Planning & Infrastructure Monthly: April 2019

This is the first edition in a series of monthly newsletters from Engage, Communicate, Facilitate. The newsletter will focus on planning and infrastructure in the UK and the political landscape surrounding them.

Planning in London: Tulip given planning permission

The controversial skyscraper designed by Foster + Partners dubbed “the Tulip” secured planning permission on 2 April to much fanfare. The 305-metre tower in the City of London will feature a viewing platform with rotating pods, a sky bar and a restaurant. Foster + Partners have been the architects by a number of unique and eye catching high-rise developments in London including the Gherkin and Wembley stadium.

The building was dubbed "the Tulip" but it has a likeness to a number of other items, some of which would be too rude to divulge in the first edition of our monthly newsletter. However, email your suggestions to oliver@engagecf.co.uk if you can see a likeness to something else.

Click here to read more.

In Parliament: Leaks and resignations

Richard Harrington, the former Construction Minister and MP for Watford resigned from the Cabinet in order to vote for the Letwin amendment, which allowed Parliament to begin to seize control of the Brexit process on 25 March. The country currently doesn't have a Construction Minister, although arguably it doesn't have a functioning Government so what does it matter!

Since Harrington resigned, Parliament has failed to agree on a new course of action twice and the Speaker had to cast his deciding vote for the first time since 1993 allowing the Government to "take back control of the Parliamentary agenda". Just to cap it off, the Commons sprung a leak yesterday and was forced to close, in what can only be described as a metaphor for the Brexit process.

We'll be keeping an eye out to see if Harrington is replaced.

Upcoming events

ECF are delighted to announce that we have two upcoming events on the week commencing 29 April:

Tuesday 30 April: How do we deliver the social infrastructure needed to support our growing populations?

Thursday 02 May: Can Build-to-Rent solve the UK’s housing crisis?

Our Chair Kathy Jones will visiting London from Sydney for the week and will be facilitating both events. Please visit https://www.engagecf.co.uk/our-news/categories/events for further information or email rory@engagecf.co.uk to RSVP. Spaces are limited.

Transport for London set to build 3,000 Build-to-Rent homes

In Build-to-Rent news, TfL have announced plans to build 3,000 Build-to-Rent (BTR) homes across London. TfL will be teaming up with Grainger on the construction programme across eight sites in the first phase of development.

They promise a minimum of 40% affordable homes on all new planning consents, which will please the Mayor of London who has tried to make affordable housing delivery a central policy plank of his administration. How successful he has been is up for debate.

The eight sites in the first phase of development are:

  • Limmo Peninsula, Canning Town, Newham (potential for up to 1,500 homes)

  • Southall Sidings, Ealing (potential for up to 400 homes)

  • Nine Elms tube station, Lambeth (potential for up to 400 homes)

  • Armourers Court, Woolwich, Greenwich (potential for up to 400 homes)

  • Hounslow West tube station, Hounslow (potential for up to 350 homes)

  • Cockfosters tube station, Enfield (potential for up to 300 homes)

  • Arnos Grove tube station, Enfield (potential for up to 100 homes)

  • Montford Place, Kennington, Lambeth (potential for up to 100 homes)

The move signals a significant change of attitude towards the BTR project in the United Kingdom, and is likely to be the first of many joint ventures between the the public and private sector. Just in case you missed it, we are hosting a BTR event on 2nd May and a Grainger representative will be among the attendees. Email rory@engagecf.co.uk or more details.

As more and more BTR schemes come forward across the country, we are also in the process of testing local authority perceptions of this emerging type of development. Watch this space for more details!

Consultation Corner: Citizen deliberation is the gateway to a better politics

At ECF we're always trying to get ahead of the curve in terms of consultation and engagement methodology. So we read with interest, Matthew Taylor of the RSA who argued in the economist that the increasingly tribal divide between the left and the right can be bridged by looking toward the most original form of democracy, citizen deliberation.

Taylor argues the more personal process fosters respect for decision makers in a way the modern Manichean worldview of heroes and villains does not. He points to a recent use of a "citizens' jury" organised last year by two parliamentary select committees with ideas on the funding of social care that was broadly endorsed by MPs, albeit not passed as legislation.

This is a case that can certainly be applied to the process of stakeholder and community engagement in planning. Undoubtedly, the failing of most planning applications is a result of inadequate citizen deliberation.

A more personal and engaging approach toward citizens and local residents would yield better results for developers, in our humble opinion

To read the full article click here.

Planning Round-Up: March 2019

March was a busy time in the property and planning worlds. Here are some stories worth reading from March:

- 'Reclassify Housing as Infrastructure to boost delivery' says major Chief Executive

- Case for Greater Cambridge Metro 'compelling'

- 1,000-home Sheerwater regeneration scheme set for planning approval

- Proposed designs revealed for MSG Sphere, UK's largest concert arena

- Developers accused of 'segregating' children at London playground

Zac Slater