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Planning News - 12 July 2018

Published: Thursday, 12th July 2018

MPs: Mineral planning authorities best placed to decide fracking applications, New HS2 ECML depot to be built in Leeds, Homes England details 12-month development plans and more stories...

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

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A group of MPs have cautioned against government proposals to bring fracking applications under the remit of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime, instead concluding that mineral planning authorities are best placed to decide such applications.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s (HCLG) report follows the announcement in May that the government would consult on “the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime”.

The government said it would also consider whether non-hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development should be treated as permitted development and when this might be appropriate.

For the committee, deciding fracking planning applications at a national level “contradicts” the principles of localism and “would likely exacerbate existing mistrust between communities and the fracking industry”. Furthermore, it doesn’t agree that permitted development should be applied to fracking applications.

Clive Betts MP, chair of the committee, said: "Taking decision-making powers away from local planning authorities would be a backward step. It would remove the important link between fracking applications and local plans and be hugely harmful to local democracy and the principles and spirit of localism. It is mineral planning authorities that have the knowledge of their areas needed to judge the impacts of fracking, not ministers sitting in Whitehall.

“Any move to alter this process also seriously risks worsening the often strained relationship between local residents and the fracking industry. The government has failed to provide any justification as to why fracking is a special case and should be included in the regime in contrast to general mineral applications."

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

Mineral planning authorities should be free to adapt their local plans “as they see fit as long as they do not arbitrarily restrict fracking applications”.

Proposed fracking changes in the revised NPPF “lack detail and create ambiguity” about the government’s position on fracking. Attention should be paid to how fracking sits with the UK’s commitments to climate change in order to make clear to mineral planning authorities how they can balance competing objectives, and respond to the public’s concerns.

The government should clarify the process by which fracking planning guidance documents are updated.

Responding to the report, a Local Government Association spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the committee has listened to councils and backs our call for any decision to host fracking operations to be a local one. Fracking operations should not be allowed to bypass the locally democratic planning system through permitted development or national planning inspectors.

“This needs to be up to local communities to decide on.

“People living near fracking sites – who are most affected by them – have a right to be heard. Local planning procedure exists for a reason, to ensure a thorough and detailed consultation with those communities.”

The committee’s full report can be found on the UK Parliament website.

5 July 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Following a public consultation, transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that the new HS2 rolling stock depot will be constructed in the east of Leeds, driving forward local regeneration and creating up to 125 skilled jobs.

The new site will build on HS2’s commitment to creating more than 100,000 new jobs and 2,000 apprentices, with the National Colleges for High Speed Rail in Doncaster and Birmingham training 1,200 students a year at full capacity.

Grayling said: “The depot will act as an economic catalyst, creating skilled jobs, boosting the local economy by unlocking regeneration opportunities and driving continued investment.”

The arrival of HS2 in Leeds will be pivotal to the South Bank redevelopment, which could provide 12,000 new homes and support up to 40,000 jobs across the city region.

The chosen location will help ensure that HS2 has fewer environmental impacts in the region by reducing the distance empty trains travel to and from Leeds station for overnight stabling.

4 July 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Homes England has set out plans that aim to bring forward more than 1,250 hectares of development opportunities across 221 sites over the next 12 months.

The government's national housing agency is also set to launch a new framework that will help speed the delivery of new homes. It will be in place in the autumn.

Homes England said the procurement of a new multidisciplinary and technical services framework would broaden the technical and design services available to support it and other public bodies to accelerate the supply of homes. These frameworks will provide direct access to professional, technical and design services needed to prepare land for housing development.

An interactive online map allows users to identify sites geographically and view site-level details, including red-line plans.

Stephen Kinsella, executive director for land at Homes England, said: “We will be much more active in the land market, using our increased resources to ramp up the acquisition of land opportunities and developing new ways to partner other government departments to bring forward more sites more quickly.

He added: “We are ambitious about our disposals for the year ahead so we’re really keen to talk to developers about the opportunities in our latest plan.”

Sites listed in the Land Development and Disposal Plan will be disposed of on a competitive basis through Homes England’s Delivery Partner Panel (DPP3), using a private treaty sale, bespoke OJEU process or auction.

The Land Development and Disposal Plan can be viewed here.

4 July 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark today (5 July) announced a partnership between the government and the construction industry that includes a £420 million investment in ‘bytes and mortar smart construction’.

