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Planning news 7 April 2022

Biodiversity emergency declared across Greater Manchester

Leaders across Greater Manchester have signed the 'Edinburgh Declaration' as they look to reverse habitat loss.

It follows a declaration of a climate emergency, made three years ago, by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

Nature and biodiversity remain in decline, leaders note, in this country and globally. There are a number of initiatives in place across the public, private and third sectors in Greater Manchester.

Now leaders have agreed to sign the Edinburgh Declaration, a statement of intent that calls for local, national and international action to reverse biodiversity loss.

It argues for a greater role for cities and local authorities in delivering the change required.

The Edinburgh Declaration has been signed by multiple mayors, council leaders and ministers worldwide.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the combined authority is “committed to delivering a city-region for all residents to enjoy – a fairer, greener and more prosperous place for everyone”.

“Taking this step in signing the Edinburgh Declaration and declaring a biodiversity emergency will act as a rallying cry for us to drive forward our already-developed and ambitious environmental strategies, and continue to lead the way."

Last week, a new Greater Manchester Strategy was launched. It sets out how the city region plans to deliver a fairer, greener and more prosperous future. The combined authority is seeking to hit carbon neutrality by 2038, more than a decade sooner that the national target of 2050.

To deliver safe and enjoyable places to live and work, the combined authority has set up a new fund, Green Spaces Fund, which has an initial value of £2.6 million. It will be used to enhance or create new community green spaces. Small grants will be available for community groups to create new spaces or improve existing ones in their local area.

The fund will be open for applications in May. It will be run under the existing Greater Manchester Environment Fund.

31 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Increasing rail capacity features in Midlands transport plan

Midlands Connect has launched its strategic transport plan for the region as it looks to improve economic growth and productivity and address social exclusion.

Greener, Fairer, Stronger was published today (4 April) at the transport body’s annual conference in Birmingham.

It identifies the challenges that face transport across the Midlands, including how a lack of mobility is holding back economic growth and productivity. Other challenges include how levelling up and social exclusion can be addressed with better accessibility, and reducing carbon emissions.

Greener, Fairer, Stronger sets out the requirements for major investment from the public and private sector in programmes for:

  • electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
  • alternative fuels, including natural gas and hydrogen for HGVs;
  • boosting mobility in rural areas;
  • creating more space for passengers and freight on the rail network; and
  • a ‘tap and cap’ smart-ticketing solution for passengers using buses, trams, bike hire and the rail network across the Midlands (similar to the system used in London).

The strategy emphasises the need to improve infrastructure to support the transport and logistics sector.

New technologies will be important, according to Greener, Fairer, Stronger, and Midlands Connect  is committed to publishing a Transport Technology Route Map later this year. This is intended to provide local authorities and businesses with guidance on which technologies to invest in to gain the greatest benefits and minimise risks.

The transport body outlines what it believes to be key road and rail projects for the next 10 to 15 years that will require investment. It explains that if delivered in full, the projects "will help provide up to £1.9 billion more in regional economic output per year by 2040 in the Midlands, rising to £4.1 billion per year by 2061 and support ambitions for 334,000 additional jobs to be created in the Midlands". The projects include:

  • Birmingham-Derby-Nottingham rail journey time improvement.
  • A50/A500 Corridor Central Section (around Uttoxeter).
  • Nottingham-Lincoln rail journey time improvements.
  • A1/A52 junction upgrade at Grantham.
  • M1 improvements including Leicester Western Access and North Leicestershire extra capacity.
  • Reinstatement of Snow Hill Station platform number 4 in Birmingham.
  • Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury rail journey time improvement.
  • Birmingham-Leicester rail journey time improvements.

Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect, said: “Our pledge to this region is simple – we will work behind the scenes to gather evidence, to make plans and bring forward their delivery. Most of all, we will not forget the people behind these plans, this grand vision is about giving the Midlands, its businesses and its communities the future they deserve. By working with our partners, playing to the region’s strengths and making a clear case for investment to government, we can ensure that every single person in the region gets to where they need to be.”

Maria Machancoses, CEO at Midlands Connect, added: “Our research has analysed how people travel, why they travel and where to, both now, and how this needs to change in future. These insights have led us to this plan, one that seeks investment and innovation in the places that need it most, whether it be improving rail services, boosting mobility in rural areas, future-proofing our road network or cementing the Midlands’ place at the forefront of the electric vehicle and hydrogen revolution.

“This report outlines the schemes we think are needed in the short and medium term and, as you can see, there are projects in every part of the Midlands. As part of the report we also look at other projects and schemes we deem regionally important in road, rail and technological advancement. This plan lays out the priority projects for the Midlands in each of these areas.”

4 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Two offshore wind farms granted DCOs

Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has granted development consent orders (DCOs) for two offshore wind farms in East Anglia.

The two schemes are Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

ScottishPower Renewables submitted the applications to the Planning Inspectorate, the examining authority, on behalf of East Anglia ONE North Limited and East Anglia Two Limited in October 2019.  

The decision letters for both schemes state that separate applications “were made and examined simultaneously with an examining authority composed of the same members for both East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO”. The five panel members were Rynd Smith, Jon Hockley, Caroline Jones, Jessica Powis and Guy Rigby.

East Anglia ONE North

The Planning Inspectorate recommended that consent should be granted for East Anglia ONE North.

Consent was sought for an offshore wind farm that would consist of up to 67 turbines, generators and associated infrastructure. It would have an installed capacity of up to 800MW, and be located 36km from Lowestoft and 42km from Southwold.  

Kwarteng agreed with the examining authority that substantial weight should be attributed to
the contribution that East Anglia ONE North would make towards meeting the national need demonstrated by the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (NPS EN-1), as well as the substantial contribution it would make to the delivery of renewable energy, which would contribute to the decarbonisation of the economy in line with the UK’s legal obligations in the Paris agreement.

He agreed that the development would accord with NPS EN-1.

Concerns about flooding were raised in a joint local impact report by Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council, and by many other interested parties. Of particular concern was the flood risk posed to the village of Friston during construction and operation.

In response, the applicant submitted an example of how surface water and sediment could be controlled during construction in an updated version of the Outline Code of Construction Practice (OCoCP). However, Suffolk County Council and local action group Substation Action Save East Suffolk (SASES) considered this to be inadequate. The examining authority then asked the applicant to provide indicative drawings to demonstrate that the proposed mitigation measures were capable of being accommodated within the order limits.

A further revised OCoCP was submitted presenting a surface water drainage scheme that could accommodate a one-in-15-year storm event at the substations site and a one-in-10-year storm event for the onshore cable route.

A number of additional consultations and materials were submitted for consideration during examination and after, all of which were considered by the examining authority and the secretary of state.

The decision letter states: “Drawing these matters together the ExA concluded that the potential increased flood risk during construction carries a high negative weighting in the planning balance.”

On the flooding threat, Kwarteng concluded: “Overall, the secretary of state agrees with the examining authority’s conclusion that the potential increased flood risk still carries a high negative weight in the planning balance but considers that, taking into account the applicant’s commitment to increase the return period for the construction surface water drainage scheme, the secretary of state is satisfied that policy requirements have been met.”

Other key planning issues raised during the examination included the landscape and visual effects of the onshore substation and the associated mitigation measures. The examining authority found that East Anglia ONE North has been designed with as much care as possible and complies with NPS EN-1, paragraph 5.9.17.

But it added: “Nevertheless, significant harm would occur to the landscape, and the proposal would not protect and enhance the special qualities of the area or the visual relationship and environment around Friston and Fristonmoor and as such the proposal would be contrary to Policy SCLP10.4 of the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan."

And it attributed “a medium negative weighting to be carried forward in the planning balance” to the harm caused to the landscape. Cumulative effects with the East Anglia TWO application increase this harm.

Kwarteng agreed with this.

Taking everything into consideration, the examining authority concluded that “in the planning balance, the case for development consent has been made and that the benefits of the proposed development would outweigh its adverse effects”.

Kwarteng decided that “on balance, the benefits of the proposed development outweigh its negative impacts”.

East Anglia TWO Limited

The East Anglia TWO Offshore Windfarm application was for an offshore wind farm that could consist of up to 75 turbines, generators and associated infrastructure, with an installed capacity of up to 900MW, located 37km from Lowestoft and 32km from Southwold. The Planning Inspectorate recommended that the order should be granted.

Likewise, it ascribed substantial weight to the contribution that the development would make towards satisfying the need in the NPS and the need for renewable electricity generation to assist in the reduction of UK CO2 emissions and mitigate climate change. Kwarteng concurred that substantial weight should be attributed to the contribution that the proposed development would make towards meeting the national need.

The same flooding issues were raised. The secretary of state and the examining authority agreed that the “potential increased flood risk still carries a high negative weight in the planning balance but considers that, taking into account the applicant’s commitment to increase the return period for the construction surface water drainage scheme” that “policy requirements have been met”.

The effects on heritage aspects were frequently mentioned in representations during the examination for both schemes, including from owners of some of the listed buildings surrounding the substation site.

The examining authority decided that the harm would be increased as a result of the cumulative effects of the two projects. Overall, it concluded that harm caused to the onshore historic environment had a medium negative weighting to be carried forward in the planning balance. Overall, Kwarteng agreed with the examining authority’s conclusions on “onshore historic environment and, in light of the public benefit of the development, is of the view that onshore historical environment matters do not provide a justification not to make the order”.

His decision letter states: “The secretary of state has considered all the merits and disbenefits of the proposed development and concluded that, on balance, the benefits of the proposed development outweigh its negative impacts.

“For the reasons given in this letter, the secretary of state considers that there is a strong case for granting development consent for the East Anglia TWO Offshore Wind Farm. Given the national need for the development, as set out in the relevant NPSs, the secretary of state does not believe that this is outweighed by the proposed development’s potential adverse impacts, as mitigated by the proposed terms of the order.”

The decision letter and all other documents for East Anglia ONE North can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.1

The decision letter and all other documents for East Anglia TWO can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.2

5 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

1,600 homes approved in Northamptonshire

West Northamptonshire Council has granted planning permission for 1,600 homes at Overstone Green, an area of land located to the north east of Northampton.

The permission, which also includes commercial development, is subject to a section 106 agreement.

Pegasus Group secured the outline permission on behalf of Davidsons Developments Ltd and L&Q Estates.

The scheme is for land east of Kettering Road, Overstone, which is allocated in the West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy.

The plans, which were recommended for approval by planning officers and unanimously approved by councillors, also include work to accommodate a new section of A43 dual carriageway and the development of 5.73 hectares of commercial land, which will feature an employment area, local centre, new primary school and an assisted living/residential care home.

Rachel Pramayon from Davidsons Development Ltd said: “We are delighted that outline permission has been granted for this exciting scheme which is set to deliver a high-quality development focusing on place making and design.”

Richard Edwards from L&Q Estates said: “This is an excellent outcome that has resulted from several years of hard work and effort from all the team. This is an important strategic site for our business located in a strong market area and we look forward to delivering the infrastructure the site to enable serviced parcels to be sold to our housebuilder clients.”

Pegasus Group provided a range of services throughout the project, including planning, design, economics, environmental and heritage expertise.

31 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Green light for huge paper mill on Deeside

Flintshire County Council this week approved a huge new paper mill located on land at the Northern Gateway (Airfields) site on Deeside.

The scheme has a total floorspace of 124,000 square metres and building heights ranging from between 10 metres to a maximum of 39 metres.

The development will have a striking visual presence and will be visible from a wide area.

An Italian-based company, the Industrie Cartarie Tronchehetti Group, announced the project last year.

The mill will manufacture paper products such as toilet rolls, kitchen towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, and products for industrial uses. It is expected to provide around 400 jobs.

The scheme will be developed in three phases: the manufacturing and production area, ancillary offices and finally a warehouse section with car and  HGV parking.

The Welsh Government has provided £5 million towards the planned facility and submitted a planning application for a new road that will link into Deeside Industry Park

1 April 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner

News round-up

Application to demolish building and replace with open space submitted

Winchester City Council has submitted a planning application to demolish the derelict Friarsgate Medical Centre and redevelop the site as a temporary area of public open space.

The application is part of the council’s plans to regenerate central Winchester. It believes that the temporary open space will “result in significant short-term community benefits for local people and enhanced public access through a key part of the city centre”.

The medical centre has been empty since 2014. Design practice Ove Arup & Partners is looking to incorporate a range of new public facilities to enhance the public realm at the site, including installing a new timber decking bridge at the point where Friarsgate crosses the Itchen watercourse and incorporating a large number of new trees, as well as wildflower and ornamental grass planting.


Newark approves Stodman Street plans

Newark & Sherwood District Council has approved plans submitted by multidisciplinary design practice rg+p for new homes and co-working space on Stodman Street, Newark.

The plans will see 29 one and two-bedroom apartments created, featuring private amenity space and dual aspects to help with natural ventilation.

Other sustainable design aspects include rooftop PV panels, electric vehicle charging points, and green roofing along the façade facing the newly restored St Marks Lane.

There will be 475 square metres of co-working space, together with car parking, cycle storage, a communal roof terrace and public realm.

A former Marks & Spencer store will be regenerated as part of the scheme, retaining its 1930s Art Deco frontage while reestablishing the medieval St Marks Lane.


Countryside invests £3m and delivers housing in Maghull

Mixed-tenure developer Countryside has announced that it will deliver 408 homes in Maghull and invest more than £3 million in the local community after completing the purchase of a site in Eastbrook Village.

Countryside will begin delivering 133 affordable homes, 53 private-rented homes and 222 homes for open market sale. An over-55s assisted living facility will also be built on site.

The developer will invest more than £3.2 million to extend the nearby Summerhill Primary School, and to improve healthcare facilities and highways in Maghull, as well as funding a new bus service.

The site is part of a larger parcel of land known as ‘Land East of Maghull’, which has been earmarked for a minimum of 1,400 homes in Sefton Council’s local plan.

Improvements will also be made to the existing Whinney Brook that runs through the site to create future flood mitigation measures for the area. Work will also be done to protect the existing habitat used by pink-footed geese during their migration journey.

Work is set to begin in spring for completion by the end of the year.


Bruton Knowles reappointed to Wales flood scheme

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Conwy County Borough Council have reappointed surveying firm Bruton Knowles to deliver land agent support for flood alleviation schemes in South and North Wales.

NRW’s £10 million Stephenson Street Flood Scheme is intended to protect 2,000 homes and businesses in the Liswerry area of Newport from increased River Usk flood risk. Work will begin on the site in the coming months.

The firm has also recently undertaken landowner negotiations and compensation support to Conwy County Borough Council on a flood defence scheme in Abergele.


Permission sought for museum at Nottingham farm

Greasley Castle Farm has submitted plans to Broxtowe Borough Council for a museum dedicated to the history of the site and local area, a tearoom, function room and a number of workshops for local businesses. Property consultancy Fisher German submitted the plans on behalf of the farm.

The site comprises a grade II listed farmhouse, castle remains and font, all set within a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Plans would see the ground floor of the farmhouse converted into an interactive tearoom, and conversion of the existing barns into a museum that will display historic information and artefacts about the site and the local area, plus a function room and four workshops available to small businesses.

5 April 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 7 April 2022

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