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Management guidance

Universities planning Management guidanceguidance title: subtitle Tertiary level title text

Management guidance

This series of Management Guidance published by Universities UK (UUK) provides best practice guidelines and codes of recommended practice.

The copyright for this publication is held by Universities UK. The material may be copied or reproduced provided that the source is acknowledged and the material, wholly or in part, is not used for commercial gain. Use of the material for commercial gain requires the prior written permission of Universities UK.

Contents Contents

2 Foreword 3 Introduction 4 The key issues 1 7 The higher education sector 2 11 Planning and the higher education sector 3 18 Regional planning and major HE change 4 23 The new local planning system 5 28 Sustainability and green travel planning 6 37 Urban regeneration 7 42 Universities and green belts 8 45 Universities and planning gain 9 49 Student housing 10 55 Design and quality 11 62 Heritage and conservation 66 Conclusions 68 Appendix 69 Notes 70 References

Universities UK

Universities planning guidance


Foreword Section Section AAhead head

This is a timely report focusing on how higher education relates to the planning system at a time when both are in a period of dramatic change. Higher education is increasingly recognised as a key to economic and social progress. Our universities are changing fast to respond to new challenges and opportunities. They are increasingly involved with innovation and with encouraging knowledge-based businesses to start and to grow. Changes in the way that universities and their students are financed have brought a more competitive world for our institutions, new ways of working with partners and more rigorous processes of forward planning and budgeting. We are at the beginning of a new wave of university building. Many of the buildings put up in the 1960s are reaching the end of their economic life. The regeneration, expansion and amalgamation of existing institutions and the creation of some new ones is gathering pace. The planning system is changing too, as the 2004 Planning Act is implemented. New types of regional and local spatial planning are replacing the old structure and local plans. What better time to pull together some pithy advice that will promote better engagement between universities and the local planning authorities they relate to? There are real opportunities to ensure that our universities connect fully with the positive planning of the places they are a part of. At the same time, they must raise their game in terms of the quality and efficient use of their buildings and surroundings. There are real benefits for all parties in finding better ways of working together to deliver positive change, based on mutual understandings. Professor Rick Trainor President, Universities UK


Section Section Introduction AAhead head

This report has been prepared by AIMS (Asset and Infrastructure Management Solutions) for Universities UK (UUK) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). It has been guided by representatives of the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) and individuals from outside the sector responsible for creating and administering planning policy in England. Their details are contained in Appendix 1. The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Pat Thomas OBE, on legal aspects, and of Derek Stroud, whose preparation of the previous Committee of ViceChancellors and Principals (CVCP) planning guidelines documents in the 1990s has provided a firm foundation for this update. In preparing this guidance, our focus has been to achieve a strategic document that can assist universities to engage with local planning authorities and vice versa. The higher education (HE) sector has an unusual relationship with the planning system. While there are similarities with the health sector in terms of public betterment principles, there are also marked differences. Many universities engage in commercial activity while also being underpinned by a charitable educational ethos. On the one hand, it could be argued that the system has not really acknowledged or dealt with the many facets of the sector and on the other, it is possible to acknowledge that the sector has not successfully engaged nationally or regionally in coherent manner with policymakers at all levels. This document was commissioned to achieve the following: 1. Revise and update the earlier CVCP guidance in the context of the 2004 Planning Act and drawing together the most common planning issues faced by institutions 2. Provide an opportunity for the sector to examine different ways of engaging with the influencing key policymakers 3. Provide an insight into the sector for policymakers and administrators especially those within local authority and statutory consultees. The guidelines are the result of 18 months of research and consultation with the sector, and have been overseen by a client steering group made up of representatives from the sector and a consultative group. That second group proved extremely useful as it was made up of senior representatives from the Department for the Community and Local Government (DCLG) , the Planning Inspectorate (PI), the Local Government Planning Officers’ Association (LGPOA), the GLA (Greater London Authority), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), and several of the sector’s senior policy specialists. This is the first time that the sector has had the attention of so many influential organisations and as such, represents a golden opportunity. As a broad brush overview, the document does not attempt to deal in detail with particular topics, or repeat detailed guidance on the planning system, which can be obtained from other sources. It does, however, act as a frame of reference. The document is written in the context of the planning legislation for England and Wales. Although much of the general advice will also be of relevance in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it does not specifically address the differences in planning legislation and processes. These could be the subject of supplemental guidance supported by the relevant funding councils later. A central issue that the report highlights is that (with a few notable exceptions), National Planning Policy Statements and local authority forward planning systems provide little by way of formal policy guidance, or site allocations, to anticipate university development. This report can start to plug this significant gap and act as a tool for universities and planning authorities. It needs to be followed up by increased and more coordinated dialogue between the HE sector and planning agencies. This could lead to new policy guidance at national, regional and local level. Universities UK

Universities planning guidance


Section Section The key issues AAhead head

The relationship between individual universities and the planning system varies considerably. Some occupy historic buildings or operate within a context of significant conservation policy constraints. Some are in greenbelt or urban fringe localities. Most are located within urban areas. They may be a significant component of a town or city centre or a suburban campus embedded in a surrounding neighbourhood. Not all of the advice in this guide will apply to every university. The key issues that emerged from the consultative work are addressed by specific chapters in this guidance. In summary these are as follows: Regional planning and major HE change strategies New processes of regional planning, involving the preparation of regional spatial strategies overseen by regional planning boards, are having an increasing influence on decisions about growth and restraint within the English regions. In Scotland and Wales powers have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and to the Welsh Assembly; in London, the Lord Mayor’s Office has significant powers. Universities, acting individually or collectively, have new opportunities to contribute to planning policies at the regional level. There is some experience of this within the HE sector. General guidance and some good practice examples are included. Some parts of the HE sector are going through significant organisational change, including moves to achieve larger/more sustainable operational sites and thinking about moving the whole or significant parts of a university. Such changes are rarely provided for by the planning system. This guide provides some advice on how best to engage with the planning system in these circumstances. The new local planning system In England and Wales, the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act has replaced the old system of county structure plans and district wide local plans or unitary plans with a new ‘portfolio’ approach. Local authorities now produce and update a framework of local development documents and supplementary planning documents. Planning authorities are also setting out new policies for community engagement on planning matters. Similar changes with some differences apply in Scotland. The new processes are inherently more complex than past practice, and not yet well understood by universities or many other users of the planning system. Many planning authorities are still learning the ropes and adjusting to the new system. As well as explaining the new system, the guidance suggests potential relationships between the new plans and estate strategies/master plans for university estates. Sustainability and green travel An increasing emphasis on sustainable development is now permeating the town planning system. Many universities are eager to have more guidance on sustainability issues in general, and on green travel planning in particular. The guide gives a general overview of how sustainability issues are becoming an essential part of town planning in England and Wales, and how universities should respond. Urban regeneration Universities within town and city localities are increasingly seen as having a significant role to play as part of ‘joined up’ urban regeneration. The guide provides an overview of regeneration processes and of their relationships or otherwise with higher education. It addresses some key issues for the processes of engagement, for funding and for partnership arrangements.


Green belts On the flip side of the ever-increasing attention to urban regeneration, increasing constraints on out-of-centre sites are generating particular difficulties for universities already established within green belts and similar locations as planning policies are reviewed. These issues and some examples of appropriate action are covered. Planning contributions and value capture In recent years, local planning authorities have been raising their expectations in terms of securing infrastructure and community benefits associated with the grant of planning consent. Recent government guidance has helped clarify the limits of appropriate practice, but there is a wide range of current experience of requirements imposed on the higher education sector, as distinct from commercial development. These issues are entwined with new government plans to introduce the Planning Gain Supplement (PGS), a tax on the increase in land value associated with the grant of planning consent. These issues, together with appropriate negotiation strategies, are explored in detail. Student housing There can be a wide variation in the attitudes of planning authorities to student housing, particularly where this is provided by the private sector. Local housing policies often fail to plan specifically for student housing. There can be confusion as to the relationship of student housing schemes to local policies for new housing and for the provision of affordable housing. The guidance gives relevant advice to universities and to planning authorities, and offers wider comment on the relationship between student housing and local housing strategies. Conservation and heritage With more Victorian and 20th century buildings being listed as of architectural or historic interest, and more conservation areas being declared, more universities now have to deal with the associated constraints, responsibilities and procedures. Universities take their heritage responsibilities seriously, but can sometimes fail to appreciate the principles involved. Some universities with extensive heritage assets are at the forefront of new Heritage Management Planning (HMP). The guidance gives general advice on the implications for the HE sector and summarises the principles and processes involved, together with changes in the pipeline. Design and quality The issues of achieving high standards of design with new buildings and in the public realm to achieve local identity and an improved environment are increasingly emphasised by the planning system. The HE sector is also keen to raise its game in terms of the quality of the physical environment being promoted in an increasingly competitive HE market place. This guidance pulls together some key reference points for considering these issues and highlights good practice. Each of the key issues is the subject of a chapter.

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Universities planning guidance


Relationships with planners Where difficulties have arisen between universities and planning authorities, the root cause is often either a failure by the planning authority to appreciate or respond to the needs of an HE institution, or a lack of understanding by an HE institution of the need for a robust planning case relating to current planning policies. Sometimes, there is not enough engagement of the planning authority by the HE institution and vice versa. Sometimes, there is a combination of these factors. Universities are not footloose developers – they are rooted as institutions, often with long standing physical, social and economic relationships with their surrounding area. A positive working relationship, maintained over time, between any university and its local planning authorities, is a key to good planning for the place and to successful estates planning for the HE institution. The first two chapters of this guidance provide a backdrop for greater understanding between the parties, by providing an overview of the HE sector and its development implications, and an overview of the planning system, including recent changes and specific references made to higher education. The remaining chapters are specific and can be referred to discretely.


Section Section 1 AThe Ahead head higher education sector

This chapter: c Comments on some of the most important underlying pressures for change affecting

universities, and explores their implications c Explains the processes of producing estates strategies and funding projects c Considers the relationships between universities and other agencies, notably through

partnerships and flexibilities in the use of land and buildings c Provides some key data on the economic role of the HE sector, including values of

capital works, direct and indirect expenditure by the university sector and the role of students with local economies Key trends In the last 50 years, both the number of universities and the number of students has increased dramatically. There are now almost 2.5m students in the UK. The UK sector comprises 106 universities amongst 168 higher education institutions (HEIs), which are seeking to recruit students against a government target to achieve a 50 per cent participation rate in HE among 18–30 year-old UK students by 2010. As demographic patterns change, the sector faces continuing pressures to widen participation, to transfer knowledge and enhance its economic impact, and to play a part in the communities of which each institution is a part. The sector is significant in its economic impact as a direct employer and as a catalyst for wider economic growth and regeneration. HEIs directly employ more than 330,000 people, equating to approx 280,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs and around 1.2 per cent of total UK employment. Research conducted for Universities UK 1 suggests that for every 100 university jobs a further 99 are created in the wider economy. The value of this, including high-level knowledge transfer and spin-out companies, is such that for every £1 billion of HE output, there is over £1.5 billion of related additional output, combining to provide an economic output from the sector of more than £45 billion per annum. This total output has increased by more than 25 per cent over the past 5 years. Planners need to appreciate that higher education and related activity is a significant growth industry and a fundamental part of any local economy. Many universities have moved from a public sector ethos based on government grants, towards a ‘mixed economy’ of increasing economic independence. During the second half of the 1990s, UK higher education experienced a significant shift in its income profile. In 1995/96 73 per cent of annual HE income came from the public sector but by 2000 diversification of income streams had reduced this to 63 per cent. Private sector income increased by 8 per cent to 27 per cent in the same period. By 2003/04 this trend had further reduced public sector income to 61 per cent, with private and international sources contributing 39 per cent. This diversification encourages the view that HE should now be regarded as a significant part of the UK economy in its own right. Overseas students spent £1.3 billion in 2000 (9.5 per cent of the total UK income from overseas visitors in that year). With direct HE revenues reaching £16.9 billion in 2003/04, and export earnings of £3.6 billion, the sector has become a significant UK contributor to the UK economy, larger than the aircraft and aerospace or pharmaceutical industries and only slightly smaller than UK legal and auxiliary financial services. The sector faces competitive pressures from the increasing globalisation of education. Changes in business organisation and developments in technology are influencing the future shape of education. The increased temporal and spatial flexibility that information and communication technologies bring to training and education is enabling further advances in open and distance learning. Although significant barriers to entry to the UK HE market exist, the prospect of competition from new sources, including overseas providers, is growing. Universities UK

Universities planning guidance


In short, higher education is a growth area in both the UK and global economy. The university estate As at 2003/04, the UK higher education estate comprised 24.9 million m 2 of gross space, cost ÂŁ1,552 million a year in revenue terms and had an insurance replacement value of ÂŁ38.9 billion. Student numbers have increased rapidly over the last five years, but University Estate Management Statistics (EMS) data shows that the UK HE estate floor-space has grown more slowly to a net internal area of 18.4 million m2. The graph below reproduced from the 2005 EMS Annual Report 2 clearly illustrates this combination of growth with more efficient use of space over the last five years; the rate of growth in UK student numbers has been higher than the rate of increase in space provided, indicating space efficiency improvements. The increase in HE estate floor space compared with HE student numbers, 1999/2000

Index values (1999/2000)






90 FTE student numbers

UK net internal space

The EMS report showed almost an 8 per cent increase in the FTE student population since 2000. Since 2000/01, the median space per student FTE has fallen from 9.0 m2 to 8.1 m2. These two trends of increasing participation in HE and an increasing drive to more efficient use of space will continue to impact upon university estates over the next five years or more. Condition of the HE building stock The HE sector is facing up to the major problems of ageing properties. The overall condition of the estate is now improving, but the concentrated problems being identified in particular types of buildings are such that the overall cost estimate of backlog maintenance has risen by 41 per cent since 2000. Backlog maintenance costs are estimated to be around ÂŁ3.87 billion. Space requiring backlog maintenance currently stands at 8.4 million m2, around one-third of the total space, and a significant proportion of this will be uneconomic to repair. The funding council has commissioned several reports, which illustrate that although progress is being made there is still a long way to go.3 Universities have some hard decisions to take, including replacing poor buildings with more sustainable ones, and raising the finance to invest in the future.


Strategic management In this context, HEFCE has been quick to recognise the importance of strategic management as ‘one of [an institution’s] most valuable assets’. HEFCE good practice guidance encourages HEIs to develop their estates strategies as part of the institution’s corporate strategy, to support the achievement of its aims and objectives. Identifiable links with the institutional mission and academic plans are at the heart of an effective estates strategy. Such strategies are increasingly recognised as necessary instruments for the delivery of improvements in an institution’s estate, and can be highly effective levers for change; institutions’ strategies should feed directly into its statutory planning submissions. Against a background of backlog maintenance issues and challenges in complying with new legislation, institutions can find budgets swallowed up in keeping old and inappropriate buildings open. However, as a core part of strategic management, the development of an estates strategy can be a catalyst for creating synergy between academic strategy, financial management and resource allocation advantage. A welldrafted estates strategy should contain sections that can be used to support formal planning representation and planning applications. Quality Universities are increasingly conscious of the benefits of high-quality facilities and environments in recruiting and retaining students and staff. Supported by the work of the Space Management Group (SMG) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), HEIs are being encouraged to examine the efficiency and fitness for purpose of their estates and to be innovative in the design of new facilities. Current thinking reflects the increasing accessibility of mobile technologies and a blurring of the boundaries between formal and informal teaching and learning, which affect the characteristics of the buildings and related spaces in which learning takes place. Joint ventures The sector is increasingly working with specialist companies, which are able to offer branded services and goods to students from locations on, or close to campuses. Joint venture partnerships are also bringing high street catering brands, retailing, and additional student housing onto campuses and further stimulating an emerging and potentially powerful role for universities to pump prime regeneration and positive redevelopment. Economic and social significance Universities, as well as being some of the largest employers in their locality (often only eclipsed by local councils or NHS organisations), make a significant economic contribution. For example, 62 per cent of graduates in the north-west of England have stayed on to work in the region and this pattern is repeated elsewhere as students are becoming more likely to stay and work in the region of their university. This creates a virtuous circle between employment and the graduate workforce, which also benefits universities through the opening up of opportunities for sandwich courses and foundation degrees. A strong local economy also helps a university, as the prospect of employment both during and after study can be a powerful influence on student recruitment. In turn, the spending power of students can do much to sustain and enhance the local economy. Approximately 100 science parks, business clusters and innovation centres with university involvement create a nexus for knowledge transfer. Research generates opportunities for businesses to exploit, and in turn attracts more businesses. Universities also spin-out their own companies on the back of research and Universities UK

Universities planning guidance


innovations; in 2003 some 151 such companies alone were responsible for 2,157 inventions and 826 patents. On average institutions earn ÂŁ403,000 a year from the licensing of their intellectual property. Planners may tend to think mostly in terms of science parks and technology transfer, but in practice universities are involved in an increasingly wide range of innovative developments including the arts and cultural industries, the professions and a wide range of business and other services. Among the most extensive areas of interaction between universities and their communities is in the use of sporting and cultural facilities. Pay-to-use access is available to the public for anything between 70 per cent and 90 per cent of HE sporting facilities. As part of initiatives to promote social inclusion and health and to reduce crime, sporting facilities at universities play a valuable role for the whole community. Combined with art galleries, theatres and concert halls a colourful, lively environment is provided for local residents. In short, universities deliver a huge cultural and sporting contribution to the community.


Section Section 2 APlanning Ahead head and the higher education sector

This chapter: c Summarises recent trends in planning law and practice as a briefing for those involved

in the HE sector c Highlights the low levels of specific guidance for HE development in national planning

guidance, in regional spatial strategies and in local plans and development documents c Suggests aspects of the new planning system that offer opportunities for better

working arrangements between universities and planning authorities c Explores some of the practical and cultural realities of engagement with planning

authorities Basic principles The town planning system has evolved significantly over some 60 years, but, in essence, it still follows the basic principles established by the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act. This rationalised the process of taking decisions about the use of land and development, using two related powers – that of forward planning and that of planning control. These powers rest ultimately with the Secretary of State (at present this means the Minister for Communities and Local Government), but most decision-taking is normally delegated to local planning authorities. There is scope for appeals to the Minister when planning permission is refused and for the Minister to intervene in a range of circumstances including validating new plans. The Planning Inspectorate (PI) provides advice to the Minister in many of these cases. The separation of plan and control, and the degree of discretion available to planners at the control stage, are among the reasons why the UK system is especially flexible, discretionary, and often less predictable for users than most other planning systems in Europe. These characteristics have positive and negative aspects, as is highlighted by recent comparisons being made in relation to the possible future, and further, review of the UK planning system.4 The planning system The planning system involves the whole process of preparing and approving plans, planning applications, appeals, enforcement and related regulations. This system has evolved considerably in recent years. A review of many aspects of the system has been undertaken within or as a result of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. The system has become complex, in terms of the range and depth of issues being assessed, and in terms of the amount of regulation and guidance documentation. Planning policies Central government sets out what it expects the planning system in England and Wales to achieve in a series of Planning Policy Statements (PPS). These are replacing olderstyle Planning Policy Guidance (PPG). Each PPS has supplemental advisory notes on how PPS policies can be implemented. Similarly planning policies in Scotland are set out by Scottish Planning Policies (SPP). Each Planning Policy Statement deals with particular aspects of planning such as housing, retailing or transport. Further policies are established at a regional level in the regional spatial strategy and, at local level, by local planning authorities in their ‘development plan documents’. Local planning authorities, particularly district councils, are responsible for preparing plans and determining planning applications. It is a distinctive feature of the UK planning system that a considerable degree of discretion is exercised by local planning authorities, particularly as to the appropriate weight to be given to the range of policies applicable to any particular decision. Universities UK

Universities planning guidance


The plan-led system and other material planning considerations The UK planning system is ‘plan-led’; this means that the primary touchstone is a formal development plan but (unlike many European systems) it is not limited to merely considering whether proposals comply with published plans and policies. Planning authorities have scope to take into account a wide range of other ‘material planning considerations’. These can include for example considerations of safety, impact on ‘amenity’ for neighbours, economic viability, social considerations and other matters of public concern. The general principle is that planning decisions should be taken in ‘the public interest’ and ‘on planning merit’, not to protect individuals’ or property interests. The planning system today Until recently there was no clear mission statement concerning the purpose of the planning system, and what it is supposed to achieve. A widely accepted working description of planning control was ‘the regulation of the use of land in the public interest’, while local plans were to ensure that ‘the right development takes place in the right location at the right time’. The Government’s Planning Policy Statement 1 (April 2005)5 now attempts a fuller explanation, centred on the ‘core principle’ of planning for ‘sustainable development’: ‘Planning should facilitate and promote sustainable and inclusive patterns of urban and rural development by c making suitable land available for development in line with economic, social and

environmental objectives to improve people’s quality of life; c contributing to sustainable economic development; c protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment, the quality and

character of the countryside, and existing communities; c ensuring high quality development through good and inclusive design, and the efficient

use of resources c ensuring that development supports existing communities and contributes to the

creation of safe, sustainable, liveable and mixed communities with good access to jobs and key services for all members of the community.’ (Department for Communities and Local Government, Planning Policy Statement 1, p.2].

It may appear that changes in the planning system over recent years have come at random and from many directions, but there has been a consistency in the message from Government since the planning Green Paper of 2001. The language of ‘sustainable development’ was at its heart, and as was made clear at the Sustainable Communities Summit in 2005. This agenda includes economic and social, not just environmental issues. For most towns and cities, the Government’s planning perspective is essentially based on the premise that what towns and cities need is not government cash but cultural change – a combination of quicker, more responsive planning, stronger local government leadership with better governance, and greater public involvement as well as the application of new urban planning thinking inspired by Lord Rogers’ Urban Task Force. With this goes further emphasis on high-quality urban design for towns and cities coupled with continued constraints on major ‘out of town’ development. The new plans system The 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act brought a long list of amendments to what is essentially the same planning system. It has been followed by a deluge of revisions to regulations and guidance. 12

The biggest changes are to plans themselves. We still have an emphasis on a ‘plan led’ system, but with new types of plan. At the regional level we have new Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) together with sub-regional strategies. The old county structure plans are going to be replaced. For district councils, instead of a district-wide 10-year local plan, every local authority now has to produce a regularly reviewed and potentially complex ‘portfolio’ of plans, some of which have the status of ‘development plan documents’ and others of which have supplementary status. Each district has to have a core strategy (setting out key planning policies and proposals) and some site-specific allocations. There is encouragement for new action area plans for places where significant change is envisaged. One of the most important gaps from a practical perspective is that there is as yet limited guidance for and experience of the ground rules for action plans and site briefing. This is especially relevant when there is a need to rely on them for compulsory purchase. There will be a complex web of new plans, but each planning authority has to produce what can be thought of as a ‘plan for plans’. The local development scheme that each planning authority has to produce and review annually, sets out the plans it is producing and the role each one is intended to fill. Progress is also reviewed formally in an annual monitoring report. All of this is happening within an increased level of community involvement, structured by and set out in a ‘statement of community involvement’ (SCI), which, in turn, has to be approved by the Secretary of State. The new system is designed to encourage new and innovative plans, emphasising spatial, three-dimensional visions for change and working in new ways, involving development partners and local communities in their preparation. Some authorities are already working with others to formalise regeneration master plans. Others are more cautious in moving away from plans that emphasise council policy criteria. There are new opportunities for engagement with plan preparation, but also significant scope for confusion and potential legal challenges. Planning control In contrast, planning control has largely remained the same, albeit with many detailed adjustments to regulations and to guidance. Perhaps the most obvious change is that most planning permissions now have a life of three years not five. The changes that have been made relate to two underlying themes. The first is the recent emphasis on performance targets for local authority and related government planning actions. Additional funding (the planning delivery grant) for planning, as a service, is partly dependent on achieving targets. The second change puts an increasing onus on applicants to spend more front-end time providing fuller information and explanation of proposals. This includes submitting full supporting statements explaining how the application relates to the development plan, how design and access have been considered and what consultations have already taken place. In many ways this is good news for those taking the process of planning seriously and professionally, as most universities do. The requirements should help ‘weed out’ applicants who propose a first thought and hope the planners will work out the rest for them. The downside for applicants is substantial extra pre-application preparatory work, with associated costs, often done at risk, well ahead of any formal engagement with the planning authority.

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National planning guidance PPS1: Delivering sustainable development The picture of a more complex, wider-ranging process is confirmed by Planning Policy Statement 1 (PPS1), which explains how planning is intended to work. As well as its underlying emphasis on sustainable development, PPS1 now requires everyone to consider social and economic aspects. It considers issues such as social inclusion, which had not been explicit before. While broadening the scope of planning, PPS1 also asserts the need for a fast, fair, open, transparent and consistent planning service. Any one of these is, in practice, hard to achieve, and there are inherent conflicts between these objectives, which may show up sharply with increasing levels of community engagement. One specific change to note is that PPS1 has elevated the importance of urban design issues in planning. It has effectively shifted the onus of proof from the planner having to prove that a design was so bad it should be refused, to the applicant now having to show it is good enough to be approved. PPG2: Green belts This guidance, dating from 1995, outlines the history and extent of green belts and explains their purposes, how green belts should be designated in plans, and their land safeguarded. A presumption against ‘inappropriate development’ is set out. Green belts are essentially intended to separate built areas from merging, and to act as a recreational lung for towns and cities. The key issue is maintaining ‘openness’, and only very limited new building and re-use of old buildings is accepted. A limited list of new uses considered appropriate for green belts is given – this includes outdoor open space provision. There is no national dispensation in the current PPG for new or existing HE establishments. Before 1995 there was specific allowance to allow increasing usage of ‘institutions in large grounds’ which was of benefit to some HE institutions but this has not been the case for some time. PPS3: Housing Housing is an aspect of planning been recently reviewed, with a new PPS which has been prepared at a time of close external scrutiny of the system by Kate Barker on behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The two Barker Reviews (2004, 2006) 6, looked at the functioning of the housing market and of the planning system respectively. Previous guidance in 2000 (PPG3) sent shockwaves around the housing industry, which is still responding to its new restrictions on green field sprawl and requirements for more brown field, higher density housing. PPG3 also made it clear that the private sector should play a much more significant role in providing and paying for social housing through Section 106 (of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act) planning agreements. The new PPS3 does not dilute these basic themes but repeats its emphasis on the urgent need for more new housing, reflecting some of the concerns of the Treasury’s Barker Reviews. PPS3, (in common with its predecessors), fails to make any specific reference to student housing. PPS6 and the sequential test Among the flood of updated guidance, Planning Policy Statement 6 for town and city centres has reinforced the messages of ‘town centres first’ from the old PPG6, which served for a decade and was the first of an increasing number of planning guidance documents to establish the ‘sequential test’.


The sequential test required town and city centre sites to be given priority for major retail development and developed first, so that ‘edge of centre’, and ‘out of centre’ development would only be allowed where more central sites are unavailable. The door is firmly shut on out of town retailing and local authorities are being urged even more strongly than before to plan positively for their town centres. PPS6 keeps the ‘sequential test’ on the location of retail development, and extends it to include major leisure and office uses. It does not explicitly steer HE development to town and city centres. There are many aspects of PPS6 that urge local authorities towards more intervention in order to drive town and city centre change. The approach is aiming at a much clearer planned hierarchy of retail centres and towards retail floor-space targets. This has some merit, but brings the risk of the dead hand of ‘trend planning’ to be applied inappropriately. In practice, town centre regeneration often requires step-change projects sufficient in scale, quality and ambition to change perceptions and reverse the decline of tired town and city centres. PPS6, interestingly, includes the message that it may be better to accept and plan for retail decline, in some cases, in order to promote a different balance of uses. This reflects a reality throughout the UK; that small to mid-sized high streets are losing out to successful destination retailing in and out of town, as well as losing trade to supermarkets and convenience stores in petrol stations. Local centres are expected to act as a focal point for the regeneration of flourishing urban neighbourhoods. The issue of finding viable future options will be a critical one for the new plans system in many urban areas, and many local authorities will be looking for new uses, including education, to contribute to positive town centre changes. PPG13: Transport PPG13 deals with transport in relation to land use planning. Last updated in 2001, this guidance has at its core the objective of reversing several decades of increasing cardependency. It encourages planning for more use of sustainable travel modes, (public transport, walking and cycling) by planning the relative location of new activities so as to reduce the need to travel. PPG13 seeks to discourage car use, notably by limiting the provision of car parking (maximum limits are suggested whereas past planning practice had been to require minimum standards) and encourage off-street parking sufficient to meet maximum potential demands. In practice the restrictions on car parking provision arising from PPG13 often displace demands for parking to streets near new developments. PPG13 includes one of very few specific national guidance references to HE institutions. These are referred to as being within a group of activities that are ‘major generators of travel and should be located so as to maximize their accessibility by public transport, walking and cycling’ [PPG13, 2001, para.38]. PPG13 also encourages planning authorities to seek improvements in terms of sustainable travel when dealing with changes to existing ‘major travel generator’ sites, and sets out processes for planning authorities to request green travel plans. PPG15: Planning and the historic environment The current guidance for listed buildings, conservation areas and other heritage matters is one of the largest and most detailed in the national planning guidance library. The guidance is due for replacement soon, associated with moves to simplify the planning system in this area. These issues are considered in more detail in the separate chapter of this guidance. Overview Taken as a whole, National Planning Policy Statements (and as a consequence much local authority forward planning) provide little formal policy to guide planners in Universities UK

Universities planning guidance


considering university developments. It can be an advantage not to have a planning straitjacket, but it can also be the case that planning tools such as sequential tests, designed specifically for retail or for housing uses may be applied inappropriately to education developments where, of necessity, different dynamics apply. This lack of guidance means that most HE development proposals are left to a more open consideration based on their planning merits. There is still no PPS for education developments, and a key message for Government is that this is long overdue. Without specific guidance, planning authorities may need reminding that a fundamental principle of the planning system is that it should plan positively to meet needs for development. This principle underpins all the policies for housing, retail and other kinds of development. The absence of specific policy guidance for university development does not negate the basic principle that the planning system should be providing for its development needs. In explaining the need for their developments in planning terms, universities can draw to some extent on PPS1, where economic and social progress are explicitly encouraged. Changing the culture A plethora of Planning Policy Statements, regulations and other guidance have left many users of the planning system buried in the detail of legislative and guidance changes. However, the Government has also been saying that there must be a radical change in the culture of planning. This message is closely related to the broader ‘better governance’ agenda that is shaking local authorities across the country. The message about cultural change in planning and the importance of better planning have started to spread widely around the planning profession. Planners are being asked to act boldly. It can be difficult for local authority planners to think outside the box of past practice and in many cases, budgetary constraints have limited the capacity to embrace a new agenda. Many planners need new skills or experience to assume this new proactive role. Few have design training or commercial awareness, far less both together. Local plans practice has been focusing for a generation on narrow policymaking for regulation, rather than on expressing urban visions. Through the 1980s and 1990s planning as a profession slipped down the league table of careers that people aspire to. Within local government it has often retreated into a bureaucratic box. Recent changes in local government have emphasised a separation between executive policy decisions and quasi-judicial regulation. This tends to put forward planning to the executive and planning control to separate regulatory committees, increasing the separation between these two key related elements of the planning system. Planning has become full of specialist inputs and new assessment processes, many as a result of previous government guidance. Together these have developed cultures of asking for ever more detailed information and of taking advice from a wide range of single-issue specialists. The result has been that it can be hard for planners or their political masters to see the wood for the trees. Planning control case officers can be disempowered to the point of becoming coordinators stapling together disconnected specialist advice. Local plans officers can become ‘backward planners’, formalising positive ideas developed by others, rather than ‘forward planners’ leading and coordinating planned change. Planners now compete for additional government funding through the Planning Delivery Grant. This is based on a number of factors; principally on their performance against targets that measure the time between submission and decision of formal applications, and on the number of plans produced, but, importantly, not on the quality of their advice nor the added value that should come out of the planning process. On the positive side, however, many planners and planning authorities are changing. There is a real and increasing awareness that the planning service must improve and an 16

appetite within the planning profession to gain new skills in order to do the job better. This is especially true of some urban areas where good planning and urban design are increasingly seen as essential regeneration tools. In many authorities, positive planning is increasingly supported by political commitment and, in some cases, with increased resourcing. However, there is a current shortage of town planners nationally and, as such, recruitment can be difficult. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), formed in 1999 following Lord Rogers’ Urban Task Force, provides advice and facilitates urban design training for planners. Alongside initiatives by the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Planning Officer’s Society, there are now many opportunities for planners to become better equipped to handle ‘spatial’ issues and to recognise and achieve urban design and architectural quality. Many local authorities are introducing new, more professional and more businesslike ways of working. There are new mechanisms in place to enable planners to network at a regional and national level and to access peer group experience. Planning authorities are catching up with IT and connecting to shared systems, notably the Planning Portal7 which is related to the Planning Inspectorate and provides a network giving access to on line planning documentation. The Planning Advisory Service 8 provides a supportive network and practical advice for elected members and officers involved in planning. Related to this, English Partnerships funds the Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS). This team provides best practice guidance to speed up the process of considering larger planning applications in growth zones. The rapid growth of specialist planning consultancy practice in recent years, now gives universities (and local planning authorities) ready access to professional planning advice. The planning profession as a whole has, as a consequence, been changing. Now less embedded in the public sector it has moved toward greater degrees of engagement with, and understanding of, commercial considerations. Given time it is reasonable to expect a more skilled and better organised planning service in the future. Given these changes, the time is now ripe for HE institutions to position themselves to work closely with local planning authorities.

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3Section Section AAhead Regional head planning and major HE change

This chapter: c Outlines the principles of the new regional spatial strategies and their relationship to

economic and higher education regional strategies c Outlines some of the processes of major change underway in the HE sector c Considers the relationship of major HE changes to planning c Refers to current practice examples

Regional spatial strategies The new Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) have directly replaced the former regional planning guidance and structure plans. They are issued by the Government’s English regional offices, following a process of preparation and endorsement that varies significantly, depending on the processes of government operating in different parts of the country, but typically involves a regional planning board. The National Planning Framework for Scotland and the Wales Spatial Plan are comparable in planning status, while for London the Mayor’s Spatial Strategy (London Plan) is a unique, but broadly equivalent, document. Some recent structure plans from the old system survive as transitional documents. These will be superseded within five years by regional and local policy so that the county level will no longer be part of the plans system. In a number of instances (specifically set out by a RSS), sub-regional strategies are being produced where the RSS decrees that a level of spatial planning is necessary between the regional and local spatial frameworks. There is considerable scope for variation as to whether sub-regional planning is considered necessary or not. With recent government acceptance and encouragement of the ‘city region’ concept, new planning documents that embrace a city region perspective (as a sub-regional or cross-regional supporting document below RSS), are now being considered. Although aspirations for joined-up government are far from being fully achieved, there is an increasing degree of dialogue and connection at the regional level. Recent government guidance encourages close relationships between the Regional Economic Strategy (RES), the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), the Regional Housing Strategy (RHS) and the Regional Transport Plan (RTP), so that the family of documents guiding economic development, land use and transportation can work together as a whole. The agenda for HE change The pace of change within the HE sector has accelerated in recent years. Pressure from Government to accommodate an increasing number of students, with the target that 50 per cent of 18–30 year olds should receive higher education by 2010, is a significant driver. The competitive pressures within higher education are encouraging close attention to issues of economy of scale and efficiency in the operation of HE institutions. Small universities are under particular pressure, especially where they aim to provide a broad spectrum of educational opportunities. These institutions will typically have a higher cost base per capita than larger institutions, where economies of scale can apply to various aspects of the university’s internal management and operations. In a world where there is increasing attention to business planning within universities, there are often pressures to build on existing success by expanding courses that are attractive to students and where higher numbers can be contemplated without loss of academic standards. Traditionally, most universities have provided a very wide range of courses. The trend now is toward increasing specialisation, with universities concentrating on those subject areas which they do best and for which they have the best reputation. Equally 18

there are pressures towards withdrawing from teaching subjects where factors such as the strength of the competition or the lack of demand are such as to question viability. The university sector presents a diverse range of university corporate strategies, which can be broadly compared to the diversity of company business plans. Some private companies concentrate on raising turnover as a primary business strategy, while others aim for ‘value added’, increasing profitability at a defined level of activity. Similarly, some universities are concentrating on rapid expansion to accommodate increasing numbers of students, especially where they perceive there to be the opportunity of doing so as a consequence of their physical location or academic strengths. Other universities take the view that growth is less critical than consolidating or growing a niche reputation for excellence in particular subject areas. Some are prepared to borrow heavily to invest in new facilities in anticipation of revenues being generated. Others adopt more risk-averse financial strategies. Some universities are welcoming partnerships and possible mergers with other educational institutions in the UK and abroad, while others place higher values on their independence and on their distinctive traditions. Some have considerable physical and financial assets and resources, while others do not. Location of HE institutions A significant proportion of universities operate on more than one site. The sustainability of such arrangements is always open to question, although there can be advantages, especially where there are strong links between an element of the university and local economic or cultural activities. As well as the processes of review and change that are evident within any individual higher education institution, the higher education funding councils will be taking a wider overview of the investment being made in universities at a regional and national level. With increasing engagement with regional economic planning in particular, funding council grants will encourage particular developments in places where strategic needs for enhanced education provision or where specific relationships between HE and economic developments have been identified. Another key aspect of change within the sector is the degree of overlap that exists between the further education and higher education sectors, particularly in the areas of vocational training where there is increasing opportunity for students to progress from FE to HE qualifications. This blurring of the boundaries can look like competition between the HE and FE sectors. It can, however, also express itself as a closer working partnership, including co-location, with HE and FE combining to provide a strong overall offer within a city or regional context. Another significant factor in the changing character of universities is the rapid increase in university involvement in the incubation of new businesses and in working closely with private sector companies to achieve innovation and entrepreneurial changes. In these areas, universities are often playing a significant role in economic development at a city or regional level. Such developments, which are university related but not in themselves purely education activities, will often have very strong locational relationships to a university and/or an existing cluster of other economic activity. Planning perceptions of change In contrast to this dynamic and fluid picture, the development plans process has in the past tended to see universities as broadly fixed in their location and scale. Existing plans will typically allow for consolidation and expansion on and around an existing site but are rarely appreciative of the possibilities of more radical change in the scale or character of university operations.

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Where plans have considered the needs for spin-off activities to locate close to a university, this has usually been by way of specific reference to high-technology business and technology transfer. It can be difficult for a planning authority to anticipate the pace of change in the HE sector. This is particularly so in the case of a number of radical moves, such as the amalgamation of smaller HE institutions or the relocation of an entire campus. It is important, therefore, that HE institutions have a regular and ongoing dialogue with the local authority to ensure that their changing needs and aspirations are understood and acted upon. The regional dimension It is at the regional planning level where there is currently the greatest awareness of the importance of HE institutions, particularly seen in the context of regional economic strategies. An increasing emphasis on the relationship of higher education to economic growth evident in regional economic strategies should, given time, result in more reference being made to the future needs of HE in regional spatial strategies. Major changes in the HE sector can result in local winners and losers between district planning authorities, but the broader interests of a vibrant and successful HE offer can be set out at the RSS level. Including major change strategies in local plans The new local development frameworks provide an opportunity for the implementation of major change strategies in parallel with the process of preparing local development documents. In some cases it may be that a specific plan document relating to a major HE change is appropriate to guide the implementation process. Where major changes are contemplated, the planning system also needs to take into account a number of other aspects, including the suitability of any land released for alternative uses, the desirability of linking other new developments to new university investment, and the impact of change on shared HE/community facilities, such as sports and cultural activities. Major change strategies typically incorporate a phased programme, involving the development of new facilities before the vacation of existing ones. Whether this takes place between a number of sites or within a specific university campus, how the implementation of change is phased can be as critical as the attention given to the planned outcome. Success for an HE institution will depend on maintaining the highest possible levels of HE activity throughout a major change programme. The costs of not planning ahead Major changes in HE provision are inherently risky decisions for the HE institution and for affected local authorities, but, in the HE sector, change is essential to ensure sustainable education facilities into the future. Where local authorities constrain HE institutions very tightly in their existing operations, they need to be aware that, in so doing, they run the risk of losing investment that the university might otherwise secure. Restrictive policies that fail to allow for the needs of a university may actually increase the likelihood of more radical changes becoming necessary in the future. On the other hand, universities that present a major change strategy to local authorities as a fait accompli run the risk that the necessary support of the planning system in plan making and granting planning consents may not be there, particularly if timescales are short. Synergy between new HE investment and other land uses is often best achieved within a framework of early and open dialogue between a university and local authority, 20

so that the drivers for change and opportunities for the future are fully understood and can be connected with other positive local planning initiatives. For any particular HE campus, major changes can be expressed in the form of a master plan, which should be updated as general principles of change are developed into more specific, tangible building projects. Positive practice – the new University of Cumbria In the North-West region (Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, and Cheshire), concerns regarding the under-performance of the Cumbria sub-region (where economic decline includes the leakage of talented young people who leave Cumbria for their higher education but do not return) were brought into focus at a ‘Cumbria Summit’ in 2004, at which some key action points, including the possibility of founding a new University of Cumbria, were identified. The Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE), the North West Regional Development Agency and the Government’s regional office endorsed this and a report was commissioned (from higher education expert Sir Martin Harris) to identify a way forward. The proposal for a new University of Cumbria was highlighted in the Regional Economic Strategy (2006)9 and a reference has been included in general terms in the updated Regional Spatial Strategy (2006). The new RSS has also now defined a new sub-region ‘Cumbria and North Lancashire’ reflecting the economic sub-region which is now the focus of strategic action. In parallel with this regional and sub-regional initiative, Carlisle City Council has promoted Carlisle as a ‘learning city’ in its local planning since 2001. This concept is one of two priority strands of the plans to develop Carlisle city centre as a principal focus of the sub region. The Carlisle floods of early 2005 drew attention to the issues of redevelopment in Carlisle city centre and spurred on the City Council to produce ‘Carlisle Renaissance’, a new regeneration plan for Carlisle. The city of Lancaster, to the south of the newly defined sub-region, is also placing increased emphasis on education as a positive driver, notably with reference, in the recent core strategy paper, to the new-style local development framework for the city. Two existing HE institutions, St Martin’s College and The Cumbria Institute for the Arts, have been identified for merger and expansion to form the new university, with its headquarters in Carlisle, and with a significant presence at the existing St Martin’s site in Lancaster. The new university will also absorb elements of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in Carlisle and Penrith. The emerging university is working closely with Carlisle Renaissance and Carlisle City Council to identify a headquarters site close to the existing St Martin’s College site in Carlisle city centre. The new university will have strong working relationships with a number of further education colleges across the sub-region, so as to provide a distributed network of access to HE for students across the Cumbria sub-region. At the time of writing, the new university is in the process of being formed as a legal entity, and there are active discussions with the planning authorities in Carlisle and Lancaster to plan new HE buildings so that they closely accord with new policies and site allocations for development in the emerging, new style, local development frameworks. This is a rare example of regional spatial strategy, local development plans and local regeneration activity in two cities working closely together and to a very tight timescale to help make positive HE change happen in a planned way.

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Universities planning guidance


Summary c Universities should be aware of new Regional Spatial Strategies, and related sub-

regional and city region spatial planning. c Planning authorities need to be aware of the pressures for change in the HE sector and

responsive to the needs of HE institutions. c HE institutions should have early and ongoing discussions with planning authorities

about their development plans. c Major HE changes should be incorporated into relevant plans at the regional and local

level as soon as the principles of an HE change strategy are resolved c Area master plans can be used to guide major changes within university estates and

wider area changes, associated with expanded or relocated HE activity, help to act as a catalyst for economic regeneration.


Section Section 4 AThe Ahead head new local planning system

This chapter: c Explains how the new local planning system operates and the opportunities for

universities to engage with it c Provides some examples of emerging practice in connecting university estate strategies

with local planning frameworks c Considers the processes of consultation and engagement that the new planning system

encourages The new local planning system The 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act introduced new arrangements for local planning. The previous arrangements had been that a limited number of unitary planning authorities (mostly within the major urban areas) were responsible for producing a unitary development plan for the whole of their area, looking up to 15 years ahead. Elsewhere, structure plans produced by the county councils, and local plans produced by district councils, had to be read in conjunction with each other as a two-tier statutory development plan. Both structure and local plans dealt with the whole of their authority’s area and both had a 10–15 year life. The practice of planning preparation in all of these instances had, over a 20-year period, moved toward lengthy, mostly text-based plans setting out major proposals and policy criteria against which any proposed development could be tested. Such plans set out a very considerable list of possible reasons why various forms of development might not be acceptable. They provided a wide-ranging set of control tools for planning officers dealing with individual planning applications, but often lacked a clear physical vision that encouraged positive change. The concept of the new ‘local development frameworks’ is that these should be more visionary, spatial plans, with clear diagrammatic expressions of physical vision. In the new system every local planning authority must have a portfolio of plans. There is considerable discretion available as to the type of plan and areas of coverage for many of the documents in any portfolio, although each local authority must have a local development scheme, a core strategy and a statement of community involvement. Other documents, including action area plans, policies for particular topics, and various supplementary guidance documents are options that they may also consider. The local development scheme The local development scheme (LDS) is the starting point for understanding any local authority’s plans. It is essentially a plan for plans. It sets out the plans that the local authority has in place, and those that it is in the process of preparing. It schedules plans so as to differentiate between local development documents (LDDs), which have a statutory status as part of the development plan, and other ‘supplementary planning documents’, which expand on the policies or principles of the statutory development plan. The local development scheme has to be updated annually and is essentially the work programme for the local planning authority’s plan preparation. Universities should maintain awareness of the local development scheme for their areas so as to flag up new plans or supplementary guidance that may affect them. Universities can seek to introduce specific new planning initiatives into the local development scheme, for example to seek formal endorsement of master plan or similar documents or to encourage a local planning authority to allocate resources to consider a new plan for a particular locality.

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The core strategy Every local authority has to produce a ‘core strategy’ setting out the general principles for change across the whole of its area. The core strategy has to be reviewed (but not necessarily altered) every year. It should provide a succinct and positive expression of what the planning authority is seeking to do. As such it is a particularly useful generic reference point, and provides the next part of the statutory development plan beneath the regional spatial strategy and any related sub-regional guidance. Land allocations plans In practice many local authorities, particular district councils, are following up their core strategy with land allocation plans and schedules, which define land uses for particular sites. These plans can, in some cases, appear quite similar to old style local plan land use proposals maps. Area action plans Under the new system, authorities are encouraged to produce action plans for areas of particular change. Often such plans will include or relate to master plan visions or regeneration strategies. These plans in particular are intended to be a focus for community engagement in providing a vision for achieving positive change. Area action plans will usually cover an area larger than that of a university campus, but can readily include a university master plan, where this provides an important element of an area strategy. Other local development documents As part of the statutory development plan, local planning authorities can produce policies dealing with particular issues (such as housing or retail development), or for generic types of place, for example, for river or canal corridors, conservation areas, and so on. Many existing policies for the control of development are being reviewed with most planning authorities likely to rework these into the new format. The challenge of producing more ‘spatial’ planning documents will be significant for many planning authorities, whose previous plan-making experience is primarily of writing development control criteria. Supplementary planning documents The basic concept of a supplementary planning document (SPD) is that it follows up a policy or proposal that forms part of the statutory plan (in other words, it is in the core strategy or a local development document) and provides further guidance as to the planning authority’s expectations or aspirations. Where such supplementary guidance has been the subject of public consultation it will be given more weight in planning terms. It will only be classed as SPD if it has been included in advance in the LDS (local development scheme), and has been subject to a sustainability appraisal and to public consultation. The statement of community involvement The emphasis on increased levels of public engagement in the new planning system finds its expression in the new requirements for local authorities to produce a statement of community involvement (SCI). While not legally speaking part of the plan, this statement is a requirement of local authorities as part of the delivering the planning system as a whole. Local authorities have to set out in the SCI how they will consult the local community on planning matters (both plans and planning applications), so that there is a clear statement of overall intent and of the procedures that they will adopt. 24

The statement of community involvement often brings together established practices of extensive consultation on plan preparation and in relation to planning applications. For specific plans, or for large planning applications, a more specific statement may also be made, adding detail to the overall consultation policy. This includes consultations that are now being encouraged before the formal submission of planning applications. Universities should be aware of the SCI and how it impinges on the need for them to carry out consultations about their own planning applications. They also need to ensure that they are on the list of bodies to be consulted by the local authority and others when plans and other guidance are being produced. In the past, some local authorities have been suspicious or discouraging of direct approaches by applicants to local communities. With a new system encouraging this practice, such inhibitions have begun to loosen up. In order to ensure that local planning officers are fully aware when consultation is taking place, it is always good practice for applicants to invite local planning officers to be present and observe at such meetings and to send them any minutes of the meetings, so that the council officers are kept fully aware and can make contributions should they wish. The new approaches to consultation place a degree of emphasis on trying to engage with a wider and more representative range of community interests rather than focus narrowly on the particular interests and objections of immediate neighbours, as was frequently the case in the past. A number of planning authorities, whether as part of their SCI or otherwise, now take regular and wider soundings on their planning activities. This can be through public stakeholder groups in their area and/or regular contact with user groups including developers, local professionals involved with the planning system, and, in some cases, through citizen’s panels. When a university has a significant programme of developments involving a need to engage with the planning system, it may well be appropriate to ask for a regular dialogue (for example on a annual or six-monthly basis) and this can be regarded as part of the regular liaison that takes place between a planning authority and groups that represent different sectors of the development community. While the increased attention paid to public engagement can help to shape and improve the planned proposals, universities should be aware that this can sometimes be a timeconsuming process. The community plan Universities should also be aware of the separate processes of producing a ‘community plan’ for local authorities as a whole. These plans usually set out protocols of joint working and organisational contact between a wide range of public and private agencies, with a mission statement for positive action that sets the scene for the more formal processes of preparing a physical/spatial plan. In urban areas particularly, community plans are becoming established as a primary discussion forum, where issues of health, education, social services, transportation, policing and other services are discussed in the round and in a more coordinated manner than sometimes used to be the case. In areas where a university is a significant contributor to the local economy, or where students are a significant proportion of the community, there is a case for university engagement directly with the process of producing the community plan so as to influence the delivery of a wide range of services. Local development orders The 1990 Town and Country Planning Act includes the provision for local development orders. This is an interesting, and, as yet, largely untried procedure, which enables local authorities to set a different planning control regime for a specified area. Examples of such arrangements in the past have included ‘simplified planning zones’ where permission is always given subject to compliance with planning principles established Universities UK

Universities planning guidance


for that zone. At the other end of the spectrum, and often applied in such circumstances as conservation areas, there have been ‘Article 4 directions’ (Article 4 of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act), which remove some of the ‘permitted development rights’ so as to provide extra control over specific issues for particular local reasons. The local development orders process allows for the possibility that for certain areas where there is a clear strategy and a set of criteria for development, the normal development control procedures could be relaxed. It is easy to envisage this applying to a university estate where the university’s own estate master plan and related development criteria could justify a simplified planning control regime. There is also the possibility that local development orders could be used as a partial alternative to outline planning permissions, for example by giving an advance commitment to give planning permission for developments that accord with a strategy (such as an estates master plan) to which the order relates. Universities should treat local development orders processes with some caution as they are as yet largely untried and many local authorities may be apprehensive about embracing such an approach. They do, however, appear to have significant relevance to university estates and could help reduce the detailed bureaucracy when the local planning authority and university have already agreed a clearly structured overall plan for a university estate and/or its surroundings. They could also have the benefit, for the local authority, of speeding up the handling of planning applications, thus improving their overall performance. The new requirements for public consultation (set out in the statement of community involvement), should always be kept in mind when major proposals are being developed. The new development plans system in practice A significant difference between the old and new plans system is how they are assessed by the Planning Inspectorate at the public inquiry stage. Under the old system, the focus was on inviting and assessing objections so that the public inquiry typically became an adversarial process of attack by objectors and defence by the local authority of specific aspects of a plan. In the new system, the planning inspector has a different brief, namely to assess the overall ‘soundness’ of a plan. The concept of assessing overall soundness includes looking at whether or not the underlying analysis and consultation that the plan is based on is sound, and whether or not the proposals are sound, in relation to higherlevel planning policy, accepted guidance on good practice and local practicalities. Coherence of the presentation of the documentation as a spatial vision, coverage of relevant issues and relationships to other plans (such as the community plan and plans for infrastructure provision) are also assessed. Several of the first new-style plans failed to achieve the standards that are now required. Those planning authorities who may, at first, have thought that old style plans could be recast easily into the new format now appreciate that more fundamental work is needed to achieve a sound new-style document. Essentially, it is no longer possible to wait for a plan to be produced and rely on rights to object later. Under the new system, the requirements of HE institutions need to be understood in the plan’s analysis and preparation stages, making use of the extensive opportunities for consultation that are integral to the new system.


Summary c Universities should consider proactive engagement with the new local plan-making

processes in order to influence plan-making and, if relevant, to include their own estates proposals as a formal part of wider planning strategies. c Universities should consider a degree of engagement with broadbased community

strategy processes, notably the community plan. c Universities and their local planning authorities should regularly review the match

between estates plans and local planning. The possibility of the use of innovative powers in the Planning Act, such as local development orders, may be considered by universities together with local authorities.

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5Section Section AAhead Sustainability head and green travel planning

This chapter: c Summarises the significant role of sustainability considerations in the new planning

system c Reviews a number of sustainability issues that arise in respect of university

developments c Considers relevant approaches to green travel planning for university estates and how

these relate to the planning system Sustainability and planning – overview The language of sustainability has been at the heart of planning reforms since 2001. This emerges especially strongly in Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering sustainable development (2005), which sets out the general principles of the planning system and relates these to the internationally accepted ‘Brundtland’ definition. ‘Sustainable development is the core principle underpinning planning. At the heart of sustainable development is the simple idea of ensuring a better quality of life for everyone; now and for future generations. A widely used definition was drawn up used by the World Commission of Environment and Development in 1987; ‘Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ The Government set out four aims for sustainable development in its 1999 strategy. These are: c Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone c Effective protection of the environment c The prudent use of natural resources c The maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment

These aims should be pursued in an integrated way through a sustainable, innovative and productive economy that delivers high levels of employment and a just society that promotes social inclusion sustainable communities and personal well being, in ways that protect and enhance the physical environment and optimise resource and use.’ (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, p.2)

Sustainable development, as set out in this way in the planning system, includes the importance of economic and social progress as well as issues of environmental protection and use of natural resources. The action list for the planning system to achieve this as developed by PPS1 is also worth reading in full to appreciate the breadth of this scope: ‘Planning should facilitate and promote sustainable and inclusive patterns of urban and rural development by c making suitable land available for development in line with economic, social and

environmental objectives to improve people’s quality of life; c contributing to sustainable economic development; c protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment, the quality and

character of the countryside, and existing communities; c ensuring high quality development through good and inclusive design, and the efficient

use of resources;


c ensuring that development supports existing communities and contributes to the

creation of safe, sustainable, liveable and mixed communities with good access to jobs and key services for all members of the community.’ (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, p.2)

The planning system has a long history of balancing and ‘mediating’ the oftencompeting considerations of development, environment and social/community concerns. The focus on achieving ‘sustainable development’ in a proactive manner has placed a new emphasis on achieving ‘win-win’ outcomes through positive planning. PPS1 explains several ways in which the planning system can promote sustainable development.In relation to social progress, and under the heading, Social cohesion and inclusion, it states: ‘Development plans should promote development that creates socially inclusive communities, including suitable mixes of housing. Plan policies should: c ensure that the impact of development on the social fabric of communities is

considered and taken into account; c seek to reduce social inequalities; c address accessibility (both in terms of location and physical access) for all members of

the community to jobs, health, housing, education, shops, leisure, community facilities; c take into account the needs of all the community, including particular requirements

relating to age, sex, ethnic background, religion, disability or income; c deliver safe, healthy and attractive places to live; c support the promotion of health and well being by making provision for physical

activity.’ (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, p.7)

In relation to the second principle and under the heading, Protection and enhancement of the environment it states: ‘Planning authorities should seek to enhance the environment as part of development proposals. Significant adverse impacts on the environment should be avoided and alternative options which might reduce or eliminate those impacts pursued. Where adverse impacts are unavoidable, planning authorities and developers should consider possible mitigation measures; where adequate mitigation measures are not possible, compensatory measures may be appropriate. Development plan policies should take account of environmental issues such as; c mitigation of the effects of, and adaptation to, climate change through the reduction of

green house gas emissions and the use of renewable energy; c air quality and pollution; c land contamination; c protection of ground water from contamination; c noise and light pollution; c the protection of the wider countryside and the impact of development on landscape

quality; the conservation and enhancement of wildlife species and habitats and the promotion of diversity; c the need to improve the built in natural environment in and around urban areas and

rural settlements, including the provision of good quality open space; the conservation of soil quality; and the preservation and enhancement of built and archaeological heritage;

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c the potential impact of the environment on proposed developments by avoiding new

development and areas at risk of flooding, and sea level rise, and as far as possible, by accommodating natural hazards and the impacts of climate change; c the management of waste in ways that protect the environment and human health,

including producing less waste and using it as a resource wherever possible’. (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, p.7)

In the third principle, Prudent use of natural resources in land use, it says: ‘The broad aim should be to ensure that outputs are maximised while resources used are minimised (for example by building housing at higher densities on previously developed land, rather than at lower density on green field sites).’ (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, p.7)

and: ‘Plan policies should seek to minimise the need to consume new resources over the lifetime of the development by making more efficient use or re-use of existing resources, rather than making new demands on the environment; and should seek to promote and encourage rather than restrict, the use of renewable resources (for example by the development of renewable energy). Regional planning authorities and local authorities should promote resource and energy efficient buildings; community heating schemes, the use of combined heat and power, small scale renewable and low carbon energy schemes and developments, the sustainable use of water resources, and the use of sustainable drainage systems in the management of run off.’ (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, p.7)

In PPS1’s fourth principle, Sustainable economic development, planning authorities are urged to: 1. ‘Recognise that economic development can deliver environmental and social benefits 2. Recognise the wider sub-regional, regional or national benefits of economic development and consider these alongside any adverse local impacts 3. Ensure that suitable locations are available for industrial, commercial, retail, public sector (eg health and education) tourism and leisure developments, so that the economy can prosper 4. Provide for improved productivity, choice and competition, particularly when technological and other requirements of modern businesses are changing rapidly 5. Recognise that all local economies are subject to change; planning authorities should be sensitive to these changes and the implications of development and growth 6. Actively promote and facilitate good quality development, which is sustainable and consistent with their plans 7. Ensure the provision of sufficient, good quality, new homes (including an appropriate mix of housing at adequate levels of affordable housing) in suitable locations whether through new development or the conversion of existing buildings. The aim should be to ensure that everyone has the opportunity of a decent home, in locations that reduce the need to travel 8. Ensure that infrastructure and services are provided to support new and existing economic development and housing 9. Ensure that development plans take account that the regional economic strategies of regional development agencies, regional housing strategies, local authority community strategies and local economic strategies


10. Identify opportunities for future investment to deliver economic objectives.’ (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, p.9)

These extensive expectations of the planning system are generating a widespread increase in the production of new policies and new assessment criteria relating to sustainable development principles. In this new world, not only plans but also the supporting statements submitted with planning applications are required to use the new language of sustainable development to explain and justify proposals. Sustainability appraisals/statements A number of planning authorities across the country are encouraging the submission of ‘sustainability appraisals’ or sustainable development profiles with applications. Some of these relate specifically to matters that fall within the remit of established planning practice, but others involve requesting additional information on a wide range of other matters, for example about the future use, management, pricing, or maintenance of facilities. Other local authorities are seeking additional information on specific sustainability issues. Rather than respond to specific questions piecemeal, universities should be putting sustainability at the heart of their future plans and considering the proactive and voluntary submission of a sustainability statement as an essential part of the explanatory material that accompanies a master plan or a planning application. Such a statement can also be useful to other agencies, such as HEFCE, for whom sustainability assessments are of increasing interest. Most planning authorities recognise that there are limits to the matters that can be the subject of formal and bureaucratic control through the planning systems. In many aspects of encouraging sustainable development their role is one of encouragement and guidance rather than of statutory requirement/control. In this context, it is important to note that planning authorities frequently ask for extensive background information about a wide range of issues linked to sustainability and may make suggestions (for example, during the consideration of planning applications), not all of which will be relevant to formalise in the terms of a planning permission. In some cases, local authorities make it very clear that their encouragement of broader sustainable development practices is distinct from the formal process of considering planning applications. Guidance on sustainability – Bristol City Council Bristol City Council has been at the forefront of promoting sustainability issues to the local development community. The Sustainable development guide for construction (Bristol City, 2002) sets out a wide range of actions that developers may wish to consider. This guide is used in parallel with the planning applications system as many of its suggestions go beyond the remit of the planning system. However, it provides a touchstone for planning applicants to produce sustainability statements, which can highlight those sustainability issues that have been specifically addressed by a planning proposal. In other instances there can be considerable confusion as to what it is reasonable for planning authorities to require. As a general principle, planning powers should not be used to deal with matters more specifically covered by other legislation. Building construction standards in particular are primarily the remit of the building regulations which include 2006 changes to the ‘Part L’ regulations on thermal performance and requirements in respect of fire access, access for disabled people and other matters of building specification and performance.

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In other instances, such as the of the Environment Agency’s concerns about flood protection and drainage, the planning system is the primary control mechanism and must take substantive decisions, albeit often after consultation with the relevant specialist agency. The broad basis of consideration of ‘sustainable development’ is such that there can be wide debate on what is and what is not ‘sustainable’. The balancing of social, economic and environmental considerations, coupled with the underlying thrust of the new planning system to encourage positive development, is such that many value-laden issues will be in play together. The general effect of all of this is that the scope of dialogue on planning matters, including planning applications, has widened beyond the traditional ‘land-use’ focus. Many universities are giving very serious consideration to assessing their activities in terms of sustainability and a number have corporate policies to guide their activities. Universities are more likely than many other types of organisation to have specific policies in place that can be shown to planners and that can give a positive degree of reassurance that sustainability issues are being taken seriously. In this context, the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC)10 can provide further guidance on sustainability matters. There are several points that universities may usefully make about the sustainability of proposed university developments: c Sustaining the university as an overall economic and social entity (in other words,

planning its future corporate development and change to react to future needs) is essentially sustainability-positive (economic and social) c The replacement of buildings that are inefficient in their use of energy and/or are

visually intrusive can be (environment, economic and social) sustainability positive. However, if reuse of existing buildings can achieve viable, attractive, economic to maintain space this may be more sustainable, depending on the extent to which the embodied energy in the existing structure may be reused c The development of facilities to support the university’s community of users, including

recreational, access and security improvements is (social) sustainability positive c Proposals that widen access to or outreach of university facilities will be (social)

sustainability positive c Where requests for planning obligations associated with university development are

such as to undermine the economic liability of a project, there will be limits to their sustainability Sustainability benefits From a physical planning view point, sustainability issues can be readily broken down into three categories, which can be useful in explaining applications; a) Strategic sustainability This includes the general principles in relation to a location – ie brown field/green field and the levels of accessibility by all modes of transport but in particular by public transport, walking and cycling. Strategic sustainability issues include the relationship between uses in terms of minimising needs to travel and contributing to the viability of a general area. An increased ‘critical mass’ of activities in close proximity often improves the conditions for the provision of various support facilities accessible to a surrounding community.


b) Site/master plan sustainability Sustainability issues at this level include; c Orientation of buildings in relation to achieving access relationships, public spaces,

community safety and shared infrastructure c The levels of overall activity being accommodated and their relationship to economic

and social sustainability c Microclimate and urban design considerations c Sustainable drainage c On-site provision for all access modes (including cycling and walking) c Site-wide energy supply, combined heat and power and building or site-wide micro-

generation c) Building design, construction and management sustainability This will include: c Use of reclaimed/local/sustainable sourced materials c Thermal efficiency and consideration of passive solar system c Grey water use/water-saving techniques c Options for sourcing green energy c User experience/qualitative issues c Flexibility and adaptability to future change c Visual appearance/identity/comfort and stimulation c Management and maintenance

Environmental impact assessment In many respects recent considerations of sustainability appraisal have extended and modified established processes of environmental assessment. However, within the planning system environmental assessment has a specific legal status, originating from European Union legislation with its requirement to assess major projects such as transportation and other infrastructure schemes. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) seeks to schedule and express in quantitative and qualitative terms (where practicable) the effect of a development on various scheduled environmental aspects. The requirements for preparing an environmental statement (ES) to accompany some planning applications are set out in 1999 regulations (Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999). These require statements to be submitted in all cases involving proposals for ‘Schedule 1 development’ (generally speaking large-scale infrastructure projects) and set out criteria to decide whether other types of large or sensitive projects (Schedule 2 projects) may need to be assessed in particular instances. Schedule 2 includes urban development projects of more than 0.5 hectare site area. A significant proportion of larger planning applications thus fall into the category of possibly of needing an environmental statement. The two key steps in deciding whether an environmental statement is needed at all, and if so what it should cover, are screening and scoping. Screening is the process of establishing (in formal correspondence with the planning authority) whether or not an environmental statement will be required in a particular case. There is advice in a government circular, and from case law, to assist planning authorities determine whether the environmental impacts are likely to be significant Universities UK

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enough to require a statement. Scoping is the next step if an environmental statement is required – this is the process of agreeing what the statement should assess. The underlying intentions of environmental impact assessment in European Union (EU) law are to ensure that adequate attention is given to environmental issues in considering major developments. This underlying intention is intended to operate at a number of levels. Recent changes to UK planning legislation have also introduced strategic environmental assessment of plans, so that it should be evident that the proposals set out have been arrived at after consideration of their environmental impact as compared with alternative policy options. In relation to planning applications, the working arrangement has been that a statutory environmental statement (ES) is submitted and approved only once, this being when a substantive planning application is first made (that is, typically, at outline stage for large projects). The intention of EU legislation (supported by Government and by planning profession advice within the UK), has been that environmental statements should be short and concise documents, providing an overview of key impacts. However, the scope for legal challenge within the UK planning system has led many lawyers to suggest that environmental statements, when required, should be as detailed as conceivably possible and (as a consequence of this) that outline planning permissions should have parameters defined as precisely as practicable. UK practice has been questioned by a recent European Court judgement, which suggests that environmental assessment should take place at all stages of a project, albeit at different levels of detail. This brings the prospect that regulations may alter in the future such that environmental statements relating to the outline stage of an application are supplemented by later submissions for approval, accompanying the ‘reserved matters’ details at a later date. The overall picture is that environmental assessment is moving from a one-off legal process at the first planning application to a more widely used testing of projects at various points in their development. Although sustainability appraisals cover a broader range of issues than environmental assessments, it is possible that they may, in time, be formalised so as to absorb the more specific environmental assessment role. Early discussions with the local planning authority are strongly recommended to agree the extent and timing of the environmental information needed to accompany proposals for development. Green travel planning Considerations of sustainability within the planning system are closely related to making the development accessible to people without them having to travel by private car. Policies urging planning toward reducing the need to travel, and giving priority to alternatives to the private car, are set out in Planning Policy Guidance 13 (2001) with its associated requirements in respect of the preparation of Transport Assessments, and restrictions on the provision of parking associated with development. When it was first introduced in the 1990s, PPG13 reversed previous planning approaches that had encouraged minimum standards of vehicular access and parking space. The emphasis now is on encouraging non-car access modes and limiting car parking to maximum levels with the aim of discouraging demand. PPG13 encourages the process of preparing travel plans (including green travel plans, company travel plans, and school travel plans) with the objectives of reducing car use (particularly single occupancy trips), increasing use of public transport, walking and cycling, and encouraging other measures to reduce the speed and impact of traffic and to achieve environmentally-friendly delivery and servicing arrangements. 34

Many universities have green travel plans, whether in response to local authority requests or through their own initiatives. There is considerable experience within the sector, with growing evidence of positive benefits. Car parking and university sites In common with many private companies and public authorities, universities taking steps towards green travel planning have often introduced or increased their parking charges and/or set stricter criteria for the issuing of car parking passes. In the past, car parking has been provided by many universities as part of their on site infrastructure and as a benefit for staff, visitors and students. While this may still be necessary where a university is inaccessible by other transport modes, in most cases parking will have encouraged car use in preference to more sustainable travel modes. Changes to car parking are often the cause of heated objections from users, but generally the experience of the HE sector is that parking charges and restrictions become accepted quickly, especially in cases where the money raised can be clearly seen to be applied to promote tangible green travel alternatives such as bus, cycle and pedestrian access improvements. The most important practical aspect of a green travel plan is often the identification of a ‘travel coordinator’, whose role is to promote sustainable modes of travel by providing information on public transport, and by encouraging cycling, car sharing and changes to the university’s own organisational arrangements so as to reduce needs to travel. The benefits of green travel plans tend to be proportionate to the time and energy available to the travel coordinator. Where this is a named member of staff with an existing full time job, the results tend to be much less successful than where a fully funded coordinator is in post. Where universities are co-located with other organisations such as teaching hospitals, or are close to other education or public service providers, there can often be scope for a travel coordinator to work jointly with more than one organisation. Significant off-site measures, such as bus services and cycle lanes, can often be provided jointly for a number of organisations in a vicinity where a single organisation could not justify such provision. Green travel planning operates best at a campus-wide or multi-agency level. It rarely makes much sense when applied to an individual building. Some planning authorities have attempted to impose green travel planning requirements inappropriately on individual university properties, or to require universities to adopt practices across a much wider site on the back of a planning application relating to a small part of the whole. Such practices are inappropriate where they cannot be said to be directly related to the application. The imposition of wide-ranging requirements can delay and frustrate the development of individual projects. Generally speaking, it is preferable if overall and underlying agreements regarding green travel can be part of broader understandings at a site master plan level between planning authority and university and in advance of individual building proposals. The introduction of green travel planning measures will often have consequences for areas surrounding a university estate. For example, pricing and other restrictions of onsite car parking can displace parking pressures, pushing them onto surrounding residential areas. These need to be anticipated. Appropriate measures (such as resident parking schemes) can be considered as part of the overall package. Again such measures should if possible be funded against a whole site/range of relevant development budget, not imposed as an unreasonable burden on a specific building project. Some planning authorities seek to impose particularly severe constraints on students so as to discourage them from bringing cars. Although many universities do have clauses in their lease agreements for student residences requiring students not to Universities UK

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bring a car, there are questions as to the legality of such measures where they can be said to seek to control individual rights to use public highways. In all these circumstances affected parties within the university community or neighbouring residential areas can become aggrieved. It is important that the planning authority and university work closely together to ensure that green travel measures are implemented progressively over time, taking ‘hearts and minds’ issues and the practicalities of implementation into account. From a university viewpoint, green travel planning measures can often prove financially beneficial. In many cases they involve moving from a position where a university is subsidising car parking (by the provision of land and management) to a position where there is more parking income, sites released for other uses, and where positive environmental or green travel initiatives can be funded that will benefit the image and environment of the university as a progressive institution. At the strategic level it should be noted that green travel planning is not just about changing people’s behaviour and travel choices but can also include locating student housing closer to academic and/or other facilities so as to reduce overall travel needs. In the case of multi-site HE institutions, green travel planning also includes taking a hard look at the needs for travel between sites, reducing this where practicable through timetabling, estates management and operational practices. Summary c Universities need to be aware of the importance of sustainability in the new planning

system, and to provide clear explanation of the sustainability benefits of development proposals. c Sustainability and green travel considerations are best dealt by the HE sector at a

corporate or site-wide level. Planning authorities should avoid placing unduly specific green travel or sustainability requirements on specific university buildings, when a wider overview and dialogue would be more appropriate. The role of a travel coordinator, working for a single university and/or a group of nearby institutions, can be make a significant difference in achieving green travel progress.


Section Section 6 AUrban Ahead headregeneration

This chapter: c Provides an overview of the regeneration field and its relationship to the planning

system c Considers the importance of higher education in differing regeneration contexts c Suggests how universities can best engage with regeneration processes c Highlights the increasing engagement between HE development and regeneration

strategies at regional and local levels Regeneration – an overview The term ‘regeneration’ encompasses a broad church of initiatives and approaches. Often the generic word ‘regeneration’ is combined with a more specific location or sector focus. These include: 1) Economic regeneration Typically for large areas (town, city, district or region) the encouragement of new economic growth sectors to replace declining manufacturing or other industry/services. These were generally based on an analysis of sector performance and the identification of growth sectors that could benefit from public sector support. Regeneration, nowadays, is broader based than predecessor funding of specific industrial development , for example, small factory units and it places greater emphasis on partnership working through local strategic economic partnerships. 2) Housing area regeneration 1960s concepts of urban renewal – replacing tired terraced housing with modern (mainly public sector) stock – have been replaced by broader based area processes that usually involve community participation and a range of public and private sector housing providers. The policy is still based on a desire to identify and replace poorquality housing (now assessed on social as well as physical criteria) with better, more sustainable and safer housing. This type of initiative often redefines the future of areas of public sector housing stock, and includes methods such as transfer to new ownership and management arrangements. 3) Town/city centre regeneration This policy is generally focused on encouraging private sector development, notably town centre retail. There has been increasing emphasis since the mid-1990s on mixed uses, including housing (town/city living), offices, cultural developments with related transport and environmental improvements. There is also a history of promoting comprehensive development and environmental works such as creating pedestrianonly areas, but now includes influencing a wide range of activities as well as physical development. This includes a recent focus on new forms of regeneration partnership and town/city centre management arrangements. 4) Urban regeneration This is an umbrella term for a range of public and private regeneration activities combining to turn around a significant urban area. The terminology has American origins, and has associated with it an increased emphasis on encouraging private sector activity and community involvement. It seeks to take a comprehensive approach to tackling an area’s problems, taking economic, environmental and social issues into consideration.

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5) Rural regeneration This policy is relatively recent, and is a response to rural decline with a focus on local economic and social development. It has parallels with longstanding European/EU programmes. Regeneration outputs This very brief summary shows how ‘regeneration’ can cover a very broad spectrum of activity. The common strand, however, is that public expenditure is applied either directly to fund projects or as infrastructure/ financial aid to encourage private sector development. From a Treasury or other public agency budgeting viewpoint, regeneration is usually seen in terms of the application of public money to achieve specified output targets. Outputs can be both direct and indirect in relation to the expenditure itself. Many critics of regeneration practice argue for more joined-up and holistic action. The report of Lord Roger’s Urban Task Force (1999) emphasised the need to break down the ‘silos’ of specific regeneration and other public sector action. The aspiration is that the overall outcome of regeneration and mainstream public spending activity should be more than the sum of the parts. More needs to be done to ensure that mainstream public spending helps to foster regeneration and that private sector resources are guided and encouraged to similar effect. The Urban Task Force report made considerable use of the term ‘urban renaissance’ to indicate that new thinking and an emphasis on qualitative as well as quantitative outputs is needed. Funding for regeneration Many regeneration programmes were originally promoted by local authorities using their general powers to act to a limited degree out with the delivery of mainstream services, but guided by national legislation. The Government also made additional funding for regeneration available via local authorities through schemes such as the Urban Programme. In the 1980s and 1990s, regeneration funding was formalised and extended through a wide range of quango agencies with specific roles, either focused on particular physical areas (such as the Urban Development Corporations) or on the ability to give money to specific types of project (for example, the Housing Corporation, and English Partnerships). Department of Trade and Industry funding was typically for economic/industrial restructuring, while housing and local government ministries typically financed housing, environmental and town/city centre initiatives. The different priorities of the national government departments tended to frustrate efforts to achieve joined-up work at local levels. In recent years and with the advent of new regional arrangements, there has been a consolidation of funding streams so that the regional development agencies (RDAs) now have a much clearer role in coordinating government funding for regeneration. The RDAs are relatively new organisations and different RDAs apply different priorities to sectors and locations seeking funding support. While aspirations for joined-up government are still far from being achieved, there is an increasing degree of dialogue and connection at the regional level. Recent government guidance encourages close relationships between the Regional Economic Strategy (RES) and the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), together with the Regional Transport Plan (RTP) and Regional Housing Strategy (RHS) so that a family of documents guiding economic development, land use and transport can work together as a whole. An increasing awareness of the importance of education and skills development to the regional economy is such that several RES documents emphasise education in general, 38

and higher education in particular, as important elements of wider regeneration programmes. Local partnerships In practice the regional development agencies frequently act as an ‘arm’s-length’ funder with the actual delivery of regeneration being channelled through local authorities and a variety of other public agencies. In most places where area regeneration is focused, a regeneration process will take the form of a partnership of local agencies working together to secure regeneration funding for a package of projects. Often town or city centre strategies or area regeneration strategies will be set out, by one or more of these partners, as a clear set of aspirations for change and to coordinate specific projects into an overall plan. Regeneration strategies It should be noted that such regeneration strategies are not necessarily plans in terms of the statutory planning system, although it can often be the case that statutory plans will formalise and support regeneration strategies either before or after these are prepared. Sometimes, when a regeneration strategy has substantial public support, it can carry some weight as a ‘material planning consideration’ in the statutory planning process. Universities should however note that there is a legal distinction between informal regeneration strategy documents and formal local development plan documents. While there is often close coordination, it should not be assumed that policies about higher education set out in a regeneration document will necessarily be reflected in a formal planning document, or vice versa. Local area regeneration Those universities which are within, or adjoin, an identified urban regeneration area have particular opportunities to promote relevant projects, to encourage and support positive change and to make the most of the opportunities from an HE perspective. In the past, planning and regeneration processes have often overlooked the potential for positive change that HE institutions offer, but there is now an increasing awareness of the economic development and social/cultural roles of HE institutions. The decision to identify an area-based regeneration initiative inevitably means an opportunity to think afresh about the future of a particular place. Where a university has a campus or significant individual buildings within a regeneration area the university’s estates strategy needs to take into account the potential for change.There may be opportunities to influence traffic management and environmental changes to the university’s advantage. Special purpose vehicles In an urban context, the 1980s and early 1990s government agency development corporations with their own budgets and planning powers, for example, the Docklands Development Corporation in London, are now largely gone, with the partial exception of some of the south-east growth zones. Today, most regeneration strategies are typically managed by a partnership of local and regional agencies and with funding drawn from several sources. The preparation of an area vision and the co-ordination of activity are often held by one of the partners on behalf of the whole partnership. The urban regeneration companies (URCs), which have a degree of direct support from Government and which now exist in several UK cities represent a model where a small project company acts as a focal point on behalf of its principal funders to plan and deliver action. The regeneration companies have strong channels of communication to central government and regional funding. They represent an area-focused ‘special Universities UK

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delivery vehicle’ dependent on the continued support of local and regional funding partners. Regeneration companies have high levels of direct working engagement with potential private development partners, so as to package and facilitate developments on the ground. Most do not, however, have planning or land assembly powers. Their activities are intended to encourage related cultural change in the future and a more proactive approach from partner agencies where past practices (including planning) may not have previously succeeded in encouraging development and positive change. Universities should be aware that in some areas, tensions may exist between the company and the local authority, with the latter having concerns about the possible erosion of its powers. The Government is indicating that the number of regeneration companies that have a formal relationship to central government will be limited. However, the regeneration company model is being replicated at a regional level with similar regeneration companies being promoted by regional development agencies, local authorities and other partners, typically to deal with towns and smaller city centres, with former industrial areas undergoing change, and with areas identified for major and mixed use developments. The most complex of the partnership area regeneration processes are those for the Thames Gateway, where several local authorities, a wide range of infrastructure providers and a plethora of local delivery vehicles dealing with parts of the area have to be coordinated. In some cases, tired university accommodation may be part of the problem of an area identified as needing regeneration. In such instances there can be a very strong synergy between proactive university estates strategies and the wider area regeneration that a refreshed university estate can contribute to. Examples of regeneration There are many national examples of universities involvement as an integral part of area regeneration activities. Examples include: University Campus, Suffolk, Ipswich New buildings, for the University Campus, Suffolk on the Ipswich waterfront will be part of a mixed-use regeneration. The city and county councils, and the East of England Regional Development Agency are closely involved in planning the new university. University of Cumbria, Carlisle This new university, building from two established further education colleges, is part funded by the North West Regional Development Agency. With its headquarters in Carlisle the new university is closely related to regeneration in the City of Carlisle as well as regeneration aims for a mainly rural sub-region. Sheffield Hallam University Recent investment in the university has been closely associated with an area master plan for the surrounding quarter of Sheffield city centre, with land assembly and other funding secured in close working relationship with Sheffield’s regeneration company. De Montfort University, Leicester The remodelling of De Montfort’s City Centre campus, led by the university, is an integral part of the wider vision for Leicester being promoted by Leicester Regeneration Company. The university is remodelling part of Leicester’s inner ring road and laying out new squares as a significant contribution to a wider regeneration 40

plan; several of the associated projects are partnerships with the city council and/or the East Midlands Regional Development Agency. Birmingham City University The university was one of the main partners working with Birmingham City Council to secure Millennium Point, a major regional project part funded by the Millennium Commission in 1999. The university is at the core of the ‘learning quarter’, around this, and its new city centre campus forms a significant part of the wider mixed-use regeneration scheme in the eastern part of Birmingham. University of East London The university’s new Docklands campus is part of the overall Docklands regeneration process. Reuse of other land vacated by the university will be a further element of the regeneration of east London. Cambridge Science Park Circa 1970 grouping of new activities at this ‘master planned campus’ on the edge of Cambridge has become a significant regeneration driver for the wider sub-region, recognised with continual expansion and partnership. Summary c Universities should input into, and draw from, Regional Economic Strategies and liaise

with Regional Development Agencies to explore any scope to access project funding support for HE related developments. c Universities within or adjoining a regeneration area should explore the scope for

assistance with land assembly or project development. c Universities can be key players in establishing local regeneration partnerships and

playing a key role in their operation. c Regeneration planners should keep in mind the potential synergy between HE and

other regenerative investment at a local level.

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7Section Section AAhead Universities head and green belts

This chapter: c Summarises planning policies for green belts c Highlights recent difficulties for the ‘Robbins’ universities c Gives some recent practice examples on suitable action

Green belts policy The concept of ‘green belts’ has been integral to the planning system for many decades. Green belts are intended to act as buffer zones between settlements so as to keep towns distinct from each other and avoid ‘coalescence’. Green belts are also typically imposed around the edges of the major conurbations so as to prevent urban sprawl. A small but significant number of universities are situated in green belt locations. These are mostly the ‘Robbins’ universities, created in the 1960s following the Robbins Report and specifically featuring a campus environment separated from towns and cities. Over the past 40 years, policies on development in green belts have been increasingly restricted. National Planning Policy Guidelines set out these policies in general terms but leave it for local planning authorities to define the exact extent of green belts and to detail exceptional cases of development in them that can be accepted. Universities within green belts have typically been exempted from restrictions on further development within their existing campuses, through ‘old style’ county and district plans. Policies for development elsewhere in the countryside have also changed in recent years. PPS7 (2004) adopts a highly restrictive tone for most new development but does allow new flexibility for some economic activities to support the concept of a sustainable rural economy. Such policies are sometimes applicable to HE institutions with agricultural research/teaching sites. New plans Universities may not appreciate that the new plans system largely operates in a ‘topdown’ manner so that each successive layer of plan adds detail to the policies set out in higher order plans. This means that policies for green belts as set out by regional spatial strategies now set the scene for the new-style local development documents, which are replacing structure and local plans. Universities in green belts and their regional and local planning authorities need to keep future development needs very much in mind at the plan preparation stage. Universities need to be especially alert to the possibility that previous positive planning policies exempting existing universities from general restrictions applicable in green belts (especially those set out in county structure plans that are disappearing) may not automatically be repeated in the new-style development plan comprising the regional spatial strategy and local development documents. They need to keep a close eye on the plan preparation process and ensure that their needs for sustainable growth as academic institutions are fully appreciated by the planning authorities. Over the past decade, the general thrust of planning policy has been increasingly restrictive of green belt/green field development and has made it increasingly clear that major developments should be located in town and city centres. The policies in recent regional spatial strategies emphasise this and they are increasingly closing down other options and/or setting ‘sequential tests’ for any new development. Although there is explicit national guidance for the location of retail, major leisure and commercial office developments in town centres (in Planning Policy Statement 6, 2005), the position of higher education development in planning policy is less clear-cut. In the absence of a Planning Policy Statement specific to education, planners may feel unsure 42

whether they should encourage the further expansion of existing HE institutions within a green belt or green field context or should deflect it to town and city centre sites. Planning Policy Guidance 13 (Transport) (2001) offers some encouragement for the latter view in the way in which it schedules HE developments as one of several types of uses that should be located in town and city centres wherever possible, so as to be accessible by a wide range of transport modes including public transport. This is one of very few references in National Planning Policy Guidance about the preferred siting of HE institutions. Seldom, however, have such general suggestions been followed up by specific site allocations for HE development in recent plans for town or city centre areas. Without such follow-through into development plans, the national guidance is of limited practical relevance. In terms of overall sustainability and travel demands, campus universities in the green belt can offer several arguments in favour of continued growth. Their activities are often of great economic significance at a regional/ sub-regional level and justify being extended. Where a campus includes significant residential accommodation (or where this is to be increased to accommodate a higher proportion of students on campus) there can be overall benefits in terms of reduced needs to travel. Where possible, universities within green belts and their regional planning authorities should reach general agreement on the principles for the future investment in the HE institution, whether by further development of the green field site or, if preferred, by positively asserting the need for alternative locations for new development within the nearby urban area. In either case the regional strategy should set a clear brief for preparing relevant local development documents. Both the HE institution and planning authorities need to keep in mind that the planning system as a whole should accommodate the requirement for appropriate development. In the case of HE development, this means that the system should provide a positive way forward, whether based on the existing site or on realistic alternative locations. The economic and social significance of an HE institution will be such that its survival and development into the future are significant ‘material planning considerations’ in any case. In recent practice, allowances for further development of universities in green belt locations have been removed in updated plans. In at least one case this has been through oversight rather than deliberate intent to constrain a university, but such a lack of clear planning policy guidance for individual local situations can leave universities in a very difficult position when making planning applications which are not supported by recent policy. University development in the green belt – the University of Warwick The University of Warwick was founded in 1964 and established on an edge-of-city campus to the south-west of the city of Coventry, straddling the border with the county of Warwickshire. About 400 acres was given by the local authorities and this area remains the core campus, about half of which (in Warwickshire) was already designated as green belt. The first development plan was approved in 1966 and this was updated in 1972 and again in 1994. The latest plan was approved as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) by both Coventry City and Warwick District Councils in 1995 and recognises four ‘very special circumstances’, which have been used to justify the university’s development in the past: c the grant of outline consent in 1964 (which has since lapsed); c historic acceptance of development in the green belt for university purposes; c the transport reduction benefits of a single campus development; c the lack of suitable alternative non-green belt sites.

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The SPG is now regarded as out-of-date by all parties and the Warwick Local Plan (also adopted in 1995) is under review. However, on government office advice, it has not been possible to maintain policy support for development in the green belt. Instead, the Revised Draft Local Plan (2005) designated the Warwickshire campus as a Major Developed Site (MDS), but this only allows for limited infill or redevelopment in the green belt, so will not be helpful to the university’s future growth. In order to solve the problem, the university set up a campus development steering group with representation from Coventry City Council, Warwick District Council and Warwickshire County Council as well as the Government Office for the West Midlands (GOWM), the Regional Assembly, and Advantage West Midlands. Its purpose is to share information, build consensus, influence policy decisions and seek agreement on future development of the university. Everyone agrees that regional policies form a strong foundation for the university’s growth, but the preferred route of removing the area on which the university is built from green belt status through the RSS and LDF process would not conclude until 2010 and possibly later. In fact, there is no commitment to review the green belt in the RSS programme. Therefore, the university is submitting an outline planning application for a 10-year master plan anticipating additional development of some 171,000 m2 across the campus, roughly half of which is in the green belt. This growth can all be contained within the original campus boundary and broadly in accordance with the footprint established in earlier development plans. It is, therefore, not ‘expansion’ in the physical sense, more a ‘refreshing’ of the original planning permission granted in 1964, enabling completion of the founding vision for the university. The application was to be submitted in June 2007 and has a broad level of support both from the local authorities and from three separate rounds of public consultation carried out since 2005. It is hoped that a call-in can be avoided, although similar expansion into the green belt at York was subject to an inquiry in 2006 and a decision is still awaited. Warwick University will ultimately seek to remove the campus from the green belt through the development plan process but outline planning permission will enable it to continue its sustainable growth in the meantime. Key points from the Warwick case: c Strict application of green belt policies can make it difficult for some universities to

grow and expand c Universities need to engage with planning authorities to review green belt policies to

seek changes where appropriate c While acknowledging these policies, universities need to work closely with the local

planning authority and other agencies to find a way to facilitate development – an outline planning application which incorporates a master plan can help to do this Summary c Universities in green belt or rural locations should be vigilant in ensuring their needs

are kept in mind as regional and local planning policies are updated. c Further major development in greenbelt or countryside HE institutions will need to be

discussed well in advance with regional planners so that it can be agreed as an appropriate exception to green belt policies. c Local planning authorities should be aware of the development needs of universities in

green belt locations and should ensure that these needs are met by appropriate planning policies.


