Housing White Paper to Abandon Javid Green Belt Plans

Daily Mail

A housing free-for-all on the Green Belt is set to be abandoned as ministers come under pressure from their own constituents.

At least half the Cabinet are already facing controversy over plans to allow green fields to be bulldozed for housing.

Those affected include Theresa May, Chancellor Philip Hammond, and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, who has vowed publicly to ‘fight to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development’.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid was reported last year to be considering easing the rules that allow councils to build on Green Belt land provided they designate equivalent areas of land for protection.

But Tory sources insist his remarks were over-interpreted and believe the idea will be quietly shelved when a White Paper on housing is published later this month.

One senior Tory said: ‘There will be a riot if they mess about with the Green Belt. We made a promise to protect it, and there are plenty of MPs – including some in the Cabinet – who are going to make sure we stick to it.’ At least ten Cabinet ministers are facing controversy over proposed Green Belt developments in their constituencies, including Mr Javid, who lodged a formal objection to plans for 2,800 homes in his Bromsgrove constituency in the West Midlands last year before taking up his current role.

Those affected include Theresa May, Chancellor Philip Hammond, and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon

In the Prime Minister’s Maidenhead constituency, campaigners are fighting plans to build 3,000 new homes on Green Belt land. Sir Michael has said publicly that he will oppose plans to turn over large swathes of countryside for housing in his Sevenoaks constituency in Kent.

The top-level opposition is expected to head off any major watering-down of protection for green fields in the new proposals.

The Prime Minister is also said to be mindful of the Tories’ 2015 manifesto pledge, which said: ‘We will protect the Green Belt.’ Ministers are instead expected to focus on increasing development on brownfield sites and undesignated greenfield sites as they set out new proposals to hit the target of building one million new homes by 2020.

Sources close to Mr Javid insist he is committed to protecting the Green Belt, with development only permitted in ‘exceptional’ circumstances.

But former chief whip Andrew Mitchell said the Communities Secretary ‘cannot be trusted’ on the issue after he gave approval for 6,000 new homes on countryside in Mr Mitchell’s Sutton Coldfield constituency in the Midlands.

Campaigners still fear that the push for housing will inevitably lead to more building on the Green Belt unless ministers act to strengthen existing protections.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England says precious countryside is ‘under siege’ from developers, with for almost 300,000 new homes in the coming years.


Lord Stunnell on how the Treasury rewrote the #NPPF

Hansard  This is rewriting history to some extent as we know the first draft of the NPPF was not written by civil servents but by PAG and the changes to the PAG version when released to consultation were tiny.

I have a cautionary tale about the NPPF. Back in the department, the first version of the NPPF was produced, but it could not be sent out to the public without the Whitehall write-round—which means that a document has to be signed off by every other department in government. It came back with big red marks all over it from the Treasury. There was a big row inside government—I have not written my memoirs but one day I will—about the NPPF being rewritten by the Treasury. It went through a couple of rewrites and bounces before it came out—and the first version that the public saw was heavily doctored by the Treasury.

Your Lordships may have forgotten that that led to a furious row. For instance, millions of people who belonged to the National Trust wrote to their MPs—and, no doubt, your Lordships—and there was a great deal of backtracking by the Government. Eventually, the current NPPF was published and it is now widely acclaimed as being a very good document that encapsulates exactly what everybody thought in the first place. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the draft document that DCLG officials and Ministers first produced. For what it is worth, I have the relevant copies in a file. A pointless row over the NPPF was triggered by the Treasury’s lack of simple understanding of basic planning principles, lack of common sense and lack of knowledge or application of human psychology. I strongly suspect that the changes to the pre-commencement planning conditions have come from the same stable.

The ‘Liberium Veto’ Led to the Death of an Empire – Why do we expect it to Work for the Greater Manchester Strategic Plan?

Andy Burnham on his century's long fruitless hunt for Greenspace in Greater Manchester not designated Green Belt

Andy Burnham on his century’s long fruitless hunt for Greenspace in Greater Manchester not designated Green Belt

In the 17th/18th Century the Parliament of the Polish-Lithuaainian Empire operated by a rule known as Liberium Veto (Latin for “the free veto”) which meant any member could announce Nie pozwalam! (Polish: “I do not allow!”), to stop  any legislation in its tracks.

From Wikipedia

Many historians hold that the principle of liberum veto was a major cause of the deterioration of the Commonwealth political system—particularly in the 18th century, when foreign powers bribed Sejm members to paralyze its proceedings—and the Commonwealth’s eventual destruction in the partitions of Poland and foreign occupation, dominance and manipulation of Poland for the next 200 years or so. Piotr Stefan Wandycz wrote that the “liberum veto had become the sinister symbol of old Polish anarchy.” In the period of 1573–1763, about 150 sejms were held, out of which about a third failed to pass any legislation, mostly due to liberum veto. The expression Polish parliament in many European languages originated from this apparent paralysis.

And yet we allow the leader of Stockport, Oldham or Any Burnham the ability to cry Nie pozwalam! and bring the entire Greater Manchester Strategic Plan to a halt given its unanimity rule under the City Deal.  Crazy

Manchester Councils in Green Belt Climb Down

Manchester Evening News

Greater Manchester’s controversial green belt plans could be substantially scaled back in the face of furious opposition, the M.E.N. has learned, in signs of growing concerns within the region’s ‘super-council’.

Consultation on the 20-year masterplan – officially called the spatial framework and drawn up by then region’s ten council leaders- closes on Monday. There’s been fierce criticism of the plan from campaigners, MPs and mayoral candidates.

It proposes building on a string of protected green sites, arguing that without doing so, the region will not be able to meet its housing and employment targets.

The plan has sparked uproar and Labour mayoral candidate Andy Burnham – whose backing would be needed should he win in May – joined a string of other MPs in vocally criticising it, arguing the scale of green belt development proposed was ‘unfair and disproportionate’. He called for it to be ‘radically’ rewritten.

 Multiple senior sources have told the M.E.N. that may well happen.

One said in order to get the plan approved by Stockport council, where councillors of all parties are furious, it will need to be substantially revised. They said that had now been accepted at a senior level.

The framework currently allocates thousands of homes to green belt sites in Heald Green and High Lane. Next week, the town hall’s Liberal Democrats will attempt for the second time to pass a motion blocking the plans – and insiders believe there is a strong chance they could succeed.

A second source said they believed council bosses elsewhere may also ‘backtrack’, highlighting Oldham as a particular problem.

One MP said there was recognition within the local Labour party – dating back some time – that the plans had been a ‘cock-up’, adding that council bosses would now start ‘rowing back very quickly’. Some council leaders had not handled controversial proposals on their patches very well, they added.

Any large-scale changes, however, could then make it difficult for the region to hit its housing target.

Town hall bosses have based their target of 227,000 new homes on population and economic growth forecasts – but are in a tricky position, with campaigners saying their figure is too high and developers saying the opposite.

A second MP said they believed that number was too high and ‘couldn’t be backed up’.

But that could give council leaders a get-out clause, they said, adding: “The leaders supported green-belt development because they were told they had little choice. If the forecasts aren’t accurate, that gives them the route to backtrack.”

Nevertheless, one combined authority insider said they would be furious if that turned out to be the case.

“I think it would be gross incompetence if we now turn round and say ‘we got it wrong, it’s now 140,000 homes, not 227,000’,” they said.

“We’ve been told these are independently-assessed figures using demographic statistics, so it would be a scandal – because it would mean we’d have gone out and taken a hit on something we didn’t need to do.”

A government white paper expected next week may make arguments over growth forecasts irrelevant, however.

Ministers have been considering whether to bring in specific housing targets for every area instead of town halls having to predict how many homes they will need in the future.

Estates Gazette – Confusion surrounds Date of Housing White Paper


Confusion surrounds the timing of the government’s eagerly-anticipated White Paper on housing.

Respected property industry weekly magazine Estates Gazette has tweeted that the White Paper will be released on Monday; a Savills PR also tweeted saying January 16th had been heard.

Samuel Horti, a well-informed reporter from another industry publication, Property Week, said on social media that he, too, had heard the 16th – although a little while later he understood that while the 16th was still possible, there were some strands of the document to be pulled together which might mean it would not be released until January 30.

In addition to all that Labour’s John Healey, the shadow housing minister, told Twitter that: “We were set to get housing white paper with Autumn Statement, then ‘before Christmas’, then ‘in January’ … I now hear it may be delayed again.”

Just for good measure, Inside Housing reporter Nick Johnstone has suggested that the document may see the light of day next Tuesday.

Enquiries yesterday by Estate Agent Today have found out nothing more specific.

Housing White Paper still unfinished and Delayed Again as May Says ‘Not Meaty Enough”

Clearly designed to deflect blame onto Javid and Barwell as May and her advisers have stripped all meat off the bone.  Also she wants to hog limelight with Tuesday Brexit Speech.  I suspect also Javid refused to publish it unless he got the meat he wanted and this is just fake news to deflect blame.

City AM – although DCLG confirmed yesterday it would be published next Monday!!!!

The long-awaited housing white paper is still weeks from publication as the government looks for ways to beef it up so that it passes muster with the Prime Minister Theresa May.

The flagship policy document was originally pencilled in for publication late last year.

Several key industry figures had expected the white paper to be published this Monday. But they now believe it will come out the week after next at the earliest, with 30 January being eyed as a potential publication date.

 A senior source close to the process said that the Prime Minister did not find early drafts of the policy blueprint “meaty” enough and that she was seeking a set of policies that could deliver on promises made.

The government has indicated that the much-trumpeted housing reforms will include “radical” solutions. It has vowed to build 1m new homes by 2020.

Government insiders told City A.M. that the housing paper could arrive within weeks, but they denied any suggestion it had been delayed from a launch next Monday. They added that Sajid Javid‘s Department for Communities and Local Government would need to brief other ministers before a white paper could be published, and that had not yet been done.

The new policy blueprint could seek to build on the Farmer Review, commissioned by two government departments last year, which called for more support for off-site and modular construction. Such pre-constructed housing can be put up in as little as 24 hours with at vastly reduced costs.

Earlier reports on the housing white paper have suggested that ministers were preparing to green light 100,000 of these types of homes.

Alongside Brexit, the housing plans are expected to be a key part of the Prime Minister’s attempt to define her tenure, with May positioning the document this week alongside her recent comments on a “sharing society” and an incoming industrial strategy green paper.

A raft of housing policies have already been unveiled, leaving those in the sector scratching their heads as to what the government can pull out of the bag.

The government has announced that it will be giving £2.3bn in a housing infrastructure fund for building new homes in high demand areas and a £1.4bn fund for building 40,000 new homes. Meanwhile, London is getting £3.15bn for 90,000 affordable homes.

Burham Says Development should go on Non Existant non Green Belt Greenspace in Greater Manchester

Manc Evening News

Show everyone a map of where these non existent sites in Greater Manchester are – or the sites in Cheshire or elsewhere you wont control,  Andy if you are to have any credibility at all as GM Mayor, its the first thing the inspector will ask.

Greater Manchester’s Labour mayoral candidate Andy Burnham has called for the region’s controversial green belt plans to be radically rewritten, calling them ‘unfair and disproportionate’.

The Leigh MP says councils should be aiming to avoid any net loss of green belt at all in their development blueprint for the next 20 years.

His demand is likely to cause frustration within the ‘super-council’ of ten council leaders, most of them his Labour colleagues – who have spent years drawing up the plan and are aiming to submit it to the government by the end of the year.

In his official submission to the public consultation on the plan – which is aimed at providing a framework for 227,000 new homes over the next two decades, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs – he says it should focus far more on building affordable housing in ‘high densities’ on former industrial sites.

It comes after outcry in many parts of the region over plans to build large residential developments on green space that is currently protected, including in south Stockport and north Bury.

“As a result, it could diminish quality of life in some communities and restrict people’s access to good air and green space. The plan needs to be rebalanced to respond to these concerns and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development.”

He adds: “I would go further and propose that we consider the aim of no net loss of green belt.”

 Thousands have taken part in protest marches across the region against development on green belt land.

The plan should instead focus more on the region’s existing town centres, he says, rather than building onto green belt.

Greater Manchester’s larger towns should be redrawn as attractive places to live, he adds – with empty shops making way for new homes.

He also believes the masterplan focuses too much on warehousing and industrial development, rather than hi-tech industries such as health and technology.

Meanwhile far too little focus is being given to public transport, he adds, warning the region’s roads are already ‘close to saturation’ and will become more so if hundreds of thousands of new homes are built without a better network.

But it is on green belt that his view will cause most concern among council colleagues, who believe Greater Manchester cannot absorb a growing population without redrawing some areas that are currently protected.

Mr Burnham’s statement represents a huge political headache for the mainly Labour council leaders alongside whom he would be running the region should he get elected in May.

Under the rules of Greater Manchester’s devolution deal, the masterplan has to be agreed not only by the mayor but all ten council leaders – and the region legally needs a planning framework in order to control where developers build in the future.

It also needs to be passed by all ten councils. Stockport councillors in particular are currently looking unlikely to approve it.

On the current timetable it is supposed to be signed off in its initial form over the summer before going out to consultation again in the autumn.

After that, it will be submitted to the government for a public hearing and a final decision


Brentwood Leader – New Garden Village Helps Protect Villages from Overexpansion

Con Home

With a severe national shortage of housing, councils up and down the country are busy identifying land and sites for future growth and development.

In Brentwood, we need to find space for around 7,500 homes for over the next twenty years. In a borough like ours, which is made up of villages and which is 88 per cent Green Belt, this is no easy challenge.

As part of our plans, we are seeking to preserve the nature of Brentwood and protect the rural environment of our villages. With enough brownfield land to satisfy around half of the target number of new dwellings, this inevitably brings us in to the green belt.

Rather than over-expand the existing villages, our proposals include the creation of a new garden village at Dunton Hills for upwards of 2,500 homes. The government announced in the new year that the Council’s bid to include the site as part of their Garden Villages, Towns and Cities Programme had been successful, a result which we are rightly proud of.

Larger scale development is always controversial but I believe that if the scheme is done correctly, it will help in protecting the existing villages from future expansion, whilst also delivering new homes for the next generation. 35 per cent of the scheme will be made up of affordable and starter homes, supported by key investment in the necessary infrastructure, something which is paramount to ensure that new growth areas like Dunton Hills are both deliverable and sustainable.

With plans included for a new all-through school, the creation of an additional country park and healthcare facilities along with a shopping and leisure area, we have an opportunity here in Brentwood to deliver something special and in keeping with our borough in the form of much needed homes, with a real heart at the centre of the community.

The successful bid to Government means that funding support will be provided so additional background work can be done, focusing particularly on the issue of road capacity and associated improvements to the A127 to ensure that we get the very best for both our existing and future residents.

In addition, we will be looking to draw on government’s knowledge and expertise via the Homes and Communities Agency, as we finalise the details of the proposals to deliver a new village that we can be proud to call part of Brentwood and we will still have protected 87 per cent of our Green Belt.

‘No retreat, no Surrender’ from England’s Stubbornist Council Leader over Local Plan

Herts Ad  You have deliberately refused to cooperate and meet a share of neighbouring needs for years – when in a hole stop digging.  Part of a pattern of years of delay and obfuscationism.

Following two public consultations, St Albans council asked the government to approve its draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP), to replace its out-of-date predecessor, dating back to 1994.

But in November last year, planning inspector David Hogger told the authority it had failed to meet its duty to cooperate with neighbouring councils while drawing up its new planning blueprint.

Setting out two likely scenarios, Mr Hogger warned he would have to recommend non-adoption of the plan, or the council “may choose to withdraw the SLP”.

However the inspector’s stance and interpretation of the draft plan has riled St Albans council, which has since disputed his conclusions. After taking external legal advice, it started proceedings last Thursday (5) against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to quash the inspector’s decision. St Albans council also wants the defendant to pay its costs.

Cllr Julian Daly, the council’s leader, said the authority “believes the inspector’s conclusion that we did not meet the duty to cooperate is flawed. We are therefore seeking a judicial review of the decision and look forward to having our case heard.”

The SLP sets out overarching policies on major development throughout the district, including construction of 4,000 homes in the Green Belt, until 2031, and identifies land for new infrastructure, commerce, industry, residential and social amenities.

In its application to the High Court for permission to seek a Judicial Review of the planning inspector’s decision, the council warns that Mr Hogger’s decision, which would effectively result in the withdrawal of the SLP, “will have direct consequences on the direction of development within the district.”

The council asserts that, “it is of critical importance the future of the plan is resolved as soon as possible.

“A substantial delay in the hearing of the claim is likely to prejudice the council’s ability to direct development within its area strategically, as planning applications are likely to come before it within the near future, without the benefit of an adopted plan.

“A delay in the adoption of the plan will also affect developers’ decisions as to when and if to bring forward development.”

One such plan potentially affected by this stumbling block is the new secondary school proposed for Green Belt land in Harpenden.

Criticism has been levelled at neighbouring councils who have effectively thwarted the plan’s adoption by complaining about St Albans’ lack of cooperation with them over the siting of their own future housing.

In its statement of facts, the council points the finger of blame at such counterparts, including Dacorum, Hertsmere and Watford councils, over differences in opinion over the local housing market.

While St Albans council has concluded that this district is principally its own housing area, to choose where major residential schemes should be placed in future, neighbouring authorities have argued that they, too, want to expand their residential schemes, across boundaries, into the district’s Green Belt.

The local council argues that, since the parties had reached the stage where they had agreed to disagree on what comprised the housing market area, “there was no further discussion which could fruitfully be had”.

St Albans is challenging the inspector’s ‘unlawful decision’ on five grounds, including his interpretation of part of the government’s planning framework, and that he made conclusions on the soundness of the SLP which were wrong.

A spokesman for Harpenden Green Belt Association said: “Very few – if any – informed observers, including developers, think it is ‘sound’.”

Cllr David Mitchell, chairman of Redbourn parish council, said the council was ‘clutching at straws’ by launching the legal challenge.

He added: “I’m very surprised that common sense has not prevailed and they haven’t started the plan afresh.”

A Freedom of Information request in regards to the cost of preparing the plan has revealed that the wider budget spend incorporating the SLP and related material, from April 1, 2011 to date is about £490,000.