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Planning News - 7 March 2019

Published: Thursday, 7th March 2019

£1.6bn town fund proposed, Ports should have same weight as residential in local plans, Development funding boost for south-west Wales and more stories...

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

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Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a £1.6 billion fund will be established to boost growth in places that have not benefitted from the ‘proceeds of growth in the same way as more prosperous parts of the country’.

The money will go towards the creation of new jobs, training for local people and boosting economic activity. Communities, May said, will have a say on how the money is spent.

To be launched later this year, the fund will allocate £1 billion using a needs-based formula. Of this, £583 million will go towards towns across the North, while £322 million will be allocated to the Midlands.

A bidding process will be used to allocated £600 million to communities in any part of England, but the government explained it wants to ensure Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish towns will benefit from the funding.

Local communities will be encouraged to come together to draw up proposals to “restore pride and create new jobs in their area”, the government added.

May said: "For too long in our country prosperity has been unfairly spread. Our economy has worked well for some places but we want it to work for all communities.

"Communities across the country voted for Brexit as an expression of their desire to see change – that must be a change for the better, with more opportunity and greater control.

"These towns have a glorious heritage, huge potential and, with the right help, a bright future ahead of them."

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire added: "This major new fund builds on more than £9 billion in City and Growth Deals we have delivered since 2010 to help hard working people reach their full potential and to build an economy that works for everyone.

"I look forward to working closely with local leaders to take forward their encouraging proposals and to hear what more they propose to bring benefits to their communities."

The £1.6 billion Stronger Towns Fund has been allocated to the regions as follows:

  • North West - £281m
  • North East - £105m
  • Yorkshire and The Humber - £197m
  • West Midlands - £212m
  • East Midlands - £110m
  • South West - £33m
  • South East - £37m
  • East of England - £25m

4 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


The requirements for ports should be included in local plans, in the same way that residential, commercial and industrial developments are, according to UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG).

Like residential masterplans, masterplans for ports should be given formal status in the planning process.

The recommendation forms part of UKMPG’s post-Brexit plan for ports, which was developed with the British Ports Association. It comprises a number of changes to planning law and other legislation that aims to allow ports to invest quickly and flexibly.

This would, the UKMPG argued, increase the capability of the UK to trade with the world, which is “essential” irrespective of how Brexit progresses, because 95 per cent of the UK’s trade in goods passes through its ports. The trade association, which represents the majority of the UK's large commercial ports, said that the proposal would also boost the coastal communities surrounding ports, who should receive special consideration in the NPPF, as rural communities do.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the UKMPG, said: “In the post-Brexit world, trade needs to be hard-wired into all our policy-making. Our ports are the gateway to UK trade and it is imperative that we have the right framework in place to allow them to invest in the future and make the UK as attractive for international trade as possible.

“Our plan focuses on 10 common-sense, pragmatic and practical ways the government could create a better environment for ports, for trade and for investment, helping not just the ports themselves but coastal communities all over Britain. With the challenges and opportunities the post-Brexit world presents, we urge ministers to look carefully at these proposals.”

Richard Blyth, head of policy and research at the RTPI, said: “We need infrastructure investment as well as more and better planning to maximise the potential of our ports and coastal cities, whatever the outcome of Brexit. These should aim to improve key access routes to ports, create road-rail-port interchanges to meet demand for storage and freight distribution, and make provision for goods storage in inland areas near ports, among other things.”

Other recommendations from the plan include:

  • The scope of permitted development rights for UK ports should be broadened to make investment faster and easier, as well as to increase the potential for growing good, 'value-added' jobs. This requires speed in decision-making; enabling ports to be agile in responding to investment opportunities, including where UK ports are in competition with EU alternatives; and expanding activities into new and higher value areas.
  • If a development is going to have a significant positive impact on trade and investment, this should be recognised as a material consideration in the planning process. This is already set out in the National Policy Planning Framework, and it is important that this principle is consistently applied.
  • We need to streamline decision-making at ports, and a review of the Coastal Concordat is needed to clarify responsibilities between marine authorities and local councils. Ideally, we need to establish one single lead authority on these matters, to make a clearer and more accountable process for planning.
  • The defined stage gates feature of the planning process used for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) should be more widely applied, in order to ensure greater certainty in the planning process.

4 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner


A regeneration plan that is set to pump £27 million into development across south-west Wales is being rolled out across the region.

The funding aims to help revitalise commercial floor space around the Swansea Bay City Region and boost several key projects.

Funding for the blueprint, the South West Wales Regional Plan for Regeneration, is coming from the Welsh Government's Targeted Regeneration Investment (TRI) programme. This initiative builds on regeneration activities delivered through the government’s Vibrant and Viable Places funding programme.

The plan ties in with the wider economic regeneration ambitions of the Swansea Bay City Region.

Target areas for TRI include Swansea city centre, the area's riverside corridor and Morriston Conservation area, the Neath Port Talbot valleys and town centres, Llanelli town centre and Station Road, Ammanford town centre, and Pembroke and Haverfordwest.

It will help work on projects such as the Neath Port Talbot valleys, retail and leisure projects in Swansea and Haverfordwest as well as Swansea's Hafod Morfa Copperworks. TRI will also provide grants to revitalise commercial properties.

Grants include the Property Enhancement Development Grant (PEDG) and the Sustainable Living Grant (SLG). These grants are being managed by Swansea Council on behalf of four local authorities – Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire, and Pembrokeshire.

The PEDG aims to enhance building frontages and bring vacant commercial floor space back into beneficial business use. The SLG is designed to support the conversion of vacant commercial floor space into new homes.

Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea council's cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, explained: "The key focus will be on areas most in need to ensure prosperity is spread to all parts of south-west Wales."

Meanwhile, in a separate but related move, the administration has put £2 million into a growth scheme for parts of the west of Wales.

The Arfor Innovation fund will provide support in Gwynedd, Anglesey, Ceredigion, and Carmarthenshire, targeting areas where there is a high percentage of Welsh speakers and an inflow of older people and outflow of younger people.

The funding, which is being made available to the four local authorities, will facilitate initiatives and measures supporting economic development in the region. The programme will be coordinated by Gwynedd County Council on behalf of the other local authorities.

1 March 2019
Roger Milne, The Planner


A £200 million Gross Development Value (GDV) scheme is set to transform a derelict nine-acre former gasworks site in York into a new neighbourhood of about 700 new homes.

Private rental housing operator Moda Living and its joint venture partner Apache Capital Partners have partnered with North Star to deliver the scheme.

Subject to planning consent, the 10-year vacant brownfield site will be developed into a new residential community including retail space and community use.

The masterplan is designed to reconnect the existing surrounding neighbourhoods by adding extensive public realm and introducing new pedestrian and cycle links.

The plans include 450 homes designed for rent, which Moda will own and operate, plus 260 homes that will be developed by North Star for sale. The Moda apartments will range from studios to three-bed homes, with secure long-term tenancies of up to five years.

Tony Brooks, managing director at Moda, said: “We look forward to contributing to York’s future heritage by providing high-quality homes for rent within the wider regeneration of a derelict and neglected site.”

Residents at Heworth Green will be able to use the MyModa app as a digital door key and to pay bills online. 

The plans will be discussed at a public consultation on 6 March.

28 February 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


Aimrok Holdings Ltd and rg+p have had their plans approved to restore and convert a former Fenwick building in Leicester city centre with a mixed-use development.

The building will be developed into 111 luxury short-serviced apartments that consist of studio, one and two-bedroom designs.

On the basement and ground floor, the approved design reconfigures an area of 30,000 square feet to include a bar, gym, conference rooms, start-up office space and independent commercial units.

The rooftop bar will be formed from a single-storey extension and will be available to tenants of the apartments as well as the general public. Plans include space for a roof terrace and semi-enclosed courtyard.

A two-storey extension to the rear of the building will provide five duplex apartments. They have been designed to bring out the period detail of the building using existing features wherever possible.

James Badley, director at rg+p, said: “This scheme is designed to honour the building’s history by emphasising some of its period features while simultaneously creating high-quality residential and commercial space.

“We’ve worked closely alongside our heritage consultants and the planning team at Leicester City Council to ensure a seamless blend of old and new materials such as copper panelling, stainless steel and powder-coated window frames to achieve this.”

28 February 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


A round-up of planning news:

RTPI to host Twitter Q&A for IWD

The RTPI will host a Question & Answer session on Twitter for International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday 8 March.

The institute’s chief executive Victoria Hills MRTPI and vice-president Sue Manns FRTPI will be participating in the session.

It will take place between 4pm and 5pm.

You can see how the Q&A unfolds by following the RTPI – @RTPIPlanners.

£26m for vulnerable sleepers

Housing minister Heather Wheeler has announced a £26 million fund that aims to help vulnerable people sleeping rough to find accommodation.

Councils will be able to bid for the extra investment, which can be used for local schemes that help people sleeping rough and struggling with mental health problems or substance misuse into a home as a priority.

The government said the schemes could, among other things, establish dedicated lettings agents for rough sleepers to provide homes, advice and support.

The funding forms part of the government’s rough sleeping strategy.

Dacorum seeks views on planning document

Dacorum Borough Council has revised its Statement of Community Involvement and wants feedback on the proposed changes in the draft document.

It outlines the council’s standards for involving the community in the planning process and identifies the way they will be achieved. It sets out how and when the council will involve different groups, organisations and the community when the council produces planning documents and determines planning applications.

The deadline for comments is Sunday 14 April. More information can be found on the Dacorum Borough Council website.

Application submitted for Wolverhampton council homes

A planning application has been submitted to Wolverhampton City Council for the first new council homes as part of a transformation of the Heath Town estate.

Architects at Walker Troup have put forward designs for 16 four-bedroom homes and 24 two-bedroom homes on land off Hobgate Road and Tithe Croft. They will be the first of more than 300 new homes to be built for rent and sale on the estate over the coming years.

Once planning permission is granted, a contractor will be selected, with a view to building works starting this autumn.

The new homes will be a combination of one and two-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom bungalows, and two, three and four-bedroom houses.

The application is part of the revised Heath Town Masterplan and follows an extensive demolition programme of buildings, some of which had been vacant for years. It is part of a major development programme, with the Housing Revenue Account business plan making provision for £157.3 million to create around 800 new council homes across the city over the next five years.

373 homes green-lit in Manchester

Manchester City Council has granted planning permission for a new residential development at Swan House in the city centre.

Submitted by Avison Young’s planning team on behalf of Cable Swan Ltd, the application comprises 373 new homes, 12 serviced apartments and ground-floor commercial units. These will be delivered across buildings of 31 and 13 storeys.

Of the units, 5 per cent will be made available on-site at an affordable private rent, with these units being tenure blind, pepper-potted throughout the development, free from service charge, and specifically marketed to key workers in Manchester.

Cinema and homes coming to Beeston

Broxtowe Borough Council has secured a deal to bring The Arc Cinema to Beeston town centre. This forms part of its plans to create a hub of leisure facilities and new homes to the area.

The eight-screen cinema forms part of a mixed-use development that will include a greater choice of food and drink outlets and 132 new homes. Negotiations continue on 50 per cent of the commercial units available for food and drink outlets and the sale of the residential site has been agreed.

Richard Jackson, leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, said: “This is a significant milestone in Beeston’s development, which we are excited to announce. We have been in negotiations with three leading cinema operators for several months and selected Arc Cinema because of its approach to delivering high-quality screenings tailored to local communities.”

The scheme is the second phase of a £50 million development that involved the refurbishment of the shopping precinct, new and improved public transport connecting the town to the NET tram network, more retailers, cafés and a gym.

5 March 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner