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Planning News - 9 August 2018

Published: Thursday, 9th August 2018

‘Strategic shrinking’ of green belt as harmful as building on it, says CPRE, Thomas White Oxford submits planning application for Oxford North 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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Reviewing green belt boundaries as part of the local plan process should only take place in exceptional circumstances – but this ‘strategic shrinking’ of the green belt is as ‘harmful’ as building on it, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The campaign group’s annual State of the Green Belt report says there are currently 460,000 homes being planned that would be built on greenfield land that will soon be released from the green belt – or has been designated in local plans.

Of those houses planned for green belt land, CPRE says only 27 per cent meet the government’s definition of affordable.

Furthermore, according to the report, local authorities with green belt land have enough brownfield land for more than 720,000 homes and therefore “there is no reason for them not to be prioritising brownfield development”.

Because “one-third” of local authorities with green belt land face increased housing targets as a result of the new method for calculating housing demand laid out in the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in July, the release of green belt land is set to continue, says CPRE.

The London Metropolitan Green Belt will be the “biggest casualty”.

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at the CPRE, said: “We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the green belt to build low-density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live. The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that far from providing the solution, building on the green belt only serves to entrench the issue.”

The government, Fyans continued, is “failing” in its commitment to protect the green belt, which is being “eroded at an alarming rate”.

It is “essential, if the green belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and green belt protection strengthened”.

The report features a number of recommendations, including:

  • National and local planning policies and decision should recognise the green belt’s wide variety of benefits, but focus on ensuring that they continue to fulfil their purpose by:

    - Following through on commitments to strengthen the exceptional circumstances test by prioritising brownfield sites within the revised NPPF.

    - Committing to establishing long-term green belt boundaries, to be reviewed no more than every 15 years.

  • National government should develop clear guidance for local authorities on housing requirements to protect designated land and support the creation of new green belts where local authorities have established a clear need for them.

Katherine Evans, partner at law firm TLT, said: “The latest statistics show that green belt land saw a decrease of less than 0.05 per cent in 2016-2017.

"Despite what the name suggests the reality is that little of the green belt is valued for its landscape and some is already developed for a multitude of purposes."

The CPRE likes to characterise the green belt as ‘countryside next door’ but the reality is that little of the green belt is valued for its landscape and some is already developed for a multitude of purposes.”

Evans highlighted that the revised NPPF makes it clear that green belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, while a planning authority must be able to demonstrate that it has fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting its identified need for development.

“Extensions to boundaries and building on the green belt are only likely where the local authority has already made use of suitable brownfield sites and underutilised land, optimised the density of development on existing land set aside for housing or has reached an agreement with a neighbouring local authority in order to take on some of its housing needs.

“While building more homes to tackle the housing crisis is one of the government’s main priorities, it is quite clear from the revised NPPF that this is not to be at the expense of the green belt. It’s worth keeping in mind that the drive to build new homes is taking place predominantly on brownfield and urban sites."

The National Community Land Trusts (CLT) Network highlighted that the CPRE report found that only 990 of the 7,600 homes rural communities need were built last year. To date, 840 CLT homes have been built, predominantly in rural areas.

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trusts (CLT) Network, said: “Community Land Trusts are thriving in rural areas. This is because local people have recognised them as a way to build the affordable homes that local people can actually afford, rather than more expensive homes.

“Many rural communities are coming up against school and shop closures that are threatening local life. The need for affordable housing has never been more serious. While many local authorities and parish councils are supporting CLTs to form and develop, we would like to see this going further.

“With local governments working with groups to find land there’s no reason why CLTs couldn’t help build the annual quota of rural homes needed.”

The State of the Green Belt report can be found on the CPRE website.

06 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Planning and architectural consultancy Thomas White Oxford has submitted a planning application to Oxford City Council, on behalf of St John’s College, to transform an area in north Oxford into a sustainable business community.

The proposal would provide a £100 million infrastructure investment, and create jobs, homes, open spaces, and three new parks.

The Oxford North submission is a hybrid application, which seeks consents for the masterplan and the first phase of development.

Julian Barwick, project chairman, Oxford North, said: “Phase one will see the A40 improvement works including a new bus lane and cycleways, complementing Oxfordshire County’s wider strategy to deliver an outer ring of park-and-ride sites and express busways to the city.

