Oh No Niave Greg Clarke is back to Replace Pickles

At last we hoped we might get a new SoS to replace Big Eric, one focussed on solving the housing crisis rather than obsessing about flags, crown green bowls and teaching people how to cook curry.  One from a constituency that doesn’t have the highest proportion of Green Belt countryside in the country and so wouldnt simply spread sprawl everywhere else.   But arrrgh we get Greg Clarke.  How now are senior civil servants to explain to the architect of the NPPf what a total omnishambles it has been with local plans falling ever further out of date, fewer and fewer big sites being allocated and the necessary hard decisions about where to house the 2 million plus overspill from our big cities being kicked ever further into the long grass, with housebuilders racking up permissions and drip feeding completions.  Every prediction that Greg Clarke made about what impact the NPPF would have has been proven untrue, just read his parliamentary speeches.

Greg Clark is a proponent of a hippy dippy view of politics.  Where if everyone just loved each other and was nice that every problem in the world would be solved.  His Polyannesque view was that localism would solve everything and local would simply want to allocate more.  His naivety about the realities of countryside wars led Gus O Donnell counting the NPPF development as one of the three greatest policy development failures in his lifetime.  One can imagine his approach to Garden Cities ‘ oh please please locally lead on a Garden city’  ‘No’ ‘ Oh please please be nice, have a cup of tea’ ‘No let Boris build it’  ‘But we are only building half the houses in London we need, please please please, how about a few thousand’  “but minister we need Garden Cities of 100,000s in size to meet the 2 million shortfall’  ‘Ok how can we ne really nice to people to get them to say yes, a few quid for their parks and schools say’  ‘These local politicians need to get elected minister’ ‘Oh im sure a charm offensive will do wonders, invite them in for a confab on my sofa’

So at least 2 years I guess of total non progress on planning till we get a fresh face who can be detached and objective about what needs to be done.

The Woodcock Holdings Case – The Neighbourhood Plan Bait and Switch Gets a Deathblow

The Neighbourhood Plan Bait and Switch will no longer work given

  – and –  

The emarging Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common NP had set a housing cap, despite the OAN being disputed in the emerging local plan.  The court held that the issue of prematurity on whether the cap should be held until the EIP should not be the determining issue.

the Secretary of State did not assess whether the inclusion of any cap in draft policy H4 accorded with the NPPF, nor the strength of the objections made to the plan, particularly that policy’ (para .145)

  1. In my judgment, the policy in paragraph 216 of the NPPF should be read as a whole. It is not a policy which simply makes the trite point that decision-makers may give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans. Rather it is a policy that they may do so “according to” the three criteria or factors which follow. The policy clearly stipulates that the three criteria are relevant in each case. Of course, when dealing with a particular planning proposal it may be the case that the relevant policies in a draft plan have not attracted any objections and so it would not be necessary to consider the second criterion beyond that initial stage. But plainly the second criterion is material in each case in order to ascertain whether a relevant draft policy has attracted any objections and if so, their nature, before going on to make an assessment of the significance of any such objections….It follows that if the Secretary of State had applied the second and third criteria in paragraph 216 of the NPPF, he was obliged to give reasons explaining how he had done so and resolved important planning issues raised by the parties. He did not give any such reasoning in the decision letter.

This is critically important.  Of course in so far as material the decision maker can give any weight to a material consideration they wish, but now they cant simply dismiss objecions to an emerging plan, they must assess them in determining the weight to give to the emerging plan.

Millibands ‘Policy Tombstone’ requires Listed Building Consent – another Total Policy Fuckwit idea #Edstone

Really sometimes you could not make it up


Ed Miliband suffered his “Neil Kinnock moment” on Sunday, opponents said, after pledging to install an eight-foot limestone monument [A better plan a better future] to his manifesto in the Downing Street garden.

Labour descended into infighting over who was responsible for the eight-foot-six limestone monolith engraved with six election pledges.

Mr Miliband unveiled the edifice in Hastings on Saturday to show his vows would be “carved in stone”.

…critics dubbed it a “policy cenotaph” and “the heaviest suicide note in history”, and likened it to the stone tablets carried by Moses.

…Government sources pointed out that Downing Street is a Grade One listed building, and the smallest alterations to the exterior require planning permission from Tory-controlled Westminster City Council.

However, if Mr Miliband appealed the decision, it could ultimately be decided by the Secretary of State – likely to be Hilary Benn. “He wouldn’t last very long if he said no,” said a council source.

It would be likely to fall foul of the Ministerial Code, which bans the use of government buildings for the “dissemination of material which is essentially party political”, sources said.

Labour sources were swift to point the finger at Torsten Henricson-Bell, Mr Miliband’s 32-year-old director of policy.

And who is this fuckwit Torsten Henricson-Bell?  How anyone could be more of a total policy fuckwit than Alex Marsh strains credibility, as does the fact that our party leaders employ total policy fuckwits, who would not last 5 minutes in local government, at the highest possible levels, is a mystery.  But that is the tragedy of our time.  Policy is now set by total policy fuckwits.  Torsten is described as ‘terribly bright but totally devoid of any politics’  and described as ‘Gaffe Prone’ , He never tires of telling us how ferociously clever he is,’ says one insider’, in other words a perfect total policy fuckwit – designed to engineer initiatives designed to sink like a stone in the lake of reality.  Of course all of Eds many enemies said nothing when this idea was floated passed the, it gave them a perfect stone to lash to Ed and Torstens careers after the election, especially after Torsten had planted many bad ideas and blamed John Cruddas and others for them – revenge is so sweet.

Where do total policy fuckwits spawn from?  Without real they are former spads, sometimes graduating from dumbtanks who have never had the burden of designing and implementing policy in a proper job.  For the total policy fuckwit policy is an intellectual wheeze designed for temporary polictical leverage at the small minority of floating voters rather than in the public good.  They are the enemies of public services and the chief architects of policy trainwrecks.  They are a growing breed, politics spawns them as being a total policy fuckwit is seen as being teh best way of getting in with senior party figures and swinging a safe seat.  Sadly total policy fuckwits oftem fail to get any seat because they are universally seen as total policy fuckwits.  Prominent total policy fuckwits are Sheridan Westlake (SPAD to Eric Pickles), Torsten Henricson-Bell, Alex Marsh (Downing street Housing ‘expert’ cough cough),  former Gove ideologue Dominic Cummings, Tom Shinnor, former Giove Special advisor disgracefuly appointed to DE director of strategyu despite having almost no experience, and the uber overpaid Clegg Spad (of 21) Ryan Coetzee.   Of course SPAD also stands for ‘signals passed at danger’ and the total policy fuckwit is so enamoured of their superior intelligence they pass them without seeing the signs flashing red.

Serving’a section 215 After a New Paint Job?

A very dubious use of a S215 notice by K&C after a new paint job on house house – the Beach Hit paint job.  Not a LB or A4D so development but permitted development.  Obviously a case of political pressure to ‘find a way’. The courts in In Berg v Salford City Council have held that a notice can cover improvements and not just ‘poor condition and maintenance thereof’. This to my mind is excessive interference in property rights.  Lets say someone was refused planning permission and painted on the front of their house, ‘Councillor Sloe go to hell’, now imagine a section 215 notice coming in.  It does raise the point of the fine line between section notices on condition and deemed advert consent.

UKIPS Presumption Against Sustainable Development

Of all of this elections mammoth manifestos UKIP’s is at once the best designed and written and the most ludicrous and impractical.

Introducing a ‘presumption in favour of conservation’ as opposed to the current ‘presumption in favour of development’ in planning legislation.

The term ‘sustainable development’ doesnt appear once, presumably they have a tea party like dislike of the term?   So the UKIP presumption would lead to refusal development that is not conservation even when it is sustainable.

It is unclear if the manifesto would ban all loss of countryside, loss of ‘prime’ (current national policy anyway) or only ‘excessive’ development in the countryside.

They would let every LPA set its own targets which we know from recent experience leads to an undershoot of around 150,000 completions a year.

They say they would build 1 million brownfield by 2025, 300,000 – 150,000 = 1.5 million so we can assume thats 1 million on brownfield and 1/2 million on greenfield leaving a supply gap of 1.5 million homes by 2025.

Aha but that assumes 250,000 a year HH growth +50,000 backlog.  UKIP would say the numbers would be reduced by reducing immigration.   UKIP dont actually set an immigation target so it is  difficult to know if the 1.5 million gap in their numbers could be reduced by less immigration.  However banning unskilled labourers is going to have a negligible impact on household formation by itself.

Around 60% of the projected population increase is due to migration (directly and indirectly) and population increase contributes to around 98% of household formation – but only because people can no longer afford to form homes so they cram into the existing stock.  Sp even if we had a zero net in migration from day one – not I stress UKIP policy – then HH formation would shrink from 250,000 to 100,000 +50,000 backlog (UKIP dont support repatriation) =150,000 a year.  So if UKIP banned all immigration from day one their numbers would add up, but they dont because they would allow skilled in migrants.  So even if they reduced immigration by 50% they would face a 750,000 gap in their numbers till 2025.

Every Major Party Manifesto Promotes Garden Cities But Not the Shift in Policy to Deliver Them

This years election is the first since the 1970s to see all three Major Parties promoting Garden Cities as part of the answer to the housing crisis, quite a move. The first ever I think for all three to mention Garden Cities specifically as opposed to just New Towns.  Quite a shift in the political consensus.

The Conservative manifesto says it will support ‘locally led’ Garden Cities.

The Labour Manfesto says it will implement the Lyons Review – without providing a Hyperlink – bad form – which backs ‘– A new generation of Garden Cities and Garden Suburbs’  who will implment them ‘  location specific Garden City Development Corporations’  who will decide where they will go? Correctly learning the lessons of the Ecotowns programme it states that a bidding approach will not deliver them in the right locations.  Rather it proposes ‘A locally led approach’ da dah (page 95) – but with an ‘active role’ for central government is publishing areas of search.  The Lyons proposals for improving sub-regional planning would in effect require areas around major cities to search out areas of overspill.

The Liberals launched today states

The Liberal Democrats plan at least 10 new garden cities to be created in England building 300,000 new homes a year.

The Lib Dems said the new garden cities would be built in areas where there is local support, providing tens of thousands of new homes.

The direct commissioning of homes by government agencies is already being trialed at a former RAF base in Cambridgeshire and is seen as a way of boosting construction when the market alone fails to deliver sufficient numbers.

So all three support ‘locally led/supported’ Garden Cities.

But national policy has supported this anyway since the now Lord Denham was Environment Secretary – when national policy backed ‘locally supported New Settlements’.  So in the last 30 years when providing you ticked all the policy boxes.  In those 30 years we have had





-Dickens Heath

-Bicester (more an expanded town)




Add up all of the housing built in these locations (Bicetser Post Garden City announcement) over the last 30 years, it probably comes to less than 5,000, almost entirely at Cambourne and Dickens Heath. In other words we have tested and tried and a ‘locally led’ Garden Cities policy and it has delivered less than a 10th of 1% of  household formation over the last 15 years.

Many of these were soft pickings, big brownfield sites airbases and so on, or here the LPAS proposed a counterproposa to avoid an imposed Ecotowns, as at Bicester and Rackheath.  How does anyone expect a continuation of ‘locally led’ to deliver any more than this over the next 15 years?

I am not saying ‘locally led’ Garden Cities are a contradiction, clearly they are desirable and in a few as rare as hens teeth almost locations they are happening.  But not happening enough or anywhere near large enough.

Whatever the fallacies and distortions in Ken Shuttleworth’s misconceived criticisms of Garden Cities he got one thing right.  If you build Garden Cities of 30,000 population it would take 67 of them to meet London’s spill.  That sint going to be locally led and supported.  So where will the spill go?  Sustainable Garden Cities will be much larger and rail connected, how will a new Garden City of 300,000-400,000 be locally led and supported?

Lets get real – if we want to get Garden Cities on the scale we need to be something other an curiosities they need to be nationally backed, have the best locations determined in larger than local plans, be ideally locally supported and be delivered by partnership development corporations.  This requires a spectrum approach across multiple tiers and between the private and public sectors, not one resting at one level only without dedicated delivery mechanisms.  We’ve tried that doesn’t work, doesnt pass the Acid Test of building enough homes.  We now have a consensus we need Garden Cities, so lets move the debate on to how we get them delivered in sufficient scale and to adequate standards.



Conservative Manifesto – Pledge to End Appeals on Windfarms?

Both manifestos support Garden Cities and brownfield development, really nothing new in either, apart from the Conservative Right to Buy HA policy (which to my mind fails to add up for all sports of reasons – i’d like to see the CBA – and the sensitivity of the CBR to the interest rate given the time  lag between sale of housing and new build during which additional HB needs paying out because of the inability to relet) but one thing was strikingly new

Onshore windfarms often fail to win public support, however, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires. As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications.

What can they mean?  Ending the major infrastructure regime for large farms will not mean locals have the final  say so they can appeal, so does it mean ending appeals altogether? Why for this only and not other forms of development.  Ending appeals will simply mean every case in the courts and clog the whole system up.  I think it perhaps is just badly drafted in a day of badly drafted manifestos.

Anyway I found today on site studying Istanbul’s South American style BRT system (the first in Europe) vastly more interesting, flawed though the design of the system is.