Planning in London ISSUU ed pil116 JANUARY-MARCH 2021

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The Journal of the London Planning & Development Forum Issue 116 January-March 2021.

LEADERS page 5 CLIPBOARD page 19 ¡PILLO! page 21 PLANNING PERFORMANCE p22 ANDY ROGERS page 26 BOOKS: Sir Terry Farrell p59

A BID FOR THE CITY Andrew Reynolds on plans for a dynamic recovery page 44 The White Paper, beauty and planning – design codes, new permitted development rights, the London Plan: LP&DF planning update page 30 THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO DEVELOPMENT IN THE CAPITAL

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page 5 LEADERS Time to level up – south of the Thames; Planning after the pandemic 7 HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE New plan to build a temporary double-decker crossing within the existing structure 9 STAY AT HOME... with updated Monopoly! 11 OPINIONS Creative ways to build a property portfolio - Stephanie Taylor; Planning reforms - Stuart Andrews and Matt Nixon; Architecture and fire safety - Thomas Bradley; Affordable homes - Anthony Ratcliffe; Planning reforms Matt Shillito

STAY AT HOME... with updated Monopoly! page 9

16 BRIEFING PINS Appeal performance; London Plan - The tortuous process will soon come to an end… 19 CLIPBOARD Shrinking London; Overall housing starts slump; Fast track for public services; Deloitte’s Crane survey Winter ‘20 21 ¡PILLO! Those irritating journalists; Swap car parks for 80,000 homes; Just build less; The Tide Line; Streetspace for London


22 PLANNING PERFORMANCE Decisions down 11-25% on a year earlier while applications recover 26 ANDY ROGERS To be or not to be beautiful, that is the question 30 LONDON PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT FORUM Planning update: The White Paper, beauty and planning – design codes, new permitted development rights, London Plan 40 THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORT IN LONDON Chris Williamson 44 A BID FOR THE CITY Andrew Reynolds 47 LIVE LOCAL PLAN MONITOR Peter Canavan

A BID FOR THE CITY Andrew Reynolds page 44

50 HOUSING NEED Matthew Spry & Bethan Haynes

Continues next page >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> 54 MUTANT ALGORITHM, STANDARD METHOD Simon Ricketts 57 SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS Rich Murphy 59 BOOKS: Lives In Architecture His autobiography introduced by Sir Terry Farrell 60 SIR TERENCE CONRAN Tim Bowder-Ridger 65 DIRECTORY Planning and Environment Reference Guide 68 SUBSCRIPTION FORM 69 SHAPING LONDON Russ Hamilton 71 ADVICE: Consultants and services

THE VALUE OF VOLUME Russ Hamilton page 69

To celebrate architects and urban planners Metropolitan Workshop’s 15th anniversary, we’ve invited thinkers and doers from the built environment to contribute to our new podcast series Reshaped. It features 15 ten-minute episodes 昀lled with inspiration for making the post-pandemic world a better place.

Go to our website: ‘Research’ to listen, or scan the QR code here:

Publishing Editors: Brian Waters, Paul Finch and Lee Mallett,

ISSN 1366-9672 (PRINT) ISSN 2053-4124 (DIGITAL) Issue 116 January-March 2021

The London Planning and Development Forum (LPDF) The LPDF was formed in 1980 following an all-party inquiry into the development control system. It selects topics to debate at its quarterly meetings and these views are reported to constituent bodies. It is a sounding board for the development of planning policy in the capital, used by both the public and private sector. Agendas and minutes are at To attend please advise hon. secretary Drummond Robson: The LPDF is administered by: Honorary Secretary: Drummond Robson MRTPI,


Planning in London

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Contributors write in a personal capacity. Their views are not necessarily those of The London Development & Planning Forum or of their organisations. Correspondence and contributions are invited for consideration. The editors reserve the right to edit material and letters supplied.  Made on a Mac



Time to level up – south of the Thames Curiously, since he hails from Tooting, Mayor Khan seems happy to make life increasingly difficult for anyone who wants to cross the river

Planning in London has been published and edited by Brian Waters, Lee Mallett and Paul Finch since 1992

Not surprisingly, the idea of ‘fairness’ is being discussed widely in the context of the new world envisaged once we have all been vaccinated. Changed priorities are assumed to be a matter of course following a reassessment of what really matters in life when health is a greater priority than economic success, and fighting inequality (however defined) becomes a political consensus which will, inevitably, have consequences for planning. One of the characteristics of current discussion about the future is the proposition that unique inequalities attached themselves to specific sectors of society, and therefor required targeted assistance. This is in direct contradiction of the long-standing mantra that public policy should be about the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’. The latter proposition is colour- and class-blind, up to a point. Facilities such as parks, libraries and swimming pools, quite apart from schools and hospitals, are available to all. They are public spaces par excellence. Any robust public planning policy should be based on the provision of community assets which are available to all – and spending should be geared to that end. Similarly, investment in transport should surely be aimed at the creation of additional facilities for all, irrespective of sociological factors which, in any event, are never static. By the time Crossrail 2 is completed, which may be decades later than originally intended, London will be a very different city to the one we know today – in the same way that it is fundamentally different to what was envisaged when the Elizabeth Line (or Crossrail 1, even the names change) was first envisaged. Transport infrastructure is impeccable in its neutral attitude to race, gender and class. However, decision-makers about where and what is built are, of course, subject to all the political pressures inevitable in the running of a world city. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that mayoral policies in relation to transport linking London across the Thames are based on a profound belief that the less connection, the better it is. The recent ongoing shambles over the closure of Hammersmith Bridge is only part of the story. The closure of London Bridge to ordinary road traffic and the increasing restrictions on road access to bridges generally is part of a weird policy, never explicitly stated, to make it increasingly difficult to cross the river in a convenient way unless you happen to have access to the Undeground, which is massively disproportionately geared to Londoners who live north of the river. Unsurprisingly, the anti-bridgebuilding attitude established when Sadiq Khan reversed his support for the garden bridge project has continued to blight other cross-river initiatives: not just a rational replacement for Hammersmith bridge, but also the abandonment of the Rotherhithe Park/Canary Wharf pedestrian and cycle bridge, and the recent announcement that plans for a similar bridge from Nine Elms to Pimlico are ‘under review’. For which read ‘scrapped’. Curiously, since he hails from Tooting, Mayor Khan seems happy to make life increasingly difficult for anyone who wants to cross the river. What is his problem? n >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Planning after the pandemic Planning's primary function has evolved to arbitrate competing interests for land use. Yet its origins lay in envisioning better places

Now's the time in the darkest hours before a vaccinated dawn for some re-thinking amid the 'creative destruction' Covid-19 has unleashed, accelerating pre-existing trends brought on by the tech-driven 'Fourth industrial revolution'. Nowhere more so than in urbanism and planning, with enforced localism, High Streets and big box retailing in intensive care, city cores depopulated and all bets off on whether working practices will revive or condemn them. A series of 20 podcasts launched by architects Metropolitan Workshop called Reshaped contains pointers for rethinking aspects of urbanism and planning. Planning's primary function has evolved to arbitrate competing interests for land use. Yet its origins lay in envisioning better places. Our new big idea for that is ironically a suspiciously succinct French import that has slipped past customs from fog-bound Continental friends in Paris. The 15-minute neighbourhood is a lovely idea to which we can all subscribe. But as Professor Paul Chatterton of Leeds University points out in his Reshaped episode, it might turn out to be a supercarrier of the gentrification virus, as privileged vocal communities reap advantage while poorer communities get left behind. And what use are self-contained 15-minute arrondissements if the transport arteries of a city like London remain fossilised in centuries-old sediments of a hub and spoke format? Without improved lateral connectivity to spread economic, social and cultural sustainability between these new neighbourhoods, will London's jaded suburbs remain fixed in aspic while the centre rots? You can't just look at a neighbourhood, you need to think about the city-wide eco-system in which it exists. But the 15-minute neighbourhood is nevertheless an opportunity to rethink planning and its primary objects in a way people can engage with. Then there is the lip-service paid to community engagement – a term that at least has evolved from the fait accompli of 'consultation'. Several London-based speakers in the series expound the virtues of new ways to make participation meaningful. But Newham's elected mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, has taken the idea a stage further. She describes in her episode how she is using community engagement, driven by experiences with estate residents, to shape broader policy and delivery of services. Engagement specialist Daisy Froud also talks about the need for 'bigger public conversations' about the issues we fear most - climate change, housing, economic opportunity – to drive headline policy. Our planning system is democratic. To make it meaningful, democracy must be alive and kicking if there is to be trust in it. And what of tech's impact on planning and urbanism? Professor Abel Maciel of the Bartlett's Faculty of the Built Environment tells the most revolutionary story. Blockchain encryption, AI and machine learning will shortly enable a world of ubiquitous digital truths that cannot be tampered with. Good news for American and democratic elections everywhere. But also transformational evidence-based tools with which to plan London and the UK. That is if it remains united. n Reshaped: new thinking in planning and urbanism podcasts can be found at: The series is directed by Lee Mallett


Planning in London


New plan to build a temporary double-decker crossing within the existing structure of Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Foster and Partners unveil new plans for Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Sir John Ritblat from Delancey, and architects and engineers Foster + Partners have unveiled a radical new plan to build a temporary double-decker crossing within the existing structure of Hammersmith Bridge that has been closed fully on safety grounds since 13th August. Under the proposal, pedestrians, cyclists and, potentially, motor vehicles could be using the bridge, with river traffic passing underneath, within a year of a contractor being appointed. A new raised truss structure would be built above the existing road deck featuring a lower level for pedestrians and cyclists and an upper level for cars and buses. H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan has outlined details of the proposed plan to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and urged the government to give it full consideration.

Sir John Ritblat approached Foster + Partners to develop an alternative plan for the bridge after Stephen Cowan asked for Sir John’s assistance following the bridge’s closure in August. The concept plan designed by Foster + Partners and further developed with specialist bridge engineers COWI, has been presented to Department of Transport officials. Initial estimates suggest the temporary crossing would allow the strengthening and stabilisation works to the 133-year-old heritage bridge to be completed at a cost lower than the current £141million estimate. The raised deck would enable existing approach routes for traffic to be used, causing minimum disruption for residents on both banks of the river. The structure will also provide support for the bridge as well as a safe platform for restoration work to be carried out. >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Proposed TemporBSy Crossing Launched Over Existing Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge Proposal


There would be no load added to the existing bridge deck which would be removed in stages for repair. Contractors would use the new lower pedestrian deck to access the works. When completed, the temporary raised deck would be removed. Elements of the Grade II* listed bridge that need repair, including pedestals, anchors and chains, would be lifted away using the temporary bridge and transported by barges to an off-site facility for safe repair and restoration. By repairing the bridge off-site, the huge task of restoration can be done at greater speed, to a higher level and at significantly reduced cost. It would also minimise noise, environmental impact and onsite activity, as well as reducing the all-important carbon footprint of the works. Historic England approval would need to be sought for this scheme which enables the bridge to be restored to its original Victorian splendour with fewer constraints. Cllr Cowan said: “I am extremely grateful to Sir John Ritblat for responding to our call for help so comprehensively. The Foster + Partners and the COWI design team have developed an exciting and imaginative initiative which has the very strong possibility of providing a quicker and better value solu-


Planning in London

November 2020

• Raised deck envisages temporary crossing for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists • Faster and cheaper than previous plans • Transport Secretary given outline brief by Council Leader tion than any of the other proposals. “Our engineers have held positive and constructive talks with Foster + Partners and COWI. I am optimistic that we now have a viable option within our grasp that is a win for all. I commend it to the Government in the hope that it will be the catalyst for real progress in funding all the necessary works to the bridge. “We have been exploring a variety of options since the initial closure to motor traffic in 2019 and now have a proposal which potentially meets our objectives of a fast track, lower cost, lower noise, lower emission solution that would lead to an earlier reopening of the bridge. “I was pleased to be able to deliver the news of

© Foster + Partners

the project to the Secretary of State and look forward to working with his Taskforce to find a solution that works for everyone impacted by the bridge’s closure.” Luke Fox, Senior Executive Partner at Foster + Partners, said: “We are excited to propose this simple and sustainable solution to this important missing piece of London’s infrastructure that also gives the opportunity to bring back to life a beautiful and iconic bridge by Sir Joseph Bazalgette.” Roger Ridsdill Smith, head of Structural Engineering at Foster + Partners, said: “We believe that our concept resolves the two challenges for Hammersmith Bridge economically and efficiently: delivering a temporary crossing quickly, whilst providing a safe support to access and refurbish the existing bridge. We appreciate the engagement and contribution from the technical experts in charge of the bridge and look forward to further studies to develop the scheme.” David MacKenzie, Executive Director at COWI, said: “We consider that this approach is practical and viable. Our experience is that offsite refurbishment of bridge structures is safer and more controlled, and results in a higher quality final outcome when the structure is re-installed.” n


STAY AT HOME... with updated Monopoly! AÂ new study has found the board would be significantly different if the 1936 London board was updated to reflect modern-day prices in the capital.


Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> An Around The Board Tour, from Barratt London, has found that only six of the 22 locations on the board would remain in the same place, with The Angel Islington climbing the most positions from the light blue squares to the greens, a 15 space jump. • The Angel Islington would be joined in the green positions by Marlborough Street, which enjoys a 10 space jump, the second-largest climb, and The Strand which completed the top three in terms of climbing in value, welcoming a seven space jump. • Oxford Street, green on the original board, leapfrogs Mayfair to occupy the most expensive place on the board, with Park

RIGHT: How the Monopoly board would look in 2020 The number of places each property would move on the board if they were to be ordered based on modern day average house prices as calculated by Barratt London


Planning in London

Lane maintaining its position as the second most expensive square on the board. • Similarly, Old Kent Road and Whitechapel Road remain as the two cheapest locations on the Monopoly board, with Fleet Street making one of the biggest drops (eight) from the red spaces to the light blues, joining Pentonville Road and Euston Road, which remain in the same colour bracket. • Bond Street would also drop by eight spaces into the red spaces, while Mayfair makes the biggest drop, joining Bow Street and Pall Mall in the orange positions, a drop of 11. You can explore the full board at new-homes/london/around-the-board-tour. n


Creative ways to build a property portfolio Stephanie Taylor debunks the myth that you need large sums of money to get started in property When starting in the property market I had almost no money to invest so I needed strategies to allow me to build my property businesses without a large lump sum of capital. Many people in London are in the same position currently. Deposits are high yet mortgages are at some of their lowest rates. And there are many properties for sale due to the coronavirus backlog and stamp duty changes. So how do you get started? Here are the three strategies I used to go from almost nothing to building a million-pound property portfolio in just three years. Rent to Rent The first strategy I used to get my property portfolio off the ground was by becoming a property manager for house shares. I’d rent a property, take on the bills, work to make it a comfortable home, and then rent to someone else. Adding value allowed me to charge a higher rent than I was paying. This cashflow enabled me to save for deposits to buy my own property. It’s not really an investment strategy but an ethical way to make money from properties without buying them. Of course, you need to find landlords who are willing to allow you to sublet the property and properties that could use some TLC so that you are adding value. It’s all about creating beautiful affordable homes Londoners will love to live in. Working ethically to add value for both tenants and landlords is the foundation of rent to rent. Lease Options Lease options are actually a combination of two agreements: the lease and the option. The lease is the agreement with the owner to rent out the property to tenants in return for a monthly payment. The option is the price agreed to buy the property at a later date, if you choose to. A lease option typically involves the following four elements: • an option fee, also known as a ‘consideration’, that you pay upfront • your monthly payment (the lease) • an agreed purchase price (the option) • an agreed purchase-by date (you can purchase

before this date) Now, you may be asking: Why would a seller agree to sell their property and then wait five years or more to be fully paid for it? The most common reason is that a seller is in negative equity; the property has reduced in value, yet they still have a mortgage to pay off. By agreeing a lease option, they get their mortgage covered which can help them return to positive equity. Another common reason is that sometimes the seller wants to move more quickly than the standard property sale process allows, such as for work relocation. A lease option gives them the opportunity to move now without losing money on their property. We go into a more detailed explanation of lease options in our podcast: https:// Let’s take a worked example of a lease option: David bought a property at the height of the market in 2007 for £300,000. By 2016, the value had dropped to £250,000, leaving David in negative equity and set to lose around £50,000 if he’d sold it. Also, the property was costing him £800-£1,000 per month. David first used Rent 2 Rent Success to cover his mortgage and we made the property look incredible, moving in some more tenants. After a few months, the property had regained some value and David was keen to sell. A lease option then made perfect sense. David got his mortgage assured for a few more years and then got a hassle-free sale for a price he was happy with. We got to buy the property without needing a big mortgage or deposit. Lease options can be ideal if the conditions are right for buyer and seller. Unfortunately, this can make them hard to find and settle on an agreement. Look for anyone wanting to move quickly and/or who may be in negative equity as they’re most likely to benefit from a lease option. Exchange with Delayed Completion An exchange with delayed completion is similar to a lease option. You contract with a seller to buy their property, on or before, a specified date at a specified purchase price. Unlike lease options, how-


Stephanie Taylor is cofounder of Rent 2 Rent Success

ever, you have an obligation rather than an option to buy it by the agreed date. Let’s take another worked example: A couple decided to start selling off their small portfolio as they approached retirement, while avoiding the usual hassle of selling. We, the buyer, agreed on a purchase price, in this case £160,000, and a five-year completion date. We paid an option fee of £16,000 up front (although this can be as little as £1) with monthly payments of £320, leaving a balance of £124,800 after five years. The couple got a lump sum, a predictable monthly income, and a definite sale price/date. We, the buyer, benefitted from renting out a property, generating income, and eventually purchasing the property without a 30% deposit or any of the usual hassle. Using these strategies, you could start your own property portfolio with less money than you might expect. n about:blank

Stephanie Taylor is co-founder of HMO Heaven and Rent 2 Rent Success. She launched Rent 2 Rent Success to help professionals who want to get involved in property, but feel stuck as they’re worried they don’t have enough time, money or knowledge to get started. Through her Rent 2 Rent Success YouTube channel, podcast and website, Stephanie debunks the myth that you need large sums of money to get started in property. Her book ‘Rent to Rent Success – Our ethical 6-step system to get started in property without buying it’ will be published in this month. Find out more 1 Learn about Rent to Rent from the government’s property ombudsman The Property Redress Scheme 2 Find out how to do rent to rent ethically with the Free Rent 2 Rent Success Guide and Masterclass 3 Join our supportive community at Rent 2 Rent Success Secrets on Facebook.

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Planning reforms: a London perspective The White Paper is quite right in trying to draw planning back to its core principles and objectives, say Stuart Andrews and Matt Nixon, but it must face up to the politics The White Paper Planning for the Future proposes significant changes to the planning system in London. One such change is that local areas will develop streamlined plans for land to be designated into three categories: • Growth areas “will back development”. • Renewal areas “will be suitable for some development - where it is high-quality”. • Protected areas “will be just that”. From a London perspective, this could be business as usual as the existing plan system already allocates land for different developments and the proposed ‘zoning system’ is not a massive departure. What is not clear, is what role the London Plan or other spatial development strategies outside the capital will have in this new world. Also, as development management policies will now be found in a revised national policy framework it is not yet clear how this would operate alongside the policies currently in the London Plan. The novel twist is the suggestion that in areas of ‘growth’, land will be allocated for development and the opportunity will then exist for the designated land to have ‘permission in principle’ (PiP) with no further controls save for complying with a masterplan and design codes. This could be a tidy proposition, if at the time the site is allocated, you know the full extent of its impact and the measures needed to regulate, mitigate and control development. Not an impossible task, but one that will require substantial upfront investment, resource and commitment. So far, from a public service perspective there are no promises being made and in all prospect the burden and risk will rest entirely with the development industry. Local authorities will also be directed as to ‘policy on’ binding housing requirements for their areas, which we are told will take account of land constraints. This will on current analysis substantially increase the numbers in London and the South East and such is the politics of planning that it has already been mistakenly badged as an ‘algorithm’. Whilst, the details of the methodology is not yet known, it is clear that those making the calculation


Planning in London

will have to take great care in areas that have, in the past, proven difficult to calibrate localised constraints. You only need to look at the Inspectors’ comments to the draft New London Plan in respect of brownfield land to see the pitfalls of trying to robustly provide estimates on capacity. Whilst it is not an impossible task for London boroughs to find the ‘growth’ land to satisfy the central government housing figures, constrained environments needs careful planning, meaningful consultation and a balanced judgement in delivery of urbanised and inevitably compacted growth. Inevitably, there is clearly a great deal of work to be done. Add the PiP dimension and planning in London moves from being an administrative process to an art form. It is akin to comparing cooking, with the production of a banquet in a Michelin star restaurant. The ‘duty to cooperate’ is removed in the White Paper, but adjoining authorities can still prepare joint plans and thereby agree alternative housing distributions. This is welcomed, but it does mean that the

London planning is completely entwined with the politics of London. It is complex, messy and sometimes it needs to be too. wider distribution of numbers will become an exercise of goodwill rather than prescription. You can reach your own judgement on the prospects of surrounding authorities accepting the overflow of numbers from London, but the current track record doesn’t make for a compelling argument. The process of developer contributions is also under review. The current process involves complex discussions in establishing the legal commitments to deliver roads, schools etc. on-site or through off-site contributions. The White Paper quite rightly describes this as a system of cost, delay and uncertainty.

Stuart Andrews [ABOVE], National Head of Planning and Infrastructure Consenting, and Matt Nixon [RIGHT], Principal Associate, Planning and Infrastructure Consenting, Eversheds Sutherland

The suggested answer is a “new Levy to raise more revenue”. The proposition being a tax on new development that is collected by the local authority and then applied to secure the necessary infrastructure and facilities. It’s so simple you can only wonder why no one thought of it before? But hold on, they did, and it has been in existence since 2010 in the form of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations. Here too any London borough can abandon S.106 Agreements and can put it all into CIL and then collect and apply those funds as a tax on development. Not one Council has picked up that bat and ball in 8 years. The reason is simple, it requires cash strapped Councils to guess at the delivery of development, fund in anticipation of receipts and then sit and wait for the funds to roll in to meet their advanced spending. Just imagine your career prospects if you unknowingly invited your Councillors to pursue that policy just before a global pandemic. The short point is that London planning is completely entwined with the politics of London. It is complex, messy and sometimes it needs to be too. The White Paper is quite right in trying to draw planning back to its core principles and objectives, but it can only combat the politics in planning by facing up to the fact that is what it is really all about. n


Architecture: why evolution needs to be about fire safety Innovation should always be applauded but it’s the health and safety of high-rise occupants that needs to be the priority, says Thomas Bradley

It’s easy to think that architecture as we know it today was created by the ancient Greeks or Romans. But you only have to look at pre-historic structures, such as Stonehenge or the Nuragic monuments in Sardinia, to see how far back it goes. The premise of architecture is to create timeless spaces for life’s activities. At its core, these structures can help to improve human life. As time has moved on, so too has the evolution of architectural style. Every generation sees a wave of new ideas and innovations that create exciting homes and workplaces. But while fire safety isn’t everyone’s first thought when they think of architecture, it’s something that needs to be just that in the current climate. Today’s topic of discussion is around the evolution of architecture, the fire safety factor that is influencing change, and what the future may look like for high-rise buildings with the industry still under the spotlight following the Grenfell Tower fire back in 2017. History of the high-rise structure The first high-rise buildings were constructed in the United States back in the 1880s. They were positioned in urban areas where high-cost land prices and greater population density created a demand for buildings that rose vertically rather than horizontally. The use of steel structural frames and glass exterior sheathing made them practical. By the 20th century, they became a standard feature as an architectural landscape in countries across the world. In the UK, high-rise buildings were primarily used to address the housing shortage following World War II. The rate of population outgrew the supply of housing, so the ‘streets in the sky’ approach was favoured by architects and planners. Between the end of the war and the early 90s, over 6,500 multi-storey blocks of six floors or more were built in the UK. Commercial high-rise developments have followed a similar trend and pattern to residential property, with densely-populated cities relying on tall buildings to create office space big enough to get value for money when securing sparsely available land. Some of the most expensive building developments in the modern day are high-rise and multi-func-


tional, like the Shard in London, with the 306-metre tall structure even featuring a hotel.

Fire safety influencing design The planning, design, and construction phases of an architectural project are not as straightforward as coming up with an idea and seeing it become a reality through bricks and mortar. Many factors impact how an architect comes up with the design and practicality of a structure that will have longevity. Some of the most common factors include climate, culture, environment, technology, imagination and the materials available to complete a project. But with the introduction of new fire safety legislation comes the importance of factoring in fire safety into the architectural process. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) recently introduced a new educational framework focused on fire safety that would be “the biggest shake-up of the profession since the 1950s”. With government pressure in wake of the Grenfell Tower fire and growing concern around climate change, the framework signifies a different approach for architectural education that will have a greater emphasis on life safety, with fire safety playing a big part of the focus. The first mandatory competence of the course – health and life safety, including fire safety – will be introduced in 2021. Architects will be expected to pass a test to prove their competence. It’s a sign that the future won’t just be about technology, innovation, and buildings that will look beyond their years. It will predominately be focused on the correct use of architectural cladding, the following of safety regulations, and the overall consideration for human wellbeing when designing and delivering projects.

the enquiry into the fire that he had not read sections of Approved Document B – the fire safety advice found in the UK government's Building Regulations 2010. Sounes also hadn’t read the document's specific fire safety guidance for buildings over 18-metres tall and was unaware that aluminium cladding panels were combustible – despite their regular use as a way to create more energy-efficient buildings. The fire has brought the conversation around cladding into the forefront of people’s minds, as the media – and those left living in buildings where cladding has been found to be unsafe – are left to question what happens next. To put it into context, the government admitted in June that they didn’t know how many of the 85,000 buildings between 11 and 18 feet still had unsafe cladding. And while this doesn’t take into account commercial properties that sit above 18 feet tall, it does give an overview of the current problem faced in the world of architecture and construction – with high-rise buildings in London alone set to cost £4 billion to rectify. The price to pay for not putting fire safety first is not only financial but one that can have a devastating impact on the lives of many. While modern design and innovation should never be sacrificed, neither should the health and safety of those occupying commercial and residential property. n

The need for evolution to continue Innovation should always be applauded. But it’s the health and safety of high-rise occupants that always needs to be priority number one. Back in March, Bruce Sounes, an associate architect at Studio E – who had a role in managing the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in 2015 and 2016 – told


Thomas Bradley is a copywriter working with Sotech

Issue 116 January-March 2021



A better option for affordable homes Provision of affordable homes in London should be the remit of housing associations and local authorities says Anthony Ratcliffe In May 2018, Sadiq Khan’s office published The Mayor of London’s London Housing Strategy, stating that, under his administration, affordable homes planning consents had increased from 13 per cent to over 30 per cent and that from 2017, more than 12,500 affordable homes were being built. He confirmed that he had secured over £4.8 billion from central government for affordable housing investment, with a target of delivering 116,000 affordable homes by 2022. His strategy would “take appropriate action to unblock stalled housing sites and increase the speed of building,” whilst also continuing to protect the Green Belt and open spaces, “with a long-term strategic target that half of London’s new homes would be genuinely affordable,” by some unstated date in the future. In May 2019, City Hall reported that 14,544 affordable homes were started in 2018/2019, which was more than in any year since it had taken control of London’s housing investment. Nevertheless, this falls well short of the 65,000 annual new homes requirement the Report targets. Why do we have a housing crisis in the UK, and in London in particular? It is because for years we have built fewer and fewer homes. From 1951 for 31 consecutive years, more than 200,000 houses were built in the UK every single year. Since 1990, that 200,000 mark has only been exceeded in five years. What happened to create such a shortfall, whereby over the last 30 years, less than half of the new homes requirements has actually been built? In the writer’s opinion, the single major contributing factor has been the introduction by the Blair Administration of the Affordable Housing Requirement, which has reduced supply, increased costs, and delayed delivery. A developer, having acquired or optioned a site, then wastes two or more years negotiating the Local Authority’s unviable 50 per cent Affordable Housing demand, down to a viable 15 per cent to 20 per cent, before a brick is laid. Interest charges and professional fees increase in this tortuous process, swelling the development cost and the required home sale price as a consequence. The Affordable Housing Requirement should be abol-


Planning in London

ished and replaced by a levy per consented housing unit, at a level set by the Local Authority, having regard to local house values, with the monies ringfenced, and then applied to the development of social housing on more suitable sites. Also, the developer should pay an additional escalating levy if its development has not started within two years of consent being granted. In the real world, the rich do not want to live next to the poor, and the poor do not want to live next to the rich. A levy per consented unit scheme will more effectively make the rich pay for the privilege of funding housing for the poor to live elsewhere, and ideally just a short bus ride away, so that the jobs created on the ‘rich’ estate can be conveniently reached.

A developer, having acquired or optioned a site, then wastes two or more years negotiating the local authority’s unviable 50 per cent affordable housing demand down to a viable 15 to 20 per cent, before a brick is laid. The provision of affordable homes should be the remit of the housing associations and the local authorities, and not the responsibility of the private sector housing developers, whose contribution should just be tax-based. Developers should be permitted to build what the market requires; whether that is flats, starter or family homes, should be determined by their expertise and market demand. The pledge to always protect the Green Belt is an error. It contains significant areas of unattractive land which should be developed and replaced by more attractive land that is presently outside the Green Belt designation and therefore inadequately protected. In addition to the abolition of the Affordable

Anthony Ratcliffe is the founding Partner of Ratcliffes Chartered Surveyors which is in its 50th Year

Housing Requirement, the following steps should be taken: 1 Appoint a leading figure from the housing industry as National Housing Tsar, with sweeping powers to override local Planning Officers and Councillors, as well as Government Planning Inspectors, and with a remit to deliver 250,000 new homes a year. Fire him/her after three years, if they are not on track. 2 Allow all pension schemes to again invest in residential property, without restriction. 3 Improve the tax breaks to encourage commercial Landlords to convert their properties to residential use. 4 Amend height restrictions in urban areas adjoining strong infrastructure and transport links, permitting two storey properties to be redeveloped as 4/6 storeys, whilst requiring an increased green footprint as public benefit. This would significantly increase London’s housing supply. 5 Phase in Stamp Duty reductions back to a half per cent level, thereby restoring mobility to the market and discouraging disruptive basement extensions and inappropriate loft conversions. Replace the lost revenue by introducing a long overdue higher Council Tax banding. It is indefensible that in England these have been unchanged since their introduction in 1991, whilst house prices have trebled. A top band householder pays less than an average £50 per week in Council Tax, whether his house is worth £320,000, £3.2 million, or £32 million. These measures applied over a five-year period, without political interference, would deliver the one million plus additional homes needed Nationally, including the 300,000 plus required for London, as well as a much needed correction in rampant rent and house price inflation. n


Planning reforms: it’s time to think ‘big’ Realistically, the breadth and depth of the proposed reforms is the work of a decade. They need to be treated as such, says Matt Shillito I confess to initially feeling a little daunted, deep into the challenging summer of 2020, by the arrival of the Government’s plans to reform the planning system in England – “Planning for the Future”. The Prime Minister’s foreword promises “Radical reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War”, nothing less than “a whole new planning system for England” to be built “from the ground up”. For once the hyperbole might be justified – if carried through, the changes would leave almost no aspect of the current system untouched. But as the weeks have passed, I’ve warmed to the idea of a complete overhaul. Certainly, as a day-today participant, it’s clear that the current system isn’t working for anyone. It’s overly complex and sometimes opaque, delivering outcomes that are unpredictable and too often disappointing. Communities find themselves excluded and short-changed, council planners are overwhelmed and under-appreciated, and developers frequently frustrated and uncertain. So, in a spirit of optimism, here’s a brief look at a few of the key proposals which have the potential to lead to positive change in London and elsewhere. Simple, spatial, accessible plans The Government wants plans to be shorter, simpler and more visual. They are to identify land under just three categories: “Growth” areas suitable for “substantial development” where outline approval would be automatically secured for certain forms and types of development; “Renewal” areas suitable for some development such as “gentle densification”; and “Protected” areas where development is generally restricted. It’s clearly impossible to reduce the glorious complexity of a city like London into three “zones”, but a simpler and more explicit spatial vision for the capital would be a welcome successor to the New London Plan, which weighs in at 527 almost entirely textbased pages. This should positively shape and direct growth to the city’s activity nodes and transportation corridors, and establish clear, succinct policies on the most pressing issues - climate change, affordability, and economic resilience. Creating such a plan would also be a great opportunity to employ the full potential of new technolo-

gy to capture the imagination and priorities of young people, minority and low-income communities who can so easily be left out of the critical conversations about city building.

Design codes with bite Much is made in the White Paper of the need to cut red tape, deliver quicker decisions and enable more homes to be built. This is balanced by a desire for a much greater focus on building “beautifully” and sustainably. The quantity-versus-quality tension is to be resolved through locally prepared design codes, produced with “genuine community consultation” and made binding on planning decisions.

It’s clearly impossible to reduce the glorious complexity of a city like London into three “zones”, but a simpler and more explicit spatial vision for the capital would be a welcome successor to the New London Plan, which weighs in at 527 almost entirely textbased pages Given that broad development rights are to be conferred in principle by the adoption of development plans, the new system will place enormous reliance on design codes to deliver good places. This is both a great opportunity and a huge challenge. The opportunity lies in the potential for a renewed focus on the power of thoughtfully designed, engaging and attractive places to lift the spirits now and engender pride for generations to come. The challenge will be to discern and communicate what constitutes good design across all the London’s diverse localities, get the buy-in of local people and then give the codes real “bite” in the

Matt Shillito is a Director at Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design

detailed application process. This will require Boroughs to deploy highly-skilled design professionals and great tenacity in the face of competing priorities. A significant programme of training and investment will surely be needed.

A single levy to deliver public goods The White Paper promises to replace both the current system of planning obligations (secured through S106 Agreements) and the Community Infrastructure Levy with a nationally set, valuebased flat rate charge payable on the occupation of development. The stated aim is to raise more revenue than under the current system and deliver at least as much – if not more – on-site affordable housing as at present. In London, the Mayoral CIL could be retained to fund strategic infrastructure. For anyone charged with navigating a course through the complexity and uncertainty of the existing regulations, this is perhaps one of the most superficially attractive proposals. The greater clarity and certainty of a set rate would be beneficial to all parties once it factors into land values. Ending the protracted rounds of negotiation and re-negotiation would speed up decision-making. However, calibrating the rate to capture enough value to fund the public goods that are so vital to creating complete communities without discouraging development will be a delicate art. Realistically, the breadth and depth of the proposed reforms is the work of a decade. They need to be treated as such – thought through in detail, properly funded, and broadly based enough to survive short-term political cycles. But maybe this is the time to think big – a proactive, design-led planning system led by a confident public sector, communities in all their diversity given a real voice and a clear set of rules giving the development industry the certainty it needs. n

Issue 116 January-March 2021




Appeals and timeliness A new statistical release from PINS (the Planninig Inspectorate) provides summary information on appeals, which represent the highest volume (in terms of number of cases) of the work of the Planning Inspectorate. Released at the end of November, it also provides a general overview of the impact of the Covid pandemic on the work of the Planning Inspectorate to enable everyone to see the effect of the restrictions on performance. These statistics will be produced each month to allow anyone to see how the Inspectorate is performing. The focus is on timeliness as that is an area in which stakeholders have an interest. Information on the decisions that we have made is also included; and on the number of Inspectors available to make those decisions. They have been published to ensure everyone has equal access to the information and to support the Planning Inspectorate’s commitment to release information where possible. The statistical bulletin provides: • An overview of the impact of Covid on the work of the Inspectorate • Appeals decisions from November 2019 to October 2020 • The time taken to reach those decisions • Number of open cases • Number of Inspectors • Number of virtual events. The data is only applicable to England. The Planning Inspectorate The Planning Inspectorate’s job is to make decisions and provide recommendations and advice on a range of land use planning-related issues across England and Wales. We do this in a fair, open and timely way. It deals with planning appeals, national infrastructure planning applications, examinations of local plans and other planning-related and specialist casework in England and Wales. The Planning Inspectorate is an executive agency, sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and the Welsh Government.


Planning in London


LEFT: Mean Average - The total time taken divided by the number of cases. Also referred to as the ‘average’. A measure of how long each case would take, if the total time taken was spread evenly across all cases. Median - The middle value, if the times are sorted. This means that half the cases take less then this time; and half the cases take more. Decisions – number of decisions made. Please note that the times given here are measured from the time an appeal which we are able to progress (‘valid’) to the time a decision is issued. The smaller the number of decisions, the less helpful the mean and median are as measures for summarising performance. Particular care should be taken when there are fewer than twenty decisions. These are represented with an * in the table, but have been provided for completeness and transparency. Each of the measures give a slightly different view of the average time taken to make a decision, both are provided because neither gives a perfect indication of the average. The mean is potentially affected by a small number of cases taking a long time – and this gives an over- estimate. The median is less affected by these few longer cases so may give a more helpful indication of the average. The mean was published previously so we are publishing it to allow users to compare current with previous data. In making use of the data provided, users are reminded that some decisions made in the latest month were on cases submitted a years or more before – as such, while they are the most recent snapshot available, they should not be relied on to give a reliable indication of what will happen to a case submitted recently or in the future. We are reviewing our published information in order to make it more useful and accessible to users – please get in touch with us at if you have suggestions on how we could improve the information we provide to you.

Summary The impact of COVID can be seen in the Planning Inspectorate data in three ways: 1 The Inspectorate suspended all events during the Spring lockdown, but have since resumed activities, including holding events virtually. The number of events held in September 20 were the highest recorded in the last 12 months at 2,112. 2 In deciding cases that were impacted by the Spring lockdown, and aftereffects of the lockdown, the timeliness measure is starting to increase as the Inspectorate work through the backlog that was created. The median timeliness from April 20 onwards is consistently above 22 weeks, contrasting with the months of November 19 to March 20 where it is never above 21.3 weeks, and usually around 20 weeks. 3 The number of open cases (cases received but not yet closed) increased to a high of around 11,000 in August 20 but is now decreasing, as the Inspectorate are now closing more cases than we receive on a monthly basis. The Planning Inspectorate has made 17,802 appeal decisions in the last 12 months, an average of almost 1,500 per month. The 1,965 decisions in October are higher than the pre-pandemic levels and the highest in the last 12 months. Written representations decisions have recovered to, and above, pre-pandemic levels. In contrast there remain fewer decisions from hearings and inquiries. Both planning and enforcement decisions have recovered to pre-pandemic levels; but there remain fewer specialist decisions. The mean average time to make a decision, across all cases in the last 12 months (Nov 19 to Oct 20), was 26 weeks. The median time is 22 weeks. The median timeliness from April 20 onwards is consistently above 22 weeks, contrasting with the months of November 19 to March 20 where it is never above 21.3 weeks, and usually around 20 weeks. Hearings and inquires take longer than written representations – with Hearings taking more than twice as long as written representations. The median time for written representations over the 12 months to October 20 is 22 weeks. The median time for inquiries over the 12 months to October 20 is over a year - 59 weeks. The median time for hearings is slightly less at 42 weeks.

The median time to decision for planning cases is lower than for other casework categories, apart from in May 2020. Across the whole year, the median time to decision for planning cases is 20 weeks. Enforcement decisions made in the last 12 months had a median decision time of 35 weeks. The median time to decision for specialist decisions is broadly the same as for enforcement decisions, and longer (almost double) that for planning decisions. The median time for Inquiries under the Rosewell Process over the 12 months to October 20 is 26 weeks. Since the COIVD outbreak there have been fewer such decisions and generally longer durations – noting that these inquiries began many weeks before the pandemic had its impact. At the end of October, the Planning Inspectorate had ten thousand five hundred cases open. This is a reduction of about 400 from the previous month. There were 347 Planning Inspectors employed by the Inspectorate in October 2020 – with a fulltime equivalent of 310. The Inspectorate are continuing to increase the number of events carried out ‘virtually’. There were 114 Virtual Events during October 2020, with 102 estimated for November. n

The tortuous process will soon come to an end... but battles with the government over London’s housing targets in particular look sure to continue says CHARLES WRIGHT writing in Sadiq Khan’s London Plan finally looks set for sign-off, more than a year after the Mayor’s “intend to publish” version of his planning blueprint for the capital was submitted to communities secretary Robert Jenrick for approval. “We expect to agree the London Plan with the Mayor early in the new year,” Jenrick told the Commons last week, after a flurry of December activity which saw Khan set a deadline for publication and the minister, just a day later, adding further new “directions” for changes. The likely agreement means Khan’s Plan, which began its tortuous journey back in 2017, will be approved just before the next year mayoral election, >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021




>>> but only by virtue of the 12-month extension of his term due to the pandemic. It will emerge from the process with its targets for new house-building falling far short of current Whitehall expectations – 52,000 annually compared to the newly-announced government figure of 93,579 a year. Khan’s original aspiration for 65,000 homes a year had already been pared down by the planning inspectors who scrutinised the draft Plan last year, finding the mayor’s proposed 250% uplift for development in Outer London, predominately on small sites, unrealistic, and any more than 52,000 new homes a year not credible without encroaching on the Green Belt and/or asking the wider South East to help out. So what is the basis for the government target, now not only almost twice the draft London Plan figure, but getting on for three times more than the average number of new homes actually built in the capital over the past three years? It’s all down to Jenrick’s predictable U-turn last week on plans to boost house-building across England via a standard formula for calculating local authority targets across the country – the “mutant algorithm” which ended up allocating the bulk of new construction to the (Tory) shires and suburbs, predominately in the south-east – the opposite of “levelling up”. Cue backbench outrage, and last week’s rapid reversal, with the government now calling on England’s cities, and London in particular, to do the heavy lifting in a bid to reach its overall target of 300,000 new homes a year. The new approach simply adds 35% to the 2017 targets for England’s 20 largest urban centres, producing for London the “heroic figure” of 93,579 homes a year, according to insightful analysis from planning and development consultants Lichfields. Will these homes ever actually get built? For the capital there’s the now familiar conundrum – where to put more homes while continuing to assert that London’s housing needs must be met within its own borders and keeping off the Green Belt. Enter our old friend, “brownfield” land, now coupled with the prospect of a pandemic-induced “profound structural change” for the retail and commercial sector, freeing up sites for residential use, according to the government. Lichfields are politely sceptical: “It does seem that the structural change sketchily envisaged would at best take time to achieve, whereas the new…figures


Planning in London

will need to inform plan making now”. Furthermore, according to planning lawyer Simon Ricketts expert Simonicity blog, it’s an overall approach which can “no longer be said to be a proper methodological assessment of local need based on demographics and household formation rates.” And there are political considerations at play in the capital too. With London Tories already criticising Khan’s previous draft Plan as a “war on the suburbs”, and the mayoral election coming up, doubling the Mayor’s target by Whitehall diktat clearly didn’t look to Jenrick like such a good move. So the new targets come with a crucial fudge, to the effect that Khan’s current Plan gets the go-ahead now, with the uplift applying only to the next London Plan, pushing the application of the new targets back by five years. Along with Jenrick’s further directions to amend the current draft, giving boroughs the power to restrict tall buildings and spelling out even further that the Green Belt remains sacrosanct on top of previous directions removing Khan’s commitment to preserve current levels of “strategic industrial land”, it seems to have been enough, for now, to placate critics such as Chipping Barnet’s Theresa Villiers. The five-year delay in implementing the target hike, coupled with the further protections, is a “major victory for all those who are concerned about protecting the character of suburban locations like Barnet,” she said. Nevertheless, as Jenrick himself told the House, his new formula did mean that in London “there will need to be a much more ambitious approach to delivering the homes the capital needs.” The minister therefore announced he would send in his Homes England national agency, particularly to help kickstart large “brownfield” sites including Old Oak

Common, currently administered by a mayoral development corporation. With Khan effectively instructed to start planning for the new targets as soon as his current draft is approved, the involvement of Homes England, whose powers over the capital were devolved to City Hall in 2011, looks like a further provocation in the Whitehall/City Hall standoff over who really runs London. The overall settlement too, as Villiers recognises, suggests that the war over strategic planning and new homes targets in the capital is far from over: “There are still battles to be fought over future housing numbers in London after the London Plan expires.” The evidence, meanwhile, according to expert commentators, suggests that house-building policies must now be taken with a large pinch of salt. “There have to be very significant doubts over the prospect of London hitting that figure given past rates of delivery,” says Lichfields. And LSE housing specialist Kath Scanlon, writing in the Centre for London’s recent “London’s Mayor at 20” compendium, puts it even more succinctly: “Some time ago the targets crossed the line from aspirational and achievable to hopelessly unrealistic”. exists to provide fair and thorough coverage of the UK capital’s politics, development and culture. It depends greatly on donations from readers. Give Ј5 a month or Ј50 a year and you will receive the On London Extra Thursday email, which rounds up London news, views and information from a wide range of sources. Please contact for payment details.

Schedule_of_modifications_Dec2020_to_'Intendto-Publish'_new_London_Plan may be downloaded here: odifications_dec2020_to_%27intend-to-publish%27_new_london_plan.pdf?dl=0



Shrinking London Covid-19 has reversed London's 30-year population growth leads our roundup of today's newspapers. London’s population is set to decline for the first time in more than 30 years, driven by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and people reassessing where they live during the crisis, according to a report from accountancy firm PwC. The figure could fall by more than 300,000 this year, due also to fewer graduates moving to London, fewer job opportunities in the capital and lower international migration, while the birth rate could hit a historic low, it says.

The Bishopsgate Goodsyard development in east London has been granted planning permission by mayor of London as he stressed the importance of office builds to the capital’s future. The major mixed-use scheme close to Shoreditch High Street station will see the creation of up to 130,940 square metres of business space, as well as a hotel, new high street, new park and 500 residential units. The site has been vacant for 50 years and joint venture development partners Hammerson and Ballymore have been working up plans for a decade. It withdrew previous proposals for the site in 2016 after the GLA indicated it would refuse them. The brownfield site has been masterplanned by architects FaulknerBrowns and includes individual elements designed by Eric Parry, Buckley Gray Yeoman, Chris Dyson and Spacehub.

Overall housing starts slump Homes England's housing programmes saw only 11,313 new houses started on site between 1 April and 30 September 2020.

Fast track for public services: New planning reforms aim to speed up delivery of schools and hospitals Public service buildings will be delivered more quickly through the planning system with a faster, more streamlined planning process. • New schools and hospitals to be delivered quicker through a faster, simpler planning process • New, simpler process for business premises to become new homes to boost town centres through brownfield development • The measures build on December’s Spending Review, confirming nearly £20 billion of investment in new housing and a £4 billion Levelling Up Fund to boost local economies ‘Unprecedented reforms’ to speed up the delivery of schools, colleges, hospitals and other NHS buildings were announced by Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP last month. A new fast track for public service buildings including schools, colleges, universities, prisons and hospitals will be delivered more quickly through the planning system with a faster, more streamlined planning pro-

cess. Currently, these buildings can have small extensions without the need for a full planning application. Today’s proposals help to deliver more classrooms and hospital space by enabling them to extend further, faster. Where a full planning application remains required, such as to build entirely new schools and hospitals, the process will be streamlined to speed up local decision making so that work can continue at pace to deliver public services for the community. Councils will need to make decisions on these important buildings as a priority and have a legal duty to decide major public service development applications within 10 weeks. Currently, some planning applications are left for many months without a decision. Proposals will also help tackle the housing shortage by enabling commercial premises to be converted into new homes while giving high streets a new lease of life – removing eyesores and transforming unused and derelict buildings, while making the most of our brownfield land. Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “The new fast track for public services makes it simpler and quicker to deliver the schools and hospitals we promised to build in our manifesto. We expect these vital buildings to be approved in weeks, not months and are reforming the planning system so it works for the NHS, our schools and other vital public services.

Like the rest of the planning reforms, these changes will also help to protect and create thousands of jobs in the construction industry. The new homes will be delivered through a fast track planning process instead of a full planning application. These homes will still be subject to high standards, which have been raised in recent months to ensure they provide for adequate natural light and meet space standards. The right to be converted to homes does not apply to certain buildings including pubs, theatres and live music venues, recognising the important role they play in communities and their contribution to local heritage. Investing in new housing is key to delivering more affordable, secure and green homes for families across England and in driving the growth and regeneration of local areas. Official figures show that last year more than 243,000 new homes were delivered in England – the highest number since 1987. Last week, the Spending Review confirmed nearly £20 billion of investment in new homes to help us go even further. This includes a National Home Building Fund investing £7.1 billion over 4 years alongside more than £12 billion being invested in affordable housing. The Spending Review also included a new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund. This will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities and will support economic recovery.” n

Issue 116 January-March 2021




Deloitte’s Crane survey Winter ‘20 The easing of lockdown led to a growth in activity over the summer months, raising hopes for a quick recovery. However, the strong summer economic performance is now waning with rising cases of the virus and further restrictions coming into effect, as well as the looming Brexit deadline at the end of the year.



Planning in London



Those irritating journalists “What the hell are these more eminent members of my trade doing at the daily Covid-19 briefings? Their 20/20 hindsight and demands for 20/20 forsight from politicians and scientists are appalling. What a bunch of clever-dick backseat drivers! They seem to think their ramblings are deep insights. I tend to stride out of the living room in a muttering rage after a few minutes. Then I look in the hall mirror.” – Peter Bill writing in Property Week

Swap car parks for 80,000 homes Parked cars take up two per cent of space in London – land worth £172m, on which much needed homes could be built. A report launched at the World Car Free Day London Summit revealed that privately owned parked cars occupy 3,195 hectares on drives or in the street. In a ranking of the 10 biggest European cities London came fourth behind Paris, Madrid and Vienna for space taken up by parked cars. Across all 10 cities the total real estate taken up was valued at £1 trillion. – Times report

The Tide Line – an evocative landscape designed by Ludwig Willis Architects with Structure Workshop and Howard Miller Landscape and Design – has been revealed as the winning concept in the London Festival of Architecture and Butler’s Wharf Riverside Trust’s ‘Reimagining Butler’s Wharf’ competition. The competition is a key stage towards the long-term transformation of Butler’s Wharf, Shad Thames – one of London’s most popular riverside spaces. The LFA and Butler’s Wharf Riverside Trust invited architects, landscape architects, designers and artists to consider how to unlock the site’s waterfront potential as an imaginative and engaging space for all, bringing visitors, Londoners and the local community back together on this historic jetty.

Streetspace for London Just build less The lowest carbon building is one that doesn't need to be built. David Ness a professor at the University of South Australia writing in the Architects Journal

As an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic it was necessary for TfL to introduce measures as quickly as possible to help people walk, cycle and safely social-distance. Consultations can take several months to prepare, run and analyse, and there simply isn’t the scope

for TfL to consult local people on the temporary measures being introduced. TfL say: ‘We do however want to know about your experiences of the schemes we are introducing.’ The best way to tell them about your experiences is by completing the feedback form - to do so follow this link: https://consultations. n

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Decisions down 11-25% on a year earlier while applications recover Latest planning performance by English districts and London boroughs: Planning Applications in England: July and September 2020 OVERVIEW

Between July and September 2020, district level planning authorities in England: • received 106,200 applications for planning permission, unchanged from the corresponding quarter of 2019; • granted 79,300 decisions, down 13 per cent from the same quarter in 2019; this is equivalent to 88 per cent of decisions, unchanged from the same quarter of 2019; • decided 88 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks or the agreed time, unchanged from the same quarter in 2019; • granted 10,000 residential applications, down 13 per cent on a year earlier: 1,300 for major developments and 8,600 for minors; • granted 1,700 applications for commercial developments, down 25 per cent on a year earlier. In the year ending September 2020, district level planning authorities: • granted 311,800 decisions, down 12 per cent on the year ending September 2019; and • granted 40,400 decisions on residential developments, of which 5,200 were for major developments and 35,300 were for minors, down by 14 and 11 per cent respectively on the year end- ing September 2019. This is equivalent to a decrease of 11 per cent in the overall number of residential decisions granted. Planning applications During July to September 2020, authorities undertaking district level planning in England received 106,200 applications for planning permission,


Planning in London

unchanged from the corresponding quarter in 2019. In the year ending September 2020, authorities received 398,600 planning applications, down nine per cent on the year ending September 2019. Planning decisions Authorities reported 90,300 decisions on planning applications in July to September 2020, a decrease of 12 per cent on the 103,100 decisions in the same quarter of the previous year. In the year ending September 2020, authorities decided 356,800 planning applications, down 11 per cent on the number in the year ending September 2019. Applications granted During July to September 2020, authorities granted 79,300 decisions, down 13 per cent on the same quarter in 2019. Authorities granted 88 per cent of all decisions, unchanged from the September quarter of 2019 (Live Tables P120/P133). Overall, 82 per cent of major and minor decisions were granted, down one percentage point from the quarter ending September 2019 (PS2 development types dashboard). Over the 12 months to September 2020, 311,800 decisions were granted, down 12 per cent on the figure for the year to September 2019. Historical context Figure 1 shows that, since about 2009-10, the

numbers of applications received, decisions made and applications granted have each followed a similar pattern. As well as the usual within-year pattern of peaks in the Summer (July to September quarter for applications and July to September for decisions) and troughs in the Autumn (October to December quarter for applications and January to March quarter for decisions), there was a clear downward trend during the 2008 economic downturn, followed by a period of stability with reductions in more recent quarters. Historical figures for all district level decisions dating back to 2008-09 are set out in Live Table P120, with separate breakdowns for residential and commercial decisions being shown in Live Tables P120A and P120B respectively. These latter two tables are discussed below in the sections on residential and commercial decisions. Speed of decisions or within the agreed time3, unchanged from the same quarter a year earlier. • In the same quarter, 84 per cent of minor applications were decided within eight weeks or the agreed time, down one percentage point from a year earlier. • Also in the same quarter, 89 per cent of other applications were decided within eight weeks or the agreed time, unchanged from a year earlier.

Figure 3 summarises the distribution of the percentage of decisions made in time across authorities for major, minor and other developments using box and whisker plots. The ends of the box are the upper and lower quartiles, meaning that 50 per cent of local authorities fall within this range. Figure 3 shows that the variation in percentage of decisions made in time this quarter is widest between authorities for major developments (0 to 100 per cent), followed by minor developments (44 to 100 per cent) and other developments (47 to 100 per cent). Use of performance agreements Table 4 summarises the recent use of performance agreements4. It shows that they are more commonly used for major developments than minor or

Planning decisions by development type, speed of decision and local planning authority. All tables and figures can be found here: Source: MHCLG/ONS other developments, with 74 per cent of major decisions made during July to September 2020 involving a planning agreement, compared with 49 per cent of minor decisions. Figure 4 shows, from 2010, numbers of decisions on major developments made involving a performance agreement, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of all decisions on major developments. The underlying historical figures are available in the PS2 development types dashboard. Notwithstanding definitional changes, there has been a marked increase in the use of agreements since early 2013. In reali-

ty, this longer upward trend has been driven by both the additional scope for recording them and their additional use. Performance of individual district level local planning authorities Live Tables P151a and P153 present data on the performance of district level local planning authorities against the latest published criterion in Improving planning performance: criteria for designation on the speed of decision-making for informing decisions on the designation of poorly >>>

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>>> performing local planning authorities under section 62B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In particular, Live Table P151a gives detailed figures for the time taken for major decisions to be made over the eight most recent quarters and Live Table P153 presents data for the time taken by district level local planning authorities for decisions on ‘non-major developments’ (previously ‘minor and other developments’, and defined as minor developments, changes of use and householder developments) to be made over the eight most recent quarters. Similarly, Live Table P152a, presents data on the performance of district level local planning authorities against the latest published criterion in Improving planning performance: criteria for designation on the quality of decision-making for assessing performance under section 62B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In particular, it gives detailed figures for the percentage of major decisions subject to a successful planning appeal, by matching eight quarters of the department’s data on decisions and all available quarters of Planning Inspectorate data on appeals. This table is usually published a few weeks after the statistical release and most of the other live tables, to take account of the latest appeals data. Live Table P154 presents data for the percentage of decisions on minor and other developments (as defined for Table P153) subject to a successful planning appeal, by matching eight quarters of the department’s data on decisions and all available quarters of Planning Inspectorate data on appeals. Like Table P152a, this table is usually published a few weeks after the statistical release and most of the other live tables, to take account of the latest appeals data. Residential decisions In July to September 2020, 13,400 decisions were made on applications for residential 5 developments, of which 10,000 (74 per cent) were granted. The number of residential decisions made decreased by 13 per cent from the September quarter of 2019, with the number granted also dropping 13 per cent. The number of major residential decisions granted decreased by 6 per cent to 1,300, and the number of minor residential decisions granted decreased by 14 per cent, to 8,600 (Live Table P120A, and the PS2 development types dashboard). In the year ending September 2020, authorities granted 5,200 major and 35,300 minor residential applications, down by 14 and 11 per cent respectively on the year ending September 2019. This is equivalent to a decrease of 11 per cent in the overall number of residential decisions granted.


Planning in London

Residential units The figures collected by the department are the numbers of decisions on planning applications submitted to local planning authorities, rather than the number of units included in each application, such as the number of homes in the case of housing developments. The department supplements this information by obtaining statistics on housing permissions from a contractor, Glenigan.6 The latest provisional figures show that permission for 368,600 homes was given in the year to 30 September 2020, down six per cent from the 392,200 homes granted permission in the year to 30 September 2019. On an ongoing basis, figures are revised to ensure that any duplicates are removed, and also to include any projects that local planning authorities may not have processed: they are therefore subject to change, and the latest quarter’s provisional figures tend to be revised upwards. These figures are provided here to give contextual information to users and have not been designated as National Statistics. Commercial decisions In July to September 2020, 1,800 decisions were made on applications for commercial developments, of which 1,700 (91 per cent) were granted. The total number of commercial decisions granted decreased by 25 per cent on the same quarter of 2019. In the year ending September 2020, 7,400 applications for commercial developments were granted, down 15 per cent on the year ending September 2019 (Live Table P120B). Trends in numbers of residential and commercial decisions The percentages of major and minor residential decisions granted increased between 2008/09 (from about 65 per cent for each type) and 2010/11 (to about 80 per cent for majors and about 75 per cent for minors) and have stabilised

FIG 9: Applications for prior approvals for permitted development rights reported by district planning authorities. England from April 2014 to September 2020

since then. The percentages of major and minor commercial decisions granted increased steadily, from 89 and 85 per cent respectively in 2007/08, to 94 and 91 per cent respectively in 2014/15, and have both been largely stable since then, but have increased recently. Householder developments Householder developments are those developments to a residence which require planning permission such as extensions, loft conversions and conservatories (more details are in the glossary accessible from the Definitions section). The number of decisions made on householder developments was 49,800 in the quarter ending September 2020, accounting for 55 per cent of all decisions, down 6 per cent from the 52,800 decisions made in the quarter ending September 2019. Authorities granted 91 per cent of these applications and decided 90 per cent within eight weeks or the agreed time. Permission in Principle/Technical Details consent decisions Since 16 April 2017, local planning authorities have had the ability to grant permission in principle (PiP) to sites which have been entered on their brownfield land registers. Where sites have a grant of permission in principle, applicants have been able to submit an application for Technical Details Consent (TDC) for development on these sites. In addition, since 1 June 2018, it has also been possible to make an application for PiP for minor housing-led development as a separate application, independently of the brownfield register. Where a site has been granted PiP following an application, it is possible to apply for a TDC and a determination period of five weeks applies as it is minor development. Extensions of time may be agreed. TDC applications have a 10-week determination period for major development and a five-week determination period for minor development.

Figure 6: Number of housing units granted planning permission England, rolling annual totals to September 2020

Extensions of time may be agreed and where it is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development, the 16-week determination period applies. Permitted development rights Planning permission for some types of development has been granted nationally through legislation, and the resulting rights are known as ‘permitted development rights’. In some cases, if the legislation is complied with, developments can go ahead without the requirement to notify the local planning authority and hence no way of capturing data exists. In other cases, the legislation requires an application to the local planning authority to determine whether prior approval is required (more details are in the Definitions section). A local planning authority can withdraw specific permitted development rights across a defined geographical area, bringing these types of development within the control of the main planning process. The results for the latest quarter for which they have been collected (July to September 2020) are included in Live Tables PDR1 (local authority level figures) and PDR2 (England totals). Of the 8,600 applications reported in the July to September quarter of 2020, prior approval was not required for 4,700 and permission was granted for 2,200 and refused for 1,800. This resulted in an overall acceptance rate10 of 79 per cent. Larger householder extensions accounted for 65 per cent of applications (5,600), with six per cent relating to agricultural to residential changes and five per cent to

office to residential changes. ‘All other’ permitted development rights, accounted for 19 per cent of applications, up from 12 per cent a year earlier. Taking i) granted applications and ii) those for which prior approval was not required together, 6,900 applications were approved without having to go through the full planning process, unchanged from a year earlier. Within no change in the reported total number of PDR applications between July to September 2019 and July to September 2020: • larger householder extensions decreased by 11 per cent; • office to residential changes decreased by 2 per cent; • agricultural to residential changes decreased by 12 per cent: and • ‘all other’ permitted development rights increased by 63 per cent. Figures for the total number of permitted development right applications made for changes to residential use for quarters from July to September 2014 are given in the quarterly worksheets in Live Table PDR1. These show that a total of 1,300 applications for changes to residential use were reported in July to September 2020, of which 900 (68 per cent) were given the go-ahead without having to go through the full planning process. Overall during the twenty-six quarters ending September 2020, district planning authorities reported 232,000 applications for prior approvals for permitted developments. For 131,300 (57 per cent) of them prior approval was not required, 54,500 (23 per cent) were granted and 46,100 (20 per cent) were

refused (Figure 9). Figure 9: Applications for prior approvals for permitted development rights reported by district planning authorities England, twenty-six quarters from April 2014 to September 2020. To put these recent figures into context, Live Table P128 and Figure 10 show how the number of ‘determination applications’ received remained broadly stable at around 5,000 to 8,000 per year from 2004/05 to 2012/13, but approximately doubled to 15,700 in 2013/14, following the creation of new permitted development right categories in May 2013. Since April 2014, there have been 36,500 PDR applications in 2014-15, 40,200 in 2015-16, 39,400 in 2016-17, 36,800 in 2017-18, 34,900 in 2018-19 and 29,100 in 2019-20. The quarterly pattern since April 2014 reflects a combination of both: i) the introduction of new permitted development right categories on several occasions; and ii) the seasonal peaks and troughs that have previously also been observed for planning applications, as shown earlier in this release, in Figure 1 (Live Table PDR 2 and Figure 10). The initially large increase since 2014 in reported numbers of PDR applications for a change of use (e.g. office to residential), followed by a more recent decrease, is consistent with the annual numbers of dwellings added to the net housing supply as a result of a change of use. These have shown increases of 65 per cent in 2014-15, 48 per cent in 2015-16 and 22 per cent in 2016-17, and decreases of 20 per cent in 2017-18, two per cent in 2018-19 and eight per cent in 2019-20. n

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To be or not to be beautiful, that is the question Andrew Rogers gives us an essay on beauty in the style of (and with apologies to) George Saunders The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of men.– Fedor Dostoevsky, 1879

beautiful – good-looking, attractive; with qualities that give delight to the senses especially the eye…or which awaken admiration in the mind; very enjoyable, excellent. – The Chambers Dictionary Beauty includes everything that promotes a healthy and happy life, everything that makes a collection of buildings into a place, everything that turns anywhere into somewhere, and nowhere into home. It is not merely a visual characteristic, but is revealed in the deep harmony between a place and those who settle there. Beauty is not just a matter of how buildings look (though it does include this) but involves the wider ‘spirit of the place’, our overall settlement patterns and their interaction with nature. It involves both the visual character of our streets and squares, and also the wider patterns of how we live and the demands we make on our natural environment and the planet. – Living with Beauty, The report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, Jan. 2020 Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. – William Morris First you have to define beauty. In schools of architecture we no longer talk about beauty; nor do we have an architectural canon [of what is considered beautiful] to draw on. We focus instead on sustainability, technical resolution and preparing to practise. A debate on beauty and what it means is long overdue. – Professor Alan Dunlop (University of Liverpool)


Planning in London

Definitions of beauty vary greatly, as shown by the following: “Only then .. did I realize how unspeakably beautiful all of this was, how precisely engineered for our pleasure, and saw .. this grand marketplace lovingly stocked with every sublime thing: swarms of insects dancing in slant-rays of August sun; a trio of black horses standing hock-deep and head-to-head in a field of snow; a waft of beef broth arriving breezeborne from an orange-hued window…” – Roger Bevins iii We must have religion for religion’s sake, morality for morality’s sake, as with art for art’s sake … the beautiful cannot be the way to what is useful, or to what is good, or to what is holy; it leads only to itself. – Victor Cousin Beauty in the 21st century is not about style, architectural ‘isms’ or methods of construction, it is about providing people with what they need and want rather than just what financial capital needs and wants. It is about streets and buildings… A built environment with integrity that works for everybody – now that would be beautiful. – Professor Yolande Barnes* Beauty is more complex than the opposite to ugly … through reference to where damage has been done, it is easier to assess how ‘beautiful buildings’ might be designed. – Robert Kerr* It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But … it is better to be good than to be ugly. – Oscar Wilde Beauty… comes with the baggage of implied universality on the one hand, and being of mere opinion on the other – residing in the ‘eye of the beholder’ and simply a question of personal taste. – Gillian Horn* There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of a thing be

what it may, - light, shade and perspective will always make it beautiful. John Constable It is, rather obviously, very difficult to define beauty. One person’s avant garde is another’s ‘carbuncle’. Yet coming to some form of agreement on this is a central role of the planning system… – Benedict McAleenan* Proust proposed that “beauty is a succession of hypotheses”… beauty is an inherently subjective concept and mutates both with time and according to the aesthetic canons of the evaluating perspective. The … judiciary is poorly prepared for a future where beauty is in the eye of the virtual beholder. – Dr Sue Chadwick* The Normal … is the Ordinary made beautiful; it is also the Average made lethal. – Peter Shaffer How can it be possible to write down a set of rules that will define the beauty of any planning proposal? Especially given the ever-changing opinion of both the man in the street (or on the Clapham omnibus) and those who claim to set the standards for what is aesthetically acceptable and what is not - many of whom are neither keenly discriminating nor intuitively sympathetic to innovation. – Professor Edmund Bloomer There is sometimes a greater judgement shown in deviating from the rules of art, than in adhering to them; and … there is more beauty in the works of a great genius who is ignorant of all the rules of art, than in the works of a little genius, who not only knows but scrupulously observes them. – Joseph Addison

The idea of self-appointed community representatives defining ‘beauty’ for planning purposes is undesirable in principle and impossible in practice. – Paul Finch

Beautiful... Or not??

Beauty is no quality in things themselves. It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them. – David Hume There is always a temptation to make a design fit in with prevalent tastes, especially when this can be done superficially without changing what may basically be a poor design, in order to satisfy what is fashionable or uncontroversial at the time: “..’beautified’ is a vile phrase”.


Planning in London

(Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2) The requirement of conspicuous wastefulness is not commonly present, consciously, in our canons of tase, but it is none the less present as a constraining norm, selectively shaping and sustaining our sense of what is beautiful, and guiding our discrimination with respect to what may legitimately be approved as beautiful and what may not. – Thorstein Veblen

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance. – John Ruskin Beauty is worse than wine, it intoxicates both the holder and beholder. – Aldous Huxley * Policy Exchange, 2019

Issue 116 January-March 2021



The Aim of the Society is to stimulate a wider concern for the beauty of the capital city, for the preservation of its charms and the careful consideration of its developments

WHY DO WE EXIST? We believe that London's future must be shaped by contemporary culture as well as its rich and layered history WHAT WE DO Celebrate and enjoy the capital’s culture and architectural history. Debate how we plan a future that is beautiful, sustainable and fair HOW WE DO IT Engage Londoners with how the capital is designed and planned through tours, walks, talks and debates FIND OUT MORE


Planning update: The White Paper, beauty and planning – design codes, new permitted development rights, London Plan Account of Forum Zoom Meeting on 2nd December 2020 Full minute by Andrew Rogers at > LP&DF Following postponement of the meeting originally planned for March 2020, it was decided to hold a virtual conference on current planning issues, to include a series of presentations moderated by Brian Waters and Jonathan Manns. Recorded ‘provocations’ by Paul Finch set the context for each topic, and an opportunity for discussion (questions and answers) followed each. The subjects discussed were: The White Paper, Beauty and Design Codes, Permitted Development Rights and the Revised London Plan. Joanna Averley, the government’s new Chief Planner at MHCLG, opened the proceedings with a Keynote presentation. The meeting was recorded and can be downloaded here: This report is a summary of the main topics.

Keynote address Joanna Averley set out the government perspective on the planning system and an overview of the White Paper - which had received some

Meeting held on Wednesday 2nd December 2020 on Zoom Administered by the Cambridge University Land Society, 170 people signed up and there was a large attendance through the afternoon. Speakers were: Brian Waters (Chairman - pictured RIght) Keynote Joanna Averley new Chief Planner MHCLG (pictured above) Provocations by Paul Finch [recorded] The White paper Moderator Jonathan Manns Lord Kerslake is chairman of Peabody Roy Pinnock is a partner in Dentons Tom Dobson is a director of Quod


Planning in London

Catriona Riddell is a contributor to Planning - on the duty to cooperate Beauty and planning – Design codes Moderator BW Andy von Bradsky is Government head of architecture Nicholas Boys Smith is chairman of Create Streets James Mitchell is partner in Axom Architects

44,000 responses. She thanked all those that had responded, adding that it was acknowledged wideranging reform is required, partly to widen the system to involve fully all stakeholders and especially small and medium-scale developers and also to update it from the current out-dated analogue framework. She summarised the main aims of the White Paper as improving process to make it fast and efficient, while improving sustainability and design quality. She noted that it did not cover everything and she was aware of gaps that had been identified: the headline ‘pillars’ were intended as a starting-point, without a great deal of detail at this stage. First, plan-making would be quicker and clearer, with better land and housing allocations using set national parameters. Second, there would be new emphasis on design quality using codes, with spatial master-planning; the objective being active engage-

New Permitted Development rights Moderator BW Stuart Baillie is head of planning at Knight Frank Riette Oosthuizen is head of planning at HTA Design London Plan Moderator JM Lisa Fairmainer is GLA Head of London Plan, Duncan Bowie UCL Gary Young, Place 54 Architects and former partner Farrells With thanks from Ian Marcus OBE, President CULS

Annual Planning Update Wednesday 2nd December 2020 on Zoom 1.30 for 2.00pm to 5.00pm followed by virtual networking

• The White Paper • Beauty and planning • New Permitted Development rights • The London Plan in collaboration with

FREE to BOOK AT: or call 01638 507843 Supported by Bath Publishing


ment with local communities. Third, a new payment system for infrastructure - properly integrated with development - would replace CIL but maintain the present level of investment; details of how this will work are under review. Fourth, a digital transformation currently being investigated through active working with a number of local authorities, which will set out how to capture the ‘big data’ that already exists so as to assist plan-making and involve communities in the widest sense - from a single person upwards. Michael Bach asked about the proposed allocation of housing and, critically, other uses for London. Joanna said the answer to such questions is “watch this space” while the government researches how best to deal with this question. She added that the zones proposed would not be fixed rules-based zon-

ing as exists in many other countries, but a more general setting of parameters - this is still very open. Peter Stewart said that spatial planning needs designers and asked where the new chief planners would come from. Joanna replied that a chief designer/planner for each authority will be very important to address the White Paper challenges and the government is very conscious of the resourcing issue. The aim is to reduce procedural time so as to create better overview planning - at all scales. She added that the recent £12 million allocation in the government’s spending review is for one year and will be be followed by more as resourcing is a priority area from number 10 down. In summary, Joanna noted that the White Paper proposes a complicated reform to the system as a whole and the government will keep a close eye on outcomes while recognising the significance of change and adaptability in the long term. Legislation and implementation will inevitably take some time. Meanwhile she asked for everyone to please send her further comments and particularly examples of good practice.

The White Paper Paul Finch said that the proposed planning system changes represent the best chance in a gen-

eration for positive planning to transform and/or improve our building environment. Headline: Bring Back Planning. Replace unnecessary risk with certainty and concentrate on the quality of the proposed, not the principle of development. Lord Kerslake, chairman of Peabody, welcomed the aims of the White Paper but has concerns about the ways it was seeking to secure them and was pleased that Joanna emphasised its tone as a discussion document. He agreed in particular with the aims of simplification and the use of digital technology, but had some serious concerns. First, he disputed the White Paper’s apparent underlying assumption that the planning system was to blame for poor and inadequate housing, for which there is little real evidence. He agreed that there is a need for reform but is concerned that a rules-based system would bring less flexibility - consistency needs to be provided by other means. Second, the White Paper underweights the issue of genuinely affordable housing. Third, a move away from local decision-making and local people’s democratic control over individual sites was a recipe for conflict; although in favour of better guidance, he was against mandatory codes that could remove the opportunity for trade-off and local debate. >>>

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And fourth, cross-boundary issues were not addressed. The problem of infrastructure funding needs detailed assessment (the devil will be in the detail) and he prefers revision of the current system over the invention of a new one - a theme that was repeated by other speakers. Finally, Lord Kerslake highlighted the extension of permitted development rights and how this can be reconciled with better quality. He thinks that permitted development rights have resulted in many poor quality schemes and extending them will simply extend the number of such schemes


Planning in London

Roy Pinnock, a partner at event sponsor (and usual host) Dentons, felt that it was in reality a Green, not White Paper. He believes the fundamental goal of planning is leadership and advocacy, but is concerned that while reform is needed, we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater. He agreed completely with Lord Carnwath’s representation of the planning system as “robust, over-cluttered and under-resourced”, requiring targeted improvements and better funding. For Local Plans there is an opportunity for positive dialogue in respect of engagement, efficiency and transparency. The current system is over-com-

plex and it’s necessary for this “rogue” process to be streamlined. Speed and a social licence to build are crucial to reform, but with caution. Core issues are design coding (local legitimacy), clarity and responsibility. The problem with design codes may be the same as with SPDs, which are over-important, wrongly used and generally a menace. Resourcing is crucial due to the scale of reform that is envisaged - we simply don’t have the resources at present to operate the kind of system that is proposed. Transition by incremental change is key: piloting will be important for fundamental system revision. With regard to CIL, the proposed amalgamation with withdrawn section 106 agreements will be too complex (ie a low-level basic charge with additional payment for value capture) and ignores the importance of section 106 in mitigation discussions and problem-solving. Deregulation without creating barriers to investment will be difficult - it would be better (and achievable) to simplify what we’ve got and make sure it works properly. Tom Dobson, Director of Quod, also spoke about planning for infrastructure and connected places, the ‘third pillar’ of the White Paper. Current systems are to be merged, but there is a difficulty in relating the present actual financial contribution levels to a new single system (see diagram above). But is a single tariff the planning nirvana, as suggested by Liz Peace in her CIL review? There are several basic problems that Tom has identified. First, as noted by Roy Pinnock, section 106 agreements are not all about money and it’s not clear how the many “in kind” issues now covered by section 106

will be dealt with in a new single system. Second, averaging a tariff will be difficult especially when considering tricky or unusual sites. Third, it’s not clear how a new system would impact on commercial developments. Fourth, affordable housing, often currently dealt with by section 106, may not be controlled. Fifth, the mechanics of a new system and its implementation will be hard in practice. Finally, there will be a real tension between simplicity (or clarity) and universality (allowance for all circumstances). The present system is unique to this country. We should not lose sight of the most important factor: delivery of infrastructure and homes. This must not be threatened by the new system. Catriona Riddell spoke on strategic planning, which she noted is a large and wide-ranging issue. She is concerned that the new system should build on existing good practice, which is very diverse. Strategic planning has to be managed at the right scale - not too big or too small; it must make sense locally. Vision-led planning should be outcome-focused, not just part of an inflexible statutory system. And huge investment, of money and >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> skills, will be needed to make it work. Jonathan Manns picked up a few questions that had come in, several regarding affordable housing and how that is to be provided. Lord Kerslake said that (perhaps obviously) the !"#"$%&'"()&*+,-(. key is to build many more homes and ensure that there is better land capacity. There must be greater public investment and the ability to free up sites for housing. But is there the necessary politi- Paul Finch said that the idea of self-appointed !"#$affordable %&'()*+,-)++./0$1-&23&$4521&/$6+3$7,/3$)+,/&/ cal will for government intervention? community representatives defining beauty for Tom Dobson added that more borrowing needs planning purposes is undesirable in principle and !"#$""%#&'#%"(")'*#+',"#-'+".#/0&-0$#+01"%23."#,"4)#*)45".#4&#67"$&)"# to be:#;.#"(0%"$5"#&-"#<'++0..0'$#,"5"0("%=#*4,&053)4,)8#>,'+#&-"#?'/$# a balance between central and local govern- impossible in practice. There is no satisfactory %"$.0&89 ment funding, which may well be a double-edged definition of beauty capable of being written into <'3$&,8#@)4$$0$7#;..'504&0'$#A?<@;B=#C'84)#?'/$#@)4$$0$7#D$.&0&3&"#AC?@DB# sword. The trickiest element is fairness across all planning law. The beneficiaries of such an 4$%#&-"#E,""$#F30)%0$7#<'3$50)=#"+*-4.0."%=#&-"#*'))0$7=#>'53.#7,'3*#4$%# types of site. approach will be planning lawyers and prejudice *,050$7#%4&4#0.#>40,)8#5'$.0.&"$&#4$%#5'+*"))0$7#'$#&-"#&8*".#'>#-'+".=# In reply to query about whether there should be will be legitimised as acceptable taste. *)45".#4$%#."&&)"+"$&#*4&&",$.#&-4&#+'.&#*"'*)"#/4$&#+'.&#'>#&-"#&0+":#?-"# a national spatial plan, as for Wales, Scotland, etc, Andy von Bradsky, Government Head of *,"50."#$34$5".#4$%#,")4&0("#/"07-&0$7.#(4,8#>,'+#&0+"#&'#&0+"#4$%#*)45"#&'# Catriona Riddell said no, England is too diverse and it Architecture, had hoped to unveil and speak about *)45":#?-","#+48#"("$#G"#7"$",4&0'$4)#*4&&",$.:#H'/"(",=#&-"#,"."4,5-#0.# would be best to build up a strategist picture from the National Model Design Code, currently nearing ,"+4,I4G)8#5'$.0.&"$&:#J'.&#'>#3.#*,">",#*)45".#/"#54$#/4)I#0$=#/-","#&-","# the bottom, ie local to larger units within an overall publication. Instead he described the process and is greenery frequently present and where we fnd the streets and squares national framework. She was concerned about how production of the Code, emphasising that design G"43&0>3)#&'#)''I#4&#4$%#G"#0$:#!"#*,">",#*)45".#&-4&#%'#$'&#5'.&#&-"#"4,&-# democracy works at a strategic level to take account quality is now a significant part of government G3&#54$#-")*#3.#)0("#0$#-4,+'$8#/0&-#0&:#?-0.=#&-"#"(0%"$5"#.""+.#&'#.48# of the multiple layers in our society. thinking and decision-making. This is illustrated by >40,)8#5'-","$&)8#4$%#5'$.0.&"$&)8=#0.#/-4&#+'.&#*"'*)"#/4$&#4$%#/-","#&-"8# In summing up this section of the debate, the Building Better Building Beautiful initiative and KL fourish. #;.#&-"#C?@D#*3&#0&#&'#3.M Jonathan asked Roy Pinnock what single sweeping the National Design Guide that sets out ten characchange he would recommend to improve the plan- teristics for good design - not all related to appearning !"#$%&'%(##)%)*'&(+%',-.*/0&1*2%03*$*%4$*%/5*4$6%#-.*/0&1*% system. Roy said that to deliver a better plan- ance. ning criteria system, local plans would need to focus on dia-of design Designcan codes, the White against which the quality bewhich assessed – Paper expects all logue and leadership – a real adoption of political local planning authorities to produce, should be seen 7*0%03*$*%'**8'%0#%-*%4%$*5,/04+/*%0#%049*%',/3%4+%4::$#4/3% responsibility to enable change. as a kit of parts tailored to the locality, not a fixed 4+)%4'%4%/#+'*;,*+/*6%03*$*%&'%4%<&)*57=3*5)%1&*<%0340% pattern. The National Model Design Code will be a >> planning should notCodes consider design in detail.’ Beauty and Planning - Design toolkit that follows the ten principles for good





Planning in London




place-making and sets out the parameters that a local code should incorporate, with extensive guidance to inform what will expected in local design codes. The document will be guidance, not policy. It covers suitable forms of code, from city centres to the countryside, at all levels from the whole local authority right down to individual sites. Behind the document are various government publications including the Manual for Streets (currently being revised), Green Infrastructure Standards, etc. It will include advice on the best methods for achieving good community involvement. [Chat comment: ”There is an increasing trend for developers to use PR consultants to undertake what they describe as community engagement. It very often isn’t this at all, but a sales exercise. It brings planning into disrepute." – Graeme Bell] A fast track for beauty will mean compliance with design policies set out in model codes. It is encouraging to note that the White Paper calls for an improved digital basis, simplified and visual local plans, and aims to build back the lost chief design officer role for all planning authorities. Nicholas Boys Smith, chairman of Create Streets, started by suggesting that Paul Finch is completely wrong to say that beauty is undesirable in principle and impossible in practice [BUT this is not what he said - he said that defining beauty for planning purposes is undesirable…] by quoting Ebenezer Howard, Octavia Hill and the 1909 Planning Act. He thinks we have lost the confidence to talk about beauty as something to achieve. History shows that the management of our cities by state control is by no means new and indeed dates back to Rome and even earlier. Planning is a problem in the UK, which has an extremely complex and uncertain system for development with very high barriers. Living with Beauty, the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report was wide-ranging and based on extensive research, workshops, etc. It


!"#!$!"%$&'((%&&)'*$+,!-./'(!+.,$.)$!"%&%$0.*+(+%&$.1%-$!+2%$(.'*/$%,3%,/%-$ #$-%,#+&&#,(%$.)$(+1+($0-+/%$#,/$-%1+!#*+&%$!"%$3-%#!$!-#/+!+.,$.)$(+1+($ +,1.*1%2%,!4$5"%6$#-%$+,!%,/%/$!.$#("+%1%$.'-$!"-%%$3.#*&7 defined at three scales: buildings, places and setting. We well-being. There is a strong case for “gentle density”, more walk8$ beauty 5.$#&9$).-$:%#'!6$#,/$%,&'-%$!"#!$,%;$/%1%*.02%,!&$#-%$:%#'!+)'*$ do create beautiful buildings and places but they are far too rare. ing and mixed-use. places where people want to live and can fourish; People see the planning process as a shield rather than a sword, The BBBBC recommends eight key interactions, some of but there in the public’s view an overwhelming lack of confi- which are picked up ion the White Paper, all largely achievable 8$ is5.$)-%%$0%.0*%$)-.2$!"%$:*+3"!$.)$'3*+,%&&$:6$-%3%,%-#!+,3$/%-%*+(!$ dence that#,/$/#2#3%/$0*#(%&<$#,/ we can do better. We can now build incredibly large within the NPPF. incredibly ugly buildings very cheaply. The exceptions are the need for “stewardship” to create a 8$idea5.$%,&'-%$*.,3=!%-2$&!%;#-/&"+0$.)$.'-$:'+*!$"%-+!#3%$#,/$.)$!"%$ The that design is subjective is a myth that needs to be level tax playing field, along with the poor quality of current axed: where we live has a fundamental effect on our health and matrices that decision-makers use to assess new developments >>> ,#!'-#*$%,1+-.,2%,!$+,$;"+("$+!$+&$0*#(%/4

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ssue 116 January-March 2021 35 %(.,/#&%0%&%/3%#+/;%&#-1%#%/4.&)/*%/-'5#)=A%3-.4%#&%0%&(#-)#:&)-%3-./,#'/; DEMOCRACY R@BAHN5$ GB@QJ@K$5B$ LEJI=MJS?IH



>>> and the well-being of people overall. We must move from a vicious circle of parasitic development to a virtuous circle of regenerative development. James Mitchell, partner in Axiom Architects (a small/medium practice), summarised the current designer’s role as a tightrope walk balanced between planning/buildings and the clients brief; using a wide range of advice from the National Design Guide to local SPDs. He explained by reference to examples how a design evolves, particularly using the Living with Beauty report. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder - there is very often a distinction between what is good and bad usually depending on the detailed components that are used. Beauty can be found in all sorts of very varied elements and relationships. Design codes need to be based on fundamental rules and characteristics that define a place - and that is what we look for in our own designs. Local people know their vernacular: identikit or pattern-book houses are not always suitable. Using existing proportions, materials, textures, layers, etc, can be very interesting and this does not always mean traditional design. If new Model Design Codes are used to bridge the adversarial relationships between planning and the developer they may well streamline the system: so that the architect will still be leading the team, using relevant codes and guidance to tease out good and beautiful designs - as long as they don’t restrict innovation. Architecture will still have the power to raise the spirits and enhance places. “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. There must be the will to produce a superior thing” Ruskin. Brian Waters asked who is going to be the judge? Better quality is required but at the moment local authority resources and skills have been dissipated. NBS replied that in his view the role of the state is to set the framework for development and for local people to fill in the detail - subject to reasonable constraints.


Planning in London

Design codes should be used to define what is appropriate and good locally to provide a clear and easy route to approval (unlike the current “pressure cooker” system) not to prevent other types of development - ie the weird and the wonderful. AvB emphasised that design codes will have to be produced by skilled people as manuals or kits of parts for good design allowing much wider use of architects generally.

New Permitted Development Rights Paul Finch spoke about the continuing expansion of permitted development, noting that the complaint that it has produced rabbit hutches not suitable for living in has been addressed by government through the introduction of space and daylight standards. Permitted development is a minor but very positive element in the drive to create new housing and it also encourages desirable retrofit, prolonging the active life of redundant buildings. Stuart Baillie, head of planning at Knight Frank, started with a whirlwind tour through current permitted development rights, in particular the recent pd changes that allow upward extensions to a wide range of buildings and the simplification of the Use Classes Order. Despite the “Permitted development WRONGS” headline there are examples of both good and bad housing through pd. The new Use Class E amalgamates many uses previously in separate classes, meaning that changes of use between them no longer requires planning permission. This effectively moves changes of use to a market-led system. Stuart then showed a series of slides that pictured buildings in his local area that can now be extended upwards by two storeys, from residential and mixeduse blocks or terraces of three or more floors to detached homes. There are many limitations and controls under the prior approval process that apply, which means that these pd right procedures are moving close to full planning permissions. An

additional pd right allows demolition of vacant buildings to provide housing using the same footprint, also with limitations. Knight Frank’s research shows that most cities have huge potential numbers of new homes under these rights, in London specifically for around 137,000 new units (5.5 million square metres) in 13,500 eligible buildings. This has produced a lot of interest from the housing market, particularly landlords, but is limited by factors that have to be taken into account when considering viability such as servicing and access, building ownerships, development economics, local authority resources for obtaining permissions despite a fairly high level of application fees, etc. At present in addition affordable housing is not captured by pd rights but this is likely to be changed by government although a number of blocks that currently provide such housing can also be extended. Finally, local authorities can consider the implementation of Article 4 directions to limit the rights in specific areas if that can be justified. BW pointed out what he considered to be drafting error in the pd rights legislation which excludes two-storey blocks of flats from the right to extend. Riette Oosterhuizen described some projects that HTA has been concerned with, particularly with respect to longterm value. Many roof-top schemes already completed were tricky and involved extensive negotiation with the local authority. Quality can be delivered if consistency and careful attention to design are kept in mind. There is indeed, according to 2016 HTA research, a great potential for upwards extension; and this was extrapolated across London to provide (conservatively) 180,000 new homes. The new permitted development rights have extended this potential. The way that such proposals are delivered needs very careful consideration in respect of building regulations, cost and type of construction. How extensions are provided is critical and should be deter-

mined from the beginning, especially for (lightweight) off-site manufacture: you must decide how it will be built and what it will look like before deciding to proceed. There will also be a great deal of controversy in the locality when rooftop extensions are concerned. BW asked about additional floorspace which originally was proposed to be only for extra housing units but now is allowed as extra space added to existing homes. RO confirmed that is so, but questioned the scale of pd rights and how they will be overlaid with design codes and local plans, which may in future be set at single-street levels; and their impact on social infrastructures.

Revised London Plan Paul Finch proposed that Green Belt, or Metropolitan Open Land, in London should be reviewed and classified where Grade I cannot be built on at all, Grade II could take buildings in exceptional circumstances, and Grade III could be built on subject to very high environmental and design standards. Why do we treat Metropolitan Open Land as a sacred cow instead of a system which needs regular review?

Lisa Fairmainer, GLA Head of The London Plan, began by reviewing the timeline for the revised London Plan. This started in October 2016 and a draft revised London Plan was published in December 2017 with a consultation that ran through into March 2018. An Examination in Public was held early in 2019, ending in May; and following some changes the Mayor sent the Plan to the Secretary of State in December 2019, leaving six weeks for a response. But the SoS has applied for two extensions and on 30th March 2020 issued 11 modification directions, followed by discussions on a number of minor changes during April and early May. A proper response from the SoS is still awaited. [Post-meeting note: on 9th December the Mayor wrote to the SoS stating that he intended in any event to publish the Plan for adoption before Christmas.] The lack of a new published London Plan has resulted in uncertainty and additional work for those determining planning applications as well as authorities that are drafting local plans, making support for the development industry at this unprecedented time very difficult. The Plan was drafted to cope with a range of

changes and remains fit for purpose, with a flexible framework, despite the pandemic and Brexit. New sets of data and trends, such as the impact of Use Classes Order changes, will continue to be monitored. Research continues on housing numbers, etc, and the digitisation of the London Plan so that it becomes an interactive bespoke document that can be tailored to individual proposals. There are currently five supplementary consultations in hand including housing design, privatelyowned open spaces, carbon assessments, etc. There is also work being done on opportunity area planning frameworks and growth strategies, infrastructure coordination, etc. But The White Paper ignores city-regions with devolved and directly-elected representatives, which account for a third of the population (London currently being a prime example that achieves high marks in design audits), which is a significant omission. In addition the digital planning application hub has recently been activated as a live database, with an interactive SHLAA shortly to be introduced. But the increasing divergence between centrally-directed housing numbers and the reality of achievable planning (22 per cent of London is effectively designated Green Belt) is not helpful to communities. Discretionary planning is right and there is a role for optimal solution planning rather than a tick-box approach. Duncan Bowie drew together many of the issues raised by previous speakers. London Plans since 2004 have been based on the compact city approach. The main issue remains an undersupply of housing (and critically an undersupply of affordable housing). The supply of social housing has been cut by half in London and the South East over the last 30 years, while (unregulated) private rented housing stock has doubled. There is an increasing gap between housing requirements and capacity and DB agrees with LF that the use of algorithms for housing supply in London is extremely unhelpful. The rigid policy of Green Belt protection has limited consideration of alternative spatial development options. There has been a failure to plan London in the context of wider South East housing and employment markets. London Plans have not dealt adequately with the unresolved competition between competing development requirements for the use of land. We’ve not been building enough family size homes and density policies have a negative impact

Issue 116 January-March 2021




Green transport infrastructure provides for regions to support Greater London 2020 to 2045


Orbital green transport rail, bus & cycle mobility hubs with Thames crossing & flood barrier >>> on affordability: higher density means higher land prices and higher prices of new homes. We have increasingly been building flats not houses, leading to high service charges and more recently the issue of poor cladding. There is now a collapsing market for flats. The pandemic has underlined the importance of both internal space and external spaces and parks. Changes in working, living and commuting patterns make a return to previous normality unlikely. With reduced revenue, London’s public transport network is no longer financially viable without massive subsidy. Changes in working practices may lead to the death of central London in the short or long term. The closure of leisure attractions in central London will have an economic impact. There are major implications for London’s spatial planning, including flight to the suburbs, and the growth of local and internet shopping. There is a strong argument for self contained “5-minute” neighbourhoods and a case for incremental suburban intensification and the expansion of county towns, leading to a more polycentric approach to regional planning. We must also consider the issue


Planning in London


of the reuse of office capacity which is no longer required in central London. The City Hall theory of aggregation economics the concentration of all the services in one location - in a digital and post COVID age is somewhat questionable: a compact city approach for London is no longer tenable. A complete rethink of our approach to London and city regional planning is required. We need some kind of national spatial planning framework to assist the wider city region as a whole. Gary Young, Place 54 Architects and a former design director in Farrells, presented concept diagrams that have been created over the years for the evolving area of the Greater London region up to 2050. These use the existing radial grid with a wider, speculative orbital ring. This proposes a railway orbital (green line) beyond the existing M25 ring (blue) to create a sustainable zero-carbon network transport system, expanded to an area well beyond to encompass the wider South East, mainly using existing radial rail services, to create a market garden city for local food production. This is a work in progress. It challenges the role of the existing Green Belt, which inhibits opportunity without having a properly curated function. It neither respects statutory designations of landscape quality nor does it consider easy access for recre-

ation or for local food production. In our proposal the Green Belt is not a single rigid requirement but locally led with more dynamic guidance. This local approach to green space was advocated by Ebenezer Howard. The four stages to developing the orbital (see diagrams opposite) have varying degrees of challenge. Sustainable development opportunities would be focused around areas of best connectivity - existing radial rail lines are based on existing patterns of commuting. This Plan promotes investment along an extended orbital approach and the work already in progress along the north-west Ox-Cam arc demonstrates what can be done. The orbital rail could be completed with an east Thames crossing. The Greater London Plan we are proposing shows a more meaningful relationship between cities, towns and villages and local landscapes. Jonathan Manns picked up on questions that arose from the presentations. John Wacher from the GLA, in response to housing numbers uncertainty, said that there are many more homes already being built - 41,000 units last year. But there are problems converting permissions into delivery and how brownfield land comes forward. The key thing is to adopt the new London Plan as soon as possible to provide certainty. The functional economic area of London means that authorities outside of the GLA should be helping to meet the figures, although the Mayor believes that London can meet its own housing need. Duncan Bowie replied to questions about how the vision of Gary Young’s wider London Plan can be delivered by pointing out that the work being done on the issue of wider London influence has been going on for many decades. The difficulty is that

A special word of thanks... to Drummond Robson who has just stepped down as Hon Sec of the London Planning & Development Forum after many years. His extensive write-ups of Forum meetings provide us with an invaluable record – see > LP&DF. Thanks too for his help in formulating agendas and suggesting topics as well as for memorable insights into the character of High Barnet! –BW

there is still a perception, among leading politicians and successive mayors, that all the Metropolitan Green Belt is actually green, which is nonsense. And also that we have not discussed what could be produced by releasing specific sites from Metropolitan Open Land or Green Belt adjacent to London - critically what kind of housing are we building on such land and what is accessible. We must find a middle way between those who say that every piece of GB land, whether derelict or not, is sacrosanct and those who feel we can solve all our housing problems by releasing selected GB sites. [Chat: Whilst MOL and MGB have very similar policy protections, they are very different. MOL protects important open space that is within London and serves its needs. MGB is an urban containment zone stopping the metropolis from sprawling and is not an environmental policy. So the quality of the land is not an issue. – Mike Kiely.] Ian Marcus, President of CULS, thanked the speakers, the sponsors Dentons and Bath Publishing and everyone who attended in their search for the holy grail of consistency, simplicity and efficiency in the planning system. n

NEXT MEETING of the London Planning & Development Forum Monday 1st March on Zoom email if you would like to ‘attend’ and receive the link

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Improving the future of transport in London The pandemic has highlighted inequalities in transport access which need to be addressed, says Chris Williamson

IMAGE RIGHT: Illustration by WestonWilliamson+ Partners showing a green and pleasant city for 500,000 people with no private vehicles within the 2.5km diameter. The city has a high speed rail station as it’s centre and is serviced by drones and AI.

Chris Williamson is a founder of Weston Williamson+Partners Architects and Urban Designers


Planning in London

The London Society host wonderful debates every year and in 2020 these have been successfully adapted to Zoom. Weston Williamson + Partners had agreed to organise and host a debate about The Future of Transport in London before the emergence of Covid 19 and the pandemic’s influence on the topic has obviously been immense. The debate started with an introduction to separate necessary short-term solutions whilst considering longer term aims. Five speakers were invited offering experience from the world of research, engineering, industrial design and service providers. An audience of around 50 submitted questions on line following each of the speakers’ five-minute presentations. The broad range of speakers was really important. We all have a tendency for myopic vision based on our own preoccupations. As an Architect I have an optimism that design and technology will continue to improve people’s lives and help create civilised cities. Rem Koolhaas says “You can’t be an Architect without being unrealistically optimistic”. I was 12 when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon and that obviously had a profound effect. I was raised on a weekly diet of “Tomorrow’s World” and the infectious enthusiasm of Raymond Baxter and James Burke. Now that I’m older I realise that the moon landing was only possible because of the unswerving political will. I appreciate that the inventions so energetically trumpeted on Tomorrow’s World made it into production and common usage due to an alignment of associated improvements to more prosaic components such as batteries and more importantly social behaviour and timing. The past is littered with brilliant inventions at the wrong time, Otto Rohwedder’s 1912 bread slicing machine really wasn’t seen as “the best thing since sliced bread” until many years later. So it was fortuitous that Professor Glenn Lyons was the first to present. Glenn is the Mott MacDonald Professor of Future Mobility at UWE Bristol. He is seconded for half his time creating a bridge between academia and practice. He has focused on the role of new technologies in supporting and influencing travel behaviour both directly and through shaping lifestyles and social practices. Glenn thought it important that we ask the right questions. Not “How can we make a driverless car that works and doesn’t kill people?’ but “Do driverless cars help address climate change, social inclusion, liveable cities and improved public health; and if so how?” Glenn’s presentation showed the futility of predicting 2050 by looking back 30 years to 1990. The advances (even with the enthusiastic presentations of Tomorrow’s World) were impossible to predict. If this pandemic had happened in 1990 how many of us would have been able to work from home, how many of us would have been able to shop? Glenn’s view is that we need the future to be vision led not forecast led. “It’s not a case of predict and pro-

vide but decide and provide. Decide what we would like to happen and develop a strategy to achieve it”. To sum up his presentation Glenn’s wish was that we all live local and think globalthe pandemic is teaching us just what a small fragile interconnected planet we inhabit. The Government’s recent decision to bring forward the ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars to 2030 is to be welcomed but is just one of many improvement we need to make. The next speaker continued with the theme of predictions. Dan Phillips heads the Royal College of Art’s Intelligent Mobility Design Centre. I first became aware of Dan’s work from a wonderful 2018 exhibition at the London Transport Museum which incorporated amazing contrasting visuals generated as a response to extensive research into attitudes on the Future of Transport. The research reveals fears that the new technology would exaggerate social division where automation and streets would be for the privileged with roads and technology priced for the wealthy. Previously Glenn had quoted the Science Fiction writer William Gibson “The future is already here- it’s just unevenly distributed”. Dan warned “Companies like Amazon and Uber have never made inclusivity their mantra” and that cities could become more isolated and automation could empty our High Streets. There are however great opportunities and cause for optimism. The choices are ours. Research showed that people’s aspirations are for an improved public realm and that London would become quieter, vehicles would become smaller and streets would be safer. Kay Hughes is the Design Director at HS2 and a passionate advocate of a low carbon future. In her presentation she showed examples of High-Speed Rail integrating with local connectivity and was optimistic that developments such as electric cycles would enable local distribution for people and also goods using cargo bikes from neighbourhood centres. To illustrate the point Kay showed the 2016 winning competition scheme for

the Oxford to Cambridge corridor which illustrated many of these concepts developed with the VeloCity team. Kay was concerned that Post Covid research showed that 70 per cent are anxious about public transport and we will need to work hard to promote higher levels of confidence. Anthony Dewar’s presentation looked to past Network Rail station designs in order to predict the future. As Steve Jobs said “In order to look to the future you have to understand the past” Anthony as Professional Head, Buildings and Architecture is currently organising a competition to design the Station of the Future for small and medium stations which make up 80 per cent of their building stock. The stations will knit with the community evoking memories of Bernard Cribbins in the Railway Children but suiting modern life and current demands incorporating necessary services. Anthony showed images from ‘Total

Recall’, ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘The 5th Element’ before closing ABOVE: with an example of how a vision of the future can be learnt from One of Dan Phillips’s visuthe past. Anthony’s closing image was of Motorail which British als illustrating the aspiraRail operated from 1996 to 2005 “An illustration of how old tions for the use of future technology could be put to new use demonstrating the possibilitechnologies. ties for automated vehicles capable of inner-city travel at slow speed driving onto a high-speed train travelling long distances.” Last but by no means least Industrial Designer Paul Priestman founder of Priestman Goode is a visionary. Paul showed wonderful examples of future thinking for the infrastructure in London. Projects proposed by private companies becoming involved in the provision of public transport creating choice and opportunities. One example was his Dromos vehicles which fit two people and link together on the road to travel longer distances. These privately funded initiatives are a reminder of the early days of >>>

LEFT Kay Hughes presented the VeloCity team 2016 Oxford-Cambridge Corridor proposals as an example of integrating high speed with local connectivity which she is bringing to her current role.

Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> the Victorian railways where private companies were the innovators. Paul believes that the numerous emerging options will allow people to make the right choices. RIGHT: It is always a pity that Zoom cannot recreate the atmoHow a vision of the future sphere of the question and answer session as there were some can be learnt from the fantastic questions from an engaged audience but it’s not quite past. Anthony’s closing the same when questions have to be read from the chat bar. image was of Motorail Concerns were raised that Transport Planners had got it which British Rail operated wrong in the past and there was no indication that the various from 1996 to 2005 visions of the future might be similarly flawed. Examples of distrust were offered and witnessed by the numerous objections BELOW: to local traffic calming measures in Hackney, Islington and elseDromos vehicles which fit where. Anxiety was expressed that we could be swopping one two people and link set of environmental problems for others. The hope from the together on the road to panel was expressed that greater research and community travel longer distances involvement would ensure this was not the case. No discussion on the future would be complete without reference to the impact of both slow moving airships and the ultra fast-moving Hyperloop. Opinions on their use and the timescale for possible implementation varied widely. Covid has demonstrated that close virtual contact is better than close physical proximity. There is a case to be made that high speed broadband is cheaper, safer, more environmentally friendly and enables civilised cities better than high speed rail. Moving at slower speeds but being connected would be attractive and might allow possibilities such as greater utilisation of the River Thames for commuters and tourists as just one example. In closing there was an optimistic consensus that the City would re-emerge better and stronger. Learning from history Leonardo, Michelangelo and Picasso all thrived through times of plagues. Each time cities have adapted and improved. Hopefully changes will be made and the unhumane conditions of the daily commute will be a thing of the past. My own proposals for incentivised timed travel was met with a stoney silence but other proposals for prioritising pedestrians and cyclists warmly welcomed. The pandemic has highlighted huge inequalities which are apparent in our urban environment and these must be addressed. My own daily cycle rides have shown me what poor external spaces we provide in social housing often for our key workers who have helped us through this pandemic. The consensus was that the political will to improve and redistribute is emerging. We need to make our cities more civilised for everyone, improving air quality, reducing noise, encouraging connections with nature. Already some examples such as the replacement of some parking spaces with high quality landscaping in areas like Marylebone High Street is showing the way forward. There were encouraging signs from other cities such as New York that this is happening. The key is investment in public transport and the public


Planning in London

realm. It is worrying that important projects with a strong business case such as Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line Extension have been put on hold. London has in the recent past led the world by introducing the congestion charge and putting the money into transport improvements. This has seen London reestablishing itself as a true polycentric city giving people choice as to where to live, work and relax. Other cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Toronto are learning from our example and perhaps Los Angeles with their additional tax to fund transport is now showing a way forward. Let’s hope that London’s anxiety about public transport is short lived and that we work together to continually improve our wonderful City. n Chris Williamson is a founder of WestonWilliamson+Partners Architects and Urban Designers based in London. WW+P specialise in the design of public transport infrastructure and the integration of associated commercial and residential development. Their work on projects such as the Jubilee Line Extension, Docklands Light Railway, East London Line, Crossrail and HS2 has led to work in Australia, Canada, China and Singapore and receiving the Queen’s Award for Export in

BELOW: WestonWilliamson+Partners proposals to traffic calm Broadway throughout the entire length of Manhattan. Sir Terry Farrell and others have proposed similar visions for busy parts of London

ABOVE: Chris Williamson’s proposals to encourage greater confidence in returning commuters

BELOW: WestonWilliamson+Partners proposals for part of the Old Kent Road where the Bakerloo Line Extension will bring great opportunities for regeneration

Issue 116 January-March 2021



A BID for the City Andrew Reynolds explains how partnership will help to power a dynamic recovery for the City

Andrew Reynolds is Chair of the Eastern City Partnership, a business collective in the eastern part of the City of London. Founded by a group of landowners and occupiers, the EC Partnership aims to promote and enhance the area by working collaboratively with the City of London and other public sector partners


Planning in London

The start of a new year is traditionally a time for planning, renewal and rebuilding, and as the challenging task of recovering from a global pandemic and navigating Brexit lies ahead of us, this rings truer than ever. The Prime Minister has declared that the UK recovery should be led by free enterprise: only through harnessing the private sector’s ability to innovate will we be able to navigate the uncharted waters of a post-Covid, post-Brexit world. These are extraordinary times, which will require extraordinary solutions. Brexit means more change for the City of London and for our businesses; waiting for the roll-out of the vaccine means that we are not out of the woods yet with Covid. The road to economic recovery will be long and hard, so businesses need to be able to maximise any growth opportunities in order to lead in rebuilding our economy. We should be mindful of the lessons from the major Asian cities on how they dealt with the Sars epidemic back in 2003 and indeed their approach to Covid. Central Government must support businesses through these uncertain times, reconsidering its decision to scrap tax free shopping, for example, and extending the VAT discount for certain sectors. We know from research that businesses want to grow new VAT registrations in October 2020 were actually higher than October 2019 - so Government needs to protect this growth by supporting business. How BIDs can help the City to reboot Through my work as Chair of EC Partnership, I know that we

are at a crucial point. As the driving force of the UK’s economy, London needs to be empowered to innovate. This is therefore the perfect time to launch a BID: BIDs are in a unique position to give businesses and communities a voice, enabling collective action and acting as a force for good and a force for change. As highlighted in the City Corporation’s London Recharged strategy1, collaboration will be essential in ensuring our success. We are entering a new era of public/private partnership, which will deliver more to serve local communities and businesses. With continuing pressures on the public purse, these partnerships will be more important than ever before. BIDs are well-placed to facilitate. Primera, the regeneration consultancy that operates and manages the EC Partnership, oversees one other Partnership and two BIDs within the City of London, as well as many others across the capital. Already, our BIDs and Partnerships are supporting our businesses and their communities, communicating with them to understand their needs and lobbying and delivering to help meet them. Throughout this pandemic and before, BIDs have been proving their worth. There are now over 60 BIDs in London, tailoring their work to the needs of each of their unique communities. The EC Partnership represents more than 4,000 businesses and plans to become a BID in the next 18 months – the largest in the UK, able to invest millions of pounds a year into the area from the private sector. This will complement the work of the City Corporation - it is not a substitute.

When planning our recovery, it is imperative that our problemsolving is bold and dynamic. Crucially, the EC Partnership has big ambitions to match its scale. While we were established before Covid, our ambitions are arguably even more relevant now. Our vision is to be a beacon for the capital, embracing our manifesto through our ESG ambitions. London is a command centre for the global economy; a £550bn driving force accounting for around 25 per cent of national GDP, its success is directly linked to ‘levelling up’ the UK. The City cannot rest on its laurels – we have a responsibility to lead from the front, demonstrating how to adapt to make the ‘new normal’ work for business and get our workforce back to their offices. Our capital must not be overlooked and we urge the Government to appreciate its role in the nation’s economic recovery. We must continue to see investment in major infrastructure and support for regeneration projects.

Practical steps to recovery But how can we begin the mammoth task of getting through this crisis, ensuring that London comes out thriving? First things first, we need to get people back into London and into the City. For London, footfall is the lifeblood of the economy, supporting a complex eco-system of shops, restaurants, cultural venues and hotels. Pre-Covid, over 500,000 people commuted into the City every day – but with blanket instructions to work from home for most of 2020 and the start of 2021 and a lack of confidence in the safety of coming into the City, this number has plummeted. With the first vaccines now approved and a nationwide roll out under way, we can finally start to plan ahead and inject life into our City once again. It is vital that we work on rebuilding confidence and push for a concrete return to the City. The office experience is not just a ‘nice to have’ for many businesses, but crucial for ongoing productivity, growth and staff wellbeing. For the wider ecosystem of businesses, it’s fundamental to survival. It is likely that recent changes in working practices will remain for some time, with fewer people working in offices every day of the working week. A recent report from Arup, commissioned by Primera's South Westminster and Midtown BIDs, found that only 18 per cent of office workers were back in the office full-time. And even with an effective vaccine, the report forecasts that office occupancy rates will still be 34 per cent lower than before. We know from talking to our businesses that the office model is far from dead, but it will undoubtedly look different in the future. We must not simply try to get back to the way things once were, but aspire to be better. Offices will evolve to be collaboration and experience hubs, where engagement and interaction can thrive. This will require some businesses to adapt their workspaces and the eco-system of support businesses to be agile in how they

meet changing demand. It is heartening to see the City of London Corporation pushing for creativity in this area, encouraging the creation of workplaces that promote physical and mental wellbeing. Employers need to get ahead of the curve: we should already be planning how we are going to encourage talent back into the office. There has been a behaviour shift due to Covid and nervousness will remain about things like public transport use. Change will not happen overnight: employers need to innovate on this issue, looking at how to incentivise staff through work benefits and more flexible contracts. BIDs are well placed to collaborate with employers on this, with an ability to advise and share knowledge. Property owners and landlords have responded swiftly to the changing landscape and we would encourage them to remain flexible in the coming months. Many asset owners are engaging proactively with tenants to ensure they can adapt workspaces and develop practical strategies for tenants to access tall towers safely - a particularly unique challenge for the City Cluster. Agility and being able to respond to changing working practices will be crucial in the longer term and is key to the City’s ongoing competitiveness and attractiveness. We can help share best practice and would encourage others to follow the example of big multinational players such as Brookfield and CC Land, who are innovating in this field. We also need to encourage leisure visitors to come back to the City. There are a wealth of landmarks and experiences in the City, from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Bank of England to Leadenhall Market, and we will need to promote these assets to re-establish the City as a 24/7 destination. With expertise in area promotion and placemaking, our City BIDs and Partnerships can provide tan-


Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> gible support here. We need to see a major campaign to promote all the things that make London the great global city it is, not only to entice international visitors and investment, but more immediately to remind London workers what attracted them to the capital in the first place. The EC Partnership has a key role to play in helping to redraw the future blueprint of the City. So what’s important? Covid has caused us to rethink what we want from our cities. We can use this as an opportunity to be innovative with our spaces, which will attract more diverse work forces and visitors. Curating unique historical, environmental and cultural experiences and creating welcoming and clean districts will widen the appeal of the City and give us access to new audiences. Together, the City can work to reposition itself as a 24/7 destination rather than a 9 to 5, weekday space. The Partnership is playing its part here, commissioning an asset audit by Publica to ensure we are making the most of public space in the Eastern Cluster. This will complement existing area programmes including Sculpture in the City, which is now in its tenth year. One of the ECP’S core aims is to create a more sustainable, agile, greener City with a greater social purpose. Sustainability


Planning in London

must be at the forefront of our recovery, using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as our blueprint. The private sector can play a pivotal role in establishing this vision, leading in innovation and supporting the public sector: by working in partnership, we can achieve more and be more ambitious with our environmental aims. Setting a bold vision for the future will be essential if we are to lead the country out of this crisis: the EC Partnership has brought together voices from our community and has a clear and exciting vision for where we want to take the City. These priorities are aligned with the City Corporation’s vision, and we have been empowered to deliver the programmes and interventions that will be so vital to the recovery. n 1


Benefiting from a live local plan monitor With the potential for such a significant amount of change to the planning system on the horizon, it is essential that our clients benefit from the very latest information on planning policy at the touch of a button, says Peter Canavan

Peter Canavan is Associate Partner at Carter Jonas

In November, Carter Jonas launched its Live Local Plan Monitor as an interactive online platform that analyses adopted local plans, emerging plans and consultations, and importantly housing land supply. We then interpret this information to identify the key opportunities for housing and commercial development, to assist our landowning and developer clients in their decision making. We have compiled information for the south of England and expect to release data for London and the east of England in the coming weeks, with the rest of England to follow shortly after. This information is particularly important at present, when our clients are reading about Government proposals for significant and wide-reaching reform of our planning system. Regardless of this, the existing framework can already prove challenging to navigate. It is our aim that our Live Local Plan Monitor will ‘cut through the noise’ and provide our clients with a consistent, up-to-date and easy-to-understand view of current and evolving development opportunities within a given administrative area. Reflecting on a particular area of flux, Government continues to propose changes to the Standard Methodology: the adopted method for assessing a local planning authority’s housing need. This was, until recently, going to change and disrupt housing needs across the country, and led to some local authorities freezing plan making progress amid uncertainty. The announcements in December last year (2020) suggested that Government would like to focus on growth in urban centres. We thought this was going to remain the ‘rebalancing of growth’ to the north of England and the West Midlands but what emerged was “a 35 per cent uplift to the post-cap number generated by the standard method to

Greater London and to the local authorities which contain the largest proportion of the other 19 most populated cities and urban centres in England” . The exact composition of these urban areas is somewhat unclear, and aspirations towards further brownfield regeneration is to be lauded, in principle. However, whether there is the developable land capacity to achieve this aim remains to be seen. And further, placing greater pressure on urban areas to deliver more homes is likely to simply increase the pressure on the Duty-to-Cooperate as the needs get squeezed out of tightly drawn borough boundaries and into the surrounding ‘shires’. This is unlikely to achieve the Government’s ambition for simple, and efficiently delivered Local Plans. What does appear to remain is a cross party commitment to the target for 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. And so, to reach this, the Government will need to maintain its momentum with updating guidance for the Standard Methodology to remove the uncertainty seen last year, with delays in plan production, and will also need to manage the questioning of the basis of this target - which remains population and household projection – and is now six or seven years old. It is easy to forget, with all the debate about centralised targets and formulae (not “algorithms”), that the delivery of new homes should be about meeting housing needs where they emerge, and that houses should be built where people want to live. So, whilst targets might be set to rebalance growth, meeting need will remain a priority. Of course, what we also need to remember is that the Standard Methodology is a starting point. Economic needs, and strategies (especially in a time of refocus post Brexit and the effects of the global pandemic) will continue to influence growth generally, and housing needs specifically. We >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> will see international and national competition for economic improvements as we climb out of a turbulent year. An example of this can be seen in Oxfordshire, where this year I took part in a (virtual) Local Plan examination, for the South Oxfordshire Local Plan. Here, there was significant professional and political debate regarding the composition of housing targets. The local authorities across Oxfordshire had collaborated on evidence collection and analysis and over several years argued about how best to divide housing needs that could not be met within the city of Oxford’s boundary. These needs emerged from a combination of ambitious ‘regional’ economic strategies and the constrained nature of the city. There simply is not the available ‘brownfield’ land in the city (and remembering just because a site is brownfield is does not make it automatically suitable for residential development) and the Green Belt quickly meets the urban edge. Not unfamiliar challenges, but it looked like the Oxfordshire Growth Board (a committee created


Planning in London

from the political leadership of each authority) had created a way through and was cited as an exemplar for the Duty-toCooperate by pervious Local Plan examiners. But Local Plan timetables were not aligned, housing numbers continued to be debated at each examination and the justification for economic strategies challenged. It is easy then, to see how this situation will continue to proliferate. Layered upon this too, is the need for affordable housing for those unable to access the market. Despite some very exciting and laudable projects by some local authorities, it is clear that the majority of affordable housing will continue to be delivered as a proportion of private housing development. Disparate local approaches and continuing challenges to the public purse will mean that we will never be able to return to the days of mass council estate development. Therefore, adding to the overall target for housing is likely to remain the most effect tool to deliver affordable housing as a proportion of the whole.

The Monitor is free to use. Go to:

When changes to calculating housing needs and requirements are introduced these will inevitably provide further opportunities for development proposals to be brought forward, whilst councils work to update their local development plans. This is something that our Live Local Plan Monitoring will help our clients to navigate. We will be able to keep clients abreast of changes to the Housing Delivery Test results for councils as well as their five-year housing land supply. These are the weights and measures to keep the plan process on track and to help maintain momentum in delivery. They also provide additional opportunities to consider development opportunities. We expect to help our land-owning and developer clients to engage in a proactive and collaborative way with local planning authorities. The need for a clear understanding of land’s development potential at the early stages of the plan making process is emphasised in the Government’s recent White Paper, Planning for the Future. If enacted, this will see most of the consultation on emerging development opportunities ‘front-loaded’ through the local plan making stage, with less emphasis on the planning application stages, as we are used to under the current system. This will mean that early engagement in plan making could become even more critical and knowing when to ‘strike’ will provide our clients with an advantage. The proposals for ‘zoning’ (for areas of development, at least) whilst appearing to be quite radical, are in fact an amplification of

existing allocation considerations. The expectation will still be that sites are promoted, and these are considered by the local planning authority. I expect that desire to see the delivery of hundreds of thousands of new homes a year, and the earlier consideration of deliverability in the plan making process will elevate the consideration of viability in plan making. This will be part of the front-loading exercise. This we can help our clients to understand, and the Live Local Plan Monitor will help in the decision-making process for when to deploy this information. Deliverability will continue to be a measure of a site’s worth, for allocation and planning consent. It will also be a measure for housing land supply calculations. If changes to the planning system are brought in, I think it is inevitable that there will be an initial rush of appeals and a delay until case law exists which will decide further appeals which will create an unstable time for housing delivery. With the potential for such a significant amount of change to the planning system on the horizon, it is essential that our clients benefit from the very latest information on planning policy at the touch of a button. n

Peter Canavan is an Associate Partner in Planning & Development at Carter Jonas. He has worked at Carter Jonas for three years where he has represented a number of public and private sector clients at Local Plan examinations and planning inquiries, specialising in housing needs and supply and spatial strategy. Prior to working at Carter Jonas Peter worked for nearly a decade in the public sector writing Local Plans

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Mangling the mutant Matthew Spry & Bethan Haynes consider the failed attempt at changing the standard method for local housing need

The launch of the proposed new standard method for local housing need on 6th August 2020 unleashed a media and political storm. An unfortunate cross-over with the problems of A-levels and GCSEs led to it being dubbed the ‘mutant algorithm’1 On 16th December, the Government sought to resolve matters, making a series of announcements across four publications: 1. A written Ministerial Statement2 2. Response to the Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Current Planning System3 3. Updates to the Planning Practice Guidance on Local Housing Need4 to set the new standard method approach 4. A spreadsheet with the indicative figures from the updated method5 What are the headlines and what does it mean? For most local authorities, it’s ‘as you were’ Outside the 20 largest urban areas, the method will remain that which was first introduced in 2017, which is based on applying the 2014-based household projections, with a percentage uplift to reflect the price-income affordability of housing, subject to the 40 per cent cap. Whilst the number will change in response to fluctuations in affordability, the ten year period over which it is calculated, and the plan-related 'cap', this represents stability. Interestingly, this now means that the majority of those local authorities preparing plans over the next 2-3 years, looking ahead to 2040 or beyond, will be doing so based on a demographic trend period of 2009-2014 that was infected by the financial crisis. The 20 largest cities and urban centres top up their need figure by 35 per cent. The new method applies what it calls a 'cities and urban centre


Planning in London

uplift' of 35 per cent to the capped need figure generated by the existing standard method in the top 20 largest cities and urban centres. What is classified as the top 20 is based on ranking the ONS list of major towns and cities6 by population, and thus it may change over time. The current top 20 are Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Kingston upon Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolverhampton. The effect of this uplift is summarised in the chart opposite, which compares the new SM approach against past delivery, the most recent Local Plan, and the previous version of the SM without the urban uplift. As can be seen, London represents the biggest absolute increase because the 35 per cent is applied to all Boroughs, whereas for other metropolitan areas it only applies to one or two urban authorities. We turn to the London figure later in our analysis. The City and Urban Centre Uplift: Quart into a pint pot? Beyond London, the figures generate a number of interesting dynamics. The new SM figures are markedly higher than most current Local Plan requirement figures for those cities, which were themselves lower than the previous Standard Method (ie without the new cities and urban centres uplift). With some exceptions (perhaps), this may simply mean the new method will pile up need into cities that do not realistically have the urban capacity to meet it. The Government rationale in its consultation response presents three reasons for this approach: "First, building in existing cities and urban centres ensures that new homes can maximise existing infrastructure such as public transport, schools, medical

facilities and shops. Second, there is potentially a profound struc- live nearby the services they rely on, making travel patterns more tural change working through the retail and commercial sector, sustainable. Local planning authorities should co-operate on that and we should expect more opportunities for creative use of land basis, notwithstanding any longer-term proposals set out in the in urban areas to emerge. Utilising this land allows us to give prior- Planning for the Future White Paper which explain that we intend ity to the development of brownfield land, and thereby protect to abolish the Duty to Cooperate." our green spaces. And third, our climate aspirations demand that Of course, the drive to meet needs in urban areas on brownwe aim for a spatial pattern of development that reduces the field land is not new. Many of the 20 cities are ones where their need for unnecessary high-carbon travel." current Local Plans sought but failed to identify sufficient land to All three reasons are what the planning system would tradi- meet previous - lower - estimates of need, thereby generating tionally have regarded as being ‘supply side’ or ‘policy-on’ and not unmet need. For example, in Brighton & Hove, the current Plan part of the so-called ‘objective assessment of need’7. 26 per cent was adopted after an examination process where the Inspector of the total housing need figure for these twenty cities is now concluded8 that, to be adopted, “I would need to be satisfied that based on explicit 'policy-on' considerations, and it will be interest- the Council had left no stone unturned in seeking to meet as ing to see whether and how these are played back into the debate much of this need as possible.” over setting 'policy-on' requirement figures, particularly in circumBrighton's Plan was subsequently adopted with an annual tarstances where those cities might say they are unable to meet get of 660, against a need figure (at the time) of 900‐1,200 dpa, needs due to lack of suitable or deliverable/developable sites. with unmet need that has not subsequently been addressed. The Questions may be raised as to whether these policy factors are new standard method now proposes a figure for Brighton that is consistent with the concept of need as almost three times recent rates of delivery, defined in the NPPF, or whether the appliThe consensus is that it’s really in a tightly bound city wedged between the cation of them only to the 20 largest South Downs and the English Channel. only a formula, but ‘algorithm’ is Extra need in Brighton thus inevitably urban centres - within what can be multimore à la mode polar urban conurbations - has been justiincreases pressure on areas like Horsham fied. and Mid Sussex via the duty to cooperate. The Government goes on to say that: "The increase in the Other high profile examples include Birmingham, Bristol, number of homes to be delivered is expected to be met by the Coventry and Reading, in some cases leading to plan making failcities and urban centres themselves, rather than the surrounding ure (e.g. the West of England) or protracted (largely unsuccessful) areas. In considering how need is met in the first instance, brown- attempts to resolve - with multiple neighbouring local authorities field and other under-utilised urban sites should be prioritised to - how those unmet needs will be addressed. In many of these promote the most efficient use of land. Development should align same cities (but also, for example, Newcastle, Leeds) needs that with the character of local neighbourhoods in urban areas and cannot be met in the urban area have resulted in plans proposing support the building of green homes. Green Belt release on the urban edge. This is to ensure that homes are built in the right places, to The Government might argue (as does Neil O’Brien MP – a make the most of existing infrastructure, and to allow people to critic of the 'mutant algorithm' – in this tweet thread9) that the >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> changing world and new permitted development rights will open up new capacity for residential development, that the development model for development in cities will need to change, and that the new Urban Task Force will help to shape a new approach. That may be right to some extent (of note, some of the 20 cities have exceeded their local plan targets suggesting the plan makers' attempts to quantify urban capacity is not infallible), but it does seem that the structural change sketchily envisaged would at best take time to achieve, whereas the new Standard Method figures will need to inform plan making now. And there is no change proposed to the NPPF’s requirement (para 67) for local plans to have: a. specific, deliverable sites for years one to five of the plan period b. specific, developable sites or broad locations for growth, for years 6-10 and, where possible, for years 11-15 of the plan Plan makers in these cities - faced with the elevated need figures - will be required to identify specific deliverable and developable capacity capable of meeting that need, and will struggle to rely on more abstract concepts around how future urban development will be realised. The two most recent iterations of the London Plan - faced with this challenge - have seen Inspectors (who reviewed the evidence) recommending a reduction in the housing requirement figures advanced by the Mayor due to insufficient confidence in deliverability of the urban capacity. The conclusions of the Inspectors examining the New London Plan in 2019 are apposite when they settled on the capacity constrained requirement figure that looks shortly to be adopted: "Furthermore, the question of supply is based on capacity and given that this would be maximised as far as realistically possible, it is difficult to see how the number of deliverable housing units could be increased [above 52K per annum] without consideration being given to a review of the Green Belt or further exploration of potential with local authorities within the wider South East." 12 On its face, it therefore seems unlikely there is sufficient evidence to conclude that these 20 cities will almost double the rate of housebuilding from 67.3K to the new ‘need’ of 131.5K. This takes us inexorably to: • Green Belt release on the edge of those cities that have them, with the scale of need being a proven part of an ‘exceptional circumstances’ justification under the NPPF; and/or • the duty to cooperate and the requirement for cities who cannot meet their need to seek arrangements with neighbouring LPAs as per the NPPF requirement (para 25 a) “that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development.” Unfortunately, we know that big cities' attempts to suc-


Planning in London

cessfully negotiate solutions for this unmet need are both tortuous and rarely completely successful (Birmingham being a notable example). The national housing need figure is 297,605 (let’s call it 300,000) Based on the indicative figures supplied by Government, the new national total is just short of 300K, but this figure will change when individual affordability ratios, projection period, and outputs of the plan-based 'cap' all change over time. This compares to an average annual net additions rate since 2017 of 236K. However, the change in the Standard Method is not evenly spread by region. The chart on the previous page shows current local plan requirements, average delivery, the current method (with and without the urban uplift) and the (now deceased) mutant algorithm. 1. London is responsible for the greatest uplift. The increase to 93.5K is almost identical to the figure produced by the ‘mutant algorithm', and is well north of recent completions and current or emerging London Plan. The Government says: "It is clear that in London, in the medium term, there will need to be a much more ambitious approach to delivering the homes the capital needs. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government expects to agree the London Plan with the Mayor shortly. This new plan, when adopted, will set London’s housing requirement for the next 5 years." 2. This would suggest the London figure is of more academic interest right now, and its uplift will not contribute towards meeting 300K over the next five years. 3. The new standard method is below recent rates of housing delivery in the midlands and northern regions; criticisms made about consistency with the ‘levelling-up’ agenda might be made again. 4. The figures in the three southern regions (to 113.7K dpa) are an increase, but not by very much when one considers that the three southern regions have been delivering 93.3K dpa over the past three years. Those regions have been achieving this despite only partial local plan coverage, particularly in areas of Green Belt where rates of development are very low. The new figures appear to be readily achievable if those regions can secure local plan coverage. The reduction from the mutant algorithm’s 137K dpa figure is a stark measure of the political change that has occurred. Whither the OxCam (CaMKoX) Corridor? The authorities in the OxCam corridor have delivered an average of just over 22K dwellings per year in the last three years (to 2020); slightly more than the standard method indicated was needed (before any urban uplift) – 21K10. But none of the cities in

the corridor fall within the 20 largest urban areas to which a 35 per cent uplift is applied – meaning that the number across the arc will remain at just under 21K dpa for the foreseeable future. This falls below the identified need for between 23K and 30K homes to support transformation economic growth across the arc, as identified by the National Infrastructure Commission. This ultimately means that Government is reliant upon authorities in the OxCam corridor voluntarily ‘doing more’ than the minimum housing need figure if it wants to fulfil the arc’s economic potential. There is nothing in the PPG to prevent this – indeed, it is encouraged. But it is interesting how the corridor - a longstanding national policy priority - did not similarly feed its way into the revised method as part of the new ('policy-on') uplift. Government has reiterated the 2023 local plans deadline In the WMS, the Secretary of State commented on the timescale for implementation of the wider reforms in the White Paper, saying that the Government: “will publish a response in the Spring which will setting out our decisions on the proposed way forward, including to prepare for legislation, should we so decide, in the Autumn.” Whatever the parliamentary passage of that primary legislation, this will be only the first step in a journey that will also involve secondary legislation, policy and guidance to be concluded before any local authority begins its 30 month plan preparation period. There is, quite simply, no realistic prospect of the White Paper providing the framework for practical plan making over the next few years. Despite this, some LPAs have taken the view that they should halt plan making to wait for the new system. The Government has therefore made plain in its response to the consultation that: “The government wants to ensure that work continues to progress Local Plans through to adoption as soon as possible and, at a minimum, by the end of 2023 to help ensure that the economy can rebound from COVID-19.” The December 2023 deadline was the basis of the Secretary of State’s announcement in March 202011 which included the following threat: "The government will prepare to intervene where local authorities fail to meet the deadline in accordance with the existing statutory powers, considering appropriate action on a case by case basis." The Government will need to monitor closely how quickly the local plan making system – which has stalled due to White Paper, SM and COVID uncertainty – gets back in the saddle and progresses with plan-making. There are a significant number of local authorities where plans will fall beyond the five years-from adoption threshold over the next 2-3 years and need new plans. Putting all of the above together, one overwhelming conclusion becomes apparent… It is unlikely the SM alone will lead to 300K by the mid 2020s. Outside London, the new SM adds up to 204K dpa. It is only

London’s heroic figure of 93.5K that means the new method gets close to 300K, and we know this is a task for the new London Plan that may take five years to put in place, even before it delivers new homes on the ground. There have to be very significant doubts over the prospect of London hitting that figure given past rates of delivery. There is little evidence that many local authorities are actively seeking to exceed the standard method, despite it being a minimum starting point; in fact, there are examples of areas ratcheting down their ambitions in response to it. We may see some areas continue with higher build rates, but that may diminish as plans are reviewed based on the new method. The Government would need to introduce significant complementary incentives for areas to go above their numbers. The duty to cooperate has not proved an effective mechanism for the timely resolution of unmet needs in areas of constraints, and we are unlikely to have a sequencing of new local plan production before the December 2023 deadline that ensures all areas are preparing plans at the same time such that needs are met across wider areas. There is so far little evidence that the strategic plan making ambitions being pursued in many areas are proving an effective or responsive way of addressing these matters. With a fair wind, the proposals in the new SM are a recipe for maintaining (just) current national rates of housing delivery, but seem unlikely to get England over the 300K hurdle. n Footnotes 1 The consensus is that it’s really only a formula, but ‘algorithm’ is more à la mode. 2 The Ministerial Statement is available here: 3 The response to the consultation can be downloaded here: 4 The PPG can be accessed here: 5 The111 figures can be downloaded here: attachment_data/file/944896/Indicative_Local_Housing_Need_Publication_T able_.ods 6 Office for National Statistics list of Major Towns and Cities: 7 Definitions clearly set out in Gallagher Estates and Lioncourt Homes vs Solihull MBC [2014] EWHC 1283 (Admin) 8 As set out in her letter here: Letter to council Dec 13.pdf 9 10 MHCLG indicative figures suggest the new SM yields 200 dpa more in the corridor, but this is due to a gremlin for Oxford which did not take account of the recently adopted Plan (impacting on the cap). No cities in the OxCam corridor feature in ‘the list’ of top 20 cities and urban centres. 11 12 sites/default/files/london_plan_report_2019_final.pdf

This article first appeared as a blog at © Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners Ltd 2020

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Mutant algorithm, standard method As the ‘mutant algorithm’ bites the dust Simon Ricketts asks: “Wouldn’t some evidence be helpful, as well as a proper assessment of impacts and alternatives?”

From Simon’s SIMONICITY blog at /simonicity/

Simon Ricketts is a partner in Town Legal LLP


Planning in London

On 16 December 2020 the Government abruptly abandoned its proposed revised standard method for calculating local housing need, in the face of political and media pressure from those who saw the method increasing substantially the figure for their particular areas. I covered the consultation as to the proposed revised method in my 29 August 2020 blog post, asking whether we might see a fudged outcome. My piece referred to press press pieces such as the article by Conservative MP for Harborough, Neil O’Brien, The next algorithm disaster – coming to a Conservative constituency near you. This time, it’s housing growth. (ConservativeHome, 24 August 2020)and Planning algorithm may destroy suburbia: Tory MPs warn Boris Johnson. (The Times, 29 August 2020). “Mutant algorithm” they all said. So the Government has decided to stick to its previous 2017 method (just as much of an algorithm, equally “mutant”), one based on out of date household formation figures from 2014 (2014!), but with a heavy handed readjustment of the figures to ensure that they still add up to 300,000 homes (a number which itself has no empirical basis • but reflective of the extent of the, plain to see, housing crisis). The heavy handed-adjustment? To increase the relevant figure by 35 per cent for England’s 20 largest towns and cities, including London. Imagine if a local planning authority attempted to include housing numbers in its plan in such a way, without evidence! (Or indeed if it introduced a blanket “approve it all” policy equivalent to the effect of the new class E to C3 PD right!). If anyone knows about planning and housing, it’s Chris Young QC. He had put forward constructive suggestions for improving the proposals given the unduly low numbers the draft revised method would have achieved for much of the north. His subsequent LinkedIn post was incandescent: “• Confused about the "new" Standard Method? • Baffled why it fails to address levelling up across the North? • Mystified why in an economic crisis, Govt would focus on the largest cities where apartment prices are falling? • Troubled by the urban focus, when overcrowded housing is a key factors for the UK having the highest Covid 19 death rate in Europe? Well, here's what just happened Govt introduced Standard Method 1 in 2017 to make housing targets simpler. But it added up to less than its own 300,000 annual target, and collapsed housebuilding in the North In August, Govt consulted on a revised version. But it contained a double affordability uplift which piled the numbers into the Shires, causing a Tory revolt Then experts in this field came up with a more appropriate

set of numbers focussing on achieving 300,000, levelling up the North.

And then Ministers bottled it They decided to leave the formula, which they know doesn't work, the same. But add 35 per cent to the major constrained cities nearly all of which are Labour controlled, pinning their hopes on a collapse in the office market and town centres and the use of PD rights Housing policy in this country is not about housing people. Its now 100 per cent about politics” I’ve no problem with an urban focus, but what really is the point when those higher numbers will not be achieved, meaning an inevitable failure to achieve the overall target? Let’s take a step back (watch out for the Christmas tree though). The Government’s NPPF tells local planning authorities this: “To determine the minimum number of homes needed, strategic policies should be informed by a local housing need assessment, conducted using the standard method in national planning guidance – unless exceptional circumstances justify an alternative approach which also reflects current and future demographic trends and market signals. In addition to the local housing need figure, any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas should also be taken into account in establishing the amount of housing to be planned for.” (paragraph 60). The new standard method is incredibly important, both for this purpose, and because it will form the basis for the new plan-making system proposed in the white paper, where local planning authorities will have to plan, without deviation, for the numbers handed down to them (numbers which will be based on this standard method and then tweaked by government by way of an as yet undevised process). To understand the detail what has now been introduced, and the justifications given, there are four relevant documents, all published on 16 December 2020: press statement, Plan to regenerate England's cities with new homes 16 December 2020 • written ministerial statement • changed planning practice guidance • the Government’s response to the local housing need proposals in “Changes to the current planning system” The response document tries to downplay the role of the numbers - making them out not to be a “target” but a “starting point”: “Many respondents to the consultation were concerned that the ‘targets’ provided by the standard method were not appropriate for individual local authority areas. Within the current planning system the standard method does not present a ‘tar-

get’ in plan-making, but instead provides a starting point for determining the level of need for the area, and it is only after consideration of this, alongside what constraints areas face, such as the Green Belt, and the land that is actually available for development, that the decision on how many homes should be planned for is made. It does not override other planning policies, including the protections set out in Paragraph 11b of the NPPF or our strong protections for the Green Belt. It is for local authorities to determine precisely how many homes to plan for and where those homes most appropriately located. In doing this they should take into account their local circumstances and constraints. In order to make this policy position as clear as possible, we will explore how we can make changes through future revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework, including whether a renaming of the policy could provide additional clarity.”

Weaselly words! Of course they are a target. This methodology can no longer be said to be a proper methodological assessment of local need based on demographics and household formation rates - if nothing else, the 35 per cent uplift for the major towns and cities puts paid to that. The justification given for the uplift is a policy justification: “"First, building in existing cities and urban centres ensures that new homes can maximise existing infrastructure such as public transport, schools, medical facilities and shops. Second, there is potentially a profound structural change working through the retail and commercial sector, and we should expect more opportunities for creative use of land in urban areas to emerge. Utilising this land allows us to give priority to the development of brownfield land, and thereby protect our green spaces. And third, our climate aspirations demand that we aim for a spatial pattern of development that reduces the need for unnecessary high-carbon travel." I quoted Chris Young earlier. For an equally brilliant, expert

and authoritative analysis how about Lichfields? This is a superb post [see previous feature] by Matthew Spry and Bethan Hayes Mangling the mutant: change to the standard method for local housing need on the day of the announcement, including indications as to what the new numbers will mean for the 20 largest towns and cities:

ABOVE: Table courtesy of Lichfields [see previous feature]

Courtesy of Lichfields How quickly will the changes come into effect? The Government’s response document says this: “From the date of publication of the amended planning practice guidance which implements the cities and urban centres uplift, authorities already at Regulation 19, will have six months to submit their plans to the Planning Inspectorate for examination, using the previous standard method. In recognition that some areas will be very close to publishing their Regulation 19 plan, these areas will be given three months from the publication date of the revised guidance to publish their Regulation 19 plan, as well as a further six months from the date they publish their Regulation 19 plan to submit their plan to the Planning Inspectorate for examination, to benefit from the transition period. The standard method has a role not only in plan-making, but is also used in planning decisions to determine whether an area has identified a 5 year land supply for homes and for the purposes of the Housing Delivery Test (where strategic policies are more than five years old). Where this applies, the revised standard method (inclusive of the cities and urban areas uplift) will not apply for a period of six months from the publication of the amended planning practice guidance. After 6 months, the new standard method will apply.” For London: “It is clear that in London, in the medium term, there will need to be a much more ambitious approach to delivering the homes the capital needs. The Secretary of State for Housing, >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



>>> Communities and Local Government expects to agree the London Plan with the Mayor shortly. This new plan, when adopted, will set London’s housing requirement for the next five years. The local housing need uplift set out today will therefore only be applicable once the next London Plan is being developed. In order to support London to deliver the right homes in the right places, the government and Homes England are working with the Greater London Authority to boost delivery through the Home Building Fund. Homes England has been providing expertise and experience to support the development of key sites in London. Sites like Old Oak Common, Nine Elms and Inner East London provide opportunities to deliver homes on significant brownfield sites. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will consider giving Homes England a role in London to help meet this challenge, working more closely with the Greater London Authority, boroughs and development corporations to take a more direct role in the delivery of strategic sites in London and the preparation of robust bids for the new National Homebuilding Fund.” A final musing for the lawyers It has become a bit of a knee jerk reaction to proposals to question whether strategic environmental assessment was in fact required but...was it? The criteria were recently set out again in R (Rights : Community : Action) v Secretary of State (Divisional Court, 17 November 2019) “From the statutory framework it can be seen that a plan or programme is only required to be the subject of an environmental assessment if all four of the following requirements are satisfied:(1) The plan or programme must be subject to preparation or adoption by an authority at national, regional, or local level,


Planning in London

or be prepared by an authority for adoption, through a legislative procedure by Parliament or Government; (2) The plan or programme must be required by legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions; (3) The plan or programme must set the framework for future development consents of projects; and (4) The plan or programme must be likely to have significant environmental effects.” It was held in that case that the GPDO and Use Classes Order changes did not require SEA because they do not set the framework for future development consents. The previous challenge to NPPF changes in Friends of the Earth v Secretary of State (Dove J, 6 March 2019) had also failed. Dove J held that, whilst it did set the framework for subsequent development consents, the NPPF was not a measure "required by legislative regulatory or administrative provisions". But what is wrong with the following analysis? • criterion 1 - standard method = a plan prepared by government • criterion 2 - standard method = a plan required by administrative provisions, i.e. required by NPPF paragraph 60 • criterion 3 - standard method sets framework for local plans and for decision making • e.g. onus on the major towns and cities in their next plans to plan for 35 per cent more homes or suffer consequences via the tilted balance and housing delivery test - indeed geographically specific in a way which the NPPF and PPG has previously largely avoided • criterion 4 - standard method likely to have significant environmental effects - of course. In any event, wouldn’t some evidence be helpful, as well as a proper assessment of impacts and alternatives, before lurching to a new system that has moved a long way further away from being any methodological assessment of local housing need? n Simon Ricketts, personal views, et cetera


Where school buildings can go from here Demands on UK schools were changing even before COVID-19, with an emphasis on technology becoming more widespread, and sustainability commitments growing in importance, says Rich Murphy

This past year schools have been very much in the public eye, with debate over whether pupils should stay at home dominating headlines in recent weeks and most recently, a nationwide lockdown seeing doors temporarily close. Education settings play a crucial role in young people’s lives and development and, with the vaccine roll-out now underway, authorities have the opportunity to turn to new innovations in design and construction to equip schools to not only cope but thrive as we learn to manage in the coming months and years. In fact, demands on UK schools were changing even before COVID-19, with an emphasis on technology becoming more widespread, and sustainability commitments growing in importance. Meanwhile, the value of pupil-centric design has been increasingly acknowledged. These developments are steps school buildings can take both to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and to future-proof education for this generation and the next. Pandemic-proof technology Our built environment is already being radically changed by digitalisation, with ‘smart’ homes and offices proliferating across the country. Now, schools should start thinking about how similar transformations can benefit their staff and pupils. Footfall and motion sensors, for example, would enable schools to monitor occupancy in classrooms and corridors, detecting potential health risks in real time. This of course helps mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but these technologies will retain their usefulness well into the post-pandemic period. Techenabled air-quality control systems can also track CO2 levels in the air, while smart ventilation systems can respond to alerts by increasing fresh air supply where necessary. As well as helping maintain optimal air quality, these technologies can give schools a better understanding of how they use – and perhaps waste – the resources available to them. Internet of Things (IoT) technology can provide insights into occupants’ use of space within buildings, potentially highlighting underutilised

areas where a change in approach would improve timetabling efficiency. Given the continuing emphasis on social distancing, unlocking the full potential of the space within school buildings has never been more important. Furthermore, optimising space usage will remain integral to the smooth running of the school day long after the end of the pandemic.

School sustainability As the UK approaches its deadlines for net-zero carbon emissions, and as the population becomes ever more environmentally conscious, it is also important for schools to integrate sustainability into their sites. Thankfully, there is a plethora of technology designed to support these efforts, from IoT innovations to modular methods of construction. Lighting and heating are both fundamental to the operation and running cost of school buildings. Schools have the opportunity to invest in ways to facilitate the sustainable use of these resources. Intelligent lighting controls, for instance, can maximise energy efficiency with functions such as automated dimming and daylight harvesting, while ‘task tuning’ can limit light output in a given space as per user preference. Preferences can be programmed manually or learned by AI-driven technology based on previous patterns, tailoring energy usage to optimise efficiency and comfort. In addition, smart systems can adjust heating output according to occupancy data or local weather reports, ensuring an optimal environment for occupants’ wellbeing as well as energy efficiency. Both air conditioning and heating can be streamlined in this way, enhancing schools’ sustainability credentials in all seasons. And with heating responsible for 10 per cent of the UK’s entire carbon footprint,1 these opportunities to maximise efficiency should not be passed up easily. Sustainability can also be built into school sites through innovation solutions such ‘living walls’, exterior building skins made of

Rich Hyams is director at Astudio architects


Issue 116 January-March 2021



living algae compounds which remove CO2 particles from the air. These algae can later be harvested as a form of biofuel, taking schools a step closer to self-sufficiency. With the construction sector consuming more than 400m tonnes of material each year,• it is also vital to make new school buildings more sustainable before they even become active. Modular construction can help enhance school buildings’ sustainability credentials from the manufacturing stage, with its factory setting producing up to 90 per cent less waste than traditional construction methods.2 This is largely achieved by recycling waste materials into other projects or using more ecofriendly materials such as FSC-approved timber and sustainably sourced steel.

FOOTNOTES 1 2 ws/planning-constructionnews/green-impact-modularconstruction/34514/#:~:text=Le ss%20noise%20pollution,noise% 20pollution%20is%20reduced% 20dramatically 3 4


Planning in London

Cost- and time-efficiency Schools have had to adapt quickly to the unprecedented circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but they should seek solutions, which also improve their resilience against future pressures. Modular construction will continue to prove crucial as schools strive to flex-up their capacity while saving time, money and the planet. Modular structures can be built to last, and their manufacture in a factory setting allows different stages of construction to take place simultaneously, with any supply chain issues more easily resolved from the factory floor. This results in a 50 per cent reduction in programme length compared to traditional processes, including a reduction in building time of more than 75 per cent.4 astudio’s Desborough Road project, for example, will demonstrate modular’s potential to meet communities’ needs, providing 58 units of accommodation for vulnerable families in High Wycombe who would otherwise be homeless – demonstrating the benefits of a rapid response to capacity concerns is readily transferrable to school buildings. Streamlined building processes equate to minimal time spent onsite, where prefabricated modular structures can be delivered and assembled at pace, limiting disruption to existing school facilities. This diminishes the impact of air and noise pollution, while also limiting the potential of construction activity to disrupt the school day.

Moreover, the highly controlled factory setting minimises the potential for projects to suffer from disruption due to COVID-19. While the first national lockdown significantly impacted the sector, safety can be more easily monitored in factory settings and social distancing can be far better maintained. Significant savings can also be made by capitalising on the reusability of modular structures. Classrooms can be erected quickly to keep capacity high and disruption low, and these structures can later be disassembled and transported to other sites where there is greater need.

User-centric design All of these innovations are designed to help schools safeguard the interests of their pupils amid challenges known and unknown. This priority should be manifested in every aspect of schools’ buildings. From ensuring that there is good access to natural light, to providing open, inclusive spaces that empower all learners, it is critical that schools are designed with pupils in mind. Virtual reality (VR) technology can help achieve this, as was the case at the Kingston Academy, where teachers, pupils and their families used VR headsets to explore and inform the design of the new learning space designed by astudio. This level of engagement leads to spaces the school community can be proud of and enhance the teaching environments. At the St Paul’s Way Trust School in Tower Hamlets, for example, astudio worked with the incoming headteacher and school community to design a new learning environment that contributed to the school’s transition from ‘special measures’ to an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ grading within two years of its completion. A recent Ofsted report identified the project’s positive effect on both learning and behaviour, underlining the potential for architectural improvements to tangibly benefit pupils’ performance. Schools are such an integral part of our communities that we should always be vigilant for new ways to help them adapt. Investment in technology, renewed commitment to sustainability, and a concerted effort to keep pupils at the heart of design will all be vital to schools in not only overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19, but also creating the learning environments that future generations of students deserve. n


Lives In Architecture Sir Terry Farrell introduces his new autobiography ISBN 9781859469330 Published October 1, 2020 by RIBA Publishing 176 Pages

Cover photo by Morley Von Sternberg

I have written many books over the years, but when Helen Castle the Publishing Director at the RIBA approached me I had no idea that this one would be the hardest to write. As I embarked on this immense task I began to revisit my experiences over eight decades in a memoir about my architectural career, and to make sense of the shifting sands of taste and architectural aesthetic alongside my own personal priorities. Like everyone there have been good and bad times but on reflection I think I have faced everything with a sense of optimism and a deep seated pragmatism that has got me through. Much as it was enjoyable to look back and remember the great collaborations and teams that I worked with creating buildings, my architectural achievements that physically exist, and some that are even lucky enough to be considered worth protecting by being listed. I realised that when all is said and done what really interested me was my life and career within the context of social mobility. Social mobility in Britain is the worst in the western world, and all our political parties agree on this, and I might add that the north east fares the worst within that dire statistic. The architectural profession’s culture and output is skewed. The glossy publications showcase projects built by the privileged for the privileged and affluent classes. In the 1950s I was lucky enough to go to a grammar school but it was only at the 11th hour, six months prior to sitting my O’levels, that I really grasped what would be required from me in order to pass exams and eventually be accepted into university. Where the uphill struggle would really begin for me to join the ranks of the somewhat socially elitist profession that I was aiming for. Today, through highlighting people like me, who grew up on council estates and became architects, it must be made clear that there is no way that I would have been able to afford to do the current 5 year course. It is financially crippling and essentially divides potential students from families into those that can or can’t afford that expense. My genuine hope is that we can devise a way to improve

access to architectural teaching and qualifications. For true diversity we need more varied training routes and a lower cost of entry. Throughout my career many architects have passed through my offices working on different building projects. One such wrote to me very recently saying: ‘I remember sitting with you on the prow of MI6 shortly before completion, and you turning to me with a smile and saying “it’s great putting up buildings, isn’t it.” Indeed it is (as they) will endure and influence generations to come … Thank you for your guidance, patience … friendship over many years.’ It was Duncan Whatmore who wrote this, but it could have been written by so many who became good friends over the years. I feel very fortunate to have been able to pursue my career alongside so many talented and creative people. Writing this book gave me the chance to reflect on what I believed in and indeed what was most needed by the world around me. What became apparent to me, certainly from the early 2000’s onwards was that what really mattered and made a difference to people’s actual lives was the everyday, the ordinary and that is what needs our professional help and should be the focus of our skills. Most of our environment does not involve any architects’ or any designers’ input whatsoever, and it shows. Right now we should be focusing on a much greater ambition for the ordinary and the everyday. The street, the context of the city, and proactive city-making lay the foundations for a better public realm and that in turn informs what is then built. Our environment should not be biased towards specific socioeconomic groups, whether aristocracy, bourgeoisie, intelligentsia or working people. It should be the collective expression of everyone’s taste and judgement. Consequently, working in the public and shared realm, the urban designer/planner is involved in trying to ascertain the aspirations and needs of a broad cross-section of society. In my experience masterplanning evolves and naturally becomes part of a collective and democratic ownership and does not have the same immutable character as that of architecture, once in the public domain my masterplans became public property and for me ownership was never a consideration. To have been possessive about my work would have resulted in it being stillborn and risked it not being realised. Whilst I was writing my memoirs I was actively involved with Newcastle University to take on my extensive archive and also to create The Farrell Centre. The centre will be a new type of public institution, that will focus on multiple disciplines; part research hub, part civic space, part gallery and museum. This idea grew out of one of my conclusions in the Farrell Review (2010) - that every city should have an urban room, where citizens can be actively engaged in their cities past present and future. The centre aims to bridge the public, professional, commercial and academic, to be an advocate for architecture and planning in Newcastle and the north east of England, while contributing to broader national and international debate on the future of architecture and cities. n

Issue 116 January-March 2021



The legacy of Terence Conran Tim BowderRidger looks at how Sir Terence Conran’s legacy will be carried on through the work of Conran and Partners

Tim Bowder-Ridger is principal at Conran and Partners


Planning in London

Sir Terence Conran’s passing this autumn filled me with sadness but also a great deal of gratitude. Terence was a fantastic curator of design with a talent for understanding not just what people need functionally, but also anticipating what people aspire to emotionally. Working with him directly for the first decade or so of my 23 years at Conran and Partners, the practice Terence founded with Fred Roche, I was always struck by how intuitive he was, in a way that those of us who are trained as architects too often struggle to be probably due to the complex nature of what we are trained to do. Over the years working with Terence, and even after he had stepped back from the day to day business, we shared a belief that the most successful designs are those that are at ease with themselves. We also shared a frustration when processes became over-complex and too dominant, or even self-serving, due to the narrow interests vying for attention without seeing the bigger idea. Indeed, most of us feel the exasperation of seeing lost opportunities for making the world better due to the system that is too often compromised by ‘not seeing the woods for the trees.’ I suspect this was a big part of why Terence just had to be an entrepreneur as well as a designer. Notwithstanding his name is often connected with luxury, he cared deeply about making design democratically accessible… very much in the spirit of the festival of Britain. This is a principle that remains central to our practice ethos, despite people often being surprised to find that for every high profile, luxury apartment Conran and Partners delivers in projects such as Centre Point Tower and Cadence, King’s Cross, we also deliver scores of affordable homes of all tenures. Whilst these briefs and budgets are extremely, and interestingly variable, we consistently follow our core approach of building a narrative around the context and the users’ needs. This in turn produces a bespoke solution even if the tone is recognisable… think of how BMW manufactures mini Coopers as well as its luxury brands. They are all BMW’s with the same sense of quality, tone and aspiration but are addressing different audiences and their needs. Our way of ensuring that our designs are relevant to the brief is to create a narrative which is focussed on two key areas: the context and the end-user. In many ways the context is the easier starting point, looking at the historical, physical and cultural nature of the location and/or the building we are working with. This might already be in flux or it might be our task to create wider change. Understanding the end-user is a more intuitive process, largely influenced by Terence’s ethos. We invest a lot of time in trying to understand the users of the buildings, neighbourhoods and spaces we are creating. This is not limited to, for instance, just the residents but it is also considering the neighbours and passers-by. We must also consider that the way

people live or want to live is never fixed and it has been our view for many years that the different parts of people’s lives are very much blurred between living, working and playing. Over the last decade, it has been clearly established that hotel operators want their product to feel like an aspirational home, whilst residential purchasers, for instance, want their apartments to have all that their favourite hotel offers. In fact, the BTR market is driving this trend ever faster and we were seeing increasing overlaps between homes, hotels and workplaces, even before COVID-19. The blurring of edges and de-compartmentalisation of peoples’ lives has been a constant evolution and something we have been preaching for many years. Recent technology has created greater flexibility in how people organise their lives, and the current pandemic has noticeably accelerated this direction of travel, to such an extent that it is very difficult to imagine a return to the previous norms, particularly when we consider people’s work lives. Our industry must therefore play catch-up and recognise that the old restrictions around class-uses need to be reconsidered to reflect that homes and hotels, in particular, will play a more important role in terms of workplace. For instance, in the process of designing our new studios in central London for a move this summer, we have been thinking hard about the purpose of this expensive floor space. Our current COVID risk-management, that sees most of the team working from home the majority of the time, is not the longterm model for us. As a creative business we heavily rely on close collaboration between teams and the mentoring of up-

and-coming talent. Something I believe is true of most service industries to a greater or lesser extent. However, like many, we see the advantage of rebalancing our lives between being at home and being in the studio, from both an environmental and a well-being perspective. We are therefore introducing post-COVID policies that will enable team members to work up to two days a week from home, while still spending the majority of their time together with their colleagues and collaborators inside and outside the practice. This also allows for future growth in the team, perhaps through versions of hot-desking in due course, without needing

to move or take on yet more space and cost. ABOVE: If this approach is followed widely in our cities, as we suspect Centre Point Tower for it will, it does not spell the end for office space by any means. Almacantar and one of But instead suggests that smaller, better-quality spaces in attracthe apartments tive and well-connected locations will be the priority. A positive knock-on effect of this will be to free up space to enable a rebalancing of uses and a return to a more organic planning approach where workplaces, homes and leisure are more dynamically mixed to recognise how people want to live. Moving away from the deadening and unsustainable effects of prescriptive dormitory neighbourhoods and 9-5 business districts, that >>>

LEFT: Kita Aoyama for NTT Urban Development Corporation

Issue 116 January-March 2021



BELOW: Cadence for Argent


RIGHT: The Conran Shop Seoul for The Conran Shop and Lotte


Planning in London

by their nature require a long distance commuting culture, surely can only be a good thing? During the pandemic, I have seen in my own neighbourhood of Peckham Rye that our local high street has been thriving during the week as never before. Of course, if we assume full-time home working is not going to be model for the majority, this may reduce to an extent, but it does suggest a potential levelling out of activity between local neighbourhoods in London and its centre. There is no doubt that since Terence started Habitat over 50 years ago, retail has fundamentally changed from the functional to being a leisure activity. The function of buying is ever more dominated by online, and for some time now we have seen the big traditional formats really struggling. The exceptions are the bespoke and independent venues who, by their nature, are fundamentally experiential. So as with workplace, the definition of retail needs to be reviewed and a looser approach is needed. The future must lie, even in the most retail dominated districts, in diversifying to recognise that audiences require more choices. For instance, if those traditionally defined as ‘office workers’ widely work from home two days a week, as we are planning for our team, the footfall in the location of office might drop by 40 per cent. Perhaps retail-heavy areas such as the West End can only counter this effect by creating smaller, retail venues and building more homes, perhaps at the cost of office and large retail formats, and for those homes to be designed with home-working front and centre - thereby creating more self sustaining neighbourhoods with the diversity that characterises London at its best. In the meantime, the pandemic is one of the great, albeit tragic, watershed moments in our history. These moments force

us to stand back and look at how we have been doing things. As architects and designers, we must remain the world’s greatest optimists and attempt to positively anticipate people’s needs and aspirations. The key difference at this point in time is the speed of that change, enabled by technology and the urgency of adjusting our behaviours to become less damaging to our environment. If Terence was still with us, he would be very excited by the new opportunities to create “good designs that improve peoples’ lives”. But in his absence, we at Conran and Partners will stay loyal to his ethos and hope that he is looking down at us through the clouds (of cigar smoke) with some approval. n

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Planning and Environment Reference Guide Please notify any changes immediately by e-mail to with the subject ‘planning in london directory’. LONDON BOROUGHS DIRECTORY

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Barking Town Hall Barking IG11 7LU

Mr Paul Moore Acting Chief Executive 0203 045 4901 David Bryce-Smith Director Public Protection, Housing and Public Realm 0203 045 5779

020 8215 3000 -and-building-control/ Chris Naylor Chief Executive London Borough of Barking and Dagenham 020 8227 2137 Simon Green Predsident of Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce 020 8591 6966 Jeremy Grint Divisional Director of Regeneration and Economic Development 020 8227 2443

London Borough of Barnet Building 4 North London Business Park (NLBP) Oakleigh Road South London N11 1NP 020 8359 3000 John Hooton Chief Executive 020 8359 2000 Lesley Feldman Planning Development Manager

Seb Salom Head of Strategic Planning and Transportation 0203 045 5779 Kevin Murphy Head of Housing and Regeneration 0203 045 5837 Robert Lancaster Head of Developmental Control 0203 045 5837

London Borough of Brent Brent Civic Centre Engineers Way Wembley HA9 0FJ 020 8937 1200 Carolyn Downs Chief Executive 020 8937 1007 Amar Dave Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment 020 8937 1516 Alice Lester Head of Planning, Transport and Licensing 020 8937 6441

Annie Hampson Chief Planning Officer and Development Director 020 7332 1700 London Borough of Croydon Development and Environment Bernard Weatherill House

London Borough of Bromley Civic Centre Stockwell Close Bromley BR1 3UH 020 8464 3333 Ade Adetosoye OBE Chief Executive 020 8313 4060

8 Mint Walk, Croydon CR0 1EA 020 8726 6000 planningandregeneration

Jim Kehoe Chief Planner 020 8313 4441

Chief Executive Ms Jo Negrini

Lisa Thornley Development Control Support Officer

Director of Planning and Strategic Transport Ms Heather Cheeseborough Director of Development Ms Colom Lacey 020 8604 7367 London Borough of Camden Town Hall Extension Argyle Street WC1H 8EQ 020 7974 4444

Head of Building Control Ric Patterson

Jenny Rowlands Chief Executive 020 7974 5621 Frances Wheat Acting Assistant Director for Regeneration and Planning 020 7974 5630

London Borough of Ealing Perceval House 14-16 Uxbridge Road Ealing London W5 2HL 020 8825 6600 Chief Executive Paul Najsarek 020 8825 5000

Aktar Choudhury Operational Director of Regeneration 020 8937 1764

City of London Department for the Built Environment PO Box 270 Guildhall London EC2P 2EJ 020 7332 1710

London Borough of Bexley Civic Offices Broadway Bexleyheath DA6 7LB

Rob Krzysznowski Spatial Planning Manager 020 8937 2704

Town Clerk and Chief Executive John Barradell OBE 020 7332 1400

Executive Director of Environment Keith Townsend 020 8825 5000

020 8303 7777

David Glover Development Management Manager 020 8937 5344

Director of the Built Environment Ms Carolyn Dwyer 020 7332 1600

Director of Safer Communities and Housing Mark Whitmore 020 8825 5000

Director of Regeneration and Planning David Moore

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Chief Executive Tim Shields 020 8356 3201

London Borough of Enfield PO Box Civic Centre Silver Street Enfield EN1 3XE 020 8379 4419 Chief Executive Ian Davis 020 8379 3901

Assistant Director of Planning and Regulatory Services John Allen 020 8356 8134

Head of Development Management Andy Higham 020 8379 3848 Planning Decisions Manager Sharon Davidson 020 8379 3841 Transportation Planning David B Taylor 020 8379 3576

020 8863 5611

Director of Regeneration John Lumley 020 8356 2138

Chief Executive Tom Whiting 020 8420 9495 Divisional Director of Planning Paul Nichols 020 8736 6149

The London Borough of Havering Town Hall Main Road Romford RM1 3BD

Head of Planning Regeneration John Finlayson 020 8753 6740

01708 433100

Royal Borough of Greenwich The Woolwich Centre 35 Wellington Street London SE18 6HQ

Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills Pippa Hack 020 8921 5519 Assistant Director of Planning Victoria Geoghegan 020 8921 5363 Assistant Director of Transportation Graham Nash London Borough of Hackney

Environment and Planning Hackney Service Centre 1 Hillman Street E8 1DY 020 8356 8062


Planning in London

Chief Executive Andrew Blake-Herbert 01708 432201

Planning and Building Control Simon Thelwell 01708 432685

London Borough Of Haringey Level 6 River Park House 225 High Road Wood Green London N22 8HQ

Head of Development Management Dean Hermitage

Head of Regeneration & Spatial Planning Ian Rae 020 8583 2561

London Borough of Islington 222 Upper Street London N1 1XR 020 7527 6743 Chief Executive Ms Lesley Seary 020 7527 3136

Team Leader for Planning & Projects Eshwyn Prabhu 020 7527 2450

Director for Housing, Regeneration & Planning Dan Hawthorn

Head of Planning Policy, Transport & Infrastructure Rob Krzyszowski

Head of Development Management Marilyn Smith 020 8583 4994

Service Director of Planning & Development Karen Sullivan 020 7527 2949

020 8489 1400

Assistant Director for Planning, Building Standards and Sustainability Emma Williamson

020 8583 5555

Planning Control Manager Helen Oakerbee 01708 432800

Development & Transport Planning Martyn Thomas 01708 432845

020 8921 6426

London Borough Of Hounslow Civic Centre Lampton Road Hounslow TW3 4DN

Strategic Director of Housing , Planning & Communities Peter Matthew

Chief Executive Ms Kim Dero 020 8753 3000

Head of Policy & Spatial Planning Pat Cox 020 8753 5773

Head of Major Initiatives, Strategic Planning & Transportation Jales Tippell 01895 250230

Chief Executive Niall Bolger 020 8770 5203

London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham Hammersmith Town Hall Extension King Street London W6 9JU 020 8748 3020

Head of Development Management Ellen Whitchurch 020 8753 3484

Acting Chief Executive Ms Debbie Warren 020 8921 5000

London Borough of Harrow PO Box 37 Civic Centre Station Road Harrow HA1 2UY

Head of Spatial Planning Randall Macdonald 020 8356 8051

Head of Planning Policy Joanne Woodward 020 8379 3881 Assistant Director Planning, Highways & Transportation Bob Griffiths 020 8379 3676

Head of Planning & Enforcement James Rodger 01895 250230

London Borough of Hillingdon Civic Centre High Street Uxbridge UB8 1UW 01895 250111 Chief Executive & Corporate Director of Administration Ms Fran Beasley 01895 250111 Deputy Director of Residents Services Nigel Dicker 01895 250566

Deputy Head of Development Management & Building Control Andrew Marx 020 7527 2045 Head of Spatial Planning Sakiba Gurda 020 7527 2731


Chief Executive Ms Janet Senior 020 8314 8013 Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea The Town Hall Hornton Street London W8 7NX

Development Manager Geoff Whittington

020 7361 3000

020 8891 1411

Chief Executive Barry Quirk 020 7361 2991 Executive Director of Planning & Borough Development Graham Stallwood 020 7361 2612

Chief Executive Paul Martin 020 8871 6001 London Borough of Merton Merton Civic Centre London Road Morden Surrey SM4 5DX 020 8545 3837 Chief Executive Ged Curran 020 8545 3332

Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames Guildhall 2 High Street Kingston Upon Thames KT1 1EU 020 8547 5002

Assistant Director Traffic & Engineering Nick O’Donnell nick.o’ uk Deputy Director Highway Operations & Street Scene Kevin Power

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets Mulberry Place 5 Clove Crecsent London E14 2BE 020 8364 5009 Chief Executive Will Tuckley Divisional Director Planning & Building Control 020 7364 5314 Strategic Planning Manager Adele Maher 020 7364 5375

Director of Community and Housing Hannah Doody 020 8545 3680 The London Borough of Southwark 160 Tooley Street London SE1 2QH

The London Borough Of Waltham Forest Town Hall London E17 4JF

020 7525 3559 London Borough of Newham Newham Dockside 1000 Dockside Road London E16 2QU 020 8430 2000 Chief Executive Kim Bromley-Derry

London Borough of Lambeth Phoenix House 10 Wandsworth Road London SW8 2LL

Director of Housing and Regeneration Brian Reilly

Director of Environment and Regeneration Chris Lee 020 8545 3051

Interim Chief Executive Roy Thompson 020 8547 5343 Head of Planning Lisa Fairmaner 020 8470 4706

London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames Civic Centre 44 York Street Twickenham TW1 3BZ

Executive Head of Economic Development, Planning & Sustainability Eleanor Purser

020 8496 3000

Chief Executive Eleanor Kelly 020 7525 7171 Strategic Director of Environment & Social Regeneration Deborah Collins 020 7525 7171

Director of Commissioning (Communities, Environment & Housing) Simon Litchford QPM

Chief Executive Martin Esom 020 8496 3000 Strategic Director, Corporate Development Rhona Cadenhead 020 8496 8096 Director Regeneration & Growth Lucy Shomali

Chief Executive Andrew Travers 020 7926 9677 Divisional Director for Planning, Regeneration & Enterprise Alison Young 020 7926 9225 Divisional Director Housing Strategy & Partnership Rachel Sharpe

London Borough of Lewisham Town Hall Catford London SE6 4RU

London Borough of Redbridge 128-142 High Road Ilford London IG1 1DD

The London Borough of Sutton 24 Denmark Road Carshalton SurreySM5 2JG

020 8554 5000

020 8770 5000

Chief Executive & Head of Paid Service Andy Donald

Chief Executive Helen Bailey

Interim Head of Planning & Building Control Ciara Whelehan

Assistant Director, Resources Directorate (Asset Planning, Management & Capital Delivery) Ade Adebayo 020 8770 6349

Head of Inward Investment & Enterprise Mark Lucas 020 8708 2143

020 8314 6000

The London Borough of Wandsworth Town Hall Wandsworth High Street London SW18 2PU 020 8871 6000

Strategic Director of Environment, Housing & Regeneration Mary Morrisey 020 8770 6101

Chief Executive Paul Martin 020 8871 6001 Head of Development Permissions Nick Calder 020 8871 8417 Environment and Community Services Directorate

Issue 116 January-March 2021



Mark Hunter 020 8871 8418 Head of Forward Planning and Transportation John Stone 020 8871 6628

Chief Executive Stuart Love 020 7641 3091 City Of Westminster Westminster City Hall 64 Victoria Street London SW1E 6QP 020 7641 6500

Please notify any changes immediately by e-mail to with the subject ‘planning in london directory’.

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OTHER ORGANISATIONS Greater London Authority City Hall The Queen’s Walk London SE1 2AA

Assistant director, planning Juliemma McLoughlin

Martin Cowie Strategic Planning Manager 020 7983 4309

020 7983 4000

Justin Carr Strategic Planning Manager 020 7983 4895

Sadiq Khan Mayor of London 020 7983 4000

Graham Clements Senior Strategic Planner 020 7983 4265

Urban Design London Palestra 197 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8AA 020 7593 9000

Executive director, development, enterprise, environment Lucy Owen

Martin Scholar Strategic Planning Manager (Planning Frameworks) 020 7983 5750

Planning Officers Society The Croft, 81 Walton Road, Aylesbury HP21 7SN tel: 01296 422161

Design For London City Hall The Queen’s Walk More London London SE1 2AA Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government 020 7944 4400 Joanna Averley, director, chief planner Simon Gallagher, director, planning

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The value of volume A new destination in Belgravia is an exemplar in reconsidered space, marrying restoration and modernisation, says Russ Hamilton

Russ Hamilton is a design partner at Farrells

Volume has long been a valuable, yet scarce asset in urban city centres. In London especially, space comes at a premium and it is rare you come across a building that has not yet been optimised. Completed in Autumn 2020, Farrells’ sensitive and contemporary restoration at Belgravia’s ‘Pantechnicon’ has breathed new life into the former warehouse and created new standards of volumetric design, fitting for today’s retail and dining standards. Appointed by Pantechnicon London Limited, Farrells began work on the scheme in 2015. The practices’ approach enhanced the Pantechnicon’s history by providing essential repairs and refurbishment of the Grade II listed building. Its classical frontage, a landmark in Belgravia, remains with its interior architecture and rear façade taking on a new lease of life. Built in 1830 as an arts and crafts centre and subsequently an upmarket warehouse for local residents, the fire at the Pantechnicon in 1874 left just the front of the building and 20th century revisions of the back saw it closed in, leaving only small windows and a very non-descript façade. We had the opportunity reinvigorate the rear façade, which overlooks the recently upgraded Halkin Arcade. The look and feel of the new rear facade uses a warehouse aesthetic to reference its past whilst stepping in plan and against the skyline in a dynamic and modern way. The exten-

sion is clad in a glazed off-white brick, paying homage to the historical use of this material in London back courts whilst contrasting strongly with its neighbours London stock brick frontages. As the volume and floor space ideas for each level of the Pantechnicon developed, and to work with existing service shafts, the idea of stepping the rear facade forward in a series of gentle steps evolved. A new cantilevered three storey rear extension was created to add substantial volume on each floor whilst the largescale warehouse inspired windows flood the space with light. The tall stepping brick pilasters the arrangement and verticality of the front façade’s classical pilaster columns and indented cornicing detail. A new glazed pavilion on the 5th floor with an opening roof created a modern twist, whilst generating all important additional dining and terrace space. The expansion of the previously unused basement through the lowering of the floor level to increase the height and volume of the space has also created a series of new spaces extending all the way through to the under-pavement vault rooms. A calmness and clarity of spatial arrangement is evident with enhanced light and aspect throughout the building. Our designs have carefully restored the building and celebrated its heritage, whilst enhancing its interiors for modern day use. By creating the rear extension and growing the volume of the >>>

Issue 116 January-March 2021



basement, the Pantechnicon now benefits from an additional 140 sqm of optimal dining and retail space. The rear façade especially, gives a new personality to building and enlivens the lower courtyard come day or night. Now playing host to a brand-new concept store and dining experience, the Pantechnicon has been well received since its launch amongst locals and visitors to the famous Motcomb Street. With respect for its heritage, today Pantechnicon has been sensitively repurposed to meet the needs of the 21st Century, whilst creating a variety of dynamic spaces for its diverse range of occupiers. The Edit on the ground floor showcases a curation of 150 Japanese and Nordic brands including handcrafted gifts and products. The Studio on the first floor is a large experiential space


Planning in London

where guests will be introduced to emerging brands, artists, creators and makers through workshops as well as retail and dining pop-ups. On entering the building, guests are welcomed into Café Kitsuné (meaning ‘fox’ in Japanese). Overlooking Café Kitsuné and The Edit is an intimate but open gallery space hosting Sachi (meaning ‘happiness’ and ‘fortune’ in Japanese), a preview of the mainstay 100 seat Sachi restaurant, bar, cocktail lounge and street terrace on the lower ground floor, opening in Spring 2021. To the rear is a takeaway ground floor Kiosk serving rotating seasonal specialities typically enjoyed across the exciting local food scenes all over the Nordics and Japan. The new destination in Belgravia is an exemplar in reconsidered space, marrying restoration and modernisation. n



Issue 116 January-March 2021


Transport-Led Development in London and the South East Wednesday 3 February 2021


Virtual Conference

Creating sustainable economic growth and new housing through investing in transport infrastructure Highlights of attending: • Understand the challenges facing transport bodies, developers and local authorities in London and the South East due to COVID-19 – where is investment most needed and what does the future of travel look like? • Receive critical updates on ongoing and planned transport projects including Crossrail, the DLR and Bakerloo extensions, and the expansion of the ULEZ • Explore how to ensure transport-led development schemes are built in the current economic climate – understanding funding options and the business case for transportled development

For more information: Email or call 0207 067 1597 72

• Hear the latest updates on the new London Plan, Meridian Water and Transport for the South East’s Transport Strategy – how will these plans fuel long-term development in London and the South East? • Join the live discussion about the business case for transport-led development – with a focus on the viability of investing in transport infrastructure considering COVID-19, climate change and Brexit implications Register using discount code 421PR to receive 10% off your place. To book call +44 (0) 207 067 1597, email us or directly online.

This conference is hosted by:

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