Latest news

Planning News - 24 May 2018

Published: Thursday, 24th May 2018

Planning professionals call for ‘vital’ changes to NPPF, SOYO scheme in Leeds receives green light, Climate change guide for planners launched and more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

Planning professionals, charities and other organisations involved in planning and delivering sustainable development and infrastructure have written a letter to the government setting out the improvements they believe the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires.

The letter outlines a number of “vital” changes that the group of signatories believe would “significantly” improve the pace at which development proposals clear the planning process.

This would result in “high-quality, genuinely sustainable development”, they say.

Many objections to proposals are made on transport and environmental grounds, but these could be pre-empted if the NPPF provided “clear criteria” for the siting of development, and which takes account of the full range of government policy priorities affected.

Further to this, the accessibility of a development location by an appropriate range of sustainable transport options should be a “key factor” when determining the suitability of an application. This would ensure that residents had good access to a wide range of services using sustainable transport.

Transport authorities and operators, the groups explains in the letter, should be involved in the whole planning process, while the layout of developments should make “appropriate” provision for buses, cycling and walking and reduce car dependency.

Sue Percy, chief executive at the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT), said: “CIHT has worked with fellow professionals to highlight some key improvements that can be made to the NPPF and the system of planning in England and Wales to create more sustainable and economically prosperous places. For too long, too many homes have been built in the wrong locations with insufficient integrated transport. CIHT believes we can, and must, do better.

“We believe that our current planning system needs to change and by improving the integration between planning and transport we can deliver improved outcomes for all.”

Last week, the RTPI said the draft NPPF must focus on transport-oriented housing developments, stating that choices on strategic transport investment should not be made in isolation.

14 May 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Planning permission has been granted for the first phase of the £300 million SOYO mixed-use scheme in Leeds named New York Square.

Named New York Square after nearby New York Road, the scheme will include a range of on-site shared facilities free for all residents to use, including a cycle café, communal lounges, roof terraces and fitness centre.

Construction work on the initial phase of 515 units will start later this year, and will be delivered by Moda. 

The 515 homes will be spread across two 16-storey blocks, and sit alongside new public realm as well as 9,000 sq. ft. of co-working space within the wider masterplan.

The Caddick Group aims to inject a sense of New York’s East Village and San Francisco’s SoMa districts to Leeds by working with the existing cultural institutions such as the BBC, Leeds City College, Leeds College of Music, and Future Sounds.

Caddick Developments wider plans for the SOYO district includes a new hotel, bars, restaurants, a multi‑storey car park and public realm to be delivered over the coming years.

Long-term flexible family-friendly leases of up to five years will be available, for renters to enjoy the same security of tenure homeowners have.

Johnny Caddick, director at Moda and Caddick Developments, said: “Being at the heart of a brand new neighbourhood, New York Square at SOYO will be one of the best places to live in Leeds.”

He added: “The focus on service, technology and amenity provision at New York Square will raise the bar locally for renters.”

17 May 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

The RTPI and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) have produced a guide to help planners and politicians tackle climate change through the strategic use of policy and legislation.

The current iteration of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) contains policies on climate change but, say the organisations, delivery on the ground “remains slow”.

This, they explain, is largely because of a lack of practical advice and support for local councils on how to secure a radical reduction in carbon emissions.

Government has been “weak” on adaptation to climate change, particularly when it comes to addressing heat waves and rising sea levels.

Planning for Climate Change – a Guide for Local Authorities was launched today (16 May) by Caroline Lucas MP. It aims to provide an overview of policy and legislation that can be used to address climate change at the local level so English councils can overcome any barriers they face.

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “Planners have a leading role in joining up the dots, from housing and transport to flood risk mitigation and energy, to ensure that communities benefit from a holistic approach to tackling climate change. The guidelines will be a valuable resource and should prompt more concerted actions on this vital issue.”

Hugh Ellis, director of policy at the TCPA, added: ‘Climate change is remaking our society and the impacts will be severe and lasting. The opportunities for action could also be transformational in harnessing new energy and engineering technologies to make our communities safe over the long term.  

“A resilient and sustainable future is achievable, but only if we act now. This guide sends a powerful message to councils and planners that we can meet the climate challenge.”

Comments from the launch:

The TCPA's director of policy Hugh Ellis told the audience at the launch of Planning for Climate Change he is proud of the collaboration between the RTPI and the TCPA to make the guide. "It isn't a delusional guide. It offers real and practical advice. It will continue to be updated when future policy and legislation is published, including the NPPF."

Failure on the issue of climate change "is not an option", he continued. "There is an overwhelming economic case for taking action on climate change, there is an overwhelming practical case, and most importantly there is an overwhelming morale case."

Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, said: "Behind the guide is a determination by both the TCPA and the RTPI to lift the role of the planner and remind people that every decision now has to take climate change into account."

The RTPI's head of policy Richard Blyth said the UK Government "must demonstrate how the NPPF in England will help deliver the outcomes of Sustainable Development Goal 11". He also spoke about the "incredible" work being done by local authorities throughout the world in the fight against climate change.

Mary Creagh MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, highighted the lack of government funding for councils wishing to tackle climate change. She said they need help to design cities which are good for people and good for the planet, but insisted that "with joined up national and local action we can build cities which are good for the environment".

Planning for Climate Change can be found on the RTPI website (pdf).

16 May 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Southwark Council has entered into a master development agreement with British Land to deliver 3,000 new homes to Canada Water, 35 per cent of which would be affordable.

British Land and Southwark Council have submitted an outline planning application for the Canada Water masterplan, which will create a new urban centre for London.

The submission of a planning application follows four years of collaboration with Southwark Council and consultation with the local community.

The submission includes a detailed planning application for the project’s first three buildings, which include workspace, homes, and a new leisure centre. Subject to planning approvals, construction of the first buildings could begin in spring 2019.

The masterplan is expected to deliver up to 3,000 new homes, two million square feet of workspace and one million square feet of retail, leisure, entertainment and community space including proposed health and social infrastructure, and educational uses for all ages.

Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, said: “It is fantastic to see this project moving forward.“

He added: “The resulting masterplan will deliver what local people want to see, including a guaranteed 35 per cent affordable housing split 70 per cent social rent and 30 per cent shared ownership in the first phase, new retail spaces and job opportunities, education and health facilities and a brand new leisure centre.”

The masterplan envisages a mix of uses and public spaces designed for a range of ages, incomes and life stages. The buildings, set around water and green public spaces, aim to create create a vibrant destination where people can live, work and be entertained throughout the day and into the evening.

On completion, the masterplan will provide for approximately 20,000 jobs, with thousands of people working on site during construction, including apprenticeships and training. A decision on the planning application is expected by the end of the year.

14 May 2018
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

The first group of planners taking part in a pioneering programme to boost the capacity of planning departments has been selected.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced the successful applicants during a site visit today (16 May) to the East Croydon Masterplan area.

Of 200 applicants, 17 associates will take part in year-long placements in local authorities across London and the South East.

The associates will be working strategically to deliver better-designed and more inclusive places to help councils address housing shortages.

Launched last year, Public Practice intends to address a lack of public sector planning capacity. Local authorities are using the first cohort to bring in design expertise, as almost half of councils lack any in house design capacity.

Placements range from setting up council-led housebuilding programmes to shaping masterplans for new garden towns. The mayor’s office has forecast that together, the cohort will unlock or improve 17,000 homes, create or improve 19,000 square metres of public realm, accelerate the delivery of £26 million of public infrastructure and engage more than 3,400 people in planning over the next year.

Of those appointed to the roles, 71 per cent are women and 24 per cent are BAME.

Khan said: “In order to deliver the well-designed housing and public spaces our capital needs, it’s vital our local authorities benefit from fresh talent to boost their skills and capacity. The new draft London Plan puts good design principles at its heart, and highlights the importance of ensuring new developments maintain the capital’s special character and are accessible to all Londoners. By empowering councils to take this approach in their planning, we can help ensure continued good growth for London while also providing our city’s planners with a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to local areas.”

Public Practice has also announced three new partners who will support the initiative to build public planning capacity across the country: Historic England, Karakusevic Carson Architects and L&Q. They join Public Practice’s founding partners – the Mayor of London, the Local Government Association, Future Cities Catapult, British Land, The Berkeley Group, and Peabody.

16 May 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

RTPI research awards nominations deadline approaching

Entries for the RTPI 2018 Awards for Research Excellence from all RTPI-accredited schools and planning consultancies in the UK, Republic of Ireland and internationally closes on 18 May.

There are five categories under which to submit entries:

  • Academic Award
  • Early Career Researcher Award
  • Student Award
  • Planning Consultancy Award
  • Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement

Information about how to enter can be found here on the RTPI website.

Khan buys hospital site

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has used his new Land Fund to purchase a site at St Ann’s Hospital in Haringey.

The deal with Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust aims to redevelop the hospital and provide up to 800 new homes, with 50 per cent set to be affordable.

The number of affordable homes at St Ann’s is an increase on existing planning permission for the site – secured in 2015 – which would have delivered only 470 homes, with just 14 per cent being affordable.

City Hall’s investment is set to provide redeveloped NHS facilities on the 11.24-hectare site, including a new mental health inpatient building. Planning permission for the new health facilities were granted by Haringey Council last Tuesday (8 May).

Application submitted for mixed-use development in Nottingham

Urban developer Bildurn has submitted two planning applications to deliver office space and residential units on Station Street in Nottingham.

The brief for the development includes providing new grade A offices, in addition to residential accommodation, including for students.

Designed by Franklin Ellis Architects, the office element is set to deliver 50,000 square feet of accommodation, including car parking and roof terraces.

Bildurn has signed an agreement with Vita Group to bring forward the residential element under its Vita Student brand.

The site, which is over an acre in size, is located in the centre of Nottingham, opposite the train station.

The planning applications follow the start of demolition works on site last year, including the removal of the old employment office building, which will be completed this month (May).

More information can be found here.

Edinburgh council confirms Meadowbank hearing dates

The City of Edinburgh Council’s development management sub-committee will meet next month to consider two applications for the regeneration of Meadowbank.

On Friday 29 June, two hearings will be held. The first will consider detailed planning consent for a £47 million sports centre to replace the original venue, built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games, while the second will consider planning in principle for the redevelopment of the wider site, which must take place to finance the new sports centre. No decisions will be take on the height or density of the buildings, or the mixed uses.

If the applications are successful, extensive engagement on the wider masterplan will take place for the council to listen to the local community provide opportunities for feedback.

Government support required for carbon-free housing

A group that represents cities and local authorities has sent an open letter to planning minister Dominic Raab asking for support for their efforts to cut carbon emissions from new homes through the planning system.

The letter proposes new wording of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), consultation for which closed on 10 May, and a ministerial statement that provides “confidence and clarity”.

According to the group, the recent changing of national policy context for housing has led to confusion and uncertainty about what can and cannot be done at the local level to raise the sustainability of new build homes – particularly on energy and carbon.

The proposed measures aim to make it clear that local authorities have the freedom to set higher sustainability standards in new homes.

The letter has been coordinated by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) and is co-signed by Core Cities UK and UK100.

The letter can be found on the UKGBC website (pdf).

WSP to lead Liverpool’s energy strategy

WSP has been appointed by Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to develop a new city region energy strategy.

The professional services and engineering consultancy said it is drawing on resources from its specialist sustainable places team as well as expertise from transport and power networks teams.

The strategy will consider how the city region can best achieve its aim of delivering a sustainable place to live and a future-proofed energy system. It may ultimately be adopted as guidance by the Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, the combined authority, and other public-sector partner organisations.

To help inform the strategy and support ambitions to substantially reduce carbon emissions over time, WSP is using a specially developed ‘city region energy model’. The model will be used to profile future energy use up to 2040 by estimating and quantifying the impact of both national policies and local actions.

It will reference the work currently under way by the Mersey Tidal Commission, which is examining the business case to harness tidal power in the River Mersey and Liverpool Bay to create large-scale clean and predictable energy.

LGA launches town centre guide book

The Local Government Association (LGA) has launched a handbook that aims to provide guidance on how to approach the revitalisation of town and city centres by delivering long-term impacts and using broad principles that can be tailored to meet local needs.

The booklet is a starting point for everything councils will need to bring the best out of their town centres, including town centre trends, developing a forward framework and community engagement.

The handbook can be found on the LGA website.

Places for People acquires igloo fund

igloo Regeneration Ltd, which specialises in sustainable regeneration, has announced that Places for People has acquired the assets of the igloo Regeneration Partnership Fund, managed by Aviva Investors.

Places for People will acquire, inter alia, 50 per cent of the Blueprint Regeneration Partnership, a UCIS between igloo Regeneration Partnership Fund and Nottingham City Council, as well as 50 per cent of BIGG Regeneration, a joint venture with Scottish Canals.

Places for People has also required the fund’s joint venture holdings and ongoing property interests.

PfP Capital will act as the investment manager, with igloo Regeneration Ltd retaining its role as development manager.

The deal with Places for People marks the beginning of a second phase for the fund, which was launched in 2001.

The partnership is expected to help accelerate development on a number of ongoing schemes, including those at Nottingham Waterside, Ouseburn Valley Newcastle, Maryhill Lock Glasgow and Ironworks Leeds.

15 May 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner