Senior Planning Officer
Jennifer is a Senior Planning Officer at Adur & Worthing Councils. She's been with the Planning Policy team for a year 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.
See also: Planning Policy
You can read Jennifer's current blog posts on this page below:
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 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 holistic 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 weather wasn't so great a couple of months ago and the plants were not receiving much sunlight so I had to keep them inside 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 spell that 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, whether that's to deliver 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 to take 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 and 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 are fewer people on the beach or swimming (though there are some people out there who love cold water swimming!) Nonetheless, this doesn't mean that the winter is not a challenging season for the Foreshore team, as the weather at this time of year can be ferocious with storms and high tidal waves. This is why it's important that 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) at 5pm. If you would like to let us know your views on the draft Plan, please click here.
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 and 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.
The planning landscape is changing all the time; just think back to 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 - all these aspects are changing how we live and 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
Contact Public Relations & Communications
If you have any enquires please contact:
- 07909 688 132 - Mike Gilson
- 07342 066 216 - Tim Ridgway
- 07795 504 983 - Talia French
Public Relations & Communications,
Adur & Worthing Councils,
Worthing Town Hall,