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News in-brief: Transport for the North urges parties to hold nerve on investment; Planning Inspectorate unveils its pre-election approach to casework

Words: Huw Morris
Northern Powerhouse Conference

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Transport for the North urges parties to hold nerve on investment

The sub-national transport body for the north of England is urging all political parties to rebalance decades of underinvestment.

Transport for the North calls for commitment to the full £39 billion Northern Powerhouse Rail network and HS2 as well as devolved budgets and a clear pipeline of investment in infrastructure. It says that doing so would deliver a rail revolution for the North and unlock the region’s pent-up potential.

In an open letter to political parties, chief executive Barry White urges the Oakervee Review to recognise the importance of HS2 to the North, arguing that transport and freight movement are crucial to unlocking the region’s prosperity and closing the productivity gap with the South.

“We need Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2. Delivered together, in lock-step, they’d amount to a rail revolution for the One North economy we set out to achieve in 2015. One our communities have waited for patiently,” he said.


Planning Inspectorate unveils its pre-election approach to casework

The Planning Inspectorate has outlined the approach it will take to casework in the run-up to the general election.

The inspectorate said it is “concerned to ensure that decisions or recommendations relating to proposals which have raised sensitivities or interest in an area cannot be deemed to have influenced the election in any constituency or, more broadly, across the country, or have been used to electoral advantage by any interested body”.

The inspectorate added that its approach has been agreed in consultation with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.


Hackney grants approval for Kennaway estate regeneration

The London Borough of Hackney has granted permission to Southern Housing Group to regenerate the Kennaway estate.

The scheme, designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects, will deliver 61 homes, enhance the natural landscape and create designated pedestrian routes, play spaces, cycle storage facilities and other amenities. It also comprises new workspace and a community centre

The 12 existing homes at Taverner House would be replaced by the homes of between one and four bedrooms. More than 50 per cent of the new homes provided would be affordable, comprising a mix of tenures including social rent, Hackney living rent, shared ownership, and outright sale.

Southern Housing Group consulted extensively with estate residents and neighbours during the design development, which comprises three distinct volumes linked by external walkways, and seven townhouses that echo the form and character of adjacent Victorian terraces as well as its context overlooking Clissold Park.
Builders demand radical action to meet zero-carbon target

A builders’ trade body is calling on the construction sector and a future government to take urgent action if the UK is to meet the 2050 zero-carbon target.

The National Federation of Builders’ Major Contractors Group warns that the construction industry must be transformed within a generation – otherwise it will fail the country and the government will not meet its zero-carbon ambitions.

It argues that construction directly influences 47 per cent of UK carbon emissions and 61 per cent of UK waste.

Launching a report into the challenges and opportunities facing the construction sector, the group says a 30-mile trip in an average car will create 7.2kg of carbon dioxide. Under the UK’s original 80 per cent reduction target, 7.2kg represents an individual’s daily personal allowance of carbon dioxide in 2050 and “would not leave anything for the food they eat, the work they do or the buildings that our construction sector will need to deliver”. 

It calls on the government to promote low levels of embedded carbon within assets that they procure and to factor in a cost of carbon. Other recommendations include publicly funded bodies procuring construction work on the basis of natural capital accounting.


Higher housing costs have reduced incomes and increased inequality

Rising housing costs have wiped out 90 per cent of living standards gains for low-income families since early 2000s, according to research by Resolution Foundation titled Inequality Street. 

The research notes that public concern about housing has grown in recent years, with one-in-five adults now believing it is one of the most important issues facing Britain, up from one in 20 in 2001. 

The foundation said that Britain’s housing crisis is three crises: low home ownership, high housing costs and a particularly acute disaster for low-income families. 

Inequality Street suggests that home ownership among young families (those aged 25-34) has almost halved since its 1989 peak – from 50 per cent to just 28 per cent. 

Low-income families have suffered a £1,200 living standards hit from fast-rising housing costs since 2002. However, high-income families are £400 better off because their housing costs have fallen since 2002. This means that recent trends in housing costs have acted to push up inequality in the UK.


Crossrail owns up to further delays and budget breaches

Crossrail faces another delay and huge cost overrun, with the embattled scheme set to breach £18 billion.

The revelation is the second time in 12 months that the project’s costs have escalated. Transport for London (TfL) is warning that the delay to the full opening of the east-west rail line across London could be up to three years.

Crossrail was originally scheduled to open at the end of last year. Problems with station completions and signalling have now pushed that date back to March 2021 at the earliest.

The bill for the scheme is now expected to rise to £18.3 billion – some £650 million more than the £17.6 billion budget signed off by the Department for Transport (DfT) last December. This is also £2.35 billion more than the original price tag of £15.9 billion.

The new delays will cost hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenue. In May, financial ratings agency Moody's predicted that delays could cost TfL up to £1 billion in lost revenue, although the transport body would save on operating costs.