Midlands consultancy expands with senior planner hire

News | New Joiner

Leading consultancy Marrons Planning is growing its presence in Worcestershire with the appointment of senior planner Reiss Sadler, following a significant uplift in demand for planning services in the county.

With more than seven years’ experience working with Wychavon District Council as a senior planning officer, the move to Marrons Planning will see Reiss support house builders, land promoters and landowners in the area to secure planning permission for key developments.

Specialising in residential development, five-year housing land supply, site appraisal and promotion, Reiss has a vast knowledge of planning policy, having been heavily involved in development plan preparation, supporting and leading on a variety of topics and in the production of evidence base documents, while also supporting communities with neighbourhood planning.

Reiss said: “I love the variety involved in planning; no two projects are the same. I also feel privileged to be able to deal with opportunities and challenges that can shape places and contribute to the resolution of real-world issues, which impact large proportions of society, such as the national housing crisis.

I am looking forward to using the knowledge and experience I have gained in the public sector to assist clients in realising their development ambitions, particularly in relation to site appraisals and promotion where I can utilise my five-year housing land supply specialism and wider development plan process understanding to achieve the best possible outcome in a timely manner.

Reiss will be based at the firm’s Stratford-upon-Avon hub, but will be working with clients nationally. Reiss joins following a string of appointments by Marrons Planning, including planning director David Fovargue, Simon Macklen as director of economics and urban design expert Alex Craggs.

Gary Stephens, partner and town planning consultant at Marrons Planning, said: “We take a lot of pride in our local authority understanding and expertise across the consultancy, and Reiss’ experience will certainly bolster this pool of experience.

We have significant growth plans in the business, and Reiss will help support our growing client base across Worcestershire, we are thrilled to have him on board.

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Gary leads a team of town planners who help clients secure planning permission, or the allocation of their land for development. He currently acts for a number of national house builders and land promoters, and specialises in large-scale residential developments.

Planning

Welcome to Marrons Planning. We advise on all planning matters - from co-ordinating major teams dealing with large and complex development proposals, to small scale development on infill sites.

Biodiversity net gain for developers – how to get ahead of secondary legislation

Planning

The National Planning Policy Framework already sets out a mitigation hierarchy: avoidance, minimisation, onsite restoration, offset and if these criteria cannot be met then technically planning should be refused.

Following the introduction of the Environment Act 2021, from November* 2023 the need to demonstrate at least a 10% biodiversity net gain (either on or off site) over and above a sites pre-development biodiversity value is set to become mandatory and apply to the majority of planning applications in England,

In addition, when the new Schedule 7A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 comes into force paragraph 13 sets to enforce that a standard pre-commencement condition is applied to all permissions granted in England, preventing lawful commencement of development until a ‘biodiversity gain plan’ is submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority.

What do developers need to do to get ahead?

Whilst the mandatory requirement is still some way away, now is the time for developers to apply best practice, and ensure biodiversity is an important and integral consideration when buying land and planning their developments, particularly in the case of greenfield development.

Although a finalised gain plan is not required at planning application stage, any development will need to provide an overview of its 10% biodiversity gain plan at application stage. At this point, it will need to be established if a net gain can be achieved on or off site, and thus, it is advantageous for developers to have an idea about the implications of any Biodiversity Impact Assessment (and any off site offsetting costs) before agreeing a purchase price for land and starting to design out sites.

In addition, it may be beneficial to submit the gain plan in full at the application stage, the advantage not only being that once planning is approved the net gain condition will be discharged and development can begin, but also it may assist with the planning process and the level of support that can be achieved for any development.

At planning application stage: Include details of the steps taken to minimise effects on biodiversity and how it will be enhanced. The consultation sets out the level of core information that is required at this stage including:

The pre-development biodiversity value

The proposed approach to enhancing biodiversity on-site

Any proposed off-site biodiversity enhancements (including the use of statutory credits) that have been planned or arranged for the development

For outline planning applications, it is also likely that additional information will be required in relation to the overall net gain strategy for the whole site and plans for phased delivery (where applicable).

You’ll also need to use the biodiversity metric 3.0 for calculating any impact – more detail can be found about this metric in Natural England’s User Guide.

At pre commencement planning condition stage: It is at this point a full gain plan must be submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority setting out the ‘detail’ for delivering that proposed at application stage.

The consultation sets out that the Local Planning Authority will only approve the biodiversity gain plan once they are satisfied that:

The biodiversity gain plan and completed biodiversity metric (submitted as the completed calculator document, not a ‘snapshot’ or summary) show a measurable net gain of at least 10% across all unit types (area-based, and where relevant, linear, and riverine habitats), having regard to policy on matters such as additionality

The information, including pre-development and post-development biodiversity values, presented in the biodiversity gain plan is complete and meets the statutory requirements

Any claimed gains (both on-site and off-site) are appropriately secured and allocated, including the point in the development process that these gains are to be delivered and a proportionate description of how enhancements will be managed and monitored

Some of the practicalities in terms of submission, timeframes and appeals process is yet to be fully published by the Secretary of State and there is speculation around exemptions, including likely exemptions for householder applications, change of use and self-build housing.

For more information about how the Environment Act and biodiversity net gain will affect your developments, contact Jenny Keen or another member of the planning team.

 

*Intended date following the two-year transition period outlined in the Defra’s January 2022 consultation

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Jenny is a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) with substantial experience in the residential, retail and commercial planning fields.

Planning

Welcome to Marrons Planning. We advise on all planning matters - from co-ordinating major teams dealing with large and complex development proposals, to small scale development on infill sites.

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Biodiversity Net Gain – opportunities for landowners, obligations for developers

With the ink still wet on some of the policies and agreements to come out of COP26, sustainable development is high on the political agenda.

Improving biodiversity is a major issue for landowners, developers and planning authorities and biodiversity net gain is a method utilised to improve a sites value – the higher the biodiversity net gain, the potentially higher the value, and who doesn’t want that

What is meant by biodiversity?

The biodiversity of an area is the variety of plant and animal life in a particular habitat. A high level of biodiversity is considered to be desirable and important.

What is biodiversity net gain and what does this mean for Developers?

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) sits within the Environment Act 2021 which received Royal Assent in November 2021. The act requires, amongst other things, that all development schemes in England must deliver a mandatory minimum 10% biodiversity net gain which must be maintained for a period of at least 30 years. This is now a legal requirement.

Biodiversity Net Gain follows a mitigation hierarchy – four steps designed to result in a win- win situation. Wins for the environment and wins for the developer.

  1. Avoidance – avoiding any impact completely such as changing the location of development

  2. Minimisation – reducing the time, extent, impact, intensity of the development

  3. Onsite restoration – measures taken to restore the habitat involved

  4. Offset - measures taken to compensate for the adverse impacts after the previous three have been explored in full

What does this mean for landowners?

By 2028 the farm subsidy, known as the Basic Payment Scheme will be eradicated and in its place (to a degree) the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), set under the Agriculture Act 2020, will be fully integrated. The ELMS is based on the philosophy of “public money for public goods”, and biodiversity (along with all natural capital considerations) will play a huge role within the various schemes planned.

What we don’t know at this stage is how the private sector contracts between developers and landowners will sit with the ELMS and whether there will be the ability to benefit from both. (‘Stacking’ is the issue of whether the same land can ‘stack’ one payment upon another).

It would appear that there is opportunity for landowners and farmers to take advantage of developers offsetting their BNG requirements, by adding a new revenue stream for any farm business or landed estate, which may be more lucrative than what the ELMS have to offer. However, a word of caution. All businesses will need to consider their own carbon footprint before embarking on entering into any offset BNG contracts, to ensure they can reach their own net zero carbon target.

Furthermore, as this is still a new concept, values need to be carefully considered. With land needing to be set aside for BNG for a minimum of 30 years (with the Secretary of State having powers to increase this as it sees fit), it might have the negative effect of reducing the capital value of the land. This needs to be compensated by the offset contracts between landowners and developers. Tax planning for future generations also needs to be considered for landowners.

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Brian is a Town Planner and chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute with in excess of 15 years of experience accrued in local government and the private sector.

Brian acts for a broad range of clients including individuals and businesses who are in a number of sectors across the UK.

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Mixed-use developments: what does the future hold?

What is the future of mixed-use developments?

A mixed-use development traditionally contains two or more major use types, such as residential, commercial or office space. In recent years, these developments had been growing in popularity, providing a boost to both town and city centres.

However, the pandemic has shifted attitudes towards both housing and retail, so how could this impact mixed-use developments in the future?

Changes to design

The pandemic will undoubtedly change the way mixed-use spaces are designed. The concept that people’s dwellings are also their workspaces is a shift from the established norm and this should have an impact on both house design and the environment in which people live.

People are discovering how remote working can benefit them in the ‘new normal’. It offers flexibility and, in many cases, people feel like they are more productive. However, there is a risk of social isolation and managing mental health has become increasingly important. Mixed-use spaces have a significant role to play in responding to changing work and life trends.

Shifting requirements

People’s physical and mental wellbeing should be placed at the forefront of mixed-use developments. It’s important that they enable people to feel connected to society and a community, as well as to live healthier, happier lives. A considered approach to mixed-use in response to emerging trends following the pandemic can provide that.

The specific elements of a mixed-use development need to be carefully considered and should be bespoke to that community’s needs and aspirations. Key questions might be: what is the anchor use and what other uses can support it?

The pandemic has led to reduced transport use across the board. People would likely welcome this change long-term if things such as better public amenities, local shops and high-quality open spaces were ‘on their doorstep’ and travelling wasn’t such a necessity.

Accelerating the inevitable

The pandemic has simply accelerated changes that were already coming. Innovative advances in technology and communications have allowed remote working to succeed, and businesses to survive the pandemic.

If COVID-19 had hit 10 years ago, it would have been a very different story and companies would have struggled to adapt and operate.

Online retail was already an established feature of people’s lives pre-COVID. Now, e-commerce is even more popular. The question for mixed-use development is around how it can provide a retail offering that works in tandem with e-commerce and strikes a balance between access to local shops and national brands.

Hospitality and leisure businesses will feature in mixed-use developments more prominently too. Many restaurants, bars, and pubs have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and have been forced to adapt as well. In terms of a mixed-use environment, factors such as outdoor seating have led to improved shared spaces, fostering a stronger connection between customers and the surrounding public realm. In turn, this helps strengthen the connection between people and the community in which they live; a key goal of mixed-use development.

The pandemic may have altered the priorities of both people and businesses, but ultimately these societal changes suit the aims of mixed-use developments. By taking into consideration the needs of residents, these developments could continue to boom in popularity in the future.

Alex recently spoke to Design & Build Review about the role that mixed-use developments will play in responding to changing work and life trends - see more here.

To learn more, get in touch with the team at our specialist planning consultancy, Marrons Planning.

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Marrons Planning win the double at the RTPI East Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence

We're delighted that Marrons Planning has won not one, but two, awards at this year's RTPI East Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence.

As well as being named Planning Consultancy of the Year 2020, the team were also presented the Award for Excellence in Planning Practice alongside Leicester City Council for our involvement in the Great Central Square project in Leicester. 

The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the longest-running and most high-profile awards in the planning industry. For over 40 years they have recognised the achievements and celebrated projects, plans and people who have helped create exceptional and improved places to live and work. 

The coveted 'Planning Consultancy of the Year' award recognises the achievements of planning consultancies that have demonstrated high levels of service, commitment to sustainable development and support for the planning profession. 

On awarding Marrons Planning with the prestigious award, the judges acknowledged that the team "demonstrated exemplar commitment to supporting and developing their people." 

The 'Award for Excellence in Planning Practice' recognises those projects that promote and support a successful prosperous economy.  

Great Central Square is a £60m regeneration scheme connecting the Waterside area of Leicester to the heart of the City Centre. The scheme comprises two hotels, 33,000 sq. ft. of Class A office space and the refurbishment of the locally listed former Great Central Railway Station to 20,000 sq. ft. of leisure space. The scheme includes a pedestrian super-crossing and public open realm and occupies one of the most prominent positions in Leicester City centre, directly opposite John Lewis and Highcross Shopping Centre. The project has been a catalyst for a £200m regeneration renaissance in the city. 

On announcing Marrons Planning and Leicester City Council as the winners of the award, the judges noted the key winning aspects of the project were the huge benefit it will bring to the community and the use of trialling new build techniques such as modular construction. The judges also praised the "approach taken to build for owner-occupiers and multi-decade leases as an excellent example ensuring good place making." 

Sir Peter Soulsby, Mayor of Leicester...

This is well deserved recognition for an excellent scheme that is the result of close partnership working between the developer Charles Street Buildings, their consultants Marrons Planning and our own expert staff here at the council.

"It is another example of how the regeneration of Leicester's Waterside is attracting developers and investors to help realise our ambitious vision for this important part of the city.

"The resulting scheme - and in particular the wonderful restoration of the former Great Central station - is something very special indeed.

Also commenting on the win, Brian Mullinhead of Marrons Planning, said: 

"I'm absolutely thrilled that the team has been endorsed by our RTPI peers with these awards. Any firm is only as good as its people and we are fortunate to have team with great depth and superb technical knowledge, who strive to understand their client objectives, build lasting relationships and consistently deliver excellent results." 

 "The achievement of winning two awards is an acknowledgement of the contribution that the whole team has made and, in the case of Great Central Square, the value of our working partnership with the public sector. The team are worthy winners and we are very proud of the positive work we do helping to transform economies, environments and communities. 

Read more about Marrons Planning and how we can help our clients plan for every eventuality. 

 

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