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Planning news - 27 February 2020

Published: Thursday, 27th February 2020

Ombudsman to protect new-build buyers from poor work, Bermondsey biscuit factory site to be regenerated, Welsh minister clarifies policy on locally owned energy projects. And more stories...

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

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Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that a New Homes Ombudsman will soon protect homebuyers from ‘shoddy building work’.

Currently, new-build homebuyers don’t have recourse to challenging poor service or workmanship by developers. The government wants the ombudsman to be established in law “as soon as possible” to address this.

It would assist homebuyers with a number of issues, such as poor brickwork or faulty wiring, and would have statutory powers to award compensation, to ban ‘rogue’ developers from building, and order developers to fix inadequate work.

Where there is a dispute with developers, the government explained that the ombudsman would act “swiftly and independently” to resolve it. The government said it doesn’t want people to face long waits and costly court cases trying to sort out problems with their new homes.

Developers would be subject to the disciplinary authority of the ombudsman by law.

Jenrick said: “It’s completely unacceptable that so many people struggle to get answers when they find issues with their dream new home.

“That’s why the ombudsman will stop rogue developers getting away with shoddy building work and raise the game of housebuilders across the sector.  

“Homebuyers will be able to access help when they need it, so disputes can be resolved faster and people can get the compensation they deserve.”

In June 2019, the government launched a consultation on redress for purchasers of new-build homes, and on the New Homes Ombudsman. The consultation sought views on the detail of the proposed legislation and how it could be delivered. Jenrick's confirmation of a New Homes Ombudsman comes in response to that consultation.

24 February 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Deputy mayor for planning and regeneration Jules Pipe has approved plans for more than 1,500 homes and a secondary school in South London.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s scheme will be built on the former Biscuit Factory and Bermondsey Campus site in Southwark.

Plans include 1,548 homes, all of which will be for the rental market. Of the homes, 35 per cent have been designated as affordable housing, including at social rent levels.

Southwark Council refused the scheme in February last year, as it would not deliver enough affordable housing. It also had concerns about the quality of the homes. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan decided to call the application in.

Grosvenor said it has worked with Southwark Council and the Greater London Authority (GLA) to increase the level of affordable housing while ensuring the project, and its many other benefits, remain deliverable.

This work has seen the total number of homes on the scheme increase from 1,342 to 1,548 homes, while the level of affordable housing has increased from 27.5 per cent to 35 per cent.

Grosvenor’s plans also include new play and public spaces, and 150,000 square feet of flexible employment space. It will be a car-free development built to net-zero carbon, zero waste and biodiversity goals.

The first phase will deliver 359 homes alongside a new 600-pupil secondary school and 8,155 square feet of employment space.

Pipe said: “The site has the potential to deliver more than 1,500 new homes in an area of London with a high demand for affordable housing, close to transport links and central London.

“It will also provide new facilities for a secondary school which is currently housed in dated buildings.

“Overall, it would make a significant contribution towards the regeneration of this part of Bermondsey. Having considered all the evidence available to me, I have decided to approve this application.”

Simon Harding-Roots, executive director of major projects at Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said: “This project speaks directly to our purpose as a business – to bring lasting social and commercial benefit to the communities where we work. All the approved homes are for rent, and none are for sale. Every home will be occupied and managed by a responsible landlord with a genuine long-term interest in ensuring the neighbourhood thrives.

“Since 2013 we’ve worked hard to become part of the community in Bermondsey and we are incredibly excited to get the green light for this development. I would like to thank local residents, the school, Southwark Council and the GLA for all their help contributing to these proposals. We are committed to the area and will ensure that the transformation of the biscuit factory happens quickly and directly supports all those living and working in this part of the borough.”

The site was formerly a Peek Freans biscuit factory.

24 February 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Environment minister Lesley Griffiths has reiterated the administration’s commitment to encouraging more locally owned energy generation in Wales.

Her comments came as the Welsh Government published a written statement that clarified that one gigawatt (GW) of renewable electricity and heat must be locally owned by 2030. This also covers schemes in Welsh waters.

In addition, all new energy projects must have “an element” of local ownership from 2020.

At the end of 2018, Wales had 778 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in local ownership.

Since 2010, renewable electricity generation in Wales has trebled. In 2018, renewable generators in Wales produced electricity equating to 50 per cent of that used in the country.

The minister stressed “Our target is to generate the equivalent of 70 per cent of Wales’s electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030.”

This week’s written statement pointed out that national planning policy requires planning authorities to plan positively for the use of locally generated electricity and heat to help meet the national target.

The latest version of Planning Policy Wales (PPW) states that planning authorities should use their evidence base to inform policies and proposals for local energy.

“Development plans should support identified opportunities for district heating, local renewable and low-carbon energy generation schemes, and the collocation of new proposals and land allocations with existing developments, heat suppliers and heat users.”

The statement insisted: “The Welsh Government supports renewable and low-carbon energy projects developed by communities or which benefit the host community or Wales as a whole. The social, environmental and economic benefits associated with any development should be fully factored into, and given weight in, the decision-making process.

"However, planning decisions must be based on an assessment of the impacts of the proposed development, irrespective of who the applicant is".

21 February 2020
Roger Milne, The Planner


The transport minister, Baroness Vere, has announced that communities in West Sussex will benefit from £17 million funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) to improve road journeys on the A2300.

The total cost of the A2300 scheme is £22 million. According to the DfT, it will cut congestion and improve safety by converting a 2.5km section of the existing road to a dual carriageway between the A23 and the proposed Northern Arc roundabout.

With an estimated 20,000 vehicles using the route, commuters face congestion and delays, the department explained. This scheme, which links Burgess Hill to the A23/M23, will also see the addition of new walking and cycling paths, as well as allow over 3,500 new houses to be built along the route, by providing a key link between the planned development at Burgess Hill and the London to Brighton corridor.

Vere said: "This government is committed to boosting transport links for communities up and down the country.

"This transformative road scheme will not only save drivers time, but will also mean more homes, more shared footpaths, and more cycleways – boosting journeys for all."

Roger Elkin, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: "The scheme will widen around 2.5km of single-lane road to a dual carriageway, helping to unlock significant development opportunities, reduce congestion, and bring many other benefits to the area, including providing new walking and cycling facilities."

Work on the scheme is expected to start in the spring and the road is expected to open in winter 2021.

20 February 2020
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


Leeds City Council’s executive board has approved the £21.5 million construction plans to transform the Corn Exchange and surrounding area in Leeds.

The work is being carried out as part of the Connecting Leeds programme, which will invest £270 million to the transport network of the city.

According to the council, the area surrounding the Corn Exchange is congested and buses regularly held up and delayed. The scheme aims to address these issues.

The first phase of work, which is set to begin in June, involves Call Lane, New Market Street, Kirkgate, Lower Briggate Duncan Street and parts of Vicar Lane and Boar Lane. The work will include widening pavements, introducing more greenery and improving the public realm.

A further £6.1 million has been secured for phase two works on Meadow Lane to re-prioritise it from a four-lane highway into a two-lane road with cycle ways and walking routes connecting the city via the planned city park. 

The council said this proposal is a "significant development" in its commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The scheme aims to encourage people to move away from private cars and instead walk, cycle and use public transport. The council expects the scheme to reduce travel by 175km in the first year.

All of the work is expected to be completed by winter 2020. 

Lisa Mulherin, executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development at Leeds City Council, explained: “The enhancements will place the iconic buildings of the Corn Exchange and Kirkgate Market in a more appropriate setting. The bus priority measures and improved walking and cycling routes will improve connectivity services and air quality in the city.

"Like all major schemes, there will be disruption, however Leeds City Council will work closely with the bus companies, other transport providers and business to keep this to a minimum and will work hard to keep the public informed of changes which affect them. 

“We’re currently working on unprecedented investment and change to transform the city centre into a more liveable, better connected and more active environment with better air quality for those who live, work and play in it. While we work to minimise any inconvenience this work will cause, we anticipate the long term benefits will be worth the disruption whilst this change takes place."

20 February 2020
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


Plans to extend Cheshire town submitted

Plans for a 53-acre site north of Congleton, Cheshire East, have been lodged with the council.

The outline plan is for 185 homes, 28 acres of commercial employment land and 1.7 acres of retail provision.

Land promoter Richborough Estates submitted the plans. It said the development would have “dual frontage to the Viking Way extension which forms part of the Congleton Link Road connecting the A54 and A456, as part of the infrastructure objectives for Congleton and Cheshire East”.

The site is also part of the wider North Congleton Masterplan, while delivering a sustainable urban extension is a key objective of Cheshire East Council’s emerging local plan.

 

‘Paragraph 79’ home approved

Ryedale District Council has granted planning permission for a ‘Paragraph 79 house’ in Ampleforth, North Yorkshire.

The house has been designed to be zero carbon and will use a wide range of measures to achieve high thermal efficiency and on-site renewable generation.

Ethical Partnership acted as planning consultants for the scheme, and were responsible for the preparation and submission of the planning application. Sadler Brown Architects were responsible for the design of the housing and Rural Solutions designed the landscape.

 

Council appoints firm to develop vision for town

Kingston Council and Kingston First have appointed Arup to develop a vision for the town centre.

The study will consider the opportunities and challenges facing Kingston town centre and aims to identify its future employment, cultural, education, business, transport and regeneration offer. The outcomes should support growth in the borough over the next 15 years.

The partnership will review options for the town centre, including how key sites like the Cattle Market Car Park, Surrey House and Eden Quarter, can meet these challenges.

Study findings will be developed into a strategy taking into consideration national trends in retailing, technological advances, and population growth, said the partnership.

 

221 homes approved in Ebbsfleet

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee has approved a Bellway Homes scheme that includes 221 homes.

86 are houses and 135 apartments, with 30 per cent are as affordable. Three of the homes will be designed to be wheelchair-accessible.

The homes will be delivered on a former chalk quarry site near Ingress Park at London Road and Tiltman Avenue in Swanscombe.

The development will deliver a play park and new pedestrian and cycle routes, as well as provision for charging electric vehicles. Solar panels are included across many of the buildings.

 

Society concerned about redevelopment plans in Midlands city

The Twentieth Century Society has outlined its concerns about plans to redevelop the grade II listed former Civic Centre in Coventry, the latest “in a long line of serious threats” to the city’s post-war architectural heritage.

The heritage campaign group’s senior caseworker Grace Etherington said: “The way Coventry was rebuilt after the devastation of the blitz during World War II was completely visionary and a defining period in the city’s history and yet, apart from the cathedral, little is being done to protect this important period of architecture.

“Coventry will be the UK City of Culture in 2021 and Historic England has designated a Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) covering the city centre. Despite this level of interest, post-war buildings are still being neglected. The city’s Historic Buildings Trust, which receives investment from the HAZ, has not worked with any post-war buildings. Coventry has been awarded further funding through the Historic High Streets scheme managed by Historic England, however, all available money has been ring fenced for pre-1939 buildings. The widespread disregard from those in a position to help is deeply disappointing, particularly as the council has been without an in-house conservation officer for the past two years. These appalling plans for the listed Civic Centre are yet another example of the city’s failure to properly protect its post-war heritage.”

One scheme causing particular concern would see the former Architecture and Town Planning Department’s studio block at Coventry University enveloped by a new building, designed to include references to the city’s medieval past under plans by architects Broadway Malyan. These are at consultation stage.

25 February 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner