Monthly Archives: April 2017


Girl on the Tube (April ’17 part3)


Girl on the Tube - Canary Wharf


I came across some old photos of London over the Easter Weekend so I wanted to recreate them to be able to see how much London really had changed. So I got on the D6 bus and went for a wander over to the Isle of Dogs and what I found did not disappoint. As I got off the bus, I was surprised to see this lone rectangular building standing tall. This is a sign of things to come.

10th April-16th April


The first old photo I found was of the Gun in the 1960s which is a popular place for the workers at Canary Wharf. It’s a Grade 2 listed building built in the 1800s, and according to some. Lord Nelson’s ghost haunts the pub.

In recreating this photo, the main difference is the cars. You can just see the yellow crane sticking out the back which is the Millennium Dome, I don’t even remember a time when the Dome wasn’t there.




Walking further down Manchester Road, I managed to find the spot in which the Queen’s Coronation party took place in 1953. Having my grandmother in this photo, I felt a close connection to this spot and how much change has taken place over 60 years. I felt a pang of nostalgia.

The houses on the right covered in the bunting still exist as does some of the wall on the left. Not much else remains as the pub on the far right is now a shop and the building on the far left is replaced with a row of houses.  Whilst the changes here are subtle, the overlooking Dollar Bay skyscraper overshadows the remains of the 19th century buildings.

South Quay

I carried on walking along Marsh Wall to recreate the photo from 2002 when Heron Quays was being rebuilt. It’s quite difficult to explain what has happened because Canary Wharf is shadowed by the so many new buildings of a range of shape and sizes. The only similarity here are the red cranes.



I remember when there was just one tower on the skyline in the 90s.


I continued walking up to west ferry circus, trying to absorb the height of the modernist glass covered buildings and what has happened, it has become a place I don’t really recognise anymore.








The traffic light roundabout has been replaced with one tree.

Looking to my left over the River Thames I catch a glimpse of the city skyline. I think I’ve just experienced the city changing over 60 years in front of my eyes.




Share this on:


Planning reform to fix the broken housing market


Planning review delayed

Planning reform to fix the broken housing market-delayed by the General Election

In March 2017, the Government set out its intention to reform planning with the publication of the Housing White Paper. It was a mixture of green and white and sets out the Government’s four-point plan to fix the broken housing market.

In trying to understand and explain all of the proposed changes to national planning policy and legislation, we thought we’d got our head around what was potentially happening and when.
However, with the announcement of the General Election of 8th June 2017, we may well be back to square one.

Here is a summary of the changes we were expecting over 2017 prior to the announcement of the General Election.

What’s happened so far?
The Housing and Planning Act received royal assent on the 12th May 2016.
The following sections of the Act on planning came into force from the day the Act received Royal Assent:
• Local planning authority duty to keep a register of particular kinds of land
• The setting of fees for planning applications
• Processing of planning applications by alternative providers
• Urban Development Corporations

A number of the other planning provisions in the Act have since come into force with a commencement date yet to be confirmed:

Sections 158 and 159 on planning obligations
Section 160 on development consent for projects that involve housing
Sections 180 and 181 on compulsory purchase order confirmation and time limits
Sections 192-198 on compulsory purchase compensation

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill had its third reading and will receive Royal Assent in due course. Clause 6-11 of the Bill sets out Local Planning and the powers for intervention.

Starter Homes and Small sites register
The Act put into legislation the Government’s intention to provide a number of Starter Homes. The Government will commence the general duty on local authorities to promote the supply of starter homes and will bring forward regulations to finalise the starter homes definition and monitoring provisions. The Government have previously proposed that local authorities should keep a register of “small sites” in their areas and have since confirmed that it would not go ahead with the requirement for local authorities to keep a small sites register at this time.

Local Plans
The Secretary of State is given powers to intervene where Local Authorities are failing. This is through the Neighbourhood Plan Bill which has had its third reading.
The Government confirmed that following a previous proposal to incentivize preparation of a Local Plan and reduce New Homes Bonus in areas where this is not happening, they will not be taking this forward in 2017/2018.
Press release: Priminister Minister – Councils must deliver local plans for new homes by 2017

Permission in Principle
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Permission in Principle etc.) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2017 was made on March 6th 2017 which clarifies a number of points on permission in principle in England.
Competition in the system
The act gave the SOS through regulation the power to introduce pilot schemes for competition in processing applications.
Developer Contributions
Clauses have been added into the Act to deal with dispute resolution in order to speed up the process of negotiation.

Further changes are coming!
Here’s a summary of the changes in planning that were being considered before the General Election announcement:
Housing land supply and standardized requirement- Government’s priority 
The Government’s priority is to consult on options for introducing a standard methodology for calculating OAN and housing requirement. There will be criteria for moving away from the standard methodology which would require justification. Options are being explored within this consultation for local authorities have to set a housing requirement for Neighbourhood Plans.
The Government are considering whether local authorities will be able to have land supply agreed on an annual basis and for this figure to be fixed on a one year basis. This figure will undergo independent examination, however there are rumblings of concern from local authorities that the time to undergo local plan examination will impact on the date in which the housing figure is adopted.
We were anticipating the consultation in spring 2017, so any time now. Depending on the general election result the incoming government may continue to progress with this priority.

Local Plans
The Government are consulting on the intention to make changes to the NPPF to introduce a housing delivery test and considering consequences for under delivery (fall below the 95% threshold over a 5 year period).
Changes to the NPPF
We were anticipating a revised NPPF in the summer with the following changes:
Duty to Co-operate to be amended so that authorities will be expected to prepare a statement of Common Ground.

  • CLG and the Government are keen for joint planning and will encourage
    Amendments to paragraph 14 and the presumption in favour of sustainable development
    Paragraph 156 and strategic priorities
  • Principle of upward extensions  to be included
  • Stronger support for rural exception sites
  • Allowance for more brownfield land to be released for development with higher proportion of starter homes
  • Definition of affordable housing to be amended to encompass a wider range of products
  • NPPF to be amended to include support for and increased number of new build to rent homes
  • Introduce presumption that brownfield land within settlements is suitable for housing
  • The government have set out their intention to strengthen planning policy to support higher densities in urban locations with a review of the Nationally Described Space Standard
  • Clarification to be made to Green Belt Policy to make the tests for release more transparent
  • Clarification of flood risk policy to ensure that policies for managing flood risk also address cumulative flood risk
  • Amend policy on noise to take into account existing business and adjacent uses
    It is unclear at the present time whether any incoming Government will continue with preparing a revised NPPF

Developer Contributions
The Government were proposing to review the process for developer contributions following publication of the CIL Experts Group findings. This will be reported in the autumn statement 2017.

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
The act will change so that a development consent order could grant consent for housing that is linked to a NSIP.
Permission in principle
The following statutory instruments were to be made in order to implement the permission in principle policy.

  • The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017
  • The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017
  • The Town and Country Planning (Register of Previously Developed Land) Regulations 2017
  • Permitted development rights for state funded schools to be extended

Fees and Capacity
Government were considering increasing planning fees with further allowance for authorities who are delivering to increase fees up to 20%. This additional funding would be ring-fenced and would have to be spent within the Planning Department. Thurrock for example, could gain an additional £200,000 Consideration also being given to setting up fees for submitting planning Appeals.

Better information on Build out and Developer Track record
A September consultation was anticipating to deal with issues surrounding developer’s delivery rates, whether the start date of development should be included in a planning application, changes the legislation for secretary of State Sign off and the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders.
The Government have asked the question as to whether Local Authorities should be able to take into account a developer’s track record and delivery rates in considering applications. We are of the opinion that each site is different and on site constraints as well timely discharge of Conditions impacts on meeting targets. Developers already provide information on delivery rates to local authorities when they are preparing SHLAA documents and calculating supply.

Secretary of State Call in period
A statutory period of 3 months is proposed in which the SOS can call in applications.

Prior to the general Election announcement on April 18th, The Government were proposing a raft of consultations over the spring and summer of 2017 to amend national planning policy to improve delivery of much needed homes. Housing is sure to be top of all parties’ manifestos as in 2015 when all parties pledged to increase housing numbers:

Labour- least 200,000 new homes a year are built by 2020,
Conservatives- 200,000 new Starter Homes exclusively for first-time buyers under 40
Liberal Democrats- 300,000 a year

No matter the outcome of the general election, we all have a role to play in meeting the aims of the Housing White Paper and Urbanissta looks forward to working with the housebuilders in this time of change to secure the houses that Britain needs.

Do you need to speak to a planner? Contact us today.

Read the Planning Reform Proposals here.

The Housing White Paper:
Part: 1
Part: 2
Part: 3
Part: 4

Share this on:


EIA Regulations are changing – What does this mean for you?


environmental impact assessment

The role of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA) and how is it changing?

The core role of EIA is to maintain a level of environmental protection established within the current EIA Directive. The main aim is to drive effective EIA across the EU through three themes:

Harmonisation, efficiency and quality.
The EIA directive has been amended and codified a number of times since 1988. Several changes were made before adapting to the current Directive in 2014 which is required to be transposed by Member States on or before 16 May 2017.

The revised Directive introduces the need for EIAs to be produced by ‘competent experts’. The Directive does not however provide a definition for the term. It is for the LPA to decide whether the expert is competent or not.

Future screening requests require more specific information. At present, the information required is minimal, only requiring a plan, description of development and any other such information the developer wishes to provide.
Future screening requests now require the following:
• A plan
• Description of development
• Development proposal
• Sensitivities of proposed location
• Aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected
• Description of likely significant effects from a list of species
• Any other information the developer wishes to include including mitigation
This can be considered as a ‘mini EIA’ at the screening stage as the results from other assessments, mitigation measures and avoidance measures are considered in this process. The 21-day time scale for receiving a screening opinion has been retained – the option to extend up to 90 days may be agreed in writing.

The proposal for mandatory scoping was not implemented. A scoping opinion can be requested from the LPA, the EIA will need to be based on the response given. The Directive does not clarify at what stage an EIA is required or how much information should be provided to support the request.
A broader scope of issues to be considered under the new regulations:
• Impacts on biodiversity, climate change, and landscape
• Vulnerability to accidents and disasters
The provision of additional information will require local authorities to have the relevant expertise to assess the information provided and decide if the information is sufficient early on in the process. This imposes an additional burden on the role of the LPA.

Consultation time frame
Increased time frame from 21 to 30 days to consult and comment on any environmental information.
• What will changes to the screening and scoping requirements mean to you?
Developers and LPAs are likely to face practical consequences as there will be an inevitable delay in securing planning permission for an EIA development and furthermore, increased costs. The following will be enshrined in statute and an increased burden is imposed on both the LPA and developer: the need to submit a screening report, mitigation may be considered by the LPA, ES must be based on the scoping opinion and considered during determination. It has been argued that the changes are minimal and the impacts of the new regulations are minor.
• How is mitigation to be viewed in the new process?
There appears to more emphasis placed on mitigation particularly in the early stages. Mitigation will need to be imbedded into the design if to be taken into account in the screening process. Furthermore, the progress of mitigation will be monitored from screening through to ES and implementation to ensure that there are no breaches and no significant adverse effects. Developments which do not comply with the Directives will be subject to enforcement and monitoring action.
• How do planning consultancies need to adapt?
There is also a burden on consultancies to advise clients very early on about engaging an appropriate team who can assist in ‘designing out’ any impacts and appointing a competent expert to provide an ES. Greater input will also be required at the screening stage and someone must be appointed to monitor the commitments to mitigation to avoid breaches and enforcement action. Furthermore, clients must be advised about the transitional arrangements which are as follows:

Screened prior to 16 May 2017 – existing EIA Regulations apply
Screened on or after 16 May 2017 – New EIA Regulations apply

Scoping request and ES pre 16 May 2017 – existing EIA Regulations apply
Scoping request and ES on or after May 2017 – New EIA Regulations apply

What legal challenges might arise from the amended regulations?

• Screening and scoping challenges
• JR of screening opinion and timing of challenge
• Enforcement action for failing to commit to mitigation measures

Relevant reading:
The Amending Environmental Impact Assessment

We have a thorough understanding of the EIA, if you have any questions relating to this or any of our other articles, contact us today.

Introducing ‘The girl on the Tube’. A Planner’s insight into the changing landscape of London.
I’m the girl on the Tube, no stranger to the fast-paced life of London and I take the underground every day to and from work.
I rise up from the tunnels of bustling business people and enthusiastic tourists and step out into the streets of London. Sensibly putting comfort and practically before fashion, wearing my well-worn trainers instead of 6-inch stilettos.
Read more

Share this on:


Government reveals its preferred option for Lower Thames Crossing


• Option C- Connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 through a bored tunnel.

The Government have been considering Thames River crossings as an alternative to the Dartford Crossing since 2009 and today the preferred option has been revealed. For over 50 years, the Dartford Crossing has provided the only road crossing of the Thames east of London and it is recognised as a critical part of the UK’s major road network carrying local, national and international traffic.

Highways England acknowledge that a new crossing is needed to reduce congestion at the existing Dartford crossing and this additional crossing could unlock economic growth, supporting the development of new homes and jobs in the region.


2009 – In 2009, there were 5 potential crossing options explored

2011 – A Lower Thames Crossing became a top 40 priority infrastructure project

2012 – 5 options became three

2013 – Option B was discarded by the Government

2014 – Highways England commissioned to undertake assessment of two potential options

2016  Highways England consult on the two remaining options, and set out option C is the preferred option.

  • Option A- site of the existing A282 Dartford Thurrock Crossing
  • Option C- Connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 through a bored tunnel.

The Route Consultation received 47,034 responses, making it the largest ever public consultation for a UK road project

• Option C- Connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 through a bored tunnel.

Source: Highways England

Today April 12th 2017-Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announces that Option C is the preferred option

The details

Option C will comprise a bored tunnel crossing under the river Thames East of Gravesend and Tilbury. A new road north of the river will join between junction 29 and 30 and a new road south of the river which will join the A2 east of Gravesend.

The project will costs between 4.4-£6.2 billion pounds and is due to be open by 2025.

Why option C?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling supported option C because the crossing would create more than 6,000 jobs and boost the economy by more than £8bn.

What do the affected local authorities think?

Thurrock Council have been very vocal in objecting to any plans that would create a further crossing within the Borough and have been committed to campaigning against the proposals, including the publication of “17 reasons against the Dartford Crossing”. In responding to the announcement today, council leaders have expressed outrage with the decision. Cllr John Kent, said: “Now is the time for Thurrock – its people, it’s businesses, and its council – to come together and fight as one.

Gravesham Borough Councilors, in which Gravesend is located, are equally disappointed with today’s decision, and remain resolutely against option C.

We can expect that this wont be the end of the Council’s fight to reject option C.

What other options are considered to reduce congestion on the Dartford Crossing

Within the east of London, there is a heavy reliance on a small number of crossings including the Dartford Crossing and the Blackwall Tunnel. TFL have consulted on river crossing options within the east. An examination is currently underway on the potential for a Silvertown tunnel.

Future options for TFL include developing the concepts of new bridges at Gallions Reach(2) and Belvedere(3).

Thames River Crossing possible sites

Source:Thurrock Council

Key URLs:


Share this on:


Girl on the Tube (April ’17 part2)


Girl on the Tube


with the clocks changing and it still being light when I leave the office, I opted to walk home from Kings Cross along the Regents Canal.  I know what you’re all thinking- crazy! I’ll be needing some new trainers in no time.

But with my Three Peaks Challenge set for September I need to prepare myself mentally and physically. Walking along the Regents Canal also gave me an opportunity to get out the camera and really look at the buildings and the changing canal landscape. I was interested to see the mixture of old and new, and lots of activity.

27th March – 4th April

Regents Canal map

Kings Cross

Starting at Granary Square, I could see the work taking shape to fit out the gasholders.


There is quite a mixture of design styles along the canal as a modernist building sits next to a row of Victorian houses, probably warehouses once upon a time.  But it doesn’t look out of context in the way that some developments in a village setting may look out of context. I guess the water setting provides much more flexibility, although slightly constrained by the site size.


Talking of water constraining development, I was amused to see a relatively new building covered in grass-making up for not being able to have a front garden I guess.

You can tell what’s new and what’s old. The new developments sit up tall and thin covered in glass and render compared to the older smaller brick buildings. I think I prefer the old to new in this canal setting, as it reflects the historic role of the canal.


I knew I was entering the Shoreditch section of the Regents Canal as there were bustling pubs and loud music. The Shoreditch sign on the wall was also a good clue!

There is a lot of redevelopment activity taking place in Shoreditch and Hackney, again one to keep an eye out for.

Mile End

And then as I finish my walk around Mile End, I’m reminded I’m back in the city.  I can’t help but stop and reflect on the development at Canary Wharf in the distance and the pace at which change has occurred over my lifetime.


The views expressed below are my own and do not reflect the views of Urbanissta

Share this on:


Girl on the Tube (April ’17)


Girl on the Tube

I’m the girl on the Tube, no stranger to the fast-paced life of London and I take the underground every day to and from work.

I rise up from the tunnels of bustling business people and enthusiastic tourists and step out into the streets of London. Sensibly putting comfort and practically before fashion, wearing my well-worn trainers instead of 6-inch stilettos.

When I travel to and from the office I study, not books but buildings and developments. Noting changes in the landscape, taking photographs and retaining the memory of a derelict building and enjoying the aspects of a new structure put in its place.

I keep a diary, and for those of you with an interest in planning, developing and architecture – I hope you find my notes and photographs useful and my knowledge insightful.

March 24th– March 27th 2017

On my travels this week I’ve taken the tube to Borough, Waterloo and Aldgate with the hope of seeing interesting developments each time I surfaced from the different underground stations.

Borough via Limehouse


Borough via Limehouse

I was on an RTPI Course today about Local Plans, based just up from Borough Tube Station (Planners among us know exactly which building I mean).

My journey took me on the DLR and I noted a half deconstructed building with the crane in the basement. This is a development that I’m going to keep an eye on because I’m curious as to whether the building will become something more like the one on the right, or if it will become more of a glass clad office block. Give it six months and potentially I will be waving at a handsome man sitting in his office chair, maybe a designer or solicitor?

Borough development

London is a city that intrigues me.  I watch the people, admire the architecture and sometimes cringe at the new developments. I try to capture growth and impressive transformations. Sometimes the changes are profound, especially if I have been away from the big city for a while.

When I eventually got to Borough, I saw a residential development taking shape right opposite the London Underground station.  It looks to be well on the way as the building itself is complete.  It will be a mixture of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments and penthouses.

Borough Underground station development

Every day, my trusty trainers and I rest my legs whilst we travel through the streets of London on the bus.  It allows me to get another perspective of the buildings and to appreciate how we desperately need more housing.


I was on my way to the National Theatre on Sunday and when I came out of the Waterloo mainline station and walked towards the London Eye, I was surprised to see that the footbridge was closed. The previous brutalist style office block was completely gone and replaced with a mixture of half completed blocks, cranes, diggers and men in high vis jackets.

I since discovered that the Shell Centre is being redeveloped into a mixed use residential office and retail scheme with 790 new homes. With the power of Google you can see that between July and now, four new blocks have gone up!

Having taken a few photos, I also noticed a block taking shape in the distance. I need to look into what that one is going to be. Interestingly, I found out that it is actually nicknamed the vase! I always wonder who comes up with these names.

Waterloo development

Waterloo development


I was on my way home from an appointment in Whitechapel on Friday and it was such a lovely sunny day I decided to take the bus. As a Planner, the bus provides me much more intrigue than a dark tunnel!  After getting slightly lost in the back streets of Whitechapel I found my bus stop on the Commercial Road. Aldgate is definitely a changing landscape, having driven past an empty building site for a number of years, the rate at which these blocks are going up surprises me.


Aldgate development

It makes me think of Manhattan with the style of the buildings, the materials and the windows. Although in Manhattan you don’t get a good old east end pub a few metres away!

Until next time…

Share this on: