deanston Wharf, London. Deanston Wharf is currently being developed in a 50/50 Joint Venture between Ballymore and Oxley.

The development is part of the 40 acre Royal Wharf regeneration project, a new neighbourhood for East London, jointly developed by Ballymore Group and Oxley Holdings. Forward funding is being sought for 272 dwellings, designed over two buildings, with construction set to begin in early 2019. The properties will be built solely for rental purpose.

Royal Wharf will see the delivery of 3,385 new homes, as well as public realm, a lively high street offering retail and commercial space, parkland and a prime riverside location.

CBRE and Johns & Co have been appointed by Ballymore and Oxley to provide advisory and transactional consultancy on the project.

Street call for cycling and walking investment

The Mayor of the West Midlands has urged the government to boost efforts to increase cycling and walking journeys by investing in safe infrastructure.

In a letter to the Under Secretary of State for Transport Jesse Norman, Andy Street has asked the Department for Transport (DfT) to support the West Midlands in increasing investment on cycling to £10 per head by 2023. The focus is on new and upgraded cycling infrastructure.

The call forms part of a call for evidence by the DfT ahead of the publication of a new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.

Roger Lawrence, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and transport lead on the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “We’re seeing an unprecedented level of investment in public transport in the West Midlands which will have a major impact on traffic congestion.

“One of the most important ways we can do this is by improving the conditions for cycling and walking.

“While excellent progress is being made, the call for evidence from the DfT is an opportunity to push for even greater investment, powers and devolution to accelerate the work currently taking place.”

Application submitted in Wedmore

Acorn Property Group’s Bristol office has submitted an application for 55 new homes in Wedmore, Somerset.

Wedmore Parish Council, as joint applicant with the landowner, has already been granted outline planning permission for the site.

They had identified a requirement for affordable housing in the area and subsequently wanted to progress with a scheme to meet this demand, which Acorn said it now hopes to deliver.

Cross Farm will feature one, two, three and four-bedroom homes and will include affordable housing. The development will be situated in the heart of Wedmore.

Subject to approval, work is anticipated to begin during autumn/winter 2018.

Plymouth tall building approved

Plymouth City Council has approved plans for a mix-used development in the ‘tall building’ zone in the city centre.

The development involves the demolition of the Money Centre building at Drake Circus, which will be replaced with a 21-storey tower.

The plans comprise 554 student bedrooms, 1,858 square metres of grade A office space, a 105-bedroom hotel and 149 square metres of flexible retail units.

Pegasus Group put the plans forward on behalf of a London-based property development company.

Work on the redevelopment is anticipated to start in 2019/2020.

5 June 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner