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Planning news - 29 July 2021

Published: Thursday, 29th July 2021

UNESCO strips Liverpool of World Heritage status, Government launches consultation on building safety levy, West Midlands signs partnership for 5,000 homes. 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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Liverpool has been stripped of its World Heritage status. The decision to delete Liverpool was made at a UNESCO meeting in China, where delegates voted 13 to five in favour of the recommendation.

The move follows a UNESCO recommendation last month that Liverpool should be removed from the World Heritage List, citing the £5 billion Liverpool Waters project and the approval of plans for Everton FC’s stadium at Bramley Moore Dock as “serious deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes”.

The city was awarded the coveted title in 2004 in recognition of its historical and architectural impact, particularly the city’s history as a key trading centre during the British Empire and such landmarks as the Albert Dock area, which features more grade I-listed buildings than anywhere else in the UK.

But Liverpool has been on the UNESCO danger list since 2012, because the heritage body became increasingly concerned about the development of the city's north docks.

“I’m hugely disappointed and concerned by this decision to delete Liverpool’s World Heritage status, which comes a decade after UNESCO last visited the city to see it with their own eyes,” said Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson.

“Our World Heritage Site has never been in better condition having benefited from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment across dozens of listed buildings and the public realm.”

Liverpool, which had been one of 32 World Heritage Sites in the UK, is the third to lose its status since the list began in 1978. The others are Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in 2007 and the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany in 2009.

21 July 2021
Huw Morris, The Planner

The government has begun a consultation on a key policy reform for developing high-rise buildings in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is seeking views on the building safety levy, which will apply to developers seeking permission to build certain high rise residential buildings in England of 18 metres and above.

The levy will apply to developments in England seeking building control approval from the proposed Building Safety Regulator, known as the “gateway 2” stage of the new building safety regime.

Money raised from the levy, to be introduced under the Building Safety Bill, would go towards fixing historic fire safety defects, “including unsafe cladding, protecting leaseholders and taxpayers from shouldering the burden of remediation costs”, the MHCLG says.

The government is also seeking views of the levy’s potential impact on the housebuilding sector, particularly housing supply and regeneration.

“Developers may factor the increased cost into the price they are willing to pay for new sites, which - depending on the levy cost - may result in a reduced number of plots viable for development,” the consultation document says.

The levy is expected to concern around 200 schemes each year, although affordable housing will not be included. The consultation says applying the levy to affordable housing would increase its development costs and “disincentivise supply”.

The MHCLG has so far committed £5.1 billion in building safety grants for leaseholders in residential buildings of 18 metres and above. The levy is part of government moves to ensure the housing sector makes “a fair contribution to these costs”.

The consultation runs until October 15.

Read and respond to the Consultation on the Building Safety Levy.

23 July 2021
Huw Morris, The Planner

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has signed a partnership deal with developer St. Modwen to build 5,000 high-quality, energy efficient homes on disused industrial land in the next decade.

The deals aims to support WMCA’s target of delivering 215,000 homes by 2031 to meet future housing and economic demand. The 5,000 homes will be designed to meet the UK’s Future Homes Standard, with the developer and WMCA both committed to net zero carbon emissions.

Under the deal, a minimum of 20 per cent of homes will be classed as affordable. The memorandum of understanding came as St Modwen submitted a planning application for the regeneration of the West Works site at the former MG Rover car plant in Longbridge.

WMCA is targeting £6 million towards cleaning up the land ahead of redevelopment, thereby unlocking £300 million total investment at West Works. St. Modwen has submitted a planning application to Birmingham City Council for 350 homes on the site.

A business park offering nearly 84,000 square metres of commercial space is also expected to create up to 5,000 jobs, with the scheme opening up a kilometre of the River Rea via a walking and cycle route. The wider regeneration of Longbridge will see up to 2,800 homes and around 186,000 square metres of commercial floorspace delivered alongside 10,000 jobs.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said the scheme is unlocking one of the region’s most iconic brownfield sites. “At the heart of any work we do together will be brownfield regeneration, as we focus on breathing new life into former derelict industrial sites and their surrounding areas, protecting our precious greenbelt land in the process,” he added.

26 July 2021
Huw Morris, The Planner

Housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick has decided not to call in a proposal for an energy recovery facility at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.

Uniper’s plans for the facility – known as the East Midlands Energy Re-Generation (EMERGE) Centre – had been approved by Nottinghamshire County Council.

The centre will convert waste left over from recycling into enough lower carbon energy to power 90,000 homes. The facility will reduce landfill or export of waste by around 500,000 tonnes a year.

“With the required planning consents in place, we are now in a position to move forward with the project and start to deliver our wider vision for Ratcliffe - to move towards becoming a zero carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands region,” said Uniper’s project manager Andy Reed.

"The planning approval will enable £330 million worth of capital infrastructure investment to be realised, and the creation of up to 600 temporary construction jobs, with around 45 permanent jobs, once the EMERGE Centre is operational.”

The centre will be the first significant new development at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in more than 50 years. Uniper will now finalise a legal agreement with Nottinghamshire County Council before launching a competitive procurement process for its construction and the installation of the facility, as well as the residual waste contracts to supply it.

Construction is expected to start in late 2022 with the facility fully operational in 2025.

26 July 2021
Huw Morris

A Hong Kong property tycoon has gained planning permission from Westminster City Council to rebuild a seven storey private mansion next to Hyde Park.

Cheung Chung-kiu has gained permission to partly demolish and reconstruct 2-8A Rutland Gate, Knightsbridge. He bought the 5,800 square metre property for £205 million last year. Westminster said the proposal falls outside its ban on new homes over 200 square metres.

The property was built as four grand family homes before being converted into one house in the 1980s. The previous owner was Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia who died in 2011.

Under the proposal, the property will have a triple-height ballroom, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a two-level basement for Cheung’s collection of luxury cars. The overall height of the building will increase from 41.7 metres to 46.5 metres.

The council had imposed a ban on "Monopoly board-style" residences in 2019 to free up space for affordable homes. As this site was previously a single home, planning rules allow it to be replaced.

The redevelopment would raise close to £1 million in community infrastructure levy.

The 45-bedroom house is south of Kensington Gardens and 68 of its 116 windows have a view of Hyde Park. The building has been vacant for at least 10 years.

Cheung is chairman of property development company CC Land, which bought the Cheesegrater in the City of London for £1.15 billion in 2017.

26 July 2021
Huw Morris, The Planner

Ebbsfleet custom-build community wins approval

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee has granted permission for a custom-build community.

Alkerden Gateway, which will be located in Ebbsfleet Garden City, will comprise 67 homes, 17 of them affordable. Westerhill Homes, which is behind the scheme, said the project “seeks to create a characterful, bespoke neighbourhood and a vibrant place to live, that allows residents to help design as well as choose their dream home”.

Alkerden Gateway is the first key development parcel in the transition from Castle Hill to Alkerden village. It is bordered by a strategic area of green parkland to the east, an education campus to the west and other residential developments to the north and south.

The decision follows the submission of a reserved matters planning application in March.


Nottingham moves towards major homes scheme at Bestwood

Hundreds of homes could be built on the site of a former school and playing field in the Bestwood area of Nottingham.

Nottingham City Council has appointed Countryside to build more than 350 homes, 108 of which will be council homes for affordable rent, subject to planning permission on the site of the former Padstow School and Ridgeway playing field. The remaining new homes – around 250 – will be retained by Countryside for private sale. Most of the homes will be family housing.

A significant amount of open space will be preserved, including the landmark poplar trees at the centre of the former Padstow school site, where a new play area will be made. New footpaths and cycle routes will provide access to local amenities, including a nature reserve at Sunrise Hill. 

“There has been a long-standing ambition to create new homes on these sites at Padstow and Ridgeway,” said Nottingham’s portfolio holder for planning and housing Linda Woodings.

“By providing new, good quality homes to rent and buy, this development will help towards Nottingham’s housing shortage, and the council’s commitment to build or buy 1,000 new council or social homes for rent."

Residents will now have an opportunity to comment on the development, with Countryside aiming to submit a planning application in the autumn. If the application is approved, Countryside aims to begin work early in 2022.


Regal London acquires latest Hackney plot for mixed-use scheme

Regal London has completed its acquisition of the Laundry Building site near London Fields in the London Borough of Hackney.

The developer, which recently announced its purchase of land near Wembley Stadium for a £270 million scheme, has continued its acquisition campaign with its seventh site in Hackney, which follows the recently completed Shoreditch Exchange development nearby.

Regal London has acquired the plot with planning permission already granted for 59 homes and 2,462 square metres of floorspace for commercial use. Work is due to commence on site in the third quarter of this year with completion targeted in 2024.

The developer is planning a £65 million scheme on the site with the homes configured around a central internal courtyard that allows natural light for residents. Each flat and communal space will also benefit from large private balconies and secure cycle parking spaces.

Commercial units in the scheme will achieve BREEAM Excellent standard, with the developer aiming to offer 10 per cent of the commercial floorspace as affordable to help local entrepreneurs. Community infrastructure levy contributions for the scheme total more than £1.25 million.


Government agrees to pay millions towards Long Stratton bypass

Norfolk County Council’s plans to build a £37.4 million bypass around the town of Long Stratton have taken a major step forward after the government confirmed funding for the project.

The Department for Transport has approved the council’s outline business case, submitted earlier this year and agreed to pay £26.2 million towards the scheme. The remaining funding is expected to come primarily from local developer contributions and community infrastructure levy.

Norfolk County Council is working with developer Norfolk Homes/Norfolk Land to bring forward proposals for the bypass, which will feed into a revised planning application. This will be submitted to South Norfolk Council.

The A140 cuts right through the middle of the town, which is 12 miles south of Norwich. The 2.5-mile easterly bypass is expected to reduce congestion in the town centre while also supporting plans for 1,800 homes and the development of employment land.

Work is targeted to start on the scheme’s construction in the middle of 2023 with the bypass opening before the end of 2024.


Application submitted for performance venue in Derby

St James Securities has submitted a full planning application to Derby City Council for a new 3,500 capacity entertainment and events venue at Becketwell.

If approved, the venue will be on the site of the former Pink Coconut nightclub and Laurie House offices at the heart of the wider mixed-use Becketwell development. It will be capable of staging concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows, musical theatre, conferences, and exhibitions.

The venue, which will be owned by Derby City Council and run by ASM Global, is expected to host around 200 cultural and commercial events each year and attract an additional 250,000 visitors to the city. It is also expected to create more than 200 jobs and generate more than £10 million a year for the area.

A virtual public consultation held last month revealed huge support for the proposal with 93 per cent of respondents saying Derby needs a new concert and entertainment centre and 91 per cent agreeing it will benefit other city centre businesses.

The council is expected to consider the application at a planning committee meeting in October.


Approval for £260 million Digbeth mixed-use scheme

Birmingham City Council has approved plans for Cole Waterhouse’s £260m Upper Trinity Street (UTS) scheme in Digbeth.

The two-hectare development will see industrial land transformed into a cultural, commercial and residential scheme, including a public park called Pump House Park.

UTS will include 943 homes, some with live-work space and roof gardens, a 133-bedroom hotel, 5,574 square metres of flexible commercial space, car parking and new public realm across a network of landscaped yards, squares and hidden spaces.

The development is expected to create 600 jobs during the construction phase, deliver £229.5 million to the local economy and up to 313 other jobs once built. Work is expected to start in summer 2022, with the first phases of the scheme completed in 2025.

“This will be a golden decade of inclusive growth, job creation and regeneration in Birmingham and Digbeth is identified as one of our primary growth quarters,” said council leader Ian Ward.


St Helens regeneration scheme complete section 106 agreement

Plans to regenerate redundant land at the Cowley Hill Works in St Helens into a residential-led neighbourhood will now go ahead after the securing of a section 106 agreement.

The site is the largest brownfield land allocation within St Helens Borough Council’s emerging local plan, with the redevelopment expected to generate capital expenditure of £200 million, with a further £15 million expected to be spent on goods and services each year by residents and £1.5 million of annual council tax receipts.

The scheme, a joint venture between land specialists BXB and developer Promenade Estates, will deliver up to 1,100 homes, a hotel and commercial space off College Street, north of the town centre.

Promenade Estates managing director Daniel Hynd said the scheme is a key part of the company’s “brownfield first” strategy and it is looking for similar sites.

“The opportunity to work with local authorities to help them meet their housing needs from within the existing built environment will be vital if we are to protect our green belt from undue erosion,” he added.

27 July 2021
Huw Morris, The Planner