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Planning news - 11 December 2024

Consultation on street votes begins

The government has published a consultation on street vote development orders, which would see the returning officer responsible for organising and conducting the referendum. 

The consultation document was published on 22 December. 

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023, which received royal assent in October, introduces a new route to planning permission called street vote development orders. The government hopes that they will support its long-term housing plan. 

A ‘qualifying group’ or an individual acting on behalf of a qualifying group can submit a street vote development order proposal. 

Street vote development orders give residents the ability to propose development on their street and, subject to the proposal meeting certain requirements, vote on whether the development should be given planning permission. Proposals would be examined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the secretary of state to check that they are in scope and that requirements prescribed in secondary legislation are met. 

If the proposal passes the examination, it will go to a referendum organised by the local authority. The government has proposed that for a street vote development order proposal to be approved following a referendum, at least 60 per cent of those eligible to vote must vote in favour. Votes would be cast by a single method only, by postal vote. 

According to the consultation, the “government will assess and fund any new burdens on local authorities associated with these proposals”. The referendum question proposed to be asked is: “Do you want the development described in the street vote development order to be granted planning permission?”. 

Along with ‘passing’ the examination, proposals could either receive a conditional pass or a ‘fail’ from the Planning Inspectorate: 

Conditional pass: Where the proposal passes examination subject to additional or amended planning conditions and obligations and/or minor modifications to the proposal that are necessary to ensure compliance with prescribed requirements. Where modifications have been made, the local planning authority will publicise these and invite further representations on the modifications. The qualifying group must also agree in writing to all the modifications made to the proposal before it can proceed to referendum. If the qualifying group does not agree with the modifications, it must withdraw the proposal within a defined period. 

Fail: Where the proposal would require major modifications to comply with the development requirements, the qualifying group would have one opportunity to amend their proposal and have it re-examined by the Planning Inspectorate. 

People who are registered at an address in the street area to vote in a local council election on the date the proposal is submitted for examination would be eligible to vote. 

For street vote development orders, local planning authorities will be able to use revenues secured through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) from street vote development to fund infrastructure and affordable housing. Section 106 planning obligations will not be used to secure affordable housing for street vote development, according to the consultation document.

The full consultation can be found on the UK Government website. It closes on 2 February. 

4 January 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Guidance and proposals on heritage buildings and energy efficiency published 

The government has published a proposal for a policy specifically for energy efficiency improvements to historic buildings. 

In April 2022, the government committed to a review of the practical planning barriers to installing energy efficiency measures such as improved glazing to buildings in conservation areas and listed buildings as part of its British Energy Security Strategy. The scope of the review also included works to help buildings adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as solar shading to keep a building cool. 

According to the review, the need for special rules for protecting designated historic buildings is needed, obtaining planning permission or listed building consent took “too long”. This sometimes led to financial support being lost while others have been put off from pursuing energy efficiency measures altogether “by their perception that the planning process is too complex and uncertain to navigate”. 

The review, the government said, gave them a better understanding of the “practical barriers” that owners of listed buildings and homes in conservation areas face when they want to install energy efficiency or low-carbon heating measures in their properties in England.   

The guidance states that the appropriate retrofit of historic buildings is part of the solution to achieving net-zero. 

National Development Management Policies (NDMP), which are introduced into the planning system through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023, will include a policy specifically for improvements to historic buildings. 

This policy will be integrated into the wider suite of heritage NDMPs. These will replace current policy affecting decision-making in chapter 16 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). 

The guidance states: “In doing so, this will help to ensure greater certainty and consistency about decisions on applications for energy efficiency improvements affecting listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas across England. The government will consult on this new policy as part of its development of National Development Management Policies.” 

In addition, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will consult on the opportunities for using Local Listed Building Consent Orders to support energy efficiency improvements on listed buildings. 

The document also sets out that Historic England will deliver training for local authority staff, including through its new online training system develop a new online training platform that can provide training to local authorities. Through this, it will train them on how to apply the Historic England Advice Note (HEAN) on Climate Change and Historic Building Adaptation in decision-making. 

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said in a statement: “Historic England welcomes this energy efficiency review and the positive actions it highlights. Historic buildings can and must accommodate change if they are to play a crucial role in helping the UK to transition to net zero. This review demonstrates that heritage needn’t be a barrier and identifies opportunities to unlock the potential of historic buildings in England to contribute to meeting our net zero target.” 

The document sets out what the government is doing to help planning authorities deal with the backlog of planning applications, such as the £29 million Planning Skills Delivery Fund and funding for the RTPI to provide new pathways into planning. 

The guidance can be found on the UK Government website1.  

8 January 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 


Government to make sure planning policy backs freeports

The government has committed to ensuring that national planning policy ‘reflects the needs and priority’ of freeports and investment zones.  

This would give local planning authorities and businesses “greater certainty and clarity”, according to the Freeports Delivery Roadmap. 

It features more than 50 cross-government measures, including a £150 million Investment Opportunities Fund to help freeports and investment zones respond quickly to land large investment opportunities as they arise, to “further accelerate much-needed trade and investment in key port areas across the country”. 

The roadmap states: “The government will ensure that relevant national planning policy reflects the needs and priority of freeports and investment zones, giving local planning authorities and businesses greater certainty and clarity.” 

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) new National Development Management Policies, the National Policy Statement for Ports and the associated planning practice guidance on ports and transport are all listed in the document. 

It also sets out that any freeport or investment zone project deemed to be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) will benefit from a reformed consenting process from spring this year. This includes the project being eligible for the new “fast-track route” for seeking development consent. 

According to the roadmap, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities's (DLUHC) ‘Planning Super Squad’ will be empowered to support freeport and investment zone projects to accelerate large priority developments. This could include bolstering local authority capability and greater use of local development orders, it explains. 

Freeports and investment zones benefit from financial support from the government, tax relief and eased planning processes, among other advantages. 

Other measures in the roadmap include improving infrastructure. This includes the UK Infrastructure Bank working with freeports to finance upgrades to infrastructure, including through flexible loans to local authorities and debt, equity or guarantees to private sector investors. 

Some investments have already been unlocked at freeports, said the government, with £130 million invested by Associated British Ports at the Port of Southampton, for a shore power project and terminal operating system in support of the automotive sector. 

Freeports Delivery Roadmap, which was published on 22 December, can be found on the UK Government website2

9 January 2024 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Plans for a ground-mounted 3MW solar photovoltaic array in Burneside Kendal, have been recommended for approval by planning officers at Westmorland and Furness Council. 

The application will be considered by the Strategic Planning Committee on Thursday 11 January. If it’s approved, 6,800 ground-mounted solar photovoltaic modules, orientated in a southerly direction, would be installed. 

The site, located on fields to the north of James Cropper PLC, covers about 7.56 hectares. 

Plans would see a buried high-voltage connection cable running from the proposed development to Croppers Paper Mill. The scheme would generate approximately 2,400,000kWh a year for the business and offset around 607 tonnes of CO2 annually, according to a report submitted to the committee. 

The closest homes to the proposed solar farm are in Barnsdale, situated in an elevated position approximately 330 metres to the north. 

The planning officer's report states that the plans are “in accordance with the development plan, there are no material considerations that indicate the decision should be made otherwise and with the planning conditions proposed, any potential harm would reasonably be mitigated”. 

Burneside Parish Council supports the application given the climate crisis, but as part of a consultation on the application it did raise concerns about the size of the proposed site and that the development would be visible from several locations. 

The report can be found on the Westmorland and Furness Council website3

8 January 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Wrexham replacement LDP finally approved

Wrexham County Borough Council has finally formally adopted a replacement local development plan (LDP), ending a decade-long saga that wound up in the High Court.  

At an extraordinary council meeting councillors voted for a third time on whether to approve the replacement blueprint. 

After twice rejecting motions to back the LDP (in April and June 2023), a total of 26 members voted to approve the plan, no one voted against approval, and 11 abstained. These were all Plaid Cymru councillors who quit their seats in the chamber, moving to the gallery, as the debate finished. 

The replacement LDP has had a tortuous gestation stretching well over a decade. In 2012, the council went back to the drawing board after ditching an earlier version over unresolved housing issues. 

The latest iteration was originally submitted for examination by the then-Planning Inspectorate in 2018. There were hearings in 2019, major changes to the plan and further examination in 2020 and 2022. There were wrangles over sites for new housing and for Travellers, as well as a dispute about population figures and criticism of the council by Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford. 

The final inspector’s report on the draft replacement LDP was presented to the council in February last year. The inspectors said the final version of the plan was “sound”. However, against the advice of officers, councillors voted against approving the plan in April and again in June.  

While the arguments over the LDP intensified the planning authority was reliant on an outdated unitary development plan agreed back in 2005. 

The fate of the new plan came to a head in November when the council was ordered by a High Court judge to adopt the replacement LDP following judicial review proceedings brought by a consortium of six developers. Each had interests in sites allocated in the draft plan. The council boycotted the hearing. 

Sitting in Cardiff, the judge, Mr Justice Eyre KC, quashed the two decisions taken by the council and said the local authority must pay the claimants £100,000 and arrange a meeting to adopt the replacement LDP or face further legal action. 

The judge concluded that the council had “deliberately, in the face of legal advice and recommendation, declined to carry out its legal duty”. 

4 January 2023 
Roger Milne, The Planner 

News round-up

Reserved matters application submitted for nearly 300 homes in Teynham 

A reserved matters planning application for the development of 298 new mixed-tenure homes, community facilities and public open space at Frognal Place in Teynham has been submitted to Swale Borough Council. 

Chartway Partnerships Group and Moat Homes are behind the scheme. 

Outline planning permission being granted by Swale Borough Council in 2021, for the development of up to 300 dwellings, sports grounds, open spaces, and new infrastructure, and has been prepared following engagement with key stakeholders including the borough council, parish council and the local community.   

The development would feature one and two-bedroom apartments, as well as two, three and four-bedroom houses. Locally affordable housing provided for affordable rent and shared ownership are also included. 

Permission sought for student accommodation in Manchester 

A planning application for purpose-built student accommodation to be built on ‘an underutilised site’ on Charles Street in Manchester has been submitted to the city council. 

Manchester-based developer Jadebricks submitted the plans, which have been designed by SimpsonHaugh. Consultancy Turley is providing planning, strategic communications, economics, EIA and heritage and townscape services. 

Under the plans, the vacant brownfield site would be transformed to comprise 107 studio bedrooms over 15 storeys. 

The site is located within the Oxford Road Corridor and within walking distance of Manchester’s universities. 

Devolution to be consulted on in Hull and East Riding areas 

Councillors in Hull and the East Riding have agreed that proposals for devolution in the region should go out to public consultation. 

Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council each held extraordinary full council meetings in December (Thursday 21 December) to consider progressing with proposals for devolution. Councillors for both councils voted in favour. 

These decisions mean that the public will get the chance to have their say on the proposed deal during an eight-week public consultation, which began on Tuesday 2 January. 

Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire councils have agreed to a proposed level 3 devolution deal with the government, which includes an elected mayor. 

If backed by the public, a mayoral combined authority will be formed, with a mayoral election expected to take place in the spring or summer of 2025. 

More information can be found on the Hull City Council website. The consultation closes on 27 February. 

Council requests public feedback on transport 

The City of York Council has requested feedback from the public on its Big Transport Conversation, which closes in just under a month. 

The consultation shares 10 key policy areas which will help form a new local transport plan and deliver a more sustainable and reliable transport network for several decades to come. 

People can take part by reading and commenting on the full proposals online, attending an event, collecting information from their local library, or its customer service team at West Offices, attending a ward committee meeting, or visiting the mobile library as it travels around villages and rural areas. Accessible versions of documents are also available. 

The consultation, which closes on Sunday 4 February, can be found here.  

Bridge Close regeneration plans submitted 

Bridge Close Regeneration LLP, a development company wholly-owned by Havering Council, has submitted a planning application to regenerate Bridge Close in Romford. 

The planning application seeks approval for up to 1,070 new homes, which would include a mix of private and 35 per cent affordable homes, communal and commercial spaces, as well as infrastructure and improvements to public spaces. 

Plans include a new three-form entry primary school, a community centre, a health centre, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge and extensive investment in the public realm, including the greening and naturalisation of the River Rom. 

The scheme would provide improvements to public spaces including better access around Romford for pedestrians and cyclists with a new bridge crossing to provide a quick, safe and direct route to Romford Station. 

Elan Homes buys Shuttington housing site 

Fisher German has sold a three-acre parcel of land located off Main Road in Shuttington, North Warwickshire, to Elan Homes to deliver 24 new homes. 

Outline planning permission was secured in May 2020, with work set to start in the spring/ summer. 

As part of the development, Elan will provide 10 affordable homes and the 14 private sale properties will offer a mix of two to five-bedroom homes. 

Existing trees and hedgerows will be retained with new trees, alongside a flowering lawn, an attenuation pond for a wildflower wetland area and a wildflower meadow. 

The site is promoted in the North Warwickshire Borough Council Local Plan. 

‘Rescue package’ committed to leisure amenities. 

Southside apartment plans approved 

Councillors have approved plans for 146 new apartments in Birmingham’s Southside. 

The site, which is located on the corner of Kent and Lower Essex Street in the Gay Village, will be transformed to deliver a new 11-storey residential building. 

The development will be delivered by Birmingham-based residential developer and investor Prosperity Group. 

Alongside the provision of new homes, the proposals include a range of amenities for residents. About 146 cycle storage spaces will also be provided to promote sustainable travel. 

Leeds wellbeing hub plans revealed 

Leeds City Council has announced plans to transform the Fearnville Leisure Centre site in Gipton into a sports and wellbeing hub. 

The council’s plans would see a new wellbeing centre being built on part of the King George V Playing Fields, a 28-acre green space that is home to the current Fearnville facility. 

Indoor amenities would include a large main swimming pool, learner pool, sports hall, fitness studios, spin room and a 120-station gym as well as a community café and adventure play area. 

Major improvements would also be made to Fearnville’s outdoor offer, with an all-weather pitch, tennis courts, skatepark and play zone among the proposed features. 

Tree planting and soft landscaping would increase the site’s biodiversity, with insects, birds and other wildlife. 

An application for planning permission for the wellbeing scheme has been submitted by the council and, if approved, work could begin in the middle of 2024. 

Countryside selected to build Shafton homes 

Mixed-tenure developer Countryside Partnerships has secured a contract with housing provider The Guinness Partnership to build 40 affordable homes in Shafton, Barnsley. 

The site is owned by Homes England and has been vacant for a significant time. It will be transformed into a 100 per cent affordable development providing detached and semi-detached houses and terraces made up of two, three and four-bedroom homes, as well as two bungalows. 

Andrew Poyner, managing director of Countryside Partnerships Yorkshire, said: “This site has a long history and we’re delighted to see it finally moving forward in partnership with Guinness. Our shared commitment to providing high-quality, mixed-tenure housing across the region is evident, having already delivered over 200 affordable homes together. This new development will transform a previously redundant space that has long been earmarked for development into a vibrant community.” 

9 January 2023  
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, 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 - 11 December 2024

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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 © 2024 Planning Portal.