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Planning news 18 November 2021

Published: Thursday, 18th November 2021

Humber Bank Energy Centre, Swanscombe named as an SSSI, Council sets up placemaking company. 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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Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has granted a development consent order (DCO) for EP Waste Management Limited’s nationally significant South Humber Bank Energy Centre scheme.

The examining authority, the Planning Inspectorate, recommended that the DCO should be granted.

The application was accepted for examination on 4 May 2020, with the energy secretary receiving the inspectorate’s report and recommendation in August 2021.

According to the application form, permission was sought for an onshore energy from waste electricity generating station with a capacity of up to 95MW gross output capacity, making it a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).

The proposed development would be fuelled by refuse-derived fuel. It would comprise two emissions stacks and associated emissions monitoring systems; administration block, including control room and welfare facilities; and electrical, gas, water, telecommunication, steam and other utility connections for the generating station. Biodiversity and access works were also proposed.

The site is on the South Humber Bank between the towns of Immingham and Grimsby. It has planning permission from North East Lincolnshire Council for an energy-from-waste electricity generation station of up to 49.9MW. The DCO replaces the permission issued by the council.

Questions were raised during the examination from the United Kingdom Without Incineration (UKWIN) about whether the development was needed and the climate change assessments and carbon emissions produced, while two residents asked if the facility would burn local refuse or refuse shipped in from around the country.

The inspectorate gave “substantial weight” to satisfying the need for new generation capacity as required by National Policy Statements (NPS) EN-1 and NPS EN-3. No evidence was submitted to suggest that the development would not accord with the waste hierarchy. Kwarteng saw no reason to disagree with this.

The examining authority found that the development would aid the UK’s transition to low-carbon energy generation, but that it would result in a small increase in emissions. Kwarteng had no reason to disagree with this conclusion.

Traffic and transportation effects were found to be a neutral consideration in the planning balance while the development will be “unlikely” to have a significant effect on landscape or visual amenity.

The decision document states: “In the case of the proposed development, most of the potential adverse impacts have been assessed by the [examining authority] as being not significant. The adverse impacts for the proposed development did not outweigh the significant weight attaching to the need case established by the National Policy Statements."

Kwarteng accepted the inspectorate's recommendation to grant the DCO.

The decision letter and other documents related to the South Humber Bank Energy Centre can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.

15 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Swanscombe Peninsula has been selected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England’s board at a public meeting.

The 260-hectare site, which lies alongside the Thames Estuary, has received recognition for its national importance for plants, geology, birds and invertebrates.

Swanscombe is home to more than 1,700 invertebrate species including the water beetle and the “critically endangered distinguished” jumping spider.

Birds such as marsh harrier and bearded tit breed in its habitats and scarce plants threatened with extinction in Great Britain such as the divided sedge and the slender hare’s ear can be found on the site. 

It is also a key geological site, with deposits yielding fossils of large mammals and molluscs, as well as evidence of human occupation.

Swanscombe’s green space acts as a refuge for its large population and wildlife. People will be able to enjoy the England Coast Path in early 2022, which will run around the northern boundary of the site.

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said: “The exceptional variety of birds, invertebrates, plants and geology on this site is an important reminder that nature often thrives in places that might seem scruffy and derelict at first glance. It also emphasises the need to ensure that nature is protected and restored in places where people live, so that they have easy access to the health, wellbeing and joy that nature can provide.

“In confirming the designation, Natural England again reiterated its commitment to continuing to work with developers and planners to ensure that nature can thrive alongside developments proposed for this area.”

The London Resort is a theme park project that has been proposed for Swanscombe peninsula. An application has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for a development consent order (DCO) and will be considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime. 

Wildlife charities have been campaigning against the development and in favour of the designation of Swanscombe Marshes as an SSSI.

RSPB, Buglife, CPRE Kent, Kent Wildlife Trust and Save Swanscombe Peninsula say that the SSSI is another stepping-stone in the fight against the theme park.

Jamie Robins, projects manager at Buglife, said: “We welcome the great news that Natural England has taken the crucial step of confirming Swanscombe Marshes as a SSSI. This should dispel any notion that it should be anything but a haven for nature and the local community. We urge the London Resort to look elsewhere to build their theme park, as in a biodiversity and climate crisis, it cannot be justified to concrete over one of our finest wildlife sites.”

15 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council is establishing a placemaking company to drive forward stewardship-led regeneration across the area.

FuturePlaces forms part of the council’s bid to be granted city region status and its ‘Big Plan'. It is hoped the plan will lead to the creation of 13,000 jobs and 15,000 homes.

The stewardship-led approach was identified by the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. Through it, the council wants to put placemaking at the centre of the regeneration process, using long-term investment to maximise long-term value.

The company would work on stalled sites across the council area and support the council’s vision for growth and creation of vibrant local neighbourhoods. FuturePlaces has an initial portfolio of 14 regeneration sites that have a combined gross development value of more than £2.8 billion.

Gail Mayhew will lead FuturePlaces as managing director. She is a co-founder of The Stewardship Initiative and was a commissioner for the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission. She said: “FuturePlaces will create places with liveability and quality at the fore. Through whole place development we will translate community and stakeholder ambitions into strong development plans that drive opportunities for development and investment.

“The stewardship approach is based on historic precedents which delivered some of the most popular inner urban areas around the UK, and which has been translated by an increasing group of long-term landowners and investors into contemporary practice.

“By engaging stakeholders with a longer-term interest in a place, and by funding infrastructure and placemaking with longer-term patient capital, we can secure better outcomes for places and people. Ultimately, the aim is to shift the emphasis from value extraction in the short term to value creation – economic, social, and environmental – over the long term.”

Philip Broadhead, chairman at FuturePlaces and councillor for the area, added: “The launch of FuturePlaces highlights BCP Council’s commitment to put placemaking at the heart of regeneration. As one of the first local authorities across the country to adopt a stewardship-led approach, we are optimising the potential of the city region for local people, businesses and the environment.

“FuturePlaces has been created with the clear aim of supporting our vision for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to be a place where people and businesses want to be – because of the vibrancy of our communities, the strength of our economy, the skills of our people, the wealth of our culture and the quality of our infrastructure, our environment and quality of life.

“We are determined to deliver economically vibrant but affordable places in neighbourhoods where our families have good livelihoods, and where our communities have a sense of belonging.

“With FuturePlaces at the helm, we are giving confidence to the investment market, and certainty to our local communities that they will be at the heart of positive and sustainable regeneration.”

15 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The North of Tyne Combined Authority and Homes England have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to accelerate the construction of homes across the region.

It forms part of the region’s plan for post-Covid growth and renewal and focuses on the strategic economic corridors of the Northumberland Line, the city centre and North Bank of the River Tyne.

The combined authority covers Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland. The MoU builds on more than £60 million of investment from the combined authority in the transition to net zero, economic innovation and future skills.

Mayor Norma Redfearn, chair of the North of Tyne Housing and Land Board, said: “Communities in our region need good-quality, sustainable housing that is fit for the future. This collaborative agreement shows that we are working hard to turn words into action, building on our £24 million brownfield programme and ambitious regeneration plans in places like North Shields, Scotswood and Blyth.”

Duncan Sutherland, board member of Homes England and co-chair of the North of Tyne Housing and Land Board, added: “North of Tyne has shown real ambition to accelerate the construction of homes and this agreement enables us to combine our resources to do just that. I look forward to us moving forward quickly, getting spades in the ground and providing the new homes communities are crying out for.”

15 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The development of one of the world’s largest tidal stream energy sites, which would be located off the west coast of Anglesey, has passed a crucial milestone.

Climate change minister Julie James has notified Menter Môn, the social enterprise company masterminding the initiative, that she is “minded” to approve the Transport and Works Act Order required, subject to conditions.

The £35 million Morlais scheme involves a 35-square-kilometres area of seabed which has the potential to generate as much as 240 megawatts of electricity, owing to the power of the tides in the Irish Sea.

The Crown Estate has given the not-for-profit organisation permission to establish a demonstration zone off Anglesey, where developers with tidal stream devices are being invited to deploy their technology.

The scheme has the backing of the county council and, subject to a business case, will be supported as part of the North Wales Growth Deal.

12 November 2021
Roger Milne, The Planner


Khan sets out green standards for housing

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has set out “stringent” new environmental standards for developers that want to use City Hall funds to build affordable housing.

It is expected that the standards will enable a total carbon saving across London of 17,500 tonnes a year. 

The standards are part of Khan’s work to make London a net-zero city by 2030. They include making all developments of 10 or more homes net zero-carbon and air quality neutral and encourage a shift towards low-carbon heating solutions such as heat pumps, connections to a heat network or solar panels on suitable roofs rather than gas boilers.

The mayor explains that London’s existing housing stock is responsible for around a third of the capital’s emissions and declared a ‘retrofit revolution’ through a package of measures to create low-carbon buildings. 

 

Bray Studios expansion approved

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council has granted planning permission for the expansion of Bray Studios, which is in the green belt.

Located near Windsor, the studios were established in 1951 as the home of Hammer Films.

The plans include nine sound stages, workshops, production support facilities, rehearsal building and back lot, and the creation of a major new filming campus. 

As it is in the green belt, Nexus Planning, which acted on behalf of Bray Film Studios Limited, said “very special’ circumstances had to be demonstrated. They focused on the “very substantial economic benefits”. Research suggested that London and the South East had the highest demand for new film and TV studios in the UK. 

Nexus Planning added that other benefits include “significant net biodiversity gain (12 per cent) and a net carbon-zero development”.

 

Court of Appeal to hear oil drilling permission challenge today

The Court of Appeal will today hear a legal challenge against a decision to allow oil drilling in Surrey's green belt, near Gatwick Airport. 

Surrey County Council granted permission for the Horse Hill oil drilling operation. The challenge is being brought by Sarah FInch, supported by Weald Action Group. 

Friends of the Earth has permission to intervene and said it will support Sarah's case, while the UK Government will support Surrey County Council.

The legal challenge revolves around Surrey County Council’s decision not to take into account the full climate impact of the oil development in the context of the current climate emergency.  

 

Oxford Street store to be refurbished

Westminster City Council has granted planning permission for the refurbishment and extension of the current House of Fraser store on Oxford Street.

The scheme, prepared by PDP London, will provide a new ground floor onto Oxford Street, six floors of offices and a rooftop restaurant with 360-degree views of London. 

Montagu Evans advised on the project. Dr Timur Tatlioglu, partner in Montagu Evans’s historic environment and townscape team said: “This is a transformative project for Oxford Street, which fully aligns with the council’s aspirations to regenerate what is one of the world’s foremost shopping streets. 

“Montagu Evans has been advising on this project since 2016 and so we are very pleased to have reached this milestone. Together with the refurbishment of the Art Deco façades which will ensure the building will once again contribute to the architectural interest of the area, the wider mixed-use proposals will contribute enormously to the vibrancy of this part of Westminster.”

 

99 homes approved in Oldham

Oldham Council has approved 99 homes on the former site of the Vernon Works mill in Royton, Oldham, Greater Manchester.

It is new housebuilder Kellen Homes’ first scheme to be granted planning permission.

The 2.26-hectare site, now named Vernon Gardens, will see 49 affordable homes and 50 for open-market-sale delivered. They will have either two, three or four-bedrooms.

Ian Kelley, chief executive at Kellen Homes, said: “The former mill site was in need of regeneration, and we are happy to be providing much needed mix tenure homes in Royton."

 

Chesterfield set for 400 new homes following sale

A site in Staveley, Chesterfield, has been sold to Barratt David Wilson Homes by Fisher German with planning permission for 400 homes.

The property consultant acted on behalf of a private landowner who owned most of the site, as well as the Sutton-cum-Duckmanton Educational Trust, which was gifted a portion of the land in the 1950s.

The charity offers small grants to residents of the Sutton-cum-Duckmanton area who are undertaking further education, and the funding boost will ensure that it can continue its work.

The 55-acre site was secured by Hollins Strategic Land in 2020 for housing in the Chesterfield Borough Local Plan for 400 dwellings, two years after their appointment by Fisher German. 

A reserved matters planning application is in progress by Barratt David Wilson Homes and work is expected to start in March 2022, with the first show home expected to be open in March 2023.

Amy Bowden, of Fisher German, said: “The sale of the site will bring much-needed new homes to the area and has provided the charity with a huge funding boost which will support the trustees to continue their excellent work going forward.”


Godwin secures commercial development site in Staffordshire

Godwin Developments has secured a site in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, to transform it into a commercial development. 

The Brookside Road site is opposite Uttoxeter railway station, which is used by more than 165,000 people every year. With an estimated population of 20,000 also living within a three-mile radius and a high daily traffic count, the development will serve the local community as well as commuters from the wider West Midlands region.

The land is near a new Lidl supermarket in Town Meadows Way that opened in October 2021.

There is potential opportunity to create new jobs locally as well as deliver additional choice to residents, shoppers and passing traffic. 

Nikesh Solanki, development manager at Godwin Developments, said: “Sitting opposite Uttoxeter railway station and near the A518 – which connects Uttoxeter to Telford, in Shropshire, via Stafford and Newport – the site benefits from a busy and highly visible location, providing the perfect spot for a commercial operator to reach not just local customers but also those from farther afield.”

 

Street announces NZN at COP26 

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, announced a region-wide programme to build a series of Net Zero Neighbourhoods (NZN) during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

The Net Zero Neighbourhoods scheme has been set up by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Energy Capital. It will explore ways to make it easier for residents to travel in eco-friendly ways with electric bus services, electric vehicle street charging, car clubs and better walking and cycling routes.

Homes will undergo ‘deep retrofit’ using “cutting-edge” insulation with options for solar panels and low-carbon heating systems. Other measures could include LED street lighting, new pocket parks, playgrounds, communal food growing initiatives, green roofs and sustainable drainage systems.

Street said: “Retrofitting old and poorly insulated homes is absolutely critical to tackling the climate emergency here in the West Midlands, but that work alone does not go far enough to reduce emissions – nor does it properly regenerate our communities to become clean and green.

“Crucially, we’re bringing our first major private sector partner along with us. Working alongside Arup, we can fight climate change whilst also creating those well-paid, higher-value jobs of the future, supporting other West Midlands companies developing the low-carbon technologies and products needed for this work.”

16 November 2021
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner