Archive for September, 2011

With less than three weeks to go until the consultation period ends on the draft changes to the NPPF the debate is heating up. The major player for the opposition seems to be the National Trust, digging its heels in on matters concerning “sustainable development” and “greenbelt” — here we take a look at the latest developments in this ongoing conflict of interests with links to articles which state the facts and have generated much interest here in the Prism offices.

You may have seen in our newsletter that last Thursday (22.9.11) Planning minister Greg Clark faced the National Trust’s firing squad and stated his intent to listen to their concerns and take action. He also reassured those in attendance that he is determined to go ahead with the proposed changes but does not intend them to change the purpose of the planning system. You can read the article from the Guardian on this here.

You could be forgiven for being confused as to why the National Trust, owner of castles and similar rural heritage sites, is such a formidable enemy to make. Well let’s not forget their immense impact in the forestry debate which saw the government backtrack on policy in the face of outcry. This piece from the Economist explains why Mr Cameron might do well to get the charity on-side for this one, and why he might already be taking the steps by calling for dialogue.

Not only have the National Trust created a public backlash— inviting those opposing the plans to contact MPs-and lobbied party conferences, but now they have a list of demands rather resembling a list of ten planning commandments. You can see their demands here.

What’s next? Well there is sure to be a torrent of comment and debate around the demands, such as the comments here from Liz Peace stating that she believes the National Trust may have misread the NPPF. There will also be mounting support for the charity’s campaign with new petitions to sign appearing ever day and spreading like wildfire via Twitter and other powerful social media platforms. It’s certainly one to watch and an issue which will continue to dominate the planning world until the consultation closes on October 17th and we all wait with baited breath.

The team here at Prism have successfully secured planning permission for a new development of sustainable retirement care at Middleton Hall, County Durham.

This decision came yesterday and paves the way for an innovative 26 bedroom Dementia care unit and 35, two bedroom independent living bungalows to be built on the existing site. Not only are the new facilities believed to be the first of their kind, the 35 independent living bungalows will be built to Code Level 6 of The Code for Sustainable Homes. This means they’ve reached the ultimate goal of being carbon neutral!

The Dementia Care Facility will comprise of offices, a therapy room, activity kitchen, shop, library, bakery and central café. This will be linked to the residential wings via a sheltered Winter garden with a glass roof, so that the residents can enjoy the outdoors in all seasons. The caretakers lodge will be replaced and modernised and the main Hall will gain a new entrance with the entire development being aesthetically in keeping with the original Georgian manor house.

We were delighted to get this decision and very happy to work with Middleton Hall, who have an excellent record for retirement care in the North East. The new sustainable Dementia care unit is a vital addition to the existing facilities considering the Department of Health’s warning back in 2006, that Dementia figures are set to increase by a quarter of a million between 2008 and 2025.

With sustainability a key focus in all future development, our planning team worked closely with the Architects to reach the Holy Grail that is the carbon neutral target. All aspects of the new care facility will utilise solar power and recycled ‘grey’ water for appliances such as washing machines. Residents will be encouraged to monitor energy usage and recycle at all opportunities and triple glazing will ensure energy is not wasted through loss of heat. During the construction process local materials will be sourced and the construction teams will reduce their use of landfill sites and waste.

To get this decision means a great boost for sustainable developments and proves that you can achieve the ultimate standard in energy efficiency and create carbon neutral homes. It also means 60 new jobs will be brought to the care industry in the North East, 30 Full Time and 30 Part Time, giving the economy a boost.

All round a pretty good day in the Prism office!