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Planning News - 16 May 2019

Published: Thursday, 16th May 2019

Homes England acquires land for housing in Rushcliffe, TCPA publishes draft Healthy Homes Bill, Beauty should be a consideration in the planning system, suggests poll and other stories

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

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Government ‘housing accelerator’ Homes England has acquired 250 acres of land in Rushcliffe to help to deliver 3,000 homes and 100,000 square metres of employment space.

The site, known as Fairham, is 605 acres in total. Homes England will work with the other landowners – CWC and Rushcliffe Borough Council – to deliver the project over the next 10 years.

Stephen Kinsella, executive director for land at Homes England, said: “Homes England is committed to working creatively with local authorities that have clear growth ambitions and we have worked closely with Rushcliffe Borough Council to ensure this site is unlocked to deliver new homes in an area of high affordability."

Acquired through the government’s £1.3 billion Land Assembly Fund, Homes England wants to accelerate the delivery of site by providing a loan for infrastructure to CWC. Kinsella explained that Homes England and CWC would work together as master developers to deliver the primary infrastructure to create a high-quality, sustainable urban extension.

Dave Mitchell, Rushcliffe Borough Council’s executive manager for communities, said: “Rushcliffe has been working hard to deliver its local plan, which commits to building 13,150 new homes by 2028. Delivery of the Fairham site is essential to our ability to maintain the momentum required, whilst is it is also a strategically important site locally, regionally and nationally for Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council and ourselves.
“We will now look forward and remain committed to working closely with Homes England and CWC to ensure the delivery of a high-quality scheme that continues to enhance the attractiveness of Rushcliffe as a great place to live and work.”

9 May 2019 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A Healthy Homes Act is required to guarantee that new homes have adequate living space, are only a short walk away from children’s play spaces and are safe from the risk of fire, according to the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA).

The proposals put forward in the charity’s draft bill aim to force ministers to make sure “decent” housing meets 10 quality, safety and placemaking principles.

The bill was announced at the TCPA’s annual Frederic Osborn lecture last night (2 May).

Fiona Howie, chief executive of the TCPA, said the act includes mechanisms to hold people to account and calls for carbon-neutral homes.

The call for a Healthy Homes Act is a response to research the TCPA undertook with University College London (UCL), which found that by using permitted development rights, a developer increased the number of flats in a building by 33 per cent upon what was declared within their ‘prior approval’ application, potentially leading to overcrowding and preventing the local authority from planning to meet the needs of residents. They also discovered a two-bed flat – built through permitted development – that had one small window.

Howie said: “How can anyone disagree with the idea that we need new homes that are decent?

“There is a need for more homes but it is essential that they are of a high quality. Too often that is not the case. The very worst examples we have seen have come through the deregulated conversion of old office blocks and storage facilities into housing units. The creation of these cramped and substandard housing units is even more scandalous given what we know about the impact of housing conditions on people’s health and well-being. Poor-quality, badly designed housing damages people’s life chances.

“In the rush to build more homes quality and safety is being overlooked. Surely everyone should agree that is unacceptable? We have gone backwards over the last 100 years. The Healthy Homes Act will help make sure that new homes built today leave a positive legacy. We know there is cross-party political support for new homes and we hope there will be cross-party support for this vital piece of new legislation to help transform the kinds of homes and places we are creating now and for future generations.”

RTPI head of policy Richard Blyth told The Planner: “We share the TCPA’s concerns regarding permitted development rights, and have said previously that while there is a pressing need to build more homes, any new homes must be subject to full local planning scrutiny.

“In particular, the increased use of permitted development rights is at odds with the government’s stated priority of increasing building safety - the deregulated redevelopment of commercial sites causes particular problems with such schemes often resulting in poor quality living conditions with insufficient space.”

The draft Healthy Homes Bill can be found here on the TCPA website (pdf).

3 May 2019 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Most respondents to a recent survey believe that the visual appeal of new developments matters – but 65 per cent do not think it is sufficiently taken into account through the planning system.

These are the interim findings of a Civic Voice survey of its members. The findings will inform the organisation’s efforts to improve design quality of new homes and encourage sincere participation with communities on this issue.
It will also, alongside workshops and round tables held in the past month, inform Civic Voice’s response to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

Speaking at the APPG for Civic Societies on ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ yesterday (7 May), Sarah James, membership and policy officer at the Civic Voice, said: “We are having an honest conversation with people.”
It is important that beauty is important to communities, she said, but beauty is subjective. However, she added, “we believe if we can get it right we can build the conservation areas of the future”.

"The challenge remains as to how we can move the conversation about building homes away from confrontation into one of collaboration. In doing so, can we rebuild public trust and confidence in the planning system?”
Of the respondents (750), 86 per cent think the visual appeal of new development matters, while 71 per cent said that not enough homes are being built. Many of the respondents (81 per cent) don’t think they are listened to by developers and 73 per cent don’t think the local authority listens to them.

The design, scale and context need to be given “serious” consideration in the decision-making process, with 72 per cent of members saying new developments don’t need to be the same as neighbouring buildings.

The survey found:

  • 67 per cent considered that modern buildings can be beautiful.
  • 68 per cent thought if the aesthetic appeal or beauty of a development was given more focus it would receive more community support.
  • 42 per cent want training to understand the benefits of using design codes and style guides.

It is important that civic members are equipped with up-to-date and appropriate skills, said James. Civic Voice will consider how it can help to raise the standard of the civic movement’s involvement in planning.

“This will help to increase accountability and transparency within the civic movement but also ensure more gravitas in our consultation responses. We have to raise our standard and build confidence if we want to be taken seriously as a movement,” she said.

Also at the APPG event, housing minister Kit Malthouse urged local communities to use the neighbourhood plan to take control of planning in their area. People are looking for a sense of harmony, he suggested, something communities could see as an ornament, something to be proud of. In a nod to James, he questioned whether we are building the conservation areas of the future.

8 May 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The recruitment campaign aims to strengthen the number of decision-makers and examiners at the inspectorate, as well as to improve service for customers.

Planning inspectors' careers may stem from a variety of professions, including planning, law, local government, architecture, engineering, academia and environmental professions. They are home-based and operate nationally.
The work involves determining planning and enforcement appeals, examining development plans for local authorities, and making recommendations on applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Sarah Richards, chief executive at the Planning Inspectorate, said: “Increasing the number of planning inspectors who decide and examine the complex casework we deal with is vital to our important role in the planning system. Over the past few years we have seen a large increase in the demand for our services. With the high number of major infrastructure applications expected over 2019 and 2020 and the continuing demand for decisions on complex planning appeals, recruiting new inspectors is one of the measures we are taking to meet demand.”

Applicants can apply by 30 May. More information here on the Civil Service Jobs website.

9 May 2019 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Welsh housing minister Julie James has announced that work has begun to create a new, separate planning inspectorate for Wales.

Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.

Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.

The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.

For now, and to guarantee that there is a smooth transition to the new service, existing applications for infrastructure schemes and planning appeals will continue to be looked at by the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales.
James said: “Planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England, in order to meet the unique needs of communities and businesses in Wales.
“We are also moving forward to consolidate and unify planning law in Wales to form a separate Welsh planning code.
“For these reasons, I have instructed officials to begin work on a separate, dedicated service for Wales.”

Roisin Willmott OBE FRTPI, director of RTPI Cymru, told The Planner: “RTPI Cymru welcomes the decision to consider a dedicated planning inspectorate for Wales. Given the marked divergence between the two planning systems both in terms of policy and legislation it makes sense to have an autonomous service for Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have independent services and these work well for their respective jurisdictions and much can be learned on their models to create a service to fit Wales’s needs.”

9 May 2019 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round up of planning news

Barton Willmore secures planning permission in East Manchester
Barton Willmore has secured planning permission to transform a derelict corner of land in Holt Town, Manchester, into a hub for artisan and creative businesses.
Meanwhile, Creative has been appointed to transform the site using 50 recycled shipping containers that will sit on derelict brownfield land on Pollard Street East near to the Etihad Stadium. The containers will provide co-working and flexible business spaces.

It will create nearly 8,000 square feet of space for small-scale artisan crafts people and industries for a period of up to five years as part of the ‘meanwhile use’ consent granted by planners from Manchester City Council.
‘Meanwhile use’ refers to the short-term use of temporarily empty buildings such as shops until they can be brought back into commercial use. It takes a potential problem and turns it into an opportunity and helps keep an area vibrant.

Nicole Roe, planning associate at Barton Willmore, said: “This is a very exciting initiative that brings a new type of flexible and affordable work space to the city centre. The highly accessible site will provide sustainable, low-cost work spaces, supporting our smaller-scale creative businesses and entrepreneurial minds.”
SEASALT wins student housing grant in Brighton & Hove
SEASALT Housing Co-operative Ltd has been awarded a grant of £40,266 by Homes England’s Community Housing Fund to develop affordable housing for university students in Brighton & Hove.

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) will work in partnership with SEASALT to develop the first student housing cooperative in the city. It will house up to 18 students and young people paying affordable rents.
SEASALT has also been awarded a grant of £15,000 through the Reach Fund and £10,000 from the University of Sussex.

This grant will go towards professional fees, such as architect fees, planning costs, site surveys and other costs associated with getting the project off the ground.

BHCLT will take responsibility for securing the property and refurbishing it. They are also securing the finances through a mixture of mortgage and other loans, and SEASALT is working with them to secure loans and donations through crowdfunding. Once complete, BHCLT will transfer responsibility for managing the home to the SEASALT Housing Co-operative members through a lease.

SEASALT will manage the housing and it will be open to students from any university in the city who are over 18 years old. Residents will be able to stay for one additional year after graduation to ensure that skills and knowledge are transferred across generations of students, and to support their transition to post-university life.

The plan is for students to move in for the start of the academic year in September 2019.
PRP appointed for Pydar regeneration in Truro
UK architecture firm PRP has been appointed by Cornwall Council to design the outline planning proposal for the regeneration of the Pydar neighbourhood in Truro.

The redevelopment will create a sustainable new community based on local aspirations, while providing 500 new jobs and strengthening the local economy.

PRP is developing the design with the local council and stakeholders to complement Truro’s existing offer and meet the needs of local residents and tourists. Extending from the River Allen up to Pydar Street and from the Viaduct down towards the Cathedral approach, the scheme on the 4 hectare site will regenerate the existing commercial and industrial area with 300 new homes, innovative work and learning spaces, a riverside park and a range of engaging leisure, hospitality and cultural facilities.

Proposed public amenities are set to include The Hive, a digitally focused and entrepreneurial new innovative learning and living environment for Falmouth University that will help grow both a vibrant local community and Cornwall’s wider economy. Collaborative working space for start-ups, offices, a village hall, cafés and restaurants, a highline walk, nature trails, climbing walls and other sports facilities are also proposed.

The planning proposals will be submitted for outline planning consent in late 2019.
Acorn Property Group buys 40-acre site in Cotswolds
Acorn Property Group’s Cardiff office has purchased a 40-acre site for 75 bespoke homes in the Cotswolds.The site is located near Ashton Keynes and within the Cotswold Water Park. It is an area of 40 square miles, with more than 150 lakes across the countryside of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire.

The development has outline planning approval for 75 homes ranging from two-bedroom bungalows to three, four and five-bedroom houses with many of the homes backing onto two newly constructed private lakes. It will be accessed via a private estate road running past 15 acres of open space and also features four grade II listed buildingsm which will form the heart of the scheme.

James Groombridge, regional managing director of Acorn Cardiff, said: “We have been working on this site for over a year and we look forward to delivering a scheme where the homes will offer exceptional lakeside views, private outside space and bespoke rural living.

“Many lakeside developments in the region are holiday restricted whereas this development has full residential consent, which will create a lifestyle community which can be enjoyed throughout the year.”

A reserved matters application will be submitted by the end of the summer with an anticipated start on site in 2020 and the first homes ready for occupation by late 2021.
Titchfield neighbourhood plan gains approval
Titchfield Neighbourhood Forum has received approval from an independent examiner for a neighbourhood plan submitted in October 2018.  

The examiner has confirmed that subject to a number of modifications, the plan should progress to the next and final stage, which is a public referendum.

Titchfield Neighbourhood Forum was formally designated as a neighbourhood area on 6 March 2017.

On 26 April the independent examiner’s report confirmed that a number of modifications to the plan were needed to ensure that it meets the basic conditions. The report will now be presented to the council’s executive committee in June this year. Once approved, the plan would be the subject of a referendum; anyone who is eligible to vote in a local election, and lives within the appropriate area, will be able to vote.

Councillor Evans, executive member for planning and development, said: “This is the first neighbourhood plan to be submitted in the borough and will possibly lead to the first referendum. If people then vote for the neighbourhood plan to be made, it will carry equal weight to the policies contained within the adopted local plan.”
Trebor Developments acquires site in Yorkshire
Trebor Developments and its partner Hillwood have agreed terms with Peel Land and Property to acquire a site of 5.66 acres at Aero Centre Yorkshire, a development site surrounding Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA).

The planning application has been submitted for a two-unit industrial speculative development.

They will deliver units of 45,380 square feet and 58,345 sq ft, suitable for manufacturing or distribution uses.

The development will be known as ‘Avion’ and subject to planning construction is due to start in summer for Q1 2020 occupation by prospective occupiers. The industrial facilities will be high quality and sustainable, suitable for a range of occupier requirements in the logistics or manufacturing sectors.

7 May 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner