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News in brief: Housebuilding hub to deliver environmental goals; Court of Appeal upholds Birmingham enforcement notices; Designs for new Perry Barr station revealed

Words: Huw Morris
Perry Barr

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 29 September 2020

Designs for new Perry Barr railway station revealed

The redevelopment of Perry Barr railway station has taken a major step forward after plans for a new transport interchange were submitted to Birmingham City Council. Regarded as one of the most outdated and unattractive railway stations in the region, Perry Barr is set to be replaced with a fit-for-purpose landmark station if plans are approved.

Under the design, the new building include multiple entrances, a ticket office, an accessible toilet and baby change facility, an out-of-hours entrance, lifts and new stairs. Further improvements include step free access, planters, passenger seating and cycle racks. As well as a full planning application for the railway station, outline planning permission is also being sought for the bus interchange in front of a neighbouring shopping centre.

The development will provide strong links to north Birmingham’s road, bus and cycle networks and is part of the wider £500 million regeneration of the Perry Barr area. It is due to be completed in time for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to receive spectators heading to the nearby Alexander Stadium for the athletics events and the opening and closing ceremonies. Transport for West Midlands, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority, and the West Midlands Rail Executive are working with rail industry partners including Network Rail, West Midlands Trains and Birmingham City Council on the development.

“This new station demonstrates the benefit to local people and local jobs from our region’s success in securing the Commonwealth Games,” said West Midlands mayor Andy Streets. “Because we secured the Games we’ve been able to bring forward long awaited investment that will improve things for commuters, and visitors for years to come.”


Bristol University consults on expansion plans

The University of Bristol has launched an online consultation on expansion plans at sites adjacent to its £300 million Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus development.

The public consultation is being held prior to the university submitting an outline planning application to Bristol City Council. The application will seek permission for a mix of research, enterprise and education spaces totalling 100,000 square metres along with improved public spaces. The university said the initial design has been heavily informed and influenced by the former industrial heritage of the site, with plans showing a series of stepped buildings ranging from four to eight stories. (Click headline for full story.)


Buses and tram services threatened by deep cuts without Covid-19 support

Bus services could be slashed by up to 40 per cent if the government withdraws financial support from local public transport services, a leading consultancy is warning.

Tram services are also at serious risk, with the temporary closure of light rail systems, according to a study by transport specialists Steer. It points out that government support allowed public transport to continue during the national lockdown, enabling key workers to travel to and from work, as well as providing a more comprehensive service at lower socially distanced capacity following the easing of restrictions.  (Click headline for full story.)


Bridge to chair RTPI trustees while West Midlands unveils award shortlist

Since 2019, Sue Bridge has acted as chair of the board of trustees, which is responsible for the managing the RTPI’s affairs and promoting its objectives.

Other roles on the board of trustees were also up for election, as well as positions on the RTPI’s general assembly.  (Click headline for full story.)


Housebuilding industry sets up special hub to deliver environmental goals

The housebuilding industry is to set up a “delivery hub” to meet the government’s environmental targets. The cross-sector Future Homes Task Force is setting up the hub to drive the industry’s delivery of net zero new homes.

The move follows a summit on the environment by the Home Builders Federation (HBF). The task force, with representatives from housebuilders, the government, utilities and suppliers, will develop a masterplan to co-ordinate and drive forward how the industry meets targets for net zero, the natural environment, resources, water and air quality on a “day-to-day basis, according to the HBF.

The hub, which will have a full-time team, will develop plans for the wide range of interlinked climate, natural environment and resource targets that must be reached to reach the ultimate goal of net zero.

The HBF said the masterplan would “communicate long term clear, outcome-based objectives and feature milestones and ‘enabling actions’ to be taken in the interim. Executive chairman Stewart Baseley said housebuilders had been set a “huge challenge” by the government.

“The environmental agenda is an absolute priority for the UK’s housebuilding industry and one on which we are committed to leading the way,” he added.


Major study launched into Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet transport links

A major government study looking at transport improvements to support growth and regeneration in the corridor between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet has just been launched.

The AW2E Connectivity transport study is funded by the Ministry for Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) which has pledged up to £4.85 million. The work will be overseen by the AW2E Partnership comprising Kent County Council, Bexley, Dartford and Gravesham Councils, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, the Greater London Authority and Network Rail.

The organisations have been working since 2015 on proposals to improve transport links within the sub-region to support new homes and jobs as well as more sustainable travel patterns. In June 2018, the partnership secured the backing of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, which in response to its report, the MHCLG committed funding to explore and build a business case for enhancing transport links in the area. Since January, the partnership has been developing with the government the detailed scope of the study and procure the delivery team.

The study will feature a broad programme of research and analysis to detail the transport and development challenges within the area, identify possible improvements, understand how these can support further housing and jobs growth both within the sub-region and beyond and consider potential funding.

The work will include analysing  a range of transport interventions, engagement with local stakeholders and two phases of public consultation. Lead consultants in the study will be Atkins/Jacobs which will carry out the transport and growth analysis while KPMG who will consider funding and finance options for any scheme. The study is scheduled to take around 15 months and is due to end in Autumn 2021.


Court of Appeal upholds Birmingham enforcement notices

The Court of Appeal has upheld fines imposed on a company and its director for breaching planning and listed building enforcement notices. Birmingham City Council had issued the notices in 2014 to Western Trading and Chinderpal Singh over a Victorian building on Constitutional Hill, most of which is Grade II listed.

The company had carried out works at the building, including removing and replacing timber shop fronts with painted metal alternatives without planning permission or listed building consent. Both notices required immediate radiation of the unauthorised works with an original deadline of November 2014, against which the company appealed.

The time for complying for the notice was extended until October 2015. The council started protection proceedings three years on from the October deadline for non-compliance with the notices. Both defendants pleaded guilty at the crown court in August 2019, with Judge Fowler later deferring sentence to allow the defendants to complete the remedial works. He imposed fines of £25,000 on each defendant and both appealed.

The Court of Appeal ruled that in Western Trading’s case “the combination of the attempt to avoid the cost of compliance, even if that could originally have been in the bracket £25,000 to £30,000, with obdurate disobedience to the notices for a period of over three years, was ample justification for the starting point which the judge took”.

Singh, as the sole active director or controlling mind of the company, “caused it to commit the offences to which it had pleaded guilty”. The fine imposed could not be regarded as excessive, the appeal court added. It dismissed both appeals and ordered the defendants to pay the council’s costs of nearly £3,500.


Crown Estate signs offshore wind farm extensions

The Crown Estate has signed agreements for lease (AfL) for six proposed offshore wind farm extensions off the coast of England and Wales The AfLs have been granted for extensions to the existing Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, Gwynt y Mor, Galloper, Greater Gabbard and Rampion projects and will total 2,800MW.

The Crown Estate said the proposals had successfully progressed through the Habitats Regulations Assessment stage, which assesses the possible impact of the wind farm extensions on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance.

The projects will now focus on environmental assessments and surveys, before seeking planning consent through the statutory planning process and securing connections to the national grid.

“Reaching this stage marks an important milestone in the UK portfolio, demonstrating strong market appetite and further strengthening the UK offshore wind pipeline,” said Crown Estate head of energy development Will Apps.

“Each project has the potential to play a vital role in supporting the nation’s clean energy transition and we look forward to following their progress as they move through the planning process.”