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Planning round-up 15 October

by on October 15, 2015

Local plan reform panel calls for submissions

The panel set up by the Government to propose ways of streamlining the local plan regime has issued a call for evidence. It has insisted that panel members have “no preconceived ideas about the extent or nature of any changes to the plan making system that it might recommend.”

However the panel has spelled out the topics it particularly wants submissions about. These include tie content of plans, the plan period, their spatial detail and their relationship with the National Planning Policy Framework.

Also of particular interest to the panel is the nitty gritty of plan preparation and whether the regulations and statutory requirements remain fit for purpose.

Not surprisingly given the problems already experienced, the panel wants to test the water over the tests of soundness, the terms and implications of the duty to co-operate.

In addition the panel is seeking views on strategic requirements and the methods for calculating objectively assessed need.

Submissions should be addressed to and should be received no later than close on Friday 23 October.

View the press release


Call to use land value uplift for ‘public good’

Both the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Town and Country Planning Association are among a coalition of  groups  who  are signatories to a letter in the Guardian this week calling on the Government to ensure some of the increase in land values after planning permission is ploughed back  into  the so-called ‘public good’.

The letter argues that public spending shouldn’t be the only source of funding for the social, environmental and physical infrastructure needed alongside new homes.

“It is time to look for additional funding from the windfall in value which goes directly to private landowners when public investment in infrastructure is made, or planning permission is granted on a piece of land.

“There needs to be a fairer way of sharing this land value uplift between landowners and the community, to fund the housing and infrastructure the country needs.

“As a coalition we are asking for the UK government to put in place a mechanism whereby a proportion of this increase in land value is used to fund public goods. It’s time to tap into this source of additional public funding”, says the letter.

“It’s time for a fair deal on land.”

View the press release


London round-up

  • Developer Greenland Group has submitted plans to east London’s Tower Hamlets Council for a 67-storey tower that would provide 869 new homes on West India Quay at Canary Wharf. If built the scheme would be Western Europe’s tallest residential building at 241 metres.
  • Proposals for a 110-metre high rocket-shaped skyscraper near the capital’s South Bank inspired by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin has failed to lift off after Southwark Council decided the scheme was too “alien” for the borough.
  • West London’s Hounslow Council has amended its process for major and minor planning applications to require applicants to submit a viability assessment which will be made publicly available online. The requirement will apply to full and outline planning applications and to applications for the approval of reserved matters, but not to applications for change of use.
  • London’s deputy mayor for planning Sir Edward Lister has said that the mayor will not intervene over Queens Park Rangers FC’s plans for a new training facility earmarked for land designated as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) in west London.


Local plan moves

  • Central Bedfordshire Council has announced it is withdrawing its draft local plan. This was already on ice pending legal proceedings following the decision of the planning inspector examining the strategy that the council had failed the duty to cooperate test. The council is now preparing a new housing strategy in line with latest population projections. It has ditched legal action. It now anticipates having a new plan drawn up in time for consultation in September and October 2016 with formal publication of the plan by April/May 2017, to meet the Government’s new deadline.
  • A new six-week consultation has begun on the latest (and hopefully final) proposed changes to the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP). The SWDP is being jointly prepared by Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council.  Some sites originally proposed for the plan are being removed while housing numbers on other sites are being adjusted.
  • Meanwhile Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council (NBBC), one of six local authorities within the Coventry and Warwickshire Housing Market Area (HMA), has declined to sign a memorandum of understanding under which it had been allocated an additional 73 homes per year to help address neighbouring Coventry City Council’s shortfall. NBBC said it was still working on its own strategic housing land availability assessment and would not commit to cover Coventry’s shortfall until its consultation process was complete.
  • The planning inspector examining Horsham District Council’s draft local plan has endorsed the West Sussex planning authority’s strategy now the local authority has accepted a higher level of housing provision than it originally proposed. This will see 800 new homes provided over the 20-year plan period. Although the proposal by developer Mayfield for a new ‘market town’ between Henfield and Sayers Common has been rejected the inspector argued it would be premature to rule out in principle any potential for a new settlement to meet future needs. The plan is due to be formally approved in a month’s time.


Power project proposals

  • The Scottish Government has announced a moratorium on Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) development while Professor Campbell Gemmell, former chief executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, undertakes an examination of the issues and evidence surrounding the activity. Cluff Natural Resources has proposed a scheme under the Firth of Forth at Kincardine.
  • Members of Ryyedale District Council in North Yorkshire have voted for a five-year moratorium on fracking schemes.


Neighbourhood plans progress

  • Three more neighbourhood plans have been voted through in local referendums. This means the number of neighbourhood-level development plans has now passed the 100 mark.  Voters backed a neighbourhood plan for Balsall Heath, Birmingham, with  89 per cent of votes in favour on a 22.3 per cent turnout. The neighbourhood plan is the first in England’s second biggest city to make the grade.
  • In Woking, Surrey, a neighbourhood plan for Hook Heath received a 94 per cent ‘yes’ vote on a 39 per cent turnout. Woking Borough Council said that the neighbourhood plan will be formally adopted at a council meeting on 22 October.
  • Meanwhile, residents of Coton Park in Rugby voted by 93.3 per cent in favour of the Coton Forward Neighbourhood Plan on a 25.3 per cent turnout.


Hull gears up as culture city

A number of development projects planned for Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017 have been approved by the city council. The schemes include a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the A63 and extensions to the city’s art gallery and theatre.

The bridge will cost £11.5m and will link the city centre with Hull’s waterfront, which is being redeveloped. The Ferens Art Gallery will get a £4.5m facelift ahead of it hosting the Turner Prize in 2017.

View the press release


Welsh language requirements

The Welsh Language Commissioner is issuing notices to local councils, the Welsh Government and national parks on the standards they will need to meet in respect of ensuring that those who wish to use the Welsh language are catered for.

This covers all plans, communications with planning departments, planning applications, websites and material for planning consultations and public exhibitions of planning proposals etc.

View the press release


Derbyshire EZ moves

D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, has announced it is bidding for enterprise zone status for the 31-hectare derelict former Coalite works site at Shuttlewood in Derbyshire. The site is heavily polluted.

Bolsover District Council has granted outline permission to Bolsover Land Ltd to remediate the brownfield site and develop it for industrial, warehousing and associated activities.

View more information on the regeneration proposals


Role mooted for water firms over flood prevention schemes

Water regulator Ofwat Chief Executive Cathryn Ross has opened the door to water companies taking on responsibility for co-coordinating and implementing flood defences.

Speaking to trade magazine Utility Week, Ross said water companies were “in the frame” for taking over from the Environment Agency on delivering flood defence schemes.

She said: “I’m really conscious that having created a regulatory regime focused on outcomes, that does put water companies in the frame for thinking about things that deliver outcomes that lie beyond the boundaries of the traditional water company. I think flood defence and flooding issues are one element of that.

“I can envisage a situation in which water companies could perform useful functions around flood protection and flood defences.”

View the news story on the Utility Week website


Bristol community conversion plans for empty offices

A campaign group has started work on converting disused office space in Bristol into affordable housing. Abolish Empty Office Blocks (AEOB) raised nearly £300,000 through a Community Share Offer to buy the former business in Battens Lane in St George. The redundant workspace is due to be refitted and extended to create six flats, housing up to 10 people.

View more information


New goal for Reading FC

Reading Football Club has unveiled proposals for a mixed-use residential-led development of up to 600 new homes on land next to its existing Madejski stadium.

The scheme would also involve a convention centre, an ice-rink, restaurants and a public park, the championship club revealed.

View the press release


Durham redevelopment

The £30m redevelopment of the Gates shopping centre in Durham city centre has been given the go-ahead by the county council. The proposals include a cinema, 23 refurbished shops, a new riverside promenade featuring 3,252 square metres of restaurant floor space and accommodation for 253 students. The university had opposed the proposals after arguing the city faced a glut of student bed spaces.

View more information


Green light for Gloucestershire quarry makeover

South Gloucestershire Council has approved plans to convert a working limestone quarry into a nature reserve. Members also voted to approve outline plans for a warden’s lodge, greenhouse, poly-tunnel barns, workshops and offices at Wick Quarry. The project will be vetted by Communities Secretary Greg Clark as the quarry is in a green belt location.

View more information


Peak District conservation project

A Derbyshire project, MoorLIFE 2020, has received funding to protect moorlands in the Peak District and South Pennines. The project plans to conserve 9,500 hectares of active blanket bog with the aim of providing breeding habitats for wildlife, improving water quality and increasing carbon retention to help combat climate change.

Some £9m of the funds were provided by the EU’s LIFE fund, with three water companies also contributing to the scheme’s £12m total.

View the press release


Legal round-up


Bend it like Geller bloomer

A bent spoon sculpture erected by TV illusionist Uri Geller in Sonning, the Berkshire village where he lived for 35 years, needs planning permission the local planning authority Wokingham Borough Council has insisted. Geller has been told he can apply for retrospective planning permission.


US urban experiment with no people…

In the arid plains of the southern New Mexico desert, between the site of the first atomic bomb test and the U.S.-Mexico border, a new city is rising from the sand.

Planned for a theoretical population of 35,000, the city will have a modern business district and rows of terraced housing in the suburbs. It will be supplied with streets, parks, malls and a church.

The CITE (Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation) project is a full-scale model of an ordinary American town. It will be used as a petri dish to develop new technologies that could shape the future of the urban environment.

The $1bn scheme, led by telecommunications and tech firm Pegasus Global Holdings, will see 15 square miles dedicated to ambitious experiments in fields such as transport, construction, communication and security. However there will be no-one living in the new “settlement”.

View more information


RTPI vice-president voted-in

The Royal Town Planning Institute has elected Stephen Wilkinson as its new Vice-President. Wilkinson, Head of Planning & Strategic Partnerships at the Lee Valley Regional Park will become President of the Institute in 2017.

View the press release



Robert Milne

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