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Weekly planning news

Planning news - 18 April 2024

Government’s approach to local council energy efficiency standards to be challenged in court

The High Court will conduct a judicial review of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)’s policy on energy efficiency measures for new build homes, The Planner has reported. 

The hearing is scheduled for after 20 May, with the outcome set to influence the future of green standards for housing. 

Environmental campaign group Rights Community Action, with the assistance of non-profit law firm The Good Law Project, aim to challenge the government over the imposed limitations which prevent councils setting higher green standards for new build homes. 

The campaign group claim that government’s adopted position – which prohibits local councils from imposing any additional environmental regulations on new builds, aside from those already laid out in existing building regulations legislation – is preventing measures to tackle the climate crisis and the rising cost of living.  

The government has defended it’s position, however, suggesting that energy-efficient homes can be supplied within current legislative limits without the need to further limit economies of scale. 

You can find out more by visiting Friends of the Earth's website.1

Researchers urge politicians to utilise UK’s untapped onshore windfarm and solar potential

Research conducted by Exeter University’s Environmental Intelligence Centre has revealed 374,900 hectares of land which would be ‘most suitable’ for onshore windfarm development and solar farms across the UK.  

The land identified excludes national parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONBs), as well as heritage sites, high-grade agricultural land and small developments. 

According to The Planner, the report unearthed that ‘there is enough viable land to generate 130,421GWh of solar power and 95,542GWh of onshore wind, with current levels reported as 17,063GWh combined.’   

Reporting on the study, Friends of the Earth outlined that ‘The research finds that if all the land identified were developed for onshore solar or wind, 2.5 times more electricity than currently required to power all households in England could be produced.’           

Last week, we reported on research underscoring the country’s vast, unutilised potential for rooftop solar energy generation.  2

Now this windfarm study, championed by Friends of the Earth, acts as further evidence to suggest that the UK could be doing much more to facilitate the generation and distribution of clean energy, in order to transition away from fossil fuels and meet our ambitious national climate targets. 

Tony Bosworth, of Friends of the Earth, said – “We urgently need our political leaders to pull their heads out of the sand and produce a strong, ambitious and fair new climate plan that lifts the barriers to onshore wind and solar power and secures investment in the infrastructure needed to support the switch to renewables.” 

Friends of the Earth provide a handy interactive map3, which highlights windfarm potential by local authority area. You can also read the full policy briefing by visiting Friends of the Earth’s website.4

Solar farm approval

On Thursday of last week, The Planner reported that Harborough district council has recently approved a solar farm project. ‘According to the planning statement, 103,000 solar panels will power 13,465 properties annually – around 30 per cent of the district’s homes.’ 

The solar farm has a life span of 40 years, after which time it will be decommissioned and the land returned to agricultural use.  

You can find more information on that here5.  

Interested in making your home more sustainable?  

There are many ways to improve the sustainability of your home, from energy saving improvements, to utilising green energy and even producing your own. And the best part? There is government funding available to help. Find out more by visiting our Sustainability Hub.6 

Chief Planner’s newsletter released

Joanna Averley, Chief Planner for England, released her monthly newsletter on 15 April, highlighting key planning policy and legislation highlights from the past four weeks. 

Unsurprisingly, Averly drew attention the removal of biodiversity net gain exemptions on 2 April and the pivotal shift towards national environmental sustainability within planning that this represents. She has urged anyone struggling to understand or implement the changes to contact the Planning Advisory Service.  

The newsletter also highlighted the outcome of the recent consultation on the consenting process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, which aims to speed up the decision-making process and bolster the current system’s capabilities for getting high-impact projects approved. 

Averly also touched on measures under the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act 2023 which have empowered local planning authorities with enhanced enforcement prerogatives and measures.

Local initiatives

Over the past week, The Planner has reported on several local plans and initiatives, including those taking place in Oxford, Wrexham, Blackpool and Skegness. 

Oxford local plan 

Oxford City Council has submitted its draft local plan for scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate, outlining development proposals until 2040.  

The plan aims to construct 9,612 new homes within the city. 40% of larger developments within the plan have been designated for affordable housing, which includes 32% of council homes.  

Wrexham 900 home proposal consultation begins  

The proposal, which is for a scheme on farmland near Wrexham rugby club, is being consulted on as part of a larger development plan approved by the council.  

This initiative, along with other proposed developments in the area, aims to address housing needs and provide amenities such as schools and green spaces.  

Urban extension scheme approved in Skegness 

A local development order for a scheme in Skegness has been approved by East Lindsey District Council. The project spans over 336 acres and will include housing, business, and community spaces. 

Blackpool Multiversity project approved 

Blackpool Council has granted planning permission for the Blackpool Multiversity development, despite some initial concerns about the impact on residential areas. The council believes the project will positively contribute to the long-term prosperity of the area. 

You can read more on The Planner's website.7

Public practice launch new services and place Spring 2024 cohort

Public practice, the government-backed organisation which seeks to support and grow public sector planning capacity, has recently announced it is launching new services for the first time since 2017. 

These include: 

  • ‘A jobs board to support local authorities to attract senior-level professionals to public sector roles all year round, 
  • A new website to provide resources and go-to guidance for building a career in the public sector, 
  • A new magazine, Public Notice, celebrating the critical every day and interdisciplinary work of public sector placemakers nationwide.’ 

Public practice, who since launching have so far placed 346 associates at 96 authorities, successfully placed 25 associates in regions across the UK during the Spring 2024 cohort. 

You can find out more about Public Practice, including information on their Spring 2024 cohort, by visiting their website. 8


Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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    Planning news - 18 April 2024

      The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All content © 2024 Planning Portal.

      The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All content © 2024 Planning Portal.