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Planning news - 11 November 2021

Money for ‘vital’ infrastructure to be loaned to housebuilders

Housing minister Christopher Pincher has set out loan funding of at least £624 million to deliver schools, health services and transport links to support the delivery of new homes.

The loans will be available to housebuilders, including SME builders, to help “kick-start” housing projects on brownfield land.

According to the government, the loans will help the delivery of up to 116,000 homes, as well as support smaller building firms and create “thousands” of new jobs.

Pincher said: “We are building the right homes in the right places so more young people and families can get on the housing ladder.

“Improving transport links, building schools and health facilities are key to unlocking new homes and creating vibrant places where communities can thrive.

“This money will build on our commitment to bring derelict and abandoned sites back to life, regenerating towns and cities as we level up across the country.”

Homes England will administer the loans through the Home Building Fund, which loan finance available to developers.

Peter Denton, chief executive at Homes England, added: “This new infrastructure funding will be a powerful catalyst for creating new homes, places and communities.

“It gives us the resources we need to back more developments like Houlton in Rugby, where a £35 million funding injection has helped to create new primary and secondary schools, a link road to Rugby town centre, and wider infrastructure needed to build a community of up to 6,200 homes.”

The money is part of the £2.2 billion loan financing made available by the Spending Review 2020.

9 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner

COP26: Governments pledge to protect nature

‘Urgent’ action and investment to protect nature has been pledged by 45 governments, the UK Government has announced.

The pledge, outlined on the COP26 Nature and Land-Use Day (Saturday 6 November), also includes a commitment to shift to more sustainable ways of farming.

Around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land-use. “Urgent” action is needed on land used as demand for food increases, with forests being lost and soils damaged, and other ecosystems that absorb carbon being destroyed. In addition, the UK Government notes that the livelihood of farmers is under pressure because of the effects inflicted on productivity by the changing climate.

The countries have committed to transforming agriculture and food systems through policy reforms, research and innovation. In turn, this should reduce emissions, protect nature and secure food and jobs.

More than US$4 billion of new public sector investment into agricultural innovation will be leveraged as part of the pledge. This would go towards the development of climate-resilient crops and regenerative solutions. Overall, it is hoped this will make these techniques and resources affordable and accessible to hundreds of millions of farmers.

Internationally agreed “Action Agendas” set out steps governments, farmers and others can take through policy reform and innovation to make the changes required to make food systems sustainable.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “To keep 1.5 degrees alive, we need action from every part of society, including an urgent transformation in the way we manage ecosystems and grow, produce and consume food on a global scale.

“We need to put people, nature and climate at the core of our food systems. The UK Government is leading the way through our new agricultural system in England, which will incentivise farmers to farm more sustainably, create space for nature on their land and reduce carbon emissions.

“There needs to be a fair and just transition that protects the livelihoods and food security of millions of people worldwide – with farmers, indigenous people and local communities playing a central role in these plans.”

The UK will be launching a £500 million package to protect five million hectares of rainforests from deforestation. This forms part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to spend at least £3 billion of international climate finance on nature and biodiversity.

The government also outlined a number of other commitments from the £3 billion fund, including £40 million of international climate finance to establish the Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate.

8 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Cash allocated for locally led projects

Levelling-up secretary Michael Gove has announced £200 million for 477 locally led projects that are intended to ‘breathe new life’ into UK towns, villages and coastal communities.

The money has been allocated from the Community Renewal Fund, which aims to help the government deliver its ambition to level up areas across the UK and reach net zero.

Grants include £433,510 for UK Food Valley Pilot (seafood industry) in Grimsby to modernise. The funding should also help the sector to reduce its carbon footprint through the improvement of energy efficiency of its cold storage and transport fleet. North East Lincolnshire Council said the money would help to “ensure the position of Grimsby’s Seafood Cluster as a global hub”. It is supported by the University of Lincoln.

The government has awarded £400,000 for the creation of a Seaweed Academy in Argyll and Bute, which will provide training and education in seaweed farming.

Other projects to receive funding include:

  • £200,000 to support unemployed and disadvantaged people in Carmarthenshire to start their own business by investing in digital and entrepreneurial skills.
  • £218,000 will fund an employment and wellbeing programme for people living in housing associations in the Scottish Borders. The programme will deliver digital skills, financial literacy, and promote good mental health.
  • £426,000 will help small businesses in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon to innovate and reduce their carbon footprint.

Gove said: “We are levelling up in every corner of the United Kingdom, backing locally led projects that will make a real difference to communities and help to deliver our net-zero commitments.

“There is incredible talent spread right across our great country and this investment will unlock the opportunities to match.”

The full list of allocations from the Community Renewal Fund can be found on the UK Government website1.

8 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Swansea student block approved despite flooding issues

Proposals for a purpose-built student accommodation scheme on the edge of Swansea city centre, close to the city marina and River Tawe, have been approved despite concerns about flooding.

The scheme comprises 312 studio flats in a building rising to 12 storeys.

Planners acknowledged that in a month’s time, when new guidance under a revised TAN 15 comes into force, the development would be considered a highly vulnerable use and not suitable for the location.

However, they argued that the scheme was acceptable in terms of current advice, although they required a flood management plan as a condition of the approval.

The land involved, which is next to the BT Tower and currently used as a car park, will be raised by 1.4 metres.

5 November 2021
Roger Milne, The Planner

Nottingham councillors consider planning guide for development

Nottingham City Council is consulting on a draft planning guide for residential and commercial development as part of its plans to reduce carbon emissions in new developments.

The city council proposes that the city should become carbon-neutral by 2028.

Noting that traditional buildings consume around 40 per cent of the total fossil fuel energy in the UK, the city council said the draft planning guidance acknowledges the contribution that reducing carbon in new developments can make in tackling the climate crisis.

It sets out that future planning applications comprising 10 or more homes or commercial developments of 1,000 square metres and bigger would need to be supported by a carbon reduction/energy statement. The statement must show how the development would contribute towards the city council’s carbon-neutral pledge and how the new buildings will use energy. It should cover energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable design and construction.

If it is approved, planning officers and the planning committee would need to take into consideration the guidance. The council said the guidance is the first step towards a “more comprehensive” planning document.

Linda Woodings, portfolio holder for planning, housing and heritage at Nottingham City Council, said: “It is part of our planning policy approach to radically reduce carbon emissions from new developments, which will not only help the city to achieve its carbon-neutral ambitions for 2028, but is becoming increasingly necessary, as the world faces a climate emergency.

“The informal guidance helps promote a range of measures that developers can start to take to help reduce carbon in their residential and commercial developments. 

“This is just the first step in our planning ambitions, as we work on plans to introduce new local planning polices and look for steer from government on national planning guidance to help drive real change in the construction and development industry.”

3 November 2021
Laura Edgar, The Planner

News round-up

New term for housing-with-care sector announced

The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) has announced that the UK’s housing-with-care (or extra-care housing) sector has adopted the term Integrated Retirement Community to describe the service-led operational model.

Research on the view of older people found that many were “fed-up” with outdated terminology, such as ‘old people’s home’.

ARCO consulted 600 people of 55 to 75-plus across England. They found that existing terms are confusing and at times off-putting. People are left unclear and uninspired when considering a growing number of new living options that are available.

The representative body for the sector said it will work with members and the wider sector to support the adoption of the new term. This will include providing a toolkit and guide to language as well as infographics to describe the differences.

ARCO has also called on the sector and government to use a single term – Integrated Retirement Community – to describe the new form of specialist housing.

Such communities provide older people with the opportunity to live independently in their own home as part of a wider community.


Developer secures Solihull site

UK property developer Godwin Developments has acquired a site in Hockley Heath near Solihull, on which it intends to deliver new homes.

The land, which is on Aylesbury Road, has been purchased on an unconditional basis and is allocated for housing. It is four acres in size and is adjacent to a new-build residential development, as well as existing public transport connections.

Tom Smallbone, associate director at Godwin Developments, said: “We are really pleased to have secured this land site in Hockley Heath. It is an excellent addition to our portfolio and demonstrates the continued investment and growth of the company in the West Midlands region."

Law firm Irwin Mitchell acted for Godwin Developments on the deal.                                                                     


Council to work with landowners on climate crisis

Sefton Council has announced that its Green Sefton Service will spearhead a partnership with other landowners across the borough to take action on the climate crisis.

Representatives from various organisations, including the Environment Agency, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Mersey Forest, Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service and Natural England, have pledged to work with the council to identify joint projects and initiatives that produce natural capital benefits.

This could include planting trees on the streets, urban greening, natural flood management schemes and habitat schemes. The organisations have commissioned Liverpool John Moores University to map out opportunities for collaborative initiatives that will complement the wider Liverpool City Region’s Ecological Network Plan.

Benefits from such work will include air and water quality improvements, better biodiversity and a reduction in pollution.


Horton approves phase one of OHH

Plans for the first residential phase of One Horton Heath (OHH) have been approved by Horton Heath Development Management Committee.

There will be 381 homes built in the first phase, comprising a mix of market and “affordable” housing, with a mixture of flats and houses together with informal public open space and formal areas of play.

It will include landscaping, internal roads, footway/cycleways, associated parking spaces, drainage systems and associated infrastructure on the 13.76-hectare site west of Burnetts Lane. The primary vehicle access to the development will be from Burnetts Lane off the new Burnetts Lane/distributor road roundabout.

The overall development will consist of up to 2,500 homes together with a primary school, local centres with retail and business units, and community buildings. It will also provide formal sports facilities and informal public open spaces, footpaths and cycleways.

Construction of the first phase is expected to start in 2022, with the first homes being occupied in 2023 and completion in 2026/7. The Avenue link road is planned to be open when the first homes are occupied.


Daimler factory redevelopment plans submitted

The Wigley Group has submitted a planning application to Coventry City Council to redevelop the former Daimler car factory site on Sandy Lane.

The seven-acre brownfield site located on the side of the Coventry Canal will be known as Daimler Wharf. It will reconnect the existing community to Coventry Canal, creating a large public common.

Plans include building 480 new homes made up of a mixture of one, two and three bedrooms, with flexible work-live units.

A linear park and two public squares will act as focal points for the new community and direct pedestrian and cycle links through the new community to Coventry Canal will “enhance” the pedestrian corridor into the city centre.

There will be electric car charging points, and an electric bike and scooter station, as well as other flexible commercial space.

The first phase of the Daimler Wharf scheme has already been completed, with the refurbishment of the Daimler Powerhouse building into a creative hub.


Dover set for infrastructure upgrades 

Dover District Council has received £3.5 million from planning applications submitted by developers in 2020/21 to develop its education, housing, health, sports and open spaces.

Non-monetary contributions agreed in 20/21 for the community includes 108 “affordable” homes and two areas of open space land.

The Infrastructure Funding Statement (IFS) was approved by the council for 2020/21 at its meeting. It provides a summary of developer contributions secured through section 106 agreements, which are used to provide infrastructure to support new developments and offset their impacts on the wider area.

Nicholas Kenton, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and development at the council, said: “People often ask where the infrastructure is to support new developments. This statement helps people to see what developers contribute to the district as major developments take shape. We work hard to secure the right infrastructure for the community to build a better future for the district.”

The Infrastructure Funding Statement can be seen on the Dover District Council website (pdf)2.

9 November 2021
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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    Planning news - 11 November 2021

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