22 Mar 2017
On 20th March the Scottish Planning Review Working Groups reconvened for a further round of discussions. This time the focus was on the Scottish Government’s published response to the Review, ‘Places, People and Planning: A consultation of the future of the Scottish Planning System’, which is out for consultation until the 4th April.
I was delighted to attend again and share my experiences of plan making; and of, establishing, defending and challenging of housing targets. I was even more delighted to be asked by the Scottish Government to facilitate the Delivering More Homes session on “…how much housing is required and establishing demand for housing…”.
The reconvened workshop looked at two key aspects of Places, People and Planning.
The first workshop session considered the ways in which design/place and delivery can be actively supported by proposed changes in the system.
The purpose of the first workshop was to focus on how planning can help to diversify the ways in which we deliver homes. This considered the proposals from the consultation paper that aim to deliver more homes under the headings Actively Enabling Development – diversifying how we deliver homes and the types of homes that we deliver, and providing improved practical tools, such as SPZs.
The second workshop session (which I facilitated) provided the opportunity to clarify the proposed process of establishing the demand for housing in the LDP, the role of the proposed gate-check and the translating of this into land and sites as part of a strong place-making aim.
The purpose of the second workshop was to focus on the potential changes set out in the consultation – using the HNDA tool to provide national/regional estimates; signing off the number of homes at an early stage in plan production by the gatecheck, and improving monitoring of housing land availability. It was a pretty tall order to expect a solution to be provided in a 2 hour session but there was a clear call for unambiguous housing numbers to be set at the national level so that at a local level the business of plan making and quality of place could be achieved with less distraction.
There was broad discussion about how these numbers would be set and how often they would be reviewed, always with an eye to the ambition of simplifying not further complicating the process. The NRS projections adjusted to take account of the economic growth ambitions of Scottish Government seemed to be a sensible starting point.
But how often should these be reviewed? There are new projections every 2 years, surely it isn’t sensible to revise the national housing numbers as often as that? There was a clear consensus that the number set should be expressed as an “at least” and that via the regional arrangements and Local Development Plans there would be the flexibility to exceed this number if local circumstances supported that. The maintenance of a regional tier of planning was supported.
If the current SDP process must change then it was thought important that the regional tier became the link between the nationally set requirements and the translation of those into Local Development Plans. This regional tier would deal with the requirements of the housing market areas and would ensure the cross boundary working that was needed between individual LAs to deliver the ambitions of the national plan. It was felt that there was still the need for this regional tier to produce a set of requirements for their constituent LAs to deliver, even if this wasn’t a full SDP and that this should be signed off at the highest level of each LA. There also seemed to be a role for the regional tier in the “gatecheck”.
This was seen to be ensuring that where proposals in the national plan crossed LA boundaries there was a mechanism to ensure each LA was planning properly for their contribution to this bigger picture. What was clear from these discussions was that there should be a drive to get the numbers fixed and signed off at the highest level. For this to streamline the process there must be agreement that once the numbers are set they are fixed, otherwise there is the danger that housing numbers will be discussed and scrutinised 3 times at national, regional and local levels. Whatever new process is that is put in place it needs to be mindful of the necessity to avoid this.The discussions at these workshop sessions will feed into Scottish Government’s thinking as they refine their approach and revise the system ahead of legislative changes. The consultation remains open and all that have a stake in the Scottish Planning System are encouraged to make representations by 4th April.
If you require Lichfields to make representations on your behalf get in touch soon, the clock is ticking…
15 Mar 2017
Becoming a parent for the first time in 2016 puts me proudly amongst the growing number of planners at Lichfields who have a very personal and truly cuddly reason to focus on planning for future generations.
As planners we are privileged to be able to make a genuine difference to the lives of future generations by creating great places for them to experience. Here are 3 quality projects that Lichfields has been involved with - and our little ones will be lucky enough to enjoy:
Kids Allowed nursery, Altrincham
Graded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, Lichfields recently prepared and managed a planning application for a new Kids Allowed nursery in Altrincham. Overcoming constraints caused by a relatively tight and irregularly-shaped site, planning permission was granted earlier this year. Near the tram, on a popular route into the city centre and surrounded by a large residential area, the new nursery is located in an accessible and ‘future-proofed’ location. It will create skilled job opportunities, provide local families with quality childcare in a conveniently located, purpose-built nursery building that has been designed to ensure an exceptional work and play environment for all children and staff. We look forward to the nursery opening its doors in 2018.
Central Library, Manchester
Children love books for the magic they create for the imagination. Parents love books for the peace and quiet that results! The Manchester Central Library is a landmark, Grade II* listed building which was recently subject to an imaginative redesign based on a high quality planning strategy and a coherent vision for what makes places great. Lichfields submitted applications for planning permission and listed building consent for the transformation of the library as part of the wider refurbishment of Manchester’s town hall complex, which is widely regarded as one of the finest groups of civic buildings in the country. Previously, only 30% of the building was open to the public. After the redesign, in consultation with English Heritage, 70% is now open. This reconfiguration of floorspace has enabled the provision of new digital features including a media lounge, alongside a café and children’s library. The proposals introduced modern design and materials, whilst retaining the heritage value of the asset. Planning permission and listed building consent for the proposals were granted in 2010 and the works were completed in March 2014. Thanks to a fantastic scheme of improvement, this development epitomises the importance of planning for helping meet the needs of future generations (click here to read more).
Indoor trampoline centre, Aintree
Keeping with my baby/toddler theme and for when the door bouncer no longer cuts it, Lichfields has been involved in securing planning permission for some ambitious and lively indoor environments for future generations. Projects include a proposal for an indoor trampoline park in Aintree with the aim of utilising a vacant building and repurposing it for future generations. Lichfields preparing a robust sequential assessment helped secure planning permission in 2016.
These very different projects all highlight Lichfields’ varied and UK-wide experience and expertise in helping to realise all manner of fun spaces, for all ages, creatively – whether for learning and play spaces in new buildings, re-using redundant or under-utilised spaces or providing for the enhanced use of historic buildings and their environs, for now and for the benefit of future generations.
Whether you share our passion for creating places for future generations, are interested in getting your hands on an inspiring mug or would just like to get in touch to discuss how Lichfields may be able to assist you with progressing your projects, please do not hesitate to contact us.
#Lichfields #FutureGenerations #Planning #GreatPlaces