Weekly planning news
Planning news - 9 February 2023
Government aims to create and restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitats
Environment secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey has set out the government's Environmental Improvement Plan 2023, which commits the government to creating and restoring at least 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitats.
The government will begin with 70 new wildlife projects, including 25 new or expanded national nature reserves and 19 more nature recovery projects.
The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 covers five years and builds on the 25 Year Environment Plan.
According to the government, with new powers and duties from the Environment Act 2021, Agriculture Act 2020 and Fisheries Act 2020, "it provides a comprehensive delivery plan for the government’s approach to halting and then reversing the decline in nature".
This was the target agreed upon in the global deal for nature at the UN Biodiversity Conference COP151 in December. The government explains that its improvement plan underpins that ambition domestically, with progress measured against stretching interim targets.
The government said the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 sets out how it will:
- Create and restore at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, starting with 70 new wildlife projects including 25 new or expanded National Nature Reserves and 19 further Nature Recovery Projects
- Deliver a clean and plentiful supply of water for people and nature into the future, by tackling leaks, publishing a roadmap to boost household water efficiency, and enabling greater sources of supply
- Challenge councils to improve air quality more quickly and tackle key hotspots.
- Transform the management of 70 per cent of our countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices.
- Boost green growth and create new jobs – from foresters and farmers to roles in green finance and research and development.
- The public will also benefit from a new commitment to access green space or water within a 15-minute walk from their home, such as woodlands, wetlands, parks and rivers.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Protecting our natural environment is fundamental to the health, economy and prosperity of our country.
“This plan provides the blueprint for how we will deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, making sure we drive forward progress with renewed ambition and achieve our target of not just halting, but reversing the decline of nature.”
Coffey said: “Our Environmental Improvement Plan sets out how we will continue to improve our environment here in the UK and around the world. Nature is vital for our survival, crucial to our food security, clean air, and clean water as well as health and wellbeing benefits.
“We have already started the journey and we have seen improvements. We are transforming financial support for farmers and landowners to prioritise improving the environment, we are stepping up on tree planting, we have cleaner air, we have put a spotlight on water quality and rivers and are forcing industry to clean up its act.
“Whether you live in a city or town, in the countryside or on the coast, join us in our national endeavour to improve the environment.”
Commitments in the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 include:
- A multimillion-pound Species Survival Fund to protect the rarest species – from hedgehogs to red squirrels.
- Through the support of government schemes, 65 per cent to 80 per cent of landowners and farmers will adopt nature-friendly farming practices on at least 10 to 15 per cent of their land by 2030. They will be supported to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2050.
- Setting out 10 actions the government will take on water efficiency in new developments and retrofits, including reviewing building regulations and other legislation to address leaky loos and confusing dual-flush buttons, and to enable new water-efficient technologies.
- Restoring 400 miles of river through the first round of Landscape Recovery projects and establishing 3,000 hectares of new woodlands along England’s rivers.
- Reforming the current regulatory framework to rationalise the number of regulatory plans and create a more efficient system that better enables joined-up working to achieve catchment-level outcomes.
- Challenging councils to improve air quality more quickly by assessing their performance and use of existing powers, while supporting them with clear guidance, funding, and tools.
- Reducing ammonia emissions through incentives in new farming schemes, while considering expanding environmental permitting conditions to dairy and intensive beef farms.
- Improving the way air quality information is communicated to the public.
- Making it easier for people to do the right thing to minimise their waste, including a new set of interim targets for 2028 to reduce different types of waste, including plastic, glass, metal, paper and food.
In the plan, the government has set out a framework that aims to ensure that progress can be clearly tracked.
The government has also published the environmental principles policy statement. From 1 November 2023, environmental protection and enhancement will be embedded into the design and development of new policy across the government.
1 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Framework for greener cities set out
Natural England has launched a new tool to increase green cover in towns and cities to 40 per cent.
It is aimed at local planning authorities and developers, explained the body.
The Green Infrastructure Framework (GIF) provides a structure to analyse where green space in urban environments is needed most.
It is designed to support equitable access to green space across the country so that everyone is able to reach good-quality green space in their local area.
The framework embeds nature into new developments which, in turn, will help to increase wildlife populations, build up resilience against the impacts of climate change and ensure that cities are habitable for the future.
The framework is structured by five key standards:
- Urban Nature Recovery Standard - This incorporates nature-based solutions, such as trees and wildflowers, into the design of towns and cities to increase carbon capture, prevent flooding and reduce temperatures during heatwaves.
- Urban Greening Factor (UGF) for England – This planning tool improves the provision of green infrastructure and increases the level of greening in urban environments. The standard is set at 0.4 for residential development, which means there is a target in place for approximately 40 per cent of residential developments to have green and blue spaces, green roofs or green walls. When adopted by a local planning authority it provides clarity about the quantity and quality of green infrastructure required to secure planning approval in a major new development. The Greater London Authority is already applying this principle.
- Urban Tree Canopy Cover Standard – This promotes an increase in tree canopy cover in urban environments. It sets out that major residential and commercial development should be designed to meet locally agreed targets.
- Accessible Green space Standards – This promotes access to good quality green and blue space within a 15 minutes walk from home. The framework includes a mapping tool that can help to identify places where green space is needed most.
- Green Infrastructure Strategy – This standard supports the National Planning Policy Framework’s (NPPF) policy that local authorities should develop strategic policies for green infrastructure. At an area wide scale, the Green Infrastructure Standard will see local authorities develop delivery plans to support the creation and enhancement of new and existing green spaces.
The Green Infrastructure Standards are being applied in Allestree Park in Derby, said Natural England. It is a former golf course that is now set to become one of the UK’s largest urban rewilding projects. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the University of Derby, and Rewilding Britain are working together to apply the standards.
Natural England worked with Defra, other government departments, and an advisory group comprising universities, representatives from the active travel sector, and environmental experts to develop the framework. It has been tested by local planning authorities and developers.
Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, said: “Using green infrastructure to bring the sights, sounds, and smells of nature into every city, town, and street will not only create nature abundant, beautiful spaces for everyone to enjoy but will help tackle climate change too.
"Natural England is committed to expanding access to nature as the benefits of spending time outdoors are extensive; it reduces stress, increases physical activity, and improves wellbeing. We look forward to working with developers, local planning authorities and communities to create a future where nature is on people’s doorsteps to improve the quality of all our lives."
More information can be found here.2
6 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Industrial estate plans approved in the Midlands
Coventry City Council has granted planning permission for plans to transform Stonebridge Trading Estate on Rowley Drive.
The Wigley Group's plans for the site include the demolition of a 34,000-square-foot unit.
It will be replaced with nine smaller units ranging in size from 1,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet. The scheme includes storage and light industrial space in an area next to the A45, which links to the national transport network including the M45, M1, M40 and M6.
The £4.5 million scheme has been designed to cater for the rising market demand for smaller industrial units, and to support wider regeneration plans in the Whitley area, said The Wigley Group.
Work is expected to begin in the spring, ready for completion in 2024.
Mike Vining, land and development director at The Wigley Group, said: “This is a site which has been in our ownership since 2015, but it has never fully been utilised to its potential.
“Creating nine smaller units instead of one single premises matches what we are seeing in the market, with demand for smaller industrial space in the area high.”
2 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Extension to resource management facility granted
An application for the East Northants Resource Management Facility Western Extension has been granted a development consent order (DCO) by local government minister Lee Rowley.
The Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) application was submitted by Augean South Limited.
Consent was sought for the construction of a landfill void for the continued disposal of the same range of predominantly hazardous wastes and a limited amount of low-level radioactive waste currently deposited at the existing facility. It would have a capacity of greater than 100,000 tonnes a year.
The application includes the alteration of existing facilities for the recovery, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste, and the restoration of the whole site by December 2046.
The existing East Northants Resource Management Facility was granted a DCO in 2013 and amended in 2018. It requires operations to cease and the site to be fully restored by the end of 2026.
The examining authority – the Planning Inspectorate – recommended that the DCO should be granted.
The application was considered in accordance with the National Policy Statement for Hazardous Waste June 2013. The existing facility is one of nine hazardous landfill sites in England. It is the only one in the Midlands, East and south-east of England that can accept a wide range of wastes including low-level radioactive waste.
As of 2020, the landfill void approved in 2013 had a life of 3.5 to 4.5 years. The decision letter notes that in a situation where the quantity of hazardous waste being generated is rising steadily, “if the application to extend the size and lifespan of the existing site is not accepted, hazardous waste generated in the south of England would have to be transported over considerably longer distances with associated environmental effects”.
The examining authority and Rowley agreed that the extension would meet the need identified in the national policy statement and there is a presumption in favour of granting consent. They also agree that the applicant has provided adequate assessments of air quality, odour and dust effects from mineral extraction, vehicle movements and the treatment of waste and recovery processes.
Mitigation such as woodland, hedgerow and grassland planting secured under the order means there “would be no significant effects” on several protected sites, including the Rutland Water Special Protection Area/Ramsar site, Colleyweston Great Wood and Eastern Hornstocks National Nature Reserve and SSSI. Additionally, the examining authority and Rowley agree that the extension would not have an adverse effect on nearby ancient woodland.
The decision letter states that “there is no substantive evidence to indicate that the proposed development would generate greenhouse gas at a level which would call into question the ability of the UK to reach its overall Net Zero 2050 target or its carbon budgets”.
Rowley considered that given the “satisfactory history” of landfill and waste management at the existing site, “there is no indication that the proposed development would adversely affect wider health and wellbeing concerns”.
Overall, Rowley considers that the harm he identified from the proposed development would be outweighed by the need for national hazardous waste infrastructure.
The decision letter and all other related documents can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.3
2 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Wales sets targets to meet 2035 renewable electricity goal
The Welsh Government is consulting on targets aimed at helping the country to meet its goal of getting all of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2035.
Julie James, climate change minister, has proposed that Wales should set a target for at least 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity to be locally owned by 2035, excluding heat pumps.
Another target under consideration is for 5.5GW of renewable energy capacity to be produced by heat pumps by 2035. This, however, is subject to scaled-up support from the UK Government and reductions in the cost of technology.
Infrastructure and supply chains will be key to meeting the new targets.
James said: “Providing new targets compels us to stride towards net zero as quickly as we realistically can.
“The evidence is clear that towards the end of this decade we will need to rapidly ramp up our generation of electricity to meet our energy needs.
“The renewable energy target proposals that we are consulting on are ambitious, but credible.
“I am very pleased that they propose a pathway for us to meet the equivalent of 100 per cent of our annual electricity consumption from renewable electricity by 2035, and to continue to keep pace with consumption thereafter.”
Currently, Wales is working towards targets set in 2017 and generates 55 per cent of its electricity from renewables.
The Welsh Government also announced £1 million in funding to explore the potential of offshore wind. This will be matched by Associated British Ports for preparatory work to enable future floating offshore wind projects to deploy from Wales.
Andrew Harston, regional director, Wales & Short Sea Ports, added: "Associated British Ports warmly welcomes this early-stage support from the Welsh Government to help kick-start the development of a major green energy hub at Port Talbot. This support is key to the construction of transformational infrastructure, which will enable the manufacturing, integration and assembly of floating offshore wind components at Port Talbot.
“The roll-out of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity for South Wales to lead a global market and will play a major role in contributing to Wales and the UK’s net-zero targets. By doing so it will support and create thousands of long-term, high-quality jobs."
The consultation closes on 18 April. It can be found on the Welsh Government website.4
1 February 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Permission sought to redevelop Warwickshire rugby club
Bloor Homes has submitted a planning application for the redevelopment of the Kenilworth Rugby Club's current home and to build 220 new homes on two parcels of land off Glasshouse Lane.
The submission comes after it was confirmed that the necessary rights over Network Rail land will revert to the rugby club following the acquisition of the site off Warwick Road to the south of Kenilworth Cricket Club.
Bloor Homes is providing upfront funding to complete the necessary agreements with Network Rail.
Johnny Marsh, chairman of the rugby club, said: “Kenilworth Rugby Football Club and our consultants have been working hard together with Bloor Homes to secure the necessary upfront finance that we needed to be in a position to release their land for housing development.
“We can now look forward to continuing working closely with Bloor Homes and Warwick District Council over the next two years to ensure the provision of what we believe will be the best junior rugby club facility in the whole of Warwickshire.”
London’s Fleet House office to be retrofitted
The City of London’s planning sub-committee has granted planning permission for the deep retrofit of Fleet House, near Blackfriars Station in London, to create a “best-in-class sustainable’ workspace.
Pan-European developer Atenor’s scheme has been designed by global architect practice HOK to achieve a minimum of BREEAM Excellent standards while planning permission was secured by consultant Lichfields.
It will see more than two-thirds of the current structure retained to guarantee the preservation of the existing embodied carbon and cut the project’s environmental impact. The building will provide more than 77,000 square feet of “high-quality” accommodation across eight storeys.
Features for those working at the building include short and long-stay cycling parking and four external terraces. A range of new public amenities will also be created, including a new pedestrian priority route connecting Bride Lane and Bridewell Place.
Approval was in line with a recommendation from the planning officer.
Legal agreement paves way for 1,700 homes
Warwickshire County Council can proceed with its plans for 1,700 homes, new schools and community facilities after section 106 agreements were finalised.
The homes will be delivered at Top Farm, Weddington.
Develop Warwickshire – a joint venture between the county council, Warwickshire Property and Development Group (WPDG), and Countryside Partnerships – will be delivering the development.
The scheme was granted planning permission subject to the s106 agreement by Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council in May 2022.
The s106 agreement will see Develop Warwickshire contribute more than £25 million worth of funding to enhance the local community infrastructure, including £10.5 million towards education and £6.7 million towards highway improvements.
Greencore Construction acquires Milton Heights site
Developer Greencore Construction has acquired a site in Milton Heights, Oxfordshire.
The site, next to Milton Park, is near Didcot Parkway Station. Greencore will be applying for planning permission for a landscape-led scheme including public open space.
Work on the site is set to start later in 2023, subject to securing planning consent.
Cala Homes submits Cardross housing application
Cala Homes (West) has submitted a planning application for a housing development on land in Cardross.
If approved, Cala would deliver 130 homes ranging from one-bedroom cottage flats to five-bedroom family homes.
The planning application, lodged with Argyll and Bute Council, proposes to build the homes at the site on the northern edge of Cardross between Darleith Road and Barrs Road.
The new development would provide residents with dedicated on-site parking for homeowners with additional provisions for guests.
The site would feature extensive areas of landscaping and open spaces, including a village green and play park. The landscaping and green spaces on the site will help to improve local biodiversity, benefiting both residents and the wider community.
Cala Homes (West) will work with Dunbritton Housing Association to deliver the 30 affordable rented units on-site.
Angel Square achieves NABERS certification in Manchester
NOMA's Four Angel Square development has been named as one of the UK’s most sustainable office buildings, being the first in central Manchester to achieve NABERS Design for Performance Target Rating of five stars.
Run by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), NABERS UK is a system for rating the energy efficiency of office buildings across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Four Angel Square will use an energy-efficient heating system of air-source heat pumps and benefit from energy generated from the building’s photovoltaic panels.
Additional features of the smart-enabled building will include 212 cycling spaces, 56 parking spaces (26 of which will have electric charging points), and a 10th-floor terrace.
The 200,000-square-foot building, designed by SimpsonHaugh, is set for completion this spring.
Network Rail plants 30 willow trees in Lowestoft
Network Rail has announced that its team has cleared an area of disused railway land in Lowestoft and planted 30 young willow trees to boost biodiversity.
The land, which is between the railway line and Denmark Road, was once allotments but became overgrown and has also attracted fly-tippers.
After clearing the area of fly-tipped rubbish and overgrown vegetation, the team planted willow trees and added sleeves to protect them while they are young.
Network Rail now intends to work with the council, community groups, community rail partners, and schools to see how the green space can be further transformed, with an urban nature reserve and vegetable planting as possibilities.
Henley and Chartway to deliver homes in Ebbsfleet
Henley Investment Management has partnered with Chartway Partnerships Group to deliver 162 homes in Alkerden Village, Whitecliffe in Ebbsfleet.
The homes would include a mix of private for sale, affordable and purpose-built rental properties. They would sit within the wider Alkerden Village scheme that would have approximately 1,700 homes and a market centre featuring a supermarket, gym, nursery and primary and secondary school.
Alkerden Village is less than 10 minutes from Ebbsfleet International and Bluewater shopping centre, with the new Fastrack bus service connecting residents to the surrounding area. The new homes would be within walking distance of several new schools, a health centre and shops.
The 7.5-acre site has outline planning permission, and Chartway is to take the scheme through planning for detailed consent before construction gets under way.
Atlantic House retrofit plans approved in Kensington
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council has approved plans for Atlantic House that will see the building retrofitted for a new junior school for Thomas’s Day Schools, located at 21 St Albans Grove, in Kensington, West London.
The design, by architect Ackroyd Lowrie, ties together the two historic buildings, one of which is Victorian, the other mid-20th century.
Lowrie’s design provides a five-storey school comprising 23 teaching classrooms for pupils from reception to year six, sound-proofed music rooms, libraries, dining halls, assembly hall, reception, head’s office, meeting/administration rooms, flexible community spaces, and a planted biodiversity roof garden.
A woodland-style quiet learning garden has been positioned nearest the neighbouring residential properties, and acoustic walls have been specified to surround free play/sports areas.
Work on Atlantic House is expected to begin later this year and the aim is for staff and students to move in for the 2024/25 academic year.
7 February 2023
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner