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Planning news - 5 May 2022

Built environment professionals seek to improve diversity

Membership bodies working across the built environment have today (27 April) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see them work together to create a ‘more diverse, equitable and inclusive sector’.

The bodies want the sector to be more representative of the society it serves.

The six organisations that have signed the MoU are the RTPI, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Landscape Institute (LI), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Collectively, they represent about 350,000 members.

The agreement focuses on:

  • Data collection: To create a consistent approach and standard model that will allow meaningful comparison between and across respective memberships’, and help to formulate a clear picture of the built environment sector more widely.
  • Improved understanding of transition from education into employment: To develop a robust, evidence-based understanding of the disparity between the diversity of students that start on institute-accredited courses and the talent that makes it into the workforce. To build on existing good practice from individual institutes to improve the collective understanding of retention rates and awarding gaps on accredited courses.
  • EDI competencies: To develop understanding and guidance for the sector, supporting organisations, individuals and institutes to improve and maintain professional standards.      

Over the next few months the organisations will work together to produce a detailed plan of work that sets out how each of the objectives will be tackled, with an action plan to be published later this year.

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “The RTPI places equality, diversity and inclusivity at the heart of the institute, for our members, the profession, the community and the built environment sector.

“However, we know that we cannot change the sector by working alone. That’s why it is not only a great pleasure to sign this groundbreaking MoU with our friends, but an honour.

“Only by working together can we create a sector as diverse as the communities we work for, and deliver a fair and inclusive culture that works for our members and diverse society.”

Caroline Gumble, CEO at CIOB, said: “CIOB has, for some years now, recognised the need to urgently improve the diversity of the built environment workforce. Today’s announcement that we are uniting with our sister professional bodies to support initiatives which break down barriers and reduce the impact of bias is a powerful reminder that, in collaborating and working together, we have the potential to drive positive culture change for our sector, for our communities and society.”

27 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Second year of mentoring scheme launches

Women in Planning has launched the second year of its mentoring scheme.

The mentoring scheme aims to bring together people who are seeking support and guidance from experienced professionals to develop their career.

Those on the scheme will ‘buddy up’ with a mentor that best suits the mentee. Applications are open to all those working within the planning sector, including students and those working in the boardroom.

Women in Planning has doubled the number of matches that will be made this year, following the success of its first year.

Jessica Herritty, chair of the East Midlands committee, said: “We’ve had some really good feedback from our mentors and mentees involved in the scheme over the last year and are so pleased to be launching again this year. We hope it will continue to be a success and help women in our industry receive much-needed support and guidance.”

Emma Cartledge-Taylor, member of the West Midlands committee, added: “We were overwhelmed by the response to the pilot year of the mentoring scheme and it is clear there is a huge call for mentoring for women in the industry. It is exciting to be able to more than double the number of matches this year and to expand the offering of the mentoring scheme.”

More information can be found on the Women in Planning website.1

29 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Plans for garden village near Tring submitted

A hybrid planning application has been submitted to Dacorum Borough Council for a 1,400-home garden village.

The application has been submitted by a subsidiary of housebuilder Redrow, Harrow Estates.

Of the 1,400 homes, 45 per cent have been designated as affordable.

The plan for Marshcroft also outlines that more than 50 per cent of the site is dedicated to green open space.

Alongside the homes, the application comprises:

  • new primary and secondary schools;
  • health services;
  • new parklands and meadows;
  • tree planting and orchards;
  • sports facilities;
  • allotments;
  • cycle routes;
  • bus services;
  • electric vehicle charging points; and
  • 40 per cent biodiversity net gain and SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces).

The website for the scheme states that the application has been informed and guided by the emerging local plan allocation Tr03. It also explains that it “meets or exceeds all of the requirements of that emerging allocation and associated policies in the local plan”.

Also, the intention is for the scheme to be net-zero carbon ready using a combination of ‘fabric first’ construction, air source heat pump technology and on-site renewable energy production through the use of solar panels.

More information can be found on the Marshcroft website.2

28 April 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Housing developments more likely to be rejected for poor design

The Planning Inspectorate is now three times as likely to back local authority rejections of housing developments for poor design following last year’s revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

A University College London (UCL) study reveals a “sea change” since the NPPF was amended last July to allow refusals for housing schemes that are “not well designed”. Previous guidance called for only “poorly designed” schemes to be refused.

The study, published by the UCL-based Place Alliance and using appeals reported in The Planner magazine, compares decisions after the July 2021 revision to those before. Appealing Design reveals that the odds in favour of planning authorities winning cases on design grounds have shifted from just 5:7 against to 13:7 in favour, meaning that when previously there were more losses than wins for councils, and now there are close to two times more wins than losses.

By extrapolating appeals data to account for the shorter period covered by the research after the July 2021 change, the success rate for planning authorities at design-related appeals is three times better than before.

“Compared to historical trends, local authorities were succeeding at design appeals in fewer cases than the national average for all appeals of this class of development,” the study says. “Now they are running significantly ahead of the national average when the focus is on design.”

But the research reveals that of the 32 design-related appeals examined, 26 were in London or the South East, with three in the Midlands and three in the North and none in the South West. The study suggests that South East planning authorities are more likely to have their own design policies and employ urban designers.

“While the numbers of major housing developments nationally are heavily weighted to the South East, this degree of skew in the appeals data seems to reflect a particular reluctance to challenge design outside of London and the South East.”

The research highlights 12 schemes rejected on design grounds in the past year. They include “unattractive” block of 15 flats on the site of a demolished car park in Crawley, West Sussex, a Taylor Wimpey plan for 307 homes in North Finchley that was “out of character with its low-rise suburban context”, and the proposed remodelling of an old police station in Newcastle that an inspector denounced for its “heavy, oppressive, almost monolithic feel”.

UCL planning and urban design professor Matthew Carmona said “most local planning authorities remain very fearful of going up against the major housebuilders on design issues”, particularly outside the South East.

“In the context of the difficulties that the government have been having with their planning reform agenda, the report also demonstrates an often unsung role of planning, namely the poor quality development that it stops getting built,” he added. “However, as we don’t see it, we tend not to appreciate it – or we forget it – and critics get away with bashing planning as just more ‘red tape’. 

“The research reinforces the important regulatory role of planning that is worth celebrating.”

Appealing Design is supported and endorsed by the RTPI and the Urban Design Group.

Richard Blyth, Head of Policy at the RTPI, said: “We’re pleased to see the Planning Inspectorate backing local authorities in England who refuse applications on the grounds of poor design. This should be an encouragement to local planning authorities across the country.

“We are pleased to support one of our accredited planning schools in doing vital research on the planning system in England as part of our ongoing Research Strategy.”

26 April 2022
Huw Morris, The Planner


Huge Torfaen land reclamation project due to start

The remediation of the largest remaining area of industrial dereliction in south-east Wales is gathering momentum.

At issue is a huge regeneration project at a former ironworks site in Torfaen known as The British.

The nearly 600-hectare site at Talywain was bought by Torfaen County Borough Council in 2016 and is now a major land reclamation project.

The first phase of work is about to get under way. This involves remediating the coal tips and reducing the risk of flooding by creating a new watercourse and pond.

Responsibility for the area’s underground shafts and ventilation infrastructure was transferred to the council as part of the site purchase.

The remediation of the mine entry points, which pose the greatest risk to future users of the site, is the first priority.

This work will focus on the area known as the ‘The Black Patch’, the most significant tip, which is thought to be sited on top of older ironstone tips.

The masterplan for the site includes hiking trails, future residential development, forest zones and a destination hub.

29 April 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner


News round-up

 Barnet approves community accommodation scheme

Barnet Council has approved plans for a £10 million community accommodation scheme in Mill Hill East, North London, for charity Jewish Blind and Disabled (JBD).

The scheme, named Ephraim Court, will deliver 30 independent living units in Barnet, designed to meet the needs of residents with physical disabilities or vision impairment, and will include communal facilities.

A key feature of the design scheme has been low-carbon energy, which also includes solar power and living roofs.

Lisa Wimborne, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We are committed to ensuring we can meet the needs of current and future people living in our community with either physical disabilities or visual impairment. hgh has provided excellent advice throughout the planning application process and beyond.”

 

86 homes acquired

Landlord Thrive Homes and real assets investment manager CBRE Investment Management have announced their second portfolio acquisition, which comprises 86 homes.

The deal has been done through their UK Affordable Housing Fund (UK AHF).

Contracts have been exchanged on the second round of the deal. It is for a further 86 affordable rent and shared-ownership properties, over eight sites developed by Thrive Homes.

Thrive Homes and CBRE Investment Management will share the risk and return of ownership and operation of the homes.

Thrive's cash investment will fund the construction of an equivalent number of new affordable homes at the organisation’s sites at Leighton Buzzard Garden Centre and Bromham Road.

 

Cala outlines Sussex and Surrey housing plans

Cala Homes has announced plans to deliver more than 200 new homes in West Sussex and Surrey.

The developer has acquired a 23-acre former agricultural site on Broad Road in Hambrook, near Chichester in West Sussex to deliver 118 new homes. Thirty-six of the homes will be affordable, with a mix of one to four-bedroom starter and family homes.

Forty per cent of the new homes will be fitted with solar panels, and all units will provide EV charging points.

Additionally, a new public open space, children’s play area, and a community centre will also be delivered. This will include ponds with reed beds, wild grass, retained hedgerows and trees, plus an orchard.

Cala says it intends to purchase Hindhead Royal School in Waverley, Surrey. If planning permission is approved, then 90 new homes will be delivered comprising apartments and family homes.

 

TfWM appoints VolkerFitzpatrick to build new stations

VolkerFitzpatrick has been appointed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to build three railway stations on the Camp Hill line in south Birmingham.

The £61 million scheme is intended to reintroduce passenger train services to Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell.

The work is expected to begin in November, with the stations expected to be completed later next year, after which passenger rail services can start.

Commuters from Hazelwell Station in Stirchley can expect a 14-minute journey into the city centre by rail compared with a peak-time journey by car taking up to 45 minutes.

 

Hinckley approves Stoke Golding plans

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council has approved plans submitted by Fisher German for a 6.8-acre site off Hinckley Road in Stoke Golding.

Fisher German has sold the development site to Miller Homes to deliver a mixture of starter and family homes.  

It will also include more than two acres of public open space on behalf of Richborough Estates to Miller Homes.

 

Solar panels installed on Edinburgh Castle

Solar panels have been installed on Edinburgh Castle as part of Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) programme to reduce energy use across the historic properties in its care.

The solar panels have been installed on the roof of the Scottish National War Memorial. The work was funded by Scottish Enterprise.

HES said the renewable energy generated by the solar panels is projected to reach approximately 26,500kWh per year, equivalent to around 6,680kg of CO2.

3 May 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

  1. https://www.womeninplanning.org/mentoringscheme
  2. https://marshcroft-tring.co.uk/

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

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    Planning news - 5 May 2022

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