Weekly planning news
Planning news - 18 January 2024
Mansfield to get £20m for regeneration
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced that Mansfield will receive £20 million to regenerate the town centre and support residents in the most deprived areas to access vital services.
Mansfield is the third area to benefit from the department’s £400 million regeneration programme, which is part of the government’s levelling up agenda for England.
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove said: “Levelling Up Partnerships are a key tool to drive much-needed change in local areas, and we are working intensively with places which for too long had been overlooked and undervalued.
“Our £20 million funding for Mansfield will help remodel the Bellamy and Oak Tree housing estates, develop young people’s green construction skills in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, address antisocial behaviour, and support East Midlands’ devolution deal.”
The £20 million investment consists of:
- £7.4 million to remodel the Bellamy and Oak Tree estates and improve housing quality and access to services.
- £5 million to Mansfield Connect as an exemplar low-carbon construction project and for hands-on skills training for retrofit and modern methods of construction in partnership with Vision West Nottinghamshire College and Nottingham Trent University.
- £3.2 million for a youth centre on the Bellamy estate to help divert young people from crime and antisocial behaviour.
- £2 million for streetscaping and public realm improvements in the centre of Mansfield to make the town centre more appealing.
- £2 million for improvements to Sainsbury’s junction, a local traffic pinch-point affecting connectivity into the town centre.
- £300,000 for the refurbishment of South Mansfield Family Hubs to make them more appropriate for family and youth support.
- £250,000 for a school readiness pilot run by Nottingham Trent University in some of Mansfield’s most deprived neighbourhoods.
- £250,000 of capacity funding for Mansfield District Council to identify its unique economic and cultural opportunities in preparation for the establishment of the new devolution deal in the East Midlands.
Andrew Abrahams, executive mayor of Mansfield District Council, said the investment would make a “huge difference to communities and help to deliver some of our place-shaping aspirations for the district”.
“These projects will bring life-changing opportunities that will make a real difference in some of our most deprived areas.
“We’re pleased to be able to finally announce the full funding package for Mansfield, coupled with the Town’s Fund and Long-Term deal for Towns, the district is set to benefit from substantial amounts of much-needed funding to help build thriving communities, grow a more vibrant economy and a place where people are supported to be happy and healthy.
It was announced in the Spring Budget last year that Mansfield is one of 20 areas that will receive tailored support through Levelling Up Partnerships, which focus on the areas most in need of levelling up. Hull and Sandwell were announced in 2023 as the first two areas.
Mansfield has recently received £20 million from the Long-Term Plan for Towns, £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund, a £12.3 million Town Deal and £2.9 million from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
10 January 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
More than 450 homes approved in Wrexham
Wrexham County Borough Council's Planning Committee has granted outline planning permission for a 455-home scheme.
The site is on land at either side of Stansty Chain Road, off the a483 trunk road and the A541 Mold Road in Stansty, Wrexham. The proposed accesses would be directly off these roads.
The scheme was the first large development to go before the committee since it adopted its local development plan (LDP) in December, after rejecting it twice and being ordered by the High Court to arrange a meeting to adopt the replacement LDP or face further legal action. The vote to approve the LPD took place in December1.
Policy H1 in the LDP allocated this site for 375 homes, but the officer's report (pdf)2 notes that this is not the maximum, with the number of dwellings to be delivered on allocated sites to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“The application proposes 455 dwellings. The provision of an additional 80 dwellings would be a significant windfall. Windfall developments are expected to make an important contribution to the housing supply delivered over the LDP plan period, accounting for 10 per cent of the LDP provision. Additionally, there has been a significant under-delivery of housing over the LDP plan period to date,” states the report.
The LDP’s Annual Average Requirement (AAR) is for 517 dwellings to be completed each year, but this has not been achieved in any year since 2013. This under-delivery “weighs heavily in favour” of the 455 homes proposed.
Policy H2 requires 25 per cent affordable housing to be delivered in the area in which this site is located.
The report explains: "The proposed development would deliver up to 113 affordable units. This would be 20 more than if the capacity of the site were limited to 375 dwellings."
The affordable homes would be secured through a section 106 planning obligation.
The Welsh Government – as highways authority for the A483 – and the council’s highway officer raised no objections to the development.
The report concludes with two recommendations – grant planning permission subject to the affordable homes secured through a s160 or refuse if the s106 is not secured within six months of the committee resolution (8 January).
Seven members of the planning committee voted for the housing and six rejected it.
11 January 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Inspectors concerned about Traveller site provision in York plan
Inspectors examining the City of York Local Plan have raised concerns regarding the suitability of a site proposed for Gypsies and Travellers.
The site in question is the Osbaldwick site. The concerns surround the possible impacts of activities on the neighbouring site
The local plan was submitted for examination in May 2018. The council has not had a local plan since 1954 and a draft plan from 2005 carries little weight. In 2021, inspectors told the city council to consider withdrawing this draft from examination.
But in February last year, the city council consulted on the final modifications. The concerns in this final draft have been the subject of recent exchanges with York Travellers' Trust, according to a letter3 sent by inspectors on 20 December.
Draft policy H5 relates to the provision of suitable sites for Gypsies and Travellers. According to the inspectors' letter, the city council’s recent handling of application ref.21/02283/FULM – 139 homes on land to the east of Millfield industrial estate in Main Street, Wheldrake – has been drawn to their attention.
The plans, which were approved in December, do not include any on-site provision for Gypsy and Traveller pitches or alternative off-site provision in accordance with the requirements of policy H5. A planning officers’ report states4: “It is recommended that an obligation to provide funding for two pitches is required for the strategic housing site to contribute by a proportionate amount to the identified Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs in the city.”
A section 106 agreement should secure, among other provisions, an off-site contribution of £300,000 towards funding two additional pitches for Gypsy and Travellers in the City of York Council area.
The inspectors explained: “The allocation allows for two pitches to be provided on this site but, as we understand the situation, the council’s decision means that no pitches will be provided on it. It is recognised that the intention is to use the financial contribution sought as a means of securing provision off-site, but the question is first, where, and second, when? We are concerned about the effect this will have on the overall supply and delivery of pitches required to meet the identified need. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of the policy relating to the draft allocation, and others like it proposed for other allocations in the plan."
For these concerns to be dealt with, the inspectors are asking the city council to arrange a hearing as soon as possible.
The letter and more information about the local plan can be found on the City of York Council website. 5
11 January 2024
Laura Edgar, The Planner
DCO granted for widening of A12 in Essex
Transport minister Huw Merriman has granted a development consent order (DCO) for a scheme to widen the A12 to three lanes between Hatfield Peverel (J20a) and Marks Tey (J25).
The decision, which was delegated to the minister by transport secretary Mark Harper, was made in line with a recommendation made by examining authority the Planning Inspectorate.
The stretch of the A12 in question stretches for 25km and passes through the villages of Hatfield Peverel, Rivenhall End, Kelvedon, Inworth, Feering, Marks Tey, and Copford as well as the town of Witham. It falls within the administrative boundaries of Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council, Braintree District Council, Maldon District Council, and Colchester Borough Council.
The National Highways application also sought consent for:
- A new three-lane bypass at Rivenhall End (J22 to J23);
- A bypass between J24 to J25;
- Improvements to J19 and J25;
- Three new junctions (J21, J22, J24) constructed to replace the existing J20a, J20b and J23;
- New and improved walking, cycling and horse-riding routes; and
- The diversion of a high-pressure gas pipeline, operated by Cadent Gas Limited – a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project in itself.
Since it was accepted for examination in September 2022, the applicant has requested to make six design changes, which were the result of various factors including stakeholder feedback. Both the minister and the Planning Inspectorate agreed that the changes should be allowed “because, individually and cumulatively, they are not so substantial that they would constitute a materially different project”.
The proposed changes are
- Re-design of the proposed northbound on-slip road at J19.
- The exclusion of the proposed Anglian Water pumping station from land proposed for compulsory acquisition at Hatfield Peverel.
- Changes to the provision of proposed replacement land at Whetmead, plus additional consequential changes to reflect a change of ownership for open space in the Witham area that occurred after the submission of the DCO application.
- Changes to the proposed drainage works associated with proposed works along the B1023 Kelvedon Road at Inworth.
- Removal of the proposed segregated left turn lane at proposed J24/Inworth Road B1023.
- Removal of the proposed signalised crossroads and partial signalisation of the existing roundabout at J25/A120.
National Highways sets out a series of factors to support the need for the project, citing the A12 as an important economic link in Essex and across the East of England and an important freight connection. Given the predicted growth in jobs and housing in the area, the A12 will act as a barrier to economic growth if improvements are not undertaken.
Merriman agreed with the examining authority that the applicant has sufficiently considered alternative options for the development, which is identified in Road Investment Strategy 2. Therefore, he agreed that substantial positive weight should be attached to the planning balance towards the need for the development
They were also in agreement that while there would be localised net worsening in local air quality, as set out in the applicant’s study area as a result of construction of the development, “this would be limited and localised in nature and unlikely to result in any significant air quality effects”.
Moreover, Merriman noted that as a result of the development, “there would also be improvements to air quality at a number of locations due to either changes in traffic flows or as a result of the realignment of the main carriageway".
They agreed that the applicant had undertaken a “thorough and detailed" assessment of biodiversity matters that would be affected by the development, both directly and indirectly.
The examining authority concluded that the significant improvements, such as new footways, cycleways and bridges proposed as part of the development will address existing severance issues and deliver significant benefits. Merriman was satisfied with the examining authority's conclusion that land use is a matter that weighs positively in favour of granting the DCO, attributing moderate positive weight,
For the examining authority, the need for the development has been met and the expected benefits carry substantial weight in favour of the granting of the DCO", and the transport minister is satisfied that the need for the development is established and he attributed considerable weight to the "additional highway network capacity that would help to support economic development, and improved links within the wider region and beyond".
In the planning balance, the minister is of the view that the “potential negative impacts are substantially outweighed by the benefits of the proposed development”.
The DCO was granted.
The decision letter and all other related documents can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website. 6
15 January 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Harborough council leader seeks meeting with Gove over rural prison
The leader of Harborough District Council has written to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to discuss the impact of a new prison in Gartree on the local community.
Gove approved plans for a new category B ‘training’ prison, next to the existing HMP Gartree, in November 2023, overruling a planning inspector’s recommendation that it be refused planning permission.
Councillor Phil Knowles, leader of the council, has now written to the secretary of state to discuss new local infrastructure and community benefits. Knowles said that residents had been left “dismayed” by the loss of gains like footpaths and community engagement schemes.
Knowles said in his letter to Gove: “I feel it important and necessary to ensure that if the prison is now to be built that the local community and our residents receive the very best possible support from the Ministry of Justice and Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.
“At the very least residents expect new local infrastructure, enhanced community benefit and ongoing involvement and engagement. Residents were also dismayed that two locally developed schemes that were included in the section 106 [developer contributions] were removed due to not being considered CIL-compliant (footpaths and community engagement scheme). At the very least I would hope that we can discuss these initiatives and agree their potential resurrection through separate agreement mechanisms and constructive discussion.
“I am sure that a development of this size and magnitude with its obvious longevity in the district can surely contribute to a range of measures that will make the local place better for the residents from the outset. I look forward to your response and the offer of a meeting… preferably in Harborough, so we can show you around the site and you can see first-hand the immediate locality and how it would be affected.”
16 January 2023
Ben Gosling, The Planner
RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2024 open for entries
The RTPI has opened entries for the 2024 Awards for Planning Excellence.
There are 15 categories this year, with entrants able to select their best work, which should have been completed between 2022 and 2023. The deadline for entries is 15 March 2024.
Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: "Each year the RTPI acknowledges and celebrates the best in our profession by awarding the valuable contributions made by planning professionals in the communities they serve.
“Planning professionals play a vital role in creating sustainable communities, and the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence aims to recognise and highlight the most outstanding plans, people, and projects that have made a significant difference."
More information can be found here on the RTPI website7.
Phase two of Fruit Market approved in Nottingham
Nottingham City Council has approved plans for the second stage of Fruit Market – a city centre townhouse development in Nottingham’s Sneinton Market.
The second phase of the development will be delivered by sustainable homes specialist Blueprint and will consist of 26 new homes clustered around two communal gardens providing residents with large outdoor spaces.
The first phase of the Fruit Market development is nearing completion.
The scheme is fully gas-free with residents being provided with individual air-source heat pumps to heat their homes and provide hot water.
The central location will also allow residents to be within walking distance of main amenities and public transport.
Blueprint again worked with Letts Wheeler Architects on this phase.
Public consultation on two parks in Belfast opens
A public consultation has been launched for plans to transform Waterworks Park and Alexandra Park in north Belfast.
Redevelopment plans include upgrades to entrances, paths, lighting, signage, play parks, bridges and pitches at both parks. Refurbishment and essential safety work are also planned at both parks’ reservoirs.
New features proposed for the Waterworks include a café, a dog exercise area, an events space, toilets, a Changing Places facility and a basketball court.
In Alexandra Park, proposed new facilities include allotments, toilets, a Changing Places facility and a community events space.
The pre-planning public consultation on proposals is open until 21 March 2024.
Vistry wins Southport development contract
Mixed-tenure developer Vistry Group has won a £29 million contract from Riverside Group to design and build 40 new energy-efficient homes alongside an extra care scheme providing 90 apartments and new external landscaped areas in Southport.
As part of the development, Vistry will also deliver a 12-apartment short-term assessment centre for neurodiverse people. The design of the centre, which will be operated by Sefton Council, has been shaped by Riverside and those with lived experience of autism and learning disabilities.
The new homes will include houses, bungalows and apartments, providing care options to the local community. Twenty of the homes will be offered in shared ownership tenure, helping local people to enter the owned property market.
Work is due to start early this year, and the development is expected to be completed by early 2026.
McLaren Living announces partnership with AEW
McLaren Living, a specialist developer in the build-to-rent market, has partnered with real estate investment manager AEW to redevelop Broad Street Mall and bring forward a mixed-use neighbourhood in Reading town centre.
The proposed development is close to local shops, cafés, bars and a theatre as well as being in walking distance of Reading train station, which has direct links to London and the South West.
The proposals to redevelop the southern part of the 4.6-acre site include approximately 600 market and affordable build-to-rent homes and 15,000 square feet of space comprising commercial, retail and leisure uses.
The residential buildings would be located to the south of Broad Street Mall, tracing the path along Dusseldorf Way and integrating into the wider Minster Quarter masterplan.
The mixed-use development would also deliver publicly accessible open space and an improved landscaping scheme to both Queens Walk and Dusseldorf Way, which forms part of the wider proposals and would see significant investment in the regeneration of the area.
McLaren Living says it plans to submit a planning application to Reading Borough Council in early 2024.
Campaign launched for new railway station in Winchburgh
Winchburgh Developments Ltd has launched a new campaign and report to bring a new railway station to Winchburgh, West Lothian.
The report outlines the findings of an expert assessment highlighting the benefits a new rail connection would deliver to Winchburgh and the wider Lothian region.
Discussions on a new station have been continuing between developers, Network Rail, Scotrail, Transport Scotland, and other key stakeholders.
Planning permission in principle was awarded in 2012 and Winchburgh Developments Ltd has called on the Scottish Government to establish a working group and set a date to open the new station.
Oldham preparing local plan - views sought
Oldham Council has begun consulting with the public on how the area should develop.
The council is preparing a new local plan for the period up to 2039. It is now at the draft plan stage.
Views can be shared on various topics, including the built environment, climate change and flood risk, and housing and transport.
The consultation closes on 21 February. More information on the draft local plan can be found on the Oldham Council website. 8
London borough announces design review panel
The Royal Borough of Greenwich Council has appointed a group of architects, urban designers and sustainability experts to provide independent advice on the design of future development.
Chaired by Jay Gort, architect and founding director of architecture practice, Gort Scott, the Greenwich Design Review Panel will provide advice and feedback on new buildings, landscapes and public spaces in the early stages of design.
Aidan Smith, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The Design Review Panel will play a crucial role in ensuring new development protects Greenwich's unique character and heritage, and helps us to create healthy and well-connected communities.”
Gort said: “Greenwich is a borough with a rich history and a dynamic future, and I am excited to work alongside my fellow panel members to contribute to the development of spaces that reflect the unique character and aspirations of the community. We will aim to elevate design standards, promote sustainability, and ensure that Greenwich continues to thrive as a vibrant and inspiring place to live and work.”
The panel has 24 members with a range of expertise and experience in architecture, design, landscape and ecology, conservation, transport and climate change.
Application for coastal retirement scheme in Eastbourne lodged
Later living developer-operator Untold Living has submitted plans for a 139-home seafront integrated retirement community (IRC) to Eastbourne Borough Council.
The firm completed the acquisition of the 2.5-acre seafront site at Sovereign Harbour in November from Birch Limited, a Richardson family company.
The scheme would comprise a range of one and two-bedroom apartments overlooking the English Channel. Amenity spaces also feature in the plans, some of which would be available for use by the wider Eastbourne community.
Homes would be available across a range of different mid-market tenures, including to buy, for rent and purchase through shared ownership.
16 January 2023
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner