Skip to content

Weekly planning news

Planning news - 20 December 2023

Council proposes withdrawing its local plan

West Berkshire Council members are to meet next week to consider a report proposing the withdrawal of the council's local plan review from examination.  

An extraordinary council meeting will be held on Tuesday 19 December. 

The local plan review was submitted in April1 under a Conservative administration. In May, the Liberal Democrats were elected. 

It includes proposals for 9,000 new homes and infrastructure to support new development, as well as services for existing communities, for a plan period of 2022-2039. Plans for a strategic development to the north-east of Thatcham were scaled back to 1,500 new homes following a consultation during the regulation 18 period. It is expected that 600 of these units will be affordable. The examination is currently scheduled for next year. 

The vote next week follows a commitment made in the Council Strategy Delivery Plan2 in September to revise the local plan. When in opposition, the Liberal Democrats expressed concerns about the level of development in green spaces and specifically in north-east Thatcham and Theale. 

The party argues for more of a spread across the district. 

The council explains that since forming a new administration in May, officers have been working with the executive to address their concerns with the plan submitted for examination. 

As it has not been possible to change the plan to meet the aspirations of the Liberal Democrat administration, a proposal has been made to withdraw the local plan review and begin work on a new one. 

Tony Vickers, executive member for planning, said: “The existing local plan review allows too much development on our valuable green spaces and without the necessary infrastructure to support such large developments. We have said all along that we will look to make changes which put the environment front and centre, while prioritising new homes and employment spaces within our existing town and village boundaries. After looking carefully we have concluded that this cannot be done without withdrawing the plan and starting again. It is not a decision we have taken lightly but we know this is an important issue for local people and we are determined to follow through on the commitments we have made.” 

Lee Dillon, leader of West Berkshire Council, said: “The decision to ask the council to withdraw the plan has been considered very carefully, and it is not without its risks, but we feel these are outweighed by the benefits of pausing now and developing a better plan for the coming years.” 

13 December 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Future Homes Standard consultation begins

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has begun consulting on proposed changes intended to deliver zero-carbon-ready new homes and buildings. 

This would mean no further work would be necessary to ensure that these homes and buildings have zero-carbon emissions once the electricity grid has decarbonised. 

Views are also being sought by the department on whether overheating standards, which were introduced in 2021, should be amended. 

Housing and communities minister Baroness Penn said: “New homes and buildings must be fit for the future to help us reach net zero by 2050. 

“Our energy-saving changes will cut bills for new homeowners and businesses – while also reducing carbon emissions by at least 75 per cent for all new homes. This builds on our long-term plan for housing to deliver the high-quality, energy-efficient homes that local communities want and need.” 

The majority of the consultation pays regard to new homes and non-domestic buildings. A small number of sections are also relevant to existing buildings. 

The Future Homes and Buildings Standards: 2023 consultation closes on 6 March 2024. It can be found on the UK Government website3.  

13 December 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Affordable homes in Plymouth approved

Plymouth City Council has granted planning permission for 136 affordable homes on brownfield land off Bath Street in the Millbay regeneration area of the city. 

The homes will be available for social rent and shared ownership. 

Plymouth Community Homes's scheme is for a sustainable new community located in the city centre. The apartments, townhouses and mews houses will have either one, two or three bedrooms, range from three to five storeys high and have decked balconies or private gardens. 

Jonathan Cowie, chief executive at Plymouth Community Homes, commented: “It’s fantastic news to have secured full planning permission for this exciting new development, which will see a poorly used inner-city site transformed into a green neighbourhood and we are grateful to our partners in helping us to bring these plans forward.” 

A fabric-first approach will be used to develop the homes to guarantee reduced energy costs for residents. The development will feature allotment-style growing spaces, communal gardens and children’s play areas with lawns, herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees. 

There will also be cycle paths with bike stores and pedestrian footpaths. 

The scheme was designed by BDP. Adam Darby, associate architect BDP in the South West, who is the architect and lead consultant on Bath Street, said: “The regeneration of this large brownfield site in the heart of Plymouth city centre is a brilliant example of ‘gentle density’, which will provide much-needed, high-quality new homes, all with outside space, as part of a highly sustainable, low-carbon new neighbourhood. 

“Our approach will promote healthy living and sustainable transport methods, with pedestrian and cycle-friendly areas, as well as providing plenty of green open space, new tree planting and engaging and secure children’s play areas that are integrated with the surrounding natural landscape. Our aim is to create a happy community where people want to live for the long term.” 

Plymouth Community Homes, the city’s largest social housing landlord, will work in partnership with Plymouth City Council to fund and deliver the scheme with expertise and support from Homes England. 

13 December 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Proposal for new national park in Wales proposal faces opposition

Proposals to create a new national park in north-east Wales are facing opposition from one of the local authorities that would fall within its boundaries. 

The Welsh Government has asked Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to investigate setting up a national park based around the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Parts of Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Wrexham, as well as Powys, would be inside the area covered by the park designation. 

The establishment of a fourth national park in Wales is an important element of the administration’s environmental policy. It is expected that the proposals and boundary will be firmed up in 2024, ahead of possible implementation by 2026. 

However, councillors in Powys have backed a Plaid Cymru motion opposing the creation of the new national park. 

Plaid Cymru group leader, councillor Elwyn Vaughan, argued that creating another authority would put further pressure on dwindling public finances. 

“What it will do is cost about £4 million a year at a time when Powys needs to save £40 million over the next three year.” 

He claimed house prices would rise by 25 per cent and make things “even worse” for young people trying to get on the property ladder. 

“Setting up a new authority is not sustainable when we are likely to see other authorities go into the wall,” he added. 

Plaid Cymru’s councillor Bryn Davies, who seconded the motion, said that there was a feeling amongst residents that the national park is being imposed on them and is “not for the people of this area.” 

Liberal Democrat cabinet member for learning, councillor Pete Roberts asked rhetorically “Do we really want to abdicate our planning to a committee of members nominated by a [Welsh Government] minister or represent an area miles away?” 

14 December 2023 
Roger Milne, The Planner 

More than 80,000 applications decided between July and September – stats

England’s district-level planning authorities decided 85,600 applications for permission between July and September 2023, according to a statistical release published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).  

This figure is 13 per cent down from the figure reported for the same period a year earlier. 

A total of 87,800 applications were submitted for planning permission to district-level planning authorities between July and September this year, down by 12 per cent on the same quarter in 2022. 

Other statistics in the release for July to September 2023 include: 

  • 73,500 – the number of decisions granted, down 14 per cent from the same quarter a year earlier. 
  • 88 per cent – the percentage of major applications that were decided by district-level planning authorities with 13 weeks or the agreed time. 
  • 45,100 - the number of householder development applications decided, down by 19 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier. 
  • Overall, in the year ending September 2023, local planning authorities granted 303,600 decisions, 13 per cent fewer compared with the year ending September 2022. 

The full statistical release can be found on the UK Government website4

13 December 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 


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

RTPI logo The Planner logo

    Planning news - 20 December 2023

      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 © 2024 Planning Portal.

      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 © 2024 Planning Portal.