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Planning News - 23 July 2020

Published: Thursday, 23rd July 2020

Council wins legal challenge against Planning Inspectorate, Principles identified to build the homes of the future, International competition launched to design railway stations, And more stories...

Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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A decision by the Planning Inspectorate to grant outline permission on appeal for nine dwellings on Station Road in Fordham has been quashed by the High Court.

East Cambridgeshire District Council refused the application due to its location outside the development envelope. The applicant appealed. 

The council said that should the decision go unchallenged, it would "seriously" undermine the Fordham Neighbourhood Plan and all neighbourhood plans in the district. Fordham's plans outline how and where development can take place. Also, the council was sure that there had been a miscalculation of its housing land supply by the inspector

Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "The decision made by the Planning Inspectorate seriously undermined the hard work of local people in Fordham to develop their neighbourhood plan which they undertook in order to control how and where development takes place. 

“Speaking to the local member, councillor Julia Huffer, I know that for Fordham, it was devastating to have their neighbourhood plan effectively rendered useless by the decision of the inspector so soon after it was adopted. 

“Left unchallenged, it would also have had the knock-on effect of undermining all neighbourhood plans in the district, rendering them ineffective at controlling where development takes place. We knew the inspectorate had got it wrong and we needed to make a stand. We will continue to support all communities across our district that wish to develop their own neighbourhood plan.”

The council has been awarded all costs relating to the case, while a different inspector will consider the appeal

Laura Edgar, The Planner
14 July 2020


Twenty ‘key principles’ have been identified and published in a report to inform the second stage of the Home of 2030 competition. 

The report also seeks to provide guidance to the housing sector as a whole. 

Home of 2030, which is backed by the government, is being run by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), Design Council, RIBA Competitions and the Ministry of Building Innovation + Education (MOBIE). 

The Design Council developed Public Vision for the Home of 2030 to inform the second stage of the competition.

Sarah Weir OBE, chief executive of Design Council, said: “We need to shift the conversation about housing to one about the home, and to emphasise the voices of those who matter the most when it comes to the design of our future homes: the people who will live in them.

“Even before Covid-19 brought about new ways of living and working, this research started to highlight that we still need to get the fundamentals right. We all need more, different things from our homes as we move through our lives, and this needs to be recognised, accommodated and celebrated.

“As well as informing the next stage of the Home of 2030 competition, this report should be a tool for everyone involved in housing delivery. Good homes impact everything – from our health and wellbeing to the success of those bringing them forward and national efforts to tackle climate change. At a time when housing delivery is particularly complex it makes individuals’ priorities clear.”

It sets out 20 principles that are based on the findings from local workshops and a poll* undertaken by Savanta ComRes of adults in England. Design Council explained that the responses of particular age groups, those with and without responsibilities, and those living in rural areas and urban areas were analysed as part of the research.

Design Council said these have been divided into six main themes to reflect the participants’ priorities and concerns. 

Elli Thomas, lead programme manager at Design Council and who sits on the Home of 2030 team, explained that during the engagement process, the Design Council looked at the issues that people see as important in their future homes and how this differed from region to region, and across various environments and demographics.

“We highlighted the differences between what people have at the moment and what they want in the future, identifying particular life stages where certain factors are more important and exploring some of the emotional as well as functional requirements that people have from where they live. Understandably, people want to live in their homes for as long as possible, which means accommodation must be able to adapt. We also need to look wider. As one workshop participant put it, a house is important, but the neighbourhood ‘is what makes it a home’. As another put it, we should ‘start with the village’.”

The second stage of the competition will see shortlisted designers, developers, SMEs, contractors, funders and product suppliers come together to develop their concepts.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “I’m keen to see the Home of 2030 entries later this year and how they take these principles on board to deliver new low-carbon homes and independent living for older generations. Green, clean homes will help our economy to bounce back more sustainably than ever before.”
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The 20 Principles for the Home of 2030

Being fit for purpose

          1. A home that is affordable to run (e.g. rent, mortgage, utilities) so I can still live a comfortable life
          2. A home that gets the basics right (e.g. noise, light, ventilation, temperature)
          3. A home where I don’t have to worry about everything working as it should

Giving people agency

          4. A home that is easy to adapt or extend
          5. Having the opportunity to contribute to the design of my home
          6. A home that is simple to fix and maintain without assistance
          7. Having more choice and freedom over my housing options
          8. Having control over what digital technology can do in my home

Addressing the climate crisis

          9. A home that is environmentally friendly and is part of a response to climate change
         10. A home that makes it easier for me to make more sustainable living choices

Connecting people and their communities

         11. Having regular contact with my neighbours
         12. A home that has spaces and facilities that I can share with my neighbours
         13. A home that is in a neighbourhood that has all the amenities that a community of all different ages may need
         14. A home with plenty of convenient travel options so that I can get around easily

Meeting the needs of every life stage

         15. A home which is suitable for multiple generations of my family to live in
         16. A home that is my current home, with improvements
         17. A home where it is possible for me to work from home
         18. A home that has quality private or shared gardens

Representing something different

         19. A home that looks attractive and has its own identity
         20. A home that is innovative and different to what people have seen before
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* Savanta ComRes surveyed 2,039 English adults aged 18+ online between 29th-30 January 2020.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
16 July 2020


Network Rail and RIBA Competitions have launched an international competition to design how Britain’s railway stations will look in the future. 

It will see architects, engineers and designers reimagine small to medium-sized railway stations in Britain, about 80 per cent of all the railways, so they better serve the needs of passengers and local communities. 

Entries are asked to be creative and address the changing character of our society. They should address how future stations can provide value but also the impact on the environment and their sustainability in order to be net zero. Applicants should consider the adaptation of existing stations so they better meet passenger requirements and how new-build stations can accommodate the projected increase in demand for rail services.

Anthony Dewar, head of buildings and architecture at Network Rail, said: “Fostering creativity and developing an outward-looking, collaborative culture is a key priority for Network Rail, so I’m delighted we are hosting this competition, which gives designers a unique opportunity to leave a lasting legacy on our railway and improve the journeys of millions of passengers through quality design.

“Our ambition is to raise the quality of design across the whole rail network as well as responding to the evolving role of infrastructure within communities.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming creative and forward-thinking designs which will help us better serve the communities and passengers who rely on our railway.”

The competition is open internationally to individuals and teams from small and large organisations from the design, built environment and manufacturing industries.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Harnessing creativity and ambition through competitions like this will help us carry on that great spirit of design that delivers better journeys for passengers.

“This competition will help build the railway of tomorrow, ensuring we continue to modernise and improve our railway, making it welcoming and accessible for all passengers.” 

The competition closes on 15 September at 14.00 (BST).
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The judging panel comprises:

Lucy Musgrave OBE, (founding director of Publica);

Jonathan McDowell (director, Matter Architecture); 

Chris Wise (senior director, Expedition Engineering); 

Dinah Casson CBE (RDI designer);

Victoria Lee (lead programme manager, Design Council);

Paul Beaty-Pownall (managing director, BPR Architects Ltd); 

Sahar Fikouhi (founder, ARki); 

Anthony Dewar (professional head of buildings and architecture, Network Rail); 

Frank Anatole (principal architect, Network Rail); and

Ian Grimes (principal engineer, Network Rail).

Laura Edgar, The Planner
16 July 2020


The UK Government has announced that planning legislation will be relaxed to ‘make it easier’ to construct large batteries capable of storing renewable energy from solar and wind farms.

“Barriers” to energy storage projects, according to the government, are discouraging bolder investment decisions in larger battery facilities. Removing them could “treble” the number of batteries serving the electricity grid.

To prevent the loss of energy generated from wind which can’t be stored when it is not needed, the government plans to introduce secondary legislation to remove remove electricity storage, except pumped hydro, from the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime above 50 MW in England and 350 MW in Wales, so energy can be stored and used throughout the year.

This will see local authorities in both England and Wales decide such schemes. 

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The key to capturing the full value of renewables is in ensuring homes and businesses can still be powered by green energy even when the sun is not shining, or the wind has stopped blowing.

“Removing barriers in the planning system will help us build bigger and more powerful batteries, creating more green-collar jobs and a smarter electricity network.”

The government says flexible technologies like batteries will form part of the UK’s smarter electricity grid, and support the integration of more low-carbon power, heat and transport technologies.

RenewableUK’s director of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams commented: "We’re glad that the government has listened to industry and will now allow local planning authorities to determine battery projects of 50MW and above, rather than the secretary of state which can be a longer and more expensive process. This scale of battery is becoming the new norm. The announcement will stimulate investment in the energy system we need to reach net zero as fast and as cheaply as possible."

In June, the government backed the CryoBattery project, which could create at least 200 jobs, with £10 million. It will be the "world’s largest and first" commercial liquid air battery facility and is planned for Trafford, Greater Manchester.

Laura Edgar, The Planner
15 July 2020


The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is to be increased in size, the government has confirmed.

It will expand by 38 square kilometres, covering river valleys, ancient woodland, reed beds, estuaries and beaches. The area includes the Stour estuary, northern estuary valley slopes at Branthan, the majority of the southern estuary valley slopes, and the Freston Brook Valley.

The new area will benefit from AONB guidance and advice, as well as the funding made available to designated landscapes so they can deliver their statutory purpose. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) also affords them further protection.

According to the government, the expansion will bring “significant” benefits to the local area, with local businesses able to promote the area as an AONB and access grants, including for sustainable tourism.

In September 2019, the Landscape Review concluded that the stature of national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) should be strengthened in the planning system – with AONBs given statutory consultee status.

Led by writer and journalist Julian Glover, the review also recommended that, where appropriate, AONBs should be supported to work within local plans for their areas, prepared in conjunction with local authorities.

George Eustice, environment secretary, commented:  “The Suffolk Coast and Heaths is a landscape rich in history and a source of inspiration to countless artists, writers and musicians, and these extensions are a worthy addition especially during this unprecedented time, when many of us are connecting with nature more than ever before. This milestone marks a significant step towards putting our ambitious 25 year environment plan to leave the environment in a better state than we found it into action.”

As the statutory agency for the natural environment, Natural England carried out “thorough technical analysis and extensive consultation,” before submitting the proposed extensions to the government for consideration.

Councillor David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership, welcomed the expansion. “The AONB partnership, made up of public, private and third sector organisations, has had an aspiration to bring the benefits of the designation to a wider area for over 20 years.

“Locally we have always known that the area identified in the Order was outstanding, and with this news we can be confident that the natural beauty of the area will be conserved and enhanced for future generations.”

Laura Edgar, The Planner
15 July 2020


Pembrokeshire County Council has given conditional approval for a five storey, 100-bed hotel in Milford Haven, a key element of the first phase of the Milford Waterfront scheme earmarked for 22 hectares at and around the existing Milford Dock.

The Port of Milford Haven authority already has outline permission for the demolition of a number of existing buildings on the waterfront and a redevelopment  providing up to 26,266 square metres of commercial, hotel, leisure, retail and fishery-related floorspace alongside 190 flats, additional marina berths, replacement boatyards and public realm enhancement. 

The hotel proved controversial locally with some residents complaining it was too dominating for the site and out of character with its surroundings. There was also concern over traffic and flooding issues.

Officials recommended approval even though  they acknowledged it would have an adverse effect on the setting of the grade ll listed museum building and to a lesser degree, the grade ll listed former docks office building and a localised effect on the character and appearace of the conservation area.

The planners, however, concluded that overall the scheme would result in substantial benefits to the historic environment.

Roger Milne, The Planner
17 July 2020