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Design & Build Challenge at Hartlepool College

Helen Heward, Associate Planning Consultant at Planning House, was delighted to be involved in a ‘Design and Build Challenge’ at Hartlepool College organised by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) on Thursday 21st March.

NAWIC is an international organisation of women working within the construction industry which seeks to promote diversity and equality across the construction industry by organising events where members can meet and build relationships with other professionals in the industry.

The event was attended by Year 9 girls from schools across Hartlepool to highlight the opportunities available for girls within the construction industry and the wide range of courses available at Hartlepool College to support future careers.

 

The morning started with an introduction from John Cartwright, Head of Construction and Built Environment at the college followed by a short presentation from each of the women who had volunteered to assist with the morning. Speakers ranged from builders, joiners, electrical engineers, quantity surveyors and planners to an anthropologist who is studying the construction industry for an upcoming book.

Angela Carney who organised the event and is Head of Carney Construction was keen to impress upon the girls that women in the construction industry are massively under represented and they are as capable as men, so the construction industry should be viewed as an opportunity for the girls in the future.

Each speaker then assisted a table of girls with the design challenge which was to design a school or college building and build it out of Lego. Each design had to be fully costed, to a tight budget, include an element of fun and incorporate some form of renewable energy generation. The girls then presented the end product to the room and a vote was taken to decide the winning team.

Whilst team ‘Planning House’ didn’t win there were some fantastic design ideas including a forest school element to keep cost down and integrate the building into its environment.

To finish the event there was a question and answer session with the panel of speakers. Questions included what education speakers had undertaken, whether they liked their job and how much they got paid! The girls seemed genuinely surprised at the wide range of opportunities available to them and commented that the speakers “didn’t look how they expected women in the construction industry to look”.

It was a very positive event and Planning House were proud to support the event which encouraged girls to consider future careers in the industry and promoted gender equality and diversity across the construction industry.

Women in Planning North East Launch

Planning House were proud to sponsor, along with Kings Chambers the launch of the North East branch of Women in Planning, organised and chaired by our very own Helen Heward. The wonderful Laurence Sweeney took some beautiful photographs which can be viewed in our Photo Gallery.

Women in Planning is an independent network with the aim of promoting a diverse and inclusive planning industry. The network has a clear vision to inspire women to feel empowered and be successful with the overall aim of promoting gender equality. Whilst the network is women led it is not exclusionary, both women and men are encouraged to get involved and work towards a common goal of increasing diversity and championing gender equality across the planning industry.

Women in Planning North East Launched on Thursday 7th February at The Botanist in Newcastle. The event was attended by over 70 people, both men and women, who enjoyed a Masons gin and tonic on arrival followed by drinks and nibbles. The atmosphere was amazing and there was a definite buzz of excitement in the air.
Speeches were made by Helen as the Chair of the North East branch, who spoke about her reasons for setting up the branch and the need for people to unite to bring about equality in the region. Alison Mackay, one of the founding members of Women in Planning in 2012, spoke about why the network was originally set up and the success it has enjoyed, and Sarah Reid, a Barrister at Kings Chambers spoke about the need to inspire and encourage women and the role that the network has to play in order to address the gender imbalance across the industry.

The next step for the North East branch is to set up a committee and then start work on the next event. It is a really exciting time to get involved, as those involved at this stage can be influential in shaping the network going forward. There seemed to be a definite feel from attendees that short CPD events held in the form of interactive breakfast seminars and post work social events such as a pub quiz or cocktail making class would be well received so those are already on the ‘To do’ list.

Mentoring was also high on the priority list for attendees particularly the wonderful planning students who joined us on the evening and are just starting in their planning career.

If anyone would like to get involved in any aspect of the network, either on the committee or as a mentor please email womeninplanningnortheast@gmail.com and to find out more about upcoming events sign up to the Mailing List.

More information about who we are and the vision of the network can be found on the Women in Planning Website.

 

Make way for the new NPPF

NPPF2
NPPF 2018

Since 2012 the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) became the proverbial Bible of the Planning system making it less complex and more accessible. It vastly simplified the number of policy pages about planning and along with the planning practice guidance (PPG) provided a much needed shake up of draconian planning process.

The revised NPPF  has been published this afternoon in a bid to once again shake up the development process, some of the main changes involve:

  • Changes to the definition of, and the presumption in favour of, sustainable development;
  • Removal of the section setting out the government’s core planning principles;
  • New duties for strategic plan-making, including addressing key strategic priorities;
  • New duty for planning authorities to prepare statements to document cross-boundary issues;
  • Amended wording for soundness tests underpinning plan examinations;  Including that a plan must be ‘an’ appropriate strategy – not ‘the most’ – which may have implications for those pushing for sites to be included in a Local Plan.
  • Introduction of new standard method for assessing local housing need.  This new method will come into force in late January, six months after the new NPPF’s publication.  However, the government said it will consider adjusting the methodology in order to meet its 300,000-homes-a-year target in light of the impending publication of new household growth projections that are likely to be lower than previous estimates.  It will “consult on the specific details” when the new projection figures are published in September.
  • Requirements for authorities relating to housing delivery, including small sites target. Councils must accommodate 10% of their housing requirement on small sites, as opposed to 20% of sites under the draft version;
  • Introduction of the housing delivery test to determine need for action plan and performance against homes requirement.  The test will measure the number of homes created against local housing need and penalise councils that underdeliver against various thresholds over a three-year period.  This includes applying the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery is below 75 per cent of the housing requirement from 2020.
  • LPAs to have to meet a tougher test to prove that their housing sites are deliverable;
  • The importance of design standards is emphasised.  The creation of high-quality buildings and places is ‘fundamental’ to what the planning and development process should achieve, the revised NPPF states. In particular, councils should try to “ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion, as a result of changes being made to the permitted scheme.
  • Encouragement for LPAs to allow changes of use to housing and minimum density standards;
  • New rules for how LPAs should decide whether ‘exceptional circumstances’ exist for green belt changes;
  • The approach advocated in the written ministerial statement issued in 2016 on neighbourhood development plans is enshrined.  Paragraph 14 says that where the presumption in favour of sustainable development would otherwise apply in the absence of relevant or up-to-date plan policies, the adverse impact of allowing housing schemes that conflict with Neighbourhood Development Plans is likely to “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits” where the plan was adopted two years or less before the decision, it contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement and the local planning authority has at least a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites against its five year requirement, including any appropriate buffer against under delivery.  In addition, the planning authority’s record must show that at least 45 per cent of homes required were delivered over the previous three years, the document says.

 

ipse New to Freelance WINNER 2018

Chris Pipe Winner New Freelancers of the Year
ipse New to Freelance winner

Every year IPSE searches for the UK’s best independent professionals that represent the expertise and diversity of freelancing.

Winners were announced at an awards ceremony held on National Freelancers Day (28th June 2018) at Kings Place, London.  This year Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House was awarded National New Freelancer of the Year.

 

Permission secured for 3 Dwellings in Co. Durham

Planning House are pleased to announce outline planning consent has been secured for up to 3 new dwellings on land at The Moorings, Hett Hills, Chester-Le-Street.

The approved site is part of The Moorings hotel, bar and restaurant and is located between Pelton Fell and Craghead on the B6313.   The new dwellings are to be located on an area of land which is part of the Moorings hotel complex part of which is currently used as an overflow car park, accessed from The Moorings car park directly.

The site is 1.8km from services and outside the nearby settlement limits of Pelton Fell.   However it has been established that this is not an unreasonable walking and cycling distance along what is deemed as a practical route.  The site is considered sustainable and was supported by Durham County Council planners.

With Thanks to All About Trees and Roberts Environmental for their support in the application.

3 New Dwellings
Planning Success in County Durham

Planning myths

Some of the common town planning myths are dispelled in the September issue of Northern Insight by Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House.  This is a must read for anyone embarking on a development project, especially those who may not have been through the planning process previously.

There are some common myths about town planning which you should be aware of before you embark on a project, in this article I want to dispel a few of them.

‘Apply for something bigger than you want to build then you can compromise with the planners to the actual size you want’   What a load of rubbish! Apply for what you want and save time and resources with unnecessary negotiations, if a planner has a scheme they can support they will planners don’t tend to disagree out of obstinance.

‘My plans are similar to down the street, so it’s guaranteed to be approved’   Every planning decision is based on specific circumstances. Policies evolve and significantly influence a planning decision. The creation of a conservation area or where a development boundary line is drawn on a local plan can all fundamentally change the way a proposal is viewed. Planning history and constraints of a site also play a huge part in the process. Whilst precedent can be a contributing factor the planning mantra is ‘every application will be determined on its own merits’.

‘Pre-Application advice has been positive so my application will be approved’  Planning decisions are based on adopted policies, however, don’t underestimate local objections and politics.  If nearby residents object against your application and contact the parish or local councillors you could also end up with objections from them.  Some Councillors sit on the planning committee and can override the planning officer’s recommendations. Speak with neighbours and local representatives in a bid to avoid objections and potential appeal.

‘Planner Officers will guide me to an approval’  A planning officer’s role is to process your application. Some planners are worth their weight in gold and talk to applicants about issues and guide in overcoming them. However, planners have set timeframes to decide an application, they are often under resourced and as a consequence can take the easier route of refusing an application rather than discussing any issues. Contacting your planner to ascertain their view on your application can avoid unnecessary refusal.

‘I’ll get my decision in a couple of months’   Let’s assume your planning application is valid when its submitted, i.e. all relevant information is submitted. Only once its valid does the decision making clock start to tick.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if an application is valid no further information could be requested, something could crop up which means you may need to provide further information, potentially meaning further time is needed. Planning applications have timescales for determination and Council’s try to adhere to these, however extensions of time can be requested by the planners you don’t have to agree to them, but unless you appeal against non-determination the Council can take longer to decide your application, especially if the application goes to the Planning Committee for determination.

‘Once I have permission I can start to build’ Sometimes this is the case but generally there are conditions attached to a planning approval which must be discharged, for instance agreeing a brick or tile for your development or providing information relating to boundaries etc. Check your conditions, as discharging conditions can take a number of weeks which you need to plan into your build schedule.  Also, don’t forget about Building Regulations Consent which is a completely separate process to planning.

‘I can change my plans as I go’  We’ve all seen TV programmes that encourage alterations however be aware that technically, if a proposal is not built in accordance with the approved plans or conditions it doesn’t have planning permission! Changes can be risky and could have fundamental consequences such as enforcement action, demolition, finances being withdrawn by your mortgage company, or an unsellable asset. Always check that changes don’t invalidate your planning permission.

Common Town Planning Myths
Top Tips on Common Myths of Planning