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Planning news - 18 May 2023

Maclean announces student bursary for planning degrees

Students from across England will benefit from a bursary of £5,000 to follow a career in planning, housing minister Rachel Maclean has announced. 

The bursary has been increased from £2,000 to £5,000. This covers up to 50 per cent of the cost of the student’s university fees. 

More than 50 professionals will be offered a bursary through the RTPI so that they can study for a master's degree in planning. This Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) funding is intended to back more careers in the sector to help councils recruit planning staff. 

The grants are aimed at disadvantaged students including those who struggle financially, have care responsibilities or suffer from disabilities, to make sure the sector is diverse. 

Maclean said: “Planning is an incredibly rewarding career and planners across the country are helping us to level up by delivering more homes, better infrastructure and the communities of tomorrow. 

“This funding will attract fresh talent and ideas to the planning sector, including a more diverse range of students who will help deliver a modern and efficient planning system.” 

The department has funded more than 150 bursaries in the past three years, with 42 awarded in 2022. 

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “Local authorities and planning consultancies alike are struggling to attract and retain talent. This matters not just to the future of planners, but to the communities we represent. 

“To deliver for communities, it’s essential that we continue to attract diverse talent onto accredited planning courses and support the development of a professional planning workforce that is open and inclusive. This important bursary scheme, delivered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, will help more students access an RTPI-accredited masters programme and inspire and prepare the next generation for a rewarding career in planning.” 

12 May 2023 
The Planner

College improvements and homes plan submitted in Surrey

A planning application to upgrade the Brooklands College campus in Weybridge and deliver more than 300 homes, including units designated as affordable, has been lodged with Elmbridge Borough Council. 

Brooklands College and Cala Homes are behind the application. 

The scheme would see £45 million invested into the college and it comprises a range of community benefits, such as a sports centre, a community hub and public access to 12 hectares of woodland. 

It is intended to generate revenue for the college to pay off a substantial debt owed to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to secure the college’s long-term future. 

Permission is sought to: 

  • Upgrade the teaching facilities. 
  • Deliver Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision within a purpose-built SEND facility. 
  • Deliver a sports centre and community space for the use of the college and the wider local community. 
  • Refurbish and renew the site’s significant listed mansion building, returning it to its historic residential use and securing its maintenance and upkeep for the future. 
  • Provide 320 new homes, 40 per cent of which would be affordable, comprising a mix of rented housing, shared ownership and discounted first homes. 
  • Open up 12 hectares of woodland for newly accessible public use. 

Christine Ricketts, principal at Brooklands College, said: “These plans are absolutely essential to securing the future of the college. Not only will they put the college on a stable, financial footing; they will upgrade our teaching buildings and provide us with a state-of-the-art campus to provide the highest standards of training and vocational learning. 

“Brooklands has a rich history and I’m proud that these plans will cherish and enhance its unique heritage.” 

Changes have been made to the scheme following feedback from those at the college, neighbouring residents and the wider Weybridge community, including: 

  • Reducing the number of homes from 350 to 320. 
  • Demolishing unsightly buildings that have been built next to the Mansion and replacing them with smaller buildings, sited farther away, to improve the heritage setting of this listed building. 
  • Increasing the provision on-site for local students requiring a high level of Special Education Needs, supported with funds from Surrey County Council. 
  • Altering the main access to the college so it is more in keeping with the area and proposed architecture of the northern area of the site. 
  • Removing initial plans for a care home on the site. 
  • Maximising development on the previously developed, brownfield parts of the site to limit development on the greener areas. 

John Richards, land and planning director at Cala Homes, commented: “We have had extensive consultation with the local community. The feedback has helped inform our plans. We have also developed our plans with a comprehensive look at the cumulative impact of other foreseeable development projects in the area. We have made several changes to our plans so that the project better represents the needs of the wider Weybridge community.” 

The residential aspect of the scheme will be delivered on excess land that has been sold. Without this sale, the college would be in an insolvent position, which could result in its forced closure and the land being sold to a developer. 

11 May 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Council seeks developer for Cardiff Bay regeneration

Cardiff City Council has begun testing the waters over investor and developer interest in the regeneration of land it owns in Cardiff Bay, slated for a major mixed-use scheme. 

The location is Atlantic Wharf. The 12-hectare site is earmarked for around 14,8645 square metres of new development that could see 1,000 homes built alongside a new hotel, office, retail, bar, restaurant and leisure projects. 

The scheme, which will benefit from plans for a light rail route from Cardiff Central Station, has outline planning consent. The full development of the area could take around a decade to build out. 

The deadline for expressions of interest is May 26. The local authority is being advised by property consultancies CBRE and Knight Frank. 

The proposed scheme would sit alongside a 17,000-capacity indoor arena. Ultimately, the scale of the wider Atlantic Wharf development is contingent on what the council decides to do with its existing County Hall headquarters building located there. 

There are a number of options including maintaining the current building, a smaller new HQ either at the existing site or elsewhere in the city, as well as potentially an upgrading of its office space at City Hall. 

But the council has no intention of revisiting former plans for a new HQ at a current wasteland site owned by the Welsh government at the southside of the Callaghan Square office scheme in the city centre. 

11 May 2023 
Roger Milne, The Planner

Growth of build-to-rent homes slows, suggests report

The pace of growth of build-to-rent (BTR) homes has slowed from a long-term average of 28 per cent year-on-year to 9 per cent. 

This is according to an analysis carried out by Savills for the British Property Federation (BPF). It also shows that the regional build-to-rent (BTR) market has grown at double the pace of London in the last year – 12 per cent compared with 6 per cent. 

Of UK local authorities, 186 – or 49 per cent – have BTR in their planning pipeline. 

Across the UK, 68 per cent of BTR is in planning, which is relatively consistent year-on-year, according to the BPF. This comprises 45 per cent of BTR homes in England and 71 per cent in Scotland. 

The regional planning pipeline is increased 4 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 11 per cent year-on-year to 78,175 homes. 

The analysis notes that recently introduced rent controls in Scotland have “dampened investor confidence” in the market, “which could result in fewer homes proceeding from planning to construction in the coming months”. 

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the BPF, commented: “Build-to-rent is a critical part of meeting housing need in the UK and it is positive to see that the sector is continuing to grow in the face of several macroeconomic and sector-wide challenges. The planning pipeline continues to be robust, but there is an urgent need to deliver more of those homes to alleviate pressures on renters. Regional growth in BTR is promising as the sector continues to expand beyond the traditional urban locations to secondary cities and towns.” 

Guy Whittaker, an associate at Savills, added that after “four consecutive years of record-breaking investment, it’s no surprise that the latest quarter’s data shows the number of homes under construction still at an all-time high, at just shy of 49,500 homes”. 

He said this growth looks set to continue. “The geographical reach of build-to-rent has also continued to grow: a quarter of local authorities currently have homes under construction, compared to 10 per cent in 2017. This has been supported by the emergence of Single Family Rental, which enjoyed a record quarter in Q1 2023, with nearly £500 million invested.” 

11 May 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Permission sought for large student accommodation scheme in West London

Downing has submitted a planning application to Ealing Council for a 699-unit purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme and a 91 apartments for built to rent in North Acton. 

The scheme is planned for Victoria Road, adjacent to North Acton Tube station. It would replace the existing Holiday Inn Express.   

Totalling 2,235 square metres in size, the development would see two towers rising to 17 and 35-storeys. The 699 student rooms would be a mixture of one bedroom studios, two, three, four, five and six-bedroom apartments in the 35-storey tower. The 91 build-to-rent homes would have either one, two or three bedrooms, delivered in the 17-storey tower. Of these apartments, 35 per cent would be affordable. The two proposed towers will be linked by a unified four-storey podium. 

Proposed amenities at development include a ground floor commercial units, gym, social spaces and cycle storage. External amenities include landscaped and hardscaped areas to the north and south along with a podium courtyard area and external roof terraces.   

Downing said the two towers have been designed to a BREEAM Excellent standard, with sustainable features included throughout the development. Proposed plans also aim to achieve Secured by Design and Home Quality Mark certification. 

10 May 2023 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

News round-up

Curbridge housing plans approved 

Winchester City Council has approved plans for 482 homes in Curbridge, Hampshire. 

National planning consultancy Boyer (part of Leaders Romans Group) acted on behalf of Vistry Southern and Countryside Partnerships Southern.   

Located on Botley Road, the new development will form part of the North Whiteley Urban Extension. It will deliver 12.8 per cent affordable homes.    

When complete, North Whiteley will provide up to 3,500 homes, two primary schools, a secondary school, retail, and community centre, and significant highway improvements. It includes large retained areas of woodland and open space. 

Work has started on earlier phases of the North Whiteley development. 

Next steps of Celtic Freeport project approved 

Neath Port Talbot Council’s cabinet has approved the next steps in establishing the newly approved Celtic Freeport at a special meeting. 

These include creating a company to run the freeport and setting up the decision-making arrangement for investing the public funds provided by the UK and Welsh governments to achieve the freeport’s objectives. 

The council will also enter into a memorandum of understanding with Celtic Freeport partners Associated British Ports, The Port of Milford Haven, and Pembrokeshire Council. 

In March, the UK and Welsh governments announced the Celtic Freeport bid, which involves Port Talbot Docks and Port of Milford Haven) and a bid from Anglesey as winners of the freeport competition in Wales. 

The Celtic Freeport will focus on low-carbon technologies, such as hydrogen and floating offshore wind. 

Barbara Cummins appointed chair of Cockburn Association 

The Cockburn Association has appointed Barbara Cummins as its new chair, the first woman to hold the role. 

She will take over from Cliff Hague at the AGM on 18 May 2023, becoming the 21st chair. 

Cummins is a chartered town planner and a past convenor of RTPI Scotland. Until April 2021 she was Director of Heritage at Historic Environment Scotland, where she led the functions responsible for planning, advice and consents, designations, World Heritage Sites, and the Historic Environment Scotland (HES) archives. She is the current vice-chair of Planning Aid Scotland (PAS). 

“It is an honour to be the new chair of such an important Edinburgh civic body and to build on the work of my immediate predecessor, Cliff Hague. I am looking forward to working with the team, trustees, and wider stakeholders as well as getting to know the members better. 

“This is an exciting time for the Cockburn as we approach the 150th anniversary and there will be much to reflect back on and celebrate. I also know I have big shoes to fill and many challenges ahead as Edinburgh continues to evolve in the face of global issues and local pressures. I know the Cockburn has an important role to play in helping to shape the future, as well as celebrating the past, of this unique city.” 

Hague has been the chair of the Cockburn Association since 2016. 

Permission sought for final phase of student development 

Birmingham-based investor and developer Volume.Property has submitted to the city council a planning application for the third and final phase of its Volume Works student development. 

Located in the centre of Birmingham, phase 3 proposes 220 beds. The development already comprises 156 beds. 

Phase 3 studios would feature ample storage space, high-speed internet, and en-suite bathrooms. The communal areas would offer social spaces, study areas, a gym, and outdoor space. Provision has been made for a minimum of 48 cycle parking spaces. 

Phase I of the development was completed in summer 2021, and phase 2 should be completed this summer. If approved, construction is scheduled to be finalised in time for the start of the 2025/26 academic year. 

Castle Green to deliver affordable housing in Denbigh 

Castle Green Homes is working with Bangor-based housing association Adra to deliver 110 homes on land adjacent to Ysgol Pendref on Gwaenynog Road under its partnership operation. 

The scheme will provide 80 affordable homes and 30 for private rent in Denbigh. Work began in February and is scheduled to be complete by February 2025. 

Co-living towers green-lit in Ealing 

Ealing Council has approved plans by Tide Construction to develop a 462-home co-living scheme known as The Castle, in Ealing, West London. 

Located in the Old Oak and Park Royal Opportunity Area, The Castle will create a co-living community across two towers and 32 storeys.   

The scheme will provide shared amenities for residents, featuring at least 16,000 square feet of communal space across four floors. It will include lounge areas, private dining and co-working spaces, a library, a bespoke gym, cinema and games rooms, cycle parking spaces and a cycle hiring scheme available for residents. 

It will create a new home for The Castle public house, revitalising a social hub that dates back to the 1930s but has remained vacant since 2020. It will also feature a space for community uses and a new pub. 

The two towers will provide access to North Acton underground station, enabling access to central London within 30 minutes. 

Oxfordshire vaccine facility plans approved 

Vale of White Horse District Council has approved plans for a new vaccine research and manufacturing facility at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. 

Carter Jonas has secured planning permission on behalf of the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus Limited Partnership. 

The permission is for a 16,000-square-metre research, development and manufacturing facility, providing the UK public with access to mRNA vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, pending regulatory assessment and licensure. 

It will be occupied by Moderna, as the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC), and will also include a clinical biomarker laboratory – a prefabricated modular laboratory constructed in Northumberland, which will then be installed on the campus. 

The scheme is programmed for completion in 2025. 

Kingston building refurb plans approved 

Kingston Council has approved plans by Reed Watts Architects to refurbish and extend a mixed-use building on the River Thames in Kingston. 

Located on the bank of the River Thames in Kingston, Bishops Palace House acts as a civic landmark, welcoming visitors into the town across the listed bridge. 

The building, in Kingston’s Old Town Conservation Area, is home to a restaurant, retail, and offices. 

Working on the project since 2019, Reed Watts’ proposals refine the tenure mix, reconfiguring the existing accommodation to deliver a set of new spaces with minimum disruption to the existing tenants and the riverside setting. 

A central lift and stair arrangement will provide step-free access to all public levels for the first time. Stone framing and lightweight panelling will visually bind the elevation to provide the building with a new identity. 

Work is set to start on-site in early 2024 for completion in spring 2025. 

Barnet appoints design team for Hendon project 

Barnet Council has appointed Ove Arup & Partners Ltd to lead on the £ 18.8 million transformation of West Hendon Playing Field. 

Ove Arup & Partners won a design contest run by the London Borough of Barnet in partnership with the Landscape Institute. 

Arup was chosen out of 19 initial entries by a team of judges, reaching stage two of the contest with fellow finalists LDA Design and Southern Green. Final designs were entered in February before Arup was chosen as the overall winner 

Park redevelopment plans include new tennis courts, 3G artificial turf pitches, a high ropes course, a bowling green, a multi-use games area, an outdoor gym, play area, skate park, and more. 

Proposals for the new-look destination will be based on garden city principles, showcasing how green infrastructure can support outdoor sports and mental health and wellbeing. 

16 May 2023 
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 - 18 May 2023

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        The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). All content © 2023 Planning Portal.