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Planning news - 14 October 2021

Published: Thursday, 14th October 2021

Councils to get funding for brownfield land development, ‘Significant’ increase in peatland restoration and more space for nature needed, says charity. 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 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced that £57.8 million has been allocated to 53 councils to develop brownfield land.

The money, which comes from the £75 million Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF), is to be allocated to regenerating local areas and helping people on to the property ladder.

The department said that “unsightly derelict” buildings can be demolished and disused car parks and garages developed to create “vibrant” communities in which people can live and work. The government believes that this will help to protect the countryside and green spaces.

It is convinced that an extra 5,600 homes could be built on these sites, and that the funding could also support up to 17,000 jobs across the housing and construction sector, as well as the wider economy.

Amongst the councils to receive funding are Broxbourne Borough Council (£160,000); Fenland District Council (£200,000); Newark and Sherwood District Council (£284,000); Lewisham London Borough (£385,519); Peterborough City Council (£550,000); South Gloucestershire Council (£2,020,000); and City of York Council (£2,640,479).

Levelling-up secretary Michael Gove said: “We are levelling up and backing home ownership in every corner of the country, delivering new high-quality, affordable homes and creating thriving places where people want to live, work and visit.

“Making the most of previously developed land is a government priority and it will help protect our cherished countryside and green spaces.”

The capital committed includes £5 million for self and custom-build projects, and a further £20 million from the BLRF has been designated to aid acceleration of the self and custom-build sector. Councils are now able to bid for this remaining funding.

James Jamieson, chairman at the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “One Public Estate and Brownfield Land Release Funding play a crucial role in supporting the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, and supporting councils to transform their assets, create better services, and release land for much-needed new homes and regeneration across the country.

“This latest news is more proof that this programme works. Councils recognise how valuable this support is, and are being ever more ambitious in their ideas to use this funding to kick-start transformation, regeneration, and new development in their communities.”

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “Councils should be encouraged by the allocation of £57.8 million from the government’s Brownfield Land Release Fund which will help build much-needed homes across the country.

“But homes alone are not enough to create communities. Projects delivered using these funds must also be supported by necessary infrastructure, such as transport links, which allow communities to thrive.

“The role of local planning authorities will be vital in ensuring that the funds received through this scheme are used effectively to create happy and healthy communities.”

12 October 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


More space for nature is required in all built environments and there needs to be ‘significant’ increases of peatland restoration, according to a wildlife charity as it calls on the government to address the nature and climate crises ‘at speed’.

Appealing to the UK presidency of COP26 to tackle the crises together, The Wildlife Trusts says neither will be solved otherwise.

Publishing its COP26 edition of its report Let Nature Help, the charity explains that climate change is driving the decline of nature while simultaneously the loss of wildlife and habitats “leaves us ill-equipped to reduce emissions and adapt to a changing world”.

Last year The Planner reported that Let Nature Help – How Nature’s Recovery is Essential for Tackling the Climate Crisis stated that restoring degraded habitats would see them absorb a third of the UK’s carbon emissions. It explained that the UK’s peatland soils store around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, but as they are “heavily degraded” they release the equivalent of 23 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

The COP26 edition of the report notes that individuals have a part to play in solving the crises, but the government must lead the way “by embedding climate action and nature’s recovery across all national policies”.

This, according to the report, is the only way to achieve a net-zero, climate-resilient UK – where nature is “thriving” – by 2050.

The report reiterates the trusts’ call for a Wildbelt to help the government reach its target of at least 30 per cent of land for nature by 2030. In 2020, it said this is “essential” for protecting new land that is currently of low biodiversity value to help nature to recover, while a report by the charity last week said that to secure the future of the land where more space for nature is created, a Wildbelt designation “should be a robust and permanent designation” that protects land in the process of being managed to bring nature back.

The report also states that the legally binding target in the environment bill to halt nature's decline by 2030 must translate into meaningful action on the ground. “It must be supported by an additional £1 billion per annum investment in nature’s recovery.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive at The Wildlife Trusts, says: “Net zero needs nature. Nature needs net zero. Both need to be resilient to the climate of the future. Nature’s fantastic ability to trap carbon safely and provide other important benefits is proven – peatland, woodland, saltmarsh and other wild habitats are vital carbon stores. But these natural places are in decline and face even greater risk of degradation from the extreme climatic conditions that are already inevitable over the next 30 years. It’s becoming a vicious spiral of damage – one that has to be stopped right now.

“In addition to the urgent task of cutting emissions at source, we need to see an enormous rise in the amount of land and sea that’s protected for nature – and increase it to at least 30 per cent by 2030. Also, the government must embed climate action – mitigation and adaptation – across every department and take urgent steps to stop carbon-emitting activities such as new roadbuilding, peat burning and trawling the seabed.”

The Wildlife Trusts has issued a call to the government to:

Planning:

  • Make more space for nature everywhere including in towns and new developments. By 2030 we need to have protected 30 per cent of land and the seas for nature. Create a new designation, Wildbelt, which protects places, including degraded land, that is put into recovery for nature.
  • Ensure that planning reforms deliver the government’s legally binding target in the environment bill to halt species decline by 2030.

Peat:

  • Significantly increase peatland restoration and repair 100 per cent of upland peat before 2050.
  • Implement an immediate ban on peatland burning and end farming on deep peat.
  • Ban the sale and use of peat in gardening and compost products, including imports.

The sea:

  • Implement a ban on bottom-trawling the seabed in England.
  • Give all seagrass habitats highly protected status.
  • Renew pledges to protect coastal habitats and invest more in natural sea defences.

Woodland:

  • Increase the natural regeneration of woods and where this cannot be done, plant resilient native trees instead.
  • Ensure that a mix of trees is planted in every location so as to have the best chance of survival in unpredictable conditions and in the face of increased pests and diseases.

Farming:

  • Give a boost to sustainable farming that locks carbon into the soil and helps wildlife.
  • Publish details on how the Environmental Land Management Scheme will incentivise farmers to manage their land for nature-based solutions.

The COP26 edition of Let Nature Help can be found on The Wildlife Trusts website (pdf).

11 October 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Regenerating London’s housing estates provides a ‘significant’ opportunity to deliver more than 90,000 new homes, according to research.

The Great Estates – Planning for Estate Regeneration in London, by planning consultancy Lichfields, sets out how regenerating housing estates across London offers an “unparalleled opportunity” to tackle the city’s housing crisis while simultaneously delivering “better” homes, which in turn enhances neighbourhoods and improves lives.

Lichfield considered data from 200 estate regeneration projects across the capital to identify the trends. Investment and renewal, according to the study, would provide the opportunities necessary to effect greater inclusivity, economic growth and enhanced wellbeing for communities.

Currently, estate regeneration is concentrated in boroughs in inner north, east and south London, such as Tower Hamlets and Lambeth; outer boroughs such as Brent and Ealing are progressing fewer large-scale projects; and other outer boroughs have few or no ongoing estate regeneration projects.

The Great Estates sets out the consultancy’s guidance on what makes for successful estate regeneration and what can be learned from previous projects.

Clare Catherall, associate director at Lichfields and report co-author, said: “There are a number of common themes associated with successful estate regeneration. These include positive engagement with local residents, encouraging communities to become involved in the process as early as possible, together with good housing design and well-thought out urban design and public realm.

“Navigating these projects through the residents’ ballot process and developing an effective phasing and decant strategy are also paramount to their success. A positive ballot provides a mandate for good estate regeneration and community consensus, enabling delivery of the vision residents, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and planning authorities all want to see.”

Catherall explained that the mayor of London’s approach to the ballot process is providing clarity and support for well-conceived regeneration.

Ben Kelway, senior director at the London office of Lichfields, added that the research reveals that estate regeneration “provides a profound opportunity for significant housing and affordable housing delivery alongside meaningful improvements to many neighbourhoods across the capital”.

“The opportunity is there to more than double the number of homes on London’s housing estates and provide much-needed improvements in housing quality, community wellbeing and the public realm. Investment in estate regeneration has the potential to unlock high levels of new affordable housing and the capacity to create well-designed, sustainable, mixed-tenure communities.”

The Great Estates can be found on the Lichfields website.

6 October 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Bristol City Council has granted planning permission for a ‘sustainable’ residential development on Bristol Zoo car park.

On the 0.51 hectare site, 62 homes, 20 per cent of which will be affordable, will be built. They will be a mixture of mew houses and flats.

Planning and architecture consultancy Barton Willmore developed the proposals on behalf of the Bristol Zoological Society.

It explained that the scheme has been designed with a “fabric first” approach to reduce energy demand; it focuses on optimal form and efficient, low-carbon heating through air source heat pumps. The building fabric design is in line with the indicative Future Homes Standard specification, which is to be adopted by the council in the near future. It is anticipated that site emissions will reduce by around 82 per cent from the Building Regulations baseline.

A net gain of trees has been planned for, while the development will also feature sedum ‘green’ roofs, living walls, bat and bird boxes and bee bricks. Cycle parking and EV charging will be delivered.

Tom Macklen, architectural director and project lead for Barton Willmore, said: “Our watchword on this project has been sensitivity. Both in terms of integrating these new homes into their heritage and conservation area surroundings, but also in responding to the environment. We will transform an underused space, a former car park, into a prime example of modern, sustainable, urban living. It shows that even limited space is no excuse not to embed biodiversity and connectivity into every element of a new development.”

Francesca Fryer, director of transformation at Bristol Zoological Society, added: “This is an important step towards realising our exciting plans for the future of Bristol Zoological Society and, as Clifton residents since 1836, we want to leave behind a legacy of which we can all be proud. The sensitive development of the west car park site will release vital funds to help achieve our goal of creating a new, world-class Bristol Zoo for everyone in Bristol and beyond, and provide sustainable homes that will benefit both the people and the wildlife of Bristol.”

Bristol Zoological Society has appointed Savills to market the site.

6 October 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Newport City Council this week signed off reserved matters for two residential schemes set to provide a total of 255 new homes at Llanwern.

The larger of the two schemes, for 180 properties and four play areas, is the latest phase of proposals for 4,000 new homes on the 242-hectare site of the former steelworks as well as a local centre, leisure and retail uses, and open parkland.

This phase of the redevelopment involves a 4.8-hectare area at the northern end of the former steelworks site.

In a separate move the city council has approved detailed proposals for 75 new homes, part of the Llanwern Village scheme. When this development is complete it will provide up to 1,100 new dwellings, a primary school, a village centre, and public open space.

8 October 2021
Roger Milne, The Planner


Children’s hospital in London to be expanded

Lambeth Council has granted planning permission for a hospital building, which will be joined to the existing Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

The extension is intended to meet the needs of the sickest children with the most complex conditions from across the country.

Designed by Hawkins\Brown, the proposals include the demolition of the existing St Thomas House and the development of a 12-storey building (plus two levels of basement) with a five-storey link into the existing hospital (27,306 square metres).

The building will provide:

  • About 100 beds across new wards, with 20 additional critical care beds.
  • A new suite of operating theatres and interventional rooms.
  • Specialist imaging facilities.
  • More support spaces for families and staff.
  • Montagu Evans advised Linkcity, the Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust’s development partner, on planning and heritage.

 

Plans lodged for waterside development in Worcester

Property developer Godwin Developments, in partnership with Lowesmoor Regeneration Ltd, has submitted updated plans for its waterside Lowesmoor Wharf mixed-use scheme in Worcester.

The plans have been updated following feedback received from local stakeholders and residents.

The scheme comprises eight buildings and public spaces, designed by architects Apt. It would provide 238 modern spacious one, two and three-bedroom apartments with balconies, as well as private indoor and outdoor spaces, such as rooftop terraces.

 

Housing association and developer team up on regeneration scheme

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association (MTVH) has selected developer Countryside as the preferred bidder for a joint venture partnership to deliver all remaining parts of the regeneration at Clapham Park.

The decision comes after an 18-month tender process supported by Arcadis and Devonshires.

The regeneration scheme will deliver at least 2,482 homes across 17 sites. Of the homes, 53 per cent will be for affordable tenures. They will comprise family homes and one and two-bedroom apartments.

The scheme will also provide a community centre, a market square, two parks, commercial and retail space and a district heating system. The homes will have green and solar roofs, as well as cycle parking, electric vehicle charging points and public realm enhancements.

Since the transfer of Clapham Park from Lambeth Council, MTVH has completed more than 1,500 new homes and refurbishments. In 2019, planning permission was granted for the new masterplan, which includes more than 2,500 additional homes.

 

Planning granted Leeds office to residential conversion permission

Addington Capital has secured permitted development determination to change the fifth and final building at Headingley Park, Leeds, from office to residential use.

Stockdale House, which is 43,000 square feet in size, has received permission under class O to be redeveloped to create a new residential building from the ground to fifth floor for 70 units to be targeted at the private rented sector.

Headingley Park was acquired by Addington in a joint venture in August 2014.

 

Dacorum issues call for sites

Dacorum Borough Council has issued a call for potential sites that could be registered for residential, commercial and community uses. The call is part of the council's work to prepare a new local plan.

This call for sites is for members of the public and organisations who feel that there is a site that should be assessed as a possible future development opportunity, not just for landowners or agents.

Any site can be submitted, however, the council is particularly looking for more sites on urban and brownfield land.

12 October 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner