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Planning news - 10 June 2021

Published: Thursday, 10th June 2021

High Court upholds council’s decision to refuse Ocado’s plans for new depot, Key workers prioritised for flagship First Homes development. And more stories...

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The High Court has dismissed online supermarket Ocado’s judicial review claim against Islington Council’s refusal for its application for a 24/7 online grocery distribution centre in Tufnell Park.

The NOcado Campaign, a community coalition of parents and children at Yerbury Primary School alongside the wider residents and community of Tufnell Park and Archway, had raised concerns about pollution and its effects on the school.

At a hearing in May, the court heard that the council had granted property company Telereal Trillium a certificate of lawful development for the site at Bush Industrial Estate in 2019.

Ocado had entered a lease agreement for the units, having “relied upon the certificate as conclusive evidence that its intended use of the premises was lawful”.

Islington Council told the court “false information” had been provided by Telereal Trillium and “material information withheld” on the nature and extent of the plan as well as the nature of the use and occupation.

In 2018 Telereal, who acquired much of the site from BT in 2002, negotiated with Ocado for a lease of units A-D. Ocado was seeking a distribution centre in the Islington area to store food at chilled temperatures, process customer orders and organise scheduled deliveries 24 hours a day. It was a condition of the deal that the premises would have a suitable planning consent for Ocado’s plans.

In January 2019, Telereal applied to the council for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) to certify the lawful use of units A to D for B8, storage and distribution purposes. This was granted by an officer acting under delegated powers. The CLEUD did not need to be consulted on.

Early in November 2019, Ocado entered into an agreement for the lease of units A-D relying upon the CLEUD. Later in the month, Ocado submitted a planning application to the council for improvement works to the units, which was subject to consultation.

Campaign group the Concerned Residents of Tufnell Park (CRTP) expressed its objections and became aware of the grant of the CLEUD and took advice on whether it could be challenged. In April 2020, the group, supported by documents mainly relating to the planning history of the estate, “asked the local authority to exercise its powers under s.193(7) of the TCPA to revoke the CLEUD on the grounds that Telereal’s application had contained statements which had been ‘false in a material particular’ or that ‘material information’ had been withheld'".

In June 2020, the council wrote to Ocado and Telereal enclosing the material received from CRTP, to say there appeared to be grounds for revoking the CLEUD. Telereal and Ocado contended that there were no grounds for revocation, but the CLEUD was revoked in October 2020, despite improvement works having been carried out.

On 20 November 2020 Ocado issued its claim for judicial review, which was granted.

Ocado’s grounds for challenge included that the council “erred in law in concluding that the false statements and withheld information they identified were material to the correct identification of the planning unit for the site to which the s.191 application related” and “in exercising its discretion as to whether to make the revocation order Islington failed to take into account material considerations”.

Justice Holgate noted that “public confidence in CLEUDs must extend to the reliability of the information put forward by an applicant to support the grant of a certificate”, something “Islington plainly had in mind”.

“Telereal obtained a certificate to which it was not entitled on the basis of the information it provided and withheld.”

After considering all the grounds, he dismissed the judicial review claim.

Natasha Cox, a parent of the affected school and campaigner, said the decision is a “landmark victory for common sense and the rights of communities”.

“The verdict of Mr Justice Holgate sets a rightful precedent for prioritising children’s health over irresponsible growth of online deliveries. There is a place for distribution centres but it is not a skipping rope away from primary school classrooms.”

Cassie Moss, headteacher of Yerbury Primary School, added: “Ocado can make as many attempts to greenwash as they like, but ultimately this type of facility has no place next to schools and homes. As the children have said all along, Ocado can find another site – we can’t find another school.”

The NOcado campaigning group said it will now lobby for changes to planning law to prevent corporations like Ocado “abusing” the planning system. The group has secured backing to fund a legacy programme to ensure that no other community has to go through this in the future.

According to the BBC, Ocado is disappointed with the result but “will continue to look at how we can deliver a better service to the borough and significantly reduce our emissions”.

8 June 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The government has announced that discounted homes will be available for local people and key workers as part of the flagship First Homes scheme to be delivered near Bolsover, Derbyshire.

