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News in brief: Partnership set up for small builders; Team appointed for West Midlands plan

Words: Laura Edgar
Deal / Shutterstock

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 15 September, 2020

Partnership set up for small builders

Homes England and Invest & Fund have joined in a seven-year lending partnership that seeks to support small builders.

They will increase the amount of finance available to SME developers to help them grow and deliver more homes quickly.

Together, they will create a £25 million revolving fund to allow Invest & Fund to support small builders with construction loans of between £400,000 and £2.5 million, funding schemes of two homes and upwards, at up to 80 per cent loan-to-cost.

Gordon More, chief investment officer at Homes England, said: “In Invest & Fund, we have found a partner with a shared purpose to support the market and the desire and capability to scale their lending activity. The deal demonstrates our ability to make homes happen in different ways in support of our mission. We are particularly pleased to be working with a specialist finance provider, recognising the crucial role that the non-bank lending market continues to play in supporting smaller builders in these challenging times.”


Team appointed for West Midlands plan

Property regeneration consultant AspinallVerdi and multidisciplinary engineering company Stantec have been appointed to carry out a viability and delivery assessment of the emerging Black Country Plan (BCP) for Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils.

The BCP is a joint planning framework for the whole of the Black Country.

The study will form part of the evidence base for the BCP. It will assess whether the housing and employment sites being considered as potential site allocations are financially viable and deliverable. 


Council urged to reject Whitehaven coal mine

Friends of the Earth has renewed its call for Cumbria County Council to reject proposals for a new deep coal mine in Whitehaven.

The call comes after communities secretary Robert Jenrick rejected plans for an opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay on the Northumberland coast for a second time.

He cited changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that has been implemented since the High Court quashed his predecessor Sajid Javid’s decision to refuse permission.

Jenrick also ruled that the weight to be attached to the need for coal should be “no more than moderate”.

Friends of the Earth regional campaigner Estelle Worthington said: “The government’s decision on the Druridge opencast mine sends a powerful message to Cumbria councillors ahead of next month’s crucial decision on the UK's first new deep coal mine in three decades at the former Marchon site in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

“The government has said there’s little evidence that we will need current levels of coal for industrial uses beyond the very short term. That seriously erodes the arguments put forward by West Cumbria Mining for the Marchon mine.

“New coal extraction has no place in a world facing a climate emergency. We urge Cumbria County Council’s development and control committee to reject West Cumbria Mining’s proposal and instead seek opportunities for securing green jobs for the region.”


88 apartments proposed for Trafford

Avison Young and 5plus architects have submitted a planning application for 88 apartments on Warwick Road in Trafford.

The application has been submitted on behalf of Jumani Holdings Limited.

The sire is next to the Old Trafford Metrolink stop.

The homes will be a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments. They will be arranged in a 13-storey brick building. Amenity space and communal gardens also form part of the plans.

Planning permission for the 89 apartments on the site, which is vacant, was granted in October 2016. However, the plans were not delivered for viability reasons.


Trade associations join forces to boost economic recovery

The Solar Trade Association, Renewable UK and techUK have announced a new partnership that seeks to promote the transition to a net-zero economy.

To push a green recovery, techUK will encourage its member companies to consider setting up long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) to stimulate UK-based renewable energy generation.

The organisations explained that the “commitment will bring together energy buyers directly with the renewable energy providers to stimulate a market in PPAs which can underpin the decarbonisation of the UK power sector”.

Alongside this, the STA and RenewableUK will encourage their members to work more closely with the UK technology sector on a number of measures, including to integrate smart systems into the growth of the renewable and energy storage industries to support the development of flexible, responsive digital energy systems, and integrate smart energy and heat systems alongside renewable assets in residential buildings.
Westminster Housing estates gain listed status

Historic England has awarded grade-II listed status to Westbourne Park and Churchill Gardens in Pimlico.

They have also been included on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

The Brunel Estate landscape was designed by Michael Brown in 1970. It was recommended for grade II registration because “it is an unusual and intact design by one of the leading professional landscape architects of the time”, said a statement from Westminster City Council. The play area remains largely unchanged and the monumental slide is the main reason for it being listed.

Churchill Gardens, designed by Powell and Moya, was the first large-scale housing development in Britain after the war. There are eight grade II-listed buildings already on-site, which is a conservation area.

David Harvey, cabinet member for housing services at Westminster City Council, said: “By awarding listing status to both landscapes, it will protect the local area surrounding these estates so that local residents can continue to enjoy the outdoor space in the heart of the city.”


Plans for regeneration of public toilet building approved

The London Borough of Haringey has granted DK-CM planning permission to renovate and extend a grade-II listed public toilet in Bruce Grove, a conservation area.

The plans will see the toilets brought back to use as a community café, pioneering a new Community Wealth Building Lease and making commercial use of the newly extended building. 

Working with the council, local campaign group The Last Elm and heritage consultant Rob Bevan, DK-CM explained that its project team has worked to capture and protect the significance of the small building, both above and below ground. Work seeks to ensure that it comes off the Historic England ‘at risk’ register.

The toilet was constructed in phases at the beginning of the 20th century but has deteriorated in the past few decades since it closed its doors in the 1980s.

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