Boy George Refused Permission to Increase Light to His Gloomy Gothic Pad

Planning Applications of the Rich and Famous


Boy George is locked in a battle with Camden council after plans to brighten up his multi-million-pound Victorian mansion overlooking Hampstead Heath were thrown out.

The Culture Club singer hoped to increase the amount of natural light in his Grade-II listed home by building a glazed extension and chopping down three trees in the landscaped gardens.

But Camden council rejected the proposals last September. He is now appealing against the decision. The 53-year-old Eighties pop star, whose real name is George O’Dowd, has lived alone in the house since his pop heyday 30 years ago.

Documents filed in 2013 by Soho-based Syte Architects explain: “The house does not benefit from a great deal of natural light into its interior. Its frontage is orientated to the north-east. The rear has a southwesterly orientation but a combination of factors mean that the interior often suffers from poor levels and quality of natural lighting.

A property you can only enter at Midnight After your Car Breaks Down in the Middle of a Thunderstorm


Renovation: Boy George wants to build a glazed extension, but planners argue it will be detrimental to the property’s character (Picture: Glenn Copus)“The proposed extension has been designed to create living spaces with a greater sense of connection to the garden and better levels of natural light. These spaces will have a different atmosphere and character to the internal spaces in the existing house.”

But in a letter stating its reasons for refusal, the council argued the proposed extension would “appear as an over-dominant and incongruous addition” and would be “detrimental to the character, appearance and special architectural and historic interests of the hosted listed building”.

A letter sent to the town hall from the Hampstead Conservation Area Advisory Committee stated that the scheme was an over-development and would affect neighbours.

They wrote: “We object to the extension and the hard landscaping because of the garden take-up and potential light pollution.”

Even the IEA says Starter Homes Wont Increase supply

Once you set aside their (very funny) prejudices

The housing crisis tells us zilch about ‘our economic model’ (whatever that is) as a whole. The way to solve it is not to bring back Arthur Scargill, reopen the coalmines and renationalise British Airways. It is to roll back the greenbelt, deregulate planning, and ignore the whining of the Nimbys. But try to explain that to an angry student audience, copy of the Guardian in one hand, and Russell Brand’s or Owen Jones’ book in the other.

Then they talk sense

as always, Cameron has followed the well-known script for a politically harmless statement on the subject: Talk about housebuilding in the abstract, but at the same time, send reassuring signals to the anti-housing lobby, showing them that you don’t mean it. Rule out touching the greenbelt, and reheat the brownfield myth. Say nothing tangible unless you talk about demand side subsidies and other gimmicks.

Hence Cameron talked about low interest rates (demand side), the Help to Buy programme (demand side) and the Right to Buy programme (demand side). Unless it involves an increase in the number of planning permits, the talked-up ‘starter homes’ initiative will not lead to a net increase in housing supply either, but merely to a relabelling of development projects that would have taken place anyway.  Exempting developers from the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 payments may lower prices for buyers, but presumably, central government will have to compensate local governments for the ensuing shortfall in revenue, which would turn this measure into just another repackaging of costs. Reserving homes for first-time buyers, at the expense of Buy-To-Let landlords, will benefit the ‘marginal first-time buyer’, but since it does nothing to stimulate overall supply, this has to come at the expense of the rental sector. Cameron has offered precisely nothing that could reverse the long-term decline in housebuilding. 

If Boris Wants a Stadium at Park Royal here is How he Can Secure it Despite Cargiant

If you have been following this Saga.

The Opportunity Area Planning Framework published today contains a classic planners wolly wording that doesn’t bite.

potential for large-scale catalyst uses such as a new educational facility, football stadium, sports complex, health, arts, leisure or cultural centre

Imaging fighting a CPO inquiry on that wording?

I’m a real wonk on this issue as it is a common one.

Heres the planning law issues

1.  Private Football Club Survival is a private interest not a public interest – planning is about public interest.

Witness Dulwich Hamlet football club inquiry (which I fought and won on behlaf of locl residents) where the inspector agreed with this point and that football is all about the risk of success and failure and failure.

2. Hence the Concept of the ‘Community Stadium’ 

Drempt up by Prescott at the Falmer Stadium Brighton to overcome AONB issues, whilst private interests were not material he considered the stadium as a ‘community stadium’ because it offered sporting opportunities and facilities open to the wider community as a bonus.  The term is now used universally to get around this legal  point.  Witness community stadium proposals (often misconceived) in York, Cambridge etc, et, ad nausium.

3.  You can specify any grade of Community Stadium you like providing it meets a planning purpose.

So you can specify a premier league quality, national stadium quality, league 1 Rugby ground (as in High Wycombe Community Stadium for Wasps), Division 1 Cricket Ground, etc. etc.

4.  You cant Specify the Club in Policy

A private interest.  Which always stuffs QPR as Chelsea has bigger pockets.  So what QPR can buy Stamford Bridge.

With this in mind I dont need  to specify how the policy should be worded, you can work it out for yourself.

If Deptford can rebrand itself as New Bermondsey, (as pontless in the glamour stakes as Welling rebranding itself New Erith) then Old Oak can rebrand itself as New Chelsea.



Is there Anyone that Believes this Generation Rent Denying Election Poster

Daily Mail Home ownership slips to lowest level recorded in 25 years as England moves closer to becoming a nation of renters

As this government has achieved the lowest housebuilding levels since the 1920s Not Building a Britain would be an accurate byline

Admittedly there has been a very small increase in housing affordability of mortgage holders because of the historically low interest rates, but these are likely to go up this year.  The statistics on % of income on mortgages by Nationwide and so on are misleading as with historically low housebuilding buying a home is now the preserve of the rich not the hard working class.  As the data on renters indicates home ownership is getting more and more out of reach.  What matters is the ability to save for a down payment (after rental payments) AND mortage affordability – I dont think this has been calculated as a metric.


No Cameron Did Not Say he Will Protect the Green Belt

Despite Telegraph headlines he went out of his way to circumnavigate saying ‘I will protect the Green Belt’.

“When it comes to our Green Belt, I have been clear.

Clear is a upamism for evasive on planning policy – Bennett Hypocracy.

“The line remains scored in the sand – that land is precious. I am a country man. I love our countryside.

A line in the sand that can be crossed.  Loving teh countryside does not mean protecting it.

“For years Labour’s failed regional strategies cast a shadow over our fields and forests threatening to carve them up and cover them in ugliness.

As if the NPPF hasnt failed and cast villages with ugliness.

“We’ve taken a totally different approach and protecting the Green Belt is paramount.

Green Belt policy in the NPPF is unchanged as ministers have said on many occasions.

“Our priority is building on brownfield – and we’ve made it easier to do so.

“The aim is that by 2020, 90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites will have planning permission for housing.

The London housing zones LDO proposal, the pilot for the scheme, has already been given up by the Mayor of London as impractical. It will make no difference.

“Building more homes and protecting our countryside can go hand in hand in fact development on the green belt is at its lowest rate since modern records began 25 years ago.

Because housebuilding is at its lowest rate since the 1920s, and 40% below 2007 levels.

“And for me it comes down to this. I want my children – and their children – to be able to play on a day out in the North Downs near London.

Over half of which is outside the Green Belt and protected as AONB anyway.  Its not under threat, a bait and switch.

“I want them to be able to walk, as they can now, from Liverpool to Leeds through green belt protected land.

You could still do that and build over 90% of England and do this – how is this relevant?

“I want to know that in the green belt that exists around our cities, nearly one-fifth of England’s ancient woodland stands tall and proud, as it has done for centuries.

So?  4/5ths is outside the Green Belt and weakly protected.

“Put simply: the Green Belt is protected with us. And it is not just green belt that concerns people but green fields. I agree.”

