Weekly planning news
Planning news - 24 March 2022
Khan commits to Lord Kerslake’s recommendations to increase affordable housing delivery
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has pledged to implement a series of recommendations intended to streamline housing development and enshrine the expectation to deliver 50 per cent affordable housing on GLA Group land.
The recommendations feature in a review commissioned by Khan and carried out by Lord Bob Kerslake.
The delivery of more homes, in particular council and social housing, is a priority for Khan, while Lord Kerslake's review was promised in the mayor's 2021 manifesto.
Since 2016, the GLA Group has started construction on more than 17,000 homes on its land, a “significant” contribution to overall housing delivery in the capital. Khan wants to maximise the number of homes being built on land owned or released by the GLA Group.
The review sets out 15 recommendations across five themes:
- oversight of GLA Group housing delivery;
- GLA Group collaboration on housing delivery;
- City Hall developer
- LLDC transition; and
- finance and funding.
One recommendation is for the mayor to mandate a statement of shared policy to confirm priorities for housing delivery on GLA Group land, which Khan published on Friday, the same time as the report was published. It has been endorsed by deputy mayors and chief executives across the GLA Group.
The statement of shared policy enshrines the minimum expectation of 50 per cent affordable housing on GLA Group sites and reinforces the expectation that all development on GLA Group land should be undertaken in accordance with the London Plan policies on good growth, including high sustainability standards.
The statement also commits the GLA Group to improving collaboration and consistency in its approach to housing delivery.
Another recommendation sets out how the mayor’s proposals for a City Hall developer can be implemented in two phases. Lord Kerslake confirms that a City Hall developer could provide additional development capacity to the sector, to help to ‘close the gap’ on future housing supply and would provide greater certainty that the mayor’s objectives will be prioritised.
Khan said: “Tackling the housing crisis has always been a top priority for me.
“I am proud to have achieved record-breaking delivery of genuinely affordable homes during my first term as mayor. This achievement includes working with boroughs to kick-start a renaissance in council homebuilding, with more council homes started across the capital last year than in any year since the 1970s.
“But I know we must do even more and I’m keen to lead by example through maximising the number of genuinely affordable homes built on land owned by the GLA Group. I thank Lord Kerslake for working with rigour and at pace to conduct his independent Review of GLA Group Housing Delivery. I am confident that this review will lay the path to enable a step change in how the GLA Group collaborates and delivers new genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.
“I accept the recommendations of Lord Kerslake’s Review of GLA Group Housing Delivery in full and now look forward to redoubling our efforts to build more of the homes Londoner’s need and deserve.”
Lord Kerslake commented: “There can be little argument about the essential need for more new housing and more genuinely affordable housing in London. I hope that my report assists in delivering the mayor’s housing ambitions. Every one of the members of the GLA Group has a part to play in this.
“This review has been done at pace, but thanks to the cooperation I have received across the group and the terrific support from the GLA, I believe it has been possible to get to the bottom of the issues and make firm recommendations.
“There is a need for stronger professional leadership, and a more unified, coherent, and streamlined approach. A City Hall developer has real potential to add significant value to London’s housing sector and should be delivered over two stages.”
Alongside the release of the review, Khan announced that following a competitive procurement process with the London Development Panel, Optivo, in partnership with Countryside, has been selected to develop a number of sites, including the surplus Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) at the former Peel Centre in Colindale. The sites will deliver more than 800 homes.
The Review of GLA Group Housing Delivery can be found on the Greater London Authority website.1
21 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Government publishes green paper to help it achieve nature goals
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Natural England have published proposals to help the government meet its international commitments to protect 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030.
These and proposed targets relating to water, air quality and the diversity of wildlife will be subject to separate eight-week consultations.
The nature recovery green paper proposes to establish a roadmap to achieve 30by30 – the government’s intended path to achieving Prime Minister Boris Johnson's pledge to protect 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030, which is part of the global Leader’s Pledge for Nature.
In halting species decline and restoring nature, the government said a “rationalised legal framework, supported by local expertise and scientific judgement, will enable our regulators to be confident in making conservation decisions most appropriate for each site and ultimately ensure a better, more coherent protected site system”.
The green paper also includes:
- A proposal for a new system of protections for sites and species – taking decisions based on scientific judgement to ensure a more tailored approach to protect Britain’s most vulnerable sites and species. It involves reducing the overlapping types of designation for nature sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation.
- Exploration of which institutional and delivery arrangements would best support the government’s objectives for nature recovery.
- Exploration of measures to scale up and de-risk a pipeline of investible nature projects using the £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund.
The proposed targets comprise:
- Halting the decline in species by 2030 and then to bend the curve to increase species abundance by 10 per cent by 2042. The government wants to create or restore in excess of 500,000 hectares of a range of wildlife-rich habitat outside protected sites by 2042, compared with 2022 levels.
- Reducing nutrient pollution in water by reducing phosphorus loading from treated wastewater by 80 per cent by 2037 and reducing nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment from agriculture to the water environment by 40 per cent by 2037.
- Improving the marine environment with 70 per cent of designated features in the MPA network to be in favourable condition by 2042, with the remainder in recovering condition, and additional reporting on changes in individual feature condition.
- Increasing tree canopy and woodland cover from 14.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent of total land area in England by 2050.
Environment secretary George Eustice said: “These proposed targets are intended to set a clear, long-term plan for nature’s recovery. In a post-EU era, we now have the freedom to move towards a system that focuses on nature’s recovery as well as its preservation, and which places more emphasis on science and less emphasis on legal process. This change in approach will help us in the pursuit of the targets we are setting under the environment act.”
Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said: "Our network of protected sites has been the backbone of England’s conservation effort for seven decades. It has been vital for hanging on to many special places, and many of our most vulnerable species, but we can and must do better. As nature faces ever-increasing pressures, including from the effects of climate change, it is no longer sufficient to maintain the remnants of nature that have survived, but to invest in large-scale recovery.
“Ambitious targets to halt the decline in species abundance and to increase the area of land and sea protected for nature, backed by a range of new policies to meet them, means that we are in a strong position to shift up a gear – not only protecting what’s left but also to recover some of what has been lost.
“Natural England will work with government and other partners to help achieve these important new environmental targets, ensuring that any new system of protections not only maintains but restores our depleted natural world, contributing to England’s Nature Recovery Network.”
Both consultations will close on 11 May. They can be found here: Nature Recovery Green Paper: Protected Sites and Species2 and environmental targets3
On the nature recovery greenpaper, Joan Edwards, director of policy and public affairs, The Wildlife Trusts said: “If it’s sincere in its ambition to reverse wildlife decline and restore nature, the government must focus on improving the protections for our most important wild places for nature and set a target to restore them to good condition. It’s absolutely vital that it resists calls to lift the rules that protect our most important wild places. Currently, nationally important protected sites for nature such as Swanscombe Peninsula are still threatened with inappropriate developments which increase flood risk, put wildlife at risk and set us back in the fight against climate change. The green paper must ensure these special places have stronger protections and that decisions to designate them are led by the science. Sites of Special Scientific Interest should not become Sites of Political Convenience.”
On the environmental targets, Edwards added: "Over the past five decades, our wildlife has dramatically declined. The situation is dire: one in 10 species in England is on the brink of extinction and we now live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. The government’s 25-year environment plan said they would hand over the environment in a better state for the next generation – but the reality is that the new target they have set is so unambitious that it could leave us with even less wildlife in 20 years’ time than we have now. Instead of setting themselves up to fail, the government must keep to their word and, as a minimum, set a target that will clearly deliver more wildlife than we currently have.”
Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “We are pleased to see how high priority the natural environment is for the government within this green paper and other measures announced today to protect the environment.
“Councils in our cities, towns and rural areas understand better than anyone the importance of protecting and preserving green spaces. They are at the heart of driving positive change in their communities. The Environment Act 2021 and the targets set out today will mean councils take on a new relationship and responsibility for the environment, and it’s crucial that they have the support and resources to protect our blue and green spaces effectively.
“Councils need to be listened to closely on nature recovery. Nutrient neutrality, and the halt to development it will cause, will have wide ranging consequences for local areas.
“Ensuring that environmental protection is at the heart of planning policy is a priority for all local authorities. There are no easy answers and solutions need to be tailored to each area. Government can help by working with councils to review housing targets, where this is appropriate, and the LGA and the Planning Advisory Service will work with councils to find solutions and we support the additional funding for catchment areas.
“Local development plans are key to successful and sustainable growth, and the long-term solution to these environmental issues must focus on improving water quality and reducing pollution at source. We are seeking a position within the Ministerial taskforce on this issue, to help the government deliver on a plan that works for all.”
16 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
BPF sets out plans for a net-zero commitment
The British Property Federation (BPF) is developing plans for a net-zero pledge that is intended to unite its members in tackling carbon emissions from the built environment and achieving net zero by 2050.
The announcement was made at the UK Government pavilion at MIPIM.
The pledge is designed to support all companies in the property sector to share ideas, best practice and lessons in real time to “accelerate the pace of change and drive innovation”.
BOF said the campaign specifically aims to support its smaller members to achieve net-zero by leveraging the BPF's reach across the real estate industry and connecting small and large members in this common goal.
Through the pledge the BPF, will call on all its members to:
- Sign up to setting net-zero targets and plans, and commit to supporting the UN Race to Zero or similar initiatives by June 2022.
- Share information, knowledge and research on an open-source basis, and encourage radical collaboration across the sector.
- Support each other and, in particular, the smaller and medium-sized businesses in the sector, by leveraging the experience and expertise of those leading the drive to net zero.
This statement of intent will be followed by the formal launch of the campaign at the BPF annual conference in June 2022.
Guy Grainger, president of the BPF and global head of sustainability services & ESG at JLL, said: “The latest report from the UN makes for serious and sober reading – we must act now to limit the worst of the impact of climate change. The built environment is a major contributor to the climate crisis, so the real estate sector has a particular responsibility to decarbonise our assets as quickly as possible. Many of our members are leading the way – during my tenure as BPF president I want to make sure that we share knowledge and good practice, support each other and that every single BPF member has started the journey and is well on the road to net zero.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive at the BPF, added: “The real estate sector has a critical role to play in tackling the climate crisis, and there is now a real sense of urgency and gathering momentum as companies make sustainability a key business priority. But this is a shared objective, and our net zero pledge campaign is about accelerating the pace of change by uniting the sector behind this common goal, allowing businesses across all facets of real estate to collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other. It is a bold ambition, but radical collaboration is the only way to address this urgent challenge.”
21 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Bridgwater tidal barrier plans approved
Environment secretary George Eustice has approved plans for construction of a £100 million Bridgwater tidal barrier in Somerset.
The barrier, approved through a Transport and Works Act, will protect 11,300 homes and 1,500 businesses in the town and surrounding areas. It will also help to protect four schools, a hospital and the town’s shopping centre.
The A38 and links to the M5 and the main railway line between Taunton and Bridgwater will also be safeguarded.
It will be built using low-carbon concrete and designed with two moveable gates on the River Parrett, along with new flood defence embankments and improvements to existing embankments downstream of the barrier.
Environmental benefits include wetland habitats being created and improvements to fish and eel passes on the Parrett and the Tone in a bid to boost fish numbers. At the barrier a cycle and footbridge will be created to encourage active travel.
Rachel Burden, Wessex Flood and Coastal risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “This is a significant milestone for one of the biggest flood defence schemes in the country.
“This decision gives real confidence that the barrier is well on the way to being delivered and will help the town of Bridgwater and surrounding areas be ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change – today, tomorrow and past the year 2100.”
Construction is set to begin early next year, according to the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor Council.
21 March 2022
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner
Planning inspectors rule local plan for South East council sound
Folkestone and Hythe District Council's local plan has been found sound by the Planning Inspectorate, subject to a number of main modifications.
The council’s cabinet will consider it on 23 March and the full council on 30 March.
The Folkestone & Hythe District Core Strategy Review sets out the type and location of development that is required to meet the needs of the district until 2037.
It identifies a number of strategic sites for development, including Otterpool Park, as well as the continuing development of Folkestone seafront, Shorncliffe Garrison, Sellindge and New Romney.
Otterpool Park will be a new garden settlement that will comprise between 8,000 to 10,000 homes, with development to continue beyond the plan period. The council owns a lot of the land.
Otterpool Park is supported by Homes England, and it is included in the government's Garden Community Programme.
The inspectors considered the adverse effect that the new settlement will have on the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with the extent of the impact dependent on the layout, form and design of development, as well as the approach to open space and landscape mitigation. “It is essential that adequate policy safeguards and guidance are in place to ensure that adverse impacts on the setting of the AONB are minimised, in line with national policy (NPPF paragraph 176).”
They suggest modifications to achieve this.
The inspectors also note that the council “has undertaken a thorough and robust appraisal of the options to accommodate the growth necessary to deliver the housing requirement”, that there are no reasonable alternatives to deliver the housing requirement and that it is “viable and deliverable”.
On balance, they “consider that the new garden settlement is justified in principle”.
The core strategy review also contains policies that relate to infrastructure, green infrastructure, nature enhancements, water management and town centres.
David Monk, leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, said: “I have every confidence that the CSR will be adopted on 30 March, and we will then be able to use the policies to guide development.
“I am particularly pleased that the inspectors found the four policies relating to Otterpool Park to be comprehensive and wide-ranging, and that they recognised the council’s very strong commitment to bringing forward the new garden town. Overall, the inspectors’ findings that the CSR is sound bring the examination to a very successful conclusion.”
Andy Jarrett, director of planning at Otterpool Park LLP, added: “We are very pleased with the inspectors’ report, which secures the future of the development and will ensure that the needs of current and future generations are met.
“This is a green light for the outline planning application which proposes 8,500 homes and 9,000 jobs. We are now finalising amendments to the proposal, responding to representations made by interested people and organisations and these will be submitted to the council in the very near future.”
The inspectors’ report can be found on the council website.4
16 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Energy-efficient school approved in Edinburgh
The City of Edinburgh Council has granted planning permission for the new Currie Community High School, which will be “one of the most energy-efficient high schools in Scotland”.
The campus will be the first Passivhaus-designed high school in the country. Approval of the school supports Edinburgh’s aim of net zero emissions by 2030.
Construction of the school is expected to start in the summer and be completed in 2024.
The school will have a series of learning zones for pupils with breakout areas including:
- Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) space over three levels with dual-teaching classrooms, science labs, technician areas and a learning plaza.
- Languages and humanities space with dual-teaching classrooms, learning plaza and a debating chamber.
- Expressive arts facilities including music rooms, a recording studio, art studios including a kiln room, dance studios, drama studio and stage.
- Health and wellbeing facilities including a gym hall, games hall, fitness suite and swimming pool, food technology and hospitality.
- Integrated support with a wellbeing hub, a support for learning classroom, a sensory room and a sensory garden.
The English Cities Fund has been extended for 10 years
Homes England, Muse Developments and Legal & General have recommitted to the English Cities Fund, a £200 million joint venture that sees them deliver regeneration schemes.
This extension of 10 years to the commitment will include delivering 6,600 homes and two million square feet of “innovation and commercial space” as part of the levelling-up agenda.
Work includes a £2.5 billion, 240-acre scheme that the English Cities Fund has secured at Salford Crescent in partnership with Salford City Council and the University of Salford. It intends to build more than 3,000 homes, alongside up to one million square feet of space to “innovate and collaborate”, one million square feet of offices, retail, leisure and a new multimodal transport hub that has active travel at its heart, as well as “swathes” of green space.
The English Cities Fund has also partnered with St Helens Borough Council to bring forward opportunities to sustainably repurpose and regenerate areas across the borough, such as delivering a new market hall. The masterplan for the development was signed by the council's cabinet in February.
Sir Michael Lyons, chair of ECF, said: “Our towns and cities are the engine rooms of our economy. By bringing together the investment and regeneration skills of Homes England, Legal & General and Muse Developments, we are uniquely equipped to help in reshaping and strengthening local economies. Our ability to work at pace but with focus on long-term impact makes us an outstanding partner for ambitious communities.”
Fife backs enforcement charter
Fife Council has approved its update enforcement charter, which covers the next two years.
The charter provides greater clarity and certainty for customers who raise concerns about unauthorised development and works in Fife.
It sets out what planning enforcement can and cannot address and intends to improve the efficiency in the processing and handling of enforcement complaints received by the planning service as well as provide greater certainty for those subject to investigations.
Pam Ewen, head of planning at Fife Council, said: “This latest version of the Enforcement Charter 2022 confirms the commitment of the planning service to deliver effective enforcement activity to ensure that the built and natural environment of Fife is protected.
“Throughout the charter we set out our service standards which customers of the service can expect. The charter sets out how to raise planning enforcement enquiries with the planning service through our online form, as well as providing clarity on issues that are not planning issues that the planning enforcement process can investigate.
“The charter sets out how we assess the risks and harm associated with unauthorised work and confirms how we make the judgement as to what is an appropriate and proportionate response to any unauthorised development.”
Trebor submits Eastern Gateway plans
Trebor Developments has submitted a planning application to Ipswich Borough Council for a five-unit industrial and logistics scheme at Eastern Gateway, Ipswich.
The units range from 10,000 square feet up to 55,000 square feet and would be built on a speculative basis.
Ipswich Council also plans to improve new estate roads and access, cycleways, and public footpath links.
If planning permission is granted work will begin in Q3 2022 and be ready for tenants from Q2 2023. It will create about 350 jobs.
Greg Dalton, development manager for Trebor, said: “Ipswich is a key industrial and logistics hub in the East of England and we’re delighted to have submitted planning for this important scheme. The scheme will be even further improved by the works Ipswich Borough Council are undertaking and we look forward to investing in much-needed new industrial product for this area.”
Kensington approves council housing plans
Kensington and Chelsea Council has approved plans to develop 83 council homes in North Kensington on Barlby Road.
Most of the homes will be available at social rent and the scheme will provide a new indoor sports facility and extensions to a dental practice and community garden.
Barlby Road is one of the council’s phase 2 sites in its New Homes Delivery Programme, which aims to build 600 new homes, 300 of which are for social rent.
Work is expected to start in summer 2022, with the first residents able to move into their new homes by the end of 2024.
Caerphilly appoints Grimshaw to design interchange
Caerphilly Council has appointed Grimshaw Architects to design an interchange in Caerphilly town centre as part of its regeneration plan that is supported by the Welsh Government's Transforming Towns programme.
The plans will see the development and expansion of the public transport network through the South Wales Metro, and the electrification of the Core Valley Lines. It is estimated the interchange in Caerphilly will serve in excess of a million passengers a year.
Philippa Marsden, leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “Successful remodelling of the interchange will act as a catalyst to other development opportunities in the town centre whilst at the same time helping towards a modal shift to public transport.
“The interchange project will help lay the foundation from which the town can overcome economic challenges and stimulate further activity to make Caerphilly a thriving town centre. I am therefore very excited by this project and keen to see an exemplar transport interchange be developed in the heart of the town centre.”
22 March 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya