Chinese joint venture for Manchester’s Airport City Scheme

This week the Government has announced a joint venture agreement between Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG), Carillion PLC and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to bring forward the Manchester Airport City site. This site is within the Enterprise Zone surrounding Manchester Airport which is the third busiest airport in the UK. The scheme will cost £800m and will provide 5m sq ft of development including offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing, logistics and warehousing; whilst international occupiers will targeted for occupation. The scheme will be one of the biggest projects since the building of the Olympic Park and could create up to 16,000 new jobs.

Chinese companies continue to sign up to the Royal Albert Dock Scheme

Earlier this year the Mayor announced the creation of London’s third business district aimed specifically for Asia companies looking to expand into Europe at the Royal Albert Dock. To date 57 firms are set to occupy 600,000 sq ft of the development and include electrical manufacturers, commercial real-estate, water conservancy, fashion and textiles firms. The new development will be worth £6bn to the UK economy generating £23m in business rates annually and will act as a catalyst for further development in the area. Subject to planning permission the first stage of the development is due to open in 2017 with the rest of the work completed by 2021/22.

Loans to assist the creation of Business Improvement Districts

The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced a loan fund of £500,000 to help cover the costs of starting up a Business Improvement District. Individual loans of up to £50,000 will be made available to groups who are considered to have the potential to successfully establish a new BID.

Labour’s high street vision

Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour’s shadow minister on Communities and Local Government, criticised the Government’s approach to planning for high streets in a House of Commons debate this week. Referring to the 20% increase in payday loan companies and a 3% increase in the number of bookmakers over the last 12 months, she confirmed that a Labour government would change planning rules to allow councils to move some businesses into a separate class to limit their growth. She referred to a growing consensus on the need for such a move, with some London Boroughs already seeking powers to control the increase in pawnbrokers and betting shops, and the motion passed and the Liberal-Democrat conference to restrict bookmakers.

She also set out Labour’s commitment to localism saying a Labour government would let local authorities determine permitted development rules locally, strengthen neighbourhood planning, and consider "retail diversity" schemes to enable communities to shape their own high streets.

The return of Disaggregation?

Both the British Property Federation and British Council of Shopping Centres have submitted representations that the Government’s draft National Planning Practice Guidance appears to bring back disaggregation. This concept requires developers to demonstrate that it is not possible to split their out of centre development into smaller parcels that could be accommodated on smaller town centre sites. Disaggregation is no longer part of National Policy and so it would be inappropriate for it to be reintroduced through practice guidance.

When retail conditions mean what they say

A court judgement this week clarified the interpretation of planning conditions restricting the range of goods sold. A retail park was subject to a restriction on the range of goods sold. The restrictive condition says the use of the unit "shall be for non-food sales only in bulky trades normally found on retail parks which are furniture, carpets, DIY, electrical goods, car accessories, garden items and other such trades as the council may permit in writing". It did not expressly remove the operation of the Use Classes Order.

The park owner argued that, in accordance with case law, as the permission did not expressly exclude the operation of the Use Classes Order, it could still be relied upon and so retailers on the park could also sell any other goods falling within Class A1. As this would be a change within the same use class.

The judge in this instance looked at the construction of the condition, relying on the use of the words “shall” and “only”, and concluded that the phraseology was sufficiently clear so as to exclude the operation of the UCO and effectively limit the range of goods which could be sold to those listed in the condition.

Core Strategies Update

Gravesham Borough Council – withdrawn. The local plan Inspector has reported that their plan is unsound as fails to meet in full the objectively assessed housing needs.

Hartlepool Borough Council – withdrawn. Following a change in administration at the last Council elections, and public opposition to plans for a gypsy site and a large greenfield urban extension, the new administration has decided to withdraw the plan, despite a local plan Inspector concluding it could be ‘sound’ with some modifications.

Central Bedfordshire Council – an Inspector concluded that the Council’s Gypsy and Traveller draft strategy was unlikely to be found sound at examination. The Council is intending to review the plan which will delay adoption.

New Policy documents proposed in Westminster

Westminster released the first of 16 topic papers on the proposed policy development last week which was on basement developments. The next two papers to be released by mid-November will be on flooding and the special protection area around St James, Mayfair and Cork Street. Further information and to comment on the existing consultation please follow this link.  

LOCAL PLAN NEWS

London Borough Harrow – started charging CIL on the 1st October.

Colliers News – 10th Biennial of European Towns and Town Planners

Jonathan Manns, in the London Planning team was part of the UK working group which presented and took part in the 10th Biennial of European Towns and Town Planners in Lisbon last month. The UK group which included planners in both the private and public sectors set out the British approach to ‘Bridging the Funding Gap: Urban Regeneration in Age of Austerity’. This report and the reports from the other European countries will be published later this year.