Weekly planning news
Planning news - 20 October 2022
Developer fined £150k for unauthorised work in Barrow
Housebuilder Mulberry Homes Ltd has been fined £150,000 for carrying out unauthorised work on land in Barrow.
The company pleaded guilty in court last week (11 October).
Pre-application advice was given to Mullberry Homes in July 2021, said the council.
The court heard that, despite this, in September 2021, Mullberry Homes carried out unauthorised works of building and engineering operations at a site south of Leece Lane in September 2021. This includes soil excavation, mounding, regrading of land and the creation of hard-surfaced driveways and vehicular access. Mature hedgerows were also ripped out.
The council said the works had a serious impact on the environment, which its policies seek to protect. Local residents also complained about the works.
Barrow Borough Council served a temporary stop Notice to Mulberry Homes for these works, while an enforcement notice was served requiring the green infrastructure to be reinstated, which Mulberry Homes appealed but lost in September. The notices were not complied with, so the council launched a prosecution.
Mullberry Homes, based in Blackburn, was ordered by the court to pay a £150,000 fine, costs of £8,470.80, and a court surcharge of £190.00.
Lee Roberts, deputy leader of the council, said: “Breaches of planning control such as this have a direct effect on the lives of our residents and Mullberry Homes had no respect for the planning system, the lives of our residents, or the environment.
“We hope that this judgment acts as a deterrent for this company and others who may consider acting in a similar manner in the future. Following 12 months of hard work and determination from our officers and legal team in bringing this case to court, this judgment sends out a strong message.”
According to a council statement, the judge was of “the opinion that the level of fine needed to reflect the seriousness of the offence and act as a deterrent’.
Laura Edgar, The Planner
17 October 2022
Morley wins £24m from Towns Fund
Morley has received £24.3 million from the Towns Fund grant, following a submission of outline plans to the government in July.
Leeds City Council and the Morley Town Deal Board worked on the Town Investment Plan, designed for a range of schemes to deliver on key priorities identified through public consultation.
The outline plans will now move to the design stage and will include:
Improvements to public spaces planting transforming areas around the town centre, key improvements at Town Square and Queen Street and development of local parks, playgrounds, and public rights of way.
Significant upgrades to travel for pedestrians and cyclists with better access to the train station. Connections between the Town Centre, Morley Train Station, White Rose, and White Rose Station will also be developed.
Plans for a White Rose Innovation Hub.
Morley’s heritage buildings enhancements to Morley Town Hall, introducing a café bar, better accessibility, and improving the space around the building.
A new heritage grants scheme offered to businesses to invest in shopfronts and restore historic buildings along Queen Street, supporting work to bring vacant heritage properties back into use.
Initial project delivery is expected to start in 2023, following another public consultation to be held at Morley Town Hall on Saturday 19 November 2022.
Delivery work is projected to last until 2026.
Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “The Town Investment Plan is a real opportunity to build a better future for Morley. Not only will these plans bring essential health, environmental, and transport improvements and secure the town’s heritage, they will deliver excellent education and job opportunities for the future.
“However, the work to bring the Town Investment Plan to reality is far from over. I encourage everyone in Morley to get involved in future consultation to make the Town Deal a plan that rightly represents the views and needs of local people.”
17 October 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Councils bid for investment zones
Dorset and Cumbria councils are among the councils that have submitted Expressions of Interest to the government for investment zones.
Dorset Council has submitted three bids:
- Weymouth – to redevelop disused and underdeveloped sites at the harbour and marina to provide homes and jobs, as well as opportunities for commercial and leisure developments.
- Portand – commercial and business operations, as well as a residential site in Castletown.
- Wool – the site is adjacent to the Dorset Innovation Park, and being an investment zone would offer more investment and development opportunities for key sectors including advanced engineering and manufacturing.
Tony Ferrari, portfolio holder for economic growth, assets and property at Dorset Council, said: “We have submitted three strong Expressions of Interest for possible investment zones. We welcome any opportunity to attract investment, improve infrastructure, and create jobs here in Dorset. The three proposed locations offer great potential for economic development and are suitable for this kind of activity.
“However, I should also say that we have received only limited detail so far from the government about how investment zones will work. Our Expressions of Interest do not represent a commitment by the government or by Dorset Council. We await further detail from the government so we can assess the potential pros and cons of an investment zone before making any formal commitment following council processes.”
The sites that Cumbria County Council has put forward for consideration are:
- Land at Oldside and Port of Workington;
- Land at Kingmoor Park Enterprise Zone, Carlisle; and
- Land at Leconfield Industrial Estate, Cleator Moor.
- Land at Barrow Waterfront, Barrow Port and Barrow Waterside;
- Land at GSK, Ulverston; and
- Land at Junction 41 (Inspiring Eden).
Stewart Young, leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “Investment zones are not a new concept. They follow on from the enterprise zones model which we are familiar with here in Cumbria and have typically been for commercial development, however, the investment zones programme also includes residential sites.
“Whilst I support the aim of attracting investment to boost our local economy, I want to be clear that any development at the sites that are being explored needs to provide high-quality jobs and to be respectful of the environment. This is not about development at any cost.”
In April next year, Cumbria County Council and the six district councils are due to be abolished and replaced with two new unitary councils; Westmorland and Furness and Cumberland. If these Expressions of Interest progress, it will be the responsibility of these two councils to further develop and implement the investment zones plans.
Cornwall Council's Expression of Interest intends to benefit residents and businesses by creating new job opportunities, increased economic growth and further action to tackle the housing crisis.
Also part of the proposals is support for the area's transition to a zero carbon economy by supporting lithium extraction and producing green energy from floating offshore wind.
Leader of the council Linda Taylor commented: “Our priority is for a thriving, sustainable Cornwall that offers a secure home, a decent income and a great environment for all. This investment zone proposal brings forward a good mix of both residential and commercial development that will be accelerated by the planning flexibilities and investment incentives that an Investment Zone would bring. Opportunities around floating offshore wind (FLOW) and lithium production in particular will make a significant contribution to Cornwall and the UK’s transition to a net-zero economy. The proposals will also help to accelerate significant housing development which will help to alleviate the pressures on housing that we are currently experiencing.”
Investment zones were announced as part of former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's Growth Plan. Planning rules in these zones will be relaxed.
Last week1, The Planner reported that Oxfordshire County Council has written to housing secretary Simon Clarke, explaining why it will not submit a bit to the investment zone initiative.
Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We have thanked the government for inviting Oxfordshire to bid for investment zone status. We have decided not to progress this opportunity. Oxfordshire continues to support many very exciting business developments, particularly in the areas of science and technology, so in writing a letter to the government I wanted to explain the logic behind why we feel that applying for an investment zone does not fit with our ambitions.
“We consider that the deregularisation of planning controls and reductions in environmental protection, which appear to be a condition of any investment zone, is incompatible with our net-zero carbon aspirations and our commitment to protect and enhance biodiversity and environmental quality, as stated in our vision."
Laura Edgar, The Planner
17 October 2022
DCO granted for upgrades to A47/A11 junction
Transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has granted a development consent order (DCO) for upgrades to the A47/A11 Thickthorn junction on the south-western edge of Norwich, in line with the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate.
The A47 connects Norwich with Great Yarmouth and with Leicester and the wider Midlands via King’s Lynn, Wisbech and Peterborough. The A11 is the main route connecting Norwich with Thetford, Cambridge, and London (via the M11 and A14).
The junction itself is located west of the village of Cringleford, and the administrative areas of Norfolk County Council and South Norfolk District Council.
The National Highways scheme is intended to relieve congestion, reduce journey times, and support regional housing and economic growth.
It comprises a single-lane, free-flowing link road connecting the A11 northbound to the A47 eastbound via two underpasses, improvements to the junction such as widening the existing slip road on the A47 westbound, removal of the Cantley Lane South direct connections between the A11 and A47 exit slip roads, and a new link road connecting Cantley Lane South with the B1172 Norwich Road to the north, plus the construction of two bridges.
Having considered the alternatives to the scheme, the examining authority -– the Planning Inspectorate – found that the National Policy Statement for National Networks (NPSNN) has been fully complied with. The transport secretary concurs.
In its environmental statement, National Highways noted that the A47 experiences high levels of congestion, “especially at peak times and has a poor safety record”. Congestion is predicted to get worse because of the residential development in the pipeline.
The examining authority is satisfied that the case for the development outlined by the applicant aligns with the government's national road investment strategy and policies in the NPSNN. It is also satisfied with the assessment of potential impacts on bus services as a result of the development by National Highways, noting that it is expected that the scheme will improve bus journey times.
The decision letter states that the examining authority is “satisfied that public transport considerations do not weigh against the development. The secretary of state agrees”.
For the examining authority, “appropriate mitigation” has been secured in the DCO during construction. It accepts that the existing Thickthorn junction is operating above capacity and that this will “significantly worsen” in the long term. It believes that a “convincing case” has been made for the proposed development, that journey times will be improved, and that it will lead to a greater free-flowing road network, all of which weighs “significantly” in favour of the DCO being made. Trevelyan agrees.
The need for the development has been established.
The decision letter states that overall, the transport secretary agrees with the examining authority that the factors weighing against the scheme “were less than substantial harm to a scheduled monument, less than substantial harm to the settings of two listed buildings, slight adverse effects on the setting of several non-designated heritage assets and sight adverse impacts on non-designated historic landscape character within the DCO boundary”.
It concludes that the secretary of state considers that there is a “clear justification” for granting the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
The decision letter and all other documents related to the development can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website2.
Laura Edgar, The Planner
19 October 2022
Public Practice announces 41 placements
Social enterprise Public Practice has announced its latest cohort of placements, including its first in the north of England.
The first placement in the North is part of Public Practice's geographic expansion from where it began in the South East to help ease the local government skills crisis.
Public Practice has scored 41 placements for experienced place professionals in the public sector this autumn. Placement locations include Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire and the North East.
Expansion of Public Practice has been funded by a £200,000 investment by Homes England supported by the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC).
A survey carried out by Public Practice found that 79 per cent of local authorities said attracting skilled staff is their largest recruitment issue. Over the past two decades, there has been a fall of around 450,000 full-time employees in local government from 2.02 million people in 2000 to 1.56 million in 2021, Public practice highlights. Of this, only a third of the jobs lost can be explained by teachers transferring from local authority-maintained schools to academies.
Pooja Agrawal, CEO of Public Practice, said: “We are proud to welcome our largest-ever cohort of built environment professionals to new placements in local government. Our expansion into the north of England comes at a very exciting time. Since 2019 councils across England have been able to start bidding for funding from the Towns Fund and Levelling Up Fund – a combined pot worth more than £8 billion.
“This has created exceptionally interesting opportunities for placemaking professionals who now have a chance to help build better places and shape the future of towns and cities across England for generations.
“However, it is clear that local authorities have substantial skills gaps and are understandably concerned about delivering these projects on the ground amidst growing political and economic uncertainty. Our resourcing and skills survey shows that the biggest recruitment barrier councils face is attracting the right people with the right skills to meet their ambitions.
“Public Practice can help to fill that gap by bringing private sector placemaking expertise into the public sector. People who want to come in and make a difference to places local to them and towns and cities across England. More than nine-tenths of Public Practice associates stay in local government after their initial placement ends.”
17 October 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
A round-up of planning news
Consultation due to start on Dover plan
A consultation on Dover District Council’s local plan will take place from 21 October until 9 December.
A series of in-person and online events will be held as part of the seven-week public consultation.
Sites across the district have been allocated for new housing, including in south Aylesham, Whitfield and Elvington/Eythorne. Land has also been earmarked for employment opportunities.
More information can be found on the Dover District Council website3.
Civic society APPG re-established
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Civic Societies will be re-established by MPs.
The group will engage with Civic Voice to serve as a conduit between communities and MPs and ministers.
Craig Mackinlay MP said: “Our programme of work, agreed in collaboration with Civic Voice will focus on planning concerns, high street revitalisation, and, more broadly, giving communities from across England a voice in Parliament. We will be writing to ministers and key contacts to invite them to address our meetings.”
Future meetings will also consider the loss of conservation officers and the impact of the civic movement on promoting pride in place.
Ian Harvey, executive director at Civic Voice and the secretary to the APPG, said: “The APPG is key to answering our members’ requests for their communities nationwide to be able to take control of what happens to them and their local areas. It really is a marvellous opportunity to exchange views between parliamentarians, representatives from the civic movement and others with an interest in making places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive. We are delighted that Craig Mackinlay has agreed to chair the group as he has extensive knowledge of the issues facing the civic movement as the Ramsgate Society is situated in his South Thanet constituency.”
Government won’t appeal over net-zero court ruling
The UK Government has confirmed in a letter to the court that it won’t appeal against the High Court ruling that its Net Zero Strategy breaches the law because it does not set out how the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets will be met.
The judgment was published on 18 July4, when the UK was in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave.
The letter was also sent to the parties involved in the case – Friends of the Earth, the Good Law Project, and ClientEarth.
Sam Hunter Jones, senior lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “Now that the government has confirmed that it won’t be appealing, its efforts must now be directed at publishing a revised Net Zero Strategy that complies with July’s landmark judgment.
“This new strategy is also an opportunity for the government to address the spiralling cost of living crisis at the same time as making the required emissions savings. This can be done through a number of measures including a rapid roll-out of home insulation across the country and a swift transition to renewable energy.
“Skyrocketing energy prices and the worsening climate crisis make it abundantly clear: the government must move further and faster away from expensive and polluting fossil fuels and have a credible plan for net zero.”
Coastal funding secured for two sites
Coastal Partners, part of Fareham Borough Council, has been awarded £457,500 from the Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and £30,000 from the council, to assess and develop long-term coastal management options at Fareham Quay and at Alton Grove to Cador Drive.
The sea wall at both sites is in poor condition and contains areas of former landfill and continued erosion of defences in these locations, which could potentially pollute Portsmouth Harbour.
Fareham Quay and Alton Grove to Cador Drive Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) studies have been launched. The projects will provide an opportunity to actively explore opportunities to integrate wider council initiatives to improve the public realm, amenity, recreation and access, and enhance community health and wellbeing, where possible.
Over the next 18 to 24 months the project team will appraise, develop and cost options for coastal management, investigate future funding sources for delivering schemes and prepare outline designs for each location.
RenewableUK report reveals floating offshore wind projects double
A RenewableUK report reveals that the total global pipeline of floating offshore wind projects has more than doubled in the past 12 months from 91GW a year ago to 185GW now.
The UK’s pipeline has increased from 23GW a year ago to over 33GW, and from 29 projects to 51, which are being developed in the North Sea (Scottish and English waters), Celtic Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
The report states that by the end of 2030 floating wind capacity could reach 11GW in the UK, 31GW in Europe, and 41GW globally.
It also notes that demand for floating foundations is expected to rise, with the potential for nearly 1,000 floating foundations to be installed in UK waters by the end of 2030. Globally, 3,200 floating foundations could be installed by the end of the decade.
Joint venture acquires site for science campus
Mission Street and BentallGreenOak (BGO) have acquired a 23-acre site on Coldham’s Lane in Cambridge, on which they plan to deliver a science and innovation campus.
The joint venture was formed in January 2021 and this is its fifth acquisition.
The intention is to provide an “open innovation campus with transformative landscaping, new café and play area with access and views across the adjacent lakes as well as a dedicated pedestrian and cycle route to the city centre”.
RTPI awards bursary to Cheltenham-based student
The RTPI has awarded a bursary to Cheltenham-based student Aiden Xuezi Zhang to fund his studies in planning.
The RTPI Future Planners Bursary for 2022 is funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
It is awarded to selected students on enrolment at one of the RTPI’s accredited planning schools in England, to be used in conjunction with the cost of their studies for the academic year.
Zhang is employed and supported by Gloucestershire planning consultant SF Planning.
He said: “I am really honoured to have received the bursary and the support I get from SF Planning; I am excited to use the funding towards studying a fully accredited master's degree in planning. Planning is an exciting subject to study since it impacts so many aspects of our daily lives. It’s inspiring to know that good planning can help society or an individual’s quality of life.”
Views sought on A46 bypass plans
National Highways is seeking views on designs for a multimillion-pound bypass that is intended to tackle congestion along a crucial trade corridor through the East Midlands.
The plan is to upgrade a stretch of single carriageway on the A46 in Nottinghamshire that is, on average, used by 17,000 drivers every day. It serves as the key Trans-Midlands Trade Corridor connecting the M5 with the Humber Ports.
The proposed A46 Newark Bypass will create a continuous dual carriageway from Lincoln to Warwick. In February, National Highways outlined its preferred route for the bypass – Option 2 Modified. This incorporates suggestions from the local communities following consultation, including taking the route farther away from the village of Winthorpe.
The consultation on the latest design will run from Wednesday 26 October to Monday 12 December.
More information can be found on the National Highways website5.
Heath Town Baths application submitted
A planning application has been submitted by developer Gaddu Associates to restore the historic Heath Town Baths and Library in Wolverhampton.
Gaddu Associates carried out “extensive” community consultation and is proposing to fully refurbish the grade II-listed building for a mix of uses, including a banqueting hall, day nursery, training and conference facilities and community spaces.
The Tudor Road site in Heath Town is recognised as a building of community value in the Heathfield Park Neighbourhood Plan.
If planning approval and listed building consent is granted, Gaddu Associates will take a long lease of the site and will be solely responsible for restoring the building and bringing it back into use as a venue.
Volker Fitzpatrick appointed for M27 Junction 10 scheme
Hampshire County Council has appointed Volker Fitzpatrick as its design-and-build contractor to deliver the M27 Junction 10 improvement scheme.
This project intends to enable the development of Welborne Garden Village to the north of Fareham.
Volker Fitzpatrick and lead designer Ramboll will work closely with the county council and National Highways to finalise the design for the scheme, with construction planned to begin in 2023.
The upgrade involves the provision of a new motorway underpass to the west of the existing M27 Junction 10, three new slip roads to facilitate an ‘all moves’ arrangement and the construction of a new dual carriageway to link the new slip roads to the existing road network.
The highway improvements will enable new housing, amenities and jobs. Hampshire County Council is the delivery body for the Junction 10 project.
Cambridge approves Perse School plans
Cambridge City Council has approved plans by national property consultancy Carter Jonas on behalf of the Perse Upper School for a new sports centre.
The new 2,706-square-metre facility will be located within the Perse School’s existing campus on Hills Road, to the south of the city centre.
It will include a swimming pool, sports hall, climbing wall and changing village, together with associated car and cycle parking and landscaping.
A Community Access Agreement, to be secured by a planning condition, will enable local people to use the facilities either through affiliation with local sports clubs or on a ‘pay-and-play’ basis. This will include early morning and evening swimming two days a week in addition to weekend family swimming sessions. Each week, local residents will benefit from 45 hours of access, rising to 80 or more during the school holidays.
A contractor has been appointed and construction is expected to begin as soon as pre-development planning conditions are approved by the city council.
Land commission to research how to improve engagement
The Scottish Land Commission has launched a series of ‘easy-to-use’ online surveys to give people in Scotland an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to land reform.
The Scottish Land Commission hopes to collect information on the progress that has been made so far while the results will go on “to help shape future guidance and regulation changes to encourage more effective engagement with communities when it comes to land”.
The organisation first ran the survey in 2019 to establish a baseline of knowledge for the Scottish Land Commission. These surveys look at how the situation has changed
The surveys will run until 30 November.
19 October 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner