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Planning news - 7 December 2023

Rooftop solar to fall under permitted development

The government has announced a change in planning rules that will enable rooftop solar panels to be installed on homes and businesses through permitted development rights. 

This means that homeowners and businesses won't need to go through the full planning process. 

Homes with flat roofs will be able to install panels without planning permission, bringing rules in line with those for businesses. Also, the changes will make it easier for panels to be installed in canopies above car parks if they are more than 10 metres away from people’s homes.   

According to the government, this move will encourage more people to install solar panels on their properties, therefore cutting energy bills and emissions. 

Rules that require businesses to apply for planning permission if solar panels will generate more than one megawatt of electricity will also be scrapped, said the government. Planning minister Lee Rowley said: “We must make sure our homes are fit for the future and can help us meet our net-zero ambitions. 

"By cutting red tape in the planning system we can make sure homeowners and businesses can install solar panels without being held up by costly delays. Crucially, these permitted development rights are still subject to important conditions, including their use in conservation areas." 

Energy security minister Graham Stuart added: “Removing the 1MW restriction for industrial rooftop solar will help us meet our target of 70GW of solar power by 2035 while supporting hundreds of long-term skilled British jobs, bolstering our world-leading renewables sector and reducing bills for consumers with panels." 

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2023 will come into effect on 21 December 2023.  

4 December 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

UK eco-systems valued at £1.5 trillion to the economy

The total asset value of the UK’s ecosystem services is £1.5 trillion, according to latest government figures. 

The latest annual natural capital accounts, based on data from 2021 and published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), estimate the contribution of natural assets to the economy and society, as outlined by the Dasgupta Review published in 2021. Natural capital accounting also estimates the current value of natural wealth for current and future generations and includes public health benefits, food and water production, and pollution removal. 

The ONS calculations also estimate the benefits of nature to culture and recreation, which it puts at £0.9 trillion of the total asset value.  

Health benefits from recreation, valued at £445 billion in 2021, was the largest contribution to the total asset value. An estimated 869,166 tonnes of air pollution were removed by nature in the UK in 2021, with an annual value of around £2.5 billion, states the ONS. 

Although recreation and tourism spending fell by 74 per cent between 2019 and 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 restrictions, the number of visits to nature peaked in 2020 at 5.5 billion, the figures reveal.  

The ONS said a further aspect of “cultural services” is captured within house prices, based on the value of enabling people to make “free trips" to the natural environment and enjoy its visual amenities. It estimated this combined aesthetic and recreation value at £4 billion in 2021.   

In 2021, publicly accessible green space, such as public parks, added 3 per cent to the price of flats or maisonettes – the greatest value compared with other types of property types – while private gardens added 4 per cent to the price of bungalows. 

The ONS said the total natural capital monetary estimates should be interpreted as a “partial or minimum” calculation as several services such as flood protection are not currently included. 

4 December 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner

Brentwood backs garden village proposal

An outline planning application for a 3,700-home garden village west of Basildon, Essex, has been approved by Brentwood Borough Council. 

Dunton Hills Garden Village will be located between the A127 and the c2c line between London Fenchurch Street and Southend-on-Sea. The scheme was one of 14 garden villages designated by the government in January 2017.  

The development, by Commercial Estates Group (CEG) Land Promotions, was identified as a strategic housing allocation in Brentwood’s emerging local plan. It will include more than 1,100 affordable and shared ownership homes, three care homes, five Gypsy and Traveller pitches, a secondary school with a community sports hub, up to three primary schools, an employment hub and children’s nursery.  

The scheme will also feature a village centre with a market square, community building, a gym, a place of worship, public house and 10,400 square metres of retail and office space. 

“This decision follows many years of engagement with the council, local stakeholders and residents,” said CEG head of planning Charlotte Robinson. “It is a locally designed and landscape-led scheme which will provide a mix of new homes and employment space, set within extensive green spaces, with schools, healthcare facilities, shops and services all within walking distance.  

“As well as including extensive investment into transport infrastructure, alongside the education and healthcare provision, there will also be much-needed affordable housing designed to enable local people and young people to stay in the area.” 

CEG expects to build 2,770 of the homes by 2033. 

4 December 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner 

UK’s largest onshore salmon farm plan secures approval

A £120 million proposal to build the UK’s largest onshore salmon farm in Grimsby has been approved by North East Lincolnshire Council. 

Aquacultured Seafood Ltd’s plans for the farm, to be built on New Clee Sidings to the east of Grimsby Dock, will see 5,000 tonnes of salmon processed a year in 50 tanks across the 40,000-square-metre site.  

Around £80 million is required for the construction phase, with another £40 million for state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture systems, as well as working capital to manage the initial growth phase. The scheme will create 80 jobs, and the company pledges to recruit and train locally. 

"This is creating local jobs and we have got to bear in mind schemes like this don’t come along very often in areas like North East Lincolnshire,” said the authority’s mayor Ian Lindley. "We need to grasp the opportunity, providing it is right.  

“It is a huge opportunity for the area; to throw it out would be foolhardy. This will be a massive boost to the local economy.”  

4 December 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner

Government directs Erewash to press ahead with emerging local plan

The government has intervened in Erewash Borough Council’s potential withdrawal of its emerging local plan, directing it to progress with the current draft. 

The move was prompted by a local authority proposal to vote on withdrawing its plan.  

In a letter to the council, planning minister Lee Rowley said the last Erewash Local Plan was adopted in 2014 and the withdrawal would put it within the 30 per cent of the oldest adopted local plans in England. He added that, “it is reasonable to assume, given the age of the plan, that a number of the policies it contains will not be up to date”.  

The minister said the council is “not performing well” against the Housing Delivery Test, which requires enough houses to come forward to adequately meet local housing need. In withdrawing the draft plan, the council would be “further failing to plan for and deliver the homes that people need”.  

Rowley warned that the average time taken to prepare a local plan is seven years, and with local authorities approaching the phased introduction of a new planning system, “withdrawing the plan at this stage will lead to significant further delay whilst a new plan is prepared”. 

Delays caused by a withdrawal could also significantly slow down neighbourhood plan progress in the area and disincentivise other communities from coming forward to start the process, he warned. 

The direction, under section 27 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, orders the council not to take any step to withdraw the plan from examination and to report monthly to departmental officials on its progress.  

The council has also been ordered to publish the Planning Inspector’s recommendations and reasons on the conclusion of the examination and to consider adopting the plan, including any main modifications deemed necessary to make the plan sound.  

The council has said it plans to seek legal advice.  

4 December 2023 
Huw Morris, The Planner

News round-up

Government announces £3.9bn transport funding for the North 

The government has announced funding of £3.9 billion to deliver better journeys more quickly for passengers and freight in the North.   

Work on the Transpennine Route Upgrade will lead to quicker journey times, reduced carbon emissions, and more reliable services between key Northern cities. 

Once completed, the full route is intended to offer improved services on the route between Manchester-Huddersfield-Leeds-York, with rail users benefiting from a fully electrified line, accessible stations, and more frequent services.   

When finished in the mid-2030s, the upgrade would offer up to eight trains an hour, hundreds of extra seats, and shorten journey times between Manchester and York by 10 minutes. 

The investment will also support digital signalling along the route to allow trains to run closer together, leading to more frequent and reliable services, according to the government. 

Listed pub to host guests 

Planning permission and listed building consent have been granted by Rushcliffe Borough Council for the creation of guest accommodation at a grade II-listed pub in Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire. 

Four lettable ensuite bedrooms on its first floor and a manager’s office that can also be used as a one-bedroomed apartment on the second floor will be created. 

The Martin’s Arms on School Lane, which dates back to the early 18th century, was taken over by former patron Geoff Hunter in early 2023. He said: “The upper floor rooms were most recently used as residential accommodation for the previous owners. However, such extensive accommodation is no longer required, which presented us with the opportunity to provide lettable guest rooms. 

“Since taking over this vitally important community asset, we have strived to keep its unique and tranquil atmosphere intact. Through our expansion plans, we aim not only to generate additional income for the building’s upkeep to preserve its charm, but also attract new visitors to Colston Bassett – giving them a feeling of the past and a sense of timelessness in our rapidly changing world.” 

The heritage team at consultancy Marrons helped to secure the permission. 

Council approves North Toryglen housing plans 

Glasgow City Council has approved plans by Cruden Homes to deliver 56 homes to North Toryglen.   

The new homes at Prospecthill Road will feature a range of two and three-bed terraced houses, and three-bed semi-detached properties, all with private gardens.   

The sustainable homes will be built with solar PV panels and air-source heat pumps to improve energy-efficiency levels and reduce day-to-day running costs for homeowners. 

The site will feature “extensive” greenery and landscaping with woodland, footpaths and cycle paths. Bird and bat boxes and bug hotels are also being incorporated into the new homes for local wildlife. 

Work is due to begin on the new homes next year. 

Crest Nicholson acquires Faversham housing site 

Local housebuilder Crest Nicholson has acquired a 13-acre site in Faversham to deliver 88 new homes, 35 per cent of which have been designated as affordable. 

The development, which will be called Crown Meadows, will offer a range of two to five-bedroom homes, open space and recreational areas. 

Work is anticipated to start in December, with the first residents expected in summer 2024. 

Heath Farm housing plans green-lit 

Mixed-tenure developer Countryside Partnerships has partnered with housing provider Great Places to deliver 26 affordable homes in Partington, Greater Manchester. 

Reserved matters planning permission was granted by Trafford Council for the construction of the next phase of the Heath Farm site. This will see a total of 126 homes comprising two, three or four-bedroom houses built. Of the homes, 26 will be delivered for Great Places as affordable homes. 

Brentwood backs garden village proposal 

UK’s largest onshore salmon farm plan secures approval 

Once complete, Heath Farm will deliver a total of 100 affordable homes, 74 of which were delivered in the first phases. 

Additionally, the development includes a specialised skills academy designed to combat the nationwide skills shortage affecting the construction industry. 

Tytherington housing application submitted 

National land promoter Richborough has submitted an outline planning application for up to 75 new homes in Tytherington, South Gloucestershire. 

The company’s plans for the 11.78-acre site off Duck Street propose a range of house types and sizes, with 35 per cent affordable housing provision. The site is located close to local facilities. 

Other key elements of the planning application include: 

  • New areas of public open space including a new community orchard and children’s play space. 
  • New vehicular and pedestrian access. 
  • A package of measures to deliver modern energy-efficient homes that are resilient to the impacts of climate change. 

Ecological enhancements including new planting to enable significant biodiversity net gain. 

A sustainable drainage system incorporating enhancements to the existing drainage network. 

Revised plans for Wolverhampton pub submitted 

Wetherspoons has submitted a revised planning application to add a new storey and another 25 hotel rooms to its proposals for The Moon Under Water pub in Wolverhampton. 

The pub chain was granted planning approval by City of Wolverhampton Council in September for its £15 million redevelopment of the pub on Lichfield Street. It is expected that around 70 new jobs will be generated. 

Permission has also been granted for the establishment of a heritage centre in the basement, the conversion of the first, second, and third floors into a 71-bedroom hotel, and external and internal alterations. 

These revised proposals would see the creation of an additional 21 rooms in a newly built fourth storey, plus another four rooms in an extension over an existing flat roof. 

The building has been empty for more than 33 years after being home to a Co-op store. 

5 December 2023 
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner 

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      Planning news - 7 December 2023

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