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News in brief: RTPI issues coronavirus update; Council refuses water park plans

Words: Laura Edgar

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 24 March, 2020

RTPI issues coronavirus update

RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills said the institute has extended the suspension of all events and travel until 31 August amid the

30 April: Awards for Planning Excellence 2020 will go ahead as an online event. The winners will announced in a YouTube premiere video.

12 May: The Minerals Planning Conference has been cancelled.

29-30 June: Planner Live will no longer take place on these dates. 

15 July: The RTPI Cymru Spring Conference, originally organised for March 2020) will no longer take place on this date.

coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

Anyone who is booked on an event during this period will receive information on whether it is to be cancelled, postponed or held in a virtual capacity.

The RTPI plans to update its members weekly on its response to Covid-19. It will also publish on its website updates from the government and other agencies involved with planners and the planning system. 

Hills’s full update can be read on the RTPI website.


Council refuses water park plans

Cherwell District Council has refused planning permission for a large leisure resort near Chesterton in Oxfordshire.

The application for the Great Wolf Lodge water park and hotel would have been 35,000 square metres in size.

The committee turned down the development because of concerns about the scale of the development and its “institutional appearance”, saying it would be out of character with the rural surroundings, and that the expectation was that most of the guests would travel by car along rural roads to the hotel.

The site is not listed for development in Cherwell’s adopted local plan.

The application was submitted by Great Wolf Resorts, an American company that operates indoor water parks in the US and Canada.


Good response to national park plan

There has been a good response to the consultation on shaping planning policies for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, according to the national park authority.

In total, 249 people and 26 organisations have submitted comments to Consultation No.1 – Setting the Agenda. It ran for 10 weeks and closed on 14 February.

This is an increase on the responses received when the local plan was renewed in 2013, when only 17 people and 35 organisations responded to first consultation.

Comments centred on a variety of issues, such as affordable housing provision, renewable energy and biodiversity gain.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said the comments would sent the agenda for the new local plan and help put together the second consultation on exploring options, which is expected to be launched this spring.


English and Welsh authorities scored on wellbeing

The Centre for Thriving Place has launched the fourth annual Thriving Places Index, which suggests that local authorities in Yorkshire and Humber are producing the most renewable energy.

The index scores local authorities on how well they create the conditions for well-being, and how equitably and sustainable they deliver them.

The scorecards for the 363 local authorities in England and Wales give marks in three main categories: local conditions, sustainability and equality. They are supported by more than 60 separate indicators, such as health and education.

The index intends to give a “comprehensive picture” on how each area is doing to support its residents.

Headline insights from the 2020 index include:  

  • The​ South of England​ performs very well on mental and physical health; most of the top 10 scoring authorities are in the ​South East ​and score greater than 6.5. 
  • The top 10 for the people and community domain features authorities from all regions of England. This domain captures aspects of participation, culture, and community cohesion.
  • Houses are least affordable in the South, but the best housing affordability ratio is in Knowsley in the ​North West. ​When looking at the ratio of house prices to earnings, housing is most affordable in the North and the Midlands. 
  • The authorities generating the most renewable electricity are in ​Yorkshire and the Humber.  

The index can be found here on the Centre for Thriving Places website.


Northern Quarter transformations plans approved

Manchester City Council’s main planning committee has granted planning consent for the regeneration of a vacant three-storey building in the city’s Northern Quarter.

Permission was being sought for a mixed-use café and drinking establishment. The ground floor (café) and upper levels (bar and food offering) would operate as two separate businesses by the same applicant.

Planning officers recommended the application for approval.


Construction task force is set up

The construction industry has set up a task force to work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the wider government to protect the future of the industry.

The CEOs of a several organisations, including the Construction Industry Council (CIC), have been invited to form the task force. They will meet on a virtual basis with full-time resources. 

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) will set the remit for the CLC Industry Task Force. It will report daily to construction minister Richard Harrington and the chair of the CLC for guidance and to provide updates.

Contract announced for 95 Winchburgh homes

Winchburgh Developments has agreed on a contract to sell land to housebuilder Barratt Homes for 95 three and four-bedroom homes – 20 of which have been designated as affordable.

This forms part of the second phase of housebuilding at Winchburgh at West Lothian in Scotland, which intends to deliver 1,000 private and affordable homes by 2025.

Building work is expected to begin shortly.