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News in brief: Historic England set outs objections to Bristol development; Liverpool approves £3.15m brownfield funds

Bristol waterfront / Mikecphoto, Shutterstock_2032397633

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 7 December, 2021

Historic England set outs objections to Bristol development

Historic England has objected to a proposed development on the Floating Harbour, arguing it would damage Bristol’s historic and distinctive cityscape.

The proposed development in question is a seven-storey office block. Historic England says it will harm the city’s character and identity, as well as people’s appreciation and enjoyment of the city.

Advice given to Bristol City Council sets out that the development will harm the setting of the grade I-listed Bristol Cathedral because it would block "important views across the docks to the cathedral and the historic city centre".

Also, it says that the design of the proposed building is of "insufficient quality for such an important site" and would therefore "harm the character of the City Docks conservation area". Historic England says the proposal does not conform with either national planning policy or that of Bristol’s local plan.

Ross Simmonds, acting regional director for Historic England in the South West said: “A dynamic city like Bristol needs to fully embrace development and we do not oppose change, but this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the City Docks conservation area, the setting of the cathedral, and the views of some of the city’s most important buildings and spaces. It is possible to accommodate growth in this area without compromising valuable historic character, as many other repurposed historic buildings on Bristol’s waterfront demonstrate, such as the Arnolfini, the M-shed, the Mud Dock, and the Watershed.”


Liverpool approves £3.15m brownfield funds

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has approved £3.15 million from the Brownfield Land Fund for Sandway Homes to build homes in the region.

The Sefton Council-owned housing developer will begin work on two brownfield sites for 150 new homes at Bentham’s Way, Southport and 63 new homes on the former site of Bootle High School.

Louise Davies, managing director of Sandway Homes, said: “Targeting challenging brownfield sites for development, in locations where new homes are in high demand is an important part of Sandway’s business model, which complements other schemes being delivered across the Borough.

“Our successful applications for this Brownfield Land Fund support means we will be able to progress these further sites and provide more local people with the affordable, high-quality homes they want.”

If approved by the combined authority and Sefton Council, the two sites and a third will bring the total number of houses to be delivered by Sandway as part of its phase 2 plans to 350 new homes. The schemes will include “affordable” housing, providing a combination of affordable rent, shared ownership and open market sales.


£2m for London high street recovery

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has committed £2 million to support high street recovery in 15 boroughs.

The money has been allocated from his High Streets for All (HSfA) Challenge.

The projects seek to "breathe new life" into town centres and high streets, and aid their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The funding can be used to transform vacant and underused high street buildings and public spaces, promote local employment, protect existing community and cultural spaces and introduce new types of businesses to London’s high streets.

It will also support the Mayor’s vision to transform London into a 24-hour global city, and help High Street businesses thrive around the clock.

Projects to receive funding include a youth hub on Church Road in Brent and an accessible programme of business support for local enterprises on Rye Lane in Peckham.


Plans for Bristol later living community set out

Plans for net zero integrated retirement communities have been revealed by FORE Partnership and extra care operator Amicala.

They have been designed by PRP Architects and will be developed by First Base to provide assisted living for older people.

The facility would include 120 specialist homes as well as a range of community benefits. It is planned for a five-acre site which was formerly St Christopher’s School in Westbury Park.

The homes will be provided by refurbishing existing buildings, along with a collection of two storey cottages and four low-rise blocks ranging from four to six storeys.

Grace House will be transformed into a hub for the wider community, while the project team is committed to generating a biodiversity net gain of at least 10 per cent.


Levelling up white paper to be delayed

Media reports suggest that the levelling up white paper will be delayed until next year. It had been expected before Christmas.

According to the BBC, the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant is among the reasons for the delay. Labour accused ministers of being in "disarray" over levelling-up plans.

Government sources told the BBC levelling up secretary Michael Gove is determined to address the issue.


Street appoints cycling and walking commissioner

The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has appointed Adam Tranter as cycling and walking commissioner to get more people active in the region.

Tranter has previously volunteered as bicycle mayor for Coventry, and will support the planning and delivery of the region’s Starley Network of safe cycling and walking routes.

He will work with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), local council partners and the Department for Transport to steer the region’s cycling and walking policies and plans.

Tranter said: “I want our region to achieve its active travel potential. We saw during lockdown that vast numbers of people will cycle given the right environment to do it in; our goal has to be giving these people a genuine alternative to using a car for short journeys. We can only do this by building high quality, direct and connected infrastructure.

“Congestion really drags down our region’s health and prosperity; cities that have embraced active travel have been rewarded with better air quality, less carbon emissions and happier citizens. I want the West Midlands to have these rewards too."


Phase Two of Oaklands College masterplan complete

The £62 million redevelopment masterplan for phase two of Oaklands College at its St Albans Campus has been completed by DLA Architecture.

Phase two has seen the £13.4 million Evolution Centre built, which provides 49 classrooms, six ICT rooms and a new office space for staff. There is also a wing for Pathway 4 special needs students.

Phase one included student accommodation and the third and fourth phase which DLA has retained will see new workshops for gas, electrical, construction and wet trades, administration areas, learning resource centre, a refectory and sports pavilion with gymnasium and studio facilities.

The development is due to be completed in 2024.

Chris Levett, director at DLA Architecture, said: “The majority of the building is clad in vertical square profile black cladding. Clay brown pockets of horizonal cladding break up the mass and provide a warmth in areas of the building where visitors, staff and students pass through. The dominant cladding is designed with diagonal sloping parapets, helping to conceal the roof plant but also bring a drama and excitement to the building form. Ensuring that the integrity and strength of the design was retained after many rounds of value engineering the retention of the high-quality cladding was a key priority.


Barnsley secures funding to expand digital campus

Barnsley Council has secured £15.6 million from the government’s Future High Streets fund for Arcadis to expand The Seam, Barnsley’s digital campus.

The funds will introduce new low carbon energy efficient development and an active travel hub that will encourage the uptake in active travel and promote reduction in vehicle movement within the campus and wider town.

There will be investment in new infrastructure including a new multi-storey carpark and public realm which will support the wider community and visitors to the town.

The Seam campus launched in October 2020) as the Barnsley Digital Media Centre (DMC 01) expanded into a second building (DMC 02) to provide larger space for businesses to expand into following the ongoing growth of the technology sector locally and regionally.

This campus has grown further this year with the launch of the redeveloped SciTech facilities at Barnsley College focusing on digital and technology skills provision.

Image credit | Mikecphoto, Shutterstock