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Weekly planning news

Planning news - 16 May 2024

16 May Planning News Header

Chief Planner’s May newsletter published

The Chief Planner’s Planning Newsletter was published on 10 May.1 

The newsletter outlines key policy updates and consultations from the last month, including an in-depth explanation of the updated statutory guidance around second staircases in buildings which have a top occupied story over 18 meters. These changes constitute the latest update to Approved Document B. 

The letter confirms that from the date the changes took effect, there will be a 30 month period during which building regulations can confirm to the existing guidance or the updated guidance, before the new guidance becomes uniform.  

In addition, applications which are currently approved will have 18 months to get ‘underway in earnest’ before they will need to submit a new application which follows the new guidance.  

Joanna Averley’s newsletter also highlights a recently opened consultation, which aims to gather opinions on how ‘oversight authorities’ will supervise the regeneration of Locally-led Urban Development Areas, rather than the Secretary of State. 

The newsletter also addresses reforms to the approval processes for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, citing the government’s recently launched NSIP online guidance hub2, as well as recent changes to Compulsory Purchase Order regulations3. Joanna Averly also champions Public Practice, the government funded body helping mid-level planning professionals fill local authority vacancies. 


High Street Rental Auctions will let councils auction off empty high street spaces

Local authorities will have the power to hold High Street Rental Auctions, as detailed by government in a press release published on 14 May.4 

The auctions allow authorities to take control of high street properties which have been empty for over a year and allow them to rent them out to local businesses based on an auction process.  

The government has announced they are working with a few communities who are keen to get the initiative off the ground, with a ‘£2million support pot’ to help the scheme progress over summer. 

The announcements follow a consultation which closed last year, gathering views on implementation of high street rental auctions.5 

Both of the consultations ’proposed prior approval processes will not be implemented. This means that:  

  • The temporary use, which already must be suitable for high streets, can be carried out without a further prior approval determination; and 
  • To make the change of use permanent, full planning permission will be required to ensure adequate local authority scrutiny and public consultation. 


Nutrient neutrality scheme established in Dorset, whilst major sewage leak in Lake District uncovered

Natural England, in collaboration with the Dorset Wildlife Trust, have purchased 827 acres of land at Lyscombe Farm under their nutrient mitigation scheme. 

Over the next few months, Natural England will offer the nutrient mitigation credits generated at the site for sale to developers to help offset nutrient pollution in the area. 

Lyscombe farm is the source of the Little Piddle river, which is a tributary river of the River Piddle which flows into Poole Harbour. The area therefore presents ample opportunities to restore the river for wildlife and reduce nutrient pollution reaching Poole Harbour where it can affect the habitat of rare birds. 

According to the Dorset Echo, the purchase will allow ‘about 3,700 new homes to be built in the catchment over the next few years’ without compromising water quality. 

You can read more about the story on Dorset Wildlife Trust website.6 

Meanwhile, the Lyscombe scheme is by no means this week’s only water pollution related story. It has been revealed that millions of litres of untreated sewage were illegally pumped into the famous Windermere lake in the Lake District in February due to a telecommunications fault at United Utilities.  

According to an article published on the BBC’s website yesterday (15 May)7, Environment Agency are re-investigating the incident. 

Are you coming to UKREiiF? Find out which sessions we’re most excited for!

UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF), one of this year’s biggest built environment event, will soon be upon us. 

Beginning on 21 May (next Tuesday) and running through until Friday, the annual conference will bring together developers, policy makers and experts from real estate and infrastructure to network, collaborate and share ideas. 

The forum couldn’t have come at a more interesting time – our industries have seen huge changes over the last few months, between Biodiversity Net Gain implementation, changes to consulting processes on Nationally Significant Infrastructure and crucial building regs updates to help make homes safer, there certainly won’t be lack of topics to for delegates to chew over. 

With sustainability at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we expect conservationism and green development to be key topic at this year’s event. And of course, we can’t wait to learn more about how artificial intelligence powered innovations are helping to optimise planning and building. 

UKREiiF will follow topics that most of the planning talks this year has discussed around how we can speed up the process with tech solutions being a big topic of conversation. 

With a somewhat overwhelming capacity and gargantuan line-up of sessions, we’ve scanned the event programme to highlight some talks we are most looking forward to and think you will be too:  


Sustainable Infrastructure Delivery – How Do We Create a Roadmap to Cleaner, Greener Britain?

Time: 9.30am  
Location: Dockside Pavilion, Dockside Zone 

‘From road to rail, utilities to nature, all manner of new infrastructure investment and delivery is under pressure to be as sustainable and innovative as possible. This session explores whether the UK is effectively taking a whole systems approach to such projects and how stakeholders from across society can contribute on the road to net zero. 

Sponsored by SSE. 

  • Chair: Ann Zhang - Economist (Frontier Economics/NIC Young Professionals Panel) 
  • Neil Kirkby - Managing Director (SSE Enterprise) 
  • Rachel Fisher - Deputy Director (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)) 
  • Cllr Liam Robinson - Leader (Liverpool City Council) 
  • Joanne Beaumont - Associate Director Careers, Employability and Engagement (University of Bradford) 
  • Cheryl Hiles - Director of Energy Capital (West Midlands Combined Authority)’ 

The Next Government – Planning, Housing, and Growth

Time: 11.00am 
Location: Pearl Suite, Royal Armouries 

‘Do our politicians know what people really want? CT Group will share highlights from their latest Real Estate polling from home ownerships, housing and tall buildings to brownfield first and green belt. The panel will discuss the insight and give views on where the focus of the next Government should be. 

Sponsored by C|T Group. 

  • Chair: John Walker - Head of UK and European Real Estate and Infrastructure (C|T Group) 
  • Darren Rodwell - Leader (London Borough of Barking and Dagenham) 
  • Alexandra Woolmore - Head of Planning (Related Argent) 
  • Stephen Wild - Managing Director (Peel Land) 
  • Tracey Hartley - Chief Operating Officer (Cortland) 
  • Cllr Anne Handley - Leader (East Riding of Yorkshire Council)’ 

Rekindling the Spirit – Digital Task Force for Planning 

Time: 14.00pm 
Location: UKEDO High Hat Corner, Pavilion Square

Join us for a significant announcement on the utilisation of tech and innovation within planning – followed by a discussion on how a digitally enabled spatial planning strategy can transcend departmental and professional silos. 

Sponsored by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. 

  • Joanna Key - Director General (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 
  • Wei Yang - CEO (Digital Task Force for Planning) 
  • Rachel Fisher - Deputy Director (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)) 
  • Rhonda Griffiths - Head of Programme Management and Policy (His Majesty's Land Registry) 
  • Caroline Crowther - Director of Leasehold, Land and Planning Systems (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 
  • Dr Kirsten Foot - Programme Manager, Evidence for Future Farming and Land Use Change (Environment Agency) 
  • Isabelle Chatel de Brancion - Business and Innovation Lead (Geovation Hub) (Ordinance Survey) 

Harnessing Off-Site Biodiversity Units: The Key to a Successful BNG Strategy

Time: 14.00pm 
Location: Industry in Focus Pavilion, Pavilion Zone 

The long-awaited implementation of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) has finally arrived! We explore off-site BNG which developers will likely need to incorporate into their strategy – looking at what’s available, how it works and how it can be effective. 

Sponsored by Environment Bank. 

  • Chair: Alexa Culver - General Counsel (Environment Bank) 
  • Lloyd Collins - Principal Planner (Environment Bank) 
  • Angus Walker - Infrastructure Planning Partner (BDB Pitmans) 
  • Anna Rose - Head of Planning Advisory Service (Local Government Association) 
  • Rachel Danemann - Regional Planning Manager (Home Builders Federation) 
  • Joseph Dance - Regional Ecology Director (Tyler Grange) 
  • Rico Wojtulewicz - Head of Policy and Market Insight (National Federation of Builders) 

Spotlight on Digital Planning

Time: 15:00 – 16:00 
Location: UKEDO High Hat Corner, Pavilion Square 

Join the Digital Planning Programme for an illuminating event showcasing the programme’s innovative approach to planning reform. This session delves into methods for identifying and implementing new approaches to improve digital planning processes. 

Sponsored by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities 

  • May-N Leow - Digital Planning Head of Product (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 
  • Caroline Crowther - Director of Leasehold, Land and Planning Systems (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 
  • Greg Woodford - Digital Planning Lead (London Borough of Lambeth) 
  • Jenna Rumley - Planning Improvement & Support Manager (City of Doncaster Council) 


The National Planning Barometer – 2024 Survey Results Reveal

Time: 8.00am 
Location: Pearl Suite, Royal Armouries 

This national survey is back – polling planning committee members across England and Wales on a range of planning policy topics…and the results are in. Join us as we reveal the data behind the survey and what is reveals about the planning sector. 

This session is in partnership with UKREiiF and SEC Newgate. 

  • Leyla Hart-Svensson - Director of Research (SEC Newgate) 
  • Perry Miller - Head of Advocacy Local (SEC Newgate) 
  • Helen Fadipe MBE - Vice President (Royal Town Planning Institute) 
  • Cllr Dan Swords - Leader (Harlow Council) 
  • Matt Wood-Hill - Head of Digital Planning Software (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 
  • Andrew Taylor - Group Planning Director (Vistry Group)’ 

AI in Planning and Development: Now and Tomorrow

Time: 9.30am 
Location: Pearl Suite, Royal Armouries 

We discuss how AI is already being used in our sector to automate long and often costly processes in planning and development – using success stories (and a few failures) to illustrate the industry response to this emerging tech; how the opportunities can be enhanced; and what the immediate future might hold. 

Sponsored by Commonplace. 

  • Chair: Mike Saunders - CEO and Co-Founder (Commonplace) 
  • May-N Leow - Digital Planning Head of Product (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 
  • Al Kingsley - Chair of Business Board (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority) 
  • Erika Lewis - CEO (Connected Places Catapult) 
  • Rob Chesworth - Head of Strategic Land (The Crown Estate)’ 

Delivering New Homes: Charting a Way Forward in an Uncertain Economic and Political Environment

Time: 10.00am 
Location: Tetra Tech Pavilion, Pavilion Zone 

Bringing together industry representatives and those directly involved in building new homes, the session will begin with a keynote address by Lee Rowley MP, Minister for Housing, followed by a panel debate to explore the challenges surrounding delivery, current barriers to progress, what the new planning reforms will mean in practice, and how we can work together to accelerate the delivery of new homes. 

  • Chair: Faraz Baber - Operations Director (RPS Group) 
  • Lee Rowley MP - Minister of State for Housing and Planning (Conservative Party) 
  • Melanie Leech CBE - Chief Executive (British Property Federation) 
  • Victoria Hills - Chief Executive (Royal Town Planning Institute) 
  • Bob Weston - Chairman and Managing Director (Weston Homes) 
  • Rob Perrins - Chief Executive Officer (Berkeley Group) 

Creating and Ensuring A Diverse and Inclusive Regeneration Sector

Time: 11.00am 
Location: Barton Suite, Royal Armouries 

The round table session will look at best practice across the UK as well as discussing the opportunities ahead for the sector in ensuring it attracts and retains the diverse talent it needs. It will also consider the key elements required by organisations in the sector to ensure an inclusive working culture. 

Sponsored by McLean Public. 

  • Chair: Jonathan Swain - Managing Director (McLean Public) 
  • Lydia Lee - Assistant Director, Culture and Regeneration (London Borough of Bromley) 
  • Erin Walsh - Director of Placeshaping (Impower) 
  • Alice Lester MBE - Operational Director for Regeneration, Growth and Employment (London Borough of Brent) 
  • Caroline Pillay - Interim Director of Regeneration and Development (London Borough of Newham) 
  • Andrew Anderson - Assistant Director Development Programme (London Borough of Lambeth) 
  • Aïsha Butera - Strategic Social Value Lead (AtkinsRealis) 
  • Tony Lawson - Director (Local Partnerships) 
  • Roselyn Unegbu - Founder (Projects in Prism) 
  • Helen Fadipe MBE - Vice President (Royal Town Planning Institute) 
  • Jamie Kerr - Founder (The Regeneration Company) 
  • Nicola Mathers - Chief Executive  (Future of London) 
  • Debbie Jackson - Executive Director for Regeneration, Economy & Planning (REP) (City of Westminster Council) 
  • Niall Bolger - Chief Executive (London Borough of Hounslow) 


Water: 2025-2050

Time: 9.15am 
Location: Tetra Tech Pavilion, Pavilion Zone 

Resilient and prosperous communities require sustainable water quality and water supply solutions that also protect the environment. Future investment cycles include new environmental and regulatory challenges, as well as a record step change in water infrastructure spending over the next 25 years. Leading stakeholders come together to define the challenges and opportunities to implement innovative solutions at scale. 

  • Chair: Jill Hudkins - President and Growth Initiatives Program Lead (Tetra Tech) 
  • Andrew Taylor - Group Planning Director (Vistry Group) 
  • Dave Kaye - Director for Water Service Delivery (Yorkshire Water) 
  • Jane Simpson - Commercial, Engineering & Capital Delivery Director (United Utilities) 
  • Shelley De Souza - Director - Banking & Investments (UK Infrastructure Bank) 
  • Rachel Wileman - Director of Planning, Environment and Climate Change (Oxfordshire County Council) 

Is Planning Reform the Key to Unlocking Economic Growth?

Time: 10.45am 
Location: SCAPE Public Sector Stage, Royal Armouries 

The UK’s broken and fragmented planning system is a major brake on economic growth. This session will explore what reform should look like and how it can unlock growth and deliver the homes, employment space and infrastructure the country desperately needs. 

Sponsored by Land, Planning and Development Federation. 

  • Chair: Paul Brocklehurst - Chair (Land, Planning & Development Federation) 
  • Alison Dowsett - Managing Director for Planning & Policy (Berkeley Group) 
  • Victoria Hills - Chief Executive (Royal Town Planning Institute) 
  • Anthony Breach - Senior Associate (Centre for Cities) 
  • Hollie Howe - Planning Director (St Modwen Logistics) 

Planning Portal and TerraQuest will be attending with a stand located in the New Dock Hall, E62, if you are attending and would like to meet up with one of the team you can book in a meeting here8. 


New approved document covers updated toilet regulations

On 15 May Government released a new Building Regulations circular9, related to the introduction of Part T, toilet accommodation. This includes a new approved document, alongside consequential amendments to parts G and M. The changes will be implemented from 1 October 2024. 

Part T concerns new buildings which are not dwellings and provides guidance on how to comply with requirement T1 of the Building Regulations 2010. The requirement ensures new buildings include provision for single-sex toilets, unisex toilets are allowed where single-sex toilets are already provided. 

The new approved document provides guidance on the layout and design of fully enclosed unisex toilets. 



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

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    Planning news - 16 May 2024

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      The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All content © 2024 Planning Portal.