The Year Book 2020 October 2019 / October 2020
Iceni launches new, forward-thinking Futures Team.
What next for our employment spaces and the workers in them?
Iceni welcomes two new directors to its newly launched Economics Team.
What exactly is it you do as an Archaeologist at Iceni?
The Year Book 2020
The Year Book 2020
Foreword By Ian Anderson, Chief Executive
Well, what an uneventful year. I mean apart from us setting up an Archaeology team and an Edinburgh office; restructuring two of our London-based planning teams; winning Planning Consultancy of the Year and being part of the consultant team that won Planning Permission of the Year (chapeau to teams Transport, Sustainable Development and Engagement); achieving an Award for Best Use of Art, Sport or Heritage Asset for the Illuminated River (those bright people in Team Engagement again); expanding our Economics team with the appointment of two new directors; creating a new digital platform with the launch of iSite; issuing 27 ‘Wednesday emails’ and broadcasting a similar number of our ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ vlog; establishing a new multiskilled, forward thinking team in the shape of Iceni Futures; oh - and like everyone else, facing up to the twin-challenges of Brexit and a world-wide pandemic - nothing has happened. Still, I’m sure we’ll think of something to write about... This is our sixth yearbook, and the purpose of it remains as true today as when it was first conceived. We absolutely want to celebrate the work and lives of the Tribe, our interaction with our clients and associates, but not in a stuffy, conventional corporate brochure. And the fact that for a goodly proportion of the year we have needed to rely on virtual communication makes the bond and unity of the Tribe paramount, and the importance of remaining connected and being part of something. There is an inevitable pre and post COVID feel about the Yearbook, and for those of us that, for example, went on the annual Iskini trip back in January it now feels very surreal and of a different age. Like everyone, and as our vlog suggests, we look forward to when tomorrow comes, but in the meantime we are determined to make the best of the situation. We are a naturally optimistic, inquisitive bunch, and it is no coincidence that we have probably been busier this year with new initiatives than ever before. We have taken the opportunity caused by the pandemic to stop and think about the future direction of Iceni, and we are pleased with how we find ourselves. Not blindly bouncing into 2021, but equally, not lamenting factors that are beyond our control. The next calendar year is shaping up to be one of the most profound in our professional lives, with the proposed restructuring of the Planning system compounding the national and worldwide events already described. Let’s see how we get on. 3 3
The Year Book 2020
Assess, Protect, Restore, Renew – Ready to Take a Stand By David Kavanagh, Managing Director
In May 2017 the Company set out on an ambitious journey to transform itself through growth and expansion. The overriding objective of 2020 Vision was to put the Company on a footing in 2020 where it could pro-actively plan for the next stage of growth. Much has changed since the directors and staff prepared that plan. Not just in terms of tribal population, services offered, regional and market presence, sales turnover and leadership, but in the business’s understanding of itself. In 2020, the business has the clearest notion of who it is, why it exists, and where it is heading. Iceni is maturing. 2020 is also the year that the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union. Iceni didn’t start this but since 2018 the Company has been very clear to focus its efforts on the things it can control. And then came COVID-19. Much is uncertain. But uncertainty also gets the blood pumping; uncertainty is exciting. The same wisdom that navigated the Company through the change and uncertainty of 2019 is what brought the Board to decide not to rush into another strategic business planning period. Rather, to take the time to let the uncertainty pass through the system, to use a oneyear, short business plan to move us to calmer seas when the writing of the next chapter of Iceni can be undertaken with more confidence. Pro-actively planning for the next stage never stops, and a 3-year plan will return in the future. For now, we will Assess, Protect and Restore and use our values as our guide. The business has adopted the spirit and themes of the May 2020 State of the Nation. As a group, we talked about resilience, change, working hard to find opportunities, innovating, being collaborative and thinking disruptively. And we had that discussion virtually over Zoom, with superb team videos instead of slides, illustrating our continued move from analogue to digital.
No one is in any doubt that the times ahead will be as challenging as any we have faced and may ever face. Our aim has always been to protect then restore the business. 2020 has also been the time to reimagine the business – to reform it. I am confident in Iceni’s future. Iceni is not mainstream. We are different. We are non-templated. We work hard together, and we play hard together. We are proud of what we have created. Our brand and our team. We are proud of what we produce and what we will leave behind. We believe in standing out. We pursue new and better. Our mission is to improve the lives of the people we meet and of those that follow. We are ambitious, proactive, bold, hard-working, determined, fun, sharp, tenacious, energetic, inclusive, fearless, entrepreneurial, known for acting with integrity, progressive, collaborative and commercial. We give clients the edge in their projects through the provision of up to date and clear advice that goes beyond the standard offer in the sector. We understand the commercial aspect of projects, combining this with attention to detail and a real passion for delivering success. We’re here to contribute to creating and improving great places, by great people, for great people.
This is why we exist. This is what we stand for.
JAGERBOMbs consumed on the ski trip
CONSULTATION WEBSITES BUILT DURING LOCKDOWN
pool parties this year, but here is hoping FOR march 2021
The Year Book 2020
Follow Your Dreams: An Inspirational Journey to the Summit of Everest By Kerry Dunn, Finance Director
The Adventure Travel Show in January promised me destination inspiration, essential travel advice, learning from explorers, adventurers and tour leaders who would help me plan the perfect adventure. Just what I needed for a little midyear excitement. By April all that had changed. While I was contemplating whether my toilet paper stock was going to be sufficient to get me through lockdown, an email dropped into my inbox: ‘Second Everest talk live online this Friday! Get inspired!’ The key themes included perseverance, building resilience, goal setting and overcoming adversity. Ah! A chance to experience some adventure vicariously, and perhaps Ricky Munday, Everest Summiteer, would be just the keynote speaker for our State of the Nation presentation in May?! Over Zoom, Ricky spoke to us for an hour, followed by a Q&A. In ‘Follow Your Dreams’ he shared the inspiring story of his journey from a council estate near Glasgow to the top of the world on his recent successful ascent of Everest. During that journey, he faced and overcame
The Year Book 2020
adversity and mental health challenges, including being arrested twice, dropping out of University twice, and being made redundant. He bounced back from redundancy by completing the Marathon des Sables, a 150-mile ultramarathon in the Sahara Desert known as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’. This experience transformed his mindset and gave him the confidence and determination to follow his own dreams. Ricky shared learning points from turning back below the Death Zone on Everest in 2017 - when he coordinated the evacuation of a seriously injured team-mate – and how he put these lessons into practice to make a successful summit attempt in 2018.
a world-wide pandemic. While pictures of black, frost bitten feet, and descriptions of how one takes a comfort break in a storm at 7,000 meters were probably not everybody’s cup of tea, Ricky’s story rings true as we navigate uncertain times. Like Ricky, the Tribe has not let these challenges stop us, but rather we have taken learning points and put lessons into practice, taking the opportunity caused by the pandemic to stop and think about the future direction of Iceni. No doubt the months ahead for all of us will continue to be challenging - who knows when we will all be able to sit in an office together, let alone attend a travel show again. But the Tribe is resilient, and the next calendar year is shaping up to be one of our most profound.
Which brings me to Iceni… Much has changed since the directors and staff prepared the 2020 Vision plan in May 2017. Iceni too has had to face challenges and adversity on the journey from then to now with the twin-challenge of Brexit and
The Year Book 2020
Permission Secured: Major Green Belt Planning Permission for new Health-led Community By James Bompas, Director, Business Development
Iceni Projects have secured planning permission for a new major health-led community on a Green Belt site in Thurrock. Langdon Hills Golf and Country Club is a prestigious facility in the heart of Thurrock. The 27-hole course has panoramic views over Essex and the London skyline. Notwithstanding the above, golf is changing to reflect wider societal trends. Golf clubs across the country have seen failing participation rates; members lacking time; family pressures and competing pressures from other sports and leisure activities. New potential members want action through shorter courses, technology, and updated food and beverage options. Members also want leisure options for the wider family, such as crèche facilities, a gym and pool.
In this context, Iceni Projects have worked with the Heronslea Group in developing a hybrid planning application that will enhance the golf facilities. This includes: A golf course redesign to provide a new short-course
to meet current trends in the sport. The objective of this short course is to increase participation rates and provide greater appeal to younger / older players. A new state-of-the-art driving range facility will be
provided. It will incorporate the latest ball tracking technology that provides instant feedback on video screens. This supports the progression of enthusiasts but also fun for beginners. Integrated to the driving range (and short course)
will be a golf academy. This will provide specialist coaching which is currently lacking from the existing set-up. The academy will be open to the public and will have close links with local schools. A new wellness and mindfulness centre.
Following referral to the National Planning Casework Unit in June 2020 the Secretary of State decided not to “Call In” the application. Iceni Projects advised on planning, transport, sustainable development, archaeology, heritage and townscape, public engagement, and socio-economics. 8
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Glasgow: Promoting City Centre Living By Sara Cockburn, Senior Planner
In 2019, Glasgow was named the ‘best UK city for millennials’ – in light of work opportunities, cost of living, property prices and availability of things to do. Glasgow is also well-known as the largest UK retail centre outwith London, for its architectural heritage, its leisure and cultural offering, and its friendly people. Despite these attractions, the city centre itself offers limited residential accommodation, especially compared with other similar UK cities, such as Manchester which has attracted high density residential development in its city core. In June 2020, Glasgow City Council approved their City Centre Living Strategy which sets out steps to address this. The Strategy aims to double the population of the city centre to 40,000 over the next 15 years. It recognises that population density is crucial to the success and sustainability of city centres and aims to promote a more liveable city centre for Glasgow.
see hundreds of homes for sale or private rent provided within and close to Glasgow city centre. One example is Consensus Capital’s proposal for the re-development of a derelict site on one of the city’s main shopping and leisure streets; Sauchiehall Street. Advised by Iceni’s Planning, Heritage and Strategic Teams, Consensus Capital are proposing a £20million investment to create 100 new co-living apartments above ground floor commercial uses. An online public consultation event was held in the summer and applications for planning permission and Listed Building Consent are being prepared. Although the City Centre Living Strategy supports the creation of new homes in the city centre, there are a number of planning challenges for delivery, not least ensuring the provision of high-quality accommodation with access to internal and external amenity spaces. We look forward to working with our clients and Glasgow City Council to progress current and new proposals to promote city centre living in Glasgow.
