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Planning News - 15 March 2018

Published: Thursday, 15th March 2018

English cities regeneration fund doubles in size, Khan announces £24m funding for community regeneration, New student village scheme mooted for Swansea waterfront and more stories...

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

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The English Cities Fund has announced that it will double its investment in English towns and cities to £200 million as it looks to deliver five schemes that have a total value of £1.6 billion.

The fund is a development company set up by Homes England, Legal & General and Muse Developments in 2001.

It is seeking new partnerships with councils, regional authorities and other public sector organisations to transform major sites, deliver mixed-use residential schemes, and create inspiring new places.

The £200 million fund is set to target complex, large-scale and long-term regenerations projects; some have already been delivered in Liverpool, London, Plymouth, Salford and Wakefield. It has so far delivered 850,000 square feet of office, retail and leisure space, and built 1,300 homes in new neighbourhoods, with another 2,210 homes in the pipeline.

Sir Michael Lyons, chair of the English Cities Fund, said: “Our cities and towns are the engines of our economy and our cultural and social lives. We must continue to reinvent them in bold and imaginative ways.

“We want to partner with ambitious local authorities and other public bodies who want to attract investment, build homes and support enterprise. Together, we can create exceptional places.

“We’re a unique partnership. In bringing together Homes England, Legal & General and Muse, we are demonstrating the combined potential of public and private sector regeneration expertise. We’ve shown over 17 years that it’s possible to commit for the long-term while still delivering at pace. It’s an approach that’s allowed us to see potential where others may not and to transform even the most complex sites.”

7 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has awarded £24 million from his Good Growth Fund to help projects across the capital to enable local people to take an active role in the regeneration of their communities.

The fund, which is delivered through the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), received more than 200 bids, with 27 being taken forward.

The successful projects aim to deliver social and economic improvements including investment in community assets, workspaces, green infrastructure and cultural venues.

The mayor said: “I am using this funding to challenge preconceptions about how regeneration takes place. I want to give all Londoners – regardless of background – the opportunity to be actively involved in their city and have more places to live, learn, work and play.

“The projects I announced funding for today will help us to tackle inequality, strengthen civil society, and ensure the benefits of regeneration are felt by all.”

The projects that will receive a share of the funding include:

  • The delivery of a dedicated HQ for the Southbank Centre’s new education programme and an expanded and improved skate space.
  • The redevelopment of the 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning centre in Herne Hill.
  • Funding for Lower Lea Threads, which will assist the mayor’s efforts to establish a fashion district in East London.
  • Investment in Mountview, a drama school and provider of high-quality arts, education, skills-building and well-being activities in South London, will actively support groups including Londoners of a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

Louis Woodhead of Long Live Southbank said: “LLSB and Southbank Centre have been working hard to show what can be achieved through collaboration and we’re grateful to everyone who continues to donate and support the campaign. Receiving the Good Growth Fund brings us closer to our vision to provide more space and opportunities for this creativity to grow and flourish.”

7 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Specialist developer Crown Student Living has unveiled outline proposals for a 15-storey student village in Swansea Docks, involving 620 bed spaces, a cinema and associated communal facilities.

The site – known as SA1 – on Kings Road is currently used as a surface car park and already has planning permission for a student accommodation development of around 500 bed spaces.

Alder King Planning Consultancy is due to submit a detailed application later this year.

The developer’s architects have promised to create “a contemporary, striking and elegant building with crisp lines and subtle tonal variations to offer an architectural statement and gateway building to this important coastal site”.

9 March 2018
Roger Milne, The Planner

Historic England has launched ‘Immortalised’ – a project asking the public to share its knowledge of local monuments, street shrines and community tributes in public places.

The public body wants people to share photographs and information about lesser-known memorials, including those that are well loved by small groups or communities that are unknown nationally.

Additionally, it wants to know about rituals and activities attached to memorials.

Well-known rituals include flowers left at the Alan Turing statue in Manchester on his birthday and the annual service on the pavement beneath Oliver Cromwell’s statue in Westminster. Pero’s Bridge is a memorial in Bristol. It is a pedestrian footbridge that spans the floating harbour, named in honour of a slave called Pero Jones.

The public’s stories and pictures will be recorded to form part of an exhibition in the autumn. Historic England said it may list best examples of community memorials as part of its efforts to protect and champion what is special about the historic environment.

‘Immortalised’ was launched this week (5 March). It aims to help people to explore England’s memorial landscape – “who is reflected, who is missing, and why”. It includes events, a debate and design competition, as well as the exhibition.

Recently, there has been much talk about memorials, including the absence of representations of women and people of colour from statues in cities.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive at Historic England, said: “One of Historic England’s most important jobs is to work with the public to identify and record information about what’s embedded in our streets, squares and parks, and to share it with others to enable current and future generations to understand and value their local historic environment. Exploring the stories and histories of less well-known people and groups is an important part of this, and that’s what the call-out to the public is all about.”

More information about the season can be found on Historic England’s website.

7 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A proposal to increase council tax on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) 'has in effect been killed off', said its chairman.

The proposal was one of a number aimed at retaining young families in the area, as well as attracting others to the area.

Richmondshire District Council voted by 13 to 12 against joining with other local authorities in seeking talks with the government on the “options available for increasing council tax for second homes within the YDNP”.

Parts of Richmondshire have the highest levels of second homes in the national park – over a quarter of the housing in some parishes.

Car Lis, chairman at the YDNPA, praised leader of Richmondshire District Council Yvonne Peacock for ensuring that the matter was brought before the full council.

He said: “It would be remiss of me not to make clear to the public that the proposition to talk to government has in effect been killed off. In my view, the decision has let down local communities by stopping the conversation before it had properly started.

He said Richmondshire has rejected the view that too many second homes can have an adverse impact on the viability of local communities, as well as rejecting the view that there are too many second homes in the YDNP.

“I think many people living in the national park will be staggered by these conclusions.”

He noted that opponents to the measure have not put forward an alternative to address the level of second-home ownership in the park.

“What level of unoccupied and under-occupied homes in our Dales villages do they think will present a problem, 20 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent, 50 per cent?”

While the Dales is characterised by “strong, self-reliant communities”, Lis is in no doubt that some of these communities have been “considerably weakened” in the past 20 years for a number of reasons including the “rapid growth in unoccupied and under-occupied housing”.

He said the park would continue to work with its local authority partners on developing the wider ‘Attracting Families’ initiative.

6 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Walking and cycling charity Sustrans has called for equal representation in transport planning and delivery to help address the low number of women who travel actively in the UK.

A report by the charity, Are We Nearly There Yet, published ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, suggests that women’s journeys around cities are typically shorter than men’s.

They use different modes of transport and are more likely to involve ‘trip-chaining' (multi-stop journeys), which tend to be for a balance of childcare, work and household responsibilities.

Women are motivated to travel actively for physical and mental health reasons, but they worry about their personal safety, says the report. This, along with convenience – particularly multi-solo trips – and appearance are all barriers that prevent them from cycling and walking.

Are We Nearly There Yet considers the travel habits and choices of nearly 2,000 women in Glasgow and then combines the results with a literature review of research on women’s travel patterns across Scotland, the UK and Europe.

In Glasgow, 2 per cent of women chose cycling as a mode of transport against the 16 per cent of men who did. These figures mirror cycling levels across the UK, with men doing nearly three times as many cycling journeys as women.

The report also suggests that there is a lack of evidence to show how women participate in planning for transport and creating transport policy in the UK. In Scotland, transport has the lowest percentage of women in senior posts within its public sector. Women represent 6.25 per cent of heads of transport bodies, while the sector accounts for only 22 per cent of female workers across the UK.

Suzanne Motherwell, evaluation manager at Sustrans Scotland, led the research. She said: “Our research has shown that there are a number of women-specific barriers such as lack of time, complex schedules and fears of personal safety, which stop them from travelling actively more often.

“If we are to get more people walking and cycling, the industry must address the inequalities that exist in transport – at every level – from users right through to planning and policy-making.

“By designing and building infrastructure that caters for both genders’ needs, we can help ensure the gap between the levels of women and men cycling is closed and, importantly, improve the everyday cycling levels in our cities and towns.”

Katie Hulland, president of Women in Transport, noted that less than a quarter of UK transport workers are women, “so we are massively under-represented in the planning and delivery of transport policy, infrastructure and services”.

She agreed that a more gender-balanced workforce would help the transport sector better address women’s needs as customers and service users.

“As the leading professional network for women in transport, we’re working with the transport industry, Parliament, government and beyond, to address women’s under-representation and promote a diverse and inclusive transport workforce.”

Speaking to The Planner, Hannah Budnitz MRTPI, chair of  the RTPI Transport Planning Network, said: "Women do have different transport needs and experiences than men, as do those with disabilities, children, and women travelling with children. Just as the Dutch found that making roads safer for children made them safer and more attractive for everyone, so making active travel interventions more considerate of women's concerns will make walking and cycling more appealing to more people generally. The RTPI has made a strong commitment to promoting and developing a diverse workforce, resulting in more gender balance among land use and strategic planners than among transport planners and practitioners - as far as I've seen at conferences, in the mainstream media and professional journals, or in survey results. This approach can be extended more directly into transport planning, and our Transport Planning Network already holds events which bring together the diversity of RTPI members with others who work in transport."


7 March 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner