Scottish Quality Awards for Planning Open

The Scottish Quality Awards for Planning are now open, with the closing date for applications being 2 May 2014.

Applications are invited from those involved in planning in Scotland for the following six categories:

• Development Plans
• Development Management
• Development on the Ground
• Delivering in Partnership
• Community Involvement
• Quality of Service.

Application form and guidance notes

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Scottish Gov article

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NIE Announces £605,000 grants for regeneration

A further £605,000 under the Dereliction Intervention Programme has been announced by the Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) to be shared among 6 council areas

The funding will tackle derelict and vacant properties and town centre improvements across six areas:

• £220,000 for Belfast.
• £111,000 for Newtownards and Comber.
• £102,000 for North Down.
• £80,000 for Newry, Rostrevor, Warrenpoint, Crossmaglen and Kilkeel.
• £53,000 for Newtownabbey.
• £39,000 for Larne, Islandmagee, Glenarm and Carnlough.

NI Gov news

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Call for World Skills UK Entrants

A call for entries on behalf of talented apprentices in construction has been made for the World Skills UK Skills show, taking place in Birmingham on 13 – 15 November, with a deadline for applications of 21 March.

This years construction and built environment skills include:

• Painting and decorating
• Stonemasonry
• Metalwork
• Joinery
• Plastering
• Bricklaying

As well as construction there are also categories covering engineering, creative and cultural industries, professional services, IT and business administration.

UK Gov article

World Skills UK Competitions

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UAHS celebrates historic warehouse saved from demolition

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) has celebrated the success of a High Court Judicial Review preventing a historic warehouse in Belfast City Centre’s Conservation area from demolition – for the second time.

UAHS writes:
The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) exists to promote the appreciation and enjoyment of architecture from the prehistoric to the present in the nine counties of Ulster, and to encourage its preservation and conservation.

Over the last 40 years the UAHS has established itself as a fearless campaigner for buildings of merit, a generous resource of information on local architecture, and a fair and helpful source of advice on conservation.

The Swanston’s warehouse is a quintessentially Belfast industrial building and the work of celebrated Belfast architectural firm Young and Mackenzie, built for Swanston and Bones – linen cuff and collar makers. The warehouse is an unlisted historic asset which strongly contributes to the architectural character and historic context of the Belfast City Centre Conservation Area in which it is located.

Listed Buildings in Northern Ireland afford more protection due to their acknowledged architectural and historic importance, but unlisted buildings within Conservation Areas contribute just as strongly to their historic contexts and for this reason also form a strong part of the UAHS remit.

This is a significant ruling; it reaffirms the importance of applying planning policy thoroughly in Northern Ireland’s Conservation Areas, recognising their contribution to the built environment and defending their unique character. Without good planning policies and their proper application and enforcement the heritage streetscape that gives Northern Ireland its unique character will be diminished by design that has neither a cultural or historic relationship with its locality.

Conservation Areas are special places with enormous potential to create long-term economic prosperity. In order to realise that potential, those charged with looking after them need to defend buildings of character, such as this 19th century warehouse.

We trust that this will set an example for the new councils and that they will have the vision to ensure these finite assets are not further diminished, but are retained and put to productive uses.

IHBC Research note 2013/02 on judicial review

IHBC blog entries on judicial review

Summary judgement

UAHS press release

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EH Research News: mosques, seaside towns & CAs at risk

The latest issue of English Heritage (EH) research news bulletin highlights new research including the architecture and socio-cultural significance of British mosques, the regeneration of Blackpool town and a study of Haworth conservation area, Yorkshire (which was classified as a village at risk).

Access the EH bulletin at: LINK


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IHBC’s SC Branch pushes ‘duty of care’, VAT relief & more in Bill talks

David Sutton of the IHBC’s Scotland Branch Committee highlighted the potential of a ‘duty of care’ and benefits of VAT reductions as part of his evidence to the Scottish Local Government and Regeneration Committee at their recent meeting on the ‘Defective and Dangerous Buildings (Recovery of Expenses) (Scotland) Bill’.

To raise awareness of the importance of the Bill – which seeks to strengthen the recovery of works carried out in default by a ‘charging order’ on the title – and the potential benefits of his suggestions, he has also written a related article in the Herald and contributed to discussions on the IHBC’s Linkedin Group.

The Committee Meeting transcript records:

IHBC agrees that the current situation does not work well and that there is a lack of proactive work – the main danger is that the Bill seeks to tackle the results of the problem – rather than address how the problem might be prevented in the first place. In particular it fails to explore options such as:-

· How a formal ‘Duty of Care’ might best be promoted – perhaps starting with a formal legislative responsibility on all public bodies to protect, enhance and have special regard to Scotland’s historic environment in exercising their duties, and to designated assets in state ownership.

· How a fiscal policy could better encourage building repair and maintenance (eg say a £3,000 tax allowance over a 3 year period) to help improve maintenance, or

· Exploring whether – as recently suggested for London – Council Tax could be able to be applied at a double rate on vacant properties after due notice (say 2 years to allow time for action to sell or renovate the property). This seeks to address the current position that currently there is minimal financial penalty (indeed often a tax saving) on owners arising from letting a building deteriorate to the point of becoming uninhabitable, or

· How a lower VAT rate would act as an incentive to encourage repair and maintenance work (as opposed to the current new build VAT incentive. This might also address the current incentive to use non-VAT registered companies – and the related ‘cash’ economy. IHBC has worked with many other groups (such as Federation of Master Builders) to research the benefits of a lower (5%) VAT rate for heritage building repair work – and will be updating this research at a Westminster Parliamentary Reception on 3 March 2014. All too often a 20% VAT rate adversely affects the viability of refurbishment projects – favouring housebuilders over home owners. Hopefully government will realise that a simple, cost-effective relaxation of tax on maintenance and repairs can offer a much wider range of benefits to the treasury, while also supporting carbon reduction, building standards, heritage skills, and cheaper heating bills, as research and experience both demonstrate, or

· How ‘short life’ uses might be encouraged – whether from a national Scottish Short-life Housing Association, or encouraging ‘pop-up’ temporary uses. Temporary Licences (of at least 2 years) can help minimise deterioration during the development process and facilitate effective temporary uses.

Any of these options are likely to be more successful than the suggested ‘certification and inspection’ (MoT) regime suggested.

Dave Sutton said of the IHBC’s contribution to the development of the Bill:

‘I think our presence (and that of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations) helped broaden issue from just Building Standards. It was also good that IHBC had set within the ‘bigger picture’, of vacant & derelict sites) – whereas other submissions focused more narrowly on the Bill (the Convenor did seek to query me on whether the reduced 4% BAR in England arose from ‘their more flexible planning use approach’! – my response was on HLF targeting grants to BAR). The BS officers suggested average cost of Defective Building Notice work around £3k – though I suggested there may be multiple actions on a problem site raising cost to ‘substantial’ (over £20k).’

‘There was broad agreement on many issues, with the sponsor of the Bill, David Stewart MSP, suggesting certain amendments at the end:

· On charging notice, to reduce 30 year period to 5 years – with flexibility according to level of debt, which was broadly supported.

· To link with Community Empowerment Bill and to also embrace the Liability Notice approach (as already in Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2011), which then offers Council differing potential approaches according to circumstances

· There was a more cautious or mixed approach to applying a 2-year back-dating option, despite the current £3.9m accumulated debt. A preference for a Registers of Scotland ‘pre-registration’ stage for the Charging Order (or Liability Notice) of potential debt was felt to be more useful (given gap period between instructing works in default and presenting owner with bill) to deal with those who swap company owners etc to try and avoid responsibilities.’

A film and papers are now available at: LINK

Read the Briefing at: LINK 

See David’s related article in the Herald at: LINK

Join the IHBC’s Linkedin discussionHERE

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IHBC sponsors BEFS’ Inaugural Annual lecture: ‘Health’

To continue raising awareness of the positive health benefits of historic places, The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) has helped sponsor the Inaugural Annual Lecture of Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), which covered the topic of ‘Health and the Built Environment’, and was presented by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns.

befs lecture front slide

The lecture, which was attended by some 150 people from a huge variety of backgrounds and disciplines, took place at the Hawthornden Lecture Theatre at the National Gallery of Scotland on Monday 24 February, and was filmed by A+DS. It was introduced by John Pelan, Director of BEFS, and by Professor Emeritus Cliff Hague, Chair of BEFS.

BEFS trustee and architect Jocelyn Cunliffe said: ‘This lecture tied in with BEFS’ strapline ‘Putting People at the Heart of Places’, and we are most grateful to Sir Harry for delivering such an inspirational lecture. We hope to develop some of the themes raised by him with him and others in 2015 to improve well-being across communities.’

IHBC Director and trustee of BEFS, Seán O’Reilly, said: ‘It’s great for the IHBC to be so closely associated with such a critical debate, as well as with this historic occasion for BEFS. We’ve long been advocates of the importance of quality places in shaping healthy lives, which lay at the heart of Harry Burns’ exciting talk. Helping support strategic, authoritative and accessible talks like this is absolutely central to how we can move the debate forward. We will of course continue to help raise awareness of the role of the historic environment in the improving the nation’s health and wellbeing, not least as, alongside climate change, this is the critical issue for the 21st century!’

See IHBC’s journal Context on ‘Healthy environments’, issue 119, online at: LINK 

Access the Context Archive online at: LINK

The video of BEFS’ Inaugural Annual lecture is at: LINK

Slides of the lecture are available at: LINK

See Jocelyn Cunliffe’s blog on the lecture at: LINK

To find out more about BEFS see: LINK

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IHBC welcomes CIOB-NT retrofit conference

The IHBC has welcomed the launch of the joint retrofit conference led by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the National Trust (NT), which will take place on 9-10 April in Queen’s College Cambridge.

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: ‘This is a wonderful chance for IHBC members explore the practical implications of the retrofit challenge, and we’ll be in attendance too, offering our own contributions to the debate!’

Lead organiser Rory Cullen said: ‘£150 plus VAT for an evening, dinner, accommodation, teas, coffees, lunch, top quality speakers including John Vidal the Guardian Environmental Editor & Greg Barker, the Minister for Energy, at the best location you can imagine – what more could you ask?’

Conference sponsors write:
‘The Retrofit Conference will focus on the practical, financial and strategic issues and solutions associated with retrofitting listed, historical and traditional buildings.

The programme features experts who have successfully implemented carbon optimisation strategies and/or are currently working on them, as well as strategists and consultants with a deep knowledge of the subject.

The Key Note speaker, Rt Hon Gregory Barker, will outline the Government’s strategic priorities and plans in this connection.

Organised by Bidwells, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the National Trust, the event will provide practical as well as hands-on insight into the complex area of retrofitting and delegates will leave with knowledge which will help them plan and implement in their own projects.

See conference details and book at: LINK

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EH & NHTG showcase pilot leadworker CSCS cards at Audley End

English Heritage (English Heritage), supported by the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG), hosted a roof-top tour at Audley End House and Gardens to showcase their pilot scheme requiring Heritage Skills CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) cards for specialist leadworkers working on significant projects at EH properties.

EH writes:
David Brown, Senior Project Manager at English Heritage explains: ‘The Audley End Representation project was selected to implement the pilot scheme, because the skills of specialist lead workers were needed to undertake essential repairs to the significant lead sheet roofs and gutters on the south wing.’

English Heritage has long supported heritage skills training and the accreditation of skilled craftspeople and building professionals to demonstrate their suitability to work on heritage buildings. The visit gave the opportunity for representatives from CITB, RIBA, Federation of Master Builders, National Federation of Builders, Construction Skills Certification Scheme, NFRC Heritage Committee, IHBC, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) to discuss the benefits to clients of a skilled and qualified workforce, the current barriers and potential solutions to increasing uptake of the range of training available and the tests of competency to work on traditional buildings which underpins the Heritage Skills CSCS cards.

Jim Walsh of Fairhurst Ward Abbotts, and Michael Cain of T and P Roofing Ltd, the contractors for the project gave the opportunity to see the works in progress and answered the many questions. The guests were interested to hear about the conservation approach and to see for themselves the standard of workmanship and the high level of professionalism from all on the site.

Grant Barker, Contracts Director, described how of Fairhurst Ward Abbott shares English Heritage’s supported heritage skills training and the accreditation: ‘We have fully supported the requirement of English Heritage to have Heritage Skills CSCS cards for the lead workers on Audley End House. The quality of workmanship is wonderful and a credit to the operatives who all hold the cards. FWA also have an ongoing commitment to training apprentices and have directly employed apprentices for the historic plasterwork and masonry at Audley End and we are delighted with their standard of work.’

The English Heritage Team, Linda Kilroy, Estates Director and Kate Gunthorpe, Senior Building Surveyor, emphasised the importance of quality of workmanship on the English Heritage estate and how criteria were included in the tendering and procurement processes to deliver these standards. They highlighted the significance of the flagship project in showcasing demand for Heritage Skills CSCS cards and explained that any extension of the scheme to other craft occupations would be dependent on the up-take of the cards.

The pilot scheme will run to the end of March 2015 and English Heritage will then determine whether this requirement should be continued and consider options to extend it to include other trades and to their grant schemes. Commenting on the site visit, Ray Robertson, Chairman of the National Heritage Training Group said:

‘I am extremely pleased to see the Heritage Skills CSCS Card initiative launched by English Heritage now take tangible form in the specifications for the leadwork contracts placed for the extensive repairs at Audley End House and Gardens. II applaud their commitment to recognising quality standards in this way, which I am sure has been equally welcomed by the Lead Contractors Association, who also support the Heritage Skills CSCS card as an easily recognisable quality standard for appropriate skills, knowledge and experience. It serves as a marker for other craft trades to now follow suit. Equally I hope that other heritage agencies, client bodies, local authorities, architects and specifiers now have a similar commitment to English Heritage in specifying Heritage Skills CSCS card holders exclusively for their traditional roofing and building work.’

EH & NHTG news article: LINK

For the IHBC Newsblog archive on CSCS cards see: LINK


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Minister responds to farm building conversion fears

Planning Minister Nick Boles has reassured MPs that the Government is well aware of the arguments being put forward to exempt National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty from proposals to introduce permitted development rights for redundant agricultural buildings.

Campaigners fear that change in permitted development could lead to large numbers of isolated new homes in unsustainable or inappropriate locations.

The minister told the Commons ‘the intention behind the proposed permitted developed right is to bring forward more housing on land that is already developed, and to make maximum use of the buildings that our ancestors saw fit to build, so that we do not have to put up any more buildings on green fields than is necessary to meet our housing and other needs’.

He added: ‘I recognise, however, and the Government recognise, that national parks and AONBs are so called for a reason and have a special status. It is a status we must respect, and it is important that we think hard and listen to the arguments put to us about the appropriateness of this measure in those areas.

‘Although I cannot anticipate the Government’s final position, I reassure Parliament that the Government have heard the arguments loud and clear.’

Earlier he had agreed with fellow Conservative MPs who queued up to voice concern during an adjournment debate that ‘it might well be appropriate for national parks to retain the ability to decide on a case-by-case basis whether such development is possible’.

Read the Commons Hansard record (24 February 2014, column 134) at: LINK

Search Planning Portal: LINK

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POS proposes local plan reform

The Planning Officers Society (POS) has proposed a series of reforms to the local plan-making process in England after highlighting problems with the duty to cooperate, introduced by the Localism Act.

POS writes:
The POS has been looking ahead to the national parliamentary elections in May 2015. The main parties are drafting their manifestos; POS has been looking at what it can do to help them.

The POS has been looking ahead to the national parliamentary elections in May 2015. The main parties are drafting their manifestos; POS has been looking at what it can do to help them.

POS has produced ‘Planning for a Better Future’. It’s core message is that planning is key to meeting housing needs and delivering economic growth through the creation of sustainable development and POS invites a new Government to work with it to build a more efficient and effective planning system. The document is limited to 4 key areas: Making Great Places, Simpler Planning and Tools for the Job but the main focus is Meeting Our Nation’s Needs. You can view the whole document on the POS website.

Mike Kiely, President of POS, said ‘Our offer is to help ensure that a community’s needs, particularly for housing, are met through the planning system. We consider that there are features of the current system that need refinement to ensure that they work better and serve our communities well.’

POS contends that the current system of development plans, as introduced in 2004 and subsequently refined, is essentially sound but there are a number of areas where it could be improved:

•  The Duty to Cooperate is challenging.

•  Agreeing the overall strategy in an area can be politically difficult and this is leading to a two plan process persisting in many areas, rather than a single Local Plan as desired by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

•  Despite the NPPF advice that a plan should receive increased weight as it progresses through the system, the soundness test towards the end of the process undermines this.

•  The Strategic Environmental Assessment requirements and Issues and Options stage should be applied in a more targeted way.

POS believe that these challenges can be addressed by adjusting the system so that it operates in a more logical way. More details are in its document, but the essential elements are:

•  Local Plans should be prepared in 2 stages: the strategy followed by the detailed policies.

•  The strategy stage is where the Duty to Cooperate needs to be focused.

•  Strategic Environmental Assessment and Issues and Options should only be applied to stage 1.

•  The Planning Inspectorate applies the Soundness Test to stage 1 and signs it off.

•  This leaves the drafting of the detailed policies that will deliver the strategy as a simpler process as it will be done in the context of a clear, agreed and sound strategy. The Planning Inspectorate’s role at stage 2 would be to hear objections to the detailed policies.

•  The carrying out of the Soundness Test at stage 1 and limiting future involvement of the Planning Inspectorate to considering objections to detailed policies, re-establishes a clear process for the plan to gain weight in decision making as it progresses through the system to final adoption.

Dave Evans, Society Senior Vice President, commented ‘It is considered that this restructuring and refocusing of the existing plan-making system could save time in the process overall because it ensures that resources by all parties are put into the process only where they are needed and it is done in a logical sequence thereby avoiding wasted effort.’  Evans added, ‘It is also felt that this approach could create a better environment for Neighbourhood Plans to flourish as the clarity it gives to the strategic vision enables parish councils and neighbourhood forums to be clear about what they need to plan for. We also think it has the potential to shave about a year off the plan preparation process.’

See the BPF response to the POS proposals at: LINK

Search Planning Portal: LINK

Planning Officers Society news: LINK

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TCPA’s updated New Town legislation guide: ‘New Towns Act 2015?’

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has published a report setting out the legislative and administrative reforms needed for a 21st century New Town renaissance.

The TCPA writes:
… The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has today published a landmark document into how the UK can deliver the beautiful, inclusive and sustainable communities of the future. The report, ‘New Towns Act 2015?’, has taken the phenomenally successful New Town Development Corporation model, that delivered 32 new towns after the Second World War and which now home over 2 million people, and updated it for the 21st Century.

There is clear consensus that England is suffering from a major housing crisis. Building a few new houses here and there is not going to be enough – we need to create comprehensively planned, large scale developments. This is why the TCPA has been leading a re-invigorated campaign for a new generation of garden cities as part of the solution and has published this historic report, which demonstrates how the nation can rediscover its bold and visionary history in creating beautiful new places with affordable homes and where people wish to live and work.

Dr Hugh Ellis, TCPA Head of Policy, said: ‘Over the last two years the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Labour Party have all articulated their support for a new generation of garden cities as part of the solution to the nation’s housing crisis. However, the question of how to deliver high quality and comprehensively planned new communities, which can take over 30 years to deliver and transcend electoral cycles, has not yet been addressed.’

‘This why the TCPA wants to show how the development corporation model, which was extraordinarily successful in delivering homes and communities after the second world war, can be updated to make it more democratically accountable and ensure that the vision of high quality, beautiful and inclusive places is achieved. The trick will be to take the world famous and successful garden city principles, which created places like Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, and place them at the heart of the staggeringly successful development corporation delivery model.’

The objective of ‘New Towns Act 2015?’ is to identify the major issues which a future government would need to address in order to make the New Towns legislation fit for purpose. It is intended to provoke a positive debate about the best way to secure high-quality housing growth based on the success of the British New Towns. While there is inevitably a degree of complexity surrounding the law which underpins the delivery of new communities, the key messages of this document are clear:

• New settlements are a vital component of our response to the housing crisis, allowing for cost-effective and sustainable growth.

• The New Towns Act offers a powerful foundation for the delivery of the kinds of high-quality inclusive places that will meet our housing needs in the long term.

• This foundation is based on a specific approach to the designation of land and the creation of New Town Development Corporations to drive effective delivery.

• The basic architecture of the New Towns legislation remains in force and could, in principle, be used tomorrow.

However, this document also concludes that the current legislation is in need of modernisation to ensure that Development Corporations have the visionary purpose and obligations to balance their extensive powers. These changes would include:

• the creation of transparent legal objectives for Development Corporations, including sustainable development, climate change and social inclusion;

• enhanced requirements for participation by the public in the design and delivery of the New Town;

• ensuring partnership working with the established local authorities in the area in which the New Town is located; and ensuring the timely handover of the New Town’s assets (i.e. land, property, finance) to the local authorities and to other successor bodies to hold and manage those assets in perpetuity for the benefit of the community.

In addition to the modernisation of the law, the development of New Towns would require important policy support and a detailed financial model, both of which the TCPA is currently developing. Significant policy challenges remain, primarily around the balance between centrally designated New Town sites and local consensus.

Dr Hugh Ellis added: ‘Given the scale of the housing crisis we cannot meet our current and future housing needs on a plot by plot basis. This is why in the run up to the 2015 election the TCPA will be calling for all three major political parties to make a manifesto commitment to delivering beautiful, well designed and inclusive new communities; with affordable homes and new jobs in places people wish to live and work. We need brave political leadership and we hope that this report, ‘New Town Act 2015?’, will help show central and local government how a step change in delivery can be achieved, working in partnership with the private sector, without losing focus on people and quality.’

This report has been kindly supported by the Lady Margaret Paterson Osborn Trust and Dentons and is being launched in Parliament with the Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP.

See the report ‘,‘New Towns Act 2015?’ at: LINK

TCPA article: LINK

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Norfolk turbine approval quashed

A decision to build a single wind turbine ‘in unspoilt landscape’ in Norfolk has been quashed by the High Court.

Proposals for the 86.5 metre turbine at Pond Farm in Bodham were rejected by North Norfolk District Council in August 2012. The project was allowed on appeal last April.

However, deputy High Court judge Robin Purchas QC ruled that the planning inspector did not comply with planning policy relating to landscape and heritage sites.

The turbine was to be sited near Cromer Ridge, one of the highest points in north Norfolk and would have affected the setting of a number of listed buildings in the area, including the Jacobean Grade l listed Barningham Hall and Baconsthorpe Castle.

Search Planning Portal: LINK

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Carnegie Prize call for Northern Ireland and Scotland

A call for entries across Scotland and Northern Ireland has been issued in connection with the new Carnegie Prize for Design and Wellbeing, closing date 12 noon on 17 March 2014. 

The Carnegie Trust writes:
The Carnegie UK Trust is calling on local communities across Scotland and Northern Ireland to play a greater role in the development and design of their local area.

To help, an £11k pot of funding is being made available with the launch of the first ever Carnegie Prize for Design and Wellbeing.  Successful applicants will each receive a share of the prize money as they make their plans a reality; three runners-up prizes of £2,500 will be awarded, with the overall winner receiving £3,500.

The prize has been launched in partnership with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) and the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) and will celebrate how well designed public spaces, created with and for local people, can improve local resident’s health, provide new spaces for people to meet and promote community enterprise and regeneration.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, explains more: ‘The strong link between the quality of our local environment and our wellbeing means that much of the Trust’s work over the last 100 years has been about improving access to quality public spaces. The launch of this new Prize comes on the back of research we carried out which found that community-led action can really help bring about positive change to local areas. It’s been well documented that a poor quality local environment can have a detrimental effect on community wellbeing, impacting on issues such as health, safety and community spirit.’

‘This challenge is about improving the lives of people across Scotland and Northern Ireland and we hope the funding helps stimulate ideas, creativity and above all encourages communities to come together to think of ways they can improve their surroundings.’

Winning projects should demonstrate how good design can create opportunities for improved health, local regeneration, skills development, community enterprise or social interaction.

The competition is open to any community group or registered charity-led project that will improve a publically accessible space, such as a pathway, or park and that will be completed before the end of September 2014.

Application forms and guidance notes: LINK 

Carnegie Trust news: LINK

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Commons registration advice from Defra

England’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has published new guidance for English commons registration authorities (the bodies who maintain the registers of common land and town and village greens) outlining changes to Sections 15A to 15C of the Commons Act 2006.

The guidance reflects a number of significant changes to the law on registering new town and village greens under the Commons Act 2006, made in April 2013 under the Growth and Infrastructure Act. It replaces the interim version published in May 2013.

Access the guidance at: LINK

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Listed Saltdean Lido rescue move via Conran

Brighton’s dilapidated listed Saltdean Lido is to be restored by Sir Terence Conran’s design firm.

The 1930s art deco structure is the UK’s only Grade II* listed lido and one of just three remaining seaside sites.

Search Planning Portal: LINK

Salt Dean Lido news: LINK

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Planning rules on quarrying relaxed in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has announced new planning rules which relax the need for planning permission for specified minor development in mines and quarries, coming into force on 10th March.

The Northern Ireland Executive writes:
This will include the installation, alteration or replacement of buildings, plant and equipment and the provision of internal lanes and roadways within an existing mine or quarry site.

Mark H Durkan said: ‘These changes will be a boost for the quarry industry. I want to do what I can to support this industry which provides employment often in rural areas and produces a wide range of products for use in construction, agriculture and industry.  At the same time these new rules strike an essential balance by freeing up quarry and mine owners to undertake some minor development whilst putting in place limitations and conditions to ensure that neighbours and the wider environment are protected.

‘This is a common sense approach to planning. Removing the need for planning permission for smaller scale development frees up planning staff to focus on those applications that need more detailed examination. A faster, fairer and fit for purpose planning system all provides opportunities to help industry and boost the economy.’

NI Government news: LINK

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