Beacon Planning adds to heritage expertise
Edward James has joined the Cambridge office Beacon Planning as a heritage consultant to add the planning consultancy's specialist heritage expertise.
Edward joins Beacon Planning from Built Environment Advisory and Management Services (BEAMS Ltd) - which is the commercial arm of the Hertfordshire Building Preservation Trust - where, as a conservation and historic buildings officer, he worked with a range of businesses in both the private and public sectors, as well as with local authorities.
He has a Masters degree in The Archaeology of Buildings from the University of York where he obtained his first degree in Archaeology, and he has a particular interest in British industrial history.
At Beacon Planning, Edward will be working on its wide-ranging portfolio of conservation related planning projects across the Cambridge and London offices.
Beacon Planning's recent high-profile successes in Cambridge include the green retrofit of Trinity College's Grade I Listed New Court and the redevelopment of the Nuffield Hospital on Trumpington Road – both of which were granted consent earlier this year.
Beacon Bath-ed in birthday glow & growth
Beacon celebrated its 5th Birthday this year with a weekend away in Bath for the whole team in April. In a city full to the brim with world class heritage, there was plenty to see and do over two days from the Roman Baths to Grimshaw's new thermal spa. And after a long day of sightseeing up, down and around Bath's famous Georgian streets, there was nothing better than sampling some of city's many historic pubs! A great weekend had by all and Happy Birthday Beacon!
Our 5th birthday is a major milestone for the company, marking our growth as one of the leading independent planning, urban design and heritage consultancies in the east of England. The opening of the London office last year launched us in the capital city and, as we go where our clients need our expert advice, we'd like to think we'll make a return visit to the spa city soon.
Appointment to advise on Arup Building refurbishment plans
Beacon Planning has been appointed by the University of Cambridge's Estate Management to prepare a heritage statement in support of proposals for the refurbishment of the Arup Building at the New Museums Site on Pembroke Street in Cambridge.
With many of the Arup Building's occupiers re-locating to the University's West Cambridge site on Madingley Road, large parts of the building will become available to new occupiers with different requirements in the use of the available space.
While the Arup Building does not have any statutory listing, it is noted as a competent example of twentieth century design and sits within the Cambridge Historic Core Conservation Area and in proximity to a number of listed buildings which are of significance.
Beacon Planning's remit is to consider the significance of the existing buildings, as well as the merits of the proposed refurbishment and modifications to the Arup Building in the context of its historic setting.
Beacon successfully appeals Broadland DC decision in NPPF 'test case'
Acting on behalf of a local developer client, Beacon Planning has successfully appealed Broadland District Council's decision against a mixed-use development in the village of Blofield, to the east of Norwich in what the consultancy is describing as an important test of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on the delivery of housing.
The Planning Inspectorate issued its judgment today (19 March) which overturns Broadland District Council's decision last April (2012) to refuse permission for an application for 175 new homes and 4,000 sq metres of employment space on a 10 hectare site to the north of the A47 road in the village.
As well as representing its client at the appeal's public inquiry in December 2012, Beacon Planning has had involvement with the scheme from the earliest stages of the project.
In considering the appeal, the Planning Inspectorate disagreed with Broadland District Council's reasons for refusal and concluded that the character and the scale of the mixed use residential and commercial elements were not inappropriate and were sustainable.
The key issue in the appeal, according to Beacon Planning, was the supply of housing land and, to this end, the provisions of the NPPF were fundamental to the decision.
The Inspector agreed with Beacon Planning's point that the Broadland district has a serious housing land shortfall and concluded that this provided significant support for the appeal proposals.
In this context and in respect of housing supply, the District Council's policies could not be considered up-to-date and the presumption in favour of sustainable development – a cornerstone of the NPPF – held sway.
The importance of the NPPF is something which Lee Melin, a director of Beacon Planning who led the appeal, is keen to emphasise in this judgment.
He comments: "The application was prepared and considered in a timescale which has seen fundamental changes to the planning policy landscape.
"The original application was determined less than a month after publication of the NPPF and the Inspectorate's decision follows almost a year later.
"In this timescale, the new framework policy has brought about a sea-change in the consideration of planning applications for housing development.
"The primacy of the development plan remains - but only where a local planning authority can demonstrate fulfilment of its obligation to provide for new homes.
"We feel that this appeal win has tested the voracity of the NPPF and the Government's desire not to duck the difficult decisions that need to be made if adequate housing is to be delivered.
"Together with our client, we felt we had made a rigorous case to deliver much needed housing and employment."
Planning permission granted for state-of-the-art new hospital in Cambridge
Cambridge City Planning Committee has granted planning permission to Beacon Planning client, Nuffield Health to build a small, new, state-of-the-art hospital on its Nuffield site in Trumpington Road.
There was extensive consultation within the Cambridge community before the plans were submitted and they incorporated a number of suggestions made during the consultations into the final submission. The Nuffield project team and senior management at the hospital are indebted to local residents and other interested groups for the constructive approach taken to the idea of the new hospital.
'Neighbours' willingness to meet and consider with us matters of mutual concern has been one of the most positive aspects of the months of planning,' comments Maxine Estop, the hospital's director.
Andy Thompson, director of Beacon Planning, who has been the planning consultant to the project, is also aware of the value of close collaboration:
"The speedy progression of this project through the planning system is a testament to the importance of collaboration between the applicant and its professional team and the various individuals and organisations in the local community.
"The respect and understanding each party has shown for the opinions of others has made a significant contribution in obtaining a positive outcome for Nuffield Health in this planning application.
"We have been pleased to have played our part in this successful team."
The construction of the new hospital is not perhaps challenging in itself, but the context within which it is to be built certainly is. The decision has been taken to build the new hospital alongside the current hospital with the latter remaining open as a working hospital throughout the period of construction. Only on completion of the new hospital will the old one close and be demolished, leaving just the 1990's wing as part of the new building.
Maxine Estop again: 'We realise that our planning must be scrupulous in every detail to protect patients and staff from any likely disruption from the construction process. At the same time we need to be aware that our neighbours live here and deserve the same consideration. We have a school across the road, and residents close by, who should be as protected as possible from intrusion. Great care will be taken to minimise the impact of construction as far as is realistically possible.'
Nuffield Health has committed £27 million to the building of the new hospital and the landscaping of its new surroundings. Work is likely to begin on the first phase in August 2013.
Unanimous approval for Cambridge residential scheme
One of the latest residential schemes in Cambridge to have been granted approval has seen Beacon Planning acting in advising the current owner of the site.
The approved scheme, on East Road in the city, will see a used car sales lot be replaced by eleven 2-bedroom apartments set above two retail units.
Beacon Planning was appointed by the site owner in 2010 and worked in conjunction with local architects, Freeland Rees Roberts to ensure the scheme was compliant with published planning guidance for this part of Cambridge – which is at one of the key transport approaches to the city centre.
The proposed scheme was well received last year by Cambridge City Council's Design and Conservation Panel.
While the scheme was recommended for refusal by the Council's planning officers, the application was unanimously approved by the Planning Committee at its meeting in January.
Plans for permanent base for The Woolf Institute, Cambridge
Beacon Planning has been appointed as the planning consultant on a project for the creation of a new, permanent home in Cambridge for The Woolf Institute which is to be within the Westminster College site, on the corner of Madingley Road and Northampton Street in the city.
The Woolf Institute – which is a global seat of research and study of interfaith relations between the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity – was established in 1998 and currently leases premises on Jesus Lane in Cambridge.
Beacon Planning will be working with Cambridge-based architects Bland, Brown + Cole who have been commissioned to design a brand new purpose-built facility which will include a library, seminar rooms, student accommodation, a multi-faith chapel, offices and a media/e-learning centre.
New boathouse approved for Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge
Approval has been given for plans to build a brand new boathouse with modern facilities for Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in a project which saw Beacon Planning working in support of a design by Cambridge architects Bland, Brown + Cole to the College's brief.
The new boathouse will replace the College's existing building on Ferry Path - which is within the conservation area on the banks of the River Cam - and will be built within the footprint of the old boathouse which originates from 1878.
The work involved close liaison with Cambridge City Council and residents and saw Beacon Planning understand initial concerns raised and respond to these in a detailed Design and Access and Heritage statement which accompanied the architects' plans.
The modern facilities of the new boathouse will not only meet the needs of Gonville and Caius but those of the non-college boathouse users which include town crews and those of local schools and businesses.
Speaking about the approval of the new boathouse plans, Alan Jermy, OBE, Domestic Bursar, Gonville and Caius College, said:
"The persistence and expertise of Beacon Planning were of great value in bringing this difficult application to a successful conclusion."
Work is expected to begin on site this year (2013).
* Image courtesy of © Bland Brown + Cole
Approval for Grade I Listed New Court, Trinity College
Cambridge City Council Planning Committee has resolved to grant approval for 5th Studio's green retrofit of Grade I listed New Court at Trinity College after three years of design development, research and consultation with Cambridge City Council and English Heritage officers. As well as being listed in the highest tier, New Court is located within a Grade II Registered Park and Garden and within the Historic Core Conservation Area. The project proposes to install energy saving measures that will reduce the annual carbon emissions by 88%. This sustainability package includes refurbishing the windows with double-glazed panes; applying a breathable insulation to the internal faces of the external walls; installing a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system; installing photovoltaic panels to the least significant of the roof slopes; and using a ground source heat pump with boreholes located in the courtyard.
The application has now been referred to the National Planning Casework Unit. Read full article >
Beacon's top ranking
Beacon Planning has been ranked as one of the UK's leading employers of chartered town planners and identified in the top tier of consultancies offering planning services in the eastern region.
The planning consultancy features in the latest annual Planning survey conducted by the trade journal of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
The latest survey sees Beacon Planning rise ten places above its position in the previous year, with a new ranking of 68 out of 114 consultancies identified in the category.
Widely acknowledged for its work in the heritage sector – which, in Cambridge has seen the consultancy work on projects which include the American Cemetery at Madingley and the Divinity School at St John's College – Beacon Planning's ranking as one of the leading employers of chartered town planners has been boosted by the opening of a London office last year.
In the survey's regional breakdown, Beacon Planning sees itself identified alongside property names in Cambridge such as Bidwells and Savills who, as multi-disciplinary consultancies, offer planning as part of a range of property services.
While heritage and conservation work remains at its core, last year saw Beacon Planning working on a number of projects in sectors which included education, commercial property and healthcare.
Current high profile Cambridge projects in 2013 see Beacon Planning involved with the proposals for the new Nuffield Hospital on Trumpington Road and the consultancy also has ongoing interests on several phases of the cb1 redevelopment, as well as projects for a number of the University colleges.
Andy Thompson, director, Beacon Planning, confirms that the consultancy is expecting significant growth this year too as it consolidates its established services from the Cambridge office and looks to expand its remit in newer sectors from both the Cambridge and London locations.
He says: "There's a degree of cross-fertilisation of skills and expertise given the compatibility of locations, but we're looking to our London connection as a substantial source of the growth we're anticipating in the coming year."
Study will put Cambridgeshire's mills on the map
The East of England Buildings Preservation Trust and English Heritage have come together to jointly fund a study to put Cambridgeshire's mills on the map to ensure that future generations can appreciate the important role mills have played in village life in the county down the centuries.
The £7,000 study is underway and will see experts work together with local interest groups, volunteers and villagers to undertake a comprehensive survey of Cambridgeshire's windmill and watermills, with a view to encouraging restoration or preservation of existing mills, where appropriate.
Identifying mills that are 'at risk' will be a major step towards saving these distinctive and often much-loved local buildings which give character to the county's towns and villages.
Those mills which are most vulnerable will be considered for inclusion in the Heritage at Risk Register maintained and published by English Heritage.
Although there are examples of mills across Cambridgeshire which have been restored by groups of volunteers – including the windmill at Wicken, near Ely – there are many more examples of mills considered 'at risk'.
Groups of villagers in Great Gransden and Great Chishill have been in discussions with Cambridgeshire County Council about taking on their villages' windmills which are considered 'at risk'.
In considering restoration of their villages' mills, these groups have sought advice from experts including Simon Hudson of a business called Discovering Mills – who is undertaking the new study being funded by English Heritage and the East of England Buildings Preservation Trust.
Simon Hudson believes the future of Cambridgeshire's mills lies in the hands of local people.
He says: "A century ago, there would have been a working windmill or watermill in every village and town in Cambridgeshire.
"The study I am working on and the advice it seeks to give, aims to encourage local people to get involved in looking after the county's mills so that future generations can not only appreciate the role these structures have played in the county's heritage but also benefit from a leisure or, perhaps, a business amenity in their own village."
The results of the study will be will be published next spring (2013) and available on the East of England Building Preservation Trust's website www.eebpt.org.uk. Simon Hudson plans to host talk about the findings of his study later this year.
* Image courtesy of © Simon Hudson
Hospital plans submitted to Cambridge City Council
Plans for a £27 million project which could see a brand new hospital replace the current Nuffield Hospital on Trumpington Road, Cambridge have been submitted to the city council by Beacon Planning on behalf of its client, Nuffield Health.
In preparing the submission, Beacon Planning worked with the client and the hospital's director and executive team and was involved in community consultation ahead of making the application to Cambridge City Council.
* Image courtesy of © P+HS architects