Birmingham Mayor wants to Make City a National Park – Another Daft Idea that Demeans Good City Planning

The daftest idea since the London National Park City.

This is vrtue signalling that demeans the value and concept of Nation al Parks and undermines good green city planning.

The professor’s ideas are great however the mechanism is daft.  The concept is National Park is green wild, everything Brum isnt – so lets ‘national parkify’ Brum.  However that tries to sweep under the carpet all the not wild, people exist at numbers and at density reality and greatness of a great city.  Greening in such an environment requires a different kind of thinking, celebrating density, not trying to  protect wilderness create nature everywhere not a segregated slice of wildness away from where people live.

Did the high line need a national park – No.

Did Chamberline require a national park to create Vicoria Square, Cadbury to create Bournville – No.

Like Green Belt the concept of National Parks has become a fossil of misunderstanding because of the lack of good city planning, a spade calling itself a spade.

Guardian

think we have an extraordinary landscape here waiting to be discovered by millions,” says landscape architect Kathryn Moore, unrolling a jauntily coloured map of her visionary new park in a Birmingham City University office. The professor isn’t talking about of Cumbria, Umbria, Snowdonia or Amazonia. She’s talking about the touristic potential of the West Midlands plateau, the heart of England that threw itself into the fiery crucible of the Industrial Revolution and still bears sacrificial scars. It is here that Professor Moore wants to create the United Kingdom’s 16th national park.

In the 19th century, Queen Victoria would lower the blinds on the royal train so she didn’t have to see the smokestack hell of the Black CountryTolkien was inspired to create Mordor from nocturnal visions of its blast furnaces. If Moore has her way, though, in a decade or so Queen Kate will raise the blinds as the HS2 train passes the reconfigured Tame Valley between Birmingham and Coventry. “Look!” she’ll exclaim to King William. “What a vista of allotments, fisheries, fields, orchards, forests, hi-tech agriculture, green industries, creative hubs and cycle paths!” She’ll gaze in admiration at how the Tame has been rerouted using water from Birmingham city centre’s aquifer, all crisscrossed by new footbridges linking together suburbs long isolated by the city’s motorised arterial routes.

And finally, as the train makes its approach to Philip Hardwick’s recently reopened grade I-listed, Roman-inspired, 1838 Curzon Street rail terminus, King William too will look out of the window. “Gosh!” he’ll exclaim. “Is that the famous Birmingham Central Park?”

I know what you’re thinking. Make the Black Country green? Royal trains that stop in Birmingham?

Understandably, Moore is steeling herself for the derision she’s going to get for daring to suggest the West Midlands might become green and pleasant. “Everybody talks about how this landscape is ugly or whatever,” she says. “But we can give it a new identity, and in so doing reimagine what it is to live in cities in a way that lives up to UN sustainable development goals.” Not since Mayor Joseph Chamberlain sought to make Birmingham the new Athens at the end of the 19th century has anyone round here dared to dream this big.

On Thursday, Moore will unveil her plans for a new national park for the West Midlands at a conference in Birmingham. Last month, environment secretary Michael Gove asked if there is scope to expand the current network of national parks. Moore’s plans are a response to Gove’s invitation for ideas: a new vision for what a national park could be. Forget about trying to find new forests, coastlines or ancient wildernesses, Moore suggests: let’s re-green the West Midlands instead. “Birmingham was once famous as the city of a thousand trades,” she says. “Imagine if it became famous as the city of a thousand cycle and footpaths, a thousand parks and a thousand lakes.”

Curzon Street station, Birmingham, which is being refurbished and will form part of the HS2 terminal.

Maybe she’s imagining a West Midlands akin to the post-apocalyptic England imagined in nature writer Richard Jefferies 19th-century novel After London, in which cities revert to nature – and the few survivors to a quasi-medieval way of life? “Not at all!” protests Moore. “I love cities, but I want to give them a better 21st century identity so they’re better to live in, more productive as well as more attractive.”

Consider, for example, what’s wrong with suburban lawns. “If you look at wartime maps or aerial photos you’ll see that the landscape was used in a very different way. I want to bring back agriculture to the West Midlands, in part to increase food security. I want to create a new connection between the communities and the countryside people here haven’t experienced for decades.”

Among the conference speakers will be James Corner, the landscape architect who changed perceptions of what cities could be like when he created a linear park from an abandoned elevated railway line in inner New York City and called it the High Line.

Moore wants to do something similar, but with a twist. Instead of repurposing an abandoned railway, she plans to use a new one – the HS2 from London to Birmingham – as a catalyst. “It’s had so much bad publicity, but now we want to use the arrival of HS2 to create a better, greener West Midlands.” Moore serves on HS2’s design panel and hopes just as Birmingham led the world with the industrial revolution, it will lead the world in reimagining how an urban landscape can be married to a new notion of the countryside: a post-industrial revolution.

Her proposal also aims to capitalise on Coventry becoming UK city of culture in 2021, and Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022. “The point is to harness all that energy to create something lasting that improves the quality of life of people here.” East London’s award-winning Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympics, and in that sense was something of a precursor for what she wants to achieve here. “The park would focus on encouraging active healthy lives and and wellbeing.”

Moore’s national park proposal blames traditional development practices for long-term social, economic and environmental damage. Birmingham in particular and the West Midlands in general have long been considered proof of such blindness. Herbert Manzoni, Birmingham’s city engineer and surveyor, was in the 1960s and 70s what Baron Haussmann was to Paris a century before, building arterial routes and ring roads no matter what the cost to communities or aesthetics.

The city became known for its underpasses filled with bad smells and worse buskers, while above traffic often as not sat in rush-hour gridlock. Manzoni created roads for drivers to sit in their private little boxes but neglected public spaces where you might want to walk or sit without having to cough up for a coffee. Moore’s proposals for a national park are an elegant counter to that car-based, free-market, environment-despoiling ideology.

The worst aspect of what Manzoni did to the heart of England, Moore thinks, is that his roads carved up poorer neighbourhoods and made them more deprived as a result. “If you look at the map of multiple deprivation in the West Midlands,” she explains, “you’ll see how deprived communities are often ringed by roads that are hard to cross. They can’t get out of their neighbourhoods very easily to get to work or to education. The roads that were meant to connect people actually serve to leave some behind.”

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She has a point. Before meeting Moore, I get the 67 bus along the Tyburn and and Lichfield Roads, a route which goes through some of east Birmingham’s most deprived areas. Sue, a nurse heading home to Pype Hayes after her shift tells me she thinks estates like hers have been neglected by planners for too long. “Castle Vale and Chelmsley Wood, and lots of other estates in the West Midlands are cut off from the rest off the city by the M6 and by the big main roads. They become ghettoes. Your professor’s dead right about that and something needs to be done.”

But she’s sceptical about plans for a national park. “People have always had big ideas for how to improve Birmingham,” she says. Fair point: I remember interviewing Birmingham council leader Mike Whitby in 2010 when he told me he thought the new central library might be better known as “a palazzo of human thought”. “But they always come unstuck when it comes to money,” says Sue. Again, fair point: that glamorous new library’s opening hours have been reduced because of council cuts.

Potential sources of funding for Moore’s national park include the Department for Transport, the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Canal and River Trust and the Maria Nobrega Foundation.

Later I ask a group of criminology students picnicking outside Birmingham’s Thinktank science museum if they like the idea of a Central Park over the wastelands they can glimpse from their flats. “I’d certainly like to stay here if it was a little less harsh and had more public parks,” says one. “I can imagine making a good life in this city if it wasn’t just for people with cars and lots of money,” says another. “I like the idea of having a national park on your doorstep and I suspect it would increase tourism.” What should it be called? “Heartlandia,” suggests one. “Mordor 2.0,” offers another. I’d like to see it called Brumbria, and picture tourists wondering why this looks nothing like Assisi or Keswick.

Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice, but the area is also home to many rivers, including the Tame, pictured here.
Pinterest
 Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice, but the area is also home to many rivers, including the Tame, pictured here. Photograph: Alamy

Back in Birmingham City University, Moore explains that a tourism bump is certainly part of her agenda, but so is developing new skills in sectors that the West Midlands has hardly been known for in recent years – such as agriculture, horticulture, food production. “The park would boost the economy because it would make it more attractive for people to want to live here and that would make it more attractive for business.” No wonder, perhaps, that support for her project comes from Andy Street, former head of John Lewis and now the West Midlands’ first elected mayor, as well as Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman – the latter in part wooed by Moore’s idea that the Forest of Arden should be extended as part of the project. But Moore admits to dodging the question when I ask her if planners for the West Midlands are all behind her scheme.

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North Essex Decision – Garden Communities are Tough Without a Regional Strategy and a Masterplan

 

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We know how to do a Garden City don’t we

You declare a development corporation.

You prepare a masterplan.

You cost the infrastructure.

You get treasury funding.

The masterplan is approved etc. etc.

That is not a lesson necessarily learned at North Essex Garden Communities – just found unsound.   Though it took a week to get on the website.

This is not a death knell for the scheme.  It certainly is not ‘back to sqare one’ as one campaign group has claimed.  The Inspector did not suggest an alternative strategy, he simply did not consider the evidence to support the plan presented sufficient.  Though it could be amended this seems unlikley and withdrawl and resubmission seems more likley.  The inspector certainty did not back some of the far fetched alternatives presented at the inquiry like expanding 100s of villages in a scattered and unsustainable manner.

The project failed because not all of the basic ground work in terms of infrastructure and spatial distribution was carried out.  The plan was probably submitted a year early before Essex County Council – playing to catch up, was ready.  The County has only just published plans for the preferred alignment of the A120 upgrading and not yet for the widening of the A12, leaving the concept diagrams in the plan out of sync.

I appreciate that the NEAs, ECC and Highways England are working
together constructively to resolve these issues. Nonetheless, greater
certainty over the funding and alignment of the A120 dualling scheme and
the feasibility of realigning the widened A12 at Marks Tey is necessary to
demonstrate that the GC proposals are deliverable in full.

On rapid transit.

A rapid transit system [RTS] for North Essex is an integral part of the GC
proposals. Policy SP7 requires the new communities to be planned around
a “step change” in integrated and sustainable transport systems. The
Concept Frameworks for each GC all include a RTS as a key element of the
movement and access framework. And the Jacobs Movement and Access
Study [MAS] sets a target for 30% of all journeys to, from and within the
GCs to be made by rapid transit, rising to 38% for journeys with an
external origin or destination….It is unlikely that those extremely ambitious targets would be achieved or even approached unless rapid transit services to key destinations are available early on in the lifetime of the GCs. …However, planning of the proposed RTS has reached only a very early stage. The North Essex Rapid Transit Study [NERTS] is a high-level assessment of the costs and benefits of a RTS. It assesses demand, and outlines route options and a range of costs, for an extensive network linking the three GCs to Colchester, Braintree and Stansted. But it is not a
feasibility study which investigates whether such a network could actually
be delivered on the ground. Nor does it recommend which of the modal
options (bus, guided bus, tram, etc) should be taken forward, or identify a
timescale for delivery.

The lesson here is a prefeasibility study should have been followed up with a feasibility study for BRT.  The west of Braintree propsoal could have included Easton Park now in the Uttlesford Local plan and a link to Stansted and Bishops Stortford, without this the scheme would have been unsustainable.  East of Colchester is an odd choice for rapid transit, more at Marks Tey the only site linked to the rail network seems more feasible.

On the relocation of Marks Tey Station

The existing Marks Tey railway station, on the Great Eastern Main Line
[GEML] between London and Norwich, is within, but close to the eastern
edge of, the indicative boundary of CBBGC. In principle, the station would
be a considerable asset for CBBGC. However, its current peripheral
position would integrate poorly with the structure of the GC. The CBBGC
Concept Framework proposes its relocation some 2km to the south-west,
where it would form part of a transport interchange in the new town centre….