The same language always used by Cameron, remember ‘NHS is safe with us’ a form of wording designed to conceal cuts, reorganisation and in the event failed policy (in that case an A&E crisis wholly unnecessary).

He doesnt say I will protect the Green Belt in the future.  he always uses present tense to allow him wriggle room to do the opposite after an election. His pledges are as consistent as his capitalization of Green Belt. NOte he says nothing about protection of the ordinary countryside, that is where teh palnning section ends.  Typical Cameron, empathy without action.

In the event the conservative housing manifesto it only says local people will protect the Green Belt, getting Central Government off the hook on the Green Belt.  For the first time ever a major national party will enter a general election without a clear commitment or policy as to what it will do as a national policy regarding the Green Belt.

You may argue that Green Belt policy has become a sacred cow, but you neither slaughter or protect a sacred cow by being wolly and evasive.


Jonathan Schifferes here

The way that property developers will achieve the saving, and pass it on to buyers, is through an exemption from legal requirements to contribute money to the physical infrastructure, amenities and facilities in the place they are built. When we start talking about Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy most people glaze over. But please pay attention: before the crash developers were contributing £5bn per year to build affordable housing, roads, schools and libraries, and fund apprenticeships, bus services and other key facilities.

The law is set up to ensure that new developments don’t dump new problems, like overcrowded roads and schools, on inadequately prepared neighbourhoods. As we argued in a paper last year, planning is a ‘doorstep issue’ that links to a whole range of important public concerns. The implication of the Starter Home scheme is either that everyone else pays for this infrastructure, or that it doesn’t get built at all. And it is this problem that often leads local people, who understand the big picture, to object to specific planning applications: “we need more housing but our streets and public services can’t cope”. (The government has yet another scheme premised on this problem: a New Homes Bonus is paid to local authorities based on the number of homes built).

We label people as NIMBYs, but people often have other rational reasons to oppose new housing. More than two-thirds of adults in the UK are investors in homes as assets that appreciate greatly in conditions where demand is growing faster than supply. This represents a strong disincentive for these individuals to support additional housebuildingin their local market.

France Builds Lots of Houses – But Poorly Matches Local Supply and Demand

City Metric  A lesson in why not to set national targets withouit input on local needs.

The continuous need for more housing is one of the few things most French politicians seem to be able to agree on. Both the Socialist Party and the centre right UMP argue that France needs to build at least 500,000 new homes every year.

That quota is never quite reached, but the idea still remains universally popular. After all, France is one of the EU countries that has traditionally built the most houses. In 2013, it built 5 per 1,000 people, compared to only 2.3 on this side of the Channel. This has been driven by a series of financial incentives – mostly centred around tax breaks – created both by the government of President Hollande, and by the Sarkozy administration which preceded it.

But this commitment to housebuilding has created a whole new problem. By encouraging the housing sector to build across the entire country, the government is creating vast numbers of empty cities.

Last week, an investigation carried out by Le Monde revealed that 7.8 per cent of all homes are currently empty, up from 6.3 per cent ten years ago. The problem is especially pronounced in 42 towns of over 8,500 dwellings, of which at least 12 per cent are unoccupied.

The most extreme example is Vichy, in the centre of France, where 22 per cent of homes – 4,700 of them – are currently empty. The town has become an affordable housing dream, as any request for council housing is filled in within two weeks, Le Monde notes, with claimants being offered “newly renovated flats on the lakefront”.

Nonetheless, the town’s officials complain that they are being forced to build even more social housing this year – homes they absolutely do not need. Under current rules, French towns are required to have at least 20 cent social homes. Vichy only has 15 per cent.

Despite this building spree, housing in France has become increasingly unaffordable over the past 15 years, as house prices have doubled, and rents have increased by more than half. Over the same period of time, wages have gone up by just 30 per cent.

French housing is now some of the most expensive in Europe, just behind the UK. In 2015, a 70m2 flat would cost you around 7.9 times the average wage. In the UK, it’s 8.5.

The problem is especially obvious in Mulhouse, a middle-sized town by the German and Swiss borders. The 37-storey high “Tour de l’Europe”, built in the 1970s, and one of Eastern France’s most famous buildings, stands worryingly empty. About a quarter of the tower – around 50 flats – is now unoccupied. The emptiness has been blamed on rent and utilities prices, which are deemed to high for many to afford.

The Abbe-Pierre Foundation, which campaigns against precarious housing and social exclusion, released some more worrying figures earlier this month. Its researchers found that 3.5m French people are currently in precarious housing, including 2.7m who it described as in an “especially difficult” situation. In the past year, what’s more, 1.8m people asked for affordable housing, but only 467,000 homes were allocated.

In other words, simply building more homes is an overly simplistic response to a complicated problem. For one thing, the state hasn’t been building in the right places. Because demand is unevenly spread, some towns are bursting at the seams, while others are struggling to fill their existing buildings.

Nor have state subsidies been targeting the right homes. Most French help-to-buy schemes are focused on newly built housing; but even without such schemes, it often remains cheaper to buy pre-existing dwellings.

If you’re struggling to get onto the French property ladder, an empty home in the wrong town, or a subsidy for one you can’t afford, won’t do that much to help you. It’s not enough to build more houses: you need to think about who you’re building those homes for.

What are the Options for Where the UK Parliament could Decant to?

Now this is near certain lets look at some options

1. Moves Debates to QE Conference Centre and Methodist Central Hall

The least disruptive.  The commons holds debates at QEC, the Lords at MCH, mps offices.   move to say the Home Office, the Home Office decants to Vauxhall Cross or Croydon.   The conference centre is now privatized so would require them making an offer they couldn’t refuse.

2.  Brum Central Library

If you are going to move to the second city the obvious solution.  A magnificent ziggurat, sadly described by the head of planning as a ‘concrete monstrosity’ fairly easily convertible, a very flexible space built to incredibly high standards.  Sadly demolition work began end of Jan buit I dont think they have got very far.  The prospect of parliament might be the one thing to stop Brums pig headedness and greed on the issue.

 3. Hull

Not a city short of derelict buildings and with real problems of lack of demand.  Would make a dramatic gesture. Sadly would take many years to build and convert a complex that mioght be in use for less than a decade and no clear afteruse.   If Parliament did move here you would bet we would see a Northern Powerhouse HS 3 approved in months as MPs struggled to get back to their constituencies.  Move the DCLG & DOT there instead.

 4.  London Road Fire HQ Manchester

About to be CPOd by Manchester after lying derelict for years

Problem again is the conversion time

More practical might be a temporary decanting of Manchester Council out of its Town hall.  It could hold its debates in many places.

5.  Ally Pally

Has a vacant Theater which could comfortably fit the HOC raked seating within it

6.  The Coronet Elephant and Castle

Originally a 3,100 seat theater and Cinema

7. Hyde Theatre Royal

Needs a new roof but its design would make a truly magnificent parliament.  If you wish to move to Greater Manchester why not

8,  Dudley Hippodrome

Another wildcard from the West Midlands this time.  Better than it being demolished for lack of a re-use.  Cpacity 1,750 seats originally

9.  Brighton Hippodrome

Cpacity 1,400, interior a bit garish and offputting for serious debate

10.  Harrogate International Conference Centre

Harrogate could become the new Bonn.  A very practical option as Harrogate’s hotel spaces is matched to its conference capacity.  A frugal Yorkshire turnkey solution so I think oddly enough the favorite. A Yorkshire parliament debating the Yorkshire pound.  We are never going to host the Eurvision song contest again so why not?

Perhaps we should have a Restoration style TV show to advise parliament with Public voting for their favorite. Will any bookmakers open a book on this?