February 19, 2018

Bath residents seeking judicial review over decision to approve housing regeneration


Residents of an estate in Bath are seeking a High Court judicial review of a decision to approve a housing association’s regeneration plans.

Curo, which owns and manages more than 13,000 homes across the South West, was granted outline planning permission to demolish 542 homes on the Foxhill Estate and replace them with 700 new builds in July.

Lawyers acting for the Foxhill Residents’ Association submitted several legal challenges to Bath & North East Somerset Council in December over its decision.

Among other concerns, the lawyers claimed the authority had failed to follow its own policy regarding the loss of social housing in regeneration schemes.

Curo’s plans for the estate will result in a net loss of 204 affordable rented homes on the site.

The council refuted all of the points made, meaning the claim has now been submitted to the High Court.

Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, said: “The loss of social housing point we make is that the council failed to properly assess the impact on vulnerable groups.

“There’s also a point we make that the council incorrectly applied its policy about the regeneration of social housing estates.

“It didn’t explore whether a greater number of social houses could be built based on what Curo said about the viability of the scheme. That was the policy of the council if you read it correctly.”

Curo submitted a viability assessment as part of its planning application, which a planning officer’s report said will see the housing association make a loss on the Foxhill Estate regeneration.

Mr Smith added that the council had made “errors” by taking affordable rented homes delivered through the neighbouring Mulberry Park site – where Curo is building 700 new homes, 30% of which will be affordable.

“We say that they have double counted and promised a number of additional social houses, but then subsequently said that those social housing tenants from Foxhill would be moved to Mulberry Park, so there will not actually be additional social housing delivered,” he said.

A High Court judge will now decide if there is legal justification for a judicial review. Bath & North East Somerset Council has 21 days to respond to the submission.

A spokesperson for the council said: “All communications on this matter are subject to legal privilege and so we will not be commenting.”

A spokesperson for Curo said: “It’s not appropriate for us to comment at this stage and we will await the outcome of the legal process.”

Peter Buckley, a member of the Foxhill Residents’ Assocation, said: “From our point of view it’s a very ill-conceived scheme from the start.

“We’re well aware that there are blocks of flats on the estate which are run down, but the majority of the estate is houses, with a lot of owner-occupiers. Not enough work was done on separating what was good-quality housing and what needed knocking down.”


Planning approval awarded for university’s new £60 million project


A flagship project in The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Masterplan has been given planning approval today at a Preston City Council hearing.

Designed by Hawkins Brown following an international RIBA competition, the proposed Student Centre and a modern civic square will be the focal point of the University’s £200 million Masterplan development.

The new Student Centre, which has targeted a BREEAM (environmental quality) rating of ‘excellent’ will be 7,304 sqm providing a new reception area, informal learning spaces and a student wellbeing support centre.

Designed as an iconic gateway to the City, the new square will span 8,440 sqm providing flexible and adaptable spaces for a wide range of community, public, business and student uses.

The project will also see improvements made to landscaping and the public realm in Adelphi Quarter.

Following a comprehensive consultation process, representations were made by various local groups. These were considered at the hearing and planning approval was given provided conditions were met, which will be formerly made public toward the end of January.

Michael Ahern, Chief Operating Officer at UCLan, said: “Securing planning approval for this flagship project is fantastic news and we’re extremely grateful to the many people and organisations who came forward to provide us with their views during the consultation process. Their contribution was invaluable.

“It’s another significant step toward delivering a centre of learning where people of all interests and backgrounds can feel at ease, comfortable in their physical surroundings and supported in their academic, social and business aspirations.

“This project is of significant importance. Not only will it transform our campus but will positively contribute to the ongoing regeneration of Preston.”

Work on the site could start in early 2019 with the Student Centre and square completed during the summer of 2020.


New national housing agency to boost housebuilding


A new national housing agency – Homes England – has today (11 January 2018) been launched by Housing Secretary Sajid Javid as one of the key steps towards delivering the homes the country needs.

As the successor to the Homes and Communities Agency, Homes England will drive forward change, as set out in the government’s housing white paper.

By bringing together their existing planning expertise and new land buying powers, the new agency will play a major role in securing land in areas where people want to live, support smaller and more innovative house builders into the market and resource brownfield sites from across the country to deliver homes for families.

Homes England will play a major role in fixing the housing market by helping to deliver an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Visiting Alconbury in Cambridgeshire, a former airfield which will bring 5,000 new homes, the Housing Secretary toured the 1,420 acre site which is just one of the many locations across the country receiving government funding to build more homes.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This government is determined to build the homes our country needs and help more people get on the housing ladder. Homes England will be at the heart of leading this effort.

“The development at Alconbury is a prime example of how the agency has worked to deliver thousands of new homes, as well as improve roads and create space for local businesses.

“The new agency will be key in replicating this approach right across the country and will help us build a Britain fit for the future.”

Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, said: “As Homes England, we will use our land, finance and expertise to expand the delivery of affordable new homes and connect ambitious partners to remove barriers to house building.”

Sir Ed Lister, Chairman of Homes England, added: “We will take the lead in delivering better quality homes and great places that set the bar high for others. We will also stimulate demand for Modern Methods of Construction and ultimately disrupt the housing market.”

The launch of Homes England is just one of the steps this government is taking to fix the broken housing market. Since 2010, government has delivered more than 1.1 million homes and Help to Buy has supported over 255,000 people to buy a property.

Around 310 local authorities have now published a brownfield register, revealing over 26,000 hectares of developable land on over 16,000 sites. More registers expected to be published over the next few weeks. By prioritising both the areas where people want to live and developers can build, Homes England will use the registers to progress brownfield development across the country.

The agency has already been supporting developments across the country including 10,000 new homes on a brownfield site northwest of Cambridge and a 3,200 new homes site in South Yorkshire.

Homes England will develop a new commercial approach to acquiring, preparing, managing and developing land in areas of high demand and strategic importance. By focusing on using both the land and money to support builders of all sizes to increase supply will continue to support accelerated construction on a selection of sites.

Meeting housing demand is also about supporting the SME sector and over £750 million of the £1 billion short term fund has been committed to SMEs, custom builders and developers using modern methods of construction which will result in over 25,500 homes being built. Homes England will support this initiative and SME builders to grow their businesses and build more homes.


Green light as funding is secured for Hull’s £42m Humber flood scheme


Funding has been secured for a £42 million upgrade to the tidal flood defence scheme in the Humber Estuary – improving flood protection to 113,000 properties.

Led by the Environment Agency, the Humber Hull Frontages scheme will present an opportunity to review and improve a 19 kilometres stretch of tidal flood defences in the Humber Estuary to better protect homes and businesses that are at risk of flooding in Hull.

Floods Minister, Thérèse Coffey said: “This state of the art scheme is great news for homeowners and businesses along the Humber Estuary, especially for the city of Hull, as we both upgrade existing defences and add new defences extending protection.

“It is a key part of our £430m flood defence investment programme for Yorkshire, better protecting thousands of homes and helping businesses to grow, thrive and create new opportunities – supporting the Government’s work on the Northern Powerhouse.”

Proposed improvements in Hull will be supported by a further 4 kilometres of new and raised tidal defences on either side of the city in the East Riding of Yorkshire, at Hessle and Paull, delivered by East Riding of Yorkshire Council in partnership with the Environment Agency.

Helen Tattersdale, project manager at the Environment Agency, said:” Hull has a long history of being flooded from the Humber Estuary. This was seen most recently in December 2013 when a tidal surge flooded more than 260 properties when the city’s defences were overtopped.

“By raising the existing defence walls and embankments, we are able to plan for the effects of climate change and bring them to the level needed to better protect the city from tidal flooding in future years.”

Contractor BMM JV – a joint venture between BAM Nuttall and Mott MacDonald – has been appointed to develop a detailed design and build plan along Hull’s 19 kilometre waterfront. This work follows the review of existing flood defences along the banks of the Humber Estuary in Hull conducted by built environment consultants at Arup.

Donald Daly, project manager for Arup said: “Coastal Flooding is one of the most serious threats facing the UK. That’s why it is so important that Hull, the country’s largest at-risk urban area outside of London, has received government approval for additional tidal flood defences.

“Using a range of technologies to collect and make sense of vast amounts of data, we’ve developed plans that will improve defences to account for anticipated changing weather patterns and sea level rises over the next 100 years.”

BAM Nuttall Mott MacDonald Joint Venture is looking forward to delivering the flood alleviation project as part of its Water and Environmental Management Framework. Over the next few months, BMM JV and the Environment Agency will consult with landowners, businesses and local residents on key elements of their proposed designs.

Allan Rogers, BAM Nuttall National Framework Director said: “We are delighted to be involved with another significant flood alleviation scheme for the Environment Agency. It’s a scheme that will deliver outcome measures that will lessen the flood risk to business and homes. We are committed to delivering the scheme efficiently and with stakeholder issues in mind

“The Humber Hull Frontages scheme is one of a number of tidal flood alleviation projects that form part of the Humber Flood Risk Management Strategy. The Environment Agency and local partners are now in the process of developing an advanced approach to managing flooding in tidal areas by the Humber for the next 100 years.”

Subject to planning approval, work on the Humber Hull Frontages scheme will start next summer and will be complete by 2020.

It will be a long-term investment that will contribute to securing the viability of Hull and the wider Humber region, ensuring it retains its place as the eastern gateway to the UK economy.


Studio Stefano Boeri Architetti continues its design activities in favour of sustainable architecture worldwide


Following the Vertical Forest projects of Milan, Nanjing, Utrecht, Tirana, Lausanne,Paris – and after the global publication of the call-to-action video for Urban Forestry (https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/urbanforestry) comes today ’s announcement of the new Vertical Forest to be constructed in the Netherlands, in Eindhoven.

The Trudo Vertical Forest will be the first Vertical Forest adopted by a social housing project. It is therefore destined for use by low-income social groups, particularly young people with an urban lifestyle. The 19 floors of the Tower will house apartments rented out at affordable rates and graced by balconies with hundreds of trees and plants in a wide variety of species.

“The high-rise building of Eindhoven confirms that it is possible to combine the great challenges of climate change with those of housing shortages. Urban forestry is not only necessary to improve the environment of the world’s cities but also an opportunity to improve the living conditions of less fortunate city dwellers”, declares Stefano Boeri.

The Client, Sint-Trudo, has been immensely keen on the construction of this building, which will have 125 social housing units.

“The Trudo Vertical Forest sets new living standards. Each apartment will have a surface area of under 50 sq m and the exclusive benefit of 1 tree, 20 shrubs and over 4 sq m of terrace. Thanks to the use of prefabrication, the rationalization of technical solutions for the facade, and the consequent optimization of resources, this will be the first Vertical Forest prototype destined for social housing” states Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Project Director of Stefano Boeri Architetti.

The Trudo Vertical Forest Tower will be a 75-meter skyscraper whose facade will providea home to 125 trees, 5,200 shrubs and plants. It will create a green habitat in the metropolitan environment to facilitate the development of biodiversity, an authentic eco-system with over 70 different plant species able to counteract atmospheric pollution, thanks to the capacity of trees to absorb over 50 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The particular characteristic of the buildings in the Vertical Forest family is that of conceiving vegetation and living nature as actual cornerstones of the architectural projects, rather than mere ornamental elements.

For the design of the plant component of the Trudo Vertical Forest, Studio Laura Gatti, managed by agronomist Laura Gatti (who has contributed to the Vertical Forest in Milan and other urban forestry projects by Stefano Boeri Architetti) will work closely with Du Pré Groenprojecten in Helmond and the plant nursery Van den Berk in Sint-Oedenrode. Sint Trudo will handle the maintenance work.

Following Milan, Lausanne, Nanjing, Paris, Tirana, Shanghai, Utrecht and Liuzhou Forest City, it is now the turn of Eindhoven, the latest piece to be added to a great urban forestry design by Stefano Boeri Architetti.

Trudo Vertical Forest Acknowledgements


Strijp-S, Eindhoven, The Netherlands


Sint Trudo

General contractor

Stam + De Koning


Stefano Boeri Architetti

Partner: Stefano Boeri

Project Director: Francesca Cesa Bianchi

Project Leader: Paolo Russo

Team: Giulia Chiatante; Elisa Versari


Project Coordinator: Aron Bogers

Landscape consultant

Studio Laura Gatti

Façade consultant

SCE Project


Adviesbureau Tielemans

MEP Engineer

Ten Hooven

Landscape contractor



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