Verney Family Sells 700 Acres at Site of ‘Calvert New Town’

A little bird has told me that the Claydon Estate (the Verney Family) has just sold 700 acres around where the Calvert New Town – which we have often promoted on this site – would be.  Also rumors rife that an HS2 station at Calvert will be announced.

One final piece in the jigsaw.  Make sure the infrastructure north of Calvert – especially the Brackley viaduct – is wide enough to include a future restoration of the Great Central Line =- as HS2 would run over thwe former GCR permanent way for a few KM north of Calvert, easily done but essential as the viaduct is at tender stage.


No New Towns in the Spring Statement – Whats Going on? @SajidJavid

Sajid Javid announced almost two weeks ago that within two weeks two New Town Development corporations would be declared in the Cam-MK-Ox corridor.  Nothing in the Spring Statement – whats going on?

The Treasury might have wanted security of local government support.  The timing on the proposal for a single Buckinghamshire Authority might be a factor, indeed the County Council have argued that the District housing levels are excessive.

Buckingham CC’s leader has expressed concern his district counterparts’ rival plans for new unitary councils may win ministerial support because they can claim they will result in greater housebuilding.

Martin Tett (Con) said one of his district councils, which supports a rival two-unitary structure to the county, as opposed to Buckinghamshire CC’s single unitary goal, was promising a “mind-boggling” numbers of houses.

As Aylesbury and High Wycombe share a housing market area as s single authority was the best choice in the long run.  But it the short term it greatly complicates decisions on declaring Calvert New Town.

I can’t see any reason why Bassingbourne could not have been decalred however, and with some more technical work Grove (on the Great Westerrn Main Line south of OXford).

Does the new #NPPF Allow Retired Famers Housing – No it Cocked up the Wording

Micheal Donnelly in Planning posits whether the new NPPF allows a more relaxed approach to development in rural areas including a new policy for retired workers housing.

No – although the consultation document hints at further relaxation including PD rights that’s not yet in the NPPF.

Indeed the transport objectives, including minimizing the length of journeys slightly strengthen policy against scattered development.

Many of us were looking out for a policy allowing for retired farmers housing as lobbied for by the NFU.  Its in Welsh and Northern Irish policies and many Scottish local plans.  I recently wrote such a policy for an upland local planning authority in England.

That may have been intended but the Dept sadly mucked up the wording – they said

there is an essential need for a rural worker, including those taking majority
control of a farm business, to live permanently at or near their place of work in
the countryside;

The bold text is new.  This is precisely the opposite case, where a new dwelling is needed by someone taking on a farm.  But this is already allowed by policy.  Indeed you can be a farmers son or daughter and generate a need for an agricultural dwelling without taking control.

What is needed is a new clause for retired rural; workers passing on a going concern where the farmer or widow/widower of the farmer worked until retirement.  See Northern Irish policy for details. 

#NPPF – Small Sites arn’t created with a Policy Magic Wand

There are aspects of the new NPPF which are flawed but only one which is totally misconceived.  That being a proposed requirement that a minimum of 20% of sites are under 0.5ha.

Small sites don’t arrive by magic they derive from patterns of enclosure, land use and land use change, subdivision and development.

0.5ha is small in land use terms.  Its about the size of 20 tennis courts, which seems large, but in fact the average UK field is 24 times larger than this. This mean that outside places like the Scilly isles you will get almost no sites outside settlements of less than 0.5 ha unless they are within residential plots.  Small sites are a good thing but continental countries that deliver through small sites do it through zoning, land acquisition by public bodies, masterplanning and subdivision.  One common theme on this blog.  There are no shortcuts to this process whatsoever.

This fact leads to a number of perverse effects of a % rule:

-Plans could include too few very large sites to reduce the required number of sites to hit the target

-Plans will be delayed as sites discarded through SHLAAs s as too small will have to be trawled through again.

-LPAs will artificially reduce fields to sites of less than 0.5ha just to hit the target.

-Lots of small sites mean old style long plan inquiries.

-Sites in settlements will be identified which would probably come forward as windfalls anyway – useless as no net gain

-That leaves gardens in the countryside, not protected in the NPPF following caselaw creating scattered unsutainable development.


May on new #NPPF will stop developers ‘gaming the system’


England needs more homes. For many decades and under successive governments, we simply haven’t built enough to meet steadily rising demand, and it is our children and grandchildren who are paying the price.

In 1997, the average home cost around 3.5 times the average salary. By 2010 that ratio had doubled.  And higher house prices mean rents are higher too.

Today, 20- and 30-year-olds are forced to spend three times as much of their income on housing as was the case for their grandparents.

I’m sure Telegraph readers will understand that we need to build more homes than even the 217,000 that were completed in 2016/17 – one of the highest levels of net additions for 30 years.

At last year’s party conference, I set out my personal commitment to fixing our broken housing market.

Today sees the latest step in that process, as the government rewrites the planning rulebook, overhauling it to make the system fairer, more transparent, and get more of the right homes built in the right places more quickly.

The new rules will speed up the planning process, ensure that permissions are turned into homes more quickly, and see to it that new developments are supported by appropriate infrastructure.

But building the homes our children and grandchildren need doesn’t have to mean destroying the open countryside we all treasure.

Across England, Green Belts continue to serve a valuable purpose, preventing the kind of unchecked urban sprawl that has led to vast, faceless megacities in the USA.

The local character of small, rural towns and villages is important to people, and should not be unnecessarily sacrificed in order to boost developers’ profits.

So our new, fairer planning rules include extra protection for Green Belt land, with more stringent tests that raise the bar local authorities will have to clear before being allowed to open it up for housing.

This includes ensuring that any use of Green Belt for new homes focusses first on sites that have already been built on – for example, old industrial buildings and disused power stations. And that’s not all.

In line with our 25-year Environment Plan, we’re introducing the policy of “net gain” into the planning system.

That means all housing development, no matter how large, should aim to enhance biodiversity and the local environment rather than undermine it.

Where possible, developments will also have to improve air quality – and the impact on air quality will also be taken into account when deciding where to site new homes.

Our new rules also contain stronger protections for our historic coastlines and ancient woodlands. Enhancing the environment isn’t just about preserving green fields and protecting wildlife.

When constituents contact me about local planning proposals, another of their concerns is about design.

Across the country there are beautiful houses of all shapes and sizes, from thatched cottages in tiny hamlets to grand townhouses in city centres.

But all too often, new build homes all come from the same template – row after row of identikit red-tiled boxes that could be anywhere in the country and say nothing about their surroundings or the community into which they are inserted.

Maintaining the beauty of our countryside means ensuring that the built environment is equally attractive. So our new planning rules put a stronger emphasis on good design that reflects the character of existing places and community views.

We are encouraging more developments with traditional streets and squares, and buildings that better suit their surroundings.

Even new roads and other transport links will have to be designed with the local vernacular in mind. We’re also introducing the “agent of change” principle, so that builders of new homes, rather than the existing community, become responsible for mitigating issues such as noise.

This means centuries-old church bells won’t be silenced to avoid disturbing residents on a new development nearby, and will stop new arrivals insisting that local farms take action to reduce smells and noise.

And the new rules will make it harder for developers to game the system, closing loopholes that allow them to frustrate local plans and build outside the boundaries that communities have accepted.

I want this to be a country in which everyone can afford the home they need without sacrificing the unique character and beauty that makes it such a wonderful place to live. Our new planning rulebook will make sure that happens.

Use it or Lose it to be in New #NPPF – Raab


The Prime Minister will pile pressure on councils to approve vital home-building schemes by vowing to change planning rules in favour of new developments.

But she is also set to urge developers to deliver new homes with the prospect of new ‘use it or lose it’ contracts where planning permissions could lapse if builders sit on their hands.

Ministers have already announced plans to make it easier for people to extend their homes upwards by adding up to two storeys.

But Mrs May will go further and set out plans to change the National Planning Policy Framework to give councils more freedom but also more tools to encourage housebuilding.

Housing Minister Dominic Raab told The Mail on Sunday that the Tories were ‘restless to revive the Conservative dream of home ownership for those who today find it beyond their reach’.

Mr Raab said: ‘There can be no fudging it. Councils must get those houses built, as a minimum.’ But he sought to ease residents’ fears about new developments by saying the Government would provide ‘targeted funding’ for the necessary extra roads, schools and utilities.

He said developers must deliver, saying: ‘Planning permissions should be viewed more as contracts for delivery, not the start of a haggling process that exhausts local authorities and frustrates communities

Housing Minister Dominic Raab told The Mail on Sunday that the Tories were ‘restless to revive the Conservative dream of home ownership for those who today find it beyond their reach’

Tomorrow, the government will publish proposals for planning reform, to hit the next gear in our drive to build the homes Britain needs, and make them more affordable for aspirational working Britons.

Home ownership in this country declined between 2003 and 2013. It has stabilised since, but we are restless to revive the Conservative dream of home ownership for those people who, today, find it beyond their reach.

We’re talking about the teachers, nurses and firemen delivering vital services in expensive neighbourhoods, who can’t afford to live in the very communities they serve. Or the working couple putting in over-time, saving to settle down and start a family, but who can’t build up a deposit because house prices are just too high. Last year, we saw 217,000 new homes delivered – 50% higher than when Labour left office. But, we need to do much more, if we’re going to build enough homes – at the prices more people can afford.

So, we’re changing the National Planning Policy Framework, which sets the rules councils apply to local home-building. We’re giving local councils greater freedom, and more tools, to build the homes their communities need. And if we’re going to build the homes we need – whilst protecting our precious Greenbelt – we’ll need to be more creative. Using the air space above existing buildings could unlock thousands of new homes. So, we’re making it easier to build upwards on existing blocks of flats and houses, as well as shops and offices. For example, an additional two levels could be added to a property, provided it is in keeping with the roofline of other buildings in the street or square. In practice, we will see more mews houses and terraced streets, rather than tower blocks.

In return, councils will have clearer expectations of the number of homes they must build for their communities. There can be no fudging it. Councils must get those homes built, as a minimum. If anything, we want them to go further. But, it’s not a one-way street. We’re investing billions of pounds to support ambitious local authorities. We recognise the challenges they face. Residents worry about new developments. Will it mean struggling to get an appointment at their local doctors’ surgery, or more congestion on the roads? So, ensuring that that new homes don’t add to existing pressure on services or quality of life is essential. Our targeted funding will provide the roads, utilities, schools and clinics so that, as we build more homes, we build up stronger communities too.

Developers play a key role in all of this. They are the ones who get the homes built, and technology is driving modern methods of construction, making it easier to build high quality homes at scale. Equally, we want to make sure that, when developers secure planning permissions, they build the homes and fund the infrastructure they said they would. Planning permissions should be viewed more as contracts for delivery, not the start of a haggling process that exhausts local authorities, and frustrates their communities. Sir Oliver Letwin’s review will report on this later in the year.

@SajidJavid – How to Declare and Not Declare a New Town

In the next two weeks designate two new town development corporations in the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor.

For generations 1-2 New Towns the development corporation was designated, the border defined and then a masterplan drawn up within it.  The problem was it led to places like Skelmersdale, where the masterplan was warped to fit within the boundary.

For the thrird gen New Towns starting with Northampton the development corporation was formed and then drew up a masterplan.  The boundary being defined after the masterplan set the area.  There is nothing in the New Towns Act as I can see to prevent that.

Javid to Approve Two New Towns in Oxford Cambridge Corridor in Next Two Weeks [ 3 more to follow


Up to five new garden towns are to be approved for the corridor between Oxford and Cambridge under government plans to launch a “housing revolution” this week.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Sajid Javid, the housing secretary, said he would give the go-ahead to at least two new towns in the next few weeks and could push for up to three more. The decision comes after ministers agreed to fund a high-speed rail line and an “expressway” for cars between the two leading university towns.

“Along that corridor there’s an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes,” Javid said. The first step will be to establish “new town development corporations” for the chosen sites, which will help developers and town planners to “cut through a lot of the bureaucracy”, he said.

Referring to the creation of Milton Keynes in 1967 and the transformation of London’s Docklands in the 1980s, Javid said: “We haven’t been that ambitious for a long time.”

 Now that Theresa May’s latest Brexit speech is behind it, the government will return this week to what Javid calls “our No 1 domestic priority”.

Last year 217,000 homes were built, more than double the total in 2010, but well under the 300,000 a year the government is aiming for by 2025.

This week ministers will change the planning rules to try to kick-start house-building “where it is needed” and turn the heat up on “Nimby councils” who have refused to build what is needed.

Tomorrow Javid will unveil a new version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), to get councils to give more land for development. “You’ve got to release it where people are demanding more homes,” he said.

The NPPF will contain new national rules determining how many homes councils should be building each year — taking account of local house prices and wages and the number of key workers in the area. Javid is clear that will force many councils to set higher targets.

“It will no longer allow Nimby councils that don’t really want to build the homes that their local community needs to fudge the numbers,” Javid said. “For the first time it will explicitly take into account the market prices. If you are in an area where the unaffordability ratio is much higher you will have to build even more. It will make clear to councils that this number is a minimum, not a maximum.”

Javid will also launch a crackdown on councils who do not meet targets. He said: “The other thing we’ll introduce is the delivery test. If they say we’re going to plan for 300 a year at the moment there is nothing in the system that checks to see they are actually delivering the 300 and that is going to change.”

Councils who fail to step up will be stripped of their right to decide what gets built in their areas, with decisions made by independent planning inspectors instead. “Developers can only apply for planning permission in the areas the council has identified,” he said. “If the protection of that plan is switched off, a developer can apply for planning permission anywhere in your area.

“This is quite a big sanction for every local authority to not just come up with the right number, but once that number is in place, we are going to be breathing down your neck to make sure you are actually delivering on those numbers.”

Javid says that does not mean building on the green belt, “but it does mean that outside of naturally protected land like woodland and green belt they can pretty much roam everywhere outside that”.

The housing secretary has shown he is prepared to intervene after he threatened 15 councils who had failed to draw up any local plan for development.

“The last time York had a plan was 1954,” he said. “There was the chancellor’s district council, Runnymede. They responded positively. It doesn’t matter who you are or who your MP is, if you haven’t got a plan you will be hearing from me. If a council keeps ignoring its responsibility we can take that planning responsibility away from them and give it to someone else.”

The new planning framework will also seek to make local plans more responsive to their populations’ needs. Javid said: “Our nurses, police officers and fire officers want to live as close as possible to where they serve the British public. We want to make it easier it build and take their needs into account.”

In cities he is keen to see more building upwards. New rules will make it easier for homeowners to add two storeys to their houses — and will clear the way for a large number of mansion blocks to be built.

“The density of London is less than half that of Paris. We don’t want London to end up like Hong Kong,” Javid said, but he wants more “mansion blocks, the kind you might see in Kensington and Chelsea”. He said: “It will be quite surprising how easy we want to make it for people who want to build upwards.”

Further proposals to force developers to build more quickly will be revealed next week when the former cabinet minister Oliver Letwin publishes the interim findings of his report into the problem of land banking by developers.

“We need planning permission to turn into homes,” Javid said. “I don’t think Oliver is going to hold back.”

Javid is aware that failure to deliver could cost the Tories the next election. “We need a housing revolution. We have to show the British public that we are doing everything we reasonably can because if we don’t they will turn to the hard-left ideas of [Jeremy] Corbyn. If that means taking on councils, developers and others that’s what we’re going to do.”

Where?  Bassingbourne and Calvert are the top cotenders – followed by Marston Vale, Grove and Sandy-Biggleswade-Henlow.  As we have long argued on this site and in reports to the NIC.

Nimby Councils Failing to Build Enough Homes Will Lose Planning Powers – javid


“Nimby” councils that don’t build enough homes will be stripped of the right to decide where new houses are placed in their area under plans to be launched by Theresa May on Monday.

Housing secretary Sajid Javid warned local authorities he would be “breathing down our neck every day and night” to ensure home-building targets were met.”

An overhaul of planning laws will give councils targets for how many homes they should build each year, taking into account local house prices, wages and the number of key workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers in the area. Higher targets will be set for areas with higher “unaffordability ratios”, Javid told the Sunday Times.

If councils fail to deliver on the target they will be stripped of planning powers, and independent inspectors will take over.

The prime minister has made housing a key domestic priority as more young people struggle to get on the property ladder.

Javid told the newspaper: “We have a housing crisis in this country. We need a housing revolution. The new rules will no longer allow ‘nimby’ councils that don’t really want to build the homes that their local community needs to fudge the numbers.

“We are going to be breathing down your neck day and night to make sure you are actually delivering on those numbers.”

The housing secretary added: “At the moment there is nothing in the system that checks to see they are actually delivering. There’s no comeback or sanction and that is going to change.”

Javid said homes would not be built on green belt but any area outside “naturally protected land” would be free for construction.

He also revealed plans to build new towns between Oxford and Cambridge. “Along that corridor there’s an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes,” he said.

And he said rules would be relaxed for homeowners who wanted to add storeys to their houses. He said he didn’t want “London to end up like Hong Kong’ but called for more “mansion blocks, the kind you might see in Kensington and Chelsea”. “It will be quite surprising how easy we want to make it for people who want to build upwards,” Javid said.

In response, John Healey, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for Housing, said: “This year-old policy shows again that ministers have no proper plan to fix the housing crisis. Eight years of failure on housing is the fault of Whitehall, not town halls.

“Since 2010, home ownership has fallen to a 30-year low, rough sleeping has more than doubled, and the number of new homes being built still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels.

“In the week he’s surrendered £800m of unspent housing funds to the Treasury, more buck-passing from Sajid Javid isn’t going to cut it. It’s time the Tories changed course, and backed Labour’s long-term plan to build the homes the country needs.”

Boris proposes scrapping Dad’s Habitat Directive in Brexit Speech


We can simplify planning, and speed up public procurement, and perhaps we would then be faster in building the homes young people need; and we might decide that it was indeed absolutely necessary for every environmental impact assessment to monitor two life cycles of the snail and build special swimming pools for newts – not all of which they use – but it would at least be our decision.

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