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  6. News round-up 7 July 2011

News round-up 7 July 2011

Rented homes initiative

UK Regeneration, the organisation set up to replace the former British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA) has launched an initiative designed to help deliver some 20,000 new homes by 2020.

The organisation is inviting local authorities to come up with proposals for mixed-use schemes which would include private rented accommodation and could benefit from a collaborative approach involving other organisations and possibly innovative financing.

This initiative is supported by investment by Barclays Capital and a number of strategic partners including Jones Lang Lasalle UK, Eversheds, Workplace, Red Box Design Group and Willmott Dixon.

 

Latest Gypsy and Traveller caravan count

Latest official statistics have indicated that the total number of Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England has remained broadly level at 18,383 caravans, a marginal increase of 46 caravans since the January 2010 count.

Of these a total of 6,942 caravans were on authorised public sites (on average 22 caravans per site). Some 8,332 caravans were on authorised private sites (on average between four and five per site). Caravans on unauthorised developments, on land owned by Gypsies and Travellers, has fallen by eight per cent to 2,200 since the January 2010 count

And there has been a 26 per cent decrease in caravans at unauthorised encampments, on land not owned by Gypsies and Travellers. This involves 909 caravans. Overall the January 2011 count indicated that 17 per cent of Gypsy and Traveler caravans in England were on unauthorised land and 83 per cent on authorised land.

Download the statistical release.

 

Nuclear waste disposal moves

The Government has signalled that it wants to speed up and improve the way potential sites for the long term disposal of radioactive waste are identified and assessed. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is consulting on these issues.

Energy minister Charles Hendry has also made it clear that the administration wants the process to move faster. He said: “I would like us to set a goal of putting the first waste into a geological disposal facility by the end of 2029. I have tasked the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to look at opportunities for accelerating progress to meet this aim.”

Read the Department of Energy and Climate Change press notice.

 

Derby incinerator court ruling

Plans for a waste treatment facility in Derby are back in the melting pot following a High Court ruling which quashed a planning inspector’s decision to reject an appeal against Derby City Council’s blocking of the incinerator project.

Resource Recovery Solutions, the developer behind the plan for an incinerator at Sinfin Lane, is now waiting to hear what sort of second planning inquiry will be convened and whether it will ultimately be determined by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Judge Mrs Justice Davies criticised the inspector’s appeal decision for failing to focus sufficiently on sub-regional plans for the management of waste drawn up for the Greater Derby and South Derbyshire areas.

 

Second wave enterprise zone designations

A total of 29 proposals are competing for the ten remaining enterprise zone designations, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced. Some 11 designations have already been approved by the Government as part of its growth agenda. EZs will enjoy simplified planning rules, super-fast broadband and tax breaks.

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.

 

AONB threats highlighted

England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are under siege from damaging and inappropriate developments, countryside campaigners have claimed. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published a map (http://bit.ly/kbTGxJ) and case studies highlighting the threats from housing, opencast mining, wind farms, power lines, power plants, high speed rail, glasshouses, an incinerator, mineral extraction, polytunnels and an airport extension.

 

Commission to probe capital’s ‘super sewer’

London councils fighting plans by Thames Water to build the capital’s super sewer – the Thames Tideway Tunnel - have set up an independent commission to investigate if the £3.6bn project is justified and whether an alternative scheme might be more economic and less intrusive during its construction phase.

The commission is being chaired by Lord Selborne, a senior Parliamentarian and key figure in the All-Party Parliamentary Water Group.

Other members include chartered civil and environmental engineer Richard Ashley, Professor of Urban Water at Sheffield University and a member of the Cabinet Office’s Foresight team; F. Kaid Benfield, director of sustainable communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC and Andrew Whetnall, a member of the Thames and South East Committee of the Consumer Council for Water, a retired civil servant.

The commission has been assembled under an initiative led by Hammersmith and Fulham Council with the support of a number of other London boroughs including Southwark, Richmond and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

 

St Helier master plan

A master plan for the northern sector of St Helier has been approved by the States of Jersey covering an area from Bath Street to the ring road. The blueprint drawn up by Hopkins Architects will mean significant redevelopment of a number of key sites including the Odeon and Minden Place car park, Oxford Street Studio, the Wesley Chapel, the Ladies College and Ann Court. The latter will provide 100 affordable flats.

In a separate development senator Freddie Cohen, Jersey’s minister for planning and environment, is stepping down to concentrate on his role as foreign minister.

 

Cricket ground legal challenge stumped

Derwent Holdings’ legal challenge to Lancashire Cricket Club’s redevelopment plans for its Old Trafford stadium and ground has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal. LCC’s £70m scheme includes a Tesco store which Derwent has claimed will adversely affect its nearby White City retail park.

 

City core strategy judged sound

The City of London’s Core Strategy plan for growth during 2011-2026 has been found to be sound by an independent planning inspector. 

Following the public examination hearing into the City of London’s draft Core Strategy in March 2011, the inspector’s report has been published. The Core Strategy was been found to be a ‘sound’ plan for the future. 

The inspector concluded: “Overall, I find that the Core Strategy is succinct, sharply focused, locally distinctive, and clear. It is underpinned by an extensive, appropriate, and up to date evidence base. Importantly, it plans for growth in a key sector of the UK economy, and thereby fully accords with the Government’s Planning for Growth agenda. My conclusion is that the Core Strategy is sound as submitted, and that consequently no changes are required to ensure soundness.”

Read the City of London news release.

 

Call for new garden cities

A new report from the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has urged Britain to rediscover its planning heritage by creating high quality, beautiful and inclusive settlements which would echo the principles of last centuries’ Garden Cities but in a 21st Century context.

This call came in a report supported by Land Securities, which argued that the garden city principles should be rediscovered and reworked to overcome the stigma of recent new communities which have suffered from unimaginative developments with inadequate infrastructure provision.

Read the TCPA press release and access the report.

 

Design aid

Design Council CABE has announced two new grant programmes to be awarded to locally-based organisations in England to work with their communities and raise their aspiration for the design quality of their area. The grants will support communities develop their own vision for how their built environment should evolve and engage in local design review to uphold the design quality of forthcoming development projects.

Collectively, the two grant schemes will offer up to 19 grants totalling a maximum of £130,000. The deadline for applications is Monday, 1st August 2011.

Read the Design Council CABE news release.

 

Crossrail bond issued

London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that the Greater London Authority has finalised a £600m bond issue, in partnership with Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets, which will raise finance towards the GLA's share of Crossrail’s £14.8bn construction costs.

This is the first time in over 17 years that a local authority has issued a bond to raise capital finance and the GLA intends to use this type of borrowing for further funding of its capital programme.

 

Bangor master plan launched

Northern Ireland’s social development minister Nelson McCausland has launched the final version of the master plan for Bangor Town centre. It provides strategic guidance for the promotion, implementation and timing of urban regeneration initiatives in the town centre over the next 15 years.

The proposals include the creation of world class waterfront by capitalising on the marina and developing a ‘necklace of activities’ around the promenade, the redevelopment of the Queen’s Parade site for high quality retail, offices and homes and the development of a new hotel / theatre at the waterfront adjacent to a major new plaza for major events.

Scott Wilson was commissioned to prepare the master plan by the Department for Social Development (DSD) in conjunction with North Down Borough Council.

Read the Northern Ireland Executive news release.

 

Transport of delight

Transport schemes across England, designed to boost economic growth and reduce carbon emissions, have been given the green light courtesy of £155m of Government investment from the Department for Transport.

Some 39 projects have won funding as part of the first allocation from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. They cover eight regions and a total of 37 local authorities, with many more as partners. All have been judged to be effective against the fund’s two key objectives of creating growth and cutting carbon.

The successful schemes also include a variety of measures such as smart ticketing, the promotion of infrastructure for electric vehicles, bus and rail improvement measures, cycling and walking and are designed to link together to create a sustainable transport package that delivers economic growth.

 

Land companies wound up

Six companies that mis-sold Green Belt land for investment to the public have been wound up in the High Court on public interest grounds following an investigation by Company Investigations (CI) body of the Insolvency Service.

The investigation found that Stowford Place Investments Ltd, ASA Global Investments Limited, Prinston Estates Limited, Alpha Capital Investments (London) Limited, Greenacre Global Partners Limited and Vinci Trading Ltd had all seriously misled the public over the development prospects of the plots of land they offered for investment and had operated with a lack of commercial probity.

The companies are linked to earlier land banking companies wound up on grounds of public interest and between them raised nearly £1m from the public before being closed down on 26 May 2011.

 

RTPI criticise change of use move

Relaxing planning rules for change of use from commercial to residential would damage economic recovery and be unworkable, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has claimed in a response to a consultation from the Department for Communities and Local Government Department (DCLG).

Trudi Elliott, RTPI chief executive, said: “There is a need to preserve land and premises for a range of employment activities that are in the most appropriate locations to meet business needs. The danger with these proposals is that the most appropriate locations are lost forever to housing, and that start-up and expanding businesses will face a shortage of affordable premises in the most advantageous locations.”

 

Go-ahead for Dartford hospital redevelopment

Development partners Ward Homes, the PJ Livesey Group, Moat and the Homes and Communities Agency have welcomed the decision of Dartford Borough Council to grant detailed planning permission and listed building consent for the redevelopment of Stone House Hospital on Cotton Lane, Dartford.

The development will involve a total of 260 homes, a mix of new-build houses and flat conversions as well as affordable units.

The 15.1 acre site has remained vacant since the former hospital closed in 2007.The former Chapel will be converted into offices.

 

Wind disturbance test case in court

A test case over wind turbine noise and amplitude modulation has started in the High Court where tenant farmers from Lincolnshire are suing the owners of a six-turbine wind farm over the impact of the scheme which the couple says has driven them from their farmhouse.

 

Reading tightens up s106 accounting

Reading Borough Council is tightening up its procedures over s106 agreements after an independent review by a neighbouring council revealed that over a four-year period more than £325,000 of financial contributions were misallocated.

The review highlighted the need to improve transparency in the entire S106 process by establishing initially a clear council policy and a clearly defined and documented ‘end-to-end’ process that all S106 agreements should follow.

The council has set-up a new web-based database which should greatly improve the recording and monitoring of S106 agreements.

The review found that “historically, no senior manager has had overall responsibility for the corporate co-ordination and management of S106s and therefore the system had insufficient council-wide co-ordination, strategic control and direction”.

A council spokesperson said the local planning authority was responding to all the issues highlighted by the review including the recommendation to have dedicated senior manager overseeing s106 administration.

 

Roger Milne 

7 July 2011