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Planning news - 5 November 2020

Published: Thursday, 5th November 2020

Public to be surveyed on England’s planning system, Task force launches guidance for self-build homes, Forestry strategy for Great Britain is published. 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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The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee has asked the public to take part in a survey on the planning system in England and the government’s proposed reforms to it.

MPs want to know how the public has used the planning system in the past and how they think it could be improved.

The results will inform the committee’s inquiry into the planning system, which was announced in October. MPs want to know what communities want the system to do, such as encouraging growth, and how to achieve it.

As well as the survey, a public engagement event is being held on 26 November so the public can talk about the planning system with the committee.

Committee chair Clive Betts said: “The planning process has an important role to play in meeting a number of challenges that the country currently faces. In finding solutions to the crisis in housing delivery, ailing high streets and boosting regional growth the planning system will be key. It must also reflect the views and wishes of our local communities and this is why we have launched this survey. As part of our inquiry into the planning system we want to hear your experiences of using the planning system, what has worked well, where it has been found wanting, and how it can be improved. You can take the survey online and we would love to hear your views.”

The consultation for the government's planning reforms, set out in Planning for the Future, closed on 29 October.

The survey, which closes on 12 November, can be found here. More information about the engagement event and the committee can be found on the HCLG website.

2 November 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Right to Build Task Force has published the first phase of its guidance to support the delivery of custom and self-build homes in England.

It was published as part of Right to Build Day on 30 October.

The task force says the guidance complements the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), as well as other existing legislation and regulations.

Through the guidance, the task force wishes to ensure consistent good practice in the delivery of custom and self-build homes under the right-to-build legislation. It seeks to fill identified gaps in what is currently available.

The guidance will evolve with the market and the emergence of best practice, and response to legislative changes, planning appeals and case law, the task force explained.

The guidance comprises an overview, 16 guidance notes and four appendices.

Bryony Harrington, head of the task force, commented: “The guidance will be indispensable for the sector, for local authorities and for other stakeholders working to bring on serviced plots, such as landowners and developers.

“This guidance will help bring much-needed certainty and consistency to the market providing a single and trusted source of information. The stated aim of the legislation back in 2016 was ‘to make it much easier for people to find land to build or commission their own home, diversifying housing supply and revitalising smaller builders who have not experienced the same level of recovery as the large housebuilders since the financial crisis’. The need for this legislation to work effectively is clearly as important now as it has ever been and the guidance will help to make this happen.”

Feedback to the guidance documents can be submitted until 30 November 2020, with final guidance notes set to be published by 31 December 2020. The remaining documents are to be published in three further phases.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We want to help more people build or design their own home which for many is a way of getting on the housing ladder

“I welcome this guidance from the Right to Build Task Force that sets out practical advice on how councils and other partners can work together to provide more land and support people realise their housebuilding plans.”

He added that he has launched a review “to ensure that councils are providing enough land for self and custom-build homes and that these homes are given proper consideration when making planning decisions”.

The first phase of the Custom and Self-build Planning Guidance can be found on the Right to Build Task Force website.

2 November 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

The Welsh Government, supported by the Scottish and UK governments, has issued a new science and innovation strategy for the long-term future of forestry in Great Britain.

The Welsh Government said the strategy acknowledges the role the sector has in reversing the decline in biodiversity, tackling the climate crisis and supporting a green recovery from Covid-19.

Lesley Griffiths, Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister at the Welsh Government, said: “Forestry in the UK is a vital sector, generating enormous environmental and economic benefits. As we seek to increase woodland creation to tackle the climate emergency and work towards a green recovery from Covid-19, a strategic approach to forestry research is more important than ever.

“Our forests face a number of challenges from pests and diseases, and in adapting to climate change. That is why it is so important to have robust and innovative science to guide decisions and policy. This new strategy will play a key role in making sure our forests are resilient and healthy and ensuring the sector has a sustainable future.”

Science and Innovation Strategy for Forestry in Great Britain takes into account strategies already in place in each country, including Scotland Forestry Strategy 2019-2029, a 50-year “vision” for Scotland’s forests and woodlands that provides a 10-year framework for action; the England Tree Strategy, which will set out policies to expand tree cover, support woodland management and increase public engagement with trees and woodlands; and the Woodlands for Wales strategy sets out the forestry policy and strategic direction for forestry for the next 50 years, supported by an action plan to be updated every five years.

Research programmes as part of the strategy will reflect these challenges, and will support the industry and the creation of jobs as well as maximise the contribution woodlands and forestry can make to improve the natural environment. It also outlines how research will be monitored and communicated.

The seven shared priorities identified include research on the following themes:

  • Sustainable forest management in light of environmental change.
  • Markets for forest products and services.
  • Societal benefits from trees, woods and forests.
  • Resource assessment and sector monitoring.
  • Achieving multiple ecosystem benefits.
  • Woodland creation and expansion.
  • Tree health and biosecurity.

UK Government forestry minister Lord Goldsmith commented: “Growing and protecting the UK’s forests is an integral part of our green recovery from coronavirus and fight against climate change, which is why we’re committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.

“Using the brilliant expertise of Forest Research and other research providers, this new strategy gives us the framework needed to ensure we maintain sustainable and resilient woodlands for decades to come.”

Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing added: “This strategy is important – the research emanating from it will support our mission to promote sustainable forest management alongside expanding our woodland cover to help meet the current climate emergency. 

“Sound research and science is also key to helping the forestry sector respond and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, by supporting economic growth and green jobs.”

According to the foreword, forestry in the UK is a vital sector, with forestry and primary wood processing generating £2.5 billion gross value added (GVA) a year, from a woodland area of 3.2 million hectares.

Science and Innovation Strategy for Forestry in Great Britain can be found on the Welsh Government website.

3 November 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has allocated a share of up to £178.7 million in funding as part of Town Deals for each.

The towns that have secured a deal are Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool, Darlington, Peterborough, Norwich, Torquay and Warrington. They are the first of 101 places to be offered a Town Deal.

Final funding allocations have yet to be confirmed, but it will come from the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund, which seeks to create jobs and drive growth in towns across England.

The fund is part of the government’s plans to level up the country so that businesses and communities can “thrive”.

These seven deals include:

  • £39.5 million to be used to update the Blackpool Illuminations, which used to attract four million visitors and bring in £284 million a year, and to support the development of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.
  • £21.9 million to modernise Torquay town centre and improve transport links with a focus on walking and cycling routes.
  • £22.9 million for the groundwork to be laid in Peterborough for low-carbon living. Planned projects include a skills centre for green technologies, enterprise hub and a new pedestrian bridge.
  • £22.3 million for Darlington to boost employment skills across the town, for young people and adults. Plans include funding for the town’s T-Levels offer, which seeks to help learners kickstart their careers in a number of fields.
  • £25 million for Barrow so the borough council can develop a new learning quarter, community wellbeing hubs and improve the local cycling and walking infrastructure. They also plan to run a housing renewal programme to address the lack of high-quality housing in the region.
  • £25 million for Norwich City Council to help it realise their ‘2040 Vision’, which includes a new digital hub, a digi-tech factory and an advanced construction and engineering (ACE) centre.
  • £22.1 million for Warrington to utilise vacant spaces and restore a vibrant town centre. The council’s plans include building an electric bus fleet depot, an advanced construction training centre and a health and social care academy.

“This government is levelling up opportunity all across the country. We are unlocking the full potential of towns and communities, giving them the support that they need to thrive,” said Jenrick.

“Backed by £180 million, we are boosting skills, job creation and connectivity in these seven towns – providing investment and confidence at a crucial time for these communities.”

Areas and councils had to bid for funding. All 101 towns selected to work towards a Town Deal were given a funding allocation and proposals had to be submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The first cohort of towns submitted proposals in July to be reviewed by ministers. The government said more deals would be announced in November.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the £3.6 billion Towns Fund in July 2019.

28 October 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Buckinghamshire Council has granted planning approval for a practice facility for Garsington Opera, which is based on The Wormsley Estate.

Work is due to get under way early in 2021.

The opera company, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, is to cover the cost of the projected £14 million building through fundraising.

A lack of practice facilities near to the estate has meant that opera rehearsals currently take place in venues that are ill-suited to the purpose.

Nicola Creed, executive director for Garsington Opera, said: “The practice facilities will create an integrated venue that creates a host of operational benefits which will enable us to create productions of outstanding artistic quality. This is really important given the loss of rehearsal space elsewhere.

“We intend to use the facility for opera rehearsals for four months each year, and the remainder of the year the practice centre will be available for the local community and for commercial hire. It will be the home for Garsington Opera’s dynamic outreach programme – working with schools, local children and adults, hospital patients and many others – and for local performing arts clubs. Our next challenge is the fundraising, but we aim to be open in 2023.”

Lichfields’ London office helped to secure the permission with architectural practice Nichols Brown Webber.

Nick Thompson, senior director at Lichfields, said: “Garsington Opera reached out to the local community and the application was well supported by local schools, Chiltern Society, Buckinghamshire Cultural Partnership and Chilterns Conservation Board – many of whom complemented the highly attractive design of the building, which draws on the style of the local Chilterns vernacular.

“We were pleased that the planning officer agreed with our analysis that this major development in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is permissible in exceptional circumstances where it has been demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.”

Andy Nichols, the architect for the scheme, added that the facility extends to nearly 4,000 square metres comprising brick and flint, an oak structure and stained timber weatherboarding. An agricultural building and silos will be replaced with a three-storey practice centre building.

The Wormsley Estate, which is in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is the home of the Getty family, which was bought by the late Sir Paul Getty in 1985.

29 October 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner

30GW of onshore wind pipeline by 2030

Research suggests that the capacity of onshore wind could grow to 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 – more than double the UK’s current operational capacity. 

RenewableUK's Onshore Wind Project Intelligence report finds that new onshore wind capacity will increase over this decade, as technology costs fall and the resumption from next year of auctions for contracts to generate power.

Reaching 30GW is contingent on all projects being built. This would power more than 19.5 million homes in the UK a year.

The total project pipeline includes UK onshore wind projects that are operational, under construction, consented, submitted into the planning system or being developed for submission into planning.


Romsey masterplan outlined

Test Valley Borough Council has approved the masterplan for the south of Romsey town centre.

It was put together by planning consultancy Nexus Planning.

Led by executive director Shaun Andrews, Romsey Future and the council instructed the firm to put together the masterplan. It worked alongside Perkins & Will Architects and other consultants to prepare the South of Romsey Town Centre Masterplan.

The masterplan includes a new square and flexible community space right, new retail and dining space and a new mobility hub. It covers short, medium and long-term scenarios for the area.

More information on the masterplan can be found on the Romsey Future and Test Valley Borough Council websites.


Kensington Forum redevelopment approved

London’s deputy mayor Jules Pipe has granted planning approval for the Kensington Forum to be redeveloped.

This will provide a hotel and serviced apartment scheme, 62 affordable homes and public realm improvements, including a 2,700-square-metre garden square.

Designed by architects at SimpsonHaugh, the scheme – by Queensgate Investments and Rockwell – will replace the existing 906-room hotel.


Modular developer secures Rushden site

Modular housing company ilke Homes has secured a site allocated for residential development in Rushden, Northamptonshire.

The site has the potential to deliver up to 150 affordable homes for the local community on a nine-acre site.

ilke Homes said it would work with East Northamptonshire Council, Rushden Town Council and the local community to secure planning permission that is in line with the adopted neighbourhood plan.

The neighbourhood plan was prepared by Rushden Town Council, covering a plan period up until 2031.

ilke Homes worked with Savills to secure the deal for the site.


Land with planning in Nottinghamshire brought to market

Property consultancy Fisher German has brought to market a 9.88-acre site with planning permission off Burton Road in Gedling, subject to signing a section 106 agreement.

The land is currently being used for agricultural purposes. It is located opposite the new Gedling Access Road, which is under construction and due for completion in autumn 2021

The firm is acting on behalf of landowner Midlands Land Portfolio Ltd, the property development arm of Severn Trent Water. Offers are invited from housebuilders.

Luke Brafield of Fisher German, said: “The site is not only close to a number of outstanding and good Ofsted-rated schools, but is also in close proximity to Victoria Retail Park, which provides a range of retail and leisure facilities.”

He added that the transport links are “excellent”.


Site with planning permission sold in Cambridgeshire

Cambridge-based property group Endurance Estates has sold a 5.5-acre site with planning permission for 52 residential homes to property developer Ashberry Homes.

The scheme comprises private and affordable housing in Fordham. A section 106 agreement commits future development on the land to provide contributions to the improvement of local highway infrastructure, which will go towards improvements to the A142/Fordham Road/A1123 roundabout, as well as 20 affordable homes.

Contributions will also be made for the provision of public open space.


Khan announces funding for housing for rough sleepers

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced funding to create 903 longer-term homes for homeless Londoners that will be ready for occupation by spring next year.

The money is coming from a £93.4 million grant from the government to provide accommodation and support for people currently living in hotels, hostels or other supported housing.

The grant was announced in July. Since then, Khan said City Hall’s rough sleeping team have been inundated with bids from charities, boroughs and housing providers.

Thirty-eight projects have been selected to receive funding, including:

The London Borough of Enfield: £9.1 million capital and revenue funding to deliver 73 homes and support across three different projects.

Redbridge Council in partnership with the Salvation Army: £233,000 investment to help to deliver and support residents in eight new modular homes for former rough sleepers. The homes will make use of ‘meanwhile sites’ and have been gifted to the Salvation Army by developer Hills Consortium as part of their ‘Foundation 200’ pledge.

Resonance: A £5 million contribution to Resonance’s £15 million social impact investment property fund, delivering 50 homes across London for rough sleepers. Resonance will work in partnership with social justice charity Nacro.

Work will begin as soon as possible so more than 900 people will be helped to move into homes completed by 31 March 2021.


Southport submits Town Deal bid

Southport Town Deal Board has submitted a £50 million plan to the government's Town Deal Fund.

The funding would act as a kick-starter for a wider £400 million investment in the town and bring 1,250 additional jobs to the area through the initial projects.

The Southport Town Deal bid includes a new convention and events centre on the site of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, which closed earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It would comprise a 1,200-seat auditorium, exhibition halls, a café and co-working space.

The plan also aims to regenerate the town centre and drive business growth. Lord Street would be restored, a new events space created and the existing Southport Pleasureland would be transformed.


Business park approved

The Isle of Wight Council has approved RCKa's and Stantec's plans for a business park on the island.

The proposal, the firms explained, responds to the surrounding landscape to create a series of interconnected outdoor spaces that connect with the wider community and enhance wellbeing. A series of densely organised buildings have been designed to offer flexibility to businesses as they develop.

The Ryde Nicholson Road Business Park will be divided into three areas – a village square, rural business park and meadowland campus.

3 November 2020
Laura Edgar, The Planner