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Planning news - 1 October 2020

Published: Thursday, 1st October 2020

Johnson pledges to protect 30 per cent of land for biodiversity, Bristol University consults on expansion plans, Manchester approves UK's largest indoor arena next to Etihad Stadium. 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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The government has promised to protect an extra 4 per cent of the UK’s land as part of a global drive to preserve nature and boost biodiversity.

Existing national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other protected areas already make up around 26 per cent of land in England.

Under the pledge, an extra 4 per cent, amounting to more than 400,000 hectares will also be protected to help nature recover. The government has also promised to work with the devolved administrations to agree an approach across the UK as well as with landowners and civil society to explore how best to increase the size and value of protected land.

The move came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a “Leaders Pledge for Nature” at a virtual United Nations event, in which governments commit to put nature and biodiversity on a road to recovery by 2030. The event is in response to a 68 per cent decline in global wildlife populations since 1970.

“We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate,” Johnson told the signing ceremony.

“Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all.”

According to a recent report by the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty agreed at the UN Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992, the world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the past decade.

Elizabeth Mrema, the convention’s executive secretary, said biodiversity and nature are now at “an unprecedented level in the history of mankind” and that “we’re the most dangerous species in global history”.

28 September 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

The University of Bristol has launched an online consultation on expansion plans at sites adjacent to its £300 million Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus development.

In recent years, the university has bought the Wales and West Utilities and Vauxhall and Kawasaki Drive sites in the St Philip’s area of the city.

It said developing these sites will complement its plans to build on Cattle Market Road and Temple Island and secure the university’s long-term future.

The public consultation is being held prior to the university submitting an outline planning application to Bristol City Council. The application will seek permission for a mix of research, enterprise and education spaces totalling 100,000 square metres along with improved public spaces. The university said the initial design has been heavily informed and influenced by the former industrial heritage of the site, with plans showing a series of stepped buildings ranging from four to eight stories.

The proposed car-free development includes a new public square, pedestrian routes to Barton Hill, additional bus and ferry stops and a footbridge over the floating harbour. The bridge would link the island to the railway station and academic buildings at the university’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, which received planning permission in March.

“The development of these sites represents an important next step in the evolution of our Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and will act as a catalyst in the area to stimulate future development in St Philip’s,” said Bristol’s deputy vice-chancellor for new campus development Guy Orpen.

“We are in the early stages of developing long-term plans and as such do not have a definitive timeline or details of how these spaces will be used in the future. We are doing this now to secure the future of these sites and look forward to sharing more detailed plans in due course.”

The plans can be viewed here.

28 September 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

A proposal for the UK’s biggest indoor arena next to Manchester City FC’s home has been granted planning permission.

Manchester City Council approved the plans by the Oak View Group for the £350 million music and indoor sports arena next to the Etihad Stadium. The venue, which will have a capacity of 23,500, could attract up to £1.5 billion in the city’s economy over the next 20 years. The scheme had been fiercely opposed by Manchester Arena, which said the approval has put its expansion plans “in jeopardy”.

However, the Oak View Group argued Manchester could accommodate more than one arena, citing the examples of Birmingham and London. Independent analysis commissioned by the council also suggested the city could sustain two arenas.

The group said the new arena will be “a best-in-class sustainable venue”, with renewable energy, energy efficiency, and low-carbon technologies integral to the design. It will also invest in improving walking and cycling routes, as well as funding an expanded controlled parking zone to minimise disruption for residents.

25 September 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

Planning permission has been granted to the first phase of Nottingham’s £650 million Island Quarter, the city’s biggest regeneration scheme in decades.

Nottingham City Council approved the Conygar Investment Company plans for Canal Turn, with work scheduled to start on the 16ha site in November.

The approved phase will include a three-storey 2,000 sqm pavilion on the waterfront, featuring two restaurants, around 500 sqm of events space with panoramic views and a large rooftop terrace. The plans also feature a bandstand and a substantial area of new public realm to open up the canal basin area and enhance one of Nottingham’s most under-used assets.

Conygar had initially gained outline planning permission for the development at Boots Island in April 2019. Nottingham leader David Mellen said “not many places have the opportunity to create a new addition to their city like this”, with 16ha of prime land for redevelopment close to the city centre. “It will become a major asset to Nottingham, connecting nearby neighbourhoods to the city centre through an area long overdue for redevelopment,” he added. “The plans to provide a mix of places to live, work and play will perfectly complement the other redevelopments across the southside area, and hopefully this first phase is a sign of the quality of the developments to come on site.”

The overall plans for the site, which has been derelict for 26 years, will bring homes, grade A office space, creative spaces, a lifestyle hotel, private rented apartments and co-working space, a “linear” park and community and event space as well as student accommodation.

“Throughout this process, we’ve been committed to creating a development that reflects Nottingham and enhances its credentials as a first-rate city,” said Conygar Nottingham director Richard Watson. “We’ve worked closely with the city and the design team to put together these plans for a development, which will be of huge benefit to the local economy and will create thousands of jobs during the build phase and beyond.” 

25 September 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

The draft National Development Framework, designed as the country’s first-ever spatial strategy, has been laid before the Welsh Assembly Senedd for a 60-day consideration period. During that time it will be debated by AMs but not approved.

The 20-year plan identifies where nationally significant developments should take place, national and regional growth areas, what infrastructure and services are needed and how Wales can contribute to the fight against climate change.

Housing and local government minister Julie James told AMs: “This is the first NDF to be prepared by the Welsh government and will set the direction for strategic and local development plans to come. “We have listened to the many responses we received during the consultation and the draft NDF will be significantly amended, and improved, by the comments and recommendations we received. “

A report on the consultation exercise noted that the issues which drew the highest number and the strongest response were : policies for new renewable energy generation; the footprint for regional planning; the approach on rural areas and support for the rural economy; the perceived lack of detail/evidence in the NDF; the approach to infrastructure investment such as transport; and economic issues like housing and the impact on tourism.

In respect of the regional footprint the Mid and South West Wales region has been split into two separate regions: Mid Wales (Ceredigion and Powys) and the South West: (Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot).

There is an amended policy framework and spatial approach for renewable energy and a new policy providing the context for decisions on developments of national significance. In addition, there are new policies for rural areas, an enhanced focus on transport and connectivity and a new policy on flood risk management. In addition, there is new content on monitoring and updates to all strategic diagrams reflecting changes to regional footprint, new transport policies and new regional growth areas.

The minister confirmed that the final version of the document, to be known as: Future Wales – The National Plan 2040, would be published in February 2021.

Draft National Development Framework

25 September 2020
Roger Milne, The Planner

Designs for new Perry Barr railway station revealed

The redevelopment of Perry Barr railway station has taken a major step forward after plans for a new transport interchange were submitted to Birmingham City Council. Regarded as one of the most outdated and unattractive railway stations in the region, Perry Barr is set to be replaced with a fit-for-purpose landmark station if plans are approved.

Under the design, the new building will include multiple entrances, a ticket office, an accessible toilet and baby change facility, an out-of-hours entrance, lifts and new stairs. Further improvements include step free access, planters, passenger seating and cycle racks. As well as a full planning application for the railway station, outline planning permission is also being sought for the bus interchange in front of a neighbouring shopping centre.

The development will provide strong links to north Birmingham’s road, bus and cycle networks and is part of the wider £500 million regeneration of the Perry Barr area. It is due to be completed in time for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to receive spectators heading to the nearby Alexander Stadium for the athletics events and the opening and closing ceremonies. Transport for West Midlands, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority, and the West Midlands Rail Executive are working with rail industry partners including Network Rail, West Midlands Trains and Birmingham City Council on the development.

“This new station demonstrates the benefit to local people and local jobs from our region’s success in securing the Commonwealth Games,” said West Midlands mayor Andy Streets. “Because we secured the Games we’ve been able to bring forward long awaited investment that will improve things for commuters, and visitors for years to come.”


Housebuilding industry sets up special hub to deliver environmental goals

The housebuilding industry is to set up a “delivery hub” to meet the government’s environmental targets. The cross-sector Future Homes Task Force is setting up the hub to drive the industry’s delivery of net zero new homes.

The move follows a summit on the environment by the Home Builders Federation (HBF). The task force, with representatives from housebuilders, the government, utilities and suppliers, will develop a masterplan to co-ordinate and drive forward how the industry meets targets for net zero, the natural environment, resources, water and air quality on a “day-to-day basis, according to the HBF.

The hub, which will have a full-time team, will develop plans for the wide range of interlinked climate, natural environment and resource targets that must be reached to reach the ultimate goal of net zero.

The HBF said the masterplan would “communicate long term clear, outcome-based objectives and feature milestones and ‘enabling actions’ to be taken in the interim. Executive chairman Stewart Baseley said housebuilders had been set a “huge challenge” by the government.

“The environmental agenda is an absolute priority for the UK’s housebuilding industry and one on which we are committed to leading the way,” he added.


Major study launched into Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet transport links

A major government study looking at transport improvements to support growth and regeneration in the corridor between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet has just been launched.

The AW2E Connectivity transport study is funded by the Ministry for Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) which has pledged up to £4.85 million. The work will be overseen by the AW2E Partnership comprising Kent County Council, Bexley, Dartford and Gravesham Councils, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, the Greater London Authority and Network Rail.

The organisations have been working since 2015 on proposals to improve transport links within the sub-region to support new homes and jobs as well as more sustainable travel patterns. In June 2018, the partnership secured the backing of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, which in response to its report, the MHCLG committed funding to explore and build a business case for enhancing transport links in the area. Since January, the partnership has been developing with the government the detailed scope of the study and procure the delivery team.

The study will feature a broad programme of research and analysis to detail the transport and development challenges within the area, identify possible improvements, understand how these can support further housing and jobs growth both within the sub-region and beyond and consider potential funding.

The work will include analysing a range of transport interventions, engagement with local stakeholders and two phases of public consultation. Lead consultants in the study will be Atkins/Jacobs which will carry out the transport and growth analysis while KPMG who will consider funding and finance options for any scheme. The study is scheduled to take around 15 months and is due to end in Autumn 2021.


Court of Appeal upholds Birmingham enforcement notices

The Court of Appeal has upheld fines imposed on a company and its director for breaching planning and listed building enforcement notices. Birmingham City Council had issued the notices in 2014 to Western Trading and Chinderpal Singh over a Victorian building on Constitutional Hill, most of which is Grade II listed.

The company had carried out works at the building, including removing and replacing timber shop fronts with painted metal alternatives without planning permission or listed building consent. Both notices required immediate radiation of the unauthorised works with an original deadline of November 2014, against which the company appeal.

The time for complying for the notice was extended until October 2015. The council started protection proceedings three years on from the October deadline for non-compliance with the notices. Both defendants pleaded guilty at the crown court in August 2019, with Judge Fowler later deferring sentence to allow the defendants to complete the remedial works. He imposed fines of £25,000 on each defendant and both appealed.

The Court of Appeal ruled that in Western Trading’s case “the combination of the attempt to avoid the cost of compliance, even if that could originally have been in the bracket £25,000 to £30,000, with obdurate disobedience to the notices for a period of over three years was ample justification for the starting point which the judge took”.

Singh, as the sole active director or controlling mind of the company, “caused it to commit the offences to which it had pleaded guilty”. The fine imposed could not be regarded as excessive, the appeal court added It dismissed both appeals and ordered the defendants to pay the council’s costs of nearly £3,500.


Crown Estate signs offshore wind farm extensions

The Crown Estate has signed agreements for lease (AfL) for six proposed offshore wind farm extensions off the coast of England and Wales The AfLs have been granted for extensions to the existing Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, Gwynt y Mor, Galloper, Greater Gabbard and Rampion projects and will total 2,800MW.

The Crown Estate said the proposals had successfully progressed through the Habitats Regulations Assessment stage, which assesses the possible impact of the wind farm extensions on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance.

The projects will now focus on environmental assessments and surveys, before seeking planning consent through the statutory planning process and securing connections to the national grid.

“Reaching this stage marks an important milestone in the UK portfolio, demonstrating strong market appetite and further strengthening the UK offshore wind pipeline,” said Crown Estate head of energy development Will Apps.

“Each project has the potential to play a vital role in supporting the nation’s clean energy transition and we look forward to following their progress as they move through the planning process.”

29 September 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner