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Planning news - 29 October 2020

Published: Thursday, 29th October 2020

Demand for retirement communities is growing, finds survey, Plans to decarbonise transport should link to spatial planning, AHF announces grants for heritage projects. 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 survey of UK retirement community operators indicates that there has been a ‘very significant’ increase in the number of older people enquiring about and moving to retirement communities.

This includes retirement villages and extra care housing.

The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) surveyed its members, which comprise 27 not-for-profit and private operators, with 85 per cent indicating that sales and letting in the last month were higher than in the same period in 2019. Of the respondents, 55 per cent indicate that sales and lettings are at least 30 per cent higher than in 2019, with 25 per cent reporting that sales and lettings are as much as 50 per cent higher.

According to the survey, 65 per cent of operators believe that the most common drivers of the increase in demand for retirement communities are a desire for more company and social interaction, and a realisation that the homes they were living in were no longer suitable for them. In addition, 60 per cent suggest that moving to a retirement community was driven because people wanted access to a support network in case of another period of lockdown to control Covid-19.

The retirement community has asked the government to create a Housing-with-Care Task Force to help to unlock barriers to the expansion of the sector.

Michael Voges, executive director of ARCO, said: “These figures confirm a trend our members have been observing for a long time: there is a huge gap in the UK market for aspirational living options combining both social interaction and optional support services. An ever-growing number of older people are reviewing their housing, support and care needs in the face of the current pandemic, and are seeking out retirement communities that enable them to live independently for as long as possible.

21 October 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Although welcome, plans to decarbonise transport need to link to spatial planning and transport policies should provide a ‘clear route map’ to net-zero 2050.

So says a report published by the Transport Planning Society and written by the University of Hertfordshire.

State of the Nations: Transport Planning for a Sustainable Future explains that plans to decarbonise transport should also link to transport spending priorities.

It notes that the UK, Welsh and Scottish governments are developing transport decarbonisation plans. Such policies provide a guide on how to achieve net-zero by 2050 and how to meet the five-year carbon budgets set under the Climate Change Act.

This, the report outlines, will involve strategies that “avoid, shift [and] improve”: they should reduce travel through better planning, shift travel from low-occupancy vehicles to transport that is shared, active and sustainable, and electrify vehicles.

According to State of the Nations, the pandemic has created an opportunity for the transport planning profession and transport policymakers to “pause and consider” what changes could be made to create an efficient, integrated and sustainable transport system

It notes that transport trends have been changing over the past 20 years – not just during lockdown – when walking and cycling increased. Overall, car use has decreased, while the increased use of vans and trains, and new modes of transport such as electric scooters, could change the environmental impact of travel.

The report considers travel trends and behaviours, current government policy, regional transport planning, spending and investment in order to make recommendations for the government and the sector. These include:

Although Scotland and Wales have national transport strategies, England and the UK as a whole do not and there isn't a framework of overarching policies and targets for transport in England or in the UK which can guide transport planners, planners and local and regional government. The government should draw up a national transport strategy to consolidate current guidance and link it explicitly to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Devolution of transport powers and funding to local and city-region transport authorities is welcome and has been shown to work. The government should continue with this approach and extend it elsewhere, reducing the fragmentation and complexity of transport decision-making and its links to other aspects. In all three countries, local transport authorities and sub-national transport bodies should have the powers, duties and funding to tackle transport challenges, especially reducing carbon emissions.

New planning and devolution/local government plans in each country should promote integrated transport and spatial planning so as to reduce the need to travel and help tackle climate change and social exclusion.

The Department for Transport, the Welsh Government and other authorities in England and Wales should follow practice in Scotland in treating the Transport Planning Professional qualification (TPP), and from now on its associated transport planning qualifications, as essential for staff working on transport projects.

Transport projects that increase carbon emissions must be withdrawn and funding for low and zero-carbon transport projects and networks increased. In addition, transport spending is done in silos – the government should use sub-national transport bodies to overcome these silos and plan transport on a multi-modal basis.

Local authorities should have a long-term funding regime for transport, bringing together different funding streams and with less competition and bidding, so that they can plan ahead and spend effectively.

The government should reduce the cost of using public transport and allow local authorities to do so in their areas.

Stephen Bennett, chair of the Transport Planning Society, said: “Transport planning is about improving people’s lives and creating better places by developing an efficient, integrated and healthy transport system. Our State of the Nations report takes stock of where we are with transport planning in Great Britain, identifying our strengths and areas for improvement.

“The new research by experts at the University of Hertfordshire makes clear that to create a sustainable system and healthier places for people, we need to release ourselves from car dependency. That means government seriously shifting resources to sustainable transport, ensuring this is integrated with the planning system and reducing the cost of using public transport. We need to make sustainable modes of transport the easiest and safest choices, resulting in cleaner air, healthier lifestyles and potential savings.

“I hope my fellow planners and policymakers will read the report with interest and reflect on what we can all do better.”

Dr Scott Copsey, director of the Smart Mobility Unit at the University of Hertfordshire, added: “This report was written at a time of profound and rapid change in travel patterns, policy and spending, with the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown being felt across the country. However, the major challenges the sector faces, particularly on decarbonising transport, remain the same.

“To reduce transport emissions in Britain, the way we travel must significantly change. There needs to be a reduction in car and other vehicle travel, as well as a move towards electric vehicles. We look forward to continuing working with governments and local authorities to help meet these important emissions challenges.”

State of the Nations can be found here on the Transport Society website (pdf).

26 October 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Projects in England that seek to revitalise local high streets will receive grant money from the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF).

AHF’s Transforming Places through Heritage programme is aimed at local groups, charities and social enterprises to help them to create new uses for neglected or underused historic buildings.

It is part of a £15 million fund from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The six awards, which comprise three Project Development Grants, two Crowdfunding Challenge Grants and one Project Viability Grant, are:

£25,000 for a crowdfunding campaign for the Morecambe Winter Gardens, once known as the “Albert Hall of the North”. (Crowdfunding Challenge Grant)

£68,000 for a project to transform Centenary House, a former Co-op department store in Morecambe West End’s High Street, into a community enterprise hub with creative studios, a learning centre, and shared workspace. Project Development Grant)

£62,475 for a former coaching inn and landmark heritage site in Great Torrington, Devon, set to be transformed into a community-owned training hotel with an arts focus. (Project Development Grant)

£15,000 for plans to repurpose the Church of St John the Evangelist, Lancaster, into a co-working space, focused on collaborative working and support for emerging businesses. (Project Viability Grant)

£74,732 for the Old Bank in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. The Parish of St Mary’s Church bought the building with plans to redevelop it into a community hub providing support for local people in need, including flexible workspaces. (project Development Grant)

£22,500 for 20 Dragon Street in Petersfield, Hampshire. The building is being restored to become a youth centre and permanent base for the King’s Arms youth charity, which employs a team of specialist youth workers that work with young people with autism or Down’s Syndrome. (Crowdfunding Challenge Grant)

Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “The high street has been buffeted over many years from the forces of online shopping, rising costs and most recently the impact of Covid-19. But we believe there is an opportunity to rethink their role radically. Part of this is finding imaginative new uses for old or historic spaces that help revitalise town centres and build fresh connections within communities.

“There has never been a more important time for projects like this. They give a glimpse of what our future high streets could look like, for example, providing new kinds of flexible workspaces in local communities. In this latest round we were particularly looking for projects which take account of the emerging needs of communities post-pandemic, and all these projects respond to identified needs within the communities that will assist the recovery.”

The AHF is now inviting applications for the next round of Transforming Places through Heritage Grants. The deadline for applications is 30th October. More details can be found here.

21 October 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Welsh Government has launched its national strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management.

This sets out long-term policies to manage flooding – as well as the measures that will be taken over the next decade by organisations like Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and water companies to improve how the country plans, prepares and adapts to climate change over the coming century.

Fresh guidance in the shape of an updated Technical Advice Note 15 is promised by 2021. This should help planning authorities to prevent inappropriate development on flood plains and ensure that they can make clear decisions based on the best available information.

The strategy highlights measures to reduce risk to homes and businesses and puts more emphasis on better communication, more natural and catchment approaches and increased cooperative working to prevent development in higher flood-risk areas.

“A key part of this work will be in recognising the risks and adapting in an intelligent and robust way. This may involve improving defences, but equally will also mean better management of land and water across a catchment to reduce run-off, intelligent planning and retrofitting of our towns and cities and, in some cases, creating space for water and recognising the need to move out of harm’s way,” stresses the strategy.

Part of the new approach is the Wales Flood Map, also just launched. This is designed to bring all Welsh flood and coastal risk mapping in one place, starting with the new Flood Risk Assessment for Wales (FRAW).

For the first time this will show flood risk from all sources and incorporate coastal and asset information.

The FRAW maps will be updated every six months so that people can see how flood schemes have reduced risk.

This will be joined by a new Flood Map for Planning and clearer planning advice – updated TAN 15 – next year, allowing authorities to make more informed decisions on development and provide a more complete understanding of risk.

Currently across Wales, at least 245,000 properties are at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water, with almost 400 properties also at risk from coastal erosion.

As the climate changes those risks will increase, with more frequent and severe floods, rising sea levels and faster rates of erosion of the coast.

Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said: “The strategy sets out how we will make the right decisions as we look to protect people, homes and businesses from increased flood risk”.

She insisted: “We are making significant changes to help accelerate delivery and better communicate risk. These include additional funding support for alleviation schemes and all-new flood-risk maps.”

23 October 2020
Roger Milne, The Planner

There is an ‘acute’ lack of housing-with-care options for older people living in the UK, according to a recent report.

This is housing that allows people to live independently in self-contained homes that are purpose-built and have the capacity to provide care.

Housing and Care for Older People: Defining the Sector, by the British Property Federation (BPF) in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield, states that there are only 74,000 housing-with-care units in the UK, which accounts for just 0.9 per cent of older households. This is “significantly” lower than in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

This is backed up by a report published earlier this year by ARCO and the County Councils Network, which pointed out that in the UK only 0.6 per cent of over-65s live in a retirement community, compared with New Zealand and Australia, where it is nearly 6 per cent.

The BPF notes that while the report considers UK-wide demographics and unit numbers, with different planning systems, Scotland and Northern Ireland are out of scope for the analysis in the report of the scale of new housing-with-care stock required to keep up with future demand.

According to Housing and Care for Older People: Defining the Sector, England and Wales delivered 3,500 housing-with-care units a year from 2015 to 2019.

As there are around 11 million people aged over 65 years in England and Wales, with an estimation that by 2029 that there will be 2.1 million more, the BPF says there is a growing disparity between supply and demand.

If England and Wales are to match the housing-with-care available in the US, Australia and New Zealand by 2029, it means that 45,000 new housing-with-care units must be built every year.

Alongside housing-with-care, care homes, housing-with-support and other suitable models for older people should be delivered as part of a holistic national strategy. However, should an older person want to move into specialist housing, the options in England and Wales remain slim.

The report states that housing-with care accounts for just 16 per cent of the housing stock for older people, while 8 per cent of local authorities in England and Wales do not have a single housing-with-care scheme.

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the BPF, urged the government to “make purpose-built housing for older people a national priority”.

“It is critical that the country’s housing sector delivers new, purpose-built homes to serve older people’s aspirations, many of whom will continue to live productive and independent lives, but may wish to have certainty that their future care needs will be provided for.

“The current lack of housing-with-care is acute. Our ageing population needs more fit-for-purpose, affordable, high-quality housing and this will have positive implications for issues as far reaching as social care, isolation and integration, generational inequality, and employment and skills.”

Housing and Care for Older People: Defining the Sector sets out a number of recommendations.

The report sets out three recommendations for the government to support an increase in supply of housing-with-care:

The UK Government should establish a Housing for Older People Taskforce. It should be made up of a wide range of stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sectors, and its remit should recognise and promote the benefits of purpose-built housing for older people. It should have a particular focus on housing-with-care, and to provide local authorities with the resource to help plan for such accommodation with local need in mind.

The UK Government should develop and publish a national strategy for housing for older people. In line with a recommendation made in 2017 by the then-Communities and Local Government Committee, the government should establish a strategy that reinforces the national significance of this issue. The strategy should ensure that all forms of appropriate housing are provided for older people as a key part of national and local housing targets.

Priority should be given to projects that exhibit a commitment to achieving the UK’s zero-carbon ambitions. The government should consider implementing measures to fast-track planning projects that exhibit high sustainability standards while addressing the pressing demand for housing for an ageing population.

Caryn Donahue, head of retirement living at Cushman & Wakefield, commented: “The UK’s elderly population is very underserved with minimal housing options and a need for aspirational fit-for-purpose housing that allows older people to live independently and age in place. The supply and demand disparity that exists across the country is urgent and the problem is only growing as the baby boomers enter later life.

“Through our partnership with the BPF, we created this report as a call to action for government to take an active role in supporting the real estate industry and creating a strategy to ensure that the ageing population has high-quality housing options available to them.”

ARCO this week published a survey of its members, who have reported a “very significant” increase in the number of older people enquiring about and moving to retirement communities. The retirement community has asked the government to create a Housing-with-Care Task Force to help unlock barriers to the expansion of the sector.

Housing and Care for Older People: Defining the Sector can be found on the BPF website (pdf).

21 October 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Consultation begins on former Nottingham shopping centre

A ‘big conversation’ has been launched by Nottingham City Council to get people talking about what they would like to see happen to the site.

Council leader David Mellen has described it as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to reimagine and reshape what cities should look following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The site of the old Broadmarsh shopping centre covers around a million square feet in the centre of the city and is surrounded by a number of projects that are nearing completion, including the new Nottingham College City Hub.

When the pandemic began, the site was part of the way through a redevelopment into a leisure and retail centre. As a result, owner intu has gone into administration

The site has passed into the ownership of the city council. For the ‘big conversation’, the city council wants to hear from people living in the city and outside of it. It will take place over 10 weeks.

More information can be found here.   


RTPI announces new fellows

Gareth Giles and John McNairney have been elected as fellows of the RTPI.

Chartered fellowship is only awarded to chartered members who have made a major personal contribution to the planning profession for the benefit of the public, said the RTPI.

Gareth Giles is a founding partner at planning consultancy Whaleback, which is based in Sussex. He has previous experience as a planning officer at local authorities including Mid Sussex District Council, South Downs National Park Authority and Brighton and Hove City Council.

Giles commented: “I am immensely proud to be elected to Fellowship of the Institute, which has real significance for me personally and professionally. I am so grateful to those in the industry who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career and nominated me for this honour.”

John McNairney is the chief planner for the Scottish Government.

He said: “I’m delighted to have been awarded the fellowship of the RTPI. Our profession has always meant a great deal to me and I’ve been fortunate to have been able to work with some superb colleagues in the profession supporting planning and place over the years.”


Application submitted for Poole regeneration project

Property firm MHA has submitted a planning application for the development of Fisherman’s Dock, located adjacent to the marina in Poole, Dorset.

It includes 228 apartments, a portion of which would be affordable, a 118-bed boutique hotel with a rooftop restaurant and bar, and commercial space.

The apartments will be delivered across four buildings and designed to reflect Poole’s quayside heritage. 

Hossein Abedinzadeh, Founder of MHA said: “This project is inspired by the rich history of the site and its local surroundings; not only will Fisherman’s Dock regenerate this part of Poole, it will also give back to the local community with the provision of valuable homes and employment opportunities.”


Public Practice looking for new recruits

Public Practice has announced that it is recruiting for its spring 2021 cohort, and is inviting applications from practitioners and expressions of interest from public authorities.

Expressions of interest to host a placement are welcome from public sector organisations across London, the South East and the East of England. Submissions should be made online by midday 23 November.

Public Practice is also recruiting built environment practitioners with a variety of skills, experience and backgrounds to be placed in authorities from spring 2021.

Apply online by midday on 23 November.

More information can be found on the Public Practice website.


Affordable housing approved in Croydon

Brick by Brick has been granted planning permission for a housing scheme that will provide nine affordable rent flats as part of its innovative small sites programme.

Brick by Brick is Croydon Council’s development company.

The scheme – Grasmere Road – was designed by Hayhurst & Co., and is located on an underused garage site in South Norwood.

Nine flats will be delivered, as well as shared green space with play facilities. All of the new homes have south-facing living spaces and balconies overlooking this central green.

To improve the sustainability performance, the scheme includes an enhanced building fabric and air source heat pumps.


Environmental campaigners to speak in Surrey oil well legal case

Friends of the Earth has been granted permission to make submissions in support of a legal case against the decision to allow oil wells on green belt farmland.

The case has been brought by Sarah Finch from Redhill. The wells, proposed by Horse Hill Developments Ltd, are near to her home.

At the judicial review, which will be held in November, Finch will argue that the environmental assessment used as part of the Surrey County Council decision-making process for the oil wells should have considered the full climate impacts in the context of the climate emergency.

Friends of the Earth explained that its submission to the court in support of the case would “assist the judges to understand the context of the current climate emergency and why it is vital to include it in any decision to allow the building of oil wells in Surrey”.

The judicial review is being held on a number of grounds, including a failure to comply with the 2014 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and the 2017 Town and Country Planning (EIA) Regulations.

The hearing will take place on 17 and 18 November 2020.


Plans submitted for Exeter development

Developer Eutopia Homes has submitted a planning application for its second scheme in Exeter.

It comprises 51 apartments designed and built for rent and would be delivered on a vacant site adjacent to the Morrisons supermarket on Prince Charles Road.

The developer said this development is intended to act as a “gateway” to its first Exeter project, Exmouth Junction, which was approved by Exeter City Council in March this year.

Exmouth Junction consists of a £130 million urban village to be delivered on 15 acres of brownfield land. A mix of affordable, private rented, for-sale housing and extra-care units, totalling 465 homes, will be delivered.

27 October 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner