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Planning news - 31 March 2022

Government launches Community Housing Fund

The Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Local Government (DLUHC) has announced that 1,200 homes will be delivered in England through a £4 million Community Housing Fund.

The Community Housing Fund programme seeks to help community groups build homes in their local area by covering a range of costs incurred in the process.

This could be from renting the town hall for a public meeting, paying for searches, administration costs or legal advice, design work and planning applications.

The department explained that once planning permission is granted, "community groups can fund the build through the government’s Affordable Homes Programme, a housing association or developer or via a bank loan".

The fund intends to help level up the country by regenerating derelict areas.

The new houses will be part of locally-based organisations such as land trusts or housing co-operatives, meaning they stay under the control of the community.

Housing minister Stuart Andrew said: "Part of our levelling up mission is to build the quality homes that communities want and need. Community-led housing is a great way to ensure local housing needs are met by putting local people in the driving seat.

"It is about residents playing a leading and lasting role creating genuinely affordable homes which regenerate and restore pride in communities."

The fund will help to deliver 52 housing projects in England, from Cornwall to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

A share will also go towards Bradford’s Greenwood Community Led Housing group, which will build 62 supported homes for people with autism, learning disabilities or dementia. In Leeds, 34 affordable homes are being built to regenerate a deprived part of the city following extensive involvement of residents in the design of the buildings.

The announcement of the fund comes after the publication of the Bacon Review. This recommended that reigniting the Community Housing Fund would create more opportunities for communities to build.

28 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Cash for councils to address coastal erosion

The UK Government has announced a £36 million investment in exploring 'innovative approaches' to adapting to the effects of coastal erosion.

The money comes from the £200 million flood and coast innovation programme.

The initial areas to receive fnding from the Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme will be the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Norfolk. Both local authorities will receive funding to help communities on coastline that cannot sustainably be defended from coastal erosion.

Floods minister Rebecca Pow said: "As climate change brings more extreme weather, we must redouble our efforts to build a more resilient nation. We have ramped up flood and coastal erosion policies, and we will always defend our coastline where it is sustainable and sensible to do so. Where it isn’t we will support communities to adapt.

"What we are announcing will support innovative solutions to help those areas most vulnerable to coastal erosion to prepare and adapt."

The government intends for the programme to support residents to prepare for long-term resilience. The interventions could include:

  • Developing the local planning system so it supports and facilitates the managed transition of communities from high-risk land and ensuring it restricts future development in areas affected by coastal erosion.
  • Improving and replacing damaged community infrastructure, such as beach access or coastal transport links, and replacing public or community owned buildings in areas at risk with removable, modular, or other innovative buildings.
  • Repurposing land in coastal erosion zones for different uses such as temporary car parks and restoring and creating habitats to include green buffer zones.

The Environment Agency will manage the programme and support both areas. It will run until to March 2027.

The government will use lessons from the programme to inform future national policy direction to contribute to coastal resilience activity like the ongoing national refresh of existing Shoreline Management Plans.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: "England’s coastline has never been static. Today, 9,000 kilometres of open English coast is at risk from sea flooding, erosion and landslips, and by 2100 once-a-century sea level events are set to become annual events.

"As a minimum, we need to plan for at least a metre rise of sea level rise by the end of the century. In some places the pace and scale of change may be so significant that, over a period of time, coastal authorities will need to help local communities transition away from the current shoreline over time.

"This programme is about providing that local support while increasing the whole country’s expertise and resilience in the face of climate and coastal change."

28 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Listed homes won't need permission for solar panels in London borough

Residents in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea will no longer need to apply for individual consent from the council to have solar panels fitted on their listed homes.

Much of the borough lies in conservation areas and there are around 4,000 listed buildings. Until now, the owners of these buildings have required individual listed building consent to install solar equipment.

The council is introducing a planning order - the first in the country - that will mean listed building consent is no longer required for various kinds of equipment, including solar tiles or slates, or solar thermal panels, on grade II and most II* listed buildings.

The order sets out conditions about the positioning, materials and fixings that can be used in order to protect the appearance and fabric of listed buildings, the council saying this will "just need a simple application".

Johnny Thalassites, Kensington and Chlesea's lead member for planning, place and environment, said: “We need to be innovative to tackle the climate emergency and I’m proud that we’re the first council to introduce a planning order to make solar power a realistic choice for more people.

“Removing barriers to green energy is vital because 80 per cent of the borough’s carbon emissions come from buildings. With 4,000 listed buildings in Kensington and Chelsea, we’ll need more of these homes and businesses running on renewables if we are going to be carbon neutral by 2040.

“Protecting the unique character of our borough and its beautiful buildings is important and we know that solar panels can be installed without being visible at street level and without causing any damage to the building.”

Plans for the order were consulted on in February 2022, which were shown support by residents’ associations, individuals and the Historic Houses Association.

The council hopes that the move will help it to reduce the borough’s reliance on carbon heavy fuels like gas and oil.

28 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Nature should be ‘at the heart’ of design codes

The RTPI and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have called for design codes to put net zero, nature recovery and equality at the beginning of the planning and development process.

Local authorities in England are expected to provide design guidance for developments, with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) outlining them as an important tool for shaping places, but the organisations argue that design codes, which have the potential to be transformative, say they are often introduced towards the end of the development process.

With the government aiming to achieve net zero by 2050, Cracking the Code: How Design Codes Can Contribute to Net-zero and Nature’s Recovery intends to help local authorities, communities and developers to put net zero and nature recovery at the heart of the design and placemaking process". By doing this, a “meaningful” contribution can be made to tackling inequality.

Design codes “establish a set of critical success factors and a baseline understanding of what ‘good’ looks like” – report

It builds on the National Design Guide published in 2019 and the National Model Design Code published in 2021. It seeks to provide further guidance of how we can design for net zero and nature recovery.

Acknowledging that design codes are not new, given codes were used during the Georgian period through to garden villages and new towns, the report states that “addressing the twin crises of climate breakdown and nature loss does give design codes a new significance and urgency”.

“Decisions about growth should be governed by the impact on carbon emissions, and on habitats, biodiversity and green and blue infrastructure, and equally how those decisions influence and facilitate active lifestyles and infrastructure such as public transport, to support more equitable access to jobs and services," the report explains.

For the RTPI and the RSPB, introducing design codes earlier and focusing on net zero and nature recovery is an opportunity to start addressing inequalities in access to green space.

According to Cracking the Code, the new generation of design codes needs to become “far more evidence-based”. Frontloading design at the start of the planning and development process, alongside various tools such as carbon modelling and high-quality environmental and ecological data, will ensure that energy and changes in land use and natural systems are given proper weight.

It argues that the climate, smart energy and nature underpin all aspects of planning and design. They need equal weight with housing, transport and economic growth in national policy. “Design codes can integrate spatial planning and enable local planning authorities to set targets which go beyond national standards,” states the report.

It sets out five key themes that can help design codes contribute to the success of new developments:

  • An introduction of design codes earlier in the development process.
  • A new and far stronger focus on how to deliver net zero and nature recovery.
  • A robust framework for environmental assessments.
  • An intentional delivery of the community’s vision for the place.
  • Carbon and nature to be prioritised throughout the design and development process.

The RTPI’s research was conducted in partnership with the RSPB and led by planners at independent consultancy LDA Design. The project benefited from support by data, climate and transport specialists, City Science, and ecologists BSG.

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, commented: “The planning system is responding to the imperative of net zero, but we must, at the same time, act to arrest an unprecedented decline in nature and biodiversity.

“This guidance and the illustrative design codes will make sure that local developments deliver nature-rich places and meet England’s net-zero goals.”

Frazer Osment, chair of LDA Design, said the research has “serious ramifications”.

“It shows that national policy needs to be more strategically integrated, with climate, smart energy and nature being given equal weight to housing, transport and economic growth. The National Model Design Code needs to put far more emphasis on climate and nature and what this means for design characteristics and good design.”

Emma Marsh, director of RSPB England, commented: “Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to wildlife and humans and nature is in freefall. This research shows how the location and design of future growth must be informed and directed by the impact that it has on carbon emissions and on habitats, green and blue infrastructure and our amazing wildlife that depends upon them.

“Research shows that communities value nature on their doorstep, and so placemaking that responds to what local people prize means designing so that people can engage with nature on an everyday basis.”

Plans for local design codes in England were first set out in the planning white paper, Planning for the Future, published in August 2020.

Since then, the government has announced that 14 councils were taking part in a pilot that saw them apply the new National Model Design Code (May 2021) and that 25 councils would receive a share of £3 million to set their own local design codes (March 2022).

Cracking the Code: How Design Codes Can Contribute to Net-zero and Nature’s Recovery can be found on the RTPI website.1

24 March 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Cardiff Bay development involving arena approved

The regeneration of Cardiff Bay’s Atlantic Wharf has made a significant step forward now that the first phase, involving a new 17,000-capacity arena and a 182-bedroom hotel, has been approved by the city council.

As well as full permission for these key elements of the scheme, earmarked for a 13.5-hectare site in Butetown, the capital’s planning committee has backed a masterplan comprising:

  • up to 890 new dwellings;
  • 1,090 hotel bed spaces, 19,500 square metres of employment floorspace;
  • 27,500 square metres of leisure activities; 
  • over 12,000 square metres of retail development; and
  • public realm, open space, car-parking and cycling provision.

With Robertson Group as developers and Live Nation and Oak View Group as joint operators, the arena will offer Cardiff the opportunity to host some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry while attracting visitors to the city and generating wider local economic activity for hotels, restaurants, and bars.

Cabinet member for investment and development, Russell Goodway, said: “The Atlantic Wharf masterplan will see significant improvements made to the public realm and to public transport links to the bay. The importance of the new arena cannot be understated – it will kick-start the next phase of regeneration in Cardiff Bay.”

25 March 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner


News round-up

Student accommodation plans submitted in Leeds

Downing has submitted a planning application for a mixed-use scheme comprising student accommodation and a multi-purpose events venue in Leeds’ cultural district.   

Proposals are for two plots of land adjacent to the Leeds First Direct Arena in the city centre, which includes the site of the soon to be vacated Yorkshire Bank HQ.  

The submission is for a detailed planning application for two purpose-built student accommodation buildings on Merrion Way and Clay Pit Lane and outline consent for a multi-purpose events space, the development of which would be taken forward by Leeds City Council at a later date. 

The student accommodation would deliver 1,200 bedrooms across two buildings of 38 and 17 storeys respectively, including a mixture of five and six-bed cluster flats with shared living/dining spaces and individual studio units. Accessible bedrooms also feature.

The development will incorporate photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps.

Plans also include a 9,940 square metre facility at the centre of the Leeds Arena Quarter for events. 

 

Architect chosen for Kensington cycle bridge

Property developer Ballymore has appointed local architect Studio Bednarski to design a cycle pedestrian bridge over train tracks at Kensal Canalside.

This follows an introduction through the Kensington and Chelsea Council funded RBKC Construction Supply Chain programme.

Studio Bednarski, based in Barlby Road in the borough, won the tender to undertake RIBA stage 1, project brief and feasibility studies development, and stage 2 concept design for the bridge.

Cezary Bednarski of Studio Bednarski is set to work alongside structural engineers, Buro Happold, MK Surveys and Network Rail, to bring forward the design concept.

 

Inspector outlines interim finding on Calderdale plan

An inspector has outlined her interim findings following the examination in public of the Calderdale Local Plan.

In her report, Katie Child states: "Overall, I consider that, subject to main modifications, the Plan is likely to be capable of being found legally compliant and sound."

Jane Scullion, cabinet member for regeneration and strategy, said: “We particularly welcome her finding that the council’s overall proposals were based on sound evidence. We also welcome the changes to the plan recommended in her letter and believe that these will result in a better local plan.   

“This will allow us to protect our heritage, our beautiful countryside and the distinctive character of our local communities whilst allowing us to develop the sustainably built homes that we need."

The inspector's letter can be found on the council's website.2

 

Edinburgh to invest more than £100m in council homes

Edinburgh City Council has announced it will spend around £128 million over the next 12 months on improving council homes and building new affordable homes in Edinburgh.

Councillors at the housing, homelessness and fair work committee have agreed a comprehensive spending programme for the year ahead.

The plans will see improvements carried out to more than 3,000 council homes to make them greener, safer and more accessible.

The council is aiming to be one of the first local authorities in Scotland to pilot a ‘whole house retrofit’ approach to support the council’s net zero carbon commitment.

 

New homes to be built in Sutton-in-Ashfield

Mixed-tenure developer Countryside has purchased land on a site at Alfreton Road in Sutton-in-Ashfield, to build 110 new homes.

The properties will range from two to three and four bedrooms, and will be built on land behind Alfreton Road, near the A38, bringing new rental and affordable properties to the area.

A new access road will link the new homes to Alfreton Road and a new footpath will provide a direct link through to Mapplewells Primary School.

Ninety nine of the properties will be available for private rental through the Gatehouse Bank and TPG Real Estate joint venture and 11 properties will be affordable homes owned and managed by emh group.

 

ilke to deliver modular housing in Hastings

A reserved matter sapproval for 140 homes  in Harrow Lane, Hastings, has been granted by Hastings Borough Council, pursuant to outline planning permission.

When approved, modular housing developer ilke Homes will begin to deliver a mix of apartments and houses, ranging from one- to four-bedroom family homes at its factory in North Yorkshire.

The 12.4-acre site will be delivered by ilke Homes as part of its turnkey offering – by which it acquires land, gains planning permission, manufactures the homes and develops the site..

The scheme is expected to be completed in Spring 2024, and managed by a registered provider of affordable homes.

 

McBains appointed to Leominster scheme

Herefordshire Council has appointed McBains via the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) framework to provide design and consultancy services for public realm improvements in Leominster.

McBains and its partners will deliver investment in Leominster’s conservation area and Corn Square through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) scheme, delivered by Historic England.

The consultancy will provide a multi-disciplinary service and will work with two councils to develop appropriate design options, undertake public and stakeholder consultation, complete detailed designs, provide technical support to the construction procurements and assume responsibility for managing the project once the works contracts are underway.

Mark Baseby, director of McBains, said: “We’re extremely excited to be able to play such a pivotal role in the transformation of Leominster.  The public realm improvements are set to reinvigorate the town centre, bringing about lasting economic, social and cultural benefits for the whole community to enjoy.”

 

Countryside buys housing land in Bradford

Mixed-tenure developer Countryside has purchased a site on Spen View Lane to build 82 affordable homes on the Bradford site.

These will be two- and three-bedroom homes, and will be delivered in partnership with Sage Housing. All 82 properties will be available for affordable rent for people on the council waiting list.

The developer will also invest over £70,000 into the local community, with a contribution of £10,000 towards public transport, £18,000 towards a bus shelter and a further £42,455 towards residential M-Cards to encourage sustainable travel in the area as part of the scheme.

Chris Penn, managing director, Yorkshire, Countryside, said: “We are proud to be extending our partnership with Sage Housing at Spen View Lane in Bradford. Through this collaboration we will both increase the supply of affordable homes for the region whilst creating a vibrant new neighbourhood and investing in the local community.”

29 March 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

  1. https://www.rtpi.org.uk/research/2022/march/cracking-the-code/
  2. https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/environment-planning-and-building/planning/planning-policy/local-plan/examination-library#inspector

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

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    Planning news - 31 March 2022

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