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  6. News round-up 19 April 2012

News round-up 19 April 2012

New help for self home builders launched by minister

A package of support to give as many people as possible the opportunity to build their own homes has been announced by Housing Minister Grant Shapps.

The Minister said that going down the self-build route was an affordable option for aspiring homeowners and shouldn't be seen as the preserve of those with deep pockets and grand designs. A growing number of Britons are laying their own foundations with almost 14,000 new homes self-built last year - more than many individual volume housebuilders are building.

The Minister said: “As well as a new website giving help and advice, we're working hard to identify more land for development and have reformed the planning rules to stop people's aspirations getting tangled in red tape.”

Access the Self Build Portal.


Inspectorate publishes model wording

The National Planning Policy Framework includes a presumption in favour of sustainable development. The Framework indicates that local plans should be based upon and reflect the presumption in favour of sustainable development and that they should contain clear policies that will guide how the presumption will be applied locally. 

The Planning Inspectorate has published a model wording which it considers if incorporated into a draft Local Plan submitted for examination will be an appropriate way of meeting this expectation for clear policies to guide how the presumption in favour of sustainable development will be applied. Planning authorities with adopted plans or plans in preparation will need to consider which, if any, parts of their plans need updating to reflect the presumption. 

Find out more about the model wording


'Fracking' report published

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has published an independent expert report recommending measures to mitigate the risks of seismic tremors from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and is consulting on the recommendations.

An effective monitoring system and a traffic light control regime are among measures recommended by the report, which has reviewed a series of studies commissioned by Cuadrilla.

This work has confirmed that minor earthquakes detected in the area of the company’s Preese Hall operations near Blackpool in April and May last year were caused by fracking.

DECC’s chief scientific adviser David MacKay said: “If shale gas is to be part of the UK’s energy mix we need to have a good understanding of its potential environmental impacts and what can be done to mitigate those impacts.

“This comprehensive independent expert review of Cuadrilla’s evidence suggests a set of robust measures to make sure future seismic risks are minimised - not just at this location but at any other potential sites across the UK.”

Read the DECC news release.


Green light for Broadmoor scheme

West London Mental Health NHS Trust, advised by Oxford Architects and independent design, environment and energy consultants LDA Design, has received planning permission from Bracknell Forest Council, subject to the completion of a Section 106 agreement, for the redevelopment and upgrade of Broadmoor Hospital in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

Originally built in 1863, Broadmoor Hospital provides specialist mental health care services within a high secure environment for male patients from London and the south of England. It’s one of three high-secure hospitals in England.

The redevelopment and planning application includes 16 wards - ten new, and six existing - providing accommodation for 210 patients within a new secure environment. The redevelopment will also include a new entrance building, central facilities building, a replacement energy centre, new gardens, recreation areas and extensive landscaping.


Leicestershire urban extension proposed

A consortium of developers and house builders has submitted a planning application to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council for an urban extension called Barwell West involving some 2,500 new homes at the Leicestershire settlement.

The £250m project is earmarked for a 336-acre site to the west of Barwell with some 189 acres allocated for residential use. The consortium - Ainscough Strategic Land, Barwood Development Securities and house builder Taylor Wimpey - is offering to provide funds to improve the existing town centre. The scheme would qualify for the Government’s New Homes Bonus initiative.

The scheme is in line with the local planning authority’s adopted Core Strategy but Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council said the application will not be decided until next summer. This is because the council wants to have an area action plan (AAP) covering the site in place first.

The AAP is not due to be examined by a planning inspector until January 2013 and is unlikely to be finalised until the following May.

Read the news story on the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council website.


National park quarry extension refused

A company has been refused permission to extend an existing quarry in return for giving up the rights to work at Stanton Moor, an Iron Age archaeological site in Derbyshire.

Blockstone Ltd wanted the Peak District National Park Authority to allow it to extend its existing 5.9 hectare New Pilhough Quarry, between Stanton in Peak and Stanton Lees, by a further hectare. This would have enabled the company to extract a further 146,970 tonnes of sandstone by 2022.

In return the company planned to give up its rights to quarry at Stanton Moor Quarry, which is sited on one of the most important archaeological areas in the National Park. The land includes Bronze Age remains, an extensive Scheduled Ancient Monument and wildlife and ecology habitats that are of national importance.

Read the Peak District National Park Authority news release.


Court backs minister over Cornish development

The High Court has backed Communities Secretary Eric Pickles' decision to refuse an appeal by developer Wainhomes over the refusal of permission for a 1,300-home urban extension proposed for St Austell, Cornwall.

Mr. Justice Beatson supported the stance of the Secretary of State who had argued that the scheme was premature and allowing it would have a detrimental effect on the emerging Core Strategy.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, plans for a "stadium village" in Cornwall were deferred after councillors said they needed more time to consider the scheme in the light of the newly-published National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The scheme was the subject of the biggest planning application ever submitted in the Duchy – promising 1,500 homes, a primary school, pub, restaurant, hotel, care home and offices.

The scheme, by developers Inox, is seen as key to the delivery of the project to construct a 10,000-seat sports stadium on the outskirts of Truro.


Block on Berkshire energy-from-waste scheme

Plans to build an energy-from-waste project beside the M4 have been refused by West Berkshire Council.

Grundon wanted to build the facility on the Old Kiln Quarry site at Chieveley, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Macclesfield makeover plan

An application to redevelop a site in Macclesfield town centre has been submitted to Cheshire East Council by Wilson Bowden Developments.

The proposed 23,000 sq m development covers an area from Exchange Street to Park Lane, bounded by Mill Street, Water Street and Churchill Way.

The proposals include a new shopping street – to be called Silk Street – and would involve a department store and up to 20 new shops as well as restaurants, a new square next to the existing heritage centre and an eight-screen cinema.


Sizewell infrastructure move

Suffolk councillors have told EDF Energy that they expect the power company to spend around £100m in improving the infrastructure in the area around Sizewell if plans for a new nuclear power plant go-ahead.

A joint Suffolk Coastal District Council and county council group wants the company to help fund a bypass on the A12 and dual the local railway line.


Surrey airfield decision

Proposals for unrestricted aviation activity at a Surrey airfield have been dismissed by a planning inspector who upheld Waverley Borough Council’s refusal to grant the Rutland Group a certificate of lawful use which would have allowed the lifting of restrictions on aircraft movements, flight times and aircraft at the Dunsfold Park airfield.


Cockermouth flood scheme okayed

Allerdale Borough Council has approved the Environment Agency’s Cockermouth flood defence scheme which will involve the construction of a series of walls, embankments and flood gates along the River Cocker and River Derwent that will increase flood protection to around 360 local homes and 55 businesses in the Cumbrian village.


Go ahead for ‘Lark Rise’ mine plan

Sir James Fuller, heir to the Fuller brewing dynasty, has won planning permission from Wiltshire Council to re-open a stone mine on his Wiltshire estate, where the BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford was filmed.


Green light for Hereford market redevelopment

Detailed plans for the £90m redevelopment of Hereford's former livestock market have been approved by Herefordshire Council. The scheme will include a six-screen cinema, two streets of shops, restaurants and parking for 600 cars.

Read the Herefordshire Council news release.


Wellingborough CPO

Wellingborough Borough Council is to compulsory purchase land behind the town’s railway station to help kick start the first phase of the £200m Stanton Cross development involving up to 3,200 new homes. The move came after discussions stalled between landowners Wellmere and developers Bovis Homes.


London hunt for developers

Developers are invited to apply for membership of a new housing procurement panel which is being set up by the Greater London Authority (GLA) to accelerate the sale and development of its and other public sector land and property holdings in the capital.

The new London Development Panel will replace the current Homes and Communities Agency’s Delivery Partner Panel from 2013. It will be managed by the GLA with the support of Transport for London (TfL) which will act as the GLA’s procurement agent and help recruit developers to the new panel.

Read the GLA media release.


Metropolitan parish council

Westminster City Council is to hold a referendum on proposals to set up the first parish council in London for more than 50 years.

The local authority said it expected around 8,000 residents in Queen’s Park to take part in next month’s vote, which will be independently run.


Empty home guru named

Architect and TV presenter George Clarke is to be an independent adviser to the Government to help bring thousands of empty homes back into use, ministers have announced.

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


Roger Milne

19 April 2012