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News in brief: Marine protection "clearances", Hull revamp, shared space in Bodmin

Fishing boat Scotland

A round-up of planning news, Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Marine protection could spark modern-day “clearance”, say fishermen

Fishermen in Scotland have warned that plans to create Marine Protected Areas around the Scottish coastline could have a devastating effect on small fishing communities. The 30 MPAs will safeguard fragile habitats, and include restrictions on scallop dredgers and prawn trawlers. However, fishermen told the BBC that lives would be put at risk if they had to go beyond their traditional fishing areas. The Scottish government said it was striking a fair balance between environmental conservation and preservation of traditional industry.

Hull city revamp plans go on display

Plans for a multi-million pound transformation of Hull city centre have gone on display at the city’s Ferens Art Gallery. The plans outline the £25m first phase of a scheme to remodel the centre ahead of Hull hosting the UK City of Culture festival in 2017. Improvements to public realm will include pedestrianisation, new paving and illumination of landmarks. There are also proposals for a new performance centre and cruise terminal.

Cairngorms local plan challenge ends

A legal challenge to the Cairngorms National Park’s local plan has been abandoned. The appeal by three environmental bodies failed in the courts twice before the appellants went to the UK Supreme Court in 2013, where a date for a hearing had yet to be set.The bodies had claimed that the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) had failed in its duty to "conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area". The plan includes a proposal for a “sustainable community” of up to 1,500 homes at An Camas Mòr, near Aviemore.

Earlier dredging would have cut Levels floods, says Agency

An Environment Agency report  has found that nine in ten houses in Northmoor and Saltmoor in the Somerset Levels could have been saved from flooding in 2013-14 if dredging had been conducted earlier. A computer simulation has shown that the 10-week closure of the A361 would also have been shortened. The EA has since dredged five miles of the rivers Parrett and Tone. More than £15m is being invested in flood defences in the area in the next six years.

Ex-weapons testing site too contaminated for housing, say locals

Fear that a former MoD weapons testing site is too contaminated to be safe for housing is driving opposition to a 450-home scheme in Fort Halstead in Kent. Developer Armstrong Kent claims the site is no more contaminated than any other former industrial site and meets the ‘industrial use’ standard. Sevenoaks Council will decide on the proposal in the autumn.

Public asked for ideas on savings for Thames flood scheme

The Environment Agency is asking for suggestions from the public on how to cut the costs of a £300m flood alleviation scheme on the lower Thames between Datchet and Teddington. The scheme, which will include river widening and expansion of weirs, has a £45m shortfall. Public consultation will open in late August.

Think-tank calls for public housing delivery agency

Young planners think-tank Novus has called for a new duty on local authorities to build homes “where need is not being met by the private sector”.  In a report, the group argues that councils need to be supported by “a new generation of compulsory purchase powers, local plan designations and public delivery models”.

Hydroelectric power scheme at Chatsworth House approved

The Peak District National Park has given the thumbs-up to a hydroelectric power scheme at Chatsworth House, a stately home in Derbyshire. Two generators will be installed next to weirs within the home’s estate and all structures will be built with local stone and screened by woodland. Paul Ancell, chair of the park’s planning committee, said they had to make sure the development would not harm the “historic” landscape.

Shared space scheme gets thumbs-up in Bodmin

A scheme to give more space to pedestrians and cyclists in the centre of Bodmin in Cornwall, has been given the thumbs-up in a poll of residents. The bold proposal would see traffic lights and road signs and marking removed from a  central area, as well as a new roundabout and cycle links. Sixty per cent of residents polled at an exhibition supported the shared space proposal; however a local group – Bodmin Against Shared Space (BASS) – opposes the plan, and the local council has received a petition asking for a moratorium.

Snowdonia peak downgraded from mountain to hill

Surveyors have ruled that a ridge to the north of Moelwyn Mar in Snowdon is not in fact a mountain, but a hill. The Peak failed the mountain test by less than 3cm.  Guidelines state that a peak needs to be 610m high and have a 15m height difference between the summit and the land connecting it to the next highest hill. Using GPS technology, surveyors found that, although the peak was 650m high, the height difference between it and the connecting land fell an agonising 23mm short of 15m.

Work starts on digital hub in County Cork

Work to build a new high speed digital hub in Skibbereen, County Cork, has got under way. When completed in November, the hub will have 75 workstations on doffer Ireland’s fastest broadband connection. IT is hoped the hub will provide 500 new jobs within five years.