Senior Planning Officer
Jennifer is a Senior Planning Officer at Adur & Worthing Councils. She's been with the Planning Policy team since 2017 and works on a range of projects including preparation of the Worthing Local Plan which, when adopted, will guide future development in the borough.
Jennifer is excited to be blogging about her work and is keen to talk about how it links up with wider projects taking place within the Councils.
Before she joined the Planning Policy team, Jennifer worked in Planning Policy at Test Valley Borough Council for six years. Prior to that, she was a Teacher Associate at Oxford Brookes University.
Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys travelling and has a passion for architecture and design - London and Liverpool are her favourite cities. She also loves seeking inspiration from Instagram for her travels, particularly keeping an eye out for trendy cafes and restaurants to visit.
You can read Jennifer's current blog posts on this page below:
See also: Planning Policy
I hope everyone is keeping well and safe as we find ourselves in a national lockdown.
To say that I have been living in Horsham for 3.5 years, I discovered a new neck of the woods yesterday. I put my walking boots on and undertook a section of the ‘Horsham Riverside Walk’ which brought me through Leechpool Woods & Owlbeech Woods. The 110 acre site consists of heathland, woodland and wetland supporting a range of diverse wildlife, some of which are rare.
Upon leaving these woods, I then felt like I had stepped into the icy fantasy world of Narnia when I came across High Wood to the north of Horsham. The muddy and mild landscape of Leechpool & Owlbeech Woods was replaced with frozen branches, icicles surrounding the sharp edge of holly and being enveloped in a white hazy mist. It was rather eerie but nonetheless it added an interesting twist to my walk but it made me realise that icy weather is becoming a more rare event.
This brings me to mention that I recently watched ‘Dancing on Thin Ice’, presented by Olympic figure skaters Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, documenting their lifelong dream to dance the Bolero on wild ice. Their challenge took them to Alaska, a country that has over three million lakes and thus one of the best places in the world to go wild skating.
They discover first-hand the dramatic effects of climate change in Alaska which is impacting upon the formation of ice with the Arctic landscape melting away. It was quite a sobering programme to watch and a vivid illustration that the planet is getting warmer with winters becoming milder and wetter.
Will ice and snow become a thing of the past and something that will seem like a fantasy world that is read about in books?
Photo: A snap from Jennifer's Horsham Riverside Walk
I am always full of enthusiasm at the start of the New Year. I love to make entries into my brand new calendar and record social engagements, make holiday and weekend arrangements etc so it feels a bit strange that my new 2021 calendar has just birthday reminders noted so far. However, I am determined that I am going to have something to focus upon to give me a sense of purpose and therefore that is going to be continuing with my walking adventures on a local scale.
It is really important to have a goal and something to look forward to. For me, it is a new trail to discover, experience buds and shoots springing into life as we inch towards spring. My friend and I have been researching local walking trails and making lists of possible routes to walk upon over the next couple of months as well as continuing with our Thames Path challenge when we are able to do so.
On New Year's Day, we completed our first walk of the year and it was a mud-bath. I don't think it could have been any more muddy, and if it was then we might as well have just taken our boots off and gone swimming in the mud! Nonetheless, it was actually quite amusing and it became a competition as to who had the muddiest boots. They do say that laughter is the best medicine!
With this in mind, I hope my blog readers are inspired to pursue a safe and fun activity which will help to bring joy and a sense of achievements during the next couple of months.
What strange surreal times we find ourselves in. This Christmas is going to be very different for many families and individuals across the country. During this time, it is important more than ever that communities continue with the small acts of kindness.
I found this message posted on Instagram by @allontheboard (Transport for London Underground) which I found very meaningful and it brought me some comfort as well as a reminder that there will be better times on the horizon:
As much as we love Christmas,
Our main priority is to save lives;
People only get one life,
But, Christmas happens every year,
Every 365 days another one arrives.
Love is the greatest gift,
So let's keep giving it at this present time,
We need to protect our loved ones and each other,
In the future we can give them much more.
Father Christmas will still come to town,
Even if there is a lockdown,
Even though this is a tough situation;
When this is all over we can all get together,
And every day will feel like Christmas,
As people rejoice with a worldwide celebration.
I wish everyone a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and every best wishes for a healthy and safe 2021.
My friend and I recently resumed our Thames Path challenge, commencing at London Blackfriars, and I am thrilled to say that we have reached the end of the north bank path at East India and thus we have successfully completed our first milestone. Since starting the challenge in August at Hampton Court Palace, we have walked a whopping total of 36.5 miles!
It has been an incredible journey of observing how waterside and dockland industries over the years have shaped the architecture and built a form of development present in that area. This was particularly noticeable as we walked through the London docklands of Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse and Millwall.
The path took us through Canary Wharf, a development that I have always found fascinating through the eyes of a Planner. So, I thought for this blog, I will trace the development origins of Isle of Dogs and how the former historic dockland area has transformed into the imposing Canary Wharf financial global hub that we know today.
I have always wondered where Canary Wharf got its name from. In the 1800s, this part of London was one of the busiest shipping ports in the world and formed the heart of the British Empire. It was particularly renowned for sea trade of fruit and vegetables with the Canary Islands (hence the name Canary Wharf). In the 1980's, the rise in containerisation and technology resulted in the port industry declining and subsequently the docks closed for trade. There was a strong desire by the Thatcher Government to regenerate the area with the Secretary of State for Environment Michael Haseltine, forming the London Development Corporation in 1981.
This was a prime opportunity for a comprehensive social/economic redevelopment to address the pressing need for new housing, and to also improve the quality of existing social housing in Tower Hamlets. However, real estate in London is always at a premium.
Therefore a commercial focus was concentrated upon with an 'Urban Enterprise Zone' being established which is a designated area that provides tax breaks, infrastructure incentives and reduced regulation (ie planning controls) to attract investment and private companies thereby stimulating economic growth and development.
In 1987, Canary Wharf was officially born through the investment of Paul Reichmann, a Canadian property tycoon. Construction of commercial floorspace, skyscrapers, luxury apartments and retail followed with One Canada Square being unveiled in 1991, which was the largest building in Britain until it was surpassed by the Shard in 2013 (see my blog dated 12th October 2020).
However, in order to support Canary Wharf as a global business and financial hub, there was a need for improved transport links in and out the docklands. As a result, the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) was implemented.
In 2014, planning permission was granted for major eastward expansion, which included the construction of 30 buildings comprising shops, residential and offices. Today, Canary Wharf dominates an area of 39 hectares and consists of 1,500,000m2 of office and retail floorspace. The area forms the UK's main financial centre and it is home to the European Headquarters of numerous major banks such as Citigroup and HSBC.
While the redevelopment of the docklands has resulted in employment opportunities for the local population, existing social housing may not have improved much and it is considered that the wider social needs of the area have not been fully addressed.
Please keep tuned in as we continue the next installment of the Thames Path challenge - the South Bank!
Now the Government has announced new tier restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday 2nd December 2020, pursuing outdoor activities will continue to frame my downtime from work. Walking outdoors with one other person has been a lifeline for getting through Lockdown 2.0.
I do feel like I have thoroughly walked and covered all the residential streets in my local area. Admittedly, it does feel a bit like Groundhog Day after a while. That's why variety is the spice of life and every so often I get the map book out and research for a walking trail that I haven't yet trodden.
Recently, my friend and I walked the South Downs Way starting from Cuckmere Haven, walking eastwards to the Belle Tout lighthouse at Beachy Head and back. Walking over the cliffs was quite challenging and required stamina, but nonetheless a great sense of achievement! My friend and I enjoyed a packed sandwich lunch looking out across the English Channel.
The new tier 2 restrictions mean we are now able to meet up with no more than a group of six people outdoors. I have begun to plan my social diary in the lead up to Christmas and with ingenious thinking, my friends and I have decided to have walking themed Christmas celebrations! So, we are going to go all out and wear our Christmas jumpers, snack on mince pies for much needed fuel and have a flask of hot chocolate to keep us warm. It may not be the ideal or the desired way to celebrate the festivities, but at least we can still connect and appreciate the joy of friendship.
For those where walking in the countryside doesn't appeal, why not go on a 'treasure hunt' walking trail in your local residential area and observe the myriad display of Christmas decorations and lights!
With all that said, it is evident that our local green spaces, countryside and seafront are a valuable resource for our health and well-being. These difficult times are enabling us to embrace the outdoors and respect the wide ranging benefits they provide.
A friend kindly shared a poem called ‘Places We Love’ written by Serbian Poet, Ivan V. Lalic after hearing it being read out on radio 4.
It is very apt for the times we are in, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic and Lockdown has prompted people to take stock and reflect upon the things in our lives that matter. That might be contemplating the connections and memories we have established with places, whether that might be a place where we were born and grew up, a location where we have visited on holiday or a place we found that offers a sense of community and belonging.
I have read articles where people have decided to reframe their priorities and seek a better work-life balance by moving out of cities and relocating to the countryside or coast. Others, especially those that are home working, have decided to become more involved in their local community through volunteering etc. And for some, the pandemic has reinforced that life is too short and therefore the time has come to take the plunge and move to the place that they have always dreamed of moving to.
It is human nature to yearn for a relationship with a place as it helps to shape our identities and personalities as well as bringing us joy in life. However, that relationship may change over time depending on what our priorities are in life and what we are looking for from a place, but there will always be a place that is forever rooted in our hearts.
Photo: Worthing Pier
Places We Love - written by Serbian Poet, Ivan V. Lalic
Places we love exist only through us,
Space destroyed is only illusion in the constancy of time,
Places we love we can never leave,
Places we love together, together, together,
And is this room really a room, or an embrace,
And what is beneath the window: a street or years?
And the window is only the imprint left by
The first rain we understood, returning endlessly,
And this wall does not define the room, but perhaps the night
Your son began to move in your sleeping blood,
A son like a butterfly of flame in your hall of mirrors,
The night you were frightened by your own light,
And this door leads into any afternoon
Which outlives it, forever peopled
With your casual movements, as you stepped,
Like fire into copper, into my only memory;
When you go, space closes over like water behind you,
Do not look back: there is nothing outside you,
Space is only time visible in a different way,
Places we love we can never leave.
The second lockdown is now well underway and I am once again reminded of the value of the countryside, nature and green spaces for my physical and mental well-being. Being able to undertake daily exercise during lockdown 1.0 was my saving grace and helped to lift my spirits during a very difficult time.
While we are not as blessed with good weather this time round and we have shorter days, that shouldn’t act as a barrier for going out. In fact, I find it quite cathartic walking in the rain and wind (even though I get red cheeks), it certainly helps to blow the cobwebs away! It also makes a hot cup of tea and a flapjack all the more appetising and rewarding!
I recently treated myself to a visit to Leonardslee Gardens which are open during lockdown 2.0 (tickets need to be bought in advance online). I had not been before so it gave me some excitement to have a local day trip planned and upon arrival, I was not disappointed! I found it very enjoyable walking around the grounds, observing the changing colour of the leaves and being creative with my phone camera.
Reflecting back over the course of this year, I have visited so many country parks in West Sussex (Southwater, Buchan & Tilgate) undertaken walking trails (Downs Link), walked along the River Adur Estuary as well as commencing the Thames Path challenge with a friend. It is quite remarkable really to have discovered so many nature based places locally.
I really hope that people are able to connect and find solitude with nature, you will be surprised with the many benefits it affords. For some inspiration, CPRE - The Countryside Charity has some useful tips and resources at the following link:
Photo: A landscape shot of Leonardslee Gardens taken by Jennifer
At the weekend, I was flicking through the latest publication (Issue 15) of the Oceanographic magazine which provides thought provoking articles and stunning photographs relating to 'sea-stories', marine conservation, exploration and adventure. An article titled 'The Ocean Forest of Sussex' followed by the opening paragraph:
“Just a few decades ago, an abundant kelp forest swayed off the Sussex coastline in the English Channel. Today, it has almost entirely disappeared. Can the forest be saved?”
(Words by Chris Yesson, photographs by Jack Atkinson & Dan Smale)
With a cup of tea and a biscuit, I delved into reading to find out more ...
Kelp is a clever species, in fact it is referred to as an ecosystem engineer which has a vital role for delivering nutrients and supporting biodiversity. It has an amazing ability to lock carbon dioxide that would otherwise be present in the atmosphere. Kelp is being seen as an essential species to help with the climate emergency challenge.
I was surprised to learn that the kelp forest off the coast of Sussex was in abundance, so much so, that historically fishermen had to pass through the forest using nothing more than muscle and oar, as propellers would get entangled in the seaweed forest. In the 1980s, divers recorded kelp as 'common' or 'abundant' in over 50% of dive sites from Selsey to Eastbourne. By the late 2010s, only small remnants of kelp remained, covering an area of just 6.28km², a 96.4% decline since 1987.
Regular fishing activity, coastal development, soft sediment deposition, changes to water quality and the Great Storm of 1987 has contributed to the decline of kelp. Around the UK, 300m² of kelp forest are being lost per year and if this rate of loss continues, it is estimated that by 2100, the UK will have zero kelp forest in its coastal waters.
Therefore in order to reverse this trend, the 'Help our Kelp' scheme was initiated by a campaign group made up of a number of organisations including Sussex Wildlife Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Brighton University and Portsmouth University etc. To help facilitate the return of kelp to Sussex's waters in any meaningful way, it was considered that the prevention of trawling in the area would be necessary. Sussex Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority proposed a byelaw to prohibit trawling up to 4km from the coastline, covering the area of the former kelp habitat. The byelaw is awaiting approval from Central Government and it is hoped that it will be signed off and implemented in 2021.
However, there is still no guarantee that a trawling ban intervention would be enough to ensure a kelp forest recovery, but it is a necessary first step towards action.
“We can nurture the habitat, but nature still has to do the rest.”
With this in mind, scientists are exploring additional intervention measures that would help to facilitate a successful restoration process. One intervention could be 'seeding' bare rocks in the area to enable kelp take a stronger robust hold to grow. Another option is the use of 'green gravel' which is where kelp is grown on small rocks in culture facilities, which are then later transferred and planted at sea.
Reading this article has made me realise that climate change interventions / solutions for carbon capture don't always happen overnight. It can take many years, requiring scientific trials / experiments and continuous refinement and adjustments. As the article concludes, kelp conservation restoration is in its early infancy but we have to be hopeful that one day, in the not too distant future, an ocean forest will be brought back to life.
For further information see:
I recently visited Park Town, Oxford, which brought back happy nostalgic memories of my student days, exploring residential districts with my camera, note-book and pen observing the contrast in historical and modern architectural designs across the city.
Park Town is a favourite residential district of mine as it is one of the earliest planned suburban developments in the area. Characterised by distinctive (listed Grade II) detached, Palladian, symmetrical villas, in their own well-planted grounds, together with rows of terraced houses which directly overlook the central and eastern gardens.
Fans of the crime series ‘Inspector Morse’, famously filmed in Oxford, may recognise Park Town in the episode ‘The Way Through the Woods’.
According to Historic England, the planned layout and development of Park Town is a late example of the planning tradition seen, for example, in parts of London, Bath, Bristol, Brighton and Cheltenham; that is, with the development designed by a single architect, with communal gardens, and with the title deeds ensuring uniformity of design.
I always find it fascinating examining the historical origins of planned developments!
It is encouraging to see that numerous organisations are reviewing their corporate responsibilities and setting out measures to step up action on climate emergency and the wider sustainability agenda.
In particular, Network Rail has recently published their Environmental Sustainability Strategy (2020-2050) setting out their journey to serve the nation with a sustainable, clean and green railway. Rail passengers and the public were asked about their views on the railway and environmental sustainability which helped to shape the following core priorities:
- A low-emission railway
- A reliable railway service that is resilient to climate change
- Improved biodiversity of plants and wildlife
- Minimal waste and sustainable use of materials
Network Rail have taken the approach to incorporate the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (see my blog dated 13-07-2020) within the strategy to demonstrate their commitment to increasing social values and supporting local communities
All forms of domestic transport - rail, road, air - contribute more than a quarter of the UK's total carbon emissions. Although rail is one of the lowest-carbon, greenest ways to travel, only contributing 1.4% to total UK transport emissions, the rail industry can still make a big difference. While Network Rail has already electrified 42% of the rail network, this is being pushed further with a complete system-wide change in the rail industry, towards large scale electrification across the nation. Innovative energy technologies like hydrogen and battery power for trains that run on the network are future possibilities.
Did you know that Network Rail is the landowner of 52,000 hectares of land? As a major landowner, Network Rail recognises the important role they have with facilitating opportunities to improve biodiversity. They have outlined their ambition to look after nature and protect, maintain and enhance biodiversity across the railway landscape by 2035. To do this, they will create a railway estate that is lined with species rich grassland, hedges and well-managed trees and work in partnership with their neighbouring landowners and stakeholders.
A baseline assessment of the existing biodiversity across the estate has been undertaken with Network Rail working in partnership with Natural England and other organisations to support the establishment of Nature Recovery Networks across Britain. This will result in joined-up networks of habitats that encourage the movement of plants and animals across the landscape - all of which are important for connecting isolated and threatened populations of plants and animals.
This strategy is very encouraging and inspiring. From a planning perspective, it is useful to know what major landowners, especially infrastructure providers, such as Network Rail are doing to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change. It's key that multiple organisations can work together to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
To find out more you can read the:
Photo: Blea Moor signal box, near Ribblehead Viaduct, Yorkshire Dales
Photo: Ribblehead Viaduct on the Yorkshire Dales
My friend and I are making good progress with our Thames Path challenge and yesterday we walked into the beating heart of the capital known as the 'Central Activities Zone' (CAZ) of London.
It has been a while since I have visited the CAZ as a result of lockdown, and I was amazed to see how much building construction is underway with cranes jutting out into the sky.
It has made me realise how quickly the urban landscape of London is evolving and it is difficult to envisage what the skyline of London looked like before skyscrapers appeared in the sky. It is only within the last decade that there has been a boom in the construction of habitable skyscrapers symbolising advancing construction technology as well as the CAZ representing London's globally iconic core and one of the world's most attractive and competitive business locations. It accommodates one third of London's jobs and generates almost 10% of the UK's output.
You may be surprised to learn that compared to the USA, London and other cities in the UK were not noted historically for its abundance with skyscrapers, with the taller structures present throughout the country being dominated by Cathedrals, church spires and power station chimneys. In fact, the first tallest building in the UK that exceeded 150 metres was the NatWest Tower built in 1980.
When 'The Shard' was completed in 2013, it made the new record of being the tallest building in the UK at 310 metres, superseding One Canada Square in Canary Wharf at 236 metres which was built in 1991.
Skyscrapers in planning terms are referred to as 'tall and large buildings' and generally defined as those habitable office and residential buildings that are substantially taller than their surroundings and cause a significant change to the skyline. They are taller than 150 metres and generally have more than 40 floors.
Ultimately, by virtue of their size and prominence, it is imperative that tall buildings can make positive contributions to city life. The 'Walkie-Talkie', 'Cheesegrater', 'Shard' and the 'Gherkin' to name but a few are all iconic tall buildings that have acquired nicknames as a result of their architectural styles.
Taken individually and collectively, these buildings affect the image and identity of London. They represent the hallmarks of regeneration and entice further investment. To ensure that tall buildings do not harm the qualities that people value about a place, the planning system, through planning policies, ensure that development proposals meet the highest development standards.
For instance, Policy 7.7: Location and design of tall and large buildings in The London Plan (2016) sets out that proposals must incorporate the highest standards of architecture and materials, including sustainable design and construction practices. Furthermore, proposals should not affect their surroundings adversely in terms of micro-climate, wind turbulence, overshadowing, noise, reflected glare, aviation navigation and telecommunications interference.
According to The London Tall Buildings Survey 2020 produced by New London Architecture, there was a record level of tall buildings being completed in 2019. In the current planning pipeline, there are a total of 525 projects with 89 development schemes under construction and 308 schemes being granted planning permission resulting in a 3% decrease from 2019.
It has recently been reported by the Financial Times that the skyscraper building boom is slowing down as a result of the tragic Grenfell fire, Brexit and Covid-19 pandemic. However, with increasing land values, 'height' of buildings are seen as an essential part of the equation for meeting housing supply targets so tall buildings will still form a feature of the urban landscape.
At this time of year, it is a magical treat to visit my local farmers' food market on a Saturday morning. It's such a wonderful sight taking in the colourful display of the autumn harvest of fruit and vegetables. There is such an abundance of nourishing vegetables that make excellent hearty soups which is just what I need on cold crisp days. I like the fact that the produce is locally grown and thus has very low food miles from the field to the farmers market to being served up on my dinner plate. Also, it is an excellent way to reduce the consumption of buying plastic packaged produce so a win-win for the environment.
Local food systems are attracting greater interests amongst community groups that are passionate about sustainability but also for health and well-being purposes. Involvement in community food growing projects can help establish a healthier relationship with food and be more involved in outdoor activity thus helping to address the obesity epidemic. It provides hand-on learning experiences for children and families as well as equipping volunteers with skills and confidence. From an environmental perspective, local food growing spaces contribute to the green infrastructure network, improve biodiversity as well as adapting to the effects of climate change.
Photo: Worthing allotment holder Tony Zasikowski
Climate change, through droughts and flooding have devastating implications for food production, quality and security which in turn affects the health and well-being of current and future generations. A growing population requires a sustainable food system that doesn't degrade our natural ecosystems, as seen through deforestation for agriculture production such as monoculture palm oil plantations. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for resilience in food security.
A 'fairer and sustainable food system' is a key area of focus for Adur & Worthing Councils with the SustainableAW framework setting out the following actions:
- Facilitate development of a new Food Partnership
- Explore council land for food, tree and rewilding projects
In addition, the Councils' 'And Then... Bouncing back in post pandemic Adur and Worthing' Report sets out that there is a need to:
“develop a local food system so that it supports and expands local food production and better manages the use of food waste. Our immediate focus will be on understanding the food system outside of the paid economy in order to create access to healthy food for everyone.”
The planning system, particularly through Local Plans, have an important part to play with regards to supporting opportunities for communities to access healthier food, allotments and community food growing schemes. Areas for food growing can be integrated into public spaces and shared spaces in residential and non-residential development. We are proactively exploring how to embed opportunities for food growing within a number of draft policies in the emerging Worthing Local Plan. More details on this will be announced in due course.
Sustain - the alliance for better food and farming has some useful information and resources on their website:
We all need downtime from work or from busy life schedules and one of my favourite and simple ways to unwind is to go out for a walk come rain or shine. I find it very refreshing to head out on a path and just put one foot in front of the other and take in the sight, smells and noises around me.
A few months ago, my friend and I met up for a walk and picnic lunch along the River Thames in Richmond, London. We enjoyed it so much and it honestly felt like a holiday watching people paddle boarding, canoeing and observing swans swimming along the river.
We had a lightbulb moment and we decided to set ourselves the challenge of walking the length of the north-bank and south-bank of the Thames Path in London following the guide created by Transport for London. We agreed to make a commitment of walking a section of the path once a month, aiming to walk approximately eight miles a day. We commenced our challenge in August, starting with the north-bank path at Hampton Court Palace. We recently undertook the second section and I am really pleased to say that we now walked the path to Fulham.
The Thames Path is a National Trail of 184 miles, following the course of the River Thames from its source by an old oak tree (there is a stone marker to identify the spot) near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Woolwich in South East London, where the trail ends and it then becomes the North Sea.
Photo: Riverside information panel showing part of the route of the Thames Path in Hounslow
We have noticed that in the space of a month, how the seasons have completely changed from sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures to wearing warm layers, observing the changing colour of the leaves and hearing the sounds of acorns and hazelnuts crunching under our shoes.
Not only that, but we are experiencing London through a new lens. It's remarkable how the waterways shape and influence development and the surrounding communities. As a Planner, I find this fascinating especially as waterways are classed as a form of 'blue infrastructure' (similar to 'green infrastructure') which provide significant social, economic and environmental wellbeing benefits for local communities such as supporting healthy active lifestyles.
The planning system plays a vital role in protecting the waterways from inappropriate development and enhancing the country's network of canals, rivers and docks. New waterside developments provide great opportunities to create living waterways that transform and regenerate places whilst improving access to and enjoyment of our waterways.
The Canal and River Trust own 4% of land next to the waterways and are a consultee on development proposals that are likely to affect inland or land adjacent to our inland waterways. The Trust are actively involved in planning applications, Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects as well as the preparation of Local Plans. For further information about the Trust's role within the planning system can be found here:
I shall keep my blog readers posted as I continue my walking adventure along the Thames Path in London!
Photo: Eel Pie Island, Twickenham (taken in August)
Photo: Approaching Hammersmith Bridge (taken in September)
There was a big virtual event in the diary last Saturday - the launch of the Adur & Worthing Climate Assembly which seeks to deliver action on the climate emergency!
The online assembly is a type of a democratic decision making process, taking the format of a citizens' assembly consisting of a randomly selected group of 40 people who live in the area, who broadly provide a representative group.
Presentations from a range of climate experts, designed by an independent advisory group to ensure that the participants are presented with factually accurate, comprehensive and balanced information, will be shown to the assembly over the coming weeks. The experts include Environmentalist Jonathon Porritt and Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Chair of the Carbon Trust.
The assembly will be considering the following questions by way of establishing next steps to address the climate emergency:
- How can we in Adur and Worthing collectively tackle climate change and support our places to thrive?
- What does this mean for the way we live and our local environment?
The outcomes and recommendations of the assembly members will feed into a report which will be considered by Adur & Worthing Councils in early 2021.
For more details see our:
In addition to the assembly, the Councils would like to hear from as many residents living in Adur and Worthing as possible, as we look to better understand what changes in behaviour people have already made that may help towards achieving greater sustainability across the area.
Please do get involved and submit your views and opinions through the following questionnaire:
For those who have yet to hear of the news, it is rather exciting to announce that Adur District Council is seeking to purchase New Salts Farm - a 70 acre greenfield site that lies between Lancing and Shoreham. The site is a designated 'Local Green Gap' in accordance with Policy 14 of the Adur Local Plan (2017), which means it is protected in order to retain the separate identities and avoid coalescence between Lancing and Shoreham.
This purchase is one of a kind and if approved at the Joint Strategic Committee on Tuesday 8th September, it will make history. There is a two-fold objective for securing the site:
- Firstly, it will ensure that the adopted planning objective of maintaining separation between the settlements can be maintained for the long term.
- Secondly, the Council intends to improve the biodiversity of the site which will assist the Council in delivering on its sustainability and climate change action commitments.
Platform 3 of the Platforms for Our Places: Going Further (2020-2022) seeks to tackle climate change and support the natural environment in Adur and Worthing. In particular, Adur & Worthing Councils recognise the urgent need to act on climate change and support our ecological systems to thrive. A key action includes 'Creating and expanding spaces for tree-planting, biodiversity and wildflower schemes'.
For further information see:
I met up with a friend over the weekend and we enjoyed a stroll along the River Adur and the lower Adur Estuary in Shoreham-by-Sea. It was quite amusing to see wind-surfers lifted out of the water in high winds!
Did you know that the River Adur Estuary is a nationally designated Site Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)?
This is a formal conservation designation designed to protect an area that is considered to be of particular interest to science as a result of rare species of fauna or flora that it contains. The SSSI citation states that the Adur Estuary (62.2ha), together with Rye Harbour further to the east, represent the only significant areas of saltmarsh between Chichester and Pagham Harbours in West Sussex, and Sandwich Bay in Kent.
The Adur Estuary is characterised by its intertidal mudflats which supports a number of wading birds such as redshank, dunlin and ringed plover. According to the Shoreham District Ornithological Society, a variety of species breed within the reedbed adjacent to the estuary north of the A27, including moorhen, reed warbler and sedge warbler. Part of the site is an RSPB reserve.
If you are curious to see other SSSI designations in England, there is a magic website (yes - magic!) that you can search the:
The Planning System has an important role in protecting, conserving and where possible enhancing biodiversity which includes SSSIs. In particular, The Adur Local Plan (2017) contains Policy 31: Biodiversity which sets out that:
“Proposed developments which would adversely affect a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (individually or cumulatively) will not normally be permitted. Exceptions will only be made where the benefits of the development on the particular site clearly outweigh both the impacts that it is likely to have on the features of the site that make it of special scientific interest and any broader impacts.”
- The River Adur
- River Adur Tidal Walls Flood defence Scheme
- RSPB Wildfowl Reserve
- The Adur Ferry Bridge - Shoreham footbridge
- The Old Shoreham Toll Bridge
Photos: River Adur Estuary
Since the Government announced its intentions for reforms to the planning system back in March, planning professionals have been waiting in anticipation to find out exactly what these changes could be. Rumours heard along the planning grapevine indicated that these reforms were going to be quite radical and thus a frenzy of articles and professional opinions began circulating around trying to predict what the changes may be.
On the 6th August, the news was in - 'Planning For The Future' has been published and yes, the rumours were indeed correct, the package of proposals are considered to be a major overhaul to the planning system since the enactment of the Town & Country Planning Act 1947.
According to the Government, we are operating within an outdated and ineffective planning system - a relic from the middle of the 20th century. Hence, the time has come, within a post COVID-19 world, to streamline and modernise the planning process to result in a significantly simpler, faster and more predictable system.
In a nutshell the system will transition to a 'Zoning' approach (used in the USA and Canada) of dividing land within an administrative area into three set zones categorised as 'Growth', 'Renewal' and 'Protected'. The mapped zones will regulate the use, form, design and compatibility of development. The zones will be supported by locally produced design codes, core standards and requirements for development. The Local Plan will be responsible for identifying these zones and must set out area specific requirements alongside locally produced design codes. Development Management policies (used for determining planning applications) will be established at the national level. The reforms also propose that Local Plans should be visual and map-based, standardised, based on the latest digital technology and supported by a new template. There will also be a legal requirement to prepare a Local Plan within 30 months.
Yes, I hold up my hand and agree that the planning system is complicated as a result of current stringent requirements and tests to be met when preparing a Local Plan - ultimately it can take many years for a Local Plan to be prepared, examined and adopted in accordance with the statutory requirements. While change can be a good thing and a reduction in red tape is welcomed, there still needs to be the right balance of regulatory control to ensure that future development is in the best interest of communities. We are in the process of chewing over what these changes would mean in practice, identifying the potential ramifications as well as understanding what the transition period would be in terms of moving from to the old system to the new system.
Of course, there is no guarantee that all of these proposals will come into effect so we can only continue to operate with what we know now and cross that bridge when we get to it.
Consultation closes on the 29th October 2020. For further details and to have your say see:
Photo: The new WICC and a multi-storey car park are to be funded by Worthing Borough Council through loans
If you have been walking down Portland Road in Worthing town centre recently you will have noticed that there is a pop of colour! The southern end of Portland Road has been transformed into eclectic and eye catching street art!
Did you know that this street mural is the longest stretch of street art in the UK? The mural spells out ‘back in the game’ representing local businesses fighting back against COVID-19. The artwork is a collaboration project between Proto Restaurant Group, Adur & Worthing Councils and West Sussex County Council.
The street mural creates an atmospheric socially distanced al fresco experience, especially during this hot weather, and encourages people to visit the borough’s town centre once again.
Legitimate and respectful street art, also known as public art, is becoming more fashionable within town centres and cities across the UK as a way of celebrating culture, diversity and also embracing the historic legacy of a place. It is being seen as a way of bringing together artists, residents and businesses in a participatory process to revive and regenerate urban areas as well as facilitating community cohesion. Street art helps to create a focal point, promotes civic and personal pride, offers opportunities for play, it can make places more legible and accessible, stimulates discussion as well as encouraging people to rediscover and interact with their environment which in turn supports the local economy.
Whatever its form, public art should be unique and inspiring with one consistent quality: it should be site-specific and relate to the context or use of a particular site or location within the public realm. Public art is complementary to good urban and building design, as part of social investment in new housing, the design and use of community and public spaces. It is important that people can interact with public art and have a meaningful relationship with it.
Photo: Beatles themed street art in Skipton, Yorkshire
“Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities. Being clear about design expectations, and how these will be tested, is essential for achieving this.” - The National Planning Policy
Policy 15 (Quality of the Built Environment and Public Realm) of the adopted Adur Local Plan (2017) requires public art to be incorporated into major developments where possible. The emerging Worthing Local Plan is proposing a similar requirement as well as supporting proposals on smaller sites that seek the delivery of public art to enhance the public realm.
So next time, you are out and about - look out for public art, sometimes they can be in the most unexpected of places!
Photo: Street art in Rochdale town centre
Adur & Worthing Councils recently published its very first magazine on sustainability! This is a major achievement for the Councils and it's incredible to see the breadth of projects that have been achieved or are in process to champion action on the climate emergency and protect and enhance our environment in Adur and Worthing.
You may be aware that the Councils have a sustainability framework, 'SustainableAW' in place which includes ten areas of focus ranging from energy, food, transport, land use and planning etc. This framework has been designed to foster collaboration with the local community and key stakeholders and partners, with the recent Zero 2030 Climate Change conference being a landmark event to commence proactive action. Here it was recognised that residents, organisations and businesses can all have a greater impact by working together.
On page 22, you may recognise a certain blogger who is featured in an article about the Climate Change Position Statement published by Planning Policy!
Reading through the magazine highlights that so much has happened in a short space of time. Looking back to the start of the year, when the bush fires were raging in Australia, I voiced that 2020 must be the year for action on climate change. Little did I know when writing that blog (13th January 2020) that a couple of months later, our lives would be changed irrevocably and the world would come to a screeching halt with the nation going into lockdown.
While I was scared by the fires in Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic sounded the alarm bells that our planet is sick and that humanity is being acutely threatened. The pandemic served as stark realisation of the need to create more sustainable, inclusive societies and green economies ('Build Back Better') that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and the many other interconnected global challenges we face.
There needs to be a shift in approach to focus on planetary health, with the United Nations stating that human health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked, and that our civilisation depends on human health, flourishing natural systems, and the wise stewardship of natural resources. With natural systems being degraded to an extent unprecedented in human history, both our health and that of our planet are in peril. These are two sides of the same coin, addressing climate change and restoring biodiversity and nature.
Ultimately, it is really difficult for us to envisage the realms of planning policy with so many uncertainties. However one thing we have recognised is that our Local plans must be resilient and flexible to respond to future unexpected shocks in the short and long term.
Photo: Rewilding at Knepp Estate is featured in the first edition of SustainableAW magazine (credit & copyright © Knepp Estate)
You may have heard of the terms 'sustainability' and 'sustainable development', especially within the context of climate change. What do these terms mean? Well, the widely accepted definition is 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.'
The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. Achieving sustainable development means that the planning system has three overarching objectives, which are interdependent and need to be pursued in mutually supportive ways (so that opportunities can be taken to secure net gains across each of the different objectives):
- Social - to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities;
- Environmental - to contribute to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and
- Economic - to help build a strong, responsive and competitive economy.
Sustainable development has been the bedrock of planning for many years and the core aim of a Local Plan is to contribute to sustainable development of the local area. The Local Plan has to balance growth needs against sustainable development.
However, in light of the climate emergency there is now a renewed emphasis on planning for climate change and sustainability. Therefore a key area of focus is looking at how the emerging Worthing Local Plan can be made more robust on sustainability grounds.
We have been researching into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which consist of 17 interconnected goals underpinned by targets designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all (click on the image belowfor a larger version):
They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The goals form part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is a call for action by all UN member states. Implementation and success rely on countries' own sustainable development policies, plans and programmes.
It is considered that the UN SDGs will enhance the sustainability credentials of the Plan and thus will provide a more robust monitoring framework. The UN SDGs are becoming increasingly recognised and adopted by numerous public, private and voluntary sector organisations therefore working towards a common and shared consensus for sustainable development.
Here in Adur and Worthing, planning policies and decisions play an active role in guiding development towards sustainable solutions.
Saturday 4th July 2020 ('Super Saturday') heralded a major step forward towards economic recovery. While we are taking baby steps, it is very clear the retail and hospitality industries have significantly been impacted by the pandemic and it is only in the last week or so, the full extent of the economic shocks are being realised with a number of high street retailers and hospitality businesses announcing permanent store or restaurant closures and job losses.
It is no secret local high streets up and down the country have already been struggling in recent years. Traditionally, shopping was seen as a leisure and social activity and I have nostalgic memories as a child (in the 1990s), of my mum and I visiting Rochdale town centre on a Saturday morning, do a bit of shopping followed by meeting up with my Grandma and my Great Aunties at a department store cafe.
However, changes to shopping habits, with the rise in online shopping, competition with out of town shopping centres, people becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry, spending their weekend leisure time pursuing other activities, is not surprising the high street has acutely felt these trends.
As we come out of lockdown, the challenges for the high street are greater than ever before with social distancing requirements affecting public space but also people being wary of close contact with others especially inside buildings due to safety fears.
Photo: Stencils & signs promoting one way walking routes & 2-metre on pavements & walkways (Montague Quarter)
However, research has shown people are now more likely to shop locally as a result of more and more people choosing to stay local, so in some respect a return to traditional shopping patterns. Therefore, this recovery process presents a unique opportunity to reinvent the vibrancy and character of the high street, to support existing shops, restaurants and cafes to trade as well as a place where people feel safe, comfortable and welcome.
The Government has announced measures enabling pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve customers outdoors, with pubs and restaurants utilising car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, using their existing seating licenses for alfresco summer dining.
The Government has also proposed planning freedoms, which will mean outdoor markets, pop-up car-boot sales or summer fairs will not need a planning application, which will transform the way people shop and socialise.
It is envisaged these measures will give an immediate and much needed boost to many businesses, whilst supporting them to successfully reopen over the summer. Also, until 23rd March 2021 temporary permitted development rights allow restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments to provide takeaway food (subject to notification) without the need for planning permission.
The Councils have announced a number of schemes to help Adur and Worthing bounce back from lockdown which includes a £600,000 scheme to landscape Portland Road (Worthing) making it more shopper friendly with tree planting and possible alfresco refreshments opportunities. The Worthing Observation Wheel has returned to the seafront to help support footfall to the town centre.
While these measures can easily be implemented over the summer months, we will have to take a longer term view especially when we head into the autumn and winter months with further flexibility being more likely.
So please enjoy yourself, but stay safe and respect our local communities.
I'm really excited that the Government has launched a public consultation on the England Tree Strategy, which sets out priorities to deliver a tree planting programme. There is a Government commitment to plant 30,000 hectares of trees per year by 2025. This follows the Government announcement back in March of the Nature for Climate Fund (£640 million).
It is only in recent years that trees have begun to receive greater prominence and attention due to the realisation that trees, a unique natural asset, have a fundamental role to play within the context of climate change and biodiversity restoration. Not forgetting the added value they bring the health and wellbeing of our communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in nature appreciation, and therefore all the more reason that growing and protecting trees should form a key part of our personal and national recovery in a post Covid world.
Trees currently capture 4% of current UK carbon emissions, and therefore increasing this carbon capturing store will be a key step on the path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Just imagine trees as a sponge, soaking up carbon from our atmosphere.
In urban areas, we are experiencing warmer temperatures especially during the summer months - these are exacerbated by tarmac and concrete absorbing heat energy. In response to this, the manifesto sets an ambition to see all new streets (within new development) lined with trees and to see more trees planted in urban and suburban areas overall. The urban forest is a key part of our green infrastructure and provides services such as cooling the air and providing shade as well as making more attractive places for communities to live, travel and work.
However, it is more than just planting trees in the ground. It requires careful management and planning to ensure a coordinated and joined up approach to expanding and connecting existing trees and woodlands to ensure maximum benefits.
The Government wants to optimise all options wherever possible, on both public and private land, which could include planting in urban areas. Integrating trees and woodlands into farmland and on greenbelt land, restoring former landfill and degraded land (as a result of industrial activities) to woodland as well as planting trees and woodlands along rivers and water catchment areas to help regulate water flow to reduce flood risk.
What does this mean for the planning system? Well, the Government has announced its intention to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to set out clear expectations for new development to deliver tree lined streets wherever possible.
Furthermore, mandatory biodiversity net gain, proposed through the Environment Bill, will help to ensure development can demonstrate the biodiversity benefits of trees and woodlands being delivered through new development. We will need to follow the outcome of the consultation closely to ensure that our planning policies are aligned up with the England Tree Strategy when it is published.
Photos: Images from Jennifer's walk at Buchan Country Park near Crawley
I have been watching 'Back In Time For The Weekend' (BBC) - a TV programme where a family spends a week living through different decades from the 1950s to the 1990s and experiencing leisure time from the differing eras.
I was a child in the 1990s and I have memories of my family having bulky gadgets such as hi-fi music systems and video cassette recorders in the living room that were fitted into cabinets to try and blend into the furniture!
It is evident that technology has impacted on how we live our lives, how we furnish our homes, how we undertake business and work, how we spend our leisure time at the weekend.
The programme got me thinking about the Covid-19 pandemic and how our lives have changed tremendously and unexpectedly in the last three months with staying, working and learning / studying at home. In years to come, we will be looking back through the lens at how the pandemic shaped the 2020's decade.
We have already seen an increase in walking and cycling levels with temporary pop up cycle lanes being implemented across towns and cities in the country. Adur & Worthing Councils, with West Sussex County Council, have identified two routes to receive government funding and approval. If the proposed temporary conversions receive government backing, they could be installed within a matter of weeks.
It's likely that staycations will see a renaissance with camping & YHA holidays replacing international travel in the short term. Weekends may be characterised by physical activity pursuits, trips to seaside resorts and visits to outdoor heritage attractions.
People will be more likely to shop locally to support local shops and food markets. Equally, online shopping has seen a surge so retail businesses may increasingly move towards an online presence which could potentially result in a reduced demand for retail floorspace. Picnics in the park and takeaway food will become the new dining experience. I have seen pub car parks being transformed into takeaway outlets.
Many people that I have spoken to have said that they don't want to return to the stressful hectic life they had prior to Covid. While this pandemic has had devastating consequences, staying at home has allowed people to live a slower pace of life, take a break from the rat race and long commuting hours as well as reducing their carbon footprint.
People have reconnected with their families and friends and found enjoyment in the simple things such as baking, DIY and gardening. This situation has given people the opportunity to reframe their priorities and values as well as realising that, due to technology, office work productivity can be achieved at home. Quality living space, access to a garden or private balcony and a room with a good view will be a key priority for people spending more time at home.
We don't know how things will unfold in the months ahead and what new temporary or permanent trends may emerge. I have always said that the planning system is very much like the fashion industry, in that it has to adapt to changing socio-economic and environmental factors. However, I am of the belief that planning policies will have to be adapted in time to come to reflect the new post Covid world.
I've recently enjoyed a couple of days off work on annual leave where I treated myself to a visit to Knepp Estate near Horsham near where I live.
It has been on my 'list of places' to visit since learning about the rewilding work being carried out by conservation pioneer, Isabella Tree at the Zero 2030 climate conference (see my blog dated 9th March 2020) that was held back in March - which seems like many moons ago now!
I find it fascinating that 1,000 hectares of land are being restored to a state of natural biodiversity using large herbivores to manage and stimulate changes in habitat.
Rewilding is a way of returning former arable land to a state of natural productivity with obvious benefits to wildlife, soil, local water supplies and to the health and wellbeing of visitors.
On my visit I learnt that a key aspect of the project is 'carbon sequestration' with permanent pasture, woodland and scrub playing a vital role in capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere - a greenhouse gas which is contributing to global warming. However, rewilding requires getting the balance right with regards to the population densities of animal grazing. If there are too many animals, then the estate will revert to open plain; or if there are too few grazing animals, the estate will result in dense woodland.
The Knepp Estate is seen as a 'Living Landscape' to link up with wider biodiversity hotspots in the area, thus creating connectivity between habitats. This is increasingly important as species need to be able to move from one area to another if they are going to be able to respond to adverse factors such as climate change and pollution.
We need to restore biodiversity now, with the rate of species extinction accelerating with nature declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. According to Knepp Estate:
“Knepp Wildland has become a beacon for conservation in the UK, demonstrating how cataclysmic declines in wildlife can be reversed in a very short space of time, even on post-agricultural land and in the most populated part of the country - if only nature is given a chance to operate.”
It was such a lovely serene walk, being lost in the solitude of nature. Something which I have begun to appreciate even more when staying at home in the confines of my one bedroom apartment during lockdown.
My daily walks in my local park has ignited my passion for artistic creativity which has led me to getting the paint and paintbrush out during lockdown!
I would also like to say that I have been very disappointed and disheartened to see a spike in litter being discarded in parks and open spaces now that lockdown restrictions are being eased and the recent spell of hot weather.
It's such a great joy that we can now be reunited with friends and family at a safe distance outside, but this shouldn't be at the expense of our vital open spaces. If we value these open spaces so much for our health and wellbeing, why are they being blighted with rubbish?
Let's treat these places with pride and joy as though they are our very own private gardens.
Photos of the Knepp Estate:
It feels like a lot has been happening since lockdown restrictions were eased last Wednesday, but on the face of it, it is small and cautious steps towards recovery.
It all seems very strange that we are now in the midst of transitioning to a new and rather alien world dominated by COVID-19. In fact, I kind of want to return to the cocoon of 'stay at home' as it was a safety net and now I am trying to figure out the new rules of life which no doubt will change over the course of the coming weeks and months.
In reality, things will never be the same as it was before but I imagine in some ways this was just like it was when World War II came to an end. The world keeps spinning, life does carry on ... we just have to find a new resilience and evolve.
This is also an opportunity for a 'fresh new start', a new perspective on things, a chance to redefine priorities. It has made me realise never to take 'time' for granted, don't put off tomorrow what you can do today. This pandemic has given out a stark warning that our one, and only planet, cannot cope anymore. How much worse does it need to get, to hit rock bottom?
The only way is now up, so I really hope that there is a global call to action on climate emergency and planetary health. A glimmer of hope is that people have begun to appreciate the value of nature, supporting local food markets and farmers, plus walking and cycling levels have increased. Let's not lose momentum on this ...
Are you now ready for a quiz? Here we go ...
- Which type of calendar is used today in the western world?
- Which female named hurricane devastated New Orleans in September 2005?
- In the Zodiac, which animal is linked with the Capricorn?
- How many sides has a 20-pence piece?
- In the 1960s which footballer was called 'The Fifth Beatle'?
- Which public school did Sir Winston Churchill go to?
- Which is the largest land carnivore in Britain?
- What alcoholic drink does pear juice make?
- Which Lloyd Webber musical does the song 'Memory' come from?
- Who was known as the lady with the lamp?
Answers are below the image!
- George Best
- Florence Nightingale
I hope you all had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend and was able to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. It was spectacular to see residential streets dressed up in flags, bunting and war memorabilia displays in front gardens. I also saw a clever and amusing display of a teddy bear slumped in a deck chair after drinking too many beers!
I had a virtual 1940s themed afternoon tea party with my parents, brother and Grandmother. It was really lovely that we were able to connect and to remember absent family relatives. My Grandma, who was eight years old on VE Day, recalls collecting wood with other children to make a huge bonfire and had street parties around the bonfire. We also spoke about my Grandfather’s Uncle, Alan Thornton who was born in 1919 and served in the Second World War. Alan was in the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers - an armoured regiment in 2nd. Brigade 1st. Armoured Division. He served in the 8th. Army in Egypt and North Africa (Second Battle of El Alamein) and later in Italy.
Coincidentally, from 1953 to 1955, my Grandfather (Brian Taylor) did his National Service with the RAF and was placed with the Medical Corps at the RAF Medical Core, RAF Hospital Fayid near Cairo, Egypt.
Photo: (L) Alan Thornton in his uniform (great-great Uncle who served in WWII) and (R) the Daily Mail newspaper published on VE Day - 8th May 1945
In remembrance of VE Day, I thought I would do a themed quiz on World War II.
- According to the World War II poster what did 'Careless Talk' do?
- According to Churchill, he had nothing to offer in 1940 but what?
- Which great evacuation of 1940 was called Operation Dynamo?
- Where did the Bevin Boys work?
- Who commanded the Allied Forces that invaded Europe on D-Day?
- In which French city did Germany surrender?
- What was the German air force called?
- What was the name of the English country house and estate that became the principal centre of allied code breaking during the Second World War?
- Which European countries stayed ‘neutral’ in the Second World War?
- Which were the two main RAF aircraft used in the Battle of Britain?
Answers are below the image of tanks taken by Alan Thornton!
- Cost Lives
- Blood, toil, tears and sweat
- Coal Mines
- Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes
- Switzerland, Spain and Sweden
- Hurricane and Spitfire
Writing these blogs have started to become a ‘lockdown’ diary for me. Looking back over the course of the last five weeks, our lives have changed in ways we could have never imagined.
At the start of lockdown, I felt very anxious and scared but surprisingly these emotions have lessened as time has gone on. Establishing a new routine and setting work / life boundaries has helped to create a ‘new normal’. This time has given me the chance to learn new things, I have pickled vegetables, created photo albums, redesigned my living space to create a cosier home and I have found joy in the simple things such as seeing bluebells and wildflowers on my daily walk. Most importantly, it has given me the chance to make more time for myself and to rediscover the value of the simple things in life.
Who knows what the future holds for us post lockdown, it is a journey that we will navigate together. There will be tough times ahead but in the words of a wise man called Captain Tom, ‘for all those finding it difficult: the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away’. We have to live in hope and when that day comes that we can reunite with our families, friends and colleagues, it will be the most special.
Today, I have put together a general knowledge quiz. So, have you got a paper, pen and cup of tea at the ready? Let’s begin…
- Which swimming stroke is named after an insect?
- How many dots are used in each letter of the Braille system?
- Who is the patron saint of music?
- Betz cells are found in which part of the body?
- In the Bible, who goes after Mark and before John?
- Which is the third largest of the Channel Islands?
- What is the term for a positive electrode?
- What can be an island, sweater or potato?
- In which Puccini opera does Mimi appear?
- What is the only bird that can hover in the air and also fly backwards?
Answers are below the image!
- St. Cecilia
- The brain
- La Boheme
I walked to Horsham Fire Station last Thursday, near where I live, and I watched the Fire Officers put on a spectacular display for the Clap for Carers. It was quite a sight to see two officers standing on a hydraulic platform with the hose water pipe with blue lights flashing in the background! It really is amazing seeing residents, key workers and services all coming together in imaginative and heartfelt ways to pay tribute to everyone involved in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
I have been keeping myself busy and trying out new activities that I wouldn't normally have the time to attempt. I decided to pick different types of leaves from a nearby park and make a print on a canvas board. I found it quite therapeutic especially practising the art of mindfulness and appreciating the different patterns and textures of leaves.
While we are not able to travel at present, I thought I would allow us to experience travel through a quiz. How well do you know Britain? Answer the following questions to find out!
- The Severn, The Trent and the Ouse are all what?
- Which seaside resort is famous for its Tower and Golden Mile?
- Which is further north, Southport or Northampton?
- Which islands give their name to ponies and wool?
- Which range of northern hills is called the backbone of England?
- What were Dagenham, Luton and Cowley famous for producing?
- Where would a Manx person come from?
- How many square miles is the City of London?
- Which was England's smallest county before the 1974 changes?
- What does the word 'Loch' mean?
Answers are below Jennifer's leaf artwork!
- Isle of Man
I have been developing personal resilience measures to keep me positive, especially as we now have another three weeks of lockdown.
The last month has been really testing. While I am used to being in my own company, I have never been without any social contact for this length of time. I am so used to having a busy diary and having things to look forward to such as meeting up with friends, family, going into London at the weekends etc. Since being in lockdown, there have been days when I feel fine and feeling productive and there have been days when I have felt really flat and empty.
I have been in contact with my friends and family members about my emotions and it is really reassuring to know that I am not alone in feeling this way. It’s about finding techniques / strategies that work and it may take a while before you start to feel the benefits and they may have to be adapted over time.
What I have found that seems to be working well for me is to operate on a day to day basis and write a ‘to-do-list’ each day and just have five manageable actions to achieve that day. I’ve had things ranging from doing a meter reading, putting holiday photos into an album, doing a puzzle, taking a daily walk, making a batch of soup and so on. It helps to keep my mind focused and I feel really good when I get my highlighter pen out and tick each action off.
I think for me, it is all about going back to basics and appreciating the simple things. I have been spending more time in my kitchen cooking, trying out new recipes and broadening my culinary horizons and therefore improving my confidence.
Are you ready for your daily puzzle? I thought I would do things differently today and do a quiz on chocolates and sweets! Name the answer to the clue with well known chocolates and sweets.
- 9, 10, 11
- A Type of Dog
- Clever Chocolate
- 10 Pin Bowling
- Wobbly Infants
- 100% Precious
- Speak Quietly
- A Galaxy
- Feline Gear
- Mothers Local
Answers are below the image!
- After Eight
- Jelly Babies
- All Gold
- Milky Way
- Kit Kat
- Mars Bar
I have been really humbled by people's kindness during these difficult times.
I’m fortunate that I am able to go out for a walk each day and I have seen so many thoughtful and colourful displays of art, messages, window and garden displays, magazines for people to read etc.
Seeing residential streets awash with colour and positive messages all help to brighten these difficult times as well as feeling connected. I have noticed that people have started to smile more, say hello and I have started to wave to my neighbours in neighbouring flats (who I don't know) from my window when doing the clap for carers and it is really uplifting when they wave back. I hope that when we come out of this, people will continue these small acts of kindness.
Photo: Some of the art Jennifer has seen on her travels
I received some lovely news yesterday from the Communications Team that my quiz puzzles have generated some interest from my blog readers. I hope these puzzles help to bring some comfort at this time.
So, let's begin your mission!
All agents are of value to the secret service. A constant factor here is that all agents are given a number, which links to their names.
IAN IS AGENT 6
NINA IS AGENT 9
TINA IS AGENT 10
ANITA IS AGENT 11
ANNE IS AGENT 12
Which agent number is given to ANNETTE?
Answer is below the image!
Letter values are: A=1, I=2, N=3, T=4, E=5
It is Monday and it means a new assignment for you to crack. Are you ready to enter the world of espionage and live the life of a secret spy?
Here is the next assignment puzzle for you to crack!
Assignment 2: Links
Here you are tested on your ability to make connections between words. The words in column 1 link to those in column 3 by a middle word that joins the two. Can you find the missing links and reveal the message reading down in column 2?
|Column 1||Column 2||Column 3|
Answer is below the image!
Answer: Dutch Agent Will Fly Here Sunday. Can Hold Key To Code
I hope my blog readers are keeping safe and well during this time. I would also like to say a special thank you to all the key workers and supermarket staff out there, putting their own lives at risk, to keep us safe and to keep our country running - a big clap to you all.
It is at times like this when kindness goes a long way, to reach out to people, show that you care - it really does make the world a better place.
I thought I would do something different with my blogs for the next couple of weeks and set out a secret service puzzle to solve from my puzzle book on Secret Service Brainteasers (Sinclair McKay)! Are you ready for your first assignment... If so, let’s begin!
Assignment 1: Tour of Duty
Our diplomat is taking part in an international tour of duty which takes him all over the world. CHINA is his first posting and the first name on the list. Use the symbols to work out the names of the other countries where he is posted and say where the tour of duty ends.
% & $ ? +
$ £ + ?
( * £ + $ ? Ω
# Ω £ > + ? !
< ( π # + £ $ +
Answers are below the image!
I R A N
U K R A I N E
G E R M A N Y
B U L G A R I A
I am writing this blog on my laptop at my dining table looking out of my window and watching the world go by.
We are fortunate that we are able to undertake much of our work from home and we have the technology to do so. Whilst we have got used to working from home on occasions it is going to be a new challenge to adjust to working from home five days a week for the foreseeable future.
While it is a luxury to have a break from doing the work commute, be able to wear my casual clothes and have constant access to the kettle and biscuit jar, I am going to really miss the social interaction and office banter especially as I live alone. Not only that, but it is going to require a real behaviour change to get the balance struck right between living and working at home.
For some of my colleagues who have children or have caring responsibilities, it may mean changing their working hours to fit around family life. It is going to impact us in many different ways.
We’ve never had to plan for a situation like this before; this is completely uncharted waters for us all. To try to keep some sense of normality, we are currently operating a business as usual approach with new working structures / strategies being put in place and taking each day as it comes. Whilst we will continue to undertake our important Planning Policy function we are also ready to drop everything to support other Council services if the need arises during these difficult times.
My colleagues and I have realised that we are in this for the long haul so we have decided that for our health and wellbeing, we are going to keep connected and do a five-minute video conference every day to say hello and do something silly such as having a ‘best mug’ competition to keep us upbeat. It is more important than ever to be part of a community, to send a text message, write an email, do a video conference or post a letter.
Meanwhile, the planning system is also responding to this unprecedented crisis by providing greater flexibility. In particular, the Government has announced it will relax planning rules to enable pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways during the Coronavirus outbreak without the need for a planning application for a change of use. Before now, planning permission was required for businesses to carry out a change of use to a hot food takeaway. This change will help support businesses and people who need to self-isolate. I can imagine that further planning rules will be relaxed in due course.
I think we will also see a big digital transformation as technology has to step up to meet the demands of home working. Our infrastructure requirements may change in time to come with the need for floor space reducing as a result of more services being provided online.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring but one thing for sure is that we are all in this together so let's look out for each other and keep safe.
Photo: Flowers on Jennifer's window sill
I'm still buzzing with excitement after attending the Zero2030 conference last Wednesday!
I am really thrilled that over three hundred delegates attended the Councils supported and community-led conference at Worthing's Assembly Hall to show their commitment in collaborating to deliver action on the climate emergency.
The day brought about an opportunity to share ideas, provoke stimulating discussions and debates, as well as being inspired by the rewilding work being carried out by conservation pioneer, Isabella Tree at Knepp Estate near Horsham (photo below).
The afternoon session consisted of 10 workshops, each covering a theme of the Councils' Sustainable AW framework. The Planning Policy team led a presentation and a workshop session on 'Land Use & Planning' to explore the role of the planning system with regards to adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change. In particular, we focused upon the role of green infrastructure (ie parks, allotments, green roofs and green walls) and the multiple benefits it brings for our health & wellbeing, educational development, carbon capture, air quality as well as improving the desirability to live, work and visit an area.
There are many opportunities to weave green infrastructure into our everyday lives through community food growing, greening up walking and cycling routes, incorporating green roofs and walls on buildings ... it just needs a bit of imagination! Anyone can initiate a green infrastructure project whether it is at the neighbourhood level, at a school playground, an office building or at a bus stop!
It was really good to see people getting involved in the workshop, contributing ideas and identifying best practice examples. In particular we discussed the 'London National Park City Foundation' which is the world's first national park city. The concept is to make London greener, healthier and wilder.
In our workshop we explored some of the projects being carried out by London National Park City to create a richly woven tapestry of greens and blues made up of gardens, rivers, parks, woodland, nature reserves, meadows, allotments etc and how could we work together to achieve this in Adur and Worthing.
Watch this space!
Photo: One of the speakers at the Zero2030 Conference
Every so often, I get the opportunity to attend a conference to broaden my learning horizons and to be aware of the latest emerging research / policy development.
Last week I attended a conference on Environmental Change and Public Health, hosted at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. To say that it was a free event, I was very impressed by the coverage of topics and the knowledge demonstrated by the keynote speakers. The purpose of the event was to disseminate research being carried out to support rapidly evolving public health and health protection policy relating to climate change, land use change, and progress towards a low carbon society.
Photo: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where the conference took place
The day started off with a presentation by Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Chair Member of the Adaptation Committee on Climate Change. Their role is to provide independent advice on climate risks and opportunities and to report to Parliament on progress in preparing for climate change. There are six areas of interrelated climate change high risks identified for the UK requiring urgent action. In particular, one of the risks relate to health, well-being and productivity from high temperatures with statistics showing that approximately 20% of current homes overheat and heat related deaths ranging between 2,000 - 7,000 per year. Poor quality housing costs the NHS £1.4 - £2 billion per year in England. Both new build and retrofit of homes often fall short of design standards.
So, what needs to be done? First of all, there must be no new homes connected to the gas grid from 2025 at the latest. Ultra energy efficient, passive cooling and ventilation in new homes must be considered together. Existing homes need to be adapted. Targets also need to be set to reverse the decline in green spaces (which help to provide shade / cooling in response to the urban heat island effect). Baroness Brown called for an urgent need for a regulation on standard for overheating risk assessment in homes and a plan to reduce overheating risks in existing and new homes. But, we also need to address overheating in other buildings such as schools, care homes and hospitals.
Discussion was had around the need for health and social care services to be resilient to the effects of extreme weather patterns. Health services are considered vulnerable to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Flooding, overheating, snow, storms impact upon the operation of healthcare services - buildings, staff, equipment etc and therefore subsequently impact on the quality of care being received by patients. We need to future proof buildings and follow in the footsteps of Japan where they design and construct buildings to withstand earthquakes.
Research is being carried out by the University of Exeter Medical School whereby people who frequently access green spaces display 'nature appreciation' which in turn creates pro-environmental behaviours, ie people becoming much more likely to behave in environmentally friendly ways. From a policy viewpoint, there should be efforts to increase contact through improving both social participation also through the physical infrastructure, through promises to improve access to natural spaces in urban settings.
The conference ended with a presentation by Professor Andy Haines (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) on what are the prospects for health at COP26 Glasgow (November 2020) and beyond. The UK must seize the chance to make 2020 the year that health reaches the top of the climate change agenda. Because mitigating climate change is not just about protecting our planet and its precious biodiversity, it’s about improving health and saving lives now and in the future.
Photo: Baroness Brown from Committee on Climate Change
Hands up if you like watching BBC's Countryfile on Sunday evenings? Me too! I enjoy watching Countryfile as it provides informed insight into current challenges present in the countryside such as land management, biodiversity, agriculture, rural services etc - all of which have connections to planning.
A couple of weeks ago there was an episode that caught my interest ... the decline of postal offices in rural communities with those that are still in existence, struggling to survive. Unfortunately, it is not just post offices ... in recent years rural communities have also experienced the loss of pubs, village shops and other community facilities such as the village hall.
These services provide the beating heart of rural communities especially in locations that are some distance away from towns and have poor public transport networks. So when these facilities close down, it has social and economic implications for the long term sustainability of rural communities and subsequently residents become more isolated. It's a real challenge for those people who do not have access to a car or have the mobility to travel far, especially the elderly population.
There are various reasons for the decline of rural services. Traditionally, rural communities became established as a result of agricultural and farming but unfortunately these industries are few and far between in modern times. Ultimately, young people and families are relocating to urban areas for greater employment opportunities as well as seeking affordable housing thus resulting in depopulation of villages. Other factors such as online shopping, public transport cuts and seasonal tourism have all had an impact.
So, what can planning do to help safeguard these community facilities in both rural and urban areas? Local Plan policies can guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community's ability to meet its day-to-day needs; ensure that established shops, facilities and services are able to develop and modernise in a way that is sustainable, and retained for the benefit of the community.
For example, Policy 33 of the adopted Adur Local Plan (2017) states:
“The Council will protect, and support improvements to, social and community facilities. Development which would result in the loss of existing social or community facilities will only be permitted where:”
“It can be demonstrated there is no demand for the facility within the area and the premises have been marketed for a reasonable period of time; or”
“There is alternative provision available locally that is accessible, and at least equivalent in terms of quality; or”
“The proposed development would provide an alternative social and community facility.”
A similar policy is being progressed in the emerging draft Worthing Local Plan (see draft Policy CP9).
In addition, local people can bid, through 'The Community Right to Bid' scheme to buy valued land and buildings (that are listed on the Assets of Community Value register), if and when they come onto the market.
With all that reading done, it's time to head to the pub!
Photo: Brown cattle on green grass
The Mayor of Worthing, Councillor Hazel Thorpe, recently organised a catch up meeting with the Youth Eco Ambassadors (please see my blog dated 25th Nov 2019) to continue our conversations on climate emergency.
Karl Allison, Chair of Worthing Community Chest gave a very informative presentation on the inspiring work carried out by the charity.
I was really surprised to discover that the fashion industry generates more carbon emissions than flying and it is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to oil.
We don't realise it, but huge amounts of water are needed to produce garments with approximately 2,720 litres of water needed to make one t-shirt. Did you know that is roughly the amount of water you would drink in three years? You may have heard of fast fashion, clothing sold at cheap prices - fashionable today, out tomorrow. On a global level, we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing a year with one bin lorry of clothing being landfilled or burned every second.
This is where Community Chest plays a very important role ... any unwanted textiles and shoes, no matter what condition they are in, can be deposited at any of the thirteen Community Chest (look out for the Community Chest logo) textile recycling bins across Worthing. These textiles are then recycled with generated funds being donated to local non-profit groups.
We then heard from Mandy Chapman who spoke to the students about free recycling schemes that recycle products that are not collected at kerbside. In particular, there are a number of drop off locations that collect pet food and baby food pouches, etc. For further information, please see Free Recycling Programmes on the TerraCycle website.
Lastly, we had a Q&A session where Officers were asked for an update on various projects. The Councils' recently undertook public consultation on the draft Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. We have received an impressive response of over 300 comments which are currently being reviewed.
We were also asked about what we are doing in-house to save water. The Councils' Sustainability Manager, Francesca Iliffe, mentioned that water has a carbon impact due to emissions associated with the processes involved in bringing water up to drinking standard. The Councils are working on how we can reduce water use both in its buildings and at parks and recreation grounds.
The Youth Eco Ambassadors would like to reach out to their peers and create greater awareness of climate change issues but also where they feel that they are making a positive change. We considered how this could be achieved ... in terms of exploring what educational activities / projects that could be initiated (such as tree planting, install a green wall, etc) to engage students of all ages. If you would like to join Youth Eco Ambassadors or find out further information then please contact Leslie Groves at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am excited to see what ideas take off the ground in the next couple of months!
Photo: Group shot featuring Francesca Iliffe (left), The Mayor of Worthing (centre), Karl Allison Chair of Worthing Community Chest (right), Leslie Groves (right), Youth Eco Ambassadors and Jennifer (at back in stripey top)
The latest story written by my fellow blogger, Rob Dove, caught my eye - six hundred million tonnes of carbon being captured from our atmosphere by underwater kelp! Wow, that's very impressive and all the more reason to protect these amazing and clever species in our fight against climate change.
Rob's blog got me thinking about the wider work that is being done to protect our marine environments. A Blue Belt of Marine Protected Areas are being rolled out around our coasts. This is a designated area of sea safeguarded to protect seascapes and wildlife habitats. It operates in exactly the same principle with our nature reserves and national parks, but the difference is that it's underwater!
The Blue Belt is rather complicated as it is made up of different types of Marine Protection Areas. There are Marine Conservation Zones, Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites or Areas of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar sites. These designations all interact with one another ecologically to form a joined-up network. For example, Marine Conservation Zones were established in 2013 (which include inshore and offshore areas around England) which seek to protect nationally important, rare or threatened marine wildlife, habitats and geology. Since 2013, 91 zones have been designated in England! You may have heard of Kingmere Marine Conservation Zone located 5-10km south of Littlehampton and Worthing which covers an area of 47km2. It was designated for chalk, rock covered in a thin layer of gravel sand, as well as black sea bream.
Why do we need to protect our seas you might ask? Our oceans are vital to life on earth, it helps us to breathe, regulate our climate, it's an important source of food, supports jobs as well as being home to an abundance of marine life. But yet, our seas are being threatened by climate change, industrial fishing methods, pollution, microplastics, ocean acidification, freight, military practice, deep sea mining and so on. Climate change and human exploitation activities are damaging the health of our underwater ecosystems that we rely upon.
The UK is leading the way on marine conservation and is on track to safeguard nearly 50% of our marine habitats. Yet, on a global level, less than 10% of the world's oceans is currently protected. Our government has announced a new global alliance, calling for an adoption of a global 30% protection target by 2030 and to be introduced into international law through the High Seas Treaty in 2020.
So how does marine protection fit within the planning system? Primarily, these protected areas are covered by Marine Plans (please refer to my blog dated 2nd Oct 2018 on Marine Planning).
For instance, the adopted South Marine Plan (2018) states: proposals that may have harmful impacts on the objectives of marine protected areas and the ecological coherence of the marine protected area network must show they will: a) avoid, b) minimise, c) reduce harmful impacts, in line with statutory advice on an ecologically coherent network.
Photo: Jennifer looking through a microscope when she visited the Ocean Explorer Centre near Oban, Scotland on a holiday last year
Photo: Exhibition panel at the Ocean Explorer Centre near Oban, Scotland (click for a larger image to zoom in and read the text)
Over the course of my blogs, I have referred to 'Planning Inspectors' and I thought it was about time that I explain who they are and what they do!
Planning Inspectors work for The Planning Inspectorate, which is an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Planning Inspectorate deals with planning appeals, national infrastructure planning applications, examinations of local plans and other planning-related and specialist casework in England and Wales. The majority of Inspectors have a planning background but there are some Inspectors who hold other professional expertise such as engineering, legal, ecology etc.
The Planning Inspectorate's job is to make decisions and provide recommendations and advice on a range of land use planning-related issues across England and Wales.
So, let me just give an example! Mr Bloggs, a planning applicant disagrees with the decision made by the Council on his application. He decides to submit an appeal but there are three different ways for his appeal to be considered, so which one should he go for?
Written representations: this is the most common appeal procedure. This process involves the consideration of written evidence submitted by the appellant, the Local Planning Authority and anyone else who has an interest in the appeal. The Inspector will read the representations and most likely visit the appeal site before making a decision.
Hearing: this is an informal hearing that involves the submission of written evidence by the main parties. This procedure is usually for those appeals that are more complex in nature and comprise of a number of issues to be explored. The hearing takes the form of a round-the-table discussion that will be led by the Inspector. It allows for all parties to respond to any questions that the Inspector might have, and to let everyone make their case known. Third parties, such as local residents, Councillors and amenity groups may also attend and take part. A site visit is undertaken at the end of the hearing session.
Local Inquiry: This is a more formal procedure and is usually used for complex cases where legal issues may need to be considered. This tends to be for appeals concerning large scale housing or mixed use developments. The main parties will usually have Barristers to present their case and to cross-examine any witnesses (ie specialist consultants such as Transport Engineers, Ecologist, etc). An inquiry may take one or several days, or in some cases weeks. At some point during or on conclusion of the inquiry the Inspector and the main parties will undertake a site visit.
It all depends on how complex the appeal is. However, the Planning Portal website has some helpful guidance on the appeal procedures.
Writing this blog brings back some memories as in my previous employment, I was involved in a number of appeal hearings where I provided support to the case officer (usually the person who was responsible for determining the planning application). My role was to provide clarity on the application of planning policies that were relevant to the appeal. I won't lie and pretend that I never felt nervous but with practice, I realised that advance preparation (a bit like a dress rehearsal) with the case officer (to anticipate what questions we might get asked and how we would respond) helps to facilitate a smooth hearing process.
Photo: Hammer as used by a judge in a court room
One of the many things I enjoy about my job is that I get to undertake research to inform the planning policies that we write. It's important that policies are robust, based on evidence but also reflects best practice.
The policy landscape is changing all the time and we have to keep on top of all the latest practice whether that is national policy, new evidence, new targets etc. In some ways, it is just like fashion, the retail market has to adapt to changing fashion trends, and we have to do the same with our planning policies to reflect current and likely future scenarios.
Digital evolution, the climate emergency etc are all shaping the way we live our lives and how services are delivered. Local Plans and policies can quickly become out of date and therefore we have to review (at least once every five years) to ensure that they are still fit for purpose.
One of the current key challenges is how we can raise the bar when it comes to climate change adaptation and mitigation. We are looking at the science, data, innovative solutions but also seeing what policy approaches / targets / measures have been taken by other Councils in England that have recently adopted Local Plans.
It is all about learning from each other and devising a robust policy approach that will be accepted by a Government appointed Inspector.
I will admit that it can be quite overwhelming at times trying to keep up with the pace of change, especially when it comes to science and technology. I often joke that I need to grow another brain as trying to remember and keep on top of it all sometimes feels like a memory test in itself!
Putting that to one side, I like the fact that I’m in a career that is constantly evolving, I'm learning something new everyday and in some small way, hopefully making a difference with the planning policies that I write.
In January 2019, Greta Thunberg made a speech at the World Economic Forum that “our house is on fire”. One year later, these words are ever more powerful and visible as fires are raging in Australia and the Amazon rainforest. It is heart-breaking that lives are being lost, communities are being destroyed and the decimation of wildlife and ecosystems. It is real, it is happening right now.
It may feel such an impossible and monumental feat to address climate emergency but Greta reminds us that 'no one is too small to make a difference'. We are all in this together so let's work together. The Councils with Worthing Climate Action Network and Transition Town Worthing are holding a conference, Zero2030, on the 4th March 2020 at the Assembly Hall in Worthing. Everyone is welcome; this is a community led conference to shape the local response to the climate emergency and the crisis in our natural ecosystems. You can get further information about the event and to sign up on Eventbrite.
The Councils declared Climate Emergency in July 2019 and have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030. To act on this pledge, the Councils commissioned AECOM to undertake a Carbon Neutral Plan which was published in December 2019. The report sets out key actions and intervention measures required to set the Councils on the path to net zero carbon emissions.
The report highlights the significant challenges in reducing energy demands, decarbonising the national grid and offsetting any remaining carbon emissions. However, the fundamental steps required to deliver the net-zero target are clear and, with strong leadership from the Councils, the report concludes that these can be set into action now.
The key priority areas for action are:
Buildings: reduce heat and power demands through fabric efficiency improvements and behavioural change. Future developments need to achieve a high standard of energy efficiency in order to minimise any increase in fuel consumption. Long term, all buildings will need to switch from gas / fossil fuels to low and zero carbon heat sources.
Uptake of Low and Zero Carbon Technologies: Increasing use of zero and low carbon technologies and battery storage within the Councils' own stock will reduce reliance on fossil fuels, reduce pressure on existing utility infrastructure, improve security of supply, and mitigate against price fluctuations.
Transport: transformation in the transport sector to low and zero emissions vehicles, behaviour change and increase the uptake of walking and cycling.
HGVs: Reduce HGV mileage
Offsetting any remaining carbon emissions: carbon sequestration through sustainable woodland management or investing in large-scale renewable energy generation. It is important to note, however, that carbon offsetting is not enough to achieve the net zero target on its own - success relies on maximising demand reduction and renewable electricity generation as a high priority.
There is a lot of work to be done and therefore a working group has been set up within the Councils to implement the Plan, with finance and resources allocated to help deliver the priority actions. With regards to Planning Policy, we are exploring the recommendations and how to embed within the policies in the emerging Worthing Local Plan but also the strategic energy infrastructure needed to support the decarbonisation of the national grid within our Infrastructure Delivery Plans.
Happy New Year!
Across the country, many people will have embarked on a leisurely walk at some point over the festive period.
In an ever busy world, it is important to take time out away from technical distractions and therefore getting outside in the stillness and solitude of nature helps to reconnect with ourselves. I find that going for a bracing walk into the wind and blowing the cobwebs away helps to provide a clear sense of focus for the new year ahead as well as burning off the excess indulgence of canapes, mince pies and chocolates consumed over Christmas!
On the last Sunday of 2019, I went on a six mile walk starting in Worthing walking west along the promenade and then along the path to Ferring and back. As an island nation we are very lucky to have approximately 17,820km of coastline which is one of our national treasures. A national project, known as the England Coast Path (ECP), is underway which is being led by Natural England. When complete, the coast path will be the world's longest continuous waymarked coastal trail comprising of 2,795 miles thus improving public access to the coast. The aim of the ECP is to strike a fair balance between the interests of property owners and the public's rights to enjoy open-air recreation on coastal land.
The ECP commenced in 2016 with a number of proposals for improved access with the trail planned to be fully operational by 2020. In 2017, Natural England submitted a report to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs setting out proposals for improved access to the coast between East Head (near West Wittering) and Shoreham-by-Sea. As of June 2019, the report was at the Stage 4 'Determine' phase. Once the report is approved, Natural England, in partnership with West Sussex County Council and the South Downs National Park Authority, will begin work on preparing the route for public use.
New figures were published last month (on GOV.UK) which reveal the huge popularity and success of the ECP so far with 29.1 million walking trips being made over a six month period. In addition, the ECP has provided many benefits to the local economy and communities with regard to an increase in visitor numbers but physical / mental health benefits. Data has shown that the ECP has boosted the economy by £350 million. The Ramblers Walking charity summarise quite appropriately the significance of the England Coast Path:
“It won't just be walkers that will benefit from this landmark project; it is a legacy for the entire nation. The England Coast Path will increase tourism and boost rural economies, it will connect communities, allow us to rediscover our national heritage, and create opportunities for people to enjoy the simple pleasures of being by the seaside.”
I don't really make new year resolutions but one of my goals for this new year is to better explore and appreciate our coastline.
Photo: Goring Greensward looking east
Photo: Goring Greensward looking west
Photo: The Plantation, Goring
Christmas is nearly upon us!
As it is the time for giving, a couple of weeks ago, my colleagues and I participated in a team volunteering session with Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust. Employees at Adur & Worthing Councils are encouraged and supported to volunteer for local charitable organisations as part of developing our skills but also to give back to our local communities.
The Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust (OART) was formed in 2011 and it is dedicated to the environmental protection and enhancement of the Sussex River Ouse, the River Adur, their tributaries and impoundments.
You may have heard of the Broadwater Brook Heritage Lottery Fund project, also known as Enhancing Places, Inspiring Communities (EPIC) project which is a partnership between OART and Sompting Estate. EPIC has been awarded a £871,400 Heritage Lottery Fund grant which aims to uncover the urban chalk stream (that travels across Sompting Brooks on Sompting Estate) and direct it away from contaminating sources to establish a clean water environment. The project is being supported by the Environment Agency, Rampion Offshore Wind and Sompting Big Local.
A new trail is being created to make Broadwater Brook accessible to the public for the first time and the natural habitat is being improved by the inclusion of two ponds, the planting of approximately 1,000 trees and 2.5km of hedgerow. The project is expected to run until 2021.
It is a fascinating project as it is very much community based with numerous public events and activities (such as photography, plastic and litter pick ups, archaeological field survey, skills development workshops etc) with local residents and schools to raise awareness of water conservation, plastic waste, pollution and urban wildlife.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Alistair Whitby, one of the officers at OART, who gave us a talk and tour around the site.
We were then set to work and we were tasked with planting vegetation, which when established, will form hedgerows.
Despite being physical work, it was a very therapeutic experience especially working in the fresh air, being surrounded by nature and of course, working with friendly and supportive team members. I actually felt I got to know my colleagues a little bit better. I am very proud to say that we planted over 400 trees and the fact that we are part of a legacy to our precious environment.
However during the visit I was very saddened to learn that Broadwater Brook is not immune from the plight of plastic, microplastics and rubbish and therefore I would like to share the following campaign by OART - 'A Plastic Free Christmas 5 EPIC Tips':
- Ditch plastic wrapping paper (opt for recyclable brown paper, magazine paper or reusable fabric wraps)
- Give eco Christmas crackers a go
- Get a green tree (if you have a fake tree, make it last as long as possible. If not, get a tree with an FSC / Soil Association logo, a potted tree that can be used year after year or even rent one!)
- Gift an experience (the memories will last a lot longer than most presents)
- Ethical Christmas gifts (wooden toys are making a comeback such as puzzles, musical instruments and building blocks etc)
Find out more about the plastics campaign on the OART website.
Hope you all have a wonderful festive time and look forward to sharing more blogs in the new year!
It is one of the biggest areas in the south east primed for regeneration with potential to see the creation of 1,400 homes, work space and new riverside public areas - and planning is crucial to bring it forward.
For the last few years, Adur District Council has been working with its partners (Brighton & Hove City Council; West Sussex County Council; Shoreham Port Authority) on a joint project to regenerate Shoreham Harbour and surrounding areas.
The proposed vision for the regeneration area is as follows:
By 2031 Shoreham Harbour will be transformed into a vibrant, thriving waterfront destination comprising a series of sustainable, mixed-use developments alongside a consolidated and enhanced Shoreham Port which will continue to play a vital role in the local economy.
The redevelopment of key areas of the harbour will provide benefits for the local community and economy through increased investment, improved leisure opportunities, enhanced public realm and the delivery of critical infrastructure that will help respond positively to climate change.
Central to delivering this is Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan (JAAP) which has been developed by partners as a strategy for the regeneration of Shoreham Harbour and surrounding areas.
It includes proposals and policies for new housing and employment generating floor-space; and for upgraded flood defences, recreational and community facilities, sustainable travel, environmental and green infrastructure improvements.
An area action plan is a type of local plan for an area of significant change. The JAAP sets a planning policy framework to guide development and investment decisions within the Shoreham Harbour Regeneration Area up to 2032.
The JAAP was examined by a Government appointed Inspector who found the plan to be sound and legally compliant subject to agreed modifications to be made.
Preparing Local Plans take many years so it is with great news to announce that the JAAP has now been adopted by the partnership!
The JAAP can be viewed here:
Photo: Shoreham Harbour lock gates and power station
Photo: Shoreham Harbour - crane on Fishersgate Wharf
Since Adur & Worthing Councils declared Climate Emergency in July, my colleagues and I have given greater focus to the climate change agenda and proactively considering how to step up planning policy to act on this defining issue of our time.
The planning system is one of many tools that can be used to address climate change. The way in which we shape new and existing developments in Adur and Worthing can make a significant contribution to adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change through carbon reduction ('decarbonisation') and sustainable design & construction.
As planning authorities, both Adur and Worthing Council must take into account the relevant legislation, national policy, and guidance relating to climate change when determining planning applications and the preparation / review of Local Plans.
We want to demonstrate a clear commitment to addressing climate change (and thus signal a clear response to the Councils' Climate Emergency Declarations) and send out an effective and strong message regarding the use of the planning system to push for sustainability.
I am pleased to announce that Planning Policy has just published a Position Statement on 'Planning & Climate Change' (November 2019). This document provides guidance on the relevant planning policies (within the context of climate change) that must be taken into account when formulating development proposals. It should also be used as an aid to guide the decision-making process to ensure that development proposals contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in Adur and Worthing.
This is a live document and will be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is kept up-to-date. Other policies, plans and strategies will be prepared to support the overarching position established in this document.
We still have a long way to go and much more work needs to be done and time is of the essence. We are having these conversations, we are reviewing best practice and more importantly, we are looking to pioneer new approaches for the emerging Worthing Local Plan and the review of the Adur Local Plan. We are currently exploring opportunities to embed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within the Worthing Local Plan in order to enhance the sustainability credentials and to provide a more robust monitoring framework.
My colleagues and I all recognise that climate change is at the crux of our work and as a policy planners, we need to champion the way forward to sustainable development.
Photo: Cycling along Worthing Promenade
Photo: Beach House Park, Worthing
I recently had the privilege of meeting a group of students from Adur and Worthing, who have taken the initiative to become ambassadors and champion action in response to the climate emergency.
The Mayor of Worthing Borough Council, Hazel Thorpe, arranged for the Youth Eco Ambassadors to visit Worthing Town Hall to discuss their concerns, but also for them to gain an understanding of the role of local government and how we can work together and learn from each other as we take steps to address the biggest challenge of our time. Hazel was supported by Leslie Groves Williams who provided the young people with briefings on local government, local climate related issues and presentation skills.
My colleague, Ian Moody (Worthing Planning Policy Manager) and I spoke about the key role that the planning system has with regards to adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change. We had an engaging discussion ranging from biodiversity, trees, walking and cycling and the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (which is currently the subject of public consultation), renewable energy technologies and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It was impossible for us to cover everything that we do as Planning is very broad and covers lots of social, economic and environmental elements but it gave a a bit of a flavour of the key projects that we are working on.
The students, led by Shoreham Academy student Callum Groves Williams, also talked about the issue of plastic waste being found in our marine environments and we highlighted that the Councils are preparing a Plastics Strategy as part of our pledge to work towards becoming a Plastic Free Council. The Councils are undertaking an audit of unnecessary single use plastics within the organisation and researching alternatives to be put in place. This also involves the review of the Council's procurement processes.
The Youth Eco Ambassadors expressed that they saw climate change as a fundamental part of the education system. Just a few days later, Italy announced that it will be the first country in the world to make learning about climate change and sustainable development a compulsory component of the education curriculum. A spokesperson for the Italian Education Minister stated:
“The idea is that the citizens of the future need to be ready for the climate emergency.”
I came away feeling very inspired by the students' dedication and interest in climate change action and I was very impressed by how much knowledge they presented and their maturity. From a planning policy perspective, we hope to continue the dialogue with the Youth Eco Ambassadors as we prepare the Worthing Local Plan and in time, the review of the Adur Local Plan.
It was really encouraging to see young people so informed and passionate about the key issues of our time. The students told us that we were able to give them some reassurance that Adur & Worthing Councils are taking action in many areas such as responding to the Climate Emergency declaration however, there is much work still to be done. We will be continuing our conversations with the Youth Eco Ambassadors in the New Year at our next meeting where we look forward to being questioned and challenged on practice that might have long term and irrevocable impacts on the environment.
The Mayor of Worthing would publicly like to thank Leslie Groves, her son Callum who organised the children and their responses and indeed all the young people from different schools across Adur and Worthing who took part. We are looking forward to our next session with Karl Allison from Community Chest to hear more about practical actions we can all take. 23rd January 2020 at 4:30pm, Worthing Town Hall.
Photo: The Mayor of Worthing, Hazel Thorpe, meeting with the Youth Eco Ambassadors in Worthing Town Hall (credit: James McDonald Photography)
“A legacy of designing our towns and cities around cars rather than people has left us less healthy, our roads more congested and our cities less well-off ... our streets deserve to be so much more than corridors for traffic. They are the public spaces in which we play out our everyday lives. How we experience them has an impact on each of us as soon as we step out of our front door.” - Living Streets
We have engineered physical activity out of our lives and we are now in the midst of a sedentary crisis with obesity being one of the key public health challenges of our time.
On the other side of the coin, motorised transport is a significant contributor to carbon emissions and account for over a third of emissions in Adur and Worthing. Transport is the most difficult sector to decarbonise and transport emissions have been rising locally and nationally since 2013.
Against the backdrop of our climate emergency and the obesity epidemic, it is more pressing than ever to design physical activity back into our everyday lives. We all know that active travel, namely walking and cycling offer a multitude of social, environmental and economic benefits. It helps people to be physically active, improve their mental wellbeing, foster social interactions as well as reducing congestion, improving air quality, saving money ... the list goes on!
In 2017, the Government launched The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (PDF on the GOV.UK website) which outlines the government's ambition to make cycling and walking a natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey.
The strategy aims to double cycling levels by 2025, increase walking activity, reduce the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured, and increase the percentage of school children walking to school. This strategy strongly encourages local authorities to prepare Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIP) to take a strategic approach to planning safe and accessible walking and cycling networks. It will also act as an important evidence base for prioritisation of schemes and targeting investment to improve existing and the provision of new walking and cycling infrastructure.
It is exciting to announce that Adur & Worthing Councils have published its draft Joint LCWIP for public consultation and it is the first to do so in West Sussex. The draft LCWIP has been developed by Sustrans (walking and cycling charity) and Adur & Worthing Councils with extensive support of local stakeholders, in particular the Adur & Worthing Walking and Cycling Action Group, West Sussex County Council and the West Sussex LCWIP Partners Group.
The LCWIP also aligns with the West Sussex Walking and Cycling Strategy 2016-2026 and will also sit in tandem with the implementation of the Adur Local Plan and the emerging Worthing Local Plan.
If you would like to get involved then further information about the consultation using the link below:
The consultation closes on Monday 6th January 2020.
Photo: Cycling along Marine Parade in Worthing
Photo: Shared footway and cyclepath between Widewater Lagoon and the beach in Lancing (looking towards Shoreham)
Poster: TFL (Transport for London) poster - a new route, a new London - walk, cycle, discover
Today, November 11th, marks Remembrance Day to remember the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.
Sadly, there is still armed war and conflict happening in parts of the world, particularly in politically fragile urbanised environments resulting in profound and devastating impacts on surviving civilians. The vital infrastructure that makes communities function is destroyed such as the destruction of homes, loss of utilities, lack of safe water and difficulty in accessing medical services thus making these places inhospitable. The characteristics of what gives a place its identity are being lost. With increasing global population growth and the subsequent pressures being placed on urban cities, especially in the developing nations, are resulting in urban environments becoming more vulnerable.
The International Committee of the Red Cross summarises:
“Today's armed conflicts look quite different: city centres and residential areas have become the battlefields of our time. Wars have moved into the lives, cities and homes of ordinary people in a more vicious way than ever before. The more we can do to understand urbanisation and its challenges and complexities, the better we can adjust our humanitarian response ... When a city is under fire, educational and employment opportunities are lost. As a result, large numbers of people are internally displaced or seek refuge in neighbouring countries, overburdening the capacities of the host city's infrastructure. It also leads to a 'brain drain' effect as specialist skills of engineers, urban planners and medical staffs are lost.”
I recently visited Sarajevo (capital) and Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina which were heavily besieged during the Bosnian War (as part of the wider Yugoslavian War) between April 1992 and November 1995. More than 10,000 people died in the Sarajevo Siege as a result of shelling, the longest siege of any capital city in the history of modern warfare. Collectively, there were over 120,000 civilian deaths during the Bosnian War and it was ranked as one of the most brutal wars due to genocide and crimes against humanity.
Despite the terrible atrocities of the war and its large scale destruction, both Sarajevo and Mostar have made substantial post-war recovery. Sarajevo is a fusion of culturally diverse architectural styles representative of its Ottoman Empire history. The capital is quickly re-developing and new commercial buildings occupy the Sarajevo skyline. However, the city still bears the scars of the war, with a number of surviving buildings marked by bullet holes and where shells have exploded along with war remembrance graffiti which act as a marker of what the city went through.
When the siege ended, concrete scars on the pavements were filled with red resin. After the resin set, it resulted in floral patterns which led them to being referred to as the 'Sarajevo Roses'.
I attended various museums whilst in Sarajevo and in Mostar about the war and I found it emotional to learn that some of the civilians who survived wanted to stay or return back. Regardless of the fact that they had lost their homes, families and friends, it was still their 'home', a place that they know and belong. That struck a chord with me and it demonstrates a remarkable resilience being seen today in Bosnia & Herzegovina - that places are being sensitively re-developed but at the same time, never forgetting its history.
I have spent the weekend visiting relatives in Rochdale, Greater Manchester where I originate from. The last couple of times I have visited, I have noticed that Rochdale is changing, new developments are taking place, a new tram line has been implemented connecting Rochdale to Manchester and the town centre is being redeveloped ... These changes are coming about as part of a drive to improve prosperity across the wider Manchester city-region.
Rochdale Borough Council along with nine other Councils (including Manchester City Council) and the Mayor of Greater Manchester (Andy Burnham) form the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). There are 2.8 million people living in the city region and an exciting vision has been unveiled for Greater Manchester to be one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old as set out in the Greater Manchester Strategy: Our People, Our Place (.PDF)as well as being at the forefront of action on climate change.
Greater Manchester was created as a metropolitan county comprising of ten metropolitan boroughs in 1974. In 1986, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities was established and, in the late 2002, sought a formal government structure for the 'Manchester City Region' and subsequently the GMCA came into force in 2011.
As the GMCA is led by a Mayor, Greater Manchester has devolution powers which mean more control over how and where money is spent as well as shaping local services. The GMCA has secured six devolution deals which include more control of local transport and the provision of a modern, better-connected network, strategic infrastructure, new planning powers to encourage regeneration and development, £300 million funding for housing, skills training and employment generation. These deals are essential to the delivery of the 'Northern Powerhouse', which is the government's vision for a super-connected, globally-competitive northern economy with a flourishing private sector, a highly-skilled population, and world-renowned civic and business leadership in former industrial cities and towns.
There is an exciting new plan being created to cover the Greater Manchester City region, known as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework - GMSF (.PDF). The plan, still in draft form, identifies how land across Greater Manchester will be developed over the next 20 years. The framework aims to support the growth of the city region and fuel major development across all 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester, including Rochdale as well as reducing inequalities and improving the quality of life for all.
The GMSF include policies and proposals of a strategic nature across Greater Manchester as a whole whereas local authorities still have to prepare Local Plans to include specific policies to address local matters.
I shall continue to follow the progress of the GMSF with interest, partly as it represents a unique planning opportunity to observe the collaboration of ten Councils and a Mayor working together as well as seeing how key environmental, economic and social challenges are being addressed at a strategic wide level.
The photo below is of College Bank Flats also known as the 'Seven Sisters' which dominate the skyline of Rochdale. There is a proposal to demolish some of the flats as part of a mixed use redevelopment.
Last Monday was a very exciting day!
I am a member of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) which is the world's largest conservation charity and I won two guests tickets in a competition to attend an exclusive event hosted by Steve Backshall.
The event, titled 'Where The World Turns', was an evening lecture comprising of guest speakers talking about climate change in the polar regions and the global response needed.
We all know that we are living in a state of climate emergency, with climate change being the greatest global challenge of our time.
Listening to the speakers really brought it home, through powerful language but also through photography and filmography, the stark realities of climate change but also the global scale of climate change.
Steve Backshall (below) explained how over the course of his wildlife TV presenting career, how he has experienced first hand the profound impact of climate change on wildlife and their habitats. In his recent 'Undiscovered World' documentary series whilst kayaking Scoresby Sund, the world's largest fjord in Greenland, he witnessed shrinking sea ice.
We heard scientific evidence from Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE (below), climate scientist and mathematician at the University of Cambridge. Dr Shuckburgh is a Fellow of various prominent organisations including British Antarctic Survey and the Royal Meteorological Society. She has led a UK National research programme on the Southern Ocean and its role in climate.
Prior to the 1950s, there was no instrumental sampling recording of carbon dioxide emissions but historical carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere can be measured by sampling trapped air bubbles in the Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets. Pre-industrial levels of carbon emissions concentrations were approximately around 260-280 parts per million (ppm) by volume. In 2013, concentrations surpassed 400ppm and this year, concentrations have been recorded to reach 415ppm.
The science is showing that the Southern Ocean (around Antarctica) is warming at all depths, ice sheets are melting, ocean oxygen levels are dropping and ocean acidification is increasing. Such impacts are being felt by wildlife in the polar regions with regards to their hunting behaviour and the ripple effect it is having upon interconnected food systems. In particular, Polar Bears in the Arctic regions are being forced to move south to dry land in search of food (such as catching salmon in rivers) due to melting ice sheets which they depend on to hunt seals.
The CEO of WWF UK (below) showcased the significant role of climate change activism, especially the actions of our young generation. Activism has a platform and a voice. Whilst we need to tackle climate change, we also need to restore biodiversity and wildlife, so there are two-sides of the same coin that need to be addressed.
The world is slowing waking up to climate emergency and we need to accelerate our drive to action as in the closing remarks made by Steve Backshall, “it is up to us to make big changes now before it is too late.”
Photo: Selfie of me with Steve Backshall
This week it is all about the life of a planner working in the voluntary sector, also known as the 'third sector'.
You may be surprised to find that there are many third sector organisations that get involved in planning related matters. These organisations are primarily concerned with working for the social and environmental good. They include charities with a humanitarian, heritage or environmental edge, such as:
- Shelter (charity that campaigns to end homelessness and bad housing in England and Scotland)
- RSPB (the country's largest nature conservation charity)
- Sussex Wildlife Trust (nature conservation charity which aims to protect natural life in Sussex)
- English Heritage (charity that manages over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places)
- National Trust (environmental and heritage conservation)
- Living Streets (campaigns to provide a better walking environment)
- and many more ... !
These organisations lobby to promote their charitable objectives and thus get involved within the planning system in various ways. For instance, they will respond to planning applications that are of interest, setting out why they support or object to the proposed development. They engage within the preparation of Local Plans and submit representations on proposed site allocations and draft policies. They also undertake research and collect data on social or environmental issues to inform policies which can provide useful evidence to help support the preparation of Local Plans.
There are also 'Think Tanks' which are research institutes that seek to play a key role in influencing national policy and politicians. They are key sources of new innovative ideas and research and combine knowledge of planning policy and politics. Think tanks with an interest in the built environment include the Centre for Cities, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Create Streets to name but a few.
When I finished University, I undertook a non-paid six months internship with Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), recently re-branded as The Countryside Charity. I was affiliated with the Oxfordshire branch and undertook research on various planning issues prevalent in Oxfordshire such as light pollution, solar farms, Feed-in Tariffs scheme as well as writing briefing notes to help inform CPRE branch members on how best to respond to planning applications. It was a valuable placement and helped me to appreciate the importance of public and private sector planners collaborating with third sector planners as they provide a wealth of expertise, information and resources on a specialised subject area.
Photo: Clandon House in Surrey (National Trust) - it was on fire a couple of years ago and it is now undergoing a restoration project, the NT are working closely with the planning department at the local council
Photo: Sissinghurst Castle in Kent (National Trust)
Photo: Three people looking at building plans in an office
Well, hello there... another Monday rolls around…
I am conscious that my blogs have primarily focused on the role of public sector planning, which is quite rightly so given that the purpose of my blogs is to give an insight into the daily life of a public servant at Adur & Worthing Councils. Having said that, I think it is equally important for my blog audience to be aware of the contribution that planners make that work within the private and voluntary sectors. Us public sector planners can't take the credit for everything!
This week I shall focus on private sector planning.
In this sector, planners predominantly work for a Planning Consultancy firm working on behalf of their clients. Private practices work to help both private and public sector clients achieve their goals. That could mean developing master plans for big new developments, carrying out research to support local authorities in developing their local plans or assisting a developer / landowner to secure planning approval for a scheme.
It is a varied, dynamic and fast-paced sector and planners are expected to have a strong commercial acumen as well as being able to maintain relations with existing clients and have the ability to attract new clients to build the company’s profile.
Photo: The Bayside Apartments development on Worthing seafront
Some planners also work for multi-disciplinary firms such as Architect, Engineering or Transport and generally specialise in a particular function such undertaking Environmental Impact Assessments, working on development consent projects for nationally significant infrastructure projects or Transport Planning.
There is a whole big planning world out there and our paths do cross from time to time. From a planning policy perspective, we engage with private sector planners through the preparation of Local Plans.
They work on behalf of landowners or developers who wish to promote land for development in the Local Plan (these sites are subject to an assessment process).
They submit representations during a public consultation on the draft Local Plan on behalf of their client who may have an interest as well as undertaking specialised technical studies (ie Transport Assessment) to help inform the evidence base underpinning the Local Plan.
It is therefore important that we respect and appreciate the diverse skills present across the sectors as planning requires an thorough approach to placemaking.
Next week I shall blog about the role of planners in the voluntary sector ...
WOW, what a week it has been! Sunshine weather, blue skies and warm temperatures, what more do you need?!
It has been lovely last week especially to visit the promenade on my lunch break, do some reading and watch the world go round, literally in the form of a wheel! It has definitely given Worthing seafront the WOW factor.
I mentioned in my blog last week that seaside resorts are revitalising their economic offer, particularly through culture, creative arts, food and drink and, of course, attractions to draw in visitors and residents. The seafront is the town's strongest asset however, visual markers and signposts to the seafront were identified as in need of improvement. In addition, visitors to the town felt that there was a lack of a 'sense of arrival'. The observatory wheel is considered to provide a temporary landmark feature to augment the seaside attraction of Worthing by creating a modern sense of place, identify and cultural offer.
The origins of the Ferris wheels are rooted in history and they have become popular worldwide. Since the establishment of the London Eye (which is currently the 4th largest wheel in the world), observation wheels have sprung up across many places in England, from coastal towns and cities and urban areas. Observation wheels are a great way to showcase the built and natural environment of the locality seen at a height.
Did you know that the WOW wheel was subject to a planning approval process? A planning application for the 36 pod wheel was granted planning permission in March this year enabling the wheel to be operational between March and November for three years. As part of the planning application process, various assessments were undertaken ranging from flood risk, ground investigation and a landscape and visual character assessment.
On balance, it was considered that the wheel would support the vibrancy of Worthing and thus foster economic prosperity. For further information, view the planning committee report that went to Worthing Planning Committee 27th March 2019 - Item 5 (Planning Applications).
The planning system is a key lever to stimulate local economies and it is imperative that we respond to key emerging economic trends provided that it represents sustainable development and that it is sympathetic to the existing character of the built environment. Who knows what our seaside resorts will look like in years to come, but they are a much loved and nostalgic part of our British heritage and will always will be.
What a glorious weekend we have just enjoyed! Shame it wasn't a bank holiday weekend!
As I am relatively a newcomer to West Sussex (although I have been living here for 2 years this month!), I have a 'places to visit list' comprising of recommendations from colleagues and from Experience West Sussex of things to see and do in West Sussex.
This day trip of an adventure got me thinking about 'tourism' and especially the role of the Ouse Valley Viaduct in the development of seaside towns during the Victorian era ... and bingo ... a blogging subject!
The Ouse Valley Viaduct was constructed in 1842 and forms the London to Brighton Railway. It was designed by John Rastrick and David Mocatta and has an impressive architectural style due its 37 red brick arches. The viaduct is Grade II* listed for its special architectural and historic interest (see more viaduct photos below).
The 1871 Bank Holiday Act introduced official holidays throughout the year and this resulted in a growing movement of factory workers taking day trips to the seaside whereas wealthier holiday-makers would stay for a week in the summer. Seaside towns rapidly developed and expanded into leisure and pleasure resorts but also a place for recuperation with many doctors prescribing their patients a dose of fresh sea air and sunshine in contrast to the polluted living conditions in the urban areas.
The construction of the London to Brighton railway line as well as other railway lines in the country were instrumental to the development of seaside resorts (just picture those vintage railway posters). The railways enabled easy, cheap and fast access from industrial towns / cities to the coast and resulted in visitors arriving in their droves. Subsequently, piers, promenades, entertainment facilities, lidos, bandstands, beach huts (does this sound familiar? Yes, Worthing!) formed distinctive cultural features present at seaside resorts. Did you know that Sussex has the most number of seaside towns?
Our railways are an important rich cultural heritage, they helped to shape the growth of our seaside towns and visitor economy but equally, railways contributed to the growth of cities, by allowing the cheap transport of food, as well as bricks, slate and other building materials. From a planning perspective, it is incredible how the railway age influenced social-economic development.
However, despite the rapid popularity of seaside resorts, they were not immune from market forces. Since the introduction of cheaper and attractive continental holiday packages in the 1960s, coastal towns have declined economically as a result of a reduction in visitor numbers. The revitalisation of our coastal communities is a current challenge being faced by many Councils in the country and this is a subject that I will explore further in a future blog.
Photo: The Ouse Valley Viaduct
Photo: Commemorative plaque on the Ouse Valley Viaduct
Photo: Looking through the arches of the Ouse Valley Viaduct
It is exciting news to announce that Adur District Council has adopted new planning guidance aimed at reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from homes and businesses in the area. This follows the recent climate emergency declaration made by Adur & Worthing Councils.
All major developments across Adur will have to meet strict and ambitious eco-friendly targets as part of a wider bid for the area to go carbon neutral by 2030.
As part of the programme to reduce those levels, the Council will seek to ensure that new major developments meet high environmental standards.
It also aims to encourage those carrying out improvements to existing homes or commercial buildings to consider eco-measures, such as solar water heating, photovoltaics, wind turbines, battery storage and heat pumps.
The new policy, which is known as the Sustainable Energy Supplementary Planning Document, will run alongside the Adur Local Plan, which was adopted in 2017 and will guide development across the area until 2032.
Central to the document are three key aims: be lean (use less energy); be clean (supply energy efficiently); and be green (use renewable energy).
An example of this is a commitment to renewable and low carbon decentralised energy, which is produced close to where it will be used, rather than at a large remote power station and sent through the national grid.
Large scale battery storage is one of the ideas proposed to meet this requirement. The Council is also exploring the potential to develop a district heating network in Shoreham to deliver affordable and low carbon heating to homes and businesses in the town.
The guidance will apply to all major residential and non-residential developments proposed in the Adur Local Plan area. It will also apply to new development in the Shoreham Harbour Regeneration Area (excluding householder applications) and new development in the proposed Shoreham Heat Network Area (excluding householder applications).
The Council also makes clear that the policies and principles are minimum standards and proposals which exceed them, such as zero carbon development, will be welcomed.
The move feeds into the authority's SustainableAW programme, which includes a commitment to work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and reaching the UK100 Cities target of 100% clean energy by 2050.
Photo: Solar panels on the roof of Portland House
Wow! This week marks my one year blogging anniversary - I can't believe it!
It has been a really positive learning experience and I feel very privileged to have a platform to showcase my profession to a wider audience.
I have to admit that I did find it challenging last September to write an engaging blog post - especially trying to get the pitch right ... not too technical but also not too vague!
It is a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time, it is all about striking the right balance - with lots of humour thrown in.
I received a lovely compliment recently from a friend, who is also a Planner, who said that when they read my blogs they can hear me talking to them ... so I am really pleased that my 'voice' comes through in my blogs.
The fact that I am still blogging one year on just goes to show how diverse Planning is and that every working day is different.
Planning is constantly evolving and reacting to various political, socio-economic and environmental factors.
We have a new Prime Minister, so undoubtedly change is on the horizon. We also have Brexit which will impact on the Planning system. We are also in a state of Climate Emergency.
I often used to use the phrase 'the goalposts keep changing' (usually in frustration) when the Government brought out new legislation or introduced a new requirement. But now having been in the profession for eight years I have realised that the goalposts will be forever changing ...
While I don't possess crystal ball powers, I am of the strong belief that my profession will become much more shaped by science and technology.
I am recognising that I need to develop my knowledge and skills in response to new emerging forms of telecommunications and energy technology, especially with regards to transitioning to a net zero carbon society and economy.
I am really excited to be continuing my blogging journey into its second year so watch this space!
My friends are beekeepers and they have a hive in their garden. I recently had the privilege to be their beekeepers assistant and it was such a mesmerising experience to observe these species up close. It was quite a moment when we found the Queen Bee! It was very humbling and it gave me a new found respect for these insects and the complexity of work that goes into making honey.
But there's a lot more to bees than meets the eye, particularly when it comes to planning.
I was reading through the August edition of 'The Planner' magazine and an article on urban beekeping piqued my interest, with roof top buildings particularly good locations.
Beekeeping and planting wildflowers is a vital movement in response to the pressing need to conserve our bee populations. I was surprised to read that there are over 275 bee species in the British Isles alone. The population of these insects have declined over the decades due to a number of factors including loss of their habitat (nesting sites) and wildflower food supplies through modern farming practices (machinery) and development, pesticides and diseases, uneven distribution of forage and paving over our front gardens.
So what, you may think? Well it's estimated that one third of the food that we eat relies on bees for pollination with this worth an estimated £200 billion each year to the British economy. We need to act to save our bees otherwise we would face food scarcity.
Sussex Wildlife Trust states that it is important to garden for wildlife “each garden on its own may be small, together they form a patchwork linking urban green spaces with nature reserves and the wider countryside.” In addition, we need a “mosaic of suitable flower rich habitats across the whole of Sussex. Bumblebees need small patches of wildflowers here and there in field corners, margins, waste grounds, roadside verges and motorway embankments.”
For planners, that means creating 'bee highways' in urban areas with wildflowers being planted in parks, gardens, roadside verges etc. However in the world of bees, a highway is not linear, it is three dimensional so part of the routes involves green roofs high on top of buildings.
I hadn't realised that to increase our bee populations, we need to strike a careful balance between beekeeping and planting wildflowers. This is because honeybees outcompete wild bees for food especially where food is limited. Honeybees have the ability to forage on many different types of plants and therefore are very adaptable, whereas wild bees are much more selective on their foraging habitats and rely on native plant species. Therefore the conservation narrative needs to embrace the diversity of all bee species and a greater focus is needed for wild bees in urban areas. Wildflowers and meadows are key along with bee-bricks and nest boxes as well as conserving hedges and trees.
We need to ensure that the local environment provides the right conditions for all kinds of bees to increase.
Adur & Worthing Councils are playing their part by planting carefully selected wildflowers across 30 sites throughout Adur and Worthing. A map of these wildflower sites is available on our website.
From a planning perspective, conserving our bees falls within our policies on Biodiversity (Policy 31 of the Adur Local Plan and draft Policy CP19 in draft Worthing Local Plan) where all proposed development should ensure the protection, conservation, and where possible, enhancement of biodiversity. We recognise that conserving biodiversity is not just about protecting rare species and designated nature conservation sites. It also encompasses wildlife corridors / stepping stones, and the more common and widespread species and habitats.
Any new development must fall into line into this policy, with the aim that it will help contribute to a long-term increase in the number of bees and other wildlife in our area.
So, please let's look after our bees.
On this wet and dreary Monday morning, looking out of the balcony window, I am greeted by the sight of our colourful blooms and vegetable plants.
The Balcony Gardens project was launched earlier this spring as part of the Councils' Well at Work programme. One of our main offices, Portland House in Worthing, had under utilised balconies and therefore a creative idea came about to put our balconies to a positive use and have gardens in the sky!
There are so many benefits for doing this, firstly it is a great way to meet other colleagues and connect through a shared interest. It is a great conversation starter topic in the office and many colleagues have commented on how meetings have become more stimulating as a result of an inspiring view! Some of us spend a lot of time working in front of a computer so the balcony gardens provides a much needed respite and motivation on our lunch breaks.
For me, it is my 'adopted garden' as I live in a flat and don't have access to any growing space.
When I used to live with my parents I used to grow tomatoes plants and I have really missed this. So, it is with great joy now being able to grow tomato plants and seeing them grow!
It has been a bit of an experiment. As the recent weather hasn't been good the plants weren't getting much sunlight, so I had to keep them in the office for longer much to the amusement of my colleagues. But now they are much more robust and looking very happy as a result of the recent hot weather we've had.
There are lots of environmental benefits too, such as improving biodiversity and creating opportunities for our wildlife especially for honeybees as their population is declining due to pesticides and other environmental factors.
In an ever increasingly urbanised world, vertical planting, green balconies and roofs are being seen as in important form of green infrastructure and thus becoming integrated as part of the urban ecosystem as a way of mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change especially with reducing the heat island effect and improving air quality. I shall talk more on this in future blogs.
So, next time you are walking north on Portland Road, please look up and admire our green balconies. If you see us out on the balcony, please do give us a wave!
'School's Out' for the summer!
I will always remember the frenzy of excitement on the last day of term, teachers being much more relaxed and giving out sugary snacks, pranks being pulled by students and the bell going off signalling the end of the academic year and start of a long summer holiday (cue everyone all rushing out of the front school doors in eager anticipation).
However, for some students, the school holidays will be a time of researching options post secondary education, whether to pursue higher education or delve straight into the world of work.
So, for those students reading this blog ...
What kind of career would you like?
- Are you interested in shaping the way cities, towns and villages are designed and built?
- Do you want to improve quality of life, social justice and the environment for the public good?
- Do you want to be at the centre of decisions on development and regeneration?
- Respond to key global challenges of our time such as climate change and housing shortage?
Then perhaps a career in Town Planning is for you ...
Jack Dangerfield, Planning Officer at Adur District Council, is currently studying for a Masters in Town Planning at the University of Brighton. Here is what he has to say ...
“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to pursue a career where I am able to make a positive difference to people's lives.
“Issues around environmental sustainability and social justice have always interested me.
“It was while studying for a Master's degree a few years ago that I first learnt about sustainable development, and the potential to pursue genuine improvements to both the environment and people's lives through the planning system.
“Since then, I have embarked upon a second Master's degree - this time in Town Planning.
“It was through this course that I applied to undertake a work placement as part of the Shoreham Harbour regeneration team at Adur District Council.
“It was an opportunity I could not turn down as it offered me the chance to, not only gain invaluable experience in the sector, but also to work on key projects that matched my long-held interest in issues concerning sustainability which include renewable energy and green infrastructure planning.
“It also gave me an opportunity to apply the theory I had learnt on the course in a working environment. This placement has now led to a paid job within the same team.
“For me, working in town planning is about playing your part to really make a positive difference. That could be:
- delivering benefits to wildlife through the provision of green infrastructure
- improving people's health and wellbeing and reducing crime levels by improving public access to safe, high quality open spaces
- or by taking steps to improve air quality and tackle climate change by improving infrastructure for cycling
“I like to think that the potential for planning to deliver significant improvements to the way in which we live our lives is a genuinely exciting prospect. Yes, planners haven't always got it right in the past, but by pursuing a career in planning, you know you have the opportunity to play your part in making it right.”
Keen to know more? The Royal Town Planning Institute (professional body) has lots of resources, including a careers guide called 'About Planning', and advice on how to become a Planner as well as listing universities that provide accredited courses and apprenticeship opportunities.
The RTPI also provides resources for schools so that Teachers and students can gain an understanding of what town planning is and how it relates to many aspects of the school curriculum. We wish to inspire the students of today, to encourage them to get involved in shaping their environment.
And if anyone wants more info, you can always get in touch with me through this blog: email@example.com
Photo: Jack Dangerfield, Planning Officer at Adur District Council
It seems apt in this of all weeks to say that the environment and climate change is perhaps the hottest topic of conversation among the wider public at present.
From Blue Planet to school children going on strike, climate change is very much in the public consciousness.
At a local level, Adur & Worthing Councils is doing its part too, with the Joint Strategic Committee of senior councillors from both area agreeing to declare a climate emergency at its meeting earlier this month. This means we will become zero carbon by 2030.
As town planners, it's vital we remain tuned into these conversations as the planning system has a key part to play in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
One of the major ways in which it can support it is through transport.
It may come as no surprise that, across the UK, road transport is the biggest source of nitrogen oxides emissions. In 2016, records indicated that this was 34% rising to 80% at roadsides making it one of the main pollutants that is contributing to poor air quality.
Without getting too scientific, motor vehicles also emit primary particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide. The latter is one of the primary greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
There is a two-fold need to address the cocktail of harmful vehicle emissions. Firstly, as we need to decarbonise our society against the backdrop of climate emergency and secondly, to improve the quality of air that we breathe.
So what is the answer ... well we need to try and reduce our reliance on motor vehicles and step up active travel (walking and cycling) as well as utilising other forms of public transport such as rail and buses.
But being realistic, whilst we need to streamline opportunities for walking and cycling for short journeys or part of a longer journey, there will still continue to be a need to transport people, goods and services via motor vehicles.
As a globalised society, we are not in a position to eradicate vehicles from the highway completely.
What the UK ministers have decided is we are aiming to become a world leader in the design and manufacture of electric vehicle technology and use - see The Road to Zero - on the GOV.UK website (PDF).
The government, as set out in its 'UK Plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations' report, will end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
By then, we expect the majority of new cars and vans sold to be 100% zero emission and all new cars and vans to have significant zero emission capability.
Last week, the government announced a consultation proposing that new build homes are to be fitted with an electric car charge point. If this goes ahead, England will be a world first to introduce mandatory charge-points in new homes.
Therefore, this potentially means that the Planning System, through Local Plans and determining planning applications will have to ensure that proposals for residential developments are meeting this new requirement.
Putting this into a local perspective, with regards to preparing the Worthing Local Plan, we need to have our finger on the pulse.
Meanwhile, in Adur and Worthing, we are already paving the way for electric vehicle charging infrastructure to encourage greater uptake in electric vehicles.
Policy 28: Transport & Connectivity of the Adur Local Plan 2017 (in Part 4) requires that where practical, new development should be located and designed to incorporate facilities for electric vehicle charging points, thereby extending the current network. A similar requirement is being proposed for the emerging Worthing Local Plan.
The Councils' SustainableAW Framework includes an action to deliver further public electric vehicle charge points and seek funding for further expansion, explore electric vehicles for Council use.
Further to this, we excitedly announced back in April, that we successfully secured £13 million investment funding under Project SMARTHUBS which will deliver renewable energy projects and the increase in the number of electric vehicle charging points in Adur and Worthing.
Again, this is something that the Policy team needs to follow closely so that appropriate opportunities for implementing charging infrastructure are captured within the Worthing Local Plan.
So, watch this space!
It is very exciting news that Adur & Worthing Councils have declared 'Climate Emergency' and has pledged to work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This is a positive step to drive change.
The planning system has a central role to play in mitigating and adapting to climate change by supporting the move to a low carbon future, minimising vulnerability of communities and providing resilience. In this blog, I shall focus on the topic of water supply.
Water is at the heart of our everyday lives. BUT ... despite the fact that England has a reputation for its rainy weather, water is a finite and precious resource and is facing unprecedented change primarily from climate change and increasingly severe floods and droughts. Also, an increasing population and a growing economic industry is placing heavy demands for water consumption.
Did you know that the UK has less available water per person that most other European countries? But also that South East region (one of the fastest growing regions in the UK) is a 'serious water stressed area' which is the highest stress classification and indicates where the demand for water exceeds the amount available. It is highly possible that the South East will become the first region to have to plan for the full effects of climate change and that a key way of becoming resilient to these challenges is by using water more efficiently. Therefore it is imperative that we provide a resilient future for water but it is also about using water more wisely too.
Southern Water is responding to these challenges through a series of measures outlined in their Water Resource Management Plans which they are legally required to prepare. These measures include leakage reduction, water efficiency schemes in homes, schools and businesses, aquifer storage and recovery, catchment management schemes and pollution reduction and the installation of a three-stage pipeline in West Sussex.
The adopted Adur Local Plan (Policy 18: Sustainable Design) and emerging Worthing Local Plan (Policy CP17: Sustainable Design) both require that all new dwellings to achieve water efficiency by meeting the tighter Building Regulations optional requirement of 110 litres/person/day.
In addition, the planning policy team engages with Southern Water as part of preparing Infrastructure Delivery Plans so that Southern Water are aware of growth proposals in the Plan and thus identify any water and wastewater treatment / sewerage network infrastructure requirements that are needed to support planned development.
West Sussex County Council has launched their West Sussex Climate Pledge and their recently newsletter included tips on how to save water by making the following small changes:
- Ditch the hosepipe and use a bucket and sponge to wash your car
- Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need
- Take one minute off your shower time
- Wash your fruit and vegetables in a bowl instead of under a running tap
- Fully load your washing machine and dishwasher each time you use them
- Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening, using a watering can or water butt, to help minimise the amount moisture lost though evaporation
And here is my tip ... in the winter months sometimes I make a hot water bottle for those cold nights. The next day, I recycle the water by watering my indoor house plants.
Photo: Kitchen sink tap dripping
Photo: Garden tap dripping
I will let you into a secret; one of my favourite things to do in my free time is to visit a National Trust (NT) property or garden, especially at this time of year.
I find visiting NT places very soothing and I love how they provide a glimpse of what life may have been like back in time but also that they provide a cosy quintessential English atmosphere, whether it's visiting their rose gardens, partaking in afternoon tea or attending their summer music festival events with a cheeky glass of Pimms in hand! I will also admit that I have a NT passport which gets stamped every time I visit a NT place!
The National Trust was founded in 1895 by three founders, one of whom was Octavia Hill. Octavia was an English social reformer who was concerned by the poor quality living conditions in inner city London in the late 19th century. She was of the strong belief that good environments make better people and thus built improved housing and campaigned for access to the countryside.
“The need of quiet, the need of air, and I believe the sight of sky and of things growing seem human needs, common to all.”
The NT was established for the purpose of promoting the permanent preservation for the benefit of the nation of lands, and buildings, of beauty or historic interest and lands for the preservation so far as practical of their natural aspect features and animal and plant life.
Within a few weeks of the NT being established, the trust was given their first place: five acres of cliff top at Dinas Oleu in Wales.
Does anyone know which property was the first to be bought by the NT?
In 1896, Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex was bought for £10.
Today, the trust looks after a quarter of a million hectares of land including ancient woodlands, 780 miles of coastline and thousands of archaeological monuments and historic buildings across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2014, there were over 55 million visits to historic properties in the care of the trust. There is a growing appreciation that history, beauty and nature can offer solitude and a way to make sense of a rapidly changing world. At their best, experiences of heritage sites and the countryside offer connection and understanding.
Given that these features are affected by planning, the trust has a strong interest in the land-use planning system to help protect and conserve valued land and historic buildings as well as guiding development in sustainable locations. The trust monitor and respond to development proposals that are likely to affect special places in their care as well as getting involved in shaping local plans.
The NT has identified a number of key challenges that are threatening our historic and natural environment such as the decline in wildlife, climate change, increased pressures for development etc. The trust has identified through its “Playing our part: our strategy to 2025” that they will reduce energy use by 20% and source 50% of energy from renewables by 2020/21, find new solutions for managing local green space and engaging in shaping good housing and infrastructure development. Therefore it is more imperative than ever that the trust continues to work with the planning system and other partners to address some of the key challenges of the 21st century.
See also: National Trust website
Photo: The tower in Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
Photo: Scotney Castle, Kent
Photo: Sign saying 97 percent of UK meadows have been destroyed since the 1940s (at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent)
Last week was 'Loneliness Awareness Week' which was first initiated three years ago by the Marmalade Trust, a charity seeking to raise awareness of loneliness and helping people to connect. Studies have shown that there are more than nine million people in the UK that always or often feel lonely.
What is loneliness? Well, one definition is that:
“loneliness happens when we have a mismatch between the quantity and quality of social connections that we have, and those that we want.”
Loneliness can affect people of all ages and abilities and it can be present in so many different circumstances such as living alone, being recently bereaved, have financial restrictions, those who have caring responsibilities or becoming a parent.
However, there are many other socio-economic factors that can also induce feelings of loneliness, such as the way we live and work.
How we interact and connect with people through personal and professional capacities have changed tremendously over the years primarily in response to the growth of technology but also other factors such as private car ownership, home-working etc. Family units have become much more dispersed with people seeking career relocation opportunities far and wide.
Today, people generally lead busy lifestyles and we seem to be in this bubble of everything being governed by time as a result of undertaking long work commutes, business trips, family commitments etc. We are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technology to help save time by accessing services online but in doing so, we are sacrificing some key social interactions. While technology has many positive benefits such as enabling people to connect via social media, WhatsApp and Skype they don't provide the same emotional benefits that people get from face to face interactions.
So where does planning come into this? Well, this may come as a surprise but it can help with creating opportunities for social interactions therefore helping to reduce loneliness.
Planning can facilitate the creation of high quality, safe and accessible public realm spaces, areas of space where people can interact through street art, open spaces, trees and street furniture (benches, lampposts etc).
The quality and design of the public realm has a significant influence on quality of life because it affects people's sense of place, security and belonging, as well as having an influence on a range of health and social factors.
For this reason, the public realm should be multi-functional, attractive, accessible for people of all abilities, including those who are living with dementia and contribute to the highest possible standards of comfort, security and ease of movement enabling everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities.
Other elements include improved access and quality of parks and open spaces to enable local communities to lead lifestyles with greater levels of physical activity, resulting in better physical and mental health, reduced stress levels and increased social interaction. These spaces provide a vital natural resource in which people of all ages, gender and abilities can play, exercise, relax and enjoy the natural world.
Planning can also provide places for cultural activities, community facilities along with recreation and leisure, all of which provide opportunities for people to interact with each other.
We are working closely with our colleagues in the Communities team exploring ways of how we can implement a range of measures within our planning policies, especially within the emerging Worthing Local Plan, which will guide the future development of the town.
However, Planning is only one of many mechanisms and therefore the Councils are working with a range of public, health and voluntary services who also have a key role to play.
Last Saturday, a childhood dream of mine came true ... I saw the Spice Girls perform at Wembley and it was "Zig A Zig Ah". It was quite a nostalgic event as I returned to my childhood days and partied like it was 1997 all over again!
Upon arrival at Wembley, I was really surprised to see how much development has taken place since I last visited in 2008. I knew the area was being regenerated but I didn't appreciate the scale of development.
Wembley is one of the largest regeneration projects in the country and according to the Mayor of London it will accommodate 11,500 new homes and 10,000 new jobs through the development of sites along Wembley High Road and the land around Wembley Stadium.
Over the last decade Wembley Park, an 85 acre site, has been regenerated to provide a mixed use neighbourhood around Wembley Stadium. So far, the development has delivered a new London Designer Outlet comprising of retail and restaurants / bars, Boxpark Wembley (a Boxpark could soon coming to Shoreham Beach!), a Hilton Hotel, a new Civic Centre for Brent Council, library, student accommodation, residential apartments and a £10 million new public square.
But it doesn't just end there ... In time to come, there will be new community facilities, a primary school, a seven acre park, workspaces and free WiFi in outdoor spaces.
One thing that I did observe was the close proximity of residential apartments to Wembley Stadium and it made me wonder how the issue of 'noise' was addressed as part of the wider regeneration of Wembley Park.
Noise is a form of pollution and it is a recognised public health issue and therefore a material consideration when determining a planning application. This means it is imperative that it is taken into consideration when thinking about developing places.
The guidelines from the National Planning Policy requires that new development is appropriate for its location taking into account the likely effects (including cumulative effects) of pollution on health, living conditions and the natural environment.
In doing so, consideration needs to be given to whether there is a need to mitigate potential adverse impacts resulting from noise from new development and avoid noise giving rise to significant adverse impacts on health and the quality of life.
In the event of a development likely to result in noise impacts or the development is proposed to be located in an area where existing noise is generated, a Noise Assessment is submitted as part of the planning application.
In the case at Wembley Park, mitigation measures are in place for all new sensitive uses, such as residential apartments. These include soundproof insulation within residential homes and the reduction of amplified sound taking place on the outer concourse of the stadium. Noise mitigation measures put in place take into account not only stadium noise but also road and rail noise.
Here in Adur and Worthing, there is noise associated with a number of activities, particularly rail and road traffic.
Just like at Wembley we do plan for these things. Policy 34: Pollution and Contamination in the adopted Adur Local Plan states that mitigation measures will need to be implemented for development that could increase levels of pollution.
A similar policy is being progressed for the emerging Worthing Local Plan.
There's also lots of work done across the county on this. Sussex local authorities have developed a 'Planning Noise Advice Document' which provides advice for developers and their consultants when making a planning application:
When determining planning applications, Planning Officers work closely with colleagues in Environmental Health especially where noise pollution is a potential issue.
As explained above, potential noise impact is one of a vast number of considerations that are taken into account by the Council when determining planning applications and ensuring that existing uses / occupiers do not experience any significant negative impacts that arise as a result of new development.
I recently volunteered with a friend at Open Garden Squares Weekend in London where a number of private gardens in the capital open up their gates to the public for one weekend a year.
The event is organised by London Parks & Gardens Trust. The Trust seeks to celebrate and champion London's green spaces.
During the time, it got me thinking about the role open spaces play in our lives - they give us places to relax, exercise and get together with friends and family, provide a haven for wildlife, and play a vital role for health and wellbeing.
You wouldn't think that there is an abundance of green spaces in London but they are hidden away - on the rooftops of offices along the banks of the River Thames, nestled in between estates, tucked away amongst the Inns of Courts and churchyards to name but a few.
It is always very exciting volunteering at this event especially to find out which gem of a garden I have been allocated to volunteer at.
The first time I volunteered, I was placed at Marlborough House which is the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations located at The Mall. It just so happened that Trooping the Colour was taking place so I got excellent views of the procession with the atmosphere and music providing a real buzz. This year, my friend and I were allocated to volunteer at The Golden Baggers at the Golden Lane Estate near the Barbican Estate.
This garden is operated by the residents of the Golden Lane Estate. It was a former unused nursery playground and in 2010, residents decided to turn it into a thriving Golden Baggers community food-growing space. The name of the garden derives from the use of growing bags but have now been replaced by boxes to create a more permanent and accessible solution. There are a variety of fruit, vegetables and flowers being grown with a small wildlife area and a children's shed and digging box. It is a wonderful example of a green space that connects residents and their children who have a sense of pride for the area they live in.
Whilst these gardens in urban areas provide a much needed they are also valuable for local wildlife and biodiversity with some gardens undertaking beekeeping activities.
Photos: The Golden Baggers Garden at Golden Lane Estate (left) and Barbican Wildlife Garden (right)
A recent report published by the United Nations has undertaken a global assessment of ecosystems and biodiversity with the startling conclusion that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. However, the report states that:
“it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global ... Through 'transformative change', nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably.”
There are many local community initiatives taking place in Adur and Worthing to improve local biodiversity as well as creating social benefits, see:
As summer progresses, some of you will see bright pockets of colour in our parks as wildlife community planting schemes take shape. There are also a number of community green spaces schemes.
Staff at Adur & Worthing Councils have recently launched a new project where a number of balconies at Portland House are being used to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables thus 'greening up' the building. It is a really exciting project and it is a great way to promote sustainability but also for the health and wellbeing of our staff providing tranquility on our lunch breaks.
These are all great examples of how growing can take place in relatively high-density areas. As planners, we are always looking to incorporate conserving and enhancing biodiversity within the Local Plans which shape how Adur and Worthing will look like in the future. More information can be found on this within my blog about Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve dated 13th May 2019.
Photo: Flowers being grown at Victoria Park, Worthing
We are really fortunate to live in a country that is home to some of the world's most beautiful scenic and diverse landscapes and geology that provides a green oasis from the hustle and bustle of our towns and cities.
These landscapes offer many benefits, such as being an outdoor playground for people to pursue a range of recreation activities, as well as enabling people to develop important skills, such as team-building, map-reading and most importantly, allowing people to reconnect with nature.
As mentioned in my 'time-machine' blogs (how planning has evolved over the years), the industrial revolution saw urban areas becoming crowded with pollution and cramped living conditions. These urban conditions became further compounded during the inter-war and post-war years. Young working people started to visit the countryside at weekends and during the holiday season to seek tranquility and physical activity with quality 'leisure time' becoming an important component of achieving a work / life balance. The growing interest in the countryside facilitated the establishment of the Youth Hostel Association in 1930 with the following purpose:
“To help all, but especially young people, to a greater knowledge, use and love of the countryside, particularly by providing hostels or other accommodation for them on their travels.”
Synonymous with the Youth Hostel are National Parks. Due to increased visitor numbers to the countryside and the growing conflict between landowners and agricultural industries, it was recognised that there was a need to manage the competing interests as well as protecting the very special features associated with the countryside. In 1949, Parliament introduced the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. Following from this, ten national parks were designated in the 1950s with the Peak District being the first designated national park in England. To date, we have fifteen National Parks in England, Scotland and Wales.
We have a National Park on our doorstep ... the South Downs, which was formally designated in 2010. The South Downs covers an area of 1,600 square kilometres and comprises of a valued lowland landscape in the busiest park of the UK. It also includes some stunning and popular countryside, such as Chanctonbury Ring, which colleagues and friends regularly explore in their free time.
The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) is responsible for keeping the South Downs a special place and is also the planning authority of the National Park. This means that the SDNPA determines planning applications that fall within the park boundary, which includes parts of Adur and Worthing.
The SDNPA also prepares the South Downs Local Plan (to be adopted this year) with policies that shape development in a way that conserves and enhances the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of this protected landscape.
Planning Policy at Adur & Worthing Councils work very closely with the SDNPA, through Duty to Co-operate (which focuses on meeting need, especially with housing), on cross-boundary issues and strategic planning matters. This means that we consult the SDNPA on the preparation of our Local Plans.
It's an interesting relationship which is very much two-way as with planning - like many things - it's essential that you remain aware of and respect your surroundings when weighing changes in the future.
Photo: The South Downs near Steyning
They cost billions, require years of planning yet we could not do without them - you may not think it, but nationally significant infrastructure is crucial to pretty much everything in our everyday lives.
Let's just play out a very common scenario ... over the recent May Bank Holiday weekend and half term, many families will have gone on holiday abroad. The day has arrived ... the kettle gets switched on first thing in the morning for a much needed caffeine hit. After breakfast and once everyone has had a shower, the car gets loaded up with suitcases and then it is off to Heathrow airport via the M25. In this example, power stations, renewable energy technologies, water and waste water, strategic road network, airports all provide the essential components that people require from leaving their home to arriving at their holiday destination.
But making these everyday tasks possible for the UK's 65 million people requires grand vision and strategic planning.
In 2017, the Government published its Industrial Strategy which recognises that we are at one of the most important, exciting and challenging times in the history of global enterprise. The strategy seeks to create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK. In order to deliver this, the strategy identifies five foundations needed to align to this vision, one of which is a major upgrade to the UK's infrastructure.
Given the scale and complex engineering technical nature of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP), they follow a different planning process to those development schemes that are granted planning permission by Local Planning Authorities. NSIPs require a Development Consent Order and applications are dealt with by the National Infrastructure Planning Team at the Planning Inspectorate (government agency) under procedures governed by the Planning Act 2008 which require considerations of National Policy Statements (these set out government policy on different types of national infrastructure development).
The Planning Inspectorate examines the application and will make a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State, who will make the decision on whether to grant or to refuse development consent.
There are six stages to the application process for Development Consent Order and it usually takes around 16 to 18 months for a decision to be made. Further information on the process can be found by watching a short film on the Planning Inspectorate website. The website also provides details of 'live' NSIPs in England that are currently in the application process.
An example of a nationally significant infrastructure project in Adur and Worthing is Rampion Offshore Wind Farm which received consent in 2014 and became operational in 2018. For those that are interested, the application, recommendation report and decision documentation for the Rampion Offshore Windfarm can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.
With all that reading done, thank goodness we're all able to put the kettle on and have a cup of tea ...!
An important ingredient of preparing Local Plans is identifying what infrastructure is required to accommodate the demand arising from existing communities and planned growth.
The term 'infrastructure' is broadly used for planning purposes to define all of the requirements that are needed to make places function efficiently and effectively and in a way that creates sustainable communities. Infrastructure is commonly split into three main categories, defined as; Social Infrastructure, Physical Infrastructure and Green Infrastructure.
Physical infrastructure includes: roads, cycling routes, car parking, rail, utility infrastructure etc. Social infrastructure encompasses of GP services, hospitals, fire and rescue, policing, education, libraries etc.
Green infrastructure includes: open spaces, parks, allotments to name but a few.
Throughout the plan-making process, the respective Council works closely with infrastructure and service providers (ie Utility providers, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Police & Crime Commissioner, West Sussex County Council) to build up a picture of the infrastructure needed to support development proposed in the draft Local Plan. The assessment of infrastructure requirements relies on advice from infrastructure and service partners as to what infrastructure is actually required. The Council has to prepare an 'Infrastructure Delivery Plan' (IDP) for their Local Plan which sets out the identified infrastructure requirements and the possible funding sources for delivering infrastructure. The IDP is a 'live' document and it is updated in tandem with preparing, and then monitoring, the Local Plan.
It is quite a complex challenge to plan for infrastructure as it requires consulting with different infrastructure providers who all have very different operational requirements and business models. Many infrastructure providers forecast and plan infrastructure on different timescales, ie every 3 to 5 years or react when proposals are at the planning application stage whereas the Local Plan covers a period of between 10 to 15 years.
Other challenges include the changing digital landscape with new forms of infrastructure technologies emerging but also infrastructure services becoming increasingly available online therefore reducing 'space' requirements. In particular, I have come across marketing adverts on the London Underground for digital Facetime / Skype appointments with Doctors. Digital medical appointments are becoming increasingly available, especially in London and has many advantages such as improving efficiency as well as catering for our busy hectic lifestyles. However, on the flip side, there are limitations especially for those who do not have access to digital technology or those people that are socially isolated and value face to face appointments. It is important that there are a mix of traditional and digital infrastructure provision to meet the various needs of the population.
There are also new ways of infrastructure services being provided with some services delegating their functions to other services or combining their functions as a result of resources / efficiency / capacity measures. An example is libraries becoming 'community hubs' where a range of public services is available under one roof.
There are also national infrastructure such as wind farms, airports, power stations, bridges, etc. These are known as 'nationally significant infrastructure projects' as they are of a scale that is of national interest to the country. These types of infrastructure follow a very different planning process which I shall cover in a future blog.
I find infrastructure planning really fascinating as it gives me a glimpse into how other organisations operate and plan for their services. Given that some infrastructure services are very technical, it is often the case to undertake site visits or have discussions face to face with service providers. In my previous job and current role I have had some interesting learning curve experiences which included visiting a Gas Distribution Centre (I had to wear a glamourous boiler suit and health & safety gear) and a Crematorium. All in the day's work of a Planner!
Hello, it has been a while since I have been on the blogging circuit but that has been due to the recent succession of Public holiday Mondays!
My parents came to visit me last bank holiday weekend so I thought I would take them on a tour of the coast! They live in the midlands, so it made a refreshing change of scenery for them and they enjoyed a mini holiday by the sea!
One of the places we visited was Shoreham Beach, which is an important wildlife site due to its biodiversity. This vegetated shingle beach was identified and designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) in May of 1992. The main interest of the site is its specialised shingle flora, which is a nationally rare habitat type. The beach provides a habitat for approximately 90 species of plants (such as Sea Kale), many of which flower in late May / early June. The beach is also an important roosting area for birds.
Further to this, Shoreham Beach was also designated as a Local Nature Reserve in July 2002 (and its declaration in July 2006) in recognition of its high natural interest and local importance, and ensures that the site is managed so that the features that convey its special interest are maintained for future generations.
The Friends of Shoreham Beach Group have a deep love for the sea and its environs and they are dedicated to protecting, enjoying and educating others about this rare Shingle Reserve. The group regularly organise litter-picks, nature walks and talks by experts on the local flora and fauna. The local residents are very proud and protective of this fantastic natural resource on their doorstep and are proactively involved in maintaining the natural condition of the beach. (See the photos below)
Local Plans have an important role in conserving and enhancing biodiversity. In particular, Policy 31: Biodiversity of the Adur Local Plan seeks to protect Local Nature Reserves by not allowing development proposals in, or likely to have an adverse effect (including indirectly) on a Local Nature Reserve unless it can be demonstrated that reasons for the proposal outweigh the need to safeguard the nature conservation value of the site / feature.
Conserving biodiversity is not just about protecting rare species and designated nature conservation sites. It also encompasses wildlife corridors / stepping stones, and the more common and widespread species and habitats, all of which make an important contribution to quality of life. Biodiversity has a positive impact on health and wellbeing of the population by providing an attractive green environment for walking / leisure pursuits.
In an increasingly developed society and a changing climate, it is recognised that providing net gains in biodiversity through new developments would help to restore and create high-quality habitats that can provide a home for a diverse range of species and build resilience to climate change. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently undertook consultation on a proposal to mandate biodiversity net gain in new developments to be measured using a metric. It would stimulate improvements in the design quality of residential developments. The provision of environmental amenities, such as high-quality and biodiverse urban woodlands, green spaces and parks, will create better places to live and work as well as creating wider natural capital benefits such as flood protection, recreation and improved water and air quality.
Whilst we are still waiting for the outcome of this consultation, it is evident that Local Plans is one of many key mechanisms to drive change, especially to create resilient environments and communities.
Further information about the Government's Net Gain proposals can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Photos: Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve information panel and boardwalk
I have been watching 'Saving Lives at Sea' on BBC iPlayer (yes, I do watch quite a lot of TV!) which is a documentary series following extremely brave volunteers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) carry out search and rescue missions.
Shoreham lifeboat station at Kingston beach is featured in the documentary and it brought back memories of my visit to the station and it's museum a few months ago - an interesting place to visit on a wet rainy day! As mentioned in previous blogs, I have always got my planners hat on even when I am not working and this visit made me think about the planning application history of the site.
Photo: The Shoreham Lifeboat Station viewed from the east (Brighton side)
The station was the subject of a planning application, determined by the Development Management team who are responsible for processing and determining all types of planning applications.
The RNLI applied for planning permission 12 years ago to construct a replacement lifeboat station as the then existing station was coming to the end of its useful life, given that it was constructed in the 1930s. Advancements in technology have resulted in improved engineering designs of boats, resulting in the RNLI lifeboat fleet comprising of all-weather lifeboats and inshore lifeboats. In particular, all-weather lifeboats are capable of high speeds and can be operated safely in all weather conditions. They are inherently self-righting after a capsize and fitted with navigation, location and communication equipment. However, these types of boats are quite big and therefore require a large spacious station to be housed in.
The RNLI sought to demolish the existing lifeboat station and to build a new larger and taller lifeboat station with a slipway. The new building would also provide improved training and changing facilities for the volunteer crew.
As part of the planning application process, Adur District Council assessed the proposal against the relevant policies of the then Adopted West Sussex Structure Plan 2001-2016 and Adopted Adur District Local Plan 1993-2006. The Council also made a planning assessment of the proposal on access and parking, residential amenity and appearance and effect of the proposed building on the setting of the lighthouse. The proposal was recommended for approval and a written report was taken to Planning Committee (public meeting) where planning permission was granted.
Photo: The Shoreham Lifeboat Station viewed from the west (Shoreham side)
Whilst some planning applications can be contentious this is an example of an application which most people would be supportive of given that a replacement, well designed lifeboat station that would clearly be of benefit to all those who use the sea and the coastline.
However, a key principle of the English planning system is that applications are determined in an overt manner and that all interested parties have an opportunity to comment on the proposal.
Photo: The Lifeboat inside the Shoreham Lifeboat Station
I've recently enjoyed a mini break in Liverpool, which is one of my favourite cities in England.
The city has a lot of character and has a rich musical and cultural heritage with it being the birthplace of the 'fab four' (The Beatles). Liverpool developed in the 1700s as a port city, with the Albert Docks being constructed in 1846. The city became a leading destination for importing and exporting cargo all over the world and by the late 19th century, the docks were receiving 40% of the world's trade.
Liverpool became a wealthy place and commercial buildings were constructed to become headquarters for shipping firms and insurance companies, symbolising Liverpool's strong maritime industry. There are over 2,500 listed buildings and you may have heard of the 'Three Graces' which comprise of the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, dominating the skyline of Liverpool.
My favourite building is the Royal Liver Building (below) as it's very prominent with its two Liver Birds statues, representing the emblem of Liverpool. Wherever you are in the city, you only need to look at the Liver Building and be reminded of Liverpool's identity. It is even more magical at night time seeing the yellow glow radiating from the clock face.
The growth in technology and the transition towards 'containerisation' changed the nature of Liverpool's main economic industry, resulting in the labour-force on the docks being significantly reduced. Unemployment became rife and many people moved away from Liverpool leaving behind empty rows of terraced housing with poverty and homelessness becoming a key issue.
Despite these turbulent times, Liverpool has determinedly forged ahead and has focused on revitalising its economy by offering a diverse and unique cultural scene.
Empty dockland buildings have been regenerated into apartments, restaurants and bars (photos below). The 'Baltic Triangle', an area of empty warehousing is fast becoming a trendy and creative area of independent art businesses with Cains brewery recently re-opening providing an outlet of vintage clothing, bars and street food. Liverpool ONE opened in 2008 providing a high class retail offer. There is something for everyone in Liverpool and the city will always be popular with tourists, especially with Beatles fans from all over the world coming to look for the yellow submarine!
In 2004, Liverpool was awarded UNESCO status as 'Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City' in recognition of the city's significant role in the growth of the British Empire and pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management. In 2008, Liverpool was awarded European Capital of Culture and further to this, in December 2015, Liverpool was honoured with a 'City of Music' UNESCO.
The empty houses, especially 'The Welsh Streets' in Toxteth (below), are being given a new lease of life and have been refurbished to provide high quality rental accommodation to attract people to move into the area.
In 2015, the Royal Town Planning Institute crowned Liverpool Waterfront as the overall winner of England's Great Place in recognition of the Planning System contributing to the successful regeneration of Liverpool's Waterfront, which has become a vibrant place for people to live and work.
It is evident that Liverpudlians take great pride in their city and it's historic connections, and whilst Liverpool's legacy is strongly remembered, people are looking ahead to its future and embracing new forms of creative economic industries, showing the city's resilience.
The much awaited 'Our Planet' eight part documentary series narrated by Sir David Attenborough in collaboration with World Wide Fund was launched last Friday after filming took place for four years. I am sure many people, like myself, underwent a marathon session of watching the episodes! We are all aware that climate change is happening but Our Planet takes the camera right into the heart of action and shows vividly how climate change is impacting on our natural world. For more information, please visit the Our Planet website.
So, back to Planning ... well ... I am excited to announce that Adur District Council has published its draft Sustainable Energy Supplementary Planning Document today for public consultation.
In recognition of climate change, a key aim of the adopted Adur Local Plan (2017) is to progress the shift towards a low carbon community through sustainable construction, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, and to make a significant contribution to low and zero carbon energy production.
The draft document will apply to all major residential and non-residential developments proposed in the Adur Local Plan area. It will also apply to new development in the Shoreham Harbour Regeneration Area (excluding householder applications) and new development in the proposed Shoreham Heat Network Area (excluding householder applications).
The document provides guidance on the different types of renewable energy technologies that can be applied within development, such as solar, wind turbines etc. It also encourages all development proposals to submit energy statements to demonstrate how they are delivering clean, smart sustainable, development in the spirit of the wider sustainability objectives of the Adur Local Plan and when adopted, the Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan.
Please have your say on the draft document and let us know of your views by 5pm on Friday 31st May 2019. For further information on the consultation and how to view the document please see our SPD and SPG page.
Hard copies of the document can be found at Adur & Worthing Councils' offices at Portland House, Worthing, the Shoreham Centre and libraries in Adur.
Photo: Solar panels on the roof of the Councils offices in Portland Road, Worthing
We are coming to the end of our time travel journey and the time machine clock has been wound clockwise to present day, so it is now 'back to the future'.
It has been over a hundred years since we landed in Letchworth, where Sir Ebenezer Howard revolutionised 'place-making' with his utopian vision of the Garden City (see blog dated 4th March 2019) which left a significant legacy to Town Planning.
We have seen over the course of the last few blogs how successive Governments brought about new planning models, some successful, whereas the eco-town movement lost its momentum. The time machine has been on a journey that has been influenced by politics, the growth in technology and changing societal - economic demands.
The 'Garden Cities' concept is making a revival and in 2014, the Government launched the 'Garden Communities' programme, with the aim to deliver 200,000 new homes by 2050. The communities can comprise of garden villages', providing between 1,500 and 10,000 homes or garden towns, providing upwards of 10,000 homes.
Last week, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced that they will provide £3.7 million funding for five new Garden Towns across the country which will unlock up to 64,000 new homes. Today, there are now a total of 28 garden towns and villages being developed in England from Carlisle to West Carclaze in Cornwall.
MHGLG published it's Garden Communities Prospectus (2018) which sets out key qualities that are considered pivotal to garden communities being exemplars of large new developments.
So why is Howard's legacy paving the way to building our future? There are a number of reasons. Firstly, the nation is experiencing a severe and complex housing crisis with affordability being a significant key challenge. Secondly, there are other significant challenges being faced such as climate change, obesity and an increasing ageing population etc. The Government has set an annual national house building target of 300,000 homes but they acknowledge that it's not just about getting the numbers up, it is also about creating high quality, inclusive and sustainable communities. The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has long campaigned for garden city principles to be embedded in the development of major new settlements as it is considered that the garden city model forms part of a portfolio of solutions that are needed to face 21st century challenges head on.
The White Paper 'Fixing Our Broken Housing Market' also cemented the Government's support of a new generation of new communities of garden towns and villages. In addition, the revised National Planning Policy Framework refers to Garden City principles when planning for large scale development.
Whilst there is no silver bullet solution to addressing the housing shortage crisis, it is believed that new garden communities 'represents a modern approach to contemporary development that aims to achieve the highest standards of resilient and inclusive place-making with tried and tested models of finance and delivery from over a century of learning about large scale development' (TCPA, 2017. The Art of Building a Garden City).
It is fascinating to see that over a hundred years, place-making has come full circle with key lessons being learnt of what contributes to the creation of successful and sustainable communities. This is a key skill of a Policy Planner as we are always continuously evaluating and reflecting upon the effectiveness of planning practices as well as having to horizon scan emerging challenges.
Who knows what the future of place-making brings and how the practice of town planning will evolve, but for now, garden city principles are here to stay.
I hope you have enjoyed reading the time machine series as much as I have enjoyed writing the blogs. The journey has enabled me to take stock of the achievements of Town Planning and it has fostered my sense of pride for the profession.
Another Monday has come round and, as part of looking at how planning policy has developed over the years, the time machine is kicking into gear. Where are we visiting today?? Hold on tight, seatbelts on! Off we go!
We have landed in Darlington, County Durham where an exciting programme of new planned development is taking place known as 'Darlington Healthy New Town'.
Photo: Darlington town centre (image from Wikipedia)
I have mentioned in my previous blogs that planning and public health functions are being reconnected again at the local government level in recognition that the built and natural environment has a significant role in addressing the wider determinants of health.
To drive this collaborative relationship forward, NHS England announced within the NHS Five Year Forward View Report (2014), its commitment to dramatically improve population health, and integrate health and care services, as new places are built and take shape.
The report considered that 'New town developments and the refurbishment of some urban areas offers the opportunity to design modern services from scratch, with fewer legacy constraints - integrating not only health and social care, but also other public services such as welfare, education and affordable housing.'
Following from this, NHS England launched the 'Healthy New Towns programme' and subsequently invited expressions of interest from development sites of up to 10,000 residential units to participate as a pilot site in the programme.
Over 114 applications were submitted and in March 2016, ten shortlisted Healthy New Towns demonstrator sites were identified including Darlington.
The programme brings together partners in house-building, local government, healthcare and local communities to create healthy and sustainable communities. The pilot sites will test creative solutions for the health and care challenges of the 21st century including obesity, dementia and community cohesion.
Darlington was successful in its application given its innovative track record in the delivery of active travel initiatives such as a 'Cycling Demonstration Town' along with its approaches to green infrastructure.
The pilot area within Darlington is the Eastern Growth Zone Area (comprising of Red Hall, Burdon Hill and Lingfield Point) which has been identified for economic and housing growth (3,600 units) up until 2035.
However there are significant health inequalities that need to be addressed such as: deprivation / poverty, high premature mortality rates, significantly high number of residents with a life-limiting condition, etc.
Darlington Borough Council has identified three workstreams central to delivering Darlington Healthy New Town:
- Regeneration and Housing
- New Models of Care
- Digital Technology Enablement
For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on the first workstream. Darlington Borough Council recently published its 'Design Principles: Evidence and Practice Guide (2018) which sets out six healthy design checklist principles (based on best practice and research) that are considered to embed key aspects of healthy placemaking in the design of new developments :
- Transport and Movement
- Green Infrastructure
- Healthy Food Choices
- Social Infrastructure
These principles have informed the suite of draft policies with the draft Darlington Local Plan but are also to be used to guide planning applications considered within the context of the emerging Local Plan. Darlington has already incorporated these principles into the design of an 81-home development.
NHS England has recently reviewed progress made across all demonstrator sites and a guidance document setting out national recommendations and practical tools will be published in due course. An NHS interim report 'Putting Health into Place' was published in September 2018 setting out 10 principles to be used by Local Planning Authorities and developers when planning new communities.
So what impact has this had on our local area you may ask? Well, as with all good pilots the results have been analysed and the best bits rolled out elsewhere. So, we have considered some of the principles listed above in the preparation of the draft Worthing Local Plan.
More on that to come soon ...
Planning for the future is essential for my role. And one area in which my peers across the country are really interested in is Eco Towns.
In my last blog I talked about the New Towns movement which came to a close in the 1980's and Development Corporations were wound up (the last New Town was designated in 1970). This reflected the change in the political landscape with the Thatcher Government focusing upon renewal in Inner Cities during the 1980s.
In 2007, Gordon Brown announced an ambitious Government sponsored programme of new planned settlements to be built referred to as 'Eco-towns'. These Eco-towns were to be an exemplar in environmental sustainability and each were intended to comprise of at least 5 to 20,000 homes. The Government launched its Eco-towns Prospectus which set out that Eco-towns were intended to exploit the potential to create a complete new settlement to achieve zero carbon development and more sustainable living using the best new design and architecture in response to the growing environmental challenges associated with climate change.
The Government invited proposals to be submitted which include options for a dedicated delivery body to plan, oversee, and develop (with partners) the major infrastructure needed to establish the town.
More than 50 bids were received and in July 2009, four successful Eco-town bids were announced: North West Bicester (Oxfordshire), Rackheath (Norfolk), St Austell and Clay Country (Cornwall) and Whitehill-Borden (Hampshire). The Government published its Planning Policy Statement: eco-towns which identified guiding principles and sixteen standards for sustainable design (homes, transport, flood risk management, employment, local services etc) to be taken into account as part of the place-making process of eco-towns.
The time machine has arrived to present day and has taken us to North West Bicester Eco-town (390ha) in Oxfordshire which is starting to take shape.
When fully delivered by 2031, the eco-town will provide 6,000 'true' zero carbon homes, 4,600 new jobs, four primary schools and one secondary school, 40% green space, pedestrian and cycling routes and local centres to serve the new and existing communities.
Outline planning permission was granted in 2011 for Phase 1 (Elmsbrook) comprising of 393 zero carbon homes which has now been built with residents moving in.
In addition to the eco-town, Bicester has been identified as a major growth location with additional development sites being designated and developed for housing and employment up to 2031.
Bicester is renowned for 'Bicester Village' a designer shopping outlet which attracts international visitors and is therefore a major contributor to the local economy.
Cherwell District Council's Local Plan sets out that the North West Bicester Eco-town will play a major role in delivering the strategic growth identified for Bicester during and beyond the plan period and that the eco-town will act as a catalyst for the transition of Bicester town as a whole towards a more sustainable community.
Who knows what North West Bicester Eco-town will be like in 2031. It is envisaged by Cherwell District Council that the North West Bicester Eco-town development will be entering its final phases of development. It will have brought with it sustainable homes and substantial infrastructure of benefit to the whole town. North West Bicester will be contributing greatly to improving Bicester's profile by being a pioneering development, an economic driver and by delivering environmental gains.
Whilst North West Bicester Eco-town has made significant progress in being implemented and is one of the most successful developments of this initiative, unfortunately the Eco-towns concept did not really taken off in the way it had hoped for as a result of widespread criticisms and it could be said that it was perhaps a false dawn for a renaissance of New Towns. When the Coalition Government came into force into 2010, the Eco-towns programme has fallen by the wayside.
But the idea is an example of how planning policy can successfully lead to the creation of new communities.
Aerial view of Bicester eco-town (credit Bicester developers)
After Letchworth and Welwyn Garden Cities were built in the UK, the nation found itself at war, and house building was put on hold for six years whilst the country focused on the war effort.
After World War II ended in 1945, Britain begun to look ahead to its future and started to slowly rebuild itself. Surviving servicemen returned home as heroes and the Women's Land Army and evacuees left the countryside to return back to their families in urban areas.
The Blitz had meant that many homes in cities were destroyed or damaged, which resulted in a severe housing shortage and overcrowding in inner cities, with many families and neighbours living together in homes that had escaped bomb damage. In recognition of these challenges, the Labour Government embarked on a ambitious programme of building new towns and creating 'Homes Fit For Our Heroes'.
This programme was referred to as 'New Towns' and in 1946 the New Towns Act was introduced, closely followed by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 (which formally introduced the planning system). This movement saw 32 planned new settlements being built in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over fifty years in three phases, with Stevenage in Hertfordshire being the first New Town to be designated in 1946. Development Corporations (appointed by Government) were responsible for planning and delivering New Towns and invested heavily in place-branding and marketing to attract people and industries to relocate to New Towns.
So, why did the model of New Towns emerge and why didn't the Government continue with Garden Cities? New Towns share very similar principles to Garden Cities, but they were intended to be designed and built on a much larger scale with a target population of approximately 80,000 compared to Ebenezer Howard's vision of Garden Cities with a population of 32,000.
So, where is the time machine taking us now ...? It's 1947 and we are about to land in the second New Town ... any ideas? Another clue ... Gatwick Airport is close by ...
... We've landed in Crawley! Crawley was selected because of its close proximity to London and for its road, rail and air transport connections, making it an ideal location to accommodate the overspill from London, as well as being an attractive location for economic industries to develop.
Today, Crawley has a population of over 106,000 and is a strategically important centre for employment and business with Gatwick Airport and Gatwick Diamond (comprising of global companies) being a key economic driver in the south-east region. The town is continuing to expand to accommodate growth with the town centre currently being regenerated.
If anyone is interested in finding out more about this history of Crawley and its New Town designation, I recommend visiting Crawley Museum which recently opened in July 2018.
Photo: Shops in Queen's Square Crawley
Photo: The Town Hall in the Boulevard and shops in Queen's Square Crawley
Photo: Bandstand in a park in Crawley
All aboard!! It's back on the time-machine and we are now leaving Saltaire and winding the clock back to 1903, arriving at our next destination which is Letchworth in Hertfordshire.
Letchworth, the world's first 'Garden City', was designed and built based on a utopian vision established by Sir Ebenezer Howard OBE. Ebenezer developed this concept as he disliked the way that polluted industrial cities were developing. He referred to these places as:
“crowded, ill-ventilated, unplanned, unwieldy, unhealthy cities - ulcers on the very face of our beautiful island.”
Howard set out in his publication, 'Garden Cities of To-morrow', his philosophical ideas around social and urban reform and ultimately his vision: a utopian city in which people would live in harmony together with nature. He believed that the marriage of town and country was key to the creation of healthy and successful places where people could live and work.
At the heart of Howard's vision was the creation of a garden city and this was illustrated in his famous Three Magnets diagram, posing the question 'The People - Where Will They Go'? Each magnet represented a place:
3) Town - Country
with each magnet summarising the political, economic and social context. It was considered that the 'Town-Country' magnet was the best solution for the creation of new places.
In 1902, the Garden City Association (now known as the Town and Country Planning Association - see my blog dated 29-01-2019) was created with the purpose to find land to build the very first Garden City. There was a requirement that the land had to be of a minimum size of 1,600 hectares, be situated near London and could feasibly offer water and drainage systems.
The design of the first Garden City was led by Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker, architects who applied Howard's Garden City principles into a masterplan which provided the foundations to building 'Letchworth'.
Imagine arriving at Letchworth to a scene of spacious tree-lined avenues with mixed tenure houses (of quintessentially English Arts and Craft style), a central town, civic centres and open spaces, including a surrounding belt of countryside to prevent unplanned sprawl with opportunities for food growing. Then head over to the railway station and walk across the footbridge to an area of factories. By 1914, Letchworth was home to approximately 9,000 people, many of whom had moved out of London to live and work in the town and country.
The Garden City movement helped to facilitate the official birth of town planning, born through statutory legislation in the '1909 Housing and Town Planning Act'. This Act made 'back-to-back housing developments illegal, a previously popular development style which had often resulted in people living in slum conditions. According to Parliament, the Act 'broke new ground in urging the creation of town and city environments that could be enjoyed.'
The Town and Country Planning Association recognises that the 'concept of the Garden City is the most radical and relevant legacy of British Town Planning and the utopian tradition. Its pioneers aspired to provide a blend of environmental sustainability, social inclusion and steely economics'. These objectives are still relevant today and it is for this reason that the Town and Country Planning Association and other key players advocate for the planning system today to return to Garden City principles. For example, the proposed new 'Mayfields' Market Town development near Horsham is proposed to be built along the same principles.
Writing this blog brings back some happy and nostalgic memories of my University student days. I researched 'Welwyn Garden City' (sister to Letchworth) as a case study, and a fellow course student and myself decided to go on a road trip of an adventure to Welwyn (!) ... yes, I will admit that I was a bit of a Planning geek!
Photo: Jennifer reading a book entitled - The art of building a garden city
Today we're stepping into the time machine and travelling back in time to understand the early origins of town planning.
You may ask, why do we need to go back in time when planning policy is very much centred around 'future planning'? Well, to understand the planning system that operates today, we must recognise and appreciate how planning has evolved over the years in response to changing socio-economic demands.
Since the mid 1800s, there have been various place-making models over the centuries, such as village communities for factory workers, the Garden City movement, New Towns, streets in the sky and Eco-towns (to name but a few). Some of these models were based on philosophical theories and utopian ideals, as well as developing new architectural styles. It's going to be quite a fascinating journey and it will take the course of several blogs.
So ... let's wind the clock back to the mid 19th century, a time when England was in the midst of developing its manufacturing and production industries. We have arrived in Saltaire in West Yorkshire where philanthropist Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry, is expanding his manufacturing empire and building new textile mills.
Sir Titus Salt was concerned by the poor sanitary living conditions being experienced by factory workers living in the slums of nearby Bradford. He recognised the value of his factory workers and understood that they needed to be in good health in order to work. He therefore built houses with wash and bath facilities, with tap water for his factory workers, as well as providing public buildings such as a library, gymnasium and a school for the children of the workers.
Photo: Workmen's village next to Salt's Mill, Saltaire
Saltaire was built before 'town planning' was officially born through legislation, but nonetheless its response to rapidly growing industrialisation and urbanisation provided the roots for an early growing town planning movement, which has paved the way for the creation of places today.
Saltaire is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of being an 'outstanding example of mid 19th century philanthropic paternalism, which had a profound influence on development in industrial social welfare and urban planning'.
Saltaire is not the only example. Industrial philanthropists the Lever brothers built Port Sunlight in Merseyside to accommodate their soap factory workers. There is also New Lanark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Scotland, and chocolate fans may have heard of Bournville near Birmingham, built by the Cadbury family.
Photo: Salt's Mill, Saltaire (Photo by Jon Farman, Wikipedia)
I really love historic buildings, especially those that are in the Art Deco style, and I think Adur and Worthing is home to some wonderful architectural gems especially Worthing Pier. I would like to use this blog to show off some of Adur and Worthing's iconic heritage landmarks but also explain how Planning Policy, through Local Plans, has an important role in conserving and enhancing our historic environment.
Our rich historic built environment and heritage assets gives Adur and Worthing much of its intrinsic character and context. They also create a unique sense of place, adding to the enjoyment of the area by its residents and supporting tourism and regeneration. It was wonderful to see Worthing Lido being featured in the recently released Stan and Ollie movie.
Heritage 'assets' can refer to a building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions given its heritage interest. Heritage assets range from sites and buildings of local interest (which are identified by the respective Council), national designations such as Listed Buildings (which are on a national register maintained by Historic England), to those of the highest significance such as World Heritage Sites, which are internationally recognised to be of Outstanding Universal Value.
Did you know that there are 118 Listed Buildings in Adur and more than 360 Listed Buildings in Worthing?
The most well known examples in Adur are the Church of St Mary De Haura (Grade I - means that the building is of “exceptional interest”) and Shoreham Airport (Grade II* - means that the “building is particularly important ... of more than special interest”).
In Worthing, it is no surprise that Worthing Lido (Grade II - means that “of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it”), Worthing Pier (Grade II*) and The Dome Cinema (Grade II*) are listed.
National Planning Policy recognises that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource, and should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed by existing and future generations and improve their quality of life.
In response to this, the Adur Local Plan (2017) contains policies 16 and 17, which must be considered in planning applications where a proposed development would have a potential impact on a heritage asset. The emerging Worthing Local Plan proposes policies CP15 and CP16.
In Worthing, the Council is undertaking a new programme of preservation works which has included working with freehold owners to improve the appearance of their buildings, including existing listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas. This helps to prevent heritage assets from falling into disrepair. A good example is Bedford Row, a street of Regency homes just off the seafront which is in the South Street conservation area. One of the properties in the street was particularly dilapidated and was picked out as a test case for the work. Window frames have been maintained and the render and woodwork painted.
You know when blogging starts to take over your life when you start dreaming about blogging subjects ... ! I woke up one morning with a vague recollection of 'minerals and waste planning' followed with a Eureka moment - a new blogging subject, ta-da!
Minerals and Waste Planning is another aspect that the Planning System must plan for. I have so far blogged about Land Use Plans and Marine Plans (any more types of Plans out there I can hear you ask?).
County Councils (ie West Sussex County Council) and Unitary Authorities are responsible for the planning of Minerals and Waste and must prepare Minerals and Waste Plans. West Sussex County Council and the South Downs National Park Authority adopted its 'Joint Minerals Local Plan 2033' in 2018 and also adopted its 'Waste Local Plan 2031' in 2014.
Minerals and Waste Plans follow the same process as preparing Local Plans in that they must be supported by an evidence base, be published for public consultation and be examined by a Planning Inspector.
The Planning System need to make sure we have a steady and adequate supply of mineral resources, which mainly comprise of aggregates (sand, gravel or crushed rock that has been mined or quarried for use as a building material), silica sand, clay, stone and hydrocarbons and that extraction and production is managed in a sustainable way. Minerals, often without us realising it, are essential for our way of life such as for constructing the homes we live in and our roads.
It is very technical as we need to know 'what's in the ground' ... we can't just dig anywhere in the hope of finding 'gold'(!). It requires an understanding of geology and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS Mapping) to understand the types and locations of naturally occurring minerals present in West Sussex. Land constraints need to be taken into account when identifying mineral sites to be worked such as flood risk and water resources, biodiversity, archaeology, etc.
Minerals planning require authorities to maintain 'land banks' (how long reserves at existing permitted sites will last) and then predict supply and demand based on historical sales data as well as factoring planned housing and infrastructure growth. In response to this, the Minerals Plan has identified appropriate new sites to be worked and existing sites that can be expanded. The Plan also safeguards mineral resources and existing minerals extraction sites against sterilisation. Sterilisation of mineral resources can occur as a result of surface development (ie housing) directly overlying the mineral resource and therefore the mineral resource cannot be worked out as it is blocked by development on the surface of the land.
Minerals infrastructure such as wharves are located at Shoreham Harbour which are used for the importation of marine dredged aggregate, and crushed rock. These wharves are safeguarded by Policy M10 of the Minerals Plan.
Photo: Shoreham Harbour from the air
West Sussex County Council, through its Waste Plan, has to make adequate provision of the management of all controlled waste within the County. Forecasting of different waste streams (such as planned housing growth and the impact of waste reduction initiatives) is undertaken to ensure adequate provision of the management of waste such as transfer, recycling, composting, treatment and disposal.
In the past, most waste has simply been buried in landfill sites. The Waste Plan recognises that much is already being done to reduce the amount of waste produced and to re-use or recycle waste materials wherever possible or to find some other beneficial use for the material. The continuing challenge is to introduce better, more sustainable, ways of dealing with waste to reduce the heavy dependence on landfill.
The Waste Local Plan has an aspiration to become a 'zero waste to landfill' county by 2031. However, there will continue to be a demand for some landfill capacity to deal with residual waste on the short and medium term before new recycling and treatment facilities become available. The Waste Plan identifies strategic waste sites to meet identified shortfalls in transfer, recycling and recovery capacity. The Plan also contains development management policies to ensure that planning applications for new waste sites / facilities etc have no unacceptable harm to the environment, economy or local communities.
Photo: The lock gates at Shoreham Harbour with Shoreham Power Station in the background
Goodness, its February already!
Time definitely flies by when you are busy (and having fun!) and lately I have been occupied with updating the Councils' Joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).
So what is the SCI then ... ?
Well ... its purpose is to explain to the public what consultation will take place with stakeholders on planning policy documents and planning applications. It sets out who the Councils will consult with, when and how. There are legal consultation requirements that the Councils must undertake when consulting on Local Plans however the Councils go above and beyond meeting the minimum statutory consultation requirements.
In an way it's a one-stop shop for stakeholders wishing to find out how they go about submitting comments on a planning application or how to get involved in the preparation of a Local Plan.
All Local Planning Authorities are legally required to prepare and publish a SCI and ensure it is kept up-to-date. The current Joint Adur & Worthing SCI was published in 2012 (previously both Councils had their own SCI in place). Since then, changes have been made to national policy and legislation in relation to Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans. The government also published a revised National Planning Policy Framework (2018), so it's a good time to update the SCI in order to reflect these changes.
Since the current SCI was published, the Councils have undertaken numerous consultations on Planning Policy documents. It is really important that we continuously evaluate the effectiveness of public consultation, as lessons are learnt in terms of what has worked well and what hasn't worked so well. The power of social media and digital technology has been recognised and the Councils will continue to make effective use of social media, as best practice, wherever possible. However, we understand that not everyone has access to a computer or digital device so we make sure to provide hard copies of Local Plan documents in council offices and at local libraries.
The draft SCI was presented at Worthing Planning Committee on the 23rd January 2019 (where it received approval for consultation) and will be going to Adur Planning Committee on the 11th February 2019 with the recommendation that it be published for consultation.
Photos: Consulting with the public on planning issues
Little did I know that when I wrote my blog back in November about my weekend visitor trip to the Houses of Parliament, that I would be making a return visit ... but this time as a guest!
Last Monday I attended the launch of the report 'The State of the Union' published by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) at the House of Lords.
The TCPA is a charity and was founded in 1899 by Sir Ebenezer Howard who championed the 'Garden City movement' (I'll talk more about this movement in a future blog). The TCPA campaigns for Garden City principles within new major developments - including, for example, the recognition of the relationship between people's health and the design of the built environment.
The report was the result of research carried out by the TCPA on a project which aimed to 'reunite health with planning'. The project evaluated the effectiveness of collaboration between the planning, public health and healthcare sectors. The report is effectively a performance review of the progress made over the last five years by local government practitioners, since the Health and Social Care Act 2012 reverted public health functions from the NHS back to local government. The report looks at how the planning system, and especially the Local Plan process, is driving health and wellbeing outcomes through Local Plan Policies.
I was very excited about attending the launch of this report, firstly because I am passionate about the relationship between health and planning (please see my blog below dated 16th October 2018) and secondly, because I was going to the House of Lords!
After being cleared through security, I made my way through Westminster Hall, St Stephen's Hall, through the Undercroft Chapel and then to the Central Lobby. Here, there was a hive of activity with TV screens positioned showing a live screening of Theresa May in debate at the House of Commons Chamber. There were also people being interviewed on camera.
From the Central Lobby, I then made my way to the House of Lords Committee Rooms, entering through the room via the Public Entrance and not the Members Entrance. The event was hosted by Baroness Whitaker with a panel of guests who had contributed to TCPA's research project. Observing the speakers, the key takeaway message about was the importance of 'collaboration', and especially a collaborative evidence base. I am really excited to see how the planning and health landscape unfolds in planning practice over the next five years.
It was quite something seeing the Houses of Parliament in 'action' (as my last trip there was on a Saturday). Walking along the corridors of the House of Lords was quite surreal, observing people to-ing and fro-ing from committee rooms going about their everyday business. I was very well behaved and didn't do any selfie poses inside the House of Lords but I managed to take this one outside the Houses of Parliament showing my very happy but cold face!
A key part of planning for the future is understanding the today. One of the most important features in Worthing is its wonderful seafront - so what better way to understand it than going out on Foreshore Patrol?
It's not everyday that I get offered an exciting and unique opportunity to experience a morning in the life of a Foreshore Inspector! So on this particular morning, I swapped my usual office work clothes for waterproofs and sensible shoes, ready for the experience ahead.
I turned up at the Beach Office and was greeted by fellow blogger Rob Dove and former blogger Graham Cherrett. Over a cup of tea, they explained to me about their daily routine of checking weather conditions, recording the height of tidal waves and noting the wind speed. These are important safety checks as if, for example, the wind speed is above 41 knots in three readings over 30 minutes, then the gates need to be closed on the Pier for public safety to prevent any incidents from occurring.
I learnt that winter is generally a quiet season due to reduced activities on the water such as paddleboarding and usually there aren't as many people on the beach or swimming (though some people out there love cold water swimming!) This doesn't mean winter isn't a challenging season for the Foreshore team, as the weather can be ferocious with storms and high tidal waves. This is why it's important there is a foreshore presence throughout the year.
The primary function of foreshore patrol is to be a 'proactive' service and implement safety measures to prevent any incidents from happening or escalating into an emergency. However, Foreshore Inspectors are also called by the Coastguard to assist with search and rescue operations. Their other duties includes carrying out first aid support, by-law enforcement and responding to any unusual objects which may be washed up on the beach.
Rob showed me the radio machinery they use to communicate with boats and freight ships, and I found it fascinating to see computer software picking up marine traffic movements.
After this, it was time for me to get kitted out with a yellow high visibility jacket so I could join Rob on his morning land patrol of the beach using the Polaris ATV (which reminded me a little bit of a golf buggy!)
Off we went along the beach, looking for any objects above the high water tide mark that could be an obstruction or a danger to the public and of course animals. We picked up some large plastic objects (see photo below) which we put in the trailer which would later be collected by the Councils' Cleansing Service.
One thing that really struck a chord with me was seeing plastic bottles on the beach. It really brought it home to me the severity of marine plastic and I was really encouraged to hear that the Beach Office provide litter pickers for the public to borrow should they wish to undertake a beach clean.
Whilst on patrol, Rob pointed out to me that it is important to check life-saving equipment in the form of life-rings and throwlines to ensure that they have not been removed or damaged by vandalism. There would be nothing worse in the event of an emergency to have damaged or missing lifesaving equipment, which could result in severe or tragic consequences.
Meeting Rob and Graham and joining them on their daily patrol activities gave me a real appreciation and respect for the work that they do but also to see first-hand their passion for public safety and protecting our beaches.
Another week rolls around and this time, the 'economy' is under the blogging spotlight. My blogs to date have covered quite a lot of themes already, which just goes to show how diverse planning policy is!
Planning policy isn't all about houses ... we also have to take into account the future demand for new employment floorspace and where employment land should be located. This is a challenge given that Adur and Worthing are both very built up. We also need to be aware of the changing economic landscape and how this is creating new and emerging industries such as digital technology, science and research, with other industries declining.
What do we mean by 'employment' in planning policy terms? Planning Regulations put land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes'. The 'B' Use Class includes offices, research and development, general industry and storage and distribution. Whilst retail and leisure uses are important for the economy in terms of providing jobs, they are not recognised as employment uses by the Use Classes Order - so it can get quite complicated!
We have to plan carefully what types of employment uses can be accommodated and where they can be located. We need to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure that there is no conflict with nearby residential properties. For instance, some employment industries have operational requirements that could be quite noisy as a result of machinery or lorry movements, and therefore these industries tend to be located near major roads and away from residential areas.
It's also really important that we consider the 'compatibility' of employment uses in a given area, such as on a business park or an industrial site, to ensure that there is no conflict between the operations of unit occupiers. If there is conflict between neighbouring units this could have an impact on business generation and may ultimately result in a occupier searching for alternative premises to relocate to.
Adur District Council is currently undergoing public consultation on its draft Supplementary Planning Document. This gives guidance on Policy 25 of the Adur Local Plan, which seeks to protect existing employment sites and uses. Given the changing economic climate, alternative employers are wishing to occupy empty premises on existing employment land. There are few readily-available and unconstrained sites in Adur to provide new employment floorspace, so it's important that existing sites are protected to ensure a sufficient range of opportunities for people to work in the area and for businesses to locate and grow.
Although the Councils seek to protect employment sites, we also recognise the need for flexibility, and that in some limited circumstances there may be a genuine case for the loss of part/all of an existing employment site for another use. The draft Supplementary Planning Document sets out the circumstances where change of use or redevelopment to alternative uses may be appropriate, and the criteria which would have to be satisfied in order to obtain planning permission for these alternative uses. It also seeks to ensure that the loss of any existing employment site (land or premises) is not at the expense of the local economy.
Worthing Borough Council also has an adopted 'Sustainable Economy' Supplementary Planning Document giving guidance on Core Strategy Policy 4 and Policy 5.
Please let us know what you think by 11th February 2019! The draft document and further information about the consultation can be found here.
I'm back on the blogging circuit after a few weeks' break. It feels good to be back and the festive break has given me the opportunity to identify blogging topics which I'm looking forward to sharing with you. Ready? I am ... so let the 2019 blogging journey commence!
Are you stuck for inspiration on what to do on a free day in January? I recommend visiting the Design Museum in London to see the 'Peter Barber: 100 Mile City and Other Stories' free exhibition which is available until the 6th February 2019: Peter Barber is an acclaimed British architect and urbanist who is passionate about the current housing crisis and is working at the forefront of this field.
Photo: 100 Mile City and Other Stories exhibition in The Design Museum
The Government has set a national target for 300,000 new homes to be built in England each year. The provision of new homes is a very challenging and complex aspect of policy planning, centred around key questions of where, how and when. As in many parts of the the South East, the opportunities for significant residential development are extremely limited in Adur and Worthing. Policy planners are having to be innovative and look at design-led solutions to help deliver good quality and attractive housing to accommodate the diverse needs of society within an increasingly built up urban environment (please see my blog on housing density 13th November 2018).
I found the exhibition inspiring. Primarily it focused on showcasing social housing schemes in London designed by Peter Barber. The exhibition considers the type of building materials as well as the layout of buildings - for instance, being centred around a central courtyard garden or square, and how this can offer opportunities for people to meet, foster a sense of belonging, and introduce 'green' spaces. It's impossible to encapsulate the successes of all the featured schemes into this blog, however further information can be found on Peter Barber Architects website.
Photo: Showcasing Donnybrook Quarter, Hackney, in the Design Museum
The exhibition made me question the concept of 'design', which means the process of envisioning and planning the creation of an object (ie building) with users at the heart of the design thinking approach. It made me really appreciate how principles of 'design' such as colour, texture, use of space, functionality etc can create exciting, attractive, safe and successful places. When considering these elements, the focus should be on the end user such as the resident.
Here in Adur and Worthing, we are encouraging new development proposals to be of a high architectural and design quality that respects and enhances the character and the prevailing character of the area. This includes the consideration of proportion, form, design, context, massing, siting, layout, density height, size, scale, materials, landscaping etc. We have addressed this through the Adur Local Plan Policy 15 and draft Worthing Local Plan Policy CP5.
Design has great potential. It is being influenced by technology and is having to adapt and mitigate for a changing climate. We have to ensure that design meets the needs of people at all stages of their lives ... design is our everyday living, here and in the future.
Photo: Peter Barber's architect models on display in The Design Museum
That's the line I saw on a poster from the West Sussex Library Service recently.
Shall I let you in on a little secret ...? My favourite thing to do on my lunch break is visiting Worthing library, which is very conveniently located next door to my office. It's like walking into an Aladdin's Cave of exciting books, all waiting to be read.
Why do I like libraries so much? Firstly, I love reading. Simple as that. I like the fact that reading can take me on a journey of discovery and I can temporarily switch off from reality and get lost in my world of imagination.
Secondly, I think libraries are such a vital community facility. They provide a valuable resource of information for people researching local or family history, those wishing to access information about local services, children learning to read and students studying for their exams, as well as providing I.T. / printing facilities. They are also a place where people can meet, helping to reduce loneliness. Libraries help to improve the health and social and cultural wellbeing for all sections of the community.
So, what have libraries have got to do with my day job?
National Planning Policy requires Local Plans to plan positively for the provision and use of shared spaces. These include community facilities (such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, open space, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship) as well as other local services to enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments.
Libraries across the country are becoming 'community hubs', where local services are being brought together into one community venue as well as providing work space for digital and business innovation. Community hubs help to make services more accessible as well as helping to maintain the viability of the library itself.
Planning Policies seek to safeguard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community's ability to meet its day-to-day needs. Should an application be submitted that would result in the loss of a community facility, the Councils would expect that a replacement facility of a similar nature is provided and that it can be demonstrated that the current premises are longer required or viable in their existing use.
If you are interested in finding out more, please refer to:
- Adur Local Plan Policy 33: 'Planning for Sustainable Communities'
- and the draft Worthing Local Plan Policy CP9: 'Planning for Sustainable Communities / Community Facilities'
Adur & Worthing Councils also work with West Sussex County Council as part of our ongoing work to identify infrastructure requirements to help accommodate future growth within Adur and Worthing. Libraries are classed as 'social infrastructure' and therefore the County needs to be kept informed of planned development within Local Plans to help them plan for the long-term future of libraries.
When we undertake public consultation on Local Plans, we provide a hard copy of the document in the local library as we recognise that not everyone has access to a computer or a digital device.
I shall be taking a break from blogging over the Christmas period and I shall return in January! All that remains is to say I hope everyone all has a lovely Christmas and all the best for 2019!
Photo: Worthing Library
Photo: Leakey's Book Shop in Inverness, a former chapel converted into a bookshop
Photo: Readers outside a book shop in Tokyo - shows that the love of reading is universal!
I've just returned to work having spent a long weekend break in Talinn, Estonia with friends. I had forgotten what 'cold' actually felt like until I was greeted by bitterly cold temperatures of minus five!
The main cultural highlight of Talinn is its 'Old Town', which is a United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. It was registered in 1997 in recognition of being an outstanding and well-preserved example of a medieval northern European trading city.
Talinn didn't disappoint. The Old Town is characterised by narrow winding pebbled streets, medieval buildings and historic city walls. It is split into two areas: the upper town which comprises of Tommpea Hill (limestone) and the lower town at the foot of Toompea Hill. At this time of year it is particularly magical against the backdrop of festive lights and the Christmas market.
Photo: A nice view of the St Olaf's Church in Tallinn
On our second day, my friends and I woke up early to climb up Toompea Hill to watch the sunrise over the city of Talinn. It was such a beautiful sight to see Toompea Castle and Alexander Nevksy Cathedral (Russian Orthodox) and it was all the more enjoyable as it was so quiet it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We walked to a viewing platform on the hill and we could see the lower town and its historic skyline with the modern buildings and Talinn City Port in the distance.
Estonia gained independence from Russia in 1991 and therefore Tallinn is now creating its own identity and diversifying its economy which is being reflected in the development of the city. Whilst the Old Town is preserved in time, outside of the city walls Talinn is developing its business district and urban regeneration is taking place with former industrial buildings being given a new lease of life.
It was fascinating to visit the Rotermann Quarter, which in the 19th century developed as an industrial area for the production and storage of starch, flour, pasta etc. Today, it is a mixed-use development of residential apartments, commercial offices comprising of design and digital studios, restaurants, bars and shops. The regeneration of the Quarter has been done sensitively and respects the existing historic fabric of former mill and factory buildings. I really liked the fusion of old and new architecture reflecting Talinn’s historic past but showing that the city is now looking to its future.
Photo: Jennifer's picture of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn
After doing some googling up on Tallinn, I discovered that just like Worthing, Talinn is also preparing a new 'Development Plan 2021' with Talinn City Government asking its residents the following:
“What will Tallinn be like in 10, 15, or 20 year's time? How do we position ourselves in the Baltic Sea region, in the European Union or globally? What kind of education will be available in Tallinn, how will we move around and which services will we consume? We would like to get answers to these and other questions through the preparation of the new Tallinn Development Plan. ”See the plan here.
Whilst Estonia is a small country and has a population of 1.3 million (the UK has a population of 66 million), Tallinn is not immune from development pressures, therefore necessitating the need for a planning system. Despite different geographical scales between Tallinn and Adur and Worthing, there is a mutual link in that we both follow a similar planning policy approach through the use of a 'plan-led' system as a mechanism for sustainable management of the built and natural environment.
This brings me to wrap up this blog with a reminder that the draft Worthing Local Plan consultation closes tomorrow (Wednesday 12th December 2018) at 5pm. Find out more about the Draft Plan, and send us your views.
Photo: Jennifer on her long weekend in Estonia
We seem to be living in the 'Digital Age' where we are going about our day-to-day lives through our digital devices. I actually wonder how many times a day I use my phone for general browsing, paying bills, booking appointments, or looking up train times - all easily done at a touch of a button and a swipe.
It's not just our personal lives that digital technology is having an impact on. It also has a key role to play in business, the voluntary sector, and the delivery of public sector services.
Digital has a multitude of benefits: ease of access to information, improving efficiency, creating collaboration networks and making effective use of resources ... but did you know that planning policy is also becoming increasingly digital based?
The reason I'm writing this blog is because of a recent article published by the Royal Town Planning Institute announcing that they have teamed up with Future Cities Catapult (a government support centre for the advancement of smart cities). They are reaching out to planners and encouraging us to embrace the digital revolution and utilise digital tools and approaches in our planning work. They are championing the concept of 'smart cities' where data, technology and governance is combined to improve the performance of infrastructure networks and thus create more liveable urban areas.
Smart Cities and improved use of geographical information systems (GIS) is also about the co-ordination and linking of data which can still be quite disparate. Joined up data also allows for a one 'stop-shop' - for example a click on a property could provide information on planning history, school catchment, or council tax band:
This has got me thinking about some of the work that goes on in my team ...
When we are looking at suitable land to allocate for development within our Local Plans, we use software to help us identify site specific constraints. We check to see what environmental constraints there might be, ie flooding, contamination etc.
We look at maps and apply map layers (comprising of a particular theme of data) through Geographical Information Systems. Examples of map layers include data on listed buildings, tree preservation orders, and locations of utility infrastructure.
We create sophisticated maps to show development allocations and policy designations, which can be viewed in a downloadable format but also through interactive mapping. Not that long ago, maps would have been created by hand or through very basic computer software, with the public having to visit the Councils' offices to view hard copies. As an example, the interactive map for Adur Local Plan (2017).
Photo: Jennifer working on the Worthing Local Plan mapping
The Policy team are thinking creatively about how we can communicate our work to the public and improve opportunities to engage within the planning system. Through our consultation on the draft Worthing Local Plan, we've really noticed the power of social media as a platform to advertise consultation: a re-tweet here and a re-post there all helps to spread the word.
To help us do this, my fellow blogger Kristy kindly prepared a video in her personal time to help advertise the consultation on the draft Worthing Local Plan and brought it to life through animation. I was very proud that the video received lots of views on social media and it really shows that it is an effective digital tool to reach our public, so thank you Kristy!
Whilst digital technology is the way forward, we are mindful that not all our residents have access to a computer or digital device, and that some people prefer pen and paper. We are therefore making sure that people are able to view hard copies of our Local Plan and supporting documents, and that they are able to share feedback with us by filling out a paper copy comment form.
I recently visited Rochdale, Greater Manchester which is where I originate from ... yes, I am a northern girl at heart! For those that don't know, Rochdale is the birthplace of co-operation and is also home to two famous female singers, one of whom was a prominent singer during World War II ... I will reveal their names at the end of this blog.
When visiting places, whether it's in the UK or abroad, I am always on the look-out for interesting design and architecture. I never really fully switch off from my job as it is an essential part of our role to research best practice examples of place-making and learn what works, what doesn't, and why. So, I am always looking for inspiration when I am on my travels and I find it really intriguing to observe how place-making of our built environment is constantly evolving and adapting to the changing nature of the demands of society and the environment.
A few years ago, Rochdale undertook an ambitious heritage project as part of the wider regeneration of its town centre, to reveal the River Roch and historic bridge in the town centre. In the early 1900s, the bridge and the river (which was once vital to the town's economy) was covered over as part of developing Rochdale town centre and making way for trams. However, Rochdale received a £1.2 million funding grant from Heritage Lottery fund and the historic bridge and river are now on display once again. This has helped to improve the public realm of Rochdale town centre.
Whilst the project was a celebration of Rochdale's historic past, the opening of the River Roch has created environmental benefits, with reduced flood risk in the town centre as well as encouraging wildlife into the area.
Rochdale won a national Planning award for this project in 2016 in recognition of demonstrating Excellent in Planning for the Natural Environment. More information about the project can be viewed here:
Photos: The River Roch and historic bridge in Rochdale town centre
Whilst visiting Rochdale town centre, I also went to have a look at the new statue of Gracie Fields (yes ... one of the famous singers from Rochdale!) and it was very moving given that the statue was surrounded by a landscaped Remembrance memorial.
The other famous singer is Lisa Stansfield - we both used to live on the same street!
Photos: The new statue of Gracie Fields and the landscaped Remembrance memorial in Rochdale
Another week rolls around ... five weeks now till Christmas Day ... not that I am counting!
Talking of time, we are now halfway through public consultation on our draft Worthing Local Plan, with consultation closing on Wednesday 12th December 2018. So please make your views known and get your comments submitted to us as soon as possible.
We had our first public drop-in session last Wednesday on the draft Worthing Local Plan and we are hosting one more session this Friday 23rd November 2018 from 10am to 3pm at the Gordon Room, Worthing Town Hall (please use the entrance via Stoke Abbott Road). If you have time, we would strongly encourage you to come along and view the consultation materials and pick up some summary leaflets on the key topic areas of the draft Plan. Council officers will be available to answer any questions you may have.
Photo: Looking at mapping in the Draft Worthing Local Plan
You may have heard that today is #OurDay, a day for local government to come together in an online celebration of public services, and showcase a 'day in the life' of local government. I think that this is very timely, given that it was really encouraging to hear from people who attended the drop in session last week about the way in which they found out about public consultation and expressing their interest to be engaged in the draft Worthing Local Plan process.
People heard about consultation through different methods, ranging from social media, email, local libraries, and the Worthing Herald newspaper, to name but a few. This reinforces the importance of using a variety of consultation methods to try and ensure as many people as possible in the community can be reached. We also recognise that not everyone has access to the internet, so we have paper copies of the draft Plan for reference purposes at the Council Offices reception area at Portland Road and the Town Hall, as well as in local libraries.
Meanwhile in the Planning Policy team, we're in factory production-line mode, getting on with receiving, processing and reading your comments. This will get busier nearer the consultation deadline, where we expect comments to come in thick and fast. It's a bit like the Christmas period at the Royal Mail's sorting office!
I hope to see you at our last public drop-in session on Friday! If you are unable to make it, we also have an unmanned exhibition display at the Council Offices at Portland House reception area, which will be available till Wednesday 12th December 2018.
- Draft Worthing Local Plan
- 'Our Day'
One of the key challenges that Policy Planners are faced with is identifying suitable land for development, such as building new homes.
The main reason we need to build new homes is due to population growth. However, there are also other factors that contribute - and this is something I think is fascinating, as it shows how society is changing. People are living longer, so the birth rate is preceding the death rate, and there is the trend of people pursuing careers first and renting / buying properties as a singleton. There is also an increase in divorce rates, which also has an impact on the demand for housing. High property prices in London and Brighton is resulting in a domestic movement of migration to Adur and Worthing, and this aspect is one of the key drivers of housing demand.
Adur and Worthing are relatively small administrative areas, bounded by the South Downs National Park to the north and the coast to the south. Land availability is such a scarce resource and there are competing demands for its use. Given the need for additional homes, it is important that the limited land available is used efficiently. As such, we need to ensure that the concentration of new residential development is maximised, subject to being built at a density that is appropriate to the character and landscape of the area. So in other words, we are looking to build upwards and, where appropriate, maximise the air space above us as well as intensification of backland / rear garden development. We do recognise that higher density developments may not be appropriate for some specific groups, such as the elderly, those with disabilities and families with young children, so we do also need to provide a range of different types of homes.
It's interesting seeing how other places in the world are responding to the challenge of growing population vs. limited land availability. Hong Kong, for example, is the most densely populated city in the world, and has developed vertically, with the majority of people living in apartments. Hong Kong experiences many advantages with its high density developments such as an efficient transport system, reduced energy consumption and infrastructure costs. While this is an extreme example and very geographically different to Adur and Worthing, it shows how Planners, Architects, Urban Designers and communities are working together to develop innovative and liveable ways of accommodating the growing urban population within a constrained geography.
Why can't we build out to sea? If Dubai and the Netherlands can do it, why can't we? Worthing Borough Council has looked at 'land reclamation' (as part of exploring options for the draft Worthing Local Plan), but this is a very costly and highly complex engineering process which is therefore not a viable option for us to pursue.
So, what can we learn from Hong Kong and what approach should we take in Adur and Worthing? Building higher densities does not mean compromising high quality design and quality environments. It provides the opportunity to be innovative and creative and we have adopted and drafted policies to ensure that sufficient external space around and between new homes is provided, and that adequate privacy and daylight to both existing and new homes is not compromised. We recognise that high density needs to be balanced against the desire to provide a good living environment, and that new homes should provide sufficient internal space for everyday activities.
If you would like to find out more, please view Policy 22 in the Adur Local Plan, and the draft Policy CP2 in the draft Worthing Local Plan. Even better, please come and view the draft Worthing Local Plan this Wednesday 14th November 2018 from 3pm to 8:30pm in the Gordon Room (entrance via Stoke Abbott Road), Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, BN11 1HA.
Image: Artist's impression of new homes proposed at West Durrington
I'm pleased to say that all went well as planned on the 31st October 2018 and that there were no technical glitches! Phew ...!
I have been thinking about what to write this week, and it dawned on me that I should blog about my recent tour of the Houses of Parliament, or the Palace of Westminster as it is also known, and how it relates to planning policy. I went on the personal tour following a recommendation and it was well worth a visit!
Did you know that planning is based on law? We have to make sure that we undertake planning duties in accordance with Planning Acts, and follow the relevant planning legislation when preparing Local Plans and other planning policy documents. We have to check that we are in compliance with any legal requirements and be able to read and interpret planning legislation, which can be quite a challenge!
This can be very complex, especially when amendments to existing legislation are made. As a consequence we have to cross-reference various amendments and often need to tap into the expertise of our colleagues in the Councils' legal service to double check that we haven't overlooked anything or misinterpreted law.
We occasionally attend conferences hosted by professional lawyers and barristers that work in the field of planning law. It is really helpful for us to be kept informed of latest developments in the planning law world, as well being made aware of any legal issues and challenges.
So...how does this relate to the Houses of Parliament? When planning law is made, it starts off as a 'Bill,' which is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law, presented for debate before Parliament. A Bill can start in the House of Commons or the House of Lords and it goes on a 'passage of parliament' journey with lots of readings and scrutiny, until the final version is approved by both the Commons and the Lords. The Bill then receives 'Royal Assent' and becomes an Act (law).
It was quite something walking around the House of Commons and the House of Lords knowing that it is where planning law is created.
See also: Draft Worthing Local Plan consultation
Photo: After the House of Parliament Tour, I wandered over to the Supreme Court which is located within Parliament Square. The Supreme Court is the highest court of law and also known as the final court of appeal.
Good Morning All.
I can’t believe we are in the last week of October already! I think it's definitely a case of time flies by when you are busy!
There has been a flurry of activity in the Planning Policy team over the last couple of weeks. You may have heard that the draft Worthing Local Plan is going out live to public consultation this Wednesday (31st October), which is a major milestone event in the preparation of Local Plans. It is really important that we are organised and ‘plan’ ahead for this consultation to ensure that it gets off to a smooth start, so yes...in some ways you could say that we are also ‘event planners’.
Photo: Dome Cinema on Marine Parade, Worthing
It’s not just a case of simply writing the Plan. For example, a leading actor in a play is surrounded by supporting actors. The same applies to the draft Local Plan, in that it is underpinned by evidence-based documents on different subject areas to ensure that the policies formulated are based on robust local evidence.
We have also been honing our design skills through through the creation of maps and consultation materials such as posters and summary leaflets, and applying graphics to the Plan to make it an appealing and hopefully interesting document to read! We appreciate that not everyone has time to read the Plan from front to back, so our leaflets will provide a summary of the key topic areas and signpost where further information can be found.
We have been busy working with the Councils’ communications team who have helped us to design a communication package to ensure that the consultation is advertised as widely as possible, such as through the use of social media, local newspapers, as well as providing hard copies of the Plan in local libraries and centres.
Photo: Worthing's Brooklands Lake gleaming after its environmental works
This consultation is your opportunity to have your say and help shape the future of Worthing.
We hope that you will get involved! We are hosting drop-in sessions where the public can view exhibition material, ask questions and fill in a comments form. The drop in sessions are being held on:
Wednesday 14th November 2018 (3pm to 8:30pm) in the Gordon Room (entrance via Stoke Abbott Road), Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HA.
Friday 23rd November 2018 (10am to 3pm) in the Gordon Room (entrance via Stoke Abbott Road), Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HA.
We hope to see you there! Alternatively, from the 31st October you can look at the Plan and supporting documents online, and send us your views via the electronic response form.
Please note that consultation will close on Wednesday 12th December 2018.
Photo: Worthing College students entering the campus
An area of Planning Policy that I am very passionate about is the relationship between 'health and planning'.
People are living longer due to advancements in medicine,and therefore we are experiencing a growing elderly population. As a result, across the country more people are being diagnosed with dementia and often requiring specialist housing accommodation. Other challenges include growing levels of obesity in children and adults, and increased rates of coronary heart disease.
It is quite an exciting time in my planning career, as there are new opportunities to collaborate with health professionals to better understand how we can work together using the planning system as a lever to promote health and wellbeing within Adur and Worthing. The Planning System is one of the many tools that can be used to address health issues.
Local Government has a long history of promoting and protecting the public's health. Let's go back in time and I will give a brief history lesson! During the 1700s and 1800s, the industrial revolution resulted in rapid urbanisation in cities which resulted in overcrowded and dirty living conditions with severe sanitary issues resulting in the spread of many diseases. As a result, the Public Health Act 1875 came into place and provided local authorities with new responsibilities. Authorities were obliged to provide clean water and dispose of all sewage and refuse and to ensure that new homes were connected to main sewerage system.
However by the 1970s, the NHS took over most public health functions but this wasn't to last due to the realisation that 'public health' is a local level issue with public health functions being reverted back to Local Government in 2012.
Since 2012, there has been an growing momentum in 'health and planning' due to an increasing appreciation of the connection between the environment in which we live, work and spend leisure time - both the physical nature of places and the social environment of communities - and how this has an enormous impact on our health and wellbeing.
Planning policy is about 'place making' and therefore has a key role in the creation of healthy, safe and inclusive communities as well as providing opportunities for people to lead active lifestyles. Conversely, health and wellbeing touches upon many planning considerations such as the provision of housing to meet local needs, the ability to cycle and walk to places, the design of our public spaces for social interaction and the provision of social and cultural facilities to name but a few.
Worthing Borough Council is preparing a new Local Plan for Worthing and for the first time we are proposing a specific policy on 'Healthy Communities'. This has been prepared with support from the Communities and Wellbeing team at the Councils.
This policy has been written at a high level in recognition of the fact that that there is a holistic approach to the creation of healthy communities and draws out key policy areas within the Local Plan (ie transport, open space & recreation, public realm design, housing, pollution, etc) that can assist with addressing health inequalities and creating healthy lifestyles.
For instance, the policies will require new development proposals to incorporate key principles within their masterplans that are considered essential in the creation of healthy and vibrant places. New developments will be encouraged to provide high quality homes within an attractive environment, provide opportunities for social connections through inclusive development layout and public realm design, the provision of safe active travel routes such as walking and cycling within developments and the wider area to name but a few.
It's fascinating to see how public health has come full circle and that it is now firmly part of local government. Planning Policy along with other support services can help to coordinate healthy living within the environment we live and work in.
Photo: Family cycling on Worthing seafront (copyright Discover Worthing)
My previous blogs have talked about Local Plans in relation to land use development. Today, I thought I would talk about Marine Planning which involves thinking about a planning system for our marine environments - our coast, estuaries and tidal waters.
Formal Marine Planning is relatively new, and it is a major achievement that we are one of the first countries in the world to implement a Marine Plan system for our territorial waters.
This has come about in response to increasing activity in the maritime industries (such as shipping, freight handling, fishing etc), the emergence of new industries (renewable energy technologies etc.) alongside the need to conserve and protect marine species and habitats in a sustainable way.
Whilst Councils are responsible for preparing Local Plans, the responsibility for creating Marine Plans lies with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), a public body sponsored by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The MMO acts as a planning, licensing and consent body for certain types of developments such as marine construction, and takes into account that may have an environmental, economic or social impact.
There are 11 English Marine Plan areas including inshore and offshore areas, and the coastline of Adur and Worthing falls within the South marine area which covers inshore and offshore waters across 1,000 kilometres of coastline from Folkestone, in Kent, to the river Dart in Devon.
The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world with a rich and diverse coastline with over 60 marine protected areas, iconic landscapes including nine marine conservation zones and the Jurassic Coast UNESCO world heritage site, making this stretch of coastline one of the most complex and challenging coastal areas in England.
The South Marine Plan was the second marine plan to be adopted in England and provides the statutory framework to shape and inform decisions over how the areas' waters are developed, protected and improved over the next 20 years.
Adur & Worthing Councils have a role to play in that we are responsible for ensuring that the South Marine Plan integrates with our Local Plans and that the Plans must be compatible with each other. Activities taking place on land and in the sea can have impacts on both terrestrial and marine environments. Two examples offshore are Rampion Windfarm and developments at Shoreham Port Harbour.
If you would like to found out more about Marine Planning, there is a short YouTube video animation produced by the Marine Management Organisation available to watch (about 2/3's the way down the page) at:
Photo: Work on the Rampion windfarm
I recently attended the launch event of 'Worthing Refill' - an exciting new environmental scheme which aims to encourage residents and visitors to refill their existing bottles at publicly-available water stations around the town. The idea is to cut-back on the buying of single-use plastic bottles.
The event featured inspiring presentations from renowned environmental experts which made me realise that plastic bottles have a significant impact on the environment at all stages of its life-cycle.
Manufacturing plastic bottles requires energy; they then need to be transported to supermarkets and shops contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. At the end of their plastic use life, they need to be disposed of, and that has led to increasing plastic litter being deposited in our marine and land environments.
This made me think about the bigger picture of how planning policy can be at the forefront of future proofing our environmental resources and making our societies resilient to the effects of climate change.
Whilst I wish that planners had superpowers and could stop climate change in its tracks, planners can make a difference by devising policy mechanisms to be used to mitigate climate change. This includes the promotion of sustainable design and construction techniques that help to facilitate energy efficiency and promote the efficient sustainable use of natural resources.
Did you know that the Councils have a responsibility to help to secure progress on meeting the UK's emissions reduction targets? Through the 2008 Climate Change Act, the UK is committed to a target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 - with interim targets of 37% by 2020, 51% by 2025 and 57% by 2030.
Energy consumption within buildings is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The need to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency and locally produced clean, low carbon and renewable energy as part of new development is an important aspect of sustainable construction.
Ensuring that new buildings have low energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions will have benefits for the future residents and business occupants, through reduced energy bills.
Adur District Council requires new planning applications for ten or more dwellings or new floorspace of 1,000sqm or more to demonstrate how they intend to use low carbon energy, renewable energy and residual heat / cooling. It is the intention that new major developments use low carbon energy through renewable energy technologies and sustainable design and construction.
Water is a finite resource and ensuring that robust water supply and wastewater systems are in place is essential to the well-being of residents and businesses. Both Adur and Worthing are located within a 'serious' water stressed' area which means that demand for water exceeds the amount available. In response to this significant challenge, Adur District Council included a policy within the Adur Local Plan (2017) which requires all new residential homes and commercial development to achieve a water efficiency standard so that water is being used efficiently.
During the last consultation on the draft Worthing Local Plan, a number of responses reflected the hope that Worthing could become a 'leader' in sustainable development with a strong environmental focus. It was considered that the Local Plan should provide a greater emphasis on helping to minimise rising carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change.
The Planning Policy team is excited to be incorporating important measures within the Worthing Local Plan to mitigate climate change through the planning system and when the Local Plan is published for public consultation later this year local residents will be able to view and comment on these policy measures.
Photo: Solar panels on the roof of Portland House, one of our council offices
Hello again ... in the recent hot weather spell we had, I became used to seeking shelter from high temperatures by keeping in the shade. On my daily walk to and from the office, I walked through one of the parks in Worthing and it really made me appreciate the multiple benefits that parks and open spaces offer.
It also reminded me that - as a Policy Planner - I have an important role, not only to protect and enhance these open green spaces, but also to support their important role in helping our environment adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Parks are popular places and, when they are well used, help create a sense of community and reduce isolation.
Photo: Victoria Park, Worthing
The park that I walk through has an outdoor gym with fitness equipment that, in an attractive and motivating environment, encourages people to undertake physical activity for free. It is quite obvious that spending time in our parks is good for our physical and mental health, as well as helping children learn and develop through play. And it is not just humans that reap the benefits; parks are home to wildlife too helping establish biodiverse habitats.
However, there are so many more benefits associated with our green spaces. Trees provide essential shade during heatwaves and help to lower temperatures especially in built up areas. Trees and other vegetation can also decrease levels of air pollutants and reduce carbon dioxide which is a major contributor to climate change.
We are also seeing a new wave of creative urban design thinking for place making, such as providing public spaces and areas for planting and food growing.
In the planning world, we have some buzz words like 'Green Infrastructure' and 'Urban Greening'. Green Infrastructure (GI) means a network of multi-functional green space, such as parks, green spaces, gardens, woodlands, rivers and urban greening features. This can be both urban and rural and delivers a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits.
Urban Greening refers to the greening of our streets, roofs and outside walls of buildings and other public spaces. I would recommend Googling these terms to view some interesting, innovative and rather futuristic examples!
With my colleagues I am looking at ways of promoting new forms of green infrastructure in Adur and Worthing through our planning policies. This might be done by requiring new developments to incorporate elements of GI into the overall design. For instance, the regeneration of Shoreham Harbour seeks to deliver an improved GI network including the following:
A green corridor parallel to A259 connecting sites alongside the road, including embankments and grassed amenity space.
A coastal vegetation shingle habitat along Portslade and Southwick Beaches
The provision of GI as part of the regeneration of Shoreham Harbour will help to promote sustainable development and will be in line with meeting the management objectives of the Biosphere Reserve. What's that you ask?
In 2014, UNESCO designated the Brighton and Lewes Downs, which partly falls within Adur district, a Biosphere Reserve. This means it's a 'site of excellence'. It seeks to strike a balance between conservation and development, between nature and people, and to explore and demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable development. This is all part of my job and a part I really love.
Photo: A good example of urban greening and infrastructure in a built up environment - Slessor Gardens, Dundee
Photo: A good and innovative example of urban greening on the side of a building - Marks and Spencer in Newcastle
First of all, can I say that I am really excited that I am the latest staff blogger to join 'Our Stories, Your Councils! I'm a keen follower of the blogs; I'm quite a nosey person and get great enjoyment in keeping up-to-date with what's goes on. Plus, reading the blogs is a really good way to learn more about the work of my colleagues, some of which goes on very much behind the scenes and deserves great respect.
Over the next few months, I am going to be blogging about what goes on in the diverse world of Planning Policy, and also introduce you to the team that I work with.
So ... what is Planning Policy? I sometimes find that when I am at social events and making small talk with people, the question of what I do for a living comes up in conversation. Before long I am deep in conversation about planning, but discussion which also encompass ideas about the society and environment we live in and how we go about our everyday lives.
The planning system has three functions, the most well-known is the planning application process (ie getting planning permission to build a new development). Then there is the enforcement side of planning. That means investigating breaches of planning, for example building a development without planning permission. And the third aspect involves planning policy which develops policies and principles to guide the size, form and location of any development project, big or small.
You may have heard of the recently adopted Adur Local Plan, the evolving Worthing Local Plan or the Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan. These documents are in essence, the 'Planning Bible' which comprise the policies and site allocations for future development in those areas, and once adopted, will be used by colleagues to determine planning applications.
As part of formulating policies, we have to do a bit of time travelling (in some respects, Planning Policy is referred to as 'Forward Planning') and predict and consider possible future challenges and devise policies to best respond to these, such as population growth, climate change and growth in digital technology.
Planning is changing all the time. Just think how much has happened globally in the last 30 years:
- the rise of technology and medical advancements which mean people are living longer and commuting longer distances
- or the decline of traditional industries and the introduction of new economic industries
- these are all changing how we live & work, commute, shop, undertake leisure, etc
These changing patterns often result in various cause and effects variables and we have to balance these. For instance, technological advancements have made it easier for people to do online shopping, but it is also changing the nature of the high street. We are also seeing a rise in a revitalised phenomenon, for example farmers' markets, in the growing recognition of sustainability and reducing food miles. Also, planners ask big questions about what we need to protect and safeguard where possible, such as our historic buildings and our biodiversity.
Please follow me next time where I shall be blogging about how open spaces and vegetation are being used in a innovative way in Adur and Worthing to reduce the impacts of air quality, improve quality and appearance of the areas and help to contribute to people's health and wellbeing. Till next time ...
Photo: Jennifer working on the Local Plan maps
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Page last updated: 13 January 2021