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  6. News Round-up 28 October 2010

News Round-up 28 October 2010

RSS test case ruling looms

A High Court ruling is due over the legality of the decision by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to abolish regional spatial strategies.

The case, brought by housing developer Cala, has been heard in front of Mr Justice Sales who is due to make his judgment. 


New local economic planning regime launched

Proposals for 24 local enterprise partnerships have been given the green light by the Government in a move that will see local business and council leaders working on economic and employment generation issues.

Ministers announced the first wave of successful partnerships as Coalition Business Secretary Vince Cable published a White Paper on local economic growth.

At the same time the Government signalled that its new £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund was ready to consider bids.

The fund will support the creation of private sector jobs and will target communities currently dependent on the public sector.

This new regime will replace and recast much of the activity formerly undertaken by the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) which are being abolished.


CABE loses Government funding

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced it is withdrawing funding from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment following the Comprehensive Spending Review.

CABE has not been abolished. It remains the Government's statutory advisor on architecture, urban design and public space for the immediate future. The organisation is still conducting design reviews and delivering many of its programmes.

CABE said: “…we are taking stock of the decision and looking at options to create new ways to support and champion good design”.


Housing figures fall

Latest housing figures compiled for Communities and Local Government by the Statistics Authority have revealed that the net number of homes added to the housing stock in England fell to a record low in 2009-10, down 23 per cent on 2008/9.

Some 128,680 net additional dwellings were provided last year compared with around 167,000 in 2008/9. Fewer net additional dwellings were supplied in the 2009-10 financial year than in the previous year in every English region. The North west saw the largest annual decrease (38 per cent), followed by the South East (32 per cent).

Read the CLG press release.


Government approves transport projects

Transport secretary Philip Hammond has announced the go-ahead for a further 16 road and public transport schemes. This follows the green light for eight major transport projects signalled by Chancellor George Osborne as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The schemes will deliver major upgrades to relieve congestion on the M1, M6, M25, M60, M62 and the A556 through widening or managed motorways and major trunk roads projects.

A number of key local transport infrastructure projects have also been confirmed, subject to a best and final offer from local authorities.

Read the DfT press release.


Shakespeare Centre listed

The Shakespeare Centre in Stratford Upon Avon has been listed at Grade II by tourism and heritage minister John Penrose.

The Centre, designed by Laurence Williams and built in the early 1960s, is almost completely unaltered since its completion and continues to function in its original use. The minister’s decision follows expert advice from English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

John Penrose has also listed the early 20th century lodge, gates, gate piers and Walling at the University of Birmingham at Grade II, but declined to list the former Music School at Sherborne School for Boys. Both decisions were also on the basis of advice from English Heritage.

Read the DCMS news release.


Power line developments

Scottish ministers have approved plans to help minimise the cumulative visual impact of overhead lines around the new Beauly-Denny power line, including the removal of more than 100 kilometres of existing overhead transmission line and steel pylons.

When the new line was approved by Scottish Ministers in January 2010, extensive conditions were imposed to protect the interests of communities and minimise the impact on the environment along the line.

Four rationalisation schemes required by the consent and submitted by SHETL - covering the Cairngorms National Park, Balblair, Muthill and Errochty areas - have now been given the green light. The schemes will involve capital investment of around £50m.


New RTPI chief executive named

Trudi Elliott CBE has been appointed the new chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

She joins the RTPI from the Government Office for the West Midlands, where she has been director since 2006. She has a long background in planning and takes up her appointment from 4 January 2011.

Read the RTPI press release.


London councils mull shared planning services

Three London councils have announced talks on a possible services merger which could include planning and building control activities.

The three involved are Westminster City Council, Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The leaders of the local authorities have issued a joint statement which has identified three main areas: environmental services, family services and corporate services. 

It said: "Our chief executives will report back in February next year with recommendations for action before we then consider the next steps, while our staff and our partners will be fully consulted at every stage, with public engagement when firm plans emerge.”

The statement added: “This may include merging services to reduce duplication and drive out needless cost. While we won’t rule anything out at this stage, we expect to focus quite quickly on a few major areas where sharing and merging services is viable and good for the public.”

Read the joint statement.


New Thames bridge mooted

A proposed new bridge across the River Thames should be built to the east of Gravesend in Kent and link up with Chadwell in Essex, a study commissioned by Kent County Council (KCC) has recommended. The study said the new £1bn Thames crossing should carry traffic direct to the M11 in Essex rather than the M25.


Consortium consults over urban extension at Leicester

A consortium of developers has started public consultation over proposals to build more than 4,000 new houses as part of a major urban extension at Lubbersthorpe near Leicester.

Developers Davidsons, Hallam Land Management and Barratt David Wilson, said the ‘New Lubbersthorpe’ would have 4,250 new homes, 75 acres of new woodland and 250 acres of open space and park. The proposals include a new district centre with shops and a leisure centre, as well as two primary schools and one secondary school.


LDA funding wrangle

The Mayor of London is negotiating with the Treasury over the fate of funding originally allocated to the London Development Agency, whose functions are being relocated inside City Hall. The Treasury has signalled that the LDA’s budget is being chopped as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Around £400m of funding is at stake.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: "We were given assurances by the Treasury that an appropriate pot of money would be available for London and we plan to fight this all the way. These are priorities that the Government has asked us to deliver and that Londoners expect."


Cornwall in line for solar farm first

Cornwall Council is a step closer to becoming the first local authority in the UK to develop a large-scale solar farm now the council’s Cabinet has approved the final business case for the facility, to be known the Kernow Solar Farm. It would be developed on land near Newquay Airport but still needs planning permission.


Wakefield stadium moves

Plans for a new community stadium and industrial park at Newmarket adjoining the M62 which would secure rugby league’s Wakefield Trinity Wildcats' future in the Super League have been backed by Wakefield Council. The land earmarked is a former colliery site in a Green Belt location close to the boundary with Leeds City Council. The latter is unhappy with the proposals which require Government clearance and the resolution of access issues involving the Highways Agency.

Planning committee members resolved that they were minded to approve the application but were not able to reach a decision because of technical issues raised by the Highways Agency.

Read the Wakefield Council press release.


Thames estuary airport plan in the frame

Proposals for a possible Thames estuary airport at the Hoo peninsula near Gravesend in Kent are being considered by London Mayor Boris Johnson, it has been confirmed.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The deputy chairman of Transport for London, Daniel Moylan, is working on a review that will certainly take the Hoo peninsula proposal from John Olsen, ex-head of Cathay Pacific, into account. But whatever conclusion is eventually reached it is vital that a location for extra runway capacity is found for London to remain one of the leading world cities.

“The Mayor has insisted that it is in the long-term interests of London and the South-east region to consider a range of different options to help address airport capacity in and around the capital.”


Major housing plans for Truro unveiled

Farmland on the outskirts of Truro could be developed into 1,500 new homes, 500 of which would be affordable, according to proposals unveiled by the Inox Group.

The development of 160 acres of Langarth Farm would run along the north side of the A390 behind the Truro park-and-ride car park.

It would be a continuation of the development planned by two other companies to build more than 1,000 homes behind Treliske Industrial Estate and along the dual carriageway opposite Threemilestone.

The Inox Group’s plans include an expansion of the park-and-ride scheme plus a new primary school, community sports facilities, hotels, office park, a retirement village, play areas, a public open space and some retail facilities.


Bromley make-over

New designs for part of the redevelopment of Bromley town centre in south-east London have been unveiled. Cathedral Group's £80m proposals designed by Geddes Architects would see a 600-space car park demolished and replaced with a public square, a cinema, restaurants, a hotel and flats.


University development at White City

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has given the go-ahead to Imperial College London build 606 self-contained flats for postgraduate students, nine three-bed flats for lecturers and academics, and a new open space at the Woodlands site at White City, part of the BBC’s former Worldwide complex.

The university plans to demolish almost all the buildings and replace them with four connected buildings between three and 10 stories high.

Read the Hammersmith and Fulham Council press release.


Stoke ponders city centre regeneration

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has begun consulting on plans to regenerate the centre of the Potteries city with at least 500 new homes, a second retail centre, a new bus station, four city centre hotels and the creation of a night-time economy with nightclubs, cinemas, bars and restaurants. The proposals include new public open space.

Read the Stoke-on-Trent City Council press release.


Car gets a hand

London’s Park Lane is set to be brightened up with a 15-foot sculpture of an oversized child's hand pushing a car, as part of a project to promote art across the city ahead of the Olympics.

Renowned sculptor Lorenzo Quinn's sculpture 'Vroom Vroom', a black Fiat Cinquecento grasped in a child's hand, will be placed in the middle of Park Lane.

The statue is part of Westminster City Council's City of Sculpture Festival - with installations donated for free by some of the world's leading galleries and artists – and needed planning permission, granted by the council.

Read the Westminster City Council press release.


Roger Milne

28 October 2010