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News round-up 10 July 2014

by on July 10, 2014

Welsh Environment Minister dismissed
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has fired his Environment Minister Alun Davies and will not appoint a successor.
Davies was dismissed for putting pressure on civil servants for private information about opposition Assembly Members.

He was already under scrutiny over his handling of proposals for a racing circuit in his Blaenau Gwent constituency.
His portfolio has now been divided between three other ministers, and there are no plans to appoint another dedicated minister to his former role.

Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart will look after agriculture, fisheries and food, Sport and Culture Minister John Griffiths has had environment added to his portfolio; and Rebecca Evans is promoted from the backbenches to become deputy minister for agriculture and fisheries.


Panel to examine Norfolk infrastructure project
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has decided that a panel of three inspectors will examine Norfolk County Council’s Norwich Northern Distribution Road (NDR) project instead of the single inspector originally chosen to consider the £148.5m nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP).

The NDR is a proposed 20 kilometre dual carriageway that would connect the A47 at Postwick on the eastern side of the city with the A1067 Fakenham Road to the north west.


Affordable homes funding
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has announced that 15 councils will be able to borrow £60m additional funds over the next two years to build over 1,000 affordable homes in their area.

The 15 English councils that have successfully applied for borrowing include:
•    Birmingham Council – which will now be able to borrow £10.6m to build 186 new affordable homes
•    Wiltshire Council – which will now be able to borrow £2.7m to build 90 affordable homes
•    Cheshire West and Chester Council – which will now be able to borrow £7.5m to build 23 affordable homes
•    Hackney Council – which will now be able to borrow £2.7m to build 74 affordable homes
•    Dudley Council, which will now be able to borrow £6.2m to build 123 affordable homes

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


LPAs will be in the lead over brownfield development orders
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has insisted that local planning authorities will take the lead in deciding which brownfield sites will be pre-approved for residential development under recent proposals which will encourage councils to use the local development order regime to boost sites for housing.

Planning Minister Nick Boles told MPs: “I am grateful for the opportunity to confirm that [LDOs] absolutely will not undermine localism, as LDOs have to go through the same local consultation as any other planning permission.”

He added: “The fundamental difference with LDOs is that the local council effectively determines up front the broad parameters of development that will be acceptable. It’s absolutely something that is driven locally and led by local councils.”


Legal briefs
A parish council’s appeal against a judge’s backing for a 190-home rugby club development in open countryside in Herefordshire has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Herefordshire County Council granted outline planning permission for Hereford Rugby Club’s proposals to relocate from its small ground near Hereford city centre to a 20-hectare site in the open countryside in the parish of Hampton Bishop. The scheme’s housing was designed to make the project financially viable.

A campaigner opposed to the redevelopment of a tower block and surrounding land on Margate’s seafront has been given the green light to take her legal challenge over the grant of planning permission by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to the Court of Appeal.

The Government has decided not to defend a High Court challenge to a planning inspector’s decision to allow on appeal a single wind turbine close to the Duddo stone circle, known as Northumberland’s answer to Stonehenge. Energy company 3R Energy Solutions’ plans for the scheme at Shoreswood Farm, Ancroft near Berwick, will now be reconsidered by the Planning Inspectorate.


London developments
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has come out in opposition to London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to assume planning powers in the Old Oak Common and Park Royal areas of west London.

The mayor is currently consulting on proposals to establish a mayoral development corporation (MDC) for the two neighbourhoods, which are earmarked for extensive regeneration in the London Plan.

Southwark Council has resolved to grant planning permission for the 55-home mixed-use redevelopment of the home of the London Centre for Contemporary Music (LCCM) in south east London.

Real estate advisers Deloitte Real Estate submitted proposals in November 2013 on behalf of the LCCM, house builder Taylor Wimpey Central London and building subcontractor Sherwood Property Holdings for the construction of a 14-storey building to house the LCCM and 55 residential units.

Insurance company Aviva has submitted plans to the City of London Corporation for a 39,000 sq m office redevelopment at 130 Fenchurch Street.

Proposals include the demolition of the existing 14-storey office building at the site and its replacement with a new building with two basement levels, a ground floor and up to 17 storeys.


St Albans outsources some development control work
Faced with a record number of planning applications St Albans City and District Council has temporarily outsourced the processing of many simple householder applications to contractors Brian Barber Associates who will recommend a decision.

Tracey Harvey, head of planning and building control at the Hertfordshire district council, said :” Whether or not the application is granted will remain a decision to be made either by me, if the application is delegated to officers, or by councillors, if the application is called-in to a Planning Committee.”

Since 2009/10, there has been a 54 per cent increase in the number of planning applications received by St Albans City and District Council each year to 3,521 in 2013/14.

The annual figures reported to the Department for Communities and Local Government for 2013-14 shows the council is the busiest planning authority in the East of England and the busiest district council in England.

In a separate development, council members are due to decide soon if exceptional circumstances justify changing existing Green Belt boundaries to provide four sites for residential development to meet local plan housing provision.


Community planning needs ageism focus says report
A new report has urged local and national policy-makers to ensure that new communities meet the needs of an ageing population.

