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Planning news - 30 November 2017

Published: Thursday, 30th November 2017

£300m for community housing, London Plan: Khan lays out his proposals for fracking, cycling, the green belt and pubs, Industrial Strategy includes £170m for construction sector. And more stories...

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

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Housing minister Alok Sharma has announced £300 million for the Community Housing Fund, initially announced in the 2016 Spring Budget by then chancellor George Osborne.

Speaking at the first National Community-Led Housing Conference yesterday (27 November), organised by National Community Land Trust (CLT) Network and UK Cohousing, Sharma said the new programme of funding will help to build thousands of more homes.

“Worth £60 million in the first year alone, it will provide both capital and revenue funding, with flexibility to meet demand.

“A significant element of the funding will also go towards developing an advisory network that supports community groups to bring forward projects.”

Community-led housing comprises a number of approaches including housing co-ops, community land trusts and cohousing.

Proposals put forward by the National CLT Network, UK Cohousing and partners will now inform the next four years of the Fund’s design.

The government released the first £60 million in December 2016, with the relaunch of the fund amounting to £240 million.

Sharma said the government will soon publish a prospectus that sets out the criteria for bids, with January seeing applications invited from community groups and registered providers.

He added that the newly renamed Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency) will assess the bids, with the intention to announce the first allocations “as soon as Easter”.

Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville MBE, chair of the National CLT Network said: “The Community-Led Housing movement is about to break through to the mainstream, with more and more communities across the country wanting to actively lead in building high quality homes to address their housing needs.

“Not only will the Community Housing Fund help to transform the movement – it will transform lives.”

Sharma also announced that he will set up an advisory group to steer the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on the delivery of the programme.

Stephen Hill, chair of UK Cohousing said an advisory board will be a great opportunity for the community-led housing sector and the DCLG “to work together closer still”.

Tom Kenny, policy officer at the RTPI, told The Planner: “Solving the housing crisis means diversifying the housebuilding market and community led housing is a part of this. Furthermore, community led housing can deliver popular schemes that meet the needs of local people, whether this is particular needs like housing for older people or long-term affordable housing. We welcome this extension of the Community Housing Fund and hope it will help expand the number of projects around the country.”

28 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


In advance of publishing his draft London Plan, the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced his plans to protect pubs and the green belt, cut down on takeaways near schools and improve green infrastructure in the city.

Safeguarding the green belt

Khan plans to make more than 50 per cent of London green by 2050, with green infrastructure to be an “integral” part of new developments.

Khan said his draft London Plan strengthens safeguards that prevent “harmful development on vital green land both within and surrounding the capital”.

He will refuse planning applications that include building on the green belt if strict rules are not met, such as replacing buildings with new ones of a similar scale.

The mayor will also work with borough’s to ensure public access to the green belt is maintained and the quality of it is enhanced.

The draft London Plan comprises guidelines for increasing green infrastructure; a framework to help boroughs and developers determine how much should be required in new developments and makes it clear green infrastructure must not be an “add-on”.

Infrastructure

The draft London Plan is set to require double the current amount of cycling provision in many new developments as Khan looks to encourage people to step out from behind the wheel and use alternative ways to travel across London.

According to a release from the mayor’s office, developers and councils will be required to increase the proportion of cycling parking around new shops and homes. Car-free developments are to be the starting point for new sites that are well connected by public transport.

In June, Khan published his Transport Strategy, stating that he wants to increase the proportion of trips made on foot, by bike or public transport to 80 per cent by 2041, up from 64 per cent now.

Other measures to make London a greener, fairer and healthier place to live include:

  • Requirements for long-stay cycle parking for student accommodation to double from one space per two bedrooms to one-to-one provision.
  • Housing developments in areas that are best connected by public transport won’t provide any parking, other than for disabled people.  Residential car parking will no longer be differentiated by unit size, meaning that the amount of parking allowed will not increase as unit sizes increase.
  • Office developments in central and inner London – the areas best served by public transport – will no longer provide any commuter or visitor parking, other than for disabled people and for essential delivery and servicing purposes.
  • Any parking that is provided will be required to support electric or ultra-low emission vehicles. Taxi spaces will be required to have charging points.

Protecting pubs

Khan said London has lost an average of 81 of its pubs a year since 2001 and that he wants to protect them.

According to the mayor, the draft London Plan “will push local authorities to recognise the heritage, economic, social and cultural value of pubs and ensure they are protected for local communities”.

They will be asked to back proposals for new pubs to be built in appropriate locations as Khan looks to stimulate town centre regeneration.

The Agent of Change principle will feature in the draft London Plan. Developers building new residential properties near pubs will be responsible for ensuring they are adequately soundproofed to reduce sound from nearby pubs, clubs and live music venues, instead of the cost falling on the pubs and clubs.

He wants councils to resist proposals to redevelop areas directly connected to pubs, such as beer gardens or landlord accommodations.

No go for fracking

Khan has announced there will be no “harmful” fracking in London.

A new policy in his plan states that any application that involves hydraulic fracturing is to be refused by boroughs.

He said the practice “presents a significant public health risk as well as risk of contamination to water supplies”.

“There is absolutely no place for fracking in London and I remain firm in my belief that any such application must be refused.

“The harmful, negative impact of the use of fossil fuels on the environment and on the air we breathe is well known. We must instead focus our resources on developing technologies for the efficient extraction of clean, renewable forms of energy, rather than coming up with more ever innovative ways to keeping burning fossil fuels.”

Fast-food restrictions around schools

In an attempt to reduce childhood obesity, Khan has outlined in the draft London Plan that new takeaways should not be permitted within 400 metres walking distance of an existing or proposed primary or secondary school.

If new takeaways are granted planning permission, they will be required to sign up to the Healthier Catering Commitment. A scheme supported by the mayor and promoted by local authorities, it aims to help caterers and food businesses make simple, healthy improvements to their food such as grilling or baking instead of frying and adding less salt.

28 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Business and energy secretary Greg Clark has launched a white paper that aims to boost Britain's productivity performance and embrace technological change.

The strategy announces four "Grand Challenges" - artificial intelligence, clean growth, ageing society and future of mobility - with the government inviting businesses, academia and civil society to work with the government to develop new technologies.

Clark said: “The Industrial Strategy is an unashamedly ambitious vision for the future of our country, laying out how we tackle our productivity challenge, earn our way in the future, and improve living standards across the country.”

The white paper commits a further £725 million over the next three years in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISFC), with the aim of responding to global challenges and opportunities faced by the UK.

This includes £170 million to “transform” the construction sector and help create affordable places for people to live and work in that are safer, healthier and use less energy.

According to the white paper, the way buildings are created in the UK has not change substantially change in 40 years and “needs a drastic overhaul if it is to deliver the building that the UK needs”.

It says that construction is currently expensive and too many buildings waste energy.

Through the Construction Leadership Council, the government and the construction sector has agreed a sector deal to transform its productivity.

The potential of sector deal was first announced in January by Prime Minister Theresa May in an industrial strategy green paper, for which almost 2,000 consultation responses were submitted.

The government said the sector’s productivity will be boosted through greater investment in innovation and skills, creating new and well-paid jobs and maximising potential. This is expected to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency and reduce whole life cost of new projects and the buildings to ensure new homes, schools, hospitals and major transport projects that are needed are built.

The construction sector, with the government, will work to drive increased investment in skills development, while adopting a more strategic and coordinated approach to recruitment, and making sure workers are equipped with the skills needed for the future.

The Industrial Strategy states: "This will be achieved through a joint commitment to implement reforms to the Construction Industry Training Board to make it more strategic and industry led, and to enable the sector to make best use of funding from the Apprenticeship Levy."

The white paper also features the Clean Growth Strategy, announced in October.

The white paper notes that the government “will aim to maximise UK businesses’ share of the global markets as they are transformed by the shift to clean growth, and make our country one of the best places in the world to develop and sell clean technologies”.

The government has already committed £1 billion to the first round of Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund projects, including the Faraday Challenge, which Clark announced in July.

This will see £246 million invested into battery technology. The investment aims to ensure that the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.

The four-year investment round is a “coordinated programme” of competitions that aims to boost both the research and development of expertise in battery technology.

The first phase includes a £45 million ‘Battery Institute’ competition to establish a centre for battery research to make technology more accessible and affordable.

In addition, today’s release of the white paper sees three new clean growth programmes launched across energy, construction and agriculture.

The government said it will review the roles and responsibilities of local enterprise partnerships and will bring forward reforms to leadership and geographical boundaries.

Also, the white paper outlines a number of Budget announcements, including that the National Productivity Investment Fund increased from £23 billion to £31 billion and a new Transforming Cities fund that will provide £1.7 billion for intracity transport.

Reaction, including from the RTPI, to the Industrial Strategy white paper can be found here on The Planner.

Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain Fit for the Future can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

27 November 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Bristol University has submitted an outline planning application for a £300 million campus next to the city’s Temple Meads railway station.

The Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus aims to “not only make a large contribution to the economy, but also improve the image of Bristol as a place to work, live and do business” when it opens in 2021.

Seven new buildings should transform the former Royal Mail sorting office and part of Arena Island, providing a mix of research and teaching facilities, accommodation for up to 1,500 students and commercial outlets. It also includes plans for an innovation hub to help start-up businesses.

Teaching and research will focus on digital technologies, their application by citizens, organisations and industry, and the innovation they drive. Plans for a  £43 million Quantum Technologies Information Centre have already been unveiled.

The campus will initially cater for 3,500 students, most of them postgraduates, and about 800 members of staff. Facilities will also be opened up for public use, including a training and skills centre.

“The new campus provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine the civic university,” said vice-chancellor Hugh Brady. “Not only does the project build on Bristol’s reputation as one of the world's leading digital cities, but it’s injecting life into a derelict site and creating unprecedented opportunities for our students and the community we’re so proud to be part of.”

The outline planning application incorporates the proposed density and scale of the buildings, as well as access to the site. Specific details about the appearance and layout of the new campus will be submitted later.

The university is in the process of appointing a design team. It will run a public consultation on its detailed plans next spring if Bristol Council supports the outline planning application.

23 November 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner


The Planning Inspectorate has cautioned two local authorities not to ‘jump to conclusions’ while it examines their local plans.

Inspectors are reviewing and writing up their conclusions on local plans in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire that envisage 44,000 new jobs and 33,500 homes.

The Planning Inspectorate has now written to the councils, expressing its concern at an email from the authorities that said inspectors “have not raised any fundamental concerns with the development strategy”.

Its letter says: “You will recall that we raised some fundamental concerns regarding the development strategy in our preliminary conclusions of May 2015.

"The council undertook further work to address these concerns and the examination has continued.

"However, our final conclusions will be contained in our reports to the councils and it is not appropriate for you to jump to conclusions prior to the receipt of our reports.”

The inspectorate said it “cannot rule out the need to revisit issues” as inspectors write up their conclusions.

"You should bear in mind that the examination remains open until the councils receive our reports,” adds the letter.

23 November 2017
Huw Morris, The Planner


A round-up of planning news.

BPF submits real estate Sector Deal proposal

The British Property Federation (BPF) has submitted a Sector Deal proposal to government on behalf of the real estate industry. It follows the government’s publication of its Industrial Strategy White Paper and its announcement of three sector deals committing industry and government to achieving the Industrial Strategy’s ambition in partnership.

BPF’s proposal sets out real estate’s role in underpinning the UK’s economic and social wellbeing and its importance to the delivery of other sector deals including construction. Key themes include building capability and capacity, targeting growth opportunities and future-proofing the industry.

The organisation’s chief executive, Melanie Leech, also welcomed the announcement of a Sector Deal for construction. 

“As the funders of construction activity, our proposal is complementary to, and supportive of, the construction Deal. It is essential that the real estate and construction sectors work together to build capacity and skills to deliver an ambitious building programme.”

GVA and PRSim advise on Scottish rental income guarantee scheme

The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has appointed GVA to advise on the Rental Income Guarantee Scheme, the Scottish Government’s policy for supporting the emerging Built-To-Rent sector. The move follows GVA’s launch of an integrated Build-to-Rent (BTR) service in partnership with private rental service provider PRSim.

GVA and PRSim have been appointed to the STF’s property advisory panel, which has been set up to unlock potential BTR developments with at least 30 units through the mitigation of risk around the initial rent stabilisation period.

Through the scheme, the Scottish Government will underwrite 50 per cent of any shortfall in rental income that is between 75 per cent and 95 per cent of the agreed annual core rental income forecast (ARIF), the annual cost of which will be 1.22 per cent of the ARIF.

GVA and PRSim will jointly assess and report on an applicant’s ARIF in order to agree a benchmark for Scottish Government support.

Digital Retail Innovation centre set to open in Gloucester

Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GFirst LEP has announced funding of £400,000 to Marketing Gloucester to open a new national centre for digital retail innovation in the city.

The UK Digital Retail innovation Centre (UK:DRIC) is set to be the national centre for testing and developing ‘disruptive digital innovations that will help shape and inform the future of cities with a special focus on retail’.

The centre will allow organisations to test innovative technologies, be an incubator and catapult for high growth new retailers, and a centre for upskilling retailers in new and developing retail technologies and methodologies. UK:DRIC will be based on the first floor of the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Gloucester for an initial period of three years.

Digby Jones: Housing and infrastructure key to UK productivity

The former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)has cited the UK’s built environment priorities of housing and infrastructure as key to solving the country’s productivity conundrum, providing the younger generation with homes and jobs to  deliver economic growth for the country.

Lord Digby Jones said: “With growth forecasts dropping and productivity remaining stubbornly low, housing and infrastructure - alongside skills - are the vital economic drivers as we navigate through Brexit. Our next generation needs Parliament to unite its focus on their future for the sake of the country’s prosperity.”

Lord Jones’ comments were made at the launch event of Built Environment Communications Group (becg), which aims to be the UK’s largest specialist communications agency for the Built Environment.

Construction of A5 Western Transport Corridor set to begin

Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure has announced its decision to proceed with the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme (A5WTC). Construction of the section between New Buildings and north of Strabane will commence in early 2018.

The A5WTC dual carriageway scheme is a Northern Ireland Executive flagship project. It will provide 85 kilometres of dual carriageway commencing just south of Londonderry at New Buildings, bypassing Strabane, Newtownstewart, Omagh, Ballygawley and Aughnacloy before terminating at the existing A5 just south of Aughnacloy.

A5WTC is one of five key transport corridors in the region and the proposed upgrade will improve links between urban centres in the west and provide a strategic link with international gateways.

The decision to proceed follows various reports relating to the scheme’s likely impact upon Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar sites, all in consultation with statutory bodies, other interested parties and the general public.

Draft Caterham masterplan consultation begins

A draft Caterham town masterplan supplementary planning document, prepared by Nexus Planning and commercial property agents Colliers International, has been considered by Tandridge District Council’s Planning Policy Committee with consultation now running until Monday 22nd January. 

The document takes on board comments made during a previous consultation in May, and is intended to help deliver an ambitious regeneration plan for Caterham town and Caterham on the Hill over the next decade.

Key proposals include re-development of the former Rose & Young site; re-development of Church Walk Shopping Centre; the creation of a more attractive, pedestrian friendly area around the station; development of new high specification homes and flexible office space; improvement of Town End (revitalising vacant shops and creating a multi-use recreation ground for children) and regeneration of Raglan Precinct.

28 November 2017
Martin Read, The Planner