ForewordIan Anderson, Chief Executive
Welcome to the latest edition of the Iceni Yearbook, which provides a look-back on our various activities from September 2021 to September 2022.
The year has been bookended by two seismic events, both of which bring Scotland into geographical focus. October 2021 was dominated by COP26, both in terms of the way we chose to travel there (turn over the page for more details on that), but the decisions and negotiations that took place in Glasgow as part of the climate change summit. And of course, none of us will ever forget where we were during the tumultuous days in September 2022 when the country waved goodbye to one prime minster, watched the Queen swear in another at Balmoral, and then the very next day finally succumb to the ultimate retirement from public life.
Iceni, like the country as a whole, has become increasingly resilient to the dramatic course of events that will keep historians gainfully employed over years to come, and a yearbook does provide that sense of retrospection. What isn’t specifically stated on the pages that follow is that the business has gone from strength to strength; the depth and variety of projects that we have been fortunate to work on, and the activities our people have undertaken, has played out against the backdrop of the ongoing disruptions caused by the pandemic, war in Ukraine, an impending energy crisis, unstable political leadership, rail strikes and climate change. Has the old British adage ‘keep calm and carry on’ ever been more apt?
The positivity and optimism that comes through the pages of this Yearbook are not scripted; despite all of the challenges we face, our glasses remain resolutely half full. The built environment continues to be a compelling, uncertain, place to work, and whilst we don’t know what the future brings, we’re certain we will have plenty more to talk about when we sit down to reflect on the first year of a new version of our United Kingdom in 12 months time.Ian Anderson Chief Executive
London2Glasgow: Lets Go Zero for COP26James Bompas, Director, Strategic Planning
Last November, the pivotal COP26 climate talks took place in Glasgow. The two-week conference brought together diplomats from nearly 200 nations to refine the details of the Paris Agreement, to keep alive the hope of limiting human-caused global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to set more ambitious goals to cut emissions, adapt to climate change, and provide aid to developing countries suffering the worst climate impacts.
So, what are the positives to come from COP26
X More than 40 countries pledged to quit coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel and the world’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, in the 2030s. Quitting coal is essential for limiting global warming to 1.50c.
X More than 140 countries vowed to end deforestation. The deal includes the U.S., Brazil, Russia, and China, and other countries that together comprise over 90% of the world’s forest cover.
X More than 100 countries have signed on to the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative that aims to cut
methane emissions by 30% by 2030, compared to 2020 levels.
Iceni Projects; Barratt Homes; CBRE GI; ElliottWood; HAUS Collective; Mactaggart & Mickel; Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and SEGRO all cycled over 700 kilometres to COP26 in Glasgow to raise funds in support of Let’s Go Zero. The route went from London > Northampton > Cannock > Manchester > Kendal > Dunfries > Glasgow with some gruelling hills, very unforgiving weather and a rather dubious Mexican restaurant in Kendal.
Our supported charity, Let’s Go Zero is a campaign that is run by a coalition of eight major NGOs supporting schools on sustainability, including Global Action Plan, WWF, Sustrans, Soil Association, Fairtrade Foundation, EcoSchools and Carbon Trust. To date, over 415 schools have joined the campaign and are committed to action.
With school-aged children in 42% of all UK households, our schools can be trailblazers for sustainability and will play a critical role in helping the UK cut carbon emission levels. At the very centre of our communities,
they can respond to young people’s calls for action and encourage local families and businesses to join them in taking on the climate crisis. Schools also have the power to prevent 625,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
The Let’s Go Zero vision is that by 2030:
X All young people receive a robust climate education and leave school or further education, ready to engage in a zero-carbon economy and lifestyle.
X UK school estates have been retrofitted, leading to the growth of local green skills and jobs, and improving resilience to extreme weather.
X All school buildings built since 2023 will be zero carbon in construction and use.
In total, our COP26 cycle team raised £10,152 in support of this amazing campaign. Thank you again to all those that supported us and a special thanks to all those that joined us for this memorable cycle to Glasgow.
Anticipating Future Needs Planning in the MetaverseDavid Kavanagh, Managing Director
As the relentless digitalisation of the modern world continues, gradually transforming our core work industries, it is high time we started thinking about the future of planning - in particular, how it might translate in the Metaverse.
So, what is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse can be loosely defined as humanity’s migration from an immersive physical world to an immersive virtual one.
Whilst the term has only risen to public consciousness recently, the concept itself is not a new one. Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, published in 1992, depicts an entirely virtual, dystopian urban environment, accessible through VR goggles.
Since Snow Crash was published, the world it depicted has become ever closer to our reality.
Shared virtual 3D spaces have, at this point, existed for some time.
Online gaming platforms such as Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, and more recently Second Life, have given us a glimpse into what an intrinsically human, digital world could eventually look like.
So, where does planning come in to all this?
At a basic level, planning regulates what gets built and what doesn’t. It is a system that can be frustrating yet serve a valuable purpose, underpinning long held values of democracy, property ownership, and collective good. One would hope these values transcend the physical-digital inflection point.
And there are already examples that testify to this. Minecraft, for example - a game where you can technically build anything (even outside the laws of physics) - allows the practice of building to occur in some ways and not others.
Ownership is also a digital issue, from domain names in the late 90’s and early 00’s to digital art and NFTs. Roblox has even introduced formal contracts for game developers, following instances of financial exploitation on the platform.
In terms of a fully-realised Metaverse, we can only speculate – will there be leases on virtual real estate? Covenants? Easements and rights of way? Who will decide how virtual land is used? Will there be virtual planning committees? How do I appeal a planning decision in the Metaverse?
At Iceni, we feel it is our responsibility to start considering these questions, supporting our clients to become more technologically and socially aware organisations.
Three’s Company for BasildonJohn Mumby, Director, Planning
In September this year, Iceni were delighted to receive a positive decision on a major urban development project in Basildon town centre, working on behalf of Infrared Capital Partners. The outcome followed a two week public inquiry following an appeal against non-determination of the original planning application.
The development comprises up to 2,800 new homes, student accommodation, later living and co-living, alongside the potential for office floorspace provision and changes to the Eastgate Shopping Centre by way of a consolidation of existing commercial and retail floorspace.
The appeal follows Iceni’s involvement as a supportive interested party in two other public inquiries in the calendar year for neighbouring developments, which were also allowed through the appeal process, taking Iceni’s successes in Basildon to three in 12 months!
At the Eastgate public inquiry matters concerning design, height, townscape and heritage impacts were discussed
in detail alongside the principles of the transformative scheme delivering new housing in Basildon borough, where the Council is not delivering its housing requirement and hasn’t done so for a number of years.
The proposals and planning process were years in the making and will now move forward through reserved matters applications to develop and finesse the scheme design over the coming months and years. The scheme delivers notable economic benefits and investment confidence, which were outlined as major positives in the planning balance undertaken by the Planning Inspector appointed to determine the appeal.
The process was a true Tribal effort, with planning, townscape & heritage and 5 year housing land supply expert witness evidence provided at the inquiry, as well as EIA, archaeology & sustainability expertise given as part of the original application.
The Housing LadderIan Gallagher, Director, Planning, Glasgow
This is a true story, and one that is probably commonly known and repeated across the country. A family I know are trying to move to a particular area to buy a house. The problem that faces them is it isn’t easy to do; in fact it’s very difficult – almost impossible, it would seem.
The family in question presently live in a rented flat. It’s on the 1st floor, have a baby and toddler in tow, and so it’s less than ideal. They have been looking for a family house for some time and have their heart set on a suburb of Glasgow. They have the usual – but not unreasonable – criteria; good schools, green space, and proximity to their wider family and friends support network in mind. Both parents are working while juggling childcare, and they have a budget which should allow them to afford something like a 3-bedroom semi-detached property in the particular area.
They’ve offered on a number of houses in the last 6 months and have missed out when properties are going for in the region of 20% over home report valuation. This probably says something about home report valuations, but that is for another article. It’s fairly
standard for houses in this area to have in the region of 15 – 20 offers in place at the time of closing date. The difficulty in getting onto the housing ladder when these barriers are in place is plain to see. To look at it another way, take an example of buying a house for £300,000. Assume a 10% deposit (£30,000); paying 20% over valuation (£60,000); legal, LBTT / stamp duty and marketing costs (say £10,000). This means you need almost £100k, more than likely in cash, to actually secure the house.
The family in question have taken a slightly different approach as frustration turns to desperation in the hunt for a new house. They started looking for family houses to rent in the given area. They have found that when houses come to the market for rental they are either being secured by others before even having a chance to view the property, or people are actually offering over the stated monthly rental to secure the house.
When this example is presented in the context of housing need and supply across the country, surely as a profession we can be doing something about it? Perhaps we need to start taking matters back to a very
common denominator – i.e., how do we address the barriers that are making it near on impossible for people to buy or rent a house in a given area.
NPF4 in Scotland is the latest attempt by Scottish Government to deal with the issue of housing land supply. Consultation ended in late March 2022, with various stakeholders submitting representations challenging the position being advocated in the draft on housing land. If NPF4 is approved in its present form we could be looking at very limited housing land release across the country in the foreseeable future – certainly not significantly more than the present situation.
The above story is obviously just one part of the housing problem – affordable supply, elderly and care provision in an ageing population, education, health and other infrastructure constraints. And we haven’t even touched upon under occupation or buy to let, land supply is just one part of finding a solution to a complex problem. For now though, why don’t we just try and make it slightly easier for people described in the above article to live where they need? “Simple” answer – allocate more land and let the market build more houses?
LandAid SleepoutMairéad Flower, Associate Planner
Thousands of young people in the UK find themselves homeless, with numbers increasing throughout the Covid-19 crisis which seen more young people rough sleeping than ever before. LandAid is a property industry charity and in the last 30 years have been working hard to bring businesses and individuals together to tackle this problem and bring a lasting change.
Iceni Projects have supported LandAid for the past couple of years, and after taking part individually at our own homes in 2021, on a cold night back in March, 15 of the Tribe gathered in the car park of Da Vinci House, with just our sleeping bags and yoga mats for warmth. We certainly counted ourselves lucky to have a roof over our heads, but quickly realised not everyone is so lucky. With the help of a nightcap, we mostly slept well, apart from Ian Mayhead whose back didn’t quite like the hard floor or for those of us listening to Andrew Gale’s snoring. Overall, it was a massive success and we as Iceni raised over £7,000 which contributed to the overall fundraising of £450,000.
Street Art for MankindTasha Bullen, Senior Planner
Wandering along Leather Lane at lunchtime, tribe members from the London office may have cast their eyes away from the food stalls to spot the new arty addition to the rear of 6-7 St Cross Street.
The mural is a striking 25m in length and has been developed by artist Alice Pasquini alongside Street Art for Mankind, a non-profit organisation that has partnered with UN Women to create landmark murals with prominent women street artists around the world. These murals are designed to help raise awareness of the need to accelerate equality, leadership and opportunities for women and girls worldwide.
The mural depicts two females sitting on a swing and has been designed to evoke a number of themes, including:
X Cultural diversity – as depicted by one female having an Afro-Caribbean background and the other female having an Asian background.
X Intergenerational equality – the two females within the mural are of different ages and generations, to symbolises the importance of achieving equality for different generations.
X Women’s rights and inclusion – the mural celebrates women and their role in public life.
X The history of Leather Lane – these themes then link back to the history of Leather Lane, which, apart from being the oldest market in London, has a history of cultural and ethnic diversity, families and children.
The mural along Leather Lane is the fourth in the ‘Generation Equality’ series, with the first three murals being in Mexico City, Paris and New York.
The need for planning permission was considered under Section 55(2)(a)(ii) of the Town and Country
Planning Act 1990 (as amended) which sets out that the carrying out of maintenance, improvement or other alterations of existing buildings is not defined as development, so long as the works “do not materially affect the external appearance of the building”.
Although the judgement on what materially affects the external appearance of a building is subjective, it was considered prudent to apply for planning permission due to the site’s location within the Hatton Garden Conservation Area and its size and visibility from the public realm.
In addition to the mural, Iceni has been working with the applicant on a range of interventions across the wider Johnson Gardens Estate. This has included new landscaping, roof terraces and improving end of journey facilities to create a best-in-class office campus.
RTPI Work ExperienceNick Pellegram, Assistant Planner
With the launch of the company’s new business plan in 2022, we want to change the way we source talent and promote diversity within our industry. It’s no secret that most people starting careers in planning have already shelled out £14,000 into acquiring a master’s degree. Even between those with degrees, some candidates end up being chosen depending on the reputation associated with the university they studied at, and not necessarily what they achieved.
Over June/July, we worked with the RTPI as part of the organisation’s ‘EXPLORE programme’, which aimed to encourage young people from under represented groups to become Chartered Town Planners.
So far, we’ve taken seven secondary school and college students through a week in the life of Iceni, completing groupwork, seminars with key speakers, and of course, a crash-course on the planning system. All of Iceni’s teams have played a role, and we hope that by showing the students the many professions and specialisms which planning can offer, some of them just might choose to follow a career in our industry, maybe even as a member of the tribe.
It’s been great to be a part of the program and being able to think of new ways to switch people onto our profession. In line with the new Iceni Business plan, we will continue this trajectory, and hopefully start to make a difference. Over 2021-2022, Iceni have taken on 4 interns, many of whom have already secured full time roles within our company. The RTPI EXPLORE program is just the start, and we have big aspirations to promote diversity in our industry.
My Route to Joining the Iceni Tribe
My initial exposure to the broader conceptual understanding of planning was when studying Human Geography at the University of Exeter. Although not directly applicable to planning, I was exposed to urban sustainability-related modules, ranging from urban design to urban futures. It was this initial insight that sparked my curiosity whilst simultaneously raising the question what is the future for urban areas? Following this, I joined an architect practice where I was involved in a variety of large-scale sustainable architecture and masterplan projects. In March 2022 I joined Iceni Projects for 6-weeks of work experience within the Impact Management Team, with a specific focus on the environment and sustainability.
During this work experience I was exposed to a range of projects and a variety of work across Iceni’s Impact Management and Strategic Planning team. Responsibilities ranged from report writing of Environmental Impact Assessments to Sustainability Statements, along with independent research tasks and
attending project meetings. This provided invaluable insight into the diversity of professions within both planning and Iceni, specialisms I was not exposed to when studying. Following this opportunity, I joined the Iceni Tribe as an EIA consultant.
Having joined Iceni through work experience reflects Iceni’s diverse approach and exemplifies that a postgraduate degree is not necessarily the only route when entering this profession. My experience is one of the many examples of Iceni’s versatile approach when it comes to recruitment. In June / July (2022) Iceni worked with the RTPI ‘EXPLORE PROGRAMME’ with the aim to encourage those without directly applicable qualifications and those from under represented groups with the opportunity to enter this sphere and become a Chartered Town Planner. It’s exactly Iceni’s approach and enthusiasm to work experience related opportunities which creates an environment of inclusivity / diversity, as well as providing young individuals the opportunity to enter this profession.Bronte Popplewell, EIA Consultant, Impact Management
Elevating Sustainability through Iceni Futures
How do you even begin to tackle a global climate crisis? After all, no single person, state, or business has the level of impact required to address an existential threat at such scale.
Even once you narrow the parameters and ask - how do we deliver a more sustainable future for the built environment? - we can all be forgiven for feeling slightly paralysed in the face of diminishing time frames and other external economic and structural pressures.
Iceni Futures is our response to these questions and more. Grounded in a critical understanding of corporate targets, stakeholder needs, sustainability pinch points, regulatory change, commercial imperatives, and planning knowhow, Iceni Futures provides strategic advice and sustainability services to public and private sector clients.
The service is not new to Iceni, having been established several years ago. However, having joined the tribe in November 2021 and taken the lead on Futures, my aim is to elevate the understanding and application of sustainability across all our services and our own activities. It was perhaps apt that my first interaction with my
colleagues was in Edinburgh/Glasgow as part of Iceni’s COP26 presence. Our eagerness to be on the ground at the global climate summit in November 2021 was a signal of our commitment to driving sustainability in our industry.
Whether it’s adapting our buildings and construction processes to be more efficient, prioritising nature and biodiversity in placemaking, or driving new behaviours around sustainable travel, the purpose of Iceni Futures is to help our clients adapt fluidly to a rapidly changing world and to do so in a way that adds value to their businesses.
A key principle of Iceni Futures is to regularly and consistently assess the ways in which the market, public sentiment, and regulatory environment is changing. It’s with this knowledge that we will look to evolve the services and advice that we deliver. However, as of now we can be instructed to deliver any of the following:
X Retained or one-off strategic advice for planning projects or portfolio management
X Support for developing corporate and public sustainability policiesAlex Green, Director, Iceni Futures
X Identifying and creating long-term visions for development sites or regions/districts/authorities
X Sustainability Commitment Reports (to accompany planning applications or call for sites)
X Validations services and associated advice (incl. Sustainability Statements, Energy Strategies, Whole Life Carbon Assessments, Circular Economy Statements)
There are many knowns and many more unknowns when it comes to the future of the places we create. We know we collectively have to be net zero by 2050. We know that we won’t be buying new petrol or diesel cars from the 2030s. We know we’ll all be enhancing biodiversity through the planning process as of next year.
We don’t know precisely what solutions and technologies will help us rapidly decarbonise our buildings. We don’t know precisely how people will move around communities currently dependent on private vehicle use. We don’t know precisely where we will find the land or resources to reverse decades of ecological loss.
But what we do know through Iceni’s expertise and experience is that housebuilders and commercial developers are delivering significant reductions in carbon and energy use through better design and construction techniques, through electrified heating systems, and through renewable energy solutions. We do know that the sustainability of a location and the available mix of uses is critical to its success as a new or enhanced community, and that giving people data driven transport choices alongside designing active travel into projects can reduce the reliance on private vehicles. We do know that engaging an ecologist early in the site appraisal process and adopting landscape led approaches can ensure positive biodiversity results and maximise health and social outcomes for communities.
As we elevate the value of sustainability in our sector, we’ll be driven by the opportunities it creates and adapt to the challenges it poses.
A Big Win in IslingtonLewis Westhoff, Associate, Planning
One of the project highlights of the past year was securing planning permission via appeal for the comprehensive redevelopment of the Highbury Quadrant Congregational Church within the London Borough of Islington. It wasn’t an easy journey!
The objective of the scheme was to deliver a new, replacement church, flexible community centre facilities and the delivery of new housing on the one site. This would secure the long-term future of the current congregation who have been using the site since the 19th century.
The scheme was taken forward following the steady decline and disrepair of the current church and community buildings on site, which was exacerbated by a catastrophic fire in 2015 which has seen the congregation only able to use a small part of the site for worship and other activities. This saw the church turn to a development partner, IDM Properties, to devise a scheme where the site can be redeveloped to provide replacement facilities for the church, alongside a new housing development to be developed by IDM.
Given the unique circumstances of the scheme, the delivery of policy-compliant 35% affordable housing was not viable. This was the principal challenge of the scheme given Islington Council’s strong stance on affordable housing as a key political priority. Islington Council have trailblazed on a number of important affordable housing policies, winning cases such as Parkhurst, and being the first authority to justify affordable housing contributions for small sites.
It was necessary to take the scheme to appeal after Islington Council insisted that the scheme could provide 50% affordable housing alongside the replacement church and community facilities, whereas the church and IDM’s position was that only 28% affordable housing could be delivered.
A public inquiry was held into the case in October 2021 where I provided planning evidence in support of the scheme. After a long wait, we were pleased to receive planning permission for the scheme in June 2022, with the Planning Inspector agreeing with us on all main issues.
This case has implications for future development within the London Borough of Islington, as it shows that well-evidenced and justified viability and planning evidence can justify a quantum of affordable housing below the policy target. This is one of the very few successful schemes within the borough to achieve this in the past decade.
Iceni are now retained to advise on condition work associated with the delivery of the scheme which shall commence in Q4 2022.
Summer Day OutJennine Romeo, Business Development & Tender Co-ordinator
How do you go about planning a summer day out for 100 people on what was described as the hottest day of the year.
Make it a water based activity.
The tribe headed to West London to Kensington’s Canalside Activity Centre to hop into canoes and tackle a several-mile stretch of the Grand Union Canal. The Canalside Activity Centre is run by London Sports Trust and Active360 which aims to inspire positive change for disadvantaged young Londoners through the power of sport, training & life skills to improve life outcomes as well as physical and mental health.
With soaring temperatures, angry geese and a few falls into the canal to contend with, The Tribe made the paddle to Paddington basin and back in high spirits, litter picking en-route to do our part for the environment. Spirits remained high well into the evening sun with a delicious Caribbean BBQ and copious trips to the local supermarket for ice and liquid refreshment.
Determining the Curtilage of a Listed Building
Hayes Park North Appeal SuccessAshleigh Cook, Associate, Planning
The Iceni Planning and Heritage and Townscape teams celebrated a fantastic outcome at appeal in Summer 2022, in relation to the office to residential conversion of Hayes Park North (HPN).
This is an extremely unique site, located in LB Hillingdon, it is part of an office business park, located within a large area of landscaped greenfield land, designated as Green Belt. HPN is a typical modern office building, constructed in the early 2000’s.
The site is also occupied by two other buildings, both of which are Grade II* Listed. These buildings were built in 1965, following their design by the renowned American architect Gordon Bunshaft, for use by Heinz as their UK Headquarters. The buildings are Listed thanks to them being the only UK example of Bunshaft’s work, but also due to their sophisticated sculptural design.
The HPN building is within the setting of these Listed buildings, and as such, this was an important consideration for any proposal.
Iceni was instructed to act as planning consultant and heritage and townscape consultant for the proposed office to residential conversion of HPN. Other teams at Iceni were also involved, including Design, Transport and Futures.
Following the submission of a Prior Approval application, LB Hillingdon refused the application as they considered that the proposal did not align with the requirements of the GPDO because HPN was in the curtilage of the Listed buildings.
We considered that HPN was not within the curtilage of the Listed building, and we advised the client that we could be successful at appeal. An appeal was submitted, supported by the legal opinion of Richard Ground QC. Following a Hearing in January 2022, the Inspector (John Dowsett) agreed with our view and found that HPN was not within the curtilage of the Listed building, and the appeal was allowed.
There is no formal definition of the curtilage of a listed building in planning legislation. But over time case law has determined how the curtilage of listed buildings
should be considered. The two main tests in case law for determining the curtilage of a listed building are as follows:
X Methuan-Campbell  and Hampshire County Council vs Blackbushe Airport Limited  - The land must be so intimately connected with the building as to lead to the conclusion that the former is in truth part and parcel of the latter.
X Challenge Fencing vs Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government  – the key considerations for this test of intimacy are 1) Physical Layout, 2) Past and Present Ownership, 3) Past and Present Use and 4) Function of the land and buildings.
In determining whether or not the building was within the Curtilage of the Listed building, LB Hillingdon argued that HPN was on land which was previously intimately connected to the Listed buildings. However, the GPDO asks if the building “is” within the curtilage of the Listed building, and as such, this is in relation to the present day, and not the past condition.
London to Southend 20th May 2022Clive Burbrige, Director, Transport
At the end of a lovely warm week, on a dry Friday morning, a group of nearly 40 cyclists (both clients and Iceni) met in Victoria Park to set off for Southend on one of three routes to suit the individual’s ability (44 miles, 59 miles and 74 miles). After a quick bike check by Matt of Grips - our emergency cover for the day, we set off. Right on cue the weather turned and the rain continued to pour until just after 1pm, pretty much as damp riders began to arrive in Southend. Due to the weather the support team where kept busy, with one individual having no less than 5 inner tube changes and our illustrious CEO managing 3 punctures.
Despite the weather, spirits were high and the muchneeded cake stops en-route were enjoyed by all. Fish and Chips awaited those who completed the ride, together with suitable beverages to wash it down. We’ve since had really positive feedback from several clients and will look to repeat this event next year, hopefully with a little more Essex sunshine.
This was not all fun and business development, but also a fund-raising event in support of BOSP, whose purpose is to provide a range of high-quality leisure and respite services with full care to children and young people who have complex disabilities or lifelimiting illnesses, and their families. The £1,750 raised has gone towards providing one-to-one care at respite clubs, allowing children and young people with the most complex disabilities or life-limiting conditions to attend. So a big thank you for all those who took part and are responsible for helping improve the quality of others’ lives. We should all be proud of our efforts.
Iceni Projects at COP26Grace Wileman, Senior Futures Consultant
Representatives of the Iceni Tribe attended the pivotal COP26 conference in Glasgow in November 2021, when almost 200 countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact. This will accelerate action on climate this decade with the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Our representatives, including members of our Planning, Futures, Heritage and Townscape, Transport and Economics teams, enjoyed the unique opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of the conference and attend a number of events, such as a seminar on waste management. As well as networking with clients, Iceni team members held their own breakfast seminar, with Laurie leading a fascinating discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of retrofitting versus new-build development.
Attending the conference underlined the fact that the Built Environment continues to account for a significant proportion of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions. However, this sector was surprisingly under represented in Glasgow. It is clear that urgent action
is still required to reduce the impact of development, necessitating a joined-up and holistic approach to tackle both the operational and embodied carbon emissions associated with new and existing buildings in the UK.
At Iceni, we are committed to aiding our clients to deliver low and zero carbon development that will contribute to the achievement of the UK’s net-zero carbon target for 2050.
Birmingham Commonwealth Games:
An Opportunity to Deliver Social Value across the West Midlands
This summer the Commonwealth Games came to Birmingham showcasing the very best sporting talent for 11-days. To accommodate the games, the city built a new athletics stadium and aquatics centre with upgrades made to existing sporting facilities across the city. Being from the West Midlands (and a socio-economic consultant), I was interested to see how the event could act as a catalyst for transforming the city during the games and how the impact of the games would be felt now that the games are over.
It doesn’t take too many google searches before you learn how embedded social value principles have been in the development of the games. Defining social value as a ‘catch-all term used to describe the difference the games can make to Birmingham, the West Midlands and its people, the games are the first to use a Social Value Charter to assess legacy. Included within the Charter are factors such as recruitment programmes to reach out to harder-to-reach communities, developing an apprenticeship programme, improving active transport initiatives, and making suppliers commit to circular economy initiatives.Laura Carver, Consultant, Impact Management
Hosting will provide the impetus to deliver not only economic change to the city, but also deliver ‘peoplepowered change’ for years to come.
To some, the success of the games may be seen as how many world records were achieved or high-ticket sales were. Therefore, it may seem odd that the organisers are placing such importance on delivering positive social value. However, in the context of “levelling up” hosting will provide the impetus to deliver not only economic change to the city, but also deliver ‘people-powered change’ for years to come.
For comparison, this year also marks 10 years since London hosted the 2012 Olympics. However, when you search for the legacy impact on google the result appears mixed. Some commentators provide a glowing review of the games 10 years on, defined by how the Games transformed a part of East London or how the stadium has been successfully repurposed for West Ham Football Club. Others, however, see the games as false promises and the creation of a divided community. The lessons learnt from London 2012 put into context how important focusing on social value is, and at inception.
In many ways, Birmingham’s approach to the Commonwealth Games and embedding social value is nothing new. This is because the legislation and policy
are present through the Social Value Act (2012) and with the NPPF through achieving sustainable development. Within these documents, it is made clear that the wider public good should benefit from developments rather than a private individual.
The Birmingham Commonwealth Games efforts make it very clear that having a positive social value will be the defining legacy of these games and is a key aspiration of the organisers. While this is commendable, only time and hindsight will show if these aspirations have been achieved or if the Games will create a mixed outcome.
Get on Yer
(Cargo) BikeKelly Davis, Principal Transport Planner
Delivery patterns are continually evolving. We’ve become accustomed to ordering groceries, our dinner and pretty much anything our hearts desire online and receiving it within a ridiculously short time frame.
But what impact is this boom in online ordering having at a local level? How are we planning for it and how are we future proofing new developments to accommodate these trends that have accelerated during the pandemic?
These are questions that transport planners are grappling with. Surely current trends in deliveries mean that more space is needed for delivery vehicles to park and unload (?). Well, not necessarily - we need to think about how space can be used effectively so that developments are not overrun by delivery vehicles.
Firstly, space should be prioritised for deliveries by nonmotorised modes. The growth in cargo bike deliveries is real, and the volume of goods that can be transported is astounding. Zedify claim to be able to carry 150 – 200kg on their trikes or up to 100kg on their bikes.
Cargo bikes are on the rise too – with over 2,000 cargo bikes sold for commercial delivery purposes in 2020 – and this can help to solve the space requirements in new developments. With less need for on-street loading bays this creates more space for pedestrians, cyclists or landscaping. All of which will contribute to a better public realm.
How fast is all this happening? Amazon have just launched their first micro-mobility hub, with thousands of vans to be replaced on London’s roads by cargo bikes. With big companies like Amazon coming to the
forefront, concepts such as local logistics hubs are likely to appear at greater rates.
What can be done within new developments to support this switch in last mile delivery methods? Consolidation centres in bigger schemes reduce dwell times considerably, with drivers or riders only required to drop off in one location rather than to numerous different homes across a site. If this isn’t possible, then providing space nearer to delivery entrances to ensure speedy deliveries would also benefit.
In summary, last mile logistics is ever evolving and the speed at which it is changing matches the new expectation for delivery times - fast. As a result, a change of thinking is required to make sure we are planning for the future, rather than getting stuck in the now. That is why Iceni will be supporting the London and South East ‘Last Mile Conference’.
St Enoch Masterplan:
Reimagining the future of Glasgow City Centre
Glasgow City Centre is set to see a radical change in how it looks, its sustainability credentials and the mixed-use offering, if planning permission in principle for the reimagining of the St Enoch Centre gets the green light from Glasgow City Council.
In Spring 2022, Iceni, acting on behalf of Sovereign Centros, submitted an application for planning permission in principle for the redevelopment of the St Enoch Centre. The proposals are to create a vibrant, sustainable, mixed-use development focussing on retail, leisure, entertainment, hotel, office and city centre living.
The St Enoch Centre was built as a covered shopping centre in 1989 and has seen several changes and adaptations since. Positioned in the heart of Glasgow City Centre, at the southern end of Buchanan Street, the St Enoch Centre has been a prominent destination as part of the Glasgow city centre shopping and leisure scene. However, as with retail centres across the country, changes to consumer demands and shopping habits have accelerated in recent years. The adaptability, attractiveness as an overall destination and resilience areSara Lamb, Associate, Planning, Glasgow
The adaptability, attractiveness as an overall destination and resilience are now key considerations for the successful future of the St Enoch Centre and the wider city centre.
now key considerations for the successful future of the St Enoch Centre and the wider city centre.
The Centre comprises circa 70,000m2 of floorspace predominantly occupied by retail and leisure occupiers. However, it is a highly inefficient building with the glazed structure presenting significant maintenance challenges and overheating issues in the Summer months and high heating demands during the cooler months. The building offers limited flexibility for refurbishment to accommodate alternative uses and occupies a significant area of the city, restricting movements between the city centre and the River Clyde.
The masterplan proposals are currently being considered by Glasgow City Council and are for the phased demolition of the existing Centre and its replacement with new urban blocks to accommodate a mix of city centre uses and reinstation of the street grid pattern. The demolition of the existing Centre has not been proposed lightly with alternative options for the maintenance and adaptation of the existing building being explored first. The proposed development would take place in phases and would bring wide-
ranging benefits to the City of Glasgow, providing new connections through the site, greening an urban area and enhancing public realm provision, providing fit-for purpose retail accommodation as well as highly sustainable new homes and workplaces.
The redevelopment is already one step closer to commencing with Glasgow City Council approving proposals for the conversion of the former Lewis (most recently occupied by Debenhams), department store to office space with a new rooftop restaurant. The conversion of the Category B Listed building to Grade A office space minutes from Central, High Street and Queen Street train stations will be a huge boost to the city centre and would form an initial phase of the masterplan.
The St Enoch masterplan has seen a multi-disciplinary effort from Iceni with Planning, EIA, Heritage, Transport, Socio-Economics and Health and Archaeology services all being provided.
Oxford Street Where Are We Now?Nick Grant, Director, Planning
For any seasoned Londoner, whether you love it or hate it, it is hard not to take an interest in Oxford Street. It is continually making the headlines, a bloody political battlefield at times, and during the depths of lockdown, it was the poster boy for the death of the high street.
At Iceni, it has always been close to our hearts. It has played a major role in developing our London Planning team’s profile as a leading adviser in Westminster, having worked on a raft of high profile projects stemming east to west - from Outernet’s transformation of Tottenham Court Road, right through to the hustle and bustle of Marble Arch.
It has been particularly important for me having spent the last 5 years at the centre of it all, advising various clients on 214 Oxford Street. This has included Arcadia, Nike Town, Miss Selfridge, Vans, Topshop, and other private individuals who have wanted to invest in the iconic listed building.
My most recent involvement has been helping INGKA Investment to secure permission for their head-to-toe transformation of the building, which as you would have undoubtedly heard, will bring IKEA and Swedish meatballs to Oxford Circus. It is a great example of how Oxford Street can adapt and attract tenants that wouldn’t have normally been associated with a day out in the West End. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a trip to IKEA? This is a game changer.
Even by Oxford Street’s standards, it has been another eventful year. The emergence out of lockdown into a post-pandemic world has seen footfall fluctuate, the controversial proposed demolition of the M&S building has stolen the headline well beyond the property press,
and a historic shifting of power from Conservative to Labour marks the beginning of yet another chapter in the evolution of Oxford Street.
Iceni see this new chapter as an extremely exciting time for all Londoners – and what is encouraging is that everyone seems to be on the same page. Oxford Street needs to change and adapt once more. As Geoff Barraclough (Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development in Westminster’s new Labour administration) put so well recently, there simply isn’t demand for 1.8km of retail.
However, to facilitate this change, the Council have a major role to play. Whilst a historic and rigid planning policy position of ‘retail only’ has been part of problem, the Council are now leading the charge in promoting non-retail uses that will encourage people to visit, generate footfall, and increase dwell time on Oxford Street. As Europe’s busiest shopping street, the benefits of introducing more leisure, hospitality and cultural uses are clear. People’s shopping habits have shifted dramatically following the pandemic, and the importance of ‘experiences’ and social interaction is now greater than ever.
Candy stores aside, Oxford Street has the potential to be the beating heart of London by day and night once more, and Iceni are thrilled to be at the centre of the action.
AONBs: Sacrosanct or Open for Business?Katie Inglis, Associate, Strategic Planning
Most people think that Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are closed for development… but is that really the case?
National Planning Policy sets the bar high but does not preclude development in an AONB if exceptional circumstances and the public interest is demonstrated. Consideration of such applications must include the assessment of the need for the development and the impact or permitting/refusing it, the cost of and scope of developing outside the designation or meeting the need of it in some other way, and whether any detrimental effect on the environment, landscape and recreational opportunities are moderated.
The Strategic Planning Team, along with the help of our Landscape, Design, Heritage, Socio-Economic colleagues, have been busy preparing two detailed planning applications in an AONB in the south-east of the country. One application for an industrial winery with associated wine storage and agri-tech workspace, and one for a concrete batching plant. Both major developments in an AONB.
The key planning argument for both revolves around an extensive Needs Assessment and Site Search across Kent prepared by the Strategic Planning Team demonstrating an overwhelming need for the proposals.
We will update you all in 2023 about the journey of these two planning applications through the planning system.
Iceni’s New Landscape ServicesSilke Gruner, Director, Landscape
In June this year, Iceni started offering Landscape consultancy services, with Silke Gruner joining the tribe as Director of Landscape.
Silke had been working with Iceni for a number of years as an external consultant, and got the know the team and the culture over that time. When she decided the time was right for a move she contacted Iceni and ended up joining the tribe. Now three months on the Landscape team already have a new recruit starting soon, and a wide range of projects to keep us very busy.
While the potential revenue stream of a Landscape team was acknowledged, the greater benefit of providing Landscape services is that we can offer our clients more expertise in-house. Collaboration between Iceni’s planning teams and the landscape team are also easier and quicker than using external consultants. Silke has also been able to offer ad-hoc advice to clients and other staff, giving advice on schemes to help shape the proposals and minimise landscape harm. She has also been able to introduce
landscape planning as a concept to the team, helping them to identify potential landscape concerns at the earliest stage.
Since its inception, the Landscape team have worked on a variety of schemes, from concrete batching plants, to warehouses, to large areas of new parkland, and also new settlements of around 10,000 dwellings. Looking ahead, the Landscape team are continuing to recruit in order to service our quickly expanding list of clients and projects. We are also looking into how we can work more collaboratively with other teams, including Heritage and Townscape, and Design, in order to offer our clients a comprehensive consultancy service which they can trust.
Saving Holborn StudiosCharlotte Tate, Planner
Iceni Planning celebrated a huge-win this year by successfully objecting to the comprehensive redevelopment proposals at 49-50 Eagle Wharf, home to internationally renowned photography studios, Holborn Studios. Iceni acted on behalf of Holborn Studios, alongside Richard Harwood OBE QC, and Susan Ring, in order to protect the studios from losing their entire premises and maintain an important part of Hackney’s cultural heritage.
The landowner was proposing a comprehensive mixeduse redevelopment, comprised of 50 homes, demolition of a locally listed buildings and the re-provision of existing employment space, deemed unsuitable for the continued operation of Holborn Studios. This would have resulted in the loss of one of the last warehouses alongside the Regents Canal and the relocation of Holborn Studios; pioneers of reprovisioning these creative spaces in Hackney.
Despite this, the scheme had previously been recommended for approval twice at committee, with both decisions subsequently quashed at judicial
Iceni were delighted with the decision to refuse and more importantly, were reassured that when it matters most, the little man can still win-out against large developers.
review. Each judicial review challenged the lawfulness of Hackney’s decision, who were deemed to have acted unfairly in the assessment of the proposals. Both quashed decisions invalidated the previous approval, and the proposals were returned to the Council for lawful review of the same application. As a result, the developer kept the application live, looking for their third approval to the now amended scheme.
In preparation for the anticipated third committee, Iceni developed a strategy alongside Holborn Studios by submitting a comprehensive objection letter and ensuring the message of the potential loss of the studios was spread once more. Holborn Studios engaged with their wider customer base to submit just under 1000 objections and alongside the Iceni team, engaged with relevant members of Parliament, Lords and Ladies, the GLA Cultural at Risk team and Hackney Councillors.
Upon sudden release of a committee date, the strategy intensified to ensure that the relevant planning committee members were informed of the substandard amendments. Iceni planning also engaged with the GLA to secure a last-minute objection to the loss of culture. On
the night, it became apparent that the GLA’s objection was not distributed to members prior to committee, meaning a pause in proceedings to allow members to fully consider all objections to the scheme.
As the night unfolded, discussions revealed members were struggling to comprehend any wider planning benefits of the proposals. This was summarised by one councillor, who stated that wherever the proposals fell short, there was nothing to counteract this failure to meet policy. Despite the approval at previous committees remaining a material consideration, all committee members, save for the chair, voted to refuse the application. Reasons for refusal were then agreed at the following committee as: substandard homes, loss of cultural use, loss of heritage and failure to meet 60% employment space in office priority area.
Great celebrations ensued with the wider Holborn Studios team, as the committee had decided to save an irreplaceable cultural asset in London. Iceni were delighted with the decision to refuse and more importantly, were reassured that when it matters most, the little man can still win-out against large developers.
On Secondment with a DeveloperWill Clutton, Senior Planner
To deliver the best quality service we can to clients, the advantages of having first-hand experience of a developer’s day-to-day life and seeing things from their perspective are immediately apparent; after all, next to a technical knowledge, commercial awareness and an understanding of a client’s needs are arguably the other most important core attributes of every good planning consultant.
Over the past year, I have been fortunate to be able to gain a further insight into the world of the developer, being one of two of the Tribe instructed to work on a retainer basis with Stonegate Homes, a developer working across the South East.
In addition to being the first port of call for the appraisal of prospective new sites for acquisition and general advice on all planning matters, the instruction has involved us taking on some of the client’s existing sites which were already in the process of redevelopment and subject to a number of different applications and permissions.
We have also been fortunate enough to spend time each week in the client offices working alongside their team, which has been hugely beneficial both in terms of information sharing and problem solving and something which has proved integral in helping to unlock a number of their more complicated developments.
One site in Brighton and Hove has been a particular challenge, incorporating the conversion and extension of a former office building under a mixture of concurrent prior approval and full planning applications, as well as the redevelopment of the rest of the site for separate new-build office and residential developments. Noting both the commercial imperative and planning policy requirement to make the most effective use of this
existing brownfield site, we worked alongside the client and negotiated with Officers at the Council to shape the different proposals and knit together the various developments. This has helped us to work towards delivering the maximum quantum of new units and floorspace for the client, which has been a challenging but rewarding experience.
Whereas it may sound obvious, it cannot be underestimated just how difficult the current climate can be for developers. The shortage of planning officers at Local Authorities across the country, the resulting backlog of applications in the system and the chronic difficulties within the appeals process at PINS are a source of frustration for planning consultants; however, the ramifications of this, with the programme slippage this invariably causes, are hugely damaging and inflict tremendous commercial pressures on the developers who we are relying upon to deliver the housing that we urgently need.
Furthermore, these pressures combined with the continuous increase in construction costs, means that more than ever it requires a skilled planning consultant to help navigate these manifold challenges as deftly as possible and fight their clients’ corner, to deliver the best outcomes as promptly as possible in a system creaking at the seams. The experience in going clientside and seeing life first hand from the Developer’s perspective, working collaboratively to unlock some challenging sites, has certainly helped hone our skills and knowledge to allow us to continue doing just that.
The Tribe AlumniSandy Scott, Senior Planner
It is well known here at Iceni, that we like to think of ourselves as part of a tribe. We might all work in different disciplines or sit at opposite ends of the country or even follow different football teams. But at the end of the day, we’re all Iceni.
The disruption over the past few years, has given the tribe reason to pause and think. And one questions asked by the newer tribe members, is how the company started. In 2005 our CEO Ian Anderson, had the bright idea of quitting a perfectly sensible job and starting out on his own. He wanted to build a company of like minded professionals, willing to look at the alternatives and challenge the accepted norm of the planning world. Over time, the tribe has grown to over 100 in offices across the country and now we are more than just a planning consultancy too.
As with all tribes, we have welcomed many new members over the years, but sadly sometimes we have had to bid farewell to others. Some who have left still like to come around for a drink from time to time with the tribe (yes Jack, we’re looking at you). And we welcome all. But there are also those that we’ve lost touch with over the years.
If you would like to get in touch or keep up with future news from the tribe simply email email@example.com. You can also sign up for our regular Wednesday email as well to see what the tribe is thinking about this week.
And don’t be a stranger…feel free to drop by and say hi next time you’re in Farringdon.
The Edinburgh Festival A Night Out With ClientsJack Miller, Assistant Planner, Edinburgh
After a 3-year break enforced by the pandemic, the Edinburgh Fringe returned this year at near full capacity. The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest performing arts festival, with approximately 50,000 artists performing in over 3,000 shows and 250 venues. The 2019 edition saw over 3,000,000 tickets sold, meaning the Fringe is surpassed by only the Summer Olympics and the Football World Cup in terms of audience size.
Iceni’s Scotland Team decided to capitalise on the revival of the Festival by hosting a night out at the Fringe for a small group of clients and colleagues.
A mixture of food, drinks (Espresso Martinis anyone??) and good chat set us up for the night, ahead of a trip to McEwen Hall to see the sketch show workings of Foil, Arms & Hog, a comedy mainstay at the Fringe and one of the Festival’s top-rated acts over the past decade.
As someone who is new to Edinburgh and the transformational effect the Festivals have on the city, it has been great to see the Capital return to something of
its old self during this busy period. The almost doubling of Edinburgh’s population during the single month of August is difficult to comprehend without visiting the city and has to be seen to be believed.
It also throws into the spotlight key issues and challenges surrounding tourism which have recently been debated in the city. This debate is particularly strong with regards to the growth of dedicated tourist accommodation (a 2019 report suggested there were 61 new hotels at various stages of the planning and construction process in the city), new powers which have come into force to control and licence the operation of short term lets in the city (Airbnb and similar), and calls for a new Tourist Tax.
These are also issues which are highly relevant to the wider town planning discourse in the city, and ones which we grapple with in our day-to-day job as Planners.
But all of that aside, it was nice to be able to get back out into the city and spend some time with colleagues and clients again!
Are Speedy Internet Connections Crucial to Levelling Up? Just a Gigabit.Alex Green, Director, Iceni Futures
Access to an internet connection is so integral to life in contemporary society that some have even called for it to be recognised as a basic human right. In fact, it’s such a central part of daily life for many of us, that we take for granted the disparities that still exist across the UK in terms of access and quality of service.
Cue the government’s latest (February 2022) consultation and redeployment of the slightly ambiguous ambition of ‘Levelling Up’ which we’ve all become familiar with. Through the launch of a new technical consultation on the delivery of gigabit-capable broadband connections in new build homes, the government has confirmed measures to try and reach 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025.
All new build homes will soon be required to provide a gigabit-capable connection provided this can be achieved below a cost cap of £2,000 per dwelling. ‘Connectivity Plans’ will now be required alongside the submission of full plan applications, initial notices, or amendment notices.
Fast, reliable and universally accessible broadband has implications for almost every element of our lives, not to mention the planning and delivery of prosperous, vibrant, connected, and environmentally sound places.
Whilst it may seem on the surface an obvious step to bring our broadband infrastructure in line with other leading nations, the importance of getting this infrastructure right cannot be overstated. Fast, reliable, and universally accessible broadband has implications for almost every element of our lives, not to mention the planning and delivery of prosperous, vibrant, connected, and environmentally sound places.
Recent events have emphasised the need for our homes as well as our workplaces to be connected and resilient to changing patterns of use. However, with a changing tide of environmental, economic, and social considerations, the provision of reliable broadband is necessary for more than just catching up on emails or evening entertainment.
The move to predominantly electrical systems means that more than ever we will require a ‘smart grid’ and ‘smart appliances’ that are interconnected to minimise peak loads and to facilitate smart charging for the impending fleet of electric cars. Capacity upgrades will be necessary to accommodate a significant increase in those working partially or entirely from home (at a
2020 peak, almost 50% of working adults were either hybrid working or working solely from home). In order to ‘level-up’ or in other words make the whole country economically competitive it is crucial to create a solid foundation and level playing field of connectivity.
As custodians and architects of the homes and places that drive growth and provide quality of life its important that we engage with this agenda and work hand in hand with network providers at an early stage to ensure a smooth transition to more connected communities.
Towards a New Britain’
RIBA 1945Paul Drew, Director, Design
In 1945 the Second World War ended, and despite being the so called victors, we were left to reflect on a nation that was exhausted and wrecked; it’s social, environmental and economic frameworks were in a total mess. Sir William Beverage identified five challenges to help strengthen our resolve: Wants (social insecurity), Ignorance, Idleness, Squalor and Disease.
The architects and planners of 1945 scratched their heads and started to piece together strategies. There was the work underway by The Ministry of Planning, and The 1940 Council. In this flurry of activity, the RIBA held an exhibition called ‘Rebuilding Britain’. Out of this exhibition came a tiny booklet, which although old fashioned (particularly with gender and diversity), provided great optimism. ‘Towards a New Britain’ was that document.
Britain in 2022 is facing up to its own existential challenges, with the cost of living crisis, climate change concerns and the aftermath of Covid leaving many to wonder about the wants of a nation. And within this context, The ‘Wants’ identified by Beverage arguably still resonate.
‘Towards a New Britain’ is pragmatic, hopeful and confident. It is a reconstruction manifesto of great potency:-
X It sets out the state of the nation, and critiques this within a condensed history of human settlement in Britain in just a few pages;
X It describes a framework based on resource dependency, including food supply and homes;
X It describes the workplace of the future, economic growth, the countryside and leisure - in short, the nation’s sustainability; and,
X It boldly states “it must be done ---- it can be done”.
Cultural judgements infuse all of the document’s ideas, none of which are hindered by the short-termism of political cycles, but rather a plan to ensure a long-term legacy. It is also self-confident about balancing a modern and traditional British cultural identity; be that townscape, buildings or landscape.
The big lesson from ‘Towards a New Britain’ is the expectation of all people to contribute with no hint of class difference– each individual is charged with this responsibility. The role of the state is for good plan making and rules for land development; “Private enterprise will do the rest”.
One can’t help but wonder what the authors of ‘Towards a New Britain’, would make of our present situation, not least, the lack of a strategic vision, either on a national or regional scale. In the clamour to devise new slogans and sound bites, it is sometimes worth reflecting on strategies that have gone before, and which have heralded long term social change. And as we welcome in a new prime minster, we can at least ask one overriding question: so, what’s the plan?
For a small team, Iceni’s Manchester office have had a busy year. In the last 365 days, we’ve:
Hosted clients and attended:
1 x Insider North West Dinner
3 x Place North West Place Parties (in Manchester and Liverpool)
1 x Delayed Christmas Dinner (in April!)
1 x Ladies Evening at Chester Races (and won £0)
1 x guest lecture to Sheffield University planning students
1 x baby …congratulations go to our Associate, Justine, on the birth of her baby girl, ElodieTeam Manchester
2 x work experience students, totalling over 100 hours.
1 x Planner, with Paul Chandler-King making the move from Team Strategic to Team Manchester in May 2022
22 planning permissions and counting
These achievements sit alongside the countless other projects we are currently working on. Lucy has been busy working on a planning application for a 25-storey tower for 256 dwellings for Silverlane Developments, whilst Chris has been working on a number of opportunities for high-rise towers within Birmingham, expanding our presence in the region, complementing the work that our Birmingham office already has in the area . In the short time that Paul has been a member of Iceni Manchester, he has also got stuck into to a number of projects, from residential planning applications to site searches and employment land reports across the North West.
Iceni Culture ClubRuby Ellis, Assistant Planner
As the tribe made their way back into the office, following that period at home, the formerly named Iceni Book Club came back with force, and with a new lease of life has been renamed as the Iceni Culture Club. Discussions, whilst still focused initially on the shared reading of a book, spanning from both non-fiction accounts of Bolivian Prisons to fictional stories of love and loss, now also includes conversations on the best TV, the newest podcasts and recent music releases, which serves for interesting conversations on a range of topics, some planning and city design based and others not.
The Iceni Culture Club serves as an excellent opportunity to socialise across the Iceni teams with different levels and has been particularly beneficial for new faces in the company to get to know people they wouldn’t necessarily speak to on a daily basis. We are excited for another year of interesting discussions, the introduction of themed food and drink, and our lists of tv, podcast and book recommendations growing longer and longer.
Staycation Planning the UK holidayKatie Inglis, Associate, Planning and Alex Hamlet, Assistant Planner
Staycations are here to stay. If recent troubles in the airline industry and 8-hour queues down at Dover Port are anything to go by, isn’t holidaying in the UK a more stress-free alternative? In any case, why can’t the UK rival any foreign trip? Ok, we won’t compare the hills of the South Downs with the rolling vineyards of Tuscany, but there is untapped potential scattered across the entirety of this island waiting to be explored.
The Government published its Tourism Recovery Plan in June 2021 detailing its commitment to assist and accelerate the tourism sector’s recovery from COVID-19. This entails improving domestic overnight trip volume and spending, spreading tourism more equally across the nation and investing in tourism infrastructure. Many Local Authorities are responding with Tourism Strategies to support their economic objectives and incentivise the delivery of tourism and leisure accommodation and activities.
Iceni recognise the opportunity to support tourism proposals, as do many of our clients. It is an industry that is not necessarily limited to the typical development boundaries and may offer an opportunity for sites with little planning (or other land use) value. But it also works wonderfully in an urban setting, which could lead to the regeneration of the high street and the diversification of the night-time economy. It is a sector that is spatially unbound. That’s why we have chosen to expand our work in the tourism and leisure sector to bring aspirations for innovative, sustainable, and unique tourism and leisure developments to reality.
We have recently submitted two planning applications for a new surfing lagoon and hub, and adjacent hotel, at Betteshanger Country Park in Dover. Iceni
supported the submission through the preparation of an Archaeological Desk Based Assessment, a Heritage Assessment, Planning Statement and Economic Benefit Statement, as well as compiling and submitted the application. The proposals represent a transformational development for Dover’s tourism offering and will deliver a host of far reaching economic, social and environmental benefits.
Whether it be viticulture projects in the AONBs, hotels and spas on the Kent coast or unique leisure facilities, we are excited to work on a variety of projects to promote and support tourism in the UK.
Government Launches Help to BuildJames Bompas, Director, Strategic Planning
Regular readers of our Year Book will know I have a soft-spot for custom-build housing. Why? Each home is capable of being different, their design has been future-proofed by those who choose to live in them, they can provide an important contribution to housing output, and they can unlock smaller parcels of land that may not be suitable for larger developers. They also have the potential to protect/create local jobs and strengthen local supply chains.
They very often have higher take-up rates of sustainable technologies, provide flexibility for those people facing changing living conditions due to Covid-19, and diversify the provision of new homes. They can also empower local residents, allowing them to determine the form of housing.
And now, after four years of hard work by the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) there is a new reason to love custom-build housing. In 2022 the Government launched the prospectus for its Help to Build scheme with an initial £150m of funding.
The Help to Build loan enables would-be builders to apply for an equity loan of between 5% and 20% of the total estimated land and build cost (up to 40% in London), interest-free for 5 years. This lowers the required deposit and frees up capital, making building a home an affordable and realistic option.
The Government estimates that the Help to Build scheme could help deliver an additional 30-40,000 new homes a year, supporting the small-to-medium housebuilders that build these homes.
First thoughts of the UK Planning System from an AussieTim Fleming, Senior Planner
Crikey! The last few months have certainly been a whirlwind getting my head around the UK’s merits based and policy led system after working with the much more rigid legislative based New South Wales (NSW) planning system over the last 5 years.
NSW is a zone-based planning system which is designed to provide certainty and transparency to landowners. Each site has a land use zone, maximum building height, and a maximum amount of floor space that can be achieved on the site.
So, you can imagine my confusion when I first flicked through a local plan only to find that whilst a site might be in an employment or residential ‘priority area’ the existing use and immediate context of the site is what’s most important. And only to add to my bewilderment, there isn’t a maximum height or floor space that can be achieved on a site. This is a context-based argument guided by the local plan policies, local context considerations, and urban design principles.
Each site is unique and likely has centuries of history which have included a range of lawful (and unlawful!) uses which are relevant to how the site fits into its immediate and broader context. It is our job to piece this together and make a case for change and renewal.
On face value it should be easier to undertake development in the UK given its discretionary nature which is intended to provoke a more site-specific and design-led approach i.e. let the architects do their thing! This is a welcome change coming from a much more rigid system with little scope for variation.
However, I’m also struck by how politicised decision making is in the UK and specifically London. Particularly as decision making for significant schemes in NSW is generally delegated to independent planning committees or local authority chief planning officers. The political element in the UK adds another layer of complexity to navigate to achieve a positive outcome for clients.
So, which system is better? At risk of sounding diplomatic, maybe it’s a mix of both…!
Iceni Office Life and CultureAmy Pierce, Office Manager, Da Vinci House
The Office is Dead. Long Live The Office – Forbes proclaimed in February 2021.
But is it? While other companies were updating comms around mandatory days in the office, Iceni’s forward thinking meant agile working policies were already in place, and we’ve seen the office used more than anticipated!
We are a particularly social bunch as Iceni with a great Tribe of people. Guaranteed at least once a week there will be a freshly home baked cake for everyone to enjoy; it is honestly impossible to resist and stick to your balanced diet working at our office.
We have had many great office activities so far in 2022 including a Pancake Day breakfast, Iceni Culture Club, an Easter Egg hunt, and my favourite… hanging up the union jack bunting for our afternoon tea to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. After a few too many sausage rolls and slices of cake, we headed off to our beloved local pub, The One Tun, to start the weekend with a drink (or 2, but who’s counting). You can rarely walk to Farringdon station at the end of the workday without spotting a few of the Tribe outside The One Tun.
And when we aren’t doing an activity, you can usually see the Tribe meeting up for lunch in Fagin’s Lair with various exotic dishes purchased on Leather Lane or something tasty made at home.
2022 has also seen us hugely improve our office recycling facilities. First Mile are a zero to landfill company and after a lot of researching, I decided to make the switch to support us in being a Carbon Neutral business. We can now recycle food, crisp packets, coffee cups, batteries, toner cartridges and electrical equipment
making our footprint even more green. First Mile are even coming into our office to host a bespoke workshop for the Tribe during National Recycling Week.
Whilst upgrading some of our office toiletries to more sustainable options, I found a local charity that take new or used unwanted toiletry donations which are then passed on to homeless or families in need of which they are greatly received. We now have a permanent toiletries collection box for Refuge Network International and are proud to be working with such a fantastic charity.
It’s true you can have a virtual beer, but a purpose, sense of community and togetherness comes from human interaction and that’s what our basement offers.
Is it sunny, raining, thundering or snowing in Farringdon? We never know what to expect when emerging from our basement office! Leaks aside…. The main thing I love about working at Iceni is no two days are the same and you never know what the day will throw at you. Who knows what challenges are coming next when you manage an office in a basement….but it’s miles better than being in lockdown!
The Future for Tall Buildings in London
Over the past year, many major cities across the UK appear to have become more hesitant towards taller buildings. They are generally treated as a marker of high density and overdevelopment, despite the population density of the London being just over a quarter of the density of Paris .
They continue to prove divisive within communities and have been the subject of several high-profile appeal decisions in London (e.g. the Master Brewer case), considering where they might be best located and what makes a site ‘worthy of the gesture’ for a tall building (e.g. Manor Road, Ealing). This is reflected in New London Architecture’s (NLA) Tall Building Study 2022 which identified a marginal dip in highrise projects in the capital from 2021, as well as a shift in focus towards taller buildings in outer London boroughs. Outside of London, many major cities are working out where and how tall buildings have a place within their urban fabric. For example, Liverpool are currently consulting on their Tall Building SPD after tall buildings were cited in the loss of the World Heritage Site designation last year.Georgia Foy, Associate, Built Heritage and Townscape
Tall buildings offer the opportunity to create a vibrant, polycentric and compact city which supports walkability and public transport connectivity: two key pillars of sustainable cities.
Of course, such hesitancy is understandable, especially in the wake of the Grenfell disaster in 2017 and the ensuing, unresolved cladding crisis. Whilst this is, of course, a vital conversation which must continue, we want to briefly touch on the townscape-led case for tall buildings and the role they can play in the sustainable growth of major cities. This is a discussion that has been somewhat eclipsed by the industry-wide push for retrofitting existing buildings over new development, but the two are not mutually exclusive.
In townscape terms, it is generally accepted that the unchecked, disconnected urban sprawl which characterised the expansion of many UK cities in the late-19th/early-20th centuries is not desirable. However, to avoid further low-rise sprawl into the countryside, whilst meeting the predicted increase in population and the need for housing, densifying cities such as London, Glasgow and Manchester is unlikely to be achieved by low- and mid-rise buildings alone.
Whilst critics of high-rise often highlight that similar densities can be delivered with carefully designed mid-
rise typologies, this is not always an option for more constrained sites where the only way is up.
Tall buildings offer the opportunity to create a vibrant, polycentric and compact city which supports walkability and public transport connectivity: two key pillars of sustainable cities. Providing they are well-located and well-designed, they can be positive additions to the townscape by ‘treading lightly’, using land efficiently, offering active bases and boosting the profile and legibility of the wider place. Choosing the right location and analysing the potential impacts of these buildings are key.
And of course, tall is relative to its context, for example definitions in London varying from NLA’s 20 storeys to the London Plan’s more conservative 6-storey minimum (considered mid-rise in most urban contexts).
In other words, no one is suggesting dropping the Shard in the suburbs… Just that we have an informed and open debate, and recognition, of the potential role tall buildings have in delivering sustainable cities.
Same, Same But Different
Returning to work after Maternity LeaveKatie Inglis, Associate, Planning
After a year of mostly goo goo gaga, had my brain turned to mush? What did the NPPF, HRA, EIA stand for again?!? Local Plans… what are those? I had well and truly forgotten about all things planning during my sleep deprived year of maternity leave. But, like riding a bike, it all came flooding back.
Unlike a number of my new mummy friends, I wasn’t worried about coming back to work, because I knew that I was coming back to the same role (my job and position wasn’t in jeopardy), I could come back in whatever shape and form I needed (four days a week), that I had the support of my Team and I wasn’t being pressured to be in the office every day of the week, whilst trying to negotiate a new routine of balancing nursery drop off/pickups with a working life. Sadly, it seems this isn’t the norm out there and it is a testament to Iceni that I was looking forward to and able to come back relatively smoothly.
I was looking forward to the ‘old’ me. For a hot cup of tea (in peace) whilst contemplating planning policy and getting stuck into a good planning principle argument (yes, #planningnerd). What I wasn’t prepared for was, whilst everything felt exactly the same, walking into the office after two years (thanks to lockdowns and Maternity Leave), I felt profoundly and fundamentally different.
I was naïve, I could never be the ’old’ me, I had outgrown the ‘old’ me.
I always thought I was organised, but I am now ‘extra’ organised. The balls you juggle and the eventualities you prepare for as a working mum are many. I am up at 6am, getting my son dressed, fed and out the door, then I am off to the gym or pool, before popping to the greengrocer, then getting home to turn my laptop on at 8:30am to start
my workday. Then once I’ve finished for the day, it is the pick-up, bath and bedtime routine… eat, sleep, repeat. Then throw in the seven planning applications I (with the help of many in the Strategic Team) will be submitting in August/September. Phew! It is a lot, but the ‘new’ me can be both a mum and a planner.
I’ve never been more torn in my life, I simultaneously long for Monday mornings to start work, and also for bath time and Fridays with my son.
I always thought I was a good negotiator, but once you negotiate with a toddler who only speaks six or seven words (bubble, shoes, choo-choo, digger, tea and oh no!), planning negotiations seem a doddle by comparison. I will admit, a lot of my negotiations with my toddler involve snacks and sometimes I wish I could use this tactic at work.
I have never been more engaged, driven and focussed, but with more empathy and understanding.
I am better as the ‘new’ me. Same, same but different.
Stepping away from the job for my sons first year reminded me that I love and am lucky to do what I do. I’m not the first working mum in the office, but I am supremely thankful for the support and encouragement from the Tribe, with particular shout out to James Waterhouse and Leona Hannify, without who this transition would not have been as seamless. The work and family life balance will continue for many years to come, and I may not always get it right, but I feel like I have the balance right for now.
30% Club Mentorship Programme
In my experience, Iceni is brimming with lots of mentors - those who are generous with their time and are willing to share their experiences and advice to help others with their career progression. This year, with the support of the Iceni Board, Madi Moraru (HR Manager) and I decided it would be good to trial a more formal mentorship programme.
We opted into a programme focused on accelerating women’s career progression run by the 30% Club, which happens to be the biggest cross-company mentoring programme in the world (bold claim) so we hoped we would be in safe hands. Iceni was required to put forward an equal number of mentors and mentees for the programme, which ran for a 9-month period.
After the programme was completed, we did a survey of the Iceni participants and here are some stats to give an insight into how we got along.
Overall, this was a very worthwhile experience for those that participated. We are currently reviewing how we approach our next mentorship programme for 2022 / 23 so if you are interested in being a mentor or mentee, please drop me a line.
In terms of the Iceni mentors and mentees -
X 85% found the process valuable,
X 75% would recommend it to others,
X 70% would do it again,
X 65% are going to stay in touch with their mentor / mentee after the programme,
X 65% considered that the experience helped with their job role and career progression.Leona Hannify, Director, Strategic Planning
A-ccounting It’s All In a Day’s WorkSherry-Lee Olaleye, Revenue Controller, Finance
Post-Pandemic, people are seeking out an inspiring company culture that brings enjoyment to what they do and who they do it with. Whether it is working with planners, archaeologists or heritage consultants, our finance team, made up of enthusiastic bakers and avid gym goers, takes its inspiration from these activities when partnering with the business in setting business plans, and preparing key performance indicators to increase revenues while holding margins.
As a rule of thumb Finance is all about the numbers. One number goes out another comes in, all reconciled at the end. In the same manner baking is all about numbers where exact measurements of different ingredients produce delightful results. Although at times, as with invoicing, it’s never just black and white. There are shades of many different colours mixed in. One person may forget the purchase order number – Did I remember to add baking powder? Another person may put too much information on the requisition – Oops I put too much buttermilk, so I need to compensate it with more flour. There is an error in the system – Did I open the oven too
soon and the top of the cake cracked? Ensuring invoices are sent out to customers on time requires the same amount of attention to detail as a cake takes time to bake and decorate to the specification.
By contrast, our avid gym goers set goals and targets, whether it is increasing the number of reps, lifting heavier weights, or balancing an overindulgence when too much of a good thing leads to a different dimension of losses and gains. Knowing where to start, what targets to set and making the right gains with every move will set you up for a healthier outcome. Our accounts payable team works at a steady pace, record keeping, data entry, making payments on time, like the constant rhythm set by the treadmill. The weight of responsibility managing the delivery of the budgets requires stamina, with consistent and steady pace.
So just like baking, or going to the gym, invoicing, journaling, balancing spreadsheets, the finance function is measured and operated through specific processes to make a complete work of art…or a balancing of the books. The effort, hard work, attention to detail and working as a team has all been worth it, the dough has risen...
Logistics Today and TomorrowMatt Kinghan, Director, Economics
A Year for Logistics at Iceni
It’s been another busy year for Iceni in the industrial logistics sector.
In terms of planning applications we have secured planning permission for Wrenbridge in Tonbridge and Malling; and the Manchester team have been working for Henry Boot on a number of sites including 70,000 sqft of industrial at Preston East. We’re also working on schemes for GLP, SEGRO and Aprirose to name a few.
We have also undertaken a number of studies for the public sector looking at trends and long term floorspace requirements, including for Nottinghamshire, Sheffield and the South East Midlands Local Economic Partnership (SEMLEP). This is an addition to local employment needs studies for councils from Dorset to Birmingham to Sefton and beyond. This has given us a chance to talk to lots of council officers, occupiers, agents and developers across the country about what’s happening in the sector.
Future logistics – Iceni research
In 2021 we talked to a range of senior industry stakeholders about the state of logistics. We have re-run the exercise in summer 2022 getting views from experts to build on our own knowledge. Here’s what we found.
People vs Robots
Traditionally a labour intensive sector, logistics is steadily seeing increased levels of investment in automation. Increased use of robotics reduces reliance on labour which is scarce in some parts of the county, although up front investment costs in automation can be very significant.
Greater use of automated systems combined with the complex demands of e-commerce means a new skillset is required for those working in the logistics sector. Research by Iceni with SEMLEP indicates that in 2021 nearly two thirds of job postings accounted for non drivers and handlers / warehouse associates, including project managers, sales managers, supply chain analysts, 500 software developer / engineers and computer support in 2021.
In terms of deliveries DPD in July 2022 are commencing autonomous robot deliveries in two Milton Keynes neighbourhoods. DPD intends to extend the autonomous final mile solution across the city, which could enable it to start removing delivery vans from the road network. The robots will navigate the city’s traffic-free Redway network to access local residential neighbourhoods. DPD joined with Starship robots, who launched in 2018 in Milton Keynes, and now operate in Northampton and Cambourne, Cambridgeshire.
Power and sustainability
Demands for power in the sector keep rising, not least due to automation and the need to charge electric vehicles. Access to the grid for power is a major challenge in many locations. In West London providers are reporting as a worst case that there is not sufficient electrical capacity for a new connection up to 2035, partly due to new datacentres absorbing high levels of power
At the same time the industry is demonstrating its ability to deliver best practice sustainable developments
that can ensure that power is derived from the most sustainable sources possible, reducing grid reliance and minimising carbon footprint. Whilst delivering these measures increases the costs of construction, which are already rising hugely with inflation, they also contribute to longer term lower operating costs.
One great example is the SEGRO Park Tottenham scheme that Iceni secured permission for which will create a 190,000 sqft designed to net-zero energy standards for base build, and the building’s energy supplies will be sourced from renewables on-site and off-site, to achieve net-zero carbon in operation. The roof areas will be fitted with photovoltaic panels which will capture solar energy and convert it into electricity, generating 10% more energy than the building uses.
Logistics in London
London is a difficult place to deliver industrial and logistics. Due to the strength of demand and scarce good quality supply industrial land values have reached an all time high, competing with residential in some areas. New market entrants such as data centres, film
studios and dark kitchens are competing with the final mile and traditional industrial occupiers.
Class E and colocation is affecting the industrial supply position, with redevelopment of some older mixed B industrial stock being replaced by Class E and residential above. This provides higher quality workspace but isn’t always suitable for general industrial and logistics requirements –South Acton in Ealing having seen a number of these developments permitted.
The search for development opportunities is forcing industry to look further afield, putting pressure on the Green Belt to provide for the capital’s industrial needs.
Responding to limited supply, for the first time stacked industrial units are emerging including SEGRO’s proposals for V Park Brent, and Be First’s Industria in the east.
Logistics in the Regions
Demand for large scale logistics continues across the nation’s arterial routes. Existing Local Plan supply is exhausted in many locations and Local Plan progress and supporting evidence often fails to keep up with industry trends. This has led to a number of very special circumstances applications being allowed by the end of 2021 including in Bolton, Wigan, St Helens, Tunbridge Wells and Thurrock. Key issues dealt with by these schemes include:
X The economic benefits of the proposal
X The lack of sufficient sites to meet needs within Slough Borough
X The lack of contribution of sites towards the purposes of Green Belt
X Biodiversity net gain
X The historic use of the site
Iceni Planning & Client SchmoozingGeorge Baines, Planner
When I started my planning career, in the height of the pandemic, I didn’t meet any Tribe members face to face for six months. That seemed a common occurrence for new starters back then and the concept of ‘Business Development’ and ‘Networking’, other than a virtual drink on Zoom was a strange one.
I am pleased to say, and I say this with my fingers very much crossed, that this now appears to be all behind us. Since the latter half of 2021, socialising outside of the office walls has been back in full swing, with face to face networking at all levels and locations across Iceni and the wider property industry.
The Iceni Planning team has made a heroic effort in an attempt to lead this comeback within Iceni, with Summer 2022 providing the sunshine for numerous client schmoozing events.
The peak of this was the Iceni Planning Client Event at the end of May where around 100 of our top clients came by Victoria Market Halls for a drink or three and a
selection of food court delights. The success of this event highlighted the importance of face to face networking, and how simply putting a ‘face to a name’ can expand an opportunity for business development.
Members of the team also ventured over to Hurlingham Park to watch the Polo alongside select clients, with many of us proving that while we are experts at drinking Pimms and talking planning, we are not experts on anything Polo related!
We have also had a number of the ‘younger members’ of the team (no Iceni Planning Associates…that doesn’t include you) attend various NLA and YEP events across the year, establishing relationships in the junior ranks, which will hopefully prove to be a strong client base as they move into decision making roles.
As we move to the colder and darker months, this does not mean the end for the Teams networking efforts……it simply means that it will be taking place inside.
Nutrient Neutrality: A Load of S*$%Katie Inglis, Associate, Planning
Whilst nutrient neutrality started off as a relatively localised issue in the Solent in 2019 and Kent in 2020, Natural England announced in March 2022 that an additional 42 Council areas now contained nutrient neutrality catchments. Suddenly nutrient neutrality was on the national agenda.
Those of you who had never heard of nutrient neutrality prior to 2022 soon came to realise that it can be a significant barrier to development. Any development resulting in an increase in overnight stays (primarily residential dwellings and overnight visitor accommodation) within a nutrient neutrality catchment cannot proceed unless it is determined to be nutrient neutral. Whilst there are varying factors, in most cases, it hinges on additional or proposed foul sewage connections.
The issue has held up full, outline, reserved matters planning applications and in some cases discharge of conditions. It has also held up the plan making process. It is quite frankly a load of s*%$.
We’ve been at the forefront of this issue in Kent and the biggest problem is the difficulty in securing an appropriate mitigation response that enables a scheme to be classified as nutrient neutral.
In July the Government announced new plans to tackle the nutrient neutrality issue. Primarily in the form of a new legal duty on water companies to upgrade Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) by 2030 in ‘nutrient neutral’ catchments to highest achievable technological levels, to be introduced as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, and a new Nutrient Mitigation Scheme to be established by Natural England allowing nutrient credits to be bought by developers.
Whilst any national mitigation approach and support is of course welcomed, given the timescales suggested, we are still a long way off from this mitigation fundamentally assisting and releasing the backlog of development.
We know from experience that a large amount of land is needed to secure wetland and/or woodland mitigation schemes. Not to mention the availability
and suitability of such land to support this mitigation approach in each catchment. In addition, as mitigation must be in place at time of occupation, the number of homes being delivered in a catchment under the Nutrient Mitigation Scheme may be dependent on the amount of time it takes to deliver wetland/woodland in that catchment (planting seasons and construction timeframes need to be factored in).
Furthermore, these mitigation options do not necessarily remove nutrient neutrality or Habitat Regulations Assessment requirements but may reduce the proportion of mitigation required by individual schemes.
Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, but we have been successful in securing a number of nutrient neutrality permissions in the last couple of years, and the key to unlocking land in the short term, may involve a stepped/phased approach to mitigation for larger schemes.
Improving our Cyber SecurityDavid Kavanagh, Managing Director
Protecting ourselves and our clients from cyber attacks has never been more important. In September 2022 Iceni was independently certified as meeting the requirements of the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials scheme.
All part of our plan to deliver a market-leading digital, technology and data capability that empowers Iceni’s staff and clients to help make better, more sustainable places to live, work and play. Certification gives us and our clients peace of mind that our defences will protect against the vast majority of common cyber attacks. Our inboxes have never been so safe.
Fairview 5-A-Side Football TournamentAndy Rudlin, Planner
On a scorching afternoon in June, five footballers from across the company travelled to the Trent Park Sports centre in Enfield, to represent Iceni FC in the annual 5-A-Side Football Tournament held by our client Fairview Homes.
Having witnessed the standard of opposition we would be up against warming up, expectations were relatively low as to how far the team would progress. However, we were pleasantly surprised by our performance in the group stages: winning our first 2 games, drawing 1, and losing another. The loss to one of our clients can also surely be chalked down as commitment to Business Development as opposed to any serious deficiency in footballing ability.
Following a short mid-tournament break, the team entered into the knock-out stages where we would face even stronger opposition. However, both a 1-1 draw against PR Firm BECG and a 3-3 draw against the combined Land Agents XI were followed by tense penalty shootout wins - goalkeeper Jamie Sullivan the hero on both occasions.
These wins meant the team progressed to the semifinals, thereby becoming the best performing Planning Consultancy firm of the day! Unfortunately however, this game proved a step too far as fatigue and injury resulted in the team being beaten 6-0 by logistics firm (and eventual tournament winners) DBD.
Nevertheless, a great day was had by all and all teams were rewarded with much-deserved pizza and refreshments at the end of the day. A big thanks to Fairview Homes for the invitation and we look forward to returning for the 2023 tournament!
Iceni FC plays in multiple games throughout the year, with other recent games including Weston Homes and ilke Homes. Players of all ability are welcome – please contact Richard Jay (Transport) if you would like to get involved!
Iceni’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion PanelJon Wright, Associate, Planning
Iceni’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion(EDI) Panel is now in its second year, and the need to promote EDI objectives continues to be just as important as it was when the panel was first established.
In co-ordination with HR and other operational groups within the business, the panel undertook a detailed review of all areas of the business, including the company’s policies, processes and recruitment procedures. The panel also carried out a follow-up staff survey, in order to shine a light on current behaviours and analyse whether any new issues have emerged. Suggestions were also sought from staff about how Iceni could be more inclusive.
As well as implementing ‘blind’ CVs during the recruitment process and using diverse stock photos, a common recommendation was offering work placements or sponsoring students from hard-to-reach groups. During the summer holidays, the company has welcomed a range of students through the RTPI’s Explore programme and is now considering how best to expand school and university outreach
via ‘Iceni Academy’. Another common suggestion was re-running training for staff on the issue of unconscious bias. The initial session taught us how to actively identify and address our own bias, to uncover how we can all practise better inclusion in the workplace, and the feedback received was very positive. A refresher session is being arranged for new joiners. The panel also regularly contribute to the staff newsletter to communicate relevant updates, as well as recommended resources for those wanting to better educate themselves on certain topics.
The effects of these measures will be continuously monitored, and the panel are always open to everyone’s views on how we can fulfil EDI objectives. If you do have any ideas, then please get in touch with any member of the panel (Andrew Gale, Alex Hamlet, Jon Wright, Justine Entezari, Jim Jaulim, Ruby Maynard Smith, Paul Chandler-King, Ryan Walker, Jennine Romeo, Georgia Foy, Madi Moraru). This is a collaborative effort, and we wish for everyone to get involved.
PCK: From LDN to MCRPaul Chandler-King, Planner, Manchester
Many of your will know that I cut my teeth at Iceni in the Strategic Planning team but earlier this year relocated to the North West, joining our Manchester Team. In case you were interested, here’s a little something about the why and how it’s going so far…
During lockdown my Wife, Amy, and I decided that we would relocate from London to Liverpool (a slightly daunting prospect for a Manchester United fan). We told ourselves this was to provide improve our daughter’s quality of life, but I increasingly suspect it was to capitalize on the cost of living benefits, and the provision of free childcare from the In-Laws in order to compensate for our increasing need for coffee and wine to keep up with our energetic toddler.
I was incredibly fortunate that around the same time a previous member of the MCR Team (Ellen) was relocating from Manchester back to the North East, creating an opening. Although I was in Team Strategic I’ve always had an interest in urban projects and the challenges associated with planning and development in towns and cities. So, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more and widen my skillset.
It was also fortunate that Chris, Lucy and Justine felt up to the challenge of taking me on. All welcomed me with open arms (even though I kept banging on about Five Year Housing Land Supply positions and Agricultural Land Assessments).
The development management work coming to Team MCR continues to be varied in its size, type, and location. So far, amongst others, I’ve carried out due diligence work for 350 flats next to Chesterfield Station; planning applications for Care Homes in Newquay and Doncaster;
an extension to a nursery in Sale; and enforcement enquiries for residential off-street parking in Salford –whoever says we need to make Planning more sexy clearly hasn’t done much work with dropped curbs!
I’ve certainly not been allowed to forget any of my training in Strategic Planning having worked on Site Searches across two Boroughs, and now also assisting our Economics team with an Employment Land Review across Sefton (although to date this has mostly consisted of being Lucy’s chauffeur on a day of site visits…).
The past 5 months have flown past. It’s been a steep learning curve and a gear change but I’m enjoying the challenge and looking forward to the months ahead.
Estate regeneration can be both challenging and rewarding
Talking to residents about the potential demolition of their home takes care, sensitivity, and empathy. Scare stories about what might happen to people, of broken promises and ulterior motives can abound.
Of course, some residents can be eager to see change due to fundamental design or condition issues, overcrowding, crime and anti social behaviour, or simply as their golden ticket to a better future.
Whereas others, often the elderly, find the uncertainty of what might happen hugely unsettling and highly stressful, as well as disempowering.
The introduction of Resident Ballots by the GLA in July 2018 sought to empower eligible residents in the process by giving them the opportunity to express their choice through a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question of whether they wanted regeneration or not.
So, what is a Resident Ballot? And is it, overall, a positive thing?
At first glance, a Resident Ballot, long demanded by housing activists, appears to be a genuine democratic process, just like any referendum. But there are risks, notably community division and tactical voting by voters more interested in the idea of a new home elsewhere, rather than the future of the estate.
With no minimum turnout required, in theory, if one person shows up and votes ‘Yes,’ the redevelopment will go ahead (subject to planning permission), and with a simple majority (does 52/48 sound familiar?) results can sometimes prove controversial.
One of these ballots resulted in a turnout of 69.4% of eligible voters and only a 55.7% ‘Yes’ vote, amid accusations of misinformation and intimidation from both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps and a lack of neutrality in the supporting communications. It has been suggested that engagement activities such as community fun-days serve to influence the result… Can residents really be bought-off with an ice cream?
Maybe, although it would be naïve to suggest that all partisan sentiment can be removed from what isFin Harbour, Junior Consulant, Engagement
essentially a campaign, and a genuine need to fix underlying problems with the landlord’s housing stock and reduce housing waiting lists.
Iceni Engagement have been involved in three Resident Ballots over the past year and are working towards a fourth, currently scheduled for autumn 2022.
Our experiences working with local authorities in Hillingdon on the Hayes Town Centre and Avondale Drive estates, and at Elm Grove in Sutton have thankfully been positive, with turnouts of over 80% and over 75% ‘Yes’ votes representing strong mandates for change.
And we’ve even been given a present by one resident to thank us for helping her secure her dream home!
Witnessing this level of satisfaction – sometimes unimaginable in the midst of the process - makes it is much harder to be cynical about a strong ‘Yes’ vote.
Of course, some residents can be eager to see change due to fundamental design or condition issues, overcrowding, crime and anti social behaviour, or simply as their golden ticket to a better future.
Iceni’s Big Breakfast
After a 19 year absence, the summer of 2022 saw the return of a much loved 90’s classic – Channel 4’s Big Breakfast. Many of you will remember the original format - celebrity guests were interviewed in a series of chaotic formats all set against a brightly coloured backdrop, while viewers at home enjoyed their breakfast.
After a much shorter break due to the pandemic, Iceni’s own ad hoc breakfast event returned. Set in the more muted, but still spectacular setting of The Ivy Tower Bridge, we were joined by our own celebrity guest, the Chief Planner – Joanna Averley. The vibe was much less chaotic than the Channel 4 version, with The Ivy having such an effect on the audience that a large number were eating their bacon and egg sandwich with a knife and fork.
The topic of the hour long discussion was the emerging planning reforms, which Joanna and her department were just announcing more detail on. Both myself and Ashleigh Cook hosted the event and rather than simply telling guests what was in the planning reforms (which many of them already knew),
we used a presentation/chat show hybrid format, where we asked Joanna pre-prepared questions from the audience (as well as our own observations).
Joanna was able to offer a fascinating insight into the workings of Government and the progress made on the different reforms. It was clear that certain proposals still had a long way to go before they would be fully developed and implemented (such as the new Infrastructure Levy), whereas others, (such as the new National Development Management Policies) were much closer to being released.
At the time of writing the Conservative Leadership Party contest is throwing a major spanner in the works, as the candidates seek to outdo each other with ever more regressive policies, but once in power I personally expect a more nuance approach and an announcement on less controversial elements of policy reforms later in 2022. It is clear from our breakfast that there are certain elements that have widespread support. This includes the introduction of District-wide design codes, the digitisation of the planning/consultation process and even the removalJamie Sullivan, Director, Planning and Ashleigh Cook, Associate, Planning
of the five year housing land supply test in Districts with an up-to-date Local Plan. Many of these are likely to stay, but others will be at least tweaked.
Look out for more events in 2023, where we will continue to offer our clients a unique insight in to what is likely to be a defining year for the future of the planning system (celebrity appearances are currently being sought) .
Built Heritage & Townscape in Scotland: The First Year
September 2022 marks the end of the first year of the Built Heritage & Townscape Team in Scotland. It has been an exciting and fascinating process getting established in not only a new market for the team, but a market wherein heritage consultancy itself is a “new thing”. Doing it at a time when the boundaries of development in the built environment are being pushed, when urban densification and retrofit are firmly on the agenda, has made it all the more interesting.
Straight from the inception of the team in September 2021, we found ourselves at the high point of discussions regarding the climate emergency and we were fortunate to be part of Iceni’s COP26 activities in Glasgow hosting a breakfast seminar on retrofit. This discussion has been a hot topic in the heritage sector in Scotland and we plan to write an article soon to sum up where that discussion has gone so far. In short, we have been involved in very exciting retrofit projects that are pushing the boundaries of what has previously not been possible. Further to this, in Scotland we are seeing more justifications for major alterations and even demolition in heritage sensitive areas to make way for sustainable
future-proof designs that preserve and enhance the most important aspects of our built environment.
We were also thrown into the deep end with project work, getting the day-to-day kicked off with one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Britain, let alone Scotland! The redevelopment of St Enoch’s Shopping Centre is a potentially transformative project and producing the HTVIA and EIA for the redevelopment of the St Enoch shopping Centre in the heart of Glasgow city Centre was a major undertaking given that the site is surrounded by the Glasgow Central Conservation Area as well as 74 listed buildings within 500 metres of the site. While this is a pretty huge change in cityscape of Glasgow, the line of thought around the existing shopping centre’s replacement is about providing a far more sustainable and future-proof design. The design also brings back the historic grid pattern of the streets of Glasgow, furthering our understanding of the history of the city as well as providing new streets and squares that will rejuvenate the area around the Clyde. Alongside this, we’ve been working on projects to bring back to life the site’s retained historic buildings, including delivering a consent for the B listed former Debenhams building.Aidan Ball Albessard, Senior Consultant, Frances Swanston, Senior Consultant, Built Heritage & Townscape A vision for the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow
We have also had the privilege of being involved in probably the highest profile heritage story in Scotland at the minute – the proposed listing of Cumbernauld Town Centre. The Team have been appointed to advise the site’s owner, and are now actively rebutting the listing application. This has prompted many interesting questions such as how should we use our modern built heritage and is the listing process, that was originally established to protect pre-20th century buildings, fit for purpose in assessing buildings from the recent past. Our task was to assess the town centre of Cumbernauld using the listing criteria produced by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to see if it met the criteria to be listed. We researched a fascinating history of new towns, Brutalism, Megastructuralism and urbanism in Scotland, unearthing a project that was undoubtedly ambitious in its conception, but which proved itself to be flawed almost immediately. We also dissected the many changes and alterations that had happened to the town centre which ultimately meant the site had lost its significance and does not meet the criteria for listing.
We have submitted our assessment to HES, who are carrying out their own assessment with a view to The St Enoch Centre’s former Debenhams Store
reaching a decision in Autumn this year. If listed, it will have huge implications for our client who had, earlier this year, reached a deal to sell the site to North Lanarkshire Council. The Council plan to demolish the Centre and build a new town centre hub, and listing could very significantly stymie its proactive and ambitious plans to rejuvenate a town in dire need of investment.
These are just two examples of the exciting projects we have been working on. We have an ongoing retrofit project involving a Georgian print works in Edinburgh New Town (Listed Building, Conservation Area and World Heritage Site), and another project on a site wedged between a Category A listed brutalist building and another Category A listed Georgian Robert Adam town house. Our other projects involve retrofitting office blocks in the Glasgow Central Conservation Area, bringing back to life ruined mills – this list goes on! All of this is possible with our knowledge of guidance and legislation as well as architectural history and conservation methods. We also use cutting edge 3D modelling to assist us with visualising proposals to inform our assessments.
While all of this has been a fascinating and exciting process it has not been without its challenges.
One particular challenge that we have been faced with is taking the English model of Heritage Consultancy and retailoring it to fit a Scottish context. The English model wherein even small projects involve large teams of consultants is not mirrored in the lower-landvalue Scottish market, and traditionally, like a number of other issues, architects have simply mopped up heritage matters in their appointments. There are far fewer heritage professionals in the public sector in Scotland than in England, and heritage has lacked the professionalism, as an industry, that it possesses south of the border, despite the huge number and value of Scotland’s heritage assets. So there is a huge need for specialist consultancy to assist with dramatically changing developments within the built environment but a lack of specialists on the other side to assess it. We therefore have to convince architects to leave the heritage issues in our hands (and clients that we provide for money in addressing these issues directly)
but at the same time we have to make our assessments easy to digest for the overworked and understaffed local authorities to assess easily. This is a challenge that time is assisting us with. The more jobs we do the more our value is realised and already we are making good process with all involved.
This year has been about making connections; connections with our colleagues in other teams, with our clients, local authorities and statutory bodies, such as HES. It has also been about building confidence in the team’s ability and demonstrating the importance of built heritage and townscape in the planning process and the value it brings supporting clients at heritage sensitive sites. It is now time for us to expand work capacity, find new clients and increase our fee income. We plan to expand our work presence in Edinburgh, which has been harder to find the heritage market and to continue to build upon the work and connections we have made in Glasgow over the past year. Our work is moving further afield in Scotland to Banff, Aberdeenshire as well as being asked to look at projects in Moffat and Perth.
Thank you for welcoming and supporting us as we found our feet, with a particular thanks to Glasgow and Edinburgh Planning teams for putting their faith in us and to our BH&T colleagues in London for sharing their knowledge and experience.
Across various teams Iceni has recently been involved in two largescale schemes within the historic city of Norwich, and the Heritage and Townscape team feel particularly privileged to be directly involved in Norwich’s two largest regeneration schemes.
These are Anglia Square to the northwest of the city, a project frequently in the national press over the last couple of years; and Carrow Works to south east, the former home of both the iconic bull and yellow tin of Colman’s Mustard and Robinson’s drinks. Both schemes involve highly sensitive, but quite different locations, and we’ve been working worked cooperatively with the heritage values of the sites to present detailed and carefully considered schemes with the potential to completely remodel the urban environment in their respective locations. Neither project is without controversy, and despite strong objections, in the case of Anglia Square, from SAVE Britain’s Heritage and Historic England, we’re absolutely committed to helping deliver what we think are transformational, heritage-led schemes.
The development of Anglia Square to the northwest of Norwich, in late 1960’s forms part of a wider contextual redevelopment of Norwich and Britain in the post war period. In Norwich its development saw the destruction of the historic low-rise townscape and medieval street pattern of Norwich-over-the-Water, and its replacement with a new shopping centre featuring multi-storey car parks, a cinema, shopping arcades, a church, pedestrian walkways and shop-lined walkways leading onto a central square. The centre was built in the prevailing modern architectural style of the time with a clumsy brutalist influence. The centre was never finished and emerged as a failed exercise in town planning, with unintegrated public realm, scrubby surface car parking, and poor-quality buildings which now are now not only outdated and tired, but in some cases actively dangerous, asbestos-ridden and closed to any access. Most noticeably the development has an exceedingly poor relationship to the surrounding townscape, its uncompromising form appearing as out of character, dominant and intrusive, in a filigree and fine-grain townscape. The potential of the site is clear, and thisEdward Wollaston, Senior Consultant, Built Heritage & Townscape A vision for Anglia Square. Credit: Broadway Malyan
presents the opportunity to redevelop the entire area with a new and engaging high quality townscape for the betterment of the current and future residents of Norwich.
It’s a project that’s been through the ringer, and quite frankly, it says an enormous amount about the tenacity and commitment of our client Weston Homes that they haven’t walked away. A previous application involving a controversial 20 storey tower was subject to a Call-in by the Secretary of State and despite a recommendation by the Inspector that it should be approved, was refused planning permission by the SoS in 2020. Following the award of HIF funding in 2020, Iceni have been involved across a number of sectors (among them EIA Coordination, SocioEconomics, Transport and HTVIA) in supporting the . submission of the current bybrid application. It seeks a comprehensive redevelop the Site to provide up to 1,100 dwellings and flexible retail, commercial and other non-residential floorspace including Community Hub, to designs by Broadway Malyan.
Given the long involvement of The Townscape and Heritage team we were again commissioned to guide
the scheme towards final submission, providing heritage and townscape advice and producing an environmental statement which assessed the likely effects of the proposed scheme. The work has been ongoing and has necessitated our ongoing input regarding a number of emerging issues, including the assessment of 40 townscape views and innumerable heritage assets. As part of a contentious process, Certificates of Immunity have been also been granted, expired and re-applied for against modern buildings on the site, and a number of non-designated heritage assets, earmarked for demolition within the site boundary have been subject to Applications for Listing. These have included a 19th century warehouse building mistakenly believed to incorporate the standing remains of an 11th Century Anglo- Scandinavian church, which has required additional research, assessment, and rebuttal. Barely a week goes by when it isn’t in the press nationally and locally, and SAVE Britain’s Heritage have produced a (wholly unviable) alternative scheme to try and sway decision-makers, and Historic England are proving difficult to persuade. Nonetheless, the scheme is currently under determination by a largely supportive Norwich City Council and still evolving in response The Former Colman’s Mustard Factory Site at Carrow Works
to the sensitivities of the site, with Iceni continuing to provide ongoing heritage and townscape advice as the scheme progresses.
The scheme at Carrow Works is a similarly large-scale and involves the redevelopment of the entire former Colman’s Mustard Factory Site south of river Wensum. This scheme was submitted for Hybrid permission in June for a phased residential-led development with supporting mixed-uses and involves the demolition of redundant factory buildings, construction of new residential blocks and the retention, restoration, conversion, and adaptation of key historic listed former factory buildings. Part of the development site includes the Scheduled Monument containing the standing remains of an 11th Century Priory and the Grade I listed Carrow Abbey, while there also a large number of listed and unlisted historic factory buildings. Iceni have been involved in guiding the design of the scheme, with an appreciation of the heritage sensitivities of the site. The design of the public realm will articulate the former function of the factory buildings through the use of
distinctive street furniture, installations, signage, colour and retention of key historic factory features, while the Abbey/Priory section, latterly a family home for part of the Colman family, will be provided with a very different, quasi-rural character. We have produced a Heritage Townscape and Visual Impact Assessment to assess the effects of the proposals on the significance of the heritage assets identified, including the appearance of the development from a select number of key view locations agreed with Norwich City Council. While the scheme is still in the early stages, the site presents a unique opportunity for Norwich to create a new townscape quarter within the redundant factory with a host of resultant benefits for an appreciation of its historic use, its earlier monastic origins, the historic development of Norwich and perhaps most importantly Colman’s English Mustard.
The Sustainable Development Scorecard
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has running throughout it the ‘golden thread of sustainable develop ment’. 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 solu tions, 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 devel opers, 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.
Birmingham: The Colmore Building, 20 Colmore Circus Queensway, Birmingham B4 6AT
Edinburgh: 11 Alva Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4PH
Glasgow: 177 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2LB
London: Da Vinci House, 44 Saffron Hill, London, EC1N 8FH
Manchester: This Is The Space, 68 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3EJ