The report, ‘Community Matters: Making our Communities Ready for Ageing’ published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), with the support of Age UK, incorporates a 10-point call to action for local authorities to become ready for ageing.

The report argues that communities should do more than cater for basic needs by being places of fun for all. The report highlights the importance of supporting walking and cycling in old age as well as the need to ensure housing is adaptable to an ageing society.

Read the International Longevity Centre – UK news release.


Go-head for Daventry rail freight project
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has approved the development consent order for the expansion of the existing Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal.

This will involve the construction and operation of a new rail link to a replacement interchange, together with new transshipment sidings, container storage, an HGV reception area, up to 731,000 sq m of rail served storage and a strategic open space.

The £1bn scheme was determined as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) after an application was submitted by Rugby Radio Station Limited Partnership & Prologis UK Limited for the 345-hectare site to the north of Rugby.


Hull city centre makeover
Hull City Council has unveiled a series of proposals to revitalise the city centre in preparation for its role as City of Culture in 2017.

Landmarks across the city like the Holy Trinity Church will be illuminated with special LED lights to create ’sculptures in the sky’. Hull’s Beverley Gate, where King Charles I was refused entry to Hull in 1642 as an act of defiance by the governor of the city that helped trigger the English Civil War, is to be re-created with an illuminated “apparition” at the gate’s historical location.

Under the £27m plans, King Edward Street would become traffic free, existing squares and memorials decluttered and spruced up and walking and cycling routes through the centre improved.

Read the Hull City Council news release.


Hatfield recycling and energy scheme rejected on Green Belt grounds
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has refused permission for a recycling and energy recovery facility proposed by Veolia Environmental Services for a Green Belt site at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, currently occupied by disused library buildings. Pickles agreed with the inspector who held the call-in inquiry that the scheme’s benefits did not outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and the setting of the heritage assets at nearby Hatfield House and Park.

Download the decision letter.


Crown Estate signals new wave and tidal power zones
The Crown Estate, which manages the UK’s seabed, has announced six new wave and tidal stream demonstration zones, as well as five new wave and tidal stream project sites – each with a potential capacity of 10-30 megawatts (MW).

The six zones and five project sites are spread out around the UK, with three off the coast of England (North Cornwall, North Devon and Dorset), four off the coast of Scotland (Mull of Galloway, Isle of Harris, Islay and Stronsay Firth), three off the Welsh coast (South Pembrokeshire, West Anglesey and Holyhead Deep) and one in Northern Ireland (Strangford Lough).

Read The Crown Estate news release.


Welsh non-material amendment changes
The Welsh Government has published a new guide which gives advice on new rules for small changes to an existing planning permission which come into force on 1 September. These are called non-material amendments.
Download the guide.


Custom–build vanguards
Planning Minister Nick Boles has called for volunteer councils to take part in a pilot of the Government’s Right to Build scheme, under which councils will be required to release serviced plots to aspiring custom builders registering an interest in their area.

The Government has launched a 12-page prospectus inviting councils to express their interest in becoming ‘Right to Build vanguards’, to test different approaches to the scheme before it is rolled-out nationwide.
Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


Maldon commits to more work on local plan
Maldon District Council has agreed to undertake further work on its emerging local development plan after the inspector examining it voiced concern over its soundness in respect of the housing assessment and the provision for retail and employment activities. The Essex planning authority hopes to have this work completed by the end of September.


Levy research
Research by real estate firm Savills has found that two-thirds of local authorities in England and Wales are likely to miss the deadline for the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

The research said that local authorities take an average of 23 months to implement CIL following the publication of a preliminary draft charging schedule and that this rate would leave 68 per cent of local authorities behind schedule for the introduction of the charge.

Read the Savills news article.


Flood risk sinks Welsh homes proposals
Welsh Housing and Regeneration Minister Carl Sargeant has refused outline planning permission for a 100-home development on land south of Gwellyn Avenue and east of St Asaph Avenue, at Kinmel Bay, Conwy. His decision, on flood risk grounds, was in line with the recommendation of the planning inspector who handled the public inquiry.

Download the decision letter.


Green light for Newmarket housing
A 400-home development in a Suffolk town has been given the go-ahead despite opposition from some of the biggest names in horse racing.

Forest Heath District Council has approved Lord Derby’s Hatch Field Farm scheme in Newmarket in the face of opposition from some in the racing sector who fear the home of English horse racing could lose its “village feel”, potentially putting off overseas investors.


Nottinghamshire homes
Developer St Modwen has submitted a planning application to Broxtowe Borough Council for a major residential scheme at Eastwood, north west of Nottingham city centre.

St Modwen purchased the site, which comprises two parcels of land of a total of approximately 6.88 hectares, from Granite Real Estate Ltd in December last year. It plans to build 40 homes on one of the areas of land and 150 homes on the other.


Wind farm block
A green energy developer has lost an appeal against the refusal of a plan for a wind farm on land north east of St John’s Town of Dalry in southern Scotland. The company, 2020 Renewables, wanted to build an 11-turbine scheme. Dumfries and Galloway Council planning officials had recommended approval, but council members objected to the wind farm because of its adverse visual impact.


Due to technical issues this week’s news stories are published on the Director’s Blog. They will be published on the Planning Portal in due course.

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