Monthly Round Up
May and June 2021 marked a further return to ‘normality’ with further Covid-19 restrictions easing across the Country. City centre’s are returning to their pre-pandemic vibrancy and the diaries are becoming more and more full with meetings, events and other social activities. The NJL team are now back working in the office throughout the week and look forward to catching up with people from the industry over the summer months.
Across May and June, NJL has seen a busy and prosperous period with various project successes and planning committee dates, new instructions, new appointments and promotions. You can read a round up of our activities last month here.
St Thomas Hospital
NJL are delighted to announce that, on behalf of Stockport Homes and Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, approval was obtained at Stockport Planning Committee for the development of the former St. Thomas Hospital site in Stockport town centre.
NJL were involved through the application process, setting out the regeneration case and providing planning advice into the scheme composition noting the site’s heritage status. The approved scheme will introduce a truly multi-generational development at the heart of Stockport town centre, comprising of 68 no. affordable homes, including a mix of apartments and family accommodation, and a new intermediate care facility – The Academy of Living Well.
NJL secured planning permission for two high quality new homes in the Leeds Green Belt. The project presented a challenging starting point; the Green Belt location, the green space constraints and an extant planning permission that limited the quantum of development on the site. NJL prepared a robust case and successfully argued that the proposed development, whilst materially larger than the existing and extant schemes, were not inappropriate development in the Green Belt.
NJL secured planning permission on behalf of Kirkland Developments for 32 affordable apartments within Hazel Grove town centre, all of which will be for social rented tenure to be acquired and managed by Stockport Homes. The issue of viability had prevented an acute issue to the site which had remained undeveloped for a decade. Noting the spatial constraints of this relatively small site, NJL worked closely with the design team and the Council to arrive at a well-balanced scheme that secured an appropriate density of units, parking provision, landscaping, environmental enhancements and quality amenity space for future residents.
Vale Drive, Oldham
NJL secured planning permission on behalf of First Choice Homes Oldham for 88 new affordable homes on a prominent site adjacent to Oldham town centre. The scheme will regenerate two vacant tower blocks to provide modern affordable housing including both apartments and houses and a new children’s play area for the local community. NJL worked with Oldham Council throughout the planning application process to remove the requirement for planning obligations and to ensure there are no pre-commencement conditions to ensure a quick start on site.
Over the last month, NJL has secured a range of exciting instructions. The firm will be working alongside Manchester City Council to bring forward further television and production space in West Gorton. The project will provide new television studio space and continue Manchester’s growth as a global location for film and television production.
The team continues to work with Peel to bring forwards the detail of the Trafford Waters scheme that was approved in 2018.
National Model Design Codes
Last month, 14 Local Authorities were announced who would receive a £50K grant to assist them in securing high quality design in the borough. Elliott Bullock shared his thoughts on the new Design Codes and what this could mean for our clients and the future of many schemes.
Digitising the Planning System
On the theme of government grants, a further 10 authorities were awarded financial packages to trial a digital plan making system which aims to increase public participation and speed up the planning process. The aspiration is to ensure that all local authorities have an up to date and 21st century appropriate Local Plan with a consistent model used across the country. It is likely we will see fewer long form policy documents and more interactive maps and figures.
Whilst there appears to be appetite to digitise the planning system moving forwards, the move away from virtual planning committees seems somewhat of a contradiction. As of the 8th May, the Coronavirus Bill, which enabled Local Authorities to host planning committees (among other meetings) virtually, lapsed and was not renewed. This meant an end to evenings of ‘Zoom’ committees in our living rooms and paranoia over any last minute IT issues! While all local planning authorities over the past 12 months should be commended for their efforts in hosting online committees in the professional manner which they have, the return back to the Town Hall has presented a much welcomed change towards ‘normality’. NJL have recently attended two ‘in person’ planning committees in Oldham and Manchester, securing approvals on two schemes (see more in June’s newsletter).
In May, NJL welcomed Rachel White who joined the team as a Senior Planner. Rachel previously worked as a consultant in London and was involved in a range of residential and mixed-use schemes across the South East. Lockdown made Rachel appreciate her Northern roots and we’re pleased she made the pilgrimage back north. NJL is excited to be working with Rachel and introducing her to projects and clients.
Elliott Bullock was recently promoted to Senior Planner in the Manchester office. This promotion recognises Elliott’s hard work and achievements over his 3 years at NJL during which time he has become a core member of the team.
This month, we welcome Ben Johnson as an intern in the Manchester office. Ben has recently graduated from the University of Manchester after studying for a Masters in Planning, Development and Real Estate.
The Team at NJL are currently recruiting for graduates across the Leeds and Manchester offices. If you, or anyone you know are interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with a CV and covering letter.