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Planning round-up 2 April 2015

by on April 2, 2015

Green light for Manchester rail project

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has approved a Transport and Works Act Order for a new rail viaduct in Manchester linking the Bolton Lines railway near the Castlefield Centre with the Chat Moss Lines railway near Salford Central station in the Ordsall area of Greater Manchester.

The order authorises the compulsory purchase of land for the scheme – known as the Ordsall Chord – which will provide a direct link between the city’s three main stations: Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly.

The £85m is a key element of the multi-million pound Northern Hub upgrade for rail services across the North of England.

Network Rail said it would ease a “rail bottleneck” south of Piccadilly and enable more trains to travel through Manchester city centre.

Controversially, the scheme involves the demolition or harm to the settings of a number of heritage assets including Grade 11 listed bridge and viaducts and three Grade 1 listed buildings. The scheme will cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the Castlefield conservation area and result in the loss of a number of unlisted homes.

Read the Ordsall Chord decision letter

Read the Ordsall Chord inspectors report

View more details of the Northern Hub

 

Crackdown on unauthorised encampments

Ministers have written to English local councils and police authorities voicing concern over reports they are not being seen to be doing enough to stop unauthorised traveler encampments.

The letter, from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Home Office and the Ministry for Justice, stressed that local authorities and the police had sufficient powers to take action including the use of temporary stop notices.

The letter said: “Public bodies should not gold-plate human rights and equalities legislation. Councils and the police have been given strong powers to deal with unauthorised encampments”.

Whitehall has published a guide setting out a summary of available powers.

Read the full letter

Read ‘Dealing with illegal and unauthorised encampments: a summary of available powers’

 

Grant waiver unlocks Nantwich site

Plans to develop new homes and leisure facilities on a former gas works site in Nantwich, Cheshire can now go ahead following a Government decision to waive repayment of a £409,000 derelict land grant.

The St Anne’s Lane gasworks site has been empty for a quarter of a century and has been used by the town as a free car park.

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has confirmed that he is waiving repayment of the grant to enable Cheshire East Council to put forward a scheme creating new homes, leisure facilities and jobs.

The site was the town gasworks from around 1877 until the 1970s.

Read the GOV.uk press release

 

NSIP regime changes

A commencement order has been laid in Parliament to implement changes to the Planning Act 2008 which were included the Infrastructure Act 2015. These will allow for the early appointment of inspectors and modify the post-consent change process.

Meanwhile, last week MPs voted to add projects for the long-term geological disposal of radioactive waste to the Planning Act 2008 regime, by 277 votes to 33.

In addition, the government has revised its guidance on the pre-application and examination stages of  Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

The Infrastructure Act 2015 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2015

Read the NSIP pre-app guidance

Read the NSIP examination guidance

 

Funding help for major Leicestershire housing scheme

The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced a multi-million pound deal to ensure a 4,000-home development in Leicestershire gets underway.

This involves the New Lubbesthorpe development near Leicester designed to provide 4,200 homes as well as shops, schools and a health centre.

Developers ERB Drummond Trust will receive a loan for key infrastructure linking Lubbesthorpe and Leicester city centre including a new road bridge across the M1 motorway as well as well as funding towards other improvements, including a primary school and a new park.

Read the DCLG press release

 

Loan deal to boost London dockland development

A major new development at the heart of London’s Docklands should begin to climb off the drawing board in a matter of months thanks to a £200m Government loan to Canary Wharf Group.

This will allow for key infrastructure work to go ahead in preparation for the next phase of the Canary Wharf (formerly called Wood Wharf) development. Some 3,500 homes as well as offices, shops and leisure facilities are involved.

Read the DCLG press release

 

New highways body sets out stall

Highways England, the Government-owned company which will deliver the largest investment in England’s major roads in a generation, officially launched this week on 1 April.

The company is scheduled to invest £11bn in delivering a raft of improvements to England’s motorways and major A roads designed to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

According to its first delivery plan, just published, the new entity will take a comprehensive approach on environmental issues by investing £225m on flood resilience schemes, encouraging biodiversity around roads and protecting and restoring nature areas as well as tackling noise pollution using low-noise surfacing at 1,150 locations.

Read the Highways England press release

Read the ‘Highways England Delivery Plan 2015-2020’

 

English coastal path move

Natural England has published formal proposals to improve public access along the English coast between Filey Brigg in North Yorkshire and Newport Bridge in Middlesbrough.

If approved, this route will become part of the England Coast Path along a 111km stretch of the North Yorkshire and Teesside coastline, taking in the North York Moors National Park and parts of the Cleveland Way National Trail.

This is the first time proposals have been published for the route in Yorkshire and the longest section of coast path to be developed so far.

The first north-east section of the England Coast Path was opened last April, running along 55km of coastline between North Gare in Hartlepool and South Bents in Sunderland.

 View the consultation on GOV.uk

 

Northern Ireland reclaims local planning

Northern Ireland’s 11 new-look local authorities assumed major new planning powers and responsibilities this week beginning on 1 April after decades of a largely Government-run regime.

View further details of Northern Ireland’s local government reform

 

Green belt report

Latest research shows that more houses are planned for green belt land in England than when the Coalition’s flagship planning reform – the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – was implemented three years ago, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has claimed.

The CPRE said that 219,000 houses are planned for England’s green belt, 60,000 more than in August 2013 when CPRE last made a count.

CPRE’s analysis of nine English regions highlighted that three city or county regions – London, Oxfordshire and Nottinghamshire – as well as the wider South West region – are all facing an increasingly large number of houses on green belt land.

It also noted that planning inspectors have signed off major releases of green belt in areas such as Leeds and Newcastle/Gateshead where there is ample brownfield land available.

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at CPRE, said: “Ministers have quite rightly resisted the siren calls of some organisations to relax controls over development in the green belt.

“Yet, our new research shows that large-scale development is already planned – despite existing protections, the availability of brownfield land and community objections.”

Read the CPRE press release

Read the report ‘Green Belt under siege: the NPPF three years on’

 

DCLG subsumes architecture from DCMS

The Design Council has welcomed the transfer of architecture policy function from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department for Communities and Local Government will now be responsible for promoting high-quality design in the built environment.

Clare Devine, director of architecture and the Built Environment at Design Council, said: “This is a practical step which we wholeheartedly welcome.

“Given that the department already looks after the means to deliver good quality places – the planning system, local government finance and the Community Rights programmes – it is a positive move to bring these together.”

Read the design council press release

 

 

Report urges urban villages

Think-tank IPPR has published a collection of essays arguing the case for a slew of new so-called ‘city villages’ to help meet the current housing shortage.

The publication said this will need creative, concerted action by the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, and by national and local government.

The think-tank described ‘city villages’ as areas of redevelopment and regeneration within the cities, including significantly more and better housing at a broad range of price and rent levels.

These would be facilitated by local authorities leveraging their land ownership, particularly their ownership of existing council estates, in partnership with private and voluntary sector developers.

According to the IPPR ‘city villages’ would comprise socially mixed, multi-tenure housing, planned not just as housing developments but as entire communities with integral and modern commercial, retail and transport facilities.

View the IPPR press release and access the essays

 

Bristol entertainment development boost

Bristol’s proposed £91m entertainment arena has taken another step forward after the land for the site was formally handed over to the city council.

The agreement will also see £5.4m of government funding to the city to help develop other sites within the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. Last month, Populous was chosen to build the 12,000-seat venue which is due to open in 2017.

Read the Homes and Communities Agency press release

 

Three more neighbourhood plans pass the referendum test

The first ever neighbourhood plan in the North East has been approved after a referendum. Some 78 per cent of residents of the Northumberland parish of Allendale who voted supported the land use strategy.

Meanwhile, two other neighbourhood plans successfully passed the referendum stage last week. In East Devon over 86 per cent of the residents who went to the polls endorsed the Lympstone Neighbourhood Plan. In Mid Sussex nearly 74 per cent of those who voted in the referendum over the West Hoathly Neighbourhood Plan backed the new-look development plan.

Download the ‘Allendale Neighbourhood Development Plan’ (PDF)

View further details of the Lympstone Neighbourhood Plan

View further details of the West Hoathly Neighbourhood Plan

 

Chief executive named for Ebbsfleet UDC

The Government has confirmed that the proposed Ebbsfleet Urban Development Corporation will be operational in April and have planning powers in July.

Robin Cooper, currently deputy chief executive of Medway Council, has been named as the UDC’s chief Executive and ex-officio board member.

Councillor Paul Carter CBE (leader of Kent County Council), councillor Jeremy Kite MBE (leader of Dartford Borough Council) and, subject to ratification, councillor John Burden (leader of Gravesham Borough Council) will be appointed to serve on the corporation’s board.

View further details on GOV.uk

 

Lights, camera, action…

The Planning Inspectorate has published a short film that highlights the key role planning inspectors play in supporting local councils develop local plans that meet their needs and those of the communities they serve.

View the video on Youtube

 

Legal round-up

  • Spencer Flower, a former leader of Dorset County Council, has become the first person to be successfully prosecuted for voting about the fate of a core strategy contrary to the provisions of the Localism Act 2011. He had claimed that his involvement with a social housing company was not relevant to a debate in 2013 about East Dorset District Council’s Core Strategy.
  • The developer of a proposed crematorium outside Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire has succeeded in persuading a High Court judge to quash planning approval for a rival scheme because Aylesbury Vale District Council failed to take into account the risks posed to colonies of protected great crested newts.
  • A developer who wanted to build 250 homes on a former airfield in Kent has failed in a High Court challenge over the refusal of planning permission and the arguments used by the planning inspector who dismissed the appeal.

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