Weekly planning news
Planning news - 16 June 2022
Gove: Proposed changes to planning policy to be published in July
UPDATE: Housing secretary Michael Gove has said that a document outlining how the government intends to change national planning policy will be published in July – not, as first reported, a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
He made the statement during the second reading of the levelling up and regeneration bill in the House of Commons on 8 June.
In an update to this story, Gove has issued a letter of correction regarding the transcript of that second reading.
He was responding to Green MP Caroline Lucas’s question about why a net-zero test was not included in the bill, something she believed should be applied to all planning decisions, policies and procedures but which was “conspicuous by its absence”.
The first transcription used by The Planner in compiling this story, said that “the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that will be published in July will say significantly more about how we can drive improved environmental outcomes”.
Gove actually said1: “A document setting out how we intend to change national planning policy that will be published in July will say significantly more about how we can drive improved environmental outcomes.”
He also assured Lucas that the bill features “a new streamlined approach to ensuring that all development is in accordance with the highest environmental standards”.
A number of questions were raised during the debate about planning, with Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East and chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, asking about national development management policies and transferring powers to local authorities and mayors.
On national development management policies and their relationship with local plans, Betts said: “A local plan must be consistent with national planning policies, and correctly so. However, if there is a conflict between a local plan and national development management policy, national policy holds sway and is given priority in any determination. How can it be that a local plan can be drawn up in full consultation with the local community, but if the secretary of state later decides to change the national policy, it will override the consulted-upon local plan?”
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Conservative MP for The Cotswolds, also noted concerns that national development management policies would override local planning authorities.
Responding in the closing of the debate, housing minister Stuart Andrew explained: “One of the key aims of the bill is to reduce the administrative burden on local councils so that they can concentrate on delivering high-quality, locally led plans. That is why, through this bill, we hope to shift the onus of delivering on national priorities to central government through introducing a set of national development management policies. These policies will cover the most important national planning issues facing the sector, including net zero, tackling climate change and making sure that we are also dealing with heritage issues and protections of green belt.
“To those who are concerned that these provisions will somehow override local plans, I would say that that is not the intention. The intention is to produce swifter, slimmer plans to remove the need for generic issues that apply universally, which will help us to reduce time-consuming duplication, and to ensure that local plans are more locally focused and relevant to the local communities. I hope that, during the passage of this bill, we will be able to give more assurance on that.”
Marsha De Cordova, Labour MP for Battersea, spoke about viability concerns. She asked how the bill is intended to prevent developers from using viability as a reason for reducing the number of affordable homes they are expected to build in a new development.
Gove said the infrastructure levy would ensure that a local authority “can set, as a fixed percentage of the land value uplift, a sum that it can use – we will consult on exactly what provisions there should be alongside that sum — to ensure that a fixed proportion of affordable housing can be created”.
The bill will now proceed to the committee stage, where detailed examination will take place.
The full debate can be read on the UK Parliament website2
The update to the transcript can be read here on the UK Parliament website3.
9 June 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Transport body sets out collaborative approach to spatial planning
Transport for the North (TfN) has outlined the region’s shared policy positions as part of its work to review its Strategic Transport Plan, published in 2019.
The sub-national transport body is working to enhance mobility for people and businesses.
The North of England’s political and business leaders have approved a collaborative approach to supporting spatial planning and improving rural mobility.
The spatial planning policy position sets out the importance of TfN working with its members and partners to share insights and experiences to enable its members to take a holistic view on planning for transport, housing and commercial needs. Key roles for TfN have been identified as:
Early engagement with partners in their development of spatial plans and working to support the identification of strategic infrastructure options.
Making TfN’s evidence base available to enable a consistent baseline and approach when analysing the likely relationship between proposed developments and TfN’s strategic transport vision for the North. This includes TfN’s transport decarbonisation trajectories, Northern Evidence Hub and technical analysis and modelling capabilities.
Working collaboratively to support partners as they prepare effective policies and proposals that are sustainable, practical and well designed.
The rural mobility policy position sets out how TfN’s work can support its partners to address issues such as the impact of the cost of public transport, car dependency and limited service. It outlines four key roles for TfN:
To develop the rural evidence base and enhance TfN’s modelling capabilities to better reflect the rural need.
To assist partners to identify the most appropriate solutions by collating a library of case studies that can be used to support scheme development and innovative ideas.
To collaborate with other STBs – sharing knowledge and learning with the STB networks nationally to identify best practice and understand place-based solutions.
To use TfN’s Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to monitor improvements in pan-Northern rural mobility.
Martin Tugwell, chief executive at TfN, said: “In 2019 we published our Strategic Transport Plan: this sets out an ambitious vision for the North of England, one where modern transport connections enable sustainable economic growth and support an excellent quality of life.
“As we embark on creating a revised Strategic Transport Plan it’s important that we take into account the challenges and opportunities around decarbonisation, changes in travel behaviours post-pandemic, and the emergence of new technologies.
“Developing these and other policy positions will help us to ensure that the revised Strategic Transport Plan remains in step with the needs and ambitions of the North of England’s residents and businesses.”
More information about the Strategic Transport Plan can be found on the Transport for the North website.4
13 June 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Nearly £100m for Bristol levelling-up project
Levelling-up minister Neil O'Brien has announced that the regeneration of Bristol Temple Quarter will receive £95 million in government funding.
The project is intended to deliver up to 10,000 homes and 22,000 jobs, and this funding should help to deliver 2,500 homes by 2032 and support around 2,200 jobs. The £95 million will help to unlock the first phase of the scheme, said the government.
Phase two will see 57 hectares of land across St Philip's Marsh developed.
Overall, the scheme is aimed at addressing regional inequalities; it focuses on a “highly deprived” area of Bristol and is set to deliver affordable homes, skills, training employment opportunities and improved transport.
A partnership between the West of England Combined Authority, Bristol City Council, Network Rail and Homes England is bringing forward the project, which covers approximately 130 hectares of brownfield land.
The funding supports the creation of “three new or significantly improved” station entrances planned to the north, south and east of Temple Meads.
Peter Denton, chief executive of Homes England, said: “The Temple Quarter programme provides a step change in how regeneration can be delivered, with the public partnership steering the regeneration, inviting further investment and partnerships with world-class regeneration partners.
“The multimillion-pound government funding will resolve much-needed improvements to the infrastructure surrounding the station, unlocking critical housing sites and allowing the partnership between the combined authority, Bristol City Council, Network Rail and Homes England to deliver their vision for the local community and develop a sense of place.”
Dan Norris, Metro Mayor of the West of England, added: “We need to make sure that the buildings and infrastructure and the high-skilled jobs we bring in, truly match our ambitions on tackling the climate emergency and use the skills of our amazingly talented workers to make this area something to be very proud of.
“Combine this with the refurbishment of Brunel’s iconic station and we really will have, at long last, the jewel in the crown in the heart of our great city and fantastic region.”
13 June 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Communities able to bid for levelling-up funding
Community groups from across the UK can bid for a share of £150 million of funding that can be used to protect assets such as pubs, music venues, sports facilities and historic buildings.
The money is from the second round of the Community Ownership Fund.
Changes made to the fund were announced at the end of May. The eligibility criteria has been widened; changes are intended to make the fund more inclusive and flexible so that more communities can benefit and more local economies are supported.
The fund has been updated to widen eligibility criteria, including removing the requirement that assets have had a use within the last five years and will now consider any asset which has had a previous community use, massively expanding the projects eligible to apply.
Levelling-up minister Neil O'Brien said: “We want to help communities across the UK save the pubs, sports clubs and historical buildings which matter most to them, and would otherwise be at risk of being lost forever.
“This is part of our plan to spread opportunity, boost local pride and level up every corner of the UK while growing the economy to address the cost of living.”
The government said the first round of funding is supporting 39 projects across the UK, including establishing a boxing gym in Oldham using £550,000 in funding, £250,000 to rescue a historic spinners mill in Leigh, and £1 million for Bury fans to rescue Gigg Lane stadium.
More information about the Community Ownership Fund can be found on the UK Government website.5
13 June 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Council to roll out more article 4 directions
Hertsmere Borough Council plans to implement further article 4 directions to prevent buildings in designated employment areas from being converted into housing without the need for planning permission.
The direction would cover Borehamwood, Potters Bar, Shenley, Elstree and Bushey. The council confirmed article 4 directions in May 2020, a measure to help the borough recover economically from the Covid-19 lockdown.
However, changes in national legislation mean that the directions have to be updated in order to protect against redevelopment or conversion of premises in business parks or industrial estates.
The council also plans to introduce new directions to protect a number of bungalows across Radlett, which are deemed of value in the recently adopted Radlett Neighbourhood Plan.
This follows changes in national legislation that mean one storey can be added to homes without the need for planning permission as long as certain criteria are met.
Dr Harvey Cohen, portfolio holder for planning, said: “We are responsible for effective planning in the borough, and we want to maintain a balance between housing and employment within our built-up areas.
“As part of that, we have to protect our business parks and industrial estates because they generate many of the jobs and income which enable our businesses and communities to thrive.
“And we want to ensure new homes are delivered with the required amount of affordable housing, in the most appropriate locations, and that developers contribute to improvements in local infrastructure.
“We don’t want to see them springing up in former offices and other commercial buildings, without seeking planning permission. Following recent changes to legislation, there is a risk that such redevelopments or conversions could be allowed via permitted development rights, which would be a loss for us all.
“These new directions will enable us to better control the conversion or redevelopment of commercial premises into residential accommodation.”
Ross Whear, head of planning and economic development, added: “In recent years, the regulations covering permitted development rights have been amended to enable business premises to be converted, and most recently, redeveloped into residential units, subject to certain conditions and limitations, without the need to submit a planning application.
“We’re updating the current restrictions to permitted development rights in order to protect the integrity of Hertsmere’s employment areas and the standard of residential accommodation available to our residents.”
Details of the new article 4 directions can be found on the council website6.
The new directions will come into force in May 2023. Views can be submitted to the council as part of a public consultation by emailing: email@example.com.
13 June 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Further £25m committed to offshore energy
The Crown Estate has announced that it has doubled its commitment to enable the coexistence of offshore wind farms with a thriving marine environment.
It will commit another £25 million to its Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme, bringing the total investment intent up to £50 million.
The programme gathers and harnesses the necessary data and evidence to “propel forward the growth of UK offshore wind at pace” while at the same time maintaining clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas.
The Crown Estate is delivering the programme in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). They are working closely with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments, regulators, NGOs and industry representatives.
Joint venture to deliver 40-storey tower in Manchester
Developer Relentless has announced a joint venture with property developer Salboy to deliver phase two of the St Michael’s scheme in Manchester city centre.
Designed by Hodder + Partners, the 40-storey tower will be home to a 191-bed hotel, 181 serviced residences, and amenity and leisure spaces for residents and guests.
Contractor Domis Construction, Salboy’s dedicated construction partner, will support Relentless and Salboy to deliver phase 2.
Views sought on levelling-up bids
Residents in Doncaster have been asked for feedback on two bid proposals to apply for levelling-up funding from the UK Government.
Doncaster Council is preparing to apply for levelling-up funding (round 2) for the Doncaster North and Don Valley constituencies – with areas such as Mexborough, Moorends, Brodsworth Miners Welfare Institute (Woodlands) and Edlington set to be part of the respective bids.
The consultation on the proposed plans closes on 27 June. After consideration of the feedback, the applications will be submitted to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) on 6 July.
If successful, the funding will be invested in areas such as the Royal Estate in Edlington and to build a new leisure centre in Edlington.
The consultation website can be found here8.
Minister for Scotland backs UNESCO World Heritage site bid
Iain Stewart has backed the call for Scotland’s The Flow Country to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Flow Country is an extensive bog system – home to some of Scotland's rarest wildlife, including white-tailed sea eagles, curlews, otters and pine martens.
A statement from NatureScot says it is the most intact and extensive blanket bog system in the world. It consists of more than 400,000 hectares of peatland across Caithness and northern Sutherland and acts as a carbon sink.
The Flow Country Partnership, which includes NatureScot, The Highland Council, RSPB Scotland and the University of the Highlands and Islands, is behind the bid.
The bid documentation, which comprises a management plan, will be submitted to UNESCO by the UK Government at the end of the year, and following a site visit the outcome will be decided in mid-2024.
Pavilion in Folkestone to be restored
Pre-commencement approvals have been granted for the restoration of Folkestone’s historic Leas Pavilion as part of a residential development overlooking the town’s seafront.
Gustavia is delivering the pavilion’s renovation and an accompanying residential block, which will be built at the currently derelict site.
Built in 1902, the grade II-listed Leas Pavilion has operated as a tea room, theatre, cinema, bowling alley, snooker hall and nightclub.
It closed in 2007 and has since fallen into disrepair, suffering water damage and timber decay.
Selahattin Yalcin, development director at Gustavia, said: “It’s taken 18 months of hard work to get to this stage. Every step we’ve taken has been in conjunction with the relevant council authorities and our appointed architect, Hollaway, structural engineer, Manhire, and services engineer, Hoare Lea. We’ve also committed to keeping the community updated on our plans for this historic building. We’re fully aware that the pavilion holds many happy memories for the people of Folkestone. The local community can rest assured that those memories will survive as we carefully return this beautiful pavilion to its original form within a refurbished structure which will stand for another 100 years and more.”
Upgrades to M25 go on show
National Highways's plans to upgrade junction 28 of the M25 at Brentwood are going on show next week.
A series of public information events will be held, where people will be able to hear more details about the first phase of preparation work, and when this work is due to start.
The plans are intended to ease queues and congestion at this heavily used junction.
National Highways project manager Zachary Pepper said: “Our plans to upgrade the M25 at junction 28 will reduce congestion, improve journeys times and improve safety.
“As we get closer to the start of work we are keen to update the local community and road users, as well as provide an opportunity for people to ask any questions they have. I encourage anyone interested in the scheme to come along to one of our public information events to find out more about the upgrade and see what we will be doing as we prepare to start work.”
A virtual information portal will be launched next week. More information can be found on the National Highways website.
14 June 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner