Daily Archives: March 25, 2012

Final #NPPF to restore protection of Playing Fields – Telegraph

Telegraph

The Government will today unveil a revised version of the policy following opposition from heritage charities, green groups and The Daily Telegraph’s Hands Off Our Land campaign.

A draft of the document has been strongly criticised for supporting a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

Campaigners feared this could mean developers paving over vast swaths of the unspoilt English countryside.

The Football Association had warned that talented footballers of the future would have nowhere to train if councils were allowed to sell off pitches. More than 80 per cent of the sport is played on publicly-owned land.

Sport England also urged the Government to re-think its proposals, arguing that weakening protection of sports facilities could limit the Olympic legacy by failing to safeguard facilities for future athletes.

Addressing these concerns, the text of the National Planning Policy Framework is now expected to say that “existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision”.

It emerged last week that the document would be re-written to include a new definition of what “sustainable development” means to offer more balance between economic, environmental and heritage issues.

In a further concession to the Government’s critics, the document will also contain a specific protection for school playing fields and other public leisure facilities.

The source of the ‘Midlands City’ Story #NPPF #NS2

With Added Andrew Gilligan Spin

From Rail News 16th March

Giving the iRail 2012 Distinguished Lecture – ‘Designing High Speed Rail for Britain’ – at the Derby College Roundhouse, Professor McNaughton…predicted that…the building of a new central station in Birmingham would trigger development of that city’s East Side as a new commercial quarter, while the National Exhibition Centre area would become a new city, focused on crucial interchanges of railways and motorways. He believed the airport alongside the NEC would be able to claim the title of ‘London Birmingham’, because it would be closer to central London in journey times than either Stansted or Gatwick.

So where did the 100,000 figure come from?

The convergence of Motorways makes NEC the very worst site for a new city – we are not living in Nevada.

The New Midlands #HS2 City Proposal – Further thoughts on Size and Location of ‘Arden City’

In previous posts (here and here) i’ve looked at the suggestion of an HS2 city of 100,000 homes and critiscised the proported Meriden Gap location as damaging and impractical.  Besides even simple HSR acceleration/deceleration issues preclude any new station close to the Birmingham International HS2 station.

The Site of the Stoneleigh exhibition ground seemed more likley as the HS2 route cuts straight through it and LaSalle its new owners are promoting a science park here and we know they are talking to HS2 engineers.  The site has potential for a Warwick/Coventry HS2 line.  In addition the new Swiss owners of Coventry Airport would, if they have any brains about them, be talking to HS2.

I was asked online to look at basic planning constraints.  The river Avon runs through the area, but the undulating landscape prevent flooding being a showstopper.  There are no SSSIs, SPAs etc.  There is of course the historic park and garden of Stoneleigh Park, a scattering of Forest of Arden Ancient Woodland, and two attractive historic villages, Stoneleigh having a wonderful southern setting (the Deer Park).  Little other settlement though due to the historic woodlands, heathlands and Deer Park.  South of here however their are large fields and a dull landscape.

The site has unsually a huge sewage works on its doorstep.  Water cycle issues are unlikely to be an issue.  If you are to develop a parkway station it makes sense to have some development there so not everyone has to drive and to benefit from rail accessibility.  I would hope that for the first time in the UK we have a parkway station with structured parking.

So could a ‘garden city’ be practically be developed here.  Yes, though it would require a major Green Belt Release, probably accompanied by making the area between Warwick and Stratford Green Belt to ‘compensate’ (that is the wrong word but I cant think of a better one – planning needs one).

The key HS2 advantage is it puts another runway within half an hour of London, the key disadvantage though is that Stoneleigh would be in the flightpath.  The decade of planning rows with Warwick district led eventually to the sites bankruptcy, closure to scheduled flights and sale.  Given the desperation though to find additional runway capacity this site will be looked at.  It would be just as accessible to Central London as Gatwick by rail time.

This is not to state for a moment that it should go ahead, just to test if it would fall at the first hurdle, which it would not.

By the way from my sketch capacity study below it could feasibly be about twice the size of Kenilworth – or about 25,000 dwellings – not 100,000.  If developed at more like ‘spa town’ densities with four stories throughput its inner areas you could get that up to 40,000.  So a range between the sizes of Welwyn Garden City and Lemington Spa.  If I had to give an example of an English Town which is ‘perfect’ in terms of size and a thriving community and economy it would be Cheltenham Spa at 50,000 dwellings; above that you start having to develop mas a series of sub-centres and in the Forest of Arden it could just produce one long linear sprawl.  To my mind it should not go further east or west here.  To the west the quality of the landscape improves to classic Arden Small Fields and woods.  To the East the woods provide a natural limit and either way the town centre becomes more remote encouraging car use.   Also 40-50,000 dwellings would cover all of Warwick and Coventry natural growth needs for 40 years or so plus any urbanisation effect of the airport.  Larger than this would  start to suck people in, which you would not want to do from the West Midlands Conurbation.  100,000 houses then – way too large.

You could develop a station on the currently freight only Coventry-Warwick line and fund the reopening of the Beeching axed Kenilworth station, with BRT links to the Arden City and Coventry Airport.

The site has good and bad points, but would seem technically feasible with recent road upgrades and not so close to Motorways that it would attract car commutes, rare in the Midlands! Purely as a exercise in town planning it represents a big design opportunity, houses around a Deer Park, Richmond Park springs to mind.  But then again I expect local politicians and campaigners will be having kittens.

Arden City anyone?

Dear Eric, My Gardens a Tip, So can I get Planning Consent? #NPPF

What the Planning Policy Issued on Sunday Tells us about the final #NPPF

Pulled this in part from the previous article, on the new Travellers Policy issued on a Sunday! –  for those not interested in travellers issues.

1. Don’t believe the spin.  Though spun by Eric Pickles as a fundamentally anti-traveller policy the tone of the final policy is not at all and very reasonable incorporating many, many concessions.  So don’t believe all the spin saying how the final NPPF will be ‘hardly different’   with ‘no concessions’.  The new travellers policy contains many references to revised parts of the final NPPF which are very different and offer major concessions.  The Treasury is spinning to show that they won when they are likely to have mostly lost and Number 10 is spinning because it hates being seen as weak and u-turning when it does it all the time and is.

2. The New ‘Brownfield first’ Policy is a mess and will encourage a mess

When considering applications, local planning authorities should attach weight to the following matters:
a) effective use of previously developed (brownfield), untidy or derelict land

Sadly this exhbits several symptoms of the incompetent drafting  disease of the draft NPPF.  ’Effective’ not ‘efficient’?  wrong word.  Effective for brownfield but not greenfield, its it ok then for greenfield sites to be used ineffectively? A site could only be used ineffectively if it is not used for what is intended – which again shows how a logic fail has occurred here.

Untidy, so ill get permission to develop on greenfield sites then if they are untidy.  Ok cool lets make my garden, now a greenfield site of course, as untidy as possible, or a site in the countryside.  Since when was tidiness ever a material planning consideration.  Pointed question needed at DCLG questions on this one.

Finally ‘or derelict’ which implies derelict non previously developed sites are ok.  Errr like former sand digging pits on the coast, or abandoned farms, or falling down agricultural buildings – it should say ‘in particular’ that would make sense.

So don’t believe the final NPPF will be precisely 50 pages, Osborne, or his speech-writer, might not even have read the final version or looked past the breifing giving to him at the Cabinet SC.

3. We now know what the revised policy on the wider countryside will look like – better but still a license to developers to bombabrd applications around towns and villages

From the press release

The Government is committed to the protection of the nation’s green spaces and this policy will protect Green Belt land and countryside

And policy

Local planning authorities should strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside that is away from existing settlements or outside areas allocated in the development plan. Local planning authorities should ensure that sites in rural areas respect the scale of, and do not dominate the nearest settled community, and avoid placing an undue pressure on the local infrastructure.

‘Strictly limit’ comes from PPS7, the change though comes in the ‘away from existing settlements’.  Implying that such development should not be strictly limited.  What policy applies here then and what about when there is no up to date local plan?  For that we will have to wait for the final NPPF.

What does ‘away from’ mean vague, gives a clear indication of the wording on the open countryside in the final NPPF. Does it mean one or two fields away?  This would be preferential for a travellers site to avoid anger from settled community but unacceptable for a housing site.  The wording works for travellers sites, as we are unlikely to see applications for 100s of pitches 360 degrees around villages, but we would for housing.  If this is the final NPPF wording is half a victory, definitely a big concession.  Expect lots of clarifications on what the government means by ‘away from’ and ‘existing settlements’ – does it imply any settlement regardless of existing services or quality of landscape?  Unless it is clear expect the kind of ‘wild west’ scenario of appeals the DCLG fears.  This seems like the kind of anti ribbon ‘willy nilly’ development clause Steve Quartermain has hinted at.  But without further safeguards it could still lead to a ‘greybelt’ of poorly design schemes making poor use of land surrounding almost every settlement of any size outside the Greenbelt.

4.  The 20%+ rule will go

It isnt there on the section on pitch supply. Looks lifted from the final NPPF section.

5.  Will be a one year ‘Transition’ stroke ‘Implementation’ period.

See the clue at what the period will be in para 28.  12 months.  The Pickles/Osborne Compromise.  Very ambitious period, especially for joint plans, just time for one consultation, rapid policy drafting and submission.  A key issue is what weight will be given to submitted plans?  It will just be impossible for those LPAs still at early stages for forced to go back to options stages because of Forest Heath/Greater Norwich issues to get plans examined and adopted in a year, even if PINS revised their procedures and removed the ‘six month submission to examination’ rule (a 3-6 month period is essential to enable LPAs to prepare for the examination – rushed examinations lead to unsound plans).

6.  Expect the Final NPPF to have a Policy X paragraph n format

As in the travellers document. The use of subheadings will make it much cleaner, as we tried to show in our alternative draft, which adopted the X n format, however by mixing up policy with supporting text it wont make clear the difference between national policy and supporting text in the way Planning Policy Wales does.

7.   Expect some mention of Social Inclusion

After all Clarke and Pickles are one nationers not neocons.  The lack mention of social inclusion, banned in the neocon draft, was telling, and its mention in the travellers policy document telling also.

 

Mail on Sunday – #NPPF DCLG lawyers have said ‘they don’t expect new system to have that much impact’

James Forsyth (Spectator Editor) in Mail on Sunday

George Osborne regards forcing through changes to the planning rules as one of his most significant Budget measures. They will now be published  on Tuesday and, in the words of one Government source, will be ‘unashamedly pro-growth’. Downing Street knows the reforms will be controversial, but believes they are crucial to the economic recovery.

But it seems the effects of these changes might not be anywhere near as dramatic as intended. Lawyers at the Department for Communities and Local Government have already told officials in other departments that they do not expect the new system to have that much impact.

The problem is that Whitehall lawyers believe the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into English law could stymie the changes. They expect residents opposed to developments will attempt to use the Convention’s stipulation that people have a right to a ‘family life’  to prevent building near them.

The Treasury is confident that these objections can be overcome. But an  official tells me: ‘It isn’t an issue of the Treasury’s confidence. It is an issue of  law, and they cannot get what they want simply by issuing orders.’

The dispute is yet another reminder  of how human rights laws are steadily crippling Government’s ability to govern.

The Human Rights bit is nonsense of course.  Name one planning permission anywhere for bricks and mortar that has ever been blocked on ‘right to family life’ (article 8) grounds?

This might be reference to Lopez Ostra v Spain (41/1993/436/515); December 9, 1994; 20 EHRR 277 which found a claim that the construction of a waste treatment plant next to the applicant’s house, which had caused severe local pollution and health problems, was in violation of the applicant’s rights.  Although the health test the court has in Balmer-Schafroth -v- Switzerland and Athanassoglou -v- Switzerland  is one of ‘severe’ and ‘immanent’ risk to health.

In Powell and Rayner v United Kingdom (1990) 12 EHRR 355 whilst the applicants lost the judgement it was held that that noise created by aircraft could very conceivably be used to strengthen, if not act as the sole reason for rejection of planning applications where there is a potential life threatening situation such as ‘irradiation’, ‘chemical leakage’, ‘high concentration of carbon monoxide!’, very common issues in planning applications for housing estates then!

The High Court in Woodhead v Secretary of State for the Environment ((1995) 71 P&CR 419) held that facts relating to an alleged violation of Article 8 should be raised in front of the planning inspector before the court would consider them on appeal

Country solicitors are asked every day of the week if they can challenge consenst on ECHR gorounds and how many challenges do we see?  Not an issue

In any event article 8 allows for interference with this right for the ‘economic well-being of the country’.  Inherent in the ECHR is the need to find a fair balance between the protection of individual rights and the interests of the community at large.  Just another right wing of the Tory Party attempt to falsely smear human rights.

The key caselaw on article 8, notably the Chapman case, allows for prodevelopment challenges rather than blocking challenges.

Forysth may have got his wires crossed between the SEA directive and the ECHR or his source mangled the point in chinese whispers?  The point about the Treasury not being able to change the law by issuing orders would apply with much more force to other issues in the legal advice.

Article 6 and Article 1 of the first protocol challenges increasing in the light of the NPPF I can see as litigants may see this as their only recourse, but in the light of the caselaw are unlikley to be successful,

New Travellers Policy two days before #NPPF – Mystery of when it comes into force

Why produce this two days before the NPPF is published, and uniquely for the DCLG on a Sunday! (I have a theory see below)  It could easily have been included in the NPPF and on one page not seven (as we did in our alternative draft).  This simply reinforces the impression that travellers are being singled out.  Whay is this one group and one group alone being given a specific separate policy document?  Suspect on legal advice as the travellers groups were rightly furious that they would not have got to comment on the structure of policy proposed, unlike any other group, and so leading to likely successful legal challenge.  Expect the separate policy to go at the first NPPF revision.

this policy comes into effect at the same time as the National Planning Policy Framework. The new planning policy for traveller sites should be read in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework.

By the way it does not say when it comes into force!!!!  Is this subject to the official secrets act?  So no decisions on any G&T application on Monday possible then.

DCLG

Government issues new planning guidance on traveller sites

Local Government Minister Bob Neill today published a radically streamlined planning policy that will ensure fair treatment of travellers in the planning system while respecting the interests of the settled community.

Condensing the previous 54 pages of traveller site guidance into just eight pages, the new policy puts the provision of sites back into the hands of local councils, in consultation with local communities.

Ministers believe planning rules have seriously harmed community relations over the last few years, by imposing top-down targets for traveller sites on local councils, increasing the number of unauthorised sites, and compelling councils to encroach onto the Green Belt. At the same time ministers believe that policy introduced under the previous administration created a perception of special treatment for some travellers undermining the notion of ‘fair play’ in the planning system and further harming community cohesion.

The Government is committed to the protection of the nation’s green spaces and this policy will protect Green Belt land and countryside. Traveller sites are an inappropriate development on Green Belt land and the new guidance makes clear that there should be due regard for the protection of the local environment and amenities when local authorities set out their criteria for allocating sites.

The new measures continue the Government’s policy of abolishing top-down targets set by central government. Previously the Government has abolished the architecture of regional planning tiers through the Localism Act to prevent any more regional strategies being created and set out measures in the Localism Act to provide stronger enforcement powers for local authorities to tackle unauthorised developments and abuse of retrospective planning permission.

The new planning policy also gives councils the freedom and responsibility to determine the right level of traveller site provision in their area, in consultation with local communities, while ensuring fairness in the planning system.

The result of these changes will reduce tensions between settled and traveller communities whilst enabling provision of accommodation from which travellers can access education, health, welfare and employment infrastructure.

Mr Neill said:

“Top-down targets from central Government failed to provide adequate land for travellers and caused tensions with the local settled community. People want to see fair play in the planning system, treating everyone fairly and equally.

“These new policies will allow local authorities to govern their own affairs whilst ensuring that both travellers and the settled communities get a fair deal through the planning system.”

The new policy forms part of a broader package, including changes to planning law to limit retrospective planning applications for any form of unauthorised development and the provision of incentives for new and refurbished traveller sites, which will deliver a better balance between site provision and enforcement.

The Government has also been looking at the inequalities faced by traveller groups and will shortly be publishing a report from the Ministerial Working Group.

Notes to editors

1. The full planning policy for traveller sites can be found here:www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/planningpolicytravellers.

2. The Government’s key aims in respect of traveller sites are:

  • that local planning authorities should make their own assessment of need for the purposes of planning;
  • to ensure that local planning authorities, working collaboratively, develop fair and effective strategies to meet need through the identification of land for sites;
  • to encourage local planning authorities to plan for sites over a reasonable timescale;
  • that plan-making and decision-taking should protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development;
  • to promote more private traveller site provision while recognising that there will always be those travellers who cannot provide their own sites;
  • that plan-making and decision-taking should aim to reduce the number of unauthorised developments and encampments and make enforcement more effective;
  • for local planning authorities to ensure their local plan includes fair, realistic and inclusive policies;
  • to increase the number of traveller sites in appropriate locations with planning permission, to address under-provision and maintain an appropriate level of supply;
  • to reduce tensions between settled and traveller communities in plan-making and planning decisions;
  • to enable provision of suitable accommodation from which travellers can access education, health, welfare and employment infrastructure; and
  • for local planning authorities to have due regard to the protection of local amenities and the local environmental.

3. The Department has previously announced the inclusion of traveller sites in the New Homes Bonus to reward councils that deliver additional sites. This means that councils will get financial benefits for building authorised traveller sites where they are needed. The Department has also secured £60 million Traveller Pitch Funding to help councils and other registered providers build new traveller sites. Successful bids totalling £47 million were announced in January, helping to provide over 750 new and refurbished pitches for travellers.

Ok the low down on the policy.  It includes the mention of the need for inclusive policy, good, it was a banned word in the draft NPPF so a good sign.  It also retains an evidence based and collaborative approach, including across LPA boundaries.

Even better news:

Local planning authorities should, in producing their Local Plan:
a) identify and update annually, a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years’ worth of sites against their locally set
targets
b) identify a supply of specific, developable  sites or broad locations for growth, for years six to ten and, where possible, for years 11-15

c) consider production of joint development plans that set targets on a cross-authority basis, to provide more flexibility in identifying sites, particularly if a local planning authority has special or strict planning constraints across its area (local planning authorities have a duty to
cooperate on planning issues that cross administrative boundaries)

d) relate the number of pitches or plots to the circumstances of the specific size and location of the site and the surrounding population’s size and density

e) protect local amenity and environment

Note it gives no guidance whatsoever on how to assess need – a ‘wild west’ outcome is likely.  Also the wording gives a clue as to the wording of the five year supply rule in the final NPPF and is vastly better the draft NPPF, no 20%, no nonsense about a ‘willing developer’ .  It bears similarlities to wording out forward in out alternative draft in parts.  However in referring to only ‘broad locations’ for growth in years 6-10 we are back to the bad old days of local plans with only 5 years housing supply allocated which quickly become out of date.

The policy on development in the countryside is also completely different than that breifed by Eric Pickles yesterday in the Telegraph, suggesting he hasnt actually read it.  Bad news for the NPPF.

When assessing the suitability of sites in rural or semi-rural settings, local planning authorities should ensure that the scale of such sites does not dominate the nearest settled community….

Local planning authorities should strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside that is away from existing settlements or outside areas allocated in the development plan. Local planning authorities should ensure that sites in rural areas respect the scale of, and do not dominate the nearest settled community, and avoid placing an undue pressure on the local infrastructure.

What does ‘away from ‘ mean vague, gives a clear indication of the wording onm the open countryside in the final NPPF. Does it mean one or two fields away?  This would be preferential for a travellers site to avoid anger from settled community but unacceptable for a housing site.  The wording works for travellers sites, as we are unlikely to see applications for 100s of pitches 360 degrees around villages, but we would for housing.  If this is the final NPPF wording is half a victory, definitely a big concession

As is the policy on Green Belt which adds in the crucial ‘in very special circumstances’ which would make it legal.  Was this poor precis by the Daily Telegraph or a swift last minute correction in response to concerns yesterday – who knows, guess the former.

Also the mentioning of rural exceptions sites is a pretty strong hint that the final NPPF will retain this.  Ironic because it is irrelevent for travellers sites as pretty much every site is affordable / an exception, and as sites are allowed in rural areas what is it an exception to?

Rightly it includes an up front statement certain to be included in the final NPPF

Planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan , unless material considerations indicate otherwise

Also note the much better and legally correct distinction between the development plan and local plan in the footnote.

There is also a big hint of the final #NPPF here

When considering applications, local planning authorities should attach weight to the following matters:
a) effective use of previously developed (brownfield), untidy or derelict land

But sadly this exhbits several sympomns of the incompetent drafting  disease of the draft NPPF.  ‘Effective’ not ‘efficient’?  wrong word.  Effective for brownfield but not greenfield, its it ok then for greenfield sites to be used ineffectively? A site could only be used ineffectively if it is not used for what is intended – which again shows how a logic fail has occurred here.

Untidy, so ill get permission to develop on greenfield sites then if they are untidy.  Ok cool lets make my garden, now a greenfield site of course, as untidy as possible, or a site in the countryside.  Since when was tidiness ever a material planning consideration.  Pointed question needed at DCLG questions on this one.

Finally ‘or derelict’ which implies derelict non previously developed sites are ok.  Errr like former sand digging pits on the coast, or abandoned farms, or falling down agricultural buildings – it should say ‘in particular’ that would make sense.

The section on Implementation (for  Implementation read Transition) also gives a clue at what the period will be in para 28.  12 months.  The Pickles/Osborne Compromise.

Overall apart from the silly wording from some sections of the NPPF is not so bad.  Very clear that sites have to be accessible and not remote or tucked next to motorways.  Would give it eight out of 10.  Would have got 10 out of ten if it was clearer on the method for calculating need. This will now be fought out at every EIP in the country with local authorities trying to justify there homebaked manipulations downwards from the previous official GTAA method.   It is unclear for example if travellers ‘in their area’ includes unauthorised sites or travellers forced to live in bricks and morter because of lack of pitches.   In particular it should have addressed the issue of overconcentration of need in some places (e.g. Basildon) and the need to disperse that to other nearby authorities than have disgrafully fallen short on their obligations in the past – like Brentwood (oh again who is Mp for Brentwood?).

Note also no ban on CPO.

 

A Meriden New Town is a very Bad Idea – But Stoneleigh Garden City a good one #HS2 #NPPF

Stoneleigh Deer Park - Park at the Heart of a New Garden City?

The Daily Telegraph story I commented on last night hinted that the ‘100,000 houses’ Midland New Town linked to HS2 would be in the Meriden Gap, which made no sense.  There is no more sensitive and important piece of Green Belt in the country than that and that location is very badly placed in terms of impact on the national motorway network, proximity to Birmingham and likelihood of attracting commuter HS2 traffic as opposed to city to city.  What is more the fact that it would build on half the Green Belt in Caroline Spelman’s constituency makes the idea ridiculous.

Many of us initially jumped to the conclusion that this was an upgrading to the rejected option of a 13,000 home new settlement in the Solihull Green Belt accepted by NLP as part of their proposals to increase housing planned in the West Midlands RSS  in 2008.- most likely land near the NEC/Birmingham Airport.  But that site simply does not scale to 100,000 houses.   Swamping historic Hampden-in-Arden – unlikely.

So what landowner could have been lobbying/working with HS2?

There is a very obvious candidate.  Stoneleigh Park.

The shift of the HS2 route took the route straight through rather than around Stoneleigh Park Exhibition ground.

The Royal Show is a dead duck and last year La Salle Investment management bought the site, and were not well pleased when the route realignment was announded, submitting evidence to the select committee.

However it is clear they turned a crisis into an opportunity.

Kenliworth Weekly News

HIGH Speed Two rail plans will not deter development at Stoneleigh Park despite the threat that the train line could cut straight through it.

LaSalle Investment Management, which took on a 150-year lease of the site last year, plans to invest £50 million over the next ten years to make the 1,000-acre agricultural business park a centre of excellence, with a roundabout at the park’s main entrance in Stoneleigh Road and a second entrance to handle traffic.

Andrew Bull, European director of LaSalle Investment Management, said this investment will be used to create “a leading science park and attract agricultural and equine businesses from around the world”.

He added: “We are committed to that investment with full knowledge of plans for HS2 and the Royal Agricultural Society of England, which is the ultimate owner of the estate, shares our confidence in developing and revitalising Stoneleigh Park regardless of HS2.

“We have had a good dialogue to date with HS2 and they acknowledge the value of inward investment and job creation at Stoneleigh Park and have been happy to work with us on mitigating any impacts that might deter that investment.

We are in the middle of those discussions with HS2’s engineers about the options for mitigating the impact of a high speed line and welcome the decision to sink the line below ground level through Stoneleigh Park and the explicit assurance by HS2 that further mitigation along the route is possible.

“We continue to share the interest of local residents in a covered tunnel that would take the line under the park and are investigating the potential of this option to leave tenant businesses undisturbed.”

Cllr Michael Doody, county councillor for Stoneleigh, agreed that the investment plans should go ahead because even if HS2 was built it would not be for another 17 years.

He said: “I hope the line is never built as I’m for high speed trains but not the HS2 version.

“Even if it does go ahead though, you can’t expect people to just wait in limbo for years and not do anything.

“If the train line is built it will go right through the planned roundabout north of the showground, but the Government will have to compensate for this.”

He added: “I definitely agree with the invester’s choice to go ahead with its plans.”

So clearly La Salle has been speaking to Andrew McNaughton, the chief engineer of HS2.

Any planner worth their salt would have made the connection here between La Salle, Coventry’s campaign for a parkway station for HS2 and the previous RSS phase two revision plans for growth along a Coventry/Warwick corridor, in part to protect the more sensitive Meriden Gap.

Coventry’s revised core strategy is going nowhere, as it tries to meet housing need without any strategic review of Green Belt,  and it was clear a landlowner promoted south of Coventry scheme, linked to the ‘growth agenda’ would have legs.  Truth be told if I was a consultant advising them thats just what I would have said.

Its scale though could not approach 100,000 homes.  You would need to retain clear gaps between Kenilworth, any Garden City and Royal Lemington Spa.  Also the Stoneleigh Deer Park (now a golf club) could not be build on, though it would make an outstanding public park for any Garden City wrapping around it.  Also 100,000 homes would compete with Coventry rather than being a complementary centre.

My view is that it would likely wrap around in an arc from Warwick Uni to the current site of Coventry Airport and that a design size of 60-70,000 would be more likely (that is without having done any capacity or impact studies).

It shouldnt be dismissed out of hand and Warwick and Coventry Core strategies would be forced to look at something like this if they are required to plan in full for household growth- though more likely 40,000 or so over 40 years to meet Coventry s and Warwick Districts Household Growth alone.  It makes much more sense than the previous plan of urban extensions to the south of Coventry and North of Warwick, a plan that dealt with housing issues but not much else.

Whay create scattered sprawl when you can have it in one Smart Growth location? Map source CPRE Warwickshire

Also you can’t really blame the NPPF for this.  Any landowner will opportunistically make use of whatever government initiative de Jour is available.

At a request of a freind im doing a GIS based quick desk study looking at the key constraints and possible footprint and will post this later today.

Clearly the Green Belt to the south of Warwick/Lemington would need to be extended to partially compensate.

I cannot stress more though that any uplift in land values should be used to fund the infrastructure and public services of a new settlement, in true Garden City spirit, and not to fund an infrastructure project meeting a national need which should be nationally paid for.

By the way I checked if La Salle had ever made political donations on the Electoral Commission database – they have not.  I have not searched for large donations by directors or shareholders.

Final #NPPF Will include a tougher rules on traveller sites than settled housing- certain legal challenge

Telegraph

Ministers are to unveil a crackdown on illegal travellers’ camps as part of the Government’s controversial planning reforms.

The rules will ban new traveller settlements on greenbelt land and stop councils from issuing compulsory purchase orders of private land to create new sites for such groups.

The coalition will also close a loophole exploited by a minority of travellers who apply for planning permission retrospectively, having already illegally established themselves on someone else’s land.

Ministers will axe targets that oblige local authorities to create a certain number of pitches for travellers. In the future, local authorities will be allowed to determine how many travellers sites they offer.

The new regulations will take effect from the beginning of April, but councils will be able to harness the new framework when taking enforcement action against illegal sites that have been established for years.

However, the government’s new stance may alarm Liberal Democrat members of the Coalition and concern European bureaucrats who have previously raised concerns about how Britain treats travellers.

With the National Trust and other groups concerned that the Government’s planning reforms will inflict a building boom on the British countryside, Eric Pickles, the local government minister, is expected to argue that the robust new stance on unauthorised travellers’ settlements shows the Coalition’s determination to protect rural areas.

Mr Pickles is said to believe that Labour gave all travellers a bad name by failing to clamp down on illegal sites. It is understood he will argue that Labour’s approach to the travelling community harmed community cohesion and undermined public confidence in the planning system.

Since 2000 there has been a fourfold increase in the number of unlawful development by travelling communities which have been “tolerated” by local authorities.

Ministers privately blame guidance published in 2006 by John Prescott, Labour’s deputy prime minister, for a sharp rise in unauthorised building by some groups of travellers. These recommendations to local authorities allowed green belt sites to be built on if there was “a specific, identified need for a gipsy and traveller site”.

That passage has been deleted from the new guidance to be published on Tuesday. The new version will say: “Inappropriate development is harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved Traveller sites (temporary or permanent) in the Green Belt are inappropriate development.”

Mr Prescott’s guidance also gave the green light for councils to compulsory purchase sites for travellers, stating that: “local authorities can identify specific sites and make land available … Authorities should also consider whether it might be appropriate to exercise their compulsory purchase powers to acquire an appropriate site”.

This passage has also been removed from the reworked guidance, which will also include a new statement that ministers hope will offer better protection to the countryside from traveller sites: “Local planning authorities should strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside.”

Four years ago Epping Forest Council threatened to compulsory purchase land as a “last resort” to cope with increasing demand from travellers. Eleanor Laing, the local Tory MP, described the policy as comparable to the “worst excesses of Communist dictatorships”.

The Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has taken a close interest in how Britain treats travellers and other minority groups.

In early 2011 the committee’s members visited Dale Farm, at Crays Hill in Essex, which until it was cleared later in the year was Britain’s largest illegal travellers camp. Basildon Council, the local authority responsible for the site, has said the cost of clearing the unauthorised site may have cost taxpayers more than £21 million over more than ten years.

The restriction on retrospective permissions is not new its in the localism bill.

The wording on the Green Belt is just clumsy and shows ministers red pens have been through it creating lots of opportunities for legal challenge.  For example normal policy on the Green Belt states that inappropriate development should not be permitted in the Green Belt unless there are ‘very special circumstances’ .  This wording implies an outright ban for a specified ethnic group – whatever the very special circumstances.  This is likely to lead to certain and successful human rights act challenges.  What is more such challenges will make it impossible to enforce against Green Belt sites and so will encourage applications and unauthorised application.  The new rules against retrospective permissions are ineffective as someone can deliver a planning application through a council letterbox at 6.00pm on  a Friday bank holiday weekend and invade a site that night – not retrospective.   So the policy is entirely counterproductive.  Also there has been no consultation on this form of Green Belt wording.

It does not sound like their will be a ban on compulsory purchase, just the omission of a requirement to consider it.  Again a complete ban for one ethnic group would be grounds for challenge.  After all any inspector has to consider whether a plan is deliverable and CPO powers are in the planning and housing acts, so any inspector will be asking about their potential use if their are delivery issues for settled or G&T housing as part of the normal soundness tests.

It remains to be seen if the Government sets a 5 year target for settled housing but not for G&T pitches.  If they do again open gaol for legal challenge as it would be discrimination against a specific ethnic group.

Interestingly it does not ban outright G&T sites in the open countryside – the phrase ‘strictly limit ..development in the open countryside’ is from PPS7.  It is a hint that the government might have caved completely on the issue of policy for protection of the wider countryside.  If not again it would be an issue of ethnic discrimination, allowing countryside development by gadje’s but not travellers.

 

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