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News in brief: Derelict farm becomes National Nature Reserve; Surrey neighbourhood backs plan

Wildflower meadow / iStock-875169280

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 6 July, 2021

Derelict farm becomes National Nature Reserve

Kingcombe Meadows in Dorset has joined the list of National Nature Reserves in England.

The 309-acre nature reserve comprises Kingcombe Meadow and Powerstock Common, two of Dorset Wildlife Trust’s flagship schemes.

The land was originally a derelict farm, which was put up for auction in 1987. This made the national news on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and the Daily Telegraph, which kick-started a public campaign to raise the funds for Dorset Wildlife Trust to buy the land and preserve it as a functioning example of unimproved grassland.

The landscape now features marsh fritillary butterflies and wildflowers such as bee orchids, pepper saxifrage and devil’s-bit scabious. Woodland edges and scrub provide the conditions for foraging bats while ponds support toads, frogs and three species of native newts.

This designation takes the number of National Nature Reserves in England to 225.


Tolworth station to be transformed

A partnership between six London local authorities, chaired by Kingston Council, has been awarded more than £2 million for plans to transform a number of places across south-west London.

The funding comes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG: £1.6 million from the Land Release Fund (LRF) and £460,000 from One Public Estate, which is delivered in partnership by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Office of Government Property within the Cabinet Office.

The South London One Public Estate (OPE) Partnership is made up of  Kingston, Merton, Sutton, Croydon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils.

The scheme includes £150,000 for Kingston Council and Network Rail to upgrade Tolworth Station so it is a more accessible transport hub with community and enterprise spaces.


Surrey neighbourhood backs plan

Residents in Thorpe, north Surrey, have backed a community-led neighbourhood plan that sets out how the village can grow by supporting new homes and infrastructure.

The plan secures an amendment to the existing green belt boundary to allow for sustainable growth to meet local needs.

Of those who voted at the referendum, 85 per cent supported the plan.

Runnymede Borough Council’s planning committee has approved the plan and it went live on 30 June. It will be used to determine planning applications within the neighbourhood area alongside the Runnymede 2030 Local Plan.

Read about Thorpe Neighbourhood Plan on the Runnymede Borough Council website.


Eye care centre approved

Camden Council has granted planning permission for a patient-centred eye care, research and education centre in the heart of the Knowledge Quarter, a hub for science and innovation.

Oriel is a joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Moorfields), UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IoO) and Moorfields Eye Charity.

Subject to approval by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and conditions being met, Moorfields and the UCL IoO will relocate from their current buildings on City Road, Islington, to the St Pancras Hospital site in Camden.

The planning consultants for the scheme were Montagu Evans, Penoyre & Prasad were the lead architects, AECOM provided engineering and sustainability advice, and White Artkitekter worked on the interiors and landscaping.


Views wanted on Lichfield local plan

Lichfield District Council is seeking views on the review of the area’s local plan.

The Lichfield District Local Plan 2040 Regulation 19 consultation will ask the public and stakeholders to give their views on the soundness and legal compliance of the pre-submission (publication) version of the district’s local plan.

This plan, for the period to 2040, is based on updated evidence and the feedback from previous consultations.

Iain Eadie, cabinet member responsible for the local plan, said: “Our pre-submission version of the local plan sets out where we believe we should allow this growth to take place and how we think the district should be shaped over the next decade and beyond. So far in the review process we have had more than 8,500 comments, which shows how passionately our communities feel about local planning."

The pre-submission plan can be found on the council website.


John Lewis announces intention to build 10,000 homes for rent

High street retailer John Lewis has announced that it wants to build 10,000 homes for rent over the coming years.

Nina Bhatia, the company’s executive director – strategy and commercial development, explained: “As a business driven by social purpose, we have big ambitions for moving into property rental to address the national housing shortage and support local communities.

“It will also provide a stable, long-term income for the partnership, new employment opportunities for our partners and plays to our strength as a trusted brand known for strong service.”

John Lewis expects its diversification into property will give it a stable future and offer more opportunities for its employees. Its tenants will be able to choose whether to furnish the properties themselves or have them fully furnished with products supplied by John Lewis.

The move comes close to a year after John Lewis announced that it intended to work with partners to repurpose some of its vacated stories as affordable housing as the firm seeks to adapt to the gradual decline in high street retail.


Council plans week of public events as part of local plan consultation

Fareham Borough Council is planning a week of public events as part of its consultation on the next step towards its new local plan, the Revised Publication Plan.

Assuming the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, events will run from 20-26 July with up to 15 members of the public able to attend at any one time for up to 30 minutes. Community Action Team (CAT) meetings will include a presentation by the council of its revised publication plan.

The council’s consultation on the Revised Publication Local Plan began on 18 June and runs until 30 July.

A special edition of the council’s magazine containing further information about the revised plan will be delivered across the borough by 2 July.

This, together with the virtual exhibition and supporting evidence for the plan, is available on the council website.


Competition aims to encourage diversity in 5G network supply

The government is putting up £30 million to encourage tech firms to develop new ways of guaranteeing competitive equipment supply for the UK’s 5G network.

Seeking to make the UK “a pioneer in building 5G networks”, the scheme is aimed at tackling the over-reliance on a small number of telecoms vendors, which is seen as a problem in all international telecoms markets.

The Future RAN Competition (FRANC) will fund R&D projects aimed at speeding up adoption of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), a form of wireless communication technology that allows equipment from multiple suppliers to be used in 5G networks, preventing their dependence on a single company’s technology to function.

Firms will need to submit proposals for projects that help fast-track availability of viable Open RAN products and suppliers, in so doing creating “a stronger case for government and business investment in the technology”.

Proposals could include exploring issues around power efficiency, the management of radio wave ‘spectrum’ resource, the availability of advanced software platforms, systems integration and security.

The government hopes that the competition will promote collaboration between British and international firms operating in the UK’s public telecoms networks.


Legal & General announces SBTR plan for North Horsham scheme

Legal & General (L&G) has submitted plans to deliver what would be the company’s first suburban build-to-rent (SBTR) scheme as part of its £1 billion multi-tenure site in North Horsham, Sussex.

L&G seeks to deliver 200 new homes as part of its 2,750-home masterplan. The scheme will use modern methods of construction to accelerate the delivery of the site. The company also wants the site to be one of the first EPC A-Rated SBTR and affordable development in the UK.

If granted planning permission, the £70 million scheme will deliver 124 suburban build-to-rent homes, alongside 97 homes for social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership.

The North Horsham development follows two net-zero schemes announced through its later living business, Inspired Villages, earlier this year.

L&G sees its latest activities as burnishing its credentials as “one of the UK’s leading housebuilders across all forms of construction, price points and tenures”.


Plans to ‘green over’ Plumstead high street area in London

The first phase of 11 redesigned shopfronts along Plumstead High Street in the London Borough of Greenwich have received planning permission.

The improvements are being jointly funded by the council and Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund to regenerate Plumstead High Street, Lakedale Road and White Hart Road.  Works will start later this year with up to 40 shops due to be complete by spring 2022. Each will receive advice from a team of architects, builders and designers.

Making the high street greener and celebrating Plumstead’s local character and identity were community priorities identified in consultation.

Denise Scott-McDonald, deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration and good growth, said: “All the positive changes as part of this project are the culmination of listening to the local community and putting their ideas into action.”

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