Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Town centre reviews

The UK's town centres are currently receiving much needed attention from central government regarding the major challenges currently being faced.

The external advisory group to the Scottish government's National Review of Town Centres project has this month published it's findings, while the UK Government have advised that they will consult “soon” on proposals to relax planning regulations to allow conversion of certain retail spaces into residential use in England.

The announcement from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was also confirmed in a report reviewing progress since publication of the Portas review of the future of the high street.  Mr Pickles has stated that the "consultation proposes to transform dormant out-of-date offices, empty shops and boarded up buildings into new homes. Bringing back to life our town centres".

The Scottish National Review of Town Centres is an independent report which details key recommendations for re-energising Scotland’s town centres.  Proposals to help breathe new life into town centres include:

• A ‘town centre first’ principle whereby public bodies will consider how they can support town centres before considering development elsewhere.
• Working with housing providers to bring empty town centre properties back into use as affordable housing.
• A town centre focus to review current business rates incentivisation schemes.
• A recommendation that public bodies should consider the impact of proposals to relocate services out of town centres.
• Broadening the appeal of town centres with a mix of leisure, public facilities and homes.

Launch of domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme confirmed with Tariffs announcement.

After a long wait the government has finally committed to long term support for renewable heat installations in homes, announcing the tariff levels for the domestic version of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme that will take over from the current voucher system when it ends in March 2014.

There had been doubts within the renewables sector that the much-vaunted scheme, claimed as a world first, might never happen. However the Department of Energy and Climate Change has confirmed that payments will be paid to qualifying householders and landlords for seven years.

DECC has set tariff levels at 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps; 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers; 18.8p/kWh for ground source heat pumps and at least 19.2 p/kWh for solar thermal.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Scottish Government - 'Creating Places'

"Creating Places", Scotland's new Architecture and Place policy statement, has been launched.  The commitment in the document is one of a series of pro-design pledges with the Scottish Government having promised to put design and placemaking at the heart of revised planning policy which is due to be published by the end of the year.  
The document contains an action plan that sets out the work that is to be taken forward to achieve positive change.  In association, a new Creating Places website has been set up which is intended to act as a resource for everyone with an interest in the built and natural environment.

Draft Scottish Planning Policy & National Planning Framework 3 public consultation in Galashiels

A further public consultation event supporting the consultations on the National Planning Framework 3: Main Issues Report and draft Scottish Planning Policy is being held in Galashiels, Scottish Borders, on July 4th.

From 1 - 5 pm members of the NPF3 and SPP teams will be available at the Tesco store in Galashiels to answer questions on both documents.  The 12-week public consultation period is due to end on Tuesday July 23 2013.

The consultation questionnaires are available here and here and more information is available on the Scottish Government website.