The Hyas viability appraisal for CBBGC allows £50M towards the cost of
relocating the station. While work will need to be done to refine that figure
and to identify other sources of funding, it is a reasonable allowance to
make at this stage. However, it appears in the spreadsheet in 2057/58,
30 years into the proposed build period. That is far too late to enable the
station to be integrated into the planning of the new town centre, and for it
to have the beneficial effects envisaged by the Concept Framework. If the
relocation of Marks Tey station is to form part of a proposed GC, the
allocation of funding for it must be made much earlier in the build period.

This seems a silly trick by the promoters to boost viability when it would have been counterproductive in trips generated, mitigation costs and the other cost (over 1 billion) of public transport.

On land purchase assumptions in the viability apprarisal

what ultimately matters forhousing delivery is whether the value received by the landowner is sufficient to persuade him or her to sell the land for development.
I consider it unlikely that most landowners would sell their land for
development without at least a reasonable uplift on its existing use value.
This has clear implications for the deliverability of the GCs.
That does not necessarily mean that a price of £100k per acre would need
to be paid, as is suggested in Volume 3 of the GC Concept Feasibility Study.
Ultimately, of course, the actual land price will emerge from negotiations
with individual landowners. But in order to demonstrate that the GC
proposals can be delivered, the NEAs will need to show through viability
assessment that a reasonable uplift on current use values can be achieved.
85. Alternatively, if the NEAs intend to use compulsory purchase or other
powers to acquire development land at a lower value than could be
achieved through negotiation, clear evidence would need to be provided
that such a course of action is capable of achieving that outcome (and is
also compatible with human rights legislation). That has not been
demonstrated by the evidence currently before me.

Ow how one pines for old Style New Towns before the 1961 Land Compensation Act.  The inspector is too negative here.  The no scheme world here is no new town and no housing allocation.  The value on the basis of that given Olympci CPO caselaw is existing use value + loss payments, as several planning lawyers and the CPO association stressed in evidence to the MHCLG select committee recently.  That is fully HRA compliant.

For the foregoing reasons, it has not been demonstrated that the GCs
proposed in the submitted Plan are financially viable. Further viability
assessment, taking account of all the points above, will need to be carried
out on any GC proposals that the NEAs bring forward. Because of the GCs’
long development timescales, it would be advantageous for the residual
valuation appraisal to be supplemented with a discounted cashflow
assessment in order to provide a more complete analysis.

Fair enough.

On the SA the inspector makes a reasonable point.

I consider that in assessing the chosen spatial strategy against
alternatives that do not include GCs, the authors of the SA report have
generally made optimistic assumptions about the benefits of GCs, and
correspondingly negative assumptions about the alternatives, without
evidence to support many of those assumptions. As a result these
assessments lack the necessary degree of objectivity and are therefore
unreliable.

further work should be an assessment of alternative spatial strategies for the Plan area. The alternatives considered,and the reasons for selecting them, will need to be set out more clearly than the alternatives on pages 79-80 of the 2017 SA report. I suggest that
the alternatives should include, as a minimum, the following:
 Proportionate growth at and around existing settlements
 CAUSE’s Metro Town proposal
 One, two or more GCs (depending on the outcomes of the first-stage
assessment)

The inspector concludes:

It will be evident from the foregoing discussion that I consider that the
Garden Community proposals contained in the Plan are not adequately
justified and have not been shown to have a reasonable prospect of being
viably developed. As submitted, they are therefore unsound. I…However, this is not to say that GCs may not have a role to play in meeting
development needs in North Essex. I recognise that substantial time, effort
and resources have already been invested in developing the GC proposals,
not only by the NEAs but also by the Government, landowners, potential
developers, infrastructure providers and others. It is possible that when
the necessary additional work I have outlined is completed, it will provide
justification for proceeding with one or more GC proposals – although any
such justification would of course be subject to further testing at
examination.

The development plan system sets very high bars in terms of viability etc. for new settlements.  Much higher than regional strategies or strategic plans of the past. Lets put it this way dod you really need a fully costsed design of a rapid tranbsit system before deciding Marks Tey is – in principle – a good site for a Garden City – of course not.

Having said that before determining its capcity and delivery you need a proper joined up transport and design masterplan, which they did not have in the absence of a development corporation.

Though the government is supportive of ‘locally led’ designations, it is local with a lead weight tied to you without the active and full support of Homes England the Highways Agency and the Dept of Transport in providing the necessary infrastructure.

Many authorities could justifiably conclude that without a proper mechanism of strategic planning, government designation and infrastructure planning by a supportive state they are just too much like hard work when compared to just projecting sprawl in the default manner of planning since the 80s.

The government needs to learn the lessons here just as much as North Essex.  It needs a clearer support system, a proper designation system for land value cpature and a joined up system for infrastructure planning of p[projects of national importance without the rigidities of current RIS’s and ‘control periods’.

The Long and Winding New Settlement Road

It is no surprise that the SoS refuses a Green Belt new settlement even when in a draft local plan.  It is premature and the test at appeal (very special as opposed to exceptional circumstances is different).

Of course a different inspector is doing the local plan EiP and they entitled to come to a diffeent answer however

  1. The A3 – the Highways Agnecy still hasn’t finalised a scheme for the A3/M25 junction critical for this to go ahead. until they have the scheme is blocked.
  2. The form of the setlement

The long, linear shape of the site does not assist in the creation of a
sustainable community. While the Appellant sought to make a virtue of its
linear form, enabling as it does a chain of bus stops down the spine road, the
fact that the new settlement needs buses so that some of its residents can
reach its own village centre is indicative of its lack of sustainable credentials.
While there would, in all probability, be pleasant walks through the site, there
would still be a considerable distance (up to about 1,500m as the crow flies)
between some new housing and the village centre.

So the scheme seems dead – which will require Guildford to look at a site more accessible.  My prediction is the inspector will approve the plan with this site deleted and require an early review to ensure a full 15 year supply, whilst acknowledging that any practical site needs to be in the GB.

 

West of England Joint Spatial Plan – As much Sprawl as we can get away with?

I’m hesitant to criticise the West of England Joint Spatial plan.

It is a well written, produced  and concise and the government at heavily promoting such joint strategic plans. It makes some tough choices and is to be commended for doint so.   it is the first of a new breed.

However it does have the wiff of an updated Avon stricture plan.  It has big  1960s planning advice group report style big blobs but without a clear indication of how these relate to transport infrastructure and settlement structure.  There is also little indication of how it relates to the creation of a sustainable pattern of places and the kind of places that would be created – something all of the ‘classic’ strategic plans have, something for example the North Essex Garden Communities plan has in spades.

Part of the issue is it doesn’t really set out the strategic priorities  of the plan.  Which is a puzzle because that is required in the old NPPF and the only minimum requirement in the new draft NPPF.

For a city or cities surrounded by Green Belt the key issue will be how much development in the Green Belt and how much outside it.  The plan has been criticised for allocating too much strategic development to road served development outside the Green Belt rather than locations closer to major areas of employment growth within it.  This is exacerbated by the poor relationship between strategic development locations and the rail network.

The justification of the spatial strategy (in the JSP and startegy topic paper) is curious

Technical work and transport modelling have shown that it is not possible to sustainably accommodate all the identified growth needs entirely outside the Green Belt. The transport impacts cannot be fully mitigated even with substantial investment. Such a strategy would be dependent on some highly unsustainable locations that are very difficult and expensive to mitigate with only sub-optimal solutions….In response to concerns expressed through public consultation, the spatial strategy aims to minimise the impact on the Bristol and Bath Green Belt. However, due to the scale of provision required and the extensive nature of the Green Belt, the Plan does include some Strategic Development Locations currently with Green Belt designation as explained in the Spatial Strategy Topic paper.

Lets put this in plane English.  It is saying we havn’t been able to put all of the development outside the Green Belt, but we have put as much as we can get away with without causing gridlock.  the strategy rather than minimising length and number of car trips seems to be maximising them compared to alternative strategies requiring more Green belt loss.

There is the need to avoid the unsustainable expansion of the north and east fringes of the Bristol urban area beyond the substantial existing commitments that are identified to be delivered in adopted Local Plans.

So unsustainable they plan strategic locations 20 miles further out without rail access.  Some of the development in the North Bristol area has been a distaste but it still has areas with significant potential for Smart Growth high density development within a  20 minute bus ride of Bristol which some of the (too small) ‘Garden Village’ proposals in the JSP don’t.

Ultimately the trade off between Green Belt and outside Green Belt is a political choice and one the NPPF allows to be made locally.  I might not like the plan, an inspector might not like the plan, but I doubt they would reject the startegy for having made that trade off.   Like so much post war planning it is as much sprawl as they can get away with.

 

 

Why have One Housing Supply Document when Five will do?

Draft NPPG

Local planning authorities may wish to set up an assessment and delivery group which could contribute towards Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessments, annual five year land supply assessments and Housing Delivery Test action plans

And AMRs and submission Topic Papers.

Why not just one document produced every year – updated midyear for DPD submission.  Why make things so complicated?

The New London Airport already has Planning Permission

Where could that be? Its an historical curiosity but Maplin still has an extant special development order from 1973 including a port, high speed rail and a new town of 600,000. The reclamation of 80 sq. km of land here was granted by an act of parliament in Victorian times. Both still extant and valid pre habitats directive which is not retrospective. The development corporation was abolished by the incoming Labour administration in 1974 but the SDOnever revoked I believe.

Which Balance Normal or Tilted?

If it harms a heritage asset a normal balance

 

FTB Chambers

The Secretary of State has submitted to judgment in West Oxfordshire District Council’s challenge to an appeal decision relating to a proposed Gladman development at Cote Road, Aston, Oxfordshire.

The Council’s grounds of challenge were that the Inspector had fallen into the trap of failing to consider the interaction between paras. 134 and 14 of the NPPF and therefore applied the wrong test when balancing the harm and benefits of the development, with a consequent failure to comply with the requirements of section 66(1) of the Listed Buildings Act 1990.

The Inspector concluded that

(1) the Council could not demonstrate a five year supply of housing land and so para. 49 and limb 1 of the last bullet point in para. 14 of the NPPF applied;

(2) “less than substantial harm” would be caused to designated heritage assets by implementation of the appeal proposals; and

(3) that harm had to be weighed against the identified benefits, applying the test in limb 1 of the last bullet point in para. 14 of the NPPF that planning permission should be granted unless the adverse impacts “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”, ie as in limb 1 of the last bullet point in para. 14 of the NPPF.

But the Inspector’s analysis revealed an error of law in that the balancing exercise he undertook involved applying the weighted/tilted balance in limb 1 of the last bullet point in para. 14 of the NPPF when he should have carried out that balancing exercise in the ordinary unweighted way.  He therefore failed to consider the interaction between paras. 134 and 14 of the NPPF, applied the wrong test when balancing the harm and benefits of the development and failed to comply with the duty in s. 66(1).

In fact, this was the same error of law as arose in Forest of Dean District Council v. Secretary of State [2016] EWHC 421 (Admin) and R (Hill) v. Stroud DC and Rooksmoor Mills Ltd [2016] EWHC 3667 (Admin) (and see also R (Leckhampton) v. Tewkesbury BC [2017] EWHC 198 (Admin)).

The Secretary of State submitted to judgment on the making of the claim.  Gladman awaited the grant of permission but also submitted to judgment in the light of Holgate J’s conclusion that the Council’s main argument was “plainly arguable”.

Meyric Lewis acted for West Oxfordshire Council instructed by Susan Gargett.  William Rose of Sharpe Pritchard acted as solicitor on the High Court claim.

Understanding EUV+ and how it Affects Market Value

I thought I understood the draft NPPF definition of affordable housing as 80% of market values.  I thought at first this was ridiculous and assumed it was existing market values.

However reading the draft NPPG revisions alongside it together with the recent Parkhurst Road caselaw I think I was wrong.

However I think we still have a compcated return to circular valuation in cases where affordable housing is not grant funded.

The important thing about the new method (or rather the Islaington.GLA Three Dragons approach applied nationally) is that land value os an output rather than an input after applying all policies.  So developers can never claim a scheme is unviable if a developer has paid too much for land.

It can be laid out as a formula – with a few reasonable assumption

Market Value =((EUV PMH*1.2)+(Build costs MH)*1.2) + ((EUV(1-PMH)*1.2)+(Build costs AH)*1.06)-IN

Where PMH = proportion of site market housing

MH=market housing

AH = affordable housing

In=infrastructure S106 costs +CIL

Where I assume that build costs includes all costs to a developer (including promotion) other than land.

The guidance doesn’t give a standard return to landowners (unlike developers) however in a market economy the return on capital will equalise with return on land which is exactly the same assumption of caselaw (Shifield principle).

if you fix the number of units and infrastructure costs then there are two dependent variables, the proportion of market housing and market value.  The infrastructure effectively draws a horizontal line across the graph which sets the intercept point – it fully comes off the price of the land.

However as the proportion of market houses rises the price falls.  Remember the policies including affordable housing are inputs not outputs.

Indeed it is possible to rearrange the formula into its components price of market housing and price of affordable housing.

In the simplest case then of a 100% funded affordable housing scheme the market price becomes a premium on the affordable housing value depending on the Homes England formula.

For most schemes with a mix the the exact premium will depend site by site on infrastructure costs plus the relative cost of affordable and market building, but it seems to me in plan making the assumption is that such a ‘affordable housing price * X’ approach would be used.

How is land value captured at this point?  Prices for land to developers is squeezed, however housebuilders can then still sell at market values.    If land is released but developers still sell at market values then we have a dual market situation where housebuilders can buy cheap and arbitrage by selling expensively, or where landowners wont release unless they do joint ventures with developers to equalise returns.  .  Indeed land owners could make far more money by developing it themselves.

This is not really a tenable situation compared to the continental system whereby the local state acquires the site at EUV+ and captures the uplift., or SVT in some form.

What if I am wrong on the formula and the market housing price is an input – well then we are back in ‘circularity’ territory.

This puts us in interesting territory.  If plan policies are not viable the solution might be in many cases to increase the proportion of affordable housing to force down prices.

 

 

 

Prince Charles want to Restrict Tall buildings in the City of London over Tower of London World heritage Site Threats

Express

PRINCE Charles is fighting tooth and nail to save the Tower of London from losing its World Heritage status, which is being threatened by the height of buildings in the east of the City that are ruining the Tower’s view.

The Prince of Wales’ concerns were disclosed in new documents on Sunday.

In March, Prince Charles met with Rupert Gavin, the chairman of Historic Royal Palaces which is the charity that looks after the Tower, and its chief executive John Barnes to discuss the future status of the historic site.

According to the Mail, a briefing paper from the meeting says protection of important views of the Tower from the Queen’s Walk on the South Bank, Tower Bridge and London Bridge are “generally effective”.

However, the document claimed: “The wider setting does not have such sufficient protection and has been threatened in recent years by increasingly tall new buildings, particularly in the City.

Prince Charles is fighting to save the Tower of London from losing its World Heritage status
“The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has expressed concern about this, and about any build-up of further tall buildings in the vicinity of the Shard which could put the Tower’s World Heritage status at risk.”

The Prince is understood to be personally involved in trying to protect the Tower.

Last year, Historic Royal Palaces, said it was “extremely concerned” about the skyscrapers surrounding the medieval fortress after city planners allowed the construction for a skyscraper at 1 Leadenhall.

The charity was also strongly opposed to the 541ft “Walkie Talkie” building in Fenchurch Street but City, which was also given a go-ahead by planners.

The Prince has previously expressed concern and showed involvement about other construction work in London.

In 1984 he described the extension proposal for the National Gallery as “a monstrous carbuncle”.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is set to meet in Bahrain later this month and an update on the Tower’s status is believed to emerge.

According to the UNESCO website, the Tower of London is “an internationally famous monument and one of England’s most iconic structures”.

William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1066 as a demonstration of Norman power, siting it strategically on the River Thames to act as both fortress and gateway to the capital.

The Tower of London is the most complete example of an 11th century fortress palace in Europe

The Prince is understood to be personally involved in trying to protect the Tower

It is the most complete example of an 11th century fortress palace remaining in Europe.

It has been the setting for key historical events in European history, including the execution of three English queens: Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII; Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife and Lady Jane Grey.

The Garden of England Strategy – Long Term Growth Options for Kent, Sussex and Surrey

I have been covering over the last few weeks options for locations for large Garden Cities to cover long term growth options in the greater south east including the huge 600,000+ overspill from London impied by the latest London plan targets.

This post covers Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

In one sense it is the easiest area as it will need to take least overspill.  My model looking at NPPF unconstrained areas within 100km of London suggests only 11% of the overspill can go within this three counties, because of sea and constraints.

In other ways it is the most difficult, because of constraints and its own population growth, adding overspill to indigenous growth implies over 1.2 million new homes here by 2050.

As it has a dense existing settlement stricture and is not central to the UK a smaller proportion of growth here will need to go to new strategic developments as opposed to organic growth of existing settlements.  1.2 million new homes though will put pressure on these settlements .  I assume therefore around 50% of growth will be new strategic locations (as opposed to my 75% assumption for the Oxford-MK_Cambridge corridor).

Its not easy finding sites for 600,000 new homes.

I assume Kent will take the major share as being most accessible and less constrained than Sussex or Surrey.  Where then could you fit 400,000 or so additional houses in Kent?  Equivalent to two large Garden Cities of 200,000 population each, or more likley two of around 150,000 each and expansion of existing planned Garden Communities such as at Folkstone and Paddock Wood to cover the remaining 100,000.

Folkstone and Paddock Wood are of Course on the  original route of South Eastern main line now known as the Redhill-Tonbridge-Ashford line .  Two track and third rail not promising, as well as feeding into Charing Cross, which was deemed too small a site from the day it was planned in the nineteenth century, however it is the straightest railway line in the world and has surprisingly little development along it, with many settlements on one side only as the first line from london to Dover and forced to take a sharp southern line first as the Admiraty objecesd to tunnelling under Greenwich observatory serving settlements was a secondary consideration)  and in towns such as Ashford and Paddock Wood already four track.

My bold solution is to separate fast and stopping services by extending Crossrail II via a 5 mile tunnel from Chessington to Redhill linking to the South East Mainline and diverting all fast services from Charing Cross (you could still catch a slow train to Clapham Junction and change there) – from there it would be limited stop high speed rail all the way to Ashford and the Eurotunnel, also serving a parkway station for the Garden City planned at Otterpool Park (Which I first suggested).   I term this the Garden of England line.

The lack of development along the route makes it surprisingly easy, only a few dozen houses would be affected as it mostly passes through Greenfield and industrial.

Proposed Kent Express Tunnel

South of Chessington I would build a parkway station to serve  Epsom and Letherhead with a release of Green Belt at Maldon Rushett so London also bears its fair share.  TEast of Paddock Wood is outside the Green Belt and probably 75% of this growth alongside this corridor.

The relief tracks would be laid first, then the stopping services would use these whilst the old stopping lines were upgraded to high speed.

What this then does it free up perhaps  nodes for communities of 10-60,000 each at locations such as South Godstone, Edenbridge, Leigh, Staplehurst, Marden,  Headcorn and Pluckley.  the fast services would be interleaved so that every other fast service covered one of these stations.  The largest nodes would be between Tonbridge and Ashford as this would be closest aligned with infrastructure in all its forms (though a new link  A road would be needed from Tonbridge to the M20). This would then also form a linear city (with extensive green gaps) also facilitating BRT between Tonbridge and Ashford through the new nodes.

I would term this Garden City Gramarye (its a reference to Kipling who wrote poems about the Weald)

With pressure on routes through Croydon reduced it would free up capacity on the Brighton mainline enabling some growth on the narrow low weald gap here.

This area is not easy, its full of ancient enclosures, orchards, oast Houses, ancient woods and boggy clay fields, it would need outstanding design and extensive run off and green areas.  however it is far less sensitive than the high weald, downs and green sand ridges, as well as ancient villages and small towns elsewhere in Kent, it also diverts teh vast majority of the growth outside the Green Belt.

 

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