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News in brief: Fracking powers transferred to Welsh Government; Legal challenge launched on access to Stonehenge

Words: Laura Edgar

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 2 October, 2018

Fracking powers transferred to Welsh Government

Planning, energy and rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths has welcomed the devolution of onshore petroleum licensing to Wales.

In July, she set out her preferred policy, stating that the Welsh Government would not support applications for fracking consents or undertake any new petroleum licensing in Wales.

A consultation was then held until 25 September: it received 1,800 responses, which the Welsh Government will now consider.

A Notification Direction has been put in place by the Welsh Government so that local authorities cannot approve planning applications for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking, without Welsh ministers’ approval. 

Griffiths said she would confirm the Welsh Government's future policy by the end of the year.


Legal challenge launched on access to Stonehenge

The High Court is set to hear a challenge from motorcyclists to Wiltshire Council over access to roads around Stonehenge.

The Trail Riders Fellowship, which campaigns to conserve green roads in England and Wales, claims the council is prohibiting motor vehicles on “the minor roads which facilitate free and convenient viewing of the stones”. 

It argues that the roads are not surfaced in tarmac and were not constructed to safely and sustainably accommodate motor vehicles.

The High Court is set to hear the challenge on 21 and 22 November.

Read more here on The Planner.  


Stats: UK traffic levels

Traffic levels across the country have stabilised, according to latest the government statistics.

Provisional road traffic estimates for the year ending June 2018, unveiled by the Department for Transport, show 327 billion vehicle miles (bvm) were driven on the country’s roads, slightly less than 327.1 bvm in 2017 – the highest on record.

Traffic on motorways and minor roads increased by 0.7 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively, while on ‘A’ roads it remained broadly stable, rising by 0.4 per cent.

Read more here on The Planner.  


Maidenhead regeneration scheme wins approval

A major redevelopment site in Maidenhead, Berkshire, has been approved in principle as part of a wider plan to regenerate the town.

The Countryside scheme includes 229 homes alongside community space and food and café outlets on the banks of Maidenhead waterways.

A total of 68 homes in the scheme will be for shared ownership, affordable rent set at local housing allowance levels and social rent. The council is also delivering a further 20 affordable homes on site.

The scheme includes commercial space for food and beverage outlets and a new home for Maidenhead Heritage Centre.

Construction is expected to start on the site in spring 2019.

Read more here on The Planner. 

Heybridge homes plan to be reconsidered without flood scheme 

Maldon District Council will redetermine a proposal for more than 1,100 homes after the developer removed a flood alleviation scheme from the original successful application.

Outline plans for North Heybridge Garden Suburb by Countryside Properties were originally approved in December 2016. However, the £11 million price tag for the flood alleviation scheme has forced the developer to submit amended plans.

The new application increases the amount of affordable housing from 15 per cent to 30 per cent. It also includes a residential care home for up to 120 beds, a retail neighbourhood, primary school, childcare facility, relief road, open spaces, electric sub-stations, footpaths and cycle links.

The new proposal is now out for consultation and Maldon said the Environment Agency and Essex County Council would advise on the application.

Read more here on The Planner.  


Scottish Government appoints Millar as chief scientific adviser

A leading Edinburgh University scientist has been appointed as the Scottish Government's chief scientific adviser for the environment, natural resources and agriculture.

Andrew Millar, who is director of research for biological sciences at Edinburgh, will provide scientific advice on the environment, agriculture and the wider rural economy.

Professor Millar will also have the key task of developing and securing Scotland's science base in these areas after Brexit.

The chief scientific adviser’s main roles are to independently inform the Scottish Government’s work across policy areas and champion the use of evidence to inform policy development and delivery.

Millar succeeds Louise Heathwaite, who stepped down last year.


Firm appointed to build Liverpool cruise hotel

Wates Construction has been appointed to build a new 200-bedroom hotel by Liverpool City Council as part of the city’s major regeneration project.

The four-star hotel will support and supplement the city’s new Cruise Liner Terminal at Princes Dock, which, once built, is expected to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships. 

The hotel’s facilities will include coach parking and pick-up and drop-off provision. Subject to planning approval, work is scheduled to start in 2019, with completion expected the following year.


MPA calls for further freeze on Aggregates Levy

Ahead of the Autumn Budget, the Mineral Products Association (MPA) has written to chancellor Philip Hammond setting out the measures that it thinks would boost economic growth, employment and investment in the UK.

The MPA wants the government to avoid additional costs to industry businesses and customers at a time when construction and mineral products markets are subject to risks, including Brexit.

The measures include:

  • Announcing a further freeze on the Aggregates Levy;
  • Ensuring that there is no increase in environmental or regulatory costs for energy intensive industries and an end to the Carbon Price Floor. 

Nigel Jackson, chief executive at the MPA, said: “Given the disappointing rate of economic growth over the past 18 months and forecasts of more of the same, it is critical that government uses the Budget to take every opportunity to maximise economic activity whilst avoiding increased taxes and costs on hard-pressed businesses in the mineral products, construction and related sectors.

"The industry recognises that existing infrastructure spending may be hard to increase but programmed spending could and should be accelerated to bolster demand. The Autumn Budget provides a significant opportunity to build confidence which will increase investment.”

A copy of the submission to the Autumn Statement can be found here (pdf).

Community health centre for Scottish capital approved

The developer of Edinburgh Marina has received detailed planning permission for its community health centre and local retail provision at Chestnut Yard, which form part of the scheme.

This permission follows approval of its luxury retirement living scheme in January 2018. 

Developer Kevin Fawcett stated: “The provision of essential local shopping and healthcare services within the community is vital to the development as a whole and will help to reduce vehicle use in the surrounding area."

Peterborough homes green-lit

Multidisciplinary design practice, rg+p has secured reserved matters approval for a new housing development in the Stanground district of Peterborough.

Working on behalf of Countryside Partnerships East Midlands, the application submiited by rg+p comprises 30 new homes at the former Belle Vue Stables site, off Whittlesey Road. Of the homes, 20 will be for market and 10 have been designated as affordable. They will be a mix of one-bedroom apartments, and two and three-bedroom homes.

The development also includes parking, cycle storage and public open space.

Image credit | National Assembly for Wales