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Planning news - 22 September 2022

Green belt designations rise for first time in eight years

The amount of land designated as green belt in England rose by 1.5 per cent last year, according to latest government statistics.

The 24,150 hectares increase was driven by 14 local authorities which reported changes to land designated as green belt in 2021-22. The figures for the green belt show it is now at its highest since 2013-14, at 1,638,150ha.

This means that green belt now accounts for 12.6 per cent of England’s entire land area of 13,046,240ha, according to the statistics released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Around 11 per cent of England’s land area is classed as 'built up'.

Northumberland accounted for 90 per cent of the change in green belt in the year between March 2021 and 2022, with an additional 26,790ha, largely concentrated around Morpeth following the adoption of the authority’s local plan.

This figure is larger than the overall total growth, because 10 local authorities removed green belt land, with Central Bedfordshire scrapping the designation for 1,290ha. Three local authorities merely moved their green belt boundaries, with no overall change in the amount of land designated as green belt.

A detailed breakdown of the new green belt statistics is available here1.

16 September 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

Redrow calls for government to invest in planning

A major home builder is calling on the government to invest in planning and tackle the shortage of planners to boost the economy and speed up housing development.

In remarks made during a presentation of the company’s financial results to July 2022, Redrow’s chief executive Matthew Pratt said “we get planning” but the system is “incredibly slow” and “continues to be over-bureaucratic”.

He expressed disappointment that many of the company’s development sites are slow to deliver “despite the fact that we're having little objections”. Resolving planning backlogs would be “huge boost to the economy” and the development industry, he added.

“There is clearly a shortage of planning officers out there to deal with it, and from our point of view, we request the government would move to address this situation because it's not just the housing industry that relies on planning,” Pratt said. “It's everything else and clearly, if we can get that moving, it will help the economy.”

The developer’s call follows recent research by the RTPI, which revealed local authority spending on planning fell by 43 per cent, from £844 million in 2009/10 to £480 million in 2020/21. This left public sector planning services struggling to recruit and retain staff – just 8 per cent of town planning officer jobs posted between 2016 and 2021 were in the public sector.

The research also revealed that only 0.45 per cent of local government budgets have been allocated to planning services, which in 2021 led to fewer than half of applications being delivered with statutory time limits.

Redrow achieved “record” pre-pandemic revenue of £2.14 billion, up 10 per cent on 2021. The company’s underlying pre-tax profits rose by 31 per cent to £410 million, also recovering to pre-Covid 19 status.

However, Redrow’s statutory pre-tax profit dropped 22 per cent to £246 million, owing to exceptional fire safety costs of £164 million.

16 September 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

LDS scheme approved by Dover

Cabinet members at Dover District Council have approved the Local Development Scheme (LDS), the timetable for the production of the new local plan.

The local plan will set out the vision and framework for future development in the district up to 2040.

The LDS sets out for the public the information on the process and timetable for the preparation of documents that will form the local plan.

With the LDS approved, councillors are due to consider the submission version of the document at a full council meeting in October.

This document will then be published for a seven-week consultation, during which public engagement events will be held both virtually and in-person at locations across the district.

After the consultation, the submission version and consultation responses will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate alongside supporting documentation.

The Planning Inspectorate will carry out independent examination in public. 

More information about the local plan can be found on the Dover District Council website.

20 September 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Eastleigh secures large fine for tree preservation order breach

Eastleigh Borough Council has secured a major fine and costs totalling more than £68,000 for the breach of a Tree Preservation Order.

The council successfully prosecuted a local landowner following unauthorised works carried out on trees covered by a Woodland Tree Preservation Order at Scorey’s Copse, Horton Heath, in April 2021.

James Barney from Fair Oak, who owned the land at Scorey’s Copse, pleaded guilty at Southampton Magistrates’ Court earlier this year to breaching the tree preservation order. 

The prosecution was brought by the council under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as Barney had unlawfully cut down a number of trees including oak, ash, birch, hawthorn and poplar.

Following the incident, the council took immediate enforcement action that meant all site preparation works were stopped and that no further engineering works could be carried out without the consent from the local planning authority. It also required the tree waste to be removed and that the site should be restored to its previous levels and to a condition that will enable the woodland soils to recover.

The court has now fined Mr Barney £50,0000, the largest ever secured by the council for the breach of a tree preservation order. He was also ordered to pay the council’s costs of £17,841 and a victim surcharge of £190.

“Our planning enforcement and legal teams worked together to bring about this prosecution that sends a strong message that you shouldn’t mess with our trees or we will be after you,” said Rupert Kyrle, cabinet lead for environment.

20 September 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

Leicester City FC wins approval to expand stadium

Leicester City FC is set to expand the east stand of its King Power Stadium by 8,000 seats after winning planning permission last week.

The stadium’s capacity will rise to 40,000 seats, making it the 10th-largest Premier League ground.

Leicester City Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the application, which will involve a new upper tier over and behind the east stand, designed by KSS Architects. The extension includes hospitality suites, catering facilities, a sensory room and a first-aid room.

Outline planning permission was also granted for a 220-room hotel, a 20-storey block of 234 flats, a 6,000-capacity arena, a multistorey car park with 525 spaces and an 80-space cycle hub, an office building, a club shop and a pedestrian and cycle route.

As part of the proposal, the club is seeking to increase the number of non-sports events at the stadium, such as concerts, from five times a year to 10. The club also applied to increase the capacity for these events from 36,000 to 48,950.

16 September 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

News round-up

Court of Appeal rejects bid to challenge homes approval

The Court of Appeal has refused a residents’ group permission to challenge the London Borough of Lewisham’s decision to approve 110 homes.

The scheme on the Sydenham Hill Estate was granted permission in November 2020. A judicial review by some residents of the estate led to the permission being quashed in April 2021.

Lewisham’s strategic planning committee had approved a revised planning application, prompting a second High Court challenge, which claimed the borough had misunderstood policy and had acted unreasonably over the scheme’s viability. This was rejected in July and the Court of Appeal had now dismissed the residents’ application to appeal.

South Gloucester solar farm’s approval to plant seeds for green corridor

Global renewable energy specialist BayWa r.e in partnership with energy development company Grüne Energien Solar GmbH has received planning permission to develop a solar farm project in South Gloucestershire.

The 49.9MW project would supply 15,000 homes and is expected to increase South Gloucestershire Council’s renewable energy generating capacity by almost 30 per cent.

The development of Perrinpit Road solar farm will see more than 12 hectares of wildflower meadow and grassland planted to create a continuous green corridor running through the site. Other environmental initiatives include planting wildflowers and grass beneath and around the solar panels, as well as about 1,700 metres of hedgerow and 99 trees within the site boundary.

Construction is expected to start in early 2024 with the solar farm up and running later that year.

Bradford completes retail centre deal ahead of city village scheme

Bradford has bought a declining 1970s shopping centre ahead of developing a city village of 1,000 homes.

Following the £15.5 million deal, the Kirkgate Shopping Centre would be demolished and replaced with the homes, green space and shops as part of plans to transform the area into a sustainable neighbourhood across more than 5 hectares of the city centre. The deal means the number of planned homes under the scheme will double from 500 to 1,000.

Bradford is planning a mix of housing types in the village, including apartments and townhouses, with a variety of tenures from social housing to private rented homes and homeownership.    

Demolition of the shopping centre is expected to start in early 2024.

Kirkgate opened in 1976 and was dubbed Bradford’s “space-age shopping centre” but many of its shops are vacant and the mall is showing increasing signs of wear and tear.

The scheme is supported by Homes England and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Updated plans released to regenerate Trafford brownfield site

Updated plans to regenerate a vacant brownfield site in Trafford to include 161 energy-efficient homes with green space have been unveiled by the joint venture behind the scheme.

Homes for Trafford LLP, a joint venture between Trafford Council and Trafford Housing Trust, aims for 30 per cent of the development to be affordable housing with social rent and shared ownership properties. The housing mix comprises 115 houses and maisonettes and 46 apartments.

The scheme also envisages a central village green, outdoor play areas for children walking and cycling routes with links to public transport and electric vehicle charging points, as well as ensuring level access across the site for people with reduced mobility.

A café or commercial space for a local business is also envisaged in the overall project ,which represents a £28 million investment in the area.

The joint venture intends to submit a planning application next month with a decision expected in January. Work will start on site next March 2023 subject to planning approval, with a target date for completing the project set for June 2025.

Warehouse plan for former Weetabix site

The site of a former Weetabix factory on an industrial estate in Corby could be transformed into an industrial warehouse after securing planning permission.

North Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee approved the application by Copley Point Capital for the 15,000-square-metre scheme known as “Earlstree 160”. The demolition of the factory building is close to being completed and construction of the warehouse, which aims to achieve a BREEAM “very good” rating, is scheduled for the end of next year.

“The development is in an excellent location where there is very little supply of new, high-specification industrial units,” said Copley Point Capital director Nimit Oberoi. “Earlstree 160 is best placed to help satisfy the strong demand for grade-A urban logistics and industrial space that there is for businesses operating locally, regionally and nationally.”

Build-to-rent plan unveiled for Birmingham city centre

Plans for a build-to-rent scheme in Birmingham city centre comprising a 46-storey residential tower and a 15-storey building have been unveiled.

Developer Court Collaboration has launched a pre-application public consultation of its plans for Brindley Drive, located next to Centenary Square and adjacent to the City Centre Gardens.

The scheme, designed by architects at CallisonRTKL, would provide a mixture of 581 one and two‑bedroom homes, and will see a 1960s eyesore car park at the site demolished. The new buildings will also feature private amenities including rooftop facilities, flexible co‑working space and a gym.

“The development will set a new standard for city centre living, fusing style and comfort with sustainability, including solar, smart metering and a broad range of energy-efficiency features,” said Court Collaboration managing director Alex Neale.

20 September 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner


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

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    Planning news - 22 September 2022

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      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 © 2023 Planning Portal.