Pilot for development benefits: expressions of interest sought

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is seeking expressions of interest from local planning authorities and neighbourhood planning forums in becoming development benefits pilots, with the deadline for expressions of interest of 24 October.

DCLG writes:
Budget 2014 announced that the government will launch a government-funded staged pilot for passing a share of the benefits of development directly to individual households. This includes further research and evaluation of the approach.

HM Treasury have allocated a budget of £3.5 million to the Department for Communities and Local Government for the pilot. The aim of the pilot is to test:

  • the degree to which development benefits are likely to be both effective and efficient in reducing opposition to development and increasing active support for it
  • what approach to payments, including levels of payments and eligibility for payments is likely to be most effective
  • the extent to which a reduction in opposition to development by local residents can be expected to ease planning system constraints
  • the workability and costs of administering the development benefits model
  • whether there are any unintended consequences, either within this policy or for other government objectives
  • how the model would impact on the approach taken to new homes in neighbourhood plans

IHBC newsblog on budget 2014

UK Gov publications

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DBIS on Regional Growth Fund Round 6

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (DBIS) has updated guidance for the Regional Growth Fund with the deadline for the next round of applications being midday on 30 September 2014.

DBIS writes:
The £3.2 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF) supports eligible projects and programmes that are also raising private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment. Selected bidders must drawdown their grants between 2011 and 2017.

Rounds 1 to 5 of the RGF have supported 430 projects and programmes across England – allocating £2.9 billion of government support, which is projected to deliver 573,000 jobs and £16 billion of private investment between now and the mid-2020s.

To date £876 million of RGF support has been drawn down by companies, delivering nearly 86,000 jobs and £2.3 billion of private investment.

Round 6 of the RGF opened on 19 June 2014 with over £200 million. Bidders have until midday on 30 September 2014 to submit their applications to the Fund – bids submitted after this will not be accepted.

Selected bids will be announced in early 2015 and will have until March 2017 to drawn down their RGF funding.

Round 6 remains focused on private sector bids. The minimum bid threshold is £1 million. RGF continues to operate in England only.

Every single application is then reviewed by the RGF Independent Advisory Panel (IAP). IAP – chaired by Lord Heseltine – is an independent group of experts, comprised of senior people from across industry, finance, central government, local government, regeneration and academia. Their role is to advise Ministers on which proposals should be supported.

Ministers will then meet to decide which projects and programmes to offer conditional support to. Selected bids for Round 6 will be announced early in 2015. These proposals will then proceed through due diligence, before agreeing final terms.

UK Gov leaflet

IHBC NewsBlogs on growth funds

UK Gov article

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Planning permissions secures Portland stone production

Albion Stone, one of the two quarry companies on the Dorset island of Portland extracting the famous limestone, has been given planning permission that should secure the company’s production of the stone for the next 30 years, at least.

Natural Stone Specialist writes:
Albion has secured a further two planning permissions to extend its mines on Portland, giving it three separate mining sites – at Jordans, Bowers and Stonehills.

Jordans and Bowers are mines extending from existing quarries while Stonehills is a new site. Stonehills should have been opened this summer but the planners want an opportunity for more archaeological digs before the site is disturbed and that had to wait until ground-nesting birds had finished raising their young.

The first of the new permissions allows an extension to Jordans Mine under the nearby road to extract stone from underneath a school playground and tennis courts. The extension should provide extensive reserves of Jordans Basebed, Whitbed and Roach stones.

The second planning permission allows Albion to extract from the last remaining area of the historical Bowers Quarry site. As part of Albion Stone’s commitment to sustainable growth, and being environmentally responsible, it surrendered the quarrying permission on the remaining virgin land of the quarry and applied for mining permission.

As part of the permission, the company has agreed with Natural England and Dorset Wildlife Trust to establish a calcareous grassland environment across the historic quarry site. The grassland will become a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Albion has also made an £18,000 donation to the Portland in Peril project, which aims to eradicate non-native plants that are smothering Portland’s unique limestone grasslands.

Albion Stone hopes to start extraction from these reserves this year. This will provide another 30 years worth of Bowers Basebed, Whitbeds and Roach to the masonry industry.

