Latest news

Planning News - 10 January 2019

Published: Thursday, 10th January 2019

Gove publishes draft green governance bill, Manufacturing zones designated in East Midlands, LDO approved for Berkshire business park, 90,000 homes approved in Q3 of 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 environment secretary Michael Gove has published draft clauses for the first environmental bill for 20 years.  

The bill, first announced by Prime Minister Theresa May in July, delineates the steps to put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government.

Gove said: “We have published our draft clauses for the environment bill which place our environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government.

“They set out how we will create a pioneering new system of green governance, placing our 25-year environment plan on a statutory footing. We will explore options for strong targets to improve our environment, and provisions on air quality, waste and water resource management, and restoring nature.”

A new framework for environmental governance will be created, demonstrating the government's commitment to maintaining environmental protection as the UK leaves the EU.

A new independent statutory body will provide independent scrutiny and advice, and hold government to account on development and implementation of environmental law and policy, according to a government statement.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consultation for this draft legislation received 176,746 responses.

Additionally, the government published a policy paper alongside the draft clauses highlighting the vision for the UK environment when the nation leaves the EU. These clauses will form part of a broader environmental bill that will be introduced early in the second session of Parliament to address the biggest environmental issues.

The core elements and documents published in the draft clauses can be viewed here. Further details on all policy areas will be published by the government in due course.

20 December 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


Communities secretary James Brokenshire has announced the four projects that will form the new East Midlands Manufacturing Zones.

The government says the zones have been created to reduce planning restrictions to allow land to be used more productively and provide certainty for business investment.

A total of £500,000 will be split between the Leicester and Leicestershire Local Enterprise to create a zone in Melton Mowbray; the University of Leicester for Space Park Leicester; the Greater Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership for advanced manufacturing industries; and D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership to develop the Northern Derbyshire Manufacturing Zone.

The government wants the cash to build on existing strengths in space, food and advanced manufacturing across the East Midlands.

Brokenshire is visiting organisations across the region today to see how they are contributing to the UK economy. He is visiting Derby City Council’s rough sleeping accommodation, the East Midlands Airport, Norton Motorcycles in Castle Donington, and the National Space Centre in Leicester.

He said: “Manufacturing, innovation and trade are at the heart of the East Midlands economy, so it is the perfect place for the UK’s first Manufacturing Zones.

“This is another example of how the government is delivering for the Midlands with our modern industrial strategy backing local businesses and building on local strengths.”

Government support for the Midlands Engine includes £1.9 billion of funding for the Local Growth Fund and £20 million in the Midlands Skills Challenge to boost employment prospects for local people.

The East Midlands Manufacturing Zones – a breakdown

Melton Mowbray – £75,000

Three locations on the edge of Melton Mowbray, as well as a centrally located site, have been identified as suitable locations for a distinctive food and drink-focused manufacturing zone. It will be created by the Leicester and Leicestershire Local Enterprise partnership.

The zone should help to sustain and grow food and drink manufacturing by providing an attractive portfolio of land, support for demand analysis, and feasibility work such as masterplanning.

University of Leicester, Low Cost Access to Space – £50,000

The funding will go towards the design of the Low-Cost Access to Space facility, part of the planned Space Park Leicester, to ensure that it is accessible to space-focused manufacturers in the area and meets their business needs.

Manufacturing zone status will build on the Space Park Leicester’s Enterprise Zone and space-based Science Park status, explained the government.

Greater Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership – £155,000

The funding will accelerate the development of the food and advanced manufacturing industries across Lincolnshire and the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme area (Holbeach, Central Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire). The investment will support projects to improve transport and utilities infrastructure.

The food sector in Greater Lincolnshire is valued at £3.5 billion, with a particular strength in pre-prepared food. There are 75 large UK/international companies and 4,000 SMEs in the area.

The Northern Derbyshire Manufacturing Zone – £220,000

The Northern Derbyshire Manufacturing Zone is designed to accelerate development on six sites across three local authorities in northern Derbyshire (Bolsover, North East Derbyshire and Chesterfield). They all have manufacturing heritage and presence to enable the area to benefit from potential investment associated with the development and maintenance of HS2, according to the government.

It will be developed by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and should provide greater certainty on planning issues to unlock investment for growth by manufacturing businesses in the zone.

03 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


West Berkshire Council has approved a Local Development Order (LDO) for a business park near Newbury, in an attempt to make the site grow faster.

The site of Greenham Business Park was a US airbase. It has been subject to a masterplan for its development since the early 2000s, but only 40 per cent of the 152,000 square metre-site is occupied.

The LDO aims to increase the pace at which the park grows by removing the need to apply for planning permission. It will last for 15 years.

Drawn up by planning consultancy Pro Vision in collaboration with owners Greenham Trust and the council, the LDO is subject to a few conditions, including permitted uses; maximum height of buildings; and measures to protect the landscape and neighbouring homes.

James Iles, planning director at Pro Vision, said: “A lot of careful thought has gone into the preparation of this simplified planning regime for the business park, which as well as helping to unlock the development potential of the former airbase, also provides strong protection of the neighbouring common, the local historic interest, and the amenity of neighbours.”

Business owners will receive greater certainty through the LDO, Pro Vision explained, as it will take just 21 days to fast-track pre-development notifications.

The LDO was approved and adopted after two public consultations, which led to a number of key amendments. It is the first of its kind in the district.

Chris Boulton, chief executive of Greenham Trust and Greenham Business Park Ltd, said: “In a competitive economy, an LDO can be key to businesses deciding whether to invest in our area or not.

“It also benefits the local planning authority and other local stakeholders by managing the site in a comprehensive, rather than piecemeal way and reduces the need to assess similar planning issues over and over again.”

07 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


During the third quarter of 2018, 91,841 residential units were approved, with housing schemes of 10 or more units accounting for 87 per cent of the total.

The remainder of the approvals were for smaller new-build projects including self-build schemes; homes that are part of non-residential projects; and the conversion of non-residential properties.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) and construction date provider Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report found that the number of homes approved during the third quarter was unchanged compared to the previous three months, but 13 per cent lower than in 2017. The report attributes the year-on-year decline to a 13 per cent drop in the number of private units approved and a 24 per cent decline in units on social housing projects.

Housing Pipeline Q3 2018 also considers the first nine months of 2018. The number of homes granted planning permission was 361,971, which is 3 per cent less than the record high levels approved during the same period in 2017.

However, the number of sites the permissions are being granted on is continuing to rise, with the 361,971 permissions allocated for 21,848 different sites, the highest ‘moving annual total’ since the series was started in 2006.

Stewart Baseley, HBF executive chairman, said the figures “clearly show” the commitment of the industry to delivering further increases in housing supply.

“The industry has delivered unprecedented increases in housing supply over recent years and is continuing to invest heavily in the land and people needed to go further. The recent confirmation of an extension to the Help to Buy scheme provides further certainty and confidence for builders in future demand. This is enabling them to invest in more sites, their supply chains and recruit and train more people, boosting local economies across the country.

“The industry continues to push government for confirmation that it will have ongoing access to skilled labour from abroad post-Brexit, which will be key to its ability to build out these sites.”

More stats from Housing Pipeline Q3 2018

  • 2,813 – the number of private sector housing projects (schemes of three or more units) securing approval during Q3, 4 per cent down on April to June 2018 and 11 per cent lower than during the corresponding period of last year.
  • 81,900 units – the number of private units approved on private sector projects during the third quarter, 2 per cent more than the preceding quarter, but 13 per cent fewer than a year earlier.
  • 156 – the number of social housing projects (of three or more units) that were approved. This is a 13 per cent fewer than the previous quarter and 15 per cent lower than in 2017
  • 35 per cent decline in approvals in the North West during Q3. Declines were also recorded in the North East (24 per cent), East of England (24 per cent), South East (15 per cent) and Wales (18 per cent).
  • East Midlands and South West recorded increases in approvals in Q3 – 13 per cent and 7 per cent respectively compared with a year earlier.

Housing Pipeline Q3 2018 can be found here on the HBF website (pdf).

04 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is planning to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by targeting brownfield land.

The target, which consists of 30,000 designated at social housing, forms a key part of the revised draft of the Great Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). In total, leaders hope to deliver a lowered target of 201,000 homes.

Launched at an event today (7 January) by Mayor Andy Burnham, Deputy Mayors Sir Richard Leese and Bev Hughes, and the leaders of the region’s councils, it focuses on making the most of Greater Manchester’s brownfield sites. It also prioritises redevelopment of town centres.

The original GMSF, published in 2016, identified sites for 227,00 homes and create 20,000 jobs by 2035. A number of green belt sites were allocated in the framework in order to deliver the houses, including land at Pilsworth, Carrington, Cheadle Hulme and Ashton Moss.

The revised draft, though, cuts its reliance on green belt land by more than half, and illustrates a drive to protect the existing green belt where possible and to provide stronger protection for important environmental assets.

Burnham will work with Stockport Council to consult on bringing forward a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) for the town, using the powers devolved to him through the city deal. He said the shift towards redeveloping towns not only “breathes new life” into them but also relieves pressure on the green belt.

The GMSF also outlines that the councils across the region will not support fracking as it seeks to become carbon-neutral.

Burnham said: “When we consulted people on the first spatial framework, the public were clear that we hadn’t got the balance right. We listened, reflected, and can now present a radical rewrite as promised. It also lays the foundations for radical reform in other policy areas such as housing, the environment and transport.

“Together, we are harnessing the full power of the most advanced devolution deal of any city-region in England for the benefit of our three million residents. And we are putting together the pieces of the jigsaw to reveal the big picture – a Greater Manchester where prosperity, opportunity, health, hope and happiness are widely and fairly shared across all our people and places.”

In 2017, Burham appointed Paul Dennett, the Mayor of Salford, to rewrite the GMSF, but the process was fraught with delays. It was initially due to be published in June 2018, then October 2018, but issues with the government’s household projections disrupted the standard method for calculating housing need.

The leaders also launched the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040. More than 65 projects are set to be completed within the next five years, including Metrolink’s Trafford Park Line, buying 27 new trams and a new walking and cycling infrastructure across all 10 districts. It is hoped that by 2040 that half of all daily trips in Greater Manchester will be made by public transport, cycling and walking, especially shorter journeys around local neighbourhoods. 

Both the GMSF and the transport strategy can be found on the GMCA website.

07 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A round-up of planning news:

Inspectors reduce green belt release in Leeds plan

Two planning inspectors have indicated that fewer green belt sites need to be released in Leeds City Council’s Site Allocations Plan (SAP).

The SAP identifies locations for new housing and development in the city to 2023.

Inspectors Claire Sherratt DIP URP MRTPI and Louise Gibbons BA Hons MRTPI said the plan and the allocations set out in it for employment, green space and retail are appropriate and “sound”. They accepted the council’s overall direction for housing.

However, Sherratt and Gibbons concluded that fewer green belt sites need to be released, therefore two proposed sites at Parlington and Stourton Grange would not be considered for development this time.

Subject to a number of modifications being consulted on and possibly amended, the SAP is considered sound.

Modular builder selected for Homes England Cambridgeshire base

Homes England has chosen off-site construction specialist McAvoy Group to create its office at the new town of Northstowe in Cambridgeshire.

Architect Proctor and Mathews designed the two-storey building, which will mean Homes England staff will be on site as the government agency leads the project to deliver 8,500 homes in the centre of the new town.

Paul Kitson, general manager for Homes England in the South East, said: “Homes England champions MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) as a means of increasing building productivity and improving energy efficiency.

“Opting for an office built using MMC shows our strong commitment to non-traditional building methods.”

40,000 sign up for Right to Build

More than 40,000 people have signed up to Right to Build register in England since 1 April 2016.

This is according to research by the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA).

The organisation said that while it is happy to see growth in the number of people registering, “it remains the case that the numbers remain far short of the real underlying demand”. It believes this is because of the lack of promotion of the registers by many local authorities.

NaCSBA research compiled using Freedom of Information requests to England’s 336 local authorities shows that while the first year of the registers saw few local authorities placing restrictions on joining, that number has now risen to at least one in four. These restrictions include local connection tests and charges to join and remain on registers.

NaCSBA said that it supports the fact that most councils are managing their registers as part of a wider suite of evidence for demand for custom and self-build, but in light of the uneven picture it plans to use this evidence to raise its concerns with the government.

South Bank site bought for leisure uses

Acorn Property Group and Galliard Homes have purchased three sites and a number of railway arches on London’s South Bank from Network Rail.

The Bear Lane and Chancel Street sites, close to the Tate Modern, are currently used for car parking, storage and workshops.

Plans are being drawn up to transform the sites, which total 0.24 acres, into a mixture of commercial and leisure uses to form a creative hub. These include office, gallery and creative retail space.

Science park application submitted in Swindon

A planning application has been submitted to the council for Swindon Science Park.

The application was submitted by planning consultancy Turley on behalf of packaging supplier Wasdell Group.

The proposed site is at Inlands Farm, Wanborough, which is 300 metres south of the New Eastern Villages strategic allocation and just north of junction 15 of the M4. The application aims to deliver “cutting-edge” facilities for R&D and high-tech manufacturing, and meet Wasdell Group’s own requirements to meet its existing needs and projected growth.

The park will also feature low-density green spaces, footpaths, cycleways and water features, with just 14 per cent of the site set to be built on.

Jobs to be created at Ebbsfleet

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee has approved plans to demolish the Rod End Industrial Estate in Northfleet and replace it with new buildings.

Benrose Property’s plans will increase the commercial floor space and could see up to 90 jobs created.

Only a quarter of the site is currently occupied but when complete the estate will have 19 new units.

A scheme for 100 homes on land at Craylands Lane in Ebbsfleet Garden City has also been approved. Bellway Homes will build 50 houses and 50 apartments including 30 affordable homes. The land has not been used in a decade since it was occupied by a plant hire company.

WSP to develop transport strategy for South East

Transport for the South East has appointed consultancy WSP to develop a new transport strategy to help to unlock growth in the South East.

Over the course of the next 18 months, WSP will work jointly with Steer (formerly Steer Davies Gleave) to develop a strategy that will consider transport in the South East up to 2050 to unlock growth and deliver increased productivity.

Covering environmentally sensitive areas such as the North and South Downs, the transport strategy will consider the environmental and ecological aspects and bring together 16 local transport authorities and five Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to enable more effective scheme development.

As part of the framework, WSP will be the lead consultant on freight logistics and future mobility.

08 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner