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  6. News round-up 13 January 2011

News round-up 13 January 2011

Ashford development rated ‘fair’

Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council have a 'fair' track record in managing the growth of Ashford for the benefit of the whole community, according to an independent report from the Audit Commission.

The Commission gave the councils a 'fair', one-star rating and said the prospects for improvement were 'promising' because the councils' track record in delivering growth in Ashford was positive overall.

The report highlighted major investment in the necessary infrastructure to support the development of Ashford as a key growth area, The Commission said both councils share, and are acting on, a clear ambition to balance growth in affordable homes with jobs for local people and a sustainable economy.

However, the pace and quality of development to date has not been in line with the expectations of local people. The councils are not sure whether projects offer value for money, despite high levels of public investment. And the impact of development projects is not clearly identified or reported, the report concluded.

Access the Audit Commission report.


Empty home drive urged

Communities minister Andrew Stunell has urged local communities to work with their councils to identify where empty homes are blighting the neighbourhood, and start benefiting from extra cash that can be used to improve the local area via the provisions of the proposed New Homes Bonus arrangements.

Communities and Local Government estimates there are around 300,000 long term empty properties across England and have allocated £100m to housing associations to bring empty properties back into use.

Stunell said: "It's vital that local communities, councils and owners of empty properties work together to bring properties back into use and begin to tackle this problem that is blighting our local communities."

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government press notice.


Key underground station gets top listing

St James’s Park Underground station and the office block that towers above it near Victoria in central London has been given Grade I listed status.

Following a review of stations by English Heritage the site at 55 Broadway, which was London’s tallest office building when it opened in 1929 and is now the headquarters of London Underground, has been upgraded from Grade II to Grade 1.

Read the Department for Culture, media and sport news release.


High-rise Farrell scheme blocked

Tower Hamlets Council has refused planning permission for a high-rise mixed-use scheme in east London involving over 800 new homes. The proposals were designed by award-winning architect Terry Farrell & Partners.

The development at Limeharbour, just south of Canary Wharf, also included 171 affordable units, a 123-bedroom hotel and 2,020 sq m of commercial floor space.

The council said it refused the scheme because of its “excessive height, scale and mass, together with its poor quality design”.

The scheme was due to be developed by ZBV Skylines, the subsidiary of specialist brown field regeneration expert Zog Group.


Supermarket approved despite officer objections

Wokingham Borough councillors have gone against officers’ advice and approved proposals for a Lidl supermarket in the town despite concern it could jeopardise the multi-million pound regeneration of the town centre.


Go-ahead for subterranean restaurant

A planning application to create a subterranean restaurant in vault spaces by Putney Bridge in south west London has been approved by Wandsworth council.

The proposal by the River Thames involves refurbishing the long derelict building at 2 Putney High Street and extending the restaurant into hidden vaults which stretch north under Lower Richmond Road to the river wall.

A new arched opening would be created in the river wall to provide access from the restaurant onto Waterman's Green on the Putney Embankment.

The 2 Putney High Street building is situated in a prominent position facing Putney Bridge. It has been vacant for at least ten years. The proposal included a planning application and an application for listed building consent.


Penarth marina café/bar approved

Town planning consultancy DPP Cardiff has obtained planning permission on behalf of Swanbridge Developments for a café/bar/restaurant scheme on a suspended deck at the marina basin at Penarth in South Wales.


Bolton’s Core Strategy approved

Bolton Council is the first Greater Manchester planning authority to have its core strategy document approved as “sound” following assessment by a planning inspector.

Read the Bolton Council news release.


Permission for hotel and homes tower

Property group Heron International has obtained planning permission from the City of London Corporation for a £500m central London residential and retail development which will house the UK’s fourth Four Seasons Hotel in the UK.

The project, Heron Plaza, will be adjacent to office building Heron Tower which is nearing completion close to Liverpool Street Station in the City.


Roger Milne

13 January 2011