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  6. News round-up 28 July 2011

News round-up 28 July 2011

Shapps backs self-build

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has welcomed a new action plan for the self-build industry which has highlighted the need for lighter planning regulation and greater land availability.

The National Self Build Association (NaSBA) wants councils to gauge the demand for self build in their area and account for this in their planning strategies. The industry also wants more “proportionate planning rules” for small developments.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said: "Self builders deliver affordable, greener and more innovatively-designed homes, and make a big contribution to the number of new homes built in this country. But there is still significant opportunity for growth in the sector which can only be opened up if Government and industry work together.

"Government is already taking significant steps to make self build not only more attractive but also more accessible. But I pledge to continue pushing for further action to make self-build an easier option for everyone.”

The report 'An Action Plan to promote the growth of self build housing in the UK' is available from the National Self Build Association (NaSBA).

Access the NaSBA report.


Tallest residential tower planned for Croydon

Croydon Council has approved master plans for two mixed use redevelopments near East Croydon Station, one of which includes proposals for Britain’s tallest residential tower, designed by architect Ken Shuttleworth for developers Menta. The 55-storey scheme is planned for a site on Cherry Orchard Road and has split public opinion in the town.


Coastal funding

Coastal communities across the United Kingdom are set to receive a multi-million pound boost each year from a new Coastal Communities Fund, the Treasury has announced. This new fund will be financed by the Government through the allocation of funding equivalent to 50 per cent of the revenues from the Crown Estate’s marine activities.

This new fund will support the economic development of coastal communities and will help a wide range of projects, including those that support charities, the environment, education and health. Examples could include support for developing renewable energy, improving skills or environmental safeguarding or improvement.

The fund will be available on a bid basis and the Government is in discussion with the Big Fund, part of the Big Lottery Fund, about the detailed terms on which they could deliver the funds to communities.

Read the Treasury press release.


Tube station listing

Oxford Circus and Covent Garden are among some 16 London Underground stations given Grade II Listed status by Heritage Minister John Penrose, on the advice of English Heritage.

The listed stations include several of the tube stations designed by Leslie Green whose ‘ox-blood’ red tile facades pioneered the use of a strong and consistent corporate image that’s recognised around the world. 

All the stations have historic and architectural significance, illustrating the development of the capital’s Underground system.

Three other stations have had their listing upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*.

Read the DCMS news release.


Record fine for Conservation Area demolition

A west London resident who demolished his 19th century house has been ordered to pay £80,000, believed to be a record fine for demolishing a house in a Conservation Area without Conservation Area Consent.

In June 2010, Richmond Council gave John Johnson permission to build a two-storey side, rear extension and basement, to his house in Trafalgar Road, Twickenham. But nowhere in the application was it said this would involve the demolition of the whole property.

The house was a designated building of townscape merit and was in a conservation area. Without Conservation Area Consent, the house was demolished. Because of this serious breach of planning control, Richmond Council pursued the case as a criminal matter in the Courts. 

The local Magistrates referred the matter to the Crown Court in Kingston, who fined Johnson £80,000. Johnson also has to pay a large proportion of the council’s costs of bringing the prosecution (£42,500).


Hydro boost

A new hydro-electric scheme in the Highlands has been given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government.

The 5 megawatt (MW) development at Loch Eilde Mor, near Kinlochleven, is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power around 2,400 homes.

The administration has also approved the refurbishment of the existing Innerhadden hydro-scheme near Kinloch Rannoch in Perth and Kinross which will see the installation of two new weirs with self cleaning screens.

Read the Scottish Government  news release.


Bristol homes plan wins on appeal

A plan to develop 285 new homes on Green Belt land near Bristol has been approved after an appeal.

Planning officers had originally recommended that Bath and North East Somerset Council should grant permission for Taylor Wimpey's scheme at Keynsham.

But the councillors rejected the plans following protests by local people who said the site's access road was "inadequate".


Thumbs down for finger-lickin’ outlet

Plans for build a fast food outlet near a primary school in Rotherham have been turned down by the council.

Canklow Woods Primary School started a petition to stop Kentucky Fried Chicken opening a restaurant some 40 metres from the main entrance of the school.

David Pickering, chairman of Rotherham council's planning regulatory board, said the location was "inappropriate".


Ski slope approved

Plans for the UK's longest indoor real snow ski slope have been approved by North Somerset councillors.

The proposals, by developers Leisure Dome, would make the £50m centre planned for Weston-super-Mare the first in the South West.

As well as the 210 metre slope, the 12.7 acre site at Locking Parklands also includes an indoor surf centre.

The application will be now be vetted by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.


Waste incinerator green light

Proposals to build a waste incinerator with energy recovery in Great Blakenham have been approved by Suffolk County Council.

Environmental services company Sita will begin work later this year and hopes to open the £185m plant by the end of 2014. The company said the 269,000 tonnes of rubbish burned annually will generate electricity to power 30,000 homes.

Great Blakenham is also the location for the planned £320m winter sports complex, SnOasis.


Northampton housing scheme rejected

Proposals for a major urban extension of Northampton have been refused by Daventry District Council because of infrastructure concerns. The Buckton Fields development would have resulted in more than 1,000 new homes on the edge of Kingsthorpe.

The council decided that the development should not go ahead until Northampton gets its North-West bypass.


Article 31 errors result in review

Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister Alex Attwood had called for a review of all Article 31 planning applications after "serious procedural errors" were found involving the handling of two major proposals and the way they were advertised.

One case involved a retail development in Londonderry, the other an energy-from-waste project on Belfast's Ballyutoag Road. Planners had given both a notice of opinion to refuse. Both schemes will now have to be reassessed.


Roger Milne

28 July 2011