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Planning news - 30 January 2020

Published: Thursday, 30th January 2020

Defra launches natural capital tool, WMCA launches design charter, 1,000-home plan submitted for Shropshire power station site. 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 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched an online resource to guarantee ‘better’ environmental decision-making by valuing natural capital.

The tool hosts a “comprehensive and integrated” set of evidence and guidance about natural capital in the UK.

Policymakers, businesses, landowners and public sector organisations will be able to use the tool.

The government thinks this approach to natural capital will make it easier for public and private organisations to better assess and value the environment, which will in turn help to deliver long-term benefits, a reduction in flood risk, boosts to wildlife, improvements to water and air quality, and opportunities for biodiversity net gain.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said the tool meets a commitment from the government's 25-year environment plan to better incorporate the value of nature and the benefits the environment provides to us all.

“This comes at a critical time when the protection of our environment is ever more important in combating climate change and reversing habitat loss.”

To develop the resource – ‘Enabling a Natural Capital Approach’ (ENCA) – Defra worked with its agencies and was informed by the work of academic, professional and voluntary bodies such as the Valuing Nature Network.

Matthew Farrow, executive director of the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) said: “In bringing together all the relevant resources in one place, ENCA will make a huge difference to the ability of businesses and their advisers to assess how their actions and investment decisions can be aligned with protecting and enhancing the natural environment on which we all rely. EIC is delighted to have provided member cases studies for ENCA and looks forward to promoting it.”

27 January 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) launched the West Midlands Design Charter at Birmingham’s Mailbox complex last week.  

The charter sets out to secure high-quality design in housing, civic architecture, urban spaces, parks and transport infrastructure.

It will also serve as a springboard to grow a range of key design sectors such as digital media, graphic design and creative industries including advertising and screen (film, TV and games).

In supporting the region’s wider design sector, it is also intended to drive investment and inclusive economic growth while combating global warming by promoting low-carbon, energy-efficient and climate-resilient design.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Great design and creativity can have a huge and positive impact on the quality of life and wellbeing of our communities.

“But this charter is not just about raising the quality of the homes, places, buildings and natural environment around us. It’s also about championing and promoting our design sector, helping to drive our regional economy and new jobs.

The charter’s six main themes are:

  • Character
  • Connectivity and mobility
  • Future readiness
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Engagement and stewardship
  • Delivery.

The charter’s six themes and 12 principles have been developed in close collaboration with the WMCA’s members, which include 18 local authorities and three local enterprise partnerships.

It will provide an extra tool for local planning authorities to secure good urban design and high-quality development. Stratford District Council has already adopted the 12 principles as planning policy.

It will also be used as a guidance document for developments funded through the WMCA’s single commissioning framework – a funding pot of several hundred million pounds. Much of this funding is being channelled into housing and commercial schemes on the region’s former industrial (brownfield) sites, helping to relieve pressure on the green belt.

The charter is being backed by Homes England, the Design Council, the Landscape Institute and Lovell Partnerships. 

27 January 2020
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Plans to redevelop the Ironbridge power station site in Telford by building up to 1,000 homes and a retirement village have been submitted to Shropshire Council.

Part of the application for this development falls within the Telford and Wrekin area and the applicant, Harworth Group plc, has also lodged the application with Telford and Wrekin Council.

The plans also include employment land comprising a number of uses: allotments, sports pitches, a railway link, leisure uses, primary/nursery school, a park-and-ride facility, walking and cycling routes, and associated landscaping, drainage and infrastructure works.

Harworth Group submitted a second application concerning land south of the Sand Quarry to unitary authority Shropshire Council. This part of the site was last used as agricultural land and as a former storage area for coal, biofuel and PFA.

The application is for the phased extraction and processing of sand and gravel, including the building of a processing planning and ancillary infrastructure.

The applications can be found on Shropshire Council’s website: up to 1,000 homes and phased extraction.

22 January 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Londoners are being ‘locked into 20th century patterns of car ownership’ because new developments do not enable residents to make sustainable travel choices.

Centre for London has said walking, cycling and public transport should be “at the heart” of planning new neighbourhoods.

As the Mayor of London is aiming for 80 per cent of trips in London to be carried out on foot, by bike or by using public transport by 2041, Building for a New Urban Mobility states that new developments provide a unique opportunity to meet this target.

However, the rate of progress for the past five years suggests that the capital would meet the mayor’s target by 2070.

New-builds are “generally well connected” but, on average, new affordable housing developments have lower levels of public transport compared with market-rate housing. The report found that in 2017/18, 36 per cent of market rate housing was in the best-connected areas of the capital, while only 8 per cent of affordable housing developments were.

Building for a New Urban Mobility cites a Transport for London (TfL) survey that found that residents living in new developments were more likely to have off-street parking than residents in existing homes. Also, Greater London, 47 per cent of people in new homes owned a car compared with 40 per cent of the general population.

Out-of-date predictions can be used to predict the travel choices of future new-build residents, which Centre for London states is compounded by that fact that local authority planning and development departments are under-resourced.

Furthermore, some developers and local authorities don't have the expertise to build new homes that are sustainable and adaptable to future transport developments, said the think tank.

Nicolas Bosetti, research manager at Centre for London and co-author of the report, said: “For decades, the way Londoners travel around the city has barely changed, but we now find ourselves on the brink of a ‘new age’ of urban mobility.  

“Greater vehicle connectivity, automation and electrification and other transport innovations have the potential to be as transformative as the invention of the private motorcar.  

“But rather than preparing for these transport innovations, developers and planners are at risk of locking citizens into 20th-century patterns of car ownership and use by allocating space and investment to private car parking spaces.

“Developers and planners should design for new urban mobility – favouring flexibility, supporting walking, cycling and public transport use, minimising car parking and enabling its adaptation over time.”

The report suggests that if there aren’t many alternatives to the car and therefore car parking spaces need to be provided, a plan must be set out to enable a transition to a car-free future.

In addition, spaces should be offered on a short-term renewable basis or as a charging scheme, not as ownership of the space and spaces should be located and designed in a way that allows them to be converted for a different use when private car use declines, such as bike storage or workspace.

Mobility hubs could be created for new developments. The report considers these to be public spaces that have covered waiting areas and green spaces. They would facilitate public and shared modes of transport such as the car, bike and taxi waiting areas, and rail and bus interchanges. The government and the mayor should match-fund development receipts to help local authorities and developers to deliver them.

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, told The Planner that the institute agrees "wholeheartedly" that more work must be done to integrate public and active transport into the planning process "with the aim of improving overall accessibility to new housing schemes by sustainable modes of travel, and to reduce car-dependency".

“A more joined-up approach to transport and land use planning is vital if we are to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and deliver sustainable patterns of growth.

“Last year, we joined up with the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation and the Transport Planning Society to provide advice on ways to embed sustainable transport through plan-making and development management, and we will continue to work towards making sustainable modes of transport more accessible to all.”

Building for a New Urban Mobility can be found on the Centre for London website.

28 January 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The number of Build to Rent homes delivered across UK regions, excluding London, increased by 51 per cent in 2019.

This is according to research published by the British Property Federation (BPF) and carried out by Savills.

It found that at the end of Q4 2019, the number of completed Build to Rent homes was 20,120, compared with the 13,312 homes that had been completed in the year to the end of Q4 2018.

In London in 2019, the Build to Rent sector completed 20,061 homes, an increase of 3,061 homes on the 17,000 homes completed in 2018.

The BPF said that for the first time UK regions delivered more Build to Rent homes than London.

The capital, though, does have slightly more Build to Rent homes at varying stages of development than the rest of the UK. 

There are, according to the study, 152,071 Build to Rent homes in the UK – in the regions and the capital. This breaks down to 40,181 completed homes, 35,415 under construction and 75,475 going through the planning system. The research states this is a 15 per cent increase compared with 2018.

The average size of the developments is increasing too. At the end of 2019, the average scheme size of completed developments was 141 homes. This rises to 253 homes for those under construction and 317 homes for those going through the planning system.

Ian Fletcher, director of real estate policy at the BPF, commented: "Build to Rent is well liked by tenants and is proving popular with many local authorities. It has truly gone nationwide now, with homes being delivered across the country.

“As the government remains committed to delivering 300,000 homes, the sector is making a significant contribution to supply, regeneration and placemaking, with the average size of planned Build to Rent developments almost 200 homes higher than those that are complete, according to our figures.”

Jacqui Daly, director, Savills residential research, added: “With completions up by a third year on year, Build to Rent is an extremely positive real estate story, both for developers and investors, and it’s bringing forward much-needed high-quality and well-managed rental homes.

“There are real opportunities to increase supply in London. Having been some three or four years ahead of the rest of the UK, it is beginning to lag in terms of new pipeline. Uncertainty over the content of the new London Plan has held some planning applications back – the revisions in the latest draft will give more certainty to investors and encourage more schemes to come forward.”

22 January 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Planner Live 2020 tickets are on sale

Early-bird tickets for The Planner Live 2020 have gone on sale.

The conference will take place in London on 29 and 30 June. It will feature focus sessions, live interviews and opportunities for delegates to contribute to discussions and interact with presenters.

The RTPI has confirmed a number of the speakers for The Planner Live, including:

  • Joel Albizo and Kurt Christiansen, chief executive officer and president respectively of the American Planning Association.
  • Araceli Camargo, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London.
  • Jeremy Purseglove, environmentalist and author.
  • Jen Heal (Design Advisor, Design Commission for Wales and Commissioner, South East Wales Transport Commission).
  • Deryck Irving, acting chief executive, Central Scotland Green Network Trust.

RTPI president Sue Manns said: “It’s great that we’ll have such high-profile speakers joining us for The Planner Live. The topics they are addressing are some of the most interesting in the profession right now, and I am really looking forward to hearing what they have to say.

“The Planner Live will also feature more opportunities than ever before for delegates to get involved, including voting and polling during sessions and the opportunity to submit your questions prior to the event.”

More information can be found on the RTPI website.


Application for housing submitted in Hopton

Norfolk County Council’s housing company Repton has submitted plans for 200 homes in Hopton.

The company and its developer, the Lovell Partnership, have applied to build a mix of two, three and four bed housing at Lowestoft Road, Hopton. It will include shared ownership homes.

Council leader Andrew Proctor, chairman of Repton Homes, said: “This is the second development proposed by Repton, following on from obtaining approval for 137 homes in Acle last month. We are looking to build much-needed, high-quality homes across Norfolk, as well as generating income for the county council.”

Great Yarmouth Borough Council will consider the application this spring.


Consultation on Pembrokeshire development plan

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is seeking your views on its local development plan after it made amendments following the recent examination hearing sessions.

Any comments received will be passed on to the inspector for consideration.

Representations should be sent by 4.30pm on Friday 13 March 2020, either by email to, or in writing to: Park Direction, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Llanion Park, Pembroke Dock, SA72 6DY.

More information can be found on the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority website.


Office plans submitted in Basingstoke

Plans for a 45,000 square-feet grade A office development have been submitted to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

The five-storey development – named Neon – includes a double height atrium and a ground-floor business lounge. Architecture practice BDP designed the development so it is energy efficient and meets BREEAM Excellent and EPC A standards,

It was launched by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council at Basing View, a business park that has been undergoing a £500 million regeneration programme.

The Neon building will replace Norden House, an outdated two-storey office building. The council bought the site last year for redevelopment with funding from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership.


Wigan adopts new HMO rules

Wigan Council has adopted new regulations that aim to help it manage the number of shared houses in areas of Wigan and Leigh.

This means that landlords and developers will now need planning permission to convert properties into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

The policy will be enforced in Swinley and central Leigh after residents told the council about the rising number of HMOs in those areas.

Previously, a change of use from a house to a large HMO (of more than six people) required planning permission, but a change of use to a small HMO (between three and six people) did not.

The measures are being enforced through an article 4 direction. HMOs of any size will now be considered through the planning system.


Education campus plans submitted in Ebbsfleet

Plans for an education campus in Whitecliffe, Ebbsfleet Garden City, have been submitted to the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation by Henley Camland.

Designed by Lee Evans Partnership’s, the campus is expected to offer more than 2,200 places to nursery, primary and secondary school pupils, and will also serve as a community sports facility.

The proposal – known as Alkerden C of E Academy – includes provision for a nursery, a two-form-entry primary school, an eight-form-entry secondary school, a dual-use community sports centre with external sports pitches and associated ancillary facilities for the emerging local community.

If approved, the facilities will be managed by the Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust on completion.


Wolverhampton submits high streets fund bid

The City of Wolverhampton Council has submitted a bid for £20 million to the government's Future High Streets Fund.

The council’s initial proposal was shortlisted by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) in July and it has now put forward a full business case.

Ahead of the final bid submission in early April, the council said it would be sharing the ideas and proposals with the public, businesses and city partners to gain their thoughts and views.

The bid focuses on the area of the city centre to the west of, and including, Victoria Street.


Canary Wharf hotel approved

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has granted approval for the landmark redevelopment of Quay House, Canary Wharf.

Rockwell and Firethorn Trust plans for the building intend to deliver a 400-bedroom hotel and 279 serviced apartments alongside dockside leisure facilities.

The site was acquired in a joint venture between Rockwell and Firethorn Trust in October 2018 and the planning application was subsequently submitted in July 2019.

Work is expected to start on site later this year.

28 January 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner