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Weekly planning news

Planning news - 1 September 2022

Investigation clears council planning committee

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council’s monitoring officer has ruled its planning committee’s integrity has not been compromised after a document that was not part of the planning papers was passed between some members.

The meeting on August 10 was immediately adjourned to allow the council to investigate any procedural irregularities over an application to build 41 retirement living apartments at Belle Vue in Sudbury as well as the conversion and restoration of Belle Vue House, a listed building.

A feasibility plan showing an earlier alternative layout for the site was shared between some committee members. The investigation concluded that the layout dates from 2020 and did not form any part of the application before the committee.

The council said that following an investigation by monitoring officer Emily Yule, which included interviews with every committee member, its integrity had not been compromised.

The members who saw the document accepted that it was not material to the application. However, one member was found not to “have the requisite skills and understanding of the planning process" and has now been removed from the committee “until further training on the planning process can be provided”.

There was no evidence in any of the statements provided by the committee members that there had been any attempt to influence them or the outcome of the planning decision, Yule's investigation report notes.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk said the application will now be rescheduled to be heard by the committee in September. This meeting will be held in the council chambers and live-streamed.

31 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

Newham seeks approval for £1bn masterplan of Stratford estate

One of the largest planning applications submitted in London since the Covid-19 pandemic could see more than 2,000 homes delivered under a major estate restoration and regeneration project.

The London Borough of Newham’s housing delivery company, Populo Living, has submitted an application for its £1 billion Carpenters Estate outline masterplan to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LDDC).

The masterplan aims to deliver 2,152 high-quality and sustainable homes with 50 per cent at social rent in the heart of Stratford and close to the Olympic Park. As part of the borough’s climate emergency response, 314 homes will be restored to the highest green economy standards – ensuring that council tenants, homeowners and those with a right to return can remain on the estate.

This means almost half of the existing homes on the 1970s East London estate will be refurbished as part of the borough’s plan to make Stratford its first ‘green zone’.

The project also includes a community centre, green spaces and improvements to a primary school. The masterplan aims to create hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships as well as boosting local businesses through procurement and inward investment to the borough throughout its 15-year time span. A total of 73 per cent of residents backed the masterplan in an independent ballot last December.

A multidisciplinary team led by the Tibbalds CampbellReith joint venture and including Metropolitan Workshop and Proctor and Matthews Architects, are behind the masterplan.

Phase one of the Carpenter Estates’ restoration is already under way after proposals to refurbish a high-rise building secured planning permission from the LLDC in May, with the first 136 homes due to be completed by 2025.

31 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

Campaigners demand call-in of former ITV studio redevelopment

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has decided against intervening in controversial plans to redevelop the former ITV studios on the South Bank, prompting campaigners to demand that the government should call in the scheme.

In March, the London Borough of Lambeth approved Make’s plans for developer Mitsubishi Estates to demolish the London Television Centre and build a 25-storey office tower connected to two buildings of 14 and six storeys.

Under the mayor’s delegated planning powers, deputy mayor Jules Pipe, has said that Lambeth can determine the case, subject to any action the secretary of state might take.

Waterloo Community Development Group (WCDG) and social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders have urged levelling-up secretary Greg Clark to call in the application, while the Twentieth Century Society has also criticised the scheme for its “significant harm” to the grade II*-listed National Theatre and grade II-listed IBM Building.

Michael Gove, the previous levelling-up secretary, issued an article 31 notice in April, pausing the demolition.

WCDG describes the scheme as “one of the ugliest tower blocks in Britain proposed for one of London’s most prominent sites”.

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition that originally called on Lambeth to reject the plans, and is now being used to urge Clark to call in the application.

31 August 2022
The Planner

Research reveals steep rise in solar farm refusals

The number of solar farms refused planning permission across England, Wales and Scotland in the past year could have powered around 147,000 homes, according to the latest analysis.

Research by planning consultant Turley reveals that solar farm rejections have jumped significantly since the start of 2021 in contrast to only four projects refused planning permission during 2017 to 2020. Between January 2021 and last July, 23 applications for solar farms were rejected.

The analysis follows Conservative Party leadership and prime minister contender Liz Truss pledge to clamp down on solar farms applications, calling the sight of solar panels in fields “depressing” and suggesting land should be used for farming instead.

Turley’s research reveals the rejected solar farms could have generated 748MW of energy in total, enough to power 147,000 homes a year.

The consultancy points out that despite Truss’s promise, solar technology is listed as a key contributor to renewable power generation in the government’s British Energy Security Strategy, unveiled in April, which sets out ambitions to generate 70GW of energy from solar technology by 2035.

The strategy also promises to consult on amending planning rules to strengthen policy in favour of development on non-protected land, as well as supporting solar that is co-located with other functions such as agriculture and established energy infrastructure.

“Solar should be a key contributor to the energy market, especially as we look to diversify our renewable energy products to ensure maintenance of supply,” said Turley associate director Emma Kelly.

“The significant uplift in planning permission refusals for solar farms goes entirely against the proposals laid out in the British Energy Security Strategy. Solar power currently contributes 14GW of energy at present, so we have some way to go before reaching the 70GW target. If Liz Truss goes ahead with her plan, the British Energy Security Strategy will need to be rewritten.

“Biodiversity is certainly a factor we need to consider with solar farms while the ongoing rise of the cost of energy has shown just how important renewable energy generation is for the future of the UK. A growing trend of refusing planning permission for renewable energy projects that are designed to support energy security is a huge step backwards on our road to net zero.”

The South West and Eastern England had the highest number of refusals for planning permission, with four projects turned down over the past 18 months, in each region, according to the analysis. Wales, the West Midlands and Scotland had three refusals, while the East Midlands, North East and South East had two planning applications turned down.

31 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

Flood guidance updated to protect new homes

The government has updated planning guidance to help local authorities guarantee that developments meet strict criteria in locations at risk of flooding before they are approved.

The move is intended to ensure that developers across England can adapt to the challenges of a changing climate and that new homes are sustainable.

The guidance strengthens authorities’ ability to require better flood resilience in new developments. Councils will need to demonstrate that the development will be safe from flooding for its lifetime, will not increase flood risk elsewhere, and where possible will reduce flood risk overall.

Under the guidance, new homes in areas at risk of flooding should meet recommended standards on flood resilience, including using flood-resilient building materials and moving plug sockets higher up walls.

Local areas will also have access to better guidance on how to control surface water run-off, with the use of sustainable drainage systems to enhance the quantity and quality of water in the region as well as local biodiversity. The guidance also highlights the opportunities new development can bring to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding through the use of natural flood management techniques.

The new planning guidance will also support delivery of the government’s policy statement on flood and coastal erosion risk management.

Flood Risk and Coastal Change is available here1.

31 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

News round-up

A round-up of planning news:

Commission repeats call for urgent reform to local transport funds

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has repeated its demand for “urgent and fundamental reform" of local transport funding following a lukewarm response by the government to its recommendations.

In September 2021, the NIC published a report on how infrastructure can support economic growth and quality of life in England’s towns. Its chief recommendation demanded shifting power to local areas to deliver their own infrastructure strategies under five-year devolved budgets, with a move away from competitive bidding for centrally controlled pots of funding.

The 74 county councils and unitary authorities responsible for strategic transport planning should be resourced to develop long-term infrastructure strategies for their towns, supported by a pipeline of projects, said the NIC.

In its response to the NIC, the government repeats the commitments made in the levelling-up white paper to extend the number of areas with devolved powers, but that five-year budgets will be a matter of negotiation in each devolution deal. The response also repeats the government’s intention to review the funding landscape, with a plan to be unveiled later this year.

“However a new prime minister wants to frame it, boosting economic growth, productivity and quality of life across all parts of the UK will no doubt be core to their objectives,” saod NIC commissioner Bridget Rosewell. “The government’s response to our study echoes the acknowledgement in the levelling-up white paper that this cannot be delivered by Whitehall alone.

“But for local infrastructure strategies to work, we still need to see urgent and fundamental reform of how local transport funding is allocated, with a shift from short-term funding pots over which councils bid against each other, to long-term devolved funding deals.

“While the government is making welcome progress on new devolution deals, it’s difficult to see how brokering ad hoc arrangements and complicated controls with each area is likely to lead to real change on the ground everywhere by 2030 – the government’s own target date for its levelling-up missions.”

Levelling-up will be one of the three key strategic themes to frame the second National Infrastructure Assessment, which is set to be published in 2023.

More housing proposed for Longbridge regeneration site

More than 200 extra homes are being proposed on the former MG Rover site in Longbridge.

St Modwen has submitted a planning application for 213 homes on the 1.64-hectare site to the south of Longbridge town centre. The scheme comprises three apartment buildings of four, five and six storeys containing 105 one-bedroom apartments and 108 flats.

The project also envisages 108 parking spaces with each fitted with an electric vehicle charging point and with 5 per cent of the spaces dedicated disabled parking bays.

The application site forms part of the wider Longbridge regeneration area, which is a focus for development growth under Birmingham City Council’s adopted Development Plan. Longbridge is specifically identified to deliver a minimum of 1,450 homes, with new housing a key aspect of the regeneration strategy for the area.

Former Richmond College campus to become a 212-home development

Plans to build a housing scheme comprising more than 100 affordable homes on the site of the former Richmond-upon-Thames College have been unanimously approved.

Latimer, the development arm of Clarion Housing Group, the UK’s largest housing association, has been given the green light to demolish the ex-campus buildings and construct a new sustainable mixed-tenure scheme of 212 homes, more than half of which will be affordable.

The developer acquired part of the Egerton Road campus from the college back in 2018 before submitting initial plans to breathe new life into the site.

It then submitted a revised planning application to boost the total number of homes at the scheme from 180 to 212 and increase the proportion of affordable homes from 19 per cent to 51 per cent. The revised proposals have now been unanimously approved by members of the London Borough of Richmond.

The homes, designed by BPTW architects, form part of the borough’s wider £80 million college project, which also includes a replacement campus, two new schools, an extended sports hall and a science hub.

The developer will build 28 homes for affordable rent and another 80 for shared ownership. The remaining 104 homes will be sold privately.

The completed scheme will be one of the first new residential housing developments in the borough with “net zero carbon-compatible” homes. All homes will be built with high levels of insulation and ventilation efficiency, with any carbon emissions offset by energy generated by photovoltaic solar panels.

Warrington approves town centre redevelopment

Outline planning permission has been granted to a major redevelopment proposal for 900 apartments in Warrington town centre.

The 2.7-hectare site is currently occupied by an Asda supermarket and other shops at the Cockhedge Shopping Centre, a bingo hall and a car park.

The application includes the demolition of 18 retail and café units and the bingo building, which would be replaced by a maximum of 900 apartments, a hotel and 21,000 square metres of class E floor space, as well as open space.

The scheme, which comprises six blocks up to 12-floors high, is spearheaded by Warrington & Co, the council’s regeneration arm, and developer Altered Space. The project is expected to cost around £100 million and will create 160 on-site jobs during a 10-year build period.

High Court to hear challenge over kerb heights

The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) guidance on tactile paving.

Sarah Leadbetter, who is visually impaired, claims that the DfT ignored research when developing its guidance that kerb heights under 60mm are unsafe for blind or visually impaired pedestrians.

She claims that kerbs must be of a certain height to stop guide dogs or people using a long white cane from walking directly into a road as they cannot detect where the pavement ends and the road starts.

Leadbetter is citing research by University College London from 2009, which shows that a minimum 60mm kerb height is needed to prevent visually impaired people from walking into traffic while using a mobility aid.

31 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner


Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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    Planning news - 1 September 2022

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      The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). All content © 2023 Planning Portal.