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  6. News round-up 24 November 2011

News round-up 24 November 2011

IPC accepts Hinkley Point C nuclear power station application

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) has accepted for examination an application from EDF Energy for a proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The application was submitted on 31 October 2011 and the decision to accept the application was made in accordance with section 55 of the Planning Act 2008. (The IPC has 28 days from the day after the date of receipt of an application to decide whether or not to accept it).

The decision and a copy of the application can be viewed at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project page on the IPC website; .

Sir Michael Pitt, Chair of the IPC, said: “We have considered very carefully the application submitted by EDF Energy and decided that it meets the required tests set out in the legislation to be accepted for IPC examination.”


Wakefield mulls legal challenge over homes scheme

Wakefield Council is considering its position over a residential planning permission which is subject to a legal challenge.

At issue is a half-built housing scheme on land off Kirby Road, Hemsworth, which had been use for allotments and sporting activities.

A local campaigner against the 159-dwelling scheme has been given permission by a High Court judge to have a judicial review of the permission on the grounds that an environmental impact assessment was not carried out.

Andy Wallhead, the council’s corporate director of regeneration and economic growth, said:  “We are disappointed with this particular decision, especially as the Court ruled in our favour in every other aspect, and because the need for an environmental impact (screening) assessment on schemes of this nature has only become clear since 2008.

"We will now decide on whether or not to challenge the decision, or to accept it and reconsider the application. Whatever decision we take, we want to get this issue resolved as soon as possible.”

Green light for Scottish wind farm

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has given the go-ahead for plans by energy company SSE for a 33-turbine wind farm near the village of Strathy in Sutherland.

Permission for the scheme, rated at just under 77 megawatts, was conditional on safeguards for local habitats during the building and operation of the project as well as measures to ensure the project provided community benefits. Highland Council had backed the scheme.


New Welsh AONB designated

Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths has announced that an area of approximately 230 square kilometres situated in the counties of Wrexham and Denbighshire, will be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This will result in the boundary of the existing Clwydian Range AONB being significantly extended.

This is first time that Welsh Ministers have made a decision on the designation of an AONB and will result in Wales’ first new AONB for 26 years. The decision follows consideration of an order by the Countryside Council for Wales for what will now be known as the Clwydian and Dee Valley AONB.

Read the Welsh Government news release.


Johnson urges estuarial airport

London Mayor Boris Johnson has urged ministers to consider the idea of a new airport in the Thames estuary as a serious contender.

He said the time was ripe to look at a new solution to increase aiport capacity for the capital and that an estuarial project was an idea worth developing.

Johnson said the concept could result in a "clean, state-of-the art hub airport that would be a motor for growth and regeneration and entrench London's lead as the greatest commercial centre in Europe".


Latest Gypsy and Traveller statistics

Latest official statistics have indicated that the total number of Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England in July 2011 was approximately 18,600, some 400 more than the total in July 2010.

Approximately 6,600 caravans were on authorised socially-rented sites, a decrease of about 200 since the July 2010 count.

The figures showed that the number of caravans on authorised privately-financed sites was approximately 8,000, an increase of about 300 since the July 2010 count.

The number of caravans on unauthorised developments, on land owned by Gypsies and Travellers, decreased by about 200 between July 2010 and July 2011, the statistics showed.

Overall, the July 2011 count indicated that 78 per cent of Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England were on authorised land and that the remainder was on unauthorised land.

Access the data.


Defra rejects national park claims

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has rejected claims in The Daily Telegraph that planning regulations in national parks could be relaxed and that ministers want to add a third purpose of sustainable development to the duties of the parks.

In a statement the department insisted:This is just not true. There are no plans to relax planning laws in National Parks. They are our most treasured landscapes and will remain that way.”

Defra added: “The Commission for Rural Communities suggested that national parks should be given a third purpose, on socio-economic development, which would have equal status with their existing purposes of conservation and recreation.

“Ministers have made clear that they do not agree with this, but that we would consult on whether a change to the National Park Authorities’ duty or other changes, such as improving guidance, would help them deliver sustainable development as set out in the Government’s 2010 Vision.”


Harborough’s Core Strategy sound

Harborough District Council’s Core Strategy has been declared ‘sound’ by a planning inspector and now been officially adopted by the local authority.


Maidenhead makeover

Proposals for the Kings Triangle area of Maidenhead have been submitted to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead by developers ING RED (Real Estate Development).

The proposals would involve the bulldozing of existing buildings on the 1.87 hectare site bordered by Queen Street, King Street and Broadway, including a multi-storey car-park.

These would be replaced by 35 shops, 15 restaurants and cafes and 45 one-bed and 69 two-bed flats, some of which would be affordable housing, as well as a new car-park.


Redbridge levy

The London Borough of Redbridge has approved plans to introduce Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges for development and has agreed a charging schedule.


Multiple occupancy moratorium for Inverness

The Highland Council’s planning, environment and development committee has agreed a 12-month moratorium on granting planning permission for any new multiple occupancy houses (HMOs) in Inverness city centre. They also agreed that updated HMO Interim Supplementary Guidance should be adopted as part of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan.


Bridge scheme approved

Plans to rebuild a bridge over the River Thames between Oxfordshire and Berkshire have been approved by South Oxfordshire District Council. Work on the Whitchurch Bridge between Whitchurch-on-Thames and Pangbourne is estimated to cost £4m.

The private toll bridge carries 6,000 vehicles a day but is currently in a poor state of repair.

Work on the bridge is expected to start in October 2012, subject to further approval from West Berkshire Council.


New stadium for Cornwall

Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee has given the go-ahead to outline plans for a 10,000 seater stadium, hotel and conference facilities near Truro.

Developers Inox will now carry out more work on the plans ahead of submitting a full planning application for the site at Threemilestone. The stadium could provide a home for local rugby club the Cornish Pirates and Truro City Football Club.


Tilbury Port Green Belt growth moves

Plans by the Port of Tilbury in Essex for an extension of approximately 28ha in the Green Belt. are set to progress following the decision of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles not to call in the application for his own determination.

The application, co-ordinated by planning consultants Vincent and Gorbing, provides for almost one million square feet of new distribution space and parking for over 500 HGVs on land adjoining the port. The proposals were supported by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Thurrock Council and the majority of the local community.


Minister lodges appeal on incinerator project

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is appealing a High Court ruling quashing permission for an incinerator project at St Dennis, in Cornwall. A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "We can now confirm that the Secretary of State is lodging an appeal against that decision at the Court of Appeal.

"Given the legal implications, we cannot comment any further on the specific details of the case."


Air ambulance enforcement

An air ambulance charity has been told to stop using its only base in North Yorkshire as part of enforcement action over noise levels at the airfield.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance has also been served with a notice to dismantle its flight crew room, toilet and shower block at Bagby Airfield, near Thirsk, Yorkshire.

A spokesman for Hambleton District Council, which issued the enforcement notice, said the authority was working closely with the charity to find a site for an alternative satellite base.

He said: “This action is certainly not about removing the air ambulance from a base in the Hambleton area.”

The owner of the grass airstrip has been served with an unprecedented 14 enforcement notices, including stopping the use of part of the runway and ceasing helicopter training and taxi services.

The action is an attempt to resolve a five-year dispute, which has already included one public inquiry, between the airfield owner and residents in Bagby and Thirkleby over aircraft noise levels.


UCL eyes Newham campus

University College London (UCL) and the London Borough of Newham have announced plans to explore the establishment of a new campus for UCL east of the Olympic Park.

Both parties now have six months to progress proposals for the development, which could include teaching and research space as well as additional community, residential and commercial space. The proposed site is within the Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood, east of the Olympic Park, which has been earmarked for redevelopment since 2010.


Developer partner sought by Cardiff

Cardiff Council has launched a campaign to find a developer partner for a retail-led, mixed-use regeneration of the Maelfa Centre in Llanedeyrn.

The Maelfa Centre is located two and a half miles north east of Cardiff city centre and currently includes a covered shopping centre, day centre, family centre, library, police office, high-rise residential block and health centre. 

Powell Dobson Urbanists have prepared a regeneration master-plan for the site, including 1,570 sq m of new retail floor space, a new 550 sq m community building, a new police station and 110 new housing units. 


Belfast demolition row

Heritage campaigners have urged Northern Ireland Environment Minister Alex Attwood to intervene to save a landmark Victorian building in Belfast city centre facing demolition.

Last week Belfast City Council’s town planning committee backed a decision to replace the Athletic Stores building on Queen Street with a multi-storey apartment complex.

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) is now threatening to challenge the planning authorities in court over the future of the 19th century property.


Top scheme

Igloo’s regeneration of Porth Teigr has scooped the prestigious Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru (RTPI Cymru) Planning Award.


Baronial lodge plan blocked

An estate owner has failed to overturn on appeal the refusal by Cairngorms National Park Authority of his plans for a baronial-style lodge for a site near Glen Truin, near Dalwhinnie. The lodge was intended for letting to stalking groups, walkers, anglers and bird-watchers.


RTPI honour for Sue Taylor

Sue Taylor, chair of the National Association for Planning Enforcement (NAPE) and planning enforcement manager at Barnsley Council, received the rare privilege of being elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute at NAPE’s annual conference last week.


Roger Milne

24 November 2011