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Planning news - 29 June 2023

Nearly £1.6m for councils to recruit planners 

The Local Government Government Association (LGA) has been granted £1.59 million to help local councils recruit and develop more skilled planners. 

The money comes from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). 

The Pathways to Planning Programme will see 30 people secure a placement while receiving a bursary to study towards a planning master’s degree. 

The department is funding the scheme over two years to support the LGA in setting up and delivering this programme. The intention is to recruit diverse talent to enable councils to represent the communities they serve. 

LGA chairman James Jamieson commented: “We are incredibly excited to be delivering Pathways to Planning in collaboration with the Planning Advisory Service (PAS), with funding provided by DLUHC. 

“With more than 20 years of experience bringing graduate talent into local authorities through the National Graduate Development Programme for local government (NGDP), we are confident that Pathways to Planning can add exceptional value to local council planning teams from day one and build a talent pipeline for the future.” 

Planning minister Rachel Maclean added: “Delivering a modern and efficient planning system is vital in shaping our neighbourhoods and communities. We want to place the next generation of planners on the frontline to design beautiful homes and provide high-quality infrastructure right across the country. 

“We are bringing in groundbreaking reforms to speed up the planning process through the levelling up bill, and it is essential that local councils are equipped with the right skills and resources as we continue to level up towns and cities that people are proud to call home.” 

Building on this first phase of funding, the scheme will directly support local councils by recruiting about 200 graduates with the right skills and necessary training to add significant value to local planning services, said the department. 

More details can be found on the LGA website.1 

23 June 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 


Campaign group Together Against Sizewell C Limited (TASC) has failed in its legal challenge against the decision to grant permission for a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell in Suffolk.  

The claimant, TASC, had argued that the government had failed to consider alternative energy sources as well as the environmental impact of the power plant, which is to be built by EDF.  

But Mr Justice Holgate dismissed each of these challenges and ruled that the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero was justified in granting permission for the plant.  

The power plant was consented in 20222 when then-energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng overruled the ​​Planning Inspectorate, which had advised that the scheme should be refused unless habitat and water supply issues were resolved.  

Holgate dismissed the application for a judicial review, saying that nuclear power was an “essential component” of the government’s energy strategy. The summary of Holgate’s decision described the claimant’s arguments about alternative energy as “absurd”, leading to the implication that any “decision-maker dealing with a proposal for a solar or wind farm would have to consider nuclear power as an alternative solution”.  

The court determined that all of the claimant’s grounds of challenge were “unarguable”. 

26 June 2023  
Ben Gosling, The Planner 


DCO granted for solar farm in Essex

Energy secretary Grant Shapps has granted a development consent order (DCO) for Longfield Solar Farm in Essex, in line with a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate. 

Permission was sought for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommission of a solar photovoltaic electricity generating facility and battery energy storage system with a capacity of 50 megawatts (MW), under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime. 

Proposals included export connection to the National Grid and an extension to the existing substation at Bulls Lodge, according to the application form. 

The site is 453 hectares and it is located in the administrative areas of Chelmsford City Council, Braintree District Council, and Essex County Council. 

Longfield Solar Energy Farm Limited is behind the scheme. 

In its statement of need, the organisation argued the case for the need for the development, given the urgent need for solar generation identified by both the designated and draft national planning policy statements, "significant weight should be attributed to the contribution the proposed development would make to meeting that need”. 

The three local authorities acknowledged the “urgent” requirement for electricity generation that the proposed scheme would help to meet. A number of interested parties said the size of the solar farm was not needed and that there are other forms of renewable electricity generation that are more reliable while one interested party stated that the scheme was needed to combat climate change. 

The decision letter notes that the examining authority – the Planning Inspectorate – concludes that the development “would positively contribute to the urgent need established in designated NPSs, and carried forward into [draft] NPSs, for additional low carbon generation, and that this should be afforded significant positive weight”. Shapps agreed. 

The examining authority noted that there is some potential for construction and decommissioning activities to impact air quality, including from the production of dust, but that these are likely to be temporary and short-term, giving this matter neutral weight in the planning palace. The energy secretary agreed. 

The examining authority also found that the biodiversity net gain (BNG) demonstrated as part of the application “would represent a considerable benefit and ascribes it moderate positive weight in the planning balance”. The energy secretary agreed. 

In addition, the examining authority identified some adverse landscape impacts on several areas, including Toppinghoehall Woods, during construction and year one of operation. The applicant contended that these would be temporary, medium-term and reversible.    

According to the decision letter, the examining authority found the development to be “generally well-contained, with localised impacts experienced by a limited number of receptors, and most adverse effects reversible on decommissioning”. 

“However, the proposed development will nevertheless result in visual and landscape harm. The examining authority ascribes the resultant harm to moderate negative weight in the planning balance. 

The secretary of state agrees with the examining authority's conclusions and ascribes this matter moderate weight against the proposed development in the planning balance." 

Potential construction and decommissioning activities could impact the surrounding roads and highways, but the examining authority found that the traffic assessment meets the requirements of the National Policy Statement for Energy and the draft NPSs, with identified control and management measures sufficient to mitigate any likely adverse effects to an acceptable level. This was ascribed neutral in the overall planning balance by the examining authority and the energy secretary. 

Shapps agreed with the examining authority's overall conclusion that once all the factors were taken into account, including the adverse impacts identified, these were "not of sufficient weight either on their own or collectively, to argue against the case for development consent". He granted the DCO. 

The decision letter and all other documents relating to Longfield Solar Farm can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.3 

26 June 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 


NHS land should be used to house health workers

Land owned by the NHS should be used to deliver homes for those working in health and social care. 

This is according to white paper Putting the Family Silver to Work. It has been developed by the NHS Homes Alliance* alongside Perspicio, Global City Futures and Future Places Studio. 

The white paper calls for a cross-government department, NHS and private sector task force to work on the recommendations, something that was announced by the government in response to the white paper, which was launched today (26 June). 

Lord Markham CBE, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “I welcome the paper from the NHS Homes Alliance which highlights several recommendations to address the issues that have so far prevented the NHS from delivering key worker accommodation at the scale and pace that is required. I will lead a joint task force with the housing minister, Rachel Maclean, to work through the barriers identified and support the NHS to streamline delivery of this much-needed accommodation to support its vital and valuable workforce.” 

As housing is “a critical part of the current NHS staffing crisis”, it argues that surplus NHS land should be used to deliver homes for health and social care workers to support staff retention and recruitment, something the task force is intended to address. 

Affordable, high-quality and sustainable homes should be built near hospitals and clinics, say the authors. This would boost NHS and social care staff retention and recruitment, in turn improving the quality of care and providing better services for all. 

The white paper recommends that developments are built based on the specific recruitment and staff retention needs of local health and social care services, according to NHS trusts and ICBs (integrated care boards). This includes the different types of homes required for everyone from junior doctors and nurses to cleaners, such as for long-term rental, with the freehold retained. The long-term value and flexibility of use for the NHS should be protected. 

Sarah Hordern, non-executive director at Oxford University Hospitals NHS FT, CEO at Perspicio – one of the authors of the white paper, welcomed the establishment of a task force to “help find solutions to the urgent need for decent, affordable housing for our talented NHS and social care workforce”. 

“Good-quality accommodation close to work shouldn’t be a pipe dream for health and social care workers, who are often adding long and expensive commutes on top of demanding shifts. We need to ensure that talented people working in the NHS and social care have housing that supports their needs, and can be recruited without the barrier of a lack of decent, affordable places to live close to where they work.” 

Roli Martin, managing director at Global City Futures and one of the authors of the white paper, added: “Instead of selling the family silver, we believe we can put it to work, making better use of the NHS’s assets to deliver homes and communities for NHS and social care staff. The NHS needs a strategic approach to utilising its existing land holdings in a way that provides housing and creates community, retaining and nurturing its workforce. The NHS faces a huge challenge and this is a sensible approach to using its assets to secure its future for everyone.” 

* The NHS Homes Alliance comprises representatives from public and private sector organisations including NHS Trusts, pension funds, financial, legal, and real estate experts; housing associations; architects and developers. 

26 June 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 


350 homes at Atlantic Wharf get the green light

Cardiff City Council has signed off approval for the development of more than 350 homes at the capital’s Atlantic Wharf. 

CNM Estates is behind the application for 353 one and two-bedroomed flats at East Bay Close in Butetown. 

The housing is set to be contained in a nine to 15-storey H-shaped building on the 0.9-hectare site. 

The scheme includes parking for up to 49 vehicles, EV charging and storage for 530 bikes that will be provided under the flyover next to the site. A new access road is part of the project. 

The modular building is designed to be highly energy efficient with on-site generation from solar panels and air-source heat pumps. 

The site has an existing planning permission for a 771-room, 10-storey student accommodation block. 

The wider Atlantic Wharf masterplan includes a 17,000-capacity arena and a hotel. Those elements were approved last year. 

Also proposed in the masterplan are hundreds of flats, plus more hotels as well as office, leisure and retail floor space. 

Meanwhile, in a separate but related development, the last prime waterfront sites in Cardiff Bay – located next to the Senedd building – have been acquired by Cardiff property firm Rightacres. 

The land involved has outline planning consent for 16,722 square metres of office development. However, the developer has indicated that the 0.48-hectare location is most likely to be proposed for a significant build-to-rent scheme. 

23 June 2023 
Roger Milne, The Planner 


News round-up

1.98GW of wind capacity in Wales 

Figures released today by RenewableUK Cymru show that there is 1.98GW of fully commissioned installed wind energy generation capacity in Wales. 

Of this, 63 per cent comes from onshore projects, including Wales’s largest wind farm, Pen y Cymoedd in South Wales, developed by Vattenfall Wind Power Ltd. 

Wales has 3.95GW of wind energy projects, including onshore, fixed, and floating offshore wind in the planning pipeline. This will require double the grid capacity available. 

Furthermore, there is 4GW of floating offshore wind planned from the Celtic Sea region of Wales and the south-west of England. RenewableUK said this means there is an increasingly urgent need for investment to ensure that future grid demand meets the needs of energy generation across Wales. 

Jessica Hooper, RenewableUK Cymru director, said: “We are committed to enabling an energy system underpinned by a diverse mix of renewables which creates value for the people of Wales. A grid fit for future generations is key to enabling our success and will be a pivotal player in Wales’s green energy transition. Without investment, we stand to miss out on the many positive benefits wind energy brings – from lower electricity bills, energy security, jobs, decarbonising our homes and industry, right through to community benefits and habitat restoration. 

“Strong collaboration between the UK and Welsh Government is vital to overcoming this issue. We welcome the reform to Ofgem’s mandate to give the energy regulator a statutory duty to assist in the delivery of net zero, but now we need to see a clear programme of anticipatory investment in Wales.” 

Broad Street BTR application submitted 

Urban Vision, a specialist real estate investor and developer, has submitted a planning application to Birmingham City Council for a Build-to-Rent development in Birmingham. The plans for 100 Broad Street will deliver 294 new homes across a 33-storey building. 

If approved, the proposals will maximise development on a brownfield site. The building will be designed to be a ‘smart’ building that is both all-electric and uses technology to help drive efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint and occupational costs of its users. 

The proposals include communal amenities such as co-working spaces and communal lounges, rooftop gardens, independent shops, cafés, or restaurants at street level. 

Funding for landowners who boost biodiversity 

Owners of land within half a mile of the Pembrokeshire Coast, such as farmers, smallholders and tourism providers, have been urged to find out more about a new scheme that aims to connect habitats and enhance biodiversity. 

The Connecting the Coast scheme, funded by the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Landscapes Sustainable Places (SLSP) fund, offers landowners advice and support and could provide funding to cover capital costs, as well as annual management payments lasting from five to 10 years. 

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority conservation officer Clare Flynn said: “The scheme is just one of the ways we are supporting local farmers and landowners to deliver for wildlife and promoting nature recovery. 

“It will offer advice and financial support for a range of different options, from the creation and management of species-rich grasslands to the sowing of herbal leys and provision for farmland birds. 

“The scheme is flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of the land and landowner, but it’s important people get in touch as soon as possible to register their interest by 31 July 2023 so we can have an informal chat and discuss how it could work for them.” 

Flintshire housing plans gets green light 

Flintshire Council’s planning committee has approved plans for a new phase of residential development on a former industrial site in Flintshire. 

Bellway Homes Limited (North West Division), supported by planning and development consultancy Lichfields, secured planning approval for a mix of 54 one, two, three and four-bedroomed homes including affordable properties, on a 1.5-hectare plot at the former Corus Garden City site on Deeside. 

Known as Victoria Green, the development will involve a mix of mews, semi-detached and detached properties built along with new access roads, public open space and footpaths on an area known as the Northern Gateway. It includes spacious gardens and parking along with landscaping and the planting of trees. 

Building work is due to start on site as soon as all pre-commencement conditions are discharged, creating several new construction jobs. 

 Public piazza in central London approved 

The City of London Corporation has granted planning permission for a new public piazza to be created north of St Paul’s Cathedral, King Edward Square, by LDA Design. 

This will see an “outdated” road system transformed to create a “safer, more pleasant environment”. 

King Edward Square will be created by removing the 1970s gyratory between St Paul’s Cathedral and the former Museum of London, a one-way system that severs pedestrian and cycle connectivity. 

Working with the City of London, transport and movement specialists Norman Rourke Pryme has developed a baseline to remove traffic from the southern end of King Edward Street and the adjacent slip road. This will see 2,800 square metres of public realm created. Traffic along Newgate Street and St Martin’s le Grand will become two-way, with pavements widened on St Martin’s le Grand. 

Sophie Thompson, a director at LDA Design and public realm lead, said: “King Edward Square is designed for people and for nature. It is intended to reinforce a sense of place and community as well as an important historic setting, with tranquil as well as sociable spaces, providing close contact with nature as a continuous thread.” 

Howard Medals awarded 

Two Howard Medals have been awarded for outstanding contributions to the promotion and public understanding of Garden City principles. 

David Lock CBE, masterplanner and former chief planning adviser to the Department for the Environment,  and food campaigner Pam Warhurst CBE were awarded the medals at a parliamentary reception organised by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA). 

The medal is named after the founder of the Garden City movement, Ebenezer Howard. It has been awarded 11 times in the past 90 years to recipients including Raymond Unwin in 1938 and Elizabeth Buchanan Mitchel in 1955. 

Halifax theatre to be improved 

Calderdale Council has approved plans and listed building consent to improve the facilities and visitor experience at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax. 

Funding from the government’s Future High Streets Fund will go towards enhancing the experience for those visiting the grade-II listed theatre. 

Plans include a new box office on Commercial Street, with independent opening hours. The current box office and part of the foyer area will become a new café/bar to provide new food and drink opportunities and could hold small performances. 

Access improvements are also featured in the plans, with a new lift to be installed to take visitors to the Green Room Bar for the first time in the venue’s history. Two accessible toilets will be installed. 

The work is expected to be completed by summer 2024. 

NatureScot reports 25% rise in peatland 

NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION team has announced that the number of peatland hectares increased by 25 per cent between 2022 and 2023 to 5,000 ha. 

The NatureScot Peatland ACTION team delivered over 65 per cent of the Scottish Government-funded Peatland ACTION programme between 2022 to 2023. It was part of its partnership with Cairngorms National Park Authority, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Water, and Forestry and Land Scotland. 

NatureScot has worked with a range of landowners and contractors across Scotland and has completed at least 50 restoration projects during 2022 to 2023. 

The NatureScot team has also launched the first interactive peatland restoration data mapping portal in Scotland offering access to data and analysis tools. The public will be able to view completed peatland restoration projects across the country, as well as feasibility studies and details of peat depths and condition surveys. Future developments of the portal will also see water table depths included in the available data. 

Kirkstall Bridge flood defence work under way 

Leeds City Council and Network Rail have started work to protect a section of railway by Kirkstall Bridge that has flooded several times in the past – part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme Phase 2 (FAS2), 

The flood defence works on the right bank (railway side) of the River Aire upstream of Kirkstall Bridge will consist of a flood defence solution stretching 1.4km using an earth embankment or steel sheet piled flood walls in some areas. The embankment will tie into flood walls, also under construction, that will extend up to the existing Kirkstall Bridge. 

Alongside the embankment and flood walls, 2.4 hectares of landscape and ecological enhancements will be implemented in Kirkstall Meadows.It include the creation of wetland scrapes and various interventions to support local wildlife. 

The existing sports pitches will be retained, and a new access ramp will be installed. The ramp will facilitate the maintenance of the flood assets and provide access to the sports pitches for emergency vehicles in the future. 

Honey submits housing plans in Derbyshire 

Housebuilder Honey has submitted plans and exchanged contracts on a 10.5-acre site in Matlock, Derbyshire, to deliver a £20.35 million, 75-new home development. 

The proposed site, which will be called Hazel, was acquired from strategic land promoter Richborough Estates for an undisclosed sum. 

Subject to planning, Hazel will comprise a mix of one, two, three,  four and five-bedroom homes and will include maisonettes, terraces, semi-detached and detached properties. 

If given the go-ahead by Derbyshire Dales District Council, work at Hazel is anticipated to start in December with the first residents expected to move into their new homes next August. 

8 homes approved in Oxfordshire 

The Vale of White Horse District Council has approved plans for eight homes in Faringdon, Oxfordshire. 

Property consultant Carter Jonas secured the consent on behalf of Landan Homes Ltd. 

The homes will be a mixture of two to five-bedroom homes, both detached and semi-detached. The scheme is intended to deliver a biodiversity net gain in excess of the minimum requirement. 

Nottingham housing improvements agreed 

Nottingham City Council has agreed to make energy-efficiency improvements to another 370 social homes in Nottingham. 

More than £2.9 million of grant funding from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) Wave 2.1 has been secured following a successful consortium bid, led by the Midlands Net Zero Hub. Through the collaborative bid, over £47 million of retrofit funding has been brought into the Midlands region from the government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. 

Nottingham City Council will install a range of measures in the selected homes including cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation, loft insulation, draughtproofing and heating controls. The upgrades will be made to about 370 homes with low-energy performance certificates which are the most challenging for tenants to keep warm. 

The improvements will enable residents to feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and will also reduce their energy bills. 
 
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner 
27 June 2023 

 Nearly £1.6m for councils to recruit planners 

The Local Government Government Association (LGA) has been granted £1.59 million to help local councils recruit and develop more skilled planners. 

The money comes from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). 

The Pathways to Planning Programme will see 30 people secure a placement while receiving a bursary to study towards a planning master’s degree. 

The department is funding the scheme over two years to support the LGA in setting up and delivering this programme. The intention is to recruit diverse talent to enable councils to represent the communities they serve. 

LGA chairman James Jamieson commented: “We are incredibly excited to be delivering Pathways to Planning in collaboration with the Planning Advisory Service (PAS), with funding provided by DLUHC. 

“With more than 20 years of experience bringing graduate talent into local authorities through the National Graduate Development Programme for local government (NGDP), we are confident that Pathways to Planning can add exceptional value to local council planning teams from day one and build a talent pipeline for the future.” 

Planning minister Rachel Maclean added: “Delivering a modern and efficient planning system is vital in shaping our neighbourhoods and communities. We want to place the next generation of planners on the frontline to design beautiful homes and provide high-quality infrastructure right across the country. 

“We are bringing in groundbreaking reforms to speed up the planning process through the levelling up bill, and it is essential that local councils are equipped with the right skills and resources as we continue to level up towns and cities that people are proud to call home.” 

Building on this first phase of funding, the scheme will directly support local councils by recruiting about 200 graduates with the right skills and necessary training to add significant value to local planning services, said the department. 

More details can be found on the LGA website.4 

23 June 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

 

  1. https://www.local.gov.uk/pathways-planning-council-info
  2. https://www.theplanner.co.uk/2022/07/20/dco-granted-sizewell-c-against-advice-planning-inspectorate
  3. https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/longfield-solar-farm/?ipcsection=overview
  4. https://www.local.gov.uk/pathways-planning-council-info

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    Planning news - 29 June 2023

      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.

      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.