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News in Brief: Letchworth, Thame and King’s Cross among England’s ‘greatest places’; Call for evidence on quality of new housing in England

Words: Laura Edgar

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 6 October, 2015

Letchworth, Thame and King's Cross among England’s ‘greatest places’

The original garden city, a traditional market town, and a modern urban regeneration scheme are among the 10 greatest places in England, according to a poll run by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Some 700 people across England nominated 200 locations as a 'great place', and judges selected a winner for each region of the country. Letchworth Garden City achieved the ‘greatest place’ in East of England award, with judges citing its historical importance as the reason for its success. “We wanted to recognise special places like Letchworth, which are cherished because they have been protected, carefully planned or have been improved,” said Janet Askew, RTPI president. New developments were also recognised, with King's Cross selected as London’s greatest place owing to its multi-billion pound regeneration scheme. “What was once a declining area is now a hub for creative and technology industries with fantastic public spaces for all to enjoy,” said the judges. To see the full list of winners and to vote for England’s greatest places, please visit the RTPI website. You can also vote on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag: #RTPIgreatplaces. The poll will be open until Friday 20 November. 

Quality of new building housing in England call for evidence

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment is calling for evidence for its fourth inquiry. The inquiry will look at the quality of new-build housing in England and will also examine the potential for improving the product handed over to new home owners. The commission is particularly looking for evidence of practical strategies that, for example: improve design quality and spatial standards - both at the level of individual new homes and estates of new housing; ensure better-quality workmanship; and provide new, innovative ideas for design-quality improvement, better new home-owner experience and improved customer service. Written submissions are requested to be received no later than Friday 30 October, 2015. Written submissions should be sent electronically to the APPGEBE secretary, Graham Watts OBE c/o APPGInquiry@cic.org.uk. The Construction Industry Council acts as secretariat to the group. More information can be found on the council's website.

Legal challenge launched against reporter’s decision on wind farm in Scotland

A developer has launched a legal challenge in the Court of Session against a reporter’s refusal of a six-turbine wind farm near Glen Affric. German developers wpd say “unverified online submissions to the planning portal have undoubtedly influenced the decision-making process”, according to The Herald. The firm has appealed to the Scottish Government following Highland Council’s continuous delays in considering its applications, suggesting that the decision made “severe impacts on the integrity of the Scottish planning system”.

Community renewables meets target early

A target to get renewable energy into community or local ownership has been met early, says the Scottish Government. An estimated 508 megawatts (MW) of community and local owners‘ capacity is now operational in Scotland, which exceeds the 500MW target for 2020. Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “I am delighted we have met this target early, which creates a huge opportunity to increase our ambition and to keep Scotland in the lead. We will be considering the scope to review our target alongside other energy policy development over the coming months. There are still challenges we need to overcome - community energy generally has higher capital costs, longer lead-in times and frequent delays in connecting to the grid, while the UK Government is intent on slashing support for small-scale renewables.

Image courtesy of Tim Green