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Planning round-up 16 April 2015

by on April 15, 2015

Pickles gets tough on housing schemes in Q1 2015

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has clamped down significantly on permissions for new housing during the first quarter of 2015, according to new research from property consultancy Bilfinger GVA.

This showed that between January and March this year the Secretary of State only allowed two schemes out of the 20 cases he determined.

This analysis indicated that 46 per cent of all Secretary of State refusals since the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012 were made during the first quarter of this year.

The schemes under consideration during the first quarter 2015 amounted to 9,655 new homes. The two schemes allowed made provision for 454 new dwellings, around five per cent of the total involved in the Pickles decisions.

Of the 18 schemes refused by Pickles, a third had been recommended for permission the inspectors who considered the public inquiries.


Home Counties “Dallas” concerns surface

Campaigners and planning authorities across some of the English Home Counties are bracing themselves for the possibility of a series of major environmental battles after an exploration company announced there could be up to 100 billion barrels of oil onshore beneath the South of England.

That prospect was highlighted by UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) following analysis of a well drilled at Horse Hill, near Gatwick airport. The company suggests the local area could hold 158 million barrels of oil per square mile. However, UKOG acknowledged that only a fraction of the 100 billion total would be recovered.

UKOG’s chief executive Stephen Sanderson said: “We think we’ve found a very significant discovery here, probably the largest [onshore in the UK] in the last 30 years, and we think it has national significance.”

UKOG said the majority of the oil lay within the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge formation at a depth of between 762 and 914 metres.

The company said further drilling and well testing would be needed to prove the initial results.


NPPF thumbs-down from developers

Developers believe the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published three years ago has failed to improve the planning process, a new survey has found.

A survey of 49 chief executives and directors from developers and housing associations found that 52 per cent felt it has made no difference, 19 per cent said it inhibited homebuilding and 29 per cent believed it was helping.

The survey, by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, also found that respondents saw the planning system as the biggest obstacle to building enough homes to meet demand.

In addition 94 per cent of those surveyed thought that reaching the Government target of 245,000 new homes per annum in the next two years was unrealistic.


Cheshire East buys more time for housing assessment

The planning inspector examining Cheshire East Council’s local plan has given the planning authority until the end of July to submit additional evidence on how it has assessed and how it will meet housing need in its area including in cooperation with neighbouring authorities.


Heritage concerns sees off north London homes

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal by developer Fairview New Homes for a proposed development in north London over the adverse impact on heritage assets and the character of the surrounding area.

The proposed development involved the demolition of a pub which had been registered by Brent Council as an Asset of Community value (ACV) located in a conservation area.

The developer’s proposal was to erect a new tower, six to 10 storeys high which would include 53 apartments, a replacement pub and community uses.


London round-up

  • Waltham Forest Council has finalised plans to build 2,000 new homes in five years in partnership with housing associations and private developers. This will include 50 per cent affordable housing and the creation of higher density, mixed communities. Of the 1,000 affordable homes, 400 will be at social rent level with the remaining 600 being a mixture of shared ownership and affordable rent.
  • A joint report published by business body London First and law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, London First has published a report which makes the case for legislation requiring all public bodies including councils to maintain an accurate, legible and searchable pan-London register of their land assets.
  • A study by estate agent Stirling Ackroyd, which analysed all planning applications received and granted in London in 2014 and concluded that only 27,470 new homes were granted planning permission in the capital last year. The study also said that at this rate London would only achieve 65 per cent of the conurbation’s target under the London Plan.
  • Hackney Council is east London has begun consultations on new conservation area proposals for Dalston town centre centred on Kingsland High Street and the extension of the existing Albion Square Conservation Area.


Green light for Hemel flats

Proposals for 207 flats, a third of which will be affordable, in the heart of Hemel Hempstead overlooking the River Gade have been given the green light by Dacorum Borough Council’s development control committee.

The development will form part of the regeneration plans taking place in the Gade Zone area of the town under an agreement between Dacorum Borough Council and its private sector partners – Endurance Estates and RG Carter.


Lake District mountain deal back in prospect

A community group that failed to buy a Lake District fell put up for sale last year has revealed that it is back in negotiation with landowner the Earl of Lonsdale over the purchase of Blencathra Mountain which had a price-tag of around £1.7m.

The group, called the Friends of Blencathra, reported that the Earl was now willing “in principle” to proceed to the next stage of a sale to the group.

Gravesham Borough Council has given the go-ahead for the redevelopment of South Ebbsfleet United’s football team’s stadium at Northfleet which is now part of the area administered by the recently established Ebbsfleet Devlopment Corporation.

Ambitious plans to modernise the National Zoo of Wales at Colwyn Bay in north Wales have been approved by Conwy Council. The zoo wants to build an alligator beach and tropical rainforest area as part of the Here Be Dragons! project. Also involved in the £6m makeover are proposals for a new world-class education centre.


Go-ahead for north east England tourism and culture projects

A multi-million pound project to help turn Auckland Castle into a major tourist attraction has been given the green light by Durham Council.

The £17m proposal to develop the castle will feature a two-storey annexe containing a museum which will house a 5,000 Years of Faith display, which will chart the history of the British Isles through faith and religion.

Meanwhile, details of a restoration of Middlesbrough’s 126-year-old town hall costing nearly £8m have been revealed.

The project will see parts of the Grade II listed building reopened to the public, including the Victorian courtroom, cells and fire station.

Plans also include a bar, restaurant with a glass atrium and a new community area, as well external lighting to illuminate the building at night.


Major homes project mooted for Northallerton

The developers behind a major new scheme for north Northallerton involving some 900 new homes have begun to consult on the scheme which also includes a new link road and bridge over the railway line.

Mulberry Homes, Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey are conducting the consultation exercise before submitting a planning application to Hambleton District Council.


Student accommodation mooted for Shrewsbury prison makeover

Former prison cells could be turned into accommodation for 200 students under developers’ plans for HMP Shrewsbury, also known as The Dana, which was closed by the Ministry of Justice in March 2013 as part of plans to save £63m.

The Grade II-listed building was bought by the Trevor Osborne Property Group last year. It was responsible for turning Oxford prison into a hotel.

Plans for the prison, which dates back to 1877, also include offices and other accommodation on the three-acre, town centre site. Any proposals would still require planning permission.

The former prison’s future as possible student flats follows the creation of a new campus in the town last year.

University Centre Shrewsbury, set up in partnership with the University of Chester, is expected to welcome its first undergraduates in September.


Devon DIY homes

A group of Devon villagers have started building their own affordable “eco-homes”. Six detached houses with three or four bedrooms are being built in Broadhempston, near Totnes, by local families and couples.

The Broadhempston Community Land Trust was set up four years ago to enable local residents in need of housing to self-build affordable homes. The properties will be solar-heated and insulated with straw.


Legal round-up

  • Wheelchair-bound Nick Allen has lost his High Court battle with Wiltshire Council to keep his disabled-friendly music studio open. He has now been ordered to demolish it by September. He had planning permission to rebuild a storage barn in Holt near Bradford on Avon, but it did not include conversion into a recording studio.
  • The London Borough of Ealing has secured a £66,000 confiscation order against an individual who converted a property into three flats without planning permission in 2010. The west London local authority prosecuted Dragan Milinkovic, who owned the house in Cuckoo Dene, Hanwell, for failing to comply with an enforcement notice. As well as the confiscation order, Judge Donne QC at Harrow Crown Court fined Milinkovic £2,700 and ordered him to pay Ealing’s costs of £4,762 plus a victim surcharge.


Roger Milne

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