Funding boost for capital
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced £3bn of funding for the Greater London Authority for housing and regeneration in the capital.
These responsibilities reflect the Mayor of London's new powers and have been transferred to the Greater London Authority following the Localism Act 2011.
From this April the Mayor of London - and not ministers - will be accountable for the capital's affordable housing programmes including key development sites like the Greenwich Peninsula, and East London's Olympic legacy.
The £3bn funding supports the Mayor's four-year commitment to build 55,000 affordable homes by March 2015, and to bring 45,000 existing social homes up to standard across London, as well as supporting the Mayor's plans for the Olympic Park.
Wales consultation on plan for single natural resources body
Environment Minister John Griffiths has launched detailed proposals around his decision to establish a single body to manage Wales’ natural resources.
The consultation follows the Minister’s announcement in November 2011 in which he said that he was minded to move to a single body that would replace the Countryside Council for Wales, the Environment Agency Wales and the Forestry Commission for Wales.
Applications dip, major scheme determinations slow down
In the year ending September 2011,district level planning authorities received two per cent fewer applications than in the same period a year ago, decided slightly fewer applications year on year, approved slightly more proposals than during the 12 months previously but took longer to determine applications.
Those are the headline figures from the latest national statistics on planning applications released under the auspices of the UK Statistics Authority covering the 12 months up to September 2011.
This data showed that district planning authorities received 471,900 applications, a decrease of two per cent on the year ending September 2010 figure;
They decided 432,300 planning applications, a slight decrease on the figure of 433,800 decisions in the year ending September 2010 and granted 350,700 permissions, a slight increase on the figure of 349,700 permissions granted in the year to September 2010.
Over the same period the planning authorities decided 62 per cent of major applications in 13 weeks, 72 per cent of minor and 84 per cent of others in eight weeks. This compares to 70 per cent for majors, 77 per cent for minors and 87 per cent for others in the year ending September 2010.
Proposals to transform part of Knowle West in Bristol with new homes, employment opportunities and improved open space have been submitted to Bristol City Council by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The HCA has submitted an outline planning application to regenerate its land at Filwood Park, which includes proposals for a new and improved public park, up to 150 homes (of which 30 per cent would be affordable) and around 8,000 sq m of business and office space with associated car parking.
Anglesey’s planning committee has announced a moratorium on decisions on current wind turbine applications while officers develop a detailed onshore wind turbine application checklist. This will require developers to provide detailed information, including factors relating to noise and landscape, on their application before it is submitted to the planning authority.
Meanwhile in a related development the consultation period on the Anglesey and Gwynedd Joint Planning Policy Unit’s draft Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on wind energy has just finished. The SPG is unlikely to be adopted until May.
Scottish permitted development changes
New rules came into force in Scotland on 6 February to make it easier for people to make changes to their homes as a result of changes to the permitted development regime.
The rules allow a range of works within certain constraints – including extensions, access ramps, sheds, and garages and decking – to be built without applying for planning permission. Certain restrictions will still apply for conservation areas and listed buildings.
Until now, householders paid £160 in planning fees for developments. Just over 40 per cent of all applications are for planning permission on existing homes and these changes aim to remove up to a fifth of those, around 4,000 a year, from the planning system.
London river crossings consultation
London Mayor Boris Johnson has launched a public consultation on two new river Thames crossings in East London. The proposals involve a new road tunnel at Silvertown and new vehicle ferry crossing at Gallions Reach.
Transport for London says the proposed tunnel could carry 6,000 vehicles per hour and connect Silvertown with the Greenwich Peninsula. The proposed ferry service would replace the existing service at Woolwich.
Major plans for Shrewsbury’s New Riverside shopping centre have been submitted to Shropshire Council.
The £150m development will see a two-level shopping complex on the site of the current Riverside Shopping Centre, housing a department store, 50 shops, office space, 10 restaurants and cafes.
The proposed shopping mall would be covered by a petal-shaped grid shell roof made of glass, similar to designs at Cabot Circus in Bristol and Trinity Leeds.
Cornwall charges for pre-app advice
Cornwall Council has introduced charges for pre-application planning advice. The scheme came into force at the beginning of February.
The fixed charge fees range from £350 plus VAT for a major scheme like a residential development of 10 or more homes; to £100 plusVAT for a single dwelling or listed building consent.
Scottish heritage funding boost
Funding of almost £8m has been awarded for heritage projects across Scotland's six cities. The Historic Scotland grants will be used to enhance conservation areas and maintain historic sites.
Glasgow will receive £2,550,000, Edinburgh will be given £2,145,000, and Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Stirling will each receive £750,000.
Tramway green light
Long-awaited plans to restore and reopen the Glyn Valley tramway at Chirk have been given the go-ahead by Wrexham Council, five years after volunteers at Glyn Valley Tramway Trust started talks about restoring one mile of the narrow gauge line last used in 1935.
Work will start later this month and the first stage should be complete by Autumn 2014. The current plan is to lay a narrow gauge line from Chirk station, following the B4500 Chirk to Glyn Ceiriog road, to Pontfaen station, north of Chirk Fisheries.
Sound and fury over residential tower
Proposals for a 41-storey residential tower near the Ministry of Sound nightclub near Elephant and Castle in south London have become a London mayoral election issue.
Southwark Council rejected the scheme from Oakmayne Properties but London Mayor Boris Johnson has called in the scheme.
Now both the Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Brian Paddick have signalled they are supporting the nightclub’s high profile campaign against the residential development. The club’s owners fear that if the housing goes ahead noise restrictions will force the music venue to close.
Coventry city centre proposals
Coventry City Council and land-owning partner Aviva have revealed key details of a £300m redevelopment for the city centre south, an area which includes Bull Yard, Shelton Square, City Arcade, the Barracks car park and Hertford Street.
The plans that will be submitted for outline approval include a new anchor store, a 1,200 space car park, a cinema complex, hotel, apartments, new and refurbished retail units and the reintegration of the market into the scheme.
Boost for town centres in NE Wales
Some £3m funding from the European Regional Development Fund is being combined with local authority expenditure of £1m to help revitalise town centres in North East Wales.
The funding boost will mean that Flintshire and Wrexham Councils’ regeneration plans for their towns will be stepped up to improve the appearance of the town centres including Buckley, Connah's Quay, Flint, Holywell, Mold, Queensferry, Saltney and Shotton.
Mayoral Development Corporation for London makes progress
London Mayor Boris Johnson has formally announced his decision to create a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) that will be responsible for the regeneration legacy from the London 2012 Games. The new body, to be called the London Legacy Development Corporation, will be directly accountable to Londoners through the Mayor.
The Corporation, which opens for business on 1 April 2012, will continue the work of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) as well as manage some of the assets and responsibilities of existing regeneration agencies in the area, such as the Thames Gateway Development Corporation.
Transport Minister Norman Baker has announced £15m of new funding for sustainable travel projects across the country, heavily geared towards improving cycling routes and cycle facilities at rail stations
Mineral plans delay concern
The trade body for the aggregates and concrete industry has voiced concern that well over half the mineral planning authorities in England have not yet adopted a Core Strategy. According to the Mineral Products Association (MPA) under 40 per cent have planning strategies in place.
Offshore fast tracking
A blueprint to streamline the scoping, planning and consenting of offshore renewables developments in Scotland has been published.
The report has been prepared by a task force comprising Marine Scotland, environmental regulators, renewable developers and The Crown Estate.
S106 cash owed
A BBC investigation has revealed that over half the planning authorities in Wales are owed s106 contributions. Figures obtained after Freedom of Information requests revealed that £2.3m had not been paid by developers.
Pledge on backlog of NI major scheme determinations
Northern Ireland Environment Minister Alex Attwood has pledged to clear up the backlog of decisions on major planning applications.
At present there are 50 large applications, known as ‘Article 31s’, pending determination and the minister has pledged to reduce these by up to two thirds by the end of June 2012.
These large-scale applications relate to retail, leisure and other commercial and industrial proposals which are dealt with under the special procedures set out in Article 31 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991. These procedures allow the Department to either make a decision directly or hold a public inquiry.
9 February 2012