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  6. News round-up 17 March 2011

News round-up 17 March 2011

Basildon ups the ante on illegal sites

Basildon Council has agreed to spend up to £8m towards the mass eviction of the illegal Dale Farm gypsy and traveller camp at Crays Hill.

The authority will dispatch 28-day eviction notices to about 96 families at the Green Belt site. Bailiffs and police can move in when these expire.

The whole eviction is now estimated to cost in the region of £18m.  Council leader Tony Ball said: “No one wants a forced clearance of this site. However, it is important the law is applied equally and fairly to all people.

“If we do not take action in this case, we would have little moral right as a planning authority to take action against future unauthorised developments”. The Gypsy Council has condemned the move.


Top tidal array

The world's largest tidal stream energy array is to be built in the Sound of Islay following approval by the Scottish Government.

ScottishPower Renewables’ £40m tidal array development will harness the power of the Sound of Islay and generate 10-megawatts of electricity.

Read the Scottish Government press release.


Hammersmith developments

A major redevelopment scheme in west London has been given the go-ahead by Hammersmith and Fulham Council for a site on Hammersmith Grove. The Development Securities project involves two major buildings providing 34,238 sq m of new floor space including offices, four restaurants and two public spaces.

Plans for a rounded building at the site, dubbed ‘The Armadillo’, was granted planning permission in 2007 but was scrapped by the developers because of funding difficulties.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related development, ideas for the future of Earls Court have been revealed now architect Sir Terry Farrell has unveiled his proposed master plan for the area prepared for Capital and Counties, the owners of Earls Court.

The emerging proposals being worked up for redeveloping Earls Court and West Kensington could include up to 7,500 new homes and create more than 10,000 permanent new jobs. The master plan proposes creating four urban villages that could help knit the new development together with existing neighbourhoods.

Read the Hammersmith and Fulham Council news release on the Hammersmith Grove project.


Flicker advice

The Government has concluded that existing planning guidance on shadow flicker from wind turbines is fit for purpose, and no changes to it are necessary. 

This follows an independent research study into the phenomenon which has been published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Shadow flicker is the flickering effect caused when rotating wind turbine blades periodically cast shadows through constrained openings such as the windows of neighbouring properties.

The study, commissioned from Parsons Brinckerhoff, found that there have not been extensive issues with shadow flicker in the UK and that the frequency of the flickering caused by the wind turbine rotation is such that it should not cause a significant risk to health. 

The report noted that in the few cases where problems have arisen, they have been resolved effectively using mitigation measures including particular turbine shut down systems.

Read the DECC press notice and access the report.


Power line wrangle

Scottish Power Transmission (SPT) has been told by the Scottish Government to consider partial undergrounding of the main power line of the upgraded Beauly Denny scheme around Stirling.

Energy minister Jim Mather has given the power company and Stirling Council 60 days to agree on options and mitigation measures which include partial undergrounding.

Currently SPT is at loggerheads with the local authority over the issue. It has re-affirmed its position that “undergrounding cannot be justified on the grounds of cost, technical difficulties and limited environmental benefits”.

However, a company spokesman said: “We will now be seeking clarity from the Scottish Government. We also look forward to meeting again with Stirling Council to consider any new information that they may have which has not already been fully scrutinised during the five-year Public Inquiry process or during our own lengthy voluntary consultation.”

Scottish ministers must approve a visual mitigation scheme around Stirling before that section of the project can be constructed.


Southwark redevelopment milestone

A key milestone in the long-running planning saga over a key redevelopment site in central London has been reached now Southwark Council’s planning committee has resolved to grant planning permission for Berkeley Homes' One Tower Bridge development on the Potters Fields coach park site.

The scheme brings together three parcels of land on the southern side of Tower Bridge currently owned by the local authority, Berkeley Homes and the City of London Corporation.

The development will provide 356 homes for sale as well as flats for social rent, shops and a still-to-be-decided cultural centre, which could be a concert hall, gallery or museum. The scheme still requires approval from the Mayor of London and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.


Welsh first on zero-carbon pledge

Welsh Environment Minister Jane Davidson has announced that higher building standards for new homes will come into force in Wales from 2013 requiring them to meet zero-carbon requirements. The new standards will require a 55 per cent improvement in building standards from a 2006 baseline and will mean that Wales will be three years ahead of England.

Read the WAG news release.


Trafford legal challenge hit for six

Trafford Council and Lancashire County Cricket Club have been celebrating a High Court decision to reject the case brought by Bermuda-based Derwent Holdings against the council's approval of plans to re-develop Old Trafford.

Derwent, owners of the nearby White City non-food retail park, had applied for a judicial review of Trafford Council's planning approval of the club's proposals.

Matt Colledge, leader of Trafford Council, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the sports-led regeneration now has the green light to proceed. At each stage of this process the decision making of this Council as local planning authority has been subject to intense scrutiny, and at each stage our committee's decision has been approved”.

In a separate but related development, the council has said it is minded to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of the listed Trafford Town Hall.

Shepherd Developments had submitted plans, designed by Manchester-based 5Plus Architects, that include opening up the complex for public use with rooms for community groups to hire and creating a modern customer service centre.

Industrial action at Barnet

More than 140 staff at Barnet Council’s Regulatory Service’s Department, which includes planning services and building control, have taken industrial action as part of a campaign to remain directly employed by the council.


Sainsbury’s makes grade at Cardigan

Ceredigion Council has approved proposals for a Sainsbury’s store at the Bath House site in Cardigan.


Call for Research, Innovation and Technology Zone

Kent County Council has urged ministers to designate the Sandwich, Manston and key sites within the East Kent Assisted Area as a Research, Innovation and Technology Zone (RITZ).

Such a designation would provide full exemption from business rates on empty properties, capital incentives for further business growth and streamlined regulatory and planning processes.

That initiative was highlighted in the council’s report to Government on the response to the announcement by Pfizer in February that it will exit its research and development facility at Sandwich, in East Kent, by the end of 2012.

Read the Kent County Council news release.


Go-ahead for barracks redevelopment

Planning permission has been granted for a 252-home redevelopment of the former Roussillon Barracks site, in Chichester, West Sussex.

The project, led by sustainable developer Zero C and in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), has now received detailed planning permission from Chichester District Council.

A section 106 agreement is now in place and will ensure that 40 per cent of the new homes will be affordable, as well as securing financial contributions from the developer towards local schools and infrastructure.


Top plan

Top prize in this year's Scottish Awards for Quality went to Scotia Homes for its mixed residential and commercial development at Rothienorman in Aberdeenshire.


Stadium plan moves forward

Proposals for Aberdeen FC's new stadium have taken a major step forward now Scottish ministers have decided against calling in the proposals for a new facility at Loirston Loch in the south of Aberdeen. The club intends to sell its current home at Pittodrie for housing.


Scottish marine policy

A plan that will shape the policies for Scotland's coastal and marine management is now out for consultation. The National Marine Plan will cover reserved as well as devolved issues and contain targets for the next five, 10 and 40 years in key areas such as renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, conservation, recreation and tourism, ports and harbours and shipping.

Read the Scottish Government press release.


LDA settlement

The Greater London Authority has confirmed the London Development Agency’s financial settlement from Government for the next three years. The agency will receive a total of £388m, spread over the forthcoming financial years including 2013-14. The settlement means the LDA will be able to continue with some of its work on regeneration in the capital.


Dunstable master plan agreed

Central Bedfordshire Council has endorsed a master plan for Dunstable town centre which advocates its redevelopment with a mix of retail, office, leisure, residential and community facilities, a new medical centre and improved access arrangements and better connectivity to different parts of the town, including the provision of a guided busway.

Read the Central Bedfordshire Council news release.


Planning Aid’s new number

Planning Aid England (PAE), which provides free, independent and professional advice to individuals and community groups who cannot afford to pay professional fees, has a new contact number for queries: 0330 123 9244.


Urban development zones

Deprived areas of the country should be given a special status with additional funding to promote economic regeneration, an MP has said. That’s the view of Labour's Steve Rotheram (Liverpool Walton) who has proposed a Special Urban Development Zones Bill. The proposed legislation got its first reading in the Commons on 16 March.

Rotheram told MPs: “I envisage the creation of designated special urban development zones, intelligently configured according to multiple deprivation indices and housing market renewal intervention status. Each SUDZ would comprise an operational framework consisting of three elements: first, a clear and holistic strategy with realistic and measurable objectives: a focused strategy, unashamedly biased in favour of the interests of the zone; and a strategy devised, developed and monitored with a single purpose in mind-the whole-scale and sustainable regeneration of the area in question.”

Read the Commons Hansard report (6 March, column 306)


Battersea park proposals

Treasury Holdings has submitted plans to Wandsworth Borough Council to create a landscaped park between Battersea Power Station and the river Thames, which would be accessible to the general public from July 2011.

The plans also propose connecting the site to Battersea Park by opening up the river walk beneath Grosvenor Railway Bridge.


Roger Milne

17 March 2012