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News in Brief: Welsh planning bill, Inverness hopes to sign ‘City Deal’

Words: Laura Edgar

News in brief: Tuesday 11 November, 2014

Call for Welsh language to be included in planning bill

Nearly a third of Welsh council leaders have written to planning minister Carl Sargeant stating their concern that not including the strengthening of the Welsh language in the forthcoming planning bill is to miss a “historic opportunity”. The joint call comes a week after Kevin Madge, Camarthenshire Council leader, criticised the Welsh Government for not considering the Welsh language. A consultation on the bill ends on Friday (14 November), with the joint letter encouraging the government to include the strengthening of the language in the bill.

Stars of Primrose Hill call on Eric Pickles to save Utopia Village

Mary Portas, Alan Bennett and Baroness Joan Bakewell have joined fashion and digital business leaders to warn that Permitted Development Rights, which make it easier for offices to be converted into housing, are threatening vibrant communities. Proposals for Utopia Village, a business complex in Chalcot Road on Primrose Hill, would see 22 business turned into 53 luxury flats. Communities minister Eric Pickles is due to make a decision on the plans this week. The letter explains that jobs and pop-up businesses are being lost as landlords capitalise on making more money by turning offices into housing. The group asks Pickles to save Utopia Village and similar areas across the country.

Barton Willmore wins Gloucestershire housing development appeal.

Outline planning permissions has been granted on appeal for a 110-home development in Sedbury, near Chepstow, secured by Barton Willmore on behalf of Barratt Homes. Despite a recommendation to permit, Forest of Dean District Council refused the application in May of this year owing to the impact it would have on the landscape. The Planning Inspectorate has overturned this decision, saying the development is in a sustainable location, would not harm the landscape, and that the council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing supply. Pete Sulley, an associate at Barton Willmore, said: “We are delighted on behalf of our client that the inspector has recognised this is a high-quality development in a sustainable location that will deliver much-needed homes for local people.

More jobs created through green energy than fossil fuels, says study

Taking date from the US, Europe and China, a study by UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) suggests that green energy could boost employment through both short-term construction jobs and lifetime plant jobs. The study has found that solar energy creates between 0.4 and 1.1 jobs per gigawatt hour (GWh) of electricity generated compared to the 0.1 to 0.2 jobs created by gas and coal power. While choosing one energy policy over another might displace jobs elsewhere, the net picture reveals that renewables create on average 0.5 jobs per GWh compared to fossil fuels 0.25 jobs created.

Inverness hopes to sign a ‘City Deal’

Inverness is hoping to become the second Scottish city to sign a ‘City Deal’, which could lead to £300 million of investment in the area over the next 20 years. Glasgow secured its deal back in August with the UK and Scottish governments and Highland Council is now in discussion with the UK Treasury to do the same. The deal would lead to devolved powers that would secure economic growth.

150,00 homes and business in Scotland now get superfast broadband

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that 150,000 homes and businesses across Scotland, including 30,000 in the Highlands and Islands, can now benefit from fibre broadband as a result of the Digital Scotland Superfast broadband partnership. It has been delivered through a £140 million Digital Scotland rollout. Sturgeon said: “The rollout of superfast broadband will allow more households to connect to fibre broadband services for the first time, as well as giving businesses the opportunity to enhance their services. It’s fundamental to the Scottish Government’s aim to deliver world-class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.”