Latest news

Planning news - 20 July 2017

Published: Thursday, 20th July 2017

Counties press for new planning role to link housing and infrastructure, Khan announces £1.7bn affordable homes deal, £6.6bn HS2 contracts awarded. And more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

County councils should have an enhanced role in planning through new strategic arrangements with districts to help overcome nimbyism and boost housing delivery.

The County Councils Network (CCN) said the average county house price is now nine times the average yearly earnings, rising to 12 times higher in some counties in the South East.

The CCN, which represents 27 county councils across England, said communities fear that developments are not supported with the necessary infrastructure and funding. As a result, major developments are unpopular locally, with residents and MPs resisting moves to build homes.

It points to the current “fragmented system” that sees districts overseeing housing and counties managing infrastructure. By bringing them together in strategic planning arrangements, it argues, counties and districts could plan for homes across an entire county “rather than the current system being restricted to pockets of areas containing on average 100,000 people”.

Councils could then pinpoint the most appropriate areas for development rather than proposing to “cram homes into small pockets” or build without the necessary infrastructure.

“Strategic planning will allay the considerable fears felt in communities over housebuilding, targeting developments in the most appropriate areas, with joined-up plans and financing for these homes allowing the necessary infrastructure to be created so communities do not feel the extra burden on public services,” said CCN vice-chairman and Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins.

Any reform must be backed by fair and adequate funding for infrastructure for county areas, the CCN argues, with counties receiving £291 less per person for key services. This has led to infrastructure gaps amounting to billions of pounds in county areas.

19 July 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner


Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a deal with councils and housing associations in the capital for an extra 50,000 affordable homes to be built over the next four years for rent and purchase.

The deal follows Khan’s first call for bids to the £3.15 billion affordable homes fund allocated in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

The 50,000 affordable homes is an increase from the 18,000 homes secured by the final call for bids issued by previous mayor Boris Johnson in 2014, according to the mayor’s office.

The £1.7 billion is for the delivery of 49,398 affordable homes across all 32 boroughs and the City of London. Forty-four housing providers, including large and small housing associations, as well as nine London councils, will deliver the homes.

In total, 17,500 dwellings will be let at social rent levels, while 32,000 will comprise the Mayor’s London Living Rent and shared ownership component.

Housing associations will have the option to swap homes between London Living Rent and shared ownership depending on the circumstances in each borough when the homes are completed.

Sites have been decided for almost half of the homes and delivery will start immediately. Major housing associations are to work with City Hall to bring forward land for the remaining homes.

Khan said: "We know that solving the housing crisis is not going to happen overnight, but I very much welcome so many housing associations and councils matching my ambition by committing to build the new and genuinely affordable homes Londoners so desperately need.

“I am clear that we have got much more to do to secure the land we need to build homes and ensure we have sufficient capacity in the construction industry.”

The allocations also include eight new strategic partnerships with housing associations – L&Q, Hyde, Genesis, Clarion, Network, Notting Hill, Optivo, and Peabody. The housing associations have said they will build new homes at scale and deliver at least 60 per cent affordable housing across their portfolio of sites, delivering 38,500 genuinely affordable homes.

Paul Hackett, chair of the G15, representing London's largest housing associations, said: “The commitment from London's housing associations is an unprecedented level of ambition to build the homes the capital needs. The partnership with the mayor is the biggest that London's housing associations have ever committed to – reflecting the urgency of the housing crisis and our strong relationship with City Hall.”

All homes, said Khan, will meet the design and sustainability standards set out in the London Plan. The new plan will be published later this year.

17 July 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


sponsored content

Transforming the Regional Economy

Please join us in Cardiff this October (3-4) for Regen, the 4th annual free-to-attend Conference, Exhibition & Networking Event for the UK Regeneration Industry!

Register now

Following the success of our three previous events in Liverpool, we are delighted to bring the leading forum for the industry – a vital and significant field that continues to transform the prosperity of every town and city in the UK – to Wales for the first time.

Cardiff and Swansea are at the heart of a major new regeneration effort. With the support of public and private-sector players (both to be strongly represented at the event), this offers great potential to transform the regional economy in a sustainable and inclusive way and help create vibrant and viable communities.

Conference - Exhibition - Networking

The event centres on our 2-day conference exploring key national and regional issues around:

  • Urban Regeneration
  • Housing
  • Sustainability
  • Place-making

Speakers are already confirmed from a host of leading institutions, including Centre for Cities, Chartered Institute of Housing, Institute of Economic Development, Institute of Place Management, the Land Trust, Low Carbon Research Institute, NHBC, Tidal Lagoon Power and the UK Green Building Council.

In addition, Regen will once again provide significant sales and business development opportunities for our many exhibitors.

Want to exhibit? Reserve a space

Potential sponsor? See our sponsorship opportunities

Venue

Cardiff City Hall - City Hall's stunning Assembly Room and Marble Hall will host both days of the conference and exhibition.

Our complimentary drinks reception and networking evening at the end of day one will also take place in the Assembly Room.

Register now


The Department for Transport has announced that UK firms Carillion, Costain, and Balfour Beatty are among the consortia that have been awarded contracts to build the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham.

The contracts are worth £6.6 billion, and the government and HS2 Ltd expect them to support 16,000 jobs.

The investment covers the main civil engineering work on the first phase of HS2, including the construction of bridges, tunnels, embankments and viaducts.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “HS2 will deliver vital links between some of our country’s biggest cities, helping to drive economic growth and productivity in the North and Midlands.

“As well as providing desperately needed new seats and better connecting our major cities, HS2 will help rebalance our economy.”

David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, said: “HS2 was always designed to be much more than just a high-speed railway and today (17 July) we can see the opportunities it brings right around the country – spreading prosperity, acting as a catalyst for investment and rebalancing our economy 10 years before the railway even opens. Business now has the surety to invest with confidence to build a legacy for Britain.”

The winning bidders to build the first phase of the first phase of HS2 are:

Area south:

  • Euston Tunnels and Approaches – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG)
  • Northolt Tunnels – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG)

Area central:

  • Chiltern Tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct – Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick, Sir Robert McAlpine)
  • North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley – CEK JV (Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd)
  • Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel – CEK JV (Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd)

Area north:

  • Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel to Delta Junction and Birmingham Spur – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement)
  • Delta Junction to WCML Tie-In – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement)

Preparatory works are under way, the government said, with the main construction work starting in 2018/19 following the completion of the design work.

Grayling has also confirmed the routes for HS2 north of Birmingham, with a new housing in Sheffield to be knocked down to be make for the train line.

Government stats on HS2:

  • HS2 could carry more than 300,000 people a day
  • Construction of the full route – London to the north-west and Yorkshire – will create up to 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprentices
  • 3,000 people will operate HS2

The growth around HS2 stations is estimated to create 100,000 jobs.

17 July 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The ‘largest’ community battery (2MWh) and solar photovoltaics that will generate, store and distribute energy at a neighbourhood level is set to be installed on the banks of the River Trent in Nottingham.

The project, Trent Basin, by Blueprint, will also see the launch of a unique energy company for residents.

A consortium of businesses, government and academia has come together, supported by Innovate UK, to pilot “state-of-the-art technologies” and a “unique” energy company for residents.

The pilot aims to demonstrate how to lower cost and reduce carbon while allowing residents to better engage with the energy they consume.

The £100 million Trent Basin project is a residential development that is part of the 250-acre Waterside Regeneration area in Nottingham. Phase one was completed at the end of 2016. Construction on phase two is due to start later this year.

Homeowners at Trent Basin are going to be invited to participate in the project. Opting in could see them make “significant” savings in energy costs. A number of technologies will be used as part of the project, including photovoltaic panels, communal battery and heat stores, and ground source heat pumps.

The project is being supported by £6 million of grant funding from Innovate UK through two energy programmes – the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and Project SCENe (Sustainable community Energy Networks).

The consortium includes Blueprint, the University of Nottingham, Siemens, URBED, Solar Ready and Nottingham City Council.

Alan Clark, portfolio holder for energy and sustainability at the city council, said Nottingham being chosen to pilot the scheme “highlights that the city is at the cutting edge of energy innovation, having the right people and infrastructure to get these types of projects off the ground”.

“This growth in community renewable energy will help to sustain our status as the most energy self-sufficient city in the UK.”

George Waddington, chief executive at the ERA, said that one of the greatest issues today is to try and make enough clean energy quickly and cheaply.

“The community energy demonstrator at Trent Basin is a great example of how exciting technologies can be used to enable communities to significantly reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy sources.”

Blueprint is a public-private partnership that says it is committed to the development of sustainable homes and workspaces. Nick Ebbs, chief executive, said: “Technologies now exist that mean we can deliver community energy in a way that can bring real benefits to consumers and significantly reduce carbon. The barrier to adoption has been the complexity of putting consumers, new technologies and business models together in a way that makes it all work. That is why Innovate UK is supporting this pilot.”

He said the distribution system will be connected to the grid and as well as drawing renewable energy from community sources, would buy in energy when needed, selling back any surplus.

There is a requirement to find ways of storing energy, particularly at night, when demand is less.

“The way we generate and distribute energy in the UK is inefficient and carbon intensive. It doesn’t have to be like this. With new technologies, especially in renewable energy and storage it is possible to do better,” Ebbs concluded.

The Community Energy project is being developed by an industry and academic team led by Mark Gillott, professor of sustainable building design, faculty of engineering, at the University of Nottingham.

He said the aim is to make smart energy commercial viable, which will increase the take-up of the technology and revolutionise the energy sector.

“We need a mind shift away from personalised household energy generation, storage and use to larger community schemes that provide greater efficiencies and cost savings.”

Project SCENe is informed by the university’s Creative Energy Homes low/zero carbon housing project. This incorporates a heat network and electricity micro-grid that uses community energy stores and demand-side management technologies.

The project means:

  • Residents who opt in will have photovoltaic panels installed on their roof, and be provided with smart meters and voice-controlled speakers for access to live data on energy created, stored and consumed.
  • An urban solar panel farm will be installed on the site, in areas that are yet to be developed. As homes are built, panels will be transferred to each home.
  • Further investment will include ground source heat pumps to generate heat for local storage, distribution and use.

More information can be found on the Trent Basin website.

17 July 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A round-up of planning appeals.

Hammersmith advertising hoarding secures permission

Planning permission has been granted for a 48-sheet LED advertising hoarding on the side of an electricity substation in Hammersmith.

Essex home would add ‘variety’ to Special Landscape Area

An appeal has been allowed to demolish a bungalow and building a replacement home at a site near Chelmsford after the inspector considered its impact on the appearance of a rural area within a Coastal Zone and Special Landscape Area.

Inspector has no taste for Nuneaton fish and chip shop 

An inspector has backed Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s refusal to allow a change of use from a retail unit to a fish and chip shop.

Flintshire homes appeal dismissed

An appeal against a refusal of a proposed development of 17 homes and infrastructure at Northop, Flintshire, has been dismissed after it was found to conflict with local and national policies.

Secretary of state backs inspector on Lincolnshire on settlement gaps 

Outline planning permission has been refused for up to 65 homes, open space and a school staff car park on agricultural land at Dunholme, Lincolnshire.

Leeds housing development on ex-oil site rejected

Plans to build up to 30 homes on a former oil waste facility in Leeds have been rejected after an inspector decided residents’ living conditions would be unacceptable.

Secretary of state backs Rugby development

The secretary of state has agreed with an inspector’s recommendation to allow an appeal and grant outline planning permission to build up to 860 homes, a potential primary school, open space and green infrastructure at Rugby, Warwickshire.

Silage building ruled to be in green belt context

An appeal to develop an agricultural building for silage at a farm in Shuttleworth has been upheld.

Single-storey extension approved in Waltham Forest

Planning permission has been granted for a single-storey rear extension at a property in Woodford Green after an inspector ruled the development would be appropriate to the area’s character and appearance.

Car club membership pledge paves way for conversion

An inspector has allowed an appeal to convert a property from five to eight self-contained flats in South London after the developer agreed to secure car club membership for future occupants.

Javid makes split decision on Scout Moor turbines

Plans for 16 extra wind turbines at Scout Moor Wind Farm have been partly refused by communities secretary Sajid Javid.

Cheshire housing scheme falls foul of highway risks

An appeal to build about 80 homes on a field at Wrenbury, Cheshire, has been rejected after an inspector decided that access to the development posed risks for highway safety.

Communities secretary blocks St Ives mixed-use extension

The secretary of state has rejected plans for a mixed-use urban extension in Cornwall after finding the proposal conflicted with a neighbourhood plan.

Reporter rejects primary school obligation discharge

An application to discharge a planning obligation towards primary education in Aberdeen has been dismissed by a reporter.

Javid goes against inspector’s advice on Lincolnshire scheme

The secretary of state has rejected advice from an inspector who recommended approval for a 36-home scheme in Lincolnshire.

Javid dubs Bassingham housing scheme ‘unsustainable’

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has refused planning permission for a development of up to 120 homes in Bassingham, Lincolnshire.

17 July 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner


A round-up of planning news.

Online training for dementia and planning launched

The RTPI has launched an online learning tool aimed at helping town planners understand their role in creating better environments for people living with dementia.

This follows the publication by the RTPI of its first practice note on dementia and planning. It states that local planning can play a much stronger role in creating dementia-friendly communities to ensure that people with dementia can stay in their own homes for as long as possible, reducing the pressure on the NHS.

The institute said the 60-minute interactive module will lead users through a series of segments, such as images, videos and quizzes to reflect on changes that can be made in people’s working lives and local areas.

The module counts as continuing professional development.

Manchester appoints designers for Our Town Hall scheme

Manchester City Council has announced a list of the successful tenders for the Our Town Hall project contracts.

The project aims to repair and upgrade the grade I listed Manchester Town Hall, which was built 140 years ago.

Designed in the 1869s by Alfred Waterhouse, the building needs work to modernise access and safety standards while preserving heritage.

The contracts have been awarded to:

  • Purcell Miller & Tritton – architecture
  • Ramboll UK Ltd - structural and civil engineers
  • Planit IE LLP – landscape design
  • Ove Arup & Partners Ltd – building services and engineering
  • Faith + Gould – quantity surveying

The works will take place over a seven-year period.

Peabody looking for Thamesmead partner

Housing association Peabody has appointed GVA, a real estate advisory company, to source a strategic partner for Thamesmead Waterfront.

GVA has been advising Peabody on the regeneration that looks to bring the scheme to the market in the third quarter of 2017.

In total, Thamesmead will deliver more than 20,000 new homes and thousands of new jobs. Thamesmead Waterfront alone is set to provide a community of 11,500 homes.

Plans for social sciences facility approved in Sheffield

Sheffield City Council has approved the University of Sheffield’s plans for a new social science facility.

The facility will include a research hub and aims to offer a wide range of disciplines under the same roof.

The university said the building has been designed with “sustainability at its core”, with it being the first of the university’s building to achieve a BREAM outstanding rating. Ground source heat pumps will be installed to maximise the opportunity created by thermal warmth and provide cooling in the winter.

Sheffield-based architect HLM designed the scheme.

Vauxhall Gardens completed

Caddick Developments has completed Vauxhall Sky Gardens in the Nine Elms regeneration area.

The development comprises 194 private apartments, 35 affordable flats, six shared ownerships homes and two penthouse apartments.

The development includes a 36-storey tower and an eight-storey block. It features over 2,000 square metres of outdoor space and two ‘floating gardens’ open to all residents.

Vauxhall Sky Gardens also includes seven floors of commercial office space.

Westminster approves 200 homes

Westminster City Council has approved 200 homes in the next stage of the regeneration of West End Gate.

Planning consultancy Turley acted on behalf of Berkeley Homes and Lucky Six Limited.

The permission will see 14-16 Paddington Green demolished and 17 Paddington Green partially demolished. The development will see the homes delivered in buildings ranging between four and 14 storeys, as well as the provision of landscaping, basement car and cycle parking, and servicing provision.

The grade II listed building at 17 Paddington Green will be retained and refurbished as part of the proposals.

Property group buys Exeter site

Acorn Property Group’s Bristol office has exchanged contracts to purchase the current site of the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education on Topsham Road in Exeter.

The site will offer a mixture of private and affordable units as well as assisted living and retirement properties, said the company.

Robin Squire, regional managing director of Acorn Bristol, said: “An exchange on this site has been the culmination of 18 months of collaborative working between Acorn, the academy and their agent Maze. We are extremely excited about delivering a fantastic bespoke development on this important site.”

125 homes approved in Aylesbury

Aylesbury Vale District Council has granted outline planning permission for 125 new homes, green public open space and a children’s play area.

Strategic land promotion company Richborough Estates, which secured the permission, said 30 per cent of the homes would be affordable.

The 14-acre site is located just south of Stoke Mandeville Hospital and has been allocated in the local plan for housing.

The approval is subject to a Section 106 agreement.

Richborough Estates said it would work with retained development land agent Strutt & Parker LLP to seek a housebuilder to deliver the scheme.

18 July 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner