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Planning news - 17 September 2020

Published: Thursday, 17th September 2020

Extra government cash put forward to release land for housing, Salford goes to court to protect green space, Housing application submitted for Ripon Barracks. And more stories...

Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew has announced a £30 million boost to the government’s Land Release Fund (LRF) and the One Public Estate (OPE) programme. 

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference, Agnew explained that the money is to help release surplus land for housing and support local economies to bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The LRF focuses on small sites and supporting SME builders. Councils will be able to bid for a share of £20 million to help to pay for remediation works and infrastructure so that any of their surplus land can be brought forward for housing. 

The fund is currently supporting 73 council projects (including Broadland District Council), which are set to release more than 6,000 homes by next March. 

To support the earliest stages of the development, the OPE programme will provide £10 million. New and existing partnerships can bid for a share of the money to go towards practical support for property programmes. The OPE programme is currently supporting the Burnholme development in York, a modern health and wellbeing hub with new homes and spaces for education, health and worship.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher said the new funding would help councils “right across England to turn unloved, unused land into new homes and communities where they are needed most”. 

“It is an important part of how we are working with local government and the housing industry at every level to support our recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Councils continue to lead their communities through the coronavirus crisis, working closely with other local partners including health and emergency services.

“One Public Estate will play a crucial role as we move into the next phase and help with the local and national economic recovery. This additional funding will support councils to make better use of their assets, including their spare land and property, to help join up local services.”

“This in turn will create new savings and efficiencies, as we look towards the future of local public services after the pandemic.”

The government said the money would be allocated before the end of this financial year.

10 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Salford City Council’s decision that developer Peel L&P cannot build 600 homes at Broadoak in Worsley has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The council originally refused applications for the land in west Salford, known as the Worsley Greenway – one for up to 600 homes in 2013 and a second for up to 165 homes – in 2017. 

Appeals against the refusals were dismissed by the housing secretary in November 2018. Peel L&P brought a claim under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to quash the housing secretary’s decision.

In August 2019, the Planning Court dismissed the appellant’s claim.

The greenfield site features woods, meadows and open land and is protected by policies in the Salford Unitary Development Plan, which was adopted in 2006.

The Court of Appeal considered two issues: 

  1. The correct interpretation of the term “out-of-date” in paragraph 11d of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). 
  2. The proper application of policies contained within development plan documents that are time-expired and/or lack policy in respect of the strategic issue of housing supply.

In 2018, the inspector assigned to the case concluded that the applications conflicted with a number of the council’s plan policies and that the ‘tilted balance’ of the NPPF did not apply. He attached “substantial weight to the harm that arises from conflict with these policies, which are fundamental to the plan taken as a whole” and did not consider the plan or policy EN2 to be out of date, despite their expiry in 2016.

The inspector recommended that the appeals should be dismissed. 

He added: “If the secretary of state disagrees with my conclusion that the tilted balance is not engaged for whatever reason, I nevertheless recommend that the appeals be dismissed and planning permission be refused in both cases. This is because the adverse impacts of the developments would be such as to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”

Then housing secretary James Brokenshire agreed and dismissed the appeals, and the Planning Court upheld this decision. 

In the Court of Appeal, Rupert Warren QC leading Mr James Corbet Burcher, advanced the appeal on behalf of Peel L&P.

The judges’ argument notes that in this particular case, the secretary of state had decided in 2009 to save 104 out of 125 policies in the Salford Unitary Development Plan, including policy EN2. “It was submitted that the retained policies reflected the secretary of state’s view as to what policies the Salford Unitary Development Plan should contain to provide an appropriate planning framework.”

Lord Justice Baker, with Lord Justice Lewison and Sir Stephen Richards in agreement, stated: “There is nothing in paragraph 11d of the 2018 NPPF, or its predecessor paragraph 14 of the 2012 framework, to suggest that the expiry of the period of the plan automatically renders the policies in the plan out of date.”

He went on to say that he agreed with “Sir Duncan Ouseley’s observations in [case of developer] Paul Newman New Homes [Paul Newman New Homes Ltd v SSHCLG] that a policy is not out of date simply because it is in a time-expired plan and that, if the framework had intended to treat as out of date all saved but time-expired policies, it would not have used the phrase 'out-of-date' but rather the language of time-expired policies or policies in a time-expired plan". 

Baker also explained that the judges did not accept Peel L&P’s argument that a plan without strategic housing policies is automatically out of date for the purposes of paragraph 11d in order to engage the tilted balance. 

The appeal was dismissed. 

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “There is no doubt we need more homes in the city, but they need to be in the right places. We will not roll over and let developers build where they want and we must continue to do all we can to avoid planning by appeal, whilst also tackling the housing and homelessness crisis we’re facing.”

The judgment can be found here.

9 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A planning application comprising 1,300 homes has been lodged with Harrogate Borough Council for an extension to Ripon.

Homes England and the DIO have entered into a partnership to progress redevelopment of surplus Ministry of Defence land to provide much-needed new homes.

The application, submitted by Homes England and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), is part of plans to turn Ripon Barracks into Clotherholme.

The site is in one of the most expensive housing markets in Yorkshire, said Homes England.

Marie Kiddell, head of planning and enabling at Homes England, explained: “The validation of this planning application is a major step towards creating Clotherholme and helping meet local housing needs, 30 per cent of the homes will be affordable alongside those for sale on the open market.

“As well as homes our application includes all the local infrastructure the new community will need including a primary school, sports pitches, a dedicated employment zone and local retail facilities.”

The types of homes set out in the application include a two and three-bedroom mid-range houses and apartments. A 60-bed assisted living scheme also features as part of the plans.  

A design guide for the development seeks to ensure that the development looks and feels like an integrated part of Ripon.  

Catherine Davies, DIO head of estates, added: “This is the first site to be developed as part of our partnership with Homes England and it is exciting to have reached this significant milestone following a range of consultation with the local community.

“This proposed development supports the MoD’s ongoing commitment to invest in a more fit-for-purpose defence estate that will better support the armed forces’ future needs as well as delivering a range of benefits to the local community and we look forward to seeing it progress further in the coming weeks and months.”

Trevor Watson, director of economy and culture at Harrogate Borough Council, explained that the redevelopment of Ripon Barracks is a key priority for the council. It is expected that the planning application will be determined by the council’s planning committee in early 2021.

14 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Swansea City Council launched a global hunt this week for a partner or investor, possibly a consortium, to work with the council to regenerate a number of large sites in the city centre.

The initiative, marketed as Shaping Swansea, has identified seven locations where significant development is proposed.

These opportunities are: 

  • Swansea Central phase two, which is roughly from St Mary’s Church down to Oystermouth Road, to become a public sector hub, plus retail, leisure uses and housing;
  • an office-led scheme at the Oxford Street car park opposite the Grand Theatre; 
  • the Civic Centre seafront site for a residential-led, mixed-use development;
  • Hafod Copperworks to become a leisure destination, including a whisky distillery and Kilvey Hill gondola ride; 
  • a residential-led scheme at the former St Thomas railway station, by the River Tawe; 
  • land off East Burrows Road by the SA1 Sail Bridge, to become housing with other potential uses; and
  • the marina site behind the former observatory, to be developed for residential and commercial uses.

Several major transformation schemes are already under way in Swansea. These include the £135 million Swansea Central Phase One, with a 3,500-capacity indoor arena, the £12 million Kingsway overhaul and the planned £30 million city centre hub for tech and creative businesses.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “We have a compelling once-in-a-generation chance for a top-class partner to help us deliver major regeneration”.

11 September 2020
Roger Milne, The Planner

Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram has established England’s ‘first’ Land Commission to improve the management and use of land in the region.

The commission will review the use of public land for community wealth building.

Rotheram explains that since the 1980s, land has come to be “primarily treated as a financial asset serving as a collateral against which banks create mortgage debt”. As a result, the cost of housing has risen and there are now shortages of homes. Overall productivity has been reduced.

“The unprecedented circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, with all its economic consequences, make it even more important for us to ensure that we can wring the maximum possible community value from our land assets to encourage sustainable economic recovery.

“I’ve brought together a commission made up of senior figures from the worlds of academia, property development and planning. I have challenged them to think imaginatively and come back to me with radical recommendations for how we can make the best use of publicly owned land to make this the fairest and most socially inclusive city region in the country. 

“Through success stories such as Baltic Creative we’ve already seen alternative, socially conscious approaches to land management in the city region. I can’t wait to hear the commission’s recommendations for how we improve the management and use of land to deliver the greatest benefit for the people of the Liverpool City Region.”

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will coordinate the commission alongside think tank Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).

Members of the commission will meet four times between now and November to discuss the challenges surrounding publicly owned land. The first meeting is taking place today.

The commission has been tasked with ensuring that recommendations are action-oriented, and they should generate ideas for concrete projects, rather than only general recommendations.

CLES is responsible for drafting the final report of the commission based on the output of the meetings.

Neil McInroy, director of CLES, said: “Far too often, land use in the UK has ended up being dominated by the pursuit of corporate profit, rather than serving the economic, social and environmental needs of the whole community. It’s fanciful to wait for things to ‘go back to normal’ after Covid-19 – instead, we should seize the moment to do things differently. The land commission is a pioneering step in this direction, that will serve as an example for other city regions across the country.”

9 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Partnership set up for small builders

Homes England and Invest & Fund have joined in a seven-year lending partnership that seeks to support small builders.

They will increase the amount of finance available to SME developers to help them grow and deliver more homes quickly.

Together, they will create a £25 million revolving fund to allow Invest & Fund to support small builders with construction loans of between £400,000 and £2.5 million, funding schemes of two homes and upwards, at up to 80 per cent loan-to-cost.

Gordon More, chief investment officer at Homes England, said: “In Invest & Fund, we have found a partner with a shared purpose to support the market and the desire and capability to scale their lending activity. The deal demonstrates our ability to make homes happen in different ways in support of our mission. We are particularly pleased to be working with a specialist finance provider, recognising the crucial role that the non-bank lending market continues to play in supporting smaller builders in these challenging times.”


Team appointed for West Midlands plan

Property regeneration consultant AspinallVerdi and multidisciplinary engineering company Stantec have been appointed to carry out a viability and delivery assessment of the emerging Black Country Plan (BCP) for Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils.

The BCP is a joint planning framework for the whole of the Black Country.

The study will form part of the evidence base for the BCP. It will assess whether the housing and employment sites being considered as potential site allocations are financially viable and deliverable. 


Council urged to reject Whitehaven coal mine

Friends of the Earth has renewed its call for Cumbria County Council to reject proposals for a new deep coal mine in Whitehaven.

The call comes after communities secretary Robert Jenrick rejected plans for an opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay on the Northumberland coast for a second time.

He cited changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that has been implemented since the High Court quashed his predecessor Sajid Javid’s decision to refuse permission.

Jenrick also ruled that the weight to be attached to the need for coal should be “no more than moderate”.

Friends of the Earth regional campaigner Estelle Worthington said: “The government’s decision on the Druridge opencast mine sends a powerful message to Cumbria councillors ahead of next month’s crucial decision on the UK's first new deep coal mine in three decades at the former Marchon site in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

“The government has said there’s little evidence that we will need current levels of coal for industrial uses beyond the very short term. That seriously erodes the arguments put forward by West Cumbria Mining for the Marchon mine.

“New coal extraction has no place in a world facing a climate emergency. We urge Cumbria County Council’s development and control committee to reject West Cumbria Mining’s proposal and instead seek opportunities for securing green jobs for the region.”


88 apartments proposed for Trafford

Avison Young and 5plus architects have submitted a planning application for 88 apartments on Warwick Road in Trafford.

The application has been submitted on behalf of Jumani Holdings Limited.

The sire is next to the Old Trafford Metrolink stop.

The homes will be a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments. They will be arranged in a 13-storey brick building. Amenity space and communal gardens also form part of the plans.

Planning permission for the 89 apartments on the site, which is vacant, was granted in October 2016. However, the plans were not delivered for viability reasons.


Trade associations join forces to boost economic recovery

The Solar Trade Association, Renewable UK and techUK have announced a new partnership that seeks to promote the transition to a net-zero economy.

To push a green recovery, techUK will encourage its member companies to consider setting up long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) to stimulate UK-based renewable energy generation.

The organisations explained that the “commitment will bring together energy buyers directly with the renewable energy providers to stimulate a market in PPAs which can underpin the decarbonisation of the UK power sector”.

Alongside this, the STA and RenewableUK will encourage their members to work more closely with the UK technology sector on a number of measures, including to integrate smart systems into the growth of the renewable and energy storage industries to support the development of flexible, responsive digital energy systems, and integrate smart energy and heat systems alongside renewable assets in residential buildings.

Westminster Housing estates gain listed status

Historic England has awarded grade-II listed status to Westbourne Park and Churchill Gardens in Pimlico.

They have also been included on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

The Brunel Estate landscape was designed by Michael Brown in 1970. It was recommended for grade II registration because “it is an unusual and intact design by one of the leading professional landscape architects of the time”, said a statement from Westminster City Council. The play area remains largely unchanged and the monumental slide is the main reason for it being listed.

Churchill Gardens, designed by Powell and Moya, was the first large-scale housing development in Britain after the war. There are eight grade II-listed buildings already on-site, which is a conservation area.

David Harvey, cabinet member for housing services at Westminster City Council, said: “By awarding listing status to both landscapes, it will protect the local area surrounding these estates so that local residents can continue to enjoy the outdoor space in the heart of the city.”


Plans for regeneration of public toilet building approved

The London Borough of Haringey has granted DK-CM planning permission to renovate and extend a grade-II listed public toilet in Bruce Grove, a conservation area.

The plans will see the toilets brought back to use as a community café, pioneering a new Community Wealth Building Lease and making commercial use of the newly extended building. 

Working with the council, local campaign group The Last Elm and heritage consultant Rob Bevan, DK-CM explained that its project team has worked to capture and protect the significance of the small building, both above and below ground. Work seeks to ensure that it comes off the Historic England ‘at risk’ register.

The toilet was constructed in phases at the beginning of the 20th century but has deteriorated in the past few decades since it closed its doors in the 1980s.

15 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner