Skip to content

Planning news - 30 March 2023

National park to implement scheme to restore biodiversity

The South Downs National Park Authority is introducing a scheme to restore biodiversity and deliver nature-based climate action.

‘ReNature Credits’ is intended to bring together developers and landowners to unlock private finance streams that deliver multiple benefits for nature recovery, including restoring lost habitats, woodland creation and wildflower meadows, said the park authority.

Under the plan, developers will be able to acquire ReNature Credits through the park authority's brokerage service for phosphates, nitrates, and biodiversity net gain.

The park authority said carbon offsetting might be added at a later date.

The credits are part of the park authority's ReNature initiative, which is aiming to create 13,000 hectares of new wildlife habitat. Following a call for sites among landowners, “dozens” of sites are ready for large-scale nature recovery.

The park authority wants to increase the amount of the national park managed for nature from 25 per cent to 33 per cent by 2030.

Nick Heasman, countryside and policy manager for the authority, said: “We’re excited to be launching this bespoke service to help achieve our ambitious goals for nature recovery and climate change.

“Nutrient credits and biodiversity units are not a new thing in the planning world, but they often don’t have a joined-up approach that delivers nature benefits at a landscape scale. This is where 'ReNature Credits' are different. As a national park covering 1,600km2 and with over 1,000 different landowners, we can identify the very best areas for biodiversity restoration and ensure habitat connectivity that will deliver tangible, long-term benefits for both nature and people.”

The park authority will act as a sustainability-focused broker, working with developers and landowners to maximise benefits for nature and local communities.

Developers can purchase ReNature Credits for their forthcoming projects – within or outside the national park – through the SDNPA ReNature Credits brokerage service.

The government announced in February that developers in England will be required to deliver 10 per cent biodiversity net gain (BNG) when building housing, industrial or commercial developments from November this year.

More information can be found on South Downs National Park Authority website.1

22 March 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Planning Portal announces location plan creator tool

Users of the Planning Portal’s new tool will be able to draw their own site boundaries rather than sourcing a map provider when preparing applications.

Planning Portal says that the new tool will streamline the process, make applications more consistent and reduce manual effort. Planning professionals will be able to access a copy of their location plan as both a PDF and a data file.

In a blog post published earlier this month, Planning Portal said: “The existing process of sourcing a map provider, then creating and attaching that site location file, is time-consuming, presents inconsistencies, and does not meet with the government’s digital planning reform agenda.”

The move aims to reduce invalid applications, as local planning authorities will receive information in a more consistent, standardised way, to be checked against legislative criteria. Planning Portal says that inaccurate location plans are the “single biggest cause” of invalid applications. 

The service charge, which includes the costs of the new feature, will increase to £53.33 plus VAT. The feature will be available from early May, although the exact date is to be confirmed. 

More information can be found on Planning Portal’s website, blog2 and YouTube3.

23 March 2023
Ben Gosling, The Planner

Cardiff City Council commits to £800m council house programme

The capital has committed to spending £800 million on a high-quality, low-carbon affordable council housing programme.

Cardiff City Council’s ambitious council housing initiative is outlined in the local authority’s annual Housing Revenue Account Business Plan, which was approved by the council’s cabinet yesterday (23 March).

Of the target of at least 4,000 new homes, 2,800 of which will be council homes and 1,200 homes for sale, more than 1,000 new homes, including 822 council homes, have already been built. The overall programme currently includes 60 sites that have the capacity to deliver at least 3,500 new homes in total, and work is under way to identify more sites to achieve the 4,000 homes target.

As part of the programme, more than £150 million has been earmarked for 10 new older-person community living schemes, providing 600 new flats to meet older people’s aspirations and needs as they age.

The move towards carbon-zero homes is a priority not only in new-build developments but in existing stock, in line with the council's One Planet Cardiff Strategy.

Sustainability and innovation are key drivers with developments such as the highly energy-efficient modular-build homes at Crofts Street, Plasnewydd, and the net zero-ready Aspen Grove site with its use of on-site renewable technologies in Rumney setting the standard and gaining national recognition at award ceremonies.

Lynda Thorne, cabinet member for housing, said: “It is more important than ever that we are able to provide good-quality, affordable housing to those who need it most, and there’s much to look forward to in the coming year – our first new-older persons' housing scheme at Addison House in Rumney opening in the autumn, the expansion of the gasworks site to help tackle the housing crisis and the first phase of the transformation of the Channel View estate, to name but a few.”

In a related development, around 250 ‘hard to heat’ homes in Cardiff are set to benefit from a multimillion-pound investment scheme to improve their thermal efficiency and help reduce energy costs for residents.

More than £7 million has been earmarked for the project, which will see improvements carried out on council and privately owned British Iron and Steel Federation (BISF) homes in Llandaff North and Rumney.

The energy efficiency retrofit scheme will involve external wall insulation being installed on up to 252 steel-framed, non-traditional build-type houses in these areas, helping to make the properties more thermally efficient.

Meanwhile, ministers have set a national target of an additional 20,000 low-carbon social rented homes by 2026.

24 March 2023
Roger Milne, The Planner

West Midlands local plan paused

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has announced that the examination of its local plan has been paused.

The council had made a request to the inspectors examining the plan for an opportunity to consider the implications of revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

In a letter, inspectors Kevin Ward and Kelly Ford responded: "Given that the proposed revisions are subject to consultation and may well change as a result, it would be appropriate to wait until the finalised version is published. With this in mind, we propose a pause to the examination until the revisions to the NPPF have been finalised and published. We will reconsider the situation at that time, but it would seem likely that we would provide an opportunity for the council and other interested parties to set out their position on the implications and way forward."

This may mean further hearing sessions are required, they explained.

The council, “reluctantly, supports your proposal to pause the examination until the revisions to the NPPF have been finalised and published".

Andy Mackiewicz, cabinet portfolio holder for climate change, planning and housing, said: “It is important that the local plan examination is given an opportunity to take into account the latest government planning reforms that are expected to the NPPF. Whilst the council acknowledges that this will add a delay to getting the plan adopted, it is more important to ensure that it is the right plan for our borough.”

The inspectors' letter can be read here.4

The council's letter can be read here.5

23 March 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner

London office tower block plans approved

The City of London Corporation’s planning applications subcommittee has approved plans for a 32-storey tower at 85 Gracechurch Street, creating more than 27,000 square metres of office space.

Architects from Woods Bagot drew up the plans for developer Hershten Group, which will retain and restore the 1930s façade of the existing nine-storey building, with a new higher structure built behind.

The development will feature a ground-floor public hall including food, retail and event spaces, reopening a historic pedestrian route between Gracechurch Street and Lime Street Passage, increasing footfall into Leadenhall Market.

A fifth-floor heritage garden and free public exhibition will display finds from nearby sites and offer an educational facility for schools, as well as a new visitor attraction, which could feature a virtual reality experience of life in Roman London.

It will link to a public walkway with views over the rooftops of the neighbouring Leadenhall Market and the City. In the basement, Roman remains will be on display to the public.  

There will be “significant” areas of urban greening, which will result in widened pavements on Gracechurch Street and more than 600 new cycle parking spaces.

Shravan Joshi, City of London Corporation Planning Applications sub-committee chairman, said: “We worked closely with Historic England to ensure preserving and showcasing the archaeology of the location – in situ in the event of any significant remains found – was at the heart of these plans.

“This development will create new jobs, boost the economy of the Square Mile and drive significantly increased footfall to Leadenhall Market, helping to boost the market’s appeal as a major visitor destination in its own right.”

27 March 2023
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

News round-up

Councillors vote to adopt Calderdale plan

Councillors at Calderdale Council have voted to adopt the area's local plan at a full meeting.

Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and strategy, said: “The local plan is about building a better Calderdale for everyone – whether you’re a child needing a school place, a school-leaver looking for their first step on the career ladder, a young family looking for their first home, or an older person wanting a home where they can access care.   

“It will open up opportunities for new investment, for the creation of new jobs and support our thriving towns and places. It will lead to the development of much-needed high-quality new homes so that young people can build a good life here, and families can move here to raise their children.

“And it will allow us to make sure that our natural environment is protected so that future generations can enjoy our precious and distinctive landscapes.”

The cabinet recommended that the local plan should be adopted after inspector Katie Child said it is sound and legally compliant, subject to the modifications.

Views to be sought on climate change documents

Woking Borough Council is seeking views on its climate change strategy and its Climate Change Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

The climate change strategy, known as Woking 2050, was adopted in 2015. It sets out how the council aims to create a sustainable borough by reducing the area's environmental impact.

To make sure that it remains relevant, council officers have reviewed and updated the document to reflect the latest good practice, government policies and targets.

Adopted in 2013, the Climate Change SPD sets out how future development should contribute to reducing carbon emissions, as well as making efficient use of local resources such as water and energy.

It provides detail on how policies within Woking’s Core Strategy apply to day-to-day planning decisions.

The revised SPD brings together changes to the planning system on sustainable construction and renewable and low-carbon energy generation.

The two six-week consultations will be hosted on the Woking Community Forum. The consultations will commence following May’s local election.


City of Wolverhampton Council and English Cities Fund sign MoU

The English Cities Fund (ECF) and the City of Wolverhampton Council have signed a memorandum of understanding to identify future regeneration opportunities.

They undertake to follow a joint process of reviewing potential development sites. These could deliver new homes, shops, restaurants, offices, or public spaces.

Areas that are identified as having regeneration potential could be brought forward and delivered by the partnership under future agreements.

The ECF is a joint venture between nationwide placemaker Muse, financial services group Legal & General, and Homes England.

Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for the city economy, said: “ECF is one of the UK’s leading placemaking and regeneration specialists. They have a strong track record of identifying opportunities and delivering value.

“We are excited to start working with the team to review sites across the city with a view to unlocking regeneration and economic growth. This will build on the multibillion-pound investment already on-site or planned across Wolverhampton and will also help deliver more jobs for our residents. With fresh ideas and approaches, building on ECF’s decades of expertise, we are confident of some exciting new initiatives emerging.”

Berkshire council to submit local plan soon

West Berkshire Council has announced the Local Plan Review 2022-2039 (LPR) will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in the “near future”.

This is in line with the resolution of the council approved in December 2022.

The announcement follows an engagement process that commenced with stakeholders in 2021 and culminated in the recent Regulation 19 consultation. During this discourse about 700 representations were received, raising around 1,700 individual points.

The LPR includes the delivery of approximately 9,000 homes by 2039, including 3,000 affordable homes, supported by new local infrastructure. It also establishes "high standards” for sustainability and environmental impact to protect natural areas.

Richard Somner, executive member for planning, transport and countryside, said: “The administration of West Berkshire had a clear objective to deliver a new local plan for the district. This is a local plan that takes difficult decisions but balances these with the hopes and ambitions of all of our communities.

"In an ever-changing policy environment, we have a local plan that is robust, ambitious and provides reassurance for our residents and businesses about what West Berkshire stands for."


51 projects set to receive CIL funding

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council will use developer contributions from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to fund 51 projects as part of its Strategic Infrastructure Programme 2023-2027.   

The projects are aimed at improving community buildings, transport, education, health, sports facilities and open spaces, flood-risk reduction, and climate change measures.

Of the funding, 16 per cent will be spent on local projects and at least 80 per cent of the money raised will be used for new or improved strategic infrastructure.

This includes joint schemes such as £234,000 towards the cost of subway improvements forming part of ‘Delivering Change in Horley Town Centre’, which is a council initiative supported by Surrey County Council, Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, and Horley Town Council.


Sweet Street West neighbourhood plans get approval

Leeds City Council’s planning committee has approved plans submitted by build-to-rent (BTR) developer PLATFORM to create a 1.3-million-square-foot mixed-use quarter on Sweet Street West.

The eight-acre site, located in the South Bank regeneration area, will deliver a mixed-use quarter on a brownfield site that has been vacant since 2009.

The masterplan comprises up to 1,350 BTR apartments with green space throughout, providing an area for people to live, work and socialise.

It will incorporate the refurbishment of the historic pub The Commercial, as well as the creation of a neighbourhood hub that will provide additional dining and entertainment options and amenities for residents around a newly created public square.

The masterplan also includes two office buildings of 96,000 square feet and 48,000 square feet respectively, with floor plates of up to 15,000 square feet.

Residents will benefit from multiple electric vehicle car charging points and car club parking spaces.

PLATFORM says it aims to start working on the site later this year.


Ouseburn residential development plans submitted

George Jenkins, D of Modo Bloc, has submitted plans to Newcastle City Council for a £25 million residential development overlooking the Ouseburn, in Newcastle.

The plans include redeveloping the almost one-acre site that comprises the existing Grieveson’s commercial yard on Leighton Street and Byker Bank.

Full planning permission is sought for proposals to demolish the existing buildings on-site and redevelopment to build 84 one, two, and three-bedroom flats.

A range of smaller flexible business units designed to accommodate small-scale retail and commercial operators to complement the existing range of outlets in the area is also proposed.

The development will provide limited parking spaces and priority will be given to supporting travel by cycling, walking, and public transport.


Paddington Police Station redevelopment plans approved

Plans to redevelop Paddington Green Police Station BY by Berkeley Homes (Central London) Ltd have been approved by the GLA.

The facility, which was formerly a West London counter-terrorism facility, will be replaced by three buildings of 39, 24 and 17 storeys.

The development will include ground-floor commercial uses, community space, and new public realm, extending the existing Berkeley West End Gate scheme and forming a continuous cluster with the Paddington Basin.

Montagu Evans advised on the heritage, townscape, and visual impact of this Squire & Partners-designed scheme.


Birmingham named Tree City of the World

Birmingham City Council has been named a Tree City of the World for the fourth year running.

Majid Mahmood, cabinet member for environment, said: “It’s great to hear we have been independently reconfirmed as a Tree City of the World for the fourth year running. This is a recognition of our dedication to growing and maintaining our urban forest by working with partners to shape and deliver plans that develop our environment in a sustainable and coherent way.

“We know the benefits that trees bring for the health and wellbeing of the people of Birmingham as well as our economy – so we will continue to do everything we can to manage and enhance the city’s tree canopy because that is integral to our ambitions both as a city of nature and on our route to achieving net-zero carbon emissions.”

Council announces £159m council homes plans

Powys County Council has announced that it will invest more than £159 million as part of a five-year programme to build and improve existing council homes.

The council’s “at home in Powys – housing business plan” would see the council build more than 310 new council homes by 2027-28 as part of an investment package worth almost £79 million.

The plan also includes investment worth more than £31 million over the next five years in the council’s existing homes to make sure they continue to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard, which requires houses owned by housing associations and local authorities to be in good condition.

28 March 2023
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner


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

RTPI logo The Planner logo

    Planning news - 30 March 2023

      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.

      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.