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Planning news - 9 September 2021

Published: Thursday, 9th September 2021

Covid-19 outdoor measures could become permanent, Homes England launches land disposal approach, South West council says planning services are 'struggling' with Covid-19 demand. 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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Measures introduced to aid high streets and hospitality venues during the Covid-19 pandemic could become permanent as the government consults on the permitted development rights (PDRs).

These included marquees in pub grounds, street markets operating year round, and eating outside as lockdown restrictions were slowly eased following several lockdowns. New licensing arrangements could also be agreed.

The government is consulting on making a number of these permanent as “we build back better” from the pandemic. These include:

  • Class BA of part 12 for markets to be held by or on behalf of local councils: This temporary PDR that allowed markets to be held for an unlimited number of days, including the provision of moveable structures related to this use.
  • Class BB of part 4 for moveable structures in the grounds of pubs, cafes, restaurants and historic visitor attractions: These were allowed for the first time in the grounds of listed buildings to help to support the hospitality and tourism sectors. They were able to increase capacity as they reopened.

The government said the consultation is also looking for views on PDRs to support the “efficient development” of Ministry of Defence sites. This includes providing more accommodation, workspace, and training facilities at fewer facilities to reduce the pressure on local authorities.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The simple reforms we made during the pandemic to help hospitality businesses, markets and historic visitor attractions make use of outdoor spaces more easily, made a massive impact. They helped thousands of businesses and attraction to prosper, made our town centres livelier and have been enjoyed by millions of us.

“As part of our vision to transform high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live, we intend to make as many of these measures permanent fixtures of British life as possible.”

The public consultation can be found on the UK Government website.

6 September 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Homes England has launched its Delivery Partner Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS), which will replace the Delivery Partner Panel 3 (DPP3).

It seeks to transform the way Homes England procures housebuilders and disposes of land.

Housebuilders will be able to apply to join Homes England’s list of preferred developers at any time, rather than having to wait until the list is renewed once every four years

Stephen Kinsella, chief land and development officer at Homes England, said: “This marks a significant step forward in the way we work with developers to build homes. The flexibility of the DPS means that housebuilders can apply to join when it suits them, or when they see a relevant site on our Land Hub.

“We’ve also simplified the application process, so whether you’re a large, nationwide housebuilder, or a small local developer, it will be easier for you to access land you want to build on. We encourage all housebuilders interested in working with us to monitor our recently updated Land Hub, and apply to join the DPS when they see a site of interest.”

Homes England explained that local authorities and housing associations can also use the DPS as a procurement-compliant solution for finding housebuilders.

The Land Hub can be found here.

6 September 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Dorset Council has announced that it is struggling with increased submissions of planning applications during the Covid-19 pandemic as it continues ‘slimming down’ its services.

The council formed in April 2019 when the North Dorset, Weymouth and Portland, West Dorset, Purbeck and East Dorset non-metropolitan districts and Dorset County Council merged into a unitary authority.

Since the easing of the first lockdown in summer 2020, submissions of planning applications increased to record levels, according to Planning Portal statistics released monthly. There was a year-on-year regional increase in every English region in July 2021 compared with July 2020.

Following the merger to a unitary authority, work to transfer 47 years of records held by each area on to a new system began. In the spring of 2020, the team had been formed, while areas that needed more support were identified.

Now, four areas of six have been transferred. The next is scheduled for October. Vacant posts have been recruited, said the council, and teams are using the new joined-up system.

The slimming-down of the services, such as no longer sending neighbours letters, changing the way notices are published and automating lists for parish councillors, has enabled officers to focus on planning applications. The increased number of planning applications to process, however, from householder to larger schemes, “has led to a huge demand on Dorset Council’s planning services”.

David Walsh, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “We ask our residents to bear with us; we know it is frustrating, but these delays are being felt across the country and it is out of our control. It is incredibly busy, and we are working on all applications in date order. So I ask for people not to chase their application, by phone or email. Doing this only takes up officer time that could be spent on progressing work.

“We have kept fellow councillors, town and parish councils and property agents informed of the situation by newsletters and emails and will continue to keep them up to date.”

The council added that land searches and charges is another area that has seen a “huge” increase in demand. The building control service, however, has not experienced any delays.

2 September 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The Vale of Glamorgan Council has decided to take enforcement action over a nine-megawatt biomass gasification plant in Barry Docks in a move that requires the owners to stop operating the facility and permanently remove all buildings, plant, and associated equipment from the land.

This follows a decision of the council’s planning committee after the plant’s owners failed to resolve inconsistencies between the design and what has been built.

Features including water tanks, machinery, an external conveyor, and a substation were not shown on approved plans.

Barry Biomass, which operates the facility, is privately owned by an investment fund and is managed by Aviva Investors on its behalf. The owners have indicated that they will appeal the enforcement notice.

Campaigners have fought for years for the plant to be shut down owing to pollution fears.

Eddie Williams, cabinet member for planning and regulatory services, said: “I’m fully aware of the strength of feeling regarding this plant locally and the nature of residents’ concerns.

“The original planning application to erect a plant at Barry Docks was refused by the council in 2010, but that decision was overturned on appeal by a Welsh Government-appointed inspector.

“However, the development has not progressed in the manner agreed and, sadly, despite a long-running dialogue, this appears the only way to get certain issues resolved.”

3 September 2021
Roger Milne, The Planner


Swindon Borough Council has granted outline planning permission for 1,550 homes on land at Great Stall East.

The application, submitted by Capital Land Strategic, is for a site just south of the A420 (Shrivenham Road) to the east of Swindon.

Plans also feature a primary school, a secondary school, a park and ride site, a sports hub, a local centre, open green space, allotments and walking and cycling improvements.

The council will next consider the detailed application and design codes.

The Great Stall East development forms part of the New Eastern Villages (NEV) project, which will deliver 8,000 homes, schools, employment spaces and community and leisure facilities across an estimated 724 hectares.

Gary Sumner, deputy leader of Swindon Borough Council and cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, transport and planning, said: “The New Eastern Villages will be one of the largest greenfield developments in the UK providing urban life within a countryside setting.

“Each element of the NEV has been carefully designed to provide a series of linked villages, rather than the traditional urban extensions of the past and will be delivered in a phased way. We are delivering sustainable communities with green open space, recreational facilities, brand new schools and employment land.”

6 September 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Consent for Morrisons near Stonehaven sought

An application for a Morrisons supermarket has been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council.

Submitted by Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc and developer FM Group, the store would be located at Ury Estate, just outside Stonehaven.

The purpose-built Morrisons food store forms part of FM Group’s Ury Estate site, which is being developed into a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, housing and a redeveloped Ury House.

If approved, the store would have a gross internal area of 3,750 square metres, with a 300-space car park. It could deliver more than 120 local jobs.

 

Inquiry on Cumbrian coal mine starts today

The public inquiry into West Cumbria Mining’s Cumbria Metallurgical Coal Project began on Tuesday 7 September.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick called in the application to be considered by his department in March 2021.

The mine, called Woodhouse Colliery, would be located on a brownfield site south-west of Whitehaven. The inquiry will take place online.

 

Public views sought on short-term lets in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Council is running a public consultation seeking views for the city to be a short-term let (STL) control area.

The consultation was approved by the planning committee on 11 August. It will run until 5 November.

The plans would mean that all residential properties that are not an owner’s principle home but are being let as STLs in their totality throughout the local authority area would require approval of a ‘change of use’ to a STL from planning.

Following the consultation, the council will vote on the plans. If they are approved, the Scottish Government will consider the plans.

The consultation can be found on the Edinburgh Council website.

 

Consultancy appointed on Guernsey Airport masterplan

Infrastructure consultancy AECOM has been appointed to deliver a new masterplan for Guernsey Airport.

The masterplan would shape business priorities and investment over the next 15 years.

Key priorities will be to consider ways to increase non-aeronautical revenue and improve passenger experience.

Additionally, AECOM will look at how Guernsey Airport, which is owned and operated by Guernsey Ports, can maximise land and property values through new commercial opportunities as well as improvements to the existing terminal building.

7 September 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner