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News in brief: RTPI seeks views on design; Floating wind turbine plan devised

Words: Laura Edgar
Plans / Shutterstock: 101702500

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 2 April, 2019

RTPI seeks views on design

The RTPI has launched a survey on housing design in England.

Among the questions are ones to gauge the degree of influence on design quality members have in their daily work; the relative importance of design in getting community support for new developments; and planners’ views on design codes and style guides.

As the government looks to extend permitted development rights on the high street, the RTPI also wants to know what design considerations planners think are most important to get these conversions right.

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “The survey findings will inform our efforts to enhance the profile and influence of planning on this vital issue, such as engaging with the work of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.”

The survey can be found here.


Floating wind plan devised

RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables have launched an industry group to set out the floating offshore wind industry’s strategy for large-scale deployment of floating wind farms in the UK.

The Floating Wind Steering Group will meet regularly to produce a vision for the future of floating wind, and the business case for its continued development in the UK. The group includes representatives from developers and supply chain companies, and from the nation‘s regions.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEI) is developing a white paper to update the government’s electricity strategy. The floating offshore wind industry wants the white paper to recognise the opportunity for the UK to pioneer new technology and industrial opportunities. Floating offshore wind was mentioned in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, and the industry says the technology will be “valuable” in helping the government reach 50 gigawatts of offshore wind generation by 2050.


Westminster to manage housing

Westminster City Council has begun managing its own housing stock, taking over the responsibility from CityWest Homes.

The decision was made in autumn 2018 and took affect on 1 April. CityWest Homes had run Westminster City Council’s housing services since being set up in 2002, but the council had concluded that the service was failing residents.

The council has engaged in a six-month listening programme, with more than a thousand residents discussing what they felt went wrong and what could be improved.

There are 12,000 social housing tenants and 9,000 leaseholders in properties that will now be supported by Westminster City Council housing services.

Andrew Smith, Westminster City Council cabinet member for housing services, commented: “I am committed to putting our residents, at the heart of the new service. While some things will take time to sort out, I hope you will see improvements very quickly.”


Disconnect between self-build sites and where people want to live

The latest self-build market report from AMA Research claims there is a strong disconnect between the number of available sites and where people want to build.

The report suggests that the number of applications for self-build projects in the Home Counties and the South West is relatively large compared with the number of available sites. In the Highlands, Northern Ireland and the North East, the number of sites available is notably higher when compared with the number of applications.

The significant growth in house prices in the UK has enabled mature self-builders to self-fund their projects by using their savings or revenue from property sales, for example, but council planning systems are viewed as one of the biggest constraints for self-builders.

AMA Research says that future prospects for self-build over the next four years are positive but modest, as self-build volumes will rise slowly.

Its forecast takes into consideration key drivers such as lack of consumer confidence owing to the uncertain economy, continuous constraints in the planning process and a relatively constrained mortgage market.


Builder appointed for Birmingham skyscraper

Developer Moda and joint venture partner Apache Capital have appointed Irish constructor John Sisk & Son to deliver a 42-storey skyscraper in Birmingham.

The skyscraper will be the city’s tallest residential building.

The 483-apartment scheme will be exclusively for rent, and will offer a host of on-site amenities, including a 200-metre podium running track.

The £18 million project aims to transform the derelict site of the former Click Club at Burberries, and underpin the regeneration of the Broad Street area. Work is due to start in April this year, with completion expected in 2022.


163 Harlow homes green-lit

BPTW has received planning consent for 163 new homes on behalf of developer Countryside, in the Newhall district of Harlow, Essex.

The homes, comprising 142 houses and 21 apartments, form part of the second phase of the development. A mixture of tenures is being offered.

Countryside is now developing the remaining homes of the Newhall development in upcoming planning applications. BPTW is collaborating with HTA Design across these, with one practice leading a planning application and the other designing a landmark apartment block within it.


Land with planning purchased in Somerset

Acorn Property Group has purchased a 5.5-acre site in the village of Wedmore, Somerset. The site has full planning permission for a 55-home scheme.

Designed by Barton Willmore in partnership with Wedmore Parish Council, the £20 million Cross Farm development comprises one and two-bedroom apartments, and one, two, three and four-bedroom houses. Of these, 43 per cent have been designated as affordable.

Following completion on the sale, work is set to start straight away.

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