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News in brief: 2018 RTPI planning awards open for entries; Development consultancy partners with London council to deliver homes

Words: Laura Edgar
RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2018

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 26 September, 2017

2018 RTPI planning awards open for entries

The RTPI has announced that the 2018 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence is now open for entries.

There are 14 categories in the awards, as well as the winner of the Jubilee Cup – to be decided from the winners of each category.

Entries will close on 8 December 2017, with finalists announced on 12 February 2018.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Milton Court Concert Hall in London, on 24 May 2018.

More information can be found on the RTPI website.


Development consultancy partners with London council to deliver homes

SiteSales Property Group has announced that it is working in partnership with the London Borough of Newham to develop and market homes for those priced out by the London property market.

The properties will be sold under NewShare, the council’s shared equity home ownership scheme.

Unlike shared ownership, buyers of the NewShare scheme will own 100 per cent of their property from the date of purchase. A percentage of the property is bought through a mortgage and the value of the remaining share is provided to them as an equity loan from Newham Council. The new homeowners then pay an interest rate of 1.75 per cent on the loan and after a year the buyers have the option of paying off the loan in instalments, or the entirety, should their finances allow it.

SiteSales Property Group is currently providing Newham with advice on the planning and development of the new homes, and leads on the sales and marketing.

All units at the Pitchford Street development have been sold, as well as 21 two and three-bedroom houses at the Boleyn Place, Pragel Street development.

Newham Council intends that 1,200 properties will eventually be developed and sold under the scheme. So far, about 250 properties have been refurbished and sold, with 53 new-builds bolstering the numbers.


New brick factory in Leicestershire

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma has welcomed plans by brick manufacturer Ibstock to invest £50 million in a new factory in Leicestershire.

Speaking at the Builders Merchants’ Federation Members Day, Sharma emphasised the “vital” role builders’ merchants play in getting more homes built in the country.

“Delivering more homes is a key priority for this government. Builders’ merchants have an absolutely vital role to play in this, supplying the essential materials we need to get our country building faster.

“Ibstock’s major investment at their Leicestershire site is fantastic news for the building materials industry, demonstrating continuing confidence in this sector and growing consumer demand.”

He said that working together would ensure that the right building blocks are in place to meet local housing needs and promote growth across all areas of the country.

John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, noted that Ibstock’s £50 million investment is a sign that the UK building materials industry is rising to the challenges posed by Brexit and the government’s housebuilding plans.


Empty office to accommodate 48 homes

An empty former office building, and its surrounding car park and land, is set to be demolished and transformed in 48 affordable homes in Bracknell.

They will be located opposite Bracknell & Wokingham College in Larges Lane, Edenfield.

Social housing provider Stonewater has already started work.

The new development is set to provide a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments and townhouses. In total, there will 35 homes for low-cost rent and 13 homes for affordable shared ownership. It is due for completion in November 2018.

Stoneware has funded the development, along with £946,955 grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.


Application submitted for new pool and leisure centre in Hythe

A planning application has been submitted to Shepway District Council for a new leisure centre that includes a six-lane, 25-metre swimming pool.

The leisure centre would be located on Princes Parade, replacing the existing pool in South Road.

It will also include a teaching pool, spectator seating for up to 100 people, three exercise studios and a fully equipped 100-station gym. A large amount of open space features in the plans.

Around 150 high-quality homes, including 45 affordable units, could be built to address local housing needs and to help fund the delivery of the new leisure centre and public open space.

There are also proposals to reroute a kilometre of the existing Princes Parade road to the rear of the site to make way for an enhanced pedestrian and cycle route along the seafront, providing an additional buffer between the Royal Military Canal and the development.

Leader of Shepway Council, David Monk, described the application as “a-once-in-a-generation opportunity to breathe new life into this former municipal waste tip”.


Small housebuilders urged to be aware of alternative finance

Professional services company KPMG has advised UK housebuilders to diversify their debt, as they could face the possibility of shutting off vital access to finance.

The warning came as it became known that more than 80 per cent of UK housebuilders’ estimated £10 billion worth of debt is held by just five high street banks.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) said it appreciated the importance of helping housebuilders diversify their debt, but also thinks that more should be done in promoting alternative finance products to construction SMEs so they can successfully diversify their debt.

According to the British Business Bank (BBB), awareness of different finance products is decreasing, with 38 per cent of SMEs going to their main bank when needing a loan between 2016 and 2017.

Paul Bogle, head of policy and research at the NFB, said: “SME housebuilders have close ties with their local communities. They build homes more quickly and to a higher quality standard than major house builders. Unfortunately, they still struggle to access finance in order to build more homes.

“That is why ensuring that SMEs are made more aware of alternative finance choices is vital to tackling the housing crisis and getting Britain building.”