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  6. News round-up 1 September 2011

News round-up 1 September 2011

Further neighbourhood trial areas announced

New powers to give local people greater influence to determine the future of their areas are to be tried out in 36 more front-runner areas, Communities Minister Greg Clark has announced. These areas will be among the first to test out neighbourhood planning which is being introduced in the Localism Bill.

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


Green home costs dip

Building new homes to greener, low-carbon standards is getting cheaper every year, according to new research published in a report for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This work, based on interviews with developers and the latest information about environmental technologies, showed the overall extra cost of building new homes to standards set in the Code for Sustainable Homes is falling year on year.

For homes built to Code level 3 standards, average extra costs have fallen by almost three quarters in the last three years - from £4,458 in 2008 to £1,128 in 2010.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said: “The progress that has been made does not only benefit developers building Code-standard homes, it also provides valuable lessons ahead of the transition to building new homes to zero carbon standards from 2016.”

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


Challenge to Dale Farm evictions fails

An eleventh-hour bid to halt the eviction of families from the largest unauthorised Traveller site in England has failed at the High Court.

Severely ill Traveller Mary Flynn, 72, who lives at Dale Farm, near Basildon, Essex, applied for an injunction to stop her eviction from the site where 80 families live.

But the case was rejected by judges at the High Court. Reuben Taylor, for Basildon Council, told the judge that Dale Farm was the largest unauthorised Travellers site in the UK and was in the Metropolitan Green Belt where strict planning procedures applied to prevent development.


Edinburgh tram travails

Edinburgh’s controversial tram scheme looks about to get back on track now Scottish National Party (SNP) councillors said they would support moves to build a line into the city centre.

The SNP group abstained last week when councillors voted to end the line at Haymarket, in the west of the city.

But now the party says it will back its Lib Dem coalition partners in a new vote at a special meeting due shortly.

That support should enable them to pass a motion to bring the trams to St Andrew Square.

Last week Labour and Conservative councillors joined forces to reject plans to borrow an extra £230m to run the line from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre. However the Scottish Government warned that it would withhold £72m of funding if the tram scheme was truncated.


Boost for Savills planning team

Property services group Savills has announced the expansion of its central London planning team as a result of its acquisition of the London Planning Practice consultancy and its 16 planning specialists. They will help create a 60-strong planning team.


Stadium challenge

Bristol City FC's plans for a new 30,000-seater football stadium at Ashton Vale are facing a legal challenge. The club said the city council had received a letter stating a judicial review would be sought over its decision to allow the £92m development.

In June the council rejected a call to register all the land at Ashton Vale as a town and village green. It decided to designate the southern part of the land as a town green but not the northern part, which would house the stadium.

The council's communication and marketing director, Peter Holt, said: "The process by which the decision was made took place over many months. We are very confident that due legal process was adhered to at every stage and we will robustly defend our decision."

Read the Bristol City FC statement.


Power line undergrounding wrangle

Scottish Power has again rejected to calls to bury the Beauly-Denny power line in the area around Stirling. The company was asked by the Scottish Government in March to consider "unexplored options" to mitigate the visual impact of the line.

But Scottish Power has repeated its position that undergrounding would be too expensive, lead to delays and have "limited environmental benefits".

However, the company is proposing to undertake extensive screen planting and hard and soft landscaping works and to underground a further 4.6km of wood pole overhead lines, which could bring the total amount of other overhead lines being undergrounded to 11km.

Read the Scottish Power news release.


Homes scheme withdrawn over density

Developer LP Brentford, part of the Invista Property Foundation, has withdrawn a plan to build 315 homes on an industrial estate in Brentford, West London, following objections from residents and Hounslow Council over density issues.


Agency highlights river improvements

The River Wear has been praised by the Environment Agency as one of the most improved waterways in England and Wales.

Ten rivers, including the Wear, have been selected by the Environment Agency for shrugging off their industrial past to become attractions for wildlife, walkers and anglers.

The transformation of these rivers has been achieved thanks to thousands of habitat improvement projects, tighter regulation of polluting industries and work with farmers, businesses and water companies to reduce pollution and improve water quality.

The agency's most improved rivers included:

  • River Wandle, London
  • River Thames
  • River Stour in Worcestershire
  • River Darent, Kent
  • River Dee in North West England and Wales
  • River Nar in Norfolk
  • River Taff in South Wales
  • River Stour, Dorset
  • The Mersey Basin, North West England

Read the Environment Agency news release.

Roger Milne

1 September 2011