Labour to replace CIL?

The lead up to the next general election continues with Labour’s shadow planning minister, Roberta Blackman-Woods, indicating that the party is considering scrapping the Community Infrastructure Levy (which was created by the last Labour administration) and Section 106 Obligations. They would be superseded by a ‘Community Investment Fund’, which would be a combined pot of developer contributions and Government money to be spent on infrastructure and housing.

The proposal is going to be investigated by a group of experienced professionals from the public and private sectors to see whether it is workable. The intention appears to be to give local authorities flexibility about how the funds are used.

Draft Local Development Order to approve industrial and warehouse development

Thurrock Council has approved for consultation a draft Local Development Order, which has the effect of granting permission for the development identified in the order for the land to which it applies. The Order is intended to facilitate industrial and warehouse development adjacent to the London Gateway port currently under construction. The costs of producing the Order are underwritten by the port developer.

If approved it will permit the following:

(a) The erection, extension, demolition or alteration of industrial buildings or warehouses within Use Class B8 (storage and distribution);
(b) The erection, extension, demolition or alteration of industrial buildings within Use Class B2 (general industry);
(c) The erection, extension, demolition or alteration of buildings within Use Classes B1(b) (research and development) or B1(c) (light industry); Ancillary uses in connection with development within Use Classes B8, B2, B1(b) or B1(c)

The Order will last for 10 years and will allow up to 829,000 sq m of floorspace together with associated infrastructure. Thurrock Council estimate the development will create up to 13,000 jobs.

Landmark Empty Rates Decision

A High Court judgement has been given that temporary occupation of a vacant warehouse via the installation of a functioning Bluetooth advertising server by a third party commercial operator meets the legal tests of rateable occupation.

This is welcome news for the Colliers International Accurates team who have been advising our landlord/tenant clients and their representatives with on-going vacant property since 2008, that a commercial Bluetooth occupation for six weeks is one of the most secure ways of legitimately reducing empty rates costs, from the available choices of mitigation schemes. If you would like further information please contact Philip Harrison in the Rating team on 0121 265 7572.

Housing Guarantees Scheme

The Government has set up two guarantee schemes to help expand the provision of rented housing and to boost economic growth. The first scheme will support the delivery of large scale professionally managed purpose built accommodation for private rent and the second will support the delivery of additional affordable homes. The Government will guarantee up to £10billion of housing provider’s debt.

This week the Government announced that both of these schemes are open and combined with £450m in Government grants this could deliver up to 30,000 new affordable homes to rent.

Proposals for New Wimbledon to Sutton tram service

Proposals backed by local politicians and business leaders have been presented to Transport for London for a new tramlink between Wimbledon and Sutton via Morden. Trams would utilise the existing route to Merton Park before diverting at the Morden Road stop to run south beside Morden Hall Park and then via St Helier Avenue to Rosehill, St Helier, Angel Hill and finally Sutton town centre.

Regeneration Proposals for Margate Approved and Challenged

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Eric Pickles, has approved an appeal against non-determination for the development of a Tesco superstore of 7,677 sq m, in an out of centre location at Margate. The site is situated on Marine Terrace adjacent to the Dreamland Cinema together with a 60 bed hotel over single story commercial units fronting the junction of Marine Terrace and All Saints Avenue. 

The evidence before the Inspector indicated that Margate only retained about 20% of its convenience expenditure with the remainder being lost to major superstores around, but not within the Westwood Cross Shopping Centre. A sequential test assessment demonstrated that there were no better located, suitable and available sites to accommodate the superstore. 

The Inspector concluded the superstore would anchor one end of the town centre, with the opposite end being anchored by Old Town and the Turner Gallery. The store would help claw back expenditure from Westwood Cross and with little impact on town centre comparison sales. Claw back trade would offer opportunities for linked trips to the benefit of the town centre overall. The provision of over 220 jobs was also particularly important.

The permission was granted subject to conditions restricting gross and net retail floorspace, including maximum net sales areas for both convenience and comparison goods.

A legal challenge against the decision has been launched by a local retailer backed by FOAM (Friends of Arlington Margate) which is seeking to protect Arlington House as a heritage site.

Macclesfield Silk Street regeneration scheme granted planning permission

Full planning permission for an 18,500 sq m mixed-use regeneration scheme, a joint venture between Cheshire East Council and Wilson Bowden, in Macclesfield town centre has been approved. Known as Silk Street, the development will provide a Debenhams department store, 19 shops, a multi-storey car park and a nine-screen Cineworld multiplex cinema and restaurants.

The scheme will provide 22,865 sq m of A1-A5 retail space, of which 6,430 sq m is a department store and up to 2,325 sq m food and beverage; a 4,255 sq m cinema; 10 residential units; 2 car parks, providing 818 spaces; a new town square and associated highway and public realm works.

Oxford’s Westgate Shopping Centre Regeneration Plans out to consultation

Consultation has started on the proposals to regenerate and extend the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford City centre. The £400m scheme will bring a John Lewis department store, a new Multi-screen cinema and a replacement multi-storey car park. The Westgate Centre will be doubled in size and will have 70 shops. The consultation closes on the 28 June and it is anticipated an outline planning application will follow.

New Brent Cross revealed

Revised details for the extension of Brent Cross Shopping Centre and the redevelopment of the area have been released. These will be publicised before being submitted to Barnet Council as a revision to the outline permission issued in 2010. The proposals envisage that all car parking will be provided in multi-storey car parks and the existing surface parking that is released will be developed with new shops, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities.

The application of sequential test examined in the High Court

Proposals for an out of centre foodstore on a brownfield site on the edge of Newport (Shropshire) were supported by an Inspector following an appeal on grounds of over non-determination. Telford and Wrekin Borough Council and competing developer St Modwen launched a legal challenge.

St Modwen argued that their site was closer to the town centre and consequently the inspector’s conclusion that neither of the two sites was preferable under the sequential test was wrong.

High Court judge, Mr Justice Turner, dismissed the challenge. He concluded that inspectors are not obliged to interpret the sequential test in a rigid or mechanistic fashion. The sequential test provisions should be regarded as "guidelines not tramlines". He went on to conclude that the inspector had carried out a thorough review of the competing merits of the two schemes and was entitled to take the view that they were "sequentially equal", with there being no material difference between them in terms of their accessibility.

The judge also concluded that the inspector was in the best position to assess the relative merits of the two sites and there was no legitimate ground for overturning that decision. In reaching a decision the inspector was entitled to discount edge-of-town or out-of-town sites that were not sequentially superior, even if they were equal.

Shortlist for City of Culture 2017 Announced

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced four shortlisted cities, whittled down from 11 entrants, who will be invited to submit a final bid by the end of September. The cities are Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay (which covers Swansea/Carmarthenshire/Neath and Port Talbot).

Solar Power Roll Out

Energy Minister Gregory Barker reiterated the Government’s commitment to solar energy and to making Britain a global manufacturing hub for global solar firms serving the home and international markets. Britain’s own target is 20 GW of solar power by 2020, which means that 17GW of solar generating plant still needs to be deployed.

Secretary of State Residential Appeal Decisions


Eric Pickles has dismissed two residential appeals this week. In Bingley he refused an application for 420 dwellings on highway grounds and in Hailsham he refused an outline proposal for a greenfield edge of settlement development because there was an up to date local plan (which did not include this site) and a 5 year housing land supply.

Elizabeth House legal challenge

A joint legal challenge has been launched by Westminster City Council and English Heritage against the decision by Eric Pickles not to call-in proposals for 142 homes and 88,600 sq m of offices, including a 29 storey tower near to Waterloo Station. Westminster City Council and English Heritage are concerned about the impact of the scheme on the setting of the Palace of Westminster. The decision on the scheme was made by LB Lambeth which approved it last November 2012, accepting the design was not to everybody’s taste.

Rushcliffe Borough Council has to increase its housing numbers

Following the abolition of the East Midlands Regional Strategy, which proposed 15,000 dwellings in the borough by 2026, Rushciffe brought forward a core strategy proposing a smaller target of 9,600 units. The local plan inspector felt that there was no evidence to justify such a reduction and as a result the Council sought a suspension of the examination into the core strategy to review the position. The Council have now issued a statement that it intends to consult on proposals for a further 3550 homes.

New Business Improvement District proposed for Strand

This July Westminster City Council will hold a ballot of businesses fronting Trafalgar Square, Strand (as far as Temple Bar), Aldwych and all those properties down to Victoria Embankment to establish whether there is local support for the creation of the Northbank Business Improvement District. If supported, the BID would levy an extra 1% on businesses with a rateable value of £150,000 or more to create funds to improve the area and encourage both footfall and dwell time.

New Neighbourhood Plan in Kensington and Chelsea

The Norland Neighbourhood Forum has submitted its Neighbourhood Plan to Kensington and Chelsea and will now be publicised for six weeks until 26 July. The document has been largely prepared by the Norland Conservation Society.

Neighbourhood Plans guide development

Eden District Council has approved two applications which were considered against the policies of the Upper Eden Neighbourhood Plan, the first such plan to be adopted in the country. It is believed these were the first applications determined against the policies of a neighbourhood plan.

Local Plan News

Hammersmith and Fulham - In conjunction with the GLA, a second draft planning framework for the White City Opportunity Area is available for consultation until 2 August.

Warwick District Council has published a Revised Development Strategy and its Community Infrastructure Levy Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule for consultation until 29 July.

Shepway District Council - The local plan examination has concluded the Council’s Core strategy is sound.

Kirklees Council - The council seem likely to withdraw their draft core strategy after the local plan inspector concluded the council had failed to demonstrate its duty to co-operate.

Wolverhampton City Council - The Stafford Road Corridor Area Action Plan is available for comment until 31 July 2013.

Canterbury City Council - Canterbury District Local Plan Preferred Option Draft Consultation 200613 – 300813.

Chesterfield Borough Council’s Core Strategy has been approved following an examination.