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News in brief: RTPI launches fresh training courses; WCMA proposes housing action plan

Family home / Shutterstock: 516642517

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 5 September, 2017

RTPI launches fresh training courses

The RTPI has launched a refreshed programme of training courses, which is set to begin in January 2018.

Members and built environment professionals can book the courses now.

An in-house dedicated team has been working with subject experts to design, improve and deliver a high-quality programme of more than 40 masterclasses and briefings for 2018. All courses contribute to RTPI members’ individual CPD and will be available in nine locations across the UK: Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Nottingham.

Roisin Willmott OBE FRTPI, director of RTPI Cymru, said: “Planning is an ever-evolving profession and our members are held in high regard for their up-to-date expertise. Our refreshed training programme is another way we are supporting our members to develop their skills and assist them in taking the next step in their career.”


WCMA proposes housing action plan

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is set to consider an action plan to unlock land for housing and commercial use later this week.

The Land Delivery Action Plan proposes a number of measures and interventions that aim to speed up the supply of land needed to underpin the combined authority’s plans for new homes, jobs and economic growth.

It outlines how councils could work with the WMCA, using its funding and resources to provide an improved and balanced supply of land at a much more rapid pace, said the combined authority.

The meeting, which will take place on Friday 8 September, is to be chaired by Mayor Andy Street.


Westminster refuses scheme with no affordable housing

Westminster City Council has refused an application for a luxury residential development in Bayswater because it does not include any affordable housing.

Leeds Property Ltd’s proposal would have seen The Holiday Villa Hotel converted into 32 flats.

The council’s planning committee found the lack of affordable housing to be unacceptable, and not in line with Westminster’s pledge to create 1,850 affordable homes by 2023.

Large residential schemes need to provide a proportion of affordable housing to comply with council policy, with this scheme needing to provide at least 11 affordable homes.


RTPI Scotland discusses housing crisis

RTPI Scotland director Craig McLaren has spoken on BBC Radio Scotland and BBC One Reporting Scotland about how to tackle the country’s housing crisis.

He was responding to a speech by Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson calling for new towns to be a consideration to delivering housing.

McLaren outlined how new towns may be part of the answer, but that it is also necessary to explore how best to use existing derelict land, to extend existing towns and cities, and to look at how best to make use of existing vacant properties. Building houses “in the middle of nowhere” without the services and facilities people need should be avoided, he said.


Khan wants to increase tax on empty properties

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on the government to allow councils in London to increase council tax bills for high-value homes that are left empty.

In a letter to the government, Khan said the tax should be above the current 50 per cent of council tax allowed.

Councils should be able to charge this levy at a meaningful rate that would incentivise occupation, or at the very least generate a more substantial receipt that could support investment in new affordable homes and other measures to tackle the housing crisis, he wrote. Khan cited the case of Westminster’s top Band H, where properties may be worth many millions of pounds but the empty homes levy would currently be no more than £688 a year.


SFHA sets out priorities for the Scottish Government

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has outlined three key issues for its members ahead of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Programme for Government 2017/18.

The priorities are increasing affordable housing development, tackling fuel poverty and mitigating the effects of welfare reform.

Sally Thomas, chief executive at the SFHA, said: “This autumn provides the opportunity for the Scottish Parliament to make long-term investment in affordable and social housing a priority across the parties as well as deliver the planning legislation needed to help our members build their share of the Scottish Government’s 50,000 affordable houses, abolish fuel poverty, and address the damaging impact of welfare changes.”

She said it is “vital” that that housing is kept centre stage in debates.

Sturgeon is set to launch her plans later today (5 September).


Leisure scheme in Haverfordwest approved

Pembrokeshire County Council has granted planning permission for a town centre development in Haverfordwest.

Submitted in November 2016, the application comprises four restaurants/shops at ground-floor level, with a five-screen cinema on the first floor, covering 1,400 square metres of leisure floor space.

Developers Fairacre Property has secured commitment from national cinema operator REEL Cinemas.

The development will be designed by Holder Mathias Architects.


Consultation on reducing congestion launched

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has launched proposals for consultation that aim to reduce delays to motorists caused by utility companies digging up roads.

The proposals could see local authorities charging utility companies by the hour to carry out works on selected routes, in an attempt to encourage them to avoid busy roads and peak times.

The government said 2.5 million roadworks are carried out each year, costing the economy £4 billion because people are unable to get to work on time or deliveries are delayed.

The consultation document can be found on the Department for Transport website. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-lane-rental-schemes-for-roadworks  


Council launches planning compliance service

Elmbridge Borough Council has launched a new planning compliance service.

Under the service, uniformed officers will be out and about in the borough, carrying out investigations into alleged breaches of planning control.

Officers will be able to look into a range of breaches of planning control including: unauthorised development, breaches of the conditions attached to planning permissions, works to a Listed Building without consent, and unauthorised felling or works to a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order or in a Conservation Area.

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