Campaign for Better Transport Slams Leaked NPPF ‘a manifesto for sprawl and congestion’

They say

We’ve seen a copy and overall, the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) seems written to include some nice phrases about sustainability but to remove any detail that could actually be used to reject a damaging planning application unless it was of a scale such as building a new town in the middle of a national park.

The Government’s line is that the lack of detail and clarity in this document don’t matter as local plans will provide it. However, existing local plans will have to prove that they are in conformity with the new NPPF and a Government that is minded to remove any perceived burdens on businesses could decide that most, if not all, existing local plans are not in conformity which, when combined with those areas that have not formally adopted existing local plans, could mean that the bulk of planning applications have to be assessed against the NPPF. This would create a planning free for all until new plans are accepted.

The document overall is a manifesto for sprawl and congestion, rather than supporting the creation of sustainable communities. It rejects the evidence that “smart growth” ideas, which North American and European planning authorities have increasingly adopted, can deliver this. The lack of detail will weaken local authorities’ ability to engage with and negotiate with developers to produce outcomes that are positive for local communities or to achieve national objectives around climate change or to tackle congestion.

Spot on

Saved? – Moscow’s Trollybuses

Last year the Mayor of Moscow caused a storm when he announced a new transport plan that involved getting rid of trollybuses, widening roads and building more city centre parking.  Moscow has the largest, but creaking, Trollybus system in the world, but poor enforcement and street design mean they often get blocked by cars on the track.

Thankfully second thoughts, they are now buying 100 new trollybuses (out of a fleet of 1,500) rather than scrapping them, so many trollybuses are old that the urgent need to replace the old ones will I think condemn the policy, as will the simple practicality that it is not safe to drive in Moscow in the height of winter and most do not.  In any event new trolleybus designs, with no catenarys and back up batteries, now mean that trollybuses can drive around obstacles.  Ban the pirate marshrutka jitney buses poaching passengers on the same lines and refurbishment might pay for itself.

Anti-Powerpoint Party Formed – lets all Join

A new political party has been formed.  The Swiss Anti-Powerpoint Party, aiming to become an international movement.

Our international movement shall be noticed by the world media. That is why we have chosen the organizational form of an international party. Since parties attract more attention in the media. Switzerland was chosen as the seat of the movement, because, here, every citizen of the world can become a member of a party.

The APPP sees itself as the advocate of approximately 250 Million people worldwide, who, every month, are obliged to be present during boring presentations in companies, universities, or at other institutions, and who had up to now no representation in politics.

They claculate the lost to the european conomy alone from Powerpoint every year is  €110bn a year.

There slogan should be ‘Office Workers of the World units, you have nothing to lose but your sore arses’

Here is there ‘Horror Slide of the Month‘ from the US army, on seeing it Gen Mc Cystel said ‘when we understand that slide we will have won the war’.  This shows that poor communication isnt trivial, it costs lives, wastes billions and deludes countrys.

National Planning Policy Framework Forensics #49 Biodiversity

This compares the NPPF draft to PPS9 (2005) and to some extent to the never completed, and never to be completed most likely PPS10 (2010) which would have replaced it.

There is no overall objective for biodoversity. In particular this para from PPS9 is missing (the equivalent in PPS10 is no real improvement).

to conserve, enhance and restore the diversity of England’s wildlife and geology by sustaining, and where possible improving, the quality and extent of natural habitat and geological and geomorphological sites; the natural physical processes on which they depend; and the populations of naturally occurring species which they support.

The requirement to take account of the need to plan for biodiversity at a landscape-scale across local planning authority boundaries is new and welcome.

Comparing the key two policy tests.

development proposals where the primary objective is to conserve or enhance biodiversity should be permitted; Development proposals where the principal objective is to conserve or enhancebiodiversity and geological conservation interests should be permitted.
if significant harm resulting from a development cannot be avoided (through locating on an alternative site with less harmful impacts), adequately mitigated against, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning permission should be refused; The aim of planning decisions should be to prevent harm to biodiversity and geological conservation interests. Where granting planning permission would result in significant harm to those interests, local planning authorities will need to be satisfied that the development cannot reasonably be located on any alternative sites that would result in less or no harm. In the absence of any such alternatives, local planning authorities should ensure that, before planning permission is granted,adequate mitigation measures are put in place. Where a planning decision would result in significant harm to biodiversity and geological interests which cannot be prevented or adequately mitigated against, appropriate compensation measures should be sought. If that significant harm cannot be prevented, adequately mitigated against, or compensated for, then planning permission should be refused.

This is a neat bit of editing, though shorter the meaning is the same (the meaning of the draft PPS10 was essentially the same).

Geodiversity seems to have dropped off the Radar.

Previously it has generally been held that local policies on priority species were unecessary as it was contained in National Policy & RSS.  The draft appears to change this requiring local policies on priority species.  This may be in order to meet international obligations with the abolition of RSS.

The phrase “making clear distinctions between the hierarchy of international, national, regional and locally designated sites;” has gone, confusing as it could be read as treating all sites equally. ‘Same protection as European sites…’  What protection this isn’t clearly spelt out.

There is a change giving sites identified as compensation for European and proposed sites the same protection as these sites. This surely is to comply with the Habitats Directive. Welcome change.

Biodiversity enahncement within a development is no longer something that can be required, only encouraged. A big step backwards.

‘Other important habitats’ becomes ‘irreplacable habitats’   – no mention of the CROW act duties and the importance of protecting section 74 habitats.   Again a big step backwards, needs to be put back in.

Build Your Own Exceptions Sites in Shropshire

Very innovative Policy in Shropshire

This innovative policy allows those who can demonstrate a housing need and strong local connection to an area the opportunity to build their own self-financed affordable home.

The affordable home has a maximum internal floor area of 100 square metres and is subject to a Section 106 legal agreement prescribing local occupancy criteria and restricting the potential future sale value to around 60% of open market value.

Any proposed site has to be in a recognised settlement and deemed suitable by Development Management. After this, a further verification process takes place to asses a household’s individual needs, local connection and inability to secure suitable alternative accommodation in the local area.

National Planning Policy Framework Forensics#48 Agricultural Land

Comparing the draft to PPS7

Comparing PPS7 (para 28)

The presence of best and most versatile agricultural land (defined as land in grades 1, 2 and 3a of the Agricultural Land Classification), should be taken into account alongside other sustainability considerations (e.g. biodiversity; the quality and character of the landscape; its amenity value or heritage interest; accessibility to infrastructure, workforce and markets; maintaining viable communities; and the protection of natural resources, including soil quality) when determining planning applications. Where significant development of agricultural land is unavoidable, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land (grades 3b, 4 and 5) in preference to that of a higher quality, except where this would be inconsistent with other sustainability considerations. Little weight in agricultural terms should be given to the loss of agricultural land in grades 3b, 4 and 5, except in areas (such as uplands) where particular agricultural practices may themselves contribute in some special way to the quality and character of the environment or the local economy. If any undeveloped agricultural land needs to be developed, any adverse effects on the environment should be minimised.

To the draft NPPF (page 47)

take into account the presence of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is unavoidable, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality, except where this would be inconsistent with other sustainability considerations or the Local Plan’s growth strategy and where poorer quality land is unavailable or unsuitable;

The only real shift in policy is to add ‘and where poorer quality land is unavailable or unsuitable’ which is reasonable.

Pickles in a Pickle at Picketts: Upholds RSS Targets in Landmark Picketts Piece Appeal

This is the first recovered appeal on housing supply issues since CALA II, and the first such to quote Planning for Growth, the key parts of the decision are as follows:

The Secretary of State has made it clear, following the judgment of the Court on 10 November 2010 in Cala Homes (South) Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Winchester City Council [2010] EWHC 2886 (Admin), that it is the Government’s intention to revoke RSs, and the provisions of the Localism Bill which is now before Parliament reflect this intention. This gave rise to a subsequent decision of the Court on 7 February 2011 in Cala Homes (South) Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2011] EWHC 97 (Admin) which held that the Government’s intention to legislate to revoke regional spatial strategies was capable of being a material consideration. However, while the Secretary of State has taken this matter into account in determining this case, he gives it limited weight at this stage of the parliamentary process.

Given the lack of