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Planning news - 3 November 2022

FMB members support retrofitting UK homes 

Small builders are in favour of a long-term plan to retrofit homes to reduce energy consumption and make them more energy efficient. 

Of the Federation of Master Builders's (FMB) members, 74 per cent support the introduction of a retrofit plan by the UK Government, according to its latest quarterly State of Trade Survey. 

The survey also shows that material prices have increased. It has been published at a time of political uncertainty, with Rishi Sunak becoming prime minister after Liz Truss resigned following a 'mini-budget' that upset the markets.   

The FMB warns that without a clear political and economic direction, the industry continues to face an uncertain future. 

The poll found that: 

  • 74 per cent of small, local builders are in favour of retrofitting UK homes. 
  • Both workload and enquiries have decreased in Q3 2022 compared with Q2 2022 on balance in all sectors. 
  • 33 per cent of FMB members report an increase in enquiries for Q3 compared with Q2 2022. 
  • 62 per cent of FMB members have been affected by a shortage of materials. 
  • 90 per cent of builders are experiencing materials cost increases, with 88 per cent of respondents expecting prices to rise in the next quarter. 
  • 20 per cent of FMB members report an increase in the number of employees within their company’s workforce in Q3 2022. 
  • At least one-third of FMB members are struggling to recruit carpenters/joiners, bricklayers and general labourers – 43 per cent, 38 per cent, and 34 per cent respectively). 

Brian Berry, chief executive at the FMB, said: “The fall in builders’ workloads and enquiries to a level not seen since 2013, discounting the turbulent market during the Covid pandemic is a worrying signal about the future prospects for the building industry. They reflect the overall economic situation that the UK finds itself in. 

“Small builders across the country need clear policies, and a degree of assurance so that they can plan ahead. The current political uncertainty and its impact on the economy needs to be addressed quickly. Over 70 per cent of members support a UK-wide retrofit strategy to make the existing housing stock more energy efficient. This is one of the best ways to boost both the economy and the industry, while also upgrading our homes in an energy-efficient way.” 

31 October 2022 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Football team and development firm join forces on regeneration project

Wates Partnerships and Aldershot Town Football Club have agreed to deliver homes on land around the EBB Stadium, which will facilitate the regeneration of the football stadium in the town centre. 

Under the agreement, Water Partnerships will take responsibility for securing planning permission for the stadium works and the residential development. 

The company will work alongside key stakeholders on the project, including Rushmoor Borough Council, the club and its supporters. 

It is expected that a planning application will be submitted in 2023 after a period of community engagement. 

The money from selling the homes should generate sufficient value to enable advancements to the club to be realised, in order to provide a sustainable future for Aldershot Town Football Club, which is in Hampshire. 

Craig Horn, director for Wates Partnerships, said: “This is an important project for the partnerships team at Wates and the result of many months of hard work. We’re proud to be working with Aldershot Town FC on this project. We are very much looking forward to progressing plans to provide new club facilities and new homes, which will secure the football clubs’ future as a real community asset.” 

Shahid Azeem, chair of Aldershot Town FC, added: “On behalf of the board and the club, we are extremely grateful to Rushmoor Borough Council for their support, particularly to council leader David Clifford; Councillor Martin Tennant, deputy leader and major projects and property portfolio; as well as Rushmoor cabinet; along with Karen Edwards, executive director; and Tim Mills, head of regeneration and planning.” 

“This is a really exciting time for the club. Whilst I know results are important on the pitch, having this signed agreement will protect the future of the football club. There are so many people to thank and acknowledge, who we will thank during the engagement period.” 

A timetable for community engagement and local consultation, to help shape the improvements, will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Wates Partnerships is part of the Wates Group, a privately owned construction, residential development and property services company. Aldershot Town Football Club, based in Aldershot, Hampshire is a professional association football club in the Vanarama National League. 

31 October 2022 
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Views sought on updating Leeds plan 

Leeds City Council is consulting on its draft local plan update, which is intended to help the city make 'significant' progress on achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. 

Policies in the draft focus on reducing carbon emissions of new buildings, and increasing the provision of renewable energy to maximise opportunities to create healthier environments. 

Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive portfolio holder for infrastructure and climate, said: “The local plan update will play a key role in meeting our climate emergency commitments, shaping our city’s planning policies for the long term to help Leeds on that critical journey to becoming carbon neutral. 

“This is a significant challenge that needs sustained effort from everyone across our city as well as significant changes to our policies. The local plan update doesn’t stop there – it also sets out planning policy to help the city build healthier places, make space for nature, and protect ourselves from flooding.” 

The draft local plan covers the period from 2022 to 2040. The five key focuses in the plan are to: 

  • “Dramatically” reduce the carbon emissions of new buildings and increase the provision of renewable energy. 
  • Better protect green spaces and biodiversity and increase the quality of what is created in the future. 
  • Make it harder to cut down trees and require far more trees to be planted as replacements where it’s unavoidable. 
  • Improve resilience to flooding and make space for water in new developments. 
  • Improve new places by requiring that they incorporate the highest standards of design and maximise opportunities to create healthier environments. 

More information about the draft local plan can be found on the Leeds City Council website1

31 October 2022 
Laura Edgar, The Planner 

Wigley submits Stonebridge plans to Coventry council

Commercial property firm The Wigley Group has submitted plans to Coventry City Council for a £4.5 million logistics scheme to help create new industrial space for businesses.  

The plans include creating nine new units on Stonebridge Trading Estate, ranging between 1,500 square feet and 5,000 square feet in size. 

The site has been owned by The Wigley Group since February 2015 and currently contains a single 34,000-square-foot unit that would be demolished.  

The scheme is located across the A45 from Jaguar Land Rover’s Whitley headquarters and is close to the proposed gigafactory for the production of electric car batteries. 

James Davies, chief executive officer of The Wigley Group, said: “We are really excited to bring these plans forward. This is a fantastic location for industries to be based, given its location next to the A45 with connectivity to the national transport network including the M45, M1, M40 and M6. 

“There are ambitious plans in this area to create a gigafactory on the site of the current Coventry Airport too, and we see this as a scheme which works in tandem with that to encourage and support the growth of industries and the economy in this region, creating a real hotbed for business.” 

Mike Vining, land and development director, added: “The current site, as it is, is not functional and does not make the most of the space as it should.  

“This is a real opportunity to create a more practical space to meet the demand for smaller industrial space, with the potential for nine new businesses to establish themselves in this area, bringing with them new jobs, skills and business.” 

If the scheme is approved, work could start in spring 2023 for completion in early 2024. 

31 October 2022 
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Plans for state-owned green energy company outlined by Welsh minister 

The Welsh Government has confirmed that it plans to establish a publicly-owned renewable energy developer to focus initially on onshore wind farms on the government’s woodland estate. 

The renewables company is scheduled to be up and running by April 2024, climate change minister Julie James told the Senedd Cymru. 

She insisted that surplus funds generated by the new developer would go back into the public purse “to be reinvested in improving energy efficiency in homes in Wales and creating good-quality, home-grown, clean energy jobs". 

She noted that to date Natural Resources Wales has overseen the installation of four projects totalling 441 megawatts of onshore wind, with another 134MW still in development. 

“This has delivered not just income to the public purse from lease payments and direct to communities from community benefit funds, but opportunities for communities to take ownership of part of these developments. The projects have also funded improvements in natural capital, such as restoring and expanding areas where peat was in danger of releasing greenhouse gases,” said the minister. 

She told the Senedd: “Alongside setting up the developer, we will develop a portfolio of projects, engaging at an early stage with communities and local authorities. 

“We will also be looking in detail at the benefits that this approach will deliver. We will work with those who live near projects to define community benefit proposals that really make a difference to their lives. 

“We will also work with Natural Resources Wales to make sure that those projects contribute to tackling both the climate and the nature emergencies.” 

28 October 2022 
Roger Milne, The Planner 

News in brief 

McGrail highlights floating wind benefits 

Dan McGrail, chief executive of RenewableUK, has told the UK Parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee in London that floating wind offers “huge” industrial, economic and environmental benefits to Wales and the rest of the UK. 

RenewableUK has urged the government to ensure that annual auctions Contracts for Difference are designed in a way that secures as much new capacity as fast as possible to build up the supply chain. 

McGrail said: “Floating wind is a very big opportunity for global growth and the UK has a leading position in this. As we’ve taken an early-mover position, we can establish ourselves as a global leader in this technology, building a new industry here and exporting our technology worldwide. 

“We should not underestimate the significance of the challenge of building the grid infrastructure that’s needed. The amount of time that it takes and the complexity from a consenting point of view is significant. But my point would be that net zero has been in law since 2019, and the regulator, Ofgem, still does not have net zero in its mandate. If it did, it would be obliged to start thinking about this in a more strategic way – and that needs to be addressed very soon.” 

500 homes approved in Weymouth 

Dorset Council has granted planning permission for a £120 million residential scheme in Weymouth. 

The scheme is a joint venture with housing provider Abri. 

It comprises 500 homes in an urban extension on the outskirts of the town. The site is 13 hectares in size. 

The homes will be either one or two-bedroom apartments and one, two, three, and four-bedroom homes. Of the homes, 175 will be affordable. 

The scheme is part of a larger site at Littlemoor. 

Flood alleviation schemes completed in Northern Ireland 

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has announced the completion of two flood alleviation schemes. 

A £2.8 million scheme on the Glenbrook River in the Cregagh Road/Montgomery Road area of East Belfast has been completed. 

This comprised the construction of approximately 750 metres of flood alleviation measures, with just some planting and minor finishes to be concluded. 

Former infrastructure minister John O'Dowd said: “The completion of this significant scheme should reduce the risk of flooding to approximately 285 homes in the area, which is welcome news for the local community.” 

Also complete is the £6.3 million Shimna River Flood Alleviation Scheme. This provides enhanced flood protection and reduced flood risk to 312 homes and businesses. 

It involved the construction of 1,430 metres of flood walls and embankments that extend both upstream into Tipperary Wood and downstream into Island Park from the New Bridge on the Bryansford Road. 

O'Dowd made the announcements last week, ahead of the deadline by which the country’s politicians should have restored the devolved government (Friday 28 October). The deadline was set by the UK Government. 

Chris Heaton-Harris, Northern Ireland secretary, said he would be calling an assembly election, but has not yet set a date. The legislation says it must be held within 12 weeks. 

Canal extension scheme lodged in Swindon 

Permission is being sought to connect an existing section of the Wilts and Berks canal in the District Centre with the waterway in East Wichel. 

Wichelstowe LLP, the developer delivering the Wichelstowe development, is behind the application. Wichelstowe LLP is a joint venture company, a 50:50 partnership between Swindon Borough Council and Barratt Developments plc. 

The application includes creating a stretch of canal, a continuous pedestrian connection, and a series of ecological improvements. A new crossing of the canal under Mill Lane and a towpath also feature. 

Subject to planning permission, work is scheduled to begin in 2023, taking a number of years to complete. 

EV charging infrastructure to be funded 

Octopus Energy Generation has announced its first investment in the UK's electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. 

The company said it has earmarked £110 million on behalf of its Sky fund (ORI SCSp) in Manchester-based EV public charging network Be.EV to scale and install new charge points across the UK. 

Octopus Energy supplies all of Be.EV chargers with 100 per cent green electricity. This deal is intended to help grow Be.EV’s 150-strong public charge point network, with Be.EV committed to adding 1,000 more charge points across the North of England and beyond by 2024. This move would increase the firm’s charge point coverage by more than 600 per cent.   

Public EV charge points are unevenly distributed in the UK, skewed towards London, according to Department for Transport statistics. Through the investment, Be.EV intends to "address this imbalance at speed". 

Electricity record set by wind farms 

Statistics from the National Grid show that onshore and offshore wind farms have generated a record high of 19,936 megawatts (MW) of electricity. 

The record was set on 26 October between 11.30am and 12 noon, providing more than half of Britain’s electricity. 

The previous record, 19,916MW, was set on 25 May 2022. 

UK battery firm could run out of money 

Start-up firm Britishvolt could run out of money and go into administration. 

This follows the government’s rejection of a £30 million request for advanced funding, reports BBC News. 

The firm wants to build a factory in Blyth in Northumberland to build batteries for electric vehicles. 

The government has previously championed the firm, including a £100 million commitment to the project. 

Britishvolt has struggled to find investors to help fund the construction of the Blyth gigafactory. The £3.8 billion project has been delayed several times and is now in doubt. 

Wellington Plaza acquired for Leeds redevelopment 

Asset Capital and Prescient Capital’s joint venture partnership has acquired Wellington Plaza from Legal & General Investment Management in Leeds city centre to redevelop the building. 

The 1980s former HQ building on Wellington Street is one of the last remaining sites in Leeds's West End business district in need of redevelopment, having been vacant for many years. 

DLA Architecture has been appointed to draw up designs to transform the building, which includes an increase in floor space from 21,000 square feet to provide 65,000 square feet of grade A office accommodation offering floorplates of around 10,000 square feet. 

The scheme will offer workspace and communal amenities to the highest specification with strong ESG credentials. 

A planning application is due to be submitted next month with plans to deliver the project by 2024.   

Modo Bloc submits apart-hotel plans in Newcastle 

North East developer Modo Bloc has submitted plans to Newcastle City Council to develop an aparthotel on a site in Ouseburn, Newcastle. 

The plans would see 28 apartments built within a single five-storey structure on Foundry Lane. 

The £8.5 million project, located within the Ouseburn Conservation Area, will comprise a mixture of one, two, and three-bed apartments along with one four-bed apartment. 

It is proposed the ground floor will be made up of some retail and commercial units with associated parking for vehicles and cycles. 

SPPARC appointed to Chatham Docks masterplan 

SPPARC, a London-based architecture studio, has been appointed by manufacturing conglomerate ArcelorMittal Kent Wire to design a new masterplan for Chatham Docks in Kent, the South East’s last remaining non-tidal port in operation. 

The proposals will see the addition of 100,000 square metres of new energy-efficient industrial floor space and the creation of about 2,500 new jobs across the site. Existing businesses that currently house 800 R&D and advanced manufacturing jobs on-site will also be retained with the efficiency of their operations greatly improved. 

The proposed SPPARC masterplan includes the creation of a green landscaped riverfront route linking St Mary’s Island, an established part of the Chatham Maritime development area in Medway with Chatham Waters’ shopping offer on the peninsula. 

It also includes new piers to improve the efficiency of the basin and green buffer zones and community spaces adjacent to the historic lock gates. 

Connecting Leeds £270m scheme complete 

Connecting Leeds, a £270 million transport investment programme to transform transport and travel in Leeds, has been completed,   

The programme began in 2018 to bring people, places, jobs, learning and leisure closer together. This was achieved through improvements to road, rail, bus, park, and ride, cycling and walking services and infrastructure, reducing congestion, and improving air quality and accessibility. 

Some of the projects delivered include newly built and expanded park-and-ride facilities, almost 1,000 new real-time information boards at bus stops, Wi-Fi and new low-emission buses.    

The government awarded £173.5 million for investment in public transport to Leeds City Council in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, with further investment by bus operators to deliver the scheme.   

Uplands Business Park plans submitted London council   

Property developer NEAT Developments and BlackRock Real Assets have jointly submitted a hybrid planning application to Waltham Forest Council for an industrial-led, mixed-use development at Uplands Business Park on Blackhorse Lane in London. 

The proposals would create a new mixed-use neighbourhood comprising over 29,000 square metres of light industrial floor space, and up to 1,800 new homes, 35 per cent of which would be affordable. It will include an extensive public realm and a range of amenity and recreational space. 

The phased approach comprises the redevelopment of parts of Uplands Business Park and Forest Trading Estate in Walthamstow. 

Phase 1 facilitates the retention of existing businesses on the site and construction of 18,000 square metres of industrial floor space across two buildings. It also delivers 119 new homes. Phase 2 delivers another 11,000 square metres of additional industrial floor space and up to 1,681 homes. 

Uplands is serviced by three nearby train stations, Blackhorse Road Tube, and Walthamstow Central and Queens Road Overground, all with easy links into Central London and beyond. 

Existing businesses at the park will be relocated within the newly created units and it is expected to create 1,000 extra jobs through the scheme. 

If plans are approved, phase 1 construction work will begin in late summer 2024, with completion anticipated in summer 2027. 

1 November 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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    Planning news - 3 November 2022

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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.