Weekly planning news
Planning news - 23 March 2023
Housing minister announces skills boost for planning authorities
Housing minister Rachel Maclean has announced the allocation of £1 million in funding to recruit more skilled planning professionals to local councils.
Social enterprise Public Practice said it would use the money to help councils to recruit and develop skilled planners. Money will also be spent on increasing awareness about careers in local government and sharing best practice for improving communities in the public sector.
The funding should help councils to attract people to the profession as well as develop those already working in it. This would lead to higher-skilled jobs, speeding up property development and creating better neighbourhoods that people are proud to call home, explained Public Practice.
Maclean said: “Planning plays such an important role in shaping our neighbourhoods, making sure we have the right housing and infrastructure to level up the nation.
“It is essential that our planning authorities have the skills and resources they need and today’s funding will make sure the sector is better equipped to deliver a quality service for local communities.”
Pooja Agrawal, CEO of Public Practice, commented: “Planning and placemaking is one of local government’s most important functions as it shapes the places we all live in, work and visit.
“However, it is clear that local authorities have substantial skills gaps which hinder the ability of developers and councils to deliver good-quality new and refurbished homes, sustainable public spaces, or accessible town centres and high streets.
“We are grateful to the Department of Levelling Up for this funding. We have a proud track record of bringing private sector planning and placemaking talent into local authorities and helping them to forge long-term careers in the public sector.
“Now is not the time to rest on our laurels but to redouble our efforts. We have a mission to help every council in England to find the skilled planners and place professionals they need to make communities and neighbourhoods better across our nation.”
Over the past five years, there have been more than 2,500 applications to Public Practice's placement programme. Of these, 92 per cent had been working outside the public sector, while 73 per cent of applicants had never worked in the public sector and 53 per cent had never previously applied for a job in the public sector.
Public Practice said nine-tenths of associates have chosen to continue working in the public sector following the conclusion of the year-long programme.
20 March 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Hunt announces 12 ‘refocused’ investment zones
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has committed to establishing 12 investment zones in the Spring Budget (15 March).
Speaking in the House of Commons, he paid tribute to Canary Wharf and Liverpool Docks, "two outstanding regeneration projects" that were delivered under a previous Conservative government.
Hunt described the new ventures as “12 potential Canary Wharfs”.
"In England we have identified the following areas as having the potential to host one: West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the North-East, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Midlands, Teesside and, once again, Liverpool. There will also be at least one in each of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland," he said.
"To be chosen, each area must identify a location where they can offer a bold and imaginative partnership between local government and a university or research institute in a way that catalyses new innovation clusters.
"If the application is successful, they will have access to £80 million of support for a range of interventions including skills, infrastructure, tax reliefs and business rates retention."
The investment zones form part of the government's levelling-up agenda.
The Spring Budget document states the refocused investment zones will “catalyse 12
“Each cluster will drive growth in key future sectors and bring investment to the local area. Each English Investment Zone will have access to interventions worth £80 million over five years, including tax reliefs and grant funding."
Further levelling-up measures included:
£200 million for 16 “high-quality” local regeneration projects in areas of need, from the transformation of Ashington Town Centre to a skills and education campus in Blackburn.
Another £161 million for regeneration projects in mayoral combined authorities and the Greater London Authority.
£400 million for new Levelling Up Partnerships for 20 areas in England most in need of levelling up, such as Redcar and Cleveland, Blackburn, Oldham, Rochdale, Mansfield, South Tyneside, and Bassetlaw.
Delivering “trailblazer” devolution deals for the West Midlands and Greater Manchester Combined Authorities that include single multi-year settlements for the next Spending Review, alongside a commitment to negotiate further devolution deals in England. They will give them greater control over local transport, skills, employment, housing, innovation and net zero priorities, as well as single funding settlements at the next Spending Review. The government will also negotiate a new wave of devolution deals with areas across England, which will include local investment funding for areas that are committed to electing a mayor or leader.
£8.8 billion over the next five-year funding period for a second round of the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements.
The government added that it would publish an updated National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline later in 2023.
Planning, nutrient neutrality and more investment zone details
The Budget document states that boosting the supply of commercial development, such as lab space, is “key” to supporting R&D needs and driving investment into high-value industries across England, such as the life sciences and advanced manufacturing sectors in the Oxford-Cambridge corridor.
“Following the recent National Planning Policy Framework consultation the government will set out further details for supporting growth in this area in due course.”
Investment zones will have access to a single five-year tax offer that matches that for freeports. It will consist of enhanced rates of Capital Allowance, Structures and Buildings Allowance, and relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax, Business Rates and Employer National Insurance Contributions.
They will, according to the Budget document, have access to “flexible grant funding to support skills and incentivise apprenticeships, provide specialist business support and improve local infrastructure, dependent on local requirements. Local partners will be able to choose the number and size of tax sites, within the £80 million envelope, up to a maximum of 3 sites totalling 600 hectares. The amount of grant funding will depend on the number and size of tax sites”.
To access this offer, plans must “credibly set out how local partners will use the levers available to propel growth in priority sectors, identify private sector match funding, and use the local planning system to support growth".
Plans for investment zones will be developed by mayoral combined authorities (MCAs) and central government, in partnership with local universities, councils, and businesses. They will have to demonstrate how the investment zone would support the UK reaching net zero by 2050 and the government’s "new long-term targets to protect and enhance the natural environment and be resilient to the effects of climate change”.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and HM Treasury will invite local partners within the areas proposed to begin discussions on hosting an investment zone. It is expected that proposals will be agreed upon by the end of the year.
The Spring Budget also announces that DLUHC will launch a call for evidence for locally-led nutrient neutrality credit schemes from local authorities in England. Where “high-quality proposals” are identified, the government will provide funding to support clearer routes for housing developers to deliver “nutrient-neutral” sites, in line with their environmental obligations.
The Spring Budget document states that to increase resilience to future energy price shocks, the government will invest in the energy system by launching Great British Nuclear (GBN) to support new nuclear infrastructure. It will make up to £20 billion available for Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), and extend the Climate Change Agreement scheme for another two years to encourage energy efficiency.
GBN intends to address constraints in the nuclear market and support new nuclear builds as part of the government's net-zero plans. “GBN will launch the first staged competition for Small Modular Reactors, which is expected to attract the best designs from both domestic and international vendors. The government’s ambition is to select the leading technologies by the end of this year and if demonstrated to be viable, co-fund this exciting new technology in the UK,” explains the document.
Nuclear energy will be included in the green taxonomy, subject to consultation, to encourage private investment.
The Spring Budget document can be found on the UK Government website.1
15 March 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Ports need adapting to deliver floating offshore wind
Eleven UK ports need to be transformed ‘as fast as possible’ into industrial hubs so floating offshore wind can be rolled out at scale.
This is according to the Floating Offshore Wind Taskforce.
In Industry Roadmap 2040: Building UK Port Infrastructure to Unlock the Floating Wind Opportunity, the task force makes a series of recommendations that could see 34 gigawatts (GW) of floating wind installed in UK waters by 2040, but the government must take “swift and decisive” action to make it happen.
The current government target is 5GW by 2030. There are two floating offshore wind farms in UK waters – Hywind Scotland and Kincardine.
The UK has a pipeline of 37GW (one-fifth of the global pipeline) in floating offshore wind. These wind farms can be built in deeper waters, farther from the coast, where wind speeds are higher. According to the report, this technology “will play a key role in decarbonisation” and that it is “essential” for the UK to meet its energy security and net zero targets.
If the UK is to scale up its floating wind capacity, the report recommends that $6 billion should be invested into ports, upgrading them so they are ready for mass floating wind deployment by the end of this decade.
These upgrades would enable turbines with hub heights taller than 150 metres to be used and their giant floating bases to be manufactured and assembled in coastal locations. The initial focus would be on Scottish ports, Wales and the south-west of England, where floating projects are currently being planned.
The report suggests that if its recommendations to reach 34GW of floating wind by 2040 are implemented, £26.6 billion in additional GVA (total economic activity) in the UK would be generated.
