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Planning news - 4 August 2022

Sunak pledges to block green belt development

Conservative Party leadership contender Rishi Sunak has pledged to stop home building on the green belt, arguing that all development should take place on ‘brownfield, brownfield, brownfield’.

Sunak’s campaign cited analysis by the House of Commons Library showing the green belt had shrunk by 1 per cent since 2006 as justification for further planning restrictions.

As party leader and prime minister, Sunak said he would prevent local authorities from requesting changes to green belt boundaries with planners ordered to automatically reject any such proposal.

“Over the last few years we’ve seen too many examples of local councils circumventing the views of residents by taking land out of the green belt for development, but I will put a stop to it.

“Under my plans, if a local community has clearly judged a development to be inappropriate there are no circumstances in which planning permission should be granted.”

More homes could be built while protecting “our most precious landscape”, he added, with space for 1 million homes across brownfield sites.

“Data shows that well over a million homes could be built across the country on brownfield sites with particularly high capacity in the North West, Yorkshire and the West Midlands.

“These places are crying out for new homes and a combination of building here and more inner-city densification will help us provide the housing that the UK needs, whilst protecting the countryside around our towns and cities.”

He pledged to update the National Planning Policy Framework and scrap the possibility for “inappropriate” development on the green belt “in very special circumstances”.

His campaign contrasted his statement with rival Liz Truss, who in May 2019 as chief secretary to the Treasury suggested 1 million homes should be built on the London green belt and around other “growing cities” to help more under-40s purchase their first property.

Matthew Lesh, head of public policy at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “Rishi Sunak’s housing proposals would flush aspiration down the drain. It reveals a serious lack of ambition to reform the country and boost living standards.

“The ‘green belt’ is a misnomer. It does not protect green space, it restricts the ability of cities to expand in the name of preventing urban sprawl. In practice, however, it has failed in that goal and instead pushed urban growth farther afield, resulting in less productive cities, longer commutes and more pollution.”

29 July 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

Inspector approves Brighton and Hove plan

Brighton and Hove City Council’s latest plan has been found legally sound and compliant by a planning inspector and will now be considered for formal adoption.

City Plan Part 2 details policies for managing new development and further site allocations to help deliver “much-needed high-quality development”, said the council.

This follows City Plan Part 1, which set out the strategic planning framework to 2030 covering new housing, employment, retail and major development, which was adopted in 2016.

The latest plan was submitted for examination in May 2021 with public hearings held last November. Inspector R Barrett has now concluded that, with technical and localised modifications, the plan satisfies legal requirements, complies with national planning policy and provides an appropriate basis for planning the city.

The modifications cover policies on green infrastructure and nature conservation, shopping areas, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Changes are also proposed to the supporting wording of the Brighton General Hospital site allocation to safeguard swift colonies during development.

A final decision on the plan’s adoption will be made at a full council meeting in October.

1 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

Government announces fund to level up parks

The government has announced a Levelling Up Parks Fund to help to create 100 parks in neighbourhoods that are the most deprived of green spaces.

Launched during Love Parks Weeks (29 July-5 August), the £9 million fund seeks to enable communities to come together and enjoy the outdoors, boosting creativity and mental health.

Of the investment, £2 million will support tree planting in the new parks.

The government says the new parks will contribute to meeting the UK’s net-zero ambitions. It also supports the commitment to treble tree planting rates over the course of this Parliament.

In England, the money will be given to councils to create or significantly revamp existing parks in 85 neighbourhoods most deprived of outdoor space. Councils will be able to choose the nature and location of the new or improved parks in their local area.

Levelling-up secretary Greg Clark said: “Parks and green spaces are at the heart of our communities, providing sanctuary from the bustling streets of our towns and cities and spaces for people to relax and come together.

“Over the past few years, the importance of spending time with loved ones and getting outdoors has become even more apparent, and this latest government funding will help people living in urban areas do just that.

“I look forward to seeing the new parks come to life and making a real difference to people’s daily lives for years to come.”

Instead of a competitive bidding process, the fund allocates grants to places that the government has identified as most in need of quality green space. This has been supported by data from Natural England’s Green Infrastructure Framework mapping.

The UK Government has also allocated over £1 million from the fund to the devolved administrations and explained that it will work closely with them to consider how best to use the funding to support green spaces in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said: “Big or small, green areas help us to connect with nature and support the health of our communities. Our research showed that four in 10 people said visiting green and natural spaces had been even more important to their wellbeing since the pandemic began.

“This investment will create new habitats for our precious wildlife and build beautiful places for everyone to enjoy, with our data and expertise supporting the development of green spaces in areas where communities say they are needed the most.”

The English councils to benefit from the fund are:

East Midlands: Bassetlaw, Derby, East Lindsey, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and West Lindsey.

East of England: Basildon, Castle Point, Fenland, Great Yarmouth, Ipswich, Luton, Norwich, Peterborough, Southend-on-Sea and Tendring.

London: Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Westminster.

North East: County Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Northumberland, Redcar and Cleveland, South Tyneside, Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland.

North West: Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Carlisle, Halton, Hyndburn, Knowsley, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Pendle, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, Sefton, Tameside, Wigan and Wirral.

South East: Eastbourne, Hastings, Havant, Medway, Portsmouth, Reading, Rother, Southampton and Swale.

West Midlands: Birmingham, Dudley, East Staffordshire, Redditch, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Yorkshire and the Humber: Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Doncaster, City of Kingston upon Hull, Leeds, North East Lincolnshire and Sheffield.

1 August 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Pinewood submits expanded planning application

Pinewood Studios has submitted a new planning application for an £800 million expansion to an already approved scheme.

The application to Buckinghamshire Council, which is intended to tackle the critical shortage of studio space in the UK, involves an expanded scheme located across two sites on land to the south of the studios, referred to as Pinewood South and Alderbourne Farm to the north.

The Pinewood South scheme would deliver 20 purpose-built sound stages with workshops and offices on 130,064 square metres of land to the south of the existing studios. The £800 million scheme is estimated to create more 8,000 new jobs and add around £640 million a year to the economy.

The proposals include an education and training hub envisaged to be run by the National Film and Television School and a business growth hub supported by Creative UK and Buckinghamshire Business First.

Together, they form ‘Centre Stage’, which is designed to support skills development and start-ups for the film industry.

A nature reserve of nearly 26 hectares on land to the north of the Studios at Alderbourne Farm is proposed as part of the biodiversity net gains from the development. The site would also deliver a backlot and workshop complex based on former farm buildings. 

Pinewood Studios – home to Disney, Marvel, LucasFilm and the James Bond films – secured planning permission in April for a screen industries growth hub known as Screen Hub UK and a film-inspired visitor attraction on the same site.

If it succeeds, the new application would bring the total number of purpose-built sound stages at Pinewood to 50, maintaining the famed studios’ position at the heart of the UK film industry.

1 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

Planning application poised for Dorset intertidal habitat

A planning application will shortly be submitted to create a major intertidal habitat at the Moors at Arne on the Dorset coast.

The scheme, a joint venture between the Environment Agency, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Natural England is aimed at mitigating the loss of an intertidal habitat because of “coastal squeeze”.

Under this process, the section of intertidal habitat between the tide and flood defences shrinks in response to rising sea levels. The Moors at Arne will create a required compensatory habitat to allow future coastal defence work to provide protection to 3,000 properties in Poole Harbour from flood risk.

The scheme uses the concept of allowing tides further inland to create the correct conditions for wildlife that lives on salt marsh or mudflat, without increasing risk to life or property from flooding.

If permission is granted, work will take three years to carefully create the conditions needed to adapt 150 hectares into a prime location for animals and plants with access for visitors to enjoy the landscape.

The three organisations have been consulting with residents in Wareham, Stoborough, Arne and Ridge on the proposal since 2017. They will submit the planning application to Dorset Council shortly.

1 August 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner

News round-up

Khan launches tree planting package

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a £3.1 million tree-planting package as part of his work to tackle the impacts of the climate crisis.

The package follows a number of wildfires in the capital during July's heatwave.

It will target areas where there are low numbers of existing trees and where Londoners are most vulnerable to the effects of the changing climate.

According to the mayor’s Climate Vulnerability Map, areas of London with Black, Asian and minority ethnic populations of more than 50 per cent are more likely to face the highest climate risk in London, including flooding, exposure to toxic air, heat risk and limited access to green space.

The package includes:

A £0.8 million top-up to the mayor's Grow Back Greener community grant scheme.

A £1 million street trees programme, including supporting borough sign up to the Trees for Streets tree sponsorship initiative and match funding 1,000 trees in areas of low canopy cover, helping residents, businesses and boroughs to green the streets.

£320,000 for community tree packs to community groups and schools with The Conservation Volunteers.

£1 million for transformational tree-planting and woodland creation projects to create shady groves in areas of high heat risk. Calls are invited for sites from landowners and developers with ideas and locations.

NNC bids £31m for two levelling-up funds

North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) has bid £31 million for two levelling-up funds.

The first bid is named ‘transformation through green growth’ and covers the following projects:

Development of a rail overbridge to gain better access to Stanton Cross and release more housing development.

The construction of a segregated active travel link between Wellingborough and Rushden, which will extend the current Greenway; and

Repair and refurbishment of the historic Victorian Greenhouse and an events building at the Chester House Estate.

Its second levelling-up bid is named ‘improving life chances and facilities for local people’ and comprises the following projects:

A new stadium and training facility to be built at Adrenaline Alley;

Completing the construction of a segregated active travel route between the town centre and railway station in Corby; and

Environmental improvements to Kiln Way and Minerva Way on the Queensway estate in Wellingborough.

Refurbishment of grade-II* listed building approved in Birmingham

Birmingham City Council has granted TODD Architects planning permission to refurbish and redevelop the grade II* listed Central Methodist Hall into a hospitality and leisure destination.

It will have up to 150 hotel rooms and eight bars and restaurants at ground and basement levels.

Birmingham City Council planning officers noted that the plans, drawn up on behalf of Press Up Hospitality Group and sister company Oakmount, would retain the “distinctiveness” of the building.

Built in 1904, the Central Methodist Hall became the legendary Que Club in 1989, attracting major artists such as David Bowie, Daft Punk and Blur. The club went out of use in 2017 and the building was put onto Heritage England’s At Risk Register.

The Central Hall will be refurbished into a 1,500-seat event space, with the pulpit area redefined as a stage for visiting acts.

The scheme, on Corporation Street, will be operated by Press Up Hospitality Group under ‘The Dean’ brand. The Dean is a boutique, design-led hotel with locations in Dublin, Cork and Galway, with this project the first Dean location outside of Ireland.

Council and DEF Software partner for DLUHC Pathfinder Project

North Devon Council and DEF Software have announced that they are partnering on a project that seeks to improve efficiency for the council’s planning department, through digital transformation.

In 2021, the council put in a bid for funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Pathfinder Project.

It was announced in January that the council had been successful. DEF is the council's current planning software supplier. They want to create efficiencies within the section 106 workflow, as well as the council’s Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) process.

North Devon Council will use DEF’s Legal Agreements module, part of its MasterGov suite, to create a new workflow for its section 106 process. The existing process uses numerous databases and spreadsheets and results in delays for customers, said the council and DEF, as well as data stored in silos.

The revised system will pull all information and records into one place, speeding up the data processing and providing quick and reliable reports.

As part of the agreement, DEF will also work with North Devon Council to adapt its Policy Monitoring module for HELAA data.

Doncaster affordable housing scheme approved

Doncaster Council has approved plans for 20 affordable homes in Bentley, Doncaster.

The development, designed for older generations, will comprise six one-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartments alongside two-bedroom bungalows.

The site at Cooke and Truman Street adjacent to the existing Housing21 scheme at Minden Court will be completed using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), in spring 2023.

All units will be constructed off-site and will be delivered to site completely finished, which includes electrics, plumbing and interior paintwork. Contractors M-AR will then complete the project with external cladding and landscaping.

Solent Airport runway lights consultation begins

A planning application to install level lights on Solent Airport's runway is set to be submitted by Fareham Borough Council.

It is running a pre-application consultation and invites local residents to have their say here.1

The consultation will close on 19 August and feedback will help to inform the final scheme design. There will then be another round of consultation once the planning application is submitted later this year.

Seán Woodward, executive leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: “While Solent Airport has planning permission for 10 flights after sunset, aircraft can’t currently take off or land in the dark or bad weather.  If the proposed lighting was installed, not only would aircraft be able to use the runway safely during times of poor visibility, but the airport would attract new operators and further the council's vision to develop a vibrant and sustainable airfield for the future.” 

More information about the runway lighting scheme can be found on the council website2.

Greenwich bids to restore Avery Hill Winter Garden

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has submitted a £6.9 million bid to restore the Avery Hill Winter Garden.

The council has submitted its bid to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ levelling-up fund, committing to provide £4.7 million match funding to restore and protect the asset.

The £11.7 million restoration project would allow the structural repairs needed to return it to its original grandeur, as well as retrofit work to improve the environmental performance of the building, ensuring its sustainability for years to come.

Work will provide dedicated spaces for visitors, educational activities and hospitality events, upgrades to footpaths and signage to improve accessibility, and the installation of cycle parking and four electric vehicle chargers to encourage greener travel.

140 modular homes set to be delivered in Hastings

Modular housing developer ilke Homes has partnered with Orbit Homes to deliver 140 affordable homes in Harrow Lane, Hastings.

Hastings Borough Council granted reserved matters approval for the 12.4-acre site in March 2022.

Eighty-four of the 140 homes will be zero-carbon so they will emit no operational emissions through utilities such as electricity and heating. Each of the homes will be fitted with an air source heat pump (ASHP) and solar panels which, when combined, will provide clean energy.

The entire scheme will deliver a mix of apartments and houses ranging from one to four-bedroom homes.

The 140 homes will be delivered as 100 per cent affordable tenure, comprising 70 shared-ownership homes and 70 affordable rent homes.

Work is set to begin on site in autumn 2022, with the first homes being installed in summer 2023. Completion of the scheme is expected in 2024.

2 August 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, 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 - 4 August 2022

      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.