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Planning News - 13 August 2020

Published: Thursday, 13th August 2020

Jenrick commits more funding to neighbourhood planning, Massive rise recorded in build-to-rent developments, Low-carbon city district proposed for Cambridgeshire, 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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Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced funding targeted at helping urban and deprived areas create neighbourhood plans.

Government grants for individual neighbourhood planning groups will increase to £18,000.

This revelation comes after funding was increased from £9,000 to £10,000 in May to help groups deal with the effects of Covid-19. 

The government intends for the money to strengthen the voice of local communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas in England. In addition to the money, the government will provide these groups with access to technical expertise free of charge. This could be help to access their area’s housing needs or for developing masterplans.

Jenrick said:  "The government is overhauling the country’s outdated planning system to deliver the high-quality sustainable homes the country needs.

"Under the new system local communities will be in the driving seat deciding what is built and where. I want to ensure all communities have a strong voice in this process which is why I am doubling the funding available in some of the most deprived parts of the country to help residents in these areas shape the future of their neighbourhoods."

Councillor Sue Baxter, chairman of the National Association of Local Councils, said the additional grant funding for disadvantaged communities would provide a “vital” boost to help hundreds of areas prepare a plan.

“NALC would encourage local councils in those areas to use this additional funding to get started on neighbourhood planning to help build back better communities.

“Communities with an adopted neighbourhood plan in unparished areas are able to fast-track the process to set up a local council so they can also benefit from local leadership and support the wider benefits and ambitions of neighbourhood planning.”

11 August 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The number of build-to-rent homes under construction or planned across the UK has jumped by 22 per cent against the same period last year, according to the British Property Federation (BPF).

Research by Savills commissioned by the BPF reveals that between the second quarter of 2019 and the same period of 2020, the number of completed build-to-rent homes rose by 37 per cent. The number under construction fell by 5 per cent, but those in planning rose by 27 per cent.

Although the sector continued to accelerate new housing supply outside of London, with a rise of 52 per cent in the number of homes in planning in the past 12 months across the regions, future growth in the capital remains more subdued. It has risen by 4 per cent since the end of 2019’s second quarter.

While the sector is preparing for future growth, with a significant increase in the number of build-to-rent homes in planning compared with a year ago, starts and completions saw a steep decline from the first to second quarters of 2020. The BPF said this reflects the unique circumstances of the Covid-19 outbreak and was a break with a strong performance in 2019 and first quarter of 2020.

In the first three months of 2020, the sector delivered 4,297 starts and 3,417 completions, but the second quarter has seen a sharp decline for both with only 1,827 starts and 1,640 completions.

Local developers are responsible for building 28 per cent of the market, followed by UK housebuilders at 27 per cent, large UK developers at 17 per cent, contractors at 14 per cent, with registered providers at 9 per cent and big international developers at 3 per cent making up the rest.

“Investor confidence in build-to-rent housing continues, with a greater commitment from the sector today to delivering new, high-quality rental homes across the UK compared to a year ago,” said BPF real estate policy director Ian Fletcher.

“The sector will play a key role in supporting the government’s ambitious plans to ‘level up’ the country’s regions and in building a shared recovery where more people across the country, whether they choose or need to rent, will have more choice of rental properties available to them.

“The build-to-rent sector’s growth will also aid the prime minister’s ambitions to ‘build, build, build’, with valuable construction jobs being created in all parts of the UK, but this requires momentum behind converting planning applications to construction starts. 

“These decisions, however, will be on a knife-edge for the next year, as risks rise and productivity remains low as a result of Covid-19, and so the government must ensure it does not take this much-needed new investment for granted, and both our planning and tax systems give confidence to investors to make decisions today for the long-term health of the UK housing market.”

5 August 2020
Huw Morris, The Planner

The Greater Cambridge Planning Service has put together plans for a new city district in North East Cambridge that is low-carbon with minimal car use.

The service, a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City councils, wishes the district to be inclusive, with a mix of homes, workplaces, services, and social spaces that are fully integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods

It could comprise 8,000 homes and provide space for 20,000 jobs over the next 20 years. The district would be delivered on brownfield land between the A14, the Guided Busway and Cambridge North station. The councils want to create a district that is walkable.

The plans, developed in collaboration with stakeholders and communities and from consultations in 2014 and 2019, build on research of case studies from around the world on creating low-car use and low-carbon districts and communities. 

Regeneration of the area will see the Anglian Water Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant to be relocated, a process that is currently subject to a consultation process this summer, led by Anglian Water.

Through the 20-year plan for the new district the councils aim to:

  • Meet robust targets for energy use, water conservation and discourage car use. Developers will have to prove that they can increase biodiversity.
  • Encourage active and healthy lifestyles through a 10-hectare network of new green spaces linking Milton Country Park to Chesterton Fen, and down to Nuffield Road.
  • Make it easy for people to walk and cycle to work, school or college, local shops and leisure activities – a place where the car is not king by reducing car use and air pollution.
  • Deliver 8,000 new homes, with a target of 40 per cent affordable rented and shared ownership homes.
  • Have space for around 20,000 jobs.
  • Establish four new centres within the district for shops, restaurants, community and cultural facilities.
  • Deliver three new primary schools.

The consultation, which closes at 5pm on 5 October, will see leaflets delivered to 20,000 homes across the local area, with both councils also running online Q&A sessions whereby residents can find out more about the proposals and ask questions. 

More information about the draft plan and consultation can be found here on the Greater Cambridge Planning Service website.

Katie Thornburrow, executive councillor for planning policy and open spaces at Cambridge City Council, said: “Our vision is for a neighbourhood that mixes homes, business space, and community services with lots of green space, so that people can spend time enjoying being outdoors. We want a place where a strong community can grow, one with the facilities people need at hand, where everyone can easily get to the new jobs that will come into the area without having to battle traffic and where children can safely play near their home because of the way the district will be designed to encourage active travel, with streets that slow down motor vehicles.  

“This new district in the north-east of the city can be a model for the rest of Cambridge, as we look for ways to reduce congestion and its environmental impacts and make housing more affordable. It gives us an excellent opportunity to show how a low-carbon, sustainable neighbourhood can be a great place to live and work.”

Dr Tumi Hawkins, lead cabinet member for planning at South Cambridgeshire District Council, added: “If we want to make systemic change we need to set our sights high, and we’re working incredibly hard to enable development that brings much-needed homes but also responds to the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

“We can only do this by building the right kind of development in the right place. With existing transport links, such as Cambridge North station, this 180-hectare brownfield site is the right place. It gives us a unique chance to provide the homes that people desperately need in a place where they won’t need to rely on a car to get to their jobs. And building the right kind of development means reducing the emissions resulting from construction, the energy used to heat, light and maintain buildings, and encouraging the people who will live and work here to lead low-carbon lifestyles. This new plan sets out our groundbreaking plans to achieve this.”

5 August 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Energy secretary Alok Sharma has granted a development consent order (DCO) for an open-cycle gas turbine power station at South Killingholme in North Lincolnshire.

Considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure (NSIP) regime, the decision was in line with the recommendation made by the examining authority, the Planning Inspectorate. 

The application form explains that the development will comprise an onshore gas-fired electricity generating station with a gross capacity of up to 299MW, together with associated development, including access works, open storage areas; staff welfare facilities, vehicle parking and roads. 

There will also be gas supply connection works for an underground and overground gas pipeline of approximately 800 metres in length. 

VPI Immingham B Ltd will build the gas-fired power station at its site along Rosper Road to the north of Immingham. VPI Immingham CHP Plant is within the same site.

Sharma noted that the development is intended to operate as “a peaking plant, providing a flexible back-up for intermittent renewable energy”. The inspector concluded that it is in accordance with the guidance in Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy and the National Policy Statement for Fossil Fuel Electricity Generating Infrastructure.

Both the inspector and the energy secretary were agreed that “substantial weight” should be attributed to the contribution the development would make towards meeting the national need demonstrated by the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy. Also, as a peaking plant it would “positively contribute towards a secure, flexible energy supply facilitating the roll-out of renewable energy”, and therefore would be "assisting with the decarbonisation of the economy in line with the UK’s legal obligations in the Paris Agreement". 

Sharma concluded that there would not be a significant effect on air quality, flood risks have been considered “appropriately”, that the limited visual impact from the erection of the stack should be given limited weight. He accepted that ecological features would be significantly impacted. He noted the “inevitable increase in greenhouse gases arising from the development but considers that this is outweighed by its contribution to a secure and responsive energy supply which will facilitate the roll out of increased levels of renewable energy”.

The secretary of state’s decision letter and all other documents relating to the development can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website

10 August 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Harborough District Council has granted planning permission for 2,750 new homes, community facilities and employment space to the east of Lutterworth and the M1.

The application was submitted by Leicestershire County Council.

The scheme will be delivered on a site identified in the Harborough Local Plan for housing, known as Lutterworth East Strategic Development Area (SDA).

Two new primary schools and 23 hectares of employment space to create 2,500 jobs will be delivered on the site, as well as 100 hectares of green space, road infrastructure improvements, a community hub, and foot and cycle paths that connect with Lutterworth town centre. Of the 2,750 homes, 40 per cent have been designated as affordable. 

Approximately 1,260 of the new homes are expected to be built by 2031.

Plans seek to ensure the protection of the Misterton Marshes, the River Swift and its tributaries, Thornborough Spinney, mature trees and hedgerows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI.

Phil King, leader of Harborough District Council, said: “This key development of the local plan will not only provide extensive open space, it will also provide homes to benefit local families and, with 40 per cent of homes being affordable, it will help those struggling to find a place to live. It will create jobs locally so people can work close to where they live, and it will deliver off-site improvements to sport and recreational facilities in the area. Importantly, traffic modelling shows that the new spine road will result in a significant reduction in traffic through Lutterworth town centre.”

5 August 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

A round-up of planning news

Double housing success for Pro Vision 

Planning consultancy Pro Vision has secured permission for two small-scale housing schemes, one of which will be in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

The consultancy won consent on behalf of a private client to build eight new homes on greenfield land on the edge of Maisemore, a village near Gloucester.

The scheme will include 580 square metres of species-rich grassland and three affordable rent/shared ownership homes. 

Planning officers for Tewkesbury Borough Council said that although the scheme was outside the defined village boundary, it had been designed to “integrate successfully” with the built-up area.

Councillors granted permission at a virtual planning meeting subject to a legal agreement to secure affordable housing, after agreeing that the delivery of housing would provide an “important social benefit”.

Pro Vision also won permission to build five new homes on a former farm in the North Wessex AONB.

Landowner Berkshire Pallets had already obtained outline permission to build on the site, and was seeking approval of reserved matters including layout, design and landscaping.

The proposed homes, designed by Pro Vision architects, will have traditional features including oak frames, timber-clad walls and clay tile roofs.

The scheme was approved by planning officers at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, who praised the scheme’s “sympathetic” design and use of building materials.

New Nottingham council housing approved at former care home

Nottingham City Homes (NCH) has won permission for 48 new council flats in the St Ann’s area of the city. 

The housing association, which is owned by Nottingham City Council, will let the flats to single people and couples on the authority’s council housing waiting list. 

The scheme, which will contribute towards the council’s commitment to build or buy 1,000 council and social homes for rent by 2023, is expected to be completed next summer.

Nick Murphy, chief executive of NCH, said: “There is a real demand for affordable flats, and we have many single people and couples who are waiting on the council social housing register for homes just like these.”

“These flats will also help people living in council houses, who are currently affected by the bedroom tax, to move somewhere more suitable while freeing up houses for another family on the waiting list.”

Contractor appointed for £9m Nottingham Island Quarter build

Civil engineering company Sir Robert McAlpine has been appointed as the main contractor for the first phase of the £650 million redevelopment of Nottingham’s Island Quarter.

The Island Quarter is a 40-acre mixed-use development central to the regeneration of the Southside area of Nottingham.

The first phase of the project, known as Canal Turn, will include a three-storey 2,000-square-metre waterfront pavilion, featuring two restaurants, 500sq m of events space and a rooftop terrace. 

The £9 million scheme is expected to create 100 permanent new jobs. McAlpine is aiming to take on seven trainees over the one-year course of the build, and 40 per cent of the project spend will be within 20 miles of the city.

The plans were submitted in July and are expected to receive full approval in October, with completion of the first phase expected in November 2021.

Housing plan to preserve 19th century villa submitted

Plans to restore and preserve Ashfield Towers, a “magnificent” Victorian villa in Gosforth, have been submitted to Newcastle City Council.

The application, designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects on behalf of Union Property, envisages a mix of residential typologies.

The villa itself will be converted into seven apartments, its coach house will become a single home, and three homes will be built nearby.

The villa can be returned to its original residential use after Westfield School for Girls, its most recent tenant, sold it to Union Property to consolidate its estate onto a single site.

Jane Redmond, an associate at FaulknerBrowns, said: “The rich context of the conservation area continues through to the proposed shared gardens while the new architectural elements are inspired by the language of their Victorian neighbour, but with a restrained form and simple material palette that brings forward a varied mix of elegant new homes.”

Approval for tourism scheme at Boston golf course 

Planning consultant Pegasus Group has won approval from Boston Borough Council for a hybrid application to create a tourism hub at Boston West Golf Course in Lincolnshire.

As well as an 18-hole golf course, Boston West has a 20-bay driving range and six-hole academy course, as well as a 24-room hotel and clubhouse with bar and restaurant. However, its membership has declined in recent years.

The scheme will involve siting 300 caravans at the course, along with a hub building offering a spa, shop, food and drink facilities and an activity centre, alongside a “reinvigorated” nine-hole golf course. Sport England agreed that the smaller course would be “more viable and attractive”.

Planning officers recommended the scheme for approval, pointing out the “significant” contribution to the local economy and tourist sector it would deliver.

New home for MK gymnastics centre proposed

Plans for a state-of-the-art sports facility and 33 new wheelchair-accessible homes in Milton Keynes will be submitted to Milton Keynes Council later this month.

The proposals were brought forward by housing association Thrive Homes, Milton Keynes Gymnastics and the Milton Keynes Community Foundation.

They involve moving the existing gymnastics centre to a new location to facilitate its continued growth, providing a purpose-built gymnasium, dedicated space for the city’s table tennis club, a café and a community centre.

Thirty-three homes will also be built, all of which will be wheelchair-adaptable, and 10 will be affordable.

If the scheme is approved, construction will begin in 2021, with plans to open the facility in 2022.

Ian Revell, chief executive at MK Community Foundation, said: “This development fulfils our long-term ambition to build top-class community facilities in all areas of the borough.”

Collocation scheme near Ealing Crossrail stop approved

Plans have been approved for a regeneration project in Hanwell, Ealing, which will provide 205 new apartments and eight townhouses close to a Crossrail stop.

Developer MHA London won permission from Ealing Council for Elthorne Works, a collocation project designed by Patel Taylor Architects. Residential and commercial/industrial uses will be delivered on a single site, offering “a unique sense of community”, according to the developer.

The scheme was designed to reflect the site’s industrial heritage and to embrace the green space of the adjacent Elthorne Park.

When Hanwell’s Crossrail station opens, journey times between the town and Bond Street will be cut from 32 minutes to 17, making the site attractive for those working in the city.

Andrew White, head of residential at Colliers International, which represented MHA for this project, said: “In London, where land space is a premium, mixed-use developments like this one are essential in providing a range of property uses which can fit local need.”

Modular regeneration plans for Barnet estate

Council-owned housing provider Barnet Homes has submitted plans for a 100 per cent affordable modular estate regeneration project, designed for future expansion if required.

The scheme, designed by architecture practice RCKa, will deliver 47 new council homes by removing disused garages at the Broadfield Estate in north Barnet.

It will use RCKa’s “systematised approach to delivering affordable housing”, known as Common Home, which uses modular construction methods to minimise cost and wastage and utilise local supply chains.

The homes will feature a heat recovery system, solar panels, thermal water heating and “Passivhaus-level air tightness” to keep energy bills low.

Russell Curtis of RCKa said, “This is exactly the kind of project that we should be building on suburban sites to increase density and intensify existing estates. 

“Barnet Homes has shown that it cares about its existing communities and wants to use this project to improve the areas in which they live, using contemporary design and construction methods to build homes quickly and efficiently.”

Countryside chosen for £124m Bracknell town centre regeneration

Developer Countryside has been selected to partner Bracknell Forest Council for the next phase of its regeneration of Bracknell town centre.

The new partnership will initially focus on the redevelopment of three council-owned sites in the town centre, which have the potential to deliver 400 new homes, as well as a health centre, restaurant, gym, office space, community space and public art. Construction is planned to begin in late 2021.

Countryside will also support the council in masterplanning more future town centre development. 

Marc Brunel-Walker, executive member for economic development and regeneration at Bracknell Forest Council, said: “Bracknell Forest Council is delighted to welcome Countryside as joint-venture partner for the next phase in Bracknell town centre’s overall regeneration.

“The council has a strong track record of working closely with developers to regenerate the town centre, which is taking place in phases. The first two phases were hugely successful with the award-winning The Lexicon being delivered to provide the borough’s social and cultural heart.”

11 August 2020
Matt Moody, The Planner