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Planning news - 3 December 2020

Published: Thursday, 3rd December 2020

More than 2,000 homes approved in Coventry, Stonehenge DCO approval could face legal action, Outline consent for industrial development granted. 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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Coventry City Council has granted outline planning permission for a residential development of up to 2,400 homes, including extra-care accommodation, which will be located on the 350-acre Eastern Green site.

The approved plans, by Hallam Land Management and the Trustees of the Eastern Green Land Pool Trust, also comprise:

  • new vehicular access from the A45 and via Pickford Green Lane;
  • 15 hectares of employment land (B1, B2 and B8);
  • about 10,000 square metres for retail space;
  • about 1,000 square metres of local convenience retail plus other community facilities;
  • a primary school; and
  • open spaces, landscaping, green infrastructure and sports provision.

The site was formerly part of the green belt. It was removed after independent examination of the local plan by an inspector and allocated for a sustainable urban extension. The local plan came into force in December 2017

The planning officer's report (pdf) outlines that that development should be granted planning permission subject to a number of conditions and the completion of a section 106 agreement.

Objections were received from a number of organisations during the first consultation. These included complaints from: Sport England, which said it would take back its objection if suitable contributions were made towards indoor sport; Highways England, which cited inadequate assessment of the strategic road network; the Environment Agency, which asserted that the scheme did not take into account climate change allowances; and the Ramblers Association outlining its fears about the loss of green belt land.

Parish councils and residents also objected to the plans for reasons such as inadequate public consultation and how increased traffic would negatively impact rural roads.

A second consultation also drew objections from the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, as the development would not result in a net gain of biodiversity.

A petition against the plans bearing 1,597 signatures was also submitted

The officer noted that since their submission nearly two years ago, the plans have been consulted on and revisions made to address the issues raised.

“It is considered the amended scheme has addressed officer concerns subject to conditions the substantial package of s.106 measures discussed above in this report. The proposed development would make good use of land, provide a high-quality mixed-use development that meets the needs of Coventry," the officer's report states.

30 November 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The lawfulness of the decision by transport secretary Grant Shapps to grant a development consent order (DCO) for a dual carriageway for the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down in Wiltshire past Stonehenge World Heritage Site is to be investigated.

Campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) has asked Leigh Day solicitors to undertake the investigation. The firm will work with Victoria Hutton from 39 Essex chambers and David Wolfe QC from Matrix chambers.

The protest group has been set up by individuals involved with The Stonehenge Alliance. It has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the legal action.

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith commented: “Our client believes that there is a legal case to be made that the secretary of state unlawfully assessed the harm that is going to be inflicted on a 4,000-year-old and much-cherished World Heritage Site, deciding instead that such destruction is a price worth paying for the economic benefits and faster road travel times that may accrue in the future.”

The key elements of the DCO are a northern bypass of Winterbourne Stoke with a viaduct over the River Till valley and a new junction between A303 and A360 to the west of and outside the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, replacing the existing Longbarrow roundabout. Also, a tunnel of about two miles (3.3km) long would be delivered past Stonehenge, plus a new junction between the A3030 and A345 at the existing Countess roundabout.

Shapps’s decision goes against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate, which warned that the development would cause “permanent irreversible harm” and the benefits to the OUV (outstanding universal value) “would not be capable of offsetting this harm”.

In his decision letter, Shapps noted that “any harm to heritage assets, including the OUV, is less than substantial and this harm (whilst carrying great weight), along with the other harms identified, are outweighed by the benefits of the development”.

In a statement on its website, Leigh Day said it has sent a letter to Shapps, putting him on notice about potential legal action. The department will be asked to respond within 10 days.

Any judicial review would need to be put in train by 24 December

The public inquiry saw the Stonehenge Alliance, alongside a number of other parties, argue that the World Heritage Site should be treated as a single heritage asset and protected in its entirety.

Now, in its it letter, SSWHS asserts that Shapps’s approach to the consideration of harm to heritage was unlawful, the reasons for his conclusion on heritage harm were inadequate and unintelligible, and that his actions breach the World Heritage Convention (WHC).

The group highlights that the WHC “does not allow for a cost-benefit approach to the assessment of harm and that it is irrational to conclude that the physical destruction of one part of the 4,000-year-old World Heritage Site can be offset by possible future benefits to other parts of the site”.

Tom Holland, president of The Stonehenge Alliance, said: “The government has ignored advice from both UNESCO and the independent panel who presided over a six-month examination. To have won the arguments based on reason and evidence, and then to have them overruled on a ministerial whim, shows just how broken the roads approval process is.

“I urge everyone who cares about the Stonehenge World Heritage Site to support this legal action. There is still a chance to stop the bulldozers moving in and vandalising our most precious and iconic prehistoric landscape.”

