In this article, Graham Stephens, Director for Town Planning, Masterplanning and Urban Design, picks out the team’s highlights from 2015, including the key projects and team expansion, and looks ahead to the coming year.
As we start 2016, it’s a good time to reflect on what we achieved in 2015 and how our Town Planning team moves forward this year. 2015 was a rather monumental year for us and in December we were well placed to submit three entries to the 2016 Royal Town Planning Institute Awards for Planning Excellence.
We are delighted to announce that two of those entries were successful and we have been shortlisted for two awards, the ‘Planning Consultancy of the Year‘, and ‘Excellence in Planning to Create Economically Successful Places‘ for Swansea SA1 Waterfront Innovation Quarter; a fantastic result for the team!
Aside the awards, the breadth and depth of our engagement in a number of commissions throughout the last couple of years has moved the team in a different and constructive direction. So, what have been our key highlights?
Royal Holloway University of London
Well, it isn’t every year that planning permission is secured for a net increase of 55,000m2 of academic floor area and an additional 71,000m2 of student accommodation (c.2,650 beds) on a site predominantly in the Green Belt and in the grounds of a Grade 1 Listed Building.
Our success at Royal Holloway University of London was down in large part to integrated Town Planning, Masterplanning and Stakeholder engagement strategies devised and executed by our team. An EIA project with a large multi-disciplinary team, we secured a 20 year development framework in the form of an outline planning permission.
The permission has already proved helpful in that Andrew Renshaw (Senior Associate in Bristol) has subsequently secured consent for a c10,000m2 new Library designed by Associated Architects located opposite the Founders Building (described as the finest Victorian Education Building in the country) and the first 621 student study bedrooms designed by our student accommodation team. Permissions have also been secured, or are being prepared for a multi-sports pitch complex, new Science Building, Estates Office relocation and car parking revisions.
Royal Holloway University of London masterplan
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Perhaps the project with the greatest potential overall benefit, highlighted in the fact it has been shortlisted for an RTPI award, is that promoted by University of Wales Trinity Saint David, focused on the transformation of the former Swansea Docks into the SA1 Waterfront Innovation Quarter.
The commission has been a unique challenge for the University. Their operational requirements represent only c20% of the floor area capacity of the c.25acres of land they acquired from the Welsh Government, resulting in difficult decisions around the distribution of uses across the site.
The spatial framework which has been created by Stride Treglown meets the University’s ambition for the area, not just in the context of locating its own activities within the site, but also presenting attractive waterfront sites to the investment market. The process, not just the master plan or planning permission (resolution) outcomes, has encouraged collaboration with commercial, enterprise, residential, and creative industry partners.
Collaboration is at the heart of the SA1 project and the reason why we consider our planning-led master planning process, and the University’s development strategy, should be recognised as the engine for economic change in the Swansea Bay City Region.
The complex variation of condition and obligation schedules were developed by Jonathan Pritchard (Associate, Cardiff), with the Environmental Statement Addendum collated by myself. Paul Seaver (Senior Associate, Bristol), Pierre Wassenaar (Regional Director, Cardiff) and Jason Butler (Urban Design assistant) on the master planning side delivered a clear, robust and viable development framework and Design Code, with architectural instructions already secured to deliver the phase 1 academic buildings.
University of Wales Trinity Saint David Peninsula CGI
Hampshire Critical Treatment Hospital
The year also saw the planning team promote new medical delivery strategies for the NHS. Appointed by the Hampshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the planning team coordinated a multi-disciplinary consultant team and provided town planning and EIA Co-ordination services to deliver and secure a hybrid planning application for a c.34,000m2 Critical Treatment Hospital (CTH) and 4,000m2 Cancer Treatment Centre (CTC) on a green field site just outside Basingstoke.
Mike Harris (Associate, Bristol) with support from myself, led an integrated planning application and public consultation and stakeholder engagement strategy which required close, multi-disciplinary working across an extensive design and technical team, including concurrent architectural team involvement both within, and external to, the practice (Hassell: site master plan and CTH; BDP (CTC)).
Hampshire Critical Treatment Hospital (courtesy of Hassell/Stride Treglown)
Priority School Building Programme
Education continued to offer opportunities for the Town Planning team. The Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), funded under the Private Finance Initiative (PF2), is a centrally managed programme set up to address those schools most in need of urgent repair. The North West England Batch contained a concurrent mix of 12 primary and secondary schools that will provide new, purpose-built buildings for the benefit of approximately 8,150 pupils as well as 124 nursery places.
Our instruction related to securing permission for six schools within the batch, while offering a comprehensive planning policy analysis for the six residual school projects. Each new school will be provided within existing school site boundaries and which will remain operational during construction of the new accommodation.
Working with a disparate and multi-disciplinary technical team, Tom Lambshead (Associate, London) orchestrated the simultaneous preparation of the six applications, five of which were submitted on the same day: the last within the following week. All six planning applications gained approval by the prescribed target date, enabling funding to be released to progress each project in a timely fashion. Tom Mills (Planning Consultant, Bristol) and Richard Anderson (Associate, London) were also engaged to secure permission for schools projects around the country.
Paignton and Collaton St Mary Masterplan
The Planning team do not only get involved in planning applications. Plan making is equally important and 2015 saw the adoption, as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), of our Paignton Town Centre Masterplan, prepared for Torbay Council through the SW Consultants Framework with Gleeds UK.
Collaton St Mary masterplan
Looking Ahead to 2016
With a bolstering of the team in Senior Planning Consultant Coral Ducroq (from Merthyr Tydfil Council) in the year, the experience and expertise our clients are able to draw upon is as strong, if not stronger, than ever before.
Boosted by our RTPI National Award in 2013 for our involvement in the Heartlands Project, we felt that not only our Trinity and Torbay Masterplan commissions deserved RTPI Project Award entries (for the categories of “Creating Economically Sustainable Place” and “Plan Making Practice” respectively), but that the variety of work, successful outcomes and enthusiasm within the team deserved recognition. We therefore were delighted to submit an entry for the National Planning Consultancy of the Year.
As I said, winning isn’t everything. The mere fact that we have a strong story to tell and feel able to promote the team on a national field and hold our heads high is a positive end to the year. With only 9 Planners, we are a relatively small team, but I hope time will show that we are entering a new chapter at Stride Treglown and that we can perform well against the national planning consultant competition.