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News in brief: RTPI showcases planners' work to patron Prince Charles; Lichfield to invest in planning service

Words: Laura Edgar

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 14 September, 2021

Institute showcases planners' work to patron Prince Charles

The RTPI has sent an overview of the award-winning work of UK planners from over the last year to its patron HRH Prince Charles.

The specially-created brochure highlights some of the winners from the RTPI’s Awards for Planning Excellence 2021.

It also celebrates the contribution that planning and planners have made to society, particularly to creating healthy and sustainable places.

In an accompanying letter, RTPI president Wei Yang FRTPI writes that the award-winning projects show how the planning profession is enabling places around the world to be more sustainable and inclusive, as well as contributing to a reduction in carbon emissions.

Yang  writes: "I am delighted to showcase the work of our profession to your Royal Highness as our Patron and trust that you agree that we share many priorities for the future.

"It is our sincere hope that we can work more closely together to encourage the positive role that the planning profession plays in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as global communities now urgently need a world where there is greater harmony with nature and the planet."

Prince Charles has been patron of the RTPI since 1989.


Council to invest in planning service

Lichfield District Council’s cabinet has agreed plans to restructure its development management service.

A total of £1.13 million will be invested in improving the planning service between 2021 and 2026.

The council said this will allow the service to be reorganised and extra capacity to be built, including additional training and creating new roles to meet a "significant" increase in demand.

Angela Lax, cabinet member responsible for development management, said: “Our development management team has been dealing with a 26 per cent increase in its workload over the past year, which has resulted in some delays and complaints from residents and developers.

“Bringing in a new structure and posts should relieve much of the pressure on the team. It will also make sure we have the experience in-house to deal with upcoming major planning applications.

“We are confident the changes will lead to faster processing times and better customer service, which should boost overall satisfaction with the service.”


Scottish National Investment Bank commits £6m to tidal energy

Tidal energy manufacturer Nova Innovation has secured £6.4 million from the Scottish National Investment Bank to fund manufacturing and distribution of its subsea tidal turbines. 

The Edinburgh-based company’s 100kW tidal turbines have been used in Shetland since 2016. 

The turbines can be used to generate tidal energy within small projects in coastal communities or scaled up to large developments that power the national grid, the company said. 

The investment will support Nova to meet growing global and local demand for its tidal turbines. The core technology will be manufactured in Scotland. It will also fund ongoing research and development into marine energy. 


Planners recommend solar farm be approved

Planners at the City of Wolverhampton Council have recommended for approval plans for the city's first solar farm.

The city council and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust have joined together to deliver green electricity at New Cross Hospital.

The plans will be considered today (14 September). If approved, the solar farm will be installed on the former Bowman’s Harbour site.

Bowman’s Harbour is an unused landfill site adjacent to an industrial estate located on Planetary Road.

The solar farm will assist The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust in meeting their carbon reduction commitments and supply 6.9MWp (Mega Watt peak) of energy directly to New Cross Hospital. 


Consultancy appointed to create Highgate Cemetery masterplan

Planning and development consultancy Montagu Evans has been appointed to help shape Highgate Cemetery in London. 

The firm joins competition winners Gustafson Porter + Bowman (landscape competition) and Hopkins Architects (architectural projects competition) on the project team.

The team will prepare a new 25-year masterplan for the site, which will aim to secure the cemetery's future and ensure it remains a historic and sustainable twenty-first century cemetery. It must provide modern facilities for those looking after the site as well as improvements for grave owners and visitors.

Highgate Cemetery is a grade I Registered Park, designated as Metropolitan Open Land, and contains over 80 listed buildings and monuments, including the grade I listed Egyptian Avenue and Lebanon Circle and grade II* Terrace Catacombs.

Montagu Evans will advise on the planning strategy and lead consultation with the London Borough of Camden, Historic England and other relevant heritage stakeholders.


Developer acquires Watford site for mixed-use scheme

Developer Regal London has acquired a site at 37-39 Clarendon Road, Watford.

The site already had planning permission, but Regal London has successfully amended it to increase the number of homes to 168, as well as making changes to the grade A office space so that it includes a café and gym. 

The development will also secure an overall planning obligation package totalling more than £4.6 million. This includes an affordable housing financial contribution of around £2 million.

Regal London’s plans for the £150 million scheme comprise studios, one, two and three bedroom homes, as well as 150,000 square feet of office space. The residential building will be 25 storeys in height and all homes will be private for sale.


Views sought on Oxford North’s Canalside plans

Thomas White Oxford (TWO) and its residential partner Hill Group have launched a public consultation on their plans for around 318 homes, a public park and streets at Oxford North’s Canalside.

TWO is the development company of St John’s College.

Outline consent was granted earlier in the year for the overall 64-acre masterplan, as well as detailed consent for the first phase of commercial development, link road and new park in the Central area.

TWO and Hill Group have since worked on the detailed plans for 318 new homes on Canalside, of which 111 (35 per cent) will be available as affordable homes (80 per cent as social-rental homes and 20 per cent as shared ownership).

The partnership is looking for views on the plans through an online public consultation before it submits a Reserved Matters Applications later in the year.

Canalside sits along the south-western boundary, to the south of the A40. 

The public consultation for Canalside closes on Monday 27September 2021 at 9am. The emerging plans can be viewed here.

Image credit | RTPI