Feniton Sense on ‘Overwhelmed Village’ #NPPF

Good to see sense prevail on the Feniton appeal – a landmark test for all of those villages facing disproportionate increases in population because of the NPPF.  Does anyone have the full decision without having to use Compass etc.?

Can a statement of future change in planning policy be material?

No its speculative.  Like a statement that if we meet out housing targets we will stop building houses.   Watch for other announcements laying traps for the opposition – such as on Green Belt – i.e. we will treat it as inviolate (and cough cough allow anything and everything anywhere outside it -especially custom build.  Of course it was this government which loved them so much they dramatically increased windfarms.  Of course the policy would be perverse as it would be based on now out of date european targets which have now been increased.    So any moratorium ion planning terms could easily be challenged.


The Tory chairman, Grant Shapps, has given the first public signal that the Conservatives will seek a moratorium of onshore windfarms and will draw a dividing line with the Lib Dems, who he says love them.

The senior minister appeared to confirm Guardian reports that the Tories will pledge at the next election to cap the output of onshore wind farms from 2020.

Asked by the Western Morning News whether plans to curb wind farms would feature in his party’s manifesto, Shapps said: “The wind is moving in a clear direction here.”

He claimed that while onshore wind turbines blight the countryside and upset everybody, the Lib Dems love them.

In what appears to be an attempt to differentiate the coalition partners, he claimed Lib Dems covet wind farms “all over the south-west if they can pull it off”.

The south-west is home to a large number of onshore windfarms and marginal Tory-Lib Dem seats. Countryside opponents of the technology complain that it spoils the landscape and depresses house prices. But green groups and the renewables industry have accused the Tories of pandering to the right and rowing back on the green agenda.

It comes after a senior source close to the prime minister told the Guardian last week that Cameron is supportive of opponents of onshore windfarms and wants to go further in cutting their aid.

A move by Cameron and George Osborne to push for a cap on the electricity output of onshore windfarms, which would in effect amount to a cap, was rejected by Nick Clegg.

Another senior Conservative told the Guardian on Friday that Cameron has brokered a compromise between warring Tories by agreeing to include measures in the manifesto for next year’s general election that will in effect rule out the building of onshore windfarms from 2020.

The Conservatives are now working out the details of the pledge, which could involve an absolute cap on the output from onshore turbines. Lesser measures, which would all come into force in 2020, would involve lower subsidies or introducing tighter planning restrictions.

You Cant Build Any Houses What a Planning Job

Caught my eye the the side of the page on Planning resource today.  Planning Officer for the Isles of Scilly, whole islands a conservation area and ban on new housing (water constraints), what a change for some that would be, not much of a challenge though.

East Devon EiP – Inspector Finds Major Housing Failings

Inspectors Letter

East Devon Reply

-Housing Numbers not based on SHMA but constrained MIgration figure

-Less than 5 years supply on adoption.

-Based on a 5% maximum growth of villages.

-Plan would only have a lifespan of 12 years.

‘ Our original plan was based on the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), which the Coalition has since scrapped. Now the plan has to conform to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) ‘

Ashfield Whines – By a ‘Truly Local’ Plan they mean a Truly Awful Stitch Up

I have every sympathy with LPAs who prepare good plans and then are cuagfht out by situations out of their control.  What I have no sympathy with is whining silly and inaccurate press releases by sore Councillors that truly weak local plans that are evidenced short term stitch ups of politically favored sites irrespective of the evidence.

Take today at Ashfield – Where the inspector found a plan

1) with only a 9 year lifespan

2) Did not make it clear why some sites had been chosen over others (always a sign of a smoke filled room non transparent process)

3) Had not demonstrated the whether those sites proposed for deletion from the Green Belt met the exceptional circumstances test

4) Was unable to demonstrate that the chosen Green Belt boundaries could endure beyond the plan period

Fundamental issues – plans need to be transparent, and on the Green Belt meet the clear tests.

Instead the moaning in a silly press release.

The Inspector suggests that if land does not meet all the Green Belt purposes the Council should either safeguard it or
take the land out of the Green Belt.


No that is a wilful misreading of the inspectors findings, and indeed a reading that does not comply with national policy.

The Council will be writing to both the Inspector and Nick Boles MP to express concerns and the view that the process has become a barrier to achieving a truly local approach. In particular, the Council will set out the importance of leaving room for a local approach as Neighbourhood Plans develop and concern with the strict application of both Sustainability Appraisal and Green Belt policy in the way set out by the Inspector as it appears to prevent the local approach the Authority was intending.
The Council is also seeking clarity from the MP as to the future role of Neighbourhood Plans if the Council is to be required to identify all sites in the Local

It is not ‘the strict application of Sustainability Apprasial and Green Belt policy’ but its basic application, and a legal requirement for both, have they not heard of Forest Hill or Pehrsonn, didums.  Boles should toss this letter into his rather large waste paper basket.  As for ‘leaving room for neighbourhood plans’  what they really mean is having a plan with a period so short they dont have to look seriously atlarger  Green Belt review, and ‘leaving room’ would not help as neighbourhood plans could not look at large scale Green Belt releases without failing the conformity test.

Cameron wants to Cap and even Dismantle Windfarms – but is blocked


David Cameron wants to go into the next election pledging to “rid” the countryside of onshore wind farms, a source close to the Prime Minister has said.

Mr Cameron wants to toughen planning laws and tear up subsidy rules to make current turbines financially unviable – allowing the Government to “eradicate” turbines, the source said.

The move will delight campaigners in traditional Conservative countryside seats and comes amid a growing Coalition row over whether to try and cap the number of wind farms.

Mr Cameron is now “of one mind” with the Government’s most vociferous opponents of “unsightly” onshore wind turbines, the source added.

The Conservatives could make a manifesto pledge to cap the total number of wind farms, toughen up planning rules to make them harder to build or even lower Government subsidies for turbines, it is understood.

Officially, the Coalition Government supports the continued development of new onshore wind farms.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, has repeatedly said that the Government is committed to onshore wind power as part of its “renewable energy mix”.

In recent years, Conservatives in the Government have managed to cut financial support for wind farms and have used planning laws to give communities increased powers to veto unpopular developments.

The Lib Dems on Tuesday said the Prime Minister’s environmental credentials are now “dead in the water” after Nick Clegg blocked Tory plans to impose a cap on wind farms.

The Deputy Prime Minister is understood to have clashed with Mr Cameron and George Osborne, the Chancellor, in recent days over proposals to restrict onshore wind farms.

The Conservative plans would have put a limit on the total amount of energy generated in the country by onshore wind, meaning that future projects could be blocked.

However, Mr Clegg immediately vetoes the measures and said it would further undermine investors’ confidence in the UK’s renewables market.

The row will allow the Conservatives to blame Mr Clegg for vetoing their plans, meaning they can go further with manifesto pledged to clamp down on onshore wind.

A Lib Dem source said: “Nick Clegg was simply not going to allow the Tories to move the goalposts on green energy again,” the source said.

“Some sort of crude block towards onshore wind would seriously damage investor confidence in Britain’s energy markets. It would be a double whammy – bad for both British business and for the environment.”

Aides to Mr Clegg said that any bid to curb wind farms will not be sanctioned under the Coalition.

It will further strain any negotiations between the Tories and Lib Dems in the event of a hung Parliament after the 2015 election.

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman yesterday repeatedly refused to say whether or not the Prime Minister had proposed a cap on wind turbines.

Mr Cameron himself last year said that there will not be “a lot more” onshore wind turbines in the UK.

He said that “there is a limited potential for onshore wind” and that he instead wants to focus on shale gas exploration, nuclear power and offshore wind.

Islington – Planning Policy to be Used to Clamp Down on ‘Buy to Leave’


If any one has the report link ill post.  The BPF doesnt get it – S106 runs with the land.

Thought if there is a klnown rate of ‘buy to lave’ should this not add to obejctively assessed need, like second home?

“Buy-to-leave” investors could be fined up to £60,000 in an assault on empty housing being considered by a London council.

The charge on the growing phenomenon of vacant homes in high-value areas, exemplified this year by the scandal of empty mansions on the Bishop’s Avenue in north London, has been proposed by Islington council. Close to 300 of homes built in the area since 2008 still have no one on the electoral roll, which the council says may mean they are vacant.

Owners would be obliged to ensure properties are occupied “regularly throughout the year” or face a charge as high as £60,000, a discussion paper set before the council last week suggests. On request, owners would be expected to supply evidence such as utility bills to prove someone lives there. The fines would help fund affordable housing elsewhere and would be written into planning agreements.

The move represents an escalation in efforts to stop those investors content to enjoy house price rises in London in excess of 10% a year without occupying or renting out homes. Councils are able to charge an extra 50% on a council tax bill only if a home is empty for two years – little more than £1,000 even for large homes.

