Weekly planning news
Planning news - 12 May 2022
Planning reforms to be folded into new Levelling up and Regeneration Bill
More rights for local residents to determine the design of developments are elements of planning reform added in to the new bill announced by Prince Charles in the Queen's Speech.
The government has confirmed in the Queen’s Speech that its original plans for a new planning bill have been folded into a forthcoming Levelling up and Regeneration Bill.
Prince Charles announced that this new bill “will be brought forward to drive local growth, empowering local leaders to regenerate their areas, and ensuring everyone can share in the United Kingdom’s success”.
“The planning system will be reformed to give residents more involvement in local development.”
Ahead of the speech, The Times reported that the government intended to introduce more consultation with local residents on design codes, and that there would be a fresh approach to how the planning inspectorate enforces local housing need targets, with areas constrained by the green belt able to sidestep “unrealistic” targets if they can produce a plan that is “well evidenced and drawn up in good faith”.
The bill will also seek to force landlords in England to let out empty high street shops.
A new transport bill will seek to “improve transport across the United Kingdom, delivering safer, cleaner services and enabling more innovation. Legislation will be introduced to modernise rail services and improve reliability for passengers.”
10 May 2022
Martin Read, The Planner
Guide on retrofitting published
A guide intended to provide industry and stakeholders with a common approach to commercial retrofit through the lens of net-zero carbon has been published.
Delivering Net Zero: Key considerations for Commercial Retrofit, by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), was informed by a cross-industry advisory group.
It sets out the actions that built environment professionals should make to commercial buildings as part of the industry's work to meet net-zero targets. It also considers how attention must shift towards whole-life carbon to successfully retrofit existing built assets.
It has been designed to support those working in the built environment, including planners, architects, engineers, facilities managers, landlords and building owners, who are involved in scoping, planning, delivering and management of commercial retrofits that deliver net zero outcomes.
Yetunde Abdul, head of climate action at UKGBC, said: “Improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings could reduce nearly one quarter of the UK built environment’s total carbon footprint. Whilst government regulation in this space is beginning to recognise the action needed to improve the performance of commercial real estate, without accelerated industry action we will fail to achieve our net-zero goals – both as a sector and as an economy.
"Drawing from established industry thinking and discussions with built environment professionals, this foundation-setting publication has outlined key information to support and ensure the right considerations are made from beginning to end of the project to deliver net-zero."
The guide features 10 fundamental considerations for net zero-focused retrofits and case studies that exemplify these considerations.
From 2025, every commercial building in the UK will require an energy performance certificate (EPC) which rates its energy efficiency from grade A to G. The government plans to strengthen these standards. It has proposed that all commercial properties being let have a minimum EPC rating of at least ‘B’ by 2030 and is considering a possible interim requirement of level ‘C’ by 2027.
Delivering Net Zero: Key considerations for Commercial Retrofit can be found on the UKGBC website (pdf).1
4 May 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Charity pledges to put nature in recovery by 2030
The Wildlife Trusts has set out a strategy to reverse the decline of nature and put people at the heart of restoration projects.
As the UK is one of the “most nature-depleted countries in the world” and is suffering a 41 per cent species decline since the 1970s, with 15 per cent of species such as hedgehogs, water voles and red squirrels at risk of extinction, the trusts wish to “empower people to reverse the trend”.
The Wildlife Trusts set out three goals as part of its Bringing Nature Back: The Wildlife Trusts' Strategy 2030:
- To put nature in recovery by making more space for it, connecting habitats on a large scale, restoring the abundance of nature and enabling ecosystems to function again.
- To inspire one in four people to take action for nature by working with communities, especially young people, to rewild their neighbourhoods.
- To enable nature to help humanity so that wild places store carbon, prevent flooding, reduce soil erosion, aid pollinators and support people’s wellbeing.
Craig Bennett, chief executive at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The situation is dire and nature needs to be put in special measures – we must ramp up action as never before by triggering a decade of nature restoration. Conservation of the wildlife and habitats that remain is no longer enough because what we’ve got left is so fragmented and diminished. In the past we’ve focused on preserving habitats and species – now we need to restore the abundance of nature, and with it the ecosystem processes that’ll get nature working again.
“Despite the huge loss of wild places and wildlife that depends on them, there is hope. The UK has committed to protecting and managing 30 per cent of land for nature by 2030 and we’re going to be working with all national governments and local authorities to make sure this happens.”
Read Bringing Nature Back: The Wildlife Trusts' Strategy 2030 on The Wildlife Trusts website (pdf).2
4 May 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Over-65s apartments approved near Hampstead Heath
Camden Council has granted planning permission for 93 ‘sustainable’ apartments for those aged over 65 on The Bishops Avenue, near Hampstead Heath.
The scheme comprises a four to six-storey building, with the 93 apartments to have between one and four bedrooms.
Plans also include a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, ballroom, gym, cinema, salon and treatment rooms, concierge and coffee lounge, restaurant and bar with outdoor terrace and a library. Off-street parking and cycle storage also feature.
One entrance features a living wall system and biodiverse roof “to connect the building to its natural woodland landscape and soften the overall aesthetic”. Three other biodiverse roofs are also part of the design.
The scheme was designed by rg+p for retirement living developer Riverstone. Bowler James Brindley prepared the interior concept and design.
The Bishops Avenue is located just outside the Hampstead Garden Suburb Conservation Area. Speaking about the design, Grant Giblett, rg+p’s London director, explained: “In keeping with nearby properties, the front of the scheme follows a mansion house appearance with ground-floor arched windows and decorative chimneys that complement rich brick detailing that is synonymous with the arts and crafts movement. The rear of the property takes a more playful approach inspired by subterranean vaults and architectural follies.”
Paul Vesty, chief development officer at Riverstone, added: “The approved, 230,000-square-foot project at The Bishops Avenue is focused on an all-electric energy strategy targeting a net zero-carbon plan.
“There will be habitat creation and improvement to the mature landscape, together with green walls to enhance biodiversity, renewable energy generation with bio-solar roof panels, electric vehicle charging points for every parking space, heat recovery technology, heightened thermal performance and rainwater harvesting for landscape irrigation. Modern methods of construction will also be used to reduce waste and time on-site.”
4 May 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Ambitious proposals lodged to develop Newport Market cellars
Proposals have been unveiled to transform the area below the newly refurbished Newport Market.
Developer LoftCo has lodged a planning application with the city council that would see the vaults under the city centre landmark turned into shops, restaurants, offices and leisure uses, including a games arcade and an exercise studio.
The cellars are currently used for storage. In the past they are believed to have been used for livestock and even to incarcerate prisoners.
Meanwhile, in a separate but related move, the market will soon be home to outdoor seating spaces on both High Street and Upper Dock Street following permission from the council’s planning committee.
6 May 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner
Avant to build 200 homes in Derbyshire
Housebuilder Avant Homes has purchased land from property firm Fisher German and its agent Wiverton to build 200 homes in Somercotes in the Derbyshire region.
The site, located off Birchwood Lane, will produce 30 per cent of affordable housing with planning permission having been granted for the site. Work is expected to begin in August 2022 on the site.
Caroline Chave, director at Chave Planning, said: “The proposed development at Somercotes will positively impact the local area and communities close by. We are delighted to have worked with Fisher German and Wiverton to promote this site and secure planning permission and look forward to seeing the development come to fruition.”
Labour holds South Yorkshire mayoralty
Labour's Oliver Coppard has been elected as mayor of South Yorkshire – a hold for the party. He succeeds Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis in the role.
Of the electorate, 26.37 per cent – 264,720 – turned out to vote, up from 25.82 per cent four years ago.
One of Coppard's priorities is improving public transport, in particular bus services. He has also pledged to work on a green energy strategy, including insulating houses.
Brent Council searches for Wembley development partner
Brent Council has announced that it is looking for a development and construction partner to deliver two residential-led redevelopments in the Wembley Housing Zone.
The two sites located on Wembley High Road will deliver more than 300 new homes and help to revitalise the eastern end of Wembley town centre.
The plans for Cecil Avenue include a new medium-rise, mixed-use courtyard development, 250 new one to four-bedroom units homes, 39 of which will be affordable, plus community facilities, flexible use workspace, and public realm and landscape infrastructure.
For Ujima House the plans include 54 affordable homes, a hybrid workshop unit suitable for all B1 use classes, workspace and a café.
Wolverhampton submits Brewers Yard plans
Plans for the first phase of the Brewers Yard city centre living scheme have been submitted by the City of Wolverhampton Council for redevelopment of the city’s wholesale market site.
The scheme is designed to accommodate the council’s fleet services operation, which is set to relocate from its current Culwell Street depot to pave the way for hundreds of new homes as part of the Brewers Yard regeneration masterplan.
The relocation of fleet services and redevelopment of the Hickman Avenue site will create another 110 construction jobs, enable the reduction of the council’s carbon footprint by 215 tonnes of CO2, and support its programme to deliver a fleet of electric vehicles.
The proposals would see demolition of the existing buildings that are over 50 years old.
Central Methodist Hall refurbishment plans submitted
A planning application has been submitted by TODD Architects to refurbish and redevelop a grade II listed Central Methodist Hall in Birmingham.
The proposed hospitality and leisure scheme on Corporation Street will see up to 150 new hotel rooms and eight new bars and restaurants at ground and basement levels. It will be operated by Press Up Hospitality Group under ‘The Dean’ brand.
Central Hall will be refurbished into a 1,500-seat event space, with the pulpit area redefined as a stage for visiting acts. A traditional members’ club cocktail lounge, two external terraces and a flagship rooftop restaurant are also proposed.
Central Methodist Hall was originally built in 1904 and became the legendary Que Club in 1989, attracting artists such as David Bowie, Daft Punk and Blur.
10 May 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner