New Food Enterprise Zones to be established in England

New funding for food enterprise zones (FEZ’s) has been announced by The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which provides financial support as well as a greater say in local decision making on issues involving food and farming businesses.

DEFRA writes:
Applications open today for more Food Enterprise Zones to help food businesses across the country generate growth and jobs.

Further Food Enterprise Zones (FEZs) are to open across the country to ensure a thriving future for the UK’s booming food industry and to help local producers grow more top quality food, the government announced today.

The new zones will make it easier for food and farming businesses, the economic lifeblood of many rural areas, to grow. Local communities will benefit from new jobs and the opportunity to develop tasty and healthy local produce, boosting their economies.  This is the second round of FEZs to be announced after 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships successfully bid earlier this month to secure this status which enables them to streamline the planning rules for food businesses. These areas will now develop plans for local consultation. This latest opportunity will allow bids from other areas of the country interested in developing a Food Enterprise Zone.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: ‘England is famed for the food it produces – from Cornish clotted cream to Melton Mowbray Pork pies – and these Food Enterprise Zones will help our food pioneers to grow and create more jobs and growth in each region.  Our booming food and farming industries are worth more than £100bn a year to the UK economy, and I want to help these vital producers continue to grow as a key element of our long-term economic plan.’

Grants of up to £50,000 are available to set up new FEZs. Based around Local Development Orders, they will streamline the planning process within the FEZ area, making it simpler and easier for food and farming businesses to expand.  As well as attracting investment, the Food Enterprise Zones will encourage closer ties between food and farming businesses to boost the domestic food and farming sector.  FEZs will also allow more local decision making on planning and development issues involving food and farming businesses….

An explanatory letter and Expression of Interest form was sent to all Local Enterprise Partnerships on Thursday 19 February. The deadline for applications is 16 March 2015.

The Food Enterprise Zones already allocated funding are in:

  • Somerset
  • South Downs
  • Cornwall
  • Cumbria
  • Lincolnshire (3 FEZs)
  • Worcestershire
  • Leicestershire
  • Cheshire
  • West Sussex 

Read the DEFRA press release

View a map of Local Enterprise Partnerships 

IHBC newsblogs on agriculture 

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Record tourism figures and museum visits

 The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has reported record numbers of overseas tourism visits, as well as an increased number of visits to DCMS funded museums in the last year.

DCMS writes:
New figures published today (Thursday) reveal 49 million visits were made to the 16 museums and galleries directly funded by the DCMS last year, a four per cent increase on 2012/13 (47 million) and a record high since the first data was published in 2002/03.  The ‘Sponsored Museums: Performance Indicators 2013/14’, an annual statistical release, also shows that nine million visits to the sponsored museums were made by children aged 15 and under in 2013/14, an increase of three per cent since from the previous year.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘These new figures highlight once again the public’s appetite for UK’s incredible culture and heritage, and the continuing appeal of our world-class museums and galleries.  The Government’s investment to guarantee free admission for the national collections, along with stunning exhibitions and permanent collections, means that our great cultural institutes can be enjoyed by all’

The UK welcomed a record number of international tourists in 2014 who spent £21.7 billion which Tourism Minister Helen Grant said showed that the government’s ‘tourism strategy is working.’

According to the Office of National Statistics, overseas visitors made 34.8 million trips to the UK last year, an increase of 6% on the 2013 total with spend up 3 per cent.   Of these visits, 3.69 million were North American visitors and 25.83 million were Europeans – a rise of 4% and 7% respectively.

Tourism Minister Helen Grant said: ‘I am delighted that tourists from overseas are coming to our country in record numbers, spending more and enjoying the very best of Britain.  It confirms that our tourism strategy is working and highlights the important role the industry plays in the Government’s long-term economic plan. I will continue to work hard with the sector to encourage tourists to visit all parts of the country to further boost local growth and jobs.’

DCMS sponsored museums statistics

DCMS on museums figures

DCMS on overseas visitor statistics

IHBC newsblogs on tourism

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DCLG community rights funding boost

£6 million has been allocated to the Community rights programme by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and new contracts have been awarded under the legislation to support communities, including on neighbourhood planning and community Right to Build matters.

DCLG writes:
Communities Minister Stephen Williams today (17 February 2015) announced a new £6 million funding boost to the Community Rights programme.

The boost to the Community Rights programme will give even more people greater control and influence over what happens locally.  Up and down the country, communities are taking action – from regulars running their local pub and protecting other treasured assets to ambitious plans for new development, new jobs and better targeted services.

This new funding will mean:

  • likeminded communities will be able to network and learn from each other through the new My Community Network
  • communities will have access to tailored advice through a phone and online advice service to help them use the range of community rights and other neighbourhood approaches
  • 100 more neighbourhoods will be supported to use the Our Place approach, enabling councils and other public sector providers, voluntary and community groups, local businesses and the community to work together to tackle important local issues from job creation to health priorities
  • 100 communities will receive support to take the first steps in identifying important local issues and develop Community Action Plans
  • 50 communities will receive support to develop economic plans to address local economic priorities like job creation and enterprise
  • 50 local authority/community partnerships will receive advice, support and grants to support the transfer of multiple or complex publicly owned assets into community ownership

Stephen Williams also announced today the awarding of 6 new contracts to support communities in using the Community Rights in 2015 to 2016. These contracts have been awarded to Locality, Co-operatives UK and The Community Development Foundation (CDF).

These 6 new contracts are:

  • advice service and network – Locality and the Community Development Foundation with the Local Government Association, National Association of Local Councils, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action and Anthony Collins Solicitors
  • community economic development – Co-operatives UK with New Economics Foundation, Community Development Foundation, The Community Development Finance Association and Locality
  • community ownership and management of assets – Locality with a wide range of delivery partners including The Local Government Association, National Association of Local Councils, Community Matters, Plunkett Foundation, Civic Voice, Ubele and Voice 4 Change
  • grant administration – Groundwork
  • neighbourhood planning and community Right to Build – Locality with URS-AECOM, a leading planning consultancy, and a number of other specialist sub-contractors including Design Council/CABE, the Royal Town Planning Institute and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
  • first steps and our place – Locality with a wide range of delivery partners including The Community Development Foundation, The Local Government Association and The National Association of Local Councils

The delivery partners also include Civic Voice, Ubele and Voice 4 Change and will help the Our Place programme reach into harder to reach communities.

View the DCLG press release

More information on community rights

Additional information on the ‘Our Place’ programme

IHBC newsblogs on localism 

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Approval of offshore windfarm powering 2 million homes

Potentially the world’s biggest windfarm (of 400 turbines at Dogger Bank off the Yorkshire coast) has been approved this week, to be delivered by a consortium of four energy firms and powering up to 2 million homes.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) writes:
An offshore wind project has today been given the go ahead by the Government and is expected to support up to 900 green jobs in Yorkshire and Humberside and millions of pounds’ worth of investment to the UK’s economy.  Dogger Bank Creyke Beck A and B wind project will include up to 400 wind turbines, around 130km off the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire. With a maximum capacity of 2400MW it will generate enough electricity to power almost 2 million homes once built.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: ‘This is another great boost for Yorkshire and Humberside. This development has the potential to support hundreds of green jobs and power up to 2 million homes.  Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is creating jobs and businesses in the UK, getting the best deal for consumers and reducing our reliance on foreign imports. Wind power is vital to this plan, with £14.5 billion invested since 2010 into an industry which supports 35,400 jobs.’

Almost half of the costs associated with building and operating a wind farm are spent buying services and products from UK businesses. This translates into real jobs, particularly in areas like Yorkshire which is becoming an energy hub. Siemens and ABP announced a combined investment of £310 million to develop new wind turbine production and installation facilities in Hull last year, creating over 1,000 new jobs. This is one of the largest investments in the Humberside area in the last 50 years and clearly demonstrates that the UK is the leading market for the sector.

View the DECC news report 

View more information on the Forewind website, including maps and a video visualising the proposals

IHBC newsblogs on energy

IHBC newsblogs on wind turbines

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Infrastructure Act: Local Land Charges & Highways England

The Infrastructure Act has been passed and brings changes to Land Registry conveyancing responsibilities and the introduction of Highways England to replace the Highways Agency, as well as aiming to make the sale of public sector land and property easier.

The Department of Transport (DoT) writes:
The Infrastructure Act became law today (12 February 2015) enshrining new measures to make it easier, quicker and simpler to get Britain building.

The act will allow the creation of Highways England, a government-owned company which will use access to long term stable funding to ensure improvements on the country’s major road network are streamlined, cost efficient and encourage investment.  The legislation will also give local people the right to buy a stake in renewable energy projects, while cutting red tape for nationally significant infrastructure projects to boost investment.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘This act will hugely boost Britain’s competitiveness in transport, energy provision, housing development and nationally significant infrastructure projects. Cost efficient infrastructure development is all part of the government’s long term economic plan, boosting competitiveness, jobs and growth.  A key part of this act will be the creation of Highways England, which will for the first time use long-term sustained funding to deliver the government’s roads investment strategy, worth £15 billion, to deliver more than 100 schemes between now and the end of the next Parliament.  Good transport is fundamental in helping our economy grow, which is why the government is making record levels of investment. That’s why we’re building a transport system that helps you get on and get around. Through the creation of Highways England we expect to see savings to the taxpayer of at least £2.6 billion over the next 10 years.’

The act will:

  • turn the Highways Agency into a government-owned company, Highways England, with stable long term funding to drive down costs to the taxpayer and make the new arms-length company more accountable to Parliament and to road users
  • enable surplus and redundant public sector land and property to be sold more quickly by cutting red tape, increasing the amount of previously used land available for new homes
  • end unreasonable and excessive delays on projects which already have been granted planning permission, by a new ‘deemed discharge’ provision on planning conditions – this will help speed up house building
  • allow Land Registry to create a digitised local land charges register that will improve access to data, standardise fees and improve turnaround times for property professionals and citizens
  • enable Land Registry to undertake new services that would further improve the conveyancing process or benefit the wider property sector
  • give local communities the right to buy a stake in renewable energy infrastructure projects
  • boost our energy security and economic growth by extracting domestic shale gas, which has the potential to create jobs, making us less reliant on imports from abroad and help us tackle climate change, all within one of the most robust regulatory regimes in the world
  • set a cycling and walking investment strategy
  • improve the nationally significant infrastructure regime by making a number of technical administrative improvements to the Planning Act 2008 following a review of how the act has operated
  • enable the creation of an allowable solutions scheme to provide a cost effective way for house builders to meet the zero carbon homes obligation

Land Registry writes:
The Infrastructure Bill, currently before Parliament, which will enable Land Registry to provide a single digital Local Land Charges service has been given Royal Assent yesterday. This service will improve access, standardise fees and improve turnaround times for property professionals and citizens.

The announcement was one of the measures in the Bill which also include Wider Powers for Land Registry. These powers will support the property market and UK economy as part of the information infrastructure on which others can build and innovate.

Ed Lester, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive, said: ‘Land Registry is extremely well placed to be able to deliver the necessary changes to the existing Local Land Charges service. We currently play a central role in the conveyancing process and handle large volumes of applications and searches on a daily basis.  Whilst our primary function will remain land registration, Wider Powers provides us with an opportunity to build on the existing service that we already provide.’

The policy supports wider government priorities to facilitate easier property transactions by bringing efficiencies to the property sector and making public data more easily accessible for the benefit of the wider economy.  The mechanics of how the system will operate will be covered by rules contained in secondary legislation.

DoT press release on the Infrastructure Bill

Land Registry press release on the Infrastructure Bill

Planning Portal summary of the Infrastructure Act adoption 5_2

View the history of local land charges on the Local Land Charges Institute

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Reminder: IHBC sponsors Big Meet 3 at UCL: 24 Feb

Bigmeet3 image 3

The third meeting of the Place Alliance’s Big Meet, to be addressed by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, is supported by the IHBC, and will take place in on 24 February at University College London (UCL). 

The Place Alliance explains its objectives as it: ‘Brings together organisations and individuals who share a belief that the quality of the built environment – the places in which we live work and play – has a profound influence on people’s lives. We believe that through collaboration we can create and maintain better places. To this end, we share knowledge and support each other to demand and realize buildings, streets and spaces that enhance the quality of life for all.’

IHBC Education Secretary David McDonald said: ‘The IHBC is delighted to be able to play such a positive enabling role in this critical new initiative that has arisen out of the Farrell Review.’

‘As conservation is acknowledged by the Review as being central to the place management processes on which it focused, it is only right that, as IHBC is the UK’s lead conservation body for places, we should step forward with our support to help progress the kind supportive partnerships for which our heritage sector is especially well respected.’

For more details see IHBC NewsBlogs

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IHBC co-sponsors RSA’s ‘Festival of Ideas: Heritage’: March

The IHBC is delighted to co-sponsor, with BEFS and others, the forthcoming ‘Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts…’ (RSA) heritage session at its ‘Festival of Ideas’, to be held 20-21 March in Edinburgh, featuring debate and discussion with internationally acclaimed speakers as well as IHBC members.

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: ‘We are particularly pleased to support this event and help bring high profile speakers – including Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture from 2010 to 2014, and Piet Jaspaert for EUROPA NOSTRA – to generate quality debates around heritage topics among the widest audience.  Early booking is highly recommended!’

RSA Scotland Chairman Ann Packard said: ‘This session has been made possible by the much valued generosity of IHBC, BEFS and others, demonstrating high levels of purposeful collaboration within the sector.  Particular thanks must go to BEFS and IHBC for contributions towards speaker travel and overnight costs. We look forward very much to welcoming IHBC members and supporters to the Festival.’

The heritage session of the Festival of Ideas is organised by the RSA Fellows ‘Media, Creative Industries, Culture and Heritage’ (MCICH) Network, as part of a 36-hour Festival of Ideas in the St Stephen Centre, St Stephen’s Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Invited speakers include:

  • Francesco Bandarin – UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture from 2010 to 2014, and is now Professor of Urban Planning at the University Institute of Architecture of Venice. He was formerly Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the Secretary of the World Heritage Committee. He is trained as an Architect (Venice 1975) and Urban Planner (UC Berkeley 1977) and has pursued an academic career as Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Venice (IUAV) and a professional career as consultant for international organizations in the field of urban conservation and development. He was actively involved in the Venice Safeguarding Project and in the preparation of Rome for the year 2000 Jubilee. As Director of the World Heritage Centre he promoted the revision of the UNESCO recommendations on historic cities, and has contributed to development of the debate on the role of contemporary architecture in historic cities, on the management of their social and physical changes and on the role of communities in the conservation of historic values.
  • Piet Jaspaert (Brussels) on behalf of EUROPA NOSTRA: he has been a Board Member of Europa Nostra for six years.  A graduate in Political and Social Sciences (Ghent University 1972) and the Eisenhower Fellows (Philadelphia, USA, 1990), Piet started his career as a language professor in Brussels. After being the first lay spokesman for the Diocese of Antwerp for two years, he became the first Director of the Cultural Center of Hasselt, a position held for 14 years. In 1986, he joined the Kredietbank and, later, the KBC as Director of Communication & Marketing. The Flemish Government has called upon him to take on national tasks, such as the Presidency of (i) the Youth Council and (ii) the Advisory Board for Theatre and Tourism Vlaanderen. He returned to the heritage sector, taking responsibility for organisations such as VCM, Erfgoed Vlaanderen and, more recently, HERITA. In 1989 he was one of the three founders of Heritage Days in Flanders. On his retirement from KBC, he accepted the position as President 2003-2013 of JEP (Jury for Ethical Practices in Advertising). He became Vice-president of EASA – European Organisation for Self-regulation in the Advertising World (2009-2013). In addition, he is a member of the Board of Directors of (i) Concertgebouw Brugge, (ii) Cultureel Centrum Leuven, (iii) Festival van Vlaanderen Brussel (iv) La Petite Bande and (v) Kom op tegen kanker. In 1986, Her Majesty The Queen of The Netherlands appointed him Officer in The Order of Orange-Nassau for his commitment to the cultural cooperation between Belgium and The Netherlands. He was also appointed Commander in The Order of King Leopold

Other subjects being covered include’

  • the Future of Festivals Funding in Scotland
  • a presentation on the 20th on Creativity by Professor Pier Luigi Sacco (IULM, Milan) and on the 21st
  • Surveillance & Privacy
  • Land Use including shale gas and Devolution to Communities
  • Professor Jeffery will address ‘The General Election and the Union’.

The event takes place at Edinburgh’s St Stephen Centre, St Stephen’s Street, Stockbridge EH3 5AB

St Stephen’s Street, Stockbridge is easily accessed by Lothian bus routes 23, 24, 27, 29, 36 and 42.

For full information re registration and ticket purchase see the website

For the RSA see

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Would your practice benefit from a little IHBC ‘HESPR’ help?

If you run a heritage based business but are not taking the opportunity to be listed on the IHBC’s HESPR scheme, you may be missing out on the many benefits this brings, including regular bulletins of current tender opportunities in all areas of conservation-related practice, and sometimes running into the millions! 

IHBC’s HESPR (Historic Environment Service Providers Recognition) is a quality assurance and promotional service for businesses that work to conservation and service standards expected by the IHBC.   Practices recognised under the IHBC’s HESPR agree to observe the institute’s standards through maintaining a corporate link to the IHBC in the person of their Designated Service Adviser, a nominated Full Member of the IHBC, agreed by the IHBC.

Tasters of headline projects offered in the current update include:

  • Historic battlefield research (£8000-10,000)
  • Consultancy work relating to HLF funded community projects
  • Renovation of a Grade 2 listed former library (£100,000)
  • Interdisciplinary conference on Anglican church interiors (£8000-12,500)
  • Quantity surveying to the Mackintosh Restoration Project
  • A framework agreement to cover the supply of Architectural design, survey work and other advisory services at the British Museum (£700,000-1,250,000) 

If projects such as these – and a huge range of others – might be of interest to your practice or employment, take a closer look at HESPR and how to join. 

Benefits of HESPR listing include:

  • Searchable online service with hosted and managed web pages for each HESPR business, containing full contact details and links
  • Web links from IHBC’s Home Page, the starting point for IHBC’s 30000 page web resource with 1/4million hits per month
  • HESPR company listings published in IHBC’s Yearbook, circulation 5000+ (including planning authorities & other heritage regulators and leaders)
  • Free tender notification service (see archive )
  • One free ‘Jobs etc.’ advert, social networks & email package p.a. (worth up to £400)
  • Dedicated search facility for HESPR-related events on IHBC’s events calendar (email for details)
  • HESPR fliers circulated at select IHBC events, such as the IHBC’s Annual School, and IHBC-partnered events
  • HESPR promotion on IHBC networks, including social media 

NB: IHBC Full membership of a staff member is a pre-requisite of HESPR listing

Check out our members and services on offer at HESPR

See other benefits  & How to join HESPR

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IHBC’s Course Connection Day 2014: ‘What’s your story?’

A new video has been added to the IHBC’s You Tube channel, with students attending the IHBC’s Course Connections Day, held last November in Birmingham, talking about their background and courses. 

We asked those who attended to tell us how they got into historic buildings as a career choice, and what they were studying on their course.

The video reveals the huge diversity of career paths taken by conservation practitioners, current and future, as well as the passion felt for their work.

Many thanks to those who featured in the video.

View the video

More on the November 2014 Course Connection Day

IHBC learning opportunities

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Coventry Gateway project call in refused: IHBC summary

A proposal for a business park near Coventry Airport, previously approved by neighbouring Coventry City Council and Warwick District Council has been refused after call in by the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who assessed that the overall proposal would ‘give rise to substantial Green Belt harm’ (para. 32 of decision notice).

IHBC members may also be interested to note that section 18 of the decision letter relates to heritage matters, with the assessment that theoverall degree of harm to the significance of Lunt Fort would be slight and certainly less than substantial’.   Landscape reports were developed assessing any potential impact on the heritage walk at Lunt fort (para 198), and the effects on nearby conservation areas assessed, with no objections from English Heritage received (para. 96).  The heritage assessment concluded that the development proposal did not directly affect any designated heritage asset (para. 266-280).

The letter summarises the decision made thus: ‘taking all of the benefits of the proposed development into account, both on an individual basis and cumulatively, the harm to the Green Belt has not been clearly outweighed, and very special circumstances do not exist to justify allowing the inappropriate development’ (para. 33).

Coventry and Warwickshire LEP writes:
Jonathan Browning, chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: ‘We are extremely disappointed and perplexed that this decision has been made by the minister, and we wait to see what decision the developers plan to do in terms of continuing to take the plans forward.  The LEP has long-viewed Gateway as a nationally-significant employment site in Coventry and Warwickshire – with real potential of attracting major development from inward investors and expanding companies.

‘We believe the case is very strong to bring this development forward, and both local authorities directly involved also gave it the green light.  In fact, the case for development has been strengthened during that time by the positive take-up of other key employment sites meaning this development has even more significance.

‘Around 10,000 jobs could be created at Gateway which will allow us to continue to build a successful and vibrant economy – the whole reason for the existence of the LEP.  The CWLEP has backed the Gateway’s plans since we came into force in 2011 because we firmly believe this would have further strengthened Coventry and Warwickshire’s reputation as a driving economic force in the UK as the heartbeat of the technology, manufacturing and logistics sectors.’ 

Read the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP statement 

Download the decision letter 

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IHBC update: LGA + FMB on new LG procurement

IHBC members who deal with procurement for construction works will be interested in the newly launched Local Government Association (LGA) local government construction procurement strategy, which has been praised by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), who note that the changes should help small and medium enterprises compete more readily. 

Members may also be interested to note the figures wihin the report on the top 20 house builders by size, leading construction companies and businesses by turnover. 

The (LGA) writes:
Local Government Association’s (LGA) newly launched local government construction procurement strategy sets the framework for improving public procurement for small and micro firms, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The LGA launched the Construction Category Strategy earlier this month. It is intended to support a more focused approach to what is a key spending area for local government and a major source of employment across the country. The LGA hopes the strategy will highlight new developments and ideas which can help to support improved procurement practices, collaboration and strategic co-ordination of the local government’s annual spending on construction.

After commissioning a report into procurement, the LGA launched its National Procurement Strategy (NPS) in 2014. Construction was selected as a priority category as part of work underpinning the NPS. It identifies what is needed under four themes: maximising savings, supporting local economies, modernisation and demonstrating leadership.

Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: ‘Local government wants to build long-term partnerships with suppliers who we believe can help us deliver significant local growth, increased skills and jobs. The Strategy is the first step in addressing the need for a strong collaboration between industry and local government to make sure that local people have the skills required to deliver these projects.  The strategy outlines a general ‘call to arms’ for local government so as to enable increased efficiencies through collaboration and partnering. Construction permeates virtually all other industries, is a major source of employment and is a foundation of a prosperous society.’

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: ‘With 41 per cent of construction SMEs failing to win nine out of 10 public sector contracts they bid for, the Local Government Association (LGA) focus on making procurement processes more SME-friendly is extremely welcome. The new Strategy, which is the first of its kind, is right to highlight how increasing the amount of construction work awarded to construction SMEs is key to maximising local economic growth. I urge all local authorities to analyse their own processes against the key objectives contained within the Strategy and ensure their own approach isn’t needlessly blocking small firms.’

Berry concluded: ‘When it comes to applying pro-SME procurement practices, some local authorities are better than others so the work the LGA does to provide an overarching set of principles is crucial. Relatively simple changes – such as always using PAS 91 as the basis for any construction pre-qualification questionnaires – can make a huge difference to reducing the bureaucratic burden on SMEs and encouraging more small firms to bid for public sector contracts.’

View the news article

Download the strategy 

IHBC newsblogs on procurement

IHBC newsblogs on construction

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Planning Portal applications up

The Planning Portal blog reports a 14.6% increase in planning applications submitted through the Planning Portal since the same time last year. 

View the Planning Portal Director’s Blog

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Could “Garden ‘Villages’” Solve the Housing Crisis?

Policy Exchange (an educational charity and think tank) has issued a report which calls for ‘garden villages’ to be built in each local authority area to solve issues with housing supply and demand. 

Policy Exchange writes:
Over one million new homes could be built over the next decade if each of the 353 councils in England built just one garden village of 3,000 new houses.

A new report by leading think tank Policy Exchange argues that a future government can overcome local opposition to development by devolving powers to set up new garden villages from Whitehall to councils. Under the proposal, locally led development corporations, set by councils, would be charged with master-planning, setting quality design standards for the construction, and allocating some of the plots to self builders and housing associations, for a new wave of garden villages.  As part of a quid-pro-quo, councils agreeing to build new garden villages sufficient to meet their housing need would be allowed to rule out having development around existing communities forced on them through appeal…

The report calls for a radical new approach based on amending the New Towns Act to create financially viable new garden villages:

  • Empower local authorities to use the New towns Act to designate sites for new small market towns and villages typically consisting of up to 5,000 homes as part of their Local Plans
  • Allow local authorities to pay fair compensation to homeowners and landowners affected by the new development at a flat rate of 150% of market value at the existing use
  • Ring-fence the subsequent land value uplift for the new community to provide for its infrastructure and amenities.
  • Make plots available to a range of competing providers, including self-build and smaller builders, responding to market demand
  • Rule out planning by appeal around existing towns and villages for local authorities making these allocations

Lord Matthew Taylor, author of the report said: ‘Over the next 20 years we need to build around 300,000 new homes every year to keep up with demand and address the existing backlog of housing need. The current planning system – based on tacking on homes to existing towns and villages – ramps up local opposition to new development and makes it politically challenging for councils to meet local housing need.  Our planning system also makes it predictable which land will eventually be released for development. The undersupply ratchets up the value of this land exponentially. As the land is acquired much of the financial gain are captured by the landowners and speculators, not the local community.  It is therefore vital that we turn the system on its head. Empowering councils to create new garden villages to meet local housing demand and capture all the land value uplift is critical if we are to win over the support of existing residents and build the homes we so desperately need.

View the press release

Download the report

IHBC newsblogs on housing

IHBC newsblogs on garden cities

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