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News in brief: Councils not using empty home powers; Awards for RTPI English Regions open

Words: Laura Edgar
Empty homes / Shutterstock_131120936

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 30 April, 2019

Councils not using empty home powers

Councils have abandoned the powers to tackle the rising number of empty home, according to a modular home provider.

This has prompted calls for the legislation to be replaced with a scheme local authorities find easier to use.

Applications to seize vacant properties using Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) dropped to just six in 2018, said Project Etopia, after it sent a Freedom of Information to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). This is a decline of 85 per cent when compared with 2012.

When they were introduced in 2006, the government estimated EDMOs would be used 1,000 times a year.

Joseph Daniels, CEO of Project Etopia, said: “If EDMOs are too difficult to obtain, then these powers should be replaced by a new scheme that councils are able to use more effectively.

“Councils want to return empty homes to use and we should be supporting them in doing that. Local authorities should be given new powers that recognise the challenges involved, from respecting the difficult circumstances that can sometimes result in these homes sitting vacant to the rights of those who own these properties.

“Rather than ascribing blame, this is a cross-party issue that urgently needs the attention of everyone in Westminster. Politicians need to come together in the national interest to see that EDMOs are replaced or reformed.”


Awards for RTPI English Regions open

Entries for the 2019 Awards for Planning Excellence in the English regions are now open.

The awards are open to all planners, architects, surveyors and developers, members and non-members of the RTPI and to all projects, regardless of their size or level of completion, be it a plan, strategy or a finished project.

Overall regional winners are automatically shortlisted to the RTPI's national awards. Additionally, the Regional Young Planner of the Year winners will automatically be entered into the national awards.

The deadline for entries is 28 June.

More information can be found here on the RTPI website.


Built environment APPG launches enquiry

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Excellence in the Built Environment has announced that its seventh enquiry will look at how the recruitment and retention of more women in construction could help to ameliorate the industry’s skills’ needs after Brexit.

The group's fifth inquiry, published in July 2017, looked at how leaving the EU must drive modernisation and training in the built environment, and it is keen to revisit some of the issues raised in that report.   

Therefore it is establishing its seventh inquiry to call on organisations, businesses and individuals to submit evidence on how the recruitment and retention of more women could be achieved within the construction industry and the built environment professions; and, in parallel, how this might help the industry and the professions replace migrant skills’ that may be lost after Brexit.

Written submissions can be sent to group secretary Graham Watts OBE c/o [email protected] by 14 May.


Homeless residents housed in Brent

Brent Council's i4B Holding Limited has housed more than 500 homeless residents.

The first tenants of properties managed by i4B moved into their new homes in September 2017. Since then, i4B has purchased and refurbished more than 210 properties, most of which have been in Brent.

i4B was set up to provide affordable housing to Brent residents who might otherwise be placed into bed-and-breakfast establishments or other temporary accommodation.

Margaret McLennan, deputy leader of the council and lead member for resources, said: “We want to see an end to the large number of people facing homelessness. i4B is one of Brent’s solutions to tackling the housing crisis.”


Council and housing association join up to deliver regeneration

Ealing Council and housing association Peabody have a contract to deliver The Green, a major regeneration proposal in the Southall Opportunity Area.

The Green comprises 5,000 square metres of commercial space, the creation of 260 jobs and the building of 500 homes, all to be delivered by 2024.

Half of the homes have been designated as affordable housing. The scheme is set to enhance links to Southall station and the Elizabeth line, the opening of which has been delayed to March 2021.

Ealing Council chose Peabody as its preferred development partner for ‘The Green’ following a competitive tender process in 2018.

Peabody said it is working with Hunters architects to progress its regeneration proposals for The Green. It plans to consult the local community on its draft plans in the summer of 2019 before submitting a planning application by the end of the year.


Gulliver’s to extend

Warrington Borough Council has approved planning applications for a new hotel and resort complex at Gulliver’s World, Warrington.

The four separate applications, which were managed by County Planning Ltd, are for changes of use and physical development of the land, including the construction of a pirate ship and fairy tale castle hotels, themed play centre and themed cabin/lodge resort complex.

Known as the Wilderness Wharf, the development will provide hotels and lodges for families. The extension also includes an associated village resort with a café, craft centre, children’s indoor play centre/crèche, guest reception and housekeeping facilities.

It is expected that the Wilderness Wharf resort will create at least 40 new jobs and more than £6 million in benefit to the local economy.


Joint venture to support Dounreay nuclear decommissioning

Joint venture Nuclear Decommissioning Ltd (NDL) has been appointed to support the decommissioning services framework for Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) at the Dounreay nuclear site in Scotland.

The joint venture, which includes professional services firm WYG plc, Shepley Engineers Ltd, REACT Engineering, and James Fisher Nuclear Ltd, aims to support clean-up and demolition of Britain’s former centre of fast reactor research and development.

The framework will run for four years initially, with the option of a three-year extension. NDL is expected to start work on site before the start of this summer.

Image credit | Shutterstock