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Planning round-up 7 May

by on May 7, 2015

Man admits Oxfordshire planning offices arson

A man has admitted starting a series of overnight fires in Oxfordshire, including one that caused major damage to council offices shared by the joint planning service operated by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.

Andrew Main, 47, pleaded guilty to four counts of arson at a hearing at Oxford Crown Court last week. Main, of Rokemarsh near Wallingford, pleaded not guilty to a fifth charge of arson with intent to endanger life.

No explanation over why he started the fires was given in court. It was revealed in court that Main has a mental health issues. He was remanded in custody while a decision is taken over whether to proceed with the fifth charge.


Demolition order for Bath block of flats

Mary Favager, a Bath resident and developer, is appealing an enforcement notice requiring her to demolish a block of luxury flats in Upper Oldfield Park, Bath which the planning authority, Bath and North East Somerset Council says is taller and wider than the scheme originally approved for the site.

Favager‘s company Landmark Developments had also unsuccessfully applied for retrospective permission for the project. That is also the subject of an appeal.

The developer has claimed the reason the scheme changed was because of a building control requirement for a steel frame. A two-storey Edwardian villa was demolished to make way for the five-storey block of 14 flats.


Reports on office market, housing supply and green infrastructure

The number of office jobs has outstripped the rise in office space, sparking a ‘race for space’ according to a report from planning consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners.

This assessment ‘Workplace Futures: the changing dynamics of office locations’ argued that the office market is currently in flux and undergoing fundamental changes in response to various market trends.

Real estate consultancy Savills has warned that England is heading for a planning shortfall of 180,000 homes over the next Parliament if current trends continue.

That’s the conclusion of a report titled: ‘Beyond the election: what next for planning?’ This argued that housing shortfalls risk becoming embedded in the planning system, storing up problems for the future.

Meanwhile, a new report by Arup supported by the Landscape Institute and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew has made the case for a central role for green infrastructure in city planning.

This analysis: ‘Cities Alive – rethinking green infrastructure’ highlighted how the creation of a linked ‘city ecosystem’ that encompasses parks and open spaces; urban trees, streets, squares; woodland and waterways can help create healthier, safer and more prosperous cities.

Read the reports:


Classical country house project in Norfolk meets NPPF criteria

ADAM Architecture has secured planning permission for a new classical-style country house on a Norfolk farm from King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council.

The nine-bedroom house is designed to be set in open countryside on a working farm to the south east of the town of Docking where there was no house previously.

The house is set over four floors including a basement. A curved orangery links the main house to a conservatory pavilion.

The scheme satisfied paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which allows for new country houses considered to be of ‘exceptional quality or innovative design’.

In this case, the client and design team worked with specialists to develop a strategy for the innovative use of hydrogen fuel cell technology for the provision of power to the house.


Legal round-up

  • A long-awaited Supreme Court judgment on air quality issued last week has made it clear that the UK is in breach of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive with implications for highways plans and airport expansion.
  • A High Court judge has refused an application for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s policy on basements to be suspended pending the determination of a substantive challenge to the policy.
  • Green energy company Ecotricity has lost an Appeal Court bid to overturn a ruling that it cannot build a four-turbine wind farm at Huntspill on the Somerset Levels.
  • A bid to appeal a High Court ruling that supported the grant of planning permission to environmental company Viridor for an energy from waste facility on land in south London earmarked for a country park has failed.
  • The future of the proposed redevelopment of the Shell Centre on London’s South Bank is back in the balance as a legal challenge by a local resident heads for the Court of Appeal.
  • A First-Tier Tribunal judge has dismissed a challenge by developer Banner Homes to the listing of a 4.83 hectare site by St Albans City and District Council as an asset of community value (ACV). The site falls within the metropolitan green belt and is owned by the developer and house builder.


Reading skyscraper plans blocked

Proposals for three skyscrapers on the site of a former car dealership in the centre of Reading near the town’s railway station have been refused.

The scheme, dubbed Swan Heights, was turned down by Reading Borough Council’s planning committee on the advice of officers. The tallest building would have been 28 storeys high.

Developers Lochailort’s plan – designed by RCHICTS Robert Adam – proposed 352 flats of varying sizes along with office, retail and leisure floor-space.

Officers objected to the scheme on the grounds of “excessive bulk, scale and massing”, lack of affordable housing, leaving insufficient space for future public transport provision, unsuitable landscaping and the lack of comprehensive sunlight analysis.

View the planning committee minutes


Dorset brewery makeover

Plans to further develop a Grade II-listed former Victorian brewery in Dorset have been approved by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

The proposals for the scheme at Brewers Quay involve a mix of 35 townhouses and flats as well as retail floor space, a restaurant and exhibition space. An earlier scheme which included an 85-bed hotel was withdrawn.


Date for opening of new Oxford-London rail link

The opening date for a new rail link between London and Oxford has been announced. The £130m line will run from Oxford Parkway, the first new station in the city for 80 years, to London Marylebone from 26 October.

Work on the station, located north of the city just off the A34, near Water Eaton park-and-ride, began last October. A new Bicester Village station will open at the same time. Formerly known as Bicester Town, the station is being completely rebuilt as part of the project.

Rob Brighouse, managing director of Chiltern Railways, said: “This project is the first new rail link between a major British city and London in over 100 years and will bring significant economic benefit to the region.”


Scunthorpe stadium plans approved

Scunthorpe United’s plans for a new 12,000-seater football stadium have been approved by North Lincolnshire Council which has given the go-ahead for the League One side to move just over a mile from its current home at Glanford Park to a new site at Burringham where it will form part of the ambitious Lincolnshire Lakes development.

The £18m project also includes proposals for a bar, gym, hotel and office-floor space as well as a multi-use arena and outdoor football pitches for training purposes. Traffic and flood-risk issues remain to be resolved, however.

View more details of the new stadium

View details of the Lincolnshire Lakes development


York waste project withdrawn

Yorwaste, the local authority-owned waste management company based in north Yorkshire and York, has confirmed it has withdrawn its plans for a materials recovery facility and waste transfer station at a green belt location near Rufforth on the outskirts of York.

The scheme had been approved by the city council subject to the view of the Communities Secretary who had signaled he was calling in the proposals.

A spokesman for  Yorwaste said: “Yorwaste has decided to withdraw its current planning application, which was approved by City of York Council, and we will not be proceeding with the public inquiry requested by the Secretary of State.

“We will now be taking time to consider future requirements for waste management and recycling infrastructure before deciding on our next steps.”


Northamptonshire solar farm submitted

Kettering Borough Council is considering proposals from Northfield UKSolar to turn a former World War Two airfield in Northamptonshire into a solar farm generating nearly 50 megawatts of electricity.

The company plans to install solar panels across part of the 112 hectare former RAF Desborough site near Wilbarston, Northamptonshire.

View full details of the planning application


Woking estate wrangle

An independent panel set up by Woking Borough Council is to take evidence next month from local residents and interested parties over the council’s controversial plans to regenerate the town’s Sheerwater Estate which could result in 600 homes being demolished.

More than 1,200 people have signed a petition opposing the proposed demolitions.

View the Woking Borough Council press release


Giant stumps proposal for Derby

Derbyshire County Cricket Club has submitted plans to erect a wickets sculpture on a busy roundabout in Derby The six-metre structure would be located on the Pentagon roundabout and greet motorists as they enter the city.

The sculpture would help support Derby’s bid to host matches in the Women’s World Cup in 2017.


Roger Milne

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