Strategic Planning Policy Statement – Northern Ireland – 29 April

Read more and see consultation here

National Heritage Protection Plan – 02 May

English Heritage commenced formal consultation on the preparation of the new National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP) in March. The new plan will run from the end of 2015, when the current plan comes to an end, to the end of 2020. A meeting of the NHPP Advisory Board was held in February to offer initial advice to EH prior to preparation of the formal consultation document.
Read more and see survey here

Publications and Toolkits
Planning Practice Guidance published online

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has launched the final ‘alpha’ version of the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) online. This is accompanied by a list of previous planning practice guidance documents that are superseded by the guidance.
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Loss of local authority conservation staffing

A new report by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), supported by English Heritage, shows a continued decline in local authority conservation staffing with a reduction in 4% in 2012, part of a ‘devastating 33% cut since 2006’.
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In answer to the skills’ gap crisis in Local Authorities regarding the continued dearth and increasing cuts in Archaeological, Conservation and Heritage Officers, the HTF is held a free strategy event to determine what our part of the sector needs to do to address this issue. This was informed by recent IHBC and ALGAO research.  Speakers included ALGAO, IHBC, RTPI, English Heritage and others. Presentations and digest from the event are now available here.

VAT on housing renovation and repair

An independent research report by Experian suggests that a reduction of VAT on housing renovation and repair from 20% to 5% could boost the UK economy by more than £15billion from 2015 to 2020. It could also create more than 95,000 jobs and save 240,000 tonnes of CO2 from thousands of homes. The report is backed by more than 60 charities, trade associations, business groups and financial institutions that are united in calling on all three main political parties to commit to the reduction in their 2015 election manifestos. Read more

Poorly designed public spaces affect public health

A new report published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), ‘City Health Check – How Design Can Save Lives and Money’, shows a clear link between land use and public health in English cities. The report compares three major health issues: diabetes, obesity in children, and physical activity in the nine most populated English cities. It shows that the healthiest cities have almost half the housing densities and a fifth more green space than the least healthy. It also claims that nearly £1bn a year could be saved if people could be encouraged to walk more hours per week.
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Shop vacancy rates lowest for four years

The Local Data Company, which monitors more than 2000 town and shopping centres and retail parks, has published its latest report on shop occupancy. It shows that average vacancy rates have fallen below 14% for the first time in four years, although there are big regional variations. The report also shows the increasing impact and dominance of large shopping centres and retail parks.
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Airports Commission publishes interim report

The Airport Commission’s independent review of airport capacity and connectivity in the UK concludes that there is a need for one net additional runway in the south east to be operational by 2030.
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TCPA - New Towns Act 2015?

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has published a document showing how a new generation of garden cities could be developed as part of the solution to the need for new housing. The document is intended to encourage the political parties to commit to a programme of new garden cities in the run up to the general election in 2015.
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Guidance to commons registration authorities

The Department for Environment, Food & rural Affairs has published guidance on registering town and village greens following changes made in 2013 under the Growth and Infrastructure Act.
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New British Standard for building conservation

The new standard for building conservation, BS 7913: Guide to the conservation of historic buildings, has been launched by BSI.
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English Heritage Searchable database of heritage planning

A searchable database of heritage planning and court cases has been produced by English Heritage to help access court cases to give involved parties the ability to challenge opinions from planning inspectors.
Access it here