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Planning round-up 23 April 2015

by on April 23, 2015

PINS confirms appeal delays

The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that staff shortages at the organisation have led to delays of up to 10 weeks to validate planning and householder appeals. For some inquiry categories this means decisions may take 12 months or thereabouts.

The admission of problems has been posted on the Planning Portal. The post says: “We apologise for the delay and are taking measures to address this. We would like to thank you for your understanding and patience during this period.

“When your appeal has been confirmed as valid we will then issue a start date letter giving details of the timetable for the appeal.”

According the latest appeal handling times published by PINS, the worst affected categories appear to involve enforcement appeal inquires, listed building/conservation area consent appeals considered by written representations and appeals involving lawful development certificates.

PINS advised it was recruiting more staff to deal with the growing backlog.

View the appeal handling time statistics


Hampshire 2,400-homes scheme makes waves

The largest ever planning application submitted to East Hampshire District Council is being determined by the planning authority this week.

The application proposes to transform the Army site at Whitehill & Bordon with 2,400 new homes and a new town centre.

The planning application, submitted by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) which is the property arm of the Ministry of Defence, outlines how the area could be transformed with new shops, offices, cafes, restaurants, a food store, a swimming pool in a new leisure centre, new schools and sports pitches.

Plans also include proposals for new a new cycling route, footpaths, public open space, car parking, children’s play areas, multi-use games areas, a BMX or skate park, allotments and landscaping. In addition there are also proposals for the southern section of the new relief road which will link to the A325.

View the planning application in detail


Report charts office to residential conversion activity

Research by commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has revealed that more than 11 million square feet of office space has switched use since changes to permitted development rights (PDR) in England made the move to residential much easier as no planning permission was required.

Although much of the activity has been in the English capital, particular in outer London boroughs like Croydon and Sutton, there has been substantial activity in the regional markets the consultancy tracks outside London.

The consultancy has reported that there around eight million square feet of office stock has left the commercial market since May 2013, when the changes to the PDR kicked-in.

Some 4.7 million square feet of commercial floor space changed use in 2014 with Bristol proving a “hot spot” with over one million square feet changing use since 2013, and 800 000 square feet in 2014 alone.

Commuter locations around London have also been popular. In Slough, for instance, some six per cent of office floor space has gone for residential while the so-called Hertfordshire markets – including Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead – have collectively lost around 900,000 square feet of office since 2013.

View further details of the research


Stroud retail saga latest

The planning saga over proposals for a new supermarket at Stroud took a surprise turn last week when the district council’s development control committee considered three plans for out-of-town supermarkets: Asda at Daniels industrial estate on Bath Road, a potential Lidl on Stroud Metals site at Dudbridge, and a third supermarket at Brunsdon’s Yard, Ryeford.

Planning officers had recommended that the Asda scheme should go ahead and the other two should be rejected.

However, councillors defied this advice and approved the proposal for the Dudbridge site, which Lidl has expressed interest in but which has flooding issues.

The decision had been delayed since September to allow a fourth proposal to be developed – a town centre supermarket on the site of the Market Tavern pub and Cornhill.

The landowner of that site, Setminds Ltd, has said it has been in discussion with Marks and Spencer but no planning application has been submitted for the site.


North Wales power link consent move

The Planning Inspectorate has accepted for examination for development consent proposals from power distribution company SP Manweb for a scheme to connect four new wind farms in North Wales to an existing electricity substation at St Asaph.

Like the latter facility, all the wind farms in question are located in Denbighshire. The scheme involves some 17 kilometres of overhead line carried on wooden poles, which will be around 15 metres in height.

The planned wind farms are Clocaenog Forest (developed by RWE npower renewables), Brenig (Brenig Wind Ltd), Nant Bach (Vattenfall) and Derwydd Bach (Tegni).

View details on the National Infrastructure Planning website


Underground freight delivery trial for Northampton

A study to see whether underground freight deliveries could become reality in the UK is to be carried out in Northampton.

A Government grant will allow Cambridgeshire company Mole Solutions to see whether its magnet and track-based system could work in urban areas.

The firm’s technical director Stuart Prosser said: “We’re going to use Northampton as a bit of an exemplar.

“They have some issues with air pollution and distribution of goods and they want to see if there’s other ways of doing it, rather than just using the traditional ways between the M1, the A14 and into the city centre.”

The “mole” concept involves propelling bulk goods through pipelines powered by magnetic waves. The company said the system could work unmanned in pipes laid beside or under existing transport infrastructure.

View the Mole Solutions press release


Tallest residential tower waved through by Boris

London Mayor Boris Johnson has decided not to intervene over proposals for a 215-metre high residential tower, the UK’s tallest, proposed for Marsh Wall near Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs in east London.

The scheme, known as South Quay Plaza will provide 888 flats, 188 of which will be affordable, was approved by Tower Hamlets Council last November.

Designed by Foster & Partners, the scheme comprises a 68-storey tower and a smaller 36-storey structure. There will also be ground-floor commercial units, car parking and landscaping. Three existing commercial buildings will be demolished. Changes from the original planning application include a reduction in the height of the tallest building from 73 storeys to 68.

Visit the South Quay Plaza website


Revised Plymouth regeneration master plan approved

An updated master plan setting out future phases in the transformation of Millbay – one of the largest regeneration projects in the south of England – has been approved by Plymouth’s planners.

Millbay’s lead developer English Cities Fund (ECf) submitted the outline planning application for the regeneration area to update and replace the current master plan, which was granted outline planning permission by Plymouth City Council in 2008.

Focussed around the historic former docks built by the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Millbay scheme offers residential, leisure, business and retail development, as well as public spaces and direct access to the waterfront.

The revised outline planning application involves up to 600 new homes, 12,500 square metres of offices and 8,600 square metres of retail/ leisure space, a hotel and a multi-storey car park together with associated engineering works, highway improvements, public realm and landscaping.

Visit the Millbay website


Luton cinema conversion blow

Proposals to partially convert an iconic art deco cinema into a church have been rejected by Luton Borough Council.

It had received a planning application to refurbish the front section of the ABC cinema in George Street, which would have been sublet to a Pentecostal church.

Applicants Fenton Property Management indicated that the old cinema’s screens would have been left untouched and sealed off from the rest of the building.

A council spokesperson said: “It is considered that the granting of a temporary consent for use of the site for a place of worship would not facilitate the redevelopment of this prominent site within the central shopping area as the predominant activities of a use of this kind would take place outside the core shopping and leisure times and therefore it fails to contribute to the regeneration of the town centre in the short term.”


Ipswich screen boost

A new 16-screen cinema looks set to be built in Ipswich’s Buttermarket centre alongside proposals for six new restaurants and a gym.

The new owners of the shopping centre, Capital and Regional, who are in partnership with the Drum Property Group, have applied to Ipswich Borough Council to amend the planning consent that was granted two years ago for Vue Cinemas to create a nine-screen multiplex in the centre.

That scheme fell by the wayside after Vue was unable to press ahead with the project and the centre was sold.


House builder says election is slowing down new home approvals

Persimmon Group Chairman Nicholas Wrigley has highlighted “increasing difficulties” in obtaining planning consents for sites as May’s General Election approaches.

In a trading update, Wrigley said: “while we would expect such delays to be short term in nature, they are hindering the expansion in the number of active outlets required by the house-building industry to support an increase in the volume of newly built homes delivered to the market.”

View the full Persimmon PLC trading update


Tewkesbury mulls premature site work

Tewkesbury Borough Council has confirmed it is investigating reports that house-builder Redrow Homes has jumped the gun on preliminary site work for a proposed residential development of more than 300 dwellings at Leckhampton Gloucestershire for which it has not yet obtained planning approval.


Beech tree is the tops

A beech tree on the South Downs has been named the tallest native tree in Britain. The 44-metre tree has been growing in Newtimber Woods on the National Trust’s Devil’s Dyke Estate in West Sussex.

The tree thought to be almost 200 years old was found to be the tallest by Owen Johnson from the Tree Register.

A 61-metre Douglas fir, in Cragside, Northumberland, holds the title of the tallest non-native species in Britain.


Roger Milne

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