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Planning news - 4 July 2019

Published: Thursday, 4th July 2019

Pilot launched to test new appeals portal, Figures show 5% decline in planning decisions made since last year, EDC approves Ebbsfleet Garden City 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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The Planning Inspectorate has announced that its new online appeal service will launch at the end of July for a selection of pilot cases.

The new service will ultimately replace the Appeals Casework Portal.

It will offer clearer guidance, an intuitive layout and better tracking of appeals, explained the inspectorate.

Easier submission of appeals and online tracking of appeal progress will also be part of the service. Electronic reminders for deadlines will be used to ensure that all parties are aware of their expected timescales.

Tom Warth, product manager at the Planning Inspectorate, explained: “The new online service represents a complete redesign of the way we receive appeals and how users interact with us. A key goal for the new portal is to ensure that the appeals we receive are valid on submission, thereby reducing the number of incomplete cases we currently handle that require valuable time and effort to resolve.

“We have designed the new portal so that we receive a valid appeal every time and to ensure the service is simple to use. We’ve worked in close collaboration with users and the Government Digital Service (GDS) to ensure the service meets the highest standards across government. Now in advanced stages of testing, we will be launching the service to a select number of pilot cases to refine the service before the wider launch.”

The pilot will be restricted to appeals of a certain type against some local planning authorities in East Sussex, West Sussex and Kent. Only planning appeals following the written representation procedure will be part of the pilot before it is rolled out in full.

For anyone making an appeal that will be included in the pilot, the inspectorate advises:

  • Continue to use the Appeals Casework Portal. The online form will validate the information to check if your appeal fits the pilot criteria.
  • A user account will need to be set up. An organisation account is recommended for larger planning consultancies.
  • A support team will be available to answer queries and feedback will be sought on how the case progressed. This will be used to refine the service for the wider roll-out.

2 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

District-level planning authorities granted 357,700 decisions in the year ending March 2019 – down 5 per cent on the year ending March 2018, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Of those 357,700 applications, 46,800 were for residential developments. This was a decline of 3 per cent compared with a year earlier. Of these, 6,300 were major developments and 40,500 were minor developments. These figures show a 2 per cent and 5 per cent decrease respectively on the year ending March 2018.

Between January and March 2019, district-level planning authorities in England received 111,300 applications for planning permission, down 5 per cent when compared with the same period in 2018. They granted 81,500 decisions, down 7 per cent from the corresponding quarter of 2018. This is equivalent to 88 per cent of decisions, unchanged from the same quarter of 2018.

Decisions were made on 88 per cent of applications within 13 weeks of the agreed time, down 1 per cent from the previous year.

Other statistics in the report include:

  • 11,200 residential applications were granted, down 6 per cent on a year earlier, including 1,600 for major developments and 9,600 for minor ones.
  • 2,000 applications granted for commercial developments, down 11 per cent from the same period in 2018.

Planning Applications in England: January to March 2019 can be found on the MHCLG website (pdf).

1 July 2019
Lydia Till, The Planner

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s (EDC) planning committee has approved masterplans and design codes for villages in Ashmere and Alkerden.

In the two villages 4,600 homes will be created in an area historically known as Eastern Quarry, which is now named Whitecliffe. To the east of Whitecliffe in Castle Hill, 1,600 homes are underway and new communities have formed.

The approval provides a clear vision for how a major urban park will run through the centre of Whitecliffe.

The 667-acre site, owned by Henley Camland, lies 19 miles south east of central London.

Michael Cassidy, chairman of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation's board, said: "The process of giving planning permission for the "look and feel" of the main next phase of housing at Ebbsfleet Garden City marks a historic turning point in the ambitions for this flagship enterprise.

"It shows how intelligent use of planning powers and cooperation from landowners and developers can bring matters to a speedy conclusion and a quality outcome that befits a garden city."

In the heart of Alkerden a new ‘market centre’ with commercial, retail and community facilities and new homes will be formed. It will be defined by a primary and secondary education campus as well as a library, sports facilities, and a mixed-use centre with shops and cafes, business space, a doctor’s surgery and a gym.

Ashmere will contrast Alkerden with its strong Kentish influenced design codes and commitment to garden city principles.

Last year, social housing provider Clarion and developer Countryside entered into a joint venture to deliver up to 2,600 new homes on the site in Ashmere.

27 June 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has announced the Transforming Places Through Heritage fund, which aims to reinvigorate England’s high streets and town centres into thriving hubs of community, through the redevelopment of local historic buildings.

The initiative is part of the High Street Heritage Action Zones and Future High Streets Fund, run by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Part of the cash injection comes from a £62 million grant from DCMS to regenerate places by turning disused or underused buildings into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing.

The fund, which will back a range of projects at different stages of development, opened yesterday (1 July) to initial applications. Grants can range from a few thousand pounds for viability studies, to up to £350,000 for a limited number of transformational projects.

Matthew Mckeague, chief executive of AHF, said: “With the right support, thriving social enterprises and charitable ventures can inject new life into our great but underused buildings, and begin to reimagine and re-establish our high streets as places of social and commercial prosperity, and common identity.”

The fund was launched in Great Yarmouth. The work of the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust has transformed the city and surrounding area into a thriving cultural hub, including an art gallery, workspaces and affordable housing, while training and employing local people.

Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “We have a national reputation for delivering well on heritage and conservation, working closely with the preservation trust and funders to breathe new life into historic buildings. This significant new fund offers further opportunities and we’re so pleased that Great Yarmouth has been chosen as the location for the launch.”

There are other examples of local enterprises bringing historic high street buildings to life all across the country – from the Liskeard Library in Cornwall and the transformation of Southend’s former Havens department store into a hub for older people, to the development of Sunderland’s Pop Recs, an independent record shop, café and arts venue based in a former Binns store on High Street West.

2 July 2019
Lydia Till, The Planner

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has given the go-ahead for funding as Coventry gets ready for its role as the United Kingdom’s City of Culture in 2021.

The cash will be used to enhance the centre ahead of the arrival of millions of visitors who are expected to view the city – and for the Commonwealth Games in 2022, which is being hosted by Birmingham.

Over the past eight years, more than £150 million has been spent on the city’s public spaces and infrastructure. The funding is expected to build on improvements made by the city council, with the goal of changing the public perception of Coventry.

The £31.6 million awarded will go towards the Coventry City Centre First – City of Culture Project, which involves improvements to:

  • The urban environment and public realm areas, including enhanced lighting and safety;
  • The city’s road and cycle lanes, including improved coach parking and upgrades around Pool Meadow bus station;
  • The city’s signage and wayfinding infrastructure, including travel planning solutions for visitors; and
  • Refresh public spaces and public art.

George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA board member, said: “We are set for a wonderful year as City of Culture but we have also committed to ensuring we provide a lasting legacy for local people. The money will help us to fulfil our commitment. We will use it to transform areas of the city centre including Upper Precinct, Market Way and Smithford Way as well as the area outside The Wave where we will take the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new.”

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who also chairs the WMCA, said: “The UK City of Culture offers a unique and golden opportunity for Coventry to showcase itself to the world. Coupled with the Commonwealth Games, where thousands of visitors will stay in and visit the city, it really is absolutely vital that we make not only a wonderful first impression but create a lasting legacy for those living in Coventry.”

1 July 2019
Lydia Till, The Planner

A round-up of planning news.

LSBU launches chartered planner apprenticeship

London South Bank University (LSBU) has launched a full chartered town planner apprenticeship (Level 7) in partnership with the RTPI.

LSBU is the first UK university to have launched the apprenticeship scheme.

On completion of their courses, successful apprentices will gain an RTPI fully accredited qualification and become chartered members of the institute (MRTPI).

Speaking at the launch, Professor Craig Barker, Dean of LSBU’s School of Law and Social Sciences, said: “There are five providers listed with the RTPI at the moment, but LSBU is the only one to offer the full five-year route, taking on people with A-levels or experience but no formal qualifications all the way from level 4 to level 7.”

Andrew Close, head of careers, education and professional development at the RTPI, said: “We’re delighted to be working with LSBU, which is one of up to eight RTPI-accredited planning schools developing degree apprenticeships for approval this year. The RTPI has championed diversity and new routes into the profession with ‘grow your own’ opportunities for employers across the country and it is excellent to see this is bearing fruit as part of the pipeline of future planners.”


Limpsfield Neighbourhood Plan gets the go-ahead

Tandridge District Council’s planning policy committee has approved the Limpsfield Neighbourhood Plan.

The plan forms part of the council’s wider development plan.

Local residents and Limpsfield Parish Council drew up the neighbourhood plan. It sets out ways to protect local green spaces and the green belt, improve broadband speed and access, protect the heritage and character of the parish, and improve the options for walking, cycling and bus travel.


Professionals appointed to oversee design in London borough

Be First has appointed a team of ‘critical friends’ to act as design champions for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The team comprises 25 architects, environmental experts and town planners.

Their appointment to the Barking and Dagenham Quality Review Panel will see the team act independently, as the panel seeks to ensure the highest possible standards of design are observed across developments and masterplans in the borough.

They are also responsible for ensuring that new developments reflect and build upon existing physical, social and cultural assets – especially the borough’s rich and diverse architectural heritage.


Permission given for 185 new homes on Dover brownfield sites

Plans to build 185 new homes on two brownfield sites were approved at Dover District Council’s (DDC) Planning Committee meeting on 20 June.

Members resolved to give planning permission for 150 new homes at the former Buckland Hospital Site, and a further 35 new homes at the former Stalco Engineering Works in Great Mongeham.

Both are brownfield sites allocated for housing development in Dover District Council’s Land Allocations Local Plan.

Nick Kenton, DDC’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “I welcome the committee’s decision to approve these sites for housing development, which will go some considerable way towards meeting the target set by the government to build 629 new homes in the district every year. The development of brownfield sites is challenging but one that we need to embrace if we are to reduce the pressure to build on greenfield sites.”


TfL appoints WSP to Ultra Low Emission Zone extension

Engineering and professional services consultancy WSP has been appointed by Transport for London (TfL) to assess the traffic impact of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) extension, proposed for October 2021.

The London ULEZ will expand up to the North/South Circular roads. WSP will carry out a traffic modelling-based assessment to identify the junctions and corridors most affected by the proposed ULEZ boundary as well as to determine the scale of impacts on junctions.

If areas of concern on the road network are highlighted by the study, WSP says it will develop micro-simulation modelling that will perform highly detailed analysis of highway traffic activity to assist TfL when it comes to the design of mitigation proposals.

Christine Palmer, project manager at WSP, said: “Our analysis will focus on about 120 junctions between the North and South Circular roads that with our detailed modelling techniques will lead to the success of the extension scheme and improve the air quality in central London.”


New neighbourhood plan proposed for Acomb and Westfield

City of York Council has published two applications and a proposed boundary for Acomb and Westfield Neighbourhood Area. In addition, an Acomb and Westfield Neighbourhood Forum has been proposed to the city council.

Copies of the applications are available for inspection at the council’s West Offices reception, York Explore Library and Acomb Explore Library. Notices have been placed in prominent public areas in Acomb and Westfield wards.

The council is asking for views and representations on the proposals until 22 August, through information available online on the council’s website or by email:

2 July 2019
Laura Edgar and Lydia Till, The Planner