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Planning news - 14 August 2023

Averley tells councils to speed up decisions on tower block cladding

England’s planning authorities have been urged to speed up their decisions on applications to replace dangerous cladding on tower blocks. 

Chief planner Joanna Averley said 96 per cent of all identified high-rise buildings in England have either completed or started remediation work to remove and replace unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding since the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017.  

More than £1.9 billion has been allocated under the Building Safety Fund to high-rise residential buildings with other forms of unsafe cladding, with a total of 416 having started or completed remediation. 

“ACM cladding and all other types of unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings present a significant fire hazard,” she said in a letter to planning authorities. 

“Whilst some planning decisions are being made promptly on these buildings, there are inconsistencies across planning authorities and some planning applications are still waiting for approval. 

“To this end, I would encourage local authority planning departments to prioritise and take a proactive approach to planning applications for high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding.” 

Averley added that authorities should work closely with building owners through pre-application engagement to identify whether planning approval is necessary where a tower block’s external appearance is not materially altered by replacement cladding. 

12 September 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner 

Home Office ordered to stop asylum camp over planning breaches

The Home Office has been ordered to halt development work on a camp for asylum seekers at a former RAF base in Lincolnshire over potential breaches of planning law. 

West Lindsey District Council served the temporary stop notice under section 171E of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 while it considered a breach of planning control of listed buildings and archaeology at RAF Scampton. 

The alleged breaches include the installation of permanent palisade fencing, intrusive surveying works, groundworks and connections to utilities, with the potential to cause irreversible damage to important heritage assets. 

The temporary stop notice requires the Home Office and its contractors to cease all works on the listed buildings, all intrusive surveying works, groundworks and installing fencing on the site. 

“We are aware that there are works ongoing on site,” said West Lindsey’s planning, regeneration and communities director Sally Grindrod-Smith. “However, despite repeated requests and service of a planning contravention notice, we have not been provided with any details of schedules of works, method statements, site plans, work phasing plans, details of materials, detailed summaries and schedules of all surveys being undertaken on the site, or a marked-up site plan to show the locations of surveys having already been undertaken and those proposed. 

“The council has not been approached to determine whether listed building consent is required for works currently being undertaken on the site. The council is concerned about the future of the significant and important heritage on site at RAF Scampton and the Home Office has not provided the necessary information or reassurances. 

“Unfortunately, we have been left with no alternative but to issue a temporary stop notice. This means that development work should halt on-site with immediate effect until we are furnished with details of the proposed works and can determine whether additional planning consents are required.” 

11 September 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner 

High Court scraps varied permission for solar farm

The High Court has quashed a decision by Test Valley Borough Council to vary planning permission for a solar farm by removing an electricity substation. 

A local resident had challenged the council’s approval of a planning application by Woodington Solar last year for the scheme at East Wellow, Hampshire. The approval varied conditions for the scheme from an earlier permission granted in 2017, which had included a 33kV electricity substation but was removed from the 2022 decision. 

Mr Justice Morris said that the 33kV substation was a “central part” of the scheme and removing it amounts “to a fundamental alteration of that development”. 

He found that last year’s decision was outside the power conferred by section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as there was a conflict with the original permission. The High Court ruled that the decision was unlawful and quashed the approval. 

12 September 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner 

Think tank calls for boulevards to replace roadbuilding

The UK’s ‘roadbelt’ should be redeveloped into boulevards of homes to tackle the country’s worsening housing crisis, according to an urbanist think tank. 

Create Streets, which was launched by Nicholas Boys Smith, who chairs the Office for Place and advises the government and councils on creating beautiful places, says “many new roads make things worse not better and are an expensive liability”.  

It calls for “simpler human-scale streets” and “proud boulevards lined with beautiful, sustainably located new homes on space currently given over to needlessly, indeed counter-productively, wide roads”.  

Its policy paper argues that roads built in the future should be narrower, tighter and lined with new homes and amenities rather than “soulless distributors and expressways”. 

New schools, shops and facilities should be in the centre of future developments to reduce congestion by enabling more people to walk and cycle, “possibly removing the need for a new road or wider junction”, and saving developers and local authorities “millions on road building” while cutting carbon emissions. Most transport investments, it argues, are based on saving marginal time and not increasing access to amenities. 

The paper highlights a Rochdale project to remove a single turning lane from a five-lane urban motorway to allow designers to add up to 400 more homes. It also points to a proposal in Bedford to replace a major roundabout in the middle of the town “by a more humane junction”, allowing 105 homes and 850m2 commercial space to be built. 

Moving Towards Growth: why it’s time to build on Britain’s Roadbelt1 

11 September 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner 

Teignbridge set to delay draft local plan after consultation

Teignbridge District Council is planning to delay its draft local plan until next year to give communities another opportunity to comment on further changes. 

The council said the changes are needed following a detailed analysis of issues raised in a consultation earlier this year which attracted comments from around 1,000 individuals and organisations. 

The issues under further consideration include the impact of a proposed development at Markham Village on the local and strategic transport network and another scheme’s effect on the setting of Peamore House in Exminster and nearby heritage assets. 

The consultation also saw objections to net-zero carbon requirements on new-build homes while Historic England has questioned the potential impact of wind turbines on heritage assets. 

The council has also received feedback from the Design Council and Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities suggesting improvements based on the national Design Code Pathfinder programme. It will also consider adding the Houghton Barton and Bradmore District Design Code to the local plan to give it more weight and to allow people to comment on its proposals. 

Other issues include updating the district’s housing requirement, which has fallen slightly to 720 homes a year while developers have challenged the lack of new housing allocations in Teignmouth and Dawlish. 

Executive member for planning Gary Taylor said more work is needed to address some of the feedback and to strengthen the plan. 

“We have said throughout the local plan process that we wanted to listen to local people and organisations and to get their input. Once changes are made in response to the feedback, it is essential that local people are given a further opportunity to comment on any new evidence and the updated proposals. 

“Some of the issues raised are complex and so we have needed more time for research and analysis. It is thought better to delay now while we undertake this work rather than push ahead and risk delays at the public examination stage.” 

Details of proposed changes to the local plan will be presented to a full council meeting in the autumn, along with consultation proposals. The revised timetable means that the examination in public by the Planning Inspectorate will not take place until next year. 

12 September 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner 

News round-up

UK launches research hub to decarbonise transport networks 

A national research hub has been launched to upgrade and decarbonise the UK’s interconnected national, regional and local transport networks. 

Led by Newcastle University, the research hub for Decarbonised Adaptable and Resilient Transport Infrastructures (DARe) aims to identify pathways and solutions for delivering a resilient, net-zero transport system. The hub also includes the universities of Cambridge, Glasgow and Heriot-Watt as partner institutions. 

DARe will host leading researchers who will provide expertise, modelling and data through an open-source platform for policymakers, local authorities and frontline transport operators. The hub is funded by £10 million from the Department for Transport, National Highways, HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and UK Research and Innovation. 

“The hub will engage widely to bring together the leading academics from across the UK and their civic and industry partners so we can focus on understanding the underpinning science and engineering to enable us to tackle these real challenges and provide the models that will help us understand the impact and find the most appropriate solutions,” said Phil Blythe, Newcastle University’s professor of intelligent transport systems. 

Church Commissioners win permission for homes in North Yorkshire 

The Church Commissioners for England charity has received planning permission for the first phase of a 650-home community in North Yorkshire.    

Under plans approved by North Yorkshire Council, 145 homes have been granted permission in Northallerton with 44 of them affordable. The first phase will also include a primary school and community centre in a development identified in the Adopted Hambleton Local Plan.  

The scheme is located 1.5km north-east of Northallerton town centre, and 2km from Northallerton rail station, with direct trains to York, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and London. 

“Delivering more homes of all types and tenures is critical to addressing England’s housing crisis and we are particularly pleased to be offering a range of affordable housing tenures as part of this first phase, which is in line with local planning policy and the Church Commissioners’ aspirations to create sustainable, safe, stable, sociable and satisfying places to live,” said Church Commissioners for England principal strategic land manager Matthew Naylor. 

In June, North Kesteven District Council granted the Church Commissioners permission for 1,087 homes to be built in Bracebridge Heath, Lincolnshire 

Leeds Kirkgate Market hotel plans announced 

Leeds City Council has submitted a planning application for a new hotel development at Leeds Kirkgate Market on the George Street side of the market complex. 

The site for the scheme is owned by the council and is currently occupied by several vacant low-rise shop units. 

The hotel would fill the top five floors of the new six-storey building and would have about 140 rooms as well as a bar and restaurant for guests. 

If approved, the work could start next year on the development. 

HS2 viaduct plans approved 

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has approved HS2’s plans for the Balsall Common Viaduct at its planning committee meeting. 

The plans incorporate local feedback focusing on environmental sustainability, landscape integration, visual connectivity and public access. 

It includes wet woodland planting using native species to the local area, woodland edge planting to provide screening, and hedgerow planting to improve wildlife connections. 

The approval comes with conditions that there will be further engagement and more work will be undertaken on the colour and finishes of the concrete and the type of tree planting around the viaduct. 

Housing plans approved in Kent 

Swale Borough Council and Sevenoaks District Council have approved plans by Kent-based housebuilder Fernham Homes for two sites in the county. 

Located in Faversham, in the borough of Swale, and Longfield in the district of Sevenoaks, the two new developments bring a total of 188 homes to Fernham Homes’ pipeline and will see it have five new sites under way during the year. 

In Faversham, planning has been granted for a new community of 154 new homes, in a mix of apartments and houses, including 35 per cent affordable homes. It will also introduce an 80-bed care home, a day nursery, three retail units and eight acres of employment space. 

Approved plans for the Longfield project comprise a total of 34 homes, of which 30 per cent will be affordable. 

The development will be delivered as a joint venture with the landowner with construction due to start this autumn and sales set to launch in summer 2024. 

12 September 2023 
Huw Morris 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 August 2023

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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.