Weekly planning news
Planning news - 2 March 2023
Mandatory BNG to apply from November 2023
The government has announced that developers in England will be required to deliver 10 per cent biodiversity net gain (BNG) when building housing, industrial or commercial developments from November this year.
Local planning authorities will receive a share of £16 million to expand their resource and upskill teams, including ecologists.
The move follows a consultation on regulations and implementation.
BNG was introduced by the Environment Act 2021 and forms part of the government’s plans to halt species decline by 2030.
Developers will be required to assess the type of habitat that would be affected and its condition before submitting plans to local planning authorities setting out how they will deliver 10 per cent BNG. Biodiversity metric trading rules mean that any habitat affected within the boundary plan is replaced on a ‘like for like’ or ‘like for better’ principle.
Small sites will be subject to a longer transition period, which will run until April 2024. Exemptions have been made for developments such as self-build homes to ensure that implementation is targeted towards developments that would generate the most impact, explained the government.
In circumstances where biodiversity improvements are not possible, developers will be able to pay for improvements on other sites by purchasing “units” via a private, off-site market.
A government-run statutory credit scheme will be set up for developers as a last resort.
Environment secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “Biodiversity net gain will ensure new developments work for both wildlife and people by creating nature-rich places whilst ensuring that communities get the new homes they need.
“We will continue to support and work with developers and planning authorities ahead of the introduction of biodiversity net gain. We want to help them ensure the developments of the future enhance biodiversity by creating thriving places for plants and wildlife, as outlined under our pioneering Environmental Improvement Plan1."
The government's response to the consultation sets out:
£16 million funding will allow local planning authorities with planning oversight to expand resource and up-skill teams, including ecologists. This will increase their capacity to work with developers and communities to help secure a long-lasting legacy for nature.
A phased introduction for BNG, with small sites having until April 2024 to comply with the regulations. This extension intends to give local planning authorities and smaller developers more time to prepare and apply best practice from activity on major development sites. A small site is considered to be one that delivers between one and nine dwellings on land less that one hectare or where the floor space to be created is less than 1,000 square metres / where the site area is less than one hectare.
Details of a statutory credit scheme – a last resort option for biodiversity net gain delivery - will be set up to prevent delays in the planning system. In order to buy credits, developers will have to demonstrate they cannot deliver habitat onsite, or via the off-site market. The proceeds will be invested in habitat creation.
Draft legislation is due to be published later in 2023, with further stakeholder engagement taking place on implementation before biodiversity net gain becomes mandatory in November.
The consultation response can be found on the UK Government website2.
Brian Berry, chief executive at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB): said: “It’s good to finally have some clarity about the new biodiversity net gain regulations. Many small housebuilders have been worried about these new changes and the impact they could have on delivering new homes. The government must ensure small house builders are supported to deliver it, especially on brownfield sites that could be particularly affected and are the traditional sites chosen by smaller developers. Small housebuilders already face a tranche of new rules and regulations, all upping cost and complexity to building new homes, so targeted support to help them deliver biodiversity net gain will be key.”
Alice Davidson, associate director at Boyer (Wokingham), commented: “It is absolutely essential that the government ensures that the national BNG credit system is in place prior to the requirements coming into force. The government is seeking to make the cost of these credits unattractive to encourage on-site BNG. However, for sites where it is simply not possible to achieve BNG on-site, it is important that the costs of national credits aren’t so high as to stifle development.”
Joe Heath, environmental lead at the Land Trust, said: “In August of 2022, the Land Trust, in partnership with the Land Promoters & Developer Federation (LPDF) and the Home Builders Federation (HBF), carried out a piece of research amongst 84 land promoters and residential developers.
“At that point in time, less than one in seven respondents felt that mandatory BNG regulations were ‘comfortably achievable’, with 73 per cent calling out the provision of ‘appropriate administrative resource and skill set within local planning authorities’ as the second biggest area of concern. (Availability of on-site land was the largest concern (89 per cent)).
“The upfront commitment of £16 million is an encouraging announcement as the demands placed upon local planning authorities increase in the run-up to this legislation coming into force, as well as from November onwards."
28 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Powys chicken farm permission paused over possible ministerial intervention
The Welsh Government has intervened over proposals for a chicken farm near Newtown, which had been backed by Powys County Council members.
Welsh Government planning directorate chief planner and deputy director Neil Hemington has directed the planning authority not to determine the application while climate change minister Julie James considers whether to call it in.
Hemington stressed: “The direction prevents your council only from granting planning permission; it does not prevent it from continuing to process or consult on the application.
“Neither does it prevent it from refusing planning permission.”
Farmer Gwyn Jones’s plans include building two poultry units for 56,000 chickens each and all the associated works at Upper Maenllwyd. The site is located just off the B4368 road between the villages of Kerry and Abermule.
Last month a separate planning application for a 100,000 meat-rearing chicken farm near Builth Wells was paused to allow the Welsh Government time to consider calling in the proposals.
Lyndon Jones of Cwmafan, Llanafan Fawr, wants to build two agricultural steel portal framed buildings to rear 50,000 broilers in each facility, as well as installing feed bins, creating a new vehicular access together with all other associated works.
A Welsh Government spokesman confirmed that no decision on that scheme had yet been taken.
Environmental groups have been vocal about the concentration of new poultry farms in the county, partly because of concern over the risk of pollution to the River Wye.
24 February 2023
Roger Milne, The Planner
Court rules that appellant loses right to appeal if claiming bankruptcy
The High Court has ruled that an individual who has declared bankruptcy cannot pursue a section 289 appeal.
The decision came after Ebele Muorah appealed against an enforcement notice issued by Brent Borough Council. According to the council, Muorah had erected a door and canopy at a property on Harlesden Road, and subdivided the building into two properties without planning permission.
Her initial appeal against this decision was dismissed by a planning inspector in August 2019, leading the appellant to take the case to the High Court.
However, Deputy Judge Neil Cameron KC has upheld the enforcement notice. The appellant had been declared bankrupt in 2021, and disclaimed the property in June 2022, meaning that Muorah no longer has an interest in the property.
Cameron ruled that as the property had passed to the trustee in bankruptcy, she could no longer pursue the appeal.
“Ms Muorah does not own the cause of action and so it is an abuse of process for her to seek to continue this appeal. Accordingly, I have concluded that the appeal must be struck out”, concluded Cameron.
The Deputy Judge’s full decision can be found here3.
24 February 2023
Ben Gosling, The Planner
Leeds launches local plan scoping consultation
Leeds City Council has published a local plan 2040 scoping consultation to gain views about the authority’s early thoughts on planning topics over the next 17 years.
It focuses on seven topic areas:
- Spatial strategy: Where should development take place in Leeds?
- Housing: How should Leeds respond to the national housing crisis?
- Economic development: How many new jobs are needed, and where should they be?
- Roles of centres: What will your local high street look like in 2040?
- Minerals and waste: Consideration of the necessity for mineral extraction and associated infrastructure.
- Transport and accessibility: The local plan 2040 will explore how the plan can work with the Connecting Leeds Strategy to ensure that development is supported by public transport infrastructure and Leeds can be a city where you don’t need to own a car.
- Other topic areas: This includes matters such as heritage and conservation, rural development, and green corridors in urban areas.
The city council is seeking views from residents and local businesses on these topic areas in order to set the direction for future consultations on the local plan 2040.
Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate and infrastructure, said: “The local plan 2040 will set out our city’s planning policies for the long-term future, directing future development across Leeds, so it’s important that we gather the views of residents and organisations across the city at the very start of this process.
“This scoping consultation will set the direction of travel for the local plan 2040 and will allow us to understand what residents and organisations want to see across a range of planning policy areas.”
The consultation closes on 24 March. It can be found here4.
22 February 2023
Rochdale council lodges plans to transform site near rail station
Rochdale Borough Council has submitted a planning application for a new public square in front of the town’s railway station in pursuit of a multimillion-pound scheme to transform an ‘underwhelming’ area.
The square is envisaged as the centrepiece of a regeneration project that could involve the development of more than 1,000 new homes and new green spaces. These would include about 200 apartments and houses on the site of the former Central Retail Park, currently a derelict brownfield site.
The development, to be known as Station Gardens, was part of a recent levelling-up bid that was rejected by the government, but the council plans to forge ahead and is investigating alternative ways to deliver the scheme as it envisages the enhanced gateway as a catalyst for more investment in the town.
The area, a key gateway into the borough for residents and visitors, will also benefit from new signage to better connect people to the town centre and its environs – enlivened by street art and enhanced lighting.
Better walking and cycling routes would also form part of a regenerated Milkstone and Deeplish should plans be approved and, to this end, an active travel pilot scheme has recently got under way in the area.
The proposals are part of the wider rail strategy, which aims to regenerate brownfield areas around the borough’s five railway stations by creating 7,000 new homes and a million square metres of employment space.
The plans complement other recent regeneration schemes in the area, including the multimillion-pound refurbishment of the Greater Fire Service Museum and continuing work to redevelop historic spaces on Drake Street as part of the Heritage Action Zone initiative.
A new pocket park is also set to be created on disused platforms at Rochdale Railway Station – designers will be consulting with community groups in the coming months as they start to work up plans.
If the planning application is approved, work on Station Square could begin later this year.
The Station Square redevelopment is being led by Rochdale Development Agency on behalf of Rochdale Borough Council. Broadway Malyan are the architects, with Nexus as planning consultant and Faithful and Gould as cost manager.
Councillor John Blundell, the council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “Station Square is a really important part of the borough and the first place many of our visitors see when they arrive. At the moment, it’s an underwhelming space, which does little to hint at the fantastic town centre and wider area which lies just beyond.
“By relocating traffic from directly in front of the station, we’ll create a really attractive space where people can relax and enjoy the area and businesses will benefit from the extra footfall and space. It will also better connect it to the town centre and enable people to get around more easily and sustainably.”
22 February 2023
Canning Town housing plans approved
Planning permission has been granted for the regeneration of Newham Council’s Canning Town estates to deliver 147 affordable homes on vacant land at Vincent Street.
It will form phase one of the wider regeneration masterplan, which is being co-designed with local residents to deliver a large number of family homes along with open spaces, play spaces and energy-efficient buildings, all of which will transform the neighbourhood.
The council is working to procure a contractor to develop the scheme for construction and enable an early start on-site to deliver affordable homes for residents.
The Canning Town regeneration project is part of the wider Custom House and Canning Town regeneration area, which seeks to create a new neighbourhood, co-designed and co-produced with existing residents to deliver a large increase in affordable homes and improve connections to the town centre on Barking Road and to Hallsville Quarter.
Residents vote in favour of Ebury Bridge regeneration
The majority of eligible voters – 91 per cent – from Ebury Bridge voted in favour of how a regeneration scheme will be delivered and endorsed the Westminster City Council’s proposals to increase the number of new council homes for social rent.
The council decided to hold a resident ballot to decide the future of the area.
Voter turnout was 67 per cent, which includes residents who have moved off the estate but have the ‘right to return’.
The council can now move forward with plans to build "new high-quality, affordable homes" by unlocking up to £41 million of additional funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA).
The regeneration of the estate is already under way. The original plan was to deliver about 780 new homes, of which at least 50 per cent would be affordable. Because of the ballot result, the number of new council homes for social rent could increase by about 130 (from 41 to more than 170) owing to GLA funding. This is in addition to the 198 council homes being replaced and updated for the council tenants who currently live on the estate.
Permission sought for 96 homes in Barnsley
Housebuilder Honey has submitted plans for a £23.5 million development that would comprise 95 two, three and four-bedroom homes on Barnburgh Lane, Barnsley.
If proposals are approved by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, the eight-acre development would be the Sheffield-based housebuilding company’s first in Yorkshire since launching in October 2022.
Called Iris, the development would accommodate the Future Homes Standard, which requires all new homes being built from 2025 onwards to cut carbon emissions by 75-80 per cent.
Rotherham park schemes approved
Plans to improve facilities at Rother Valley Country Park and Thrybergh Country Park have been approved by Rotherham Council.
New facilities at Rother Valley Country Park will include the development of a waterfront café with views across the main lake. It will feature both indoor and outdoor seating with a first-floor events space available for events and meetings.
Improvements to parking facilities and a relocated cycle hub will be complemented by a landscaping scheme to enhance the visitor experience including a new play area. The existing café in the courtyard will be adapted as a “grab and go” outlet.
A new café building has also been approved for Thrybergh Country Park.
Work is set to begin for both schemes later in the year.
Sustainable Bankside office development approved
Southwark Council has approved plans by Native Land for a new 110,000-square foot sustainable office at its Bankside Yards development.
The 13-storey building will deliver a grade A sustainable workspace to meet SME demand in the undersupplied South Bank market.
A more solid façade will reduce solar gain and heat loss and a post-tensioned concrete structure will keep embodied carbon to a minimum.
Building 8 will feature large terraces on the sixth and 10th floors with a focus on indoor and outdoor space. The project will turn a previously inaccessible area into nearly 4,300 square feet of new public realm and a pocket park.
The building will also be fully integrated into landscaped green space, as part of Bankside Yards’ 3.3 acres of riverside public realm.
Birdwell housing scheme approved
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council has approved plans for Avant Homes’ £28 million scheme to deliver 113 new homes in Birdwell, near Barnsley.
The nine-acre site, located on Hay Green Lane between Tankersley and Birdwell, was acquired by Avant Homes in January this year.
The development, named Called Hay Green Park, will comprise a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes and feature 12 of Avant Homes’ house types.
Of the 113 homes, 10 per cent have been designated as affordable housing. Avant Homes has also committed to make to a community contribution of around £970,000 to support local primary and secondary education, a sustainable travel plan and open green space.
Work is set to begin on-site in April, with the overall build programme estimated to take approximately two-and-a-half years. The first homes should be ready for occupation by this November.
28 February 2023
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner