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Planning news - 18 April 2019

Published: Thursday, 18th April 2019

Public Accounts Committee launches planning and housing inquiry, Guidance issued to ensure developers pay for education facilities, Swansea city regeneration gathers pace. And more stories...

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

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MPs are set to hold the government to account over its changes to the planning system and probe its target to build 300,000 homes a year.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has opened an inquiry into planning and the broken housing market.

The move follows a recent National Audit Office (NAO) investigation which found “serious flaws” in the government’s planning system and concluded that it cannot demonstrate that it is meeting housing demand effectively.

Between 2005/06 and 2017/18, an average of 177,000 new homes were built each year. The NAO found that the government would need to oversee a 69 per cent increase in the average number of new homes built since 2005/06 to meet its ambition.

The committee said this is a challenge because the number of new homes being built each year has never exceeded 224,000 in the past decade. The MPs also noted that only 44 per cent of local authorities had an up-to-date local plan by December 2018.

At the end of April they will question officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on how the department will achieve its ambition for 300,000 new homes a year from the mid-2020s. The committee will probe local authority spending on planning and their processes for dealing with planning applications.

Long-term funding for infrastructure to support new homes will also be investigated.

10 April 2019
Huw Morris, The Planner

The government has published guidance to help local authorities to secure funding from housing developers so they can provide for the school places required for new development.

Developers contribute to the cost of new infrastructure, including schools, through section 106 agreements and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments.

However, local authority requirements on this vary across the country.

The non-statutory guidance, the government explained, will help local authorities negotiate what funding and land is required from housing developers for new schools and school expansions where new development puts pressure on existing schools. Developers will be able to build schools rather than contributing the money to councils.

Schools minister Lord Agnew, said: “It isn’t enough for developers simply to build houses; we need to build communities. Schools are at the centre of any community and that’s why it’s vital that developers contribute to the cost of the school places they create.

“This government is already undertaking a huge expansion in school places, with one million new places on track to be created this decade. But schools can still find themselves under pressure from new housing developments, and where they do it’s right that where appropriate developers support these costs.

“Today’s guidance ensures that local authorities can establish their needs for school places so that the right contributions from developers are secured as part of the planning process. In some instances, public funding may be used but only to the minimum extent necessary.”

This guidance has been published following updates made to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) last year. The PPG aims to ensure that funding for schools is properly considered when housing developments are planned.

11 April 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Further proposals for the regeneration of Swansea city centre are in the pipeline now that Coastal Housing has revealed it is working on a third phase of its Urban Village initiative.

So far, the project has been responsible for the revitalisation of the east side of the High Street with the provision of new shops and businesses – including a pioneering five-storey ‘creative cluster’ block – and social housing.

Now Coastal, a not-for-profit social housing provider, is working on plans to expand further up High Street and across the road to create links between The Strand, Orchard Street and the High Street itself.

Coastal is considering a scheme that would see commercial and retail development at ground level, with residential property on the floors above. As well as one and two-bedroom properties, a number of family homes are on the cards for this latest phase.

Debbie Green, chief executive of Coastal Housing, said: “We are very pleased with the way the Urban Village concept has gone. That’s why we are ready to invest further in revitalising the High Street area of the city centre.

“Regenerating the High Street means looking at the area between Swansea Central railway station and the city centre.

“But it also means thinking about how we can link it to the surrounding streets as well. That's why we want to see how the whole area can be redeveloped.”

As well as the Urban Village project, the city centre is the location for major new student accommodation schemes which, when complete, will deliver at least 1,300 bed spaces.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related move the city council has announced that it is seeking a partner to play a pivotal role in the proposed £750 million development of key city sites like the civic centre, Swansea Central Phase Two, the Sailbridge site and a large area of the former Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site.

12 April 2019
Roger Milne, The Planner

Croydon Crown Court has ordered a husband and wife to pay a total of £136,240 for renting out a property despite being served with a council enforcement notice requiring its demolition.

At previous trials the court heard that in January 2012, Derek and Susan Stansbury purchased the building, which contained nine flats, at auction.

They were aware that an enforcement notice was in place, which ordered that the property be demolished and the debris cleared from the site. Croydon Council officers wrote to the couple following the purchase to remind them it needed to be demolished. The notice was ignored and the property continued to be rented out.

The enforcement notice had been issued to the previous owners because the building was not in accordance with the approved planning application.

The couple were ordered to pay £100,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), a £10,500 fine, £25,500 in costs and a £240 victim surcharge.

Paul Scott, cabinet lead for regeneration and planning, said: “I hope this case acts as a stark warning to others thinking of flouting planning law.

“We always take these offences seriously as they can blight communities and have very serious consequences. This should be a lesson to anybody considering going ahead with ill-conceived developments in contravention of planning directives designed to protect the local environment and neighbouring residents.”

11 April 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

In response to the illegal felling of protected trees, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has taken the ‘unprecedented’ step of erecting two temporary information boards at the site in a bid to find the person responsible.

The trees were felled at the nature reserve in Upper Burrows, Freshwater East, in the park’s boundaries.

More than 30 trees in woodland protected by a tree preservation order (TPO) and owned by the authority and a local resident, were illegally cut down in 2017.

Jane Gibson, director of park direction and planning at Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said: “This is the worst breach of a TPO I have encountered, with felling on land that didn’t belong to the perpetrator, and the authority is left to undertake remedial work to selectively clear, coppice and replant the site at significant cost.”

Tim Jones, countryside manager (south) at the park authority, explained: “Nobody would have commissioned such work unless they stood to benefit from it, and the police are continuing to investigate, but we need more evidence.

“The bilingual advertisement will highlight the criminal act at the site of the felling in the Upper Burrows area of Freshwater East and will provide details of the £1,000 reward for information.

“If you know who might have done this or commissioned the work, please contact Dyfed-Powys Police on 101 or the authority on 01646 624800.”

11 April 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Liverpool City Council has granted planning permission for the Isle of Man Government to build a ferry terminal.

The £31.3 million terminal funded by the Manx government will be built at Liverpool’s Princes Half Tide Dock, about 730 metres downriver from the existing terminal at the city’s Pier Head.

The city council is in turn funding a £7.6 million link road to the facility to serve vehicles and freight.

Isle of Man infrastructure minister Ray Harmer said the terminal “will enable the Isle of Man government to have full control over its lifeline sea links to the UK”, and will allow “residents and businesses to make plans with confidence”.

The scheme will be the first time the Isle of Man Government has owned property in the UK.

“The new Isle of Man Ferry Terminal is a critical piece in our regeneration plans for the north shore of Liverpool,” said the city’s mayor Joe Anderson. “The city council is investing a huge amount of money in the transport infrastructure to support this new facility and we are delighted it now has planning approval and can look forward to its completion.

“The Isle of Man and Liverpool have a historic relationship and this new ferry terminal will cement our strong links and forge even closer ties into the future.”

10 April 2019
Huw Morris, The Planner