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Planning News - 26 July 2018

Published: Thursday, 26th July 2018

Government publishes revised NPPF, Government kicks off consultation on shale gas development, RTPI says new NPPF will put planners under 'significant pressure' 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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The much-anticipated revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has finally been published with an increased emphasis on high-quality design. This page continues to evolve as response to the document comes in.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said the latest framework will make it easier for planning authorities to challenge poor quality and unattractive development. In particular, it stresses that councils “have the confidence and tools” to refuse applications when the development does not prioritise design quality or complement its surroundings.

The new framework also aims to give communities a greater say in the design of developments. Councils are encouraged to make use of “innovative visual tools” to promote better design and quality and allow residents to see schemes before they are built.

Adopted neighbourhood plans should “demonstrate clear local leadership in design quality, with the framework allowing groups seeking such plans to truly reflect the community’s expectations on how new development will visually contribute to their area”.

Councils will have to apply design policies “in the most appropriate way in their area, recognising that they are well placed to know their area’s unique character and setting”.

“I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules,” said Brokenshire.

Local authorities are urged to “exhaust all other reasonable options for development” before considering altering a green belt boundary. It stresses that “considerable evidence” would be needed to alter any such boundary. The framework confirms the housing need methodology set out last year for calculating housing need across different forms and tenures based on a wide range of factors including affordability.

From November 2018 councils will have a Housing Delivery Test focused on driving up the numbers of homes delivered in their area, rather than how many are planned for. This will penalise councils that under-deliver over three years. The frameworks also aims to provide further protection for biodiversity by aligning the planning system more closely with Defra’s 25-year environment plan. It stresses greater importance on air quality when deciding applications and offers more protection for ancient woodland and trees. The revised document replaces the previous NPPF published in March 2012.

The full NPPF document can be accessed here.

24 July 2018
Huw Morris, The Planner


The government has launched a consultation on proposed planning reforms for exploratory shale gas development in England.

The two 14-week consultations are open until 25 October 2018, after which the government will analyse the comments and issue its response later in 2018.

The government seeks views on whether to designate exploratory drilling for shale gas resources as a new form of permitted development, and whether such development should be decided under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.

The housing and energy secretaries issued a joint statement in May declaring that the development of shale gas is of “national importance” and that mineral plans should not place restrictions on its extraction

However, earlier this month (July) a group of MPs 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.

Permitted development rights would need to abide with environmental and site protection laws and would not apply to exploratory drilling in sensitive areas such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Exploratory drilling for shale deposits are treated separately to full hydraulic shale gas extraction; both will remain subject to strict planning and environmental controls.

The government consultation document on shale gas and NSIPs can be viewed here on the UK Government website.

Further information on the permitted development consultation can be viewed here.

19 July 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


Local authority leaders and senior managers must now recognise the 'significant pressure' facing planning teams as a result of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The revised framework, published on Tuesday, tightens definitions on the presumption in favour of sustainable development, increases the emphasis on high-quality design and place-making, while stressing the importance of digital technology and recognising the role of planning in creating healthy and safe communities.

The revised NPPF also reinstates the reference to the Climate Change Act 2008 and emphasises a greater variety of small sites coming through the planning system.

But the framework crucially says that from November 2018 councils will have a Housing Delivery Test focused on driving up the numbers of homes delivered in their area, rather than how many are planned for. This will penalise those which under-deliver over three years.

The RTPI welcomed these changes but argued that local authorities must now acknowledge the major challenges facing planners.

“We must recognise the significant pressure the new NPPF requirements will put on local authority planning teams,” said RTPI president John Acres.

“It is imperative that chief executives, council leaders and politicians resource planning departments sufficiently, particularly as they will now be held more accountable for delivery under the housing delivery test and are expected to carry out more regular reviews of their plans.

“Our members will be vital to making the most of the new measures in the NPPF to encourage joint plan making and help different parts of the country rise up to the immense economic, social and environmental challenges ahead.

“The NPPF should support them in their professional ambition to make great places for the benefit of the public, and we look forward to seeing their ambitions realised under the new framework.”

24 July 2018
Huw Morris, The Planner


The Welsh Government has promised more planning guidance on air and soundscape quality as it started consulting on its latest noise action plan.

It has committed to a detailed review of Technical Advice Note 11, which deals with noise. This TAN will be replaced with new guidance addressing air quality and soundscape. 

The draft plan aligns noise and soundscape policy in Wales with the cross-cutting framework established by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

It encourages greater integration between noise and air quality management activities by public bodies.

Environment minister Hannah Blythyn said: “Over the coming years, I expect public bodies in Wales to start thinking less in terms of pure noise mitigation and more in terms of creating healthier soundscapes for our communities.

“In addition, wherever air and noise pollution are both present and their sources are the same or related, they should be considered together rather than as separate problems.”

The draft plan stresses that revisions to Planning Policy Wales (PPW) introduce the concept of soundscapes into planning policy “recognising the positive role that they play in creating a sense of place, rather than solely focusing on noise as a form of pollution”.

The latest noise blueprint also for the first time makes the so-called ‘agent of change’ principle explicit.

It highlights that the consultation draft of PPW specifically requires the principle to be considered as part of all development plan and development management decisions concerning the compatibility of uses and soundscape.

This could mean identifying areas of cultural significance (i.e. live music venues) or areas where soundscape consideration is particularly sensitive.

The draft PPW stresses that a developer would have to ensure that solutions to address noise from nearby pre-existing infrastructure or businesses can be found and implemented as part of making sure that the development is acceptable.

20 July 2018
Roger Milne, The Planner


Brent Council’s planning committee has approved an application to redevelop an industrial estate in Alperton, which includes 2,900 homes – 1,015 of which have been designated as affordable.

Property firm St George’s Developments will now redevelop Northfields Industrial Estate, which is just off the A406 North Circular Road.

Existing buildings will be demolished and replaced with new workspaces, retail premises, restaurants, a community centre, a health clinic, children’s nursery and public open space.

The Grand Union Canal side of the site will be developed first, with new homes and buildings ranging from one to eight storeys in height.

The rest of the site, which extends to Beresford Avenue and the River Brent, will be developed in later stages. The maximum height of building over here will be 25 storeys. Alperton and Stonebridge Park London Underground stations are within a 10-minute walk.

New bus routes will established under the plans, and pedestrian and cycle routes will be better lit.

Shama Tatler, cabinet member for regeneration, highways and planning at Brent Council, said: “It’s brilliant news for those looking to start up a business or those looking for work, not to mention it being fantastic news for those needing a place to live, with nearly 3,000 new homes to be built, over a thousand of which will be affordable.

“It’s a great scheme and one that through the extensive consultation work that the applicant has undertaken, is one that carries the support of local residents, businesses, politicians and now the council’s planning committee. I very much welcome the committee’s decision to grant approval to this scheme.”

19 July 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A round up of planning news:

Hills joins Labour Party policy committee

RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills has been invited to join the Labour Party’s Planning Commission.

The commission aims to help shape the party’s planning policy for the next general election, with an emphasis on local plan-making.

Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, shadow planning minister, said Hills’ expertise, both as a planner and as the chief executive of the RTPI, “will be invaluable as we begin discussions to help shape Labour’s planning policy”.

“Our aim is to ensure local communities are at the heart of the planning agenda by developing a set of proposals for a new system of local plan-making.”

Hills added: “I am delighted to join this important group to help shape Labour’s planning agenda. Our members are at the coal face of the planning system and – uniquely – I will be able to bring their expertise to the policymaking table.”

Portsmouth uni’s sports facility approved

Portsmouth City Council has approved plans for an inclusive and sustainable sports facility at the University of Portsmouth.

Designed by FaulknerBrown, the facility is the first major phase of the university’s estate masterplan, which aims to reshape its city centre campus to enhance student experience and strengthen connections with the rest of the city.

The new facility will include a 25 metre, eight-lane swimming pool, an eight badminton court sports hall, a 175-station fitness suite, multifunctional studios, climbing and bouldering facilities, two flexible squash courts, a ski simulator, teaching facilities and office space.

Coalville homes approved

Planning permission has been granted to Avant Homes for its plans to build 166 new homes on land of Greenhill Road in Coalville, Leicestershire.

The applicant resubmitted an application to North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) after it breached a previous approval by starting work on site before it had satisfied planning conditions.

Outline planning permission for new homes on the site was granted in January 2017, with a further reserved matters application approved in February 2018, subject to conditions.

In April this year the NWLDC Environmental Protection team was notified of earth-moving and work to trees taking place, which was against some of the conditions attached to the planning permission.

The enforcement team acted immediately to stop the work, but the Avant Homes was required to resubmit its application to vary some of the original conditions and allow them to remove some of the trees on the site.

The planning committee agreed that, as the principle of residential development had already been established, it was prepared to grant the permission. The development will be monitored closely to ensure that there are no further breaches of planning consent.

Joint venture signed for regeneration of Barnstaple building

Acorn Property Group and Wessex Investors have signed a joint venture for plans to redevelop the grade II listed Oliver Buildings in Barnstaple.

Alongside an adjacent new building, the proposals are set to create 29 one, two and three-bedroom apartments and two and three-bed duplexes. Over 13,500 square feet of commercial space will be provided on the ground floor.

The design review panel at North Devon Council has considered the development plans. A planning application is expected in the autumn.

Transport consulting firm in brand change

Transport consulting firm Steer Davies Gleave has announced it has changed its name to Steer.

The company said the move is designed to reflect its “expanding” international footprint and “growing” project portfolio into sectors outside of transport, including fuel, power and economic development.

Transport will remain at the core of the business.

Steer will remain independent, employee-owned and impartial, with no external shareholders, it said.

Spitalfields House renovation to go ahead

The City of London Corporation has granted approval for Seaforth Land’s plans to renovated Spitalfield House in London E1.

Working with ODOS Architects and Groupwork + Amin Taha, Seaforth Land aims to renovate and reposition the 47,555 square feet building by improving the common areas, building services and the overall tenant experience in the property.

Spitalfields House was built in 1992 and provides five upper floors of office space along with a combination of retail and office space on the ground and lower-ground floors.

Visitors and employees working in the building will benefit from new retail, reception and café spaces at ground level.

The office spaces and roof terraces will also be renovated, and new basement bicycle storage and shower and locker facilities will be provided. The building exterior will also be refurbished.

Croydon homes approved

The London Borough of Croydon Council has granted planning permission for bptw partnership’s design for a 26-storey residential building on Wellesley Road.

Cambridge House is a scheme for Notting Hill Genesis. Plans include 92 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, of which 45 per cent will be for shared ownership.

Henry Construction has recently been appointed as contractor to deliver the scheme.

17 July 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner