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Planning news - 28 March 2019

Published: Thursday, 28th March 2019

Homes England boosts Basildon development, Go-ahead for multimillion-pound adventure resort in Afan Valley, Government pledges cash for road schemes. And more stories...

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

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The A1231 in Sunderland will be dualled and a new road will be built in Shrewsbury to help commuters avoid congestion, the government has said.

Roads minister Jess Norman has declared that £40.5 million of funding will enable a stretch of the A1231 between the new Northern Spire Bridge and the city centre to be upgraded to a dual carriageway. This will save drivers 2.5 minutes a journey.

The project, which totals £70.2 million, is the third phase of road improvements along the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor. It will help with the regeneration of sites on both sides of the River Wear and deliver 1,000 new homes.

Norman said: “Sunderland is a great city with a great future. We hope the schemes we are funding will help to unleash its potential – creating jobs and enabling new homes – and turbocharge the Northern Powerhouse."

In Shrewsbury, £54 million will go towards building the North West Relief Road, between Battlefield Link Road and Oxon Link Road. The single carriageway will take traffic out of the town centre, reducing congestion and improving the town centre.

The scheme also includes two new bridges, and accessible crossings allowing cyclists, pedestrians and vulnerable users to travel safely.

Chris Grayling, transport secretary, said: “The North West Relief Road is just what Shrewsbury needs to reduce congestion in and around the town.

“We are investing £54 million in this exciting new scheme, helping drivers get from A to B more quickly, while improving air quality for residents.”

Steve Davenport, cabinet member for highways and transport at Shropshire Council, said: "This announcement is brilliant news and means that our thorough and detailed business case for a Shrewsbury North West Relief Road has been recognised and supported by the government.

“The North West Relief Road will benefit not just Shrewsbury but the whole of Shropshire and, though there is some way to go before the road is built and in use, securing this funding from the government is a huge step towards making this much-needed road a reality.”

More response from the organisation can be found on the Shropshire Council website.

21 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has called for an inquiry into proposals that will see a million homes built across the Oxford-to-Cambridge Arc by 2050. This comes as a poll finds that 74 per cent of those living in the arc think the proposals will have a detrimental effect on the countryside and environment.

The poll, carried out by research company Survation on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), interviewed 1,500 people across the five counties that the Oxford-Cambridge Arc spans: Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

According to the campaign group there is support for new housing in the arc, but 59 per cent of residents don’t support the scale of housebuilding that is being proposed.

Research published last year by the CPRE suggested that the one million homes proposed would result in development on 27,000 hectares of greenfield and woodland – an area the size of Birmingham.

If plans for the arc proceed, 82 per cent of residents think the housing needs of local people must be the priority, while 74 per cent think social housing is what is most needed for the area.

However, based on current projects, the CPRE says no more than 18 per cent of the locally identified need for affordable homes would be met during this planned growth period. The organisation warns that without formal public consultation and an environmental assessment the impact of “the government’s growth at all costs” approach could have “catastrophic” consequences for the local countryside, wildlife and environment.

Paul Miner, head of strategic plans and devolution at the CPRE, said it is “unthinkable” that the government is considering such large development without assessing its impact. 

“Rather than ignoring people and the environment in a rush for economic growth, consideration of the full effects on communities and the environment must be given priority. Before the government takes these proposals any further it is imperative that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is carried out, along with a full public consultation on the proposals.”

Helen Marshall, director at CPRE Oxfordshire, added: “Many local and national politicians are hiding behind a network of bureaucracy and grand claims to push through a massive increase in development at whatever the cost to the environment, and without any guarantee that local housing needs will be met. There is clear support for greater transparency on these decisions and we challenge our MPs to respond appropriately.”

In a vision statement (pdf) about the arc published alongside the Spring Statement last week, the government stated it would hold a “broad, joint, public engagement exercise” this summer.

But the campaigners fear this will be “a meaningless box-ticking exercise and will fail to engage with the range of views that encompass the objections to the proposals”.

They want a full parliamentary select committee inquiry into the proposals to consider the potential impact on the local environment and communities, as well as the economies of other areas of the country.

21 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Plans published for Birmingham Moor Street station will see the size of the concourse increase and two new platforms built.

Passenger numbers at Moor Street are expected to grow from seven million to 12 million a year by 2043, an increase predicted as a result of the Midlands Rail Hub and the arrival of HS2 in 2026.

These plans should put Moor Street at the heart of Birmingham’s ‘One Station’ strategy to ensure seamless links with both Curzon Street and New Street stations.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We have big plans for transport in the West Midlands and the expansion of Moor Street is a crucial part of that. This whole area of Birmingham will be revitalised over the next few years as the world’s largest Primark opens, Curzon Street HS2 station is built, and Moor Street is transformed. This vision for Moor Street will not only provide a better experience for commuters but with two extra platforms, it will set the foundation for the future expansion of rail services.”        

The concourse would increase in size from 910 square metres to 2,000 square metres, a ‘transfer deck’ with access to every platform would be built, and links to a new footbridge would provide passenger access directly to HS2 from Curzon Street via a new public square.

There are also plans to improve pedestrian access between Moor Street and New Street. A second entrance to the south of the station is proposed to improve passenger flow, avoid overcrowding and create better access to the Digbeth area and the Smithfield development. The grade-II listed entrance and concourse would be maintained.

West Midlands Rail Executive has developed the plans in collaboration with Transport for West Midlands, Midlands Connect, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, Chiltern

These initial concepts form part of the first stage of a long-term plan to transform Moor Street into a world-class station experience, and place the station at the centre of Birmingham’s unprecedented regeneration, said the organisations. 

Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect, said: “By expanding Moor Street and introducing new platforms, we will be ensuring that, alongside other vital infrastructure improvements, we will be providing the Midlands and indeed the UK with another world-class gateway into the region, increasing the number of trains coming into and out of Birmingham from across the Midlands, through our flagship Midlands Rail Hub plans.

“Through the ‘One Station’ vision, Moor Street will also be fully integrated with HS2 services, which will depart literally next to Moor Street. This vision can help create a rail network that’s fit for the future. With the ambition and leadership of local, regional and national leaders, we must bring this once-in-a-generation opportunity to life.”

Artist impressions of the plans were designed by international architectural practice Grimshaw. Stuart Grahn, associate principal, said: “Complementing the new HS2 station at Curzon Street, the proposed design for Moor Street celebrates the distinctive architectural character of this well-loved station. To capitalise on the station’s location in the heart of Birmingham, we have worked in close collaboration with Glenn Howells Architects to ensure that new, accessible entrances and routes around the station unlock much-needed connections to the city.”

18 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Swan Housing Association has received a £30 million loan to help to develop its Basildon regeneration schemes.

The loan, from government agency Homes England, will go towards the redevelopment of the Craylands Estate, which will be renamed Beechwood Village, and the Laindon Shopping Centre.

The shopping centre will become Laindon Place.

More than 550 new homes are being built at Beechwood Village, up to 110 of which will be affordable. This is in addition to more than 400 homes, retail units and a community centre that have been completed in earlier phases.

At Laindon Place, 210 homes and over 7,000 square metres of commercial space will be developed. When completed, the area will comprise a new high street with shops, a supermarket, and a new health centre.

Almost all of the homes will be built off-site at Swan’s factory in Basildon, using pre-manufactured modular construction techniques.

Homes England agreed to the loan as part of its £290 million Estates Regeneration Fund, which aims to accelerate the regeneration of estates. The money will enable Swan Housing Association, with partner Basildon Borough Council, to develop both schemes at the same time.

Geoff Pearce, executive director, regeneration and development, at Swan Housing Association, said the funding “will enable us to build much-needed high-quality homes, more quickly, at both Beechwood Village and Laindon Place”.

“These homes will be built both using our state-of-the-art modular factory in Basildon and by traditional methods of construction. This partnership helps Swan towards our ambitious target of building an additional 10,000 homes by 2027 and Basildon towards its strategic growth goals for the borough.”

Sir Edward Lister, chairman of Homes England, said: “Homes England strongly supports the use of modern methods of construction (MMC) as a means of delivering good-quality homes at pace, so it’s great to see these methods being used to build better homes faster in Basildon.”

It is expected that work at both sites will be completed by autumn 2024.

20 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Ambitious proposals for a multimillion-pound adventure resort in the Afan Valley have been given outline planning approval by Neath Port Talbot Council.

The application site comprises just over 130 hectares of former forestry plantation and is located on the southern slopes of the glacial valley of the River Afan.

The southern boundary follows the border between the council and neighbouring Bridgend County Borough Council, which two years ago approved plans for major 18-megawatt solar farm on land immediately to the south of the resort’s area.

A range of activities is proposed, including alpine sports, white water rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking and the world's largest artificial downhill ski slope.

The resort will offer 600 lodges and flats, a 100-bedroom hotel and spa, restaurants, parking for 850 vehicles and a Bear Grylls Survival Academy.

Recommending approval, officers told the planning committee: “While the development would have significant adverse impacts on the landscape and biodiversity, and other identified residual impacts, these can be mitigated or compensated to a lesser or greater extent by legal agreement and conditions.

“The development of the land for a holiday resort would significantly benefit the socio-economic growth in the region, acting as a major contributor to the local economy through the provision of a strategic tourist destination.”

These benefits would outweigh the identified environmental impacts, the planners concluded.

The wider Afan Valley already has an extensive network of cycle trails. Wind turbines are prominent across much of the landscape.

22 March 2019
Roger Milne, The Planner

A round-up of planning news.

Sale regeneration approved

Trafford Council has approved plans to regenerate Sale town centre. Malonview’s proposals for the Square Shopping Centre include 3,400 square metres of retail and leisure space, a 2,000 square-metre six screen cinema, and up to 202 residential units – including provision of affordable units.

The cinema and new restaurants will be clustered around new open space. Barton Willmore secured approval of the plans.


Consultants appointed for Tamworth regeneration

Tamworth Borough Council has appointed property regeneration consultant AspinallVerdi to lead the delivery of a ‘commercially robust’ masterplan for the Gungate site in the town.

The wider team includes masterplanners Broadway Malyan, cost consultant Gardiner, and Theobald and CampbellReith, who will have responsibility for transport and engineering.

The site is a key regeneration priority for the council, following a stall in the development of the site because of the recession. It is hoped that development of the site will encourage greater use of the town centre, as well as bring new investment into the local economy. Most of the site is currently in use as a surface car park.

In 2018, the council bought a large area of the site from the former development partner to help unlock development, while Staffordshire County Council owns land to the north of Spinning School Lane, and is working with the team as partners.


Waltham launches redevelopment plan

The London Borough of Waltham Forest has announced plans to redevelop its civic campus as part of an ambitious regeneration programme and service transformation plan.

The work forms part of the council's ‘Creating Futures’ corporate strategy and it has launched plans to move forward with the procurement process.

The plan will see staff from 10 older, less efficient council offices across the borough move into new office space on the town hall campus site. The land unlocked by this move, and land gained by demolishing the magistrates’ court, will then be used for housing – 50 per cent of which is to be affordable.

Significant investment into the historic buildings will see the grade II-listed Town Hall, Assembly Hall and fountain protected and preserved.

Expressions of interest have been invited through the London Development Panel (LDP2) from a select group of developers with strong track records of delivering high-quality schemes.


360 Hugglescote homes approved

North West Leicestershire District Council’s planning committee has approved a reserved (detailed) matters application 360-home scheme in Hugglescote.

The scheme was approved in outline in December 2014, which designated 7.5 per cent of the homes as affordable.

The homes will be located on land off Grange Road, which is included in the local pan and forms part of the wider south-east Coalville development. This area has been earmarked for up to 3,860 homes.

The reserved matters application includes a small area of land reserved for a possible extension to Hugglescote doctor’s surgery, areas of public open space, and two children's play areas.


1,200 Hartlepool homes green-lit

Hartlepool Borough Council has granted planning permission for up to 1,200 homes on an 83.5-hectare site at High Tunstall, Hartlepool.

A section 106 agreement was also secured by Prism Planning.

As well as the homes, the development will provide a neighbourhood centre, a primary school, a new distributor road and open space. To accord with the then emerging local plan, (adopted in May 2018) the scale of the proposed development was reduced from the original 2,000 homes and 118-hectare site proposed.

The planning application, submitted four-and-a-half years ago, required an Environmental Impact Assessment, a Habitats Regulation Assessment, a Transport Assessment and detailed archaeological investigation.


Community projects to receive CIL cash

Money from Brent Council’s Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) fund has been allocated to 30 community projects.

The NCIL fund is made up of 15 per cent of the money the council collects from new developers, and is allocated twice a year.

This round of funding sees see money go to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the Sickle Cell Society and St Catherine’s Community Hall in Neasden.

Projects to receive funding include:

  • £248,000 for Citizens Advice Brent to build a fully accessible community hub in Willesden, with access to PCs and better interview rooms.
  • £150,000 to create more spaces for local groups at St Catherine’s Community Hall in Neasden and to improve community facilities.
  • £133,958 for the Sickle Cell Society to construct a fully accessible ground-floor space that will be used for focus groups, events, and for individuals and families to drop in for confidential support and advice.

19 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner