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News in brief: Homes England chief executive steps down; Application submitted for business park near Brighouse

Words: Laura Edgar
Leaving a job / Miljan-Zivkovic, Shutterstock_1699138591

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 26 January, 2021

Homes England chief executive steps down

The chief executive of Homes England, Nick Walkley, will leave the government agency on 28 February.

He joined the agency as chief executive when it was the Homes and Communities Agency in March 2017.

His work included leading an overhaul of the organisation, built around the move to Homes England with a mission and strategic plan to increase housing supply and change the housing market.

Walkley said: “I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved and I’d like to thank my colleagues and our many industry partners for their dedication and support. My successor will find an organisation brimming with talent, purpose and heart. Homes England is well-positioned to support the country’s economic recovery and I wish my colleagues the very best.”

From 28 February, Gordon More, the agency’s chief investment officer, will act as interim CEO, supported by Lynda McMullan, chief financial officer. They will work alongside an executive team drawn from the public and private sectors.


Application for business park submitted near Brighouse

A reserved matters planning application for a business park in Clifton, near Brighouse, has been submitted to Calderdale Council.

The Clifton Business Park scheme is a regeneration project that aims to transform the site on Wakefield Road into a regionally significant employment site.

Proposals for the site also include new walking and cycling routes, as well as landscaping, trees and plants.

Calderdale Council explained that it is working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to progress the scheme and secure additional funding.

The project received outline planning approval late in 2019. A decision on the reserved matters application is expected to be made by the planning committee in spring.


Deal to increase affordable housing struck in West Midlands

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and five of the region’s housing associations have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a business case for driving affordable housing developments, economic activity and housing policy objectives.

Commenting on the Affordable Housing Collaborative Development Vehicle (CDV), Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, said: “Our region has led the way on housebuilding with record numbers in recent years, but our focus now is on how we build even more homes that are truly affordable. Alongside our new definition of affordability, which links to income rather than the market rate, this partnership will help do exactly that.”

The CDV collaboration includes Accord Housing Association Limited, Bromford Housing Group, Citizen Housing Group Limited, Midland Heart Limited and whg (Walsall Housing Group Limited).  

The priorities of the partnership include building more affordable homes in the region; broadening the range, mix and supply of available homes; and addressing market failure to unlock dormant sites.


Council seeks views on transport choices

Sutton Council has invited those who live, work or study in the borough to have their say on ambitious plans to give more transport choices locally.

The council said its sustainable transport strategy is designed to create opportunities for residents to travel safely, actively and healthily around the borough. It also seeks to support Sutton’s growth.

As well as giving residents more choice, the strategy aims to improve the quality of life of Sutton’s residents by improving road safety, reducing air pollution and providing more accessible transport, especially for children, families, older people and other people who are vulnerable.

The strategy supports the council’s updated Environment Strategy and Climate Emergency Response Plan.

The consultation is open until 25 March and can be found here on the council's website.


Housebuilder buys land in Greater Manchester with permission for housing

Housebuilder Redrow has acquired 13 acres of land in the village of Lowton, Greater Manchester. It has planning permission in place for 117 new homes. Work on the new development, named Oakwood Fields, is set to begin this month.

Plans include a mix of three and four-bedroom homes, with open-plan layouts and flexible living spaces. Footpaths for walking and cycling will connect residents to the open land to the north and east, as well as the playing fields to the south. An existing watercourse will also be enhanced to create new wildlife habitats.

Claire Jarvis, managing director for Chorley-based Redrow Lancashire, said: “Our new site in Lowton is a great location for homebuyers, situated a similar distance to both of the major Northern hubs of Liverpool and Manchester. It will deliver over 100 new homes, the first of which will be completed towards the middle of 2022.”

The planning agreement will see Redrow contribute almost £175,000 towards secondary education provision and around £130,000 for improvements at local play areas.


Cash boost for the Newport Transporter Bridge

The 114-year-old Newport Transporter Bridge in South Wales has been awarded £8.75 million by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales. It is one of only eight remaining transporter bridges in the world.

With the funding, Newport City Council will repair and preserve the structure, as well as open a new visitor centre at the site.

Opened in 1906, the aerial ferry transported workers from the west of Newport across the river Usk without increasing traffic into the town’s busy port.

Andrew White, director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said: “This investment, the third largest we have ever made in Wales, will help sustain jobs, support economic growth, drive tourism and create a sense of pride in Newport’s unique heritage."

Visitors to the attraction will be able to climb to the top of the walkway, 55 metres above the water. The visitor centre will include information about the social history and heritage of the bridge and the tidal environment of the river Usk.


Edgbaston care home site to become housing

Spitfire Bespoke Homes has purchased a 3.1-acre site from Calthorpe Estates, the former Weston House care home, in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

The Solihull/Midlands-based developer will deliver 43 homes on the site. Plans for the site were approved by Birmingham City Council at the end of 2020.

Designed by Birmingham-based Glancy Nicholls Architects, the homes will comprise 26 new-build apartments and nine houses. Weston House will be refurbished into six “grand apartments"” and the adjacent coach house will become two smaller, semi-detached properties.


£2 million community regeneration funding boost

A partnership between Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities will see 14 community projects in Belfast receive a funding boost.

A £2 million joint funding package seeks to deliver a range of community facilities including new and improved play parks, sports facilities, community buildings, park pathways and community walkways.

The 14 projects include:

  • Upgrades to Vere Foster, Falls Park and Ohio Street playgrounds.
  • A new safe play area and community garden on waste ground adjacent to the Lagan Village Youth and Community Centre.
  • New modular changing facilities at the Willowbank Multi-Sports Centre.

Image credit | Shutterstock