The Government has released a consultation on a series of measures to help speed up the appeals process. The document considers creating a new specialist planning chamber, which will transfer the existing planning judicial reviews from the current system. Thus, helping to drastically reduce the decision making process.

Furthermore, the report seeks views on whether there should be further restrictions on the abilities of local councils to challenge decisions on national significant infrastructure projects.
Whilst also challenging whether it is appropriate for the Government to fund legal aid for statutory challenges to decisions.

The consultation can be found here.

Northern Line extension in doubt

The proposed extension of the northern line into Battersea has been thrown into disarray after two well-known businesses claimed they had not properly been consulted on over plans to compulsory purchase part of their land. Both, Battersea Dogs Home and the Beefeater Gin distillery, have objected to the Transport and Works Act which gives the Government the power to compulsory purchase land within a 14 day notice period. The developments on their land will significantly affect their ability to function on their sites. Both argue that they operate specific business functions and comparable locations aren’t viable, suggesting that a rival site owned by Tesco will be better suited for the proposed work. Work isn’t due to start till next year so there is still time for compromise.

Government report on the benefits of HS2

KPMG have released a report on behalf of the Government which has found that HS2 will boost the economy by £15bn a year and benefit the English regions by up to 8 times as much as London.  The project is predicted to give an economic boost of 2-4% to the Birmingham region, 0.5% to Greater London, 0.8-1.7% to the Greater Manchester region and 1.6% to the Leeds region. The Government said that HS2 will allow ‘more room for local trains, more space for direct services to London, and more space for freight trains (which will free up our motorways’). The report can be found here.

Revised planning guidance for development the road network released

The Government has released a new policy on The Strategic Road Network and the Delivery of Sustainable Development; which removes the need for developers to pay for traffic mitigation measures, unless the impact of the proposal is severe and devolves the decisions on the minimum spacing for service areas to the local council.
The new policy goes on to state that the Highways Agency (HA) should support the delivery of developments that have been approved in the local plan, whilst allowing greater retail development at motorway service stations. If development proposals are consistent with the adopted local plan the HA will not have to undertake a full assessment at the planning application stage. On the other hand, if the proposal isn’t consistent then a full assessment should still occur, although, the lobby group ‘Campaign for Better Transport’ said the new guidance was ‘a recipe for more congestion’. 

New A-road proposed to ease congestion in Cambridge

The A14, between Cambridge and Huntingdon, is one of the busiest and one of the most congested roads within the West Midlands and the east coast ports (which take a third of Britain’s container traffic). The Government has released detailed plans for a new 25mile toll road costing £1.5bn. The Highways Agency hopes this project, which is open for consultation and can be found here, will relieve congestion and be a catalyst for economic growth in the region.

Town centres still struggling

Town centre vacancies across the UK are still high although slightly lower than last year. They currently stand at 14.1%, which is down from 14.2% in new report released last week. The report highlights the north south divide; Blackburn had the largest town centre vacancy rate at 26.9%, while the lowest was in Cambridge at 7%. Furthermore, the report found that shopping centres have the highest vacancy rate compared to small towns which have the lowest.

1000 home scheme on brownfield site approved in Walthamstow

The Council’s planning committee has approved a large mixed use scheme on the 2.76ha Mandora brownfield site in Walthamstow. This scheme will provide 519 student rooms, 476 homes, 1080sqm of retail and 305sqm of business space, and will transform industrial land into a new urban village. The section 106 agreement is yet to be finalized, although one councilor said that 19 units out of 484 as affordable is ‘appalling’ for the size of the proposal. The application was passed by 6-1 votes.

Government approves housing schemes where there isn’t a 5 year housing supply

Teignbridge District Council cannot demonstrate that it has a deliverable 5 year housing land supply, and a recent 350 home scheme has been approved on appeal. The council originally refused the application due to the land not being allocated for residential development under the local plan; being outside of the settlement envelope and within an Area of Great Landscape Value. Although the Government concluded that the scheme was contradictive to the local plan, the council does not have a 5 year housing supply so full weight cannot be given to the plan under NPPF guidelines. The scheme will make a significant contribution to addressing the undersupply of private and affordable housing in the district.

Permission was approved on appeal for 450 homes on two sites in Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. The inspector found a serious shortfall in the supply of housing land in the district which didn’t demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply. Whilst it concluded the scheme would have an impact on adjoining uses the shortfall in housing outweighed the construction impacts on the local community.

Development approved after committee mistake

A 260 dwelling scheme on greenfield land in North Yorkshire has been granted after a counselor, opposed to the development, ‘pressed the wrong button’ and inadvertently voted in favour of it. The vote was tied at 2-2 after which the chair, who had the deciding vote, approved the application.


Runnymede Borough Council – Community Infrastructure Levy Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule is now open for consultation can be found here.

Tandridge District Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Draft Charging Schedule is now open for consultation and can be found here.