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  6. News round-up 16 February 2012

News round-up 16 February 2012

Pickles pledges support for seaside towns

A new fund to help support ailing seaside towns has been launched by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.

The £23.7m Coastal Communities Fund has been created to help struggling coastal communities all across the country.

Under this scheme local groups could use the money to start programmes that can deliver skills training, offer apprenticeships to school leavers, create new workspaces or support small-scale transport improvements.

Successful applicants can expect to get a grant of between £50,000 and £2m. Pickles said he was keen to see bids from social enterprises, charities, local businesses or local enterprise partnerships.

The Fund will be financed by the Government from revenues from the Crown Estate's marine assets. The Fund will be UK-wide, with funding allocated to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


DCLG releases Local Enterprise Partnerships maps

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published maps and individual overviews of England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships.

A total of 24 were announced in October 2010. A further 15 partnerships have been established since then.

More information is available on the DCLG website


Floating ‘amphibious’ home approved

An ‘amphibious’ house that rises along with the water to avoid flooding has been granted planning permission by Wycombe District Council for a flood-prone site by the River Thames near Marlow. The property, designed by BACA Architects will rest on fixed foundations inland. Whenever a flood occurs, the building is designed to rise up in its dock and float.


Pickles approves Tesco scheme

Proposals for a new Tesco store on the site of the current sports centre at Southgate in Huddersfield has been approved by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, following a call-in inquiry and the recommendation from the inspector that the scheme should go-ahead.

The decision letter from the Secretary of State agreed with the inspector’s conclusions over the “significant positive economic, social and environmental benefits of the development” and the “lack of significant adverse impact on the town centre which will remain vital and viable”.

Pickles also accepted that the affordable housing provisions in the planning obligation “would outweigh the loss of housing” as a result of the redevelopment.

Read the decision letter on the DCLG website.


Former nuclear sites now available for new development

Large tracts of land at two Magnox nuclear power station sites in Gloucestershire owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) are now available for new development after the last remaining nuclear regulations were removed.

Energy minister Lord Marland has signed the relevant orders covering 46 hectares in Gloucestershire at the Oldbury and Berkeley nuclear sites.

Each plot had already been de-licensed. Berkeley is a decommissioning site. Oldbury is still generating. Both are operated by Magnox Ltd.


Quantocks wood- and moorland sale approved

Plans to sell off 2,000 acres of woods and moorland in the Quantocks have been approved by Somerset County Council.

The Friends of the Quantocks, which fought the proposals, said the land needed to stay in public ownership.

However, the council insisted the land was safe from inappropriate development because it was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Current public access arrangements would also remain in force, the planning authority said.


Welsh Government considers the sound of silence

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation exercise over proposed quiet areas in South Wales, nominated by four local authorities: Cardiff, Neath-Port Talbot, Swansea and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Each has submitted lists of their selected quiet areas, based on local amenity value. The places being consulted on now are large, public spaces such as Heath Park, Cardiff and Cwmdonkin Park, Swansea.

The consultation is seeking views on whether these locations should be designated as quiet areas. Once an area has been designated it is protected from increases in noise by the EU’s Environmental Noise Directive and planning policy.

Read the consultation on the Welsh Government’s website.


£330m Oxford shopping centre makeover proposed

The proposed £330m redevelopment of Oxford’s Westgate Centre has been approved by city councillors following a revised agreement worked out with the centre’s joint owners the Crown Estate and Land Securities.

John Lewis Partnership has agreed to anchor the redevelopment, which is likely to more than double the centre’s size to 750,000 sq ft. The scheme will also include housing.


New Derbyshire settlement under consultation

Plans for a new settlement of between 1,000 and 3,000 homes at Denby in Derbyshire is now the subject of consultation by Amber Valley Borough Council.

As well as housing the scheme, proposed by the Commercial Estates Group (CEG), would involve employment uses, community facilities, schools and improved public transport infrastructure.


Birmingham outlines plans for a low-carbon future

Birmingham City Council has published for consultation a Supplementary Planning Document detailing how new development will be expected to contribute towards making England’s second largest conurbation a sustainable low-carbon city.

The SPD is called “Places for the Future”. It sets guidance for future development and investment in Birmingham in support of the sustainable development policies of the draft Core Strategy.

A key feature will be the development of district energy networks.

Read the “Places for the Future” SPD on the Birmingham City Council website 


Chester council takes control in city centre project

Cheshire West and Chester Council is taking control of the city’s Northgate Development Project.

The move follows a decision to terminate its long-standing agreement with ING Real Estate Developers.

Members voted unanimously to end a partnership originally struck in 2000 with the former Chester City Council.

Councillor Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said: “The council remains unequivocally committed to the scheme but has sadly concluded that there is little likelihood of progress under the current arrangement.”

He added: “The authority will shortly announce its own concept for the crucial redevelopment of this area of the city.”


Carlsberg gets green light for Northampton EZ development

A major development by Carlsberg UK in the Northampton Enterprise Zone has been given the go-ahead.

The British arm of the world’s fourth largest brewer is expanding its Northampton site with a 7,000 sq m bottling plant, creating up to 60 new jobs.

The scheme, which includes related offices and covered car parking, has been approved by West Northamptonshire Development Corporation’s Planning Committee. The new bottling plant will be in the south east corner of the company’s site and falls within the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone, announced last year by the government.

In a separate but related development WNDC has signalled plans to kick-start a major development in the Northampton Enterprise Zone by compulsorily purchasing land for the proposed St Peters Waterside scheme. This is planned to include both housing and a landmark office development.

The proposed Compulsory Purchase order will cover a series of sites stretching from opposite Northampton railway station to Carlsberg’s UK headquarters.

Last month the Corporation confirmed that it will prepare a CPO for 40 hectares of brown field waterside land, including the old Nunn Mills Power Station and a derelict factory owned by Avon Cosmetics.


Application submitted for Longbridge development

St Modwen Properties and its partner Advantage West Midlands have submitted a detailed planning application to Birmingham City Council to develop the £70m Longbridge town centre – a major mixed use element of this flagship regeneration project.

The application involves an 85,000 sq ft food store, 80,000 sq ft of additional retail space and restaurants. It also includes plans for a hotel and 40 apartments, together with the newly created two-acre Austin Park which, if approved, will lead to the opening up of the river Rea for the first time in 100 years.

In a separate development, St Modwen has acquired two plots of land comprising 68 acres in the West Midlands and Derbyshire from UK Coal for £0.4m.

The first site comprises 60 acres at Pelsall in Walsall while the second consists of eight acres of land at Castle Gresley in Derbyshire.


National Park strikes gold mine deal

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park has negotiated a £2m financial package with Scotgold Resources Limited, the company behind the planned Cononish gold mine in the Park.

The deal means the scheme can now proceed. Planning permission was approved by the National Park Board in October 2011 for the underground gold mine facility, proposed for a site near Tyndrum. The scheme will have a life of 10 years.

The financial package secured through a Section 75 legal agreement includes three bonds totalling £1.3m.

The bonds will allow the National Park to enter and restore the site to an agreed standard at any stage of the development should the operator fail to meet defined obligations or abandon the site.


Yorkshire National Park housing scheme under consideration

Organisations and the public are being given six weeks to have their say on changes to a plan aimed at increasing the amount of affordable housing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) have accepted a number of changes to its Housing Development Plan following an examination in public last month.

But the members expressed concern at the inspector’s proposal to reject four sites that would have provided 10 new homes for local people in Aysgarth, Low Row, Muker and Thornton Rust.

Originally, the plan identified 34 sites for development – ranging in size from two houses to up to 30 – potentially providing up to 246 new homes.

Half would be affordable homes to rent or buy. The remainder would be open market housing with a legal agreement restricting their occupancy to people who need to live or work in the National Park.


West London market revamp approved

Plans to revamp West London’s Shepherds Bush Market and the surrounding area have been approved by Hammersmith and Fulham Council. As part of the facelift, the market building will be widened to create more space for pitches.

At the Uxbridge Road end of the market, a new public square will provide the setting for the refurbished Bush Theatre which has moved into the Old Shepherds Bush Library building.

The proposals, approved in outline, include new squares and housing.


Marine power scheme waved through

Scotland’s first near-shore commercial wave power array has been approved by energy minister Fergus Ewing.

Two new Oyster wave energy converters will be added to an existing device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) at Billia Croo, Orkney, to allow operators Aquamarine Power to test the devices as an array.

Although the machines are demonstrators, the array will be the first near-shore wave array in Scotland to be connected to the National Grid, and will supply enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes.


Hull Local Development Order

Hull City Council' has launched the public consultation on its Enterprise Zone Local Development Order, created to attract renewable energy associated businesses.

The proposed Hull Local Development Order (LDO) applies to sites at the city's Alexandra Dock and Queen Elizabeth Dock and will simplify planning arrangements by granting outline planning permission for development associated with renewable and low carbon industries.

Learn more about the consultation on the Hull City Council website.


Welsh Planning inspectorate director named

Planning Inspector Richard Poppleton has been appointed as the Director For Wales in the Planning Inspectorate.

Poppleton has worked as a Planning Inspector for 22 years and will take up his new role officially from April 2012.


Design Council appoints new policy and communications head

The Design Council has named Tony Burton as its new director of policy and communications.

The Council incorporates the design review and policy work of the former independent Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe).

Burton is joining the Design Council from his role as founder and Director of Civic Voice, the national charity for the civic movement which was established in April 2010.

Burton has over 20 years of experience working with both government and communities in policy development including high profile roles with the National Trust, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. 


Affordable homes dropped from Spurs stadium plan

Haringey Council has confirmed Tottenham Hotspur Football Club will not be required to provide any affordable homes as part of its £400m stadium and regeneration plan.

Under section 106 agreements, the original plans included the construction of 200 new homes – of which 100 (50 per cent) would have been affordable.

However, the revised plans now approved relieve the club of the requirement to provide any affordable homes as part of the amended plans for the Northumberland Development Project.

Instead, the club has been allowed to build more than 280 flats for sale on the open market.

The council said the decision took into account the housing mix in the area, which already had a “high concentration” of social and affordable homes.


Newbury resubmits core strategy

Newbury District Council has resubmitted its Core Strategy for scrutiny by a planning inspector at an inquiry later this year after confirming the original housing strategic site allocation.

The strategy was judged unsound last year after the inspector said there needed to be greater clarity over the sustainability appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment  carried out over the selection of alternative sites.

This prompted a second consultation exercise. There has been considerable local controversy over the council’s decision to propose housing on land at Sandleford Park which was the site of the original rabbit warren that was destroyed by developers in Richard Adam’s book Watership Down.


Roger Milne

16 February 2012