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News in brief: Submit your entry to the RTPI’s research awards now; DfT expands in Birmingham and Leeds

2021 RTPI Awards for Research Excellence / RTPI

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 16 March, 2021

Submit your entry to the RTPI’s research awards now

The RTPI is accepting entries to its 2021 Awards for Research Excellence.

The awards reward and promote planning research from RTPI-accredited planning schools and RTPI members from the UK and around the world.

There are four categories this year:

  • Sir Peter Hall Award for Excellence in Research and Engagement
  • Student Award
  • Early Career Researcher Award
  • Planning Practitioner Award

The biennial Practitioner Research Fund will also be awarded this year, which will see two grants of £5,000 to enable planning practitioners to conduct fresh research over the next 12 months.

Apart from people employed by, enrolled at, or affiliated to, an academic institution at the time of submission, all RTPI members can apply.

Wei Yang FRTPI, president of the RTPI, said: “With the pandemic bringing into sharp relief the urgent challenges facing our communities, I believe that the RTPI Awards for Research Excellence are more important now than ever before. There is no doubt that innovative planning research will have a vital role to play in shaping a sustainable future for our urban and rural environments.”

The award-winners will be announced in September during the opening ceremony of the UK-Ireland Planning Research Conference, which will be hosted by the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University.

Idox Knowledge Exchange and Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group) are sponsoring the awards.


DfT expands in Birmingham and Leeds

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that it will establish a second headquarters in Birmingham and a Northern hub in Leeds, as part of its ‘levelling-up’ plans to create 650 roles in the cities.

The government says the move is part of its “commitment to diversifying the civil service, ensuring decisions are rooted in the communities it serves”.

By 2030, the government aims to move 22,000 civil service roles from London to communities across the UK.

Read the full story here on The Planner.


Footbridge at Cleethorpes railway approved

The cabinet at North East Lincolnshire Council has approved plans for an accessible footbridge over the railway at Suggitt’s Lane in Cleethorpes.

The £3.6 million project will provide an alternative access over the railway in the seaside town. Funding is being provided by Network Rail and the Department for Transport to build the bridge.

The plans will be shared with the public during a community engagement period that will run from now until Friday 26 March. The community will be able to view more details and comment on the plans online, ahead of the start of a formal planning process for the new accessible footbridge.

The plans can be viewed on the council website.


133 homes near Falmouth green-lit

Cornwall Council has granted planning permission for 133 homes near Falmouth. The development also includes significant road improvements and contributions to the local community.

Built by Barratt Homes, Pen Bethan, in Kergilliack, Budock, west of Falmouth, will offer one, two, three and four-bedroom homes, including 47 affordable homes for rent and shared ownership.

Plans also include a new Cornish bank, which will be built along the front of the development and a range of biodiversity enhancements, such as increased hedgerows and planting. A tree-lined boulevard will be created in the centre, featuring new oak trees and offering shade and greenery.


Welsh Government announces appointments to the Design Commission for Wales

Welsh housing minister Julie James has announced four new appointments to the board of directors of the Design Commission for Wales (DCFW).

The commissioners are Mike Biddulph, Jon James, Cora Kwiatkowski and Joanna Rees. They will all take up their roles on 1 April of this year until 31 March 2025.

They are not paid and will make a time commitment of approximately two days a month.

James said: “These appointments will undoubtedly support the DCFW in its important role to implement our national planning policies on design and placemaking in order to create better places for the people of Wales.”


Mixed-use development approved in Cheshire

Cheshire East Council has granted planning permission for a major mixed-use scheme in Congleton, Cheshire.

The permission was secured by land promoter Richborough Estates. A contract has been exchanged with Clowes Developments for the 55-acre site.

The site is allocated in the Cheshire East Local Plan and forms part of the wider North Congleton Masterplan.

Plans for the mixed-use scheme comprise the 23-acre Viking Park, which will form an extension to Congleton Business Park and is expected to deliver 500 jobs. It also includes up to 175 homes, a park, wildlife corridors and a neighbourhood retail centre. Access will be via the new Congleton Link Road, which is due to be completed within weeks.


Government investment supports M&G Shared Ownership fund

Homes England has agreed a £10 million investment with M&G Investments to support the launch of its new Shared Ownership fund, which forms part of its aim to provide investors with greater confidence that housing – including shared ownership – has strong government backing and can play a more prominent part in residential investment strategies.

The investment will be used to accelerate delivery of 2,000 affordable homes through M&G’s partnership with The Hyde Group. The partnership will provide Hyde with the capital to grow its development ambitions and build additional homes in the areas it serves.

The fund has so far attracted £215 million of initial investment from two local authority pensions schemes, Hyde and two M&G client funds.


Oxford-Cambridge Arc to put environment ‘at heart of every decision’

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc Leadership Group has endorsed a set of environment principles that “provide a clear statement of regional intent that embodies local commitment to adopting an approach that results in environmentally sustainable economic growth”.

The intention is for the principles to inform emerging arc plans and statements, including local plans, local council activities as well as delivery programmes for bodies operating in the arc.

They will also form the basis for creating an Ox-Cam-wide environmental strategy, with both environment principles and environment strategy informing input to the government’s arc spatial framework, which is expected to be published in 2022.

The Environmental Principles can be downloaded here.


U+I secures support for new phases at Slough development

AshbyCapital and U+I have received planning consent for No 1 and No 3 The Future Works, a 260,000-square-foot commercial quarter in the heart of Slough in Berkshire, adjacent to its new Elizabeth line station.

Designed by Sheppard Robson, the buildings will offer multiple roof terraces as well as an improved public realm including botanical pavilion and an outdoor auditorium.

The resolution to grant planning permission was made at a virtual committee on Wednesday 10 March, subject to satisfactory completion of a section 106 agreement.

Peter Ferrari, chief executive of AshbyCapital, commented: “As interest grows in high-quality, well-connected workspaces outside of major city centres, the new phases of The Future Works are ideally placed to capitalise on this demand.”


‘Human right to healthy environment’ recommended for Scots law

Environmental groups in Scotland have welcomed a recommendation to include the human right to a healthy environment in Scottish law.

The Scottish Government’s National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership has published proposals and recommended the new law be brought forward by the new Parliament.

A joint statement from Friends of the Earth Scotland and Scottish Environment LINK explains that 76 per cent of Scots have become more aware of nature’s importance during lockdown, with environmental organisations stressing the paramount importance of introducing a human right to a healthy environment.

Scottish Environment LINK members believe the introduction of a human right to a healthy environment offers “new opportunities to support citizens demanding improvements to their local environment and urging politicians to take action on the climate and nature crisis”.


Council and Nuffield College commit funds to Oxpens site

Oxford City Council and Nuffield College, shareholders in the joint venture Oxford West End Development Limited (‘OxWED’), have agreed to commit up to £1 million each to progress the indicative proposals through to the planning application stage.

Work can now move forward on preparation of illustrative designs for public consultation later this summer. Additional technical work and studies will also be carried out to inform the emerging proposals.

The emerging and early-stage designs are for a mixed-use development, with a range of potential residential uses.

OxWED owns most of the land allocated for redevelopment under the Oxford Local Plan. Indications are that the site has potential capacity for 70,000 square metres of commercial floor space as part of a total 120,000 square metres of mixed-use development.

Image credit | RTPI