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Planning news - 9 June 2022

Flood-risk video launched

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and the Environment Agency have launched a resource that aims to help address flood risk through the planning system.

It explains how and why planning must consider flood risk, as well as exploring different options and opportunities. 

Although national planning policy in England requires planning authorities to make sure that development is not in at-risk areas, every year planning permission is granted to build “thousands” of homes in flood zones, says the TCPA.

The video resource aims to help local planning authorities reduce the gap between policy and practice by highlighting the positive actions that can be taken to deliver safer places. 

Hugh Ellis, director of policy at the TCPA, said: “Flooding is having a devastating impact on communities all over the UK. Climate change will drive even more extreme weather events so it’s vital we build in the right places and to the right standards. This new resource has a simple message for planners – climate change must be your overriding priority if people are to be safe and secure over the long term.”

Julie Foley, director of strategy and national adaptation for flood and coastal risk management at the Environment Agency, added: "Planning policies on flood risk are only as effective as the people that implement them. That’s why it’s crucial that all those involved in place-making understand the terrible impacts of flooding and how our changing climate is turning up the dial on these risks. The planning system provides a great opportunity for enabling sustainable and climate-resilient development, in a way that will help build resilience in our communities."

The video can be found on the TCPA website1.

30 May 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Reuse and retrofit of buildings should be prioritised over new-build

The government should prioritise the reuse and retrofit of buildings over building new ones as part of the work required to reduce the levels of CO2.

Reusing and retrofitting keeps the carbon locked in.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) acknowledges the government’s claim that it is prioritising retrofit and reuse, but it is concerned that reforms to permitted development rights (PDR) “appear to have created an incentive for demolition and new-build over retrofit”.

It calls on the government to “urgently” evaluate the impact that these recent reforms could have to make sure that retrofit and reuse are the priority.

If retrofitting a building is not possible, the committee would like to see efficient and more effective use of low-carbon building materials.

The committee also recommends in its report Building to Net Zero: Costing Carbon in Construction that the government should introduce a mandatory requirement for whole-life carbon assessments for buildings.

This should be fully incorporated in the planning system and building regulations. The assessment would calculate the emissions from the construction, maintenance and demolition of a building, as well as the energy used in its day-to-day operation.

The committee highlights that the UK is lagging behind countries such as the Netherlands and France, which have established mandatory whole-life carbon assessments for their built environment.

Following these assessments, the EAC recommends that the government should develop carbon targets for buildings that align with the UK’s net zero goals.

By the end of 2022, the government should have set a “clear timeframe” for introducing whole-life carbon assessments and they should be introduced no later than December 2023.

Philip Dunne, chair of the EAC, said: “From homes to offices, retail units to hospitality venues, our buildings have a significant amount of locked-in carbon, which is wasted each time they get knocked down to be rebuilt, a process which produces yet more emissions.

“Ministers must address this urgently. Promising steps are being taken: for instance, the levelling up, housing and communities secretary of state recently paused the demolition and retrofit of Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street on environmental grounds.

“But much more needs to be done, and baseline standards for action need to be established. Mandatory whole-life carbon assessments, and targets to crack down on embodied carbon, provide part of the answer. Constructors and developers can then determine which low-carbon materials, such as timber and recycled steel, they can use.

“As in many other areas in the drive to net zero, the UK must have the green skills to make its low-carbon future a reality. Before the summer recess in July, I urge the government to publish a retrofit strategy and upskilling programme that can ensure the UK economy will have the green jobs necessary to deliver a low-carbon built environment.”

In Building to Net Zero: Costing Carbon in Construction, it states that the shortage of workers in the energy efficiency and retrofit sector is "chronic, given the overall timetable for decarbonisation of properties". The skills gap also exists in the measurement of embodied and whole-life carbon and the use of low-carbon materials.

The committee explains that the government has not yet responded "adequately to our recommendations to develop a retrofit strategy and programme to encourage the development of relevant green skills across the construction trade".

"We reiterate our recommendation to develop a retrofit strategy and upskilling programme for construction to meet the needs of net zero. This should be published before the 2022 summer recess."

Brian Berry, chief executive at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “I welcome the Environmental Audit Committee’s conclusion that a retrofit strategy and complementary upskilling programme will be vital if we are to reach net zero by 2050. Fortunately, the Construction Leadership Council has already provided a blueprint for this national retrofit strategy, that would save 84.9Mt carbon emissions by 2040; unlock 500,000 new jobs; and help level up communities right across the country. At a time when consumers’ energy bills are spiralling upwards, these measures have never been so urgent.”

He called on the government to bring forward a “credible long-term retrofit strategy that incorporates the necessary upskilling needed within the sector”.

In Building to Net Zero: Costing Carbon in Construction can be found on the UK Parliament website (pdf).

30 May 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Nearly 5,000 council homes started in London last year

In the 2021/22 financial year 4,946 ‘City Hall-backed’ council homes were built in London, according to statistics.

According to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, just 3,520 council homes were started in London in the 10 years before he became mayor in 2016.

He attributes the uptick in council home delivery to mayoral initiatives such as the Building Council Homes for Londoners grant funding programme and his Homebuilding Capacity Fund.

The mayoral release states that all but two councils in London began work on city-funded council homes.

Southwark topped the councils with 878 starts, followed by Havering with 593, Barking and Dagenham with 424, and Newham with 410.

Bromley, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kingston upon Thames, and Sutton boroughs all started building City Hall-funded council homes for the first time last year.

These building starts form part of the mayor’s “genuinely affordable homes” figures announced earlier in May, which stated that 18,722 (including council homes) were started on London sites in 2021/22.

Khan said: “There’s no quick fix to London’s housing crisis, but we’re taking some big steps in the right direction – breathing new life into council homebuilding in London. Every new home we build is another London family given the secure, long-term home they deserve.

“I grew up on a council estate in South London, so I know the vital role council homes play in providing security for families. I’m proud that we’re reversing the years of declining council homebuilding and are once again seeing these vital homes return to every corner of our city.

“But I’m determined that we continue to do all we can to build on the success of recent years, empower councils and work with all those involved in building new council homes, so we build a safer, fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all Londoners.”

Khan also highlighted how the rising cost of construction materials and workforce shortages – as well as the impacts of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic – are having a “significant” impact on the delivery of much-needed new homes in the capital.

30 May 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Research aims to improve biodiversity of offshore wind developments

Statistics from the offshore wind industry, government and academic sources from seven countries have been brought together into a central data set to map sea-floor biodiversity across international boundaries.

Led by The Crown Estate in partnership with the Dutch-led Rich North Sea programme, the North Seat Net Gain study is intended to advance the sustainable expansion of offshore wind and identify and deliver biodiversity net gain in tandem.

The study should improve the understanding of the biodiversity of the seabed on a larger scale.

By adopting a big data approach, developing big data infrastructure and expanding the existing dataset, the organisations say the findings of the study have “significantly” enhanced the understanding of the seabed and will in turn “play a significant role” in the sustainable development of offshore wind in the North Sea.

The central data contains nearly 50,000 seabed samples with over 1.4 million records, and “state-of-the-art” modelling techniques used to map benthic (sea-floor) biodiversity across international boundaries.

Two new online apps have also been produced, under the name ‘OneBenthic’. The OneBenthic Data Extraction Tool provides developers, regulators and decision-makers with access to the big data collected by the study, while the OneBenthic Layers Tool provides access to benthic biodiversity models developed under this and other research projects, at speed.

Huub den Rooijen, managing director of Marine at The Crown Estate, said: “Offshore wind is set to play a pivotal role in decarbonisation and the UK's transition to net zero – but delivering on that potential in the most sustainable way requires balanced and holistic consideration of the natural environment and other marine activities. This study, delivered through our Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, makes an important contribution to strengthening essential biodiversity data. It will be invaluable not just to the UK but across the world, helping to ensure the successful and sustainable expansion of new offshore wind farms in other locations.”

Erwin Coolen, director at The Rich North Sea Programme, added: "Decision-making on future offshore wind farms must be based on the most comprehensive information and deliver biodiversity net gain. Biodiversity is not influenced by borders and neither should we be. It is great to have collaborated and shared knowledge on an international level.”

The project is funded by The Crown Estate’s £25 million investment into its Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme and by The Rich North Sea programme.

It is delivered through international collaboration between the UK Government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and Flemish marine research organisation The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). It is supported by a project advisory group that includes members from Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

30 May 2022
Laura Edgar, The Planner

North Wales village lined up for demolition

Cadnant Planning, acting on behalf of a housing association, has submitted proposals to redevelop an entire village in North Wales.

This massive demolition and rebuild project involves the Penrhos Polish Village in Pwllheli.

The settlement was founded in 1949 by the Polish Housing Society Ltd. It housed exiled Polish airmen and soldiers who remained in the UK following the Second World War.

The original and current Polish village facilities include a church, library, a large communal dining hall, a shop and allotments. A care home for veterans was also established on the site, but this was closed in 2020, when the housing provider ClwydAlyn took over the village.

Now the housing body has drawn up proposals for the demolition of 103 dwellings, three blocks used as four self-contained visitor accommodation units, a nursing home, Scouts’ dormitories, a hall and workshop, library/hall building, offices and garages.

In their place the intention is to build 107 affordable homes. The existing canteen, church, memorial garden, and allotments would be retained. Gwynedd County Council has been told that the redevelopment would be carried out in three phases.

The site currently accommodates those over 55 years of age with strong links to the Polish community as well as people from the local area. Under these proposals all would be rehoused.

27 May 2022
Roger Milne, The Planner

News round-up

Fellows announced by RTPI

The RTPI has announced that Catriona Riddell, Michael Chang and Alice Lester have been elected as fellows of the institute.

They join past presidents, leading academics and directors across both public and private sectors in this highest professional membership bracket.

Find out how to apply for a fellowship at the RTPI here.

Views sought on A358 Taunton to Southfields design changes

National Highways has launched a supplementary consultation for the upgrade of the A358 in Somerset.

The planned upgrade of the A358 will see a single-lane stretch of carriageway between the M5 at Taunton and the Southfields roundabout upgraded to dual carriageway.

Following more than 900 responses to a public consultation in 2021, National Highways has refined the proposed route.

Details about these and other changes made since the 2021 public consultation are available until the 26 June.

More information can be found on the National Highways website.

Kingston approves leisure complex plans

Kingston Council has approved plans for a new leisure complex in the city centre as part of its ‘Transform Kingston’ programme. 

The plans include five-a-side rooftop football pitches, two swimming pools with spectator seating, a children’s splash deck and climbing wall, as well as flexible community spaces and a café.

Public space improvements will enable better connections to the neighbouring library and museum.

Work to demolish the Kingfisher leisure centre will begin in the summer.

Andreas Kirsch, leader of Kingston Council, said: “We want all our residents to live happy, healthier, fulfilling lives, and having this fantastic facility right in the centre of Kingston, designed by award-winning architects FaulknerBrowns, will help us achieve that ambition.

“I am also delighted that the new complex will link with the museum and the library celebrating our history and heritage.”

Bewley buys housing land in Wiltshire

Bewley Homes has purchased land from property consultancy Fisher German to build 28 homes in Wiltshire.

Planning permission has been granted for the site, which is located off the land of Chilvester Hill in Calne.

Matthew Handford, senior development surveyor at Fisher German, said: “Although we have only just completed the sale, it really has been a joint effort over many years and demonstrates just how important it is to have a property consultancy with expertise across rural matters, planning, development, and sales, to get a deal like this over the line.”

James Riley Point plans approved in Newham

Newham Council’s plans to restore high-rise building James Riley Point have been approved by the London Legacy Development Corporation's (LLDC) planning committee.

The 23-storey building from the 1960s is located on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford and will deliver 132 social-rent homes.

It will be stripped back to its concrete frame and transformed to a modern sustainable structure with increased space, larger balconies and four additional flats.

The plans will see a new community centre as part of the restoration plans, providing a new home for the pioneering Carpenters and Docklands Centre, which will include a new sports hall, a five-a-side football pitch and facilities for an after-school club and café for young people living on the estate as well as local residents.

Work is expected to start in the coming months by Populo Living.  

Salboy submits amended Viadux plans in Manchester

Property development firm Salboy has submitted amended plans for the commercial phase of its £300 million Viadux mixed-use scheme, currently under construction in central Manchester.

The plans for the 14-storey office building would involve increasing green spaces with 900-square-foot year-round winter gardens on every floor, rooftop gardens and an expanded main lobby entrance.

The building will provide 251,000 square feet of workspace, to have grade A specification, large efficient floor plates and other ESG credentials.

It would enable future commercial tenants to operate their businesses in a carbon-neutral way.

Salboy’s construction partner DOMIS Construction is active on site with residential and commercial development now under way.

Perry Barr Station reopening confirmed

Perry Barr Railway Station opened on Sunday 29 June, following a £30 million redevelopment.

The station is in the centre of Perry Barr and provides regular, fast and direct West Midlands Railway services to Birmingham city centre, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

It is a key gateway for visitors to Alexander Stadium for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.

New facilities for passengers include a ticket office, accessible toilet and baby-changing facilities as well as lifts and stairs to the platform.

Consultancy appointed to West Midlands cycling commissioner

Phil Jones has been appointed as technical adviser to Adam Tranter, the West Midlands cycling and walking commissioner.

Jones is the founder and chairman of PJA, a transport planning, engineering and placemaking consultancy.

Jones will support the commissioner to deliver the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street’s vision of enabling more people to walk and cycle short journeys instead of using a car.

He will provide high-level technical advice and support to future active travel schemes, find creative solutions to technical challenges to benefit active travel in the region and engage with engineers within Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), Midland Metro Alliance and local authority partners to ensure high-quality delivery for active travel.

Parcel hub approved in Wolverhampton

Detailed planning permission has been granted for a parcel hub, approximately 60,000 square feet in size, for DPD at Revolution Park in Wolverhampton. Trebor Developments and Schroders Capital UK Real Estate Fund (SCREF) secured the consent. Work will begin on site later this summer.

Revolution Park was launched in the last quarter of 2021. Terms have been agreed with DPD to build a single unit that will absorb the majority of the 10.5-acre site.

The unit will be built to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standards and will be net-zero carbon in both construction and operation.

31 May 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 - 9 June 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.