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  6. News round-up 7 January 2010

News round-up 7 January 2010

Coalition set up to combat ‘localism’

Commercial developers, home builders and housing associations including Land Securities, SEGRO, and Places for People and Countryside Properties have joined forces to form a coalition called Building Futures to make the case for development in local communities. 

This initiative is in response to concern over the Conservative Party’s “localism” agenda and its plans to give local councils more planning powers.

Later this month, the new organisation will publish research which they say shows that councillors would use new planning powers, promised by the Conservatives should they gain power, to prevent development in their area.

The new body claimed that research undertaken by the polling agency ComRes shows that councillors in areas where new homes and development are most needed are the ones that are most anti-development.


Lancaster redevelopment rethink

Lancaster City Council and developers Centros are rethinking their proposals for the retail-led redevelopment of the Canal Corridor North area of the city following community secretary John Denham’s rejection of the scheme, acting on the recommendation of a planning inspector.

The project, which included plans for the demolition and alteration of existing buildings - some of which are listed - was the subject of a call-in inquiry. The developer chose not to appear at the hearing.

The minister’s decision letter made it clear that the proposals failed to “demonstrate appropriate respect for the character and distinctiveness of the historic landscape on and around the site” and criticised the quality of the design of the new buildings.

Councillor Keith Budden, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said the planning authority would work with the developer and all other interested parties to bring forward a revised scheme to “regenerate this run down and dilapidated site”.

Read the Lancaster City Council press release.


Ordnance Survey data move

Communities and Local Government has formally launched a consultation on which Ordnance Survey datasets can be made freely available as part of moves to make publicly-held information more accessible.

The possible range of products under consideration for release as part of this initiative includes:

  • ‘'Raster' products in a range of scales from 1:10,000 to 1:1 000 000 that will enable developers to produce an application that overlays their information on a map and to zoom in from a national view down to the street level.
  • definitive gazetteer, boundary and postcode information that will enable widespread use of these commonly used geographies and act as a link between other Government data sets which reference the same geography.
  • small-scale vector mapping products which would enable developers to link between boundary, postcode and mapping data.


Communities minister John Denham said: “The Government is setting out here what it sees as the strategic options for Ordnance Survey to support Making Public Data Public and enable a thriving private sector market as well as sustainable provision in the public sector. We are minded to make available for free and without restriction on re-use certain Ordnance Survey datasets and we invite comments on any aspect of this report.”

Access the Communities and Local Government consultation.


Toon flats

Newcastle City Council has approved plans for more than 500 flats on a brownfield site once occupied by a lead works next to the Metro Radio Arena. The Health and Safety Executive had initial concerns about the plans for 12 blocks of flats because of the proximity to a gas holder.


Nottingham redevelopment go-ahead

Plans by developer Peel for the redevelopment of the Sovereign House site opposite Nottingham mainline rail station have been approved by the city council’s planning committee. The scheme, which involves 220,000 sq ft of commercial office space and a 200-bed hotel, is expected to ‘kick-start’ the regeneration of Nottingham’s Southside Regeneration Zone.


High-speed rail prospects

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has predicted that 2010 could be the year of high-speed rail in the UK as the Government received a report from High Speed Two (HS2), the company set up to advise the Government on the development of high-speed rail links between London and Scotland. 

The report from HS2 presents a detailed route plan for the first stage of a north-south high-speed line, from London to the West Midlands, as well as options for extending high-speed services, and high-speed lines, to destinations further north, including the North West, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. The report includes proposals for a new railway terminal in central London

The Government is considering publishing a White Paper by the end of March 2010 setting detailed plans for new high-speed rail lines and services.

Read the Department for Transport press release.


Luton expansion

North Hertfordshire District Council has received an application for planning permission to build 1,000 new homes on land east of Luton. The applicants are Bloor Homes.

The application site is wholly within the boundary of North Hertfordshire District Council and is on land to the east and south east of Mangrove Green and Cockerhoe.

The district council is on record as opposing plans for major development east of Luton which has been proposed under the Luton and Mid Bedfordshire core strategy.


Landbanking litigation

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has presented petitions in the High Court to wind up five companies involved in land-banking.

The petitions involve Pemberton International Limited, Eldon International Limited, Willow International Limited, Allied Investment Management Limited and Abacus Investment management (London) Limited. The petitions are all listed for hearing on 31 March 2010.


SE housing probe

The Commons Select Committee for the South East has launched a new inquiry into housing in the region. The committee has highlighted a number of issues including the role of the Homes and Communities Agency and the threat to Green Belt.

The all –party group of MPs has called for evidence on how many new houses would be needed to support the economy and social needs of the South East; where they should be located; what types of tenure and building style are required; and whether existing residential development meets the Government’s sustainability agenda. Submissions should be received by 27 January 2010.


Norfolk resort makeover

A Norfolk businessman is canvassing support for a so-called “Eden of the East" earmarked for the derelict site of a former Pontins holiday camp in Hemsby, near Great Yarmouth.

Simon Middleton has been working with local people to develop the idea for the giant, indoor, sub-tropical, tourist attraction which would be a cross between the Eden project in Cornwall and a holiday centre.


Garden development claims

Conservative shadow planning minister Bob Neill has published a“dossier” following requests under the Freedom of Information Act into Community and Local Government’s review of back garden development issues.

Neill claimed that the dossier indicated“overwhelming evidence” that existing planning rules are “leading to leafy gardens being dug up, in turn being replaced with soulless and ugly blocks of flats or high density buildings crammed into the space”.

A Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: "Local authorities have the power to turn down applications for inappropriate housing development in back gardens and we expect them to use these powers where necessary.

"However, we recognise there are concerns over garden grabbing, which is why we've conducted a review looking at the impact of housing development on garden land and we will be publishing our response shortly."


Westminster flood plans

Residents, businesses and developers are being invited to respond to Westminster City Council's proposals to limit the impact of climate change by encouraging more buildings to boast features such as “living” green sedum roofs, water tanks and grassy areas to allow water to drain through.

The council has mapped the likely course of flood waters across central London to help them improve defences as extreme weather brought on by climate change puts the capital at greater flood risk.

The study was commissioned to help planners protect iconic national landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and Scotland Yard as well as thousands of homes and businesses, which are built on flood plains.

Read the Westminster City Council press release.


Homes for hospital site

Proposals to regenerate a derelict hospital site in Cholsey have been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Linden Homes and Thomas Homes have submitted proposals to South Oxfordshire District Counci for a 353-dwelling scheme for the 40-hectare former Fair Mile Hospital site in Cholsey.

Belfast tall building moves

Northern Ireland environment minister Edwin Poots has signalled that a new policy on tall buildings in Belfast is due to be published soon by his department.

In an interview with a Belfast newspaper Poots said the policy would give guidance to developers and planners and prevent “ad hoc” decisions on tall buildings by the Planning Service.

He claimed Belfast was “behind the times” when it came to skyscrapers — and said he admired the tall buildings of Singapore.

Poots said the policy would give guidance to developers and planners alike and prevent “ad hoc” decisions on tall buildings by the Planning Service.

Capital farming developments

A new report published by the London Assembly’s Planning and Housing Committee has urged changes to the planning system to exploit the capital’s potential to become more self-sufficient.

The report highlighted the need for amendments to the London Plan and local authority planning policies to encourage food growing in London.

The report calls on the Mayor to make specific amendments to the London Plan to remove barriers to the viability of farms and highlighted food growing as a particularly desirable use in the Green Belt.

Read the London Assembly press release.


New Year honours

The New Year honours list included an award for Sian Rees, Inspector of ancient monuments with Cadw, who has become a CBE. Also recognised were Valarie Dilcock, chief planning officer with North Yorks Moors National Park Authority and Edmund Roberts, chairman of the Snowdonia National Park Authority. Both have become MBEs.


Free Planning Portal workshops

The Planning Portal is running a series of free events aimed at planning agents and applicants to demonstrate the benefits of submitting planning applications online.  

Any regular applicants who currently submit planning applications on paper are invited to attend the Planning Portal workshops, with up to three colleagues. 

Regular Planning Portal users confirm they save a minimum of £100 per application when they submit online.

Learn more about the free workshops.

Communities and Local Government consultations:

Building Regulations Competent Person Self-certification Schemes: Consultation paper

This consultation paper sets out and seeks views on proposals by the Department for changes to the administrative provisions for approval, monitoring and quality assurance of Building Regulations competent person self-certification schemes in England and Wales.

This consultation closes on the 19 March 2010.

Access the ‘Building Regulations Competent Person Self-certification Schemes: Consultation paper.’

Read the Communities and Local Government press release.


Sustainable new homes consultation

This consultation seeks views on changes to the Code for Sustainable Homes in 2010, to align with changes to Part L of the Building Regulations and the proposed approach to adopting the 2016 definition of zero carbon.

Therefore the most significant changes are within the energy section of the Code. 

Access ‘Sustainable New Homes: The Road to Zero Carbon: Consultation on the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Energy Efficiency standard for Zero Carbon Homes.’

Read the Communities and Local Government press release.


Roger Milne and Planning Portal

7 January 2010