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  6. News round-up 12 May 2011

News round-up 12 May 2011

Mixed-use neighbour for embassy?

Irish property company Ballymore has submitted a planning application to Wandsworth Council for a major mixed-use scheme around the proposed US embassy complex.

The company is planning to develop more than 2,000 homes, 500,000 sq ft of offices, a 100-bed hotel and 130,000 sq ft of shops and restaurants as a part of the ‘Embassy Gardens’ project.

The master plan for the 15-acre site, in the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea Opportunity Area, consists of nine building plots with buildings rising to up to 23 storeys.

In a related development a second public consultation is now under way on proposals to extend the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea Power Station.

The plan would create two new tube stations - one at Battersea Power Station and one to the east of Nine Elms on the borough boundary with Lambeth. The proposed tube link is part of a package of transport improvements helping to regenerate the Opportunity Area.


Conservationists attack Liverpool Waters scheme

Conservationists have criticised Peel Holdings master plan for its £5.5bn Liverpool Waters development currently under consideration by Liverpool City Council.

Proposals for the 60 hectare docklands site include the 55-storey Shanghai Tower, along with several other tall buildings.

The developer says the regeneration of the area will provide more than 9,000 homes, as well as offices, hotels, conference facilities, shops, restaurants, pubs and even a specially designed cruise liner facility.

However, the Victorian Society is not impressed. “If the Liverpool Waters development gets the go-ahead it will diminish and obscure the dockland character of what was once the world's greatest nineteenth century seaport,” said Chris Costelloe, conservation adviser for the Victorian Society.

“We support the regeneration of the area, but a fundamental rethink is required to protect Liverpool's heritage for future generations,” he added.


Housing aid for stalled regeneration areas

Housing minister Grant Shapps has announced plans to allocate some £30m to help councils develop proposals to rejuvenate areas of poor housing in the five most challenged Housing Market Renewal areas: Merseyside, East Lancashire, North Staffordshire, Hull and Teesside.

Councils will have to find matching funding through initiatives like the New Homes Bonus. Bidding guidance will be published shortly.

Shapps has stressed that this transition scheme should help families trapped in abandoned streets due to stalled large-scale housing demolition projects.

However, he has also insisted that the funding will not help complete old schemes or buy out old contracts.

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


Allotment assurance

Planning minister Bob Neill has said the Government has no plans to change the rules requiring councils to provide allotments for local communities.


Long Kesh makeover

The Belfast office of planning and urban design consultancy Turley Associates has been appointed to develop a spatial framework for the 347-acre Maze Long Kesh site near Lisburn in Northern Ireland.

The site has been an airfield, a motor racing circuit and more recently used as an internment camp and prison. Some of the buildings which remain have been listed.

Read the Turley Associates news release.


Leamouth Peninsula revamp approved

Modified proposals for the Leamouth Peninsula development next to Canning Town in east London have obtained planning permission from Tower Hamlets Council. A team led by Skidmore Owens & Merrill (SOM) has designed the scheme which involves a series of residential towers a on a 4.7 hectare site between the River Lea and the Thames.


Swindon town centre scheme lodged

Urban developer Muse has submitted an outline planning application for a mixed-use scheme involving, new homes, commercial and retail floor space and leisure uses for the Union Square site in Swindon town centre.


Planning team switches

Law firm Winckworth Sherwood has landed the planning and environment team from Field Fisher Waterhouse: Karen Cooksley, Colette McCormack and Lindsay Garratt.


Playing field initiative

Sports minister Hugh Robertson and Sport England have launched a £10m fund to protect and improve sports fields across the country.

This initiative, called Protecting Playing Fields, will help communities to enhance local playing fields or create new sports pitches.

Sport England will fun five £2m funding rounds over the next three years, investing sums of between £20,000 and £50,000 in schemes such as buying new playing field land, improving the condition of pitches through drainage or bringing disused sports fields back into use. Every area supported by the fund will also be protected from developers for at least 25 years.

Read the Sport England press release.


Passivhaus project

Affordable housing developer Durkan has been awarded a £5m contract by Octavia Housing to construct London’s first mixed-tenure Passivhaus residential development, promoting a new era in low carbon housing.

The Passivhaus Certification is the world’s leading standard in energy efficient construction. Its high insulation requirements can deliver savings of 90 per cent or more on fuel bills against traditional housing if used correctly.

The super energy-efficient development of 31 homes will be built on a tight urban site in Sulgrave Gardens, Hammersmith.

The development is Octavia Housing’s second Passivhaus project. The housing association was responsible for delivering the first certified Passivhaus retrofit in the UK, converting a Victorian home in a conservation area into a comfortable and healthy low energy home.


Neville scores

Footballer Gary Neville has finally won planning approval for his proposed partly underground zero-carbon family home on Green Belt moorland between Bolton and Bury.

Branded a ‘Teletubbies house’ because of its innovative petal-shaped design, the scheme was originally refused permission by Bolton Council, against the recommendation of officers. The council subsequently approved a revised application with a less prominent wind turbine.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has decided not to intervene.


Farm land bill move

Kent Conservative MP Laura Sandys has been given the Parliamentary go-ahead to introduce legislation which would prohibit local authorities granting planning permission involving the development of Grade 1 agricultural land other than in exceptional circumstances. The Planning (Grade 1 Agricultural Land Protection) Bill had its first reading in the Commons on 11 May.

Read the Commons Hansard report (11 May 2011, column 1184).

Roger Milne

12 May 2011