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Adams Hendry Planning & Built Environment News Round-Up - 28th November 2018

The Adams Hendry News Round-Up highlights recent news and commentary relating to planning and the built environment.

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This week’s round-up includes the RTPI’s response to the Raynsford Review, the Planning Act’s 10th birthday, and— is it time for the return of maglev trains to the world’s cities?

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Raynsford Review highlights some RTPI core issues (RTPI)

“The RTPI welcomes the Raynsford Review report, published by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA). It covers a number of issues at the core of the RTPI’s mandate.

The report offers vision for a strong planning system with statutory power to promote sustainable development and public welfare. It argues that critics of planning often blame the current planning system for outcomes that in reality stem from a lack of investment or political vision. The RTPI welcomes the focus on empowering local authorities to take a pro-active approach and act as ‘master developers’ to facilitate and guide development.

The report correctly identifies the importance of public awareness and perceptions of planning in the legitimacy and effectiveness of the system. The RTPI welcomes support for our Future Planners initiative, and for Planning Aid.

The RTPI looks forward to learning more on the review’s findings on professional ethics. The RTPI has a Royal Charter and long standing and respected Code of Conduct setting the ethical and professional standards for planners who have achieved or are working towards chartered status. The RTPI is a member of the International Ethics Standards Coalition and would propose other built environment organisations sign up to the 10 principles that align to our Code of Conduct and guidance. The RTPI’s code of conduct is predicated on working in the public interest rather than “doing no harm” which is accepted. 

Whilst the RTPI is uncertain about the need for a new ‘covenant for the community’, we agree more needs to be done to engage with the silent majority who could be supportive of appropriate well designed development. The review highlights the potential for digital tools to support this. The RTPI is leading the way on digital planning having announced last week a partnership with the Future Cities Catapult…”

 

The Planning Act 2008 is 10 (Bircham Dyson Bell)

“Today’s entry reports on 10 years of the Planning Act 2008.

The Planning Act 2008 received royal assent on 26 November 2008, exactly 10 years ago today. Time to take stock! 

  • Applications made: 107, including six that were made twice. The hundredth, if you include the double attempts, was the North Wales Connection. If you don’t include them, applications have been made for 101 projects and the 100th was the Cleve Hill solar park last week. 
  • Development Consent Orders (DCOs) granted: 68 
  • Live applications: 24 (the most for over three years) 
  • Applications not accepted for examination or withdrawn during acceptance: 7 
  • Applications withdrawn after acceptance: 4 
  • Applications not granted development consent: 4

Getting accepted for examination has been more difficult than getting granted at the end, it would seem.

68 is not nearly as many as one might have expected 10 years ago, but things are picking up. I have previously opined on whether the regime has worked – spoiler alert: it has delivered consents efficiently but not as many projects are being built at all or as quickly as might have been hoped.

As the regime has matured, the focus has rightly moved from achieving consents to delivering projects, and I do think this needs some work. The ability to change a DCO mid-stream and post-consent, and the scope for doing so, as well as the scope for deciding what can be left until later for approval and how that should be achieved, all need to be made clearer.”

 

A Helpful Case On The Scope Of Section 73 (Simonicity)

“I was pleased to read Finney v Welsh Ministers (Sir Wyn Williams, 15 November 2018), or the Rhydcwmerau wind turbines case, as I hope we’ll call it for ease.

Sir Wyn Williams provides the answer to a question I raised in my 3 March 2018 blog post, A Change Is Gonna Come (But Should It Really Need A Fresh Planning Permission?): can you use a section 73 application when the changes to conditions that you are seeking also entail a change to the description of development on the previous permission?

The implied answer from Singh J in R (Wet Finishing Works Limited) v Taunton Deane Borough Council (20 June 2017) was yes but the point was not specifically addressed in his judgment. Sir Wyn Williams has to deal with the point head-on as it was one of the two grounds of challenge…”

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Marking ten years of the Climate Change Act (Committee on Climate Change)

“The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is today marking ten years of the Climate Change Act. The Act, which also established the CCC, received royal assent on 26 November 2008.

Over the past decade, the Act has been the key driver of action to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure steps are being taken to prepare the UK for the impacts of climate change.

Commenting on a decade of the CCC and the Act, Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, said:

“It’s interesting to compare the political debate today with the one we had ten years ago. The Climate Change Act is a celebration of what can be achieved by a confident, optimistic Parliament, demonstrating global leadership on the defining issue of our times. The contrast with today’s tone is striking.

“We should still feel good about the Act. It has endured because it’s so well-constructed. The core idea is as essential as ever: a long term goal, set with reference to the science, with binding intermediate steps, and a tight governance framework. The oversight of the Committee on Climate Change is critical to making it work. Over the decade, we’ve worked hard to maintain our objectivity and independence.

“The Act provided the impetus for the story of the last decade: decarbonising electricity. That was the right strategy, but it’s not sufficient now. We’ll shortly discover whether the Act can move the UK into new territory.

“Ten years is a good review point. We can check in on the latest science and the global position. I’m pleased we’ve received the instruction to look again at the UK’s long-term (2050) climate change target. Our advice is due to be published in Spring 2019, then all eyes will be on Parliament again.””

 

Magnetic levitation: the return of transport's great 'what if?' (The Guardian)

“At first glance it looks like a regular train threading between tower blocks and emerald hills on the western outskirts of Beijing, but the futuristic vehicle is actually part of the Chinese capital’s newest transportation toy, a magnetic levitation (maglev) system.

Because no part of the vehicles touch any part of the eight kilometre (five mile) line, the trains on the new S1 route from Shichang to Pingguoyuan glide almost silently, with no fuming diesel engines and no squealing metal-on-metal of wheels on track.

“Maglev has no wear and tear, no contact noise and very low vibration,” says Jie Li, who designed the S1 line, which opened a year ago. “I think maglev is going to take off.”

But maglev has been around for decades. Along with flying cars, rocket-fuelled monorails and supersonic passenger aircraft, it is one of the great “what ifs?” technologies. It was supposed to transform our cities, but never quite caught on – outside Asia at least.

In the past few years, though, a new generation of engineers have been quietly developing cheaper and more efficient maglev systems, some reaching eye-watering speeds of 500km/h (370 miles per hour) and above. And with the “hyperloop” projects promoted by Elon Musk essentially maglev trains in a vacuum, the technology’s supporters believe it might just get another chance…”

 

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Contact

Suzanne Pidgeon 01962 877414 | s.pidgeon@adamshendry.co.uk