Government funding to kick start building of new Devon town

Mark Prisk, the Housing Minister, has this week announced a £32 million funding package to unlock the development of a new town at Sherford, near Plymouth, which has been stalled since 2007. The new community is projected to create 5,500 homes and 5,000 jobs. This announcement represents further funding under the scheme announced in the Autumn Statement to deliver at least 50,000 homes in large schemes with local support.

165 Councils sought office conversion opt out

A written Parliamentary answer this week revealed that 165 local councils (out of 326) applied for an exemption from the new rules which come into force next week, allowing the change of use from office to residential. Only 17 authorities (11 of them London Boroughs) received an exemption.

Housing demolition discouraged

Mark Prisk has also announced that the Government is to review financial incentives which encourage the demolition of housing. Greater emphasis will be paced on refurbishment instead. The measures could include a revision of his department’s guidance and indicating that in housing bidding documents that demolitions are not appropriate.

300 homes approved in absence of 5 year land supply

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has allowed an appeal against the refusal by Charnwood Borough Council for 300 homes on 15 hectares of agricultural land on the edge of Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire. In making his decision the Secretary of State placed “significant weight” on the National Planning Policy Framework policy which states that in the absence of a five-year housing land supply planning permission should be granted. The available evidence indicated there was only a 2.63 year supply.

Homes & Community Agency sell North East Property Partnership interest for c.£80m

The North East Property Partnership was a public/private partnership created to manage and operate the North East Regional Development Agency’s commercial property interests.  These extended across the region and encompass many of the core industrial locations. The HCA took over the assets of the RDA when it was wound up and has now sold its stake to the private sector element of the partnership; UK Land Estates and its venture partner Highcross.

Government responds to External Review of Planning Practice and Guidance

The government has acknowledged that the existing guidance needs reforming and this has been set out in the budget in line with Lord Taylor’s recommendation. The report can be found on the Government website

Cinema Conversion to Church refused by Secretary of State

London Borough of Waltham Forest refused permission for the redevelopment of the former Granada cinema in Hoe Street, Walthamstow for religious, community/assembly, café and retail uses, including a cinema. Whilst Ed Pickles accepted that the town centre is in need of regeneration, he felt that the cinema site presented an opportunity to bring forward wider benefits. Colliers International presented evidence at the inquiry on behalf of the Council.

London Borough seeks to limit the number of betting shops

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is consulting on a supplementary planning document to introduce a policy to control of the location of betting shops. The new policy will be supported by an Article 4 Direction which removes the ability of betting shops to open in properties which share the same use class.

Lack of viability evidence scuppers plan

The EiP into the greater Norwich joint core strategy has been adjourned to allow more evidence to be produced to support the development of 10,000 homes in the Old Catton, Rackheath and Thorpe St Andrew triangle. Norwich City Council accepted that there had been an over-reliance on the on historic evidence. The EiP is programmed to reopen during w/c 22 July.

London Borough of Barnet moves closer to outsourcing its planning services

Subject to Cabinet approval, Capita are poised to begin running the council’s planning, highways management, regeneration , environmental health and trading standards services on the 1st October on a £154million ten year contract.

Local Plan News

Thurrock District Council publish their Community Infrastructure Levy preliminary charging schedule for consultation on 5 July.

Tower Hamlets’ Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is available for comment until 2 July.

Central Lincolnshire Joint Planning Unit (covering Lincoln, West Lindsay and North Kesteven Councils) has announced the timetable for its new joint plans. The Core Strategy will be available for consultation in the summer and public engagement events for the Site Allocations Document will be held between 20 May and 16 September.