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News in brief: MPs call for more inclusion in the built environment; Guidance on brownfield registers unveiled


A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 25 April, 2017

MPs call for more inclusion in the built environment

The government must take the lead by launching a “coherent and transparent strategy” for improving access and inclusion in the built environment.

A Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into disability and the built environment said such a strategy should cover procurement, fiscal initiatives and sharing best practice, with the DCLG spearheading the drive.

The RTPI welcomed the report for echoing many of its calls for more inclusive planning, as highlighted by recent policy and research work including a guidance note on dementia.

“At the heart of our dementia guidance note is the underlying principle that good design helps everyone, and is therefore worth the effort and the investment to make it better,” said chief executive Trudi Elliott.

Guidance on brownfield registers unveiled

Guidance explaining how local authorities should manage their brownfield land registers has been published by the government.

The guidance is comprised of frequently asked questions on the registers and permission in principle to accompany two sets of regulations which came into force last week. The government intends to publish statutory guidance by the summer.

The guidance is available here.

Rockfire buys two Welsh solar farms with investment from councils

An investment capital firm has bought two solar farms in Wales after securing backing from three local authorities for the deal. Rockfire Capital acquired Astley Farm and Pen y Cae solar farms in Wales, after working closely with Warrington Borough Council and the London Boroughs of Bexley and Newham on the deal. The two farms generate in total 10MW of solar polar.

The three local authorities are investing in environmental initiatives to generate returns which will be diverted to frontline services. The move aims to create new revenues for local community infrastructure without increasing costs to the taxpayer.

Driverless cars to be tested on UK roads within two years

A consortium of technology and transport specialists is to trial the first driverless cars on UK roads. The Driven group has received £8 million from the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles to develop and operate a fleet of vehicles with complete autonomy.

The project will culminate with the vehicles travelling autonomously from London to Oxford, with safety drives on board as a precaution, within the next two and half years. The Driven consortium is led by Oxbotica, which makes software for driverless vehicles, and other partners include the Oxford Robotics Institute, insurer XL Catlin, Nominet, Telefonica, the Transport Research Laboratory, UKAEA’s RACE facility, Oxfordshire County Council, Transport for London and Westbourne Communications.

High Court fast-tracks challenge to new environmental justice rules

The High Court is fast-tracking a challenge by green campaigners against new environmental justice rules introduced by the government.

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London’s worst junctions fall under safety spotlight

The junctions with the worst safety record for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in the capital have been identified by Transport for London (TfL).

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UK renewables industry sees massive export boom

UK renewable energy companies secured billions of pounds of exports for their goods and services last year.

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Number of empty homes in England falls to 200,000

More than 200,000 homes in England have been lying empty for more than six months, equivalent to £43 billion of housing, according to latest government figures.

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