The money will go towards transforming construction through the use of digital building design, new manufacturing technologies and offsite manufacturing, all contributing to reducing the time taken to deliver new-builds by 50 per cent.

According to the government, the UK-wide deal will boost the delivery of its ambition to deliver 1.5 million new homes by 2022. It will also support the Clean Growth Grand Challenge mission to halve the energy use of new-builds by 2030.

The government’s plan is to bring together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors to deliver “innovative” approaches that improve productivity in construction and accelerate a shift to building safer, healthier and more affordable places to live and learn that use less energy”.

Speaking at the Northern Powerhouse Summit in Newcastle, Clark said: “The construction industry is fundamental to growing our economy as we build to invest in our future. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 and the commitment to deliver 1.5 million homes by 2022 mean that we need a construction sector that can drive innovation, delivering homes and infrastructure quicker.

“As buildings account for around 30 per cent of total emissions, we also want to ensure that we are at the global forefront in designing and building smart, energy-efficient and affordable homes and buildings through the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, saving families money on their bills.

“This sector deal is supported by the biggest government investment in construction for at least a decade and will drive economic growth and create well-paid, highly skilled jobs in every part of the UK.”

The sector deal also comprises a £34 million investment to provide 25,000 construction apprenticeship starts a year by 2020 and 1,000 Construction T Level placements by 2020, with the aim of helping to give young people the skills the industry needs.

The government hopes it will deliver $2.5 trillion of global exports in “a globally competitive sector targeting the growing international infrastructure market”.

5 July 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The government has announced that a £67 million Stage 1 Town Deal has been agreed with Greater Grimsby, which could deliver almost 10,000 new homes in the area.

At least 8,800 new jobs could also be created.

The deal was set out by local growth minister Jake Berry, business minister Lord Henley, and the Greater Grimsby Project Board at the Marine Operating Centre in the town.

The board, led by David Ross and North East Lincolnshire Council, worked with local MPs, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and leaders from the public and private sectors to develop plans to secure a deal.

Investment as a result of the deal will go towards improving key roads and establishing enterprise zones to attract and support businesses to the area.

The government said the deal is in line with its commitment in the Industrial Strategy white paper to work with local communities who have strong partnerships and a commitment to regenerate their areas.

The deal comprises:

  • £2 million from the government’s local growth fund to support road improvements to Moody Lane and Woad Lane, which connect to South Humber Industrial Investment Programme Enterprise Zone sites.
  • A further £65 million of investment already provided by North East Lincolnshire Council (£35 million) and the government (£30 million) to support regeneration plans for Greater Grimsby.

Government expertise and support including through Homes England and Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone initiative to help develop the housing and town centre with a focus on heritage-led regeneration and the development of the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme sites.

Such measures aim to accelerate the delivery of new jobs and homes set out in the council’s adopted local plan, which includes provision for 8,800 jobs and 9,700 new homes by 2032, explained the government.

Ray Oxby, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Last year, we pitched an ambitious plan to central government to show them who we are and what we can do.

“The focus of that plan was that Greater Grimsby has the capacity to accomplish so much more than it has, and that by bringing together key people with shared aspirations we can work with the community to build a prosperous and sustainable future for our town.”

Lord Haskins, chair of the Humber LEP, added: “Grimsby, as the gateway to the Energy Estuary and the South Humber Bank, will play an important part in the industrial strategy we are developing for the Humber and the LEP is committed to their success.

“We are already investing in projects and businesses across the borough, and today (5 July) I am pleased to announce that we plan to provide £2.1 million Growth Deal funding towards road and cycle improvements on Moody Lane and Woad Lane – improving access to key employment sites.”

5 July 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Business secretary announces £200m nuclear sector deal

A kick-start for a new advanced manufacturing programme to develop nuclear technologies and a commitment to increase gender diversity in the sector are among components in this latest part of the government's industrial strategy.

The deal, designed to secure the UK’s civil nuclear future and drive down energy costs, was announced by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark.

“The UK is the home of civil nuclear technology,” said Clark. “With this investment in innovation and our commitment to increasing diversity in an already highly skilled workforce, I want to ensure we remain the world leader. Nuclear energy not only fuels our power supply, it fuels local jobs, wages, economic prosperity and drives UK innovation.”

Wind generates a fifth of UK’s electricity

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy statistics suggest that wind generated 19.1 per cent of the UK’s electricity in the first quarter of 2018.

Onshore wind farms supplied 10.6 per cent of the UK’s power needs, while offshore wind produced 8.5 per cent.

In total, renewable sources generated 30.1 per cent in Q1.

The statistics can be found on the UK Government website.

Meadowbank sports centre approved

The City of Edinburgh Council has granted planning permission in principle for a new Meadwobank Sports Centre in the capital.

The £47 million project will see a new community sports facility built on the site of the original Meadowbank, which closed in December 2017.

The development management sub-committee noted concerns expressed by local residents who would be affected by any development of the wider site. The committee insisted that local members of the community should be closely involved in shaping development in the area before detailed proposals come forward.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “When this council set its budget, we had some tough decisions. We knew that the old venue had reached the end of its lifespan but despite the budget pressures, we agreed that investment in this new facility and the benefits it will bring should be a priority for the city and for the coalition.”

PINS accepts Wylfa Newydd application for examination

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has accepted an application by Horizon Nuclear Power for a proposed nuclear power station to be located next to the existing power station at Wylfa A, on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales.

The application was submitted on 1 June 2018 and the decision to accept the application was made in accordance with section 55 of the Planning Act 2008.

Proposals comprise building two reactors with a combined capacity of 2.9 gigawatts.

Finalists selected to develop Ebbsfleet healthy city

Five finalists have been selected to go through to round two of a competition to design a healthy city at Ebbsfleet in Kent.

NHS England is leading the Healthy New Town Programme, working with Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver a healthy place to live and work.

The competition was launched in March by the NHS and the development corporation, with the aim to find the best ideas to help shape the garden city.

The panel of 10 judges selected five finalists to go through to stage two of the competition:

The Chalk Walk by Additive Urbanism, a landscape design studio led by Matthew Halsall CMLI, in collaboration with Ryan Szyani, Architectural installation designer.

The Ebbsfleet Sublime – The disruptive use of the picturesque to create well-being and place by LDA Design in collaboration with Architecture 00 and Vivid Economics.

Everyday Adventure by Huskisson Brown Associates working with Claire Powell Chartered Physiotherapist.

H.A.L.O – a model for growing a healthy infrastructure – by Bradley Murphy Design in collaboration with JTP, Peter Brett Associates and Sebastien Boyesen.

Swanscombe Gorge Park by Chris Blandford Associates in association with Buro Happold and Proctor & Matthews.

More information can be found on the Healthy Garden City website.

Holyrood committee questions land ownership proposals

The Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee is set to examine the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 (Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest In land) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.

The new regulations came about following concerns that the current system of land ownership was not sufficiently transparent because some people holding a controlling or beneficial interest may be difficult to trace.

The committee has launched a call for views on whether or not the proposed regulations will make a difference.

More information can be found on the Scottish Parliament website.

Wreake homes approved

A freezing direction on 48 properties at Frisby on the Wreake, Leicestershire, has been lifted and development on the plans can go ahead.

Development agency Fisher German’s planning team acted on behalf of the landowner to progress the application, which was for a site off Gaddesby Lane.

The application was originally submitted in 2015 and was approved by the council’s planning officer and planning committee, with a signed section 106 agreement in place. However, the secretary of state issued a freezing direction after a request to call in the planning application was made.

A neighbourhood plan was being progressed for the village at the same time. It identified other sites for development in the settlement, but the emerging local plan identified the Gaddesby Lane site as a proposed allocation.

Fisher German appeared at the local plan examination and at the neighbourhood plan hearing.

The inspector examining the neighbourhood plan had concerns over the approach taken to site selection concluded that the it could only proceed to a referendum if it was amended to reflect the emerging local plan allocations.

The secretary of state has confirmed that the application would not be called in, and the approval was issued.

Building communities APPG launches

An All Party Parliamentary Group on Building Communities has been formed and aims to progress political discussions on good design and placemaking and how they could help to solve the housing crisis.

In June, Bob Blackman MP (Conservative) was voted chair, Liz Twist MP (Labour) and Stephen Hammond MP (Conservative) vice-chairs, and Mark Prisk MP (Conservative) as group secretary.

The cross-party group of MPs and peers will meet in the autumn for its first session.

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) will provide secretariat services for the APPG.

Blackman said: “We need to find new ideas to tackle the housing crisis and build the homes the country needs. I firmly believe that only a holistic approach which marries community engagement, placemaking and strategic infrastructure spending will enable this.”

3 July 2018
The Planner