Michael Poultney, Managing Director of Albion Stone, says: ‘I can now stop spending money on planning permissions. This is an exciting time for the business, the culmination of plans set out nearly 20 years ago. We have sorted out our reserves and we are gearing up for a new phase at the business that involves extraction from mining operations only.

‘We have spent 20 years doing planning applications, 10 years of trial mines and more than £1.8million getting to this point – a point that marks a fundamental shift in the extraction of Portland stone.

‘We have taken on new employees who we are training to be able to work in the technically demanding mining operations using some of the most advanced dimension stone machinery. We have also spent over £1million at the factory so that we can process these new resources to the highest international standards.’

The machinery includes sophisticated Fantini saws for cutting blocks out of the mines. A fourth of these saws will be delivered shortly from Italy at a cost of nearly €450,000.

London is the main market for Portland limestone and Albion will be at the Natural Stone Show at ExCeL London 28-30 April next year, but the company is also trying to open markets overseas and will be exhibiting for the second year running at Marmomacc in Verona this month (24-27 September) and might exhibit at Xiamen in China next year.

l Portland Stone Firms, the other quarry company on the island, is currently at a Lands Tribunal contesting a Dorset County Council decision to stop it quarrying previously consented reserves of stone on a coastal strip of land. It operates Perryfield and Broadcroft quarries, which are not affected by the Lands Tribunal case. The company says each quarry has between 15 and 25 years of reserves left. 

Natural Stone Specialist article

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Welsh Government seeks views on LG reform

The Welsh Government is seeking views on proposed changes to Local Government (LG), in a consultation closing on 1 October.

The Welsh Government writes:
In his newly appointed role as Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews AM has issued a reminder that a consultation paper setting out the Welsh Government’s ambitions for the future of local government in Wales will close in two weeks.

The former Local Government Minister, Lesley Griffiths AM published the White Paper, Reforming Local Government in July, following a statement by the First Minister on the wider programme of public service reform in Wales.

The consultation, which gives clarity on the preferred option for future local authority mergers, invites all interested parties to make known their views. It will close on Wednesday 1 October.

Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews said: ‘Reforming Local Government set out the Welsh Government’s ambitions for local government in Wales – local authorities responsive to local communities, focussed on high quality performance and service delivery.

‘We are seeking views from local authorities, the wider public sector and the public about how, working together, we can reform local government.’

Local authorities who wish to end uncertainty for their staff and the wider public will be urgently considering how best they can come together with neighbouring authorities to deliver services on a more strategic basis. The status quo is not an option.

‘Over the past ten weeks, this subject has been hotly debated. We need all interested parties to make sure their views are heard and I encourage anyone with a considered opinion on this matter to formally contribute to the consultation.

‘Whilst no one should doubt the value the Welsh Government and the people of Wales place on public services, we all agree change must happen.’

UK Gov press release

Welsh Gov consultations 

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Consultation on SUDS changes

DEFRA and DCLG are consulting on proposed changes to the delivery of sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) in the planning system, with a deadline for responses of 24 October 2014. 

DCLG and DEFRA write:
The independent review into the causes of the 2007 floods (The Pitt Review) concluded sustainable drainage systems (commonly known as SuDS) were an effective way to reduce the risk of ‘flash-flooding’ which occurs when rainwater rapidly flows into the public sewerage and drainage system, causing overloading and back-up of water to the surface. Typically, sustainable drainage systems slow the rate of surface water run-off and improve infiltration, thus mimicking natural drainage in both rural and urban areas.

Following the Pitt Review, proposals to increase the uptake of sustainable drainage systems in new developments were included in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and the Government consulted on those proposals from 20 December 2011 to 13 March 2012. In response to that consultation, and in discussions to date, respondents identified a number of concerns that they wanted Government to consider further.

This consultation document sets out an alternative approach to the one envisaged in Flood and Water Management Act 2010 to deliver effective sustainable drainage systems that will be maintained for the lifetime of the developments they serve. The Government has listened and in response, now wishes to consult on delivering sustainable drainage systems through changes to the current planning regime. We are seeking views on this approach.

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DEFRA consultations

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Play your part in London Branch’s ‘Regeneration Game’: Oct 7

London Conference 2014 image c John Sturrock
© John Sturrock

Book now for the IHBC’s London Branch conference, ‘The Regeneration Game – Heritage Community and Business’, to be held on 7 October, with member discounts available.

In this, the ninth of our IHBC London Conferences, we will examine regeneration at the local level, and show how a conservation-based approach can provide positive results for both community and business.

The conference will include a wide range of issues including high street regeneration, meeting the challenge of Assets of Community Value, saving the British pub, neighbourhood planning and conservation and aligning conservation services to regeneration. Case studies will include King’s Cross and the former EMI records plant at Hayes.

The conference takes place at The Royal College of Physicians, NW1.

IHBC newsblogs on the conference

Conference website

IHBC newsblogs on regeneration

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IHBC’s HESPR member survey results show ‘cautious optimism’

The recent IHBC survey into private sector conservation business  linked to the IHBC through our HESPR programme, reveals ‘cautious optimism’ about trading business, IHBC’s Chair Mike Brown has observed, welcoming the report.

The IHBC’s HESPR scheme – our ‘Historic Environment Service Providers Recognition’ listing – is just one of the ways the institute supports its members.  HESPR offers low-cost access to a register of business practices that work to the IHBC’s conservation standards, with benefits that include notices of current tender opportunities.  By responding to an annual survey, HESPR members can help the IHBC develop its advocacy for corporate bodies in the built and historic environment conservation sector. 

IHBC Projects Officer Fiona Newton, who carried out the survey, said: ‘Of course our list of HESPR members is still small in terms of numbers, but it is a very select and representative grouping for the sector as a whole. This is because HESPR members’ work ranges across the full spectrum of conservation-related commercial practice’.

‘So it especially good news to see that most practices responding to the survey suggested that whilst their staffing levels were unlikely to increase this year, 80% of respondents expected turnover and profitability to grow in the next two years, and 77% felt the outlook for the coming year was likely to be better than pervious years.’

‘In terms of current clients, private clients and local government represented the biggest sector of business, with the biggest geographical area coverage being in London and the West Midlands.’ 

View the HESPR register

Join the HESPR register

HESPR tender notification archive

IHBC Newsblogs on the HESPR register

Download the report

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IHBC at the AABC’s ‘conserving copyright’ day – Leeds, 30 Oct

The IHBC will be hosting a stand at the 2014 conference and linked AGM of the Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC) on 30 October at The Carriageworks, Leeds, exploring intellectual property and ‘conserving your copyright’.

The 2014 AABC Conference and AGM is being held on Thursday 30 October at The Carriageworks in Leeds.

AABC Conference website 

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‘Amberfield’ designation proposed by RICS

A new report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), entitled ‘Property in politics’, calls for a new designation of land entitled ‘amberfield’ to address housing shortages, where local authorities work together to promote development opportunities.

The report includes a series of twelve recommendations are proposed overall – covering housing, planning and development, construction and infrastructure.

RICS writes:
Our Property in Politics report sets out bold new vision for property market.

RICS has proposed a new solution to solve the UK’s chronic housing shortage in the Property in Politics report launched today.

Among a raft of recommendations, the report recommends the introduction of a new land classification, Amberfield – which would create a pipeline of ‘ready to go’ land, increasing housing supply and promoting development opportunities.

Under RICS proposals, local authorities and communities will have to work together to label sites favourable for development as Amberfield and each local plan will have to include a set quota of amberfield, ready to be developed for housing. The quota is expected to be set between 30% and 50% but the framework and guidelines for each quota would be open to consultation in order to match the specific needs of each local authority and community.

Amberfield sites would have to be developed within five years and therefore local authorities will be required to approve planning consent for Amberfield within a set time frame, otherwise the authority would risk being  classed as ‘failing’ under the RICS proposed OfPlan assessment*. The new classification will enable local housing needs to be met and would create a five-year land supply that works for communities and builders.  The community will have better understanding of the planning process, more control over what is built where, and be able to see the long term development plan.

While both brownfield and greenfield play an important role in the current planning system, both classifications block or slow development and local growth is being impeded by extensive battles to bring forward land. Amberfield will speed up the process and take out cost for both developers and local authorities – enabling homes to be built faster on the agreed sites. It will provide certainty to investors, unlocking development opportunities, and will also encourage local infrastructure investment.

The review of land classification, coupled with the other RICS recommendations – including development delivery units and a nationwide housing zones programme – will cut through the bureaucracy barriers, speeding up housing delivery and encouraging cooperation across local authority boundaries, stitching together the regions.

The RICS Property in Politics report is the result of the largest consultation ever undertaken by RICS, with property professionals from across England sharing insight into the biggest challenges currently facing housing, planning & development, construction and infrastructure and what actions a future Government should take to remedy them.

RICS Property in Politics report 

IHBC NewsBlogs on housing 

RICS news

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London redundant office homes rule

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that empty office space in Islington can continue to be changed into housing under an article 4 direction.

DCLG writes:
Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, today (17 September 2014) took steps to ensure that empty and redundant office space in the London Borough of Islington can continue to be converted into new homes for Londoners.

Since May 2013, those looking to convert offices into new homes have been able to do so under a permitted development right – that is, without applying for planning permission, other than a light-touch ‘prior approval’ mechanism for transport, contamination and flooding issues. Such rights have been enthusiastically adopted by the housing industry, with a particular move towards providing new studio and 1 bedroom flats. This has included the conversion and refurbishment of the Archway Tower in Islington.

However, Islington council issued an Article 4 Direction, seeking to remove these rights across the borough. This was despite a special exemption exercise previously taking place, which exempted the much of the strategic office space in the borough.

After discussions with the council, the steps taken today by ministers will limit where office to residential conversions cannot take place under permitted development rights to very small, targeted parts of Islington – rather than a blanket ban applying across the whole area.

Anyone looking to convert offices to homes outside those specific areas will continue benefit from the government’s permitted development rights, where they no longer have to apply for planning permission other than the prior approval process.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘House building levels have reached their highest levels since 2007, but there is an acute need for more homes, especially in London.

With more mobile modern day working practices, and housing being in such demand, it makes sense to allow the free market to create new homes on brownfield land. In turn, such regeneration helps protect the countryside.

The steps I’m taking today ensure that Londoners can benefit from the steps we’ve taken to cut red tape and make it easier to deliver these new homes in Islington.

This map, for illustration purposes, gives a general outline of the areas in Islington where the Article 4 Direction applies. Formal documentation will be published by the council.

IHBC newsblogs on permitted development

UK Gov news

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EH’s online ‘Research News’: Economy & the HE

The latest issue of English Heritage (EH) Research News, is online magazine on research updates, focuses on the links between heritage and the economy.

The current issue features an article by Duncan Melville on methods for assessing the economic value of the historic environment.

Additional articles include:

  • England’s earliest surviving open-air school
  • Shared services: assessing the phenomenon
  • The Viking-age cemetery at Cumwhitton, Cumbria

EH Writes:
In this issue we report on a wide range of research, from policy-related initiatives focusing on the development of tools for calculating the economic and social value of heritage, to projects undertaken in response to major infrastructure developments, such as the proposed electrification of the Midland Main Line.

There are also intriguing items on individual buildings and sites including a piece on England’s earliest surviving open-air school in Birmingham. Alongside our in-house research work we also fund important research by others through our National Heritage Protection Commissions Programme. Without this programme it is doubtful that the remarkable and highly threatened Viking-age cemetery at Cumwhitton in Cumbria (discussed on pages 16-19) would have been excavated, analysed and recorded.

EH article

EH research bulletin

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Victorian Society on Forbes & London in Telegraph

The recent news that London sits in the top ten of Forbes magazine’s most influential cities in the world has attracted the attention of the Victorian Society, who have highlighted the role which heritage plays in securing the distinctiveness and prosperity of the city in a letter to the Telegraph.

Chris Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society writes:
‘Ensuring London’s future success and prosperity are good business reasons for readers to support campaigns to protect London’s architectural treasures, such as Smithfield Market, from demolition or insensitive redevelopment’

Forbes article

IHBC NewsBlog on Smithfield

Telegraph letters 

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