Sorry haven’t posted here in a couple of weeks busy on a new project outside England which will take most of my time for the next two years.
What I am up to at the moment puts things in perspective. Am leading on a plan for a city of around 900,000 which ones knows precisely its population (no census,cancelled at last minute) – or even its rate of population and economic growth precisely – estimate ranges from 4%-9% annum. So by the plan end point of 2040 you could be dealing with anywhere between 3.5 million or (unrealistically) 12 million population. Rather puts the HBF 30+ page letters arguing housing need underestimated by 350 in perspective. Am thinking rather than an end number you plan for doubling – and doubling again – and adjust the end date and rate of infrastructure according to variations in growth. Interesting also how you estimate small base year population in absence of a census (which you have to do for traffic modelling) in absence of a census – a problem England will soon face, requires exotic statistical methods. Also interesting is the volatility – wider metropolitan region housing market area suggests that new build vacancy levels are falling below 8% and that will see a ‘correction’ i.e. crash within 1`-2 years. Leads me to think whether you can use this as a metric in order to freeze consents on existing zoned land or automatically speed release of land when vacancy falls below or above certain metrics. Im getting my economics consultant to look at this.
The UK way is not set in urban planning stone. Planning can never be precise to within a few hundred units over 15+ years. What matters is the direction of travel and ability to adjust.
The Duty to Cooperate requires authorities to work effectively on strategic planning matters that cross their administrative boundaries. The Duty to Cooperate is not a duty to agree and local planning authorities are not obliged to accept the unmet needs of other planning authorities if they have robust evidence that this would be inconsistent with the policies set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, for example polices on Green Belt or other environmental constraints.
Nice to see the my line highlighted in bold which seems to have become the de facto position used in PINS training and several inspectors reports,and now become de-jure.
But the second – well haven’t the courts pronounced on this on several occasions most notably the recent Hunston St Albans case, that Green Belt is not and never has been an environmental constraint but is rather a policy constraint as the environmental condition in land is not material to its designation. The position that a number of LPAs have put forward that no strategic or otherwise green belt review is necessary because to do so is contrary to the NPPF ha always been rejected by inspectors post NPPF as in come cases housing need can be an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and plans need to make a policy choice in line with the NPPF about whether its current boundaries meet the NPPF tests including its green belt purposes. In light of the Hunston case sure you are aware Masarati Lawyer Peter village’s has intervened in Leeds where the plan/inspectors decision is threatened with JR by the HBF unless they adopt an extreme uber Sedgefield approach and release all green belt now to meet the backlog irrespective of phasing.
LPA may size on the last sentence and argue they no longer need to carry out strategic Green Belt reviews and resist all attempts at a ‘duty to expand’. But it will all end in tears in the courts as the last sentence is grammatically ambiguous as to what its subject it. Is the subject the class of NPPF constraints policy constraints AND environmental constraints, or the class of all environmental constraints INCLUDING Green Belt. Because it is referring to the NPPF and implying it is unchanged both interpretations are logically possible. It is to avoid such ambiguity that have commas; at this point the Panda eats shoots and leaves. For lack of a comma, or perhaps a deliberately misplaced comma (after Green Belt) to prevent strategic Green Belt reviews –if only till after the next election, Nick Boles has subsidised Peter Village at taxpayer expense with another Maserati. A few weeks down the road a clarification by the SOS will be needed it affects ongoing JRs and examinations.
Perhaps the previously incompetent DCLG media operation has finally learned how to spin the Daily Telegraph, with Zahawis help, especially now they have lost their excellent editor.
Developers are to be given cash incentives to encourage them to build more homes in towns and cities instead of the countryside.
Developers of brownfield sites will no longer have to pay tens of thousands of pounds of fees under the Community Infrastructure Levy, under changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.
Companies which agree to build new homes on brownfield land will also not have to have to provide so many council homes in new housing schemes.
The changes come amid concerns that the NPPF has been used by builders to develop greenfield sites and ignore brownfield areas in urban communities because they are more profitable.
The reforms are being published today in new “planning practice guidance”. which has been cut down from 7,000 pages to as few as 1,000.
Requirements described as “politically painful” forcing councils to give full details of where new homes will be built over 15 years will also be relaxed.
Nick Boles, the planning minister, will set out the details in the House of Commons on Thursday. He said the changes showed the Government was acting in areas where the NPPF was not working as it should.
He told The Telegraph: “The NPPF has been in force for two years. We are making additions to planning guidance in some area where it is not working exactly as we intended.
“We want to use every inch of previously developed land to meet the housing need.”
The reforms were welcomed by MPs and campaigners who have been critical of the NPPF in recent months.
Simon Jenkins, the chairman of the National Trust, said: “We welcome it. There are huge swathes of urban England aching for redevelopment.”
Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative MP and a member of the Number 10 policy unit, said the changes “show that the Government is listening and is determined to make localism work”.
He said: “It is great news that the planning minister has listened to the calls to clarify the NPPF and is amending planning guidance to close many of the loopholes being exploited by rapacious developers.
“The strengthened focus on greenbelt protection, clarifications around brownfield first and the new focus on ensuring infrastructure is viable and delivered in time to make a difference will be welcomed by groups across the country.”
Nick Herbert MP, a former Conservative Coalition minister, added: “These are welcome changes which show that Ministers have listened to local concerns about planning reforms.
“MPs have argued strongly about the problem of inadequate infrastructure to support development, and as recent flooding shows, these issues cannot be ignored.
“A focus on redeveloping brownfield sites, a more sensible approach on the ‘duty to co-operate’ between councils, and giving proper weight to emerging local plans so that they’re not undermined by speculative development should all help to achieve a better balance between providing housing and protecting the countryside.”
Neil Sinden, spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Any help that can unlock difficult to develop brownfield sites are very welcome. But we will be looking at the detail.”
So is this a return to brownfield first and changes to the NPPF?
No the NPPF has not changed and no return to BF first – rather the finalised guidance signals some changes in accompanying delivery – such as CIl and issues regarding viability – which presage FURTHER neoliberalisation and degulation – such as letting developers of the hoook for CIL and affordable housing in some cases on BF sites.
No time to do a detailed asessment of the ‘GOLD’ (as opposed to ‘beta’ guidance however a first glance – for exampleon the duty to cooperate – suggests this is typical DCLG spin -simply making offical the current mainstream interpretation of the legal duty by PINS. Similarly again the 10-15 year housing numbers issue,just clarifying the position where the NPPF was a littrle vague and where teh previous PPG3 was very clear. The guidance on infrastructure though is helpful and again a return to the pre NPPF position. Ill post seperately on this if I get 5 mins.
Princess Anne has fallen for the false ‘spits and spots’ of rural housing argument the conservatives fell for before the last election.
New homes should be built in existing villages and market towns instead of as part of sprawling new developments of up to 15,000 plots, the Princess Royal has said.
She argued it would be better for existing rural communities to take the brunt of the 240,000 new homes needed each year.
Her comments will add fuel to the political debate over how to provide the number of homes needed without damaging the countryside.
Nick Clegg called recently for the Government to be “honest and upfront” about plans to build garden cities in the South East.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that planned cities were a better option than piecemeal developments.
But the Princess, speaking as patron of the English Rural Housing Trust, said: “Is it really necessary to only think in terms of large-scale developments where you might add 10,000 or 15,000 in a block, where you require infrastructure to be installed?”
She suggested it would be more efficient to build small scale developments in existing communities: “Maybe it isn’t such good value if you have to build in the facilities that need to go with it.
“You will need a new school, you will need new shops, you will need to create a community centre. But for many of the small-scale developments you already have that.”
In a speech at a housing conference in Cheltenham, she added: “240,000 houses sounds an awful lot until we identify the amount of villages and market towns there are.”
Ok over the next 15 years we need nationally to plan for 3.75 million new homes from household formation plus a 1 million home backlog (approximately of course), for sake of argument lets say around half of that is identified already in development plans and another 10% occurs through windfalls. If you divide that amongst England’s roughly 10,000 villages thats around 230 houses per village. Ive been doing similar calculations since the 2007 Housing Green Paper and warning that unless we have large scale growth areas it would mean the swamping of English Villages and warned thats exactly what we would see with the NPPF if, as as happened, it also cancelled Ecotowns and Growth areas – now ask yourselves is that just what we have seen? Have we not seen planning application for in total several hundred homes now swamping villages.
Shaun Spiers, the chief executive of CPRE, said: “These are welcome words from Princess Anne. We want a living countryside, not a countryside of commuter villages or retirement ghettoes.’
Bit I thought the CPRE were supposed to be protecting the countryside?
A seismic change may be about to rock our national parks and other areas of outstanding natural beauty; and it is concealed within the technicalities of a proposal to grant landowners permitted development rights, without the need for planning permission. This would allow for up to three dwellings to replace or convert existing farm buildings.
If this addressed the desperate shortage of affordable housing in our national parks it would be worth considering. Sadly it is set to make a dire situation worse while destroying the landscape and a fragile rural economy.
The average house price within the Dartmoor national park is in excess of £270,000; nine times the median local income and over sixteen times incomes in the lowest quartile. The chance of finding affordable rented accommodation is also grim, and the situation is forcing out young people and families with serious consequences for rural communities.
An increase in housing supply will do nothing to reduce prices if it caters for an entirely different demand. The proposals would allow for new developments to be almost twice the guideline size for affordable housing. Rather than meeting a genuine need they would unleash a second and luxury homes bonanza, creating yet more ghost villages and hamlets inhabited only at weekends or in season.
The impact of a free-for-all will be huge – not only because developers are likely to prefer to convert remaining heritage outbuildings, but because of the chilling effect this prospect is already having on schemesto build homes for local people.
Since the reduction in capital grants, the best mechanism for creating affordable housing has been through granting planning permission on so-called exception sites. Where the landowner knows there is no possibility of selling to developers at open market housing rates, affordable housing is cross-subsidised by a small percentage of open market value properties.
But with the prospect of a free run at open market development with few strings attached, values are set to rise sharply and we will kiss goodbye to the only realistic opportunity for development land at prices that can deliver housing for local people.
Suburbanisation of our national parks might also deliver the final coup de grace to their fragile ecosystems, already under pressure from changing grazing patterns over recent decades. While cattle and sheep make way for pony paddocks in lower lying areas, loss of grazing livestock from the open moor will lead to a further degradation from heather to gorse. Who can blame them if hill farmers, asset rich and cash flow near zero, opt to fragment or sell their holdings and livestock. They have long struggled to maintain their way of life with scant recognition of their service to conserve this precious landscape on our behalf.
The planning minister, Nick Boles, has been bold in his effort to build more housing. He has walked towards the nimby gunfire on behalf of the people he believes should have the opportunity to own their own home. I hope he will look again at the unintended consequences of the proposed changes and place the need for affordable housing above pressure from developers.
When Lewis Silkin introduced the national parks and access to the countryside bill to parliament in 1949 he described it as a “people’s charter for the open air”. The open countryside of our national parks deserves our protection but also the living, breathing communities who conserve them for the future. We can build more homes for local people by supporting community land trusts and incentivising investment in genuinely affordable housing projects. The proposed measures, by further inflating land values, will kill off any hope for village housing initiatives and puts at risk some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
concerns that the Government’s approach risks being too focused on short-term problems are expressed in an open letter to Mr Cameron signed by leading professional bodies involved in flood prevention and water management, led by the Landscape Institute, which represents landscape architects.
“The commitment to provide essential funding is a useful step, but it is even more essential that this is invested appropriately, and provides the best and most sustainable outcome to both society and the affected communities,” the letter states.
The experts are calling for planners to adopt a series of measures aimed at tackling the risk of flooding, including exploring how measures like planting trees can hold back water in the upper reaches of rivers.
All new developments in towns and cities should include flood alleviation and protection measures, and that any new homes built on flood plains must be resilient to flooding.
The letter continues: “A comprehensive range of water management techniques could have helped prevent the effect of water through villages, towns and over the surrounding land seen in the last few weeks.”
Sue Illman, president of the Landscape Institute, said: “This group of institutions were concerned that there seemed to be a culture of blame between departments. There seemed to be a lot of knee-jerk responses to the immediate problem.
“We want the money that is going to be invested spent wisely to give us a proper outcome.”
The professionals are particularly worried that Ministers’ promises to carry out extensive dredging of rivers, a move demanded by many flooded householders that reverses recent Environment Agency policy, may prove counter-productive.
Dredging on the inundated Somerset Levels will start at the end of next month as long as it is safe and practical to do so, the agency announced on Thursday.
Five miles of river channel where the Tone and Parrett rivers meet at Burrowbridge – an area identified by local people for dredging and where “significant amounts of silt” have built up – will be cleared out.
However, Ms Illman said: “If we just dredge inappropriately, we could just end up flooding other properties downstream.
“We are very concerned that huge amounts of money might be spent on dredging where it wasn’t necessarily appropriate.
“We are more concerned that if we are investing in water management, that we do so effectively, and don’t just respond to a crisis but respond to the long-term issues.”
The letter adds: “In the long-term, the way in which we manage, store and distribute our water, and how we rethink and plan both the natural environment, and the built environment of our towns and cities to make them more resilient, requires a clear strategy.”
Of course downstream of the levels is the sea – so probably an exception to the general rule.
Just landed at Dubai airport to take up a new job managing the Gulf Urban Planning tema for the international consultants Khateb and Alami, based in Sharjah . Flight was delayed till the middle of the night from Uganda because of fog her in Dubai – in the Desert!
Will likely to be very busy for a while so updates here less frequent. Will update phone number when I have a local line.
The battles over that most notorious hole in the NPPF – the Liverpool or Sedgefield is getting ever more nasty.
No-one has any doubt that where possible and realistic any backlog of need should be cleared as early as possible. But in large growth areas with many big sites inevitably any trajectory will be endloaded, even if that trajectory in its early years easily meets household growth plus a boost.
The problem if you take Liverpool too literally is the tail wags the dog – you reject a perfectly sensible sustainable strategy capable of delivering housing numbers at scale over the long run in favour of a short term binge festival on scattered sites around villages that could only last a few years at most before the infrastructure of those villages was maxxed out. Sewerage authorities have never planned for large scale growth around such villages and the capacity of sewage work s will soon be exceeded.
Quite the most extreme example of Sedgefield fundamentalism was the recent exchange at the Greater Nottingham EIP where the HBF has challenged the growth strategy and even threatened JR. So far at ALL of the four local plan EIPs where LPAs have proposed growth strategies with large strategic sites and consequently endloaded the inspectors have backed them. Hence the HBF tactics.
At appeals though things continue to be made up as they go along with the SoS reliant on adhoc Liverpool or Segdefield judgments – for example at Bicester where the startegy is based on a large extension (0ne of the four remaining ecotowns) as ‘All eggs in one basket’ – errr where is that a criteria in the NPPF?
The worst injustices though have been suffered by South Northants, one of the three West Northants joint plan authorities – and the second largest growth area in England. The Inspectors have backed a growth oriented strategy with some endloading based on huge urban extensions. Yet at several S78 appeals inspectors have simply ignored the plan findings of their fellow inspectors, ignoring the prematurity and ‘degree of conformity tests’ and even the trajectory approach – all of which are embedded in the NPPF.
“this would become a self-fulfilling prophecy which would drive the supply of housing land even lower. The council’s preferred trajectory is manifestly inconsistent with the requirement to ensure a five year housing supply.”
Is patently absurd when the joint plan is about to release the largest tranche of new land in any development plan in England for over two decades. Cheer on South Northants.
Part of the confusion here is there is two issues. One is confusing the level of need with how quickly that need should be met. If the reason for endloading is practical then I for one have no objection. The problem is if it is related to recovery of the housing market. Several local plan exminers have said that if the annual need is x you should allocate under the NPPF for x even if the market will only build out x-y. The problem then you immediately have a zombie plan as you only build x-y rather than x. This has a simple solution. Set a MINIMUM figure on which to base your 5 year trajectory and grant allocations and phasing which would permit more if the market can bear it – up to any level set by physical capacity constraints (which almost always will be based on settlements and places rather than plan area). This is a technical planning issue which has dogged planning policy for 20 years long before the NPPF yet its solution is not difficult.
Update – Bolsover policy LC5 proposes something very similar – now at examination – so in future we may speak of the Bolsolver method not merely Liverpool and Sedgefield.
Ed Miliband today warns that London’s position as a global business capital is in danger unless hundreds of thousands of new homes are built.
Writing in tonight’s Standard, the Labour leader says affordable flats and houses are vital to ensure firms have the young professionals and skilled workers they need to expand.
He committed Labour to develop a “next generation of new towns” similar to Milton Keynes where aspirational Britons can raise families while working in the booming South-East. He also sets out plans to speed up housebuilding in London’s 32 boroughs, including action against property firms sitting on prime land and to reduce the number of empty flats owned by absentee foreign investors.
“There is a chronic shortage of affordable homes in Britain, and nowhere is this clearer than in London,” writes Mr Miliband. He highlights the ballooning cost of living for dashing the dream of home ownership for many young Londoners. “Their hopes are fading as fast as the prices rise beyond their reach.”
He says: “And it is also causing deep difficulty for employers, both in the public and private sector. Indeed, the CBI recently highlighted the cost and lack of suitable housing for skilled employees as the biggest threat to London’s position as one of the world’s greatest cities for business.”
Among Mr Miliband’s plans, set out in his article, are:
Creating new towns in “sustainable locations” resilient to flooding and the impact of climate change, similar to the Fifties and Sixties development of Stevenage and Milton Keynes. Party sources suggest up to four would be developed, including at least two to take the heat off London.
Councils could be barred from blocking housing developments pushed by neighbouring councils — a highly controversial move where interests conflict over issues such as traffic problems. Mr Miliband said “home-blocking local authorities” had caused years of frustration.
Developers will be stopped from advertising new flats overseas before Londoners are given a chance to buy or rent the new homes.