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  6. News round-up 7 March 2012

News round-up 7 March 2012

Neighbourhood planning boost

A further 108 communities have joined the existing 125 ‘frontrunner’ communities in working up plans and testing out the principles of neighbourhood planning before the system formally commences later this year, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced.

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Under this new regime communities can help determine where development should go and can decide the type and design of development that can be granted automatic planning permission, through a Neighbourhood Development Order.

Communities and Planning Minister Bob Neill said: "There has been enormous interest in neighbourhood planning and the large number of communities jumping at the chance to trial these new powers demonstrates the enthusiasm people have for this local approach to planning.

"Neighbourhood planning encourages people to plan positively for their future and is a real opportunity to deliver the homes and jobs communities need to thrive."

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


Capital regeneration

Wandsworth Council has approved plans for up to 1,870 homes in the Nine Elms regeneration zone in south west London alongside a new state primary school and a 3.3-acre public park.

The mixed use scheme – called Nine Elms Parkside - would also provide space for new shops, businesses, postal services, cafés, restaurants, bars, and a variety of sports and leisure facilities.

The 13-acre site is currently occupied by the South London Mail Centre which is due to close as part of Royal Mail's restructuring programme.

In a separate but related development, London Mayor Boris Johnson has published his planning framework confirming that the area covering Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea will be transformed into a brand new district for the capital, with potential for 16,000 new homes and up to 25,000 new jobs.

This comes as the mayor has put Beam Park, one of the largest brownfield sites in East London, on the market for redevelopment.

Read the Wandsworth Council news release.

Read the Mayor of London press release.


Barry developments approved

Plans for a £230m development to regenerate Barry Waterfront have been approved by Vale of Glamorgan Council.

The Quays development will provide 2,000 new homes, a supermarket, hotel, cafes and restaurants, as well as a new £5m link road from the centre of the town to Barry Island.

Full planning consent follows a section 106 agreement between the council’s planning officers and the consortium of developers behind the scheme, Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd, Persimmon Homes and BDW Trading (Barratt South Wales).

A resolution to grant planning permission was unanimously agreed in July last year by the Vale of Glamorgan’s planning committee subject to completing the S106 agreement.

In a separate move, the district council has given the go-ahead to the redevelopment of  the Barry Island Pleasure Park, which featured in TV comedy Gavin and Stacey.

This will see the 4.7 acre site turned into a mix of restaurants and cafes, a cinema, bowling alley and 124 flats.


Farmer fined for damaging scientific interest site

A Derbyshire farmer has been ordered to pay financial penalties totalling £18,710 and to carry out restoration work at his own expense, after admitting carrying out unauthorised activities in an area legally protected for its rare geological features and upland habitats within the Peak District National Park.

At High Peak Magistrates Court, Robert Hall, of Longnor, Buxton, pleaded guilty to unauthorised ditch work and dumping spoil along the ditch edge, rush cutting and overgrazing following a case brought by Natural England.

His actions, in the Goyt Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest, resulted in significant damage to the interest features for which the site was notified.

Read the Natural England press release.


Aberdeen poll backs Terrace Garden makeover

A referendum on the future of Aberdeen's Union Terrace Gardens has come out in favour of the City Garden Project design – the Granite Web.

Voters in the city were asked to choose between retaining Union Terrace Gardens or replacing them with the proposed City Garden Project design.

The majority for the City Garden Project design was 4,126 out of a total of 86,568 votes cast, a turnout of 52 per cent.

The decision means the council can now proceed with a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) application to the Scottish Futures Trust, with a view to realising five projects across the City.

The projects are:

  • The City Garden Project;
  • St Nicholas House Redevelopment;
  • The City Art Gallery Redevelopment;
  • The City Realm – the City Circle;
  • The North Denburn Valley Redevelopment.

Each requires planning permission and funding.

Read the Aberdeen City Council news release.


Planning for Growth in the South East - Planning Portal event (London)

The Planning Portal has recently hosted successful events in collaboration with  RTPI, RICS, RIBA and CIAT in the West Midlands and the South West. The final one of the series is planned on Tuesday 20 March in London.

The theme of the events is ‘Planning for Growth’ and focuses on how new ways of working (such as submitting all applications online) can help support the Government’s growth plans as well as save time and money. The audience is mainly for planning professionals.

If you're interested in attending you can register here.


Sandbach homes case to be redetermined

A High Court judge has quashed a Secretary of State decision letter which had refused an appeal over a 290-dwelling development at Sandbach, Cheshire. The case must now be redetermined by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. The scheme was proposed by Fox Strategic Land and Property Ltd.

Judge Gilbart QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, concluded that the decision letter should be quashed because it was inconsistent with another recent decision made in the same area.

That decision related to a 269-dwelling development in Sandbach proposed by Richborough Estates. The inconsistencies might have been avoided had the decisions been taken together, the judge said.


Preston development

An outline planning application for the further development of a major site in north west Preston has been submitted to the City Council.

The Cottam Hall application includes proposals for around 1,100 homes. It has been developed by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in consultation with local residents, the local planning authority and Lancashire County Council.

Read the Homes and Communities Agency news release.


Housing permissions fall

Latest statistics compiled by consultancy Glenigan for the Home Builders Federation has shown that the 115,000 residential permissions granted in 2011 were the lowest since the survey was started in 2006. The figures were half the rate achieved in 2006. The latest survey results showed that the 27, 732 unit approved during the last quarter of last year was six per cent down on the rate in the preceding three months.

Read the Home Builders Federation media release.


Belfast developments

Visitors to Belfast could enjoy a ride across the Lagan on an action movie-style zip-wire. That is one of the proposals under consideration for the redevelopment of the Queen’s Quay area, close to the Odyssey complex. The Department for Social Development is consulting on plans to improve the site, currently used for as a car-park, with residential development, restaurants , a four-star hotel and visitor attractions.

In a separate but related development, the University of Ulster has unveiled £250m redevelopment plans for its Belfast campus in York Street.


Priority Sites to be closed

Development company Priority Sites, a private-public partnership between the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is to be closed after the partners decided to withdraw their investment.


Planning complaint

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published a survey which showed that its members found the planning system costly, complex and inconsistent.

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC said: “Opponents of planning reform have said there is no need for radical change to the planning system. The evidence from good businesses trying to expand proves them wrong, and shows the huge barriers that planning creates for companies up and down the country.

“The complexity, cost and inconsistency of the current system discourage demand from companies wanting to grow, in turn limiting economic growth.”

Read the British Chambers of Commerce press release.


Mixed fortunes for turbines

Proposals by generator Acciona Energy UK for an 11-turbine wind farm near Newtown have been refused after Powys Council planners objected to the scheme on visual grounds. They also voiced concern over the impact on local roads of transporting the 115m high turbines to the site at Waun Garno, Llawr y Glyn.

Meanwhile, developer Carbon Free Moy Ltd has won its appeal for a 20-turbine wind farm at Moy, near Inverness, which the Highland Council failed to determine with the statutory time limit.


Costly decision

Shropshire Council has been left with a bill of more than £900,000 after its objection to an energy-from-waste project at Battlefield near Shrewsbury was overturned at appeal. Most of the sum involves environmental service company Veolia’s legal costs.

Read the Shropshire Council news release.


Cala costs

Planning Minister Bob Neill has revealed in a written Commons answer that the Department for Communities and Local Government has so far spent  around £309,000 on planning litigation involving Cala Homes (South).

However, the minister pointed out that the administration was spending less on legal expenses than its predecessor. The departmental spend on external legal services from 7 May 2010 to 31 March 2011 was £2,260,000 and from 1 April 2011 to 31 January 2012 was £1,679,000, compared to £4,800,000 in 2009-10.


Civic views on high street

Civic Voice - the national charity for the civic movement - has published results of a poll which it claims shows that communities are prepared to do their bit to save the high street.

The nationwide poll asked “what do you think is the single most important priority in saving the High Street”. Nearly one third of respondents (32 per cent) said that giving local communities a bigger say in the future of their area via neighbourhood planning was key to success. This was followed by 30 per cent of people saying stronger curbs on out-of-town developments were required.

Read the Civic Voice press release.


IPC write-out

Communities Minister Greg Clark has laid before Parliament regulations that remove references to the Infrastructure Planning Commission from all 2008 Planning Act secondary legislation. This will take effect on 1 April, when the Commission is set to be abolished and its activities subsumed by the Planning Inspectorate.


Reynolds to leave National Trust

Dame Fiona Reynolds has announced her decision to leave the National Trust after more than 11 years as Director-General.

She is to take up her duties as Master of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, in the autumn of 2013 - the first woman to be elected Master in the College’s history.

Before joining the NT she was key figure in the Campaign to Protect Rural England.


Pirate flag to stay

A seven-year-old boy who was told to take down his pirate flag by a Lincolnshire council has received a letter of apology. Anthony Steele, who has Asperger's syndrome, was told his Jolly Roger breached planning regulations.

East Lindsey District Council said it had acted after a complaint was made about the flag. However, it has now sent the family an official apology saying no further action would be taken.


Roger Milne

7 March 2012