Councils seek to limit conversion of offices to residential

Two Councils have acted quickly to introduce Article 4 Directions to remove the ability to change from offices to residential. In London, Islington made two Orders on the 15 July to remove the permitted development rights to convert offices and also to prevent the flexible use of properties on the high street. These Orders effectively remove the permitted development rights across the whole borough. They are subject to a 28 day public consultation period, ending on the 12 August, following which the Council will decide whether to confirm them in the light of the representation received. To avoid any claims for financial compensation, the Order will not become effective until 15 July 2014 and so there will continue to be a small month window during which the permitted development rights will continue to operate.

Brighton and Hove City Council have taken a different approach, removing the ability to convert offices in parts of the City. The Council is seeking to protect their prime office locations in Central Brighton, New England Quarter, London Road Area and two key office sites at Edward Street Quarter and City Park. The Order is likely to be made at the end of July and subject to three months public consultation. Again it will not become effective for a 12 month period.

Major applications to bypass past poorly performing councils

Councils which failed to determine more than 30% of ‘major’ applications within 13 weeks between July 2011 and June 2013 are set to lose some of their planning powers. Applicants will be able to choose submit major applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate bypassing the failing local authority. With the statistics for the final quarter of this period yet to be reported, six councils are failing to meet this standard; they are: Horsham, Daventry, Fylde, Cherwell, Barnet and Enfield. In the previous special measures table, seven local authorities were in the danger zone; since then Barnet has dropped in, whilst Halton and Hounslow have climbed out. These changes are likely to come into effect at a time when the Planning Inspectorate is struggling to meet its existing case load and so may not be an attractive alternative.

Centre Point receives planning permission for residential use

Camden has resolved to approve planning permission for the conversion of the Centre Point office tower to create 82 apartments, shops and restaurants. A separate building will be constructed on site to accommodate 13 affordable housing units. The approval is subject to the completion of a S106 Obligation for financial contributions of almost £5.5 million.

Town centre ‘first’ – not town centre ‘only’

Speaking at the Royal Town Planning Institute's annual planning convention in central London, Mark Lee, the DCLG's deputy director for economic and social planning, confirmed that the Government remains committed to the 'town centres first' policy. Responding to concerns about the approval of a Tesco store on Margate seafront, he stated that the policy is not “town-centre only” and provided the relevant policy tests are properly applied, the policy is working as intended.

High court quashes permission for Asda

Co-op has won a judicial review quashing planning permission given to Asda to build a new store in Cinderford town centre. The Council granted planning permission in the knowledge the development would lead to harm to the town centre because of the financial contributions offered in support of the Cinderford Town Centre Regeneration Scheme which were intended to draw shoppers back into the centre. The judge concluded that the report to committee I the Co-Op’s proposals to extend their own town centre store.

Out of town retail development granted on appeal

Sheffield City Council lost an appeal by British Land against the refusal of planning permission for an out of town Next Home and Garden store of 5,678sq m (no fashion goods), a drive-thru Costa Coffee and car showroom adjacent to Meadowhall. The council only opposed the Next store and argued that the development failed the sequential test. The Inspector concluded that although the Council’s alternative site was sequentially preferable, it was not suitable or immediately available. It was agreed there would be no significant impact on the City centre. The inspector concluded the scheme accorded with the NPPF and the local development plan and would also create 150 jobs which weighed in its favour. This development is expected to be built by the end of next year.

Proposals to scrap planning regulations to identify land for Gypsy and Travelers

The MP for Kettering has secured a first reading in the House of Commons of a Bill to scrap the planning regulations which requires local authorities to identify land for Gypsy and Travelers sites. The Bill will aim to remove any special provision for Gypsy and Travelers from national planning regulations to ensure fairness for all residents.

Planning Committee to decide redevelopment of Smithfield

The proposed redevelopment plans for Smithfield have been recommended for approval by the City’s planning officers, although members will now vote on the application this week. If approved, this will be subject to a 14 day referral period to the Mayor of London. The proposal will refurbish and provide new offices and retail units.

Major roads in London to be transformed to release development land

The Mayor of London has proposed this week to relocated parts of the north and south circular underground. TfL has also announced plans to build roofs over some of the major roads in the capital. Both proposals aim to create new areas for development which will enable communities cut off by transport infrastructure to reconnect. The new development (tunneling/roofs) will be funded in part by a tax on the new development.

Last chance saloon for owner who breached planning

Nigel Smith was fined £250,000 earlier this year for a planning breach regarding the siting of portable office cabins, caravans, hard standing and access roads on his land in Doncaster. He was given untill May 17th to clear the site but failed to do so. This week he was given a further 28 days by the High Court to completely vacate the site or else face a year in jail.

Continuing delays in determining appeals

England's chief planner, Steve Quartermain, has confirmed that the DCLG is working with the Planning Inspectorate to clear the continuing backlog of appeals.

Energy from Waste plant – Northern Ireland

An energy from waste power station near Lisburn has been granted planning permission by the Northern Ireland government. It aims to turn 80,000 tonnes of mixed waste into electricity and heat.


  • Cheltenham Borough Council – The Cheltenham Plan is due to be adopted in the autumn of 2015, the scoping consultation is open. 
  • Enfield Council – The Proposed Submission Development Management Document (DMD) is open for consultation. This DMD will provide detailed criteria and policies for assessing planning applications.
  • Epsom Ewell Borough Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Preliminary Draft Charging schedule is open for the first round of consultation.
  • Mid Sussex District Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation. 
  • Reigate and Banstead Borough Council – Core Strategy open for consultation. 
  • Selby District Council – Selby Core Strategy has been declared sound, although housing provision has increased to a minimum of 450 dwellings per annum.
  • West Dorset District Council - as agreed the designation Longburton (Cam Vale) Neighbourhood Plan Area.
  • Wealden District Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation. 


New motor racing circuit granted in Ebbw Vale

Gwent County Borough Council has resolved to approve outline planning consent for the ‘Circuit of Wales’; a 5.6 km motor racing circuit forming part of a larger mixed use development on a 344 hectare site on the edge Ebbw Vale. Colliers International provided development consultancy advice to the Heads of the Valleys Development Company Ltd, the scheme promoter.