National Planning Policy Framework Forensics#42 Green Belt – Control Issues

The presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt is worded as in PPG2 apart from the deletion of ‘It is for the applicant to show why permission should be granted’ at the end, which really should stay.

The reference to local planning authorities giving substantial weight to harm to the Green Belt should be instead to ‘The decision maker should…’.  The wording allows a SoS of inspector to regard inappropriate development as acceptable, which is perverse and would be a major watering down of Green Belt Policy.

The bullet points setting out the uses which are not innappropriate are similar to before but with some editing down which make some very signficiant differences in practice.

Firstly the ability to withdraw PD rights for agricultural buildings and then not regard those as appropriate is withdrawn, this will have a significant negative impact on the Green Belt in some areas.

The clarification that outdoor recreation facilities etc. should be genuinely required foruses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it. is deleted, this is an important clarification.

Secondly the phrase ‘other uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it’ is deleted. This has never been defined, and is arguably too broad, but has been taken to include things like reservoirs, hides etc. for nature conservation areas, small stables for horses (which normally is not agriculture), open air horticultural sales (if there is no roof this is not a shop but sui generis). The list goes on and on. All of these sectors will now be shocked they are excluded from the Green Belt by this clumsy and ill thought through edict.

There is a big change on replacement dwellings. Before it allowed ‘limited extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings’ – always a contentious area, now it is just ‘the replacement of a dwelling, provided the new dwelling is not materially larger than the one it replaces’   The materially larger clarification for replacement dwellings being added as a further clarification in PPG2. Weras limited extension were permitted that were not disproportionate. This now goes, effectively banning almost all extensions to homes in the Green Belt. {note this is corrected in the latest leaked draft]

The limiting extension to villages clause stays, but substantially altered, before it was subject to whether or not it was a washed over village (in which case infilling is not permitted) or a ‘infill village’ in which case it could be subject to plan policy. The new wording would permit infilling in all Green Belt villages. This one act would be the greatest watering down of Green Belt policy in 55 years. It would see a rash of applications in highly inaccessible and unsustainable locations. And given that there would be no longer a policy of protecting countryside for its won sake there would be no fall back position. Green Belt policy is supposed to be stricter, this change makes it more lax.

‘Exceptions sites’ would be permitted, if plans so allow. The same as now, however it is now for plans to define the scope of such development.

Rather than just ‘major developed sites’ in the Green Belt being acceptable – subject to strict tests. This is now changed to

limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (excluding temporary buildings), whether redundant or in continuing use, which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.

This is quite a major change, now all previously developed sites can be redeveloped. Informally the tests regarding major sites have been applied in a similar way to smaller sites for some time. There are risks though as it now includes all sites however small and all kinds of long abandoned industrial buildings will be coming out of the woodwork. This could have a major detriminatal effect on the Leeds and Manchester Green Belts, parts of which are widely scattered with small industrial buildings, which before would have been converted now will be pulled down and redeveloped.

At the end is a new section, which pulls together some scattered policy. This is those uses which are not appropriate ‘as of right’ but only if ‘they they preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belt.’ This is quite clever, ‘the other uses which…’ clause should go here.

The uses under it cover existing exemptions, the only real change is widening from park and ride and all to ‘local transport infrastructure which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location’ which makes sense.

The tests for re-use of buildings are as PPG2 apart from one which duplicates with design control.

After 12 Year Passage, Chinas new compulsory purchase law passed

From China Daily

Coercive measures taken by the authorities will be restricted and citizens’ rights better protected under a newly passed law that curbs governments’ power following the end of its 12-year journey through the drafting and debate stage.

Some of the authorities’ most unpopular coercive measures – such as the forced demolitions that have driven some victims to such extreme acts of resistance as self-immolation – have been outlawed under the new law approved by legislators on Thursday.

The law, which was reviewed by top lawmakers on five occasions during the past six years, aims to “protect people’s rights while still entrusting administrations with the necessary power to perform their duties”, said Xin Chunying, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

Since its first reading in 2005, the NPC Standing Committee reviewed the draft five times. In August 2009, the top legislature published the draft to seek public opinion and received more than 3,800 suggestions.

A reformed system of fair compensation, and proper consultation on plans that lead to CPO, will be needed to end the social unrest/

National Planning Policy Framework Forensics#41 Green Belt – Purpose and Definition

This is one area where policy has changed relatively little, in this case from PPG2.  So I will focus on the changes/parts not carried over rather than a side by side comparison.

The main change though is in the context within which green belts operate.  Throughout their history they have always operated within a framework of regional planning.  A regional plan establishing the boundaries and new or revised plans, whether structure plans or RSS, revising them.  Now without regional planning what context will green belts possess.  They were designed to divert growth from some areas to other areas, now without this they are a pure method of constraint.  This creates the risk that some future government will see them as an obstruction and weaken or abolish them.  The principle of green belts can only remain strong where regional planning is strong.

General Aim and purpose of Green Belt

No Change

Green Belt Purposes

No change

Green Belt Objectives
‘to secure nature conservation interest’ becomes ‘to enhance…biodiversity’

‘to retain land in agricultural, forestry and related uses.’ is deleted.

The onus though is on ‘local planning authorities’ to plan positively to secure these objectives.  This is a weakening of current policy as at the moment (para 3.13 PPG2)

When any large-scale development or redevelopment of land occurs in the Green Belt (including mineral extraction, the tipping of waste, and road and other infrastructure developments or improvements), it should, so far as possible contribute to the achievement of the objectives for the use of land in Green Belts.

So these objectives apply to development management cases, not just actions by the LPA itself. This section should be reworded as follows:

Once Green Belts have been defined, local Planning Authorities and decision makers should look for opportunities to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt. This includes looking for opportunities to provide access; provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes and biodiversity; or improve damaged and derelict land. When any large-scale development or redevelopment of land occurs in the Green Belt (including mineral extraction, the tipping of waste, and road and other infrastructure developments or improvements), they should, so far as possible, enhance the beneficial use of land in the Green Belt,  but beneficial use is not itself a material factor in the inclusion of land within a Green Belt, or in its continued protection.

Designation of Green Belts

There is no real shift here other than to fill the void from the abolition of strategic scale plans. The tests seem reasonable, and carry over para. 2.14 of PPS2, however it should say ‘local planning authorities, working jointly, should‘  otherwise there will be a lot of councillors seeing this section as an opportunity to seek to declare Green Belts around towns, as the CPRE has long campaigned for, and small in-authority designations would water down their purpose as a national instrument to prevent the worst cases of sprawl.

The wording on Green Belts being ‘several miles wide’  derive from the first green belt circulars in the 1950s, it should be retained.

It does not need national policy to set out that a green belt boundary can wash over a settlement or that a settlement can be inset from it, these are logical consequence.  It does need national policy to establish the principle of infill only boundaries (para 2.11 pps3) it is necessary to retain this as this is an exception to the normal presumption against innappropriate development and any LPA defining an infill only boundary, or retaining one, would be contrary to national policy.  The new para at the bottom of page 38 implies that such villages should instead be deleted from the green belt.  This is very problematic.  Firstly it will be opposed like hell in the villages concerned and instead such villages would become ‘washed over’ actually reducing development in villages where some is now permitted.  Secondly there is a distinction between larger villages inset and medium sized one designated as infill only.  These allow for locally determined policies to set out the circumstances where development is permitted.  In infill only villages if development is too intensive or doest meet the tests it is not permitted.  For example a vacant farm in an inset village you could knock it down and redevelop flats, in principle, but in an infill only village you need to maintain openness and so only convert and have modest infill, otherwise there is a presumption against development.  With this change there is a presumption in favour.   This is a major weakening of Green Belt policy.

Again if national government wants to set down a policy which allows for small scale deletions of green belt in neighbourhood plans then the NPPF needs to state this to avoid the legal problems of conformity and establishing ‘exceptional circumstances’ – as confirmed in the famous Wyre Forest/Carpets of Worth case (Carpets of Worth Ltd v Wyre Forest DC (1991) 62. P&CR 334 at p. 342), which confirmed that the mere act of revising a development plan was not in itself an exceptional circumstance – see also the recent case here .  I would suggest the following wording:

Where a neighbourhood plan is being prepared covering a settlement inset from the Green Belt then very small scale adjustments to the boundary, to accommodate local circumstances, may constitute exceptional circumstances allowing for a boundary adjustment providing that a) any small scale deletion is necessary to meet local requirements in the neighbourhood plan b) there is no conflict with the strategy for the Green Belt, and overall development requirements for the settlement, as set out in the local plan and c) the change would not harm the purposes of the Green Belt, and where possible enhances beneficial use of the Green Belt.

The following text has been deleted and should be retained ‘Detailed boundaries should not be altered or development allowed merely because the land has become derelict.’

On safeguarded land their is a shift in policy, current PPG2 para. 2.12

When local planning authorities prepare new or revised structure and local plans, any proposals affecting Green Belts should be related to a time-scale which is longer than that normally adopted for other aspects of the plan. They should satisfy themselves that Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered at the end of the plan period. In order to ensure protection of Green Belts within this longer timescale, this will in some cases mean safeguarding land between the urban area and the Green Belt which may be required to meet longer-term development needs.

Page 38 of the NPPF correctly transposes this para and accompanying annex B, but then contradicts itself by stating that LPAs ‘satisfy themselves that Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered at the end of the development plan period’ not recognising that safeguarded land only arises because of the need to set horizons for Green Belt that are longer than the normal plan period. The author of the NPPF seems not to understand the logic here, which is clear in PPG2 para 2.12.

Ill continue with control issues in the Green Belt in the next section.

Forest Heath SEA case may Scupper West Berks Core Strategy, or does it?

A lot of worried brows over this one.  Planning Reports that

In a note to the council last month, the inspector examining the council’s core strategy said he had identified shortcomings last year in the authority’s sustainability and environmental assessment (SEA) of the document, but considered that they would not be “fatal” to its progression.

However, he added that following a court case between Forest Heath District Council and lobby group Save Historic Newmarket earlier this year – in which the council was ordered to re-do its SEA – “it is now clear to me that the published SEA report failed to meet the requirements of the regulations”.

This will be of wider interest so heres the breakdown. In the inspectors note he stated:

Parties may already be aware of the recent judgment of Collins J. in the High Court in: Save Historic Newmarket Ltd & Others v. Forest Heath

District Council [2011] EWHC 606. The judgement can be found here:…

This was a challenge under s113 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to policies in the Forest Heath Core Strategy (adopted in May 2010) allocating a 1,200 dwelling urban extension in north-east Newmarket.

The main ground of challenge was that the Core Strategy had been adopted in breach of the requirements of the EU Directive (2001/42/EC) on Strategic Environmental Assessment and the associated Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (SI No.1633), in particular the duty for the ‘environmental report’ (in this case, the Sustainability Appraisal report) accompanying a draft plan or programme to explain what reasonable alternatives to the proposed policies have been considered and why they have been rejected.

The appropriateness of the Sustainability Appraisal and the Council’s process and reasons resulting in the selection of Sandleford Park as the 2nd strategic allocation (in addition to Newbury Racecourse) have already been the subject of representations and discussion at a hearing session. However, in the light of the potential significance of this High Court judgment, I consider that I should afford all parties who made representations on this matter the opportunity to comment further if they wish.

I specifically seek the Council’s views on whether and, if so how, the Sustainability Appraisal Report published alongside the published plan (CD07/10 and appendices) meets the requirements of the Directive and Regulations in the light of the judgment. If the Council or any other party now consider the Regulations have not been met, they should explain what are the implications and whether any breach could be rectified as part of the Examination. (I am conscious, of course, that several parties have already stated that there is a breach.)

However from the Environmental Report it is clear that West Berks did not make the same mistake as Forest Heath as it it says:

The West Berkshire Core Strategy will need to consider options for allocation of strategic sites related to the main urban areas which will deliver the vision of the Core Strategy.

Option 1 – Newbury/Thatcham focus

Option 2 –Newbury/Thatcham and Eastern Focus

Option 3 – Newbury/Thatcham and Western Focus

In conclusion, Option 3 was ruled out on sustainability grounds, on lack of conformity with regional guidance in the South East Plan and on conflict with both proposals to ensure the conservation and enhancement of the AONB and on the preferred settlement hierarchy approach. Option 2 was assessed as the most sustainable and the option which was in greater conformity with the policies within the South East Plan. It was therefore progressed as the preferred broad locational option.

The problem appears to be the breakdown of the SA/SEA.  The environment report goes straight from assessing the between settlements issue to appraising strategic sites one by one.  It does not appear to have assessed the strategic sites against each other, and against reasonable alternative sites around a particular settlement, or link that approach to the choice of the broader options above.  Local Planning Authorities can avoid this problem by incorporating the SHLAA process within the environmental report.  Considering it as part of a SHLAA process outside an environmental report wont meet the requirements of the directive to consider reasonable alternatives.

Which also has the advantage of the environmental report shaping the strategy, which it should.  A short consultation on a supplement to the report appears to be the solution in this case, which is what West Berks are proposing,


The Fairhurst Estate and the JSF Accumulation and Maintenance Settlement Trust has through Gerald Eve LLP made it clear that they would challenge the Core Strategy were it to be adopted, such challenge being directed at the adequacy of the SA. The Council considers that any such challenge would be misconceived but in order to overcome the Trust’s concerns the Council requests the Inspector to allow further representations to be made in respect of the SA and in particular the Council’s assessment of alternatives. To achieve this, the Council would first republish the SA, setting out in more detail the reasons why Sandleford Park was selected and the alternative strategic allocations rejected, following which there would be a 6 week consultation period.

This will of course benefit all parties, as if the Inspector favours the Gerald Eve promoted site it would already have been subject to SEA. In Ashford one developer was forced to carry out their own SEA and consulting on it in a similar circumstance.

Capitalisms Last Frontier#15 Growing Diffusion & its Limits

We have traced the protohistory of political economy, looking at the origins of agriculture and settlement. We have a picture of villages with agricultural hinterlands, of agriculture requiring sedentism, for four reason, the need to sow, the need to reap, the need to defend crops as they grow, and fourthly and probably more importantly the need to grind grains and bake.

Of course with higher yields a potential for an agricultural surplus. This has two consequences, firstly enabling the expansion of population through expanding the calorific value that could be obtained from an area of land, and secondly the potential of an agricultural surplus if this was not taken up by expanded population. This surplus requires storage, thus reinforcing sedentism.

Humankind would would not expand its population in place to the extent it would overrun its food supply, as populations grew they expanded. As we found in the previous sections the greater numbers of agriculturalists, enjoying their food/energy efficiency advantage, created an advantage in numbers, if not health of individuals, over other hunter gatherers and proto- agriculturalists. These groups either had to retreat to the margins or innovate and defend their territory. In only a few thousand years agricultural sedentism would diffuse from the middle east across Eurasia, and during that period several other independent sources of agriculture grew up, such as in the Ethiopian highlands and in China.

But as these practices grew it would run up against margins of cultivation where local climate and soil made growing marginal or difficult. These edges included mountains, cold dry steppe and hot desert.

In these marginal lands humankind cannot utilise the plants that grow there, but animals can utilise them. Humankind cannot eat grass but goats and cattle can, and we can eat these animals and drink their milk. Such a survival strategy – pastoralism – or to be precise Nomadic Pastoralism – is much less energy efficient, can support lower populations per area of land, but it is the only viable survival strategy beyond the margin of cultivation.  So in these areas vegetarianism is not necessarily the most efficient energy strategy for humans, indeed vegetarians would starve.

How then did pastoralism begin. The Victorian concept was that it was a universal precursor to cultivation. This concept was held by Marx, and repeated by Engels in ‘The Origins of the Family, Private Property and The State’. We now know this to be untrue, as there early sites of cultivation have no records of goats or cattle domestication. This appears to be a later phenomenon.

Let us first consider the issue of animal domestication. Only 12 species of large animal have proven capable of domestication. One key factor leading favouring domestication in sedentary communities is the ability to live off food sources, such as grass or food waste, which humans cannot consume, otherwise domestic animals and humans would be competing in the same space for energy. (see  Diamond, Jared (1999). Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York: Norton Press which also lists other traits necessary for domestication).  The key domestications that led to food sources (unlike the earlier domestic of dogs which aided in hunting) were ,  goats, pigs, sheep, and cow, between 6-13,000BP, with cow domestication occurring last.  But domestication of goats and sheep appears to have occurred within hunter gatherer communities, as goats could travel within a nomadic group, hence creating a form of proto-pasoralism.  The wild boar, which became the domestic pig appears to have been first domesticated in the Tigris basin in a similar way to modern new guinea hunter gatherers. With pregnant females captured in the wild and piglets kept close to their tethered mothers.  With the growth of cereal crops more formal tending was needed to avoid competing from th esame food source.   (Ancestors for the pigs: pigs in prehistory Sarah M. Nelson, University of Pennsylvania. Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology UPenn Museum of Archaeology, 1998).

Cattle domestication appears to have occurred from around 6-8,000 BP in several independent areas, with cattle descended from the now extinct Auroch.  It used to be thought that it was first domesticated as a beast of burden, but the archaeological evidence in the last 30 years seems to indicate that Cattle, like pigs, sheep and goats, were domesticated first as a source of meat, and that this domestication occurred first in sedentary cultivating communities.

Andrew Sherratt has developed his thesis of what he calls the the secondary products revolution, the realisation  animals also provided a number of other useful products other than meat and skin, such as manure, wool, meat and traction. This phase in agricultural development enabled humans to make use of the energy possibilities of their animals in new ways.  Sherratt even argues that  and permitted permanent intensive subsistence farming and crop production, and the opening up heavier soils for farming.  It certainly through ploughing allowed more intensive and externive cultivation, but it is going to far to suggest this triggered agriculture per-se.  (A. Sherratt, Plough and pastoralism: aspects of the secondary products revolution, in Pattern of the Past: Studies in honour of David Clarke, edited by I. Hodder, G. Isaac and N. Hammond (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 1981), pp. 261–305.)

Deomestication made possible nomadic pastoralism.  During the younger dryas drying many of the farmers in the middle east were forced to leave, taking their domesticated animals with them, and distributing distribute these animals to the rest of Afroeurasia. This emigration was mainly on an east-west axis of similar climates, as crops usually have a narrow optimal climatic range outside of which they cannot grow.  Jared Diamond has postulated that this is why plant and animal domestication spread so quickly from the Fertile Crescent to the rest of Eurasia and North Africa.

As cultivators expanded they would have pushed against areas occupied by hunter-gatherers/proto-pastoralists some of whom with domesticated herds sheep and goats.  In marginal areas herding will have predominated over hunting and gathering.   Interaction with agriculturalists such as through trade/diffusion of innovation or the expansion of agriculturalists,  led to nomadic pastoralism.

To acquire enough forage, large distances have to be covered by herds, with larger hers requiring nomadism to avoid overexplotation of local grasses. This resulted in a higher labour requirement for animal tending and a divergence and specialism between sedentary cultivation and pastoralism  and specialization took place. Both developed alongside each other, with continuing interactions. (See Levy, T. E. (1983). Emergence of specialized pastoralism in the Levant. World Archaeology 15(1): 15-37. Hole, F. (1996). “The context of caprine domestication in the Zagros region'”. in The Origins and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia. D. R. Harris (ed.). London, University College of London: 263-281.)

Nomadism continued to exist  in symbiosis with such settled cultures trading animal products items not produced by the nomadic herders, with trade occurring across the margin of cultivation.  The margin of cultivation being the frontier between pastoral and agricultural ways of producing.