“From 23 acres of open space to 40 per cent reduced water consumption, 850 electric car charging points and 5.7 miles of new and improved cycle paths, and all the buildings in phase one being 100 per cent electric – ecologically, we believe this is a development to be proud of.”

Further information about the project can be found on the Oxford North website.

01 August 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Barton Willmore has submitted a planning application to build 600 homes at a disused National Grid LNG Storage site in Partington, Greater Manchester.

The application was submitted to Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council on behalf of Heath Farm LLP and National Grid.

The proposal involves building on land at Heath Farm Lane to meet the needs of homebuyers and residents in Partington and the wider borough.

The hybrid application seeks full planning permission for 148 homes to be built, with another 452 homes proposed across the remainder of the site, and the creation of a new public open space for residents and the local community.

Planning director Steven Grimster said: “The development has the potential to kick-start a significant transformation in Partington through the delivery of a mix of new housing alongside extensive areas of green open space to create a quality living environment.”

02 August 2018,
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Following a poor first quarter, market demand for mineral products in the construction sector rose in the second, according to data from the Mineral Products Association (MPA).

Q1 suffered poor sales because of bad weather and the collapse of construction firm Carillion.

The growth in construction work remains heavily skewed towards housing, said the MPA. After accounting for typical seasonal variations, mortar sales recovered in the second quarter, with sales rising 20.9 per cent.

Sales volumes for aggregates and ready-mixed concrete saw an increase of 9.2 per cent 9.8 per cent respectively, compared with Q1. Asphalt sales saw an increase of 11.3 per cent. 

The MPA said its quarterly sales survey suggests that the volume of mortar sold in the second quarter of 2018 is the highest quarterly total since its records began in 2004. At the other end of the scale, sales volumes for every other material monitored remain well below their pre-recession peak in 2007.

Although these increases are to be welcomed, the association said the underlying longer-term trends remain subdued. Aside from mortar, sales volumes for mortar were lower in the first half of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.

The year to June 2018 saw a decline of 1.7 per cent in sales of aggregates compared with the previous year, while asphalt and ready-mixed concrete sales were down by 3.1 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively.

Aurelie Delannoy, director of economic affairs at the MPA, commented: “We welcome the recovery in sales volumes in the second quarter, but the outlook for this year has not changed and remains subdued. Sales volumes weakened in the past year in line with general construction work. Outside housebuilding, there are limited sources of growth. Major infrastructure investments such as High Speed 2, Hinkley Point C and Highways England’s road programme should provide a boost, most noticeably from 2019 onwards, if momentum is sustained.”

Regionally, sales volumes for asphalt in 2018 so far suggest positive road activity in the South East and South West. However, according to the MPA, there were declines in the West Midlands, the northern regions of England, and most particularly in Scotland, where some large transport projects came to an end last year.

For Delannoy, the heightened level of economic and political uncertainty is having an “adverse impact” on private investment, notably, she said, in some areas of construction such as commercial office building. This is not helped by continuing uncertainty about the delivery of infrastructure projects and related timings.

“The construction supply chain, including mineral products, is key to the delivery of government policy on housing and infrastructure but is in a very challenging situation when it comes to planning for future work and investment. The potential ‘No Deal’ Brexit would further threaten construction investment. In such a scenario, the mineral products industry and other sectors in the construction supply chain would become early victims of the economic fallout. As such, the negotiating parties need to maintain focus on economic realities to avoid such an outcome.”

02 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Mayor Andy Burnham and local leaders have agreed on plans to achieve carbon neutrality in Greater Manchester by 2038.

This is a decade earlier than originally planned.

The Springboard Report follows on from the inaugural Greater Manchester Green Summit in March. It considers feedback from the 600 delegates as well as from 1,200 individuals who attended listening events before the conference.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority said the agreement’s central ambition is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature to an even lower 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Burnham said: “The science is clear on the steps we need to take to become carbon-neutral, and some of these are very challenging. But our ambitions are high and we need communities and businesses to work with us to make this happen.”

“Our vision will not only make us a global leader for smart energy innovation, but will transform Greater Manchester into a world-leading greener, cleaner city region, improving the health and quality of life for millions of people and protecting our green spaces and environment for future generations.”

