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Planning news - 14 April

1,000 homes to be built in South West over five years

A ‘multimillion-pound’ package will see 1,000 homes built across Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset over the next five years.

The money comes from the UK Government's Levelling Up Home Building Fund and HSBC UK.

The finance package will see Homes England and HSBC UK partner to provide funding to enable Wyatt Homes, based in Poole, to accelerate the delivery of more than 1,000 homes for families.

Of the 1,000 homes to be built using the funding around 30 per cent are set to be affordable, according to Homes England.

Hadyn Beazer, finance director at Wyatt Homes, commented: “Getting the right level of funding has been challenging for SMEs in recent years. We have built up a strong land bank over the last 15 years, so securing this funding package is a key milestone in meeting the growth aspirations we want to achieve at Wyatt Homes. We look forward to working with both HSBC UK and Homes England to unlock our exciting pipeline projects and then deliver great homes over the next five years.”

Hugh Taylor, head of housing at HSBC UK, said: “Wyatt Homes is an established South West housebuilder with a reputation for delivering quality homes. The business has ambitious growth plans underpinned by a significant land bank. We are also delighted to work in collaboration with Homes England, putting in place a funding package to support the planned growth and accelerate the delivery of new homes in the region. We are pleased to welcome Wyatt Homes as a new HSBC UK customer.”

11 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has granted a development consent order (DCO) for Little Crow Solar Park in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

The consent was granted in line with a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate, the examining authority.

The solar park will be delivered on a site amounting to 226 hectares, most of which is agricultural land, located east of the British Steel site and north-west of the village of Broughton. Mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland lies to the north and east of the site, as well as some woodland to the south, which provides separation between the solar park and Broughton’s residential area.

Consent was sought for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of Little Crow Solar Park. It will have a gross electrical output capacity of over 50 megawatts.

Consent was also sought for associated development, including an electrical storage facility with a capacity of up to 90MW, as well as connection infrastructure. It will have an operational life of 35 years.

According to the decision letter, the examining authority considered that the solar would be “broadly consistent’ with the objectives in Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (NPS EN-1) and National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy (NPS EN-3) for generating electricity. It believes it is also “generally compliant” with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), in particular part 14, which addresses meeting the challenge of climate change. Kwarteng agreed.

The examining authority also considered local policies set out by North Lincolnshire Council and its local impact report. The council would prefer a brownfield site for the solar park, but confirmed that there is not a suitable one available because of the development’s size. The council acknowledged some conflict with its policies but that the solar park would increase the use of renewable energy, which is supported by policy CS2.

Beyond the limits of the DCO, the examining authority considered that there would be “no significant landscape effects” during the construction, operation and decommissioning of the solar park. However, it considered there would be “an adverse effect” for users of a footpath that crosses the order limits. “In the absence of evidence noting the number of users of the footpath, or submissions during the examination in relation to this footpath, the examining authority considered visual harm for all phases of the proposed development would be outweighed by the benefits associated with the generation of electricity from a renewable source”.

The examining authority and secretary of state agreed that the development would have a neutral effect on the historic environment; that effects on ecology would be neutral in the planning balance; effects resulting from traffic, transport and noise would be neutral in the planning balance; and air quality was neutral in the planning balance.

They also agreed that socio-economic effects weighed moderately for the development in the planning balance.

The decision letter states: “The secretary of state has considered all the merits and disbenefits of the proposed development, and concluded that, on balance, its benefits outweigh its negative impacts.” Kwarteng granted the DCO.

The decision letter and all other documents can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website1.

11 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

East Cardiff business park and rail station shape up

A major new business park linked to a transport hub on a site in South Wales took a significant step forward this week.

The scheme was backed by Cardiff City Council but remains subject to a direction from Welsh ministers, which means it cannot be approved while they decide whether to intervene and call it in.

Cardiff Parkway Developments’ outline proposals for the scheme providing 90,115 square metres of commercial floor space and a four-platform rail station (known as Cardiff Parkway), plus a 650-vehicle park-and-ride facility, on land to the south of St Mellons Business Park, was voted through by the planning committee.

But the scheme remains controversial. The land earmarked for the development is low-lying and mainly within a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Gwent Levels, a landscape of outstanding historic and ecological interest as well as an archeologically sensitive area.

Communities living around the site have claimed the development could become “the biggest white elephant in Wales”. There is widespread concern over the height of some of the proposals with a cluster of 15-storey buildings lined up for the area around the station and 12-storey office blocks in other locations.

The site comprises 80 hectares of land west of Heol Las at St Mellons on the administrative boundaries between Cardiff and Newport. The South Wales mainline railway dissects the southern part of the site. Land levels will have to be raised by up to two metres to safeguard the development areas north of the rail line from flooding.

The mitigation measures proposed are extensive. The scheme has required proposals for replacement field ditches, hedgerows, and woodland as well as a new wildlife corridor. A new park is proposed as well as an area of species-diverse grassland.

The area is earmarked as a strategic development site in the local development plan and the prospect of a major new rail station in east Cardiff has been welcomed by councillors.

8 April 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner

DfT announces £30m highways decarbonisation fund

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced £30 million for the Live Labs 2 competition to decarbonise highways infrastructure across the UK.

The competition is in its second year and is organised by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT). 

It will focus on making the construction, maintenance and running of the UK’s roads more sustainable.

Trudy Harrison, transport minister, said: “Our £30 million investment will go towards a greener, safer transport landscape. It will help create green, high-skilled jobs across the country and I look forward to seeing these innovative ideas brought to life.”

Projects in the past include:

  • Fibre cables that detect vibrations from vehicles and dynamically change signal junctions to combat congestion;
  • Trials involving drones to detect potholes in Kent; and
  • Plastic roads in Cumbria to boost value for money in the construction of highways. 

Paula Hewitt, ADEPT president, said: “The highways and transport sector is the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter and although we are seeing a transition to electric vehicles, there is a huge gap where we are yet to tackle road infrastructure and maintenance.

“Local authorities are perfectly placed to lead the drive to create net-zero highways and local roads from the bottom up. The Live Labs format has proven particularly successful for highways authorities, enabling rapid change, innovation and experimentation.”

12 April 2022
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Gove calls in expansion plans for Luton Airport

Communities and local government secretary Michael Gove has called in Luton Airport’s expansion plans for determination.

The plans, which would see the airport expanded to handle 19 million passengers a year, up from 18 million, were approved by Luton Borough Council in December 2021.

The council, which owns the airport, also approved amendments to noise contours. These measure how many people are affected by noise from the airport.

Campaigners against the plans, including Harpenden Sky, St Albans Aircraft Noise Defence (Stand), Harpenden Society and St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS), contend that expansion would create more noise at the airport, which is already failing to fulfil the required conditions.

A letter to the council explains that the secretary of state has decided to hold a local inquiry to consider all relevant aspects of the proposed expansion.

After the plans were approved, Daisy Cooper2, MP for St Albans, wrote to Gove urging him to call in the proposals. She noted concerns about the “lack of realistic climate modelling by the airport operators” and “broken promises on noise mitigation by Luton Airport”, which continue "to erode any trust my constituents have in Luton Airport”.

In a statement sent to The Planner, Luton Borough Council said: “We will be in a better position to comment on this once we have received the follow up letter from the Planning Inspectorate.”

11 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

News round-up

Revised application submitted for Otterpool Park

Otterpool Park LLP has submitted an amended outline planning application to Folkestone & Hythe District Council for a settlement in Kent.

It comprises up to 8,500 homes, community facilities and infrastructure. According to the plans, more than 50 per cent of the garden town will be green space.

Master developer Otterpool Park LLP proposals are for a 2,000-acre site between Folkestone and Ashford. Westenhanger Castle sits within the site.

An outline planning application was originally submitted in February 2019, but after consultation and comments from the public and statutory consultees, amendments have been made and submitted.

The revised application includes new survey work and additional documents in support of the planning application, such as strategies for green infrastructure, heritage, transport and mobility.

Amendments have been made to the ‘red line’ boundary to incorporate Westenhanger Castle into the site and additional areas of land for a possible wastewater facility and highway junction at Newingreen Junction.

More information can be found on the Folkestone & Hythe District Council website.3

365 homes to go ahead in Oldham

Oldham Council has granted planning permission for 365 properties on Fitton Hill, Oldham.

The homes will be built on two parcels of land at Hill Farm Close and Rosary Road, which are owned by the council and ForHousing. The land, currently vacant, was occupied by residential and educational buildings.

Developer Countryside will build a mix of house types (apartments, mews, semi-detached and detached homes) with one to four bedrooms. 

Eco home plans seek permission in Bristol

Plans have been submitted for a new affordable housing concept called the Gap House for a council-owned disused garage plot in Bristol. The site is in Horfield, north of the city.

The eco-homes have been commissioned and funded by Bristol City Council and designed by interdisciplinary design practice BDP in partnership with the Bristol Housing Festival.

Plans feature a row of nine affordable, one-bedroom, two-storey, modularly constructed homes. The site sits between two rows of back gardens of existing homes and will include green space and outdoor seating in front of each home.

The Gap Houses will be built using modern methods of construction (MMC), be “super-insulation” and generate energy through solar photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps.

SFT seeks to green construction phase of buildings

The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has published its Business Plan for 2022/23, which sets out its priorities for the year ahead.

These include delivering public sector buildings that are greener in the construction phase and more energy efficient when in use and developing long-term financial and delivery models to accelerate new net-zero infrastructure, such as heat networks that can help to reduce fuel poverty.

The SFT will also collaborate on modern methods of construction for affordable, energy-efficient homes.  

The business plan can be found on the SFT website4.

Croydon approves Ruskin Square plans

Croydon Council has approved plans by Schroders Capital’s UK Real Estate Fund (SREF) and Stanhope Plc for 3 Ruskin Square, a 14-storey office building next to East Croydon Station.

The building will provide 290,000 square feet of offices, plus retail space on the ground floor to enhance future amenity at the scheme.

Sustainable design features will include an all-electric energy strategy, rainwater harvesting, a high-performance façade, 35 per cent green roof cover, a modular structural design to minimise embodied carbon, photovoltaics and a BREEAM Outstanding target.

The building will feature an air handling plant providing fresh air on a floor-by-floor basis rather than a conventional communal/building wide system.

It also includes bicycle spaces with lockers available for tenant use to promote active lifestyles and fitness, as well as three retail units on the ground floor intended for use by convenience and local amenities to support the community-focused approach to the development.

Downham Market housing plans approved

King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council has approved a reserved matters planning application for 300 homes in Downham Market.

Pegasus Group secured the permission on behalf of Prosperity Homes Broadoaks Limited and Koto Limited.

The development will be located on land at Nightingale Lane, and will include one, two, three and four-bedroom properties, 60 of which will be affordable. These will include bungalows, two and three-storey properties and flats

All properties will have off-road parking (and in some cases garages) and amenity space, with outside access to their rear gardens.

Larkhall Park plans get the green light

Lambeth Council has approved Larkhall Park plans submitted by Waugh Thistleton to deliver 127 new homes.

The design comprises four buildings, over three sites situated in the setting of several listed buildings, including the grade II Baptist Chapel, and one on the south-west corner of Larkhall Park.

Half of the homes, including eight three-storey terraced homes, will be affordable for local people and operated by Homes For Lambeth.

All homes will have direct access to private outdoor gardens or balconies. Two communal west facing roof terraces will provide spaces for children to play and adults to gather and socialise.

Over 80 per cent of homes will be dual aspect to maximise natural light and cross ventilation. Air source heat pumps and airtightness and insulation will allow residents to heat their homes sustainably and cost effectively.

Postgraduate homes to be delivered in Oxford

Legal & General and Oxford University have agreed a £4 billion partnership to develop Court Place Gardens in Iffley, Oxfordshire, for 84 postgraduate homes specifically designed for families.

Court Place Gardens is next to the Norman church at Iffley, where there are currently a small number of graduate houses that were built in the 1970s. These will be replaced by 71 new houses arranged in three courtyards. Homes will be energy efficient with air source heat pumps and play areas for children.

The grade II-listed Mansion House will also be fully restored, with 13 study bedrooms and communal space, and the Gate Lodge will be renovated to offer three privately let bedrooms.

The scheme is expected to be complete for occupation in the 2024/5 academic year.

Stonebond to deliver 74 homes at Gardiners Park Village

Housebuilder Stonebond is set to build 74 new homes at Gardiners Park Village, near Basildon in Essex.

Ninety one per cent will be delivered as private rent through managed new-build rental housing provider Leaf Living.

The site is the third phase of a wider £200 million masterplan between developers Inland Homes and Homes England to deliver up to 700 new and affordable homes to the area. These will comprise one and two-bedroom apartments, three-bedroom houses to rent through Leaf Living, and six larger four-bedroom houses for private sale.   

It will also include 25,000 square metres of commercial space, a new school, and community facilities.

Vouchers will be provided to residents in their welcome packs to encourage public transport use to mitigate car travel, adding to the net biodiversity gain of the scheme.

Stonebond has adopted a set of measures outlined through the National TOMS Framework, focusing on local jobs and skills, supporting regional business, creating healthier communities, and protecting the environment.

The first new homes are expected to be ready in autumn 2023.

Hackney approves brownfield land development

Hackney Council has granted planning permission for a residential development on Mandeville Street in the London borough.  

The seven-storey development will be built on a vacant parcel of land formerly used as a health care centre by developer Pocket Living.

The scheme comprises 46 homes for sale, including 43 one-bed Pocket discounted affordable homes and three two-bedroom, three-person market sale homes.

The Mandeville Street development will include Pocket discounted homes sold at a 20 per cent discount to surrounding market sale homes, specifically for first-time buyers who live or work in Hackney and earn under the Mayor of London’s income threshold for affordable housing.

Fifty letters were sent in support of the development.

46 homes green-lit in Herefordshire

Crest Nicholson has been granted planning permission for the first of a development in Herefordshire.

Hereford Grange will be delivered in the village of Holmer. It will comprise 46 homes for private sale, which will either have two, three or four bedrooms.

The developer said each house has been designed to improve heat retention and energy efficiency, and to “significantly” cut building waste, time on site and electricity bills for homeowners.

12 April 2022
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 - 14 April

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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.