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London Forum Updates

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Further information on planning changes

Posted on: 4 July 2020 at 20:27:04
In the latest edition of the Planning magazine, there is an article with several new hints on what the Government may be intending for their changes to the planning system.
Possibly, some of them can be agreed in time for inclusion in a wider economic announcement in a July 2020 mini-Budget by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.London Forum has prepared some draft 'Red Lines' for planning changes which will be reviewed when further planning proposals are published.
The Government has introduced some changes by Statutory Instruments (SIs) which give MPs little opportunity to intervene. According to extracts from the Planning magazine here, the new laws may allow Councils more ability to refuse prior approval applications for conversion of offices to dwellings where certain conditions are not met.
Also, Councils are allowed to hold outdoor markets without needing planning permission.
There is now permitted development (PDR) for building upwards on blocks of flats. The summary gives details of the restrictions and what Councils are allowed to take into account.
The Government has confirmed plans to automatically extend all planning permissions that are due to lapse during the coronavirus pandemic, or have already done so, between late March and the end of this year. That is part of Business and Planning Bill. It has amendments to pavement licences and modification of conditions relating to construction working hours. The housing minister Christopher Pincher wrote about the Bill to the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Planning and the Built Environment as here.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has criticised the planning system for causing delays in development. Apparently, the Government has not acknowledged the findings and recommendation of Oliver Letwin MP in his scrutiny of the reasons why developments approved by the planning system are not being built.
The PM has given a speech launching a 'Build, Build, Build' programme and an article in The Times has a summary.
The reaction of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in an open letter was scathing. They wrote of "The planner-bashing rhetoric coming out of government." and launched a PlanTheWorldWeNeed campaign. They point out that "With limited social housing grants, planners are also a key to ensuring affordable housing is part of any development."
The NLA reported that the Town and Country Planning Association and Architects Declare have hit out at Boris Johnson’s plans. The TCPA said that "you can’t build without community consent." There is a link in the NLA report to a summary by BECG of its five take-aways from Johnson’s announcements.
Extracts from a blog of Simon Ricketts on this subject are here.

More social housing is needed

Posted on: 29 June 2020 at 20:06:33
The National Housing Federation has launched Homes at the Heart, a national campaign and coalition calling for a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing. They wrote on 25th June 2020 - as here - to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in support of social housing being at the heart of recovery.
A Digital Housing Week event on social housing supply held on 24th June 2020 had a presentation by the Deputy Mayor for Housing, Tom Copley. He gave details of initiatives to achieve more affordable housing with an emphasis on delivering social rented homes. Links are given to a bid for Government funding, the delivery of social homes by Councils and the Housing Delivery Taskforce which he chairs.
There is a campaign by SHELTER for more social housing.
The Local Government Association in a report is calling for a renaissance in council house building and they explain why it is important.

Planning future high streets

Posted on: 29 June 2020 at 19:22:27
There is a report by HGH Consulting covering a recent 'Planning Futures' webinar on planning the post COVID-19 High Street.
The Grimsey Review on the future of High Streets has been updated for the emergence from lockdown. It is a comprehensive report and proposes "An exciting new model now ready to be developed and implemented by inspired local leaders." There are 27 recommendations which civic and community groups should study and discuss with their Council.
The High Streets Task Force held a 'Reopening the High Street' webinar on 19th June 2020. A recording is available here. You can also register for future webinars in the Transformation Routemap series.
Councils across England are to share £50m of Government funding to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas. Details are here.
To support changes to high streets and the reallocation of road space arising from the 'Streetspace' programme (see the 18June2020 update on the next page) the Government has issued guidance with design principles for 'Safer Public Spaces'.
Urban Design London (UDL) has been holding webinars on how streets could be re-designed and reconfigured as traffic is managed. Videos of the webinars can be seen here.
For more guidance on what can be achieved and how, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has published recommendations here. There is a link towards the end of the page to dowload a PDF of the advice.
In the 2020 edition of the Journal of The London Society is a article on revival strategies for the high street by Lucy Bullivant.
The Create Streets organisation has issued an interesting newsletter here which covers 'Improving Streets for Life After Lockdown'. London Forum is not sure that their wish for private e-scooters to be made legal "will make for safer, cleaner, nicer streets" unless there are some constraints on their use.
As in an earlier update, The London Society has started a debate 'WhenThisIsAllOver' about what will change and what should change in the post-virus, post-lockdown world. Twenty five blogs submitted by mid June 2020 can be read here.

Community engagement in plan making

Posted on: 29 June 2020 at 19:09:56
An opinion piece by Catriona Riddell recommends more honest and transparent relationship between councils and their local communities.
She writes that "A new contract of engagement is needed to ensure that plans are prepared in collaboration with all sectors of the local community, using their extensive knowledge and experience of the places where they live and work to inform priorities from the start."

Permitted Development changes

Posted on: 29 June 2020 at 16:38:24
The Planning magazine has given details of changes by the Government on Permitted Development.  They cover the following.

  • Rules to block windowless permitted development housing

  • Councils can hold outdoor markets without planning permission

  • Permitted development for building upwards on blocks of flats

There is a link to descriptions and pictures of various offices converted successfully and badly to residential units.

Right to lobby Councillors on developments

Posted on: 29 June 2020 at 16:26:06
A Court decision means that from 11th June 2020 communities have the right to lobby Councillors sitting on a planning committee about any scheme and the Councillors should read any documents submitted.

The case for retirement housing

Posted on: 29 June 2020 at 16:12:17
Further to the update below on this subject of 13th June, the Planning magazine has published an article on what local authority planners could do to encourage more schemes to come forward.

Post pandemic considerations

Posted on: 21 June 2020 at 11:42:32
There are two recent publications that can help to inform debate and planning for a post pandemic London.
In an RIBA Journal article several contributors comment on the potential office design revolution and what our future workspaces might look like.
The London Society has started a debate 'WhenThisIsAllOver' about what will change and what should change in the post-virus, post-lockdown world. Twenty five blogs submitted by mid June 2020 can be read here.

Borough on-line planning meetings

Posted on: 21 June 2020 at 11:28:19
London Forum produced a report on the way Councils were conducting on-line planning committee meetings in the first two months of Covid-19 lockdown.
The details and recommendations were sent in a letter to borough planning people and a positive response was received from many of them.
Standards expected will be monitored by civic and community groups.

New MHCLG Chief Planner Joanna Averley

Posted on: 20 June 2020 at 16:54:23
A new Chief Planner has been appointed in Government, as here.

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