The report sets out 17 actions for completion by March 2019, before the 2019 Green Summit. These include:

  • The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework will include a date by which all new homes and buildings built within Greater Manchester will be net zero carbon.
  • Producing a Natural Capital Investment Plan by December 2018, which will promote investment and delivery of opportunities that protect and enhance Greater Manchester’s natural capital to support a healthy population and economy.
  • Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will ensure that the ongoing development and delivery of its 2040 Transport Strategy is aligned with the carbon neutral ambition.
  • Establishing a new public sector-led commercial model for the Greater Manchester electric vehicle charging network with the long-term aim to at least double the size of the present system. TfGM will look at whether new bus powers can help to achieve an emissions-free bus fleet and by when.
  • TfGM will ensure that the ongoing development and delivery of its 2040 Transport Strategy is aligned with the carbon-neutral ambition.

The 2019 Green Summit will be held on 25 March.

01 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news:

Shortlist for RTPI research awards announced

The shortlist for the 2018 RTPI Awards for Research Excellence includes projects that consider planning for different religions, urbanisation in Rwanda and Ethiopia and Scottish marine planning.

Research into heritage, build-to-rent housing, walkability and improving streets have also made the list.

In total, 20 research projects, an increase of nearly 20 per cent compared to 2017, are competing acro

The winners will be announced during the Planning Research Conference in Sheffield, held from 3-5 September 2018.

Tenant Fees Bill must go further, says Khan

The government’s proposed Tenant Fees Bill is a “missed opportunity” to protect people who rent in London, says Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

In a joint letter to the prime minister, Khan, Crisis, Generation Rent and Citizens UK have set out how a reform of private renting is overdue.

Renters in the capital have to find nearly £3,700 each time they move home compared with the nationwide average of £2,000 owing to “extortionate fees and deposits”, according to City Hall analysis, explained the mayor.

As the bill passes through its parliamentary stages, the mayor wants ministers to make amendments to give renters much-needed protection from exploitation. These include capping rental deposits at three weeks’ rent and holding deposits at one day’s rent; scrapping provisions for new and potentially exploitative ‘default fees’ to be written into tenancy agreements; and enabling tenants to directly claim back prohibited payments along with compensation worth up to three times the fee paid.

Amey awarded HS2 contract

Public services provider Amey has been awarded a construction contract to provide power for a part of the build of HS2.

Amey will deliver the design, installation and construction of two temporary substations that will support the delivery of the Chiltern Tunnel south portal.

The first will connect to the Scottish and Southern Electricity Network (SSEN) power grid and transform voltage levels from 132kV to 33kV. The second, primary substation will then drop these voltage levels further from 33kV to 11kV ready for the distribution of power to the tunnelling equipment required for the Chiltern Tunnel.

Grade II Hammersmith redevelopment approved

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council has granted planning permission and listed building consent to redevelop and refurbish the Grade II listed building at 41 Iffley Road, Hammersmith.

The work will see the building provide 7,000 square feet of grade A office space.

The hall will be opened up, the basement extended and a new mezzanine level built to create an open-plan floor space and bring a new viewpoint to the vaulted roof, according to the plans.

Complete restoration works of the listed building will be carried out, including stonework, metal work glazing and paintwork.

Work is expected to be complete by mid-2020.

DCO application submitted for West Midlands Interchange

Four Ashes Limited – a consortium led by Kilbride Holdings*, has submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate for a Development Consent Order for the West Midlands Interchange.

The scheme will go through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regimes.

West Midlands Interchange is a proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) with warehousing and other associated development. It would be located on land west of Junction 12 of the M6 in South Staffordshire.

It will be linked directly to the West Coast Main Line, and therefore able to serve the West Midlands, the Black Country, Staffordshire, Birmingham, the northern M6 corridor and parts of Warwickshire.

When built, the West Midlands Interchange website says it will provide up to 743,200 square metres of new rail-served and rail-linked warehousing allowing the region’s important logistics industry to grow. The scheme could create 8,550 direct jobs.

* Kilbride Holdings is working in partnership with privately owned international property group, Grosvenor Group and Piers Monckton, the majority landowner.

23 flats approved in Isleworth

The London Borough of Hounslow Council has approved plans by Carter Jonas for 23 additional apartments at 71 St Johns Road in Isleworth.

Carter Jonas were working on behalf of FRT Developments Ltd.

71 St Johns Road is an office to residential conversion that will deliver a total of 51 new homes, a private communal garden to the rear of the property, landscaped road frontage and secure cycle storage.

The new planning allows for the erection of a two-storey extension to the roof and rear of the building to accommodate the additional apartments.

07 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner