RIP Longford Conservation Area – Proposed for Total Demolition

Longford Conservation Area is is line of the third runway extension at Heathrow and would totally be demolished in the proposals published today.

Lets hope some of the key buildings, like the six listed buildings, can be rebuilt just south of the runway retaining at least something of this historic milling village.  After all would not the workers at Heathrow prefer to drink at the White Horse rather than another plastic modern pub.


The Davies Commission Preferred Option is a North Western Runway Extension

Press Release  Report

The Commission’s recommendation is a fundamentally different proposition from previous proposals to expand at Heathrow. It delivers a full-length runway, maximising the connectivity gain. It is situated further west than the current runways, which will help to reduce the number of people affected by noise. And it is accompanied by strong measures to limit the impacts on those living nearby, including:

  • a ban on all scheduled night flights in the period from 11.30pm to 6.00am, which is only possible with expansion
  • no fourth runway: the government should make a firm commitment in Parliament not to expand the airport further – there is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway at Heathrow
  • a legally binding ‘noise envelope’ putting firm limits on the level of noise created by the airport
  • a new aviation noise levy to fund an expanded programme of mitigation, including noise insulation for homes, schools and other community facilities
  • a legal commitment on air quality that new capacity will only be released when it is clear that compliance with EU limits will not be delayed
  • a Community Engagement Board, under an independent chair, with real influence over spending on mitigation and compensation and over the airport’s operations
  • an independent aviation noise authority, with a statutory right to be consulted on flightpaths and other operating procedures at all UKairports
  • provision of training opportunities and apprenticeships for local people, so that nearby communities benefit from the jobs and economic opportunities

How did they keep this one a surprise – by not delivering to Number 10 till late last night.

See pages 28 and 29 for the reasoning.  750 homes would have to go.



Two Energy Sticks in The Countryside – Guess Which one Has a Presumption Against?

A question to our Secretaries of State.

Imagine two energy sticks on the countryside.  Both around 15m high with the same visual impact, the same noise impact, the same traffic impact to service.

One produces carbon free energy, the other pumps out CO2.

One has a presumption against, no risk of costs if refused and almost certain to lose on appeal, likely to be called in by the SoS to make sure this happens.

The other has a presumption in favour of development, almost certain costs if refused, and is very likely to be called in by the SoS to make sure this happens.

So what type of energy stick has a presumption in favour and what a presumption against?

The national policy on noise and visual impact on both energy sticks is the same.  National policy in the NPPF favours and promotes low carbon energy in numerous places – so why then does a presumption against decision regime apply to the low carbon stick and a presumption in favour regime apply to the carbon belching stick?

Saying its in the manifesto is no excuse – your not proposing any changes to planning law or national planning policy nor did you promise this in the manifesto.

We may no longer have a coalition but that doesn’t make planning policy contradictions on energy any less preposterously contradictory for a moment.

Rebuild this Pub Exactly NOW

Love this enforcement notice from Westminster relating to unauthorized demolition of a pub without prior notification of method of demolition.

Rebuild The Carlton Tavern Public House, to match in facsimile the building as it stood immediately prior to its demolition on 8th April 2015, in conformity with the detailed architectural descriptions as to building materials, plan form, exterior and interior attached to this Notice, and in conformity with the photographs attached for the purposes of Illustration.

Those details from a planning application submitted by the owner.  Which i’m sad to say are pretty crude and if followed to the letter would result in a messy building with poor detailing.  The EH assessment doesn’t help much on these details.  They could use completely different sized bricks and still comply with the notice for example.

Similar ‘rebuild in facsimile notices have sometimes been served in Dublin with reference to unauthorized demolition of Georgian buildings.  I havent seen any assessment of the quality of what results.


Four Legal Opinions in One Meeting – Fracking Hell in Lancs

Any case officers nightmare in the Lancs fracking case.  You get legal advice – and both sides opponents and supporters get legal advice in the middle of the meeting, including from from a residents who happens to be a barrister.  Just give up and let judges decide all fracking planning applications you might as well.

This is FOEs advice from Richard Harwood QC

I am no friend of fracking but this advice seems to be clutching at absolute straws. ‘Predicted sky glow is predicted to marginally exceed permitted standards’ come off it.

The trade body sought their own advice and asked for a short delay to finish it – the cllrs rejected this and refused the scheme.

The legal advice obtained by the council was secret but from what was said almost certainly suggested that costs would be forthcoming on a refusal.

I should note that Richard Harwood QC most definitely did not state that costs would be avoided.  Though not ba fan of fracking FOEs conduct in this whole affair is disgraceful.  They confused matters with legal advice commissioned with the aim solely of confusingh because of thweir strategic objection to Fracking in principle not regarding what was the key issue in this case and its materiality – noise levels.  The fact that noise occurs 24hrs a day doesn’t make something a refusal reason by itself.  After all substations hum 24hrs a day.

If costs are awarded against Lancs send the  bill to FOE.

Tactically it would have been better if the Lancs advice was made public and their barrister had been at the meeting.

The trade bodies legal advice is telling

“Ashley Bowes [barrister] does not provide reasons why a refusal and departure from the officer’s recommendation would be reasonable. While he asserts that refusal could occur on landscape and/or noise grounds, he does not refer to evidence to justify this position.

“Noise is a highly technical issue where there is little scope for judgment. It is not open to the Council to say it does not accept the evidence of Arup or Jacobs in respect of noise, unless robust evidence can be provided to the contrary. In this case, Jacobs, the Council’s own noise consultant, has concluded noise impacts are acceptable and both Arup and Jacobs have responded to the contentions raised by MAS.Because noise is a technical matter with so little scope for interpretation it is one of the more common matters which give rise to an award of costs against a Council.

Or even better submit all legal opinions to a retired judge if they were conducting a JR on the issue of costs and publish the results, any party that disagreed should be required to fund Lancs or the applicants costs as a bond or be ruled out from being a party on JR.

This case will feature in memberr training in the future as case number one on how not to make decisions.

Windy Rhetoric and Legal Reaity – Inspectors Will Still Have Legal Scope to Approve Windfarms

The windy rhetoric

Planning Resource

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Rudd set out details of the government’s plan to bring an early end to a key subsidy for developers of onshore wind farms.

Rudd was quizzed during the debate on government plans to give communities the “final say” on onshore wind farms by Tory MP for North West Hampshire Kit Malthouse. He asked: “Can she reassure those worried communities that that means that they cannot now be overruled by the Planning Inspectorate?”

Rudd responded: “Yes, I can.”

Rudd was also pressed on the issue by Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough. He asked: “Can my right hon. Friend confirm that if the Borough Council of Wellingborough turns down a planning application for a wind farm, its decision cannot be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate?”

Rudd responded: “Yes, I can confirm that.”

In a written statement last week, communities secretary Greg Clark set out new considerations to be applied to proposed wind energy developments.

The statement said that local planning authorities should only grant permission if:

– the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a local or neighbourhood plan; and

– following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

The Conservative Party’s manifesto pledge to give communities the “final say” over onshore wind applications had left experts puzzled over how the change would be enacted.

Experts told Planning last month that scrapping the right to appeal would be undemocratic and would be likely to lead to developers complaining of discrimination, first to UK courts and then to Europe.

The legal reality (from PAS notes)

Since the abolition of Planning General Principles in March of this year (which made claer that public opinion alone was not material) the extent to which consultation reponses are to be taken into account is a matter of Planning Judgement to be governed by the caselaw on planning judgement.

The correct interpretation of national planning policy is a matter for the courts: Tesco Stores Ltd v Dundee City Council [2012] UKSC 13. The Supreme Court nonetheless made clear that there was extensive scope for the application of planning judgement provided that the decision-maker correctly informed themselves in respect of the policy. Paragraphs 17-23 are required reading for any case officer or planning policy officer. 5.

In Hunston, the Court of Appeal confirmed at [4] that Tesco v Dundee applies to the interpretation of the NPPF. It is now clear that the approach also applies to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG): see Lark Energy Ltd v SSCLG [2014] EWHC 2006 (Admin), [70].

As Greg Clarke’s written statement says

local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if:

  • the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and
  • following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

Whether a proposal has the backing of the affected local community is a planning judgement for the local planning authority.

Unless there is a change in the law to revoke the caselaw or remove the right of appeal this is entirely a matter of planning judgement for inspectors.  They are entirely within their rights, and indeed are duty bound their independent professionalism and parliamentary approved scope to approve a scheme if they feel that the evidence does not back up some local objections and every reasonable effort has been made to mitigate impacts and if the planning balence is in favour of the scheme.  The discretion of inspectors cannot be fettered without a change in the law and unless we what to go down Erdogan (Turkish President) style bullying of planning professionals to come to the dictat result irrespective of policy or evidence then inspectors can and should exercise their discretion.  If they inspectors threatened with the sack for applying their brains then you might as well introduce an act of parliament to abolish the inspectorate and draw lots, or throw darts at the wall, have decisions determined by what side of the bed ministers got out of or have an auction where permissions get granted to whoever offers the biggest bribe or shares a hottub with the minister.  After all that is how planning is decided in most of the developing world and what wonderful results its produces.  

The courts have held a very dim view of misleading speeches that attempt to change the law without a proper vote or legislation.  Come Clean Mrs Rudd if you want Erdogan like powers put it in legislation and let their be a vote.

Clarke the Local Plan Inspector- Why Greg Clarkes Hands may be Tied on the Maldon & N Somerset Local Plan Dispute

I had several emails on this during a period when I was coordinating three masterplanning teams in three countries on a scheme for over 250,000 homes to be ready in two months – so sorry.  But some thoughts.

The inspectors response to Maldon’s ‘its not a big deal’ letter is clear.   The policy is out of date and inadequate and delaying the plan would to deal with housing matters properly would not lead to appeal led development as planning permission on quickly released sites has now been granted.  It ios telling how slow release of sites in Maldon for travelers has been.

I am particularly scathing about Maldon attempting to put words in Keiths Holand’s Mouth – he did not say at the pre-visit it wasn’t a major issue- rather a plan without traveler provision would only be found sound where it was not a major issue.  In Maldon and all of Essex ot always has been a major issue.

Malson having written to the SOS to ask him to use his rarely used section 21 of the 2004 Act powers (only used once before in N Somerset and still not decided on).

Both the Maldon and N Somerset cases are likely to end in the courts and naturally the DCLG will be reluctant to intervene too often in legally protracted cases where the only choice under the act is to adopt or reject.

In both the N Somerset and Maldon cases the SoS will have to decide on some key issues fudged by himself, Boles and Lewis

-The Boles Doctrine on whether Green Belt allows you to treat it as a binding constraint

-The Liverpool or Sedgefield method (which I hope in N Somerset’s cases goes the Liverpool way as this was the case in S Glocs)

-On the equalities issues on dealing with travellers provision years after housing for teh settled community.

Sloughing off to travelers DPDs is surely untenable these days in light of the ECHR case Moore & Anor v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Ors [2015] EWHC 44 (Admin) of 21 January 2015 – let alone the Equalities Act.  But we will see.  I suspect Greg Clarke might just pass this hurdle if he stresses that the G&T DPD should be determined at the first possible opportunity and this should not set a precedent for postponing deciosions on G&T cases – if he doesnt hes latying himself wide open to JR and it would set a terrible precedent.

On the North Somerset issue the Council had agreed to up the housing numbers, implying a Green Belt Review – but then ‘undecided’ in the light of the pre-election Brandon Lewis guidance changes treating Green Belt as a ‘constraint’. Im surprised the SoS decided to take this one as it means making a local decision about GB boundaries which they are loathe to do.  Whats worse is what cant be provided in N Somerset must go to South Gloucestershire.






Is their any Doubt Now that Councils Can Neither Obejctively Assess or Measure Housing Need

The case is mounting

Richard Garlick in Planning

In our last issue (Planning, 5 June, p14), we reported research from consultancy Savills, which had found that 43 per cent of councils claiming a five-year land supply do not in fact have one.

In this edition, we examine new data from consultancy Indigo Planning (see News Analysis, p7), which has focused specifically on authorities in the South East. It found that, on average, planning authorities in the region overestimate the amount of housing land supply that they hold by a third of a year. Half of the authorities in the region do not have a five-year supply once the required “buffer” of additional provision is included, and past shortfalls factored in, it concluded.

The vast majority of local plans are held up through underestimating need. Now their is evidence – subject of course to argument over the subjectivities of NPPF terms – that around half overestimate their supply.

Im a great supporter of localism but their can be no doubt that when it comes to ‘objective’ assessment trusting LPAS on this is like trusting foxes to guard a henhouse.  As the single biggest blocker and complicator to UK planning it must be handed to truly independent and objective bodies.