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  6. News round-up 27 January 2011

News round-up 27 January 2011

Charles back in planning news

Prince Charles is back in the headlines over a planning issue now it has been confirmed that he wants the Bath and North East Somerset draft core strategy changed so that land his Duchy of Cornwall estate owns at Newton St Loe can be allocated for an urban extension of up to 2,000 new homes.

The land in question had originally been earmarked for new homes when the planning authority was trying to meet the former Labour government’s regional housing targets, subsequently scrapped.

But the latest version of the draft core strategy rules out urban extensions like the one the Duchy supports.

It has confirmed it will take part in the core strategy public examination due in September. In a statement the Duchy said: “It is entirely normal for a landowner to make a representation as part of a public review."

Meanwhile, in a separate development, East Ayrshire Council has approved the first phase of sustainable village project called Knockroon proposed by the Prince’s Charities Foundation at Dumfries House.


Review over multiple occupation policy

Local authorities led by Milton Keynes Council have been given permission for a judicial review over the Coalition’s revised planning policy for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

Last year housing minister Grant Shapps laid regulations which meant houses could be converted into an HMO without planning permission.

Milton Keynes, along with Oxford City Council and Newcastle City Council, is contesting that change. They also want stronger powers to use Article 4 directions and removal of the right for would-be HMO landlords to claim compensation for potential loss of earnings.

The councils have claimed the changes in the regulations were made with inadequate consultation.

Read the Milton Keynes Council press release.


Severn flood plan

Environment Agency Wales has launched a consultation with local people on a draft strategy to manage the tidal flood risk in the Severn Estuary over the next 100 years.

The strategy identifies areas between Lavernock Point, Cardiff, and Hinkley Point, Somerset, that are at risk of tidal flooding. It also sets out what the Agency believes to be the best approach to manage this risk in a way that is sustainable for people, the economy and the environment.

The draft strategy proposes that Environment Agency Wales continue to maintain sea defences between Lavernock Point and Chepstow and contains a list of potential improvements that the Agency advises need to be made over the next five to ten years, the next 20 years and after 2030. Examples of the earlier works include improving sections of the flood embankments of the River Rumney near the railway bridge at Cardiff, and improving sections of the sea defences on the Caldicot and the Wentlooge Levels.


Flight plans

Campaigners against plans for a significant increase in flights at London City Airport, originally approved by Newham Council, are considering an appeal following a High Court judge’s decision that there were insufficient grounds to overrule the local authority’s decision.


Lambeth’s Core Strategy approved

Lambeth Council’s Core Strategy has been formally adopted by the London council after being approved as sound by a planning inspector. The main focus of development for housing and jobs will be in Waterloo and Vauxhall. The inspector supported the council’s aspirations in its master plans for Brixton, Streatham and West Norwood for the regeneration of the borough’s town centres and backed moves to bring in stricter controls on further conversion of houses to flats.

Read the Lambeth Council news release.


Chocks away

VSM Estates, the joint venture between St Modwen Properties and VINCI, has won outline consent to redevelop the 110-acre former RAF Uxbridge base, a major brownfield development site in West London.

The London Borough of Hillingdon has approved the application for 1,341 new homes as well as a 77-bedroom retirement home, a 90-bedroom hotel, 20,000 sq m of shops and offices, community facilities and 45 acres of open space. Part of the site is in metropolitan Green Belt. The scheme requires approval from the London Mayor.


Building strategy

Traditional building methods must make room for cost-effective, innovative and sustainable designs if the UK's housing crisis is to be alleviated, according to an independent Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ research report.

The research highlights a series of low-cost housing solutions which could significantly ease national shortages and ensure that affordable housing is more readily available to both local authorities and first-time buyers.

By making use of off-site construction methods, recycled materials and innovative structural design, homes can be constructed swiftly and cheaply with less impact on the environment, the report highlighted.

Download the RICS report ‘The future of UK housebuilding.’


Sevenoaks strategy makes the grade

Sevenoaks District Council’s Core Strategy has been approved as “sound” by a planning inspector. The blueprint does not support contested plans for a major housing development at Fort Halstead as the development strategy is focused on existing built-up areas and should not involve any further loss of Green Belt land.

Read the Sevenoaks District Council press release.


Green light for Horsham housing scheme

Horsham District Council has resolved to grant outline planning consent to developers Countryside Properties for a new neighbourhood of up to 963 new homes at land south of Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham in West Sussex. The proposals include land for a new primary school, the potential expansion of the existing Leisure Centre, a new neighbourhood centre, flexible business/retail units and a restaurant/public house.


Tesco legal bid fails

Retail giant Tesco had made an unsuccessful legal challenge to Highland Council’s planning approval for a new Asda store at Tain.


Cornish store wars

Councillors in Cornwall have rejected plans for two new supermarkets in Wadebridge but approved a bigger Tesco store.

Morrisons had applied to build a store on training pitches owned by Wadebridge Town Football Club while Sainsbury's wanted to locate a new store on council-owned land nearby at Higher Trenant.

Both applications were refused on the grounds that they would have an unacceptable impact on the town centre.

Planning officers had recommend that the Morrison’s scheme should be refused but the Sainsbury's scheme approved.

However, during a five-hour meeting, members of the council's planning committee approved an application for an extension to the town's branch of Tesco.


Call to boost city-regions

The Government's commitment to create a more balanced economy less dependent on London needs greater clarity and purpose to unleash the potential of city-regions in the North and the Midlands, a leading planning organisation has warned.

 The Town and Country Planning Association has called for:

  1. city-regions outside London to gain similar powers to those enjoyed by the capital
  2. a truly inclusive national planning framework to consider the economic needs of England as a whole; and
  3. consideration of a Trans-Pennine ‘northern crossrail' linking the cities of the north.

Read the Town and Country Planning Association press release.


Airport growth slows

Edinburgh Airport has scaled back its expansion plans by insisting there is no need to consider a second runway for another 20 years.

The airport's stance emerged as it launched a consultation on its draft master plan, which lays out development plans until 2040.

Airport owners BAA had expected to reach 13 million passengers per year by 2013, but does not now expect to reach that number before 2020

Visit the Edinburgh Airport consultation website.


Park planning improves

The three Welsh National Parks have welcomed a report by Price Waterhouse Cooper on their planning services. The report highlights “evidence of significant improvements over the past 18 months” and shows that the National Parks compare favourably with other rural planning services in Wales.

The report noted that the National Parks have improved their pre-application support and information and that there has been on average a 24 per cent improvement across all three National Parks in the time it takes to process applications

Councillor Eric Saxon, chairman of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, said on behalf of the three Parks: “This is a positive report which acknowledges the excellent improvement in performance made over the past 18 months. The report dispels the myth that National Parks are more likely to refuse a planning application than other local planning authorities and acknowledges that we perform better in some type of applications.”


NI development control shift warning

Two new draft planning policies now out for consultation could have a major impact on the planning system in Northern Ireland, according to planning consultancy DPP. The two policies could ease the way for controversial planning applications by using economic and social benefits as a determining factor.

The Department of Environment has published draft Planning Policy Statement 23 on Enabling Development and PPS 24 on Economic Considerations, both aimed at boosting the local economy.

If brought into effect, developments that usually would not have been granted under current planning policy could get the go-ahead, DPP has pointed out.


Green light for station scheme

The London Borough of Waltham Forest has given the go-ahead for the £20m regeneration of the area around Walthamstow Central Station.

Solum Regeneration, a partnership between Network Rail and Kier Property, is set to start work on a new hotel for the London borough in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. The development involves creating a station square and 69 affordable housing units.


Floating river walk wins planning award

Plans to create a new mile-long floating river walk along the north bank of the River Thames, connecting Blackfriars Bridge with the Tower of London have won the Mayor’s Award for ‘Planning Excellence’ at the 2010 London Planning Awards.


Power pitch

Proposals from ScottishPower for a 1,000 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine power station in Kent have been approved by energy minister Charles Hendry. The plant, which will be carbon capture ready and designed with the potential to supply heat to the local area, is scheduled to be built next to the existing Damhead Creek 800-MW gas-fired station.


Urban fight-back

Many cities are bouncing back from the recession, including some of those hardest hit by job losses – according to the Centre for Cities latest annual index, Cities Outlook 2011.

This noted that Hull, Doncaster and Northampton, which suffered big job losses during the recession, saw the biggest reductions in unemployment claimant count between March 2010 and November 2010.

This assessment identified the cities best placed for a private sector-led recovery as: Milton Keynes, Reading, Aberdeen, Leeds and Bristol. According to the think-tank they will be better insulated from the economic impact of the spending squeeze, and have high potential to create private sector jobs and lower vulnerability to public sector job losses and spending cuts.


Design body board members sought

The Welsh Assembly Government is looking for suitable professionals to sit on the board of the Design Commission for Wales. The organisation’s mission is to champion high standards of design and architecture in the public and private sector in Wales.

The administration requires people with a breadth of skills and experience. Skills sought range from business law and finance; governance and public probity; policy formulation and legislation, communications and marketing, fundraising, procurement, development economics and property development. The closing date is 14 February 2011.

For more information visit:




Roger Milne

27 January 2011