Low Carbon Planning and Housing

The draft Leicester Local Plan defines how Leicester (and the surrounding suburbs) will develop in the next 16 years. At the moment it is business as usual, and we are told that the climate will be factored into the next draft. However, the next draft will probably also be the final draft so we need to make sure that we push for the climate to be prioritised now, as part of this draft’s consultation. The consultation runs from 14th Sep to 7th Dec 2020. This is a chance to make sure the city plans for climate change. Please act now.

You can download our short briefing to help you respond. It says what is missing, and what is needed: Local Plan short briefing. Click here to find out who your councillors are if you want to send them a copy of your response, and here for a link to the draft Local Plan consultation which includes a link to the Local Plan itself. If you would like to see our rewrite of Local Plan policies as we would like them to be, you can see them here.

Our target is to get 400 personal responses ask that the plan contain specific policy requirements which will ensure the city:

  • builds housing which can cope with climate change
  • protects green spaces and plants trees
  • ensures new developments are designed to discourage car use as well as supporting walking, cycling and bus use
  • requires new developments to be deeply energy efficient and to generate solar energy.

If you’d like a quick fun summery of what’s at stake and what we want, why not listen to our Local Plan song “Dear Planners”.

Our campaign plan looks like this:

  1. Set out our basic position so you can see what we are asking for, and talk/ask questions about it – we’ve done this and you can see it here: local plan outline final.
  2. Write a set of briefings to support people to respond to the consultation – ranging from very simple short briefing for people who only have a few minutes, to a more detailed one for people who want to put some time into it. The short one is now ready and available here: Local Plan short briefing.
  3. Ask you (and everyone else we can reach) to pledge to 1/. write a consultation response and 2/. actively ask and support a specific number of friends to do the same. Please make a pledge here and ask your friends to as well.
  4. Offer online talks about the Local Plan from a Climate perspective to other groups and our own members. If you know a group who would like a talk please email us. Or you can watch a recording of a previous 40 minute talk on the same topic here. The next talk will be on Mon 28th Sep at 2pm.
  5. Create a walk people can do (from the train station to Victoria Park along New Walk) while listening to an audio track about Climate Change solutions and the Local Plan.
  6. Put together a quick survey people can do to help them think about climate related issues in the Local Plan. This is now up and running and you can do the survey here. We hope to send the results to the Local Plan consultation as part of our response.
  7. Write our own example policies (based on what other cities are doing) which the council could use in the Local Plan, and talk to the council about them. We’ve written housing, climate change and quality places, and transport policies which you can read here.
  8. Set up an online letter campaign to help people actually write and sent their Local Plan consultation responses.
  9. Come up with other ideas to spread the message wider and get people responding – please email in any ideas you have!

Below is a series of posts from Climate Action, each one focussing on one of the 12 points we think the Local Plan needs.

Point 1. At the moment, the Local Plan offers 63 sites for development, of which only 14 are brownfield (ie have been previously built on). The other 49 are green spaces and sites. We think the Plan should specifically say the greenfield sites will only be made available for development after the brownfield sites have actually been built on (not just the planning permission granted as this can then take years to reach actually building stage). This should prevent developers building on our green spaces before they have used the available brownfield sites. We’d also like the council to make more use of compulsory purchase orders to bring other brownfield sites to development, rather than jumping to greenfield development straight away.

Point 2. Exeter’s Prometheus study says that almost all homes built to todays building regulations will be overheating by 2035 – which is when this Local Plan runs to. At the moment there are some good climate policies around energy efficiency and generation in the draft but they are currently phrased in ways which mean they can be avoided or given lip service. What is needed are specific minimum standards applied to all development, and higher standards to be applied to all development on council land. For example “major development should demonstrate how the risks associated with future climate change have been planned for” would be much stronger if it were phrased as “All development will be required to meet and encouraged to exceed the following specific standards”. Also these policies have been put in a climate chapter on their own rather than incorporated into the central building design chapter which would again give them greater weight. We need to applaud the sentiment and push for stronger wording and positioning.

Point 3. At the moment the draft Plan requires housing density of 50 dwellings per hectare (dph) in the central development area (the city centre) and only 30dph everywhere else. We propose a minimum of 100dph in the city center, and at least 70dph everywhere else. This means we are looking for a density similar to the terraced housing in Highfields and Clarendon Park (which is about 90dph). The benefit of terraced housing is that it shares walls making it more energy efficient and cheaper to heat; still provides peole with private outside space (small back gardens); it tends to be cheaper than semi-detached housing making it more accessable for people on low incomes; it uses less land, conserving our green spaces, and it sprawls less, making walking and cycling more attractive rather than allocating extra space for cars. It is entirely possible to build such housing with very high levels of sound insulation, and varied sizes of homes catering for households of varying sizes. Oxford’s Local Plan calls for 70-100dph, and BedZed in London is an example of a modern housing development of 100dph with shared and private green space and working areas.

Here are some examples of attractive 70dph and above density housing – bear in mind that different people find different things attractive!

This is Maida Vale, a  very popular area in London full of flats in Victorian buildings. It is the most densly populated place in the UK, with 20,000 people living in one square mile. 200-350 dwellings per hectare!

 

 

Goldsmith Passivhaus council house development in Norwich, Norfolk. These terraced houses at a density of 83 dwellings per hectare and are designed to use 70% less energy than most homes to run, and provide cycle access, privacy, private gardens and public space. The article here goes into more detail. Another more human based one here. And this one shows the inside of the homes.

 

Alt-Erlaa: massive and very popular social housing in Vienna, Austria. We are not proposing massively high rise buildings like this for Leicester, but the stepping on the lower floors allows personal outside space, and the flats contain shared facilities such as swimming pools. Leicester could build low stepped flats using some of these ideas.

And some other examples:

Our group wants and is working to encourage Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council to:

  • set annual, measurable carbon reduction goals for Leicester and Leicestershire to achieve net zero greenhouse emissions by 2030.
  • identify both a councillor at cabinet level and a lead officer as Climate Champions who are required to publish annual independent and audited report to the public on progress in meeting climate change targets.
  • The City and County Councils and Leicester & Leicestershire Economic Partnership to review their Local Plans, Strategic Growth Plan and all other future strategic plans in the light of their climate emergency declarations and national carbon reduction targets.
  • Ensure all new buildings in Leicester to be built to gold standard energy efficiency levels and to generate renewable energy.
  • Get all the council housing in the city retrofitted to reduce carbon emissions, fuel poverty and overheating as heatwaves happen more often – to begin with this means externally insulating all solid wall homes.
  • Get support for homeowners to insulate their homes, and push landlords to increase the energy efficiency of their properties.We have an ambition to work for these things in the county as well, but are starting with the city because this where the most homes are concentrated and where the majority of us live. It would be great to have more active people in this group, so do get in touch via the get involved page if you are interested.We know councils do currently have the power to require all new building developments to have energy efficiency standards above national building regulations. The document we have put together for our council to show them that they have this power is Evidence that LCC could adopt 19% plus policy