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Planning News - 2 August 2018

Published: Thursday, 2nd August 2018

Brokenshire tells Khan London Plan will be examined against previous NPPF, Perry gives green light to fracking at controversial Lancashire site 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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Housing secretary James Brokenshire has announced that the draft London Plan will be examined against the previous National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) so that the Mayor of London can ‘continue to progress’ the plan.

The announcement comes in a letter from Brokenshire to Sadiq Khan following the publication of the revised NPPF last week (24 July).

Brokenshire notes that London faces the “most severe housing pressures”, with average house prices now over 12 times median earnings, which is “clearly unacceptable”.

While welcoming the proposed increase of London’s housing target from 42,000 to 65,000 homes a year as a “helpful first step” to meeting the capital’s need, Brokenshire explains that he is "not convinced your assessment of need reflects the full extent of housing need in the London to tackle affordability problems".

Having listened to Khan’s representations as well as others, Brokenshire says that the public interest lies with making sure the mayor is delivering the homes London needs as quickly as possible.

Therefore, Brokenshire writes: “I have decided to amend footnote 69 of the revised National Planning Policy Framework so that the draft London Plan will be examined against the previous National Planning Policy Framework rather than new national policy. This will mean you can continue to progress your plan and start delivering your London Plan targets for which you are responsible”.

The draft London Plan will need to have regard to other new national policies, however, and Brokenshire expects Khan to review the London Plan once it has been published so that it reflects the revised NPPF.

The housing secretary also drew attention to issues the government has with the draft London Plan, including policy areas that are inconsistent with national policy and that it “strays considerably beyond” providing a strategic framework.

He emphasised that he has powers to intervene before the plan is published and that as the Mayor of London, Khan is “responsible for delivering” the housing required and will be held to account for delivering London’s housing targets.

In a statement sent to The Planner, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “With Sadiq as Mayor, City Hall started building more genuinely affordable homes – including more social homes – last year than in any since devolution, smashing the record under previous mayors.

“This was despite the huge government cuts to housing funding the capital faces – with funding for London nearly two-thirds lower than the level left by the government in 2009/10.

“The evidence speaks for itself: more genuinely affordable and social homes under this mayor and nothing but abject failure from the current government.

“The capital generates £3 billion each year in stamp duty receipts for the Treasury, but currently sees less than a quarter of that money invested in new affordable homes. Rather than criticising the mayor’s ambitious plan and plucking new numbers out of thin air, ministers should meet with him to discuss the powers and investment London urgently needs.”

The letter can be found here on the UK Government website (pdf).

30 July 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Shale gas company Cuadrilla is expected to start fracking at a well in Lancashire in the next few weeks after a minister rubber-stamped its application.

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry issued a permit under new regulations allowing the controversial process to proceed at Preston New Road, between Blackpool and Preston, which has witnessed numerous protests from campaigners. The approval follows checks by the Health & Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

“Our world-class regulations will ensure that shale exploration will maintain robust environmental standards and meet the expectations of local communities,” said Perry.

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said the site is in “compliance with robust health, safety, environmental and planning regulations”.

The company intends to submit a consent application for a second well at Preston New Road.

Friends of the Earth accused the government of “sneaking out” an unpopular decision on the last day of Parliament.

“Here we are sweltering in the middle of a heat wave and the government’s actions are cranking up the thermostat on our already alarmingly warming climate,” said campaigns director Liz Hutchins.

25 July 2018
Huw Morris, The Planner

Network Rail has submitted plans to transport secretary Chris Grayling for the construction of phase 2 of a project to build a rail line between Oxford and Cambridge.

The East West Rail project aims to create a “world-class” rail link that connects Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

Phase 1 – between Oxford and Bicester – is complete. The second phase is for works between Bicester and Beford.

Approval of phase 2 would see the reinstatement of an unused section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction, as well as other track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

Plans include a phased introduction of new rail journeys between:

  • Oxford and Milton Keynes – trains would stop at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley;
  • Oxford and Bedford – trains would stop at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont; and
  • Milton Keynes and Aylesbury – trains would stop at Bletchley, Winslow Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

A Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) is required for construction to begin on phase 2. Should the transport secretary approve the phase, Network Rail said work could being in 2019.

Colin Murphy, head of consenting and environment for Network Rail, East West Rail project, said: “The submission of the TWAO is a culmination of four years of work developing the scheme and follows three positive rounds of community consultation, where we’ve continually refined our proposal based on the views of the community and planning experts. We have carried out a comprehensive programme of consultation to understand the impact of our proposals and I’d like to thank everyone who contributed. As intended, the feedback we received has informed our final proposals … Once completed, the new railway will connect communities and businesses along the route and beyond, creating new opportunities for jobs, housing and economic growth.”

30 July 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The government is calling for evidence for an ‘end-to-end’ review of planning appeal inquiries.

About 300 inquiries have been held in the past five years, amounting to 2 per cent of all planning appeals.

The government said many important developments are granted planning permission through inquiries and the process “must be rigorous and fair to ensure robust decisions are made”.

However in 2017-18 the inquiry process took on average 44 weeks from receipt of a complete and valid appeal to a decision.

The review will examine “how the current process is working from end to end and to identify what improvements can be made, in particular, how to speed up the process without harming the quality of decisions”.

The government is particularly concerned at the potential harmful consequences of unnecessary delays in appeal decisions for major housing proposals with the review focusing on such schemes. However, the government said the review presents an opportunity to look at planning appeal inquiries “holistically and to consider improvements to the process to ensure that it meets the purpose it was designed for”.

The deadline for evidence to the review, which will be chaired by former deputy director of economics at the Confederation of British Industry Bridget Rosewell, is 18 September.

25 July 2018
Huw Morris, The Planner

Local spatial plans and urban development must be at the forefront of adapting to soaring temperatures as “a matter of life and death” in the next 20 years, according to an influential group of MPs.

As the Met Office projects that UK summer temperatures could regularly hit 38.5°C by the 2040s, the Environmental Audit Committee said the government must “stop playing pass the parcel” with local authorities and the NHS and develop a strategy to protect the country’s ageing population.

More than 2,000 deaths were caused by the 2003 heatwave, which is predicted to be the norm within 20 years.

The MPs noted that funding for programmes to support local authority climate change adaptation was withdrawn in 2015/16, leading to the closure of numerous regional climate change partnerships.

Cities can be up to 10°C hotter than surrounding countryside due to the urban heat island effect with hard surfaces absorbing heat during the day and emitting heat at night. However the committee said measures to reduce the urban heat island effect are not included in local plans and the government’s planning framework does not mention it.

The government should introduce an urban green infrastructure target in the National Planning Policy Framework and as part of the metrics for the 25-Year Environment Plan to make sure that towns and cities are adapted to more frequent heatwaves, it said.

The government should also review the capacity of local authorities to deliver climate change resilience, requiring them to report on their adaptation and introduce an urban green infrastructure target for cities.

The MPs noted that 20 per cent of UK homes overheat at current temperatures, endangering older people, those with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, the disabled and children. There is no building regulation to prevent overheating in buildings, and tests to identify overheating are weak and ineffective, they said.

The committee also called on the government to end public funding for modular homes, which are not resilient to heatwaves.

“Heatwaves cause premature deaths from cardiac, kidney and respiratory disease,” said committee chair Mary Creagh. “There will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 if the government does not take action.

“It must change building regulations and planning policies to ensure homes and transport networks are able to deal with extreme heat, and that local authorities and cities have green spaces and heat-resilient infrastructure.”

Heatwaves: adapting top climate change is available here.

26 July 2018
Huw Morris, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Coastal path open in North East

Natural England has opened a new stretch of the England Coast Path, from South Bents to Amble.

The 44-mile stretch is the first open section of the England Coast Path in Tyneside and Northumberland. People will be able to explore the coast around the river Tyne and into Northumberland, the wild beaches and dunes of Druridge Bay, as well as the resorts and ports farther south.

The South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Northumberland stretch is the tenth section of Natural England’s England Coast Path project to open. Natural England is working to establish a 2,700-mile path around the entire English coastline.

Housebuilder buys Leicestershire site with planning

Strategic land company Richborough Estates has sold a 6.17-acre residential development site in Leicestershire village Gilmorton to developer Barwood Homes.

Richborough Estates acquired the site from a private landowner with the help of Trevor Wells from chartered surveyor and property firm Wells McFarlane.

The site has outline planning permission for 43 one, two, three, four and five-bedroom homes. Of the 43, 14 have been designated as affordable.

Two acres of land will be provided as public open space and a children’s play area.

Homes application for Bilston submitted

Countryside has submitted a full planning application for 421 homes at Bilston Urban Village.

The plan is for 27 acres of land south of Bilston town centre and the Black Country Route.

The City of Wolverhampton Council and Homes England have invested in the site in order to bring it forward for development, including the enabling of trees to be cleared and drainage infrastructure being installed.

People have already moved into the 78 homes developed by Kier on two other Bilston Urban Village plots.

23-home plan submitted to south-west council

A detailed planning application for 23 homes on Sea Road, Carlyon Bay in Truro has been submitted to Cornwall Council.

The development comprises two Art Deco-style apartment blocks made up of two and three-bedroom apartments and penthouses.

Architects Lipscomb Jones designed the plans.

Planning consultant Russell Dodge of BLS in Truro is advising on the scheme. If approved, work is expected to start on site in 2019 with the demolition of the two existing dwellings with Acorns development and regeneration company directly undertaking the construction.

Developer secures land in West Lothian for 1,900 homes

Housebuilder Springfield Properties has secured around 400 acres of zoned land in West Lothian to develop a site on the south-west border of Livingston.

The area has undergone rapid development and there is significant demand for residential property, with West Lothian Council committed to building 3,000 homes by 2022.

Springfield said it is working on a masterplan for the site and expects to submit a detailed planning application for phase one by early 2019. This would include about 600 private and affordable homes.

The area is zoned for 1,900 homes as well as commercial units and a primary school. The company intends to develop the site as a new neighbourhood within Livingston, and will pay for the land in instalments, subject to planning permission being received.

South Worcestershire planning policies approved

New planning guidance has been adopted in support of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), which sets out where new homes and employment development should take place up to the year 2030.

The three councils involved in the SWDP – Worcester, Malvern Hills and Wychavon – have all approved three new supplementary planning documents (SPDs) containing guidance on renewable and low-carbon energy, water management and flooding, and the contributions developers make toward local infrastructure when they start building.

  • The three SPDs are:
  • Renewable and low-carbon energy.
  • Water management and flooding.
  • Developer contributions.

Newham approves mixed-use scheme

The London Borough of Newham Council has granted approval for phase three of the Hallsville Quarter development in Canning Town following Section 73 and reserved matters applications.

Designed by Hawkins\Brown architects, the scheme comprises 620 new homes, including 50 extra care homes. It also features 118,404 square feet of town centre uses, such as retail, leisure, offices and an NHS health centre.

Overall, Hallsville Quarter is set to comprise retail, offices, leisure, hotel, community uses, student accommodation, 1,148 homes and basement car parking.

Developer Linkcity was advised by planning and development consultancy Montagu Evans.

31 July 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner