Intelligence: 22 July 2022 Uncut. In Conversation. Our Podcast

Navigating our way through these testing times and embracing our new hybrid working environment. Here we go almost live, all recorded remotely (excuse some sound issues!) with a variety of relaxed discussions with friends from across the development industry - looking to find a way for a healthy and economically successful exit of Covid-19. Together #BWUncut. Sign up to our mailing list to recieve our podcasts first!

NEW! Series Two - 

Episode 5: Building Birmingham's Future

Back in 2017, we hosted a survey and debate alongside the Birmingham Post, on the future ambitions for Birmingham to 2030. Five years on, and five years into Andy Street’s tenure as West Midlands Regional Mayor, how is the ‘capital’ of the region reflecting these ambitions and implementing change? How has the direction for the wider region changed post-pandemic? What areas of focus do we believe should now be a priority? How is the Commonwealth Games impacting the urban fabric? What should the priorities be for growth to 2050?

We brought together a range of people to discuss this topic, who are working within and delivering change across the city, while we happily came together within it to celebrate all things Barton Willmore and Stantec, at The Custard Factory in Digbeth.

Featuring: Rob Garratt, St Joseph Homes; Charles Goode, University of Birmingham; Jez Collins, Birmingham Music Archive; Daniel Griffiths, Stantec; Kathryn Ventham, Barton Willmore, now Stantec; Robin Shepherd, Barton Willmore, now Stantec (Chair)


Episode 5: Reflecting on the Planning Bill 2022

It is fair to say the new Planning Bill is a combination of Gove and successive previous Planning Ministers’ (and there have been many) attempts at implementing the Levelling-Up agenda and perhaps rescuing the ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper. From scrapping EIA, housing need, and the duty to cooperate, to implementing changes to the development plan hierarchy, a new levy to replace CIL and S106, design coding, and infrastructure delivery strategies, it sounds like a raft of changes but what do they all mean in reality? What are the intended and perhaps unintended consequences? And how, in summary, does all this change truly help to deliver the Levelling-Up agenda? We are joined by a gaggle of passionate planners to mull it over.

Featuring Iain Painting, Barton Wilmore, now Stantec;  Iain Gilbey, Pinsent Masons;  Catriona Riddell, Catriona Riddell & Associates;  Tom Martin, Quatro PR;  Mary Mescall, Barton Willmore, now Stantec


Episode 4: Examining the role of employment land in delivering the Levelling-Up Agenda

The Levelling-Up Agenda challenges many of our development sectors to consider the contribution they can make to economic growth and the search for a step change in growth and opportunity for local communities. A recent BPF report has set out the contribution the industrial and logistics sector particularly has to play but also how restricted space could impact any levelling-up ambitions. More broadly employment land and development, its allocation and even protection is an important facet for any successful economy.

On this podcast we bring together representatives from the industrial and logistics sector to talk through the value these schemes can deliver in the levelling-up context, opportunities for intensification and consider the hurdles currently faced in the delivery at each level.

Featuring: James Donagh, Barton Willmore, now Stantec (Chair); Clare Bottle, UK Warehousing Association; Gareth Osborn, DHL Supply Chain;  Matt Griffith, Business West/British Chamber of Commerce;  Gareth Prichard, Barton Willmore, now Stantec.


Episode 3: A Pint of Clarity on the role of planning: A Graduates Special

Town Planning as a profession emerged from a need to enhance health and opportunity for our growing urban populations. Enhance sanitation and living conditions and enact positive change that tackles urban inequality and provides homes for everyone. But today, our Graduate planners are wondering if Town Planners are still able to tackle this challenge effectively, in whatever role they take up?

In this podcast, two of our ambitious Graduates are bringing together representatives from across the profession to consider this question along with discussing the opportunities and hurdles to delivering social justice through urban regeneration or new development delivery. Where is/has it been done well and how could it be better supported?

Featuring Heather Claridge, Glasgow City Council;  Ryan Woolrych, Heriot-Watt University; Keir Hunter and Seth Tyler, Graduate Planners at Barton Willmore, now Stantec. Robin Shepherd, Director (Chair).


Episode 2: COP 26 - How can/should the built environment industry respond?

COP26 has sought to bring together governments from across the world to discuss and debate the global response to climate change and the tangible commitments and actions that are required. But how do the topics and decisions being made at this hugely important conference impact the built environment sector and beyond this what are we seeing as the immediate priorities for our industry in response to this humanitarian crisis? In this pod, we have sought to bring together views of both the future generations of our industry and established ESG focused professionals, to share their thoughts and discuss the responses they want to or can see happening.

We bring together Emily Hamilton, Savills Investment Management; Gavin Bridge, Spatia; Nicola Hugo and Gemma Kinnear, Samuel Ryder Academy; Barry Williams, Barton Willmore; Lucy Wood, Barton Willmore (Chair).


Episode 1: The omnipresent greenbelt

Over the last few months, a couple of appeal decisions have once again reignited the debate around greenbelt development and what better way to kick off the new series of our podcast, with a hot topic and well qualified expert views from a leading legal, political developer, and planner, all diving into what at the time felt like a significant decision in St Albans earlier this year.

Despite all now feeling this resolution to permit, greenbelt release remains the exception as opposed to the rule, it has unquestionably once again heightened the debate. Frustrations remain strong around greenbelt’s original intentions as a policy instrument, versus the perception it now has in the general public’s minds, and therefore those of the politicians, as sacrosanct open space/rural sites of merit, and our guests point to the quick yet lazy opportunity it represents for political manifestos, resulting in it endlessly being used by short-sighted politicians hunting a vote.

How can we change the conversation? Make even the smallest of changes? We bring together Zack Simons, Landmark ChambersPaul Campbell, Richborough Estates and Land Promoters & Developers FederationTom Martin, QuatroMark Sitch, Barton WillmoreRobin Shepherd, Barton Willmore (Chair).


Series One - 

Episode 14: How can we maximise social value in town centre regeneration?

Humans are pack animals and urban centres are a hub for interaction, so with a ‘post-COVID’ world looking uncertain, and tiered lockdowns further threatening the vibrancy of our urban centres, our response in terms of high street regeneration is becoming more and more critical.

If the fundamental requirements of our urban centres are to host and sustain these delicate ecosystems of interaction, is their inherent social value uppermost in our thoughts? If it is, where do we now see the opportunities for maximising it through every move we make, as we look to ‘Build Back Better/Greener’ and revive these spaces for the long term? How do we ensure that the delicate balance of society and its role in placemaking is installed for the benefit of our town centres? We bring together panellists Dr William Bird, Intelligent Health; Paul Hanegraaf, Milligan; Shain Shapiro, Sound Diplomacy, Planning Associate and High Streets Task Force Expert, Nicole Roe and Partner Stephen Tucker (chair) to discuss.


Episode 13: It’s a reputational thing

The Government has firmly positioned the development industry as the saviour of this potential economic crisis. But in so doing, do they, perhaps unwittingly further reinforce the negative connotations of the industry as fat cat money makers? We know that development is about so much more than simply stimulating or delivering economic opportunity, so how can we change perceptions and the conversation? How can we tackle our UK wide reputation better to ensure these are reflected in the public’s view, politics, the mass press, etc? We bring together Daisy Powell-Chandler, The Reputation Coach; Tony Cosgrove, Masgroves; Matt Bell, Grosvenor; and our very own Business Development Director, Jenni Montgomery and Partner, Robin Shepherd (chair) to discuss.


Episode 12: Is Viability and Transparency possible in a new, single development tax?

In this, our third and final pod focusing on the Planning White Paper’s proposals, we tackle the brain-challenging issue of viability. A replacement to both CIL and S106 is trailed and scant detail provided, but our panellists had strong views on the proposals and need for a rethink. Risk and profitability, transparency and certainty, mitigation and taxation must all be considered, never mind the fact that these proposals seem to fly in the face of the Governments core ambitions for enhanced quality and encouragement of SME’s into the sector. Featuring Tom Hegan, Turner Morum; Colette McCormack, Winckworth Sherwood; Peter Jordan, Persimmon Homes and our Senior Partner, Iain Painting.


Episode 11: Reforming Scottish Planning – You don’t bring me flowers

With consultation on Scottish Planning Reform (SPR) ending this week, we brought together voices from across the facets of Scottish property industry, not to analyse the reform proposals themselves, but consider the wider challenges they signal for the industry and specifically relations between the public and private sector. Is the ‘presumption’ removal proposal a signal of wider challenges for the sector? How can we de-politicise the process? Why not a nationally set housing target or bolder NPF conversations and ambitions from Government? Influencers and practitioners Irene Beautyman, RTPI ConveynorCraig Whelton, Burges Salmon and Gary Smith, Hallam Land join Stephen Tucker (compare) and Colin Lavety from our Scotland team to debate the hot topic that is the Scottish planning system. 



Episode 10: What changes are needed to support the wider & more successful application of Design Codes?

The Planning White Paper sets out ambitions for enhanced quality in the development industry, and the ambition that high-quality design can persuade people development is a good thing. The main tool proposed for achieving this is Design Coding, utilised on a more systematic level. But what have we learnt from Design Coding to date to inform this broadening of application? We brought together a researcher - Hannah Hickman, UWE Bristol; master developer - Nigel Reids, Lands Improvement Holdings, urban design officer in a local authority - Mark Harris, South Hams District Council and masterplanner - our very own Vaughn Anderson, to debate the what can and should not be within a code, potential challenges today and the process needed for creation. 



Episode 9: Can we really meet the housing need challenge?

Housing and unmet need has once again hit the headlines and lit political touch papers this month, following the government’s White Paper (Planning for the Future) proposals for centrally established housing targets. For our new term, we convened a statistician - Dan Usher, Barton Willmore, political and planning lobbyists - Catriona Riddell, Catriona Riddell Associates and Jonathan Werran, Localis, a legal wrangler - Zack Simons, Landmark Chambers and importantly a practitioner Iain Painting, Barton Willmore, to discuss the challenge and realistic routes for addressing it on this podcast. We discussed the need and challenge of this need number, it’s central role in this new system, and the politics that influence it. Listen in to hear our conclusions on the role this number plays and how it may be better utilised as a stick and carrot in planning and importantly economic recovery.


Episode 8: DCO’s for new settlements – What do you think?

Following the publication of our recent report exploring the future of DCO's with Womble Bond Dickinson, Copper Consulting and Hannah Hickman of UWE, this podcast drives a lively debate. Joined by Andrew Taylor of Countryside Properties, Simon Ricketts of Town Legal, Ben Copithorne of Camargue, as well as authors Hannah and Ben Lewis our Infrastructure and Energy Director, the discussion focuses on what the problem is that we’re trying to fix and how we might balance an approach which sets top down need driving whilst still enabling bottom up localism. There's a huge amount of much encouraged butting in on this one as its such a hot and divided topic. Listen in and see where you land - could DCO's be used for new settlements?



Episode 7: Grey Deserts or Green Infrastructure investment?

The inequalities in greenspace access for our urban dwellers has been felt most acutely by many of the UK’s most deprived urban neighbourhoods during lockdown, and a recent National Trust report supported by Greenkeeper has identified some 295 ‘grey deserts’ in particular need of a rethink. But how do we address this systemic under-provision for the future?

We brought together Ellie Robinson, lead for the National Trust report and, following her recent collaborations with Public Health England, Dr Dannielle Sinnett a green infrastructure academic at UWE, with the Greenkeeper team (Robin Smale and John Haxworth) to discuss this challenge and the response required by government and industry alike. A call for 1% of the gross infrastructure capital investment budget seems a small ask given the £220bn return on public health it would deliver doesn’t it?  



Episode 6: Rebooting the Politics of Planning

It has been a hot week for Government announcements on planning, or at least trailing their latest potential proposals! But what sort of reboot does the politics of planning really need?  Is it system or operator failure and what role does partisan and short-term politics play? 

For this latest edition, we were delighted to welcome back Tom Martin of Quatro, along with Andrew Carter from Centre for Cities and Catriona Riddell of the TCPA, hot on the heels of the latters’ latest publications on this very challenge. Leadership to protect local decision-making, zonal planning, positive plan-making processes, the economics of homeownership and the excess of local governance were all debated and some interesting thoughts put forward in advance of the impending Planning Whitepaper reforms! Well worth a listen to challenge your thinking on what Planning needs right now!



Episode 5: Town Centres: What are the best means of resuscitation?

With ‘non-essential’ shops set to open this week and the 2-metre distancing requirements under review, our town centres are poised for return, but will they be able to offer a resilient response to the changing retail habits COVID-19 has accelerated in recent months? Are they on the operating table or merely in need of some therapeutic care?

Our guests: Ghislaine Halpenny, British Property Federation, Kevin Cowin, Mace, Matthew Shefras, Forty Group join our very own Planning Associate and High Streets Task Force Expert Nicole Roe, and Senior Partner Iain Painting.

The discussion could have gone on well beyond our usual 30 minutes, but key thoughts included:

  • Fragmented ownership and the collaboration/LPA ambition required to overcome this;
  • Flexibility and creativity of taxation and affordable retail models;
  • The numerous existing planning structures we have to get better at applying; and
  • Fundamentally a move away from quantitative to qualitative thinking

Listen in to hear more on how these practitioners view their adoption!



Episode 4: How does design of our homes, streets and places need to evolve?

COVID-19 has been a fast and effective stick for change, and the locus and radius of our lives has rapidly changed and this has had a huge impact on the regard we have for our homes. In this session, we were joined by designers, a social motivator and modal shift champion, to discuss how our homes specifically will change in response to this.

Our guests; Noha Nasser, Mela Social Enterprise, Adam Tranter, Fusion Media and Cycling Mayor of Coventry, Martin Prince-Parrott, Blackswan Properties joined our Urban Design Director, Luke Hillson and Partner, Iain Painting. Thoughts ranged from: 

  • The fundamentals of how we invest in homes and ‘land’, 
  • Transforming driveways and streets themselves into pocket parks, 
  • The opportunities for communal/common space provision, 
  • The challenge of open plan within our homes,
  • The granularity and variety of ‘need’ becoming even more apparent across generations.

Listen in for more detail on each of these and more, and their rallying and very motivating call for us to grab the opportunities that lie ahead!



Episode 3: 'Urban interventions to support mental wellbeing'

During Mental Health Awareness week, this episode brought together a researcher (Josh Artus, The Centric Lab), educator (Mark Southgate, MOBIE), lawyer (Helen Mitchison, Trower Hamlins), urban designer (Urban Design Director, Barry Williams, our very own) and ecologist (Ben Kite, Ecological Planning & Research) to discuss what interventions they would prioritise to tackle the significant and growing challenge of mental health in urban environments. There is no doubt that this crisis has exposed societal inequalities across the UK, as well as major aspects of urban life that, when mobility is removed, become serious threats the mental wellbeing for people of all ages. 

The priorities of our panelists were wide reaching but intrinsically linked including:

  • The careful consideration of space – internal and external 
  • The barrier of land use zoning and how it has stolen our ability to wander 
  • A need for the co-existence of nature and urbanity
  • The hugely significant impact of air pollution as a human stressor
  • The function of our streets and the opportunity this presents for adoption of place

Have a listen to hear more on all these themes and why  ‘health coding before design coding’ needs to be the new normal, for all planning, design and legislative change.



Episode 2: 'If you were Secretary of State tomorrow...?' 

Three willing guests – Tom Martin, Quatro PR, Ghislaine Halpenny, BPF and Sam Stafford Barratt David Wilson - joined us for this, the second in our series of Barton Willmore Uncut. In Conversation. 

Held the day after the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick’s COVID-19 Planning Update announcements, there was no better time to put ourselves in his shoes and mull over the moves made and what we might add to the cache of measures, on a more systemic, long term basis. 

It’s safe to say enthusiasm for the role varied hugely across the group, but suggestions were both bold and practical including:

  • Better use of the powers already held
  • Greater measures to support commercial property 
  • Abolition of the green belt
  • Enhanced funding to Local Government
  • A greater, more prominent role for Homes England than seen to date

There was even a call for attitudinal change towards the colouring pencils of planning….a sentiment many of our planners will no doubt get on board with! 



Episode 1: 'The depth and significance of Covid-19 on the housing market' 

Partners Iain Painting and Robin Shepherd are joined by Chris Cobbold of Wessex Economics, previously the head of DTZ’s residential team and an MHCLG expert advisor, to discuss our and wider recent proclamations about the depth and significance of this crisis on the housing market (see original thinking here). 

Highlights from the podcast include:

  • Chris’s views on the depth of this economic downturn 
  • Debate on the source of a 300k housing completions target 
  • The role for Homes England and Local Authorities in de-risking supply
  • The role for government in supporting demand
  • Infrastructure or housebuilding – Does the latter provide a better government investment opportunity?



Lets find a way together...If you're interested in sharing your views please do get involved on recording a Podcast with us on a particular solution which you think could aid swift recovery from Covid-19 please do get in touch with Jenni Montgomery or post your thinking on our LinkedIn posts .



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