The First Homes scheme seeks to help local first-time buyers get on the property ladder, with homes offered at least 30 per cent less than market price.

That same percentage will then be passed on with the sale of the property to future first-time buyers, meaning that homes will always be sold at below market value. The government is hoping that the scheme will support local communities, key workers, and families who struggle to afford market prices in their area.

Councils will be able to prioritise the homes for key workers.

The units in Bolsover went on sale on Friday 4 June. The government said more sites would be launched across the country in the coming weeks, with 1,500 set to enter the market from the autumn. It is expected that at least 10,000 homes a year will be delivered over the years ahead.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Enabling more people to buy their own homes is at the heart of the mission of this government, and First Homes will offer a realistic and affordable route into home ownership for even more people who want to own their own home.

“These homes will be locked in for perpetuity to first-time buyers and key workers from their local area – making them an asset to both their owners and the wider local community.”

The First Homes scheme is part of the government's pledge to build a million affordable homes during this Parliament. High-street lenders Lloyds Bank and the Nationwide Building Society, as well as local building societies and community lenders, have announced that they will be offering high loan-to-value mortgages against First Homes to support the roll-out of the scheme.

The government has also launched a ‘Own Your Home’ campaign through broadcast, digital and radio adverts, which is intended to highlight the support available to get people on the housing ladder.

7 June 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Housing and rough sleeping minister Eddie Hughes has set out stricter rules to ‘clamp down’ on the 'small minority' of rogue mobile site owners and managers, better protecting mobile home residents in England.

The measures will see councils gain greater powers so they can confront bad practice and exploitation of residents, including a failure to address residents’ complaints or antisocial behaviour by site owners. Strong enforcement powers will be available to local authorities for use against those who don’t comply.

The government explained that a ‘fit and proper person’ test would be introduced that managers or owners of mobile home sites will have to pass to prove they are suitable for the job.

Applicants will be judged by councils based on their past behaviour and that of their associates to decide if they can be placed on a fit and proper person register. If they fail, councils will have the authority to choose who replaces them.

Should an applicant fail, councils will have the power to choose who replaces them.

Should a site be operated without a “fit and proper” manager in place, or if false information is provided in an application, the person in question will be taken to court and could face an unlimited fine.

Councils have until 1 July to prepare to receive applications from site owners, said the government. Site owners can submit applications from 1 July 2021 until 1 October 2021.

Hughes said: “Every park home resident deserves a safe, secure and affordable place to live. That is why we have taken this important step to drive up standards across the country.

“By introducing a fit and proper person test for site operators, we are strengthening councils’ powers to tackle bad practice and to ensure that residents are protected from exploitation by a minority of rogue site owners.” 

The guidance can be found on the UK Government website.

7 June 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will make two floors of Wolverhampton’s new i9 office building its second headquarters after construction is completed this summer.

At least 150 roles will be based in the city “as soon as possible”, said the ministry. The i9 building will be the first place outside of Whitehall to host a government department.

The i9 building, funded and developed by the City of Wolverhampton Council, is in the historic heart of the city, close to landmarks such as the Chubb Building whose design it reflects. The ministry’s second headquarters will include the top floor with views over the regeneration area of Wolverhampton as well as space for ministers to use regularly.

“I look forward to welcoming staff to our new headquarters and as a Wulfrunian myself, will be working from the office as often as I can and enjoying the city once again,” said communities secretary Robert Jenrick.

The MHCLG said it is playing a lead role in levelling up and boosting the regions by moving hundreds of roles out of Westminster and “ensuring that more local voices influence the creation and delivery of government policy”.

2 June 2021
Huw Morris, The Planner

The site of a Tesco superstore and car park is to be demolished and redeveloped into an urban village after the London Borough of Redbridge resolved to grant planning permission.

The £500 million scheme in Goodmayes will see the 4.2-hectare site transformed into Lorimer Village under a joint venture between Tesco and Weston Homes.

The project aims to deliver 1,280 homes and will include a primary school, village hall, community hub, landscaped gardens, parking, a replacement Tesco store and commercial space. A total of 415 of the homes will be for affordable rents, discounted market sale and shared ownership.

The homes will be across 14 residential towers of between 10 to 22 storeys, with biodiverse and brown roofs connected at podium level to form nine linked buildings. These will look over four landscaped courtyards and tree-lined boulevards linking to a new station square and Goodmayes Railway Station.

The village, which is expected to take about eight years to complete, was masterplanned by Weston Homes, RDA Architects and Allen Pyke landscape consultants. Work is set to start on site early next year with completion and occupations scheduled for 2030.

The scheme is named in honour of historic local landowner Jocelyn Lorimer and architect Robert Lorimer, who pioneered the building of green suburbs, with urban housing designed around gardens and landscaping.

2 June 2021
Huw Morris, The Planner

RTPI announces new fellow

Helen Cuthbert, founding director of consultancy Planning Potential, has been elected to fellowship of the RTPI.

Fellowship is only awarded to chartered members who have made a “major personal contribution” to the planning profession for the benefit of the public.

Cuthbert has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector, with a particular focus on retail, leisure and residential development. She has acted as an expert witness at many public inquiries, dealing with policy, design and amenity issues.

Cuthbert said: “My career path was set when I heard an inspirational talk, delivered by a female town planner, 30 years ago when I was at school. I’m passionate about the town planning profession and think the vital role we all play in shaping communities is often underestimated.

“I have been a proud member of the RTPI for many years and, having established my own planning consultancy in 2005, we now employ 25 chartered town planners.

“News of my election as a chartered fellow is a huge honour. I am very happy with the career choice I made and hope I will continue to support and inspire young planners to enter our profession and understand the value of our role in society.”


Rental homes approved in Bournemouth

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council has granted planning consent for a build-to-rent scheme in Bournemouth town centre.

The development will comprise 211 homes available for rent alongside new commercial facilities, retail space and landscaping improvements on land adjacent to the Richmond Gardens Car Park (see image above). 

It also includes 362 cycle spaces and car club parking to encourage sustainable travel.

The permission was granted to Summix Capital and Evolve Estates.


Council to seek views on draft local plan

Three Rivers District Council is urging residents to have their say on the potential sites allocated for future homes in a new draft local plan after the proposals for consultation were backed at annual council at the end of May.

Three Rivers has a housing target of delivering more than 600 new homes a year up to 2037/38, calculating using the new method. The previous target was 180 new homes a year. Sarah Nelmes, leader of Three Rivers District Council, will again seek agreement from the government for a lower number of new homes in the district. 

She said: “We need to plan ahead for significant new development in the district. Many of our families are worried about the affordability and supply of homes for their children and future generations, and the pressing need for affordable housing, schooling, and community facilities in the district.

“But it is not possible to provide the government’s target for additional homes without causing disproportionate harm to existing communities as a result of building on much-needed accessible open space.”

The consultation period is due to start on 11 June 2021 and run for six weeks.


Winery approved in Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council has granted planning permission for plans to replace existing agricultural buildings with a winery at Carvers Hill Farm in Shalbourne, Wiltshire. 

Winemaking and storage facilities, areas for wine tasting and a viewing platform to observe the vineyard to the south of the site, will be delivered. It is expected that the proposal will create a number of jobs for local people.

Nexus Planning secured the permission on behalf of the landowner of the farm.


Darwen homes to go-ahead

Blackburn with Darwen Council has approved plans for 343 new homes on land at Ellison Fold Way in Darwen.

Of the homes, 67 will be affordable grant-funded. The 343 homes will be a mix of two, three and four-bedroom detached and semi-detached homes with off-street parking.

The permission is subject to a s106 agreement that will see £1.5 million pumped into local highways and education.

Consultants Pegasus Group secured the approval on behalf of East Lancashire housebuilder McDermott Homes.


Self-storage building approved in East London

The London Borough of Newham Council has approved plans for the redevelopment of a site at Claps Gate Lane with a new self-storage building and an industrial building. The application has now been referred to the Mayor of London for approval.

The site is adjacent to the Beckton Triangle Retail Park. The scheme comprises around 12,000 square metres of internal floor space in use classes E/B2/B8: an 8,832-square-metre self-storage building and a 3,331-square-metre industrial building.

The self-storage unit is set to be operated by Attic Self-Storage and will be its fifth operational store in London.

8 June 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner