Weekly planning news
Planning news - 22 June 2023
£10m to improve Traveller sites
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has allocated £10 million in funding to councils for improving Traveller sites.
Nine councils across England have received a share of the money, which comes from the department's Traveller Site Fund. They are:
- Brighton & Hove City Council;
- City of Doncaster Council;
- Cornwall Council;
- Kent County Council;
- Lancaster City Council;
- Norwich City Council;
- Preston City Council;
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council; and
- Swindon Borough Council.
The funding will help to improve transit sites so that Travellers have authorised places to stay, as well as better access to facilities and services such as healthcare.
Councils can use the funding to refurbish existing transit and permanent sites to help improve living conditions for residents.
Levelling-up minister Dehenna Davison MP said: “We are supporting councils to improve travellers’ life chances and build cohesion between the settled and Traveller communities.
“This funding is just one of the many ways we are improving opportunities for communities across the country, as part of the levelling-up agenda.”
15 June 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Bill to safeguard scheduled monuments in Wales gains royal assent
Legislation intended to better protect scheduled monuments and listed buildings in Wales has received royal assent.
The Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2023 brings together the main pieces of legislation that relate to the historic environment in Wales in “simple, everyday language” and is available in a bilingual format.
It is the first piece of consolidated legislation to be produced as part of the Welsh Government’s programme to reform Welsh law and make it more accessible.
The Welsh Government’s counsel general Mick Antoniw commented: “This act will mean owners of scheduled monuments and listed buildings will be able to find the legislation they need all in one place, set out logically in understandable language and published bilingually. In turn, this will lead to better protection and management of the Welsh historic environment.”
The act consolidates relevant provisions from the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016.
It received royal assent after a 10-month process passing through Senedd Cymru. Secondary legislation to support the act will be made during the coming months.
19 June 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Panel for Teesworks review announced
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has appointed the panel that will independently review the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s oversight of the South Tees Development Corporation and Teesworks Joint Venture.
The lead reviewer will be Angie Ridgwell, chief executive of Lancashire County Council, and previously a director general at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
She will be supported by:
Quentin Baker, a qualified solicitor and the director of law and governance at Hertfordshire County Council; and
Richard Paver, who has significant financial experience and knowledge of combined authorities from a previous role as first treasurer of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
Together, they will review the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s oversight of the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) and Teesworks Joint Venture. This will include consideration of specific allegations made in relation to the Joint Venture.
Gove confirmed that there would be a probe into the freeport last month (May) in a letter to Ben Houchen, mayor of the combined authority. The Teesworks freeport is intended to regenerate a 4,500-acre site that once housed the Teesside Steelworks, and create new jobs for the region, but there have been a series of allegations of corruption, wrongdoing and illegality.
The panel will also look at governance and financial management, “reflecting the government’s existing approach to external assurance reviews of local authorities".
Local government minister Lee Rowley said: "I want to stress we have not seen evidence of corruption, wrongdoing, or illegality in relation to Teesworks, but it is apparent the allegations present a risk to the delivery of jobs and economic growth in the region.
“Given the importance to Tees Valley of addressing this matter and the request made by the mayor, the government has appointed an independent panel to review the arrangements.”
The panel will provide a report of their findings, along with any recommendations, expected in the summer.
Interested parties, including MPs, will be able to make representations to the panel as part of their evidence-gathering.
12 June 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
More than 100 ancient woodlands affected by new road developments
Analysis suggests that 106 ancient woodlands are directly or indirectly affected by new road developments.
The Woodland Trust found that another 83 ancient woods are predicted to be affected while 82 ancient and veteran trees have been felled over the course of a decade of road investment.
The charity contends that decisions made by the government must prioritise "protecting irreplaceable" habitat, given that ancient woodland makes up less than 3 per cent of the UK's land mass.
It believes that the government's proposals in its consultation on the National Networks National Policy Statement (NNNPS) used to guide transport infrastructure projects, which closed on (6 June) “don't go nearly far enough”.
Instead, the draft policy pays “lip service” to addressing the impact of roads on the climate by requiring carbon assessments for schemes, “but then states that emissions on their own aren’t a good enough reason to refuse permission for a new road”.
Naomi Tilley, lead campaigner at the Woodland Trust, said: “While some of the changes made to the National Networks National Policy Statement are welcome, they don’t go far enough. The policy must be updated to fully address the urgent need for joined-up action to halt nature decline and reduce carbon emissions.
“Government cannot continue to build schemes that damage or destroy ancient woodland and veteran trees that could be centuries old. And we cannot continue to build roads that result in ever-increasing carbon emissions that will accelerate the climate crisis. This approach is not sustainable. Avoiding harm must be at the heart of decisions about development to ensure we do not repeat the devastating mistakes of past projects. This would be real progress.”
Tilley argues that "visionary policy" could transform the future.
“Progress is putting the environment at its heart. Currently, these policy changes are not visionary, do not put the environment at its heart, and have the potential to facilitate the destruction of irreplaceable habitats, worsen nature decline and exacerbate climate change.”
The Woodland Trust has put forward a series of changes that should be made to the policy, including that it must improve ancient woods and veteran trees protection and align with UK targets for net-zero carbon emissions. Community involvement should be required in all project designs, “with full transparency about the unavoidable impacts on the environment”, it says.
Alongside its analysis, the charity commissioned a YouGov poll that found that 81 per cent of 2,012 adult respondents said damaging ancient woodland for road infrastructure projects is usually or always unacceptable.
15 June 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Judicial review looms after Welsh council fails to adopt replacement LDP
Wrexham County Borough Council this week is without an up-to-date local development plan (LDP) and facing a judicial review following a decision by councillors – for the second time – not to approve a replacement plan.
A total of 30 councillors voted against the new blueprint, which covers the period up to 2028 while 24 backed the replacement plan and one member abstained.
The rejection of the plan came despite the council’s senior officers warning that continued refusal of the LDP was “unlawful”, would pose “reputational damage” for the local authority and would result in Wrexham County Borough Council incurring as much as £100,000 in costs in defending a court case that senior barristers advised the council would lose.
A report prepared for this week’s extraordinary council meeting warned that in the absence of an adopted LDP “there would be increased risk of speculative development on land identified for protection in the LDP along with development being delivered through ‘planning by appeal’ rather than in accordance with a robustly tested settlement strategy”.
Members were also told that supplementary planning guidance would remain out of date and that planning strategy would have to rely on a very outdated unitary development plan agreed upon back in 2005.
This replacement LDP has had a tortuous gestation. Back in 2012 the council went back to the drawing board after ditching an earlier version over unresolved housing issues. The latest iteration was originally submitted for examination by the then Planning Inspectorate in 2018. There were hearings in 2019, major changes to the plan and further examination in 2020 and 2022.
There were wrangles over sites for new housing and for Travellers, as well as a dispute about population figures and forecasts.
The final report on the draft replacement LDP was presented to the council in February. The inspectors said the final version of the LDP was “sound”. However, councillors voted against approving the plan in April.
This week’s extraordinary meeting came after a group of developers announced that they planned to seek a judicial review if the council decided not to approve the LDP.
First minister Mark Drakeford has heavily criticised the council over its failure to approve a replacement LDP, although the Welsh Government has so far not intervened or pursued the nuclear option of taking over the council’s plan-making responsibilities
Meanwhile, developer Redrow Homes has this week unveiled proposals for a new neighbourhood providing in the region of 1,500 homes, 15 per cent of which would be affordable, alongside a new primary school and community centre, on 73 hectares of farmland south of Ruthin Road on the outskirts of the city.
15 June 2023
Roger Milne, The Planner
Consultancy appointed to deliver planning for water resilience project
Mott MacDonald and Adams Hendry Consulting Ltd have been appointed to work on securing planning permission for a water transfer scheme designed to help safeguard England’s water supply.
They will lead the delivery of the development consent order (DCO) application for the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), which has been developed by Affinity Water and Severn Trent Water, with support from the Canal & River Trust.
The proposal will see the Grand Union Canal upgraded to allow up to 115 million litres a day of treated waste water to be transported from the Midlands to the South East. Water will then be abstracted from the canal and treated for public water supply in the South East.
The team will help to secure the necessary planning and environmental consents, engage with stakeholders, and manage consultation with statutory bodies.
More than 200 homes approved in Rutland
Rutland County Council has granted planning permission for 213 homes on land off Burley Road in Oakham.
Property consultant Carter Jonas has secured planning consent on behalf of Pigeon.
Of the homes, 64 – 30 per cent – have been designated as affordable. The scheme also features amenity space, allotments and areas for outdoor play and landscaping. Pedestrian and cycle routes to the nearby Co-op, Burley Road and Burley Park Way are included in the plans.
College hub in Gloucestershire green-lit
Cheltenham Borough Council has backed plans for a sustainable construction centre in Cheltenham.
The £5.2 million project by Gloucestershire College is intended to tackle the growing demand for skilled construction workers in the county, with an emphasis on sustainable and low-carbon technologies.
The 7,000-square-foot project has received £70,000 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and £4 million from the Post-16 Capacity Fund. It will be able to train 164 learners a week in a range of skills with sustainability at its core.
Council approves Winnington housing plans
Cheshire West and Chester Council has approved plans by Anwyl Homes to transform a former industrial site in Winnington into 103 new homes.
The new phase will offer 87 private sale properties in a mix of three and four-bedroom designs, including some set out over two-and-a-half storeys, plus 16 affordable homes.
All homes across Winnington Place will benefit from electric vehicle charging points.
Work on the site is expected to continue until late 2026.
Lab space plans approved in Cardiff
Cardiff City Council has approved plans by the Welsh life sciences Pioneer Group to deliver 54,500 square feet of purpose-built lab space at its Cardiff Edge Science Park development.
The space is being delivered as part of a new two-storey building that has been designed for maximum flexibility – meaning that it will be available to let in its entirety or split across several units.
The new facility will be able to cater for companies across the life sciences spectrum from start-ups and scale-ups to multinational blue-chip companies.
West Sussex nursery awarded £3m tree funds
National Highways has awarded nearly £3 million to a nursery in West Sussex to secure its future pipeline of young trees for planting across the country.
The government company is buying and growing its own stocks of native trees as part of its commitment to plant an additional three million trees by 2030.
Greenwood Plants, near Arundel in West Sussex, has been awarded £2.7 million to help grow millions of native trees from seed, over a five-year period, in batches ready for planting for five years from autumn 24/25.
The native species will include Holly, Scots Pine, Oak, Rowan and Beech. They will be grown peat-free at nurseries near Arundel, West Sussex and the Wirral, in Cheshire.
Housing plans get green light in Derbyshire
Bolsover District Council Council has approved a £14 million housing development in South Normanton, Derbyshire.
Housebuilder Honey will deliver 50 new two, three and four-bedroom homes.
Called Amber, the 4.5-acre development will feature 14 house types that Honey says have all been specifically designed to combine “style, substance and sustainability” for the benefit of buyers.
£3m podium plans approved in Chorley
Chorley Borough Council’s planning committee has approved £3 million plans by FI Real Estate Management (FIREM) to build a podium at its Canal Mill headquarters in Botany Bay, Chorley.
It will provide an extra 85,800 square feet of space across four floors to accommodate parking and leisure activities. This includes at least 190 parking spaces for cars, motorcycles, and bicycles.
There will be a helipad and hangar, as well as an 11,200-square-foot multi-use space to be used for exercise, wellbeing activities, team bonding and sports for FIREM employees.
Construction of the podium phase of Botany Bay Business Park is expected to start in Q3 2023.
DIO appoints consultancy on Catterick Garrison scheme
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has appointed property consultancy Carter Jonas to the delivery of the regeneration of Catterick Garrison town centre.
The project has been awarded £19 million of levelling-up funding to create a vibrant and inclusive town centre. It will comprise a town square with a Community and Enterprise facility, with “significant” landscaping improvements both in the town centre and in the adjacent Coronation Park, and enhanced pedestrian and cycle links.
The project is set to be the first phase in the regeneration of the wider area and will be delivered in accordance with the emerging Catterick Masterplan Vision Document. The DIO is working in partnership with North Yorkshire Council to deliver the project.
SEHP report shows 9,000 Scottish homes restored
A report published by the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) found more than 9,000 long-term empty homes have been brought back into use in Scotland since the partnership was established in 2010.
The SEHP, which is funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by Shelter Scotland, reported that Empty Homes Officers supported owners to bring 1,257 long-term empty homes back into use in 2022-23.
The SEHP provides training, guidance and support to local empty homes officers employed by councils across Scotland who target the restoration and reuse of privately owned empty homes for much-needed housing.
The impact report includes several examples of schemes and partnerships by councils, housing associations and community organisations to increase the supply of social and affordable homes.
The full report can be downloaded here1.
Nottingham cinema to be converted
Nottingham City Council has approved plans to convert the grade II-listed Picture House building in Long Row into nine, one and two-bedroom flats.
It was designed by local firm CBP Architects, and Marrons secured permission on behalf of Market Square Developments.
It will be funding the conversion into self-contained flats, which will include the subdivision of the old main auditorium, the conversion of the first, second and third floors of the front section of the building, and the conversion of the original projection room and reel store.
The historic cinema opened in 1912 and was originally designed to seat 670 cinema-goers, with two cafés and a restaurant, electric lifts, 14 internal telephones and 10 electrically-driven clocks. It closed in 1930 and has since seen a variety of occupants, including an arcade, a nightclub and retailers. A betting shop currently occupies the ground floor while the upper floors have been unused for the past decade.
20 June 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner