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News in brief: London’s ‘biggest’ mid-market residential scheme green-lit; ‘Action’ needed to tackle number of empty homes in London

Words: Laura Edgar

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 12 April, 2016

Contractor appointed for Build to Rent scheme

Westbrook has appointed Shaylar Group as the main contractor to deliver the first homes designed specifically for rent in commuter town Bedford.

The plans will see the former Merton Centre office building revamped to include smart meters to help tenants save money, as well as communal areas. The building is located close to two train stations, with a direct link to central London.

The first residents will be able to move into the 157-flat building this summer.

London’s ‘biggest’ mid-market residential scheme green-lit

Brent Council has approved “one of the biggest” mid-market housing developments in Wembley, North London.

The plans have been developed by HUB, a mid-market developer, and Bridges Ventures, a specialist sustainable and impact investor, and will see a disused office block turned into twin residential towers comprising 239 homes.

The 21 and 26-storey towers, designed by Maccreanor Lavington Architects, will be the tallest in Wembley, but HUB argued that the height was appropriate in this location given the great transport links, the quality of the building design and accommodation, and the space offered back to the community.

The towers will be made up of a mix of affordable housing, units for sale and apartments built specifically for rent, as well as a community centre, public realm, retail space and cycle storage.

More information can be found here.

'Action’ needed to tackle number of empty homes in London

The Residential Landlords Association is calling on the next Mayor of London to use available powers to ensure that dwellings are not being left empty but are being used by landlords who want to offer properties to live in or are available for purchase.

While ministers have introduced a number of tax changes designed to “hit” those purchasing additional property, many of these, according to the association, “will not affect overseas investors who traditionally buy homes then leave them empty”.

The association sets out the call for rented housing in the capital in its London mayoral election manifesto.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: “With access to decent and affordable housing the number one issue in London, it is a scandal that so many homes lie empty as investors wait to sell them off for a profit.

“The next mayor needs to use all the powers they have to stamp out this practice, and encourage good, decent landlords to provide the homes to rent Londoners need.”

The manifesto can be found here. 

TCPA become UK chapter of International Federation for Housing and Planning

The International Federation for Housing and Planning Association (IFHP) has welcomed the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) as its newest national chapter.

The TCPA says it acts as a national focal point of the IFHP for members and interested individuals in the UK.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the TCPA, said: "The TCPA and IFHP have a long-lasting relationship built on a shared heritage. Both organisations originated from the garden city movement and we both were established by Ebenezer Howard over a century ago.

“It is great to have the opportunity to formally collaborate over 100 years on, with the TCPA helping spread the IFHP’s community outreach in the UK and the IFHP extending the TCPA’s outreach on a global scale."

More on this can be found here. 

Plans submitted for care village

A development of cottages for older people has been submitted to Birmingham City Council.

Bournville Village Trust (BVT) and the ExtraCare Charitable Trust have submitted plans for the homes, which would form the third phase of the College Green Care Village on Bristol Road South, in Bournville.

The 16 two and three-bedroom cottages are aimed at people aged over 55 and would be available to buy from next year, if approved, with each featuring “state-of-the-art technology”.

According to the plans, each cottage will feature full-size shower rooms, panels that can be removed to incorporate hoists, and charging points for mobility equipment.