This funding will be spent on:

  • £3bn to build 165,00 affordable homes
  • £28bn road improvements, to include: upgrading: A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, M4 between London and Reading, Transpennine routes from Manchester to Sheffield.
  • £10bn to clear a ‘backlog’ of school building repairs
  • 850 miles of railway to be electrified as part of a £30bn investment in the railways to include: a feasibility study for Crossrail 2, HS2, Bedford to Oxford rail link.
  • £370m for flood defences
  • £800m extra funding for a Green Investment Bank
  • £100m for a new super prison in North Wales.

 

Danny Alexander, Treasury MP said ‘this is an ambitious plan to build an infrastructure that Britain can be proud of’.

Further council cuts

The government announced that local authorities will be faced with a further 10% budget cuts. This is on top of a 33% cut in government funding towards councils over the 2011-2015 period. Sir Merrick Cocknell of the Local Government Association said ‘local services on which people rely (on) will have to be significantly reduced as a result’.

Government planning department’s possible merger

Natural England and the Environment Agency have come under review which could lead to both merging their planning departments as the government wants a ‘seamless planning advice service provided to developers on environmental issues’. At this stage it is not known whether a full merger will occur.

Government releases more public land for development

Last week the Homes and Communities Agency released its latest list of government owned land which is due to be sold for re-development to help support job and housing creation across England.  

Fast track planning process

Nick Boles announced last week that the following will benefit from being fast tracked as national significant infrastructure projects already are:

  • Manufacturing and processing: e.g. car factories and food processing plants
  • Leisure, tourism, sports and recreation: e.g. sports stadiums, theme parks and hotel complexes
    offices and research and development centers
  • Warehousing, storage and distribution sites
  • Conference and exhibition centers
  • Aggregate and industrial minerals: e.g. sand, gravel.

 

These applications will now be considered at a national level and will ensure decisions are made within 12months from the beginning of the examination.

Shale gas applications will remain with local authorities after the DCLG decided against the move to fast tracked applications as commercial scale extraction has not been reached yet. The DCLG will be releasing guidance on shale gas applications next month.

New design standards in Scotland

The Scottish government is aiming to introduce new design standards for homes and schools as part of a revised Scottish planning policy, due to be published at the end of 2013. This comes off the back of the ‘Creating Places’ policy which was launched this week, culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said the new document will have a ‘stronger emphasis on place than ever before’.

Regional differences in government spending on transport

The government spends roughly £2,600 per Londoner compared to £5 per person in the North East on major transport infrastructure. This has been highlighted in a recent survey by the Institute of Public Policy Research which has undertaken similar surveys in the past years and this shows no change; spending on London per person is higher than any other part of the country.

Free schools planning exemption

The chancellor pledged funding for the creation of 180 free schools a year from 2015. Under the amendments of the general permitted development order published last month free schools will benefit from PD rights for up to one year, although only one can be used once per site. So far 81 free schools have opened, with 90 due to open for the next academic year and a further 100 are in the pipeline.

Electricity blackout?

Ofgem released a report this week which indicates that there will be a faster than anticipated tightening of electricity margins in the next decade. There is uncertainty in the electricity generating market with power stations due to close and anxiety over how electricity to be replaced. The government announced yesterday a £110bn private investment in Britain’s energy infrastructure. This will support up to 250,000 jobs in the sector and help achieve 30% of power from renewable energy by 2020, currently at 13%. Earlier this year Hinckley C nuclear power station was granted approval to be built, it will be the first new nuclear plant in Britain since 1988.

Homes which meet design standard could be fast tracked

Nick Boles has announced that housebuilders which meet the building for life design standard could benefit from accelerated planning procedures. The government is looking to consider whether planning procedures could be streamlined for developers who meet this standard.

Centre Point – redevelopment?

The long running saga between the owners of Centre Point and Camden Council seems to be drawing to a close as planning officers have endorsed the revised plans of the office to residential redevelopment of the tower. This is due to go to committee on the 4th July and is recommended subject to section 106 legal agreement, which covers the affordable housing provision, financial contributions and other issues.

Core Strategy in Medway, found unsound

Medway Council Core Strategy has been found unsound by the inspector this week after a 5,000 home site designated for development has been re-designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The inspector found that the lack of alternative sites and the fact this site cannot progress as the main reasons why the plan is unsound and should be re-done. Medway Council leader said, ‘the decision would cost local people homes and jobs’.

Safeguarded development site rejected by committee in Cheshire

A 2,000 home Greenfield site in Cheshire has been rejected by the planning committee, despite the planning officers recommending it for approval and the land being safeguarded for development. The councillors cited building on farmland as against the NPPF and the council’s local plan. The developer is currently reviewing its options.

Dwell – latest high street casualty

Furniture retailer Dwell is the latest in the long string of retail business to close due challenging conditions in the UK economy; this will affect 23 stores and 300 employees. There are rumours that Modelzone, Internacionale and Ark could be the next high street casualties.

Designated housing site given permission in Medway

A 3.9ha site designated for housing in the 2003 Medway Local Plan has been approved for a 119 home development at Hoo which is the fourth phase of a 600 home development. This will include 30 affordable houses and planning contributions of £428,000.

LOCAL PLAN NEWS

Birmingham/Solihull Masterplan – a new masterplan was unveiled which aims to create up to 100,000 new jobs in the sub-region to 2040.

  • South Oxfordshire – Local Plan: Sites and General Policies – Issues and Options open for consultation
  • Derbyshire Core Strategy approved – this includes a target for 7,600 new homes by 2031
  • West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council Joint Community Infrastructure Levy – submitted for examination
  • Teignbridge District Council – Local Plan and Community Infrastructure Levy submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, both are due to be adopted in March 2014
  • West Lancashire District Council – modifications to the Local Plan open for consultation
  • Tandridge District Council – Local Plan Part 2 open for consultation
  • Chelmsford City Council – Planning Obligation Supplementary Planning Document open for consultation
  • Darlington Borough Council – Local Plan: Making and Growing Places is open for consultation