Section Section 8 AUniversities Ahead head and planning gain

This chapter: c Reviews recent trends in relation to ‘planning gain’ c Considers how universities are treated as private undertakings providing education and

undertaking research with public funding support c Highlights guidance on the reasonable use of powers of Section 106 of the 1990 Town

and Country Planning Act c Gives examples of arrangements to focus Section 106 contributions in closer

relationship to HE interests Planning gain Agreements invoking Section 106 of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act are used to secure ‘planning contributions’ (often referred to as ‘planning gain’). Planning contributions have long been a part of the planning system and are intended to compensate, with measures that will make acceptable, a development that would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms. Originally they were introduced to guarantee that developers became legally liable to pay the costs of the public infrastructure (typically highways and sewers) needed to permit new private housing development to take place. Planning authorities’ views as to what infrastructure and other provisions are ‘necessary’ has extended considerably over the years to include a wide range of capital and revenue costs having some relationship to the development. In the last 10 years, and partly in response to constraints on local authority budgets, councils have added to the list of requirements to achieve a satisfactory development, including costs of ‘mitigation’ of the impact of the development on a wider area, or of funding additional public services that are considered to be necessary to meet new demands arising from the development. Examples of planning contributions about the satisfactory planning of the development itself include: c Highways, sewerage and other physical infrastructure improvements c Positive environmental actions within the site (for instance, restoration of listed

buildings, landscape protection and enhancements) c Management provisions notably in relation to green travel planning c The provision of ‘affordable’ housing as part of new housing development

Contributions to the wider area make up a rapidly growing list of items of support for public services including: c Contributions to public transport provisions (capital and/or revenue subsidy) c Contributions to environmental works beyond the site itself c Contributions to replace public benefits (for instance, open space/leisure provision) to

be lost from the development site c For housing developments, contributions to educational, leisure and other facilities to

serve new residents c Contributions to area-wide management initiatives, such as community safety, town

centre management, employment training for local people to get jobs For all this group of obligations, it can be a matter of fact and degree as to whether such obligations necessarily arise in the case of the particularities of the development. A recent government circular on Section 106 agreements (Planning Obligations, Circular 05/05, July 2005) has started to put the brakes on what had for a decade been rapidly

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escalating local authority claims for developer contributions toward an increasing range of public facilities or services. Part of the context for this is that the Government has acknowledged that it is not a legitimate role for local authorities to benefit from the increasing local practice of seeking to take advantage from the rise in that value of the land that often results when planning consent is granted. The Treasury is now looking separately at securing some ‘value capture’ through national taxation of development gains. This stems in part from recommendations made for a ‘planning-gain supplement’ (PGS) in two reviews undertaken by Kate Barker (2004, 2006)11 on behalf of the Treasury. Planning authorities are now asked to set out their expectations for ‘planning contributions’ as clearly as possible in advance by spelling out likely requirements in development plan documents. They must ensure that planning contributions are not seen as a form of local taxation or a funding stream for mainstream local authority responsibilities. Requirements have to be limited to matters that are relevant to planning, necessary, fair and specifically related to the proposal. Relevance can be established in individual circumstances or by way of a formally adopted plan policy that establishes the basis for any wider ‘pooled’ contributions. An important test of the validity of any Section 106 obligation is that it has to be necessary in order to make an otherwise unacceptable development acceptable. In other words, without the particular Section 106 obligation, the development would have to be refused). Tariffs and pooled contributions Explicit local ‘tariffs’ are possible as an alternative to the black art of individual Section 106 negotiations. Although not yet widely used, there has been active discussion about the use of published ‘tariffs’, whereby developers make payments on a fixed floor space/use calculation. There is scope for planning authorities to establish local tariffs through the new local development frameworks, although few have yet done so. Similar and more specific arrangements for pooled contributions are however being formalised in some regeneration areas so that area-wide infrastructure costs are widely shared. HE institutions – private developer or public service? Most HE developments are, in essence, for the public purpose of education. Universities as grant-aided, private organisations are not direct arms of government but they are providers of a public service. Most universities are structured as not-for-profit institutions, required by their statutes to reinvest any surpluses in the pursuit of education and research objectives. In some instances it can be necessary to remind planning officers that HE institutions are public service providers not commercial developers. There are instances of local authorities seeking ‘value capture’ inappropriately from HE related developments. Confusions can arise in particular where HE institutions are procuring new developments using PFI with partner developers/operators of facilities including student housing. Most planning authorities accept that university developments are closely comparable to local authority schools, hospital trust developments and other public infrastructure providers as providers of a public service facilitates that meet needs, rather than generate demands, for public services.


Key questions for HE institutions to ask When a planning authority requests a Section 106 contribution, a number of questions can help test the reasonableness of the ‘requirements’. 1. Is the ‘requirement’ clearly set out as a policy in an adopted development plan relevant to the particular proposal? 2. Is the ‘requirement’ essential for the development to be achieved – at all, or in a satisfactory manner? 3. Is there a clear ‘audit trail’ to explain why the particular development proposal generates actual needs for expenditure by the planning authority for off site ‘requirements’? 4. Is there a clear ‘audit trail’ to explain why the particular development proposal generates actual needs for expenditure by the planning authority for off site ‘requirements’? 5. Can the requested contribution be afforded without the development project becoming unviable? Any request which scores ‘no’ answers to all of questions 1–3 should be vigorously challenged in principle. Any request which is unaffordable in answer to question 4 can be negotiated as viability is a consideration that should be taken into account by planning authorities. Viability concerns are particularly relevant where the development is itself for a public purpose that helps achieve other plan policies such as those promoting economic or social progress, because in such circumstances the opportunity costs of not allowing the HE development to progress can be significant. Diverting funds from such purposes can be important in planning terms as well as for the university. Also of relevance is the extent to which any infrastructure or facilities required can be funded from other public sources such as European or Local Transport Plan funds. HE institutions as recipients of Section 106 funding As public service providers, HE institutions can be regarded as among the public services that may benefit from contributions arising from new commercial development. For example, it is now common for local authorities to seek contributions for primary and secondary education provision in respect of new housing developments. These requirements do not usually at present generate funding for the FE or HE sectors, although this would be a logical extension of their application. In regeneration areas particularly, HE developments can have significant area-wide education, employment and training benefits which can reasonably be treated as part of enhanced area infrastructure, to be part funded by tariffs applied to private development. HE developments often include the provision of public access to, and shared use of, facilities particularly in relation to cultural projects and external environmental improvements. Such elements can be of wide public benefit and may provide facilities specifically identified as needed by planning policies. Such facilities can have an even stronger case to receive Section 106 funding from a local planning authority or to offset the effect of requests for contributions arising from other aspects of an overall HE development package. Ring-fenced contributions Some universities have found it helpful to seek outline planning permission for an overall master plan so that a package of development projects is approved in principle at the same time. In this way the Section 106 contributions issue can be ‘ring-fenced’. Requirements for offsite Section 106 contributions arising from some elements of the overall package can then by offset by identifiable public benefits that will be achieved by Universities UK

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other components and the planning benefits of a positive comprehensive change can also be taken into account. Ring fenced contributions – De Montfort University, Leicester Some years ago, De Montfort University prepared a master plan to guide the future development if its campus. It worked closely with Leicester City Council and discussed the plan and the planning processes associated with it regularly with the council. The master plan was then used as the basis for an outline planning application and negotiations on the Section 106 requirements. The university had a priority to create a much-improved public realm within its campus and proposed that a significant proportion of the contributions should go towards this. Recognising the importance of a quality environment to the university, the council accepted this position and the Section 106 Agreement set out the contributions required during the period of the planning permission. In order to provide for these public realm works, the council accepted a reduced rate towards affordable housing together with a contribution towards leisure facilities at the university. Summary c Universities should actively check that any planning gain ‘requirements’ are

reasonable, fair and relevant, taking into account the public benefits arising from the HE development as such. c Local development documents will establish future requirements for planning

obligations. During plan consultation, opportunities should be taken to argue against, or seek exemption from, particularly onerous requirements, or to seek the inclusion of policies to secure Section 106 funding for HE projects necessary to comprehensive planning. c Planning authorities should be mindful of the needs of the HE sector as a public service

provider when drafting local development document policies for planning obligations. c Whole site/master plan-based negotiations can be considered to focus planning

obligations negotiations on achieving public benefits at university sites.


Section Section 9 AStudent Ahead head housing

This chapter: c Highlights trends in the provision of student housing c Considers the relationships of student housing to local housing strategies c Sets out some of the possible approaches to appropriate planning of student

accommodation c Considers some specific issues relating to the way the planning system responds to

student housing proposals Overview There is a lack of clarity in national, regional and most local planning guidance as to how the planning system should treat student housing. Most local authorities produce housing strategies, which consider in some detail the aggregate demands for new private market housing in their area, and assess the needs for affordable housing. Very few housing strategies specifically consider student housing needs or demands. This is to some extent understandable as student housing is not in practice always clearly distinct from other elements of the private or social housing markets. In practice each university has a unique distribution of where its students live. The mix, however, usually includes some accommodation that is under direct university control (whether owned or managed under licence, and whether catered or not). In a significant proportion of HEIs, notably in the larger cities, there is now purpose-built private accommodation for student letting. Students also rent or buy property in the open housing market. A significant minority of students live with their families (including many mature and part-time students, and those living with parents). When local housing strategies give no relevant guidance, the pragmatic way forward is often planning for student housing ‘on its merits’. Student housing development, however has knock-on consequences elsewhere in local housing markets. Universities and planning authorities should work closely together to maintain an overview of student residential life to ensure that the university and the town it relates to are both be as attractive to students in future as possible. With the rapid expansion of the HE sector, concentrations of student accommodation are sometimes seen as a problem by local communities and in turn by planning and/or housing authorities. The issue has been addressed by a recent Universities UK paper.12 The planning system’s lack of clarity about student housing also extends to the use classes order (Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, and its subsequent amendments), which categorises activities for planning purposes. This has two categories that may be regarded as applicable to student housing. C2 (residential institutions) includes a ‘residential school, college or training centre’ (Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2006). This clearly applies to on campus student accommodation of catered halls of residence, but where purpose-built specialist student accommodation is away from the academic campus and self-catered, the relationship to the definition is less certain. The main residential use class, known as C3, describes a ‘dwelling house’ use as allowing for up to six unrelated residents living as a ‘single household’. Case law has supported arguments that a ‘single household’ can include student groups. A recent appeal case also concluded that an increase in the number of students to more than six, without any other obvious change in character of use, was not a ‘material’ change in the use and did not therefore need planning consent. Alternatively student accommodation can be considered as sui generis, in other words, a specific use distinct from the generalised categories of the use classes order. These issues of the categorisation of student housing can be important, not least because the change of use from one category to another requires planning permission. Universities UK

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Local authorities typically define planning standards for housing development (ie, the C3 class). These may include specific site allocations for numbers of dwellings, setting density and other technical standards, for example, for open space and parking provision. There are often policies requiring Section 106 planning obligations associated with all new housing. Generalised standards for housing can prove inappropriate for specialised lifestyle dwellings including high-density city living. They can be even more inappropriate when they apply to purpose-built student housing. Planning officers and HE applicants are often left in doubt as to which local and national housing policies should reasonably apply in any particular case. The lack of clear planning categorisation of student housing can generate problems in the process of acquisition and sale of residential property by universities, including difficulties in leasing residential property from owners who may be concerned to lose a broader general housing planning use status. It is important to note that, in any event, many students live as part of the wider community within the mainstream housing stock. In some towns and cities they may represent a significant minority of residential occupiers. Local housing strategies planning to meet ‘demands’ for housing and to assess ‘needs’ for affordable housing rarely separate the distinctive needs of students as a component of housing markets. A balanced view needs to be taken. Investment in student housing accommodation, both in communal new-build schemes and as part of the wider private housing market, is significant in economic terms and can have a positive role in regeneration. Students are part of the wider community. Successful integration is evident in many towns and cities. Purpose-built student accommodation Purpose-built student accommodation, whether by universities or by the private sector, often provides higher standards of accommodation for students, adding to the competitive attractiveness of the particular HE institution. Many students now expect facilities (notably en-suite bathrooms) that are not provided in older student accommodation or in the mainstream private housing market. Where new-build student accommodation is close to teaching accommodation, there can be significant reductions in the need for students to travel, leading to significant sustainability benefits. There may be concerns when high numbers of student flats are provided in close proximity. These concerns can often be addressed by management regimes encouraging high levels of responsibility and consideration for others within the student population. Concentrations of student flats can bring the benefits of ‘critical mass’ so as to support related services and facilities, including shops and restaurants available to the wider community. Regular liaison between students, the university, the local authority and the local community can help to identify and respond to any concerns that may stem from concentrations of student accommodation. Impact on existing housing stock In some towns and cities, a relatively rapid increase in student numbers and/or an increase in purpose-built student accommodation is noticeably changing the local population. This can have significant consequences for local private housing. The effects can be both positive – for example, less pressure of student demands competing with other elements of the residential property market, and as negative – for example, reducing levels of student rental or purchase investment in inner city/regeneration localities. Where there is not enough purpose-built student accommodation the result is usually that the university will be less attractive to students than other similar HEIs and/or that student demand for other types of local housing increases. In the major cities, where high levels of student accommodation and high levels of ‘city living’ private housing are both evident, there are emerging trends towards a positive 50

progress from purpose-built student accommodation to ‘city living’ flats for young urban professionals. This progress can play an important part in encouraging vibrant urban centres and keeping graduates in the local economy. An important point to keep in mind is that choice of accommodation for students is just as important as choice within the wider housing market. The costs of higher education and the advent of tuition fees place increasing financial pressure on students, some of whom will seek accommodation at the lowest possible price. Others will seek accommodation that is most convenient – close to their places of study or to other student facilities. Others (especially first-year students influenced by parental concerns) will be attracted to a more protective or managed environment. Few planning authorities have specific policies for student housing. Fewer still have any clear understandings, arrived at in close consultation with the universities in their area, as to the extent of student housing to be provided and where. Universities need to make sure that planning authorities appreciate the pressures behind student housing and its relationship to growing the economic and social value of an HE institution. If planning authorities do understand this it can influence the light in which they consider particular proposals. Universities need to be aware that planners have little specific guidance on how to assess proposals for student housing: HEIs can help to plug this gap with reference to their own and other HEIs’ experience. Student housing – Leeds The University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University have both experienced significant increases in student numbers in recent years. Both universities are committed to offering accommodation to all first-year students and to some secondor third-year students. The increased demand for student housing has been largely met by private landlords, with new large purpose-built private sector accommodation only being provided in the last two to three years, near the city centre. Concentrations of student accommodation occur in the Headingley /inner north-west Leeds area and this has caused concerns for some local residents. In 2004, the University of Leeds published a housing strategy that outlined policies and practices to develop new student accommodation in appropriate locations, to improve the existing stock and to respond to community concerns. This strategy is set within the context of an overall estate strategy (updated in 2006) and a master plan to guide the future development of the university. The Leeds Metropolitan University Corporate Plan (2004–08) sets out the key proposals to meet that university’s property needs for the foreseeable future. A shared housing group has been established in Leeds, to coordinate the provision of student housing across the city. It includes representatives from the city council, Leeds Metropolitan University, the University of Leeds, private sector landlords, students’ unions, community representatives, and Unipol (Unipol provides a centralised accommodation bureau for students in Leeds, serves as an interface with private sector landlords and develops and manages its own student housing). The shared housing group now plays a key coordinating role in mapping student concentrations in housing, identifying new developments, assessing opportunities to reduce student concentrations in inner north-west Leeds; it also helps deal with relations between the students and the communities where they live. The group recognises that student housing needs must be addressed not simply by the provision of accommodation but also by the provision of the necessary support services, by responding to the concerns of the community and by the involvement of different departments from the city council. There are some concerns that the growth in the amount of accommodation provided by the private sector has happened in an unplanned way, and that there is now a potential oversupply of accommodation. The council acknowledges that this has been the case but the new developments provide purpose-built accommodation with the Universities UK

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standard of facilities that many students want, all in sustainable locations close to the two universities. The group is currently preparing an action plan to respond to these various issues including the potential oversupply of new accommodation. Both universities recognise the importance of communication and consultation. For example, Leeds Metropolitan University recently carried out a consultation exercise involving an exhibition and questionnaire survey on development proposals for its Headingley campus and, where necessary, attended council area committee meetings. The University of Leeds held some workshops with the civic architect and planners and carried out some general consultation in preparing both its community strategy and its estate strategy (including a presentation to the Civic Trust). Both universities feel that links with council officers are good, although more contact with councillors would be helpful. The Leeds City Council Unitary Development Plan (UDP) (2001) has recently been reviewed in 2006. In the UDP, the council, aware of local residents’ concerns about the concentrations of student housing in the inner north-west Leeds, proposed to control and reduce student housing there. The council also proposed to encourage student housing elsewhere. Both universities contributed to the preparation of the policies. The University of Leeds was generally supportive of a restrictive policy, but proposed some boundary changes and wanted scope to increase densities with some existing residential schemes. These objections were considered at a public inquiry. The inquiry inspector recommended that the restrictive policy be dropped and replaced by a policy of ‘housing mix’, permitting student housing in the Headingley area, against a series of criteria. This was basically accepted by Leeds City Council. A policy to promote student housing elsewhere has also been included in the UDP. Following the review of the UDP, the council is preparing its core strategy and other documents including a city centre strategy. The core strategy will consider student housing as a key issue, and will take account of the UDP policies. The council recognises the need to involve the two universities in the preparation of these documents to ensure that the needs of the universities are fully understood and provided for wherever possible. The University of Leeds has commented on the core strategy and discussed city centre issues. Other discussions have taken place via the shared housing group. Key points from the Leeds case: c Universities need to set out clearly an estate strategy that explains its property and

student housing needs and how these will be delivered c A coordinated approach to providing and managing student housing involving the main

stakeholders is essential c Local planning authorities, communities and universities must work closely to ensure

that student housing needs are properly reflected in sustainable planning policies c Every effort must be made to carry out effective consultation on student housing

policies and proposals including consultation with council members, and the communities that they represent Affordable housing In recent years government has relied heavily on the planning system to provide significant amounts of ‘affordable housing’, funding this by planning obligations on private market housing development. The drivers for this combine planning aspirations to achieve social mix and value capture. The effect is to require private developers to subsidise the construction of new dwellings for those in housing need, offsetting costs of which might otherwise be funded by government. The provision of affordable housing can be a significant burden on major private housing developments equalling £10–30,000 for each private dwelling sold, depending 52

on the percentages and type of affordable housing and the degree of subsidy negotiated in a particular case. Purpose-built student housing is specialist accommodation designed specifically to meet the needs of people on low incomes, in other words, students. This does not however meet the definitions of affordable housing as set out in most local authority planning policies, which typically define affordable housing as being provided by registered social landlords at prescribed subsidised rent levels. Shared ownership housing offered to those on the council’s housing waiting lists or to ‘key workers’ can often be accepted as an alternative and this is currently being encouraged by Government. Students are not usually listed as ‘key workers’. In some cases discounted open market housing is also accepted as ‘affordable’ where geared to the needs of key worker or low-income groups. This is typically subject to a resale covenant requiring the discount from market value to continue, transferred to future similarly qualified purchasers. As in many aspects of the planning system, a lack of national guidance as to how student accommodation should be treated has left considerable scope for local discretion, and in some cases, confusion. There are instances where universities, or more often private companies specialising in student housing provision, have been required to provide additional subsidised affordable housing through planning obligations. The costs of this effectively subsidises one group of low-income tenants at the expense of another, adding considerably to the costs of student accommodation for users and potentially making such schemes not viable. Sometimes student accommodation has been accepted as part of an affordable housing offer. This can be particularly helpful in securing much-needed student accommodation in areas of high residential market value, where it may not otherwise be possible. It can also have a benefit in terms of social mix within a large redevelopment project. Among very disparate practice, the most common approach adopted by local planning authorities is to regard student housing as a distinct and separate category of housing development, which neither triggers policy requirements to provide subsidised social housing nor is accepted in lieu of such housing provision. Many universities accept this as a reasonable compromise approach, as do specialist student accommodation developers. In the same vein, most planning authorities accept that student accommodation is designed to specific and specialised needs. They do not seek to apply all aspects of residential planning design guidelines slavishly and inappropriately to student housing schemes. Many planning authorities also recognise that students typically have access to a range of social and sports facilities as part of their overall university life and do not generate demands for other facilities that would normally be funded through planning obligations in respect of other housing development. It would be helpful if national guidance were to reinforce this emerging practice, avoiding the need for universities and student accommodation providers to argue a practical case on each and every proposal they submit. Universities can help planning authorities understand the dynamic of student housing schemes by telling them about model projects across the UK. Although student housing schemes are built on tight budgets for low-income tenants they can often make a positive contribution to the environment. In an increasing number of regeneration projects, planning authorities are specifically encouraging the inclusion of student housing as part of a planned overall housing mix. This reflects increasing awareness that students can bring a special element of vitality to a local community and local economy. Universities UK

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One issue about which some planning authorities have expressed concern is sustainability. They argue that if student housing is so specifically designed it may not be adaptable for other uses into the future. There seems no particular reason why this should be the case. Many types of buildings are designed for specific user needs. In practice the floor plates and floor to ceiling heights of student housing accommodation are generally adaptable, with internal modifications, to allow for different residential configurations or for conversion to hotel accommodation. Summary c Universities should work closely with planning authorities to ensure broad-based

understanding of the need for and suitable locations of new student accommodation. c Purpose-built student accommodation projects should not be required to subsidise the

provision of affordable housing. c Technical standards for the planning of student accommodation should be based on

‘comparators’ of successful student housing projects rather than on residential planning design standards applicable across an area. c Planning authorities, other stakeholders and universities need to maintain a regular

overview of the relationships between student housing development and wider housing strategies. c Government should confirm appropriate interpretations as to how the planning system

should address and interpret student housing. c Regular liaison between students, the university, the local authority and the local

community can aid the good management of student accommodation.


Section Section 10 ADesign Ahead head and quality

This chapter: c Reviews the increasing weight attached to urban design considerations by the planning

system c Considers how universities and planning authorities can establish a clear background

understanding to guide consideration of projects c Considers the use of master plans and other guidance c Relates to guidance from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment

(CABE), and to practice examples Design in the planning system Consideration of design issues has always been a part of the UK planning system, although the attention given has changed over time and varies between individual planning authorities. In the planning system, ‘design’ focuses primarily on how proposals will fit in with, and contribute to, their external environmental context. National planning guidance (Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering sustainable development, 2005) emphasises that good design is a key to good planning and to sustainable development. It states: ‘Good design ensures attractive, usable, durable and adaptable places and is a key element in achieving sustainable development. Good design is indivisible from good planning. Planning authorities should plan positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive design for all development, including individual buildings, public and private spaces and wider area development schemes. Good design should contribute positively to making places better for people. Design which is inappropriate in context, or which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, should not be accepted. High quality and inclusive design should be the aim of all those involved in the development process. High quality and inclusive design should create well mixed and integrated developments which avoid segregation and have well planned public spaces which bring people together and provide opportunities for physical activity and recreation.’ (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, paras 33-35).

This guidance reinforces the increasing attention to urban design issues by planners over recent years and shows the breadth of design issues in planning. PPS1 cross-refers for further guidance to the CABE publication for the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions By design (CABE, 2000, update pending) which details seven objectives of good urban design and gives guidance on how these can be achieved: 1. Character– A place with its own identity: To promote character in townscape and landscape by responding to and reinforcing locally distinctive patterns of development, landscape and culture. 2. Continuity and enclosure– A place where public and private spaces are clearly distinguished: To promote the continuity of street frontages and the enclosure of space by development which clearly defines private and public areas. 3. Quality of the public realm – A place with attractive and successful outdoor areas: To promote public spaces and routes that are attractive, safe, uncluttered and work effectively for all in society, including elderly and disabled people.

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4. Ease of movement – A place that is easy to get to and move through: To promote accessibility and local permeability by making places that connect with each other and are easy to move through, putting people before traffic and integrating land uses and transport. 5. Legibility – A place that has a clear image and is easy to understand: To promote legibility through development that provides recognisable routes, interactions and landmarks to help people find their way around. 6. Adaptability – A place that can change easily: To promote adaptability through development that can respond to changing social, technological and economic conditions. 7. Diversity – A place with variety and choice: To promote diversity and choice through a mix of compatible developments and uses that work together to create viable places that respond to local needs. The intention is that planning authorities should now be more proactive in setting out positive guidelines for design and access as part of the new, spatial emphasis of the new planning system. They are encouraged to establish visions for change and to push for high-quality outcomes. In combination with new procedures requiring the submission of ‘design and access statements’ with many planning applications, the onus has now shifted. In the past applicants could present scheme drawings and expect approval unless the planning authority could identify particular design objections. Now the applicant is required to explain how the design of a scheme will make a positive contribution. This new emphasis gives more significance to understanding the design policies set in new local plans and in supplementary guidance. In preparing these local authorities are guided by PPS1. ‘Design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout and access of new developments in relation to neighbouring buildings, and the local area more generally. Local planning authorities should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness particularly where this is supported by clear plan policies or supplementary planning documents on design’. (Planning Policy Statement 1, 2005, para 38)

Design policies have sometimes been expressed in very general terms, capable of wide interpretation. The guidance is that they should be clear, well argued and well explained. The importance of design to HE institutions HE institutions have become increasingly aware of the importance of the physical environment and buildings to the attractiveness, competitiveness and image of a university. Many HE institutions aspire strongly to achieve higher-quality environments in their estates strategies. This is particularly true for those institutions where poorquality 1960s/1970s buildings are increasingly regarded as a major problem. Universities, have also often been innovative in design terms, and continue to commission buildings of high architectural quality. There are, however, many examples of buildings in university estates where architectural enthusiasm has underestimated issues of practicality and sustainability. Most current estates strategies give considerably increased weight to issues of fitness for purpose, efficiency and economy in use, ease of maintenance, and flexibility to adapt to changing needs. 56

CABE provides guidance to the HE sector as building procurement client and to HEFCE as funder/assessor of university projects. Reference in relation to procurement in general is given by a number of documents related to good practice in relation to the client role; (for example, Improving standards of design in the procurement of public buildings (CABE, 2002), and to issues including ‘the whole life costing’ of buildings, emphasising the fact that the costs of a building over its life are much more significant than the costs of design and construction. Examples of good practice are given in Design with distinction: The value of good building design in higher education (CABE, 2005). For significant university developments, CABE’s Design Review Panel is available to assist applicants and planning authorities with independent guidance on design issues. There are an increasing number of regional design panels, operated by the regional architecture and built environment centres, establishing across the UK, which can provide similarly independent design review advice. The CABE website provides access to a wide range of relevant publications, related articles, and Design Review minutes and commentary.13 The role of master plans There is a long tradition within the HE sector of master planning for university campuses. Typically in the past these have been in the form of ‘big architecture’ – an overall scheme for new or expanded facilities. Master plans have come back into sharp focus as part of the new spatial emphasis on planning. They are now being drawn up very widely for parts of towns and cities in need of regeneration, and are often being revisited for university estates as the physical and spatial expression of wider estates’ strategies for positive change. While the term master plan is convenient and widely understood as a scheme for area change, it has no agreed meaning in the planning system, unless given a status by means of a plan policy, or as part of a formal planning permission. An important and inherent difficulty with big architecture master plans is that they tend to be prescriptive and definite and in due course this makes them inflexible. Such plans can date quickly as a university’s needs and contextual planning policies change. It can be more helpful to think in terms of a process of ‘master planning’ where general principles for development are fixed, while the detail of implementation can evolve over time. Guidance on master plans is given by CABE in Creating successful master plans (CABE, 2004) and by the related Design reviewed – master plans (CABE, 2004) summarising the experience of CABE’s design panel in considering recent master plans. CABE’s guidance emphasises the need for master planning processes that enable relevant stakeholders to contribute to and buy in to overall proposals. Master plans need to be clearly expressed and explained, and should differentiate between guiding principles and other more illustrative suggestions. The range of stakeholders to be involved in a master planning process will vary depending on the relationship of a university to other uses around it, to transport networks and its links with other agencies. Master planning should be a process of engaging with the planning authority and others to reach as broad an agreement as possible. Even where agreement is not possible, it should inform and focus discussion on the merits of proposed change. Formalising a master plan A master plan for an HE estate sets the scene for specific developments. This can save time and avoids repeated consideration of wider issues in individual planning Universities UK

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applications. Issues such as access, parking and green travel strategies are most appropriately dealt with by means of a master plan for the whole HE site, rather than in respect of individual building projects. A master plan can have the basic status of being the university’s own document, as an expression of its estate strategy. As such, it can provide valuable supporting information for individual planning applications and for a wider dialogue between the university and planning authority, especially within the context of regeneration; but it has no legal status. Where significant investment is planned, it can be preferable to formalise a master plan into the status of a local development document or supplementary guidance. This means that the master plan acquires the status of being supported by a council resolution as local policy. Alternatively master plans can be related to an outline planning consent for a programme of development, giving a higher status as part of a substantive planning permission (legally more secure against future revision than a plan proposal) for development. The new local development frameworks allow for a range of types of plan, including action plans for areas of major change. Universities and planning authorities can jointly consider the possibility of university master plans being formalised in this way. In this case it is necessary to consider the format of a master plan from the outset, and to ensure adequate consultation with other parties, so that the document will be appropriate for the planning authority to adopt without repeating its preparation. Local planning authorities can now adopt documents that have been prepared externally by development promoters or on behalf of area partnerships. The decision to do this is at the discretion of the local planning authority. For this reason, close liaison is essential for universities seeking to achieve formal planning policy status for a master plan. For master plans relating to outline planning consents, the format and content of the master plan is more specifically under the direct control of the HE institution, as applicant. It should still be discussed with the planning authority, however, as part of the pre-application discussions – in order to ensure that the approach adopted is acceptable. The process of gaining outline planning consent for large projects has evolved considerably in recent years, partly in relation to the requirements of environmental assessment, but also, in response to public and planning authority concerns that outline planning permissions should set clear parameters, which clarify the intentions for development and guide the further process of resolving ‘reserved matters’ at a later date. Government guidance is that outline applications should now be accompanied by general principles for the siting, layout, scale, and massing of buildings, explaining the intended uses and how the access arrangements will work. Such parameters define the degrees of flexibility that are available in implementing an outline planning permission later on, and they give a basis for the environmental assessment that needs to accompany major proposals. There are a number of recent examples where universities have secured outline planning permission for a programme of developments up to 10 or more years ahead, where the outline planning permission relates to a master planning process, to be updated over time and constrained by the parameters of a set of master plan principles.


Master plan approach – University of Manchester The University of Manchester has been engaged in a regular dialogue with its local planning authority since the late 1960s and its recent £620m development owes much of its speedy implementation to the strong relationship that has developed between the university and the planners in recent years. Master planning around the concept of a higher education precinct centred on the Oxford Road Campus. The earliest ideas were ambitious and included such details as high-level walkways between sites. Pragmatism in the 1980s returned the focus of the debate to the ground and to specific plots, but ambitions soared again during the 1990s with the construction of the Commonwealth Pool. The merger of the University of Manchester and UMIST took aspirations and ambitions for the university estate to a yet higher level and constraints on the availability of funding placed considerable pressure on the critical path. The university invested considerable time both before and after merger to work with the local planning authority to explain its objectives and needs. By developing a document of master plan principles, which was ultimately adopted officially, the university found its task easier when submitting further detailed planning applications. A ‘no surprises’ approach, which kept planners informed also helped to keep them on-board during moments of difficulty and regular contact was maintained throughout. Key points from the Manchester case: c A master plan approach which takes both a comprehensive and long-term view of the

university’s future development is invaluable. c Regular dialogue with the local planning authority will facilitate the planning and

implementation of university developments. When outline planning permission is secured for a long-term programme of change, discussion with the local authority on overall issues such as the overall quantum of development, access and green travel, and relationships to surrounding areas are considered and resolved at the outline stage. This investment in time usually pays considerable dividends by preventing issues from emerging inappropriately in relation to particular building developments. The approach allows for considerably greater certainty in the programming and delivery of buildings within an overall scheme approval. The existence of outline planning approval establishing the principles for future developments. This can help universities bidding for HEFCE and other grants: the master plan is evidence of a clear strategy, and of readiness for systematic development. Context and character Many planning authorities are commissioning significant work to create policies for the design of wider areas. This can include significant elements of ‘character appraisal’, assessing the current character of design in a particular area. There is no prescribed format for such appraisals, but good practice for the similar exercise of conservation area appraisals has been produced by English Heritage.14 The English Heritage methods can be used to assess an area’s form and functions today, and in the past. The appraisal also assesses the character and relationship of its spaces, identifies historic or prominent buildings, and records the predominant materials, colours and detailing of buildings and outstanding features. For universities contemplating a number of individual planning applications, a character appraisal of the university estate and its surroundings at the outset can be a useful tool. This can inform master planning and design commissioned by the university, and act as a reference point for a design dialogue with the local planning authority. Universities UK

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In preparing the ‘design and access statements’, which are now required to accompany significant planning applications, universities should take into account any character appraisal that may be available from the local planning authority or other relevant sources. Many local authorities are short of design skills in their planning departments and find it difficult to provide the degree of design policy guidance and quality of professional advice on design matters that the planning system is now requiring. There is a significant programme of urban design training underway in many local authorities. CABE and the relevant professional institutes are also facilitating training for planners and for local councillors involved in taking planning decisions. Because of these shortages the actions taken by local authorities seeking to influence design quality but inexperienced in these matters can sometimes be volatile. Universities should ensure that their own advisers are able to present the design intention of a project or master plan clearly and in relation to local and national guidance. In many local authorities, design advice is given by the conservation team, which may be the only part of smaller planning authorities that contains qualified architects or urban designers. This sometimes means that planning authorities adopt a unduly contextual approach, insisting that a new development should ‘fit in’ with its surroundings in terms of scale and, in some instances, in terms of the style and form of buildings. Even in conservation areas, the national advice from both English Heritage (see above) and CABE (Building in context, CABE, 2004) is that buildings should respect the structure and character of an historic area without overpowering it, but they should be of their time, not pastiche buildings of previous eras. Outside conservation areas, the arguments for ‘fitting in’ are less obvious and opportunities can be taken to introduce modern, distinctive, and sometimes differently scaled design elements, where these will have an overall positive effect on the character of a place. As public facilities, universities often have a valid need to provide landmark buildings for high- profile activities and to provide focal points of arrival or central feature within a university estate. Landmark buildings work best when they are few in number and high in quality. The best locations for them within a master plan should be established by an urban design analysis. Any master plan/estate strategy should keep in mind the need for a larger number of ‘background buildings’, reinforcing an overall quality of place in a more subtle manner and enclosing a network of linked external spaces, which combine to achieve a strong sense of place. In setting the client brief for individual building briefs, universities should take the opportunity to express their wider estate master planning intentions clearly. Where appropriate it is possible to consider ‘design coding’ so as to set specific parameters for individual buildings such as to achieve a coherence of overall development. Design codes have been used in a number of US towns to provide a design control for the land-owner. They have a long history (back to standards and codes for building in some medieval examples) and are being used in the UK at present in several major master planned developments. The Government is considering whether design codes should be encouraged within the UK planning system and a study of current experimental use is being monitored by CABE.


Summary c Universities should be alert to the increased attention being given to design and should

be prepared to explain the design of any particular project in terms of a wider master planning or area development intent. c Master plans, and more particularly the process of master planning involving a range of

stakeholders, can be a useful way of achieving wide agreement to changes to university estates. c The use of design parameters in the form of master plan principles and/or design codes

can be formalised in outline planning consents or council policy documents so as to give confidence to all parties that programmes of development can progress and achieve quality outcomes. c Guidance from CABE can be of particular use to universities and to planning authorities

in relation to matters of design.

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11 Section Section AAhead Heritage head and conservation

This chapter: c Gives an overview of heritage and conservation aspects of planning and of likely future

changes in the system c Considers heritage and conservation aspects of particular relevance to universities c Suggests some strategies for management of heritage assets by universities

Listed buildings, conservation areas and other heritage designations The planning system has included provisions for ‘listing’ buildings and other structures for 60 years. Buildings (and sometimes other structures such as bridges, walls and other structures), which are included by ministerial decision on the statutory list, are protected from demolition or alteration without specific listed building consent. Applications for listed building consent are separate from planning permission and are decided on narrower criteria of the preservation of the historic features. It is important to understand, so far as possible, why a particular building is listed. All listed buildings have an associated description with their list entry. How much information this gives depends on when the building was surveyed. Buildings first listed in the immediate post-war period often have very cursory descriptions. More recent additions to the list may have much fuller information. In any case, it is usually possible to clarify whether there are specific internal or external features of particular note, any particular historical or contextual associations, and in the more recent listings, some impression of how significant a building may be when compared to others of its generic type or by the same architect. The listing description will be a starting point for assessing the impact of any proposals. Most listed buildings fall within the Grade 2 category, and for such buildings there will usually be some flexibility which, provided the key characteristics that have led to the listing are preserved, allowing specific changes to be made. For the small percentage of listed buildings which are in the highest categories (Grade 1 and Grade 2*) the importance of the building in a national context will be so significant that changes are likely to be very limited, if permitted at all. Buildings are gradually being added to the list , often in response to suggestions from local amenity societies and from local authorities. English Heritage provides technical advice to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and there is a limited degree of consultation, giving owners and local authorities the opportunity to support or challenge the significance of a building in architectural or historic terms. Decisions on listing are taken only on the basis of the heritage significance of a building. Financial or other impacts of a decision to list are not taken into account. Listed buildings in the HE sector Some of the longest established universities have a very significant stock of listed buildings. These often play an important role in a town or city context, being among the finest buildings of their time. Universities with such buildings take their responsibilities to maintain listed buildings (as custodians for the wider community) seriously, and typically undertake regular reviews of condition and maintenance regimes, as well as understanding the history and physical character of the buildings in depth. Listed buildings in university ownership are often still in their original use. Updating the accommodation within them to meet modern teaching needs can raise sensitive architectural issues. Guidance for consideration of listed building applications (as contained in circulars revising and updating Planning Policy Guidance 15, 1994) makes it clear that the needs for change to maintain listed buildings in use (particularly in the use for which they have historically been intended) is important and should be carefully balanced with preservation of the fabric. There are many examples where universities, employing good conservation architects, have been able to strike a careful balance and 62

gain approval for adaptations and extensions to accommodate changing needs and demands. In recent years, a much larger number of universities have found themselves needing to deal in a similar way with listed buildings. This is because two particular categories of buildings, which have been increasingly added to the list in recent years, can be seen to affect universities. First, the increasing appreciation of Victorian and Edwardian buildings has meant that a significant proportion of late Victorian and Edwardian college and institute buildings (often the core of a modern urban university) have become listed, as a result of research by English Heritage of these generic building types, and also as a result of local interest group suggestions. Secondly, the growth in interest in post-war architecture as an architectural and historical period of development has led to the listing of many relatively modern buildings, and in some cases large parts of campuses that include innovative post-war architectural design. Such listing can impose significant restrictions on the flexibility to adapt and develop a university estate. In all cases the starting point for universities with listed buildings has to be to gain a clear understanding of the buildings in terms of the exact nature of their architectural and/or historic significance, their structure and condition. This basic information can inform a positive dialogue with the planning authority and with English Heritage, and can in some cases be the basis for establishing management plans that clarify what is and is not appropriate to consider in terms of alterations and adaptations. Heritage management plan – University of East Anglia, Norwich The University of East Anglia main campus in Norwich has a significant group of postwar listed buildings. The university is one of a number of organisations that has been piloting, with English Heritage, the process of preparing a heritage management plan. Under this, the buildings are researched to gain a full understanding, maintained and modernised in appropriate agreed ways, and where both owner and regulator have confidence that work done to the buildings will be appropriate, to preserve their essential character. The management plan effectively provides a structure within which listed building consents can be given readily for works that accord with management plan principles, giving certainty to the university that change is possible within limits and giving certainty to the planning authority and English Heritage that works will be based on sound analysis and understanding. The heritage management plans piloted with UEA and other land owners are seen as having potential as a tool for wider use in university estates and comparable situations where a single land owner is responsible for a significant number of listed buildings that can be considered in management terms as a whole. Enabling development While the listed buildings legislation imposes an onerous duty on the owner to preserve and maintain any listed building, the preservation and continued use of listed buildings is also a ‘material planning consideration’ that can be taken into account as part of considering wider planning applications. The principle behind enabling development in listed buildings is essentially that developments that secure the future of a listed building can be taken into account positively (balanced with other planning considerations) within an overall scheme. English Heritage has produced guidance to help planning authorities and applicants judge whether it is reasonable to allow development, when such development is deemed necessary to generate funds to secure the future of a listed building. Planning Universities UK

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permission will only be granted if the heritage asset is not materially harmed, if it helps to secure the long-term future of the asset and if the benefits outweigh the ‘disbenefits’. Conservation areas The concept of conservation areas dates from 1967. Unlike listing, which is specific to particular buildings, the concept behind the designation of a conservation area is that a place taken as a whole has heritage merit worthy of being, ‘preserved or enhanced’. The main additional controls within conservation areas are that buildings cannot be demolished without specific consent (conservation area consent). Specific consent is also needed to remove trees and there are reduced allowances for permitted development (not needing specific planning approval) within conservation areas. Planning Policy Guidance 15 (1994, and as subsequently updated and revised by circular), which deals with listed buildings and conservation areas, makes it clear that developments within conservation areas should only be allowed if they will preserve or enhance the area. Where a building is to be demolished and a new one replaces it the test is whether the outcome will be an improvement in the conservation area taken as a whole. This means that, for example, the demolition of an eyesore building and replacement with one of a quality that will fit into the conservation area will be readily approved. Guidance on development in conservation areas, produced by English Heritage and by CABE and referred to above, makes it clear that conservation areas should not be seen as preservation areas where no change is allowed. There must be some flexibility for change within the limits appropriate to preserving and enhancing the characteristics for which the area was designated. Recent guidance has tended toward a degree of encouragement of new buildings which are of their time rather than attempting copies of those from a particular point in the past. Planning authorities are required to prepare conservation area character appraisals, which assess the special architectural and historic interest of an area and provide the framework within which new developments could be considered. Moves toward a unified heritage consent system In combination, the provisions for listed building consent, for conservation consent, and also the separate provision for scheduled monuments consent (applying to archaeological sites for example) are separate procedures, which can often overlap with planning permission in any particular instance. The complexity of these overlapping procedures, each with different paperwork and assessment criteria, has been criticised over many years. The procedures involve responsibilities spread across a number of agencies and across two government departments, and are not readily understood in combination by the general public. At the time of writing, the Government is promoting the concept of a single heritage consent regime, which would bring conservation areas consent, listed building consent and scheduled monuments consent together into a single procedure with associated clarifications of guidance and simplification of responsibilities. It is being suggested that decisions on listing (currently taken by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) should be the responsibility of English Heritage. Responsibilities for administering the single heritage consent should fall primarily to local planning authorities, although with different degrees of consultation with English Heritage and other relevant agencies depending on the nature of the heritage asset being affected.


Summary c Universities should take the initiative to understand their heritage assets fully so as to

appreciate what features are and are not significant in heritage terms. c HE institutions with several listed buildings have similar characteristics should

consider heritage management plans as an integral part of their estates strategy. c Universities and planning authorities need to work together in conjunction with English

heritage to find viable ways to enable historic academic buildings to stay in the original use and conside enabling development if necessary. c Character appraisals of university sites and their surroinding context should be part of

universitiy master planning, especially in conservation areas.

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Section Section AConclusions Ahead head

Recent years have seen a very significant growth in the number of students, with implications for universities. In some cases this means a need for new university teaching space and student accommodation and in others a need to use existing floor space more efficiently. Attracting students is now a very competitive international business and universities will struggle to prosper unless they can offer an appropriate range of high-quality facilities. Universities are also making increasingly important contributions to the success of local economies. They are usually one of the largest employers in an area and the spending power of so many students has a real impact on the local economy. Universities also play an important role in business and job-creation, with a number of students staying on in their university town to work. Science and technology parks linked in to university research have been developed in many areas. The planning system has also experienced very significant changes in recent years, particularly with the introduction of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004. The traditional approach to development planning of structure plans and local plans has been replaced by local development frameworks, which are a suite of planning documents providing guidance at a range of different levels. At regional level, there is increased importance attached to regional planning guidance, closely related to other regional strategies, such as the regional economic strategy. Sustainability has become a key priority with all planning work with an increasing emphasis on good urban design and high-quality developments. There is an expectation of greater community involvement in the whole process. Despite the importance and scale of HE developments, there are few references to the HE sector in planning guidance. Universities should, therefore, be prepared to engage with planning authorities and other agencies at all levels to ensure that their needs are understood and incorporated into planning guidance wherever possible. The preparation of estates strategies and master plans, setting out their spatial manifestation are fundamental requirements of any university. These would provide the framework within which university developments would be set and within which planning applications would be considered. Master plans would need to be discussed with the local planning authority and incorporated into planning documents wherever possible. Ideally, this would be on a formal basis as part of the Local Development Framework (which will give greater certainty to development proposals), or alternatively on an informal basis. At the same time, local planning authorities must be prepared to enter into a dialogue with their local university to explain how the current planning system works and how universities can best be involved in the process. Universities form such an important component of the local economy that their needs should be reflected in the core strategy and more locally based development documents. A regular ongoing dialogue with the local authority will bring real benefits to all concerned. The new approach to planning provides an ideal opportunity for improved collaboration between the universities and the local council. Translating the university’s plans and aspirations into reality will require not only support from the planning authority but also the resources to ensure delivery. Shrewd use of the university’s assets can create sites for disposal, which generate funds for investment, but this must be done in conformity with planning policy. Universities should also be aware of other sources of funding that may be available and wherever possible tap into these funds. Major urban regeneration projects will often provide opportunities for this. With some development proposals, the local authority will expect the university to make financial contributions towards the provision of facilities via a Section 106 (of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act) legal agreement. It is important to ensure that these contributions are fair, reasonable and relevant. Requests for excessive contributions could seriously undermine the viability of university development proposals.


Universities will have a wide range of factors to take on board when preparing their development proposals. They must ensure that schemes are as sustainable as possible and provide a high quality of design. Many universities have historic buildings and sites, which must be respected when development proposals are put together. English Heritage can provide specialist advice and should be involved where necessary. Ensuring that there is a suitable supply of student accommodation is an important consideration for all universities. Without this, they will struggle to remain competitive. New purpose-built accommodation is currently in demand with many students – this has the added benefit of releasing existing housing occupied by students for use by families and others within the community. The research process culminating with the production of this report has brought together a diverse and highly influential group of individuals both from within and outside the sector. This is the first time that the sector has unified opinion on key planning matters affecting universities. This represents a strategic opportunity for the sector. Particular consideration should be given to: 1. Establishing a national sector planning group to pursue national policy agendas – possibly linking with health-based groups and private student accommodation providers. 2. Establishing effective regional town planning groups to coordinate and influences regional policy. These could be part of regional associations of universities, for example London higher, or facilitated by Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE). 3. Establishing sub-regional specialist coordinated representation focussing on more local policy representation for example, growth zones or market renewal areas. Information and activity generated by the above could be disseminated by a bespoke website linked to the main national and regional players portals. In short, the agenda facing universities is massive and they will only be successful with their development proposals if they can work closely and cooperatively with their local planning authority. Local authorities must reciprocate. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that this partnership works. It is hoped that this report represents the beginning of a process.

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Section Section AAppendix Ahead head

The Steering Groups at consultation The report was preceded by 18 months of research consultations with all institutions and presentation at the 2006 and 2007 Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) conferences. In addition to this, the following individuals and organisations were consulted either as part of a series of steering group meetings or on a one-to-one basis. Professor Peter Roberts

Chief Executive Academy of Sustainable Communities.

Duncan Bowie

Director of Housing Greater London Authority

Professor Malcolm Grant The Vice Chancellor University College London Richard Goodwin

Department of Community and Local Government

John Stambollouian

Department of Community and Local Government

Justin Carr

Planning Officers Society/GLA

David Crook

Planning Inspectorate

Lee Stott

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)

Professor Colin Fudge

University of the West of England, Bristol

Ian Caldwell

Director of Estates Kings College, London

Graham Rhodes

University of Central England – AUDE

Susan Adams

University of Greenwich

Simon McCaugherty

London Higher

Authors and coordinators Geoff Wright AIMS, MRTPI John Plumridge, AIMS, MRTPI, RIBA Derek Stroud, consultant on behalf of UUK Patricia Thomas, OBE, English partnerships


Section Section Notes AAhead head

1 University of Strathclyde (2006) The impact of higher education institutions on the UK economy Universities UK: London. 2 HEFCE (2006) Performance in higher education estates, EMS annual report 2005, Figure 1, p.5. HEFCE: London - available at 3 HEFCE (2006) Future needs for capital funding in higher education – JM Consulting, HEFCE: London- available at; HEFCE (2006) Evaluation of Project Capital 1 and 2 – D.Mason HEFCE: London- available at; HEFCE (2006) Estate Strategies- a guide to good practice Executive summary para.1 HEFCE: Londonavailable at 4 Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2006) Rethinking the Planning Regulation of Land and Property Markets New Horizons research summary no 2: April, available at documents/corporate/pdf/144659 5 Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2005) Planning Policy Statement 1 available at corporate/pdf/147393; Rogers et al (2005) Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance available at http://www.urbantaskforce.org_UTF_final_report.pdf 6 Barker (2004) Review of Housing Supply HMSO; Barker (2006) Review of Land Use Planning HMSO 7 Accessible at 8 Accessible at 9 Accessible at RES06v2.pdf 10 Contactable at 11 Barker (2004) Review of Housing Supply HMSO; Barker (2006) Review of Land Use Planning HMSO 12 Studentification: a guide to opportunities, challenges and practice, 2006 13 Aaccessible at default.aspx?contentitemid=1 14 Aaccessible at pdf/Conservation_area_appraisals 20060320130154.pdf)

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Section Section AReferences Ahead head

Barker, K (2004) Review of housing supply HMSO: Norwich Barker, K (2006) Review of land use planning HMSO: Norwich Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (2002) Improving standards of design in the procurement of public buildings available at Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (2005) Design with distinction: The value of good building design in higher education available at

HEFCE (2006) Future needs for capital funding in higher education – JM Consulting HEFCE: London HEFCE (2006) Evaluation of project capital 1 and 2–D. Mason HEFCE: London HEFCE (2006) Estate strategies – a guide to good practice HEFCE: London Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2006) Rethinking the Planning Regulation of Land and Property Markets New Horizons research summary no2: April

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (2004) Creating successful master plans

Mayor of London (2004) The London Plan available at

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (2004) Design reviewed- master plans

North West Development Agency (2006) Regional Economic Strategy available at RES06v2.pdf

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (2004) Building in context AssetLibrary/1799.pdf

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, HMSO: Norwich

Department for Communities and Local Government (2005) Planning Policy Statement 1: delivering sustainable development TSO: Norwich Department for Communities and Local Government (1995) Planning Policy Guidance 2: Green belts TSO: Norwich

Rogers et al (2005) Towards a strong urban renaissance available at UTF_final_report.pdf The Scottish Government (2004) The National Planning Framework for Scotland available at

Department for Communities and Local Government (2000) Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing TSO: Norwich

Town and Country Planning Act 1947, HMSO: Norwich

Department for Communities and Local Government (2005) Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for town centres TSO: Norwich

Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999, HMSO: Norwich

Department for Communities and Local Government (2004) Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas TSO: Norwich Department for Communities and Local Government (2001) Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport TSO: Norwich Department for Communities and Local Government (1994) Planning Policy Guidance 15: Planning and the historic environment TSO: Norwich


HEFCE (2006) Performance in higher education estates, EMS annual report 2005 HEFCE: London

Town and Country Planning Act 2004, HMSO: Norwich

Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, HMSO: Norwich Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2006, HMSO: Norwich University of Strathclyde (2006) The impact of higher education institutions on the UK economy Universities UK: London University Estate Management Statistics

Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions (2000) By design – CABE TSO: Norwich

Universities UK (2006) Studentification: a guide to opportunities, challenges and pracitce, UUK: London

English Heritage (2006) Conservation area appraisals available at pdf/ Conservation_area_appraisals2006320130154.pdf

Welsh Assembly Government (2004) Wales Spatial Plan available at


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About Universities UK This publication has been produced by Universities UK, which is the representative body for the executive heads of UK universities and is recognised as the umbrella group for the university sector. It works to advance the interests of universities and to spread good practice throughout the higher education sector. Universities UK Woburn House 20 Tavistock Square London WC1H 9HQ telephone +44 (0)20 7419 4111 fax +44 (0)20 7388 8649 email web Š Universities UK ISBN 978 1 84036 173 5 April 2008 £15.00

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