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news round-up 11 August 2011

Developer selected for Chinese theme-park

Leisure organisation China Vision Ltd and regeneration specialist, MCD Developments have been selected by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, to develop a major visitor facility in the Rother Valley Country Park, in south Yorkshire.

Called 'Visions of China', this proposed 120 acre cultural theme park is expected to attract over one and a half million visitors annually to enjoying a mix of Oriental lakes and gardens, a China Town retail street, a Shaolin temple and cultural centre, a theatre, a Pagoda and a hotel.

A video of the proposed park is available on YouTube


Doubts over Manchester Airport EZ

A new report, commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) casts doubt on the wisdom of locating an Enterprise Zone at Manchester Airport.

Andy Yuille, senior policy and campaigns officer for CPRE North West, said: “The evidence suggests that a Manchester Airport Enterprise Zone will likely suck economic life from the rest of Manchester and the wider North West.

“There’s a real risk that major development in the Green Belt here will undermine attempts to revitalise town and city centres elsewhere.”

The full report is available from the CPRE Cheshire website


Power station developments

Energy minister Charles Hendry has given the green-light to Drax Group for two new biomass-burning power stations.

Each plant will be rated at 299MW. One will be located at Drax’s site in north Yorkshire and the other at South Killingholme near Immingham, Lincolnshire.

In a separate development, he has also granted permission for Intergen to build a new 900MW gas-fired power station at the London Gateway Logistics Park, Coryton, Essex.


Proposals announced for Scottish green energy farms

Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead has announced proposals for a so-called agri-renewables strategy designed to ensure that land managers can benefit from the renewables revolution and unlock ‘the green energy potential of their land’.

It is expected to be published by summer next year “at the latest."


Barratt Homes to appeal against Stroud decision

Barratt Homes is to appeal against Stroud District Council’s decision to reject proposals for a 48-home development at Slad Valley, near Stroud in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).


Neighbourhood planning report produced by CPRE

A new research report, commissioned by the Gloucestershire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, investigates how the new neighbourhood planning process will work in the light of earlier community planning initiatives.

Richard Lloyd, CPRE Gloucestershire vice chairman, said: “This is the first report of its kind, providing a comprehensive account of community planning tools since the 1980s. It draws out essential lessons for ministers and officials finalising the Government's neighbourhood planning agenda.

“We found support for an increase in proactive community planning and the provisions for neighbourhood planning in the Localism Bill.

“It’s now critical to provide communities with the guidance they need to be able to choose the right community planning tool to deliver their aspirations for their local area.”

The report ‘Communities, Planning and Localism’ was carried out by consultants BDOR Ltd.


Busway open for business

A long-awaited guided busway has finally begun carrying passengers on routes through Cambridgeshire.

Buses will run between Huntingdon in the north of the county and Trumpington, just south of Cambridge.

The route, which includes 13.3 miles (21.5km) of guided concrete track, is believed to be the longest in the world.

The busway has been designed to ease congestion on the A14 and provide an alternative mode of transport for people living in proposed new housing development in the area.


Coastal master plan launched

Northern Ireland social development minister Nelson McCausland has launched a master planning exercise to identify how regeneration opportunities at Warrenpoint, Kilkeel and Newcastle along the Province’s south-east coast can be fully realised.

The towns all share the visual backdrop of the Mourne Mountains.

Planning consultants URS Scott Wilson are expected to take 12 months completing the master plan.


Northampton station makeover approved

Plans for the £25m redevelopment of Northampton railway station have been approved as part of a wider regeneration scheme known as the ‘Station Gateway’ which involves a number of brownfield sites along the River Nene in Northampton town centre.

This initiative has the potential to provide some 753,473 sq ft of new commercial development.


Leamington redevelopment plans resubmitted

Plans for a new £90m shopping centre in Leamington town centre have been re-submitted to Warwick District Council. Developers Wilson Bowden have worked with the council on the project since 2007.

The proposed Clarendon Arcade scheme is planned for the current Chandos Street car park and would see a 21,000 sq ft shopping centre. The revised designs include 35 to 40 shops and an 'anchor' store, a 512-space car park and nine new homes.


Birmingham to upgrade campus for local community

The University of Birmingham has announced proposals to transform its Edgbaston campus in the process extending the services available to the local community.

The key developments include a new sports centre and a new library to join the new music building currently nearing completion. The plans for the sports centre include a (50m) swimming pool.

The University has appointed a team of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and S&P to master plan the project which is expected to take 5 years and cost £175 million.

Read the press release from Birmingham University


Independent green regulator under consideration for NI

Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood has confirmed that longstanding proposals for an independent environment agency were once again back on the reform agenda for the Province.

He has signalled he wants to get views of key stakeholders before taking further steps and has issued a preliminary discussion document called Environmental Governance in Northern Ireland, for feedback.

Canary Wharf master plan development nears completion

East London’s skyline is set to have a new landmark now the Canary Wharf Group has announced proposals for a 23-storey development at 25 Churchill Place, part of the existing Canary Wharf complex on the Isle of Dogs.

The new building at 25 Churchill Place is a symbolic milestone as it completes the development of the original Canary Wharf master plan.


Roger Milne

11 August 2011