Weekly planning news
Planning news - 23 February 2023
South West council halts discussions on local plan
East Devon District Council has paused discussions on its local plan while the government consults on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), joining a number of other councils to do so.
The consultation asks whether or not local planning authorities with an up-to-date local plan should maintain a five-year housing land supply and whether the buffers from the five-year housing land supply calculations should be removed.
Paul Arnott, leader of the council, put forward a motion for consideration by the strategic planning committee that no further discussions or decisions on potential sites take place until the government makes a decision.
The council agreed on the motion, so council officers will continue the technical work needed to support the production of the local plan only.
Arnott said: “Last year, our council wrote to the government calling for an urgent re-analysis of inflated housing need numbers imposed on the communities of East Devon.
“Pending any reply, we continued with the local plan consultation as required by law.
“This week – at the first opportunity to do so – I proposed that we put the sites aspect of the work on hold until what we hope will be confirmation that our housing numbers will be greatly reduced.
“I was very pleased that this won cross-party support. The ball is now in the government’s court to deliver a new National Planning Policy Framework.”
Other councils delaying local plan production include South Staffordshire Council1, which is seeking “clarity” over a series of proposed changes to the NPPF and has delayed submission of its local plan for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
In December, ahead of the publication of the NPPF consultation, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council2 issued a statement explaining that it has deferred the planned consultation on its local plan.
20 February 2023
Laura Edgar and Huw Morris, The Planner
DCO granted for A47 dualling scheme near Peterborough
A scheme by National Highways to construct 2.6km of dual carriageway largely offline of the A47 near Peterborough has been granted a development consent order (DCO) by transport minister Huw Merriman.
The application also included:
- A new free-flow link road connecting the existing A1 southbound carriageway to the new A47 eastbound carriageway.
- A new link road from the Wansford East roundabout to provide access to Sacrewell Farm, the petrol filling station and the Anglian Water pumping station.
- A link road from the new A47 Sutton Heath roundabout, linking into Sutton Heath Road and Langley Bush Road.
- River Nene compensatory flood storage area.
- New drainage systems including two new outfalls to River Nene and a new outfall to Wittering Brook.
The scheme is located in the administrative boundary of Peterborough City Council in Cambridgeshire.
The Planning Inspectorate, the examining authority, recommended that a DCO should not be made for the proposed development. However, should the minister consider that substantive works to the proposed development on the Wansford west roundabout (WWR) be excluded the order should be granted, subject to a number of outstanding matters, including compulsory acquisition of a plot of land and temporary possession on a further plot.
According to National Highways, the A47 is an “important route” for commuter and longer-distance traffic between Yarmouth on the east coast and the A1, connecting Norwich and Peterborough. The examining authority notes Highways England's objectives for the scheme, including supporting economic growth and making a safer network.
The decision letter explains that National Highways “stated that as approximately half of the A47 between the A1 and Peterborough is single carriageway, this acts as a bottleneck, resulting in congestion and leading to longer journey times and a poor safety record”.
It considered this could be addressed by making the whole length of the A47 between Wansford and Peterborough a dual carriageway.
Merriman notes that the development is part of a package of proposals for the A47 corridor as identified in the first and second road investment strategies. He agrees that it complies with the overall principles of the National Policy Statement for National Networks (NPSNN) and that the need for the development has been established.
Also considered were conservation areas and listed buildings, including Stibbington Conservation Area and its grade I, grade II and grade II* listed buildings. Merriman notes that the proposed development would be seen from the conservation area during construction and in the early years of operation. Although he notes that landscaping along the southern side of the proposed development "would provide a degree of mitigation as it matured, it would remove the views of the ridge to the north of the River Nene and cause harm to the setting of the conservation area".
The examining authority concludes that consequently, the harm caused “would be the lower end of less than substantial harm to the significance of the conservation area”. The transport minister agrees.
Considering the planning balance, the minister “is satisfied” that there is a need for the proposed development and that this need should be afforded substantial weight given the contribution it would make to meeting the country’s long-term needs as part of a wider transport system.
He also attached “substantial weight to the following benefits that are expected as a result of the proposed development: decrease in congestion and improved journey times; enhanced highway safety; and economic and social benefits from improved connectivity both regionally and in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development including improved reliability of journeys”.
The decision letter states: “Having carefully weighed these benefits of the proposed development against the adverse effects of the proposed development, the [minister] is of the view that the potential negative impacts do not outweigh the need for the proposed development".
Subject to a series of changes, the DCO was granted.
The decision letter and all other documents relating to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) scheme can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.3
20 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Wales ‘raises the bar’ on road building projects
The deputy climate change minister for Wales, Lee Waters, has set out the country's direction for the future of transport in Wales, putting climate change at the heart of decision-making.
He also outlined some of the findings from the Roads Review Panel, an independent group of experts tasked with assessing more than 50 road-building projects, as well as the Welsh Government’s National Transport Delivery Plan.
The roads review was announced in June 2021, which at the time saw all road-building projects frozen. Transport consultant Dr Lynn Sloman MBE led a panel and presented the findings to the Welsh Government in September last year.
According to the Programme of Future Road Investment, the Third Menai Crossing won't go ahead. Instead, the option will be sought to ensure crossing the Menai Strait is resilient in a way that supports modal shift, aligned to the future road-building tests. The North Wales Transport Commission has been asked to make recommendations on how this is best achieved.
The document sets out the status of 59 road projects, whether or not they are going ahead. A few have been classed as local authority schemes or economic development schemes.
The 15 local authority schemes will be considered in future transport grant funding rounds, subject to meeting the future road-building tests and the government’s commitments in the Well-being of Future Generations Act.
Speaking in the Senedd, Waters said: “When we published the Wales Transport Strategy two years ago, we committed to start upon a ‘llwybr newydd’ – a new path.
"The publication of this Roads Review, along with the National Transport Delivery Plan, and our new Roads Policy Statement, represents a major step forward on that journey.
"Let me be very clear at the outset, we will still invest in roads. In fact, we are building new roads as I speak – but we are raising the bar for where new roads are the right response to transport problems.
"We are also investing in real alternatives, including investment in rail, bus, walking, and cycling projects.
"Of course, doing that in an age of austerity is very challenging. Not only are we not getting our share of HS2 investment, but the UK Government is pushing many bus services over a cliff edge, as well as slashing our capital investment budgets.
“Even if we’d wanted to keep progressing all the road schemes in the pipeline we just do not have the money to do so. Our capital budget will be 8 per cent lower next year in real terms as a result of the UK Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure.
"With fewer resources, it becomes even more important to prioritise and the roads review helps us to do that."
The Welsh Government said if future road projects are to be invested in they must meet a series of requirements, including carbon emissions reduction and supporting a shift to public transport, walking, and cycling.
Tim Birch, senior policy and advocacy manager at Wildlife Trusts Wales, commented: "It is clear that the Welsh Government has recognised that business as usual is not an option when it comes to road building across Wales – the climate and nature emergencies must be urgently addressed.
"Tackling the emissions from the transport sector, which currently makes up over 15 per cent of the total carbon emissions in Wales, is critical in the fight against climate change. Building more roads to accommodate more cars not only damages the climate but destroys vital habitats for wildlife. That’s why the decision by the Welsh Government to set stringent conditions on any new road building is a very important step.
“These conditions include a need to ensure that any future road building does not lead to an increase in the release of carbon from vehicles. But critically, it seeks to ensure that any future roads do not destroy ecologically valuable sites. This step will hopefully see the end to damaging road schemes.”
17 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Oxford uses ‘exceptional’ analysis to inform consultation on local plan
Oxford City Council has launched a public consultation as the next step in developing its local plan 2040.
The council’s cabinet approved consultation on a further preferred options document focusing on housing needs following an independent report providing the evidence base for the plan.
The evidence-based report is a housing and employment needs assessment (HENA) that was jointly commissioned by Oxford and Cherwell District Council to support the development of their respective local plans.
Oxford said the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out a standard method as a starting point for assessing housing needs, had not been adjusted to take account of the 2021 Census. The NPPF allows for alternative approaches “where there are exceptional local circumstances” as in Oxfordshire, it added.
The county’s “strong and diverse economy” is forecast to keep growing, even during a prolonged period of economic volatility caused by Brexit, Covid-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said the council. This is primarily because of Oxfordshire’s world-class life science, education, and technology sectors, with strong and growing demand for laboratory and research and development space.
Oxford said it has concluded from the HENA analysis that “the best way” to objectively measure housing need is to forecast future job growth and then calculate the number of homes needed to support this sustainably.
Under this model – referred to as the Cambridge Econometrics Baseline Trend – Oxford will need 1,322 new homes and Cherwell will need 1,009 new homes each year between 2020 and 2040.
“The local plan 2040 will set out how and where we deliver homes, jobs, and community facilities in Oxford for the next 20 years,” said cabinet member for planning and housing delivery Alex Hollingsworth. “This third round of consultation sets out our evidence base for the number of homes we’ll need over the lifetime of the plan and we need to know what you think.”
The latest move is the third round of public consultation on the emerging local plan and follows a consultation on emerging issues in 2021 and on preferred options in 2022. Oxfordshire’s other district councils will produce their own evidence in developing their respective plans.
16 February 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Dudley to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in search for development sites
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council has launched an appeal for development sites and pledged to leave 'no stone unturned' in a bid to meet future housing and employment needs.
The council is looking for any sites that might be suitable for future redevelopment, including previously developed land, town centre opportunities and all other available sites as part of its local plan. This is being developed after the council withdrew from the Black Country Plan last year.
The regional plan was created to identify housing and employment land to meet the government’s target of 76,000 new homes across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton borough council areas by 2039.
More than 7,700 homes were set to be built on green belt sites under the plan. Almost 20,800 people across the Black Country responded to a consultation and another 18,000 signed petitions against the plan – the vast majority of them from Dudley.
The council says its withdrawal coincided with proposed legislation to give local people a bigger say on developments in their areas, with the government placing further emphasis on the requirement to focus on brownfield land and councils under no obligation to review the green belt for potential housing.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are committed to leaving no stone unturned in looking for suitable land which can fulfil the needs of this borough,” said Dudley leader Patrick Harley. “That means suitable to us and local people.
“Dudley is a predominantly urban area, and we will be looking at urban sites, many of which are brownfield, as we don’t want to develop on rural spaces. We must acknowledge that as part of the call for sites we cannot stop people from submitting green belt or green spaces for consideration.
“My priority is still to build on brownfield first and exhaust every possible opportunity to protect green belt land.”
16 February 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
NURTURE mentoring programme launched
The RTPI has launched the second year of its mentoring programme NURTURE.
The programme is intended to support the professional development of chartered RTPI members and provides structured, professional mentoring at a ‘mid-career’ point to enable them to make their next career step.
It is a part of the RTPI’s Corporate Strategy 2020-2030.
According to an RTPI survey in the programme’s first year, 86 per cent of mentees left feeling prepared for broader professional responsibilities following the end of the programme. Also, 82 per cent of mentors stated that they felt they benefited from being a mentor.
Applications for mentees and mentors are now open for two weeks until 5 March 2023. NURTURE will include training for both mentees and mentors in May 2023 and a commitment to six mentoring sessions over the course of nine months up until January 2024.
Mixed-use development launched in West Midlands town
Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council and its strategic development partner Queensberry have launched a mixed-use development in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
Named Grayson Place, the 2.3-hectare redevelopment in Abbey Street features leisure units, retail space, a food hall and five-screen cinema alongside 30 homes and office space. It is located within “easy” reach of the train and bus stations.
Grayson Place is the first project in the Transforming Nuneaton programme, which is being undertaken by Warwickshire County Council and Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council with Queensberry.
Kris Wilson, leader of the Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, said: “We are excited to unveil the name and vision for Grayson Place, a project which has been years in the making and will create a prosperous town centre that is set to add an estimated £70 million to the local economy and create 400 jobs during construction and 1,500 jobs upon completion for the town centre.
“We are confident that the regeneration will create a strong hub for the community whilst ensuring that the town reduces its impact on climate change. The programme will unlock a wealth of business and education opportunities, as well as pave the way for additional housing development and infrastructure.”
Phase 1, includes a Hampton by Hilton hotel. The next phase includes new leisure and culture facilities, a public square and a town centre campus for North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College. It is expected to be completed in early 2025.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is investing more than £775,000 into the regeneration of Grayson Place.
Flats approved in Bracknell
Bracknell Forest Borough Council has granted planning permission for 20 apartments across five floors on the site of the former Continuity House building on the A329 London Road in Bracknell.
Planning permission was secured by Lichfields for Flamingo Investment Group.
The scheme also features on-site parking for 22 vehicles, including disabled parking spaces and electric car charging points. The homes will be a mix of one, two and three-bedroomed apartments.
Architects GUNN designed the scheme.
Permission sought to move Migration Museum to City of London
Plans have been submitted to move London's Migration Museum to Dominus’ 65 Crutched Friars development on the eastern edge of the City of London.
The move is intended to secure the museum's long-term future as the national Migration Museum for Britain.
Real-estate company Dominus, which was founded by Ugandan refugee Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia, plans to install the museum on the first three floors of its newest student accommodation development in the Square Mile near The Tower of London. The museum is currently housed in a shopping centre in Lewisham and has been searching for a permanent home for 10 years.
It is estimated that the move will cost up to £15 million. As well as hosting the museum in the development, Dominus said it would underwrite the museum’s operating costs for the first three years. It has also proposed a donation of £500,000 to pay for a team of museum staff to lead the fundraising drive.
Charles Gurassa, chair of Migration Museum, said: “It is difficult to overstate what all of this means for the Migration Museum. Dominus’ support is, quite simply, critical to our ability to deliver a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art Migration Museum. We could not do so without it.
“We believe that a permanent and significant Migration Museum is an important and long-overdue addition to Britain’s cultural landscape and there is no better place than the heart of the City of London, Britain’s gateway to the world for thousands of years.”
Reserved matter approved for Thornton homes
Sefton Council has granted approval of reserved matters for 268 new homes on the edge of Thornton, near Crosby.
The site is allocated for housing in the Sefton Local Plan. Outline planning permission was granted in January 2020 to the applicants Barratt and David Wilson Homes North West.
The developer has produced detailed plans for the site in consultation with officers, local parish councils and the public.
The scheme comprises 268 new homes, 80 of which will be affordable, as well as public open space, a new play area, footpath and cycleway connections, landscaping and drainage.
Eden Planning led with the reserved matters application submission.
Partner selected for TfL office portfolio
Transport for London (TfL)’s wholly owned commercial property company, TTL Properties Ltd (TTLP), has selected Helical as its preferred investment partner for its sustainable commercial office portfolio across central London.
This is subject to contract negotiations and a 10-day standstill period.
The partnership intends to deliver “new high-quality and sustainable” office space above or close to Tube stations, which currently consist of three new commercial office developments at Bank, Paddington, and Southwark. All three sites have full planning permission for commercial office developments.
The joint venture company will purchase leasehold interests in the sites from TfL and establish individual property companies for each of the sites. The sites will then be developed directly by the company, which is to be funded with equity and debt.
The developers are targeting a rating of BREEAM Outstanding and Platinum WELL v2 Core.
Brent seeks views on SPDs
Brent Council is seeking views on new guidelines for developers to make sure that the design and construction of new buildings and the spaces around them contribute to a more sustainable future.
The Sustainable Environment and Development Supplementary Planning Document6 (SPD) sets out guidelines on how future developments can be more sustainable and address climate change with cleaner and more efficient energy.
The Residential Amenity Space and Place Quality SPD7 advises how to design and deliver high-quality private and shared spaces in and around new residential developments, such as gardens, courtyards and roof terraces for the benefit of communities.
The deadline for feedback is 30 March 2023.
Institute of Economic Development appoints patron
Judith Blake, the Baroness Blake of Leeds CBE, has been appointed as the patron of the Institute for Economic Development (IED).
She takes up the unpaid role from outgoing patron Greg Clark MP, who was in post for two years.
A Labour politician serving as a life peer in the House of Lords since 2021, Lady Blake is the shadow spokesperson for business and energy. She was previously the leader of Leeds City Council from 2015 to 2021, becoming the first woman to hold the position, having been deputy leader for five years.
Lady Blake was awarded a CBE in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and, in December 2020, it was announced that she would be conferred a Life Peerage after a nomination by Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer.
21 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner