Green light for 49 new homes in Leicestershire following successful planning appeal

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Permission has been granted for the construction of 49 market and affordable homes near Thornton Reservoir, Leicestershire

The proposal for plans to develop a three hectare site off Hawthorn Drive first emerged in 2014 – with the third and latest application being turned down by Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council in July 2021.

Marrons Planning co-ordinated the planning appeal, including the day to day management, on behalf of developer Barwood Homes and landowner J H Hallam & Son Limited, and the development was allowed in May 2022.

Andrew Gore, partner at Marrons Planning, provided planning evidence at the public inquiry, which clearly demonstrated a housing land supply shortfall; that the housing and settlement boundary policies were substantively out-of-date; and that there was an acute affordable housing shortfall in the borough; as well as the accessible, sustainable nature of the site.

He said: “We are delighted that permission for this scheme has now been granted. We worked positively with council officers throughout the application process – ultimately delivering a recommendation of approval at the planning committee, which was subsequently overturned by members.

“The scheme will provide a range of house types and sizes, creating a sustainable, inclusive and mixed community, while also increasing footfall and revenue for the village’s shops. The delivery of 20 affordable dwellings – 40% of the development’s total – will make an important contribution to meeting the council’s affordable housing need.

“A large area of public open space will also be constructed, alongside the improved management of a woodland belt – delivering ecological enhancements with biodiversity benefits.”

The development will produce 19 three-bedroom and 10 four-bedroom houses to be sold on the market, and 20 affordable homes, including four one-bedroom homes, eight two-bedroom houses, and eight three-bedroom properties.

The site has been the subject of a number of previous planning applications – the first of which was submitted in December 2014. Despite being recommended for approval by officers, it was refused at planning committee in March 2015. A revised planning application was submitted in April 2016 and was again refused in June 2016. The latest application was submitted in June 2020.

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Andrew has in excess of 16 years’ planning experience

Andrew works primarily with house-builders, land promoters and landowners across the country in securing consent for medium to large-scale residential and commercial development, including a number of SUEs and new settlements.

Planning Appeals

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.

Marrons Planning boosts Birmingham reach

News | New Joiner

Marrons Planning has launched a Birmingham office hub, with the transfer of five planning experts to the new location – supporting the planning consultancy’s growing client base in the West Midlands.

The team, who were previously based in the East Midlands, will now take the lead in developing Marrons Planning’s offering in the west of the region, including strategic land acquisition and promotion, town planning and urban design.

Leading the charge will be associate director Sachin Parmar and senior planner Alasdair Thorne.

Chartered town planner Sachin has a strong background in the public sector, helping him achieve positive planning results for clients across regeneration, residential, commercial, agricultural and infrastructure projects.

Specialising in residential development and town planning, Alasdair will work with clients across Birmingham and the wider midlands region to promote sites via the local plan process, including sustainable urban expansions, as well as gain planning permission and conduct planning appeals.

Also supporting the Birmingham expansion are urban designers Alex Craggs and the newly-appointed Jared McQueen-Pullen, who joins from Dudley Council, as well as Assistant Planner Isabella Ingram.

Head of Marrons Planning Brian Mullin said: “We have a growing number of team members who have lived, worked or grown up in the West Midlands and who have intimate working knowledge of planning authorities in the region. As we gain momentum in Birmingham, Worcester and Wolverhampton in particular, it made sense for key players in our team to make the move and work from our Birmingham hub in order to cement those relationships with clients and the public sector.

We have an excellent track record for successful planning applications due to our local authority experience, and as a result are seeing growing demand for our services.

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Brian heads up our award winning town planning consultancy, Marrons Planning. He 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.

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.

Nutrient neutral - Working together to avoid planning delays

Blog

A further 27 catchments across 42 local authorities now find themselves subject to nutrient neutrality requirements following a recent announcement from Natural England. Kevin Exley, a principal planner at Marrons Planning takes a look at what this means for councils and developers.

What are nutrient neutrality requirements?

The requirements mean that all developments in the affected catchment areas will have to demonstrate 'nutrient neutrality', meaning that the nutrients from all surface water runoff and wastewater generated by a development must be less than or equal to the nutrients generated by the existing land use.

While this is an expansion of the catchment areas and councils affected, this is not a recent issue. In 2010 many may recall that North West Leicestershire District Council were unable to determine many applications due to potential water quality impacts on the River Mease SAC.

Fast forward to the present day and this is an increasingly important issue being played out across many sensitive catchments in the England, including the 27 additional areas affecting 42 councils, announced earlier this month (March 2022).  This is, without doubt, a daunting issue for many council’s faced with this additional administrative burden of trying to protect some of our most sensitive rivers and environments.

For developers it could lead to greater uncertainty, especially in the short-term as regulatory bodies and councils seek to deal with the additional burdens and complexities (and there are many!) that will inevitably follow the Governments announcements.  It could mean finding mechanisms to ensure that additional foul water flows from your development do not lead to increased levels of nutrients in sensitive watercourses, but it will also clarify the need for council’s to prepare a Habitat Regulations Assessments for development within the catchment area of designated site (and for developers to provide technical support for more complex schemes) and could also increase the need for additional treatment trains within sustainable drainage schemes. 

How can these requirements be met?

Natural England is proposing to issue a National Generic Methodology (and the associated catchment calculators) to provide Local Planning Authorities with the tools to progress nutrient neutrality as a potential mitigation solution to enable development that would otherwise adversely affect the integrity of habitats sites to proceed. However the real challenge will be delivering the additional mitigation necessary to ensure no net increase in nutrients when a new development will generate higher levels of nutrient than the historic land use.

The River Mease Partnership is a great example of what can be achieved through meaningful collaboration. Ten years and two developer contribution schemes later, a partnership of local councils, the water company, the Environment Agency and Natural England, supported by some excellent work by the Trent Rivers Trust has, by and large, managed to find a way to mitigate the effects of new development and reduce nutrient levels in the River Mease SAC.  And whilst phosphate levels are falling, though remain too high, specific measures are being delivered by the partnership to ensure new development is, in effect nutrient neutral.  These measures are relatively low cost nature based solutions which are good news for developers and good news for the environment.

At first glance the changes being proposed by the government are daunting and it will inevitably have some short-term impacts on the development industry. It will take councils and other statutory agencies some time to work through the consequences of this announcement, though as demonstrated by the authorities in the Mease Catchment, nutrient neutrality doesn’t have to be a significant barrier to growth so long as councils, environmental bodies and developers take a positive and creative approach to protecting some of our most sensitive sites.

How can we help?

Marrons Planning has recently appointed Kevin Exley, who represented South Derbyshire District Council on both the River Mease Programme Board and River Mease Technical Working Group.  He has worked with a range of agencies to ensure development could continue to come forward despite the need to protect the Mease SAC.  During his time at South Derbyshire District Council he was largely responsible for ensuring that development schemes would not adversely affect the integrity of the SAC. As a result Kevin has gained an extensive understanding of the Habitat Regulations, nutrient neutrality and the issues facing small and large scale developments within the catchment of sensitive sites affected by nutrients. 

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If you have a site affected by nutrient neutrality issues contact Kevin Exley

Midlands consultancy expands with expert town planner hire

Company News

Leading consultancy Marrons Planning has bolstered and expanded its West Midlands presence through the appointment of expert chartered town planner David Fovargue.

Taking on the role of planning director, David will be responsible for growing the business and will use his vast experience, skills and knowledge to successfully promote land acr chartered town planner oss the country, as well as secure planning permission for land promoters and housebuilders.

With 19 years’ experience, David joins the consultancy after 17 years at Wood Group, where he was technical director – leading development of the company’s town planning service line.

Specialising in strategic land promotion, property and sustainability, David’s planning experience covers applications, appeals and land disposals, taking sites through to delivery and implementation.

David said: “Marrons Planning shares my values and ambitions as a commercial, property-focused planning consultancy, which is clearly going places given its rapid climb up the planning league tables.

“The team has an established reputation in strategic land and development projects, which complements my own capabilities. Marrons Planning is renowned in the industry by its clients and the Royal Town Planning Institute, having received previous awards for planning excellence.

“I am looking forward to helping clients navigate what is a hugely uncertain time for the planning system and housing delivery all-round, as well as supporting the professional development of colleagues through mentoring.

David will primarily be based at the firm’s Stratford-upon-Avon hub, but will be working with clients nationally.

Recently, David has supported Suffolk County Council and Concertus Design & Property Consultants in the permission and £35 million land sale of a 1,150-home urban extension to Sudbury, Suffolk.

This sits alongside other notable projects, including consents for Bellway Homes’ strategic land division in Huntingdonshire and 800 homes for The Crown Estate on sites in Wiltshire and Somerset.

He has also advised local authorities across the UK on policy development in response to climate change, centred on the delivery of low carbon and climate-resilient communities.

David said: “I enjoy leading and working with teams and specialists across different disciplines to deliver success for my clients, often within the cut and thrust of local politics – problem-solving to balance competing planning, technical and environmental challenges.

“Knowing that I am helping to support the delivery of new homes, as well as associated infrastructure, habitats and green space, in the face of a national housing crisis is particularly rewarding.

David joins following a string of appointments by Marrons Planning, including Simon Macklen as director of economics to head up the firm’s new socio-economics service, RIBA chartered architect and urban design expert Alex Craggs in support of its recently-launched urban design service, Kevin Exley as principal planner, and Jacqueline Jackson as planning director.

Gary Stephens, partner and town planning consultant at Marrons Planning, said: “It is fantastic to welcome David to our team, particularly as we look to bolster our reputation in the West Midlands. David’s experience unlocking complex, strategic housing projects such as garden communities and new settlements – from planning to implementation – will be a real asset to our team.

“There has been a significant increase in demand for our services due to our high success rate in achieving planning permission for clients. David will strengthen Marrons Planning and bring new ideas and skills to unlock more sites across the country.

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Gary is a town planning consultant helping developers and landowners negotiate the planning process to achieve their objectives.

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.

Blog

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.

Blog

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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