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Planning News - 16 March 2017

Published: Thursday, 16th March 2017

Khan approves two housing developments. Right to Buy ban bill launched in Wales. Southwark to protect its pubs. Guidance on creating inclusive environments launched.

This weeks planning news in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given consent for two high-density developments that both include more than 30 per cent affordable housing.

The applications were called in by Khan in January, the first time he had done this since his election in May last year, after they were refused by their borough councils.

Hale Wharf, a short walk from Tottenham Hale station in Zone 3, is a 21-storey development that features 505 homes, with at least 35 per cent (177 homes) affordable housing. This is an increase from 9 per cent when Khan said he first saw the scheme.

The second development is on Harrow’s Palmerstone Road, near Harrow & Wealdstone station in Zone 5. It comprises 186 homes, of which 41 per cent (74 homes) will be affordable.

Khan said: “Having carefully considered all the evidence available to me, I am confident both these high-density developments will deliver hundreds of the much-needed, genuinely affordable homes Londoners need in areas of the capital ripe for further development.

“We’ve worked with the applicant on the Hale Wharf scheme in Haringey to increase the level of affordable housing and ensure the project will not encroach on our precious green belt, as was the case in earlier designs.”

He said both schemes are close to transport links, which is one of the “key factors” in determining where major housing developments should be built.

“Building the homes Londoners urgently need will mean town centres and suburbs becoming denser, so we expect developers to continue to come up with high-quality designs which don’t have a negative impact on their surroundings.”

15 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Welsh Government has put a bill banning the Right to Buy and associated rights before the National Assembly for Wales.

The bill will provide for the Right to Buy, the Preserved Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire for local authority tenants and registered social landlords to be abolished one year after Royal Assent.

The Welsh Government said it is aiming to protect the Welsh stock of social housing from further reduction to ensure that it remains available to provide “safe, secure and affordable housing” for people who are unable to take advantage of the housing market to buy or rent a home.

To encourage the development of new social housing, the Welsh Government said that if the bill were passed it would see Right to Buy and Right to Acquire end for new homes two months after Royal Assent.

Welsh communities secretary Carl Sargeant said: "Our social housing is a valuable resource, but it is under considerable pressure. The size of the stock has declined significantly since 1980, when the Right to Buy was introduced. The number of sales is equivalent to 45 per cent of the social housing stock in 1981. This has resulted in people in housing need, many of whom are vulnerable, waiting longer to access a home they can afford.”

The bill, he said, supports the Welsh Government’s wider aims of a more prosperous and fairer Wales, helping to tackle poverty by protecting its stock of social housing from further reduction.

"I recognise the proposal affects existing tenants and we will ensure tenants are made aware of the effect of the bill in good time before abolition takes place. The bill will require the Welsh Government to publish information, which social landlords in turn must provide to every affected tenant, within two months of the bill receiving Royal Assent.”

Sergeant referred to other Welsh Government schemes, including Help to Buy and Rent to Own, stating that “we are supporting low-cost home ownership and we are expanding the social housing stock”.

“Abolishing the Right to Buy will complement these other actions we are taking in order to support people in housing need.”

13 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Southwark Council has issued an Article 4 Direction on all 188 pubs in the borough to protect them from permitted development rights.

Permitted development rights mean than pubs and offices can be demolished or have their use changed without going through the planning process.

The Article 4 direction means that any changes to pubs in Southwark will now have to go through the planning process, and the council – as well as the local community – will be able to have a say on any proposed changes.

Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: "We value the role local pubs play for our residents, and we know that many of them in the borough are well used and much loved by local people. As well as supporting local businesses and jobs, our pubs play a vital role in the heart of the communities they serve.

“This is why we felt it was important to make sure that the council and local community have a say when pubs are put forward for development, to help ensure that changing the use of pubs only happens in the right circumstances and in the right areas.”

In August last year, Wandsworth Council granted an Article 4 Direction on 120 pubs and bars in its remit.

Earlier this month (March), the House of Lords voted to protect pubs. An amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill removes permitted development rights relating to the change of use or demolition of pubs.

9 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has published a guide aimed at creating an accessible and inclusive built environment.

The Essential Principles Guide comprises six measures to guide, support and motivate built environment professionals when they are making decisions for clients, employers and society that affect the achievement of an inclusive environment.

The CIC said the guide would help people to meet professional obligations and to achieve inclusion and ensure that this is integrated into the activity of all professionals.

The guide says an inclusive environment recognises and accommodates differences in the way people use the built environment.

“It facilitates dignified, equal and intuitive use by everyone. It does not physically or socially separate, discriminate or isolate. It readily accommodates and welcomes diverse user needs – from childhood to adulthood through to old age, across all abilities and disabilities and embracing every background, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and culture.”

The guide lists six principles:

  1. Contribute to building an inclusive society now and in the future. This includes gaining as much knowledge of best practice technical access standards and legislation and gaining an understanding of how disabled people, older people and families with small children experience and use all aspects of the built environment.
  2. Apply professional and responsible judgement and take a leadership role. This includes making sure knowledge is up to date and being prepared to influence the decision-maker or client.
  3. Apply and integrate the principles of inclusive design from the outset of a project.
  4. Do more than just comply with legislation and codes. This includes driving future legislation, codes and technical standards.
  5. Seek multiple views to solve accessibility and inclusivity challenges.
  6. Acquire the skills, knowledge, understanding and confidence to make inclusion the norm, not the exception.

The guide is an initiative that emerged from the Built Environment Professional Education Project (BEPE), a government project being taken forward by the CIC and into the industry. CIC said the aim is to build on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by helping to generate a shift change in how inclusive design skills are taught in the UK.

The CIC said it ultimately wants all built environment professionals to receive “mandatory, quality teaching” about inclusive design so they can help to create inclusive buildings, places and spaces for future generations.

Paul Morrell, BEPE Project board chair, said: “As we contemplate the many possible futures of the industry, a good question to ask is, what would an industry that we can be proud of look like? How would it behave? And what regard would it have for those it works for, and those who work for it? Just one answer to that question is that it would always have in its mind the whole idea of accessibility, of welcoming the greatest possible number of people, in all the many guises we come in, into our buildings and our businesses, and designing into both whatever accommodations may be necessary to make them feel at home.”

He said to do this the first thing is to care, then to know what to do, and then to just do it.

“These are challenges of attitude, academics and action, and rising to all of those challenges would be to achieve real buildability.”

Trudi Elliott, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “As members of the CIC, the RTPI is very proud to support these principles. From the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence; the launch last year of our RTPI Trust Bursary Scheme to help the widest range of entrants to take professional planning qualifications; to the recent publication of our paper on town planning and dementia - we are doing what we can to encourage a more inclusive planning profession which actively creates and promotes accessible and inclusive places”.

Read about the RTPI's Dementia and town planning guide.

Construction consultancy Gardiner & Theobald sponsored the guide.

13 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has identified the traffic hotspots that will receive a share of the £220 million funding announced in the Budget.

The schemes aim to cut congestion and journey times for motorists, as well as improve safety, said the government.

A project to dual a stretch of the A69 between Hexham and Newcastle will receive £30 million. Another £14 million will go towards creating a new junction on the M11 to provide another route into Harlow, which should cut journey times and unlock housing development.

The remaining £110 million will be invested on improving roads. The government said it would announce more details at a later date.

Grayling said: “We are making the most extensive improvements to roads in the last 40 years, investing a record £23 billion to keep our country moving and make journeys faster, better and more reliable for everyone.

“We are also spending a further £1.3 billion over the course of this Parliament to relieve congestion and provide important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future.”

He said these schemes would provide “quick relief” to drivers.

In last week’s (8 March) Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond also announced that £90 million would go to the North and £23 million for the Midlands from the £220 million fund to address pinch points on the road network, as well as funding for other regions.

Projects include:

  • £6.4 million to improve the A595/A66 junctions at Great Clifton, the Fitz Roundabout, the A585 at Norcross and junction 3 of the M55;
  • £15 million for A69/A68 junction near Corbridge;
  • £2.65 million and £2.25 million to widen junction 27 and junction 28, respectively, of the M62;
  • £3.3 million to widen the A5, Old Stratford;
  • £4.2 million to improve junction 3 on M42;
  • £2.5 million to improve junction 7 of the M27; and
  • Nearly £20 million to improve the M5 in the South-West.

A map of all the schemes can be found here (pdf).

15 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Centre for Cities chief to head industrial strategy

Think tank Centre Cities has announced that chief executive Alexandra Jones is leaving the organisation.

She will become the director of industrial strategy at the government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Deputy chief executive and director of policy and research Andrew Carter has been appointed as the new chief executive by the Centre for Cities Board of Trustees.

Read what Jones and Carter said about the moves here.

Committee to meet to discuss garden village proposal

Tandridge Dsitrict Council will meet this week to discuss plans for a strategic approach to development as part of the area’s creation of a local plan.

In February, The Planner reported that the council leader had outlined his plans for a new settlement comprising 4,000 homes, developed around garden city principles.

At this stage, the strategy does not set out in detail exactly where new development will take place, just the principles on which they will be based.

The meeting will take place on 16 March.

Funding for new roads and land in Scotland

Scottish finance secretary Derek Mackay has confirmed that £15 million will be invested in the development of infrastructure.

This cash injection is expected to unlock significant levels of private sector funding.

Applications by Fife and North Ayrshire councils through the Tax Incremental Financing scheme (TIF), have been approved, with the councils now set to work with the Scottish Futures Trust on more detailed businesses cases.

TIF allows councils to fund infrastructure by borrowing against future business rates that are generated as a result of attracting more businesses into the area.

Fife Council applied for £10 million to help develop 22 hectares of land at Fife Interchange distribution and business park development. The £5 million TIF funding for North Ayrshire Council will be used to construct roads and services within the i3 Irvine, Innovation and Industry Park.

Read more on the Scottish Government website.

£1.8m for Dundee-London air route

The UK Government has invested £1.8 million to secure a link between Dundee City Airport and London Stansted for another two years.

The government said the public service obligation (PSO) agreed between it, Transport Scotland and Dundee City Council guarantees almost £3.7 million to keep the route open over 2017/18 and 2018/19.

The UK Government will contribute 50 per cent of the funding while the Scottish Government will contribute £1.4 million and Dundee City Council £400,000.

Loganair will continue to operate the route.

New power station opens in Manchester

A new gas-fired power station in Carrington, Greater Manchester, has been opened by energy minister Jesse Norman.

Operated by Carrington Power, a subsidiary of ESB, the site is 12 kilometres south of Manchester City Centre.

It will use natural gas to generate enough power to meet the needs of more than a million homes in the Greater Manchester area, said the government.

Norman said: “New power stations like this complement low-carbon wind and solar renewable energy by providing reliable electricity all year round, whatever the weather or time of day. And this investment has created skilled jobs for the area as well.”

Midlands council to build council homes

North West Leicestershire District Council is to build council homes for the first time in 26 years.

The 24 houses and bungalows will be built on council-owned sites at two sites in Coalville (Linford Crescent and Verdon Crescent) and one in Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Willeslet Estate).

The council’s contractor, Robert Woodhead Ltd, has started on site in Coalville. The first homes are expected to be ready for new tenants by the autumn.

All of the homes will be available for affordable rent and are funded solely from Right to Buy receipts and the council’s existing housing budget, said the council.

14 March 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner