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Planning news - 25 August 2022

A National Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) application for a 10-mile (16km) two-lane dual carriageway between the A1 Black Cat roundabout and the A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout in the East of England has been granted a development consent order by transport secretary Grant Shapps.

The scheme is intended to address issues of congestion, poor journey time reliability and poor resilience against incidents between the two roundabouts.

The decision is in line with a recommendation by the examining authority, the Planning Inspectorate.

In addition to the creation of the dual carriageway, to be known as the A421, National Highways sought consent for:

  • * 1.8 miles (3km) of tie-in works.
  • A  three-level grade-separated junction at the Black Cat roundabout that would include the A1 at the lower level, the new dual carriageway on the upper level, and a roundabout between the two.
  • A grade-separated all movements junction to the east of the existing Cambridge Road roundabout, which would provide access to the new dual carriageway and maintain access to the existing A428.
  • New crossings over the River Great Ouse, East Coast Main Line railway, Barford Road, the B1046/Potton Road, Toseland Road, and the existing A428 at Eltisley.
  • Diversions of electricity lines, water pipelines, communications and telecommunications and gas pipelines.

The scheme is located within the administrative boundaries of Cambridgeshire County Council, Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council. It would pass through the administrative areas of Huntingdonshire District Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The secretary of state and the examining authority agree that the Transport Decarbonisation Plan does not undermine the need for roads in general to be built and that the scheme can be assessed on the basis of the National Policy Statement for National Networks (NPSNN) without conflicting with commitments in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

The examining authority determined that the development would improve journey times, journey time reliability and safety. It agreed that there is a strategic need for the development and that it would play a “crucial role in facilitating economic and housing development in the area”.

Shapps concurred that there is a manifest need for the proposed development.

Local highway authorities expressed concerns about traffic re-routing from the strategic road network onto the local road network during construction. National Highways' original position was not to monitor traffic flows on the local road network before or during construction as the local road network is a matter for the local highway authorities to monitor and manage effectively. It did accept in part a requirement to secure monitoring.

The secretary of state agrees with the examining authority that, “given the scale and duration of the proposed development’s construction, monitoring of traffic prior to commencement of construction should be integral to the Outline Construction Traffic Management Plan (OCTMP) as without an agreed baseline position any comparison risks being the subject of dispute. The secretary of state also agrees with the ExA that, without monitoring of traffic flows across the local road network during construction, it would not be possible to robustly determine what interventions may be necessary”.

The secretary of state and the examining authority agree that the development’s highway layouts would deliver the predicted traffic benefits and would operate safely, within capacity and effectively. They also concur that overall, opportunities to promote biodiversity have been identified by National Highways and that with “appropriate mitigation there would be positive effects on certain habitats and species, although there would also be adverse effects on other types of habitat and species”.

In conclusion, the decision letter states: “The secretary of state agrees with the examining authority that the likely benefits of the proposed development outweigh the matters weighing against it (either in isolation or in combination). The secretary of state has also engaged the presumption at NPSNN paragraph 4.2 in favour of granting development consent for national networks NSIPs which fall within the need for infrastructure in the NPSNN. The secretary of state therefore considers there to be a case for development consent to be granted.”

The decision letter and all other documents relating to the development can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.1

22 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Coventry seeks to limit HMOs

Coventry City Council is proposing to use an article 4 direction to place restrictions on residential property conversions in 11 out of 18 wards.

These wards have the highest concentration of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The council's cabinet will consider a report into the plans on 30 August.

The council intends to hold a public consultation to get feedback on these changes, which mean landlords and property developers would need to seek planning permission to turn residential homes in these wards into a HMO.

It is hoped that bringing in an article 4 direction would prevent “unnecessary and avoidable displacement” of families searching for properties and provide opportunities for those looking to get onto the property ladder by limiting the number of HMOs in certain wards, as well as make sure that they are not located so closely together.

David Welsh, cabinet member for housing and communities, said: “We want to manage the development of HMOs across Coventry and especially in areas of the city where we need to have the ability to control their numbers.

“Housing developments must meet housing need in the city. We need good-quality affordable homes for families, we believe this will help improve neighbourhoods.”

Gavin Lloyd, deputy cabinet member for city services, added: “Whilst HMOs are an integral part of the community, as they provide housing to students and young professionals who house-share, by controlling the number of them throughout the city – and particularly those in the most saturated areas – we’re supporting residents and accommodating the housing needs of the many, not the few.”

22 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

DCO granted for Manston Airport against Planning Inspectorate advice

Karl McCartney, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, has granted a development consent order (DCO) for works to reopen Manston Airport, Kent, primarily as an international freight airport.

This is the second time that RiverOak Strategic Partners' (RSP) Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) application has been determined.

In July 2020, then transport minister Andrew Stephenson granted the DCO after two deferrals. In February 2021, this DCO was overturned by the High Court and the application sent back for redetermination.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps excused himself from determining the application owing to a conflict of interest.

RSP plans to reopen and develop Manston Airport into “a dedicated air freight facility able to handle at least 10,000 air cargo movements per year whilst also offering passenger, executive travel, and aircraft engineering services”.

The proposals include the use of the existing airport infrastructure and the building of new facilities. This includes upgrading runways, constructing 65,500 square metres of cargo facilities, and construction of a new air traffic control tower.

The examining authority – the Planning Inspectorate – concluded that RPS had “failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the proposed development, additional to (or different from) the need which is met by the provision of existing airports, and that is important and relevant against the case for development consent being given”.

It found that the socio-economic benefits from the development weighed “moderately” in its favour and ascribed “considerable weight" to its public benefits. The examining authority considered its effects on air quality, biodiversity, ground conditions, landscape and visual impact and water resources as neutral when considering the application.

A series of effects, however, were considered to weigh against granting the development consent, including:

  • Climate change: The development’s contribution of 1.9 per cent of the total UK aviation carbon target for 2050 and the impact this has on the government’s ability to meet its carbon reduction targets, including carbon budgets, weighs moderately against the development.
  • Heritage assets: Less than substantial harm to three scheduled monuments, 10 listed buildings and four conservation areas and less than substantial harm from the removal of Second World War structures of unknown significance. The examining authority concluded that the harm caused to the heritage assets was outweighed by the public benefits from the development. However, the examining authority concluded that overall, impacts on heritage assets weigh moderately against the development.
  • Traffic and transport: Impacts on the local road network where the examining authority considers that appropriate mitigation measures or funding for improvements have not been secured. It concluded that traffic and transport issues carry substantial weight against the granting of the development.

Overall, the examining authority concluded that the benefits of the development would not outweigh its impacts and the secretary of state should not grant the DCO.

In considering the application, McCartney noted that the examining authority decided that the levels of freight that Manston Airport would be expected to handle “are modest” and could be catered for at existing airports (Heathrow, Stansted, East Midlands Airport and others if demand existed).

RPS responded to the consultation on the statement of matters during the redetermination process, contending that need is mentioned only in the paragraph of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) that states: “The government accepts that it may well be possible for existing airports to demonstrate sufficient need for their proposals, additional to (or different from) the need which is met by the provision of a Northwest Runway at Heathrow”.

RPS said the ANPS gives no further explanation as to what “sufficient” means in this context, and also argued that the examining authority’s report “largely assumes that need is determinative as to whether the DCO should be granted, but does not agree that this should be the case”.

McCartney agreed with RPS that the ANPS does not provide an explanation of “sufficient need”. Furthermore, he did not agree with the way in which the examining authority attempted to establish whether there is a need for the development.

Overall, having considered the expected benefits, such as job creation, and the potential negative impacts such as congestion and delays on the local road system, McCartney “is of the view that the potential negative impacts do not outweigh the projected benefits”.

The decision and all documents related to the application can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.2

22 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

SYMCA awarded £570m for sustainable transport schemes

South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) has been awarded £570 million by the Department for Transport (DfT) for sustainable transport schemes in the county, including several Sheffield initiatives.

Funding from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement will support schemes for the next five years and delivery will be managed by the mayoral combined authority.

Some initiatives will include: 

  • In Sheffield the Supertram will see refurbishment of its vehicles, new shelters, CCTV, passenger information points and improved pedestrian crossings.
  • Further active travel and public realm improvement in the city centre to cycle links across the city and public space enhancement.
  • Zero-emission buses will be introduced including community transport and charging points at interchanges on street and at depots.

Julie Grocutt, co-chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee, said: “We are committed to safer and more sustainable travel and it is fantastic that Sheffield, as well as the wider region, has secured the funding it needs to see out its ambitions. We will work alongside the people of Sheffield through consultation to deliver these important changes.

“This year alone, through the Connecting Sheffield initiative, we have introduced the Sheaf Valley Cycle route and reintroduced the city centre shuttle bus, Sheffield Connect. We will continue to make progress towards a more sustainable and safer transport network both through the City Region Settlement and the council’s already ambitious plans.

“As England’s fourth largest city, it is crucial we can offer a travel network that residents deserve, and it is more important than ever that the service on offer is sustainable in line with our goal of achieving net-zero carbon by 2030.”

The fund stems from a government announcement in 2019 that the eight eligible English city regions (mayoral combined authorities) would receive £4.2 billion of additional funding for local transport networks.

22 August 2022
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Nuneaton approves Bedworth Physical Activities Hub plans

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has approved plans submitted by GT3 Architects for a Bedworth Physical Activities Hub in Miners’ Welfare Park.

The new hub will replace an existing centre, providing a new set of facilities to better meet the needs of the local community.  It will include a 25-metre eight-lane pool, learner pool with a moveable floor, 120-station fitness suite, two studios, a spin studio and associated changing areas as well as a café and multipurpose room. 

The surrounding park will undergo a major transformation with a focus on creating an active landscape that wraps around the new building.

There will also be a new all-wheels skatepark, learn-to-ride area and pump track provided as part of the approved proposal.

Matt McCreith, project architect at GT3, said: “The scheme aims to create an ‘active landscape’ that offers a variety of different activities and areas in a bid to promote movement and enjoyment of outdoor space. This includes exercise and play areas, walking routes and seating spaces.

“We are approaching this project more like a community building as opposed to being a leisure centre that is only sports-focused. It's been designed to be accessible from the park as well as the main entrance, encouraging more people to use the building for a variety of reasons. The aim is to get more people active, but this can be achieved away from the traditional sports activities hosted in the building.”

22 August 2022
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

News round-up

University appoints consultancy to help deliver carbon ambitions

The University of Leeds has appointed Arcadis to deliver its net-zero carbon programme and ambitions.

The university wants to achieve net zero by 2030 and it has secured significant capital investment to begin the journey of assessing existing operational energy associated with its existing assets.

Arcadis will deliver programme management, project and commercial management services. The programme is supported by MEP and architectural expertise.

The programme includes developing and delivering a low-energy building strategy that would include potential building and buildings systems interventions to enable net zero.

Key elements of the plans include switching away from fossil fuels to procuring renewable electricity through a power purchase agreement.

Brian Ford, head of capital development at the University of Leeds, said: “Working in collaboration with academic colleagues and students – and with massive investment by the university – we are laying the groundwork for emissions reductions to achieve our target of net zero by 2030. Interventions include targeted refurbishment of buildings and the installation of low-carbon technologies across the estate, and this work is already under way.”


Views sought on leaseholder-owned buildings

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has published a call for evidence on leaseholder owned buildings above 11 metres.

This is intended to inform government policy in determining how best to protect the leaseholders in such buildings from the impact of building safety defects.

Levelling-up secretary Greg Clark said: “We are committed to helping every leaseholder suffering at the hands of building safety issues, regardless of the kind of building they find themselves in.

“It’s vital we gather as much information as possible about the scale and nature of the problems leaseholders are facing.

“I urge anyone in a leaseholder-owned building above 11 metres or five storeys to come forward and share their experiences so that we can help end these issues once and for all.”

The call for evidence can be found here3.


Manufacturing facility approved in Scotland

North Ayrshire Council has granted planning permission for a manufacturing facility that will produce HVDC cables for what will be the world’s longest subsea infrastructure for the Morocco-UK power project.

The infrastructure forms part of an initiative that seeks to power seven million UK homes by 2030.

Independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard has been acting as lead consultant on the project, appointed by HVDC subsea cable manufacturer XLCC.

The facility will be built in Hunterston on a brownfield site. It will produce four 3,800km-long cables, connecting solar and wind energy from the Sahara to the UK, as part of the Xlinks project.

Once operational, the facility is expected to support up to 900 jobs, with thousands more generated in the wider supply chain.


Yorkshire Water selects Downing for solar project

Yorkshire Water has appointed Downing LLP to develop, design, build and operate a portfolio of 28 solar sites across Yorkshire.

The solar project investment is worth around £25 million and will generate a total capacity of approximately 21 megawatts.

The construction of the solar farms will contribute directly to Yorkshire Water’s 2030 net-zero pledge, as all electricity generated will be consumed on site by Yorkshire Water.

Downing partnered with net-zero consultancy Ikigai, which acted as a strategic adviser and behind the meter co-development partner to Downing throughout the tender process started in 2020.


WMCA funds £6.5m on Parallel 113 scheme

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has invested £6.5 million to transform derelict brownfield land into an industrial park.

Work has started on the scheme, called Parallel 113, by property developer St Francis Group on a 113,000-square-feet industrial unit in the Darlaston Enterprise Zone in Walsall, creating more than 195 new jobs.

The scheme forms part of the wider Black Country Enterprise Zone, which is being led by the Black Country LEP and aims to unlock and redevelop nearly 300 acres of former industrial land, delivering 3,000 new jobs.

The Parallel 113 site is said to be the size of 10 football pitches and will be a five-minute walk from the new Darlaston railway station – a project being led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the WMCA.


Glasgow’s Buchanan Wharf BTR scheme complete

Construction of 324 build-to-rent (BTR) apartments at Buchanan Wharf on Glasgow’s Clydeside has been completed by Drum Property Group for Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM).

The development, named Solasta Riverside, is a 280,000-square-feet complex designed to meet demand for rental accommodation across Scotland.  

Solasta is made up of two 18-storey towers and features a dining space, gym, residents’ lounge and games room. It overlooks the River Clyde by incorporating a 4,250-square-foot communal roof terrace.

Buchanan Wharf is a £500 million mixed-use development within walking distance of Glasgow Central Station and the International Financial Services District – by the adjacent Tradeston Bridge.


Greenwich seeks feedback on its transport strategy

The Royal Borough of Greenwich is asking residents, businesses and community groups to share feedback on its draft transport strategy to help to improve the safety, efficiency and sustainability of its transport network.  

The strategy sets out how it can support a healthier, greener borough and deliver improvements on its network of roads, cycle routes and public transport services.

It includes a variety of proposals to encourage walking and cycling, reduce traffic, improve air quality, and support the roll-out of ultra-low emission vehicles.

Key aims of the strategy include:  

  • Improving the safety and accessibility of streets and public spaces.
  • Making it easier for people of all ages and abilities to have a healthy lifestyle.
  • Reducing car dependency in the borough.
  • Improving air quality by reducing emissions.  
  • Encouraging the use of electric vehicles (EVs), e-bikes and other smart technology.
  • Improving access to jobs, services and opportunities.
  • Bringing communities together and increasing tourism.

23 August 2022
Laura Edgar, 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 - 25 August 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.