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  6. News round-up 6 October 2011

News round-up 6 October 2011

Illegal outdoor advertising plea

London risks being over-run with illegal adverts during the Olympics unless local authorities are given greater powers to tackle opportunistic product placement, Westminster City Council has warned.

It has written to ministers urging a shake-up of existing laws. It follows a spate of “ambush” advertisement campaigns in the city, and at major sporting events, in recent years.

The local authority pointed out that currently councils have limited powers for seeking the immediate removal of illegal adverts and councils are often left with no option other than to apply for an injunction from the High Court. This delays removal, incurs significant cost and wastes officer time. 

The city council acknowledged that advertisers who flouted planning rules on outdoor advertising could be fined but argued that the maximum £2,500 fine was insufficient as a deterrent, particularly when compared to the revenue generated by prominent adverts at global sporting events.

The council wants new powers, introduced to tackle these issues in designated areas around Olympic venues, to be extended across all of London.


Two more Enterprise Zones named

In a move designed to boost the UK economy ministers have announced the designation of two more Enterprise Zones.

The Lancashire and the Hull and Humber Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will develop the proposals, more details of which will be unveiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government later this year.


Power line undergrounding mooted by National Grid

National Grid has announced that it will consider burying some sections of its proposed new 400kV power line between Bridgewater in Somerset and Seabank near Avonmouth.

The news came as it announced its preferred route corridor for the £1bn project needed to carry power from EDF Energy’s proposed Hinckley C nuclear power plant and other renewable energy schemes in South West England.

The transmission project involves replacing the existing 132,000 kV overhead line, owned by Western Power Distribution, with the new 400kV scheme

National Grid, which has consulted extensively over the corridor, said it would continue to work with key stakeholders including local communities to carry out environmental surveys and to consider where "undergrounding or other mitigating measures” such as tree planting and landscaping “may be suitable" for some sections.


Minister rejects Winchester scheme

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has dismissed the appeal by Cala Homes over its proposals for a new community of 2,000 homes at Barton Farm near Winchester.

The developer had appealed against the non-determination of the scheme which also included plans for a new district centre, a health centre, car parking, allotments and district energy centre

The planning inspector who heard the inquiry last year recommended that the appeal should succeed. The minister disagreed. His decision letter makes it clear that he believed there was no compelling justification for allowing the scheme even though the council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable sites for housing.

He said giving the scheme the green light would undermine the council’s latest initiative to draw up a planning blueprint for the city.


Urban taskforces for the capital

Two high-powered taskforces charged with spearheading the major and long-lasting transformation of Tottenham and Croydon will be led by prominent business pioneers to help drive investment, London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced .

Following the August riots, the mayor and Government announced a £20m funding pot and the creation of two taskforces to focus specifically on regeneration in these areas, which had already been identified by the mayor as priority zones for regeneration.

The mayor said Tottenham and Croydon taskforces, which will bring together the borough councils, local business people and the community, will be headed up respectively by leading property developer Sir Stuart Lipton and Julian Metcalfe, the entrepreneur behind Prêt A Manger and itsu.

The taskforces will work towards creating local master plans for improvements in transport infrastructure, buying up and rebuilding affected properties and funding business rate relief, as well as supporting employment. 


Planning advice costs up

Westminster City Council is now charging £26,000 for advice on major applications to help fund its planning department and prevent more officers being made redundant.

The hike in charges is at the request of the Westminster Property Association which wrote to the council because of members’ concerns cuts would lead to the loss of more officers and a slower decision-making process would harm Westminster’s economy.

Westminster’s Cabinet approved the charges which are to be paid “on a voluntary basis by the developer” and will run until at least 31 March 2012. The charge will be formalised through Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) between the council, developer and other stakeholders.


New marina scheme at Plymouth

Plans have been unveiled for a new marina at Millbay in Plymouth that will transform the inner basin of the historic Brunel-designed docks.

Waterfront regeneration specialist the Sutton Harbour Group is proposing a 179-berth facility, to be called King Point Marina. It includes a contemporary two-storey facilities building with scope for a first-floor yacht club restaurant with striking views over Plymouth Sound, plus car parking.

The application follows an announcement in June that the Sutton Harbour Group had been selected by Millbay’s lead developer English Cities Fund to build and operate the new marina.

ECf is transforming 20 acres of former docksides at Millbay near Plymouth city centre into a new waterfront community and King Point Marina will be a focal point for future phases of development on the surrounding docksides.

The Sutton Harbour Group has submitted a detailed planning application to Plymouth City Council.

Read the Sutton Harbour Group news release.


Derby FC’s stadium goals

Derby County Football Club has submitted plans to the city council for a £7m development of cafes, bars and shops adjacent to its Pride Park stadium.

It is a redesign of a £20m plan which was approved in 2007 but then shelved when new owners took over the club.

The new development would include five cafes and restaurants, two convenience stores and 2,000 sq m of office space.

The scheme is designed to complement multi-sports arena plans already being considered by the city council.

Read the Derby County press release.


Newbury racecourse development

Detailed plans for the first phase of the multi-million pound redevelopment of Newbury Racecourse have been approved by West Berkshire Council.

The scheme is a joint venture between Newbury Racecourse and David Wilson Homes Southern and is set to transform the 309 acre site. Proposals for its redevelopment started six years ago.

Outline planning permission was granted in April 2010 for the master plan which includes improvements to the racing, hospitality, conference and events facilities. These are being complemented by better access via a new bridge, a hotel and up to 1,500 new homes; 450 of which will be affordable, shared equity housing or available to rent.


Green light for major Aberdeen housing plans

Proposals to build a total of 1,325 new homes in Aberdeen have been backed by city councillors.

Involved were plans by Stewart Milne Group Ltd to build around 900 homes on the site of the former Davidson's Paper Mill at Mugiemoss Road and a separate scheme for 425 homes on land at Stoneywood.

These new developments will include business and community facilities as well as improved infrastructure, including footpath and cycle links to the River Don. There will also be a new spine road with access from the A947 Aberdeen to Banff road.

Read the Aberdeen City Council press release.


Rushmoor Core Strategy approved

Rushmoor Borough Council has been given the green light by a planning inspector over its Core Strategy which sets out the planning policies that will guide future development in Aldershot and Farnborough up to 2027.

Key features of the strategy include planning for just over 6,000 new homes in Rushmoor up to 2027, of which about 4,250 will be at the Aldershot Urban Extension.

Read the Rushmoor Borough Council news release.


Chatham Dock makeover makes progress

Developer Peel Land and Property says its outline proposals to transform 26 acres of brownfield land on part of Chatham Docks into a mixed-use development have been given the thumbs up by local residents. The company says its surveys show 90 per cent of locals support the scheme.

The proposed Chatham Waters scheme will provide an employment-led mixed-use redevelopment of the site including a commercial heart incorporating office space, education facilities, an ‘EventCity’, and a hotel alongside apartments and townhouses, plus landscaped public areas and an anchor foodstore.

The developer is set to submit outline plans to Medway Council next month.

Read the Peel Group news story.


Judge quashes abattoir consent

A High Court judge has quashed a decision by Northern Ireland’s Planning Service to give the go-ahead for an abattoir to operate beside two drugs manufacturing sites in Larne.

Mr Justice Treacy overturned the granting of planning permission to Topping Meats because a requirement to notify neighbours was not met.

He also identified a failure by the Planning Service to take into account the type of operations run by the pharmaceutical firms.

The judge said that allowing the planning permission to remain in place could have "very serious consequences, amongst other things, for the manufacturing of human medicine and blood products".


NI planning applications still falling

Provisional figures just published reveal that the number of planning applications being submitted in Northern Ireland is still falling, down by 17 per cent on the same quarter last year.

The statistics showed that during the period April – June 2011/12, just under 4,000 applications were received, around half the level of four years ago. Planning applications for residential development were down by 28 per cent, the Department of the Environment said.

Planning performance, in terms of application processing times, for major, intermediate, and minor applications for quarter 1 2011/12 were all lower than the levels achieved for the corresponding quarter the previous year.

Read the Northern Ireland Executive news release.


Green energy developments in Wales

Welsh Business and Enterprise Minister Edwina Hart has welcomed announcements of two major green energy projects that have the potential to create more than 500 jobs at Anglesey and the Port of Mostyn.

Lateral Power has been selected as preferred bidder for development of an innovative new Welsh Eco Park on the site of the former aluminium smelter on Anglesey. It is planning a 299 megawatt biomass power plant there.

Meanwhile, RWE npower renewables has announced that the Port of Mostyn will be the operations and maintenance base for the giant Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm, in a deal worth over £50m, and creating another 100 long-term skilled engineering jobs.

Read the Welsh Government news release.


New gas power station approved by Scottish ministers

Plans by Scottish Power to replace its 40-year old coal fired power station at Cockenzie in East Lothian with a new 1,000 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station have been approved by Scottish ministers.

The development will be carbon capture ready and will be required to fit full carbon capture and storage technology once it is commercially and technically proven.

A separate application for a 17.5km pipeline from the existing gas network at East Fortune to the new power station has also been approved.

Read the Scottish Government news release.


Airport planning changes mooted

Northern Ireland Environment Minister Alex Attwood has started formal consultation on changes to the existing Planning Agreement between the department and George Best Belfast City Airport which controls certain aspects of the airport’s operations including the number of aircraft movements, hours of operation and the types of aircraft that can use the airport.

Read the Northern Ireland Executive news release


Devon flood protection scheme backed

Environment Agency plans to build a flood defence scheme to protect the Back Beach area of Teignmouth have been unanimously approved by the area planning committee.

The £4m scheme is designed to minimise flood risk to 413 properties, plus an additional 256 above ground level. The working dockyard, fish and new quays, and property frontages are to be incorporated into the defences.

The proposals include new flood defence walls, building on top of existing walls, using existing property frontages to increase protection and inclusion of new flood gates. The flood gates, an essential part of the new defences, will be operated by the Town Council.


Roger Milne 

6 October 2011