Weekly planning news
Planning news - 23 November 2023
Study outlines major gap between decarbonisation policy and planning
A significant gap lies between what can be achieved by following government transport decarbonisation policy and meeting these targets through local planning, according to fresh research.
A study by design and engineering company Stantec and research network DecarboN8 argues that car use in the UK must be reduced by at least 20 per cent by 2030.
However, relying on a switch to electric vehicles alone will not be enough to meet transport decarbonisation targets and people and places need to play a much more significant role, reveals the analysis. This means creating places in which active travel, public transport or shared mobility systems are more attractive than cars – particularly for journeys of between five to 30km.
Developments will need to focus on creating more attractive places to live, work, and play where there is less need to travel, with convenient alternatives made available. This will support changes in travel behaviour the UK needs to meet net-zero mobility targets as well as create healthier places.
The research was carried out with Transport for the North (TfN), Transport for Greater Manchester, and Bury Council, as well as Leeds, Newcastle and Lancaster universities.
“We need radical change in our approach to development and infrastructure planning if we are to meet our net-zero obligations for surface transport and create places where people want to live and work,” said Stantec director of transport and place and report author Keith Mitchell.
Bridging the Gap is available on the Stantec website1.
20 November 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Watchdog hits out at missed levelling-up scheme deadlines
Local authorities look unlikely to complete projects funded under the government’s levelling-up programme by their original deadlines, according to the public spending watchdog.
A total of £9.5 billion in funding has been allocated by the government since 2020 through the Levelling Up Fund, Towns Fund and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
However, a National Audit Office (NAO) investigation reveals “overlapping investment themes” for culture regeneration and transport, with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) allocating funding in different ways which meant that “local authorities could not align their plans to secure most value”.
As of March 2023, just £2 billion had been given to authorities, of which £0.9 billion had been spent across all three of the funds, says the NAO. Project delivery under the Levelling Up and Towns funds is behind schedule, and council progress reports are showing signs of "slippage”.
The watchdog said the DLUHC’s original deadlines are unlikely to be met, pointing out that 50 per cent of the main construction contracts for Levelling Up Fund projects due by March 2024 were unsigned, rising to 85 per cent of projects due by March 2025.
Factors behind the delays include inflation, skills shortages and wider construction industry supply challenges, but the NAO says departmental decisions had “a detrimental impact too”, with the DLUHC making several funding announcements later than planned, resulting in many local authorities delaying works. In one case, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund was launched in April 2022, authorities had to submit investment plans by August, but the DLUHC did not approve these until December, giving councils only three months to spend their 2022-23 allocation.
The NAO also criticises the communication surrounding the bids. The deadline for submitting the first round of Levelling Up Fund bids came before the final confirmation of Town Deals offers. This meant that local authorities did not know what funding they might receive from each fund, preventing effective planning and potentially jeopardising value for money.
Levelling Up Funding to Local Government is available on the NAO website2.
20 November 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Historic England unveils draft advice on building adaptation
Draft advice for planning authorities and consultants on reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency in historic buildings has been unveiled by the government’s heritage adviser.
The move by Historic England follows its latest survey of conservation staff which revealed an “urgent need” to publish an advice note to help planning authorities determine applications for building adaptations.
Only 16 per cent said they felt very confident making decisions on energy-efficiency retrofit proposals. The poll also showed 59 per cent of respondents said the volume of casework involving decisions, advice, or pre-application enquiries about retrofit had increased in the past year.
The draft advice note covers the need for planning permissions or other consents for some of the common changes required to decarbonise and improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings, as well as examples of typical adaptation proposals. It also looks at how local plans and other planning mechanisms can deliver a positive strategy for historic buildings to support climate action.
Other features include key homeowner questions about listed buildings and homes in conservation areas, with advice on insulation, boilers and heating systems, heat pumps, draft-proofing, replacing or adapting windows, and installing solar panels. Historic England said “this will dispel some of the myths” about actions that can be taken by owners who live in a listed building or conservation area.
Director of policy and evidence Ian Morrison said the note “demonstrates how historic buildings can become more energy efficient and help to reduce carbon emissions”.
He added: “It’s not a question of ‘if’ change can happen, it’s a question of ‘how’, and this new advice will make it clearer for us all to ensure historic buildings are adapted appropriately to respond to the climate crisis.”
The draft advice is available on the Historic England website3.
20 November 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Brabin unveils plans for 40,000 homes in West Yorkshire
Plans to build 40,000 homes alongside a drive to improve housing quality have been unveiled by West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin.
Nearly 90,000 households across the region are on local authority waiting lists for housing, with a further 63,000 homes at risk of flooding, according to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA). Only 23% of homes in the region are well-insulated.
The WYCA is now seeking the public’s feedback on a housing strategy which sets out overarching ambitions to 2040 and key objectives.
These include boosting the supply of “the right homes in the right places”, with 40,000 to be developed “over the next few decades”. The WYCA’s partnership with English Homes has established 16 significant and strategic “focus areas” for housing development.
The strategy also aims to “ensure everyone in West Yorkshire can live in a warm, comfortable and low-carbon home” to support the WYCA’s 2038 net-zero targets, with an emphasis on sustainable neighbourhoods including bus networks, active travel and connecting housing to the wider region.
Brabin pledged to “create greener, more vibrant communities where people feel safe”. The WYCA will review and reshape the strategy in the light of the public’s feedback early next year.
17 November 2023
Ben Gosling, The Planner
Watchdog seeks views on landbanks and planning rules
Two working papers have been unveiled by a watchdog investigating whether landbanks and the planning system are damaging competition and the delivery of new homes.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that more than a million plots in the UK are held in landbanks. In most areas, several different builders hold that land, it added.
It is seeking feedback as part of a market study on whether local competition is “negatively impacted” in the small number of areas where large amounts of developable land are controlled by a small number of housebuilders.
The regulator’s working paper on landbanks will examine their size, recognising that housebuilders need to hold a pipeline of land as sites pass through the planning system.
An accompanying paper suggested options for the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments to consider when reforming their planning systems. These include whether zoning or a rules-based approach to development will improve competition between housebuilders and boost delivery of new homes.
A second option requires councils to consult only statutory stakeholders, rather than a wider group, when assessing planning applications. Under this option, late responses to developments would be ignored.
The CMA is also seeking views on “an effective housing target that reflects the needs of specific areas”, and how governments can ensure all councils have a “proper” local plan in place.
“We’ve heard concerns that the way large housebuilders use landbanks and complex planning rules may be harming competition and holds up the building of new homes,” said CMA markets director Dan Turnbull.
“The market study is looking at all the options available which could increase the numbers of homes being built for the people who need them – this includes probing the issues around landbanks and planning rules further.
“We now want to get feedback on these working papers from the key people in the industry – be that council planning departments, builders or landowners – before we publish our findings early next year.”
The deadline for feedback on the papers is 6 December.
More information can be found here4.
16 November 2023
Huw Morris, The Planner
Consultation begins on place plan for Jaywick
Tendring District Council is consulting on the Jaywick Sands Place Plan, a long-term plan designed to address various issues and make Jaywick Sands a better place to live, work and visit.
Issues include poor housing quality, flood risk, lack of connectivity and limited economic opportunities.
Jaywick Sands Place Plan was compiled based on residents’ feedback and ideas from a consultation held last year, as well as the latest research and evidence
It features a range of actions and projects to improve the area, such as:
- Building new and improved homes that are affordable, energy-efficient, and resilient to flooding.
- Enhancing the public spaces and streets to make them more attractive, accessible and safe.
- Developing new flood defences that protect the community and the environment.
- Improving the transport links and digital connectivity to neighbouring areas and beyond.
- Supporting the local economy and creating new opportunities for business, tourism, and employment.
- Promoting the health and wellbeing of the residents and providing better access to public services and facilities.
A survey on the plan can be found here5. The consultation closes on Monday 8 January 2024.
The council worked with HAT Projects on the plan.
Esri announces data partnership with AppyWay
Esri UK has announced that AppyWay has joined its partner programme, giving Esri customers access to digital kerbside data.
The move allows local authorities to better understand the UK’s kerbside restrictions when planning active travel and low-carbon initiatives, including EV charge point, e-scooter or cycle hangar projects.
AppyWay provides granular digital maps of the kerbside, showing all traffic regulation orders (TROs), such as on-street parking, permit parking and yellow line restrictions, covering more than 500 towns and cities.
Integrating into Esri geospatial applications, data from AppyWay adds another dimension to existing information on street furniture, air quality, tree surveys and roadworks.
This additional insight intends to help local authority planning, highways and traffic teams make decisions on how best to use their street space for new sustainable mobility schemes and meet active travel and net-zero targets.
Appleby housing plans submitted
Story Homes has submitted a planning application to Westmorland and Furness Council to bring up to 117 new homes to Appleby.
The development will be located on land accessed off Bongate and behind Cross Croft, which is allocated for housing within the adopted Eden District Local Plan.
The housebuilder is proposing to deliver a mix of new homes ranging from two to six bedrooms including bungalows and a number of accessible and adaptable homes in line with the requirements of the local plan. These energy-efficient homes will benefit from electric vehicle charging points, photovoltaic panels and A-rated appliances.
The housebuilder hopes to receive a decision in 2024. More about the scheme can be found here.
555 student rooms approved in Brighton
Lewes District Council has granted planning permission for a 555-bedroom student accommodation development on a site near Brighton’s Amex Stadium.
Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) developer and operator Downing is behind the scheme.
The development will be located on the site of the former Bennett’s field car park by the Amex Stadium.
Two six-storey linear wings will be constructed, with an interlocking two-storey central social hub. The accommodation will be split into 130 luxury, self-contained studio apartments, 397 student cluster rooms, 18 accessible studios and 10 accessible cluster rooms. Other features include a roof terrace, gym, cinema, games room, private dining rooms as well as generous study, breakout and social spaces.
This purpose-built student accommodation will be built to a BREEAM Excellent standard.
Downing's scheme is set to benefit the surrounding student population, including the University of Sussex, University of Brighton, British and Irish Modern Music Institute, Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, East Sussex College Lewes and other local higher education providers.
Caravan and leisure park approved
Pembrokeshire County Council has approved plans for the expansion of a holiday park.
The proposed development at the Heritage Park, Stepaside, will be delivered by Heritage Leisure Development (Wales) Ltd.
Plans feature the provision of 48 holiday lodges, along with an equestrian centre, five-star leisure spa, café, and cycle hire facility.
The £6 million project aims to expand the local tourism offer and breathe new life into a former pub, craft village and animal farm that have been abandoned and vacant for a number of years.
Planning and development consultant Lichfields' Cardiff office worked on behalf of the owner and operator.
21 November 2023
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner