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Planning News - 13 February 2020

Published: Thursday, 13th February 2020

National infrastructure must satisfy net zero and people concerns; More than 160,000 homes registered in 2019; Khan asks government to back London Plan's environmental policies; And more stories...

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

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Four design principles should be addressed in all new national infrastructure projects, according to the National Infrastructure Commission's Design Group.

The group has produced its report, Design Principles for National Infrastructure, a month before the government is expected to publish its own National Infrastructure Strategy during the Budget in March.

The report is the first of its kind to be produced in the UK, according to the commission's chair Sir John Armitt. Its recommendations are based around four principles for the planning and delivery of projects to construct and renew nationally significant infrastructure.

These are:

  • Climate: Infrastructure must help set the trajectory for the UK to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner. It must be capable of adapting to climate change.
  • People: Projects should be human scale, instinctive to use and seek opportunities to improve the quality of life for people who live and work nearby.
  • Places: Schemes should provide a sense of identity for communities, supporting the natural and built environment and enriching ecosystems.
  • Value: Value should be added beyond the main purpose of the infrastructure, solving problems well and achieving multiple benefits.

For the Design Group, schemes outlined in the National Infrastructure Strategy will have their 'legacy' judged on how they respond to the needs of the climate crisis, the environment and communities. It wants the government to adopt these principles in its own strategy.

Professor Sadie Morgan, chair of the National Infrastructure Design Group said: "We are moving into a seminal decade for our infrastructure and the design of every major project should celebrate our nation's ambition for flourishing communities and an enriched environment.

"By embedding excellent design into planning and delivery from day one and encouraging everyone in the sector to embrace it as part of their role, we can ensure we leave a proud inheritance that inspires people and helps the UK achieve our climate targets.

"The Design Principles need to be front and centre in the government's forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy, so the infrastructure revolution we have been promised is the best that it can be."

View the 'Design Principles for National Infrastructure'.

10 February 2020
Laura Edgar - The Planner

New statistics have shown that 161,022 new homes were registered* in the UK in 2019, representing a 1 per cent increase over 2018.

The figures also show that 150,436 new homes were completed in 2019.

According to the National House Building Council (NHBC), 112,086 of those homes were in the private sector, 3 per cent less than the number registered in 2018.

A total of 48,936 new homes were registered in the affordable and rental sector last year, up 13 per cent on 2018.

The statistical release also identifies the number of homes registered in 2019 and compares it to the number registered in 2018:

Country / region 2018 2019 % Difference
Scotland  12,093 12,268 +1%
Wales 5,448 4,769 -12%
Northern Ireland & Isle of Man 4,846 4,655 -4%
North East 6,375  5,828 -9%
North West 18,086 16,210 -10%
Yorks and Humber 11,136 9,844 -12%
Eastern 17,698 19,110 +8%
East Midlands 13,078 12,895 -1%
West Midlands 13,299 15,496 +17%
South West 14,240 12,725 -11%
South East  26,766 25,496 -5%
London 15,811  21,726 +37%

The 161,022 homes registered with NHBC in 2019 is 81% more than the 88,849 homes registered a decade ago in 2009. NHBC calls 2019 the strongest year for new home registrations since 2007.

NHBC chief executive Steve Wood said: "It is great to see the resilience of house builders over the 2019 year. This momentum needs to be maintained as we enter a new decade, with the industry ever-more focused on quality and fire safety."

View 'New Home Statistics Review 2019' (PDF).

* Registrations refer to the process of a builder registering a new plot/home to be built in the coming months or weeks, which will be covered by NHBC's 10-year Buildmark warranty. Completions refer to when a new home is completed as indicated by NHBC inspectors.

10 February 2020
Laura Edgar - The Planner

The Mayor of London has asked the housing secretary not to 'ride roughshod' over the environmental protections outlined in the draft London Plan.

In December 2019, Sadiq Khan published the latest version of the plan following examination in public and scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate in October.

Inspectors Roisin Barrett, William Fieldhouse and David Smith advised Khan to remove a policy relating to fracking from the plan, and suggested that a review of the green belt be added.

Further, policy T8 Aviation states that the mayor supports the case for additional aviation capacity in the south-east of England as long as it meets London's passenger and freight needs, but that he will oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport. The inspectors recommended that the policy be removed completely from the plan.

Khan rejected the recommendation to remove the fracking related policy from the plan and refused the suggestion of a green belt review.

"The government - through its Planning Inspectorate - has attempted to water down or even strip away crucial policies to protect London's environment, tackle the climate crisis and cut air pollution," said Khan.

"I've been clear from the outset these policies must stay in the London Plan for the benefit of all who live and work in the capital, along with the millions who visit each year from around the world.

"Ministers must not ride roughshod over these important protections. I hope the secretary of state will agree that the plan should be adopted in its current form, so that planning authorities across the city can get on and deliver much-needed new developments for Londoners."

The housing secretary has until 17 February to respond.

10 February 2020
Laura Edgar - The Planner

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has approved an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to upgrade the A30 in Cornwall.

The A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross scheme will see the single carriage road upgraded to a dual carriageway, connecting to the existing A30 dual carriageway at either end.

The development will also see the Chiverton Cross roundabout replaced with a new two-level motorway style roundabout; new, two-level partial junction at Chybucca, with west-facing slip roads connecting to the new dualcarriageway; a replacement of the existing roundabout at Carland Cross with a two-level motorway style junction; new bridges and accesses across the new road and the old road; and retention of the existing A30 including the construction of further local roads to maintain connectivity.

The DCO application was submitted by Highways England in August 2018 and accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate the following month. It is Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). The Planning Inspectorate made a recommendation to the transport secretary after an examination in public.

Highways England senior project manager Josh Hodder said: "Improving the A30 between Chiverton and Carland Cross is incredibly important for Cornwall's future.

It's the only remaining stretch of single carriageway on the A30 between Camborne and the M5 at Exeter; journeys on this part of the road are regularly delayed, congestion often brings traffic to a standstill, and as a result the Cornish economy is being held back."

Main construction works are scheduled to start later this year, with the route expected to be open to traffic in 2023.

Hodder added that Highways England is currently finalising details of its construction partner on the project, and all phases of the work and associated traffic management will be explained to the local community before work begins start.

The cost of the scheme is being funded by an £8 million contribution from the European Regional Development Fund, with an additional £12 million for the construction phase. Central government is funding the remainder.

The decision letter and all document relating to the scheme can be viewed on the Planning Inspectorate website.

10 February 2020
Laura Edgar - The Planner

Wrexham County Borough Council is embroiled in an escalating row with the Planning Inspectorate over key elements of its latest local development plan (LDP).

The inspectors who have been conducting the inquiry into the blueprint have raised serious concerns over housing issues and the plan's provision for gypsies and travellers.

The two inspectors have voiced misgivings over the reduction in housing numbers between the preferred strategy and deposit stages. This amounts to 3,190 new dwellings.

They have warned that on the evidence they have considered regarding housing requirement, supply and delivery, the latest version of the LDP might be "flawed" and the plan's commitment to its stated growth agenda "insufficiently convincing".

The council has responded with a 48-page rebuttal defending its position. The inquiry is due to sit again next month to consider these developments

Last week during a session of the Welsh Assembly housing minister Julie James backed the council's figures after Plaid Cymru assembly member Llyr Gruffydd raised fears of "urban sprawl" if the inspectors' call for 11,715 homes was met.

She told a plenary session in the Senedd: "The inspectors have raised concerns regarding the level of housing proposed in the plan, specifically questioning whether it is aspirational enough.

"The level of housing proposed by the council aligns with the 2014-based 10-year migration variant published by the Welsh Government, which is a requirement of 7,750 homes. Officials have made public representations supporting the level of housing in Wrexham's LDP, and do not consider that it should be increased further."

Council planners have questioned whether the figure for housing provision favoured by the inspectors is deliverable or, equally crucially, sustainable.

Meanwhile, in a related but separate development, proposals to build more than 80 new houses in Summerhill, Wrexham, have been rejected over concerns about the impact of extra traffic.

7 February 2020
Roger Milne - The Planner

Care home in Bath gets go-ahead

Care provider Hallmark Care Homes has been granted planning permission to develop a 79-bed care home in Bath, Somerset.

The 1.3-acre site, which is on Frome Road, will provide residential, dementia and nursing care.

Planning consultancy Turley worked with Hallmark Care Homes to secure the consent, and Savista Developments will build the care home.

It is expected to create 120 jobs, and will feature a café, cinema,
hairdressing salon, therapy room, a wellness suite, winter and roof garden and a library.


Lewisham mayor wants to protect heritage buildings

Mayor of Lewisham Damian Egan has urged the government to give local authorities greater powers to protect local heritage buildings.

Thirteen national and local amenity societies echoed Egan's call.

They have written to the housing secretary to call for national planning legislation to be amended so that it allows local authorities to protect their heritage buildings and assets of community value from developers.

Lewisham is home to more than 500 locally listed buildings, ranging from Victorian public houses to traditional shopfronts, but Egan is concerned that the
council's ability to protect them from developers is limited by national planning legislation.

Egan said a loophole in national planning legislation means that local authorities' ability to protect it from developers who are more interested in making a profit is limited.

"There have been a number of cases in the borough where we have lost locally significant buildings to developers because they were acting within the law. This is a challenge faced by other local authorities and communities across the country, which is why the government must give us greater powers to hold developers to account."


Sidmouth building to be converted

East Devon District Council has approved Rockfish's planning application for the Drill Hall building on Sidmouth seafront.

The legal agreement for the sale of the property to Rockfish, which was conditional upon Rockfish securing planning permission, can be concluded. This means Rockfish will take on the building from the council.

As landowner of the former Drill Hall, the council has been working with Rockfish, its preferred developer for the site, since March 2019, when the sale was agreed, following a meeting of its cabinet.

Rockfish submitted a planning application in August 2019. The firm will refurbish the building and convert it into a restaurant.


Contractor appointed for next phase of Thamesmead development

Peabody has appointed contractor Durkan to build the next phase in the regeneration of South Thamesmead.

This would create 404 homes built around a public square overlooking Southmere Lake.

The homes will be for rent, shared ownership and private sale, more than 50 per cent of which will be affordable. Priority will be given to existing local residents.

Durkan is currently building the first phase of Peabody's Southmere Village regeneration, which comprises 130 new homes around a lakeside square. It is due to be completed by the end of autumn 2021.


Plans submitted for later-living community

Guild Living has submitted plans to Epsom and Ewell Borough Council to redevelop unused NHS buildings into a later-living scheme.

The project will include 300 homes designed with the help of academics to enable older people to live independently using the latest technology, alongside places for families to stay when visiting.

The scheme also includes ‘publicly accessible' facilities - such as a wellness and fitness centre, restaurants, bars and GP consultation rooms.

Guild Living is Legal & General's urban later-living housing business.


Government urged not to cap climate ambition for new homes

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has called on the government not to restrict local ambition when drawing up guidelines for new-build homes.

The appeal was made in its response to government proposals to improve energy efficiency standards in building regulations. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government set out the proposals in its Future Homes Standard consultation.

The proposals require new-build homes to incorporate low-carbon heating, as well as to increase energy efficiency standards for new homes by 80 per cent based on the previously issued 2013 guidelines.

GMCA noted that the new plans would remove the ability for local or combined authorities to set higher energy efficiency standards for their areas, "restricting their ability to go faster and further in cutting carbon emissions".

Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett, GMCA lead for housing, homelessness and infrastructure, said that while the proposals "have improved on existing standards", they stop "short of giving us the freedom to go further".

"These proposals actually jeopardise our position, where we've committed to a target of net zero-carbon buildings by 2028, and carbon-neutrality by 2038 - 12 years sooner than the national target. We can't future-proof our places by building new homes today that we already know will need to be retrofitted tomorrow to meet our targets, especially as our analysis already tells us that we need to retrofit 61,000 homes per year in Greater Manchester if we're to meet our 2038 carbon-neutrality aspirations."


500 homes approved in Stoke

The City of Stoke-on-Trent Council has approved plans for a 500-home development in Hanford.

Stoke-based developer Oak-Ngate will deliver the homes on a 161-acre site off New Inn Lane.

The scheme will contribute to the City of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council's proposed joint local plan to deliver 27,800 new homes by 2033.

Full planning permission has been given to the first phase of 29 homes, including a mix of four and five-bedroom family homes. Outline permission has been granted for 471 dwellings, a new primary school, a health centre, highways improvement works and open space.


11 February 2020
Laura Edgar - The Planner