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News in brief: RTPI awards four bursaries; Sunak launches spending review

Words: Laura Edgar
Grant funding / iStock-878953966

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 21 July, 2020

RTPI awards four bursaries

The RTPI Trust has awarded four undergraduate planning students bursaries to support their studies.

Scott Wiles (Newcastle University), Zuzana Muckova (Birmingham City University), Elias Aldahan (Newcastle University) and Chloe Young (University of Sheffield) have been awarded £2,000 grants in recognition of their academic excellence.

The RTPI Trust bursaries, awarded annually to undergraduate students on accredited planning degrees, are designed to promote and support diversity within, and widen access to, the planning profession.

Nominees this year were asked to think creatively about the future of the high street in the UK. They had to consider issues such as pedestrianisation, pollution and other issues affecting the economy and community life. 

Recipients were chosen by a judging panel composed of RTPI president Sue Manns FRTPI, RTPI Trust representative John Acres MRTPI, and Dr Kat Salter MRTPI, lecturer in urban and regional planning at the University of Birmingham.

The bursaries are fully funded by the RTPI Trust, an independent registered charity that exists to provide support to members of the RTPI and their families who are in genuine financial hardship.

More information about the bursary scheme can be found on the RTPI website


Sunak launches spending review

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has launched the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review, which will be published in the autumn.

It will set out the government’s spending plans for the Parliament, including UK Government departments’ resource budgets for the years 2021/22 to 2023/24 and capital budgets for the years 2021/22 until 2024/25. It will also outline the devolved administrations’ block grants for the same period.

The Comprehensive Spending Review is set to prioritise:

  • Strengthening the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19 by prioritising jobs and skills.
  • Levelling up economic opportunity across all nations and regions of the country by investing in infrastructure, innovation and people.
  • Improving outcomes in public services, including supporting the NHS and taking steps to cut crime and ensure that every young person receives a superb education.
  • Making the UK a scientific superpower, including leading in the development of technologies that will support the government’s ambition to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Sunak has not fixed a set spending envelope owing to “unprecedented uncertainty”, but said departments’ resource and capital budgets would grow above inflation and 2020 Budget commitments would be delivered. 

Sunak said: “The first phase of our economic response to coronavirus was about safeguarding employment as far as possible. Our goal in the second phase is to protect, create and support jobs and we set out our plan to achieve this two weeks ago.

“The Comprehensive Spending Review is our opportunity to deliver on the third phase of our recovery plan – where we will honour the commitments made in the March Budget to rebuild, level up and invest in people and places spreading opportunities more evenly across the nation.”


Listed Dover building restoration to go ahead

Planning and listed building consent has been granted for the restoration of Dover’s grade I listed Maison Dieu.  

The £9 million plans aim to transform the medieval and neo-gothic building as the heritage centrepiece in the ongoing regeneration of Dover town centre.

The proposals for the Maison Dieu – also known as Dover Town Hall – include essential conservation work to the building, restoring William Burges’ interior decorative schemes in the Connaught Hall and Mayor’s Parlour, creating a new visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall and improving access throughout the building. Work will also make the building more sustainable by bringing redundant spaces back into commercial use, including a holiday let and café.

The project will see the Maison Dieu open to the public daily for the first time in its history as a heritage attraction.

A decision on a £4.8 million bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund is expected this autumn. The money would see the project get under way in 2021.


Care centre approved in Newry

A consortium led by Kajima Partnerships has received planning permission to build a £30 million community health centre in Newry, County Down. 

It will bring together numerous “much-needed” health services for the local area and will house up to eight individual GP practices. 

The Community Treatment and Care Centre, as it will be known, will additionally provide a number of outpatient services, mental health, children’s health and social services, as well as physiotherapy, a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic, dentistry, diabetic clinic and hydrotherapy. 

The site for the new facility is located within easy reach of Newry city centre. 

Kajima Partnerships is the main developer, working in partnership with O’Hare & McGovern to form GPG O’Hare, the consortium that has been selected by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to build and manage the project.


Primary school approved in Ebbsfleet

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee has approved plans for the garden city’s third primary school, lodged by Kent County Council.

Ebbsfleet Green Primary School will accommodate up to 420 pupils and have a 26-place nursery.

It will be located in the centre of the Redrow development in Ebbsfleet Green and follows Cherry Orchard Primary School in Castle Hill, which opened in 2017, and Springhead Park Primary School, which will open this September.

The Maritime Academy Trust will run the school, which is expected to open in September 2021.


MoU signed for battery plan

Manufacturer Britishvolt and the Welsh Government have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the UK’s first battery gigaplant.

Both parties will work together on plans to develop a commercially viable 30GWh battery manufacturing plant, and supplementary 200MW solar plant at the former RAF base at Bro Tathan, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.

The MoU will see Britishvolt and at the Welsh Government collaborate on the potential of building a full-cycle battery cell gigaplant to produce lithium ion cylindrical and pouch cells primarily servicing the automotive market. It is subject to UK Government funding through the Automotive Transformation Fund.

Britishvolt anticipates that the initial £1.2 billion of investment from the company would eventually create 3,500 jobs. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2021.


Aldershot regeneration approved

Rushmoor Borough Council has approved regeneration plans for Aldershot town centre for flexible retail, 100 homes and public space. 

The plans have been led by Rushmoor Development Partnership (RDP), a joint venture between Rushmoor Borough Council and Hill Investment Partnerships.

They will see significant investment to revitalise the existing area at 38-62 Union Street, including a new public square and the ‘Union Yard’, a creative space for small and independent businesses.

Plans also include student accommodation, in partnership with the University for the Creative Arts, aiming to bring more life and footfall into the town centre. 


Consultancy to advise on retail future

Nexus Planning has won three retail studies in London, Bristol and Bedford, which will see the firm examine and advise on what the future of retail will look like.

In the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the council wants Nexus Planning to advise it on the neighbourhood centres in the east of the borough. The firm will determine the nature of the physical spaces that make up the centres, as well as speaking with local residents and businesses to understand how more footfall might be driven to each of the centres. Nexus will produce strategic visions for the centres in conjunction with local stakeholders.

In Bristol, the planning consultancy has been engaged to consider ‘What next?’ for Bristol city centre. It will carry out market research among residents and city centre businesses to find out what makes the city centre tick and how it might be more agile to future trends. The role of independent businesses will also be considered. 

Nexus Planning has been tasked with producing a borough-wide retail and leisure study on behalf of Bedford Council. It will primarily be concerned with the key town centres of Bedford and Kempston and will make recommendations for their future vitality and viability.

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