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News round-up 10 February 2011

‘Putting power in hands of local people’

Putting power into the hands of local people to shape their neighbourhoods will help to ensure growth that is sustainable, responsible and green, Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said.

Speaking at the Campaign to Protect Rural England's (CPRE's) annual lecture, the Minister acknowledged the CPRE's long held belief that communities should be at the heart of planning. He said neighbourhood planning can achieve this and bring about sustainable growth by allowing communities to decide what their area should look like, where new shops, offices or homes should go and what green spaces should be protected.

Communities will be central to deciding the shape of their local area under wide-ranging reforms going through Parliament in the Localism Bill. Local people will have a powerful new right through neighbourhood planning to help ensure development is well sited, well designed, locally supported and in line with the right environmental standards.

Mr Clark said: "Neighbourhood planning will be a radical new means for people to influence growth and shape the look and feel of the places where they live. Voluntary and community groups such as the CPRE, with their understanding of the grass roots, could play a vital role in enthusing, informing and inspiring local communities about the new opportunities that will be opening up for them."

New homes consents stalling

A new quarterly report shows how planning permissions to build new homes have dropped from 2007/08 levels and are now at one of the lowest levels in the last five years, and the second lowest of the past 19 quarters.

The New Housing Pipeline report, compiled for the Home Builders Federation, shows that through 2010 there has been a steady fall in permissions granted to developers for new homes, with a drop in England from over 40,000 in Q1 to just over 30,000 in Q3.

HBF noted that this drop coincided with significant changes to the planning system. The report, compiled by Glenigan for HBF, is the first of what will be quarterly monitoring.

 

Go-ahead for Britain’s biggest zero-carbon homes scheme

Work on Britain’s largest development of ‘zero carbon’ homes is expected to start soon following approval of the scheme by Peterborough City Council.

The homes in Peterborough are being delivered as part of the Government’s Carbon Challenge programme, managed by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Morris Homes, working with sustainable architecture specialist Browne Smith Baker and landscape architects Barnes Walker, will build 295 homes to Level 6 of the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes on a seven-hectare former factory site close to Peterborough United’s London Road football ground in Fletton.

The sustainable development will provide a mixture of 63 two-bedroom, 90 three-bedroom and 68 four-bedroom houses plus 74 two-bedroom apartments in a seven-storey block. The apartment block, complete with a grass roof and green walling, will face on to London Road.

Some 40 per cent of the homes – 72 houses and 48 apartments – will be offered under social rented or shared ownership terms to people on the housing needs list. The scheme will include public open space and a sustainable urban drainage system.

Read the Peterborough City Council news release.

 

Salford CPO lodged

Salford City Council has submitted a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to buy land for the English Cities Fund’s redevelopment of the Chapel Street area.

The CPO covers sites and buildings on Chapel Street, as well as Islington Street, Adelphi Street, Bank Place and Bank Street. Buildings such as The Bell Tower, Peel Park Inn and Ye Old Nelson pubs are among those covered by the order.

English Cities Fund, a joint venture between Muse Developments, Legal & General and the Homes and Communities Agency, has proposals for a £650m redevelopment scheme providing homes, offices and hotels

 

Longbridge regeneration

St Modwen Properties has announced it has submitted a detailed planning application to Birmingham City Council to develop the town centre at Longbridge on land formerly occupied by the MG Rover works.

The scheme, a joint venture with Partner Advantage West Midlands, involves proposals for an 85,000 sq ft food store and 80,000 sq ft of additional retail space and restaurants. It also includes plans for a hotel and 40 apartments, together with the newly created two-acre Austin Park which, if approved, will lead to the opening up of the river Rea for the first time in 100 years.

In a related but separate development, St Modwen has acquired two plots of land from UK Coal comprising 68 acres in the West Midlands and Derbyshire.

The first site comprises 60 acres at Pelsall in Walsall while the second consists of eight acres of land at Castle Gresley in Derbyshire.

Read the St. Modwen press release.

 

Flood and coastal defence moves

Some 39 new flood and coastal defence projects have been announced by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of Government plans to reduce the risk of flooding and coastal erosion in England.

Of these new projects 21 will provide additional protection to over 13,000 households at risk of flooding. The remainder mainly relate to vital repairs and safety enhancements to existing defences.

Over the next year £521m will be spent managing flood risks, with investment in the new schemes, ongoing work or completion of 108 projects already under construction, and a further 187 schemes receiving funding for development work such as feasibility studies, for possible construction in future years.

Read the Defra news release.

 

Turbine go-ahead

The Government has consented Eon Energy’s £300m Humber Gateway offshore wind farm, a 77-turbine scheme which is scheduled to be built a few miles from Spurn Point off the Humberside coast.

Read the Department of Energy and Climate Change press notice.

 

Land value data

The rate of growth in English residential development land values slowed in the final quarter of 2010, according to the latest Knight Frank’s Residential Development Land Index.

While greenfield land still managed a rise of two per cent during the period October to December 2010, English urban land values fell by one per cent and in Greater London the fall was more significant, down 2.5 per cent.

The only urban market which avoided price falls was the prime London market which registered no change over the quarter.

The recent slowing in quarterly growth has pulled back annual rates of growth, which had hit 26 per cent in prime London in Q2 2010. Greater London annual price growth ended the year at four per cent, down from the 14 per cent hit during the summer.

Despite rising values during 2009 and 2010, average residential development land values as at December 2010 were still 40 per cent below their Q4 2007 peak.

 

Inquiry for army camp redevelopment

The appeal inquiry into plans for the redevelopment of the former army camp at Cwrt y Gollen proposed by Crickhowell Estates is scheduled to begin on 15 February. The mixed-use scheme was refused permission by Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.

 

Green Belt plea

The Institute of Directors has urged ministers to release “a substantial” portion of Green Belt land for development to aid national economic recovery.

“This could help boost the construction sector and economic recovery in the short term, while improving congestion in the long term. Greater land release could also lead to lower land and house prices and greater affordability,” argued the IoD.

 

Park proposals

Following approval for its master plan for the Myatts Field North regeneration scheme in Lambeth, London architects PRP has submitted detailed proposals for a new landmark community facility and park, which will be one of the largest new parks in the capital outside the Olympics.

The site is owned by Lambeth Council and is being developed as part of a PFI consortium with Regenter and Higgins Construction. Outline approval has already been granted for 808 new homes at the location.

 

New community for Market Harborough proposed

Developers Hallam Land Management and William Davis have applied to Harborough District Council for outline planning permission for a new community involving nearly 1,000 homes on a disused airfield on the edge of Market Harborough in Leicestershire.

There are also plans for a hotel, a marina, shops, a school and a country park on the 57-hectare site.

 

Green light for energy from waste project

South Lanarkshire Council has given planning consent to waste management firm Scotgen to build an energy from waste plant at Dovesdale Farm, near Stonehouse.

The £50m incinerator scheme had attracted 20,000 letters of objection and was opposed by local campaigners.

 

Scottish affordable homes

A new £50m fund will be used to finance new affordable housing developments across the country, Scottish housing minister Alex Neil has revealed.

The majority of the funding included in the draft Scottish budget is intended for social rented housing. The new Innovation and Investment Fund is expected to support the building of around 1,500 new affordable homes and release more than £100m in additional investment.

Read the Scottish Government news release.

 

Wales planning change urged by RICS

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Wales has urged further reforms to the planning system to better encourage economic development in Wales and called for the relaxation of affordable housing targets

These issues are highlighted in the RICS Wales manifesto for the Welsh Assembly Government and National Assembly elections later this year.

It wants the new administration to implement the main planning reforms set out in the WAG/WGA Grimley report published in June 2010.

Access the RICS Wales Manifesto.

 

Housing facts

The most recent quarterly housing and planning key facts compiled for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) showed that over the past 12 months the supply of affordable housing in England has risen from 55,600 to 57,700 units.

Access ‘Housing and Planning Key Facts - February 2011’

 

Worcester development put on ice

Bloor Homes has put on ice proposals for a major urban extension of nearly 4,000 homes earmarked for land west of Worcester while local authorities in the area review housing requirements over the next decade.

 

Black Country cooperation

The four Black Country Local Authorities (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton) are cooperating on Core Strategy for the sub-region which has just been adopted and now forms the basis of the local authorities’ Local Development Frameworks.

 

Go-ahead for luxury golf hotel

Humberts Leisure has obtained approval from the Borough of Broxbourne for the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Broxbournebury Manor into a 95-bedroom luxury golf hotel at the Hertfordshire Golf and Country Club. Three previous attempts to get planning permission for larger hotel schemes had failed.

 

Fen success

A master plan which will transform arable farmland into a nationally important site linking two nature reserves has been awarded the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Silver Jubilee Cup - the UK’s top planning prize.

The Great Fen, which is in Huntingdonshire, was chosen from the 11 category winners as the most outstanding planning project of the past 12 months.

When complete the multi-agency project will also see a wetland area created which will link two national nature reserves and provide for wildlife and wetland conservation and incorporate a major new area for floodwater retention.

Projects picked up awards and commendations in 11 categories.

Read the RTPI press release.

 

Roger Milne

10 February 2011