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News in brief: Amendments to Neighbourhood Planning Bill sought; Heathrow starts planning for expansion

Words: Laura Edgar
Heathrow third runway visualisation

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 13 December, 2016

Amendments to Neighbourhood Planning Bill sought

Labour MPs are seeking to make a number of amendments to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, including a measure that an independent examiner of neighbourhood plans should be registered with the RTPI. 

An amendment tabled by a group of Conservative MPs would mean that local planning authorities would be required to consult neighbourhood planning bodies on decisions to grant planning permission and have regard to the "desirability of upholding the policies and proposals" contained in the neighbourhood development plans, among other requirements.

A further amendment would stop the government granting New Homes Bonuses for developments proposed in development plans where the “green belt boundary had been redrawn or within a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where a development is considered to be ‘major’”.

The amendment, according to an explanatory statement, would “allow the secretary of state to set out exceptions to this provision within policies or guidance, which would include the NPPF”.

The report stage in the House of Commons will be held today.

The notice of amendments can be found here (pdf).


Heathrow starts planning for expansion

Heathrow Airport has said it is going to start preparing a planning application for a new runway.

The intention is to submit the application in 2019, after the government has designated the National Policy Statement.

In October, the government announced its support for a third runway at the airport, rather than a second runway at Gatwick Airport.

To inform its planning application, Heathrow said it would undertake extensive engagement and consultation with local communities and other stakeholders on factors such as environmental impacts and project design.

The first step would be to start wildlife and other environmental surveys in the area.


Oxford office building approved

Oxford City Council has approved an Oxford Science Park planning application for an office building,

Plans for the building include a roof terrace. The building will comprise 61,500 square feet of floor space and could accommodate up to 500 employees.

The Oxford Science Park plans to start construction early in 2017.


160 Guildford homes approved

Guildford Borough Council has approved 160 homes to be located on a car park.

The scheme also includes a multistorey car park and office space. Sixty-four of the 160 homes will be affordable.

Project management company WYG worked with the council to secure the permission.

Tony Rooth, lead councillor for housing and social welfare, said: “The provision of new homes, as well as an improved parking facility and commercial space, will allow the site to realise its full potential.”


Record set for wind energy

National Grid says onshore and offshore turbines have set a new record by generating more than 100,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the first time.

The record of 10,104MW was achieved between 2pm and 2.30pm on 7 December. This provided 23 per cent of Britain’s total electricity demand at that time.

RenewableUK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “It’s terrific to see wind power smashing another record. It shows that wind is playing an increasingly central role as a reliable part of our new modern energy system. As we install more wind power, more records will tumble. This is a Christmas clean energy bonus – not just for the renewable energy sector, but for all of us.”


Loan agreed for modular build-to-rent scheme

Essential Living has agreed a £60 million loan facility for Britain’s first modular build-to-rent scheme in Greenwich.

The four-year club deal will be funded equally by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HSBC. It will finance the development of Creekside Wharf, designed by Assael Architecture.

The 249 homes will include a block designed exclusively for families, with innovative buggy storage, noise insulation and an on-site crèche.

Essential Living, a developer and operator of homes for rent, said a quarter of the apartments would be discounted to accommodate low-income households designated by the local council.

Discount market rent (DMR) homes will be priced from 55 per cent of market rent and blended in with the market-rented apartments.

Robert Hill, finance director at Essential Living, said: “An increasing diverse debt market has enabled us to secure highly competitive terms. But the combination of delivering both DMR housing and a project built using off-site methods has required some innovative thinking on the part of RBS and HSBC, for which we are extremely grateful.”

Image credit | Heathrow Airport