The task force comprises the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, the Northern Ireland Executive, major offshore wind and port developers, The Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland, RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, and other key stakeholders.
RenewableUK’s emerging technologies policy analyst Laurie Heyworth, who worked on the report with engineering consultants Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “Getting on to the front foot to make the most of our enormous floating wind resource is essential to boost Britain’s energy security and deliver net zero as fast as possible. At the moment there are no port facilities in this country that are fit for the mass deployment of floating wind, so we need to start revitalising them now as new industrial hubs so that we’re ready for this new sector to take off at scale by 2030. The timeline is tight and we will only be able to deliver on our ambition if we take action promptly and decisively.
“The UK has the largest pipeline of floating wind projects in the world. We’re determined to ensure that we maximise the benefits of this innovative industry by capturing significant market share not only in this country but also by exporting our technology and expertise globally. Four-fifths of the world’s potential offshore wind resources is in deeper waters, so floating wind is a key technology that industry and government must ramp up now so that we can maintain our global lead in the decades ahead."
Nicola Clay, head of new ventures at The Crown Estate, added: “Floating offshore wind is an exciting new frontier in our transition to a more sustainable future, and it’s great to see this report recognise the potential of the Celtic Sea and the hard work we and others are doing to bring this opportunity to market as quickly as possible.
“There is a huge opportunity for the UK to show international leadership in in the race to deploy this new technology at scale, however it is clear from our own dialogue with developers and ports that this must go hand in hand with the rapid establishment of a new supply chain and upgrading ports. This will require collaboration, confidence and investment by all involved if the UK is to build the foundations for this industry to truly thrive and realise the full range of benefits on offer.”
Industry Roadmap 2040: Building UK Port Infrastructure to Unlock the Floating Wind Opportunity is sponsored by RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland. It can be found on the RenewableUK website.
20 March 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Toads Hole Valley housing plans approved
Brighton & Hove City Council’s planning committee has approved plans to replace a proposed secondary school with a further 182 homes – 40 per cent of which would be affordable.
The council granted planning permission for a new neighbourhood at Toads Hole Valley in June 2022. Another application in August 2022 was made by the developers to replace part of the proposed secondary school in the original application with additional housing.
The overall scheme is for a 42-hectare site just south of the A27, near King George VI Avenue in Hove. It is privately owned and is the largest greenfield development site in the city.
The initial proposal for the other 60 per cent of the homes is for 16 per cent of one-bed, 21 per cent two-bed, 55 per cent three-bed and eight per cent four-bed homes. There would also be nine additional custom/self-build plots.
The remainder of the former school land will provide a 3G sports pitch and multi-use game area under the original permission. Construction would take place at the same time as the rest of the Toads Hole Valley development, which is proposed in phases.
An assessment suggests that the new application will result in a net loss of habitats in Toads Hole Valley. So that the development provides the minimum 10 per cent net gain in biodiversity within the region, the developer proposes to pay for habitats of the same type to be created within the South Downs Local Character Area, as defined by Natural England.
Leo Littman, chair of the planning committee, said: “The Toads Hole Valley development will provide the city with over 1,000 desperately needed new homes overall, of which 40 per cent will meet the government’s definition of ‘affordability’.
“A number of environmental improvements have been secured, from renovation of the local wildlife site to energy-efficient homes and better active travel infrastructure.
“Committee members strongly encouraged the applicant to work with the council to identify a site within the city boundary for the biodiversity net gain investment.”
15 March 2023
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner
Plan to address river pollution agreed in Wales
Wales's First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the details of an action plan to reduce river pollution, including delivering short-term solutions to address current planning constraints.
The latest River Pollution Summit, held in Cardiff earlier this month, aimed to develop an approach to tackling phosphorus pollution that was both strategic and joined-up.
The Relieving Pressures on SAC River Catchments to Support Delivery of Affordable Housing Action Plan has several key themes, including:
Delivering short-term solutions to address current planning constraints.
Development of a unified nutrient calculator to directly aid planning decisions on nutrient neutrality that will have the ability to take account of catchment-level data, local features and needs.
The need for a joined-up approach and the need for fit-for-purpose governance and oversight arrangements to support decision-making in failing SAC rivers.
The need to use natural solutions more effectively to deliver multiple benefits.
The need to work constructively with the agricultural sector to find solutions to reduce and address excess nutrients in the soil and SAC rivers of Wales.
Provide clarity for stakeholders on the suitability of potential mitigation actions and interventions to reduce pollution.
A unified approach to catchment consenting in failing SAC rivers.
Increasing the understanding of practical measures within catchments that could be provided by Nutrient Trading.
Senior representatives from regulators, water companies, developers, local government, farming unions, academia and environmental sectors agreed to implement the new action plan.
Drakeford commented: “At this year’s summit, we discussed the need to be able to move at speed and accelerate actions, to strip away any unnecessary complexity and provide certainty and consistent messaging across the range of different challenges.
“We need to bring forward, quickly, mitigation measures to create headroom to support sustainable development now whilst also securing the longer-term investment to restore our rivers.”
He is “confident” that the actions will allow housing development in the affected SAC river catchments to restart.
"There is no single measure that will solve this problem and even a contribution of measures will take time to undo the cumulative harm of the past.
“Across the Welsh Government we are committed to improving the quality of our rivers across Wales and the River Basin Management plans, published last year, outline the actions required to allow our rivers to thrive.
“Although there have been improvements, we need to take an integrated catchment approach focusing on multi-sector cooperation and nature-based solutions to drive water quality improvements. Only by combining the actions of every sector can we tackle multiple risks impacting our lakes, rivers and streams and deliver real improvements to the quality of our waterways,” he said.
20 March 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Community hospital approved in Consett
Durham County Council has granted planning permission for a community hospital in Consett.
It has been designed by Medical Architecture for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
The project is in Cohort 2 of the New Hospital Programme, the plan by NHS England and NHS Improvement that is seeking to deliver 40 new healthcare facilities by 2030.
Shotley Bridge Community Hospital should provide opportunities for patients and staff to connect with the outdoors and benefit from the therapeutic qualities of nature.
Arranged around two large, landscaped courtyards, it will offer a range of facilities including outpatient services and diagnostics, an urgent care centre, a medical investigations unit for cancer services alongside a chemotherapy day unit, family health services, and a 16-bed rehabilitation inpatient ward.
The site masterplan and hospital building feature a pedestrian and cycle link that connects with the Coast-to-Coast cycle route running adjacent to the site, and a new footpath leading from the town centre.
Councils consults on CIL and planning obligations
Fareham Borough Council has published two separate consultations that relate to requirements that will be placed on future developers in Fareham.
One is for a proposed change to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) while the second relates to planning obligations.
An independent viability assessment concluded this month that a new CIL rate could be applied without negatively impacting development, with the council’s executive committee approving a proposal to consult on a new charging schedule that includes revised rates for residential and some non-residential development.
Also approved was a proposal to review the Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).
Simon Martin, an executive member for planning and development, said: “The council is proposing an update to two schemes to reflect up-to-date viability and infrastructure requirement evidence. Once finalised, these documents will set out how the council will secure delivery of infrastructure associated with future developments across the borough."
The consultations, which close on 1 May, can be found on the council website.2
Hillingdon grants St. Andrew’s Park housing approval
Hillingdon Council’s Planning Committee has approved plans from a joint venture between VINCI and St. Modwen Developments for the next phase of delivery at St. Andrew’s Park, Uxbridge.
The scheme will see 90 residential apartments at Land East of Mons Block, part of the wider major regeneration of the former RAF Uxbridge.
The new homes will form part of the approved masterplan comprising a new mixed-use community of 1,400 homes.
To date, more than 1,000 new homes, a primary school and a 32-acre public park have been delivered and are being enjoyed by residents and the wider Uxbridge community.
Phase one of Alkerden Village plans to go ahead
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee has approved plans for the first phase of the district centre, providing community amenities at Alkerden Village, Ebbsfleet.
