Weekly planning news
Planning news - 25 May 2023
Planning approval upturn gives positive outlook for industry pipeline
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Government to review planning ‘barriers’ for farming
The UK Government has committed to providing ‘greater planning certainty and flexibility’ to support the rural economy.
This is one of the outcomes of the UK Farm to Fork Summit, which was held at 10 Downing Street yesterday (16 May).
The government said it wants the planning system to respond to the immediate challenges facing farmers and give them greater freedoms to make the best use of their existing agricultural buildings and support the wider rural economy.
At the summit, the government pledged to launching a review of planning barriers to farm diversification – including any necessary changes to permitted development – later this year.
According to a document published after the summit, under the heading ‘cutting red tape’, the consultation will propose allowing farmers greater freedom in how they use their buildings. This would mean that farmers could convert their buildings to process foods to sell in farm shops without lodging a planning application with their local authorities. This would help them to diversify their income streams.
The government will also launch a call for evidence to understand the best way to “address barriers that farmers and land managers can face to delivering projects on their land which will improve sustainable food production, nature and biodiversity and support their businesses”.
Furthermore, the government plans to revise national planning policy so it “fully seizes all opportunities” to support levelling up across rural areas – “specifically, making the approval of new controlled environment horticulture businesses a priority for councils”.
The full outcome document can be found on the UK Government website (pdf)1.
17 May 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
London boroughs launch infrastructure drive for capital’s growth
A list of key infrastructure projects needed to secure ‘a more prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable’ future for London has been unveiled by the capital’s boroughs.
All 33 of the capital’s local authorities have agreed on an infrastructure framework on a cross-party, pan-London basis for the first time, with the aim of using infrastructure investment to boost prosperity, reduce inequalities, and help to achieve net zero across the capital.
The move, by umbrella body London Councils, identifies major development opportunities for stimulating economic growth, with 67 projects included in the infrastructure framework based on boroughs’ strategic priorities and the classification used by the National Infrastructure Commission.
The projects include extending the Bakerloo Line to south-east London to support the development of more than 110,000 homes and 130,000 jobs, continuing the Elizabeth line to Kent, and Connected London, an initiative delivering 2,000km of full-fibre connectivity across the capital’s underground network ahead of 5G. Other notable schemes include a sewage-powered domestic heating scheme for 2,000 homes under a partnership between the London Borough of Kingston and Thames Water and a redesign of the roundabout, roads and public realm at Waterloo to unlock and support growth towards the South Bank.
The framework, which has been developed with the boroughs by economic consultancy Metro Dynamics, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London, aims to promote more efficient planning and infrastructure delivery. London Councils is also calling for a new devolution deal with the government to support the infrastructure ambitions by letting boroughs keep more proceeds for local growth to secure extra investment in strategic projects.
22 May 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Lower bills could be offered to communities backing onshore wind
The government is proposing to allow developers to offer new and improved reward schemes to communities in England that support onshore wind farms in their area.
This could include energy bill discounts. The rewards that could be offered would be agreed between developers and communities on a case-by-case basis.
David Cameron's government set out two criteria for onshore wind in 2015:
- the proposed area must be identified in a local or neighbourhood as suitable; and
- the local community must support it.
These restrictions have resulted in a de facto ban on onshore wind farms.
The consultation document states that the government is “serious about delivering cheaper, cleaner, more secure power’ but that it recognises the range of views that people have about onshore wind.
“The government therefore believes that decisions on onshore wind should be made by local representatives who know their areas best.”
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) also proposes embedding best practice principles of engagement, currently published by the government, into planning guidance for local authorities and developers to guarantee that the views of the community are heard and addressed.
“Ensuring a transparent and effective process will mean that the planning system works in England to deliver new, locally supported onshore wind generation and provide value for money for billpayers," states the consultation document.
Energy security and net zero secretary Graham Stuart said: “Onshore wind is a vital part of our plans to deliver cheaper, cleaner, and more secure homegrown energy.
“It is right that new developments have the support of host communities, and that local people benefit directly from it, such as through either a discount on their energy bills or other significant community benefits.
“Our proposals will ensure developers and local residents can work together more efficiently to maximise community benefits for supportive communities while delivering the clean and secure energy the country needs.”
RenewableUK’s head of onshore wind James Robottom commented: “We’re pleased that the government is consulting on the wide range of benefits which onshore wind can offer to local communities in England. We have a long track record of working closely with communities to ensure that they decide what form these benefits will take, depending on the needs and priorities of local people.
“Building strong relationships with local communities as early as possible is the best way to establish successful partnerships which last for decades. Alongside much-needed planning reforms, this consultation provides an opportunity to increase the amount of cheap clean power we can generate for consumers as well as strengthening our nation’s energy security.”
The consultation, which closes on 7 July, can be found on the UK Government website2.
18 May 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Thames flood defences set to be delivered 15 years early
Flood defences must be delivered 15 years earlier than expected to protect communities in London and the Thames Estuary from sea level rise, according to the Environment Agency.
Its updated Thames Estuary 2100 Plan, which covers 109km from Teddington Lock in West London to the river mouth at Southend-on-Sea and the Isle of Grain, aims to protect more than 1.4 million people and £321 billion of property from tidal floods.
The latest version says defences must be raised upstream of the Thames Barrier by 2050, some 15 years earlier than the date set when the plan was launched in 2012. The move is in response to sea levels rising faster than expected with assets also deteriorating at a quicker rate.
Riverside strategies must be embedded into local planning frameworks by 2030 to ensure that new developments factor in future flood defence requirements, adds the Environment Agency. Plans for raising flood defences will also be developed by defence owners, local authorities and the Environment Agency by 2030.
Thames Estuary Advisory Group chair Baroness Julia Brown of Cambridge noted that the Environment Agency owns just 12% of flood defences in the area, “so it is essential that others also play their part in helping to manage current and future tidal flood risk”.
The plan represents the UK’s largest single programme of flood-risk management work, valued at more than £468 million in total. The Thames Barrier is expected to protect the capital until 2070 but the Environment Agency is pledging to commit to an “end of century” option by 2040.
22 May 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Plans unveiled for diagnostic centre at Manchester hospital
Plans for a £14.2 million investment in Withington Community Hospital have been announced to give quicker and more convenient access to life-saving tests for patients in West Didsbury and south Manchester with suspected cancers or cardio-respiratory diseases.
The move by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust is the single largest investment in Withington Community Hospital in its history.
The development is one of dozens proposed across the country under the Community Diagnostics Centre (CDC) programme to improve access to a range of checks, tests and scans.
The trust said planning approval for the scheme would help to reduce health inequalities in the community and negate the need for local people to travel to either Manchester Royal Infirmary or Wythenshawe Hospital for tests.
The facility would be provided in a two-storey building on the southern corner of the site. A full landscape design will be developed as the proposals progress, with plans to provide a “welcoming entrance” into the building to be complemented by new cyclist and pedestrian access points and a main arrival plaza.
A pre-application public consultation on the proposals will be launched this week.
Birmingham student towers proposal unveiled
A detailed planning application has been submitted for nearly 1,000 flats and bedsits in the grounds of a Birmingham hospital.
McLaren Property aims to demolish student accommodation in Queens Hospital Close in Birmingham’s Bath Row and build 189 build-to-rent apartments and 759 purpose-built student accommodation rooms in four high-rise buildings.
The tallest of the four towers is 31 storeys and these would replace the 337 student rooms.
The plans, submitted by a design team led by architects at Chapman Taylor, include refurbishing two listed buildings on the hospital site for communal facilities, including a public café and a gym.
Birmingham City Council is expected to consider the application later this year.
Consultancy invests in Urban Intelligence
Planning and development consultancy Iceni Projects Limited has invested in Urban Intelligence (UI), an early-stage business focused on the digitisation of the planning system.
The investment is intended to strengthen the partnership between the two companies and facilitate growth opportunities for both to build on their individual strengths.
Iceni will provide strategic support so UI can further enhance its offerings and expand its reach within local government.
Pembrokeshire consultations to close this week
Two planning consultations by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park are due to close at the end of this week.
Supplementary planning guidance (SPG) documents on Trees and Woodlands apply only to applications made in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The joint SPG document on Seascapes covers the whole of Pembrokeshire.
Comments should be returned either in writing to: The Park Direction Team, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Llanion Park, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, SA72 6DY, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The consultations close at 4.30pm on Friday 26 May.
More information can be found on the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority website.3
SEGRO and WMCA become strategic partners
SEGRO, the manager and developer of warehouse and industrial space, has been announced as the strategic partner of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
A commitment to invest £2 billion in the next 10 years aims to deliver next-generation, net-zero warehouse facilities in the West Midlands.
As a strategic partner, SEGRO is tasked with delivering 13.5 million square feet of sustainable warehouse space across the region by the end of 2033, focused on tech-enabled logistics facilities as well as purpose-built space for research and development and light manufacturing.
The development programme is expected to create up to 14,000 jobs across a wide range of employment types and industry sectors.
Kirklees appoints Queensberry for George Hotel redevelopment
Kirklees Council has appointed development partner Queensberry to redevelop The George Hotel.
The hotel is a grade II listed building located on the corner of St George’s Square. Together with the council and architects at Bowman Riley, Queensberry will be working to refurbish the main grade II listed element and construct the rear extension.
The hotel will consist of 91 hotel bedrooms, a ground-floor restaurant and bar to seat 70 people, a separate Banqueting Hall to seat 100 people, plus meeting and leisure facilities.
The current phase of works involving the restoration of the existing façades and roofs will complete in May 2023, planning for the redevelopment is expected in June 2023 along with the appointment of a main contractor.
Construction is expected to begin in September 2023, with the hotel opening in spring/summer of 2025.
Crest Nicholson purchases Norton Fitzwarren site
Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has purchased land at Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, to deliver more than 300 private and affordable homes.
Norton Rise is located to the south-west of Norton Fitzwarren, a village settlement in Somerset, England.
The site benefits from good transport links across the South West, located less than two miles from Taunton train station, and close to the town centre with great links to the M5. Several schools are located nearby, alongside local shops and useful amenities.
As part of the project, Crest Nicholson will complete the construction of Great Western Way on the southern edge of Norton Rise, which will provide strong connections for the site and village, taking pressure off the B3227 between Taunton and Wiveliscombe.
Five planning applications are currently pending on the site, with construction set to begin in 2024.
Countryside buys Akzo Nobel housing site
Mixed-tenure developer Countryside Partnerships and Together Housing Group have purchased the former Akzo Nobel site in Littleborough, Rochdale.
Planning permission was secured on the brownfield site in April for 126 new homes to be built.
Countryside Partnerships, then Vistry Partnerships, was originally selected by Homes England to build the development in 2021.
The new development will provide two, three, four, and five-bedroom homes, including 14 shared-ownership homes that will be managed by Together Housing Group, and five properties that will be sold under the government’s low-cost First Homes ownership scheme.
Countryside will invest nearly £700,000 into the local community to go into local education provision and outdoor sports provision. The development will also include a large open space and play area for residents to enjoy, as well as a substantial pedestrian network that will connect with existing footpaths surrounding the site.
23 May 2023