Iceni made representations to the draft Strategy on behalf of several clients and overall, the proposed actions have been welcomed by our clients, investors, developers and landowners. The Glasgow team are advising clients including Moda, Structured House Group, CALA, Westpoint Homes, Urban Pulse and Sovereign Centros in relation to new developments which would 9
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Women of Influence At the heart of Iceni is the calibre of our people and we have always prided ourselves on having the breadth and strength of employee to successfully secure deliverable consents for our clients. But beyond that we also seek to nurture the professional growth of our staff, encouraging them to expand their influence and also to use their experience gained to grow and encourage other people within the company to see what can be achieved with the correct support and approach. It is in this context that we were honoured to have two of our female directors included within The Planner’s ‘Woman of Influence’ 2020, a list which is published every year for International Woman’s Day, as nominated by the readers of The Planner and assessed by a panel of judges from across the UK.
The Year Book 2020
Our first Women of Influence is Leona Hannify who is a Planning Director within the Iceni Strategic Team. The citation submitted in support of her nomination is provided below: “As a director of the company, her influence spans over professional work, the direction of Iceni, and the planning and development profession at large. Her core focus of late has been on new settlements, particularly in terms of governance and delivery models, which has involved formulating a new approach to the economic and social value capture of strategic growth, working in partnership with a number of local authorities, MHCLG and Homes England.” “She was a key figure in arranging the inaugural Iceni International Women’s Day event, which attracted a stellar panel of speakers and guests. She also secured Iceni’s membership into the ‘30% Club’, and has been involved in the London Irish Town Planners Network since its inception.” “Leona is a great believer in positive change occurring through action as well as rhetoric. She is a skilled negotiator and influencer, is highly perceptive and empathetic, and has moved Iceni forward as a business, both through her professional portfolio of work and her mentoring and leadership of colleagues.” “A champion of how to prioritise family and personal life, whilst being on top of her game professionally. She always encourages those around her to work flexibly and leads by example even bringing her child on a site visit!”
Our second ‘Woman of Influence’ is Anna Snow, Planning Director of the Iceni Planning team. Anna received two nominations and the citations submitted in support of her nominations are provided below: “Anna is an absolute shining light in Iceni and a privilege to work with. She is brave and bold when she needs to be, and also calm and thoughtful when necessary. She leads the London Planning Team in Iceni with steely determination and is a role model for all staff. In terms of project successes, amongst many high profile schemes Anna has been advising on the St Giles Circus, Denmark Street, London redevelopment for more than 12 years. This £142m culturally significant redevelopment above the Crossrail tunnel at Tottenham Court Road is a feat of construction and has involved a host of planning permissions and listed building consents. Also, Anna championed and led the first Iceni International Women’s Day event in 2019 which was a great success. She is my woman of influence because she is a total boss and manages to have an amazing career whilst also juggling the demands of life outside work effortlessly (at least that’s how she makes it seem!).” “Anna is my director and mentor in Iceni Projects. The reason I nominate her is because she has given me a whole new way of looking at the planning profession and what it means to be a female within this. Having previous experience of public sector planning, Anna brings with her experience a sense of realism and thought about the consequences and outcomes of planning decisions both for local people and landowners alike. As a female starting out in the planning profession (I myself have 5 years experience), I find working with Anna has quite simply made the journey easier.”
Madi’s Sabbatical (as Imagined by Ian) By Ian Anderson, Chief Executive
Iceni’s HR Manager, Madi Moraru, recently returned from a sabbatical. Chief Executive Ian Anderson imagined what her travel diary might have looked like...
Part one of my cunning plan achieved! I’ve convinced those half-whits who think they run the company that it would be a good idea to allow people to go on a nine month sabbatical. Obviously they’ll never imagine it'll be me going. They think I’ll never leave! Idiots!
By Jamie Sullivan, Planning Director I told Andrew Gale today that I was going away. He looked very pale and uncomfortable, but he always does when he wears those trousers that his wife bought him. He was better after I gave him some food. Told James Waterhouse as well. He asked whether sabbatical was a medical term. Idiots!
First stop, Romania, and a chance to catch up with the Moraru clan. It’s the first time I’ve felt fully safe coming back since those idiots decided to have a rave in Bran Castle back in 2015 to celebrate the Iceni 10th anniversary. It’s a pity that ridiculous Vlad the Impaler impersonator didn’t have a real sword, as there’s a good few that would have benefitted from the tools of his trade. He would have made a great HR manager.
The staff gave me a good send off. As per usual, the Brits all got drunk, ate stupid food and we’re too loud. Idiots. I had a really nice kale and açai smoothie, and as I’m on my air diet I had double portions of CO2, just as a treat.
Arrived in Sri Lanka, and I’m back where I love; the yoga retreat. I probably shouldn’t have had that lentil sambal before starting; fortunately there was a stupid Australian to blame for the wind in the trees. Moraru 1 Aus 0.
I’m in Singapore, and it’s hot! It’s stickier than Andrew Gale’s
fingers after a trip to Dunkin Donuts, and I haven’t seen as many rules and regulations since I wrote the Iceni HR manua l. Found a great swimming pool, so I’ve decided to get fit; there was a young family that wanted to use it, but I told them I had a verruca and that got rid of them. Ah, peace and quiet...
Not good. Singapore is in lock-down because of this pandemic that has arrived from China. At first I thought it was Ian Anderson trying to spoil my holiday with one of his wind-ups that he thinks are so funny, but no, this is the real thing. Amazing to see how quickly the authorities have got to grips with it, and there’s a sense of quiet control. Spoke to some people back in the UK about it. They haven’t got a clue what’s coming...
Well that’s it! Trust me to pick 2020, the year of the pandemic, to go on a sabbatical! I managed to get back to London, which was no mean feat. I’m not sure who was more surprised when I went back to my flat and dived into the shower me or Gregg. I’d forgotten I’d agreed to let him stay. Still, I had my PPE on, so it could have been a lot worse. Idiots!
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Iceni Futures By Dan Jestico, Iceni Futures Director
Our lifestyles, the climate, technology, politics, the environment and the economic landscape are constantly changing. Last year we were tackling Brexit, this year we’re working through the fallout of Covid-19 and in the future there’s the implementation of the Planning White Paper. Sometimes change happens to us, sometimes change happens because of us.
Fundamentally, we believe that being innovative, working smarter and creating resilient places should be accessible to all.
Iceni Futures has an expansive remit to understand the changing world of development and support our clients in driving and capitalising on that change.
The award-winning Sustainable Development Scorecard is a working example of how we are developing new techniques to bring the planning world into the digital era. We’re keen to explore how the Scorecard and similar initiatives will help to deliver the intent of the Planning White Paper. We’ll be working with all Iceni’s teams to deliver solutions to the challenges of working in the built environment, joining the dots and providing new tools to enable better ways of working.
We’ve concentrated our expertise in technology, sustainable development and planning into our very own ‘Q-branch’. The Iceni Futures team look at the built environment a little differently. The role of the team is to assess, predict and influence change across the development industry. The team explores how places and people will function in the future and utilises this expertise to provide strategic advice to create places which are fit for the future.
Our focus on responding to the climate emergency remains at the heart of the team’s objectives. Mitigating and adapting to our changing climate is more important than ever.
Just don’t expect to see any white coats or exploding pens.
The Iceni Futures team recognise that no single consultant has all the answers and that a collaborative approach is required to advise on change in a holistic manner. We understand the existing barriers and outdated development processes that persist across the industry and the importance of creating futureproofed sustainable development. 13
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What exactly is it you do as an Archaeologist at Iceni? By Stephen McLeod, Senior Archaeologist
Deciphering the long-forgotten day-to-day lives of people in the past, expeditions to far flung destinations, and priceless artefacts all likely spring to mind as an answer to this question. The day to day reality of working in archaeology is in fact centred around lesser known, yet key parts of the archaeological method within the planning process such as Site Appraisals, Scoping Reports, Desktop Studies, Predetermination Evaluations, Statements of Significance and Discharging the Requirements of Planning Conditions. These activities are far less glamourous than the perceived Indiana Jones role of an archaeologist, yet they are central to an understanding of why Archaeology is important to all of us. The truth is that for over thirty years, what I do in my job has been cemented as a vital component of the planning system and is intertwined in the successful completion of construction projects throughout the UK. Like much legislation and planning policy, it can be complex, and often daunting to those faced with engaging with it. Ten years since I first found myself excavating prehistoric pits on a developer led archaeological project, during a bleak winter in Ireland, I find myself engaged in a substantial role issuing guidance and know-how on the care and management of the historic environment, as part of the Iceni Archaeology team.
‘But why do you do it?’ Not even a mention of fame and fortune sadly. Surely then, it’s the excitement of it all? I would like to think it has more to do substantial benefits economically, socially and its positive impact on the environment. I guess I really do it because it has true value to us all. Archaeology as part of the planning process has allowed for a huge environmental and economic benefit as the exploration and conservation of the historic environment, the monuments, the landscapes, the physical above and below ground assets has allowed for the exploration, retention and enhancement of archaeology, often putting in front and centre in cities, towns and villages throughout the UK for all the world to see. This has collectively led to a social value as individuals and community organisations are enabled to experience archaeology and discover their heritage first-hand. As archaeologists we have a unique opportunity to allow for community engagement to be an important asset of what we do. Archaeology’s place within the planning process is central to this, with an emphasis to set out a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment.
The Year Book 2020
A Year With Iceni By Ellen Creegan, Senior Planner
It has been just over a year since I joined the Tribe and began my role as a Senior Planner in Iceni’s Manchester office. Having spent the previous six years in London, initially as a local authority planning officer and subsequently as a Senior Planner at an independent planning consultancy, I was ready to make the big move back ‘up north’ to be closer to family and friends.
“Do you not hold up a lot of development, isn’t it just a waste of money?” The answer is clear. Archaeology does not prevent development. Archaeology is relevant, much of it is yet to be discovered, and its contribution to society is overwhelmingly positive. The often common misconceptions about archaeology causing delays and providing poor value for money are unsubstantiated. Successive national planning policies have incorporated archaeology, leading to enhanced public benefit and a clear process for developers to engage with.
“What’s the most interesting thing you have discovered being an archaeologist?” That you could turn a passion into a profession and the importance of specialist archaeological advice. Along with the odd Prehistoric burial mound, Roman settlement and Medieval Waterfront along the way.
I had heard great things about Iceni through a friend and had spotted the Da Vinci House office on my regular commute through Farringdon. After hearing about the available role in the Manchester office, I thought the stars had aligned! Within the first few minutes of my interview, I knew that Iceni would be a great place to work; the Manchester team were so welcoming and made me feel so at ease. I knew moving jobs to a city I’d never worked in would present some challenges, but the team have given me the warmest of welcomes, inviting me along to drinks and events with clients and consultants and I have soon found my feet in the northwest. I have been lucky to work on a great range of projects since starting at Iceni, ranging from a 109-unit residential scheme in Wales (learning the ropes of the Welsh planning system was fun!) to a 75,000sq ft industrial unit in Preston. It has been great to experience some cross-office working with the London teams and to get involved with the company’s staff forum each month. A year down the line (inclusive of a global pandemic – but we won’t mention that!) and I’m grateful to work for such a great company with wonderful people. Roll on the next 12 months!
“No Dinosaurs then?” Stop it.
The Year Book 2020
Permission Secured: for £250m Film Studio-Led Regeneration of a Derelict Railway Works in Ashford, Kent. By Lorna O’Carroll, Associate Planner
Iceni Projects acted for Quinn Estates and The Creative District Improvement Company on the redevelopment of Newtown Works in Ashford. The project, which seeks to put Ashford in the limelight as a significant new player in the streaming revolution, centred on the creation of Ashford International Film Studios - a 240,000sq ft TV and film production space hub. The film industry is growing apace which is driving demand for modern space. Alongside the film studios, the proposals will deliver 300 new homes and commercial and community space to create a new mixed-use neighbourhood and an attractive new place to live and work, and for visitors to enjoy. The scheme is vitally important for Ashford given the potential to boost and diversify the economy into the media sector with scope to support in the region of 2,000 direct jobs, whilst also delivering much needed housing. The scheme has the potential to stimulate wider regeneration and investment, not only in Ashford, but the wider South East region. The proposals will bring five Grade II Listed Buildings, which are in a moribund state, and are badly in need of investment, back into an active use. The site has been vacant since the 1980s. The Strategic Planning Team coordinated the planning application and Listed Building Consent 16
application for the site and produced a supporting Planning Statement and Economic Benefits Statement. Iceni’s Heritage Team led on the crucial heritage issues associated with the listed buildings on-site, which has required constructive working with Historic England, Ashford’s Conservation Team and the scheme architects - Hollaway.
The Year Book 2020
What Next for our Employment Spaces and the Workers in Them? By Matt Kinghan, Economics Director
The last six months has seen some of the fastest changes for a decade in the way we use employment floorspace. Online retailing has risen from 18% in 2018 to 27% in August 2020, driving the need for last mile logistics and largescale fulfilment warehousing and the workers to run them. At the same time offices in August only saw one third of workers returning to their workplace, leaving swathes empty, as well as increasing retail and leisure vacancies. The new planning ‘E Class’ designation is now in effect and opens up a new approach to managing commercial space flexibly in town centres, but presents challenges elsewhere. As Iceni launches its expanded Economics team we reflect on the challenges and opportunities for our employment spaces and what we need in the future. Since 2015 the UK warehousing market has seen vacancies of around 5%, the minimum for functional operation allowing for churn and choice. COVID19 has driven up logistics requirements with a huge rise in e-commerce, in particular fuelled by a doubling of online grocery deliveries. This is not a blip but a structural change in the way we shop. As well as last mile deliveries, an increase in ‘mega sheds’ is needed for stock, and to ensure that buildings are fitted out for new technologies. The good news is that more warehouses means more jobs. Amazon alone are creating around 10,000 in the UK in 2020. Logistics jobs can be underrated too
– as the Prologis 2018 survey showed, around half of workers are managers or office based rather than drivers or operatives. This may be a lease of life for many looking at unemployment as a result of COVID. In parallel we have seen a collapse in our office markets – at least emporarily. It is of course too early to predict the ultimate effects, but when looking at the long term we expect the desks per worker (floorspace per employee) to fall, to reflect more frequent working from home. Both businesses and planning authorities thinking about future needs can start to test what this means in practice. With a decline in demand for offices – which is likely to hit older stock hardest – and other types of commercial space including retail and leisure – we need to make effective use of our buildings. The obvious answer is residential, but this won’t always be easy or practical. Where sustainable dwellings can be provided authorities should encourage change of use. One last thing… the new Class E presents a positive step forward in supporting our town centres and the move between previous A and B classes. For those of us involved in industrial developments we do need to approach cautiously how we can protect our former B1c spaces. This can be particularly acute when thinking about ensuring they are delivered as part of future allocations. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! 17
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Why Developers Should Increasingly Turn to Custom-Build By James Bompas, Director, Planning
In October 2008, the SME housebuilder sector was decimated. It was not pretty, with 1-in-3 construction firms going bust and a 58% decline in the construction of new homes. The recovery process took years. Over a decade later, and the sector is having to grapple with new seismic changes in the form of lockdowns, disruptions to supply chains, and the labour risks associated with us leaving the EU. So, is there any good news out there? And, can the planning process help?
events have, at times, felt more like a sales and marketing initiative, with people turning up wanting to reserve a plot. And, that’s even before planning permission is granted.
Custom-build is one example. Government has been consistent in its policy support for the sector. The requirement to plan for those people wanting to build their own homes is specifically referenced in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016) also requires Local Planning Authorities to maintain a register of demand. Support is also found in the draft White Paper. All helpful stuff.
It can provide an important contribution to housing
For developers, there are now specific custom-build lending streams available, and projects are not obliged to deliver affordable housing. For the local authorites, custom-build also offers the following benefits:
output; It can unlock smaller parcels of land which may not
be suitable for larger developers; It protects / creates local jobs and strengthens local
supply chains; Has a higher take-up rate of sustainable technologies;
Iceni Projects has been fortunate to work on many custombuild projects. On virtually all, the reception received by the local community is overwhelmingly positive. Consultation
It offers choice and provides opportunities to provide
a mix of homes;
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The Weekly Vlog By Ashleigh Cook, Senior Planner
2020 has been an unpredictable year for many reasons, many of which we probably want to forget. But one unintended thing that happened that I think we should be really proud of is our weekly vlog series: When Tomorrow Comes. At Iceni, we are very familiar with hosting CPDs, attending networking events, and producing our weekly emails – but none of us had any experience as vloggers, or video editors. So starting a vlog was no easy task. But, after a few botched attempts and some technical issues, we now have a fully formed weekly vlog series. We started the vlog because we wanted to do something different, and we also wanted to make sure the conversations we had when in the pub or networking could still be had, and could be shared with our clients and followers.
With no developers’ profit payable to a
housebuilder and the chance for buyers to do some of the work themselves, self-build can provide houses at lower cost; It can empower local residents as they can
determine the form of the housing; and It diversifies the provision of new homes
by providing a genuine alternative to the dominance of the traditional volume house-builders. So, whilst the coming months show no signs of letting up in terms of disruption, the SME sector should increasingly pivot towards custombuild. Evidence shows there is latent demand for custom-build housing, with the industry currently delivering 12,000 homes per annum. The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) believe this number could increase to 73,500 by 2025, as now more than ever; people want to live in homes that are high-quality, well planned and support flexible working.
If you have ever watched one of the vlogs (which we hope you have by now!) you should realise that these are not scripted, or even planned – most times we have barely had a moment to share our personal opinions with colleagues on the subject matter. But this is the all the better, as this means the conversation is natural and also challenges us to think outside the box, and to question the topic being discussed. To date, we have produced 27 vlogs, all covering a wealth of topics from zonal planning and the future of the high street to sustainability and the role of data. We have also had the pleasure of inviting some key players from the planning and development world to participate in the vlogs, including none other than Simon Ricketts of Town Legal, Sarah Bevan of London First and Sue Smith from the Graven Hill Village Development Company. Taking part in the vlogs has not only been great fun, but has also meant we have been part of interesting conversations with some truly fascinating people. Hopefully we can continue to produce more vlogs and get even more of the Iceni Tribe involved.
The Year Book 2020
Life in Lockdown By Mairéad Flower, Senior Planner
2020 started so well, from skiing in Kitzbuhel in January to skiing in Bansko in February. If only I had known that flight back on the 23rd February would be my last for 2020. I never thought I would be writing a Life in Lockdown article for the 2020 yearbook but here we are. It all started on St Patricks Day on what would be my last day in Da Vinci House for 5 months. I recall murmurings of maybe we’d be back in 3 weeks – maybe 4. How wrong we all were. At first joining an MS Teams or a Zoom call was a novelty and sharing a working space with my husband was entertaining (he finally understands what I do day to day!), but it began to feel normal very quickly and it was a breath of fresh air (quite literally) to not have to face the Metropolitan Line at 7.55am or have to travel an hour across London and back for a 45 minute meeting. I enjoyed seeing into the lives of people I worked with day in and day out, to see their children playing in the background, or their choice of stuffed animal: each day there was always something new! With working remotely up and running I didn’t miss the office too much, but it was the drinks in the pub on a Thursday or Friday night that I began to lament. Luckily, in true Iceni fashion suggestions of various ‘virtual’ socials came flooding in. From the classic Iceni Quiz, to a virtual version of the notorious Book Club to a new concept - iCook, alongside a weekly Thirsty Thursday virtual meet up. Is there anything Iceni can’t muster? 20
I, for one, enjoyed the fantastic weather we had during lockdown and certainly made the most of where I live, with a running track, tennis courts, a lake for swimming and plenty of outdoor space (the joy of living on school grounds with a teacher for a partner) - what more could you want! For once I was happy living in Zone 6! It wasn’t only Iceni that could come up with new ideas for getting through the week; my husband and I enjoyed Wine Wednesdays and Friday virtual beer tasting with friends. As we started to ease back into the office (for me one day a week, usually a Thursday for the ultimate opportunity to socialise after) I look back fondly on early life in lockdown and know it’s a time I won’t be forgetting for a long, long time - or at the very least, not until the next one starts! Staff Forum : Taking over from Gregg as Staff Forum Chair, I knew I had big boots to fill and with the suggestion that the format of Staff Forum could be a marker in my career I jumped at the chance. In October 2019 we welcomed the new Staff Forum Committee, where each team had a longstanding representative to ensure consistency. If only we’d known what things would be thrown at us during 2019/20! We left behind discussions on the fruit bowl and the hairdryer and focussed instead on aspects ranging from the qualifying criteria for the Ski Trip to Surviving in Lockdown. All told, we’ve been through a lot. Lockdown meant that for once, we could all be in the ‘room’ together! At some point over the coming months I will be handing over my role to someone new – who knows what their legacy will be post Covid-19.
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Iceni Engagement on What the Future Holds For Public Consultation By Gina Murgatroyd, Engagement Consultant
Major changes in the last six months as a result of the pandemic and national policy announcements have certainly kept the Engagement team on their toes. Now more than ever the potential of digital tools to reach new and a diverse range of stakeholders are being embraced. Public consultation prior to the pandemic focused primarily on tried and tested local exhibitions; chairing lively workshops; guiding local walkabouts and meeting residents in person to hear their thoughts about the future of their area. Covid-19 has blown this out of the water, and we are looking at a new precedent of how information is shared about the changes happening locally. The passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 at the end of March has provided the legislative framework to enable local planning authorities to embrace digital engagement methods which has been echoed in the recent Planning White Paper. Iceni, of course, has spearheaded its own innovative approach with iSite continuing to be a great success. We have even provided ‘virtual public exhibitions’ where users can access a virtual walk through of the exhibition, that’s providing information about the site as well as a virtual tour of the space from the comfort of their own home. No queuing to view exhibition boards necessary! Much has been made of the opportunities this new digital approach afford,s and the democratising potential it has to reach more people and engage different groups. Apathy used to be a big stumbling block in the past, the default assumption being that apathy equalises consent. But this is not always the case, and by embracing digital
engagement tools, new audiences can be reached, as well as previously hard to reach groups. However, questions still remain, and there have been vocal critics of conducting any form of consultation during the pandemic. Where councils have embraced virtual meetings there has been a degree of public backlash, with groups arguing that it is inappropriate to be consulting during this time, and that failing to hold public meetings is in effect, disenfranchising local voices. How do we ensure that people without access to the internet are still part of these conversations? We may find that this pandemic highlights how data poverty and digital illiteracy hinder social engagement. We’ve also seen a lot of headlines about the Planning White Paper recently, but less has been said about digitalising the planning system and the impact it could have on engagement. If taken forward, the effect could be significant and positive. With a proposed timeframe of only 30 months to introduce an adopted new style local plan, of which the local authority may only be afforded 12 months to draft it, it will be essential to engage early and earnestly with those groups that would not ordinarily be involved in long term planning. Directing the conversation from planning jargon to real life issues, and focussing on the benefits long term and joint working can bring, and the multitude of issues that will be covered, will encourage far greater interaction. Looking to the future, digital tools should also allow for better analysis of the impact of our work, on people and place, particularly with the use of an ‘open data’ approach. So this is clearly not the death knell for faceto-face engagement events, but an important and necessary diversification of how residents come together to shape their communities.
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The E-Scooter Revolution By Clive Burbridge, Director, Transport
We are experiencing a transport revolution. City dwellers are shunning public transport in favour of travel methods that increase social distancing, presenting an opportunity for electric mobility devices. As of 4th July 2020, e-scooter hire trials were legalised in the UK and riders must have at least a provisional or moped licence. The top speed is 15.5mph, and their use on pavements is banned. Motor vehicle insurance is also required, provided via the hire firm. In cities such as London, the Congestion Charge is now operational seven days a week, and has been ramped up to ÂŁ15 per car. Surely this must draw us towards using e-scooters. However, whilst previous data on take-up trends is limited, it points towards e-scooter usage being seasonal. Meanwhile, in rural areas, the ability to join the green vehicle revolution is more challenging. Obvious hurdles include longer distances, roads that lack street lighting, roads that are prone to more potholes, and lack of 4G (let alone 5G) coverage, which some rental providers use to track their assets.
Iceni Transport feel the 12 month e-scooter trial is somewhat missing the opportunity to maximise propensity towards sustainable travel. With legislation more closely conforming to the requirements to drive a moped/motorbike rather than ride a bicycle/ electric bike, due to the need for a driving licence and insurance, many people working in cities who would have taken up the scheme simply wonâ€™t be eligible. Further, we believe e-scootesr would be incredibly popular with students, but for those under 16 years of age it wonâ€™t be an option for the foreseeable future, despite people being able to purchase them today in their local Halfords. A number of trials have already started in Tees Valley, Milton Keynes, Cambridge and the West Midlands, with the latter planning to be the most extensive so far. After initially starting with 200 scooters in both Birmingham and Coventry it is planned to increase the number available to 10,000 across the region over the coming months. With numerous other authorities across the UK planning to implement schemes there should be a great deal of data at the end of the 12 month period to assess the success or otherwise of
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Bank Holiday Relay The Iceni Strava Team page is a competitive play ground for those who like to take to the roads on their bikes, run marathons, or row the Thames, and on any given week the statistics are impressive (I’ve snuck in to the Top Ten on one occasion!). But during the early weeks of lockdown we widened the net to include most of the Tribe in two weekends of activity relays. The basic pretence was at least one member of the Tribe doing some exercise for every hour over the two May bank holidays, and to share our experiences as a group – for the second event we elected to raise funds for charity as part of mental health awareness week.
Folk found numerous different ways of getting sweaty, from bikes rides, runs and HITT sessions to burpees, yoga, and football in the back yard with the kids – and through the miracle of smart phones we got to share pictures and videos and to egg each other on with virtual support! Both events were over-subscribed, and I suspect that, lockdown or no-lockdown, this is likely to become an annual event for the Tribe….. the schemes. With such a high level of uptake already, and further schemes planned, it is considered that market forces will sway the Government’s decision on the continuation of hire schemes, but whether or not private scooters will be legalised when the hire scheme trials are over remains to be seen. Despite this, we continue to see the illegal use of private scooters on our roads and pavements, especially throughout cities. This surely can only help to encourage Government to adopt the private e-scooter into the sustainable transport arsenal, alongside the electric bike, which interestingly did not have to go through the same rigmarole of trials. You have to ask why the scooter trails are being conducted in comparison to the legislation for mopeds and not e-bikes? There are reasons, and Iceni Transport would happily talk you through them...
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Thurrock Food Bank By Liz Scott, Office Manager
On 25th February 2020, prior to COVID, a small team from Iceni spent the day at Thurrock Food Bank’s storage facility helping them sort donations. Ever since Ian founded Iceni in July 2005, we have always worked on a great many projects in Essex and wanted to give something back to the community. The ONS estimates Thurrock had a population of 172,500 in 2018 which will have risen to 178,300 by the time of the census in 2021. As of April 2019, Thurrock Food Bank had fed 5,683 people – 305 people more than 2018. From 1st April 2019 through to 31st March 2020, they fed 6,587 people – 2,878 of whom were children and, following the Covid-19 pandemic which began in the UK in March, demand is currently up 60% on where they were at the same point last year. Thurrock Food Bank is run entirely by volunteers and every month they receive thousands of donations from Amazon, together with donations from Asda, Tesco and members of the public, all of which need to be checked for sell by dates and then sorted into categories and stored in crates for use in the
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warehouse. The volunteers are so busy making up the food parcels that it is difficult for them to find time to sort the donations and categorise the stockrooms which was where we came in.
five years prior to Covid-19, food bank use in their network increased by 73% - in a large part as a result of changes to the Government’s Universal Credit scheme.
We arrived at the food bank at about 9.30am where we were greeted by Peter Newall, Thurrock Foodbank’s Operations Manager. Peter explained that the large monthly deliveries from Amazon contain an extremely wide variety of items such as Madacascan vanilla pods and they had not been able to unpack the boxes for some months due to their workload. Peter showed us to the stockroom and explained that we needed to open all the Amazon boxes, remove all the items, check all the food items were still in date, group items by sell-by date and category and then package them into crates with items nearest expiry date first.
In April 2020, research by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) found that 1.2 million people had already applied for Universal Credit owing to the Coronavirus crisis – that’s 40,000 a day, nearly four times the national rate - and up to two million workers had already lost jobs equivalent to one in 20 of all those in work. This is more than double the fall in employment in the 2008 recession when 740,000 people lost their jobs.
We divided ourselves into pairs, and began opening boxes, sorting items, grouping items and labelling and stacking crates. It was a huge job and initially felt quite overwhelming, particularly because we were quite restricted for space with so many of us helping: having crates spread over the floor and piled up on all the tables didn’t give us very much room to move about. After a little while, we got a rhythm and a system going, and made good progress throughout the morning, sorting, dating, and crating, more and more items. The foodbank closed at 3pm, and we wanted to make sure we got everything done before we had to leave, so we had a quick break for a late lunch and then carried on. With the majority of the items unboxed and sorted into crates, and the delivery boxes disposed of, we had a bit more room, and it became easier for us to move around and work faster. It is a terrible indictment on society that we even have food banks in the 21st Century. According to a Parliamentary briefing in July 2020, there are 2000+ food banks in the UK, of which 1,200 are run by the Trussell Trust and over 800 are independent. Statistics from the Trussell Trust show that in the
Subsequent IES findings show that the Universal Credit claimant count increased by 1.45 million between April 2020 and August 2020, which is the largest year-on-year increase since the unemployment benefits system was established in 1920, and as of 16 August 2020, approximately 9.6 million jobs from 1.2 million different companies have been furloughed as part of the Government’s job retention scheme. It is likely that these figures will increase again when the scheme comes to an end in October 2020. Younger people are being particularly hard hit, with the number of young people not in full-time education or employment rising to its highest since 2015, and nearly one in seven now claiming unemployment-related benefits – up from fewer than one in fifteen before the crisis began. Given all of this, it can only be that the need for Food Banks will increase as more and more people suffer significant hardship as a result of job losses and possible changes to Government assistance schemes brought about by the global Covid-19 crisis. We finished just in time to get the vacuum cleaner out and give the carpet a once-over to make sure we left it as tidy and organised as we possibly could and then had a quick cuppa before heading for our trains home.
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A Year in Archaeology and a Collaborative Approach By Rob Tutt, Project Manager, Archaeology
Iceni’s archaeology team is one year old! And what a year it’s been.
The decision to bring archaeology to Iceni in summer ‘19 has seen Claire Cogar establish a successful team that sits comfortably alongside the planners and teams as diverse as Transport and Iceni Futures. This allows us to get in early, and identify any archaeological requirements at planning and pre-planning stages on a wide range of project types. A ‘no surprises’ approach is better for clients, curators, planners, contractors and the archaeology itself. It also helps identify any post-planning requirements that may be secured by Condition. Team Archaeology is a natural cousin of Team Heritage and Townscape, and the past year has seen us develop very effective joint reports on the historic environment and successfully collaborate on a range of exciting projects. We love to share our expertise of landscape and subsurface remains, and learn about built heritage and townscape matters. Iceni are well placed to deal with all things heritage, and we have worked together to support applications at Betteshanger, Royal Academy of Dance and Tonbridge. In our inaugural year we have successfully delivered nascent scheme advice (Archaeological Site Appraisal), EIA scoping, ES statements, Desk Based Assessments, Written Schemes of Investigation, field evaluation and excavations, Risk Registers, LPA consultation, curatorial consultation, stakeholder engagement and archaeological project designs. We also recognise the significance of the climate crisis and are working with Dan Jestico in Iceni Futures to develop a strategy for carbon neutral project delivery and are exploring ways to reduce the carbon footprint of archaeological fieldwork. Thanks for having us, it’s great to be here. And over the next year? Watch this space, something very big is coming…
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Building Faster and Smarter: Central and Local Government Lay the Foundations for an MMC Revolution By Charlotte Orrell, Senior Futures Consultant
Despite the term, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are nothing new. Many of us still have the image of the post-war, ‘pre-fab’ era in mind which has tarnished MMC’s reputation for decades. Whilst the industry has witnessed groundbreaking progress, with a pre-existing stigma, financial and technical barriers and a general lack of understanding, we haven’t witnessed MMC take-up quite as we’d hoped. The benefits of MMC are clear, be it shorter and less disruptive construction, environmental benefits, or quality of build. As a result, MMC has been hailed as one solution to a reducing construction workforce and both housing and sustainability targets. Despite the Government’s vocal support in recent years, MMC methods still remain the exception rather than the norm. Recent research by Savills estimates that only 10% of homes are delivered utilising MMC (as compared to nearly 80% in Sweden). Concerns around quality, design and longevity remain, whilst those who do utilise MMC can find themselves delayed passing through development systems or gaining finance, thereby removing some of the efficiency benefits that MMC can bring. The Government has been actively encouraging the use of MMC for nearly a decade, but recently have demonstrated a notable shift, looking to lead from the front, to provide the confidence that the development industry needs. In the past few months alone, the Government has implemented initiatives, policy and funding packages in which to cement MMC as part of the future of our construction industry.
Notably, those looking to sign a strategic partnership deal with Homes England as part of the recent Affordable Homes Programme (2021-2026) will now have to commit to building out 25% of their pipeline utilising MMC. In August, another important milestone was passed through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, initiated by the Government’s MMC Working Group between warranty providers to agree minimum standards in assessing homes in which to boost lender confidence. Those who have sifted through the recent Government’s White Paper – Planning for the Future, will have noted that current plans require MMC to be acknowledged by Local Authorities within proposed area design codes. At a local level, Councils across the country have actively begun supporting the MMC industry through developments of their own. Iceni have recently provided development consultancy advice for local authority pilot schemes which utilise MMC, which will aid in demonstrating the success of these methods. Whilst local level knowledge may currently be piecemeal across the country, there is evidence to demonstrate understanding, and support of MMC at a local level is spreading. Whilst the Government are not alone in supporting this industry, gradually changing perceptions of MMC and strong Governmental backing is enabling the MMC industry to expand. As the Government lays its foundations, we will hopefully witness the further expansion of the MMC market and for us to gradually step toward MMC being commonplace amongst our built environment. 27
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Middlesex Hospital Annex: A Year in the Life of an Archaeological Excavation By Clair Cogar, Archaeology Director
Planning consent granted- check; demolition of buildings across the site- check; design development of a new basement to house 6 state of the art MRI scanners- check; Grade II listed workhouse ready for a refurb- check; 70% affordable housing - check; thousands of skeletons.............?!?! At the Middlesex Hospital Annex site, the Grade II Covent Garden Workhouse (also known as the Strand Union Workhouse) has stood proud for over 240 years. Fast forward to the present day and the site is being developed by the University London College Hospitals Charity (UCLHC) and designed by Llewelyn Davies. The Workhouse will provide much needed residential accommodation in Camden, with the adjacent North House and South House providing affordable housing for the borough. At the rear of the Workhouse building a series of extensive Middlesex Hospital Annex buildings stood until 2018. Little clue of what lay below was offered by these structures with substantial foundations.........
After demolition of the modern Annex buildings, a series of 7 test trenches were excavated across the site, to determine the presence or absence of archaeology. In front of the main building, a series of wheel ruts were recorded relating to the importation of materials to construct the Workhouse. At the rear of the site, located within the footprint of the previous Hospital Annex buildings, 55 burials relating to the Workhouse Burial Ground were recorded within 3 of the 7 trenches. Many of the skeletons had evidence present of degenerative diseases and conditions including dental disease, joint disease, osteoarthritis and syphilis as well as other bone damage linked to physical trauma. The study of these remains informs our understanding of the health of the Workhouse population (I.e the destitute poor) during this period. From late summer 2019 we have been undertaking the design and management of the archaeological work at the Middlesex Hospital Annex. The results of the test trench evaluation above enabled us to extrapolate the potential total number of skeletons on site (1,000
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â€“ 1,500), as well as pin pointing areas of dense burials (north, east and south site perimeter) in order to design a strategy to ensure the safe removal of these remains and to facilitate and enable prompt commencement of the construction programme. Ark Build are Principal Contractor for the Workhouse Refurbishment and Morgan Sindall are Principal Contractor for the basement and the new build at the rear, also providing attendances and temporary works to support the archaeological dig to a depth of up to 5m below ground Fast forward a year and there are over 25 archaeologists on site excavating skeletons alongside a full groundworks team undertaking the basement construction. We have also found early structural evidence relating to the original Workhouse Cookhouse (previously thought to be destroyed), and hundreds of skeletons with evidence of post-mortem modification I.e evidence of autopsy, anatomisation and medical dissection.
unclaimed remains after death â€“ including those within a Workhouse (prior to this dissection of hanged persons only was permitted, and there was an extensive illegal trade in corpses). We know the Covent Garden Workhouse Burial Ground was in active use from c.1780 to 1853, though at present it is unclear whether the evidence of dissection we are finding is legal (I.e post 1832) or illegal (pre Anatomy Act) or a mixture of the two. As the excavation continues, we may find legible coffin plates indicating the date on which a person died........ nevertheless the mystery is currently ongoing. From late summer 2019 we have been undertaking the design and management of the archaeological work at the Middlesex Hospital Annex, working with L-P Archaeology. Our work to strategically clear areas of archaeology to enable development of site and the provision of critical healthcare services and accommodation continues. Along the way we are analysing and re-telling the historic story of the people who lived, worked and were buried at this incredible site.
The Anatomy Act of 1832 allowed doctors of anatomy and medical students to dissect donated bodies and
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Health in Planning By Yordanka Yordanova, Planner
Health and wellbeing has never been more important to our world. In the face of the “new normal” we are becoming increasingly aware of how crucial it is for people to live and work in places which are designed to meet our wellbeing needs, and which enable us to have balanced and healthy lifestyles. Health and wellbeing emerged as crucial planning concepts long before Covid-19 as policymakers sought proof that high-quality housing could help to alleviate medical issues. Designing healthy cities and neighbourhoods is not a new concept; in fact, it has been around for more than a century, and was a founding principle of Ebenezer Howard’s ‘New Towns’, which were designed to create healthier living environments. Whilst overall life expectancy generally rises nationally, so do the statistics for life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, which puts additional demand on national services and resources. We see this today more than ever, as our healthcare services are put to the test of a century in the fight to keep those most vulnerable alive through the Covid-19 pandemic. Designing healthy places may therefore take on a higher meaning when the crisis is over – or at least mitigated. Planning policy on health may become
more streamlined, and the development process may look to achieve improved self-assessment when it comes to delivering healthy places. For now, we must embrace the tools that we have to measure and enhance the health determinants of placemaking. Health Impact Assessments (HIA) allow health and wellbeing to be considered in all policy forums; it is a flexible, collaborative and measurable method of implementing health principles, and has the power to influence the decision-making process at all levels. What it undoubtedly will have going forward is increased air time; it will therefore become a much more significant yardstick in determining the ‘planning balance’ of proposals. The changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations in May 2017 clarify that ‘population and human health’ are on the list of topics that are considered in an EIA; another means of ensuring health is on the Impact agenda. This sets the tone for national consideration of health in planning, especially in relation to strategic sites and developments that trigger the EIA thresholds. In particular, health has become a significant consideration in London’s planning policy requirements. The New London Plan Policy GG3 states that planning must assess the potential impact of development proposals through the use of Health Impact Assessments (HIAs).
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Making an Impact During Covid By Jo Ready, EIA Consultant
Covid may have slowed down a few things over the course of 2020, but not the Iceni Impact Management Team!
Other planning authorities across the country are now also looking at ways to deliver healthy places. Whether it is through adoption of bespoke guidance (Essex Healthier Places Guidance), or adapting existing assessment frameworks to their respective circumstances, health in planning is here to stay. Whilst it may be a forgotten concept to some, many planning authorities are now looking for major proposals (10+ residential units or 1,000sqm) to undertake HIAs. Will health and wellbeing in planning evolve? It is certainly going to be different. Our Impact Management team is closely monitoring requirements for Health Impact Assessments nationally, and is able to provide bespoke advice. We are constantly looking to improve our knowledge and skillset on Health Impact Assessment and have therefore been involved with the Wales Public Health Services, with members of our team completing the Public Health Wales Rapid Health Impact Assessment Course. We have also been looking to influence industry best practice by providing a private sector perspective for emerging national guidance.
Over the past year Iceni Impact have worked on a variety of projects for our clients. We continue to coordinate EIAs for a range of clients and our main submissions in the past year include EIA services for a residential scheme in Guildford for 520 dwellings and six travelling showpeople plots for London Strategic Land; and coordination and preparation of an ES as part of the Eastgate Quarter regeneration scheme in Basildon Town Centre for up to 2,800 units, new flexible community, commercial and retail floorspace and wide expanses of public realm. In addition to the submission of Environmental Statements, we have also successfully screened out the need to complete EIAs for several schemes across the UK, from residential-led developments in both rural and urban environments to waste and recycling sites. We have many more exciting projects in the pipeline over the coming months, including working with Vistry Partnerships on Meridian Phase 1 as well as expanding our experience into DCO work on behalf of Local Authorities and other complementary environmental services such as Biodiversity Net Gain. Alongside keeping an eye on major legislative changes on the horizon with the upcoming Environment Bill and EIA Regulations consultation, we are also developing our Digital EIA capabilities (watch this space!).
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Repurposing Old Buildings By Nairita Chakraborty and Ailish Killilea, Associates, Built Heritage and Townscape
With “Build build build” as the current motto in the industry, too often, the historic environment is cast as a problem rather than a solution. The complex range of regulations that comprise the heritage protection system are sometimes viewed as a barrier to change, rather than an enabler of the progressive adjustments that will need to be made if we are to avoid overheating the planet. Add to that the cost of refurbishing and adapting older buildings, which requires specialist skills and is always more expensive than demolition and building new. The current VAT rates, at 20% for refurbishment and 0% for new build, financially incentivise developers to demolish existing buildings and build new. Whilst bodies such as Historic England and the Historic Environment forum are calling for VAT rates for refurbishment to be reduced, there appears to be an automatic inclination for demolition than repurposing/reusing. Then why even think about adaptive reuse? Here are some reasons:
Sustainability: Existing buildings already embody
significant CO2 emissions in their materials. Compared to refurbishing a traditional Victorian terrace, a new building of the same size produces up to thirteen times more embodied carbon. Upgrading and renovating existing buildings means we can control the carbon expended through new construction activity, while ensuring a future for the heritage all around us. Culture: Architecture is the most easily recognised
artefact, evidencing our anthropological evolution. It is representative of the social, political and economic journey that lives in our collective memory. If the UK is to really meet its housing targets and be carbon neutral by 2050, we must use our underused and redundant historic buildings to be transformed sympathetically, rather than demolishing and building new. This could dramatically improve a building’s energy efficiency and would make substantial energy savings because the CO2 emissions already embodied within existing buildings would not be lost through demolition.
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And it is not just homes. For decades now, our once flourishing factories have been replaced with compact machinery, making swathes of buildings redundant. Even before the pandemic, cinema going was shifting towards a more intimate and curated experience, making the once ostentatious and fashionable cinema halls a thing of the past. Economic cuts within public bodies has meant the closure of several civic buildings such as historic libraries, townhalls, police stations and public baths. The same goes for infrastructure buildings such as railway sheds, power station and pumping stations. Admittedly, all historic buildings do not have to be adapted for reuse but, more importantly, adaptive reuse ought to be a philosophical decision of rehabilitation and not a government mandate. The notion that we have to abide by specific policies or laws in order to convert our existing building stock needs a paradigm shift. Our first response to the built form should be the process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those
portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values. With that in mind, Iceni Built Heritage & Townscape team are extremely excited to launch the Culture & Media Sector. Following the successful approval of Newtown Works and some of our ongoing work including the repurposing of several large entertainment and civic buildings, the Culture & Media sector opens up an opportunity of high diversity. Historic buildings relent themselves to a broad range of possibilities such as meanwhile uses, pop-up cinemas; through to creative adaptation using new technology-led innovations.
“Form follows function” is a famous phrase in architectural circles, coined by the architect Louis H. Sullivan (1896, The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered). It implies simply that the design of a building should reflect the different interior functions. Perhaps it is now time to rephrase to “Function reforms Form”.
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Now is the Time to Take Control By Leona Hannify, Planning Director and Gill Eaton, Associate Planner
Never has there been a better or more important time to take control and upskill in managing our own wellbeing; both individually, and as an organisation. Every single one of us is affected by the current crisis. Here at Iceni, we believe it is crucial to focus on the matters within our control. With this in mind, we have invited as guest contributors coaches James Pereira QC and Zita Wa â€“ Tulyahikayo FRSA to join us on our vlog this week to give us their thoughts on what we can individually do to help manage in these unprecedented set of circumstances. You may know James as an eminent planning barrister with FTB Chambers; as well as this role, James and Zita cofounded the Libra Partnership (www.thelibrapartnership. com) providing advice on a range of topics for professionals regarding issues that we all commonly face within the workplace. We look forward to discussing their thoughts on how we can look after our wellbeing. As well as our vlog, at Iceni we have put together a good practice guidelines checklist for our staff for increasing our resilience, with the aim of thinking about what their individual stress management toolkits may want to include. Thinking about this area of our life in practical terms and acknowledging that we can equip ourselves with more skills and resources can really help. It is key to keep things manageable and to think of it as more of a marathon, rather than a sprint.
We are all rapidly adjusting to the worldâ€™s biggest experience in homeworking; to different methods of communication; and to the curve ball of changed circumstances. It is therefore more important than ever to have the skillset to adjust quickly; to pivot; to regroup emotionally and be resilient in our outlook. With this comes new opportunities and new ways of working â€“ many positives which are likely to continue after the current crisis is resolved. We hope this can serve as a timely reminder that looking after our own wellbeing is really important individually, as an organisation and as a wider business community. Iceni has a remote working plan in place and we are on hand to provide any advice or support you may have in these fast-changing times. Our vlog with Zita and James will be available online from tomorrow. To see our past vlogs, please follow us on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/ iceniprojects.
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Iceni’s Diversity Panel By Jon Wright, Senior Planner
Here at Iceni Projects, we have been deeply concerned by recent news regarding continued racial injustices and inequalities, as well as the often-unseen everyday racism occurring in the UK and abroad. These events have spurred various discussions between colleagues and encouraged the sharing of experiences (good and bad). However, we know that educating ourselves, whilst important, is simply not enough. Whilst we would like to think we are an open-minded and tolerant bunch, we know we must do better, not just as individuals but as an organisation, and to lead in the sectors that we operate within. The need for the company to continually review working practices in respect of diversity and inclusivity led to the creation of the Iceni Diversity Panel, which comprises of a range of staff representatives from various parts of the business. It was set up to identify how best to positively contribute towards a safe, diverse and tolerant working environment. In addition to considering issues associated with race, the panel also covers gender, class, disability, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs and any under-represented groups.
how our policies and procedures might discriminate,
and how we can best eliminate unconscious prejudice. Developing education, training, resources and
awareness; Identify initiatives that should be created or
supported; and ensuring that everyone feels able to have a voice
on these issues, and can raise any concerns in a confidential manner. We need to hold ourselves to account and ensure that measures are actively being taken which are wellconsidered, meaningful and long-lasting. Iceni’s strength comes from its people, we often refer to ourselves as The Tribe, and we find strength in each other, but it is clear that we also all have a responsibility to work towards true equality amongst our peers and across the wider property sector.
In co-ordination with HR and other operational groups within the business, the panel aims to take a forensic review of every aspect of how the company operates, and make recommendations relating to:
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Starting a Planning Career in the 1960s By James Williams, Consultant
The current difficulties for those starting their career in planning has caused me to reflect on the start of my planning career in the 1960s, and how much I learnt and benefitted from close contact with my office colleagues. Planning in the 1960s fitted the ethos of the times and was in vogue. I was one of 14 university graduates to join Norfolk County Council. The County Council was the Planning Authority and responsible for making the development plans for the County, but all planning applications were reported to the numerous Urban and Rural District Councils (UDCs and RDCs) within the County. So, there were a large number of committee members to get know and the meetings came around rapidly. I started in an ‘area planning office’ with a planning staff of four only, and as the junior all applications came through me for processing and registration. In the pre-digital age processing applications involved marking the application site and number on large scale ordinance survey record sheets, as well as learning how to fold applicants plans so they could be inserted and attached into office files! As well as planning applications we had numerous applications for Certificates of Alternative Development, as at this time acquisition of private land for public uses, schools, community use, was much more common. One of the biggest and more challenging applications for which we had no prior warning was for
a gas terminal on the coast for processing the newly discovered North Sea gas. The influence of the state was more widespread in the 1960s. Norfolk was in the defined ‘South East’ where all new office and industrial development was strictly controlled, as part of a national economic strategy to foster new economic development in the less prosperous regions. We could not register any planning application that included new industrial or office employment, unless it was accompanied by an Industrial Development Certificate (IDC) or Office Development Permit (ODP) from the Board of Trade. These necessitated applicants satisfying Government that the new jobs needed to be in the South East and could not be in other part parts of the country which were a priority for new investment. It was a national economic planning strategy that did not sit comfortably in Norfolk, where we had our problems of deprivation in some parts of the County. The County Development Plan would have looked strange to today’s affluent visitors to North Norfolk. The North Norfolk coast was identified as a deprived area, being most remote from the main centres of economic activity, Norwich and the expanding King’s Lynn. I had a further learning experience of the real world at the first RDC planning committee meeting I attended. My senior officer had given me a small and straightforward application on which to report - a single bungalow outside but contiguous with the defined ‘village
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The Future of Logistics By Stuart Mills, Associate Planner
Logistics have arguably never been more important than they are today. The events of this year have dramatically accelerated the switch to an online future, and with that comes the increased need to deliver goods to customers.
envelope’. I had rehearsed the arguments for and against, but was totally ‘wrong-footed’ when I found that the members were really only interested in who the bungalow was for – was it an outsider? The application was deferred, until I provided them with the necessary information! After the war it was not uncommon for ex-army officers to be appointed to senior positions in local authorities. This was the case in Norfolk, where our County Planning Officer was a retired Major and a strong influence on the running of the department. His particular phobia was unauthorised bill boards and advertisements. I soon learnt the importance of keeping in favour with the CPO’s secretary. She would tip you off beforehand about the CPO’s travels and if he was likely to be in your area next week. If so, you quickly dished out enforcement notices, or got rid of offensive advertisements! Equally frustrating, when I was later based in the newly opened County Hall in Norwich, was the Major’s occasional office walk-about on Monday morning. It wasn’t your work progress or clear desk the Major was interested in, but the length of your hair and whether it was acceptable in the office. This was the 1960s when the fashions of us youngsters were out of line with, and not acceptable to, many of the generation before.
Greater activity in the logistics sector requires additional physical warehouse space, increasingly in urban areas close to where people live for that ‘last mile’ delivery. As a result, we are seeing a new generation of high quality, sensitively designed warehouse facilities emerge, with an emphasis on sustainable design and employee welfare. Iceni have had the pleasure of working with SEGRO on their pioneering facility at White Hart Lane in Tottenham, which embodies this new trend. The 17,000 sqm facility, comprising 8 units of different sizes, will incorporate high levels of energy efficiency and sustainability (targeting a carbon neutral base build and BREEAM Excellent as a minimum) as well as substantial new landscaping, green walls and roofs. The buildings have been designed to minimise impacts on neighbouring residents, with measures including lowering the overall building heights, providing a landscaped buffer to the nearest properties, and designing the site layout in a way which protects residents from noise and artificial light. Plentiful access to natural light and an outdoor amenity area will also provide a high quality working environment for staff on site. Working positively with the London Borough of Haringey and the Greater London Authority, Iceni obtained a resolution to grant planning permission in June 2020, and SEGRO are now progressing with the preparations to start on site.
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The Launch of Edinburgh By Callum Fraser, Planning Director
Iceni Edinburgh opened its doors for business in August 2019. On the one hand I can’t believe how quickly the year has passed; on the other it feels like we have been part of The Tribe for a long time thanks to the welcome and support received from colleagues in Team Scotland and across the business as a whole.
There have been a number of highlights during our inaugural year, with notable projects including advising the Scottish Rugby Union on the development of Edinburgh Rugby’s new 7,000 capacity home stadium and our recent appointment by Drum Property Group to advise on a major mixeduse development in Edinburgh City Centre.
It would be fair to say that a global pandemic and extended period of lockdown wasn’t factored into our Year 1 business planning, but reflecting on our first 12-months the positive response from clients and contacts to Iceni Edinburgh’s launch has been hugely encouraging.
From a personal point of view, our Launch Party in October 2019 was a particular highlight – not only was there a strong client turnout, a great night was had by all and (thankfully) my ridiculously over the top 3-page typed speech never saw the light of day!
With our first full financial year now underway, some exciting recent instructions, a promising pipeline, and a noticeable increase in new enquiries, leaves us feeling very optimistic for what lies ahead as we look to firmly establish Iceni in the Edinburgh market. In April, the team was bolstered by the arrival of Adam McConaghy. The height of lockdown was certainly an interesting time to join a new firm: working from home, a ‘virtual’ induction process, numerous introductions to new colleagues via Zoom, but Adam took this in his stride, hit the ground running and is already proving to be a huge asset - not only to the Edinburgh office, but to Team Scotland overall.
We’ve made a good start, but there’s lots of work ahead to get where we want to be…bring it on!
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Co-(vid) Living By Justine Entezari, Associate Planner and Lucy Furber, Planner
At the start of the pandemic, many in the property and development industry had fears about the future of the country’s office, retail, leisure and hotel sectors once we were told to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. Those involved in the residential sector also might have wondered what the next few months would bring for those in co-living buildings. On the face of it, sharing amenities and being in close contact to others is not a good match for enforced social-distancing. Conversely, it would in fact appear that co-living buildings have flourished during this time of crisis. From our work in the sector, and speaking to professionals who are delivering and managing schemes, we would attribute this to four factors: Co-living buildings are an intensively and well managed
model – this means that operators can maintain rigorous levels of hygiene and also control who comes in and out of the building; They are flexible by nature – both in terms of rental
agreements, and the ability to adapt spaces within buildings e.g. to provide more working from home space, an onsite shop or room service; They can provide a socially distant community – utilising
technology such as member apps to create online events and connect to others;
Other forms of housing are increasingly unsuitable – co-
living providers are benefitting from those experiencing ‘bad landlords’, unfit HMO’s and incompatible housemates. Looking to the future, where will this leave co-living and how will it evolve? With a number of co-living developers eager to acquire more sites, the model currently looks resilient. Co-living may form part of a wider ‘local living’ trend which will see town and neighbourhood centres benefitting from the Government’s push to rejuvenate high streets. As many people continue to find a better work-life balance, ground floors of co-living buildings may provide publicly accessible, mixed-use, work spaces, retail and leisure offers. While some Local Planning Authorities and Councillors have yet to embrace the concept; Manchester City Council has just last week pushed back on two applications totalling more than 3,000 bed spaces; we consider that the need for centrally located co-living developments in major cities won’t disappear either. To counter their urban location, the co-living operators of the future may look to enhance external amenity space through more use of roof tops, private balconies and public realm, as it is evident that access to open space has played a vital role in many people’s experience of lockdown. However the trend develops, it seems that those who thought Covid-19 could spell the end of co-living may well be proved wrong.
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Planning Reforms… Through the Heritage Lens By Nairita Chakraborty, Associate, Built Heritage and Townscape
Fifteen years ago, when I started my degree, the concept of ‘Local Development Framework’ was fresh off the press. The lecture slide showing a ‘tree’ of folders with the Local Plan at the top, branching to sub-folders of Development Management Plans Documents [DMDPD] and Area Action Plans [AAPs], then Supplementary Planning Documents [SPDs], and finally Conservation Area Appraisals, Design Guides and other Management Plans at the bottom, is forever embedded in my memory. Now well into my career as a heritage specialist, I have witnessed the sacking of the Planning Policy Guidance [PPG15 and 16 in particular], Regional Plans, and finally the consolidation of these to a few paragraphs in the National Policy Framework. Preceded by a wholesale purging of the so called ‘quangos’ such as Council of Architecture and Built Environment (CABE), and the reformation of others such as Historic England and Environment Agency, these led to huge outcry amongst those less immune to change. The liberals saw this overhaul as a direct action to placate the then government’s pals in the development industry, amidst
growing discomfort in tackling housing shortage, specifically affordable homes. And yet, I find myself again at the crossroads of another ‘cabinet reshuffle’, with the previous framework cast aside as a complicated system of unnecessary bureaucracy. The reforms raise the same issues as before and unsurprisingly, the same scepticisms from the critics. If one were to take a levelled perspective, the reforms actually suggest to go back to the days of the good old ‘Unitary Development Plan’. From the neutral ‘policy based approach’, often open to interpretation, the system shifts back to a more prescriptive ‘Design Code’ format, putting those SPDs at the forefront of the development management process. Local character studies, conservation area appraisals, management plans, all would form a major part of the prescription, with a catalogue of lookbooks that are considered as ‘beautiful’ developments. The proposed simplification of the planning submission is also fair. No longer will Council Officers be burdened with boxes of technical reports, with 4 copies made available for the various consultees within the Council for reference.
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As a cynic, these reports appear pretty similar in their language and content with a few words and adjectives changed; a mere tick box exercise giving employment to several consultants (including myself). Sure, they included a ‘justification’ of the development against adopted policies, that would ultimately sway the decision makers to Ayes or Nays; only now they would be included in a succinct 50page illustrative document. Most importantly, and to my utter satisfaction, the information is to be presented in digital platforms and databases, making it easy to access and more transparent. Of more relevance is the use of existing spatial mapping softwares that despite having been around for at least two decades, is still an enigma apart from the GIS geeks and Simcity enthusiasts. These will now have to be adopted by planners who have forever hidden themselves behind jargon of words taken from various policy books. Seeing planners draw and actually doing what they trained for, aka spatial planning, would be a refreshing change to them, as it is to me. Iceni are looking to develop a digital platform for spatial planning and heritage and townscape work.
Admittedly, there is a lot of scepticism about resources, and fairly so, with public sector slowly being stripped of most of its funding. The fruitful implementation would definitely necessitate specialists within Councils to pro-actively deliver the required design codes and localised studies. This is suitably recognised within the reforms with possible reiteration of ‘CABE’, but perhaps with a wider net of skills including infrastructure development, environmental and nature conservation. But this is also a golden opportunity for private sector to work constructively with the local authorities, not only to fill the skill-gap, but also to gain a more entrepreneurial attitude by increasing the amount of development in their areas and maximising planning gain returns. Rather wishfully, I feel that this could potentially end the argument of ‘us vs them’ in the built environment industry, bringing a collaborative and upskilled thinking process, for the betterment of our future generations. If this is not a Hurrah for the built environment, I do not know what is!!
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Joining Iceni During Lockdown By Adam McConaghy, Senior Planner
We’ve all done it. Arranging a Zoom background to make it look professional but not too boring (Google tells me pot-plants are essential). Making sure to have good lighting. Positioning the camera on the laptop to avoid that double-chin. These are just some of the issues which at the beginning of 2020 were not even a consideration but are now part-andparcel of the mass move to home working. And almost 5 months ago, I was negotiating the intricacies of the “#HomeSweetOffice” while preparing to start my new role with Iceni’s (virtual) Edinburgh office. With all the uncertainty that’s surrounded lockdown and the adjustment to working from home, it’s fair to say that I joined Iceni with a few questions about how starting a new job would work in practice. However, I’m happy to report that any anxieties I may have had were misplaced. My first week comprised a series of Zoom meetings, training sessions and phone calls with colleagues from around the business. It was fairly intense (averaging around 6 a day!), but it gave a fantastic insight into The Tribe, it’s many different teams and disciplines, and it’s incredibly warm, open and inclusive culture. Everyone from across the business made a huge effort to make me feel welcome to the point where I immediately felt part of the team.
There’s been no time to catch my breath since that initial week and I’ve enjoyed taking part in my first State of the Nation (and after-party), general team catch ups, and several Zoom socials. These experiences, combined with the opportunity to get involved in some hugely exciting projects as part of the Scotland Team, have meant that my first few months with Iceni have flown by - I can’t quite believe that first week was almost 5 months ago. Starting a new job during lockdown may have meant that I missed out on typical ‘first day’ experiences, but I can honestly say that my alternative experience could not have worked out better. I swapped first-day jitters commuting on the bus with a leisurely stroll from my living room to my kitchen table. I swapped an overpriced flat white from Pret with a decidedly average brew from Nescafé. And I swapped the obligatory office walk-around with a series of virtual Zoom calls. It’s been an eventful journey so far – I can’t wait to see what comes next.
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An update from Manctopia…. By Team Manchester
The spotlight has been on Manchester this summer, with many eyes tuning into BBC Two’s new documentary ‘Manctopia: Billion Pound Property Boom’. Tracing the stories of the people living and working in the eye of Manchester’s remarkable housing boom, the series leaves many questions needing answers, and has certainly got our Manchester Planning team thinking about the future of the city. Whilst we ponder these questions, we reflect on our year in the Manchester office, with some key successes and projects to look forward to. Iceni were delighted to secure planning permission for 266 homes at Whitefield Drive, Knowsley in July. With a mix of private and affordable rent and shared ownership properties available, the proposed development will be constructed by Engie on behalf of registered provider Your Housing Group who will retain and manage the properties. Through an extensive pre-application process including a Places Matter design review panel, the scheme gradually evolved and now includes a core set of design themes that have been closely adhered to across the entire site. Ultimately, the plans focus on creating a new family orientated community with a range of homes for all ages, helping with the continued rejuvenation of the wider area of Kirkby and Knowsley, while also complementing the regeneration of Kirkby town centre.
for 109 new homes in Gresford, Wrexham is now being considered by the local authority after the team worked hard to submit a comprehensive application package, drawing on the skills and expertise of our colleagues in the Futures and Impact Management. The team are also looking forward to continuing to progress the proposal to redevelop part of the Stanley Park Golf Course in Blackpool for a David Lloyd Adrenalin World. The team is providing planning, heritage, EIA, impact management, social value and archaeology services to support the delivery of this flagship £45 million scheme. Whilst these projects have been keeping the team busy, earlier in the year Lucy, Justine and Ellen found time to team up with Donald Insall Associates to complete a sponsored ‘sleep walk’ to raise money for Shelter. Instead of the now popular ‘sleep outs’ to raise awareness of homelessness, Shelter organised a 10km evening walk around Manchester, where we donned our coats, hats and scarves, to join hundreds of others stepping out in solidarity. The team were pleased to have raised £550 - thank you to all our sponsors ! Since then, whilst opportunities for face to face socialising and networking with our clients has gone awry in 2020, we consider that we know some of them a lot better since getting to ‘Zoom’ into their spare bedrooms, kitchens and lounges! But let’s hope next year brings us an opportunity to re-familiarise ourselves with a pint in an actual pub!
The team are looking forward to driving a number of new instructions forward. The submission of an application 43
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Built Heritage and Townscape’s Year Ahead By Nairita Chakraborty and Lewis Eldridge, Associates, Built Heritage and Townscape
It’s been a bumpy ride through most of 2020, even bumpier than a 2019 when uncertainty seemed to become endemic. The work of the Built Heritage and Townscape team has continued apace, though, with many challenging and exciting projects. Sometimes the big projects, like Newtown Works in Ashford and Tower Bridge Court in Southwark, stand out as being particularly satisfying. At other times it’s the smaller projects, where we’ve helped the long term custodians of historic buildings achieve a permission, which give the most pleasure. Two recent examples were the work we did to secure consent for the radical extension of a refronted 18th century silk weaver’s house in Bethnal Green for the long term owner, and a project close to Red Lion Street in Camden, where we helped an artist achieve permission for a family home and studio. Working with exciting architectural practices, Stefan Shaw Studio and David Kohn Architects respectively, both projects required a careful weighing of the benefits and disbenefits of development, under close scrutiny from local conservation officers.
Regeneration of listed buildings or those within historic areas has been a key aspect of the team’s work over the last year, and we’ve hugely benefitted from Iceni’s geographic reach, which has allowed us to carry out heritage consultancy across the UK supporting our London, Manchester and Scotland planning teams. Whether a vandalised building along Paisley High Street, the extension and refurbishment of a listed industrial building in Trafford, Greater Manchester, or works to a heavily altered terrace in Hackney, the team always pushes for modern and creative interventions which respond positively to the significance of heritage assets. We are currently advising on the conversion of highly graded John Nash terraces in Paddington and Regents Park, and on listed buildings in Kensington and Whitechapel, working closely with architects and councils. Our work requires us always to take a forensic and analytical approach to deliver recording and adaptation of these, and other, highly graded buildings. And going forward, we hope to be successful in upcoming central London public inquires, where team members will be acting as expert witnesses on all things heritage.
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Elsewhere, we’ve really valued working with Hawkins Brown and London & Continental Railways on a large mixed-use development in Worthing, West Sussex, which has the potential to revitalise the Town Centre. And we’re excited to be starting work with Hopkins Architects on a scheme on the Thames riverside at Twickenham, for Richmond Council. These kind of schemes, often larger in scale though no less sensitive, tend to engage the wider townscape talents of our team, including the need to understand the setting of heritage assets, while analysing the effects of tall development on the townscape in general and the visual amenity of people experiencing views. The team’s remit of public sector work has grown, having recently won tenders both for the redevelopment of council sites and for the preparation of evidence base material in support of Local Plan making; the latter including a wide ranging Heritage Impact Assessment for Northampton District Council. There were some near misses too, including a Heritage Action Zone tender for Historic England, where the team scored
highly on project costings, management, presentation and experience, but was narrowly beaten in the final assessment. We believe setbacks such as this are a chance to learn, and we will continue to pursue local authority tenders in order to broaden our portfolio. As new ways of working emerge, and in light of the looming planning reforms, we believe plan-tech has a crucial part to play in heritage and townscape assessment going forward. With Iceni we have developed a new offer for our clients, exploring feasibility of sensitive development projects using our 3D urban model of London and other cities. We are also offering clients the chance to use Iceni’s iSite to help fully understand and record the significance of heritage assets, including internal 3600 photography. Alongside this, we are shortly to roll out a fully digital platform for the assessment of historic sites, large and small, which will allow consultees, including local authorities, Historic England, interest groups and others, to access all our heritage and townscape findings for projects online. Watch this space!
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Baby it’s Cold Outside By Ian Anderson, Chief Executive
Saturday 7th December marked the Evening Standard and Crisis’ ‘The Big Sleepout’ in Trafalgar Square. Sufficiently inspired as we were to make a contribution to the cause, The Anderson family decided to stage its own minisleepout; and so we took to the ‘mean streets’ of Earlsfield for the night – or rather, we sat outside our house for a paltry few hours.
– is a long way from reality. Equally, we were well fed, dressed in appropriate clothing, and only a latch-key from facilities we all take for granted – a toilet, running water, food and drink. But there were still moments that made us think.
Everyone will have their own thoughts on the cause, effects and the plight of homelessness, and indeed, my wife has set out some of her thinking on her Just Giving page. The Evening Standard’s coverage is also excellent, and well worth reading. With others better placed than me to make the case for raising awareness, I’ll share what it felt like, if only for a few hours, to spend a night outdoors.
For a start there was no sense of beginning; no feeling of the clock starting, leaving one experience and starting another, of essentially becoming homeless. We popped up our tent, sat in our deck-chairs, and waited. We had opened our front door and gone outside. There was no need for anyone else to acknowledge what we were doing, or had temporarily become. We were the same people – it was only our living conditions that had changed. There was a somewhat surreal sense that absolutely nothing, but everything had changed.
It is important to say that however hard we tried to make the experience real, it was of course, contrived. Neighbours and friends popping by to wish us well, giving us hot drinks, and demonstrating basic human kindness – smiling, saying hello, acknowledging us
This was compounded by the look of bemusement from passing motorists and pedestrians. I felt we had cheated by having a fire pit (which kept us warm and provided an unfair advantage on ‘Fred Bloggs’ who sleeps outside Earlsfield station), but it did make us
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that it wasn’t cold or wet (at least not initially), but it was incredibly windy, and it was touch and go as to whether our tent was going to end up in our neighbours’ front garden – with us still in it. The streetlights that we take for granted kept us bathed in unwanted bright lustre, and every car door, goodnight greeting, and revved engine was a further excuse to stay awake. Moreover, whilst our tent kept us dry, it provided no protection should someone with less generous intentions have chosen to impose themselves upon us.
conspicuous. We deliberately did not have a sign explaining what we were doing, so to all intense and purposes – to strangers at least – we had simply set up home on a suburban street in South West London. Perhaps the biggest issue – at least after the well-wishers had departed (which included Glyn Goodwin, Green Party candidate for Tooting – thank you, Glyn) was the boredom. Sitting around for hours, with no iPhone, iPad or social media to lighten the load, we quickly realised that having no mental stimulation was going to be our own biggest challenge. Whilst food, drink and shelter are essential, and perhaps what we instinctively think of when passing someone in the street, we also quickly realised the value of an old paperback or a free newspaper – and the currency of a conversation with a passing well-wisher.
Finally, what started off as a family effort quickly become a husband and wife event. The kids lasted until about 10pm before sidling off to their bedrooms, and even the dog got bored around 1.00am. In their own sheltered, myopic way it was perhaps understandable why the kids asked us ‘why are you doing this? – it’s the wrong time of year to be camping’. But they are not the only ones who take their living conditions and family environment for granted. It certainly made the experience a good deal easier having the companionship of Mrs A by my side, and although I told her not to, I was very grateful when she brought me a cup of tea in the morning. Many homeless people are of course on their own. The loneliness must at times be stifling. To conclude, whilst one night out doors does not give me the moral right to comment on homelessness, it has given me some time to think about its practical implications. How do you go to the toilet with any kind of dignity? Clean your teeth? Keep dry, and dry out wet clothes? Acquire and store bedding? Store winter clothes in the summer, and acquire winter clothes in the first place? Stay physically and mentally active? Have some form of positive human interaction? And perhaps most pertinently to me, maintain the will-power to get out of whatever constitutes a bed every morning and decide to keep on surviving – to keep on living? If you would like to make a donation to Shelter via Jo Anderson’s Just Giving page, please follow this link.
When it came to trying to sleep, we inevitably became more attuned to the natural, but also made, elements around us. We were very lucky
The Sustainable Development Scorecard The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has running throughout it the ‘golden thread of sustainable development’. In spite of this, there is no clear-cut, NPPF-based assessment criteria to consider a site or project’s sustainable development credentials, making current assessment processes both tricky and subjective. The Sustainable Development Commission was established to address this recognised issue with our planning system. Made up of a balanced cross-section of industry professionals, the Commission has debated the issues and found solutions, culminating in the creation of the Sustainable Development Scorecard. The Scorecard website is free to use and accessible to anyone with a vested interest in development, including developers, architects, planners, community groups and members of the public. By crystallising the NPPF’s guidance into a simple, online analysis tool, the Commission aims to provide a more consistent approach to sustainable development, leading to a more sustainable built environment.
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