“We want to use planning policy to end the scandal of new homes being wasted in this way,” said James Murray, executive member for housing and development. “The criticism of ‘buy-to-leave’ is straightforward: it is wrong when new homes fail to house people. Londoners’ need for somewhere to live should come ahead of global financial investments. It is clear that timidity in the face of an unbridled market will fail.”

The property industry immediately said the plan did not “add up”. “Will it only apply to the first sales of a development, or to subsequent sales, which are clearly totally outside the control of the developer, as well?” said Ian Fletcher, policy director at the British Property Federation. “How will the council stop developers just increasing the price of the units in line with the fee charged? As there are already tools in place for councils to deal with empty homes, we would suggest Islington council’s efforts would be better spent focusing on their efforts on initiatives that will boost development, rather than make it more difficult.”

Islington’s move reflects growing concern at the practice of “buy to leave” and last week’s budget, the chancellor, George Osborne, said anyone buying a property worth more than £500,000 through a company would be required to pay 15% stamp duty unless the property was rented out. The move was aimed at stopping wealthy speculators and investors buying up housing and leaving it empty.

Islington analysed electoral roll data for half a dozen new apartment buildings constructed since 2008 and found that, of the 587 dwellings, a third had no registered voter living in them or were marked as empty. For the Orchard Building, a block of 45 flats, 23 fell into that category.

The proposed fines were welcomed by Empty Homes, a campaigning charity. “It’s an innovative idea and the principle is exactly right,” said David Ireland, chief executive. “It is wrong that we have a huge need for housing in London and quite a lot of what is built is not being lived in. This won’t be in the interests of some developers but it will be in the interests of Londoners.”

Helicopter City

I find Sharjah where i’m now living a fascinating City.  You might not have heard of it but it’s the third largest city in the UAE after Dubai and Abu Dhabi, about half the size of those at around 900,000 population.  It is a more conservative place than either but is not dull and austere like one Gulf country I could mention, rather it is a buzzing metropolitan place much like the centre of any western or asian city with a high population density at its core.  If you want certain comforts you can get in England then go 15 minutes up the coast either east or west no big deal.

What surprised me , It is more densely populated, much more, than Dubai.  Dubai is not really one city it is 2, 3, 4, 5+more being added every day strung out along its ever lengthening freeway network, islands of gleaming towers, which are really separate and widely strewn cities, and an ‘historic core’ around Dubai Creek.  Dubai has its however but they are much less densely occupied than Sharjah where its often densely shared flats house those working in Dubai.  This leads to in Sharjah’s large (though not large enough) urban core shops and restaurants on almost every spare building frontage.

Sharjah though is definitely a single city, a harbour city constrained to its east and west and like most Harbour cities they shoot upwards.  It also has lots of towers along its waterfront corniche roads, which Dubai, unusually amongst major Gulf Cities, simply does not have as its waterfront was swiftly taken up by resorts, docks and expensive villas.

Transport is ‘interesting’ .  It is the most easy place in the world to get a taxi.  I have never waited more than 15 seconds.  Amazing.  The problem is that you often have to get into two or three as the drivers say they are new and they don’t know where Dubai or Rolla (the old city centre of Sharjah) is.  Once wonders how they make a living, it would be like a cabby in the City not knowing how to drive to Westminster.

One thing that Sharjah has way more of than Dubai is helicopter pads on the roof.  They exist in Dubai but are rare.  There are several reasons for this.  Plots in Sharjah are rectangular and small often developed high rise from ‘upzoning’ like in Vancouver say, which results in small square and narrow building forms which tend to have flat roofs.  Dubai is the land of megaprojects, bigger plots and architects who love spires and the famous ‘zoo’ of strange geometries.

More important though is the traffic congestion.  Before the crash of 2008 you could be stuck in the traffic driving in the morning to Dubai 15km away for 3 hours.  People used to drive at 4am in the  morning and sleep in their car at work.  Now it has eased slightly, there is a toll gate and lots of expensive grade separation, even lost of double decker bus on it, but fundamentally the Al Wadr road to Dubai suffers from too many original bad design decisions confusing local and strategic through traffic, it can never fully be fixed and the more you try without major new public transport links the more trips you induce.  The sea and Dubai airport, combined with political choices to limit cross border roads or even build them and not join them up, channel most traffic onto this one corridor.  It is a sight to be seen at what I call ‘check point charlie’ at Saharah Mall in the evenings where to avoid the 20 dinar Salik toll on taxi journeys people jump out of Sharjah Taxis and into Dubai taxis across a dusty no mans land (or vice versa) so you see an army of phillipino shop workers and Russian hookers all fighting for cabs – bizarre.  It could cause a border war (dont tell Putin) -(within living memory there were several border wars between the Emirates, dozens died, now it more by proxy with Dubai keeping 100s of millions of dollars from Salik charges on Sharjah residents).

So a fad developed for buildings with helicopter pads.  Seriously it was though of as a potential answer to transport problems.  One things of the fantasy cityscapes of 1960s planning full of helicopters flying over the plebs below.   But I have never seen one of these pads used, and there are hundreds of them, I counted over 15 within 200m of one building.  Some seem very dangerously placed in relation to other buildings.  Towers however often have big penthouses just below the pad, but real estate here is not that expensive, if I had twice my salary I could almost afford one, but I certainly could never afford a helicopter with 10 times my salary.  But the pads may certainly come in handy one day – pizza delivery by personal drone anyone?  Now that proposal I was going to send by Courier?


‘Hello your Royal Highness i’m the Cotswold, DC enforcement officer..that pigsty in the back’


Prince Charles is facing a Westminster campaign to strip him and his estate of special privileges including tax exemptions, a power of veto over new laws and immunity from legislation covering everything from squatting to planning.

A radical bill is to be put before the House of Lords proposing to remove special treatment of the prince and the Duchy of Cornwall, his inherited £800m estate that provides him with a £19m a year private income.

The move, by the old-Etonian Labour peer Lord Berkeley, also exposes little-known exemptions from laws enforced on everyone else by at least eight acts of parliament.

In his capacity as the Duke of Cornwall, the prince cannot be prosecuted for breaches of planning laws such as building without permission or breaking the terms of planning consents, which would normally attract fines of up to £50,000.

Reddich and Bromsgrove may be forced to conduct wider Green Belt review

Thanks to Prof Alister Scott for the news link, of course Reddich is a classic ‘right to expand’ case vis a vis Bromsgrove.  Rather naively the local ”save the green belt” groups are welcoming any sign that the council’s have got the numbers slightly not quite cooked to recipe, have they any idea of what is about to hit them?   Will have implications also for the Stratford on Avon plan which tightly bounds on the Eastern and Southern side.  Their leader I believe lives slap bang on the border here.

Reddich Standard

MORE of the borough could be concreted over after serious concerns were raised about the number of homes planned for the future.

An inspector has ordered Redditch Borough and Bromsgrove District Councils to urgently respond to a letter questioning the evidence used to decide how many properties will be built in both areas before 2030.

It comes after councils in the south of the county were forced to re-examine the South Worcestershire Development Plan, which could result in them adding thousands more homes to their original plans.

As the Standard reported this month, Redditch and Bromsgrove finally submitted their plans after a three-month delay so they could look again at their evidence, some of which was the same as that used in the SWDP.

But unlike in the south, they decided to keep the same numbers – a total of 6,400 homes for Redditch, 3,000 of which will be built over the border in Bromsgrove, and a further 7,000 for Bromsgrove.

If they are forced to resubmit the plans, it could mean both councils are asked to find extra land to site more homes, despite councillors and officers having previously raised concerns there is no space within Redditch for new development.

In the letter, sent on Wednesday (March 26), inspector Michael Hetherington said although he was at ‘an early stage’ in his preparatory work, he had identified a matter which potentially involved a ‘serious soundness concern’.

“It is unclear from the draft report how the updated evidence has affected the councils’ consideration of the objectively assessed housing needs within their respective areas.”

He has asked for urgent consideration and a written response to his statement, adding a meeting could be called to discuss the issue before the main hearings associated with approving the plans.

David Rose, chairman of Webheath Action Group, said: “There have been flaws before in the process that we have highlighted to the chief exec. It is not a great surprise the inspector has found flaws also.”

Robert McColl from Save Our Green added: “Many people in Winyates Green and Mappleborough Green have questioned the soundness of the plan, they weren’t surprised when the figures were actually questioned but were surprised when the plans were submitted with the same figures.

“The inspector clearly has serious concerns about this and we would welcome the council taking the opportunity to review the figures again.”

Ruth Bamford, the council’s head of planning and regeneration, said: “The inspector has asked us to clarify the evidence used to decide the overall numbers in the plan, and we will provide that clarification.



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