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  6. News round-up 21 July 2011

News round-up 21 July 2011

Local plan regulations consultation

The Government has launched a consultation on a revised set of regulations on the preparation of local plans. They are intended to replace the Town and Country Planning (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004, as amended, in response to reforms set out in the Localism Bill.

The consultation draft has also consolidated changes made to the 2004 regulations into a single document, while seeking to make them as effective and simple as possible.

In particular, the draft regulations list the public bodies to whom the new ‘duty to co-operate’ in the Localism Bill applies, and set out a simple definition of development plan documents without referring to complex ‘local development framework’ terminology. They also require council's monitoring information to be made available online and in council offices as soon as it is available to the council, rather than waiting to publish in a report annually. The consultation runs until 7 October.

Access the consultation.


Affordable housing programme

Nearly 150 housing associations, local authorities, house builders and other providers are set to deliver around 80,000 new affordable homes as the Homes and Communities Agency confirmed successful organisations and area-based allocations for its Affordable Homes programme.

The £1.8bn investment programme, launched in February, will deliver more homes than originally anticipated. It is now expected that up to 170,000 new affordable homes will be delivered over that period. The original target was 150,000.

Over a quarter will be built in the capital where Mayor of London Boris Johnson has reached agreement with the Government to deliver a four-year affordable homes programme worth over £4bn for the capital, which will provide homes for around 250,000 Londoners.

The package includes £627m of new funding, in addition to the £1.1bn already secured in the spending review, plus commitments of around £2.5bn from the private sector.

A significant proportion of the properties will be family-sized. The programme will also see a borough-led new build programme in Camden, Hackney, Newham, Wandsworth, Hillingdon, Ealing and Barking and Dagenham.

Read the HCA news release.


Pickles allows housing scheme near Mansfield

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has allowed on appeal proposals for a 313-dwelling development at Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, which had been refused by Mansfield District Council.

Pickles said that although the scheme breached development plan policies it would provide much needed housing on a sustainable site. His decision was in line with that of the inspector who held an inquiry earlier this year.

Download the decision letter and inspector’s report.


Go ahead for Cwmbran redevelopment

A multi-million pound development that will transform the centre of Cwmbran and create more than 1,000 jobs has been unanimously approved by Torfaen councillors.

The single biggest regeneration project of its kind in the town’s history will see the 32-acre Arvin Meritor site substantially redeveloped to include a 37,000 sq ft Morrisons store with a petrol station and a 497-space car park.

The development is expected to create 1,170 jobs and also include offices, a 60-bedroom hotel with the option of a pub or restaurant and a 225-space car park.

Read the Torfaen County Borough Council news release.


Watchdog fields fewer planning complaints

Although complaints to the Local Government Ombudsmen increased over the last year those about planning have declined, according to the watchdog’s latest annual report covering 2010/11.

Overall complaints increased by 7.5 per cent but complaints forwarded to the investigative teams about planning applications have fallen from 1,484 in 2009/10 to 1,361.

Read the LGO news release and access the annual report.


£7,500 fine after enforcement breach

A Co Fermanagh woman has been fined £7,500 plus costs at Enniskillen Magistrates’ Court for failing to comply with an NI Department of the Environment planning enforcement notice over the removal of a prefabricated wooden building.


Telecoms land access regime review

The Law Commission has announced it is to review the law on accessing land for infrastructure such as mobile phone masts and telecoms cables. The Electronics Communications Code governs the rights of electronic communications network providers to install and maintain infrastructure on public and private land.

This exercise review will feed into the Government’s wider Communications Review. Work is set to begin in September 2011 and a consultation paper published about a year later.

The Commission is expected to publish a report on their recommendations in spring 2013.


MPs scrutinise hazardous waste planning policy

The Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into the Government’s draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for hazardous waste, just published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Hazardous Waste NPS sets out the proposed policy framework to inform planning decisions on applications for large hazardous waste infrastructure projects. Interested parties should submit written evidence by Friday 26 August 2011.


Asset probe

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has launched an inquiry into how local authorities can better use their £250bn property assets to unlock development and boost economic growth. 

Chaired by Paul Uppal MP, the All Party Urban Development Group and its inquiry partner – the global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers – will take written evidence from a range of public and private sector experts over the summer before holding a series of oral evidence sessions in Parliament in the autumn.

A report will then be published delivering a series of key recommendations to policy makers.


Surrey mineral plan approved

Surrey County Council (SCC) has approved the county's new minerals plan after a planning inspector concluded it was "sound".

The plan, which includes proposals for some quarries in Green Belt locations, was adopted during a full council meeting. Among the sites included are three in Nutfield and Bletchingley. Sites in Oxted and north of Thorp have been dropped.

Read the Surrey County Council news release.


Earth Centre make-over

Proposals to turn the former Earth Centre in Doncaster into a multi-million pound children's activity centre have been given the go-ahead by Doncaster Council which has approved plans drawn up by Kingswood Learning to create an ambitious outdoor education centre.

The £55m Earth Centre, an environmental visitor attraction, closed in 2004 after failing to attract enough people. The new plans include a 1,021 sq m indoor activity centre and sports hall, computer classrooms, meeting rooms, and outdoor and indoor amphitheatres.

Read the Doncaster Council news release.


Kettering homes boost

A planning application for 248 new homes on Higham Road in Burton Latimer has been approved by Kettering Borough Council. The proposal from Northampton-based developers David Wilson South Midlands and Barratt Northampton involves 8.2 hectares of agricultural land.

The section 106 agreement will see the house builders invest over £3m in local community facilities. The scheme is also set to benefit from the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme.


Reservoir proposal

Severn Trent Water has announced plans to expand an underground reservoir in Derbyshire and make it the second biggest of its type in Europe.

The company will hold a public consultation on the plans for the construction of the £30m scheme at the existing Ambergate reservoir site.

The company will work with engineering firm Atkins on the project, which is due to start in March 2013 and be completed in December 2017.

Read the Severn Trent Water news release.


Taller stack for proposed Hunterston plant

Ayrshire Power Limited has changed key elements of its proposed new multi-fuel power station with demonstration-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) capability at Hunterston, North Ayrshire.

The chimney will be taller and the layout of the plant has been modified. The height of the chimney has been increased from 155 to 200m and the configuration of construction laydown area altered to accommodate the needs of the proposal by Scottish and Southern Energy to construct a national offshore wind turbine test facility at Hunterston.

The change in chimney height follows revised air emissions modelling work and has been made to provide assurance that air emissions will not cause unacceptable public health or environmental impacts. Because of the change in the chimney height the Visual Impact Assessment has been revised.

These modifications to the original section 36 application will require a further round of public consultation.  


Cities minister

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has also become Minister for English Cities, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced. He will report in this new role jointly to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.


Grain store expansion

Camgrain, one of the UK's largest grain storage companies, has been given permission to expand its Cambridgeshire facility near Great Wilbraham after South Cambridgeshire District Council approved the plans.


Gold mine plan revised

The company behind plans to mine for gold in Loch Lomond National Park has submitted a fresh planning application after the first one was rejected.

Scotgold Resources said it had made changes which included reducing waste from the mining process and lessening the impact of the facility on the landscape. The first application was rejected by the National Park Authority (NPA) last August.


Roger Milne

21 July 2011