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Planning News - 18 October 2019

Published: Friday, 18th October 2019

Energy storage to be exempt from NSIP regime, Government to help housebuilders deliver schools, 3,000 homes approved in Sussex 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 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a consultation on proposals to exempt energy storage from the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime in England and Wales.

This means that the primary consenting route in England would be under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, with the local planning authority deciding whether or not to grant consent.

Likewise, the local planning authority would make planning decisions for energy storage of any size. Currently, this is only the case for electricity storage below 350 megawatts (MW).

The exception to the proposals for both countries is pumped hydro.

The proposal is one of several outlined by the government on how it will tackle the climate crisis, and comes in response to various recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). 

The government wants to strengthen governance to “galvanise the whole of government to do more” to tackle the climate crisis. Other plans include improving the energy performance of rented commercial buildings, a consultation for which closes on 7 January 2020.

Energy secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Four months ago the UK took the bold step of becoming the first country in the developed world to put into law our ambition to wipe out the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050, following the CCC’s advice.

“This builds on our long and proud track record of leadership – since 1990 we’ve cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent while growing our economy by more than two-thirds. More than half of our electricity currently comes from low-carbon sources.

And we will keep on going further and faster to ensure our action meets our ambition."

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced that the government is preparing its first transport decarbonisation plan, its bid to end the UK’s transport emissions by 2050.

Due to be completed next year, this will detail what the government, business and society will need to do to deliver the “significant” reductions needed from all modes of transport. It is set to consider how technology can be implemented to encourage changes to how people and goods move around the UK.

Shapps said: "From driving our cars, to catching a train or taking a flight abroad, it is crucial that we ensure transport is as environmentally friendly as possible.

“This is why, as well as agreeing to the CCC’s recommendation on net zero by 2050, we have launched this ground-breaking plan to achieve net-zero emissions across every single mode of transport.

“We want to work with industry and communities around the country to develop this plan – to make our towns and cities better places to live, help to create new jobs, improve air quality and our health, and take urgent action on climate change.”

Follow-up Consultation on Proposals Regarding the Planning System for Electricity Storage, which closes on 10 December, can be found on the UK Government website.

16 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The Department of Education has announced that it will hand out loans to housebuilders to deliver schools places before new properties are finished.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said up to £20 million would be made available to builders for each school.

The loans come as the government tries to increase the number of homes built a year to 300,000 by the mid-2020s.

Williamson said the loans would enable housebuilders to finance schools before completion of the residential element of schemes, instead of having to wait until homes are built and sold to be able to deliver the school.

The loan will be charged at interest and repayable once new homes are sold. It is hoped that the scheme will “incentivise developers” to build more properties in the areas most in need, such as on sites that have stood empty for a long period of time.

Housing minister Esther McVey said: “It’s only right that infrastructure is delivered up front – including thousands of new school places – which supports existing communities and the new homes which we need building.

“I welcome this support being made available today – helping medium and large-sized housebuilders to deliver new schools as they deliver the homes we urgently need.”

Williamson added: “We want to offer parents across the country a good choice of local schools for their children that suits their talents and needs, and we’re already on track to create one million new school places nationwide this decade.

“But we know that in some cases, building schools and properties at the same time so they are ready for new communities can be challenging for housing developers. That’s why we are launching these loans today – to help parents secure a good school place for their child at the same time as moving into a new family home.”

Starting as a pilot, the Developer Loans for Schools programme will initially offer around 10 loans to successful bidders. The Department for Education said all projects would need to demonstrate value for money, affordability, and must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the prospectus.

David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network, and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The government’s recognition that there are issues with meeting demand for school places, particularly as part of new housing developments, is welcome.”

The loan funding will “go some way” to supporting developer cash flows and enable new school provision to be delivered earlier in the life cycle of new large housing developments.

“Whilst we hope that this pilot scheme is successful, the cost of a new two form of entry primary school typically exceeds £8 million and a six form of entry secondary school £30 million. If subsequently rolled out, government should, in the longer term, seek to reform the planning system, alongside streamlining infrastructure funding, if we are to deliver the infrastructure needed to serve the needs of future communities.”

Information on applying for a loan can be found on the UK Government website.

10 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee has granted planning permission for 3,000 new homes at Burgess Hill.

Homes England owns the 200-hectare site, which is known as the Northern Arc.

It will now work with developers to submit detailed planning applications after consulting with the community.

As well as the homes, the site should deliver three neighbourhood centres, three schools and employment opportunities.

The government’s housing agency said the development would offer easy access to public transport, and walking and cycling routes.

Ken Glendinning, head of strategic land at Homes England, said the scheme would provide existing and new residents with a mix of affordable and market-priced homes to buy and rent.

“We developed our plans following discussions with the local community as well as working closely with Mid Sussex District Council and West Sussex County Council to ensure that the necessary infrastructure will be delivered at the right time.

“Over the next three years, we plan to invest around £41 million in vital new infrastructure at the Northern Arc. This will unlock these needed new homes in Mid Sussex, making homes happen faster and ensuring they are a real benefit to the local community.

The new infrastructure will relieve traffic pressure and provide better links in this part of Mid Sussex.”

Construction of the first homes at Freeks Farm, as well as associated highways infrastructure, is expected to begin in 2020.

Homes England recently submitted its first infrastructure planning application for a bridge and link road to connect Isaacs Lane to Freeks Farm in the eastern part of the site. Subject to planning permission being granted, work is expected to start early next year.

The government’s housing agency has appointed infrastructure services firm AECOM as lead consultant for the project. AECOM has been appointed following its previous work with Homes England to deliver the masterplan and prepare the outline planning application.

7 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Energy secretary Andrea Leadsom has granted a development consent order for the modification of coal-fired generating units to gas-powered ones at Drax Power Station, Selby.

An inspector recommended that the secretary of state refuse consent for the development due to its "failure to deliver carbon reduction objectives".

Drax Power Limited said the project could enable Drax to deliver “more reliable and flexible, high-efficiency” electricity generation and help the UK to transition to net zero-carbon emissions by 2050.

The project was considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.

The application was for the flexibility to either repower one coal-fired unit with 1,800 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity and a 100 MW battery storage capacity, or to repower two units that would each have 1,800 MW of generating capacity, together with their own separate 100 MW battery storage capacity.

Either unit 5, 6 or both will be updated with new gas turbines that can operate in combined-cycle and open-cycle modes. Existing infrastructure used for the coal-fired units, such as the steam turbine and cooling towers, would be “reutilised” for the new units.

Drax Power submitted the application to the Planning Inspectorate in May 2018 and a recommendation was sent to the secretary of state on 4 July this year.

The firm explained that it must secure a capacity market agreement to underpin the investment needed to develop the first combined-cycle generating unit.

If all goes to plan, 1.8GW of new capacity would be available at Drax Power Station from October 2023.

The decision letter and all other documents relating to the project can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.

7 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


An outline planning application for the Cardiff Parkway project at St Mellons, with a new station and initially about 84,000 square metres of commercial floor space, is expected to be submitted to the city council next spring.

According to reports on the Wales Online website, entrepreneur Nigel Roberts, who is behind the scheme, plans to market the proposals as a “new city centre location” for Cardiff – benefiting from turn-up-and-go rail services to and from the centre of the capital, with journey times of less than 10 minutes.

Roberts and his son Andrew are being backed by financial services giant Investec and the Welsh Government, which has taken a 10 per cent equity stake in the project.

It is being delivered through holding company South Wales Infrastructure Ltd.

The new station will be located on the existing South Wales to London Great Western Mainline that runs through the 65-hectare site.

The city council has already allocated the location as commercial growth point in its local development plan. The new station, which would also use existing relief lines, is aiming to secure 12 train services an hour (24 in and out), including two to London and four to Bristol Temple Meads.

Roberts is quoted as saying: “We will not be building some soulless place in the middle of a field, but providing new road infrastructure, a new train station, public realm and hundreds of thousands of square metres of new office space, with bars and restaurants too. It will also benefit from all the ancillary infrastructure like GP and dental surgeries, a gym and crèche facilities.”

11 October 2019
Roger Milne, The Planner


A round-up of planning news

McVey seeks reassurance over Broxtowe green belt
Housing minister Esther McVey has written to Broxtowe Borough Council to seek reassurance that the council will make ‘every effort’ to redevelop brownfield land.

The letter follows an inspector’s examination of the council local plan part two, in which the inspector concluded that the need for housing, the lack of alternatives outside of the green belt, and the limited impact that the alterations would have on the openness and purposes of the green belt constitute the exceptional circumstances required.

McVey noted that the council has identified increasing development of brownfield land, but reminded the council about the importance the government attaches to redeveloping brownfield land.

“My key priority is to ensure that this vital resource is put to productive use, to support the regeneration of our cities, towns and villages, and to limit the pressure on undeveloped green belt land ... I am seeking further reassurance that the council will be making every possible effort to prioritise delivering redevelopment on previously developed land going forward."

The letter can be found here on the UK Government website (pdf).

Cherwell commits to biodiversity target
Cherwell District Council’s executive has agreed to seek 10 per cent net biodiversity gains through the planning system.

The council already requires net gains through the planning process, but it said this decision establishes a consistent approach, “aiming for more substantial and measurable wildlife habitat gains”. Requirements for on-site habitat provision will be made when planning permission is granted.

Andrew McHugh, lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “Diverse natural habitats are valuable in their own right, but nowadays we have a better understanding of the fact that they also support our wellbeing, our economy, and carbon capture.

“Like any planning authority, we have to meet government housebuilding targets. But we can also use the planning system to mitigate the effects of this on local ecosystems, and indeed require developers to protect and improve our district’s natural capital.”
 
Dover pub will get a makeover
Dover District Council has granted planning permission for the revamp of one of Dover’s oldest pubs.

The Lord Nelson on Flying Horse Lane, which adjoins the St James retail and leisure development, is to be comprehensively refurbished by the owner, Kent-based Shepherd Neame.

Plans for the riverside pub include an open-plan bar area and dining space, while the new-look outdoor areas will include patio seating to the front of the property and a stone paved terrace to the back of the property.
 
Sisk appointed for regeneration project
Peabody has appointed John Sisk & Son to build phase 2 of the St John’s Hill Estate regeneration project opposite Clapham Junction train station.

The three-phase regeneration of the 1930s Peabody estate will increase the number of homes from 353 to 599 homes in total.

Sisk also built phase 1, which delivered 153 homes, of which 73 were for social rent for Peabody. Phase 2 is set to deliver 198 affordable homes (109 social rented homes, 54 extra care homes, and 35 offered for shared ownership) and a new community centre, which are due to be completed in 2022.

The £87 million second phase also features landscaping, a wild garden, a play area and a central public square for the community.
 
Shoreham box park approved
Adur District Council has granted planning permission for a seafront dining area on Shoreham Beach.

Boxpark’s plans will see a run-down toilet block transformed into a multipurpose split-level café-restaurant with paved outdoor seating area and roof terrace with coastal and countryside views.

Public toilets will be retained and upgraded within the building while changing rooms, a centre for water sports and community space for up to 90 people will be made available to local groups.

The Brighton-based firm has developments in Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley constructed out of shipping containers.
 
Bermondsey airspace scheme gets the go-ahead
Southwark Council has approved developer Fruition Properties' plans to develop nine new residential apartments above a light industrial unit at 20 Crimscott Street in Bermondsey, London.

Designed by architectural practice TP Bennett, the development will provide a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom apartments as well as external improvements to the existing commercial space.

The approval was the result of collaboration between Fruition Properties, Southwark Council and the long-standing commercial occupier, printing company F. E. Burman, which has 50 employees and will stay fully operational during the development process without disruption.

The site was identified as an ideal platform for an airspace project owing to the existing building's flat roof, and Fruition Properties and Southwark Council wanting to provide new housing while preserving existing buildings and employment uses.

15 October 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner