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  6. News round-up 20 October 2011

News round-up 20 October 2011

Mayor in betting office change of use move

London Mayor Boris Johnson has written to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles calling for modifications to the change of use regime to help control the proliferation and clustering of betting shops.

The issue has caused mounting concern in parts of the capital like Hackney. At issue is the fact that currently empty premises such as vacant pubs and banks can become betting shops without a requirement for planning permission.

Johnson has argued that if a betting shop operator wants to open up a new outlet in an existing High Street property this should require planning permission.

If the Government changed planning policy in this way the London Mayor has indicated he would consider altering the London Plan to encourage boroughs to identify the kinds of business clusters they believe are beneficial or detrimental to high streets and town centres.

Read the Mayor of London press release.


New-look pylons in prospect

Danish company Bystrup’s innovative T-Pylon design has been unanimously agreed by the judging panel as the winner of the Pylon Design competition run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), National Grid and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

As a result of this contest National Grid will now work with Bystrup to develop their T-Pylon design further. National Grid has also said they want to do further work with Ian Ritchie Associates on their Silhouette design, and New Town Studio’s Totem design.

The executive director of National Grid, Nick Winser, said: “In the T-Pylon we have a design that has the potential to be a real improvement on the steel lattice tower. It’s shorter, lighter and the simplicity of the design means it would fit into the landscape more easily. In addition, the design of the electrical components is genuinely innovative and exciting.

“However, the Totem and Silhouette designs are worthy of further consideration – both of them have strong visual appeal and characteristics that could work well in different landscapes.”

Read the DECC press notice.


First of a kind

Energy Minister Charles Hendry has welcomed the Infrastructure Planning Commission’s green light for Covanta Energy's 65-megawatt Rookery South energy from waste facility, proposed for a former brick clay extraction pit near Stewartby in Bedfordshire.

He said: “It is vital for investors and for local communities that when it comes to major energy projects, we have a planning process that people can have confidence in. I am very pleased that the IPC’s first decision has been delivered on time.”

The scheme is the first to be granted development consent by the IPC and the first nationally significant infrastructure project not to involve a ministerial decision.

However, the project can’t climb off the drawing board quite yet. A lot of the land required is owned by utilities and local authorities and requires a special parliamentary order before they can be compulsorily purchased.

Read the DECC press notice.


Neighbourhood planning restructuring

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has announced proposals to restructure its planning policy and design team to provide a greater focus on neighbourhoods.

The shake-up will see the policy and design staff reorganised into three teams covering neighbourhoods, policy and specialist services such as conservation.

Jonathan Bore, the council’s director of planning and borough development, said the changes would take effect from 1 November.


Traffic signs shake-up

A major shake-up of the existing traffic signing regime which should significantly reduce street “clutter” has been signalled by the Department for Transport.

Following a wide-ranging review the department has set out proposals to reduce the number of signs required and streamline the authorisation regulations.

Measures to reduce the impact that traffic signs have on the environment will include issuing guidance to councils encouraging them to improve streetscapes by removing unnecessary traffic signs; cutting the number of signs needed and making it easier to use variable mph speed limits where necessary, such as outside schools. Also proposed are reduced lighting requirements for signs.

Read more about the Department for Transport traffic signs policy review.


Alternative site for rail freight project?

St Albans City & District Council, which is opposing plans by developers Helioslough for a major rail freight terminal proposed for the former Radlett Aerodrome near St Albans, has told the Government that a site near Colnbrook in east Berkshire would be a more preferable location for the scheme than the former airfield which is in Green Belt.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is currently redetermining the scheme following a High Court ruling which quashed an earlier ministerial decision dismissing an appeal by the developers against refusal of permission for the project.

Read the St Albans City & District Council news release.


Fishguard port development

The Conygar Investment Company in conjunction with Stena Line Ports Limited has submitted a planning application to Pembrokeshire County Council for a mixed-use marina development at Goodwick, Fishguard, in west Wales.

The main elements of the scheme involve a 450-berth marina with workshops, stores and ancillary facilities; some 253 apartments incorporating landscaped gardens and a 19-acre expansion of the existing Stena Line port. The scheme would also create a new, publicly-accessible promenade and waterfront, together with visitor parking.


Scottish householder development rule changes

The Scottish Government has announced that new rules to make it easier for people to make changes to their homes will come into force in February next year.

Within certain constraints, the rules will allow a range of works - including extensions, access ramps, sheds, garages and decking - to be built without applying for planning permission. Certain restrictions will still apply for conservation areas and listed buildings.

Following a consultation earlier this year, Planning Minister Aileen Campbell has now laid regulations in the Scottish Parliament confirming the changes.

Read the Scottish Government news release.


Man fined £20,000 over enforcement breach

A County Tyrone man has been fined £20,000 plus £75 court costs at Strabane Magistrates’ Court for failing to comply with a NI Department of Environment planning enforcement notice requiring the removal of waste materials deposited within a river floodplain.

Read the Northern Ireland Executive news release.


Court challenge over energy-from-waste scheme

Bristol City Council has decided to mount a High Court challenge to the Government’s decision to approve Viridor Waste management’s proposed waste recovery and energy-from-waste facility at Avonmouth. The city council opposed the scheme.


Go-ahead for Derbyshire opencast extension

UK Coal has obtained planning permission from Derbyshire County Council for a major expansion of its existing Lodge House opencast mine near the village of Smalley. The company wants to extract an extra 750,000 tonnes of coal from the site.


Gatwick Airport growth plan

The owners of Gatwick Airport have begun consulting on a draft master plan for the facility to enable it to handle 40 million passengers a year by 2020 based on its existing single runway and two passenger terminal operations.

Read the Gatwick Airport press release.


Cornish waste facility mooted

Cory Environmental has submitted a planning application to Cornwall Council for a recycling and residual waste transfer facility at the planned Bio Park site near Scorrier, Redruth, Cornwall.

The proposals involve a clean materials recycling facility with the capacity to sort up to 35,000 tonnes of co-mingled recyclables from local businesses each year and an adjacent bulk transfer facility with a capacity of 115,000 tonnes per annum which would be used for the temporary storage and transfer of residual waste.

The company has plans to generate power on-site from roof-mounted solar pv arrays.


Turbines rejected

Car-maker Honda’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint by installing three 120-metre tall Ecotricity wind turbines at its Swindon manufacturing plant have been rejected by the local borough council.

Councillors voted against the scheme on the grounds of visual impact despite officials recommending approval. The nearest homes would have been 590 metres from the turbines.

In a statement the company said: "We are obviously very disappointed with the decision, however, we will be discussing our options with Ecotricity over the next few days. Honda remains committed to delivering a mix of renewable energy technologies."


Roger Milne

20 October 2011