2023 – the year in review

2023 Year in Review

As 2023 draws to a close, Director Richard Pigott picks out some of his own highlights from the year at Planning & Design and further afield.

Our Successes

Here at PDP, we have had some notable successes in 2023 across a wide variety of projects including major housing applications, large scale renewable energy projects, major health projects and education sector developments. In addition, we have continued to build on our long-standing specialisms in rural development and heritage related work. This included working as Architects, alongside Bagshaws LLP, to secure planning permission for the conversion and extension of a disused stone barn in Derbyshire, and securing planning permission for the Royal Exchange Buildings refurbishment in Derby city centre on behalf of Clowes Developments.

It has also been a successful year in our Sheffield office, based at the iconic Park Hill, which has continued to grow with new recruits and an increased workload, maintaining our specialisms in rural and heritage projects. We have had positive results in a range of development types including: the approval of a complicated site for a replacement dwelling in a dense woodland set within the conservation area and green belt where we worked with Thread Architects to secure consent; appeal success for a two-storey extension of a curtilage listed coach house in the suburbs of Sheffield working with DKMY Architects; and the commercial expansion of an existing rural manufacturing centre to accommodate recent, significant growth. We continue to work on barn conversions across the country and our success at appeal remains high. Several of our previous appeal successes are now on site and making good progress towards completion. It is always exciting to see projects come to life.

Our Team

It has become a tradition to have a company study day out to an interesting UK city but in 2023 we went one step further with a 2-day trip to Milan and Pisa. Suffice to say, all did not go quite to plan with thunderstorms and rail strikes (in Italy not the UK) complicating our travel arrangements but a good time was had by all and we are already planning our next trip for September 2024 (destination TBC).

Team PDP – Italy 2023

On the staffing front, we have welcomed David Symons to the team as a Senior Architect in July 2023. The bulk of David’s work to date is in residential design where he has over 5 years of experience working across RIBA stages 1-6 in the East Midlands on projects ranging from domestic extensions to bespoke new build dwellings and housing development sites of up to 75 homes. He has already proven a valuable addition to the team.

Tina Humphreys, who has been with us since 2018, completed her Part 3 exams to qualify as an architect in November. Tina took an unconventional route into architecture and has had her fair share of challenges to contend with (not least studying with a young child) but her persistence has paid off. Congratulations Tina! Also in the architectural team, we are saying goodbye to Siegfried Doering who is retiring at Christmas. Siegfried has been a calm, steadying influence in his 4 years with us and we wish him a happy retirement.

In the planning team, Andrew Stock has taken to the private sector like the proverbial duck to water in his 2 years with us and is now part of the senior leadership team as an Associate Director. We are also developing our own talent, as evidenced by the fact that our Graduate Planners Shaun, Emily and Megan were all promoted to Planners during the year and in September we welcomed our first ever Planning Apprentice in Samuel Young. Sam is studying a RTPI accredited degree on a part time basis at Sheffield Hallam University whilst learning on the job with us 4 days per week.

Local news in 2023

It has been another progressive year for Derby in 2023 with some significant developments starting, finishing or emerging in the pipeline. The pick of the completed developments is probably The Condor building at Becketwell, and within a stones throw of this the 3,500 seater Performance Venue is rapidly taking shape and due to open in just over 12 months time. Wavensmere have emerged as the pre-eminent developer in the city, with work nearing completion on their Nightingale Quarter scheme and exciting projects in the pipeline at Friar Gate goods yard and Cathedral One. For more on this visit an article by our Marketing Manager, Gary Stringer here.

Artists Impression: Cathedral One

Perhaps the most exciting news from my perspective though is the progress that Down to Earth are making in acting as a catalyst to lift the city’s aspiration towards a greener and bluer future in something which is being termed “nature-led regeneration”. Their first project space, Electric Daisy, is an award winning new public garden and events venue in the city centre and no less than Tim Smit, Executive vice chairman and co-founder of the Eden project has described Down to Earth Derby as “my favourite project in the whole wide world.” I had the pleasure of attending a Talking Business session in November and all attendees were in agreement that the blue-ing and green-ing of Derby City centre is a top priority in order to make the city a more vibrant place to live, work and visit.

The National picture

There were some depressing (if somewhat predictable) delays to the government’s climate change and biodiversity net gain agendas. In the world of planning, the government continued to tinker with the permitted development rights, and, at the time of going to press, were about to publish a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It is expected that the NPPF will do away with mandatory housing targets and Green Belt reviews but how will that help the Government reach its 300,000 target next year? There is talk of tough action on councils without a local plan but what are the actual sanctions? Will there still be a 5 year supply test if housing targets are only advisory. And will the 5 year requirement be suspended for LPA’s with a new plan? You can tell a general election is on the horizon!

I will end on a positive note though, at least if you are a fan of Everton Football Club like me. Not only is the club on an uncharacteristically good run of form but it is currently building an architecturally stunning new stadium on the banks of the River Mersey. Whilst the stadium was not to the taste of all heritage bodies, the project will see the restoration of the historic wall, gate and hydraulic tower which stand close to the emerging venue, and the stadium itself will receive a brick facade at the lower end, blending with the industrial character of the area. The £500m+ project is recognised as the largest single-site private sector development in the country, contributing an estimated £1.3bn to the UK economy and creating tens of thousands of jobs. I believe the stadium will be socially and economically transformational for one of the most deprived parts of the UK and provides a fine example of heritage-led regeneration at its best.

All that remains for me to say is that we will continue to strive for ever more sustainable development and hope to see many of you over the next 12 months. I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Richard Pigott, Director, Planning & Design Practice Ltd

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