The joint venture plans were submitted by Henley Developments, part of Henley Investment Management, with Erith Contractors.
The approval will see the delivery of a Morrisons supermarket, a gym, a nursery, a neighbourhood green, and 83 affordable homes comprising a mix of affordable rent and shared ownership units.
The Morrisons store is set to provide an estimated 80 to 107 local jobs, including several managerial roles and 49 full-time roles. In addition, the gym and nursery are anticipated to provide up to 20 jobs.
The mixed-use scheme at Alkerden Village will feature about 1,700 homes and forms part of the transformation of the 660-acre former quarry within the wider Ebbsfleet Garden City.
LDO updated for Milton Park
The Vale of White Horse District Council has voted to adopt an updated Local Development Order (LDO) for Milton Park.
This is subject to a legal agreement being finalised between the council and the owner of Milton Park, MEPC. The updated order is intended to fast-track planning approvals.
Following consultation with local communities in nearby villages, the updated Milton Park LDO includes plans for business and employment opportunities, such as laboratories, offices, shops, cafés, and a nursery.
It would also increase floor space for businesses and allow increased building heights in certain parts of Milton Park. It is expected that new developments would be designed in a way that reduces their carbon footprint and incorporates low or zero-carbon energy technology where possible.
Council prosecutes over unauthorised green belt development
Tewkesbury Borough Council has prosecuted an individual for developing green belt land without planning permission and failing to comply with two planning enforcement notices.
Shaun Dean Gorman, owner and occupier of Oaklands, Gloucester Road, Staverton, built walls, erected fencing and installed lighting.
He also introduced a change of use of the land without permission, by using it as a commercial depot, and constructed a large compound with an industrial-type building.
The council issued two enforcement notices in February 2019. These required the removal of all development carried out in breach of planning regulations and the restoration of the land to its former state. Gorman was required to cease using the land for commercial purposes.
On 15 March 2019, Gorman appealed both enforcement notices, which a planning inspector dismissed in April 2020. Gorman had six months to comply with the enforcement notices.
He failed to comply so the council began legal proceedings in June 2022. At a hearing in September 2022, he pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty in November 2022. Earlier this month, Gorman was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £752 costs and a £2,400 victim surcharge.
The prosecution was undertaken by One Legal, a legal service shared by Cheltenham Borough Council, Gloucester City Council, Stroud District Council, and Tewkesbury Borough Council.
NHBC partners with CIOB for apprenticeship assessment
NHBC has announced it will be working with the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) to provide end-point assessment for its Level 4 Construction Site Supervisor apprenticeship standard.
The Level 4 Site Supervisor apprenticeship sees trainees undertake 10 virtually-delivered modules over a 14-month period. Delivered by NHBC residential build experts, this format means the course can be completed alongside employment from anywhere in the UK.
The content of the training focuses on new-build homes and meets the requirements of major housebuilders. Apprentices will have the opportunity to register for CIOB student membership as soon as they sign up, along with access to CIOB's library and many online resources.
UK public buildings need to decarbonise faster
The Public Building Energy Efficiency Report has said the UK Government risks missing its 75 per cent CO2 emission reduction target by 101 years.
To meet the target of a 75 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2037, CO2 emissions from public buildings need to fall five times faster than they are.
According to the report's projections, 91 per cent of public buildings will need upgrading in the next seven years to meet net-zero targets.
The report was conducted by network service providers Neos Networks. It can be found here3.
Consortium appointed to regeneration plans in Winchester
Winchester City Council has appointed Jigsaw Consortium, trading as Partnerships & Places, to bring forward its Central Winchester Regeneration (CWR) project in the city centre.
The consortium comprises Genr8 Kajima Regeneration Limited (Kajima and Genr8 Developments) and PfP igloo (PfP Capital and igloo Regeneration).
The team "will deliver an innovative, sustainable, long-term placemaking solution for this once-in-a-generation opportunity quarter in the historic city centre of Winchester".
The city council envisages, through its supplementary planning document (SPD), regeneration in the city with a wide-ranging mix of uses including flexible work and creative spaces, food and drink offerings, a hotel and new high-quality public spaces.
Plans also include a variety of new homes to suit people of all ages, with a range of tenures available including private sale, homes for rent and affordable housing.
Wolverhampton housing plans agreement close
The City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet resources panel has been recommended to approve a scheme that would free up 7.5 acres of brownfield land for more than 200 new homes in the city.
The proposal would see council services in older buildings at the former Loxdale Primary School site in Bilston and Stowheath Day Training Centre in East Park relocated to new facilities at the Hickman Avenue Depot in East Park to improve service operation.
The new development at Hickman Avenue would enable taxi licensing to be relocated from the former Loxdale Primary School and the catering kitchens to move from Stowheath Day Training Centre into light industrial units alongside street lighting and catering & cleaning services, boosting jobs and training opportunities for local people.
If the scheme is approved, construction of the new units at Hickman Avenue will start during 2024, with the relocation and land remediation of the other two sites being completed later that year.
St Bride’s House plans approved in London
The City of London has approved plans by DLA Architecture for the extension and refurbishment of St Bride’s House on Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, in London.
St Bride’s House is an existing office building, formerly developed in 1982, within the Fleet Street Conservation Area.
The new design is intended to create a flexible workspace that targets the wellness of future users of the building. More immediate outdoor access will be provided for all refurbished floors through the creation of new terraces and balconies while cascading external planting will provide views of greenery. Also included is a dedicated lift, new reception, and a welcome lounge.
Enhancements to the public realm include the existing St Bride’s Passage that runs under the building and links Salisbury Square to Blackfriars with new artwork, hardscaping and seating areas.
Work is expected to begin on site in summer 2023 with conditional planning consent in place.
Wates and Brent Council agree on Wembley housing deal
Wates and Brent Council have agreed to develop 304 new homes in Wembley in north-west London.
The deal will see the creation of a mixture of affordable homes and homes for private sale built across two sites.
Of these, 250 homes will be delivered on land east of Cecil Avenue, which had previously been the site of Copland School. The plan is for a mixed-tenure courtyard development of five to nine storeys with one-bed, two-bed, three-bed and four-bed apartments and maisonettes. The new development will also house commercial units and community floor space at street level.
Opposite this site at Ujima House, another 54 homes will be built, along with workspace units, including a roadside café.
A total of 152 homes will be made available for private sale on the Cecil Avenue site. The other 152 properties on both Cecil Avenue and Ujima House will be a mixture of affordable homes for council tenants and people on middle incomes.
Countryside purchases land in Coventry from HLM
Mixed-tenure developer Countryside Partnerships has purchased a 250-plot 31-acre site in Eastern Green, Coventry from Henry Boot’s land promotion and planning business Hallam Land Management (HLM).
The wider Eastern Green development achieved outline planning permission in 2021 for the delivery of a new community comprising 2,400 new homes, of which 25 per cent will be affordable. It includes 37 acres of employment land, a new primary school, district and local community centres, a transport hub and extensive open spaces and play facilities.
Community benefits will include transport-related measures and incentives to encourage greater use of alternative travel modes with two dedicated busways.
The scheme also involves a new junction on the A45 dual carriageway for which HLM secured funding through the Homes England HIF process.
The transaction is due to complete by the end of March 2023, with a payment profile extending to January 2025.
Council approves Innsworth housing plans
Tewkesbury Borough Council has granted a reserved matters approval to Taylor Wimpey, assisted by Boyer, to develop 257 homes at Innsworth, near Gloucester.
It will provide 176 new net-zero carbon-ready homes for army personnel and their families at Imjin Barracks.
The new net-zero carbon-ready homes will include sustainability measures such as photovoltaic panels to generate green energy, air source heat pumps, and electric vehicle charging points for these properties.
Work on the homes, which are being provided under the Defence Estates Optimisation (DEO) Army Programme, will start later this year and is due to be completed by 2026.
The remaining development will deliver 81 affordable homes, of which 60 per cent are for affordable rent, and 40 per cent are for immediate housing for the local community, alongside areas of public open space.
21 March 2023
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner