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Planning News - 18 July 2019

Published: Thursday, 18th July 2019

Guide aims to promote best practice in community-led housing, Khan is not delivering affordable family homes, say London Tories, 4m for Grimsby regeneration and more stories...

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

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Community First Yorkshire aims to help local authorities support the delivery of community-led housing development in the region and beyond.

The organisation, which works with voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises and rural communities, says that the guide draws on experience from urban and rural planning authorities to demonstrate how local plan policy and development management practice can support community-led housing.

It also highlights how it can be promoted through neighbourhood plans.

Leah Swain, chief executive of Community First Yorkshire, who commissioned the guide, said: “It was apparent from work in North Yorkshire and other areas that there was a gap between the ambition to provide community led housing and knowledge amongst planners. This guide fills that gap. It is written to be relevant to planners working in both rural and urban areas, but will also be helpful to other professionals, particularly those coming to community led housing from a housing or neighbourhood planning perspective.”

The guide was written in partnership with the RTPI. Chief executive Victoria Hills commented: “The community led housing movement may be small at the moment, but major growth is underway and planners need to be ready for this. We hope this document will inspire more planners to explore how community-led housing could benefit their areas. And show them how they can support it through proactive development management and plan making.”

The guide has been endorsed by the National Community Land Trust Network (NCLTN), the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE). Its development has been funded by the Nationwide Foundation.

The guide can be found on the Community First Yorkshire website.

15 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been accused of not delivering enough affordable family-sized homes.

Statistics obtained by Andrew Boff AM, housing spokesman for the Conservatives on the Greater London Authority (GLA), suggest that delivery of such homes has fallen by 40 per cent.

In 2018/19, 13 per cent of GLA-funded housing starts were family-sized homes; this equates to 2,005 homes out of a total of 14,544 starts. In 2017/18, 2,892 of 12,555 housing starts were family-sized, 30 per cent more.

According to the statistics, there weren’t any homes with three or more bedrooms funded in some boroughs, including Richmond and Merton.

“For too many Londoners, our great city can only ever be a stepping stone rather than a permanent home. A severe lack of affordable decent-sized homes means that thousands of Londoners are driven out of our city as soon as they decide to start a family. Of those families which stay, far too many are in overcrowded accommodation."

Lasting damage will be done to the capital if it becomes a family-free zone, he claimed.

“The proportion of family-sized homes started by the mayor has nearly halved over the course of just a year, with some boroughs being deprived of a single GLA-funded family home in 2018/19.

“Against this backdrop, it is extraordinary that Sadiq Khan has decided to remove a family-sized homes target from his housing strategy. Make no mistake, this severe drop in the number of homes has come about as a result of this senseless decision to deprioritise families.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Government rules restrict how the mayor can use affordable housing investment in London, and these rules favour one and two-bedroom homes over family-sized ones. The mayor will keep making the case to ministers for more family-sized social housing, and last year he got more than three times the number of social rent homes under way than the rest of England combined."

When asked for a comment by The Planner, the GLA noted that in 2018/19 the mayor’s programme started 14,544 affordable homes, which exceeds the target agreed with the government of 14,000, and is more than any year since housing investment was devolved to London. This number includes 1,916 council homes – more than in any year since 1984/85.

11 July 2019  
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry has committed a further £4 million to the regeneration of Grimsby.

The cash is part of the Grimsby Town Deal, bringing the total to £88 million. The town deal was launched in July 2018.

Skilled jobs and education are the focus of the town deal, which is part of the government's industrial strategy. Berry said the deal would “drive forward” regeneration.

As part of the second phase of the deal, North East Lincolnshire Council will work with national charity OnSide to develop a new youth zone in the town centre. OnSide operates 12 youth zones across the UK.

The investment would support the development of buildings at Garth Lane for the youth zone.

Philip Jackson, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: "These projects are the first physical elements of the town deal being progressed in the short term. However, the town deal is acting as a catalyst to unlock a much wider regeneration programme for Grimsby town centre and the Port of Grimsby. It has the potential to realise new commercial, cultural, leisure and residential opportunities on the port and on underused land around Alexandra Dock."

Tom Shutes, of Clato Legacy Ltd, one of the private sector partners, added: “The next phase of our development plans will bring Grimsby’s heritage buildings back to life with exciting, new public uses to engage locals and visitors, the young and old and, crucially, skills and training.”

11 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made a planning application to build extra shelters to protect radar equipment at an RAF base in North Yorkshire.

RAF Menwith Hill, which has been the site of protestors opposing the station’s role in the past, provides communications and intelligence services to the UK and the US.

The application to Harrogate Borough Council is to build three additional ‘radomes‘ – golf ball-like structures that protect radar antennae from the weather – measuring 21 metres in diameter. It also includes a support building with the proposed shelters “required to meet the operational output of the station”.

If the application is granted, it would increase the number of such shelters at the base to 37.

The latest application follows approval of a single extra shelter and the demolition of 13 buildings on the base last year.

10 July 2019 
Huw Morris, The Planner

The Welsh Government has accepted the need to strengthen the links between housing need and the planning process.

Housing and local government minister Julie James made that clear when she told AMs this week that the government had either accepted, or accepted in principle, every recommendation from the affordable housing supply review – with the exception of proposals for the future of Help to Buy.

She told a session of the Assembly’s Plenary: “The panel highlighted the importance of understanding housing need and some of the challenges local authorities face in this area.

“They highlighted the strong role the government could and should play, and the importance of strengthening the links between housing need and the planning process.

“I accept this critique and welcome their support for the work we have done on assessing need at a national and regional level. Their suggestion that this work should now be extended to a local level is one I support and intend to pursue.”

She stressed that one of the key ways to increase the supply of social housing would involve local authorities getting back to building council houses at pace and scale.

The minister added: “I accept the panel’s view that more should be done to use the land available across the public sector more effectively and more quickly to support housebuilding.

“I also agree that some central resource to help local authorities and others in the public sector bring forward their land is needed. I accept the principle that a land unit of some description should support the more effective use of public sector land. This is an issue on which the whole of the public sector needs to up its game.

“We need to be far more sophisticated in the way we use public land to support a wider range of objectives than simply generating the highest capital receipt, and I want to see stronger joint working across organisations to help achieve this. “

James promised further statements “in due course” on decarbonisation, planning matters and building regulations.

In a letter to chief planning officers circulated this week, James pointed out that the latest version of Planning Policy for Wales (PPW) already allows local planning authorities to identify sites for up to 100 per cent affordable housing.

She wrote: “The need for social housing is now so acute that this policy needs to be implemented in a flexible way to reflect local circumstances. PPW will be updated to reflect the revised policy as part of the current review of the delivery of housing through the planning system.”

The minister added: “When reviewing local development plans local planning authorities must make provision for affordable housing-led housing sites.

“Such sites will include at least 50 per cent affordable housing, which is defined as social rented housing provided by local authorities and registered social landlords, and intermediate housing where prices or rents are above those of social rent but below market levels and there are secure arrangements to recycle receipts to use for future affordable housing where full ownership is achieved.

“In the first instance affordable housing-led housing sites should make use of public land. Where public land is not available, privately owned land may be identified. Sites should not be inferior in any way to sites which are being promoted for market housing.”

12 July 2019 
Roger Milne, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

1,300 homes for Ripon

Homes England and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have announced that land at Claro and Deverell Barracks in Ripon, Yorkshire, is to be developed to provide 1,300 homes and commercial space.

The site is the first to be progressed as part of a partnership between Homes England and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to develop surplus MoD land across the country.

An event has been held with various stakeholders, including Ripon City Council and Harrogate Borough Council, to discuss plans for the future of the site. Homes England is planning a series of community engagement events this summer.

MPs launch inquiry into devolution

The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the progress of devolution in England.

The committee said it will scrutinise the impact of recently agreed devolution agreements and ask if the transfer of further powers to England’s cities and regions can boost local economies and provision of public services.

The inquiry will also consider:

  • The effectiveness of the current strategy of developing bespoke deals region by region, and ask if increasing available powers without wider systemic changes would produce similar benefits.
  • It will investigate the roles of directly elected mayors, quality of scrutiny in decision making and public accountability.

Committee chair Clive Betts said: "The approach the Government has taken is to develop bespoke arrangements for different areas, both in terms of the powers devolved to them and the administrative systems to execute them.

We have launched this inquiry to understand the impact of the current approach. Has tailoring devolution to each locality improved decision making, the local economy and public services?"

The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 29 August 2019. Evidence can be submitted to the committee on the UK Parliament website.

Application for Ravenswood submitted

The charitty Norwood has submitted plans to Wokingham Borough Council for a £16-million development to its Ravenswood site that aims to create homes and outdoor spaces that are modern, fit for purpose and accessible to everyone.

The project will see an upgrade to Ravenswood’s residential accommodation and facilities as the charity seeks to ensure it can continue to support both its current 111 residents and future residents.

Ravenswood Village was established in 1953 by four families who wanted to provide education and care for their learning disabled children.

Additionally, a parcel of land on the Ravenswood site will be released to national housing developer Charles Church. This site will provide 183 new homes, 40 per cent of which  have been designated as affordable housing.

Dr Beverley Jacobson, chief executive at Norwood’s, commented: “The plans have been carefully thought through to balance the needs of residents with the desire to align with the national agenda of community inclusion for those with learning disabilities.

“The plan includes many exciting elements, from the upgrading of existing facilities to the building of new flexible spaces for meetings, workshops and conferences. All of this will extend our services to many more people in the local community, some of whom may choose to live in the new Charles Church homes, which will also, we hope, provide a fresh source of paid staff and volunteers for Ravenswood.”

Shipping container tower approved

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council has approved an office block that will be built out of reclaimed shipping containers.

The nine-storey development for The Estate Office, which will comprise 2,988 square metres of office space, will be fabricated offsite before being installed on site in Whitechapel.

Working alongside designers from Patalab Architecture, planning consultancy Barton Willmore said its planners worked to ensure the car-free development reached BREAAM Excellent status. The construction cost through

modular techniques will be around 30 per cent less than traditional technique, which allowed for the creation of a hub for start-up businesses.

Barton Willmore say the tower will be the "tallest building in the world to be built out of reclaimed shipping containers".

Modular homes approved in Bristol

Bristol City Council has granted planning permission for 11 modular houses to be built above the Chalks Road car park, next to St George Park.

To be delivered by ZED Pods, a company set up to design, build and install "high quality, affordable low carbon homes" for keyworkers and young people close to city centres and public transport, the scheme, includes nine one bedroom pods and two pods with two bedrooms.

It will be the first development to be built as part of the five-year Bristol Housing Festival, and could be on time for the next festival exhibition in mid-October.  

The pods will be road-tested, in a real-world scenario, to accelerate the delivery of quality, affordable housing in Bristol.

Manchester factory to make way for residential tower

Manchester City Council has approved plans to demolish the abandoned Longsight factory and replace it with a seven-storey residential development.

The building will comprise 96 dwellings – seven townhouses and 89 apartments.

The scheme will also see financial contributions provided towards the provision of affordable housing and improved facilities at Coverdale and Newbank Community Centre.

Residents will have access to a number of sustainable transport modes and will contain cycle parking and electric vehicle charging points for residents. New public realm will be created, including the planting of new trees, landscaping and vegetation to enhance the setting of the building. A roof terrace on the sixth floor will provide communal space for residents.

South Northants adopts housing strategy

The South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) cabinet has adopted the council’s housing strategy. It aims to guide developers and social housing providers towards the delivery of housing needed by the district between now and 2022.

During a four-week public consultation in spring 2019, 202 comments were made on the draft strategy, mostly by district residents but also by social housing providers, county council colleagues, and voluntary and community groups.

The new strategy’s three priorities are to build homes people need and can afford; enable people to live settled lives; and develop strong partnerships that help provide services that meet the needs of residents.

Karen Cooper, the council's portfolio holder for wellbeing, said: “It is not a requirement for the council to have a Housing Strategy, but it is best practice.

“With great changes ahead for the county we see it as important that the needs of South Northants residents’ are clearly defined and built upon robust evidence."

16 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner