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News in brief: RTPI awards Kate Barker honorary membership; Mapping tool recommended by farmers

Words: Laura Edgar

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 19 January, 2021

RTPI awards Kate Barker honorary membership

The RTPI has awarded honorary membership to UK economist Dame Kate Barker CBE.

Honorary membership is awarded by the institute to “distinguished individuals who have made an immense impact on the planning profession but who are not usually eligible for chartered membership”.

Barker is a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee and in 2003 was commissioned by the government to conduct an independent review of UK housing supply, for which a final report was published in March 2004. Barker then conducted a similar review of land use planning.

The RTPI says Barker has made a “valuable contribution to the planning profession through a range of non-executive roles including acting as a board member of the Homes and Communities Agency and for Taylor Wimpey”. She was a member of the National Infrastructure Commission until March 2020.

In 2006, Barker was awarded a CBE for services to social housing and received a damehood in 2014 for services to the economy.

Barker said: “It is a privilege to accept this invitation to become an honorary member of the RTPI. I have admired the institute’s work since its former chief executive, Robert Upton, convinced me in the early 2000s of the importance of good planning, although the RTPI did not always agree with my conclusions!”


Mapping tool recommended by farmers

An interactive map that shows the location of important habitats in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been produced by the national park authority and farmers.

Farmers are encouraging fellow land managers to use it to identify opportunities for new income streams and conservation work.

Named ‘Re:Cover’ the tool seeks to help those looking to protect, expand and connect habitats such as flower-rich hay meadows, wildlife-rich wetlands and ancient woodlands.

It is based on information gathered from surveys every year since 2010 by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority alongside information collected by Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

Re:Cover was developed by a partnership between the national park authority and the Yorkshire Dales Farming and Land Management Forum.

Web-based guidance is also available to use alongside the map. It is intended to aid discussion and decision-making. There are also links to further information and advice.  

The map can be found here. More information can be found here on the national park authority website.


Planning Inspectorate seeks research participants

The Planning Inspectorate is conducting research into how to improve the application process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure and Common Land Projects and is looking for participants.

The inspectorate is looking for candidates to take part in user research over January and February 2021 who are either:

  • National Infrastructure Project applicants (or their advisers);
  • Common Land Project applicants (or their advisers); or
  • Anyone involved as an interested party in either a National Infrastructure or Common Land application(s) – or their advisers. Ideally, the application you’ve been involved with should have been decided up to five years ago, and be closed.

To register your interest, click here.


Birmingham to consult on regeneration plans

Birmingham City Council has announced that it will launch Our Future City Plan: Central Birmingham 2040, Shaping our City Together on 26 January 2021.

It sets out the council’s plans to help create a greener, more prosperous and fairer future for all across the city.

The project’s launch has been prompted by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and wider societal changes. It will replace the Big City Plan, which was launched in 2010.

The city council said the outline plan focuses on creating people-centred environments and opportunities for growth in emerging green industries.


Modular homes to be delivered in Rugby

Urban&Civic has launched Civic Living with modular housebuilder TopHat at its 6,200-home Houlton development in Warwickshire.

Civic Living is a new range of contemporary modular homes.

The agreement will see TopHat deliver 38 homes for sale as part of the first phase of development at Urban&Civic and Aviva Investors’ Houlton site, east of Rugby.

The homes will be manufactured in single-storey modules at TopHat’s factory in Derby. They will then be transported to Houlton later this month, with on-site assembly expected to take a matter of days.

Civic Living joins Houlton’s team of housebuilders – Davidsons Homes, Redrow Homes, Morris Homes, and Crest Nicholson.


Premier Inn approved for Watford

Watford Borough Council has granted planning permission for a new Premier Inn and 54,000 square feet of office space.

The approval paves the way for the £30 million redevelopment of Cassiobury House in Watford Junction, which was built in the latter 1970s.

Tellon Capital is working with Whitbread plc on the scheme.

The planning committee’s decision is in line with the planning officer’s recommendation. Permission is for two new buildings at 13 and eight storeys respectively.

The scheme was designed by Corstorphine + Wright.


University to research impact of growing number of tall buildings

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded the University of Surrey £1.8 million to investigate how the increased construction of tall buildings will affect the meteorology, air quality, and climate of towns and cities in the UK.

The research team at Surrey is coordinating the project in partnership with the universities of Reading and Southampton.

The universities will develop a “comprehensive understanding” of how tall buildings disrupt the meteorology of urban areas and contribute to the urban island effect and other health concerns. Also, the University of Surrey’s FUTURE (Fluid dynamics of Urban Tall-building clUsters for Resilient built Environments) project will aim to produce fast analytical models that can identify construction characteristics that produce detrimental consequences to the local microclimate.

Professor Alan Robins, professor of environmental fluid mechanics at the University of Surrey and principal investigator of FUTURE, said: “The increased concentration of commercial and social uses of our urban spaces means that we will continue to see new high-rise building developments in our cities and town centres. Our project is really about understanding the consequences of that development and about the choices for mitigating adverse effects over a range of topics, including air quality, airborne diseases, and various factors that see tall buildings contribute to climate and health concerns.”

Image credit | RTPI