Planning round-up 24 September
Latest figures show housing approvals are on the up
During the second quarter of this year district level planning authorities in England received 123,500 applications for planning permission, up less than one per cent from the corresponding quarter of 2014.
Decisions were up three per cent from the same quarter in 2014 and the planning authorities decided 78 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks or the agreed time, down from 79 per cent a year earlier. These latest official figures showed that the LPAs granted 11,300 residential applications, up 10 per cent on a year earlier.
In the year ending June 2015, district level planning authorities granted 362,800 decisions, up four per cent from the figure for the year ending June 2014. Some 44,900 of the granted decisions were for residential developments.
Of 11,000 applications received for prior approval for permitted development rights during April to June 2015, prior approval was not required for 6,400, with permission being granted for 2,600 applications and refused for 2,100.
A total of 75 per cent of all applications related to larger householder extensions, with 9 per cent relating to agricultural to residential changes and 8 per cent relating to office to residential changes.
Warning over changes to environmental challenges cost protection regime
A leading planning barrister, Jenny Wigley of No 5 Chambers, has warned that the government’s latest proposals on cost protection rules in environmental challenges could “drastically reduce the costs certainty currently afforded to judicial review claimants”.
The current limits in relation to costs liability are £5,000 for individual claimants and £10,000 for organisations. The liability of the defendant is limited to £35,000. Proposals now out for consultation could raise the standard cost caps to £10,000 for individuals, £20,000 for organisations and reduce the reciprocal cap to £25,000.
The Ministry of Justice has also started consulting on the scope of the regime in terms of the types of cases that are eligible for costs protection and whether the regime should be extended to apply to certain reviews under statute like recovered appeals.
The case for the HS2 high-speed rail line came under fire during a debate on the economics of the project in the House of Lords.
Peers lined up to criticise the scheme, the first phase of which is due to operate from London to Birmingham starting in 2026.
Businessman Lord Hollick, a Labour peer and chairman of the House’s Economic Affairs Committee which published a critical report on the scheme, complained: “Much of the evidence presented to justify HS2 is either defective or unconvincing or out of date.”
He told the Upper Chamber: “While investment outside London is long overdue, the committee was not convinced that the government had shown that HS2 is the best way of stimulating growth in the cities of the north and the Midlands.
“If London commuters benefit the most from the increase in capacity and London benefits the most economically, HS2 could actually widen the north/south divide.”
Meanwhile Birmingham’s revamped New Street Station was opened at the weekend. The station now has a new concourse, a huge atrium and a shopping complex.
Energy project round-up
- Ministers have given EdF Energy a s36 consent for a second gas-fired power station at Sutton Bridge near Kings Lynn which has been under consideration since 2005.The business case for the 1,800 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine plant has yet to be settled.
- Green energy company Estover has announced plans for a multi—million pound biomass fuelled facility at Cramlington in Northumberland which would provide both heat and power.
- Consultants acting for Derbyshire Dales District Council have recommended that the local authority’s currently withdrawn local plan should proceed on the basis that some 6,440 new homes need to be built over their plan period up to 2033. That figure is over 2,000 dwellings more than the original strategy catered for and represents an annual building rate of 322 homes annually, taking into account population growth, employment needs and affordable housing provision.
- Planning permission has been granted for two turbines that will create England’s largest onshore wind farm. Peel Energy and United Utilities want to add a further 16 turbines to the existing 26 at Scout Moor, on land between Rochdale and Rossendale. Rochdale Borough Council gave the go-ahead for the final two at a meeting this week. Rossendale Borough Council approved the other 14 at the beginning of the month.
A bill designed to help local planning authorities restrict the size and depth of basement development has had its first reading in the House of Commons. The proposed legislation has been drawn up by Westminster North Labour MP Karen Buck.
Go-ahead for giant warehouse project at Didcot
Corporate Pension Fund clients of Savills Investment Management (formerly Cordea Savills) and Lingfield Securities Plc have been granted outline planning permission for a new industrial and warehouse development called Giant at Didcot Distribution Park, Oxfordshire.
The scheme involves 87,720 square metres of grade-A warehouse and office accommodation set across 26.3 hectares. This includes outline planning permission for a single cross docked unit of 77,316 square metres. This represents the largest facility of this kind located in the A34 corridor in the Thames Valley.
Sandwich flood prevention
A £24.6m flood defence scheme has been completed in Sandwich, the largest to be built in Kent for 30 years. The Environment Agency said the new defences would protect 488 homes and 94 commercial properties in the town, including the Discovery Park business zone. Funding came from the Agency, Kent County Council and Discovery Park’s former owners Pfizer.
Wiltshire landmark to be demolished
An industrial chimney which has loomed over part of Wiltshire’s countryside for decades is to be demolished.
The Westbury cement works were constructed in the early 1960s and mothballed in 2009. In a bid to attract investors, non-operational parts of the site, including the 122 metre-high chimney, are to be cleared.
The structure will be brought down with a series of controlled explosions, site owners Tarmac said. The chimney is just short of the height of the spire at Salisbury Cathedral.
- A combined south-east Dorset “super council” could be formed by four local authorities in the sub-region. The proposed alliance is between Bournemouth, Christchurch, East Dorset and Poole authorities. The unitary authority would serve a combined population of about 487,000 people. All four councils now need to formally agree the proposal by spring 2016. If agreed, the new council would be formed in April 2019.
- The redevelopment of the site of St Leonards Hospital on green belt land near Ferndown with 210 new homes has been given the go ahead by East Dorset District Council. Around 40 per cent of the housing will be affordable .The homes will be built within the former military hospital site which still contains three working NHS facilities.
- Meanwhile Purbeck District Council has applied for land at the Dorset Green Technology Park, a strategic employment site near Wool, to have Enterprise Zone status.
- Dorchester’s former prison could be transformed into 200 flats under new plans unveiled to the public by developer City & Country who bought the mainly Victorian property in February. An earlier proposal to turn the building into a hotel has been discounted as unviable.
- Croydon Council has published its local plan outlining the growth and development strategy for the south London borough between 2016 and 2036 when it estimates some 30,000 new homes will be needed.
- Meanwhile in a separate but related development ministers have confirmed the compulsory purchase order (CPO) required to bring together land for the £1bn Westfield/Hammerson development which involves the transformation of the existing Whitgift shopping centre and the provision of new retail, leisure, restaurant facilities as well as hundreds of new homes.
- A new study by business lobbying company London First and property consultancy Savills has concluded that up to 1.4 million more homes could be built in London by increasing housing densities in the capital in areas, particular in outer London, with good existing or potential public transport links.
- Southwark Council has granted outline planning permission for the proposed ‘Quill’ tower near London Bridge underground station so it can be developed into luxury flats rather than student accommodation. The scheme involves an offer of the equivalent to 28 per cent affordable housing provision off-site against a local planning policy target of 35 per cent.
- Residents fighting the redevelopment of the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office which straddles the boundary between Islington and Camden Councils have joined forces with investor Legal and General and a housing association to bid for part of the site.
- The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation has appointed Design Council Cabe to a key new role that will aim to ensure all new developments on the largest regeneration site in London meet the very highest of design standards.
Buckinghamshire and Horsham neighbourhood plan referendums
Last week’s referendum organised by Aylesbury Vale District Council on the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan resulted in a swingeing 91 per cent of those who voted approving the strategy. The turnout was just over 21 per cent.
Horsham District Council has cancelled the referendum over the Henfield Neighbourhood Plan (due this week) to allow more time for consultation over potential development sites in the area of West Sussex covered by the plan.
New blue-tinged planning think-tank
Property lawyer Hannah David, who stood as a prospective Conservative candidate at the last general election, has set up a new think-tank called Planning Futures dedicated to “nurturing a new conversation about planning in the UK”.
She says the entity will take an “intelligent, open-minded, pragmatic, evidence-based approach” to planning issues.
David insisted that the think-tank will be cross-party and will “host events and publish cutting-edge research aimed at finding new ways forward for planners, politicians and community groups as they seek to plan the future for our communities.”
- A man has been found guilty of breaching an enforcement notice in relation to the illegal development of a gypsy camp at a site in Berkshire’s green belt.
- An animal protection group campaigning against the breeding of dogs for medical experiments has applied for a judicial review of the planning permission granted by former communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles for a site in East Yorkshire.
- Nplaw has won a two-year, £100,000 contract to provide s.106 drafting and negotiating services for Maldon District Council in Essex.
- A campaigning group has launched a High Court challenge over planning permission won on appeal for a crematorium on town council-owned land north of Cromer cemetery originally refused by North Norfolk District Council.
- A ‘Shed of the Year’ finalist from Cornwall faces having his creation pulled down in a planning row. Jonathan Melville Smith, 62, crafted the 80 square foot shed out of recycled wood in his back garden and currently rents it out as a unique holiday home. The property is set to be demolished after neighbours complained about the smell from its chemical toilets and smoke from the wood burner. Retrospective planning approval was rejected by Cornwall Council
- A young boy’s play house is scheduled to be pulled down after Oldham Council refused his parents planning permission for the structure which stands 1.75 metres high in the front garden. A neighbour complained about the scheme.
- Two dozen possibly over-sized and wrongly-positioned beach huts in Weston-Super-Mare are being assessed by North Somerset District Council (which built them) after a complaint they are bigger than proposed in the planning application and take up more of the promenade. The year-long leases for the 24 huts were sold online earlier this year.