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News round-up 25 August 2011

Thetford urban extension

Planners at Breckland Council have confirmed that developers Pigeon Investments Ltd have submitted a valid application for an urban extension to Thetford involving proposals to build 5,000 new homes in Thetford.

The outline application is designed to establish the principles of Thetford’s Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) which is set out in the Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) currently in the final stages of the approval process.

The application which has been submitted is for 5,000 homes and includes the provision of 22.5ha of employment land, local centres, three primary schools, green infrastructure, playing fields and other amenity areas.

The urban extension would centre on a large tract of land between the northern boundary of Thetford and the A11, owned by the Kilverstone and Crown Estates.

Read the Breckland Council news release.


Bradford shopping centre revisited

Developer Westfield has submitted a revised and two-phase application for its proposed Broadway Centre in the heart of Bradford.

The second phase, mainly for office-space, is in outline only and will only go ahead if there is sufficient market demand.

The application, submitted to Bradford Metropolitan District Council, includes proposals for more than 51,400 sq m of retail and more than 4,500 sq m of commercial floor space.


Housing scheme blocked

Proposals by developers Hallam Land Management for more than 300 homes, a quarter affordable, at Weddington, north Warwickshire, have been refused by the Bedworth and Nuneaton Council.

Officers had recommended the scheme be rejected after revising down estimates of housing need to 1,215 over the next five years. They said the borough already had provision for 1,932 houses on existing brownfield sites.


Society welcomes schools planning move

The Planning Officers Society has welcomed the Government dropping proposed changes to the Use Classes Order to allow any building to be changed into a school. That move came in the Coalition’s new planning policy advice on new schools just published.


More turbines?

Peel Energy has signalled that it is considering expanding its 26-turbine, 65 megawatt Scout Moor wind farm, England’s biggest on-shore wind farm. Detailed studies are under way to consider the potential to install more wind turbines within the existing wind farm area and in locations to the north and east of the existing turbines. A programme of public consultation will begin towards the end of the year.

Meanwhile Peel has announced plans to develop eleven energy-from-waste projects at former colliery sites owned by UK Coal.

Read the Peel Energy press release.


Housing starts fall

The latest English housing statistics show that seasonally adjusted house building starts stood at 23,400 in the June quarter 2011. This is nine per cent lower than in the March quarter 2011. Housing completions in England (seasonally adjusted) also decreased this quarter, down four per cent from 29,020 in March quarter 2011 to 27,750 in the June quarter 2011.

This compares to a 23 per cent rise between the December 2010 and the March 2011 quarters. Annual housing starts reached 98,300 in the 12 months to June 2011, down by two per cent compared with the 12 months to June 2010. Annual housing completions in England totalled 107,220 in the 12 months to June 2011, down by four per cent compared with the 12 months to June 2010.


New planning chief for Croydon

The man at the helm of Hackney’s Olympic legacy has been appointed to oversee planning, regeneration and environmental improvements in Croydon.

Stephen McDonald will join London Borough of Croydon as executive director for planning and environment shortly.

A former director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, he will take up the post after spending two years as director of regeneration in Hackney where his remit covered Olympic legacy, commercial development, housing estate regeneration and business support.

Before that he was strategic director of major projects at the London Borough of Southwark.


Stockton developments

Stockton Borough Council had decided to review its Core Strategy, approved in March 2010, because of changing economic circumstances.

The strategy focused on regenerating brownfield land alongside the river and in Stockton's core area. It relied on public money to solve problems like flooding and contamination which are difficult and expensive to put right now because there is less money to help regenerate the most difficult sites.

The council is now looking for new sites where new homes can be built and is consulting on candidate areas.

In a separate development, the council has won its court battle to demolish Billingham House, the office block and former ICI headquarters which has become derelict and a target for vandals and arsonists.

Read the Stockton Borough Council press release on the demolition of Billingham House.


Extension for Leeds development

The developer behind proposals for a major mixed-use development on a 23 hectare site in north-west Leeds has been granted an extension on its planning permission.

Commercial Estates Group originally secured permission for the scheme at Kirkstall Forge in 2007 but had to apply for an extension after the economic downturn delayed development. Construction was due to start this year but is now expected to be no earlier than 2015.

The original outline planning permission, including details of access only, was granted on 20 July 2007. This required submission of reserved matters within 10 years.

Leeds City Council has now agreed to extend the life of the original outline permission via new outline permission for 15 years.

The plans include 1,109 flats, 246 town houses, 13,500 sq m of offices, retail units, bars, restaurants, a hotel and community facilities.

A major part of the development is a train station at Kirkstall Forge, intended to be funded via a section 106 agreement worth up to £13m. The agreement also includes affordable housing and other infrastructure.


Aberdeen makeover

Aberdeen city councillors have approved plans for a major new office development on the site of the historic Triple Kirks building on Schoolhill, where Stewart Milne Developments plans to create a development of up to nine storeys, comprising four integrated blocks.

The Triple Kirks A-listed red-brick spire will be retained as part of the development and conditions have been imposed to encourage its continued use as a nesting site for peregrine falcons.

The office blocks will create 6,750 sq m of net floor space, with pedestrian access from Schoolhill, and parking space for 44 vehicles, accessed from Denburn Road.

The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 11.2 per cent in May 2011 (high streets and shopping centres) according to figures compiled by the British Retail Consortium. Northern Ireland (17.1 per cent), Wales (13.4 per cent) and the North and Yorkshire (13.1 per cent) recorded the highest vacancy rates.


Development corporation appointments

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell has announced three appointments to the Board of West Northamptonshire Development Corporation, the agency driving regeneration in West Northamptonshire.

Councillor Tim Hadland has been appointed as a nominated representative of Northampton Borough Council and councillor Mary Clarke has been appointed as a nominated representative of South Northamptonshire District Council. In addition, councillor Richard Church has been reappointed as the nominated representative of Northamptonshire County Council for a second term. All three appointments will run for the remaining life of the Corporation.


Roger Milne

25 August 2011