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  6. News round-up 13 October 2011

News round-up 13 October 2011

Neighbourhood planning powers out for consultation

New planning powers giving communities the ability to shape the character of their neighbourhood have been published for consultation by Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark.

Neighbourhood Planning will for the first time give communities a real voice in deciding the look and feel of development in their area. Local people will be able to have their say on the location of new homes, the design of buildings, the shops they want to see in the High Street, and the green spaces that should be protected.

The new powers being introduced in the Localism Bill will also give local people the power to decide the types of development that can be granted automatic planning permission, through a Neighbourhood Development Order. The regulations being published for consultation make clear how a neighbourhood area will be defined, how to set up the forums that will propose plans, and will also outline the requirements for establishing a Neighbourhood Development Order.

An easy to understand guide to Neighbourhood Planning is also being published to make it easier for communities to use the new powers.

Access the consultation.
Download 'An introduction to neighbourhood planning'.
Download 'Neighbourhood planning: e-flyer'.


Infrastructure Planning Commission issues first decision

UK planning history was made when the Infrastructure Planning Commission announced the outcome of the first project it has determined.

It has approved Covanta Energy’s 65-megawatt Rookery South energy from waste facility, proposed for a former brick clay extraction pit near Stewartby in Bedfordshire. The decision follows a six month examination of the application by a panel of three Commissioners

The proposed plant is designed to use household and business waste, leftover after recycling and composting, to generate electricity.

The plant is expected to produce around 55MW of power for the electricity network as well as surplus heat for use locally.

Download details of the decision


Ministers urged to stand firm on planning reform

House builders have urged Government to stand firm on its planning proposals or risk a 'house building ice age'.

That was the view of Home Building Federation executive chairman Stewart Baseley when he spoke at a major housing conference in London.

He dismissed calls from some conservation groups that the National Planning Policy Framework should not come fully into force until local authorities had a suitable housing strategy in place.

He said: “To delay implementing the NPPF until local authorities do have a plan in place would leave us in a planning policy vacuum. It will prolong the limbo that has existed since the 2010 General Election with the old system dead but yet to be replaced.”


Nuclear developments

The nuclear safety regulator has urged the relevant Government departments in England, Wales and Scotland to examine the adequacy of the existing system of planning controls for commercial and residential developments near nuclear licensed sites.

The call came in the final report from chief nuclear inspector Dr Mike Weightman who has assessed the implications of events at the Fukushima nuclear site, crippled by the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.

The report has confirmed that there is no need to change present siting strategies for new nuclear power stations in the UK.

Meanwhile, power giant EDF Energy is poised to formally submit its proposals for a new nuclear power station at its Hinkley Point site in Somerset for development consent from the Infrastructure Planning Commission.


Top ten Victorian and Edwardian buildings ‘at risk’ named

The Victorian Society has listed the top ten most ‘at risk’ buildings in England and Wales following a national appeal. The society campaigns to safeguard both Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

The final list includes the imposing buildings of Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire; an abandoned railway station near Peterborough; a striking terracotta YMCA building in South Wales and in Leeds a Grade I listed flax mill, inspired by an ancient Egyptian temple.

“We have been flooded with information about buildings at risk from neglect or damaging redevelopment and narrowing the list down to just ten has been extremely difficult,” said Dr Ian Dungavell, director of the society. “It's clear there is still some way to go before many historic buildings receive the recognition and protection they deserve.”

The threat of imminent demolition hangs over three of the buildings on the list (Broadmoor Hospital, the South Eastern Railway offices in London and Ancoats Dispensary in Manchester) but most are simply suffering from neglect, said the society.

Read the Victorian Society news release.


Olympic Stadium moves

The Government and the Mayor of London have decided to end the current process to dispose of the Olympic stadium, which has become bogged down in a number of legal and other challenges

The deal to award West Ham the stadium after the London 2012 Games has effectively collapsed, the Government has confirmed.

The board of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has ended negotiations amid concerns over delays caused by the legal dispute with Tottenham.

The OPLC, Government and Mayor of London have instead agreed the stadium will remain in public ownership. West Ham welcomed the move and said it would bid to be the stadium tenant.

The OPLC has been asked to start a new process to secure tenants for the stadium and any interested bidders will have to submit proposals by January.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: "The process to sell the stadium has become bogged down. We are acting to end the legal paralysis that has put that legacy at risk.”

Read the Department for Culture, Media and Sport news release.


Minister rejects ‘bribe’ claim over New Homes Bonus

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has criticised an article in the Daily Mail which described the New Homes Bonus as “a bribe” for communities to accept new homes being built on Green Belt land.

Shapps told the newspaper: “It is absolute nonsense to describe the New Homes Bonus as a ‘bribe’. Instead, the New Homes Bonus ensures that for the first time communities start to see significant benefits from housing development and growth in their area.”

He added: “The changes we're making to the planning system will give residents a much greater say over the future development of their local area, including protecting local green spaces and the Green Belt. And where homes are built, it is right that local people share in the prosperity and growth that this will bring to their community.

“New Homes Bonus funding can be used however communities see fit to improve their local area - and I would urge all councils expecting to receive funding to speak to their residents about how they would like to see it spent locally.”


Hayle scheme prompts debate

Councillors on Cornwall Council’s strategic planning committee have backed proposals for a multi-million-pound, retail–led redevelopment of the South Quay in Hayle, which forms part of a World Heritage Site.

The minded-to approve decision was made despite objections from English Heritage and Icomos UK, the organisation which advises UNESCO on World Heritage designations.

The plans were described as "incongruous" by English Heritage and Icomos UK. South Quay has been derelict for 40 years and is owned by ING.

In a statement, English Heritage said the current proposals for South Quay were "unacceptable in this sensitive location".

The Government is expected to call in the plans and hold a public inquiry.


Peel partnership proposals

Detailed planning applications have now been submitted for the first two schemes - at Wigan and Liverpool - drawn up as a result of the joint venture between The Peel Group and Barratt Homes. Under this partnership the latter will build homes on sites owned by the former in northern England.

At Pemberton in Wigan, on the site of the former Pemberton Colliery, plans have been submitted for the residential element of a major mixed-use regeneration scheme for which Peel secured outline planning permission earlier this month. Barratt Homes is proposing 195 mainly family homes. Land reclamation works is due to start later this year.

At Speke in South Liverpool, plans have been submitted to complete the regeneration of Peel-owned land off Speke Hall Avenue where a new Dobbies garden centre has recently opened. Some 268 new homes are proposed with a start on site anticipated early in 2012.


Turbine plan

Power company SSE Renewables has submitted a planning application to the Scottish Government for the Clyde Extension Wind Farm at a location in South Lanarkshire.

The 57-turbine scheme has an installed capacity of 171 megawatts and is proposed for land surrounding Camps Reservoir north-east of the company’s consented Clyde Wind Farm currently under construction.

Waste scheme refused again

Waste company Biffa’s revised application to build an energy from waste plant in Leicestershire has been rejected by the county council. Biffa will appeal.


Trees spared

Plans to redevelop the Market Place in Salisbury which would have involved the removal and replacement of 34 trees from the square have been withdrawn. The scheme, by the Salisbury Vision town regeneration group, caused a local furore.


Store plan objection

The Camping and Caravan Club of Great Britain has lodged an objection to plans for a new edge-of-town supermarket in Jedburgh.

A planning application for a new store on the former site of the Oregon Homes factory was submitted to the Scottish Borders Council last year.

The club said the store would have an adverse impact on the nearby Jedburgh Camping and Caravan Park.

It said noise and light pollution would put campers off, and increased traffic around the entrance to the park would be a hazard.


Wokingham homes strategy agreed

Wokingham Borough Council has approved the new housing element of its Core Strategy which should see 10,000 new homes built over the next 15 years at four main locations: south of Wokingham, north of Wokingham, at Arborfield Garrison and south of the M4 at Shinfield, Spencer's Wood and Three Mile Cross.

The details are set out in Supplementary Planning Documents covering the Strategic Development Locations.


Welsh planning review panel named

The Welsh Government has named the members of the independent advisory group who will carry out the review of Welsh planning announced recently.

The group, chaired by the former Welsh director of the Planning Inspectorate, John Davies MBE, is made up from representatives covering a wide variety of planning backgrounds, including environmental organisations, the construction industry, and local government and planning law.

The other members are: Jane Carpenter from Redrow Homes; Andrew Farrow, Flintshire County Council; Chris Sutton from Jones Lang LaSalle; Lucie Taylor from Planning Aid Wales who works for Newport City Council; Mike Webb, RSPB; and Huw Williams from Geldards LLP, who is representing the Law Society.


Chiltern Core Strategy judged ‘sound’

A planning inspector has concluded that Chiltern District’s Core Strategy is “sound”. It is due to be adopted formally by the planning authority in November.


Labour’s shadow DCLG team shaken up

Last week’s Labour Party shadow Cabinet and frontbench reshuffle means that the new team covering the Department for Communities and Local Government issues is now led by Hilary Benn MP, supported by Jack Dromey MP, Helen Jones MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, Chris Williamson MP, Lord (Bill) McKenzie and Lord (Sir Jeremy) Beecham.


Roger Milne

13 October 2011