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News in brief: Apprenticeship champions are recognised by RTPI; Renewable electricity on the up

Words: Laura Edgar
Apprenticeship champions are recognised by RTPI / RTPI and iStock

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 30 June, 2020

Apprenticeship champions are recognised by RTPI

The RTPI has presented two members with Outstanding Service Awards for their work in championing and leading the design and development of the Chartered Town Planner Degree Apprenticeship.

Hannah Blunstone MRTPI, director of planning at CBRE UK, and Philip Ridley MRTPI, head of planning and coastal management at East Suffolk Council, were presented with their awards by institute president Sue Manns FRTPI during a virtual meeting of the institute’s Education and Lifelong Learning Committee.

Manns congratulated Blunstone and Ridley on their innovative leadership of the employer-led trailblazer group, which was set up to lead the process and secure government backing for the apprenticeship.

Manns said: “Apprenticeships can play an important role for planning to attract diverse local talent and benefit our fantastic profession as we support a green recovery. I am very pleased to present Hannah and Philip with this award on behalf of the RTPI board of trustees and the profession as a whole. Thank you both for your outstanding service in developing a new generation of future planners.”

A total of 190 young planners have now taken up degree apprenticeships at RTPI-accredited planning schools around the country.


Renewable electricity on the up

Government statistics have shown that nearly half of the UK's electricity in the first three months of 2020 was generated by renewable energy.

The figures, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in its quarterly Energy Trends report, show that from January to March renewables generated 47 per cent of the UK’s electricity. 

RenewablesUK has highlighted that this beats the previous quarterly record of 38.9 per cent set in the third quarter of 2019. 

The government has attributed the increase mostly to increased capacity and higher wind speeds in February.

Wind generated 30 per cent of the UK’s power in Q1, which breaks down to 14.7 per cent from onshore wind and 15.2 per cent from offshore. 

Renewables and nuclear delivered 62.1 per cent of electricity, while fossil fuel delivered just 35.4 per cent.


Developer to start building in Alphington

Teignbridge District Council has granted planning permission for 160 homes at Victoria Heights on the outskirts of Alphington, Devon.

The development will see the conversion of an existing threshing barn together with the construction of new homes, new roads and infrastructure. The homes will have two, three or four bedrooms.

Most of the homes will be offered for sale on the open market, with 29 provided as a mixture of rent and shared ownership in partnership with a registered social provider.

Existing hedgerows and important trees are being retained and additional trees will be planted. Public open space and landscaped planting, wildlife habitat protection and road, pedestrian and cycle links feature in the plans.

The development, which will be delivered by Barratt David Wilson Homes, will contribute nearly £3 million to wider community benefits through the section 106 and community infrastructure levy payments.


Shropshire to consider local plan in July

Shropshire Council’s cabinet will consider the latest – ‘pre-submission’ – version of the council’s new local plan on 20 July 2020.

The council is undertaking a partial review of the local plan for the period 2016 to 2038.

This latest version of the plan was originally scheduled to be considered by the cabinet at its meeting on 6 July. However, the council feels that the importance of, and interest in, the plan meant that a meeting dedicated to this one item would be more appropriate.

And the additional two weeks will enable the council to agree and confirm arrangements for the consultation, given the Covid-19 restrictions have meant that it has not yet been possible to agree use of all the public buildings it is hoped to use.

The planned consultation won’t be delayed and is set to begin at the end of July as planned.

Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said: “We feel it is best to hold a standalone meeting dedicated to the local plan, to allow us to give it the attention it deserves, and to give interested parties an opportunity to express their views.

“The meeting will also allow us to bring forward our confirmed plan for public consultation and whilst we would encourage people to take part online, we will be detailing the other arrangements that will be in place.”


Additional homes at Aylesham approved

Dover District Council has granted permission for plans to increase the number of new homes to be built at the Aylesham Garden Village development.

Barratt Homes and Persimmon Homes will build an additional 150 properties on the site, which is set on the north side of the former mining village. 

This will take the total number of properties to 1,360 by the time it is completed, which should be within three years’ time. Of the homes, 300 homes will be been offered as affordable housing.

The increase came about because Barratt and Persimmon, who are joint developers with the district council, were experiencing changing market conditions and viability issues. An additional 110 flats and 40 smaller houses will be incorporated into later phases.


Veterans to be priority for social housing

Housing minister Christopher Pincher has announced new measures that seek to guarantee improved access to social housing for members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.

The announcement came on Armed Forces Day (27 June).

The government has set out how councils should ensure members of the armed forces and veterans who need support with their mental health, because of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, are given priority for social housing.

The measures mean that former spouses or civil partners of serving personnel will be given extra support when applying for social housing. They will be exempted from rules requiring them to be a local resident before being given social housing in the area to ensure they are not disadvantaged when applying.

Guidance has been issued to councils on the measures and to encourage staff training so that they understand the circumstances of the armed forces community.


Rogue landlords warned in Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets Council has announced that it has helped tenants to claim back more than £100,000 from rogue landlords in the past year.

The money was recovered using rent repayment orders (RROs). This allows the council and tenants to get back up to 12 months’ rent from landlords who fail to license properties when they are required to do so.

Landlords caught letting unlicensed properties can face prosecution, a criminal conviction or an unlimited fine. 

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Our housing licensing officers are working hard to clamp down on the number of unlicensed properties in the borough and to hit those who flout the rules where it hurts most – in their pockets.

“Our licensing schemes don’t only protect tenants, they also benefit legitimate landlords by raising standards across the industry. This is just one example of how we’re working to improve the housing landscape for landlords and renters across Tower Hamlets.

“The council operates three property licensing schemes in the borough: mandatory licensing scheme – Houses in multiple occupation (five renters or more); additional licensing scheme – covering flats or houses with three or more renters; and selective licensing scheme – covering all rented properties within the Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown areas only.


Soham station to go ahead

East Cambridgeshire District Council has approved proposals for a new station at Soham.

Working in partnership with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, which has provided the necessary funding to build the station, Network Rail and its contractor can proceed with the construction of the station.

Plans will reconnect Soham to the rail network, following a campaign by the community to rebuild the station, which was closed in the 1960s.  

The proposals include:

  • Construction of a single 99-metre platform to accommodate four-car train services including waiting shelters, lighting, information screens and a public address system.
  • Installation of a stepped footbridge across the railway to connect to an existing public right of way.
  • Cycle parking and ticket vending machines on the station forecourt.

Image credit | iStock and RTPI