Weekly planning news
Planning news - 10 August 2023
Successful planning appeals fall to lowest level in five years
Planning applications that have been approved after appeal stood at just 18 per cent in 2022 – the lowest level for five years, according to the latest data.
Development site sourcing specialist Searchland analysed the number of planning applications submitted on an annual basis, what proportion were initially rejected before being appealed, and their success rate.
This shows that 73,515 planning applications were rejected across the UK while 560,591 were approved in 2022.
Of the 73,515 planning applications rejected last year, 2,210 went to appeal, accounting for 3 per cent of all rejected applications. However, just 392 of these appeals saw the original decision being overturned, a success rate of just 18 per cent.
Searchland said this is the lowest success rate seen in the past five years, falling from 28 per cent the previous year and down from a peak of 30 per cent in 2020.
2 August 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Crown Estate trials zero-carbon homes
Two pilot housing projects to test different approaches to building net-zero homes have been launched by the Crown Estate.
The pilots, which are intended to deliver industry-leading net-zero housing developments, will draw on best practice in sustainable design and construction and encourage innovation to minimise carbon emissions.
The first project is on a site at Wootton in Bedford comprising of 15 acres of land with a neighbourhood plan allocation for around 50 homes, 30 per cent of which will be affordable. The second trial will focus on a site in Knutsford in Cheshire with outline consent for up to 60 homes, with 30 per cent of them affordable, as well as a link road and roundabout.
The projects aim to explore how new homes can be delivered using less than 300kg/m2 of embodied carbon alongside meeting ambitious energy-efficiency targets.
The Crown Estate is seeking partners for the pilots and will look to test different models for project delivery, including through incentives for achieving environmental and financial outcomes. Partners will be expected to follow market-leading guidance and embrace the circular economy and regenerative principles in their proposals. At Knutsford, there is an additional challenge of delivering low-carbon road infrastructure, it said.
The Crown Estate will also look to apply lessons from the demonstration projects to its larger-scale projects and to inform best practice within the wider industry.
“By being bold and pushing existing industry standards through these pilot projects and sharing our learning, we hope to demonstrate that high-quality, net-zero carbon homes are deliverable at scale and can form the cornerstone of vibrant, sustainable communities,” said Crown Estate head of regional residential Rob Chesworth.
“We want to work with aligned small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs who are putting innovation and sustainability at the forefront of housebuilding and community-focused development to raise industry standards and galvanise momentum to meet the sector’s decarbonisation challenge.”
3 August 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Greater Manchester transport partnership unveiled
A major partnership has been launched to upgrade transport facilities and boost regeneration opportunities around Manchester and Salford’s six central railway stations.
The move is in response to Greater Manchester’s booming population, which is predicted to rise to around 2,950,000 by 2031, with the city of Manchester expected to account for 36 per cent of the growth.
The agreement between Network Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will focus on upgrades and regeneration projects at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Salford Crescent.
Under the deal, the organisations pledge to deliver a modern, integrated transport system – known as the Bee Network – secure additional funding and maximising commercial development, while considering each station within its community, heritage, and cultural context. Other priorities include working towards net-zero and improving accessibility inside and around the stations and with the wider city.
Network Rail owns more than 90 stations in Greater Manchester and more than 5.6 million journeys are made across TfGM’s transport network each day.
2 August 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Dr Caroline Brown appointed as a RTPI director
The RTPI has appointed Dr Caroline Brown as the director of Scotland, Ireland, and English Regions.
Brown has more than 20 years of experience as a planning academic, beginning her research career with a PhD at Liverpool University. She then moved into research and taught at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, and then at Heriot-Watt University, where she has worked for more than 17 years.
Her research specialisms include sustainability and health, with a focus on social sustainability, green space, blue health, and active travel. Brown is part of the international Child-Focused Cities Network and is a senior editor at the journal Cities & Health.
Brown said: “I‘m delighted to be joining the RTPI at such an important time. The climate and biodiversity crises require coherent and effective responses in policy and practice. I'm looking forward to supporting members in Scotland and Ireland as well as the English regions with that work, and furthering the institute's commitments on net zero, diversity and inclusion."
Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “Caroline's impressive background in planning and research ensures she will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role. Her commitment to sustainability and health is inspiring, and I look forward to working with her to further the institute's commitments to net zero, diversity, and inclusion.”
Brown replaces Craig McLaren FRTPI. He is leaving the institute to become Scotland's first National Planning Improvement Champion, based in the Improvement Service. This position was introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 to monitor planning performance and support improvement.
McLaren joined the institute in January 2011 as national director for Scotland. He then became director for Scotland and Ireland, before adding the English Regions remit to his role.
McLaren has included advocating for planning and influencing the 2019 act so it features a new purpose of planning to manage the development of land in the long-term public interest and to introduce a provision establishing statutory chief planning officers.
7 August 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
New North Wales growth deal projects lined up
Five development projects could be in line for multi-million-pound funding boosts after being accepted as part of the North Wales Growth Deal portfolio.
All the schemes have the support of the North Wales Ambition Board. The proposals could benefit from up to £28 million of investment from the deal.
This move came after some of the original schemes failed to make progress – including a contentious stalled proposal for a development of 1,700 homes and 26 hectares of employment land approved back in 2015 for a site in the Denbighshire village of Bodelwyddan, located 8 kilometres from Rhyl.
The North Wales Growth Deal is a £240 million fund jointly backed by the Welsh and UK governments.
The fresh projects and provisional allocations involve:
- a £6.2 million responsible adventure project from Zip World including a new sustainable cable car attraction and an electric bus network providing transport links between sites at Penrhyn Quarry, the Llechwedd slate quarries and the heavily wooded Fforest area near Betws-y-Coed;
- Stage Fifty’s £6.8m Kinmel Studios project for two large film and television stages at Tir Llwyd Enterprise Park, Rhyl;
- the £3.8 million Holyhead hydrogen hub proposed by Menter Môn;
- the £6.4 million Deeside waste-to-fuel scheme designed to convert food waste into green biomethane, power, and fertiliser; and
- the £4.79 million Wrexham Gateway initiative from Wrexham City Council, which involves a proposal for a regenerated area supporting business investment and a multi-modal transportation hub with links to active travel.
Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, chair of the North Wales Ambition Board, said: “These are transformational projects which have the potential to be significant additions to the North Wales economy and to generate additional investment and employment opportunities in key sectors.”
3 August 2023
Roger Milne, The Planner
Grayling to help RTPI in misinformation battle
The RTPI has selected Grayling to lead its campaign to battle misinformation about planners and their role in the planning system.
The institute's campaign RFP came after a members’ survey pointed to an increase in planners being negatively affected – and in some cases personally targeted – as a result of planning misinformation online.
Seventeen agencies submitted proposals to the RTPI and three were taken to pitch in July, from which Grayling was selected.
Simon Creer, director of communications at the RTPI, said: “We were overwhelmed by the number of responses to our brief, which was certainly the most I have ever received from an RFP. We were really pleased that so many agencies wanted to work on this vital campaign to support our members and champion the work of planners across the UK.
“We selected Grayling as they presented a unique perspective, knowledge of the planning system and the challenges our members face, a strong creative drive rooted in strategy and a brand team to activate the campaign cross-channel. It was an approach that really excited us and we now look forward to working with Grayling to deliver this campaign for our members.”
Joe Cawley, head of Grayling Engage, said: “This is a campaign we feel passionately about, having first-hand knowledge of the challenges planners face, especially as a result of misinformation. We are delighted that our creative ideas and campaign plan have been selected by the RTPI and we are already getting to work to deliver on the faith that the RTPI has put in us.”
The campaign will launch on World Town Planning Day, which is on 8 November. It aims to combat misinformation online and in person around the role of planners.
Wetlands project progresses to design phase
A project to develop a wetlands centre at the Countess of Chester Country Park has progressed to the detailed design sage following foundational work delivered by Binnies UK.
The centre, which is anticipated to begin construction in 2025, is intended to create a thriving wetlands habitat that provides recreational space and community access benefits. The intention is to improve the water quality of the area and restore a degraded watercourse that runs alongside a historical landfill site.
As part of the initial studies and feasibility work by Binnies UK, a natural capital appraisal was undertaken to identify and value the potential benefit of the project in terms of biodiversity, air quality and carbon sequestration. Preliminary work included a biodiversity net gain (BNG) assessment.
Binnies UK project coordinator Mark Boothroyd said: “The design will deliver a flagship new wetland habitat scheme while restoring the watercourse to create a biodiverse meandering channel with scrapes, backwaters, treatment wetland reed beds and increased floodplain connectivity. The natural capital appraisals undertaken in 2021 demonstrate that this will bring significant benefits to the wider environment and the community.
“The wetland site, once completed, will remove a projected 53 tCO₂e per year, helping to address climate change. We were also able to assess the recreational and health benefits of the plans and estimate that the scheme will deliver £2.2 million present value benefit over the next 100 years.”
Improved accessibility intends to make sure the wetlands can be used by those visiting the neighbouring hospital, offering health and wellbeing benefits to patients and visitors.
Cheshire West and Chester Council, supported by The Land Trust, the Environment Agency, the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park and Bangor University, is working through the detailed design stages before fundraising to put funds in place during 2024.
Council submits wellbeing facility plans
The City of Wolverhampton Council has submitted an outline planning application for the development of a new Bilston health and wellbeing facility.
The scheme was approved at a full council meeting in July. This followed a public consultation on designs for the proposed facility at a series of events at local GP surgeries and health clinics, as well as online.
Planners will now consider the proposal to develop the health and wellbeing facility on the council-owned vacant site, adjacent to the WV Active Bilston-Bert Williams leisure centre and Bilston Urban Village medical centre.
It will be mostly funded from the £20 million government grant the council secured for its Bilston Health and Regeneration Programme in March.
Birmingham mosque plans get green light
Birmingham City Council has approved plans by Pegasus Group for a mosque and madrasa (teaching hub) in Erdington, North Birmingham, on behalf of the Ameenia Sultania Educational Trust.
The scheme replaces the existing madrasa, which has been outgrown by the local Muslim community.
The new building offers 700 square metres of floor space split over four storeys which meets the building’s religious requirement to be oriented towards Mecca.
The building layout incorporates a number of user requirements and mosque design principles, including dual entrances, washing facilities, prayer and teaching spaces.
Hines submits Blackfriars Road development plans
Hines, a global real estate investment, development and property manager, has submitted a planning application for a mixed-use project to develop 18 Blackfriars Road.
The proposed development, designed by Foster + Partners, will centre on a new public space called the Rotunda, delivering two residential buildings that provide more than 400 new homes on the site – including 40 per cent affordable homes.
The Rotunda will hold publicly accessible events linked to Hatters Yard, a new pedestrian connection to the Mad Hatter public house. Hatters Yard will feature the opportunity to hold food stalls and display public art.
The design aims to minimise embodied carbon and is targeting a 20 per cent to 30 per cent improvement against the GLA benchmark.
Brewers Yard plans get outline planning approval
The City of Wolverhampton Council has approved an outline planning application for the site of its Culwell Street depot to facilitate the first phase of Brewers Yard city centre living regeneration masterplan.
The council’s fleet services will relocate from the depot to a new base on Hickman Avenue alongside the city’s wholesale market, with construction to start next year, subject to full planning approval.
Funding from the Towns Fund, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the council will help to relocate services and demolish buildings on the Culwell Street site so the city centre brownfield land can be remediated and made ready for the development of almost 600 new apartments in the coming years – creating hundreds of construction jobs.
The development will also sit just a few hundred metres from the city’s new transport Interchange, providing direct access to Birmingham, London and Manchester.
FIDA plans approved in Scotland
Clackmannanshire Council has approved plans by Dollar Academy to build its Futures Institute to provide a physical home for the school’s progressive educational programme, the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA).
The domed building will sit inside the main entrance to the school with a focus on sustainability as its core principle of the FIDA initiative.
The facility, designed to support the teaching and learning practices inherent in FIDA courses, will provide a space for students to collaborate, providing a connected and coherent learning experience.
Greenwich consults on CIL
The Royal Borough of Greenwich is seeking views from residents and stakeholders on proposed changes to the borough’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges.
The council is proposing to increase CIL charges to reflect changes to land values in Royal Greenwich and take into account the need for additional infrastructure and community facilities to support the borough's growing population.
Aidan Smith, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “High-quality infrastructure is crucial to help and support our residents and businesses in all parts of their daily lives. They deserve good transport links, access to community facilities and beautiful parks and open spaces. CIL has been vital in funding the new Elizabeth line station in Woolwich. It’s also helped to deliver a wealth of small projects across the entire borough: upgrading community centres, sports facilities and parks, playground equipment and so much more.
“We’re keen to support and encourage new development in Royal Greenwich, however, it’s important that developers and landlords help to contribute to the wider community. The new charges proposed will ensure we can improve essential infrastructure and services, and support thriving, healthy communities.”
After the consultation and review of the responses, the proposed charges, the council’s supporting evidence and all the feedback received will be submitted to an independent examiner for review.
More information can be found on the council’s website. The consultation closes on Monday 25 September at 5pm.
Winner of Piccadilly Gardens competition announced
Manchester City Council has appointed a team led by LDA Design to develop plans to create a city area centred on Piccadilly Gardens.
The team was selected in an international competition based on initial concept designs.
It will now produce detailed designs shaped alongside the people of Manchester ahead of a full planning application to be submitted next year.
Working alongside LDA Design will be Arup, United Creatives, artist Nayan Kulkarni, CPTED UK, The Liminal Space, Authentic Futures and Gardiner & Theobald.
The competition brief sought ideas for making better use of the prominent Piccadilly Gardens by creating an attractive, high-quality public realm and a place where families can enjoy spending time.
Laura Edgar, The Planner
8 August 2023