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Planning news - 12 August 2021

Published: Thursday, 12th August 2021

Tall building pipeline 'remains strong', Jenrick writes to PINs over planning changes, Government urged to create wilder national parks. 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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Research has shown that the pipeline of high-rise buildings across the UK ‘remains strong’ with more than three quarters designed for residential purposes.

Of these, 58 per cent are in London.

Projects in the capital account for more than three-quarters of total pipeline value.

AMA Research also notes that as of July 2021, there are 1,277 existing high-rise buildings and structures that are at least 50m tall and 266 that are at least 75 metres tall in the UK. Most are in London, but the other key locations include Birmingham and Manchester. In addition, there are 31 high-rise buildings over 150 metres high, with nearly half of them completed since 2018, and just one building – The Shard in London – is over 300 metres.

The research finds that by end use, 78 per cent of high-rise buildings in the UK pipeline, where construction started in 2021 or are under consideration, are residential-led.

In contrast, the percentage of high-rise buildings now being built for commercial office use is declining. Just 15 per cent of high-rise completions between 2016 and 2020 were offices, while 11 per cent of high-rise buildings in the pipeline are for offices.

Alex Blagden, research Analyst at AMA Research, explained: “Historically, high-rise construction had been driven by demand for offices in the City of London, London Docklands and central Manchester. Since 2010, however, there had been a marked shift towards high-residential schemes, mainly driven by speculative investment in luxury apartment towers in central London and Docklands. However, since the UK’s departure from the EU, growth in overseas investment in private ownership of luxury apartments has slowed. In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the development of high-rise residential towers in the larger northern cities and Birmingham, largely driven by investment in private rental and student accommodation schemes. Over the medium term, high-rise construction will become more spread out across the UK. While London, Manchester, Salford and Birmingham will still be important locations of high-rise construction, other cities are emerging as major centres of high-rise building activity – especially Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow and Sheffield.”

9 August 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has urged planning inspectors to be ‘alive’ to changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) announced in July.

After consultation, the NPPF was amended to enhance the role of high-quality design and beauty in decisions about development. Also, paragraph 22 will be changed to encourage local authorities to employ long-term thinking in developing local plans to enable sustainable development.

What does paragraph 22 of the NPPF say?

“Strategic policies should look ahead over a minimum 15-year period from adoption, to anticipate and respond to long-term requirements and opportunities, such as those arising from major improvements in infrastructure. Where larger-scale developments such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns form part of the strategy for the area, policies should be set within a vision that looks further ahead (at least 30 years), to take into account the likely timescale for delivery.”

Writing to Sarah Richards, chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate, which examines local plans, Jenrick acknowledges that some local authorities have expressed concerns about the implication of the changes to paragraph 22 for their emerging local plans.

He says the change does not affect plans that have already been published or ones that were submitted for examination before 21 July. Planning inspectors will, however, need to take it into account for plans published after this date.

“Given the feedback we have received, in line with our commitment in our consultation response, I have asked my officials to prepare a planning practice guidance update on the way local authorities should reflect the recent NPPF paragraph 22 changes in their local plans to ensure that plan preparation can continue at pace whilst also ensuring that the government’s objectives are delivered.”

He concludes his letter by urging inspectors to be “alive to these policy changes and forthcoming guidance”.

The letter can be read here on the UK Government website.

9 August 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Ministers have been urged to show ‘real leadership’ and create wilder national parks where grouse shoots are phased out to improve the health of moorland.

The call comes as the annual grouse shooting season is set to restart on 12 August.

Charity Rewilding Britain says that 852,000 acres of Britain’s national parks are covered by intensively managed grouse moors that have left nature “impoverished”.

Grouse moors are found in six national parks, all located in Scotland and northern England. Of their land, 27 per cent is devoted to driven grouse shoots, which Rewilding Britain explains keeps the land in a degraded state.

Often intensely managed, grouse moors undergo the burning of heather to produce fresh shoots for young grouse. Burning can damage underlying peat soils, which are the UK’s “single largest carbon sink”, and it can prevent the growth of trees and a wide range of other vegetation by suppressing natural regeneration. Other wildlife can be killed, such as insects.

Guy Shrubsole, the charity’s policy and campaigns coordinator, says this holds the parks back from tackling “Britain’s collapsing biodiversity and the climate emergency”.

“The prime minister’s pledge to protect 30 per cent of Britain’s land for nature – and count national parks towards this total – rings hollow when you realise that vast areas of our national parks are dominated by these nature-impoverished and heavily managed areas.

“We’re urging ministers to show real leadership by creating wilder national parks and setting up core rewilding areas in each of them – in which driven grouse shoots are phased out, and our precious moors brought back to health.”

Although Britain’s nature would be in “an even worse state” were it not for the national parks, Shrubsole says, Rewilding Britain wants to see a tenth of national park land form core rewilding areas and nature recovery across 50 per cent, which would allow the parks to set the pace for ensuring a healthier, more nature-rich Britain, with fresh opportunities for communities and local economies.

If 10 per cent of national parks were rewilded, peatlands, moorlands, woods, rivers and seas would be restored with no loss of productive farmland.

9 August 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


North Wales developer Watkin Jones has been given approval this week to create a major student accommodation scheme in Swansea city centre.

The £35 million Ty Nant project is earmarked for a site directly opposite Swansea train station, which previously housed HMRC's valuation office agency. The now-empty office block will be demolished

The 370-bed space development rises to 11 storeys and will house a mix of cluster flats and studio flats. Extensive water, carbon and energy-saving sustainability features are involved. The scheme includes amenity space, landscaping, improvements to the public realm, and car and cycle parking.

Watkin Jones is behind the nearby 967-bed St David’s development, which also provides student housing.

6 August 2021
Roger Milne, The Planner


Lambeth Council has announced that it wants to increase the amount developers will pay through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to help the council to deliver its goals.

Current rates were set in 2014 but the council explains that they no longer reflect the growth and increased value of developing property in the borough.

Proposed modifications to the CIL rates would see developers make a larger financial contribution depending on the type of project and its location.

The proposed changes were submitted for examination in June. The resulting examiner’s report made no more amendments and the proposals have been sent for further independent evaluation.

Matthew Bennett, deputy leader of Lambeth Council and cabinet member for planning, investment and new homes, said increasing the levy would enable the council to “invest more money from investment and growth to benefit our diverse communities right across the borough”.

If the changes are adopted, Lambeth will be split into four zones (see below) rather than three under the existing CIL charging schedule. The new CIL rates will include:

  • Higher rates for residential development of £500 per square metre in Zone A, £350 per square metre in Zone B, £250 per square metre in Zone C and £200 per square metre in Zone D.
  • Higher rates for offices at £225 per square metre in Zones A and B. Office developments in Zones C and D will not be charged.
  • Higher rates for hotels at £200 per square metre in Zone A while a lower rate of £75 per square metre will be charged in the rest of the borough.
  • Large retail developments with over 280 square metres in floor space will be charged a flat £225 per square metre across the entire borough.

Bennett added: “Lambeth Council is committed to working with our development partners to ensure that the whole borough can benefit from some of the exciting construction projects in the pipeline.”

The examiner’s report will be presented to the council later this year and will be asked to approve the changes. If approved, the new rates would be in place by 1 January 2022.

CIL zones

  • Zone A – would include Waterloo and Vauxhall Nine Elms
  • Zone B – would remain as Kennington, Oval and Clapham
  • Zone C – Brixton, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill
  • Zone D – Streatham and West Norwood

5 August 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Travelodge approved in Ipswich

Ipswich Borough Council has granted planning permission for a Travelodge in Ipswich.

It will be located near Ipswich Town Football Club and developed by the Burney Group on an underused car park in Russell Road, next to the closed-down Better Gym.

Designed by Dovetail Architects, the five-storey hotel will include 28 family rooms, 64 double rooms and eight accessible rooms. It will also have allocated car parking underneath the building and some car park spaces outside, a bar and restaurant.

 

Permission granted for school improvements

Nexus Planning has secured planning permission for a series of strategic improvements at Sutton High School on behalf of the Girls’ Day School Trust.

The plans seek to enhance the school’s learning and sports facilities, address existing spatial constraints and improve the wellbeing of pupils.

An extension to the existing refectory building will be delivered, as well as an infill extension to the existing junior school building, a new two-storey prep school extension, new sports changing room facilities and the creation of a new multi-use games area. An outdoor learning terrace also features in the plans.

 

Leeds ward to deliver arts neighbourhood plan

East Street Arts is preparing to deliver a neighbourhood plan in Burmantofts, Lincoln Green and Mabgate.

Part of the project will see community members hosting an August summer school for 10-12 year olds who live in these areas. Planned activities include gardening classes, workshops and photography.

The activity will give people a say in the future of the places they live and work, including where new homes, shops, offices and public spaces should be built. It forms part of a project that feeds into the ward’s neighbourhood plan.

Helen Moore, engagement lead at East Street Arts, said: “There’s a special alchemy in this project – our neighbourhood plan activity has truly brought people together from all backgrounds. This work is so exciting and important because it is putting local people first.

"It’s rare that people and communities feel truly listened to, particularly if they’ve recently arrived in Leeds or are even new to life in the UK. That’s why our neighbourhood plan work has such huge potential, because if people can feel they are able to influence decisions in their local area they feel more engaged with places and political decision-making and contribute to being part of a real community here.”

 

Royal Mineral Water Hospital to be restored

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee has approved plans to restore and extend Bath’s former grade II* Royal Mineral Water Hospital.

The regeneration will be led by Fragrance UK – Bath Ltd, part of The Fragrance Group.

The proposals will see the site turned into a luxury 160-bed hotel with spa facilities, meeting spaces and outdoor green spaces. The scheme could create up to 120 new jobs.

Fragrance UK’s plans for the heritage site seek to support biodiversity through a range of planting green walls and roofs.

 

Barnet building to be extended upwards

The London Borough of Barnet has granted prior approval to urban planning consultancy, Hybrid Planning and Development for a two-storey roof extension on a mixed-use building in Colindale. It will feature 34 residential apartments.

Mar House is an eight storey, mixed-use premises on Edgware Road that was completed in 2016. It comprises ground-floor commercial units, 95 residential apartments and several live-work units.

Working on behalf of the new owner and developer, Old House Group Limited, Hybrid used part 20, class AA of the General Permitted Development Order to secure the two-storey upwards extension.

Combustible cladding installed by the previous developer will also be removed.

 

Skatepark in Stroud to close

A skatepark in Stroud where two Olympic medallists trained during the Covid-19 pandemic is to close to make way for new homes.

RUSH Skatepark, which was set up eight years ago, is one of the businesses at Brimscombe Port, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, that has been served with a notice to leave by the end of August.

Stroud District Council’s redevelopment plans include delivering homes and businesses.

Charlotte Worthington, who won BMX Freestyle gold, and Declan Brooks, who won bronze in the men's BMX freestyle, used the facility for training during the pandemic.

10 August 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner