ISSUE 09 / 2013
the magazine for
IAN TANT / SENIOR PARTNER / ian.tant @bartonwillmore.co.uk
Going, going, gone… Oh, not quite. No, not (just) the final stages of Winter: it’s a phrase that is recurring around the Practice at the moment.
First, the planners in those regions that achieved Regional Strategies are watching as the last ones are revoked by the Government and the new era of local and neighbourhood plans comes closer. But, while we’re waiting for the new plans to appear and be adopted, we’re seeing the effects of the Regional Strategies live on – with the housing numbers that arose through the evidence base of the Strategies continue to be used by decision makers in establishing housing requirements at the local level. This will change, of course, but it’s taking time for new housing numbers to emerge in many parts of England. So the end of the transition period under the National Planning Policy Framework in March widens the amount of the country for which the presumption in favour of sustainable development is not only the guiding principle, it’s the foremost planning policy to be considered. Marking this partial changing of the guard, this edition of Update includes our assessment of the NPPF and its effects to date. But planning isn’t all about England: Stephen Tucker reviews the Scottish Planning Policy consultation and considers how well planning for housing will fare in Scotland. And we look wider afield to show some of our on-going design work across the planet, with an expose of our work for Prince Sattam Park, Riyadh. When our design work is done, how do occupants of our schemes fare? Kevin Parker, Urban Design Director in Bristol lives in a Barton Willmore designed scheme at Portishead and gives us his consumer’s view.
The consumer (of the planning system) was also in the Government’s collective mind in bringing forward the localism agenda in 2010 – but how can that square with securing growth? From outside the Practice, Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones of Newcastle University offers some thoughts on the ways in which localism and growth might start to be reconciled. The weather aside, “going, going, gone” also refers to significant changes at Partner level within the Practice. At the end of March, Lee Newlyn, Ian Mellor and Chris Brett all stepped down as Partners and retired from Barton Willmore after a combined total of some 83 years’ service. All three have ongoing involvement in specific projects and will increasingly pursue new interests and opportunities. We wish them well – and thank Lee, Ian and Chris for all their hard work and their individual contributions to the success of the Practice. Change creates opportunities - and so it is with Partner retirements. I am therefore delighted to welcome two new Partners to the ‘top table’: Kim Morris and Kathryn Ventham. Both have a strong client following but we introduce Kim and Kathryn to our wider clients through an article within Update. Congratulations to both on their promotion! I hope you find this edition enlightening and entertaining. All we need now is a touch of Spring...
02/ The nppf one year on 06/ life inside the design 10/ are we ‘planning for housing’ effectively? 13/ hot property: prince sattam park, riyadh 17/ a view from an academic on... from muscular localism to local assets 22/ delivered: affordable housing 26/ the changing face of barton willmore
News in Short Lets Get Digital: If you want easy-to-download resources, up-to-the-minute news on our current projects, what we’re thinking about current industry issues or just a photo of that person you’ve been emailing, our newly launched website has everything you need, and in convenient mobile and tabletfriendly format to boot! Please do have a browse and any feedback you have would be very welcome. We’re Growing Again: As a result of our increasing involvement with major schemes in the NewcastleGateshead region and our love for all things North East, our 11th office located on the Quayside in Newcastle opens 1 May. We are currently involved in projects in Darlington, Hartlepool, Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland and Durham, including everything from Green Belt land promotion and local plan examinations to regeneration projects and urban extensions. Of course, with an office opening, there will be events! To ensure you are on our invitation list, please contact Jackie Vine at email@example.com. Child’s Play: Some kids want to be astronauts, others football players, and a very select few want to design neighbourhoods for a living. Our Bristol urban design team recently had the pleasure of hosting an enthusiastic 12-year-old for an afternoon, showing him the ropes. Harrison, an aspiring urban designer, had drawn out a masterplan for a town on the back of one of our brochures, which his grandmother kindly forwarded to us. The kid shows promise!
Cover image: Prince Sattam Park, Riyadh 1
the nppf one year on Dan Mitchell, Planning Partner Ian Tant, Senior Partner
Having just marked the one year anniversary of the National Planning Policy Framework, what has been achieved?
Reflecting on the last 12 months, whichever way you look at the Framework, it has been a game changer. The Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) – Ministers, officials and advisers - have to be thanked for delivering just one 59 page Policy document in place of the thousands of pages which previously set out National Planning Policy. Not least, this significant achievement is a major help to all those trying to carry the paperwork required at planning examinations and public inquiries. So one year on, is it worth celebrating?
of development management and control to one which is clearly aimed at promoting and achieving growth. To their credit, Planning Officers have recognised the change and are now not just identifying problems with proposals but trying to work with landowners, developers and their advisers to find solutions.
The Framework, however, ducks the important issue of defining what constitutes sustainable development. There is no clear, straightforward definition. Instead, we must all grapple with the full 59 pages of planning policy in an attempt to understand Presumption in favour of sustainable the Government’s view on what it means. The development good news is that we rarely have to consult The presumption in favour of sustainable development is at the heart of the Framework. all 200 paragraphs in the assessment of a development proposal, but this is telling It has changed planning, and the perception in itself. A tighter definition would be of those involved in it, from being a system advantageous. 2
Transitional Arrangements Annex 1 of the Framework sets out the one year period of grace for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to review and update their adopted and emerging documents and bring them in line with the NPPF before the Framework is given full weight. This didn’t apply to older style plans in any event, but it at least meant that newer style plans (those adopted under the 2004 system of local development frameworks) were treated as being up to date.
Housing Policy Inevitably, the largest pressure for land use change, and thus the greatest focus for debate, will revolve around housing policy. The Framework requires LPAs to “significantly boost” the supply of housing, in order to meet in full the objectively-assessed need for both market and affordable housing. It also suggests that LPAs should prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) on a cross-boundary basis to define market and affordable housing needs for the plan period.
If the Government thought this would lead to a period of frantic plan-making, Ministers must be disappointed. To our knowledge, only one LPA (Mole Valley in Surrey) has adopted an altered plan in this time, while only six others have made any appreciable progress. Few new plans have been brought forward in line with the Framework.
This is a significant challenge: there is an increasing affordability gap, driven by years of under-delivery going back to the start of the last decade and worsened by the financial instability in the mortgage market since 2008. Most districts show a significant need for affordable housing with limited or no funding for intervention, while there is also a substantial backlog in the delivery We are therefore now reaching the point of open market housing, particularly when where no plan can be held to be automatically planning for economic growth and associated in line with the policies of the Framework and growth in the labour force, district by district. every policy of every plan will be subject to Indeed, perhaps the only way of addressing assessment to check its compliance. affordable housing is by releasing still more With the focus firmly on delivery and growth, land for market housing which can deliver the it will be interesting to see how many adopted S106 obligations that will fund and deliver affordable housing as a percentage policies are still considered to be up to date of the whole. and how many are seen to conflict with the Framework, given that the overall number of The challenge for many shire districts is adopted development plans is still far short possibly greater than the Government has of nationwide coverage. We are entering appreciated. Many LPAs are faced with the period in which, for many parts of the having to establish housing requirements at country, the only up to date policy is that a planning policy level for the first time ever which is set out in the Framework; many under the new policy. Without clear guidance areas will have little or no relevant local on how to objectively assess the needs for policy coverage as the Regional Strategies are both market and affordable housing, they are finally stripped away in the coming months. struggling and, all too frequently, In the absence of such policies, large areas bringing forward inadequate evidence of England will be subject to the relatively and finding themselves exposed during simple prescription that planning permissions Local Plan Examinations. should be granted unless there is clear and demonstrable harm.
Where proper assessments are being produced, there is too often a wide gap between the housing levels that Councillors are prepared to accept and the needs that are revealed by sound studies. Tactics such as playing down the value of expert advice and/or adopting the low end of any ranges indicated by projections, scarcely amount to a positive attempt to meet objectively assessed needs in full. Still less do they square with the objective of significantly boosting supply.
Whilst the Framework suggests that Local Authorities should have a clear economic vision and policy should be flexible, it provides little guidance on how this can be achieved. We would urge Local Authorities to consider opportunities linked to connectivity and infrastructure, including new transport and rail hubs, the changing needs of our business commerce areas and the importance of rural employment as part of its policy approach.
Economic Development The Government is clear that the number one priority for planning policy is that of building a strong and competitive economy, yet this priority is afforded only five paragraphs in the Framework, one of which asks LPAs to consider re-use of safeguarded employment land if there is no longer any reasonable prospect of the site being used for employment purposes. So is the Framework effective in this regard?
Reflection on other areas of NPPF Unsurprisingly, some useful elements of planning guidance have been lost in the NPPF. It is only with the passage of time that we are starting to see where the more important gaps might lie. The following are just some of the topics that we have identified:
Economic development models are changing rapidly. E-commerce is driving resurgence in the warehouse and distribution sector; high technology manufacturing is seeking to align its global supply chain on a local level; and IT and high-speed wireless Internet is requiring a more flexible approach to the provision of Grade A office space. LPAs need clear direction on creating a flexible and opportunistic approach in their development plans. Job creation remains one of the key objectives of any local politician, so why are LPAs still seeking to create a zone-based approach to land use planning for traditional “mixed”, industrial and B1 sectors? The NPPF should create a dynamic and flexible approach with positively prepared criteria rather than zone-based allocations. It is widely accepted that employers will seek locational advantages with availability of workforce and connectivity.
Major Developed Sites in the Green Belt Pages of guidance have been reduced to one bullet in the NPPF. Councils can now set out their own approach to the redevelopment of previously developed land in the Green Belt with proper justification and evidence base, but the Framework provides very limited information as to how the impact on “openness” will be assessed as part of the decision-making process. The onus is on the developer to demonstrate that their proposals have no greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing development. Retirement/Elderly Living/Care Homes Despite the UK’s aging population, the NPPF is pretty much silent on this issue. Such provision is fundamental to sustainable communities. The sector is evolving and as a result new models of provision and development are emerging. The Government should make some comment on how the needs of this sector are to be met.
Dan Mitchell / Planning Partner / ian.tant @bartonwillmore.co.uk
IAN TANT / SENIOR PARTNER / ian.tant @bartonwillmore.co.uk
Noise – Having replaced an entire Planning Policy Guidance note on the matter, the Framework says very little on the subject. The policy statement is limited to advice that we should avoid noise giving rise to “significant adverse impacts” on health and quality of life as a result of new development. The Framework doesn’t define significant adverse impacts and instead directs us to the Explanatory Note to the Noise Policy Statement for England, produced by DEFRA. Unfortunately, that guidance doesn’t help much either: it refers not to significant adverse effects but to the “Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level” (SOAEL) and then unhelpfully advises that: “It is not possible to have a single objective noisebased measure that defines SOAEL that is applicable to all sources of noise in all situations.” Tackling noise as an issue will be a struggle until there is some greater clarity, in supporting guidance. For now, we are left adrift on this matter. This may not be an issue where the applicant’s noise consultant and the Council’s Environmental Health Officers can reach ready agreement. But where they disagree, developers and Planning Authorities will struggle to strike the planning balance on this matter. Viability – This is an increasingly important
matter in planning, underlying assessments of the genuine availability of housing sites, the setting of Community Infrastructure Levies, the delivery of affordable housing targets and the soundness of Local Plan policies, taken as a whole. External bodies such as the RICS have come to the rescue to some extent with their own guidance on the matter, but there is a new conundrum that the NPPF brings to the fore, perhaps unintentionally.
It advises that policies, S106 requirements and the like should allow developers and landowners to secure a “competitive return” from development sites. While there is much experience and even planning appeal decisions that indicate how to judge the appropriate return to the developer, an entirely new question has started to appear: what is a competitive return to a landowner? There is no definition in the Framework and as yet no guidance either. This could well become a growing issue in the coming year, as financial viability remains a serious constraint on development and growth. Final Thoughts So one year on, what is the overall view of the Framework? Well, the NPPF clearly has significant benefits. It is a streamlined approach which is far more accessible to all than the myriad previous planning policy statements. It is admirably clear on the broad priorities and provides a transparent account of policy in considering the main forms of development. Practitioners and the public welcome the approach of having one streamlined document. We are, however, increasingly recognising the gaps as examinations and inquiries test the effectiveness of the Framework. There are growing calls for guidance to supplement the Framework: the Taylor Review of planning guidance has identified a number of important omissions, together with the need to retain or update some preexisting guidance. Planning Minister Nick Boles has flagged that we will shortly see the establishment of a new, online resource for accompanying planning guidance, which it is intended will be kept up to date at all times. The NPPF has made a great start - but there is a lot still to do, particularly in plan production. We will continue to learn about the operation of the framework and the need for added guidance in the coming year. Happy Birthday NPPF, and here’s to the second year!
Life inside the design Kevin Parker, Urban Design Director
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a place that you had a hand in creating? One of our urban designers now lives in The Ashlands, a development planned, designed and delivered by Barton Willmore.
Formerly the site of a coal fuelled power station, The Ashlands in Portishead (so called because this was where the power station waste was tipped) was a groundbreaking regeneration project when it kicked off in the late 1990’s, delivering nearly 2,000 new homes, together with a primary school, local centre and care home as well as new parks, spaces and a large nature reserve. The regeneration proposals could be seen as one of the first large scale development projects in the UK to genuinely prioritise ‘place-making’ in its layout and appearance and includes a mix of family housing within the central areas and apartments (more suited to professionals and couples) defining the marina waterfront. As Town Planners, Masterplanners and Urban Designers, we have been closely involved in this project for the past 18 years across the entire process and continue to be involved in the design of the remaining apartment buildings on the waterfront. With so much of our heart in this project, it’s no wonder Kevin Parker, Urban Design Director in our Bristol Office, decided to make the Ashlands his home. Having lived in the development for the last seven years, Kevin has a unique opportunity to observe what it’s like to live in a neighbourhood designed by Barton Willmore. Here, he shares his thoughts, experiences and lessons for the future. 6
“When my family and I moved to the Ashlands development in 2006 it was about halfway through construction. We weren’t really looking for a new house but were keen to look at how the scheme was shaping up. The quality of the streets and spaces, undoubtedly a result of the collaboration between Urban Designers, Architects and Artists, seemed impressive alongside the unique coastal setting and the Marina contributed to a really strong ‘sense of place’. “Perhaps one of the most successful aspects of the development is a network of welldefined public spaces, which connect to a new 40 hectare Nature Reserve and local coastal paths. As an Urban Designer, it’s great to see the soft and hard landscape along this network being used by residents, with the green spaces often used for Communityled events. Our house overlooks one of the largest areas of public open space in the development including a playground and multi-use games area. I’m yet to witness any vandalism or anti-social behaviour in the park, and this can only be due to the careful design of the space which is completely overlooked by dwellings. “Numerous walks take you around the development, through the Nature Reserve, the Marina with its cafes, restaurants and bars; connecting to the town via a new Supermarket, Sports Centre, Library and further facilities to look forward to. A local centre situated on a central bus route,
with a post office and shops, provides a central focus to the development. These routes and spaces, along with a public arts trail, are often full of families on leisurely walks around the development, giving the neighbourhood a real vibrancy and sense of community. “Living here has allowed for critical evaluation of its success. The Ashlands was designed at a time when National Planning Policy meant that we were required to meet minimum density targets and to not exceed restrictive maximum parking standards. These restrictions, have led to some parking and traffic movement problems as most households own at least two cars. “Also, while there is a good demographic mix, this development isn’t perfect. The proportion of families is probably much higher than anticipated which has created some issues with the availability of school places locally, an example of how the project has perhaps been a victim of its own success. “Moving forwards, The Ashlands provides a key opportunity for masterplanners to consider and address issues that can arise from such developments. Through initiatives such asour New Garden Neighbourhoods (“NGN”) model for urban extension proposals which, among other things, aims to provide sufficient parking close to the front door of every dwelling and straight streets as part of an integrated movement network, cars can be designed into the street scene and can be
camouflaged with front garden hedges and planting, keeping neighbourhood layouts simple and attractive. “Overall, I’m pleased to see that from my perspective as a resident and professional, Ashlands is really standing the test of time, proving itself to be a very successful community and an area with a distinctive sense of place. The care and attention to urban design and architecture creates a series of unique character areas which are successfully informed by local context and other coastal towns, such as Welsh coastal town, Aberaeron, which inspired the design of my particular house.
KEVIN PARKER/ URBAN DESIGN DIRECTOR/ kevin.parker@ bartonwillmore.co.uk
“The best test for the success of a place is whether people want to live there, and there is certainly evidence that the Ashlands will continue to be a popular place to live with house prices having continued to rise over the last few years and a seemingly low turnover of residents. It is the kind of place where people want to stay, and I think the success of the Ashlands as a desirable place to live will only increase over the next few years as the development is completed, the landscape matures and the last of the planned retail uses are brought forward.
“As a family we’re certainly very happy with our choice, feel part of a vibrant community and are looking forward to spending many more years living in the neighbourhood.”
For more information on the principles of New Garden Neighbourhoods, please contact Kevin on 0117 929 9677 or scan the QR code to download a copy of our concept document.
Are we ‘Planning for Housing’ Effectively? Stephen Tucker, Partner In January 2013, the Scottish Government released a consultation on the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), a document which, alongside the National Planning Framework, has the potential to provide a strong national direction at the top tier of our plan-led system, setting the goals and objectives to achieve sustainable economic growth. Our Edinburgh based team promptly applied their understanding of the local planning landscape for housing in a thought-provoking response. Here Stephen Tucker, Partner leading the Edinburgh office and Senior Vice-Convenor of RTPI Scotland, outlines this response as we urge all who are active within the Scottish market to get involved. Much of the SPP works well. There is no doubt that Scottish planning is better prepared for the 21st century, particularly because of the strategic potential offered by the development plan hierarchy. However, there are some things that could work better by unlocking this potential for strategic oversight.
We believe: • Housing shortage is a major problem, with significant social and economic dimensions, and must be solved. • The Scottish Government’s published strategy is ‘to increase sustainable economic growth’. • However, as interpreted at local level, current planning policies restrict land supply by prioritising brownfield sites for housing, which are proven to be unviable. The sites that are viable are over-subscribed, creating a two-tier land market, limiting the kinds of housing that can be built and therefore exacerbating the housing crisis.
to travel to work. This is in turn increasing pressure on satellite settlements beyond the green belt, with people moving to these towns and villages and travelling to the major conurbations for work. STEPHEN TUCKER/ PARTNER/ stephen.tucker@ bartonwillmore.co.uk
We believe that the planning hierarchy enshrined in SPP - and perhaps some changes to the National Planning Framework 3 - should be used to enable sustainable housing development on greenfield sites around Scottish towns and cities. In particular, the context, purpose and priorities of green belts and associated countryside policies need to be reconsidered. Now is the time to grow our most celebrated urban areas based on clear, ambitious and plan-led targets. The current SPP wants the future policy approach of green belts to be set through Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) for the city-regional level, which in turn will trickle down to Local Development Plans (LDPs) to set specific boundaries. Interestingly, the guidance says, ‘green belt designation should be used to direct development to the right locations, not to prevent development from happening.’ Unfortunately, perhaps because of the public perception that green belts are purely to prevent settlements coalescing and protect environmental character, this aspect is rarely implemented at the local level.
Generally, there is no doubt as to the value of doing what the public wants. We believe, however, that the overwhelming strategic need for new housing should hold more weight in local considerations, and that it needs to be asserted unequivocally through the planning hierarchy. Is giving more priority to housing really necessary? The story of housing shortages in Scotland – as in the rest of the UK – is quite clear. Instead of the 150,000 – 175,000 new homes called for over the next five years when the Scottish Government’s landmark 2007 ‘Firm Foundations’ report was published in 2007, a mere 96,000 have been built. The rate of building new housing is currently at its lowest since 1947. This is a problem because housing is fundamental for social cohesion, and its shortage is at the root of many contemporary social ills. Indeed our report warns that ‘the cumulative effect of the housing shortfall threatens the functioning of society as a whole’. New housing development is also an economic tonic, creating thousands of jobs. The Scottish economy is stubbornly refusing to recover, rates of unemployment are high, and development finance is hard to come by. The Government remains committed to ‘delivering faster sustainable economic
how do we get to work?
What is the solution? We need to have an honest debate about where people actually want to live – which we believe is where the jobs and services are, with good transport links and close to family and friends. By protecting the areas of green belt and countryside around our major settlements, we have constrained the opportunities for new housing close to employment centres, exacerbating the need 10
Transport Scotland, Statistical Bulletin Transport Series August 2012 11
growth’ but none of its six Strategic Priorities target housing per se. This is disappointing, given the potential contribution that housing can make to economic recovery. It is time to redress the balance. Meeting renewable energy targets, improving infrastructure and mitigating against climate change are all laudable aims, but what about making it a priority to build homes for people to live in? Is the solution sustainable? Housing on greenfield sites around towns and cities is the ‘elephant in the room’. We contend that they such sites are eminently sustainable if appropriately constrained. Car dependency is affected by housing location; greenhouse gas emissions from cars account for 33% of the Scottish total, a proportion that is rising. Our solution can slow down this trend, helping us to meet the targets laid down in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act. We think the planning hierarchy should be used to identify new sites adjacent to the transportation network to encourage people out of their cars. A positive by-product of this effect is that the new housing will also tend to be highly attractive places to live for the very same reasons. Equally, it will provide a much needed jolt to delivering sustainable economic growth. While it is true that housing on brownfield sites is potentially more sustainable, it is also a reality that there is almost zero activity on these sites. Freeing up greenfield sites will be attractive to financiers, presenting limited risk options in a difficult lending market. The developers will see a similarly low-risk opportunity to build houses that sell. Overall, carefully selected, sensitive allocations of greenfield land will be an enormous stimulus to sustainable economic growth. Will you get involved? We at Barton Willmore want nothing less than a revolution in land supply, with the promise of not only economic recovery but significant social benefits to follow. We don’t have all
the answers, and of course our perspective is that of a commercial consultancy. But, good quality sustainable housing in places where people want to live is fundamental to Scotland’s wellbeing. Further debate is essential, given the scale and immediacy of the problem. We want to put housing centrestage, back in its rightful place as one of the most pressing issues of our times. The solution is too huge for one viewpoint to prevail – it needs a cross-sectoral discussion. Some of the key questions we are posing are:
HOT PROPERTY: Prince Sattam Park, Riyadh
Should the SPP introduce a national presumption in favour of development in the most genuinely sustainable locations, e.g. along transport routes around our towns and cities? Should this directive hold sway over other policies covering land around our towns and cities? Should the SPP demand a starting point that land allocations must be deliverable and viable in the short, medium and long term respectively? Should the SPP conduct a detailed review of the planning policies that currently hinder or promote sustainable economic growth around our towns and cities? Should the identification of major strategic releases, i.e. new communities, sit within NPF3? Would the planning and location of strategic new communities be better handled at a regional level, perhaps delivered by a team with the specialist skills required, e.g. SSCI? Should the SPP place the responsibility to meet these housing targets with local authorities? Should SPP become a much more streamlined target driven document?
That the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia can be a bit warm might just be the understatement of the year. With soaring summer temperatures, how exactly does one go about designing an outdoor space which people will actually use year-round?
This was just one of the challenges put forward to our team of internationallyfocused masterplanners, architects and landscape architects in designing Prince Sattam Park, a new passive leisure scheme in the wadi system to the west of the rapidly evolving city of more than 5 million people. The solution was found in diverting the city’s spent irrigation water to create a new 1.5km long river as the Park’s central attraction, with a Promenade heavily planted with mature trees, running along its length. This approach ensures that visitors to the Park will be able to enjoy some or all of the Park’s facilities throughout the hotter periods of the year when the climate can be less inviting. “The facilities are aimed to be used more intensively during late afternoons and nights throughout the year and during the cooler winter months in particular. The uplands and more extensive areas of the main park will also be used throughout the year but are expected to have more use during the evenings and winter months as the ambient temperature changes to a more comfortable environment.” explains Nick Sweet, Partner leading the project team.
which begins its journey down through the park. The River & Lake also reintroduce the idea of moving water into the landscape which has been formed by storm water erosion, providing the key conceptual focus of the Park. The Park also features a Secret Wadi, hidden behind a Palm Grove and containing shaded and cool areas including the Grotto - a series of rooms carved and built into the rock face. In addition, a Mosque, set in its own garden area in a slightly elevated position, provides a place for congregating and views across the park.
NICK SWEET/ PARTNER/ nick.sweet@ bartonwillmore.co.uk
The park provides numerous opportunities for views, with the Uplands area, 100 metres high on the adjacent escarpment, not only supplying scenic views across the entire park, but also providing a clear boundary between the park and the proposed Urban Extension. The Moon Balloon with its gondola, provides a safe viewing platform across the park and city beyond and is permanently tethered to a jetty. The Pontoon cleverly disguises the pumps and pipe work needed for the recirculation of the River.
The scheme goes on site in September 2013 The Park will have different character areas and is expected to take 2 years to implement. with distinct personalities in order to disperse visitors away from the river edge:
Visitors will be welcomed to the park through the visitor centre, which provides a central facility for interpretation, ticketing and retail as well as providing a restaurant, management and back of house functions. The main open space for the Park is created through the 5 hectare Meadow with a perimeter of picnicking areas, beaches, viewpoints and casual sports space. In contrast, the Woodland sits adjacent to the cliff face to create a strong, structural element to the Park with a variety of shade trees overhanging the picnic and play areas.
1/ Arrival & Entrance Plaza
The Mist Garden creates a conceptual focus as the source of the river using misting devices hidden amongst stones and planting to accentuate the atmosphere as of water bubbling up from the ground to form a brook
2/ View from the Watchtower 3/ The River Promenade 4/ The Mist Garden
A view from An Academic...
5/ Moon Balloon 6/ Woodland
from muscular localism to local assets
7/ Grotto 8/ The Watchtower
Prof. Mark Tewdwr-Jones
The Coalitionâ€™s ongoing attacks on planning and their failure to address real growth possibilities are a lost opportunity. But sub-regions can start to take the initiative themselves. 7
Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Professor of Town Planning at Newcastle University, Lead Expert to the Government Office for Science Land Use Future project 2008-10 and author of Spatial Planning and Governance, published last year, presents his view of the latest reforms and the opportunities they offer our industry. 16
The latest piece of legislation to reform the planning system in England, the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, is currently negotiating its way through Parliamentary scrutiny. These reforms represent the fifth legislative change to planning in nine years and promise to once again ‘unlock the potential for growth and reduce red tape’. Coming just a year after the implementation of the Localism Act and a new National Planning Policy Framework, the government’s determination to ‘do something’ about the planning system seems remarkably familiar, if not rhetorical.
be radically different from that which it was designed to replace. The Coalition’s thinking on planning until recently has been to reify the ‘local’ as the scale at which planning should take place. An intellectual case for which is bound up with the Conservative idea of a ‘big society’; understood from within government as a renewal of civic duty, philanthropy and voluntarism.
And so the Localism Act 2011 gave full expression to the reform, including neighbourhood plans, produced by nonstatutory, autonomous groups or selfThe installation of the Coalition Government organised groups of residents who could and Eric Pickles as Secretary of State for add to Local Authority development but Communities in May 2010 reset the tone of importantly not argue against. Subsequently planning. All references to spatial planning businesses have also been encouraged to were expunged from government publications contribute, spawning a number of pilots – and all existing national planning policies “Business Neighbourhood Frontrunners” were removed from the official website. – in cities such as Liverpool, Manchester These changes to the policy discourse were and London’s West End and Southbank. symbolic; an attempt to create an impression The consequence of rolling back the former of embarkation on a new project that would
state architecture of regulatory planning and replacing it with a doubly devolved free for all (localism for neighbourhoods/ growth opportunities for businesses) might be ideologically appealing and fits on paper, but its market consequences – in which the powerful home owners of middle England dictate an almost complete halt on development in parts of the country where demand is greatest, and by reflection, where land and house prices are highest – will result in an outcome likely to be wholly unacceptable to everyone: to neighbourhoods resistant to change, to developers unable to implement schemes, and to a Conservativeled government desperate to patch up a sclerotic economy sinking in debt. A clear response to this threat was Eric Pickles’ House of Commons call for Local Planning Authorities to find innovative ways to use Green Belt land (the wording was carefully constructed) and additionally raised the prospect of stripping powers from those Local Planning Authorities that failed to approve housing development schemes and implement ‘special measures’ (Pickles, 2012).
Responding to an accusation that this was, in effect, the very reverse of the Coalition’s newly-found commitment to neighbourhood planning, Pickles referred to prospect of special measures as ‘muscular localism’. In these observations perhaps lies the answer to the question of why planning has proven to be such an intractable problem for successive administrations; Markets need planning. Perhaps RSS’s were better-the-devil-youknew, or are we getting misty-eyed a little too soon? The key question is, will constant reforms to planning actually deliver the sort of growth the Coalition government expects and needs before the looming elections? My own answer borders on the negative, mainly because I do not think they are addressing three core issues: the Treasury lack a firm understanding of spatial needs and assets in different parts of the country; they’re not looking at the right sort of sectors to inform growth possibilities long term; and they are underestimating the extent to which neighbourhoods are becoming ferociously more determined to resist change unless it really benefits local desires. But there are possibilities here:
1. LEPs, businesses and Local Authorities need to start to come together more to look at the unique assets in regions and sub-regions. These assets are not only related to knowledge and skills, training, research and development, and existing employment sectors, but also might include environmental and social assets that could form a basis for future investment. 2. Agencies need to think much more long term – what are the future employment sectors and can we hazard at a guess where the new sectors might come from? One sector not being given sufficient attention at the present time is undoubtedly environmental and ecosystem services. There are economic assets associated with these but it means thinking of economic development in a completely new way. 3. With so much investment going in to infrastructure, it’s worth thinking of these as more than sunk costs – they can serve as future growth nodes. Airports, ports and electrified rail lines are but three examples that can open up further opportunities. 4. In an era when strategic thinking has almost become a lost art form, it is worth taking a long-term perspective. I’m not talking about reinventing regional planning, but I am thinking of scenario development for sub-regions, identifying relationships between policy sector interventions, and the identification of regional assets to inform new choices.
people are getting more interested in the future of their local areas and are willing to get involved in the planning process more than ever before. That means changing the way we interact with them. Telling neighbourhoods that development is good for them is archaic and frankly arrogant. Equally, total resistance to change is not going to help the UK’s economy get back on its feet. We need to mediate our way through new processes, where a community’s assets are protected and the private sector is willing to acknowledge these and to support them financially more prominently. That might also mean developers engaging with communities directly and bypassing local planners. These are by no means the solutions to all the ills we are currently facing. But at least they start to address possibilities in a more creative way. With 91% of all planning applications in England being approved, the rhetoric of planning as a barrier is starting to appear like a dodgy dossier. And entrenched positions are not likely to deliver what we need. But with infrastructure investment and City Deals now going in, the slow road to recovery could start here. The challenge is whether planners, local politicians and developers on the ground are prepared to seize the opportunity, recognise their assets, and think of growth differently as part of a new contractual relationship with communities.
5. Whatever the developers may think of localism and neighbourhood planning, and whatever the Treasury’s frustration with local opposition to housing schemes, there is one undeniable fact:
Delivered: Affordable Housing As home ownership extends further beyond the reach of growing numbers in the UK, affordable housing providers have a vital role to play.
Provision of sustainable and liveable homes in an increasingly challenging environment is coupled with growing pressure from the Government, Government Agencies and local communities. In the recent budget announcements, some £225m was committed to the affordable homes guarantee programme, a programme supporting providers who take advantage of the government’s £10 billion housing guarantees scheme, which underwrites borrowing they undertake.
Extensive engagement with the local community and Authority, as well as Natural England was essential if we were to present the merits of the proposals. A design was developed which protected the vast majority of the plantation/woodland while also providing suitable accessible natural green space (SANGS) for residents given the site’s proximity to the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Outline Consent was duly secured and our planners and designers took the proposals on with Elmbridge Housing Trust and Paragon Housing Association to Here we look at three recently completed, and deliver detailed planning permission for some at times challenging, schemes for affordable 350 dwellings. housing providers that have been nurtured by our teams through the Planning, Design and Delivery phases, to deliver architecturally “ In our design approach, we sought to engaging products for the affordable market. offer a contemporarybut sensitive take on Surrey’s local vernacular, while providing a Franklands Drive, Addlestone broad spectrum of housing size and type, Having lain unoccupied for many years, this all designed to achieve a minimum Code ex-quarry and overgrown plantation site in for Sus tainable Homes Level 4 compliance Surrey had been commandeered by local dog – the maximum level the Housing walkers and naturalised by wildlife. Located Corporation will provide funding towards in the wealthy Row Town area of Addlestone - and therefore make this proposal a hard in Surrey, locals were fiercely protective one to refuse. Although we didn’t work on of the site. So much so, that effort to gain the subsequent contractor led development permission for this identified residential delivery phases of the scheme, this site had been thwarted three times over the aesthetic has been retained and certainly course of many years. offers the scheme an engaging style. Combined with the considered private It became clear that a new tactic was and shared communal spaces I do think required, and our planners and designers, identifying the chronic shortage of affordable this will be a great place to live for families of all sizes.” housing in the area, recognised a gap the Local Authority could not ignore. By proposing a 100% affordable housing scheme Paul Joslin, Architectural Director which placed quality, in terms of design, site protection and sustainability, at its heart, The first phase of 64 homes has now we sought to present a robust, defendable been completed and the second phase of scheme. construction is underway.
PAUL JOSlIN / ARCHITECTUAL DIRECTOR / paul.joslin @bartonwillmore.co.uk
WAYNE BRIDGES / ARCHITECT / wayne.bridges @bartonwillmore.co.uk
JACQUES TOERIEN/ ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATE/ jacques.toerien @bartonwillmore.co.uk
Bay Drive, Bracknell Three previously unsuccessful planning applications by other designers on this site meant delivery of a successful application here was always going to be challenging, but our Architects and Landscape Designers pulled on their understanding of the planning process to deliver permission for some 40 affordable homes in February 2011.
Knightstone Housing Association Headquarters The headquarters of an affordable housing provider are an important tool in their armoury when delivering an efficient and effective service. Following our successful appointment to the ASK (Aster Somer Knightstone) framework we were approached by Knightstone Housing Association (KHA) to deliver this flagship building. The brief Working closely with Thames Valley Housing requested a scheme that would sufficiently Association, the development makes the most reflect their standing as a diverse and of its prominent position on a main access contemporary affordable housing provider route for Bracknell Town Centre. A layout was and enable them to consolidate each of developed based on three linked apartment their regional operations into a single highly blocks that follow the curve of the western sustainable and efficient building. boundary, rising from two to four storeys high with setbacks that offer an opportunity to Located on a new prime gateway employment integrate soft and hard landscaping. site for Weston-Super-Mare, this building represents the beginning for the new Weston Gateway Business Park and at 40,000sqm In such an urban, busy location our priority represents one of the largest office deals in was to provide residents with enclosure and the south west. Our team of Planners and protection from the adjacent main road. Designers worked closely with KHA, North By using the building mass, we are able to Somerset Council and Weston-Super-Mare provide noise attenuation but also define to ensure the proposals offered maximum and protect a good degree of the private “ value to the wider scheme, the town and the and public amenity space, to create an occupants despite its status as a flood plain attractive, safe and secure environment.” and the presence of overhead power lines. Flood management and noise attenuation as Wayne Bridges, Project Architect. well as inherent sustainability informed and drove the architecture of our proposals from sketch designs through to realisation on site. Of the 40 homes, 28 are allocated for social rent, and 12 for shared ownership. Completion on site was celebrated in “Internally this building represented the February and with need as great as it is in consolidation of six Knightstone teams this area, the majority were allocated to local from across the South West and therefore residents before completion and occupation flexibility and efficiency of layout was is ongoing. central to its success. Arranged over three floors, open plan flexible layouts, conferencing facilities and diverse communal spaces combine with carefully considered external design elements such as Brise soleil, acoustic glazing and photovoltaic’s to deliver a BREEAM Very Good development which offers the maximum return both in terms of efficiency savings and maximised lettable floor area. Being able to check progress on a daily basis via the site cam was an additional bonus for all the team!” Jacques Toerien, Associate Architect. 25
the changing face of barton willmore Kim Morris, Planning Partner Kathryn Ventham, Planning Partner On the 1st April, two of our very accomplished and well respected planners – Kim Morris and Kathryn Ventham – were promoted to partners within the business. As well as their outstanding track records as successful planners they will offer a very welcome female presence on the partnership board. So please let us introduce you! A quick biography...… Kim Morris joined the practice as a Senior Planner in 2001 with a Masters of Civic Design from Liverpool, and a strong grounding in Planning from Reading Borough Council where her Development Management role had focused principally on the delivery of a retail revolution for the town in the form of The Oracle Shopping Centre.
Given you both began your careers in the public sector how has this assisted in your career? Kathryn:“It was really useful to build some idea of what it’s like on the other side of the fence. To see how that side works and the pressures they face. I’ve taken this into the private sector, I understand why officers react the way they do. I learned that when people say ‘I haven’t got time to do that’, there is actually someone else behind the scene focusing on what they’re measured on and their key targets.”
Kim: “I agree - when I was at Reading Borough Council as a junior planner, a lot of time was invested in training , so I gained a good grounding and knowledge of planning at a Local Authority perspective. However, Local Authorities are different places today; the Kathryn Ventham also joined us from the pressures of financing and redundancies public sector, gaining her invaluable public sector experience at Chiltern District Council. of the last few years mean they have lost many of their experienced long-standing The Severn Bridge toll had a crucial role to employees, and the ability to invest so much play in Kathryn’s career path, dissuading resource in training; so I certainly benefited her from taking on an International Politics in a way that newly qualified planners might Masters at Bristol, and instead pursuing not in the public sector today.” a Masters in Planning at home in Cardiff. Kathryn joined Barton Willmore in 2003 as a Senior Planner.
So to bring us up to date, what are you bringing to your new role as Partner? Kim: “I think there are two particular things: having progressed my career thus far in the Thames Valley, I bring a geographical focus and expertise in this area. It’s my home and my workplace, and I look forward to continuing to help shape it over the coming years. The Thames Valley is an exciting place with huge growth opportunities and potential, but it also has some quite significant challenges including infrastructure development, establishing and maintaining a regional profile, and continuing to attract and accommodate quality employers and residents to the region. We need to be one step ahead and I see my role as leading the team in anticipating these challenges and presenting solutions and opportunities for our clients. “Also, the fact that Kathryn and I are women brings a welcome new dynamic to the Partnership board. Not necessarily better, just different, and that’s important. We have a lot of really talented women working for Barton Willmore and to get that voice in leadership is really valuable.” Kathryn: “My focus is a sector one. I’ve spent the last 10 years in our Solihull team building up a strong residential sector base alongside mixed use developments, working closely with private and public sector clients such as Redrow Homes, Taylor Wimpey, St Modwen and Orbit Housing. This specialism sits nicely alongside our offices other work and allows Mark Sitch and I to bounce ideas off each other, but also feeds my passion for us to deliver a meaningful response to the UK’s chronic housing shortage and the distrust of and opposition to housing development that continues to dominate community responses. I constantly hear from communities that we aren’t building to meet our own needs but actually to accommodate national and international migration. Of course there is
an element of that, but the whole population of the UK is changing – we’re increasing massively, people are living longer, living separately, and we need more houses even without taking account of migration.” What do you hope to see for Barton Willmore in the future? Kim:“People are key to our business, and this is very important to me. To take Barton Willmore forward and build on our leading position in the industry, we have to continue to invest in our people. With our continued growth and increased presence, our staff have the opportunity to play to their individual strengths, and I am keen to help my team find those strengths and take them to the next level. Staff that can grow and develop to their strengths, in a challenging yet supportive environment, enable our clients to benefit from that stability and expertise. Fundamentally, I want people to be enjoying their job and I want to enjoy mine!” Kathryn: “As well as being enjoyable we also need to be proud of who we are and what we do. We are the largest independent Planning and Design consultancy and we dominate many sectors including my favourite, the residential industry. And this is not something to be ashamed of. Instead I would like to see us consolidate this position further, using it to influence and guide national legislation, and support delivery at all levels. Strength and depth in staff is essential if we are to continue in this vein and continue to expand our expertise into other specialist sectors such as retail and infrastructure.” Kim: “I agree, we need to be proud of our integrated Planning and Design services as they also offer us all a better understanding of the whole development picture, and provide a valuable combination to our clients, which is not available to the same degree elsewhere. As the focus on good design increases, it’s critical that as Planners we develop a strong appreciation of this aspect, and our multi disciplinary teams enable us to do that and to respond effectively to the changing emphasis in planning policy.”
Kathryn: “Absolutely! I have a current project which includes a village hall, and we needed to understand the costs involved with its construction. I asked our architects to sketch out proposals and our cost consultants to cost it out, and then went back to the client with really solid evidence which allowed them to make an informed decision. It’s great to have that capability in-house and has helped the Client enormously informing their commercial decisions.”
What is your most memorable project? (pop this in a coloured box?!) Kim: “One of mine would be the new Waitrose food store at Rickmansworth. This was one of the very first, if not the first Waitrose store to be built on top of a multi-storey car park which comprised two storeys of British Rail customer car parking, and two storeys of Waitrose food store car parking: a tricky combination, with a state-of-the-art food store on top. The site was constrained, not least by the need to reprovide the station car park; the railway and conservation area to the south and a large group of TPO’d trees to the north. The project was a classic balancing act of all the technical issues and constraints, and revolved around building a strong working relationship with the planning team at Three Rivers District Council. Collectively, we evolved the proposals to achieve a contemporary solution that balanced the operational needs of two uses - a client objective to provide a fresh and contemporary food store and the Council’s objectives to achieve a design solution that was sympathetic to the Conservation Area.” Kathryn: “Mine is Poppy Meadow in StratfordUpon-Avon. We were appointed to provide planning and community engagement services on day one on this 120 home scheme and undertook a large amount of engagement
after an initial refusal of reserved matters on design grounds, following the grant of outline planning permission on appeal. The resultant scheme, although not designed by us, is hugely improved, well supported and I’m really interested to see, once building is complete, if it looks like I, and the residents we worked with, imagined it would. Brilliantly, Stratford District would also like to use the consultation approach we adopted as an example of an exemplar approach, which is always flattering.”
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This magazine has been edited and designed by the Barton Willmore Marketing & Graphic Design Teams. This artwork was printed on paper using fibre sourced from sustainable plantation wood from suppliers who practise sustainable management of forests in line with strict international standards. Pulp used in its manufacture is also Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF).
www.bartonwillmore.co.uk 101 Victoria Street Bristol BS1 6PU T/ +44 (0)117 929 9677 Elizabeth House 1 High Street Chesterton Cambridge CB4 1WB T/ +44 (0)122 334 5555
12 Alva Street Edinburgh EH2 4QG T/ +44 (0)131 220 7777
3rd Floor 14 King Street Leeds LS1 2HL T/ +44 (0)113 204 4777
Beansheaf Farmhouse Bourne Close Calcot Reading RG31 7BW T/ +44 (0)118 943 0000
This magazine has been edited and designed by the Barton Willmore Marketing & Graphic Design Teams. This artwork was printed on paper using fibre sourced from sustainable plantation wood from suppliers who practise sustainable management of forests in line with strict international standards. Pulp used in its manufacture is also Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF).
ISSUE 09 / 2013 Greyfriars House Greyfriars Road Cardiff CF10 3AL T/ +44 (0)292 066 0910 The Observatory Southfleet Road Ebbsfleet Dartford Kent DA10 0DF T/ +44 (0)132 237 4660
7 Soho Square London W1D 3QB T/ +44 (0)207 446 6888 Tower 12 18/22 Bridge Street Spinningfields Manchester M3 3BZ T/ +44 (0)161 817 4900
Regent House Princeâ€™s Gate 4 Homer Road Solihull B91 3QQ T/ +44 (0)121 711 5151
the magazine for