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Planning News - 18 October 2018

Published: Thursday, 18th October 2018

Campaigner loses legal bid to prevent Lancashire fracking, HS2 launches public consultations on railway extensions, Brokenshire removes holding direction on East Herts Plan 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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Campaigner Bob Dennett has lost his last-minute legal challenge to stop Cuadrilla fracking at its Preston New Road shale gas exploration site in Lancashire.

Dennett won an interim injunction last Friday (6 October) against Lancashire County Council.

He said that there wasn’t a “clear and robust plan” in place to evacuate residents in the event of an earthquake resulting from fracking.

Cuadrilla has two wells at the site and planned to start fracking this week.

Today (12 October), though, High Court judge Mr Justice Supperstone rejected the request for an injunction, stating that the council had not failed in its duties regarding civil contingency planning.

Representing Dennett, Marc Willers QC asked for a two-week interim injunction while the court considered the matter, saying it was a “small price to pay for the safety of local residents”.

Cuadrilla’s lawyers argued that there was no serious case to be tried because the ultimate authority for whether the company could frack was not the local authority but energy secretary Greg Clark, who issued a fracking consent this summer.

The Guardian reports Dennet as being disappointed. “We will continue to be defiant and fight this. We will never give up. We’ve put too much effort in to throw the towel in.”

The judge also refused permission for a judicial review of the council’s emergency planning procedures for Preston New Road, which was sought by Friends of the Earth.

Following the decision, Cuadrilla issued a statement confirming that it plans to start hydraulic fracturing operations at Preston New Road tomorrow (13 October).

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire. If commercially recoverable this will displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK.”

The hydraulic fracturing process will take approximately three months to complete for both horizontal exploration wells.

The firm said initial results are expected in the New Year.

12 October 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

HS2 Ltd has launched a public consultation for its construction plans for the Midlands and the North.

Phase one of the construction between Birmingham and London is under way with 7,000 jobs supported through the project, which is set to rise to 30,000 when construction hits a peak.

Phase 2b of HS2 has already secured 2,000 business contracts, and this figure is expected to rise as phase two progresses. The route is set to serve communities in the West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds.

Two public consultations have been launched for the phase 2b route, which will give communities the opportunity to respond formally to HS2 Ltd’s designs and proposed mitigation measures for the Phase 2b route. The consultations close on 21 December.

The public dialogue will be supported by a programme of community events, during which teams from HS2 Ltd will visit locations across the eastern and western legs of the Phase 2b route to talk to people about the design plans and the benefits that Britain’s new high-speed railway will bring.

Leonie Dubois, HS2 Ltd’s head of consultation and engagement, said: ”High-speed rail will play a crucial role in rebalancing Britain’s economy; driving business growth, stimulating investment and creating jobs right across the country.

“Through the public consultations, we are providing a more detailed account of how we propose to build the railway and minimise its impacts during construction and operation. We actively encourage people to have their say on the plans we have published today.”

11 October 2018                                                 
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Housing secretary James Brokenshire has withdrawn the holding direction on the East Hertfordshire District Local Plan, saying he is satisfied that the approach to the plan is ‘consistent with the relevant national policy’.

The direction was issued in September after the housing secretary received several requests to intervene to prevent the plan from being adopted, notably from Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland and the Hertfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural (CPRE).

These requests related to green belt release, housing requirements and infrastructure provision.

Brokenshire explains in a letter to the council that he has considered the inspector’s examination report on the plan and other correspondence he received, including from the council.

He notes that the inspector set out in the reports that there had been a “rigorous process of balancing the importance of the green belt and the impact of developing against the benefits”. Also, the report details that there is an acute need for housing in the area and each allocated site was “the most sustainable”.

The holding direction was therefore lifted.

Linda Haysey, leader of East Herts Council, said: “Following the issue of the holding direction, the council has been working with [the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government] to come to a speedy resolution and prevent development taking place in areas that have not been identified as suitable.

“We are pleased that our work to create a sound plan has been recognised and look forward to pressing ahead with adopting the plan and giving our residents and businesses some assurances for the future of our district."

The council will hold an extraordinary council meeting on 23 October to vote on official adoption of the plan.

Brokenshire's letter can be found here on the UK Government website (pdf).

16 October 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Barton Willmore has been awarded a £64 million project by Liverpool City Council to redevelop Copperas Hill into a new student destination in the heart of Liverpool City Centre for Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

The former Royal Mail sorting office, next to Liverpool Lime Street Station, will make way for LJMU’s Student Life Building and Sports Building, enhancing the student experience in the city.

LJMU’s scheme has been designed to address existing constraints and mark the entrance to the Knowledge Quarter. The inclusion of new public spaces will further transform Copperas Hill into a vibrant, attractive place.

Professor Phil Vickerman, pro vice-chancellor (strategic initiatives) at LJMU, said: “These new facilities will really enhance the university experience for our students and will help to link the different areas of our campus.

“The work will drive forward the regeneration of this key gateway site and completely transform the public realm and open spaces.”

The university is planning to develop the 1.4-hectare site in two phases as part of a wider masterplan investment across the LJMU estate. Work on phase one of the scheme is expected to be completed by autumn 2020.

11 October 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

The UK, Scottish and Welsh governments have written to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) asking for advice on when they should achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy.

The letter was signed by energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry; Roseanna Cunningham, environment, climate change and land reform secretary at the Scottish Government; and Lesley Griffiths, energy, planning and rural affairs secretary at the Welsh Government.

The governments also want advice on:

Whether the government should review its 2050 target of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent relative to 1990 levels to meet international climate change targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

How emissions reductions could be achieved in industry, homes, transport and agriculture.

The expected costs and benefits in comparison to current targets.

The letter follows the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) warning that governments must act now to avoid disastrous climate effects. It also marks the first Green GB & NI Week.

During Green GB & NI Week, Perry is expected to highlight the economic opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner economy, with almost 400,000 jobs in the low-carbon economy already, which the government said could quadruple to around two million, generating up to £170 billion of annual exports.

Perry said: “We’re a world leader when it comes to tackling climate change and cutting carbon intensity, but the evidence is clear – governments, businesses and communities must take further action to confront one of the greatest global challenges we’ve ever faced.

That’s why we’re asking the independent climate experts of the CCC for advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy, including how emissions might be reduced and the expected costs and benefits of doing so.”

To mark the start of Green GB & NI Week, the UK Government set out a package of measures to help to transform energy infrastructure to make it cleaner and greener, including launching a £320 million government fund in low-carbon heating for cities.

The UK Government added that it would be launching a competition in 2019 to design the house of the future, which should be more energy efficient, have a quality affordable design and be easily adaptable to help healthy ageing.

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK, said: “The government has done the right thing by taking the first step towards setting a new target of net zero carbon emissions, but this needs to be followed swiftly with robust action. Conservative ministers took the bold decision in 2015 to phase out coal; they need to be bold again. 

“Onshore and offshore wind are the UK’s biggest renewable energy sources, generating half of our country’s clean power. We need to scale up these successful, innovative, cheap technologies even further and even faster if the UK is to meet more ambitious targets. We also need to fully commercialise our massive wave and tidal energy resources.

“The expansion of clean power is a win-win for all of us as it also creates highly-skilled jobs and attracts billions in investment to the UK. And consumers benefit from lower bills as renewables are the cheapest option when it comes to building vitally-needed new capacity”.

The committee has been asked to submit its evidence by the end of March 2019.

The letter can be found here on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy website.

15 October 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Leicester development application submitted

The partners on Ashton Green have submitted a reserved matters planning application to Leicester City Council for the second phase of the project.

The application, by design practice rg+p and developer Kier Living, is for 307 residential units for land of Bevan Road. Submission follows feedback from a public consultation held at the neighbouring Glebelands Primary School earlier this year.

The homes are set to be a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments as well as two to five-bedroom homes.

Andy Ward, associate planning consultant at rg+p, commented: “Our design includes different character areas that specifically reference Leicester’s heritage; the Victorian villa, Edwardian terrace and village street, and these are being distilled to a design code that will deliver a fresh architectural response and interpretation in the provision of quality new homes.”

Ashton Green was proposed by Leicester City Council. The whole mixed-use development could provide up to 3,000 new homes as well as community and health facilities, employment land, retail space and green open space.

Pocket Living and Tfl pair up to deliver affordable housing

Transport for London (TfL) has announced that it will partner with Pocket Living to provide “100 per cent genuinely” affordable homes for first-time buyers on several of its sites.

The partnership will see Pocket Living build about 125 one-bedroom homes (subject to planning) on TfL sites that will be sold outright to buyers at a discount from the open-market value. Pocket homes are prioritised for people who already live or work in the borough and are first-time buyers.

They are targeted specifically at local singles and couples who earn too much to qualify for social housing, but are priced out of the open market. Buyers of the homes own 100 per cent of their property from day one. When Pocket homes are sold on, new purchasers must meet the original criteria and have a household income below the Mayor of London’s affordable housing threshold.

Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at TfL, said: “This partnership marks another important step in us assembling the most important development pipeline in London – building thousands of social rented and other genuinely affordable homes across the capital and generating hundreds of millions of pounds to reinvest in the transport network.”

Bovingdon want to prepare a neighbourhood plan

Bovingdon Parish Council has applied to Dacorum Borough Council to prepare a neighbourhood plan for the parish, considering where development could take place in the parish.

The borough council is hosting a consultation for residents on whether the proposed plan area is appropriate.

Bovingdon is the first parish area in Dacorum to request designation of its area, while this would be only the second neighbourhood plan produced in Dacorum.

The deadline for receiving comments on the proposed plan area is Friday 30 November, 2018. Details on the proposed area designation and response forms are available on the council’s website.

Premier Inn to be built in Islington

Islington Council has granted planning permission for a new Premier Inn hotel, including a Bar + Block restaurant, in Finsbury Park, North London.

Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, working with development partner Tide Construction Ltd, secured the permission.

The hotel will comprise 192 bedrooms and be built on eight storeys.

Whitbread has taken a 25-year lease on the site. Work is expected to start on the cleared site before the end of the year, with a targeted opening date of early 2020.

Carter Jonas brings Yorkshire site to market

Property consultancy Carter Jonas has brought a 9.48-acre freehold site in Cayton, North Yorkshire, to market on behalf of a private landowner.

The site, off Church Lane, has outline planning permission, but it does not specify the number of dwellings.

Cayton, is a coastal village located about three miles south of Scarborough. Seamer rail station is 1.5 miles from the site with services to Scarborough, Sheffield, Leeds and York.

Steven Soper, senior surveyor at Carter Jonas Leeds, said: “The village has a good range of amenities including Cayton Community Primary School, a post office, local shops and a pub. The nearby village of Eastfield contains a secondary school and a Morrison’s superstore. The planning permission does not specify the number of dwellings, but an indicative plan has been prepared for 80 dwellings.”

The site is offered as a whole by informal tender and offers should be made in writing to Carter Jonas’ Leeds office by Thursday 25 October.

Hometel approved for Chiswick

Hounslow Council has approved hometel brand room2’s plans for its plans to open its fourth site in Chiswick, West London.

Likes its sister sites, the new hometel aims to combine the comforts and flexibility of home with the services, facilities and safety provided by a hotel.

Work is set to begin in Q2 2019 and is due to open in Q4 2020.

The Chiswick hometel will offer 78 rooms on four floors. Additionally, a shared ‘living room’ with bar, café, lobby and workspace, as well as a gym will be built.

It will occupy the site of a disused office building on Windmill Road, just off Chiswick High Road.

Project Orange has been appointed as the architect and design team.

room2 is part of the Lamington Group, a real estate developer.

16 October 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner