Weekly planning news
Planning news - 11 August 2022
Permission for Worthing homes quashed by High Court
The High Court has quashed planning permission for more than 450 homes in Worthing borough granted on appeal.
This follows a judicial review sought by Worthing Borough Council to prevent the homes being built on land at Chatsmore Farm.
In March 2021, councillors rejected a planning application for 475 homes on the land between the borders of Ferring and Goring by developer Persimmon Homes. More than 1,200 letters had been submitted in objection to the planning application.
Members determined that the land is an “important green gap and that development would adversely affect the setting of the South Downs National Park and add to traffic congestion”.
The developer appealed against the decision.
The Planner reported that inspector Rory Cridland noted that policy 13 of the Worthing Core Strategy limits new development to within the built-up area boundary and favours using already-developed sites rather than green spaces.
Persimmon contended that both the policy and the built-up boundary were out of date, and restricted necessary development.
The inspector refuted this argument but did concede that an “exceptionally high” shortage of housing in the Worthing area provided grounds for a potential exception to policy 13.
In a judgment issued last week, Mrs Justice Lang ruled that the inspector had not given enough weight to the impact such a large development would have on the setting of the South Downs National Park. Citing legal precedent that “great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty”, she said that this had not happened here.
Lang also ruled that the inspector did not give adequate consideration to the council's policies to protect open spaces.
Dr Beccy Cooper, leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “I am pleased to see that the voices of the community have been heard in this appeal. The decision justifies our actions in taking this appeal forward. We remain committed to protecting our green spaces, ensuring that the climate emergency is at the heart of all our decision-making, alongside moving forward with a strong social housing offer on our brownfield sites to ensure that all our Worthing residents can live, work and thrive in our town.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will have to pay the council’s legal costs.
8 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Joint plan for Oxfordshire called off
The five local authorities in Oxfordshire have ended their work on creating a joint plan for the county to 2050 as they could not agree on an approach for planning for future housing needs.
The five local authorities are: South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, and West Oxfordshire District Council.
A joint statement from the councils’ leaders said: “The five local planning authorities in Oxfordshire have been working together on a joint plan for Oxfordshire to 2050. It is with regret that we were unable to reach agreement on the approach to planning for future housing needs within the framework of the Oxfordshire Plan.
“Local plans for the city and districts will now provide the framework for the long-term planning of Oxfordshire. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 work programme will end and we will now transition to a process focused on local plans. The issues of housing needs will now be addressed through individual local plans for each of the city and districts. The councils will cooperate with each other and with other key bodies as they prepare their local plans.”
8 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Clark: Local plans must not be deemed unsound before new prime minister is announced
Housing secretary Greg Clark has told planning inspectors that they must not issue letters to councils finding their local plan unsound until the new prime minister is announced on 5 September.
Writing to outgoing chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate Sarah Richards, Clark noted that the government “accords great importance” to councils having an up-to-date local plan in place.
“Recent years have seen significant plan progress with 95 per cent of councils now having a local plan in place under the 2004 act. This compares with just 16 per cent five years after the 2004 act came into force, and 78 per cent at the end of 2016, illustrating significant progress towards the government’s objective of full plan coverage.
“The Planning Inspectorate has played a critical and decisive role in getting us to this position via the public examination of plans to ensure that they are legally compliant and sound.”
Clark highlights that as well as the levelling up and regeneration bill making its way through Parliament, the government intends to update and consult on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and that there will be a new prime minister in the autumn, Rishi Sunak or Lizz Truss. This makes it a “critical time” to advance local plans through to adoption.
The inspectorate should continue to be pragmatic and flexible at examination, Clark writes, and to continue addressing shortcomings in local plans with councils in a “constructive and positive way”.
“However, during this short period of transition before a new prime minister takes office, and until the department advises you otherwise, inspectors should not send letters or reports which conclude that local plans are unsound and incapable of being made so and/or which advise councils that local plans should be withdrawn.”
Clark expects examinations and hearings to continue.
Victoria Hills, chief executive of the RTPI, told The Planner: “Greg Clark’s letter only serves to illustrate how vulnerable our planning system is to delays, and how integral a local plan is, when supported by strong political leadership, to delivering levelling up, housing ambitions and fulfilling our climate commitments.
“The next prime minister and ministers will need to make planning reform their highest priority if we’re going to successfully level up the country and continue the business of building more homes. There is no time to waste and our members stand ready to implement the proposals in the levelling up and regeneration bill at the earliest opportunity.”
The letter in full can be read on the UK Government website1.
8 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Funding to upgrade A38 will ‘support’ new homes delivery
The government has announced that £43 million of funding will go towards upgrading the A38 in Worcestershire.
The A38 experiences “significant” congestion during the weekday rush hour, affecting local residents’ ability to travel and get to work.
The upgrades, according to the government, will tackle congestion, improve local journeys and support new jobs and “unlock” land for housing.
Works will take place on a 7.5-mile stretch of the A38 between the M5 junction 4 to the north and the A38/B4094 to the south. The upgrades planned include the installation of new lanes at key junctions and widening the existing road to improve traffic flow and reduce the threat of any unnecessary bottlenecks in the region.
It is expected that this project will generate more than £93 million in economic benefits for local communities in the Midlands. Upgrading the A38 will support the creation of 1,100 jobs and the development of 5,500 new homes, estimates the government.
The work is part of government plans to grow the economy in order to help address the cost of living.
Transport minister Baroness Vere said: “I know local residents in Worcestershire have been affected by congestion along this key route for too long.
“That’s why we’re investing more than £43 million, providing a huge boost to the area’s economy and ensuring people can get around the region quicker and easier – whether that be for work, education, or to see family and friends.
“We’ll continue investing in important transport schemes across the country, just like this one, as we level up, support local economies, and provide people with the world-class infrastructure they deserve.”
It is expected that the upgrades will reduce journey times for local buses, while real-time passenger information will be installed at bus stops along the route to provide passengers with live updates to help them plan their journeys.
Local residents will also benefit from improved walking and cycling facilities, including a new cycle and pedestrian corridor running parallel to the A38 and new crossings and overbridges will connect to the wider local cycle network.
The total cost of the scheme is £49.8 million; the Department for Transport (DfT) has committed £43 million and Worcestershire County Council will contribute the remainder.
Worcestershire County Council’s leader Simon Geraghty said: “This significant investment will help improve everyday journeys around Bromsgrove, easing traffic for local people, as well as boosting the local economy.”
The local council will now complete the design of the project and identify a preferred contractor. They will then need to submit a full business case for final funding approval to the DfT. If approved, works are expected to start in early 2023.
8 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Tower for student ‘digs’ to be delivered in Canary Wharf
Modular developer and contractor Tide Construction's scheme comprising 1,068-bed student accommodation units been granted planning permission.
It will be delivered at 30 Marsh Wall, Canary Wharf, London.
Designed by EPR Architects, the student accommodation will be delivered in 48 storeys. The scheme also comprises amenity space and a roof garden.
A public path between Cuba Street and Marsh Wall will be built, as well as recreational space or ‘pocket park’.
Tide will construct the building with precision-made modules manufactured by its sister company Vision Modular Systems.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets’s planning officer’s report notes that the modular method of delivery will result in an 80 per cent reduction in site waste while ensuring that 100 per cent of any waste produced is recycled.
John Fleming, chairman of Tide Construction, said: “Working in close collaboration with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and our consultants, this scheme will further demonstrate the power of modular to deliver buildings of the highest architectural quality with world-leading engineering. Thanks to sustained year-on-year growth in delivery and pipeline, Tide and Vision Modular will continue to develop and build institutional-grade buildings that confirm volumetric modular as a mainstream method of construction.”
Pascal Wensink, design director of EPR Architects, added: “30 Marsh Wall truly showcases both the sustainability and the flexibility of the Vision Modular System, allowing us to have design freedom while benefiting from the off-site approach. The building has been designed to distinguish itself from a distance with a light bronze aluminium feature on the principal façade which extends vertically to form an expressive crown. The associated landscaping developed in collaboration with Spacehub forms part of a wider public realm strategy to enhance permeability and biodiversity on the Isle of Dogs.”
8 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
New M5 drainage systems will help wildlife
National Highways has installed a “pioneering” drainage system thought to be the largest of its kind in the country beneath the M5 at Oldbury, West Midlands.
The £7 million system aims to help improve the quality of rainwater entering the canal after it has fallen on the M5 carriageway. Made up of 10 filters, it will help to capture debris and pollutants before the water is discharged into the water course.
National Highways project manager Colin Jackson said: “This new drainage system is a real boost to the local canal network that runs underneath the M5 Oldbury viaduct.
“We know that the local habitat is a crucial part of the landscape at Oldbury and we’re confident this new system will play a significant role in helping biodiversity.
“The drainage has a special filter installed inside the pipework which is designed to capture debris and pollutants before entering the water network which can then simply be removed by specialists at regular intervals.”
Partnership seeks to tackle empty homes in Outer Hebrides
Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) and the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) have launched a project to tackle the issue of empty homes in Outer Hebrides.
Working with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), they will purchase and refurbish empty homes that will be made available to members of the community through social rent, mid-market rent and rent-to-buy.
A minimum of 12 homes will be brought back into use over the course of the two-year project, with the aim of revitalising rural communities across the Island chain to make them more attractive to people and families who wish to remain on the islands and also attracting new people and families to relocate there.
Shaheena Din, national project manager for the SEHP, said: “The project to bring empty homes back into use is an excellent example of how innovative partnerships – the coming together of parties working towards the same goal – can produce tangible solutions for complex issues affecting rural and island communities across Scotland.
“This partnership could prove to be a model for tackling empty homes in Scotland’s rural and island communities.”
To begin the project, TIG will undertake a feasibility study of 20 empty homes to ascertain ownership, identify risks and constraints, and to draw up costings and plans. From this, the most viable properties will be considered. TIG will also work with the local community to ensure that any house refurbished would be affordable and attract interested tenants or buyers.
West Midlands city bids for £20m in government funding
The City of Wolverhampton Council has submitted a bid for £20 million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund Round 2.
The money would help to deliver phase one of its Green Innovation Corridor, which is intended to create skilled jobs for local people in the emerging green economy.
The council also hopes that it will support student retention, harness home-grown talent, develop new opportunities for business investment and growth, and leverage private sector funding.
Phase one of the Green Innovation Corridor is the Springfield Innovation Hub. It would be developed net-carbon zero and based at the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield site – an architecture and built environment super-campus.
It would see the development of around 90,000 square feet of commercial innovation floor space over three units for business growth and start-ups and would be built around the epicentre of the National Centre for Sustainable Construction, with the creation of more than 300 jobs.
In February, the government announced that Wolverhampton and Sheffield would be the first of 20 cities to benefit from part of £1.5 billion of levelling-up funding for new infrastructure to be developed on brownfield land to boost housing and jobs.
Emergency accommodation approved in Havering
The London Borough of Havering Council has granted planning permission for emergency accommodation.
The development comprises 74 dwellings for vulnerable families, a health centre, a secure courtyard, communal facilities and breakout spaces to support families’ physical and mental wellbeing.
Designed by architects Hawkins\Brown, the dwellings will vary in size, with the largest size accommodating up to eight family members.
The Family Welcome Centre forms the first phase of the Harold Hill Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan.
The regeneration of Harold Hill Town Centre received cabinet approval in spring 2021. It includes the redevelopment of the Farnham and Hilldene Estate, Chippenham Road and the current Abercrombie House hostel.
Khan announces green fund for London
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has awarded £4 million from the Green and Healthy Streets Fund to deliver greening projects on the capital’s roads and public spaces to tackle climate change.
The fund will support projects such as rain gardens and tree pits that integrate green infrastructure and climate resilience measures into local streets.
It aims to help make local areas more resilient to heatwaves, flooding, and other extreme weather. They will also support biodiversity and encourage more Londoners to walk and cycle.
Eleven boroughs will receive a share of £2.85 million from the Green and Healthy Streets Fund and funding will also be provided to enable the development of strategic green walking routes.
The funding will also deliver 10 new pocket parks (small parks accessible to the public) and green spaces and hundreds more street trees to help provide shade, reduce the risk of flooding and combat air pollution in the capital.
Another £1 million will be awarded to Transport for London (TfL) for greening projects on the TfL road network to transform the Joe Strummer pedestrian subway at Edgware Road (Borough of Westminster) into rain gardens.
ilke Homes secures Staplehurst site in Kent
Modular housing developer ilke Homes has secured an 11-acre site in Staplehurst, Kent, under its turnkey offering.
If planning permission is approved, the developer will deliver up to 94 factory-built homes comprising a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes. Thirty-eight of these will be affordable, and the scheme will include green spaces and pocket parks.
The housing developer has submitted a full detailed planning application to Maidstone Borough Council. If approved, the homes will be installed from winter 2023 onwards.
Tom Heathcote, executive director of development at ilke Homes, said: “As a gas-free scheme, employing the use of ASHP and solar PV technology, ilke Homes is actively helping Maidstone Borough Council, who have declared a climate emergency, to reduce carbon emissions associated with the construction and operation of new-build homes.”
Barratt Homes buys land at Finchwood Park
Barratt Homes has purchased land from Cala Homes (Thames) for phases seven, eight and nine at Finchwood Park, in Finchampstead, Wokingham.
The land has consent for 135 homes and is part of a wider masterplan of 1,500 homes.
Finchwood Park will deliver 1,500 new homes, a neighbourhood centre, a primary school, 29.7 hectares of suitable alternative natural green space and a new road extension.
The development is a 10-minute drive from Crowthorne and Wokingham, which provides trains into London in under an hour.
Barratt Southern Counties has submitted a reserved matters application for more than 200 homes at Finchwood Park.
Buckinghamshire Council outlines local plan details
Buckinghamshire Council has announced it is preparing a local plan, following the merger of South Buckinghamshire, Chiltern, Wycombe and Aylesbury Vale Councils.
The plan, it says, seeks to deliver sustainable development through better-quality places, a more comprehensive and predictable delivery of infrastructure and meeting the social, economic and environmental needs of Buckinghamshire.
The council has undertaken two ‘call for brownfield sites’ consultations but they have now commenced a ‘wider call for sites’ exercise to include greenfield sites.
The council has started a public consultation to seek out sites that can accommodate five or more new dwellings or economic development on sites of 0.25 hectares (or 500 square metres of floor space) or more. This consultation will run until 11 September 2022.
Oldham Council bids for two levelling up funds
Oldham Council has applied for £40 million of new levelling-up funding from the government for major projects across the borough.
Two bids of £20 million have been submitted to boost opportunities for residents and businesses through better connectivity, sustainability, culture and regeneration projects.
Three key projects include:
- The Green Shoots Centre;
- Northern Roots Learning Centre; and
- The Oldham Greenway will link the Green Shoots Centre, new town centre Jubilee Park and Northern Roots together, so people can easily travel by bike or on foot to the new venues and across the town centre.
The Oldham West and Royton constituency bid focuses on developing a creative improvement district that includes:
- refurbishment of the Lyceum Theatre and Masonic Hall;
- reopening the Old Library and development of enhanced gallery space and workshops for use by creative industries; and
- flexible events space at the redeveloped Spindles Town Square for use by creative industries.
9 August 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner