Latest news

Planning news - 20 February 2020

Published: Thursday, 20th February 2020

Government announces projects to receive cash for urban trees, Khan ‘on track’ to deliver 17,000 affordable homes, South Cambridgeshire approves Inholm plans. And more stories...

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

RTPI logo
Planner jobs

The government has declared that 13 projects in urban communities in England will receive a share of £10 million in the first round of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. 

The scheme, which launched in May 2019, aims to plant 130,000 trees across England by 2021. More than 22,000 large trees and 28,000 small trees will be planted in urban areas such as Bristol, Merseyside and Thanet.   

The government said its commitment to planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year in the UK by 2025 would help to increase canopy cover in towns and cities. 

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, to tackle air pollution and help us achieve our net-zero target by 2050. But for local communities they are so much more. They allow green spaces to come together, help both physical and mental wellbeing, and connect children and young people with nature.”

The first round of projects includes: 

  • The Trees for Cities project, which will receive support for at least 9,000 trees to be distributed across the country.
  • More than 8,000 trees will be planted by Slough Borough Council, almost 7,000 large trees will go to London Street Trees, and 6,000 trees to The Mersey Forest.

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund is made up of two parts. In year one, the fund was open for block bids from local authorities or larger organisations, and bidding closed on 31 August 2019. In year two, the fund will reopen for applications from individual tree planters, starting in spring 2020.

Applicants will be able to submit expressions of interest to the Forestry Commission to gain more information about the fund. The grants will provide funding for the planting of trees in the first three years of care to ensure that they reach their full potential in the future.   

12 February 2020
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

A total of 12,546 ‘genuinely’ affordable homes were started in London between March and December 2019, according to statistics published by the Greater London Authority (GLA).

The mayor’s office said this is 74 per cent of Sadiq Khan's target for 2019/2020.

During the same period in 2018/19, Khan had started 42 per cent of his 14,000 affordable home starts target. Over the full year, 14,544 affordable homes were started.

Khan said: “Delivering the genuinely affordable homes that Londoners so desperately need has been one of my top priorities over the last four years. Therefore, I’m delighted that the stats show we’re firmly on track to deliver our ambitious target of starting 17,000 genuinely affordable homes this year.

“Social housing plays a vital role in binding our city together and I’m proud that councils across London have bought into my vision and helped us deliver more genuinely affordable homes for Londoners than at any time since City Hall took responsibility for social housing.

“We can’t solve the housing crisis overnight, but this shows what we can do when Londoners work together. Now it is time for the government to recognise what we have achieved, step up and give us the support and funds to keep building the homes London urgently needs.”

So far in 2019/2020 some 4,228 affordable homes were completed, while in 2018/19, a total of 7,544 were completed.

Andrew Boff AM, housing spokesperson for the GLA Conservatives, said Khan had “presided over nothing more than missed targets and sluggish progress”.

“These statistics clearly show that Sadiq Khan is not only on course to miss his minimum building target for 2019/20, but also failing to use the record £4.82 billion which the government gave him to get London building. At the start of his term the mayor said he’d use this money to build 116,000 homes by March 2022, but more than half of these homes are yet to be started with just over two years to go until the deadline.”

The statistics can be found here on the GLA website.

17 February 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee has approved plans for Inholm, a ‘contemporary’ Fenland village and the second phase of Cambridgeshire’s new town, Northstowe.

The new town of Northstowe will consist of 10,000 homes and Inholm will be “the largest in the UK” to be manufactured off-site using modern volumetric construction.

The village of Inholm will see 406 modular homes delivered in a scheme led by Proctor & Matthews Architects.  

Designs for the modular homes will include designs by architects Shedkm, which the buyer would be able to configure to their own design before they are built in a factory and delivered to site.

The village would encompass a range of housing typologies, including later living homes and mixed-use buildings. 

Ian Killick, director at Shedkm, said: “The Inholm urban village will feature the most up-to-date versions of our house and apartment designs, incorporating new technologies and Cambridgeshire-inspired materials and details.

“We’re working with a great team and have high hopes of creating an exemplar neighbourhood that sets a new benchmark for the use of modern methods of construction.”

The neighbourhood quarter will feature a country park, sustainable drainage swales, ecological zones and an education campus.

Stephen Proctor, founder of Proctor & Matthews Architects, said: “Our design for this contemporary mixed-use residential quarter is inspired by the form of traditional edge-of-fenland settlements and recent archaeological discoveries within the locality.

‘Innovative clusters of homes employing offsite modular construction will help to deliver a visually distinctive narrative creating a new Inholm village for the 21st century.”

The customisable homes will be launched in late spring / early summer. 

17 February 2020
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Thames Magistrates’ Court has ordered the owner and agent of a Whitechapel flat to pay a fine of more than £30,000 over an illegal house in multiple occupation (HMO).

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets’ environmental health team found 33 people living in 5-7 Court Street after a tip-off led them to raid the property. The team was accompanied by the police and officers from other partner agencies.

The team also found a flat containing nine people, including two 10-year old children.

Freeholder Maqbool Khan pleaded guilty to numerous housing breaches and was sentenced in January. Mohammed Abul Miah, director of managing agent ARS Properties, did not attend court but the case against him was proven in his absence.

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The conditions that these tenants were living in were totally unacceptable. Too often we see the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society being taken advantage of by rogue landlords and it is right that the courts have sent a strong message that this will not be tolerated.

“The victims were people who had come to London from overseas in the hope of a better future, only to find themselves in overcrowded and unsafe housing. We are working with responsible landlords and agents to strengthen our Private Renters’ Charter and drive up standards for tenants.”

According to the council, the property was being used to house people on a nightly basis with occupants handing over money for a space to sleep.

The environmental health team found people sleeping in bunk beds and on mattresses on the floor, while the team also found an infestation of cockroaches and defective drainage. The flats failed to meet basic fire safety standards.

Five people were arrested for immigration offences and others were referred for onward assistance.

In total, the penalties issued against the defendants – Maqbool Khan, Mohammed Abul Miah (director of managing agents ARS Properties Ltd) and ARS Properties – amounted to £30,905.19.

17 February 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Highways England has lodged an application with the Planning Inspectorate for a link road between the M54 and M6 in south Staffordshire.

The project is being considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.

There isn’t a direct motorway link from the M54 to the M6 north, which according to the Highways England website for the project, means “high volumes” of long-distance and local traffic use the local roads to travel along this route. The government’s Road Investment Strategy identified there was a need for this route in 2014.

Improving the link between the M54 and M6 should relieve traffic congestion on the A460, A449 and A5. Highways England also intends to enhance facilities for local residents, pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians, support local economic growth, and keep the right traffic on the right roads by separating long-distance and business traffic from local traffic.

The Planning Inspectorate is yet to decide whether to accept the project for examination.

More information can be found here:

Planning Inspectorate

Highways England

13 February 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Woking scheme approved

Woking Borough Council has approved the next stage of a £115 million highways scheme.

This is Woking’s biggest infrastructure project to date, said the council.

The local authority has accepted a £95 million grant offered by the government and administered by Homes England so that it can complete the acquisition of the Triangle site on the south side of the town to deliver the improvements to the town centre’s road network and widen the outdated Victoria Arch bridge by 2024.

The money comes from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) after both Woking and Surrey County Council submitted the bid. It sets out the proposals to alleviate long-term congestion issues within the town centre, future-proof the highways and rail network, and unlock 13 brownfield sites for town centre housing – 40 per cent of which the council said would be affordable.


Manchester Mayfair development approved

Manchester City Council has granted planning permission for the first phase of the development at Mayfield.

The plans comprise public space, including a 6.5-acre landscaped public park, a nine-storey 75,900 square-foot office building, a 13-storey 244,000 square-foot office building and a 581-space multi-storey car park in the heart of Manchester.

The scheme is being brought forward by the Mayfield Partnership, a public-private venture comprising U+I – a regeneration developer and investor, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and LCR.

Work on the site is expected to start in autumn 2020.


Grosvenor Square to be redesigned

Architectural practice Tonkin Liu has been appointed to redesign London’s Grosvenor Square ahead of its 300th anniversary.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland manages the public garden on a not-for-profit basis. The firm explained that it has been working with local residents and Londoners to build a “shared vision” to enhance the square’s contribution to Mayfair and London by making it more sustainable and welcoming.

Tonkin Liu has been asked to bring this together in a design developed with the participation of Mayfair’s many communities. The firm was appointed following a six month-long formal competition. Grosvenor said the emphasis of “their design process on connecting people back to nature, collective storytelling and community involvement were key factors in their success”.


Team picked to deliver Purley Way masterplan

A team led by ‘We Made That’ has been chosen to deliver the Purley Way masterplan.

The team also comprises Hawkins\Brown, Steer, Hatch Regeneris, Cushman & Wakefield, and Resolve Collective.

The 140-hectare mixed-use masterplan aims to ensure that the Purley Way redevelopment includes updated industrial and commercial space, residential, civic, mixed-use development, social and cultural infrastructure, improved public realm, green infrastructure and sustainable transport.

Holly Lewis, partner at We Made That, said: “This is a sizeable masterplan where success rests on being able to intensify industrial uses and support employment uses alongside new homes. We’re excited to be working with Croydon Council to ensure Purley Way is both a success and an exemplar for other areas of London to learn from.”

Anisha Jogani, leader of the placemaking team at Croydon Council, added: “The masterplan is a significant opportunity for the council to be at the forefront of shaping change coming forward along the Purley Way, in order to support Croydon’s need for housing and employment space, and supporting infrastructure. The project will create an opportunity to test the future of out-of-town and industrial and retail locations and how they evolve into mixed-use neighbourhoods.”

18 February 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner