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Planning news - 7 July 2022

Homes England and GMCA form SPP partnership

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Homes England have formed a Strategic Place Partnership (SPP) to test a new model working with the government’s housing and regeneration agency and local authorities.

The pilot programme is also being tested with Homes England and the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA).

The model is aimed at subregions with “ambitious” proposals for housing growth as part of their broader social, environmental and economic vision for the area. A shared business plan that sets out special and thematic priorities is centred on the SPP.

In Greater Manchester it will mean a shared focus on the delivery of growth locations, affordable housing and town centre regeneration.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This partnership will give a major boost to the work we’re already doing across Greater Manchester to address the national housing crisis.

“Right now we have to be creating homes and infrastructure that are fit for a better future, and our ambition is to deliver 30,000 good quality, truly affordable net zero-carbon homes by 2038. This means unlocking brownfield land for regeneration, and ensuring that development supports sustainable growth throughout the city-region. With the expertise, capacity, and funding tools at their disposal, and working alongside the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local council teams, Homes England has a vital role to play in this collective effort.”

Peter Denton, chief executive of Homes England, said: “This new model of partnership is our way of responding to the most ambitious places where there is significant opportunity and a need to partner more closely. Greater Manchester is a mature, well-established partner, with huge ambition and the ability to deliver. Together, we can pool our resources to support place-based growth and regeneration, including the supply of well-designed new homes.”

4 July 2022
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Rural planning faces a plethora of challenges, finds research

In a research paper commissioned by the RTPI, Covid-19, Brexit and the climate crisis have been identified among many issues complicating rural planning across the UK and Ireland.

Rural Planning in the 2020s examines these challenges and seeks to address how rural planning needs to change to deal with them, as well as how rural communities can meet policy and practice objectives for achieving sustainable development.

It considers how land use planning can effectively support the delivery of sustainable development in rural areas in the 2020s, whether this be through new working practices or new patterns of resourcing, for example.

Research for the paper, which was led by professor John Sturzaker FRTPI at the University of Hertfordshire, included roundtables, publicly available data and literature, and assessments of government policies, schemes and processes currently in place in relation to rural planning and 16 case studies.

Of the challenges, Brexit is having "acute impacts" on the farming sector, with increased costs linked to leaving the European Union (EU) exacerbating long-term problems of marginal activity in parts of the sector. This has led to business no longer being viable.

Additionally, the paper states that in the UK, "changes to agricultural practices incentivised by the new support mechanisms introduced by the UK Government after Brexit may have planning implications where land is put to different uses".

The changing climate is also affecting the farming sector, such as the growing seasons. This can lead to a requirement for more accommodation for seasonal workers and more structure like polytunnels in areas where planning policy "tends to try to restrict development". In addition, rural communities are reliant on private cars, with alternatives "often more difficult" to implement than in rural areas.

However, the paper notes that there are opportunities "for rural areas to play a greater role in mitigating and adapting to climate change, whether through greater provision of renewable energy or through “just transitions” to different forms of development". It adds though that current planning policy and practice can often be a barrier here.

The Covid-19 pandemic magnified "the importance of many extant challenges including counter-urbanisation and pressure on rural infrastructure, including housing," the research found. House prices rose in many rural areas, pricing out first time buyers and people moved from cities looking for more space, while tourism and recreation demand "surged". There are ongoing pressures for additional and changed patterns of accommodation provision. The pandemic also exposed poor rural broadband connectivity. However, the paper notes that a "stronger sense of community helped some rural areas cope more effectively" with the impacts of the pandemic.

The Welsh Government’s One Planet Development Policy, which seeks to promote a new balance between people and nature, protecting biodiversity and restoring landscapes, was cited as an example of good practice, while in England's Derbyshire Dales, a “positive and proactive” approach to rural housing over a sustained period of time has led to increased affordable housing delivery, which has rebalanced the market in an area of high demand.

The research identifies that the “farming trope” – that it is all about the production of food and that it should be protected from intrusive development – is a recurrent problem for rural areas and affects the recruitment of planners.

“The farming economy is very important,” states the report, “but rural areas are about much more than food production and need to be supported in the transition to mixed, post-carbon economies. Planning will be central to that transition, guided by principles that are agreed but flexibly applied at all levels, and delivered by a broad partnership of community, public, voluntary and private interests.”

Additionally, rural areas can act as a “site for adaptation”, whereby the countryside hosts opportunity sites embrace new possibilities and do things differently so society can “confront whatever comes over the horizon, be it political (eg, Brexit), economic (eg, the cost of living crisis) or environmental (eg, the climate emergency and the responses it necessitates).

Timothy David Crawshaw, president of the RTPI, said: “Imbalance is a risk in almost all rural locations as escalating housing markets exclude younger generations. A lack of affordable homes is displacing younger households and separating families.”

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the institute, added: “Rural communities have been under significant pressure since the start of the pandemic, including from inflated house prices, counter-urbanisation, and the ever-increasing demand for second and holiday homes. As planners, it’s our role to work with local authorities and local communities to monitor and adapt to these changes.”

The RTPI will use this report to shape its response to rural planning issues, and to engage with policy and decision-makers across the nations of the UK and Ireland.

Rural Planning in the 2020s can be found on the RTPI website1.

5 July 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Cabinet to consider modifications to Calderdale local plan

Main modifications to Calderdale Council's local plan will be considered next week by its cabinet.

In a letter (pdf)2 to the council in March 2022, inspector Katie Child said that overall she considered that, subject to main modifications, the local plan “is likely to be capable of being found legally compliant and sound”.

She is also satisfied that the duty to cooperate has been met.

The letter setting out the inspector’s interim findings followed the stage-four examination in public hearing sessions in January. She invited the council to prepare an updated and comprehensive set of proposed main modifications for her consideration.

If the main modifications are approved by the cabinet, a final public consultation will be held.

Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and strategy, said: “We’ve now reached a really significant milestone in our progress towards the final adoption of our local plan. Once in place, this will make sure that we are able to manage development in Calderdale effectively in the future.

“The plan underpins our commitment to protecting our heritage, our beautiful countryside and the distinctive character of our local towns whilst allowing us to develop the sustainably built homes that our communities need.

“The local plan also ensures we can develop the facilities and infrastructure required to support this growth and secure the investment that we need to do this.”

The main modifications include updating the housing requirement to 14,950 homes across the plan period, up from 12,600 and deleting a couple of proposed housing allocations.

A report to the cabinet recommends that the main modifications should be approved for public consultation. This would take place between 29 July and 19 September 2022.

The inspector will then consider the responses to the consultation, before the local plan can be adopted by the council.

The cabinet will consider the main modification at a meeting on Monday 11 July from 6pm at Halifax Town Hall. The meeting will also be live-streamed online.3

The report to the council can be found here on the Calderdale Council website4. More information about the local plan can be found here5.

4 July 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Consultancy chosen to deliver Yorkshire design guide

The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) has announced that Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design will review and identify any changes needed to its housing design guide to make sure it is up-to-date.

The new guide will supersede the current South Yorkshire Residential Design Guide, which was created in 2011 to raise the quality of new residential developments. It also sought to ensure there was a consistent approach across the four local authorities in the region: Barnsley Metropolitan Borough, Doncaster, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough and Sheffield City.

The guide is for residential developers, design professionals, consultants and agents when making planning applications and for local authorities when determining applications.

Tibbalds explained that it will asses the current guide, as well as local planning policy, and "use its knowledge of policy and best practice to recommend updates".

Jane Dann, director at Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, commented: “Design guides set an early benchmark for the quality of residential-led applications and developments, giving all parties in the process more clarity and certainty about what is required. To truly serve communities, they need to keep pace with policy and best practice, looking ahead to future priorities and ways of living. For this work, the health and wellbeing of residents, addressing the climate emergency and delivering biodiversity net gain in new developments will be a major focus and we’re looking forward to engaging with stakeholders in these areas in particular.”

Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design delivered the National Design Guide for the government, as well as design guides for Bradford, Runnymede and Bracknell local authorities.

30 June 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Salford Middlewood Locks scheme receives £30m funding

The third phase of the Middlewood Locks regeneration project in Salford is set to receive £30 million from the Levelling Up Home Building Fund.

The government’s Levelling Up Home Building Fund provides development finance to small-medium housebuilders with the intention to help diversify the market and build much needed homes and communities.

Homes England agreed the funding with Middlewood Locks KLM, a partnership between Scarborough Group International and its joint-venture partners Metro Holdings and Hualing Group. This deal is the second commitment made by Homes England to Middlewood Locks, with the first phase receiving short and long-term loans.

The 25-acre brownfield site will deliver 89 new homes in phase three, and when complete will comprise more than 2,000 homes. It will include 900,000 square feet of commercial space, a hotel and leisure amenities and event space.

The 4.5 acre public realm design for the site will incorporate the “attractive” waterside setting of the restored Manchester, Bolton and Bury canal.

It will be located close to Salford Central station and a short walk from Manchester’s Spinningfields business district.

Housing minister Stuart Andrew, said: “The regeneration of our towns and cities is a key part of our levelling up mission. I am pleased to see the progress being made at Middlewood Locks, a major regeneration project for Salford that will deliver vital new homes for the city, create jobs and boost the wider economy. It is a fantastic example of our brownfield-first plan to transform disused land into thriving communities.”

Peter Denton, chief executive at Homes England, added: ”With the first two phases of Middlewood Locks now complete, we’re already seeing the transformational impact that this scheme is having on the local area. This latest funding will help to bring forward the next phase and add a new community to the already vibrant neighbourhoods created there.

“It is urban regeneration schemes like Middlewood Locks that will support the levelling up of towns and cities, creating places where people want to live, work and play.”

30 June 2022
Laura Edgar and Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

News round-up

Grants available for sustainable projects in Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has opened a new round of grant support for projects based in and around the national park that reduce local carbon emissions and respond to the climate emergency. More than £100,000 is available.

The national park authority is calling on local non-profit groups to submit their applications for the Sustainable Development Fund before midday on Wednesday 7 September 2022.

More information can be found here6.

Play competition launched

The Real Play Coalition (RPC) has launched the 2022 Real Play City Challenge, an international competition run with PlacemakingX, a placemaking network, that celebrates and awards inspiring uses of play to tackle the major challenges the world is facing.

Submissions can be made until 4 September 2022.

Play is essential for children to develop skills and resilience, and for their wellbeing. The RPC notes that 100 million children worldwide are currently not getting the time or space to play that they need and the number of children growing up in cities is expected to increase from 50 per cent to 70 per cent by 2050.

The 2022 challenge seeks to celebrate and award inspiring cities and urban practitioners who have created places that give people time, space and opportunities to play. They should also help children and communities to tackle three global challenges:

Places where play heals people, allowing communities to revive, to heal and to reconnect in places affected by conflict or disaster.

Places where play supports climate action, such as adjusting public spaces to beat heat stress, prevent flooding, improve biodiversity and climate resilience or harvest rainwater.

Places where play unites us all, regardless of age, wealth, gender, physical or psychological challenges, cultural or spiritual beliefs.

More information can be found on the RPC website7.

Two Brindley plans approved in Birmingham

Birmingham City Council has approved plans for Two Brindley, Aver’s 90,000-square-foot Birmingham office refurbishment within the extensive canalside office, retail and leisure estate of Brindleyplace.

Two Brindley, purchased in November 2018, was the first property acquired by Aver, a joint venture between Ergo RE and NFU Mutual.

Works will increase the floor area from 76,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet.

The completed scheme will comprise a new two-storey entrance façade and new entrance lobby/reception, enhancing the building’s key interface with Central Square and Oozells Street.

The building is due to be completed in November 2023.

Boutique hotel site acquired in Manchester

Property developer Salboy and its construction partner Domis have acquired a new freehold site in Castlefield, Manchester, to deliver a boutique hotel.

The site is located on 123-125 Liverpool Road between Woodlam Place and Old Medlock Street in the Castlefield area.

The two 20th-century vacant grade II listed buildings are three storeys with basements and will be transformed into 39 hotel rooms. It will include a ground-floor lobby and concierge area, a lounge bar, a restaurant and staff facilities.

The development will benefit from being near pubs, bars and restaurants as well as the Museum of Science of Industry. It is within walking distance of both Spinningfields and Deansgate, and near The Factory cultural hub.

Wandsworth approves Nine Elms hotel schemes

Wandsworth Council has approved plans for two hotel schemes in Nine Elms submitted by real estate developer Dominvs Group.

The scheme will deliver two hotels run by different operators but connected by a common basement facility.

The north hotel will provide a mid-scale offer and will be 11 storeys high with 360 rooms, while south hotel will be an affordable luxury of 15 storeys with 477 rooms, and a publicly accessible ground-floor café and rooftop restaurant and bar with views towards the River Thames.

The hotels are located on the site of a former Victorian pleasure grounds at Nine Elms, and will offer guests views along the river and will also see “significant” public realm.

5 July 2022
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.

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    Planning news - 7 July 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.