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Planning news - 17 March 2022

Local authorities to get cash boost to tackle air pollution

The government has released £11.6 million from its Air Quality Grant to local authorities in England to fund projects for cleaner air.

The grant money is intended to help local authorities to “develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health”.

Projects to receive cash include those that deliver measures to improve public awareness in local communities about the risks of air pollution. This follows a recommendation in the Coroner’s Prevention of Future Deaths report after the death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in 2013.

Other projects will encourage the uptake of green transport, such as e-bikes, through improved cycling and scooter infrastructure and retrofit projects.

Local authorities to receive money from the Air Quality Grant include:

  • Blably District Council - £155,121 - Purchase of particulate matter monitors and development of a public facing app supported by communication and engagement activities for most vulnerable. Recruitment of an Air Quality Officer.
  • Colchester Borough Council - £188,587 - Development of an e-cargo bike delivery service made through a bespoke booking app so shoppers and visitors to Colchester town centre can book deliveries to their homes within a five-mile radius or a nearby smart locker.
  • Oxfordshire County Council - £970,700 - Expansion of a Zero Emissions Zone in area in Oxford city following on from a previous pilot scheme. (Working in partnership with Oxford City Council).

Agri-innovation and climate adaptation minister Jo Churchill said: “Air pollution is the single biggest environmental risk to public health. It has reduced significantly since 2010, but we know there is more to do, which is why we have doubled the amount of funding awarded this year to help local authorities take vital action.

“The projects supported by this latest round of funding include innovative local schemes to boost the use of green transport, increase monitoring of fine particulate matter – the most harmful pollutant to human health – and improve awareness of the risks of poor air quality around schools and in care homes.

“Local authorities are best placed to find solutions to the issues they face in their areas, and we will continue to work closely with them and offer support to help deliver real change in cleaning up our air.”

The £11.6 million grant is double what was made available in 2021.

More information about the Air Quality Grant can be found on the UK Government website.1

16 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Council consults on climate change planning document

Cheltenham Borough Council is consulting its climate change supplementary planning document (SPD), which is intended to ‘drive the positive change’ the council wants to see from developers.

Its purpose is to enable sustainable design and construction as well as reduce the negative environmental impacts of the property development industry.

The council’s document sets out guidance on different aspects of sustainable design and construction, such as energy and carbon, climate change adaptation, water efficiency, flood prevention, pollution, sustainable transport, ecology, biodiversity net gain and waste reduction.

The consultation, which closes on 4 April, can be found here2.

Max Wilkinson, cabinet member for climate emergency, said: “This ambitious new agenda in planning will lay the foundations as we seek to achieve our ambition to reach net zero and boost nature.

“It’ll help fight fuel poverty, improve public health and create more pleasant neighbourhoods too.

“Our first net-zero homes are already through the planning system, so we know it’s possible for developers to do so much better. Indeed, carrying on as we are is simply not an option.”

Martin Horwood, cabinet member for customer and regulatory services, added: “Buildings are responsible for almost half of the UK’s carbon emissions and urgent action is needed to reduce the negative environmental impacts from building developments.

“This climate SPD brings local, national and international best practice together with case studies to help illustrate practical actions and help the council bring about much-needed changes.”

Following the consultation, any relevant changes will be made to the SPD before its final presentation to the council and its publication.

10 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Carbon reduction measures should be led locally, suggests research

Carbon reduction measures that are place-based and led by UK cities and towns would produce ‘far better’ environmental, economic and social results than a national ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

Such an approach would also be cheaper, according to research commissioned by Innovate UK and carried out by PwC with Otley Energy and the University of Leeds.

Accelerating Net Zero Delivery: Unlocking the Benefits of Climate Action in UK City-Regions focuses on six city regions with different characteristics to compare the costs and benefits of a ‘place-specific’ approach compared with a ‘place-agnostic’ approach to deliver low-carbon measures and projects in the buildings and transport sectors.

The six city regions considered are Belfast, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Swansea Bay.

The low-carbon measures analysed included electrification of transport and freight, local and district heating networks, building insulation and energy efficiency. Cycling and walking were also factored in.

Rob Saunders, director of UKRI’s prospering from the energy revolution programme at Innovate UK, said: “Building on the government’s Net Zero Strategy, this study presents the missing piece of the puzzle for accelerating net-zero delivery in UK city-regions.

“It makes a powerful economic case for localised approaches and supports government planning for how place-based delivery could work – potentially enabling projects worth billions of pounds to bring better net-zero lives for residents across the UK.”

The report explains that when city regions adopt the “most socially cost-effective combination of low-carbon measures based on local characteristics, needs and opportunities, far less investment is needed while creating nearly double the energy savings and social benefit”.

A place-specific approach would require £58 billion of investment to meet the targets set out in the Sixth Carbon Budget. This would in the process generate £108 billion of energy savings for consumers and £825 billion of wider social benefits over the next 30 years.

By comparison, to meet these targets the research says a place-agnostic approach would take £195 billion of investment in things like heat pumps, insulation and electric vehicles. This would release £57 billion of energy savings and £444 billion of wider social benefits over the next 30 years.

However, significant barriers were identified in the report to more place-based approaches. Recommendations set in the report to address them include:

  • Central government to give devolved and local governments a clear mandate for local net-zero delivery where aligned to their responsibilities in housing, building and local transport, and to design and implement a national delivery framework that supports enhanced local net-zero action as part of a whole-system approach.
  • Local government to take accountability for net-zero portfolios for buildings and transport, identify the most appropriate measures to take for each place, and coordinate with local businesses and communities to prioritise opportunities.

'Accelerating Net Zero Delivery: Unlocking the Benefits of Climate Action' can be found on the UKRI website.3

10 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Final phase of new town approved

South Cambridgeshire District Council has granted planning permission for 1,000 homes at new Northstowe.

These homes form part of phase 3B of the scheme. It also features a primary school, a mixed-use commercial zone and communal areas across a 47-hectare area. Overall, Homes England's plans comprise 10,000 homes.

Arcadis and Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design are advising Homes England on the proposals. An emphasis has been put on health and wellbeing, with access to nature and delivering biodiversity net gains identified as “important drivers” for the masterplan.

Ken Glendinning, regional development director south (interim) at Homes England, said: “Homes England is committed to using its expertise as a master developer to create a well-designed, sustainable new town that promotes a sense of community and pride in place.

“Securing the go-ahead for Northstowe Phase 3B from the planning committee marks a significant step forward for the town. These proposals, combined with the additional funding will establish a pipeline of new homes at Northstowe for the next 15 years, providing a variety of neighbourhoods and homes of a wide range of tenures.”

Katja Stille, director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, said: “This is a major milestone demonstrating how with a good masterplan and commitment to design quality, major new settlements can flex in response to evolving social needs and changing market conditions without compromising their core principles. We have taken care that each neighbourhood has distinct characteristics drawn from specific site conditions, creating a varied new town. This final phase will continue to deliver a vibrant new community centred on health and wellbeing that addresses the pressing need for new homes in a thoughtful and sustainable way.”

Approval of phase 3B comes soon after the approval of phase 3A in February. This included 4,000 new homes, a mixed-use centre, two primary schools, and open spaces for play and recreation. Phase 3A will be delivered across 210 hectares. Homes England also secured £123.9 million of funding to deliver new infrastructure for the town at the same time.

The first families moved into Northstowe in May 2017 and the first schools are already open.

9 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Ambitious housing strategy for Welsh capital takes shape

Cardiff City Council has unveiled a £74 million housing strategy for the next two years as it looks to build more than 4,000 homes across the city by 2030.

This includes 2,800 council homes in what will be the largest council housing building programme in Wales. The total investment in the new homes will eventually total more than £800 million, states the council.

The programme is already under way with 806 properties built: 613 council homes and 193 homes for sale. Another 522 are currently being built, 506 have planning permission and a further 1,729 homes are in the pipeline.

The council is also working to improve the insulation of its housing stock. Currently, 96 per cent of its homes are above the Welsh Government standard. It has plans to use alternative energy heating, such as ground or air source heat pumps, in future homes, along with cladding and solar panels for all low-rise blocks of flats.

The capital also has a £100 million plan to create 10 new community-living buildings, which will help to create about 500 new homes specifically for older tenants.

Addison House in Rumney will be the first in 2023, but additional schemes are planned at Maelfa and St Mellons and as part of the first phase of the Channel View development.

11 March 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner

Development in Bracknell gets the green light

Planning permission has been granted for Bracknell Forest Cambium Partnership's plans for its 169-home Market Street regeneration scheme in Bracknell town centre.

This is the second phase of Countryside and Bracknell Forest Council’s £124 million regeneration plans.

Market Street is the second site to be developed by the Bracknell Forest Cambium Partnership, a joint venture between developer Countryside and Bracknell Forest Council.

The mixed-tenure homes will be built on the site of the former bus depot on Market Street. Of the homes, 25 per cent have been designated as affordable. Included in the plans are 848 square metres of commercial space and improvements to the public realm, including landscaping, trees and new and improved pedestrian and cycle routes.

The partnership has said it is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The Market Street development will feature solar panels, EV charging points, AAA-rated appliances in all homes, low-carbon energy usage and 297 secure cycle spaces.  

Daniel King, managing director, West London and Thames Valley, Countryside, said: “Our Market Street regeneration will bring high-quality, tenure-blind new homes to the centre of Bracknell, rejuvenating a derelict location into a vibrant, mixed-use development that supports the 18-hour economy of the town centre. We are looking forward to progressing the second of our regeneration sites with the council, helping to deliver a revitalised and flourishing Bracknell town centre.”

Marc Brunel-Walker, executive member for economic development and regeneration at Bracknell Forest Council, explained that the development “will complement the ongoing work at Coopers Hill and the high-quality retail, leisure and dining experience at The Lexicon. Bracknell Forest is proud to be leading the way with new town regeneration; this is another part of our success story alongside our commercial partners”.  

Subject to the section 106 agreement, construction works are expected to begin this summer.

9 March 2022
Laura Edgar, 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 - 17 March 2022

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