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Planning news - 4 April 2019

Published: Thursday, 4th April 2019

Application submitted for new community in Kent, Malthouse names five new garden towns, Central Bedfordshire Council lodges link road plans. And more stories...

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

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An outline planning application for a garden town comprising more than 8,000 homes has been submitted to Folkestone & Hythe District Council.

The project at Otterpool Park is aiming to deliver approximately 50 per cent green space.

Put forward on behalf of the landowners – the council and Cozumel Estates – the scheme will be a mixed-use community, located just outside Folkestone. It is part of the government’s garden communities programme, which aims to deliver 200,000 properties by 2050. They are expected to be well designed, locally led and distinct. Community facilities should be provided alongside housing of a high quality with integrated green spaces.

Otterpool Park is expected to answer the district’s growing housing demands and create and sustain jobs.

Andy Jarrett, spokesperson for Otterpool Park, said: “This is a very welcome milestone in this exciting project and we are pleased to be able to share our detailed plans for the proposed new garden town community.  

“There are still opportunities to contribute to the development of the plans and we will welcome feedback in the coming weeks and months.”

Key points in the application include:

  • Providing a wide range of housing types, both market and affordable.
  • Creation of jobs during both the construction of the development and once the new settlement is complete, equating to approximately 9,000 new jobs, including part-time ones.
  • A health centre, nursery, primary and secondary schools.
  • Locating homes within short walking distance of shops, local amenities and services, as well as connections by bus and rail to the wider area.
  • Enhancing existing heritage and landscape.
  • Delivering a 20 per cent biodiversity net gain across the whole site.

In February 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) pledged £1.25 million to Otterpool Park.

27 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Housing minister Kit Malthouse has announced the five successful bids to create new towns across England. Between them, these settlements could deliver 64,000 homes.

The communities will receive a share of £3.7 million in funding that aims to ‘fast-track’ specialist survey and planning works necessary for their development.

More than 100 proposals were submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The five successful bids to receive an initial £750,000 each are:

  • Grazeley Garden Settlement: up to 15,000 homes – Wokingham Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council
  • Hemel Garden Communities: up to 11,000 homes – Dacorum Borough Council, St Albans City and District Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and The Crown Estate
  • Easton Park Garden Community, North Uttlesford Garden Community and West of Braintree Garden Community: up to 18,500 homes – Uttlesford District Council
  • Tewkesbury Ashchurch Garden Community: up to 10,195 homes – Tewkesbury Borough Council
  • Meecebrook, in the north of Stafford borough: approximately 10,000 homes – Stafford Borough Council

Malthouse said: “These new towns will not only provide homes for families, but will be vibrant communities where everyone, including neighbouring communities can benefit from new infrastructure – leaving a legacy for future generations to be proud of.”

The five schemes join the 23 existing garden communities supported by the government. Further successful bids will announced “shortly”.

Jason Lowes, a partner in the planning team at Rapleys, said the funding deal is further confirmation that garden communities “very clearly” remain a key part of the government’s new homes strategy. While they should be welcomed in principle, Lowe said they are “by their nature a long-term solution and only part of the picture”.

“Nearer-term solutions, such as the expansion of existing cities, towns and villages, are also critically important to ensure that people who want to can find new homes close to their families. This needs to be pursued through intensifying densities in appropriate locations, not least town centres, and reviewing the spaces around existing settlement boundaries – including, if necessary and appropriate, green belt land – particularly brownfield green belt land.”

25 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Central Bedfordshire Council has submitted a planning application to create a new link road between the M1 and A6.  

The new road would improve the congestion and safety on the A6 into Luton, which is used by approximately 26,000 vehicles a day.

It would run from the A6 Barton Road to junction 11a of the M1 motorway, and join up to the A5-M1 link road to provide a "strategically important" east-west link.

The road would be 2.75 miles (4.4 km) long and could create part of a northern bypass for Luton. The submitted layout is a mixture of single and dual carriageway, with a 50 mph speed limit.

There would be junctions to a proposed new rail freight interchange at Sundon, which aims to help transfer goods from the M1 to the Midland mainline and beyond, shifting more freight from road to rail. It is anticipated that the rail freight interchange could generate 1,000 jobs on 40 hectares of employment land.

The proposal also includes new local homes on the northern edge of Luton. This development includes 20 hectares of further employment land creating local jobs.

Nigel Young, executive member for business and regeneration at the council, said: “Building this new road will benefit both existing communities and new communities. This route will be critical to delivering the wider infrastructure needed for our residents and business at the heart of the Oxford to Cambridge Corridor.

“In the last few years, we have built new links roads to the west of the M1 junction 11a that have opened up that part of the region. If we can then link those up to the A6, we can ease congestion and further boost the economic potential of the area, opening up opportunities for businesses, including better access to Luton Airport, and creating jobs at Sundon.”

If the plans are approved and funding is secured, work could begin in 2020 and take two years to complete.

29 March 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

There is enough suitable brownfield land to deliver thousands of new homes and make an immediate contribution towards meeting housing need.

Council brownfield registers have the potential to accommodate a million new homes, new analysis has suggested. Two-thirds of these sites are shovel-ready, says the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which conducted the study.

The campaign group argues that prioritising this land would not only prevent the loss of green space and the countryside, but would help to regenerate run-down areas and provide more homes. Developing brownfield land would to continue to provide “a steady pipeline” of housing, with enough land added to the registers in the past year to deliver more than 120,000 homes.

However, CPRE is concerned that the definition of previously developed land set out in the registers means that a large number of sites are currently being missed, and therefore the full potential of the registers is not being met. Furthermore, the density assumptions for brownfield land are low; increasing the density would allow councils to make the best use of the space.

For example, CPRE London found that the borough of Enfield has enough brownfield land for 37,000 homes, but the council has identified land for just 2,170 in its most recent register, published in 2017.

Many areas, though, have a large amount of brownfield land ready for development: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield have identified enough brownfield land for nearly 500,000 homes.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the CPRE, said: “Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration. It will help to limit the amount of countryside lost to development, and build more homes in areas where people want to live, with infrastructure, amenities and services already in place.”

Despite councils having identified brownfield land for more that one million homes, Pullinger explained that until there is a brownfield-first approach to development and all types of brownfield land are considered, a large number of sites would continue to be overlooked.

“The government, local councils and housebuilders must work hard to bring these sites forward for development and get building.”

CPRE wants clearer definitions and guidelines so that the registers act as a “true pipeline” to identify all possible brownfield sites and record suitability for uses other than housing.

State of Brownfield 2019 can be found on the CPRE website.

25 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Ambitious plans for a major planetarium project capable of seating hundreds of people have been unveiled for a former colliery in South Wales.

The £40 million scheme called Planetariwm Wales is proposed for the Tower Colliery site, the location of the country’s last deep coal mine to close.

The site is alongside the A465 Heads of the Valleys road near Hirwaun and is within a Dark Sky Wales designated area, which protects against light pollution, making it particularly suited to the development.

For those using public transport, access to the site will be available by train from the new Hirwaun Station.

The proposed 26-metre-wide planetarium would be among the largest in the world. The scheme could also include a discovery centre and an education and research facility.

Allan Trow, manager of Dark Sky Wales, the mobile educational company that takes space and planet study to schools across Wales, is involved in the project. He said: “This is going to be a world-leading development.

“Unlike other planetariums in the UK, Planetariwm Wales will seat up to 350 people and be amongst the largest planetariums in the world.”

29 March 2019
Roger Milne, The Planner

A landlord has been handed a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of hiding families in windowless flats that didn’t have planning permission.

Slough Borough Council refused Talwinder Singh, 57, permission to build a block of six flats – but he built them anyway in Waterbeach Road, Manor Park, Slough.

He was served a planning enforcement notice in September 2010, but continued to rent out the six flats to tenants. Singh informed the council’s building control and council tax departments that the property had been returned to a single dwelling in line with the enforcement notice.

Singh installed temporary kitchens in the illegal flats, which were dismantled and removed when council officers were set to visit. He removed windows on the top-floor attic flats to give the impression that the rooms were not being rented out, leaving tenants who had children without any natural light. Tenants were charged an additional fee for council tax despite paying Slough Borough Council for only the one property he had declared.

On 21 March at Reading Crown Court, Judge Paul Dugdale told Singh he was an experienced landlord who had been “greedy” and prepared to inconvenience tenants to maintain the façade.

Singh admitted two charges of failure to comply with an enforcement notice between December 2011 and December 2017, as well as the false representation in December 2012, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006.

Dugdale sentenced Singh to a 15-month prison term, which is suspended for 18 months. Singh was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £266,177, which was confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and represents the illegal rent and unpaid council tax.

Slough Borough Council was awarded £18,826 in compensation for lost council tax and £23,130 in prosecution costs. Singh now has to return the flats to the permitted one or two properties as per the original planning consent.

Joe Carter, director of regeneration, said: “People and families in Slough deserve good accommodation and landlords who are not overcharging them for services they are not providing.

“Such a successful outcome shows how the council will not tolerate such flagrant disregard of its planning regulations.”

28 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner