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Planning News - 17 January 2019

Published: Thursday, 17th January 2019

SuDs regulations come into force in Wales, Birmingham announces partner for Smithfield development, Further funding for South Tees and more stories...

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

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Regulations for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs) for new property developments in Wales have come into effect.

Around 163,000 properties in Wales are at risk of surface water flooding. It has been estimated that using SuDs will reduce flood damage by up to 30 per cent. 

Introduced by the Welsh Government, the regulations aim to help reduce flood risk and improve water quality, as well as help to ensure that environmental standards are maintained and improved post-Brexit.

The surrounding wildlife and biodiversity will benefit, while the level of pollution will be reduced on new housing developments owing to more effectively designed and constructed SuDs.

SuDs make use of the landscape and natural vegetation to control the flow of surface water to reduce the risk of flooding. Designs can include ponds, permeable paving and swales. Surface water run-off will be reduced too.

Environment secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “Flooding can have a devastating impact on homeowners and it is important that every effort is made to protect houses and limit the damage caused by surface water flooding.

“Last year saw several instances of severe flooding in Wales, highlighting the importance of introducing measures to combat the challenges faced by climate change.

“We hope that these regulations will have a positive impact for future generations and help to ensure that Wales maintains its high environmental standards post-Brexit.”

10 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Birmingham City Council has announced Lendlease as its development partner to deliver its plans for the 17-hectare Birmingham Smithfield site.

Lendlease and the city centre will form a contractual joint venture, with the property and infrastructure development company leading the project.

The redevelopment includes a new home for the city’s Bull Ring retail markets, a leisure and cultural offer, a new public square, integrated public transport and more than 2,000 homes.

It forms part of the Big City Plan, which was launched in 2010. It sets out a 25-year vision to grow the city centre by more than 25 per cent.

Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The delivery of Birmingham Smithfield will be a major boost for Birmingham. With the new cultural and leisure attractions, the public realm, new homes and retail markets the development will appeal to both national and international audiences. Alongside these fantastic new facilities, the development will also deliver substantial benefits for the people of Birmingham. Lendlease have committed to invest in the local community and create thousands of new jobs and training opportunities. This scheme will create a legacy for the citizens of Birmingham and become an exemplar for inclusive economic growth.”

The site is adjacent to the Bullring shopping centre and New Street Station. The new HS2 city centre terminus station will be a 10-minute walk away once it opens in 2026. The redevelopment of the area is expected to take 15 years to complete. The first phase of the scheme includes new homes, the new retail markets building and public realm.

Lendlease was selected following an Official Journal of the European Union Competitive Dialogue Procurement process.

Dan Labbad, CEO at Lendlease, Europe, said: “Smithfield is the birthplace of Birmingham, known for its markets which have always been at the heart of the city. Much like Birmingham itself, the area is brimming with creativity and opportunity. Our plans for the redevelopment will respect this heritage and bring more jobs, homes and environmental benefits to the area and the people of Birmingham.”

10 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry has announced a £14 million investment into the South Tees Development Corporation.

The site of the development corporation is the former Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) site at Redcar. The land is set to be transformed and made ready for development that aims to create jobs and attract over half a billion pounds of private sector investment.

Work to establish construction access and utilities, a new spine road and roundabout is set to begin in the first quarter of 2019. Commercial tenants are expected on site in 2021.

The extra cash brings the total investment in the development corporation to £137 million.

Berry MP, said: “Our investment of £14 million into this site will help transform this derelict piece of land into a burgeoning new industrial quarter, which is expected to create 500 new jobs and attract an extra half-a-billion pounds of private investment.

“It’s a further demonstration of how we’re helping to build a new golden era for the North East as part of our industrial strategy, and ensuring the Tees Valley is truly open for business as we are set to leave the European Union.”

Tees Valley Mayor and Chairman of the South Tees Development Corporation, Ben Houchen, said the £14 million is “vital” to kick-start immediate work to redevelop land.

“These huge schemes will deliver hundreds of quality jobs for local people, drive growth for the Tees Valley economy and continue our history of manufacturing excellence.

“This £14 million shows that government is continuing to listen to us and this is another step closer to the development corporation becoming a massive success story for not just the North East but for the UK.”

09 Jan 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Housing minister Heather Wheeler has announced that more than 50 councils will receive a share of £2.4 million of extra funding to tackle rogue landlords.

Councils will use the money to step up action against the small minority of landlords that flout the law and force vulnerable tenants to live in inadequate or unsafe housing.

Walsall Council is among the authorities to benefit. It will use the money to improve cross-agency enforcement work, including the use of drones and thermal mapping to identify problem properties.

Other regions and councils set to receive a share of the money are Lancaster, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Wheeler said: “Everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure, and it is vital that we crack down on the small minority of landlords who are not giving their tenants this security.

“This extra funding will further boost councils’ ability to root out rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in the area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone.”

The funding will be used to support projects that councils says will help them to ramp up action against criminal landlords, such as building relationships with external organisations, including the emergency services, legal services and local housing advocates. Councils can also support tenants to take action against poor standards through rent repayment orders, or develop digital solutions, helping officers to report back and make decisions quicker.

Councils that receive funding will be encouraged to share best practice to help improve enforcement in other areas.

Judith Blake, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Councils want to support a good quality local private rented offer in their communities, but can be held back by significant funding pressures and uncertainty. It is therefore good that the government has announced a funding boost for councils to help ensure the small minority of rogue landlords improve standards.

“We ask that the government now follows this announcement by granting more freedom for councils to establish local licensing schemes.”

14 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The physical infrastructure in cities can become a barrier to the way people live, affecting health and economic well-being, according to a Future of London report.

This is despite it being vital for connecting communities with each other, jobs and amenities.

The Future of London report, Overcoming London’s Barriers, cites Burgess Park in Southwark as an example: it is well used during the daytime by locals and commuters, but it is not lit up at night and may put people off using it then.

Other routes involve travelling along busy roads. Likewise, waterways lack light, space to manoeuvre, and in some cases bridges – preventing access to amenities.

Future of London is an independent network for regeneration, housing, infrastructure and economic development practitioners. Its report also considers administrative and organisational barriers, with zones and organisations overlapping one another, and roles and responsibilities sitting within or between one authority or another.

Working across these structure “often reveals frustrating and costly conflicts”. Different priorities and practices can slow down or stop projects and policies.

The study features the results of a year-long programme that included field trips, seminars and workshops, with the public, private and community sectors sharing good and bad experiences.

In response, it sets out a number of recommendations for planning, regeneration and infrastructure professionals. It states that they should:

Increase their understanding of how barriers compound one another and how different people will be affected in different ways.

Acknowledge that administrative borders exert an active influence on things like service delivery and how people engage with multiple administrative bodies.

Engage with local groups trying to fix barriers, for example, by bringing derelict spaces back into community use.

Talk to a wide range of people from different demographics to learn their experiences of physical and administrative barriers, and use it to inform scheme and develop impact metrics.

Hold special planning committees – in which dedicated projects officers and elected members oversee a project throughout its lifetime – to ensure both public and private stakeholders have in-depth understanding of the scheme and consistent points of contact, helping to secure buy-in.

Work with neighbourhood forums seeking to develop cross-borough neighbourhood plans.

Lisa Taylor, chief executive at Future of London, said: “We’ve always wanted to assess the impact of – and the response to – these physical and service or planning barriers; ironically, they’re so pervasive that it’s been hard to bring them forward as a distinct topic. Once we got started, the stories of divided communities, and of ways to reconnect them, flooded in. That’s what we’ve captured here.

“Often the solutions – from punching through closed railway arches or building a footbridge to lobbying for air-quality interventions – are obvious, and often there is funding. What gets in the way are the organisational or cultural barriers between sectors and professions. That sort of ‘silo-busting’ is what Future of London exists to do, and on that front in particular, this project has been really heartening.”

The report can be found here on the Future of London website (pdf).

15 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news:

Increasing numbers of students remain RTPI members

The RTPI reports that there has been a significant increase in the number of students remaining members after completing their degrees.

In 2018, 366 members converted directly from student membership to licentiate membership. About 55 per cent of these members were female.

There was also a year-on-year increase of 19.26 per cent of people signing up for the institute’s non-accredited routes to membership. Institute president John Acres said streamlining the institute’s routes to membership has made non-accredited routes more accessible, allowing “us to welcome talented, experienced practitioners working in related disciplines”.

Bradford consults on local plan

Bradford Council has launched a consultation on a partial review of its adopted core strategy, which forms part of the local plan.

It sets out the council’s strategic housing, employment, transport, retail, leisure and environment policy requirements, as well as the broad locations of future housing and employment developments.

The review is taking place in light of government changes to planning policy, including the standard method for calculating housing need.

Steve Hartley, director of place at Bradford Council, said: “We’re keen to get feedback on whether we’ve chosen the right areas to take a fresh look at in light of the proposed changes to government planning policy. This is just the first stage of the partial review and there will be further opportunities as we progress, but we’ve got strong aspirations for our district to grow its economy and provide high-quality homes for people so it’s important we get this right.”

The online survey can be found on the council website.

NOMA development approved

Manchester City Council has granted NOMA planning permission to redevelop a grade II listed former warehouse and office building into modern office space.

Plans for the Redfern building will see it revamped to offer more than 50,000 square feet of grade A contemporary office space spread across six floors. Ground-floor retail and leisure units will also be provided.

Redfern’s red-brick façade, a hallmark of Dutch Modernist architecture, will also be maintained, with the original period window fittings restored in line with NOMA’s commitment to preserving local heritage.

NOMA is a 20-acre neighbourhood in Manchester city centre, developing new homes, offices, hotels, retail and leisure space.

New college to be built in St Andrews

North East Fife Area Committee has granted planning permission for a new Madras College to be built at North Haugh, St Andrews.

The three-storey high school will replace the current Madras buildings at Kilrymonth and South Street. A two-storey games hall will also be built. The school will have the capacity for 1,450 pupils.

The site will be accessed via a link road that already has planning permission and is currently under construction. The access will open into the car parking and coach parking for the school, with 172 car parking spaces, 19 coach parking spaces and 112 cycle spaces.

Extension to Cardiff discovery centre to go ahead

Cardiff City Council has approved plans to extend Techniquest’s discovery centre.

The £5.7 million plans were designed by design practice HLM. The aim is to enable the educational charity to expand its current building at Cardiff Bay by 900 square metres.

Patrick Arends, leisure and culture sector lead at HLM, said the design would “radically transform the current building, significantly increasing the building’s footprint”.

“Through the new extension, Techniquest will be able to provide greater exhibition space to house brand new innovative exhibition areas and experiences, increasing visitor numbers and securing its future in Cardiff.”

Integrated with the exhibition space are a number of features that should enhance the visitor experience, including a full height vibrant public entrance, café, shop and community space overlooking the bay.

Site acquired for Dublin Premier Inn

Whitbread, owner of the Premier Inn hotel chain, has completed a freehold deal to purchase the Twilfit House development site in Dublin 1 for a new-build 180-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.

This is Whitbread’s first freehold acquisition in Dublin and looks to fulfil a requirement for 2,000-2,500 bedrooms in Dublin.

The freehold on the Twilfit House site was acquired from Abarta Investments ICAV. The investment fund had previously secured full planning permission from Dublin City Council to build a 180-bedroom hotel on the site, which was upheld by An Bord Pleanála in December 2018.

Upon expiration of the existing tenancies, Whitbread will demolish the existing three-storey Twilfit House building and construct a new seven-storey Premier Inn hotel on the site.

15 January 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner