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News in brief: Planning system is not broken, says Hills; Approval for mental health facilities at London hospital

Words: Laura Edgar
Broken? / iStock-533334866

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 14 January, 2020

Planning system is not broken, says Hills

RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills has defended the planning system, stating that planners are feeling the effects of years of government under-resourcing and meddling.

Hills was speaking on the latest episode of the popular 50 Shades of Planning podcast as part of a panel chaired by Sam Stafford MRTPI, Barratt Developments.

During the discussion, she challenged the Raynsford Review’s suggestion that the planning system is now less effective than at any time since the Second World War.

“There were many helpful recommendations in the Raynsford Review,” she acknowledged, “but the mantra that the system is broken is not one we can easily recognise or accept. What has happened is that planning has had a significant cut in resourcing. We also need to stop the tinkering to the system which has caused delays, confusion and problems.

“If the planning system could only find some kind of steady state, then planners would be able to get back to the real purpose of planning. We need to be thinking more about strategic masterplanning and being more proactive, but it’s difficult when local authorities are so woefully under-resourced.”


Approval for mental health facilities at London hospital

South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust has announced that it has secured government approval to start work on its two new ‘state-of-the-art’ facilities at Springfield University Hospital.

The development comprises the construction of two new mental health inpatient facilities on its largest site in Tooting, South London.

It will deliver eight new inpatient wards that will be boosted by the modernisation of the trust’s community services. The trust has already started construction work on this programme, which will include new housing and a 32-acre public park.

The plans will bring forward a range of benefits to the people who use the services, their carers and the local community, including:

  • 839 new homes for local families in Tooting;
  • Community shops and a café;
  • Extensive community healthcare;
  • Land to be made available for a new school, investing in local children’s futures; and
  • More than £5 million for new transport facilities.

The facility is expected to open in 2022.


Project to identify barriers in planning for traveller sites

A project has been launched to investigate the key barriers local authorities face when trying to include gypsy traveller sites as part of mixed-use developments on the edge of towns.

As part of a national survey, academics will ask housebuilders, planners, developers and other stakeholders to try to establish common issues faced by authorities in securing the delivery of pitches for gypsies and travellers.

A summary of the findings will then be shared in a short report due to be produced in spring 2020.

The survey is being led by Mid-Devon District Council, which has commissioned De Montfort University Leicester to carry out the work.

If this is of interest, please contact Jo Richardson on jr[email protected] or complete the short survey here.


Calderdale consults on draft plan

Calderdale Council has launched a six-week consultation on its draft local plan.

After the first stage of examination, feedback from a government-appointed inspector provided led the council to adjust its housing plans. The plan is now aimed at delivering an average of 997 new homes annually until 2035.

To achieve this target, the plan provides for a greater concentration of houses within existing sites that are close to good transport links, such as town centres. New sites have been identified because they are close to bus and rail links.

Comments can be submitted online and further information, including interactive maps, can be found on the council website.


Council rejects housing plan due to flooding concerns

North West Leicestershire District Council has refused plans for 30 homes in Hugglescote over flooding, drainage and highway safety concerns.

The proposal for the site on Station Road had previously been deferred by the planning committee in October, when flooding and sewage issues in the village during a spell of heavy rain raised concerns about the development of housing at this site.

Planning committee members sought further information from Severn Trent Water, which confirmed it had now carried out investigations and remedial work to resolve the situation.

The committee, however, felt its concerns were not fully addressed and after hearing objections from a local resident and the ward member, decided to refuse the application.


Scottish Government launches new planning website

The Scottish Government has launched a new website that aims to be a resource for following progress and joining in with some key strands of the continuing transformation of Scotland’s planning system and national policy.

The site is structured around the work that will done over the next couple of years on:

  • National Planning Framework 4
  • Planning reform
  • Digital planning

The government said it would be the hub for essential information, resources and opportunities to keep up to date and to get involved in all three of these work programmes.

The site will be updated regularly with new material to support understanding and collaboration through the development of NPF4, legislation and guidance following on from the new Planning (Scotland) Act and a digital strategy for planning.

Image credit | iStock