Daily Archives: December 22, 2011
The Rochford Core Strategy has been adopted this week, the first since the election to propose major release of land to meet housing requirements, in this case for 2,745 homes.
Rochford tried to postpone the end of the examination so they could ignore the East of England Plan but the inspector, with also objections from neighbouring authorities, would not let them.
Controversial planning reforms are likely to be watered down when they are finally published next month, ministers have suggested.
The comments from Planning minister Greg Clark gave a clear hint that the Government is looking at amending its reforms after sustained criticism from countryside campaigners.
Mr Clark was speaking after a damning report from a cross-party Commons committee said the reforms were biased in favour of developers and said the plans created an “inevitable” risk of building on rural parts of England.
David Cameron and George Osborne wants to stimulate growth and cut red tape by cutting 1,300 pages of planning guidance to just 52 in the new National Planning Policy Framework.
However, the reforms have been heavily criticised for including a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which campaigners say will give developers a licence to build in rural England.
The Daily Telegraph has urged ministers to think again with its “hands off our land” campaign.
Yesterday Mr Clark stated explicitly that the Government would not allow planning rules to be published that were skewed in favour or more development.
He said: “There’s no intention whatever to change the nature of the planning system in striking that balance.
“The planning system is there, it needs to be there to make sure we have the jobs we need in the future.
“We need to have the homes for the future generations of young people. But they need to be provided in ways that are not at the expense of the natural environment and the historic environment.”
Mr Clark described the select committee’s report as “a practical set of suggestions, which I’m grateful for and I will consider very seriously”.
Specifically he suggested that the axed ‘brown-field first’ rule – which exists in current planning rules – would be written back into planning regulations, after it was dropped from the draft planning framework.
He said: “What the Committee have said is that the word brown-field have become pretty familiar to people and it would be helpful to have reference to that.
“That is the kind of practical suggestion that I hoped that they would come up with.”
It also [emerged] that some Conservative members of the committee had managed to persuade the chairman Clive Betts to remove pages from the report which were critical of the way the Government had written an economic imperative through the new rules.
Westminster sources confirmed seven pages from chapter two of the 77-page report which dealt with “the case for reform” were “knocked out” after the report was drafted following pressure from some of the Tory MPs on the 11-strong committee.
The sources suggested that the changes were requested by the Conservatives because they did not want further to embarrass the Government, rather than due to any overt pressure from the Government on the committee.
Despite the deletions, the chapter did contain veiled criticism of the Government which has justified the reforms by claiming that the planning system is holding back the economy. It said: “We found no conclusive research that planning policy or guidance is a particular constraint on economic development.
“For the purposes of this report we have chosen to concentrate on the specific content of the draft NPPF rather than the rationale for its production.
“The costs and benefits of the planning system are an issue which should be the subject of further independent research and is one which the committee may wish to return to at a future date.”
The civil servant whose blunt red pencil at the Treasury is largely responsible for the NPPF fiasco has taken over the senior civil service post for housing and planning despite having no background in this sector – unlike his distinguished predecessor.
DCLG Director-General appointed
“I am delighted that Peter has agreed to take on the role of Director-General for the Neighbourhoods Group. He will be met by a full in-tray, as we look to him to drive forward key reforms in housing, planning and on policies to stimulate economic growth. I look forward to working with him.”The Department for Communities and Local Government has today appointed Peter Schofield as Director-General for Neighbourhoods.Peter Schofield joins DCLG from HM Treasury, where he was Director of the Enterprise and Growth Unit. He will take a lead role in implementing the housing strategy, major reforms in the planning system and delivering local economic growth. He will take up his post in the New Year.Welcoming the appointment, the Permanent Secretary, Sir Bob Kerslake, said:
Commenting on his new role, Peter Schofield said:
“After leading work on growth and infrastructure at the Treasury, I am delighted to be joining DCLG to take forward its important agenda on housing,
Notes to editors
DCLG has two Director-General led policy groups. David Prout currently leads the Localism Group which includes responsibility for local government, fire, communities and the Big Society. Peter Schofield will lead the Neighbourhoods Group, which includes housing, planning and regeneration.Peter takes over from the role left vacant by Richard McCarthy who left the Department on 10 November 2011.
Andrew Campbell, currently Director of Strategy and Performance has covered Richard McCarthy’s responsibilities since his departure.
Peter Schofield has worked at HM Treasury as Director of the Enterprise and Growth Unit since February 2008. In this role, Peter led on the Growth agenda, including the Growth Review, and the Treasury’s relationship with the business community. He was also responsible for the Treasury’s spending relationship with four departments – the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Transport, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.Before that, from 2004 to 2008, Peter was a Director in the Shareholder Executive, including leading the successful flotation of QinetiQ for the Ministry of Defence in 2006. From 2002 to 2004, Peter was seconded to 3i PLC. From 1991 until 2002, Peter worked in HM Treasury in a number of roles, including Private Secretary to the Chief Secretary from 1996 to 1998.Peter is a non executive Director of Local Partnerships and Partnerships UK PLC. He is also the Treasury Director on the Shareholder Executive Board.He is married with three children
Food retailers aim to increase trading space by almost 50% as biggest store opening programme in history gets under way
It may feel like there’s already one on almost every street corner, but Britain’s supermarkets are planning to open enough new stores in the years ahead to cover 500 football pitches.
The nation’s food retailers are building or planning to build 44.4m sq ft of shopping aisles – 7m sq ft more space than Tesco‘s current vast store estate – according to an analysis of planning applications across the country. If all the plans are approved the UK’s supermarket chains’ trading space will increase by almost 50% to about 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres).
Despite the economic downturn and falling consumer spending, supermarkets’ expansion plans are at their most ambitious since records began. More than 80% of the new space will be in out-of-town developments, the analysis by the commercial property adviser CBRE says, casting doubt on attempts by government retail adviser Mary “Queen of Shops” Portas to revive the high street.
“It is the biggest store opening programme in the history of retailing,” said Dave McCarthy, a retail analyst at Evolution Securities.
In its report, the CBRE said: “The scramble for grocery space looks set to run and run not least because current economic conditions – combined with a dearth of jobs in more deprived areas – is forcing local authorities in the worst affected areas to be much more supportive of commercial development activity generally.
“With speculative development at a recessionary low, grocery development is often the only game left in town and could well remain so for a very lengthy period.”
Almost 4m sq ft of new grocery retail space is under construction and the nation’s big retailers have already won planning permission for another 21.4m sq ft – enough space for more than 16,000 new supermarkets.
On top of that, applications have been submitted for a further 19m sq ft of space, CBRE’s research shows. The chances of these stores being given the go-ahead is likely to increase if Greg Clark, the planning minister, succeeds in his planned reform of planning laws giving a default “yes” to development.
The CBRE, which collated the figures by poring over local council planning applications, said the “pipeline” of new space has grown by a “startling 54% since the collapse of bankers Lehman Brothers”, which sparked the 2007 credit crunch and recession. It expected the surge in development to continue.
In Scotland, the north-west, Yorkshire, the West Midlands, greater London and the east of England grocers are building more than 1sq ft of new floorspace per person, according to the report.
Scotland is on course for the biggest increase, with plans for 16.7m sq ft of space, followed by the south-east with 11.6m and the north west with 10.9m.
Tesco alone is already opening new UK shops at a rate of almost three a week. Britain’s biggest retailer, with 2,700 stores, is on the verge of expanding its supermarket footprint to every postcode in the UK mainland after a hard-fought battle for planning permission for a new store in Harrogate.
Supermarkets and grocery stores already account for 36% of all planned shopping developments, compared to one in four in 2007.
The report will be dire reading for Portas, whom the prime minister drafted in to help save Britain’s dying high streets.
More than 25,000 shops have closed since the millennium, and in her highly anticipated review earlier this month Portas warned that the situation was getting worse. “Many [high streets] are sickly, others are on the critical list and some now are dead,” she said after a seven-month investigation.
“They have reached a crisis point. Unless urgent action is taken much of Britain will lose, irretrievably, something that is fundamental to our society.”
Portas said there were “too many” supermarkets, but said little could be done to reverse their expansion, which has resulted in more than 97% of grocery sales being rung through the tills at supermarkets. “I would stop it [supermarket expansion],” Portas said earlier this month. “But to a certain extent the horse has bolted. We have let supermarkets do this.”
Andrew Simms, author of Tescopoly, a book that charts Tesco’s rise to dominate the high street, said the scale of supermarket’s ambitions “will send a chill down the spine of Britain’s independent retailers”.
Simms, who is also a fellow of the New Economics Foundation thinktank, warned that “unless the power of supermarkets is restrained they will continue to suffocate the life out of other shops”.
He added: “The outstanding problem with retailing is that there is too much power in too few hands – and it’s clearly going to get worse unless there is intervention from regulators.”
There are no plans at present to curb the growth of the major supermarkets despite a number of Competition Commission inquiries into their growing dominance.
Despite the surge in supermarket construction Clive Black, a retail analyst at Shore Capital, said Britain was “lagging behind” its European cousins. “Britain actually has one of the lowest per capita [supermarket] ratios in Europe,” he said. “To say Britain is one big supermarket, or going to become one, is nonsensical.”
Black said retailers are building for an expanding population expected to hit 65 million by 2020, compared to 61 million today. “Supermarkets and superstores are built for 20-30 years, we expect the buying of food in Britain to remain strong. The market outlook for food is actually quite robust in the UK, with growth of 4-5%” He expects most of the growth to be in smaller convenience stores and reckons most retailers will pare down their plans from the 44m sq ft of applications lodged.