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News in brief: Measures to protect Hemel town centre confirmed; Council assembles team to deliver Huddersfield regeneration

Hemel Hempstead / iStock-1143989405

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 23 November, 2021

Measures to protect Hemel town centre confirmed

Dacorum Borough Council has confirmed an article 4 direction that seeks to protect Hemel Hempstead town centre from permitted development. 

The council is concerned about the effect this could have on the main shopping area in the town centre, as it could lead to the loss of shops, cafés, gyms and other business premises which provide services to residents, workers and visitors.

In August The Planner reported that the council was seeking representations on the article 4 direction, which came into force on 29 July. Subject to the representations, the council would announce within six months if the direction was to be confirmed.

The article 4 direction means that planning permission will continue to be required if there are proposals to convert shops and other street-level premises to residential use.


Council assembles team to deliver Huddersfield regeneration

Kirklees Council has appointed a team to deliver the regeneration plans for Huddersfield.

Turner & Townsend have been appointed as the strategic delivery partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley as architects, and Arup will lead the engineering aspects of the project.

The team will work with the council to transform Huddersfield’s Queensgate area into an “inclusive, vibrant hub and ‘Cultural Heart’ of the town”.

At a cabinet meeting on 16 November, it was agreed to progress with the £210 million project. 

The plans include a new entertainment venue with a capacity of 1,200 to 2,500, an art gallery, a library, a food hall, a museum and a multistorey car park. There would also be potential future additional commercial uses including hotel, restaurants, bars and offices and residential.

The Huddersfield Blueprint is a 10-year plan to modernise the town and make sure it is safe and inclusive.


Leeds approves Streets for People scheme 

Leeds City Council’s executive board has approved plans for a £900,000 Streets for People scheme that aims to deliver “transformational” changes to the built environment in the Recreations area of Holbeck.

The plans include widened footpaths, enhanced green space, tree planting and segregated cycle facilities. It also includes traffic-calming measures and junction closures to reduce car usage and pollution. 

The scheme is intended to give people in the Recreations easier access to employment and education opportunities in the city centre by linking in with two major infrastructure projects – the recently completed Elland Road cycle superhighway and the Ingram Distributor cycling and walking route, which is currently under construction.

Work is due to start in January 2022 and is expected to be complete in spring. 

Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s councillor and executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “The residents in the Recreations will hopefully love the changes that are coming their way, with more greenery on their doorsteps and attractive new spaces where they can meet and interact with their neighbours. We want to give people of all ages an environment where they feel relaxed and happy about doing things – like walking and cycling – that will help their health and wellbeing.”


Ebbsfleet housing scheme approved 

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has approved plans submitted by Bellway Homes for 121 homes in Ebbsfleet Garden City.

The Northfleet Embankment West mixed-use development will be known as Harbour Village and will deliver 30 per cent “affordable” housing. It will include a formal public open space and Chimney View Park, which was influenced by a schoolchildren’s art competition.  

The area forms part of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s site at Northfleet Riverside and it is hoped that the development will reconnect the existing communities with the River Thames and provide a range of high-quality housing, jobs, and recreational places.

Mark Pullin, chief planning officer at the development corporation, said: “Bellway Homes has created a sustainable neighbourhood, reflecting, and celebrating the site’s industrial heritage, creating a cohesive network of streets and open spaces, providing a range of new homes, and creating a waterfront destination with connections to the River Thames.”


HES launches its Climate Ready plan 

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has launched its Climate Ready HES plan to prepare for the risks and impacts associated with climate change.

HES’s Climate Action Plan (2020-2025) works alongside other key climate action commitments such as HES’s ambitions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

The plan details HES’s primary adaptation response to the climate risks of concern it has identified. These actions include committing appropriate resources to climate change adaptation, mainstreaming ‘adaptation’ action into HES plans and policies, and integrating climate risk assessments into all relevant decisions the organisation takes.

Alex Paterson, chief executive of Historic Environment Scotland, said: “The need to be ‘climate ready’ and to proactively prepare for the risks and impacts associated with climate change has never been clearer – 2020 and 2021 have been marked by many notable extreme weather events occurring around the globe, with the influence of climate change clear to see.

“We hope that this plan will not only help to improve our organisation’s own resilience to the risks and impacts of climate change, and in turn that of Scotland’s historic environment, but also that it will bring benefits to the wider sector.”

The plan can be viewed on the HES website.


Public consultation launched for Ebbsfleet Central development

A public consultation has been launched by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation for its plans to create a new centre for the garden city on land around Ebbsfleet International Station. 

The development, to be known as Ebbsfleet Central East, would include flexible workspaces, restaurants, shops, arts, film and music venues.

The face-to-face and virtual consultations will run until January 14 2022.

Ian Piper, chief executive of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, said: “These are the most important plans the corporation has come forward with so far, and we want to hear from as many people as possible. We are providing an online platform for everyone to look at the plans and provide their feedback, and we are holding events in a number of venues around the local area so that the public can talk to the team, see the plans and have their say on this exciting opportunity to create a vibrant heart to Ebbsfleet Garden City.”

The consultation material can be viewed here.  


Views sought on Hertfordshire transport network

Hertfordshire County Council has launched a public engagement exercise on its vision to create a new east-west rapid transit link.

Called the Hertfordshire-Essex Rapid Transit (HERT), the link is intended to improve the passenger transport network by establishing an “accessible, reliable and affordable east-west system”. It would connect Watford and Hemel Hempstead in the west to Harlow (west Essex) in the east.

Residents and interested parties are invited to explore a virtual exhibition, attend online events and complete an online survey about the proposed link.

Hertfordshire County Council and Essex County Council said they will work closely together to ensure that “rapid and seamless” journeys can be made across the entire network.

This is the first phase of public engagement on the scheme. A virtual exhibition and survey are available online until Friday 28 January 2022.


Consultancy appointed to assess three town centres

Planning consultancy Nexus Planning has been appointed by three areas to assess their retail and leisure offering.

It will support Sheffield City Council in reaffirming the city centre’s regional role as a key shopping and leisure destination through a number of regeneration initiatives currently in the works. Nexus will analyse the catchment area of the city centre, looking at how it performs compared with other large-scale destinations like Meadowhall. 

High Peak Borough Council wants to diversify to meet the needs of both the local rural community and the region’s tourist trade. In Buxton and Glossop, the two key retail and service centres, Nexus has been tasked with analysing opportunities to develop their leisure economies. They will also consider the vitality and viability of these centres.

For Mid Sussex District Council, Nexus has been commissioned to prepare a retail study to support the 2023 local plan review. 

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