30 November 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has granted – with conditions – planning permission for up to 67,036 square metres of employment floor space including up to 5,088 square metres of ancillary office floor space, an HGV fuelling station and lorry-washing facilities at land off Cumwell Lane, Hellaby.

The application, submitted by Stretton Denman and supported by Satplan and Calderpeel Architects, states that the uses would be B1b&c/B2, B8 and B1a.

The agricultural site is about 15.68 hectares in size and lies between junction 1 of the M18, Cumwell Lane and Sandy Lane to the south of Hellaby. It was allocated for green belt purposes in the former unitary development plan (UDP) but the adopted sites and policies document removes it from the green belt and instead allocates it for industrial and business use. This makes the application acceptable in principle, according to the planning officer’s report (pdf).

Using Homes England's employment density guidance, the developer estimates that 1,119 full-time equivalent jobs could be created.

The council's planning board considered the application because of a number of objections to the proposals. These included questions about why the development could not be located on a different vacant site or within existing buildings in the locality, such as the Wincanton Building on Rotherham Road.

Objections were also received in relation to loss of views, devaluation of existing properties, the impact that the development of this once-greenfield site will have on the quality of life and mental health of existing residents, and the loss or privacy and outlook.

“Subject to the provision of mitigation measures it is considered that the impact on the local and strategic highway network is acceptable. Additionally it is considered that issues relating to drainage and flood risk, landscape and trees, ecology, general amenity issues, the impact on existing residents and heritage are acceptable subject to the submission of full details within reserved matters applications,” states the report.

Conditions attached to the outline permission include that development work cannot start until details of the proposed alterations at the Bawtry Road/Cumwell Lane junction have been submitted to and approved by the council and the development shall not be occupied until the approved details have been implemented.

Other conditions relate to drainage, amenity, landscape and trees, ecology and the environment.

The granting of permission was in line with the planning officer’s recommendation.

30 November 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

All major infrastructure projects will have a design champion at board level by the end of next year, the government has announced.

The National Infrastructure Strategy said design champions would be at the project, programme or organisational level and would be supported where appropriate by design panels. The move had been recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

“Such panels should include members with a broad range of skills and expertise,” according to the strategy. “These design champions and panels should work closely with the NIC and the design group to consider how their principles can be effectively and proportionately embedded in the UK’s infrastructure system and share good practice.”

The move fits in with the government’s Project Speed programme, set up in the summer to review and identify improvements across the infrastructure project life cycle.

An update on Project Speed in the strategy pledged to embed good design in all infrastructure projects through planning reforms as well encouraging a step change in capability and leadership, accelerating investment in major project expertise and delivery skills.

Sadie Morgan, who chairs the NIC’s design group, welcomed the move.

“We’re particularly pleased to see government back our recommendation for all major national infrastructure projects to have a board-level design champion supported by a design panel, to help ensure schemes are built sustainably to a high standard, looking beyond their core function to add value to communities and the natural environment,” she said.

“We will continue to encourage the government and their project partners to use our Design Principles for National Infrastructure as a tool for achieving this. We hope this comes to be seen as a watershed moment in improving the quality of design across infrastructure for both local and national projects.”

The strategy revealed that a review by the government’s Project Speed task force has cut the timeline for the £1 billion A66 trans-Pennine Road upgrade in half. The Highways England scheme, which involves a new bypass, dualling along sections of road and major junction improvements, was originally forecast to take more than 15 years, including four more years of development and 10 years of construction.

The Project Speed review identified ways to save up to 50 per cent of time in the planned construction process, cutting this to five years. The time savings are due to increasing modular and offsite design and construction practices.

Elsewhere, the strategy outlines the launch of a National Infrastructure Planning Reform Programme. This will focus on the development consent order and Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime with the aim of cutting timescales by 50 per cent with coordinated reviews of national policy statements.

26 November 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

An outline planning application has been submitted for a major mid-use and leisure regeneration scheme in Southampton’s Mayflower Quarter following an extensive digital consultation.

The proposed regeneration of Leisure World, by Sovereign Centros, includes 650 homes, offices, two 150-room hotels, 80 serviced hotel apartments, a relocated cinema, casino, and other leisure uses.

The plans for the site, which sits within the Mayflower Quarter, will be centred on a high-quality public realm, linking a new urban quarter with the wider city, while improving connectivity with the historic waterfront. The proposal aims to be a catalyst for regenerating the Mayflower Quarter.

Nearly 2,500 residents took part in the developer’s digital consultation – introduced in response to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions – which included public webinars and virtual meetings with community and business organisations across the city.

“There has never been such an important time to bring forward regeneration proposals in our regional cities to ensure they can emerge in the strongest possible position post the pandemic crisis,” said Sovereign Centros’ director John Marsh.

“We fully understand the importance of the Leisure World site to the city, its waterfront, and its people. Our proposed development will bring significant investment to Southampton and will look to create a vibrant environment alongside the waterfront with a range of uses for everyone to enjoy.

“While we are disappointed that we could not meet with anyone in person during our public consultation, we have been overwhelmed by the positive, engaged response from the community. The feedback that we have received has been invaluable as we have continued to develop our proposals for the site.”

Southampton City Council is expected to take a decision on the application early next year. If approved, the scheme will be built across four phases, beginning in 2022.

Montagu Evans is advising Sovereign Centros and the scheme has been designed by architects Corstorphine & Wright.

“These proposals are a major investment in the city – the first of three Mayflower Quarter sites to come forward and the most significant application in Southampton for a number of years,” said Montagu Evans partner Julian Stephenson.

“In making this less connected area part of the city once again, we are establishing a wide range of uses here, joining them together in a creative and flexible way, and providing a template for how major urban renewal projects in regional cities can be successfully brought forward.”

26 November 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

Potential for 2,000 rooftop extensions in Southwark, research suggests

Research indicates that 2,000 viable new rooftop homes could be built across Southwark.

The study was conducted by rooftop developer Fruition Properties and Knight Frank. It involved the development of geoprocessing tools that could test sites for development viability and identify unobstructed frontages.

According to the companies, there are more than 500 sites in Southwark that have the potential for a minimum of four homes to be built above existing properties.

Southwark Council owns about a quarter of these sites.

Mani Khiroya, managing director of Fruition Properties, said: “Developers need to adopt data, technology and modern methods of construction to make the delivery of homes more efficient.

“We know there is clear potential in Southwark, however, this process could be rolled out across other London boroughs or indeed other UK cities. It could help local authorities determine housing policies and rooftop development site designations while helping to tangibly deliver against residential housing targets. Collectively, I call for the industry to come together and help unlock the potential of our rooftops.”


Views sought on next steps for the Dacorum Local Plan

Dacorum Borough Council has launched its consultation on the Emerging Strategy for Growth, which is the next step to creating the new Dacorum Local Plan 2020-2038.

The consultation will run for 10 weeks, closing on Sunday 7 February, 2021.

In support of the Emerging Strategy for Growth, the council has published an interim sustainability appraisal, which assesses the potential social, economic and environmental implications of this strategy.

More information on the local plan can be found on the Dacorum Council website.


Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation appoints CEO

David Lunts has been appointed as the chief executive officer at the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC).

He took over the role as interim chief executive last year.

Currently executive director of housing and land for the Greater London Authority (GLA), Lunts has worked on housing policy and delivery in national, regional and local government for over 20 years. He established and then led the GLA’s housing and land function, devolved to the Mayor of London in 2012.

Lunts said: “I am hugely excited by the massive regeneration prospects for Old Oak and Park Royal over the next few years. With over a billion pounds of investment in the High Speed Two interchange station, Old Oak Common is set to become the heart of the best-connected place in West London, with tremendous scope to bring new homes, jobs and leisure for local people and newcomers alike.

“Although I am sad to be leaving my brilliant housing and land colleagues at the GLA, I’ve been really impressed with the passion and skills at OPDC, and am looking forward to working with them, and the mayor, to deliver this extraordinary regeneration opportunity.”


Feltham Magistrates’ court to be redeveloped

The London Borough of Hounslow Council has approved plans to regenerate the former Feltham Magistrates’ Court into 28 homes.

Developer and real estate company MCR Property Group is behind the plans, together with its project partner architect rg+p.

Built in 1902 as Feltham Town Hall, the Victorian building has been derelict since 2016, but will now undergo a significant conversion to see this landmark building brought back to life. The mixed-tenure project seeks to preserve the historic character of the locally listed building.

Two and three-bedroom properties will be built for private sale and discount market sale of 32 per cent. Seventeen studio flats and apartments will be developed within the old Magistrates’ Court alongside 11 apartments and maisonettes in the new-build elements. The scheme includes a private roof terrace for residents, eight car parking spaces, including two for electric vehicles, and 52 cycle spaces.

The court is located on Hanworth Road in the town centre.


74 homes approved in Bristol

Bristol City Council has granted planning permission for 74 homes in Lockleaze, Bristol.

The homes will be built on a brownfield site along Constable Road and Crome Road by housing provider Abri (formerly Yarlington and Radian). The firm expects construction of the new homes to start in spring 2021.

Of the properties, 50 per cent will be affordable (17 for social rent and 20 for shared ownership), while the other half will be available for open-market sale. They will be a mixture of two, three and four-bedroom houses, one and two-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom bungalows.

The homes will include renewable technology, such as air source heat pumps, which transfer external heat into the home. Provision is also being made for electric vehicle charging points and cycle parking stores for 144 bicycles.

Turley provided planning services for the scheme.

1 December 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner