Latest news

Planning News - 13 December 2018

Published: Thursday, 13th December 2018

Welsh planning law set for major shake-up, £1.3bn bailout for Crossrail, £112m Leeds flood scheme submitted, Developer to get funding allocated in Budget 2018 and more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

The Law Commission has proposed a wide-ranging shake-up of planning law in Wales. A report published this week calls for more than 190 technical reforms.

New primary legislation in the shape of a planning act is expected to carry through the changes, designed as the centrepiece of a fresh planning code for the country.

The report found that the legislation governing the planning system in Wales was “confused and unhelpful”. It has been much amended and supplemented over the past 30 years, is full of obsolete provisions and does not meet current best practice.

The report contains 193 recommendations to simplify the legislation and make it fit for purpose. These include: 

  • making clear the principles underlying the planning system in Wales;
  • simplifying the law in respect of when planning permission is required;
  • clarifying the status of outline planning applications;
  • tightening up the law on pre-commencement conditions;
  • enabling planning obligations to be entered into by prospective purchasers;
  • rationalising penalties for breaches of planning control;
  • simplifying the authorisation of works to listed buildings;
  • enabling landowners to discover when they need various special consents;
  • enabling authorities to remove unauthorised advertisement hoardings;
  • tightening up control over works to protected trees;
  • simplifying the law on High Court challenges; and
  • clarifying the definition of some technical terms.

The commission has also proposed the repeal of unused legislative provisions such as those relating to planning inquiry commissions, simplified planning zones, enterprise zones, new towns, urban development corporations, rural development boards, archaeological areas and advertisement appeals tribunals.

“Most of these have not been used for 30 years or more and some have never been used at all,” commented the commission.

The Welsh Government will provide an interim response to the report by the end of May 2019, and a detailed response by the end of November 2019.

The commission published a consultation paper a year ago. The overall response to its proposals was strongly favourable.

The report and more information can be found on the Law Commission website.

07 December 2018
Roger Milne, The Planner

A financial package worth £1.4 billion has been agreed between the government, the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) to cover the costs of Crossrail's delayed opening.

KPMG is currently reviewing the project’s ongoing funding requirements, to ensure the right scrutiny and oversight are in place, Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT), with responsibility for the railways, said in a written statement to Parliament.

Jones explained that emerging findings from the reviews into Crossrail’s finances indicate the likely range of additional capital cost, due to the delayed opening of the central section, could be in the region of between £1.6 billion and £2 billion.

This includes the £300 million already contributed by the DfT and TfL in July 2018, leaving between £1.3 billion and £1.7 billion to cover the predicted additional costs of the project.

The DfT will provide a loan of up to £1.3 billion to the Greater London Authority (GLA). The GLA said it intends to repay this loan via London’s Business Rate Supplement (BRS) and from the Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy. The GLA will also provide a £100 million cash contribution, taking its total contribution for this package to £1.4 billion.

A contingency arrangement has been agreed between TfL and the DfT because the final project cost have not been confirmed. The DfT will loan TfL up to £750 million in the event that further finance is required for the project.

This combined financing deal will replace the need for the £350 million interim financing package the DfT announced in October 2018.

Crossrail Ltd appointed Mark Wild as CEO on 19 November 2018. He is conducting an extensive review of the remainder of the programme and will provide clarity in the new year on the opening date of future phases.

The DfT and TfL have recommended to the Crossrail Ltd board that they appoint Tony Meggs as chair. Meggs has been the cief executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. The DfT has also accepted TfL’s nomination of Nick Raynsford as the deputy chair.

The full written statement can be read here.

10 December 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A £112.1 million Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme has been submitted by Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency to reduce the risk of flooding along the River Aire.

The range of measures put forward aim to reduce the risk of flooding along a 14-kilometre stretch of the River Aire catchment. This includes the A65 Kirkstall Corridor, which was badly hit by the impact of Storm Eva at Christmas 2015.

These plans include both parts of the two-step process that has been developed to give a one-in-200-year level of enhanced protection against flooding for Leeds, in order to better protect 1,485 homes and 370 businesses.

If approved, work to deliver the first step, a one-in-100 year level of protection, is expected to start next summer.

The measures include new defence walls, embankments and a large flood storage area. It focuses on four key areas of Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, Kirkstall Abbey and Kirkstall Meadows, Apperley Bridge and Calverley.

The scheme incorporates a Natural Flood Management programme in which Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency will work with partners and landowners across the catchment to deliver the creation of new woodland and other natural features. These aim to reduce the flow of rainwater into the river and help reduce the impacts of climate change.

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake, said: “If it is approved it would mean we can get on with starting the work we can carry out now, which is vital to provide our residents and businesses with reassurance and confidence as we come up on three years since the devastation caused by the impact of Storm Eva.

“We will continue to pursue all options to secure the remaining funding to deliver the scheme to one-in-200-year level in full.”

If funding is secured, the second phase will aim to complete the River Aire scheme in full by the creation of a flood storage area near Calverley, which will use the moveable weir technology used in phase one of the scheme in the city centre to allow water to be stored and then be released slowly back into the river in a controlled way.

The details of the planning application can be viewed here and more details about the scheme can be found here.

07 December 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

St. Modwen plc can begin drawing down the funds from its £75 million funding allocated to the firm from the Home Building Fund in Budget 2018.

The cash is to help the developer speed up the installation of infrastructure such as road and schools on a number of its sites. This will in turn enable homes to be delivered more quickly.

Chief executive of Homes England Nick Walkley said: “This type of investment is a key example of how Homes England is stepping in to disrupt the housing market and provide homes for those wanting to get a foot on the housing ladder.

“By equipping medium-sized homebuilders like St Modwen Homes with the resources to speed up construction, we are not just handing them the powers to make homes happen, but also to drive up the quality of new homes.”

One site set to benefit includes St Modwen’s largest residential scheme, Kingsgrove, a new settlement that will total 1,500 homes and also feature sports pitches, open green space and community allotments. It will be located in Wantage, Oxfordshire.

06 December 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Harrow Crown Court has ordered a rogue landlord to pay £1.5 million or spend nine years in prison after he was found guilty of breaching planning rules for five years in two London boroughs.

Vispasp Sarkari, 56, from Harrow, converted a number of properties across Harrow and Brent into substandard flats without planning permission.

The councils said he was cramming tenants into the dangerous conversions and charging them extortionate rents. Sarkari’s properties include one in Brent converted into eight ‘box room’ bedsits and four similar properties in Harrow.

All planning enforcement notices were ignored.

Brent Council secured a restraint order against Sarkari. This means he cannot dispose of his assets before the order is paid in full. If the fine is not paid, the council can force the sale of his properties.

Tom Miller, Brent Council's cabinet member for community safety, said: “Slum landlords won't be tolerated – plain and simple. If you ignore planning laws or leave tenants to languish in poor conditions, then we will find you, we will take action in court, and we will win.”

Keith Ferry, Harrow Council's cabinet member for planning, added: “Justice means taking the ill-gotten gains off this slumlord millionaire. This is a man who thought he couldn't be stopped. He was wrong, and thanks to our joint work with Brent Council, Sarkari's criminal venture is finished.”

Judge Wood said the breaches were “a flagrant abuse of the Town and Country Planning legislation”. 

Sarkari was separately fined £12,000 and ordered to pay both councils’ costs in full.

In 2012 a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 was made against Sarkari for £303,112.00 for ignoring planning laws. He has also being prosecuted for fire safety offences and gas safety breaches.

05 December 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news:

Disused shredded wheat factory plans approved

Members of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s development management committee have approved plans to transform a disused shredded wheat factory in Welywn Garden City into 1,454 new homes.

The scheme also includes community facilities, leisure, retail and office space.

The developer has invested £8 million in an infrastructure fund, of which £5.8 million will go towards a new primary school in Peartree.

Grant funding from outside agencies will create 414 affordable homes out of a possible 1,340 (31 per cent of the total development). There will be a mix of affordable rent, social rent and tenures supporting home ownership.

The council’s planning officer recommended that planning permission should have been approved subject to satisfactory completion of a supplementary section 106 agreement.

Plans submitted in CB1

Development company Brookgate has submitted plans for two new buildings at CB1 in Cambridge.

The plans, if approved, will bring new amenities to the area and facilitate changes to the access arrangements at Station Square. They aim to ease congestion and improve the travel experience when arriving or leaving Cambridge station.

The new buildings will be on part of the existing station car park, between Carter Bridge and Great Northern Road. Located behind the Ibis hotel will be a multistorey car park with a hotel above.

A Business Innovation Centre is planned with a mix of office and co-working space to rehouse small firms based at the CB1 Business Centre when its current base at 20 Station Road is redeveloped in a few years’ time.

QPA Northern Ireland changes name

QPA Northern Ireland will become MPA Northern Ireland from 1 January 2019.

QPANI is the trade association for the mineral products sector in Northern Ireland. It has 87 members that employ more than 5,000 people.

It has been an affiliate of the Mineral Products Association (MPA) since 2009, and members have now, after a full consultation, given unanimous support and endorsement to rebrand at MPANI.

Commenting, Gordon Best, director of QPANI, said: “The reference to minerals in our new title recognises the fact that our membership base is wide and varied across our industry in Northern Ireland, representing the extraction and processing of hard rock, sand, salt, lime and chalk into products that support and sustain our quality of life.

“Importantly, we are also recognised by government, both locally and centrally, as a minerals sector. We have an excellent working relationship with MPA, and indeed all MPA regions across the UK and with our colleagues in the Irish Mining and Quarries Society (IMQS) in the Republic of Ireland.”

450k Help to Buy completions

More than 458,000 completions have taken place using the range of Help to Buy schemes available. Of the total, 402,000 were first-time buyers.

Government statistics suggest that first-time buyers have opened 1.2 million Help to Buy ISAs; the average house price purchased using the schemes is £201,881; and over 93 per cent of completions have been outside of London.

The most completions using the Help to Buy ISA have taken place in the North West and Yorkshire & the Humber. In total, 169,980 completions have taken place across the UK since its launch in December 2015.

Sports fields protected

Of the concluded planning applications between April 2017 and March 2017, 93 per cent involving a playing field have resulted in improved or protected facilities.

The data from Sport England suggests that 41 per cent of the cases where Sport England originally objected to an application saw an improvement in sports provision after negotiations were held.

There were 146 applications when the body maintained its objection. Of those, either 61 were withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.

Nick Evans, head of planning at Sport England, said: “I am pleased this year’s figures show that the places where people get active are being protected right across the country. Protecting grassroots sport provision is at the heart of what Sport England continues to do so that all of us have access to the right sporting facilities.”

As of the 10 December 2018, Sport England said its Active Places data shows that across England there are 22,155 playing field sites, containing a total of 70,381 pitches.

11 December 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner