Weekly planning news
Planning news - 17 February 2022
Government to block planning permission if developers don’t protect leaseholders
Communities secretary Michael Gove has set out ‘tough’ measures enabling the government to block planning permission and building control sign-off on developments if professionals in the industry are not doing the right thing.
The industry will be forced to remove cladding and protect leaseholders from exorbitant costs.
Government proposals will mean that the industry will have to fix historical problems so that leaseholders are not faced with having to make unfair payments. The moves will also enforce “a common-sense approach to avoid unnecessary work”.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is in discussions with industry leaders who, the government says, agree that leaseholders should not pay cladding removal costs. Progress, according to the government, is being made.
The secretary of state makes it “clear he is ready to act” against those who do not make commitments and that they will face commercial and financial consequences.
The government will be able to apply its new building safety levy to more developments, with the scope for higher rates for those who do not participate in finding a workable solution.
Courts will also be given powers to stop developers using “shadowy shell companies, which make them difficult to trace or identify who they are run by, so they can avoid taking responsibility for their actions”.
These measures are amendments set out in the building safety bill.
Gove said: “It is time to bring this scandal to an end, protect leaseholders and see the industry work together to deliver a solution.
“These measures will stop building owners passing all costs on to leaseholders and make sure any repairs are proportionate and necessary for their safety.
“All industry must play a part, instead of continuing to profit whilst hardworking families struggle.
“We cannot allow those who do not take building safety seriously to build homes in the future, and for those not willing to play their part they must face consequences.
“We will take action to keep homes safe and to protect existing leaseholders from paying the price for bad development.”
A new clause to the bill makes it clear that leaseholders living in their own home, or sub-letting in a building over 11 metres high, will not be liable to pay for the removal of dangerous cladding.
15 February 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
WMCA outlines £879m budget for 2022/23
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has outlined its budget of £879.2 million for this year, which includes cash for infrastructure, land regeneration and climate change.
Projects eligible for funding will include tackling air pollution, education and transforming derelict industrial sites for new homes and jobs.
WMCA’s budget will include £379 million for its transport arm – Transport for West Midlands (TfWM). It will deliver schemes that aim to improve connectivity, drive economic growth and cut carbon emissions.
Housing and land projects will support its brownfield regeneration programme to create energy-efficient affordable homes and modern commercial premises for businesses.
Support will also be provided for the regeneration of town centres and for research and development of modern methods of construction and zero-carbon homes.
Large infrastructure projects will receive £66 million with “significant” investment in Coventry city centre. This will include completion of the rail station, UK Central development around the airport and NEC in Solihull and for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “At the heart of our budget is a focus on helping the West Midlands recover in a way that creates tens of thousands of new jobs, especially in the green industries of the future, and gives people the skills they need to fill those jobs. The budget also supports the ongoing expansion and decarbonisation of our public transport network with new Metro and rail lines, pollution-free buses and more cycle routes, helping us realise our #WM2041 ambition to become a net-zero region within the next 20 years.
“But with a growing population we also need more homes and commercial premises, which is why we have allocated nearly £90 million for housing and land projects including the regeneration of derelict brownfield sites, helping to save precious green belt fields from the bulldozer.”
15 February 2022
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner
£8.1bn green budget backed by Senedd Cymru
Senedd Cymru members this week voted to approve a draft budget that commits it to £8.1 billion of spending on green infrastructure over the next three years.
However, AMs voiced concern over the timing of funding for local bus service decarbonisation, the financial resources allocated to Natural Resources Wales and whether there would be enough skilled workers to carry out the government’s challenging targets for energy-efficiency retrofits on the housing stock.
Between now and 2025 the spending plan will allocate £770 million to support public transport – with a £585 million investment in rail and a £185 million investment in bus travel. This will provide newer and greener rolling stock, continue development of the Core Valley Lines, and support integrated transport through Metro schemes.
The budget will also support the creation of a national forest and improve access to landscapes and outdoor recreation through investment in designated landscapes and the development of the Wales Coast Path, national trails, and public rights of way network. In total, more than £153 million will be spent to support Wales’s nature and environment.
The effect of climate change has triggered investment of more than £100 million on flood defences.
More than 45,000 homes will benefit from additional flood protection measures in this Senedd term, and more than 17,400 homes around the Welsh coastline will see reduced risk through the coastal risk management programme.
11 February 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner
Rental homes approved near Cockfosters station
Enfield Council has been granted planning permission for 351 new rental homes on a site by Cockfosters London Underground station, subject to conditions.
Connected Living London (CLL), a partnership between Grainger plc and Transport for London (TfL), is behind the scheme development on the 1.36-hectare site.
Of the 351 rental homes, 40 per cent have been designated as affordable housing provided at a discount to open market rates for rent.
The plans, designed by Hawkins\Brown, Mae Architects and JCLA Landscape Architects, also comprise commercial space, improvements to the public realm and new operational space for TfL.
The homes will be delivered across four buildings and will have either one, two or three bedrooms. Amenities to be provided on site include a residents’ lounge, gym, a dedicated on-site resident services team and a cycle hub with 60 spaces.
The development will involve solar panels and “wildlife-friendly” landscaping, and more than 70 trees will be planted across the site. About 4,200 square metres of publicly accessible open space for the local community and residents will be provided to replace replacing much of the current hard surface.
Ben Tate, a spokesperson for CLL and head of property development at TfL, said: “This scheme has been designed to provide not only the new and affordable homes that are urgently needed in the borough and across London, but also create new areas of open space and play space that can be enjoyed by the local community and residents alike and re-provide car parking facilities to support the local area. It will contribute around £4.5 million to help improve local infrastructure and services.”
Mike Keaveney, director of land and development at Grainger plc, added: “This is another great milestone for our CLL joint venture, and one that will deliver a significant number of professionally managed, well-located, quality homes for the local area.”
10 February 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Consultation begins on plans for Sunderland regeneration project
Planning consultancy Lichfields has outlined plans for a £20 million regeneration project in Sunderland at a public consultation launched this week.
The proposals are by Jomast Developments for land to the north of Deptford Terrace on a 5-hectare site next to the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC). It has been vacant for more than 15 years.
The scheme could see the creation of 7,500 square metres of industrial and warehouse space, a number of trade counter units, a 2,000-square-metre food store, food and drink facilities and a petrol filling station built.
The Sunderland Core Strategy and Development Plan, adopted in January 2020, features the site within the Deptford ‘Key Employment Area’.
According to Lichfields, more than 135 jobs could be created during the initial construction phases, with 300 full=time roles established once operators move into the completed development.
An impact assessment estimates that the scheme could generate an uplift of £14.6 million in economic output a year for the local area, said the consultancy.
Adam Herald, Jomast’s development director, added: “This significant investment will see a big improvement for the area; creating new jobs, boosting the local economy and tapping into the potential that the new Strategic Transport Corridor is unlocking.
“We are keen to hear the views of as many people as possible, which will be considered in depth before our final plans are submitted to the planning authority.”
Jonathan Wallace, senior director of Lichfields office in Newcastle, said: “We are seeing strong demand for commercial and industrial properties across the North East as companies look to develop their regional operations on the back of high-quality premises with excellent road links – which makes Deptford Terrace an attractive location.”
The consultation is seeking the views of local people on the plans digitally from 9-25 February. It can be found here1. A planning application is expected to be lodged in spring.
9 February 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Tower Hamlets toilets to be renovated
Tower Hamlets Council is going to refurbish the underground toilets near Petticoat Lane Market.
Leyden Street toilets, which date back to 1901, are currently in a poor state of repair, locked up and not available to the public.
Plans will see the toilet regenerated into a ground-level café, a basement charcuterie restaurant and a public toilet at ground level for visitors, market traders and customers
The council has worked with Historic England, the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) and Neil Tomlinson Architects so the design protects some of the key heritage features of the Victorian toilet, including the original Victorian external railing, handrails, and tiling.
The project is part of the Middlesex Street Regeneration Programme and is being funded using section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money.
The council is in the process of appointing a contractor.
Firm appointed to support Derby regeneration
Derby City Council has appointed real estate firm Avison Young to support its plans to regenerate the city centre.
The project’s aim is to deliver new residential and commercial property, a vibrant new cultural destination and improved public realm and connectivity.
Avison Young was appointed after a competitive process to provide strategic advice on projects and help the council to deliver against its regeneration and property vision.
Paul Simpson, Derby City Council’s chief executive, said: “Our vision for Derby city centre, spearheaded by transformative regeneration projects with people at their heart, will build on the strength of our city and grow its reputation as a great place to live, work and invest.
“Avison Young brings demonstrable experience in delivering major projects for the public and private sector, and alongside other partners, we are excited to see what we can achieve.”
East Suffolk Council suffers loss of planners
East Suffolk Council has suffered the loss of two well-respected members of its planning staff in recent weeks.
Lisa Chandler was known for her work as the council’s energy projects manager at East Suffolk Council.
Richard Amor had worked for East Suffolk Council since 2009 before retiring in 2018. A development management team leader, he is said to have commanded the huge respect of his team, councillors, applicants and communities.
Design competition launched for Notting Hill Gate
Kensington and Chelsea Council has commissioned the London Festival of Architecture (LFA) to run a design competition that invites creative teams to reimagine the public space on Notting Hill Gate.
The competition is open to teams of architects or landscape architects, designers and artists. Designs should celebrate the identity of the area and improve the experience of people visiting, living or working in the Notting Hill Gate area.
Shortlisted design ideas will be displayed in an exhibition in Notting Hill Gate for the public and local community in June 2022. Final judging is set to take place in July.
More information can be found here2.
Spitfire to build 45 homes in Ombersley
Spitfire Homes has acquired five acres of land in Ombersley, Worcestershire, to deliver 45 new properties
The housebuilder will deliver a mixture of two, three and four-bedroom residences, alongside affordable housing, public realm and green space. These will be located on Woodhall Lane in North Ombersley, less than 10 miles from Worcester city centre.
Work will begin this month, and the first homes are set to be completed and ready for occupation by the end of the year.
Ben Leather, managing director at Spitfire Homes, said: “The opportunity to invest in Ombersley aligned perfectly with our aims to expand our presence in Worcestershire and other new markets across the Midlands in response to increasing demand from people to own a Spitfire home.
“Ombersley is a highly attractive destination, offering a beautiful village location full of character and charm that also benefits from strong connectivity and local amenities. We are already seeing strong interest in the homes and would encourage prospective buyers to register their interest at www.spitfirehomes.co.uk to be kept updated when the properties are released for sale later this year.”
District licensing scheme turns four
NatureSpace has celebrated four years of its great crested newt district licensing scheme.
So far, 200 projects have been authorised, 148 ponds have been established and more than £1.5 million has been put towards conservation. More than 40 local authorities are taking part in the scheme.
Approved by Natural England, the scheme aims to speed up development delivery by providing a solution for newt licensing all year round, meaning there is no need to wait for the survey window, which runs from mid-March to June.
15 February 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner