Update – November 2016

Councils pay out £12 million in lost planning appeals

Planning appeals have led to some local authorities losing a significant amount of their budget. This is impacting upon wider service delivery, and ultimately has become a barrier to housing delivery.

Property consultancy, Daniel Watney LLP, sent out FOI requests to 418 principal local authorities across the UK, asking them to disclose costs awarded from appeal proceeding from 2010/11 to 2015/16.

Out of the 217 councils that responded, 178 had paid out £11,975,007.12. Cornwall Council paid out £981,332.40, with six appeals lost which was highest out of responses. Halton Borough Council paid an average of £360,735.24 per lost appeal making it the highest average sum over the past six years out of responses. See more …

First neighbourhood plan fails at referendum

The track record of every neighbourhood plan having been approved at referendum was destroyed last month when the Swanwick Neighbourhood Plan was the first to be rejected, thrown out with 85 per cent ‘no’ vote (on a 26 per cent turnout). Swanwick is a parish 14 miles north of Derby.

The neighbourhood plan had been developed on behalf of the parish council, with the assistance of Amber Valley Borough. But when the plan was examined several recommendations were made which upset the parish council, so much so that they decided to oppose it. These included all the first five policies:

Due to there being no evidence which demonstrated that Policy 1: Sustainable Development Principles is deliverable and could potentially prevent appropriate, sustainable development, the Examiner recommended its removal. The Examiner also identified several failings in Policy 2, this included the term ‘protected open land’, however there was no detail provided with regards to how the land would be protected. Additionally, there was already existing land use planning policy in place to achieve this in the Local Plan.

The Examiner also recommended removing Policy 3: Creation of additional open space for community use to be removed as it failed to provide a decision maker with a clear indication of how to react to a development proposal. The removal of Policy 4: Improve and extend parks, open spaces and green corridors. Policy 5: Create a network of pedestrian and cycle connections was also recommended to be deleted due to wording and lack of clarity regarding the environment, pedestrians and cycle connections. Policy 6: Design Principles for New Development was criticised as it could potentially result in supporting inappropriate development, due to its wording.

The Examiner described Policy 9: Enhancing the facilities in the village centre as a positive planning policy, as it supported the provision of shops and services in Swanwick’s village centre, which contributes to the achievement of sustainable development. The Examiner highlighted that Policy 11: The Allocation of Affordable Housing was not a land use policy that shapes or directs development or affordable housing and could not be required through the planning process.

Subject to the specified recommendations and modifications, the Examiner felt that the Swanwick Neighbourhood Plan did meet the basic conditions and could go forward to referendum. More…


Apparently, that is what Cambridge taxi drivers call the city due to the amount of development that is going on. They are correct, as those travelling on the M11 will see as they look across Cambridge.

There is certainly a lot of development going on in Cambridge, most notably CB1 a mixed development next to the station, the huge Cambridge Biomedical Campus on 70 acres involving some 220,000sqm (2.3million sq ft) of buildings including the new Papworth Hospital and new corporate headquarters and research centre for AstraZenica. There is also residential with a joint venture between Liberty and Countryside on 14 acres.

Cambridge North West is also a huge development, in conjunction with Cambridge University, to provide 1,500 homes for staff, accommodation for 2,000 students, research facilities, associated infrastructure, and 1,500 homes for private sale. It is 150 hectare site and will benefit from a district heating system, water recycling, open spaces and extensive walking and cycling network.

Hill Residential is doing the private housing at Cambridge North West, but it is also involved at CB1, including redeveloping the former Spillers Mill. Rob Hall said at the Cambridge Built Environment Network Event on November 15 that

Legal & General Investment Management saw the opportunity with the massive development in Cambridge and moved to acquire the Grafton Centre last year. The Grafton is Cambridge’s second shopping centre to the north of the city centre, competing with the Lion Yard in the city centre. Charles Walker, director of Investment, outlined the £100million+ investment it had planned for the centre at the Built Environment Networking event held at the University Centre on November 14. The initial £20million phase will recreate the main entrance, closely followed by a complete overhaul of the remainder of the centre, facilitated by the demise of BHS at the other end of the Centre. Legal & General has also acquired substantial interests around the Grafton centre and is currently developing plans for regenerating the whole area.

Brighton’s challenge

Brighton has a challenge to overcome and that is geography. It is constrained to the south by the sea and to the north by a national park. Its local plan has identified an objectively assessed need of 31,120, but only has land available for 13,200, just 44 per cent. It needs to come up with innovative ideas to make use of the land available.

The city has established itself with an identity in the arts, which it wants to retain throughout regeneration and new build projects. It also has a large education sector – two of the most prominent projects in Brighton surround the two universities: Brighton University with the redevelopment of the Preston Barracks in conjunction with U+I. This £150 million scheme on the Lewes Road is part of a wider regeneration project aimed at transforming this part of Brighton. The proposals will deliver new employment space, new university academic buildings, student accommodation with 1,300 bedrooms, 350 quality new homes and 25,000 square feet of retail space.

The redevelopment of the University of Sussex runs to approximately £750million with completion expected in 2020. Renewal of the East Slope at the campus represents £150million investment. These were the original residences, built in the 1970s. They will be replaced with about 1,500 extra bedrooms.

Brighton is also blighted by the affordability crisis, which many other parts of the south east are facing. A typical two-bedroom property costs a multiple of seven times average earnings and a three-bed up to a 15 multiple. The council has been looking at ways to collaborate with developers to overcome this issue – it is partnering with Hyde Housing Association to develop 1,000 homes which will be affordable on the National Living Wage. The council has also become a developer in its own right, developing a number of small schemes across the city.

The Built Environment Networking event on November 9th was well-attended and interesting presentations from Nick Hibberd from Brighton and Hove Council, Mike Clark from the University of Brighton, Michael Davies from the University of Sussex and Rob Sloper from U+I.