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Planning News - 31 July 2019

Published: Wednesday, 31st July 2019

LGA opens bids to tackle housing crisis, Housebuilders told to protect wildlife, M25 junction change to be examined by PINS and more stories...

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

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The Local Government Association (LGA) has opened its bids for the third year to tackle the housing crisis.  

The Housing Advisers Programme funds the provision of independent expertise for councils undertaking specific projects to tackle the effects of the housing crisis in local communities – including on housing delivery, planning for homes, and reducing homelessness.

In the previous two years of the programme, the LGA has funded more than 100 councils to help them build homes, reduce homelessness, plan for ageing populations, understand the student housing market and increase the supply of modular housing.

This year the LGA will support a smaller number of larger strategic housing projects. The programme will award up to £50,000 to each project for the purpose of securing expert advice in transforming how a service or partnership meets the housing needs of communities.

The best practice and lessons learned from each project will be shared with councils and embedded into the sector-led improvement currently on offer from the LGA.

Councillor Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman, said: “The country’s housing crisis is forcing difficult choices on families, distorting places, hampering growth, and putting significant pressure on local services and council budgets.

“The programme aims to help councils deliver local priorities, and can be a valuable source of expertise to councils wishing to innovate and improve in their efforts to build more homes, reduce homelessness, and plan prosperous places and economies.”

22 July 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Housing secretary James Brokenshire has told developers they must to do more to protect wildlife in Britain.

New guidance sets out how the government expects developers to protect specific species, such as using hedgehog highways and hollow swift bricks (which are installed into the walls of new-build homes to allow the bird to nest safely).

The government says that builders should think about the long-term impact of their developments on the local ecosystem during and after construction. This could include creating drainage areas to create wetlands for bird and amphibians. Developers should also plant more trees and green meadows to give insects such as the British honey bee a safe place to thrive.

The guidance states that green infrastructure can help planning:

  • Build a strong, competitive economy.
  • Achieve well-designed places that feature green roofs, street trees, proximity to woodland, public gardens and recreational and open spaces.
  • Promote healthy and safe communities. Green infrastructure can provide opportunities for recreation, exercise, social interaction, experiencing and caring for nature, community food-growing and gardening, which can bring mental and physical health benefits.
  • Mitigate climate change, flooding and coastal change, by contributing to carbon storage, cooling and shading, opportunities for species migration to more suitable habitats and the protection of water quality and other natural resources.
  • Conserve and enhance the natural environment by facilitating biodiversity net gain and nature recovery networks, as well as providing opportunities for communities to undertake conservation work.

The guidance can be found here on the UK Government website.

22 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

An application by Highways England for changes to the M25 J10/A3 Wisley Interchange has been accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

The scheme comprises two Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

According to the application form, the scheme is intended to reduce congestion, improve safety and support planned growth.

The M25 J10 roundabout and associated slip roads would be altered. The hard shoulder at J10 would be converted to provide an additional running lane in each direction. The A3 would be improved between the Painshill junction to the north and the Ockham junction to the south, including the widening of the A3 to four lanes in both directions.

The scheme also includes alterations to local side roads, the widening of the A245 Byfleet Road to three lanes in each direction between the A3 Painshill junction and Seven Hills Road, and a series of new and improved routes for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Highways England says there is an “extensive” package of environmental mitigation and compensation measures included in the scheme, including 39.8 hectares of replacement land proposed in exchange for the loss of common land and open space.

Sarah Richards, chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate, said: “A major priority for us over the next few weeks is to ensure that the people and communities who may be affected by this proposal have the opportunity to give us their views.”

More information can be found on the National Infrastructure Planning website.

22 July 2019 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Transport Select Committee says increased funding and more ambitious targets are required to promote the government’s walking and cycling policy for England.

The government published its Cycling and Walking Strategy more than two years ago but, says the committee, the government has not provided any significant detail on its progress in delivering it.

Therefore the committee recommends that the government should produce an annual report on the delivery of the strategy, setting out what progress has been made to meet its targets; to assess whether those targets are still fit for purpose or should be revised; and to decide what further actions are necessary to meet its targets.

The transport minister has said he intends to publish an update over the summer; the committee expects this to be published by the end of September.

Furthermore, the committee suggests that the government should revise its Cycling and Walking Strategy to include more ambitious targets for increasing levels of “cycling and – particularly – walking”. A draft revised strategy should be published alongside the government’s first report on its progress. It should be consulted on in the autumn and publish findings in early 2020.

In June, former Prime Minister Theresa May committed the UK to eradicating its net contribution to climate change by 2050, while the Committee on Climate Change has said more cycling and walking and less reliance on cars could help the UK to meet its own and global climate goals. The report urges the government to act on this by giving active travel the priority it deserves.

The report also says:

  • Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIP) appear to be the main vehicle through which the strategy will be delivered. The government should assess how successful the LCWIP pilot has been in helping local authorities develop plans that will ensure the government’s strategy is delivered. If LCWIPs have helped local authorities prioritise active travel and develop plans for increasing walking and cycling at a local level, in a way that represents good value for money, then the government should be clear that it expects all local authorities to develop these plans, and should commit to providing technical support to help all English local authorities develop their LCWIPs.
  • Funding for active travel is “piecemeal and complex”, and the government has not given local authorities the certainty needed to provide active travel and make long-term funding commitments. The committee recommends that the government bring together the funding it expects to be invested in active travel into a dedicated funding stream for local authorities to deliver improvements, such as those set out in LCWIP. This new funding stream should make money available for resource as well as capital spending to both develop and maximise the benefits of infrastructure improvements.

Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, highlighted that road transport is the “single biggest contributor” to poor air quality and is responsible for 80 per cent of roadside nitrogen dioxide concentration. Walking and cycling is good for people's health, saves on the cost of healthcare, can reduce congestion, and improve productivity.  

“There is no battle here – except for hearts and minds. In England, the vast majority of journeys over a mile are made in a car or van. Even for distances of one to two miles, more than 60 per cent of journeys were made by a motor vehicle and fewer than 2 per cent of journeys are made by bike.

“The government must stand up for active travel. It must show real leadership by setting ambitious targets for cycling and especially walking. It must give local authorities the support and funding they need to engage the public and make active travel a priority in their areas. It must do whatever is necessary to persuade more people to get on their bike, or ‘Shanks’ pony’.”

The report can be found here on the UK Government website.

23 July 2019 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

London has been awarded the status of a National Park City, the first capital city in the world to be designated as such.

The declaration was made on 22 July by the National Park City Foundation in recognition of London’s open spaces, waterways and natural environment.

The National Park City Foundation was set up by the National Park City campaign group and led by environmentalist Daniel Raven-Ellison and World Urban Parks.

To mark the achievement, there will be a week of 300 free ‘National Park City Festival’ events across London’s green spaces, wildlife habitats, green rooftops and waterways.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s election manifesto committed him to making the capital a National Park City, and updating the London Plan to require ‘greening’ in new developments through an Urban Greening Factor.

At the summit yesterday, the mayor co-signed the London National Park City Charter, which was developed by the foundation. It sets out key actions to make London a city where people, places and nature are better connected and matches the long-term goals in the Khan’s environment strategy.

By signing the charter, Khan has confirmed that he shares the collective ambition, responsibility and commitment to deliver on making London:

  • greener in the long-term than it is today and where people and nature are better connected;
  • protect its core network of parks and green spaces,
  • rich with wildlife;
  • a city where every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors; and
  • a city where all can enjoy high-quality green spaces, clean air, clean waterways and where more people choose to walk and cycle.

Khan said: “I am proud to have helped London, one of the greenest world cities, be recognised as the world’s first National Park City. This status is a truly fantastic reflection of our vibrant and dynamic city and our amazing network of green spaces, rivers and natural habitats. We must do all we can to help tackle the global climate emergency and ecological crisis and address the decline in biodiversity.

“That is why I’ve delivered 200 green space improvements, planted over 170,000 trees, protected the green belt and ensured greening in all new developments.”

Raven-Ellison, who started campaigning to make London a National Park City six years ago, added: “London becoming a National Park City is something for us all to be proud of ... It’s about lifting our ambitions; going further to make the city greener, healthier and wilder; improving our mental health; cleaning our air; making the city richer in wildlife; freeing children to play and meet friends outdoors again; tackling the climate crisis and bringing more joy to the city.”

23 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner  

A round-up of planning news

Tech to support self-build
A tech platform that aims to increase the number of self-build homes in the UK has been launched.

MyPlot intends to support the government target of increasing annual self-build completions to 20,000.

Paul Smith, director at MyPlot, explained: “In Europe, it’s much more straightforward to source a plot of land, and the planning system is less onerous – there’s also more support for those embarking on the process, which we just don’t have here in the UK. With MyPlot, we’ve looked at the issues and offered a solution, filling the gaps and removing the complexity by providing a directory of self-build experts on the one single platform."

Sourcing a plot – even finding your planning consultant – is done via the single platform. Planning consultants with expertise in self-build can submit a profile to be listed within the directory.
York hospital site masterplan published
City of York Council has published a draft masterplan for the Bootham Park Hospital site.  

The masterplan, developed jointly with the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, provides residents with care accommodation, public open space and key worker housing, among other things.

The masterplan was published after a public consultation last year. Residents will now be invited to contribute further to the development of the masterplan. The Bootham Park masterplan consultation will launch in September.

NHS Property Services has recently engaged in a failed commercial sale; it continues to remarket the site.
South West London cycling route opens
A 1.2-kilometre walking and cycling path has been opened between New Malden and Raynes Park in south-west London.

The project connects Kingston upon Thames with Merton, and opens up a traffic-free path between New Malden Railway Station and Raynes Park Recreation Ground. It is part of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames’ £30 million “mini-Holland” Go Cycle programme, funded by the Mayor of London. It was managed by the borough’s Go Cycle programme team.

It has also created a space for people of all ages and abilities to access and enjoy the environment and wildlife in the area.
Charity Sustrans supported the council’s Go-Cycle team throughout delivery of the scheme.
Calderdale’s local plan – first examination complete
Calderdale Council’s draft local plan has completed the first stage of examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

The stage one hearings were to examine the vision and strategy on which the local plan is based; the housing and employment required in Calderdale; sustainability appraisal; and the need for gypsy and traveller facilities.   

The hearings also examined how the council has worked with neighbouring councils and reviewed the public consultation undertaken with communities during the preparation of the plan.

The examination hearings were led by planning inspector Katie Child.

Child has written to the council outlining areas of the draft local plan that will need to be revised before the next stage of examination begins. She told the council that the housing need in the borough is higher than the 840 homes a year that the council proposed and that a more realistic figure could be around 1,000 new homes annually.
Copeland approves office scheme
Copeland Borough Council has granted planning permission for a 67,000 square foot office development. The scheme also includes retail space and a public square.

It will be developed at the harbourside in Whitehaven for EROS Properties.

The scheme, designed by PRP Architects, includes offices that could create up to 400 new full-time jobs as well as generate £18.4 million a year for the local economy.
Lichfield adopts allocations document
Lichfield District Council has voted to approve the adoption of its local plan allocations document. Iain Eadie, cabinet member for investment, economic growth & tourism, said: “These documents, alongside local parish councils’ neighbourhood plans, will help us to positively shape our district in the future. Our allocations document sets out where and what kind of development can take place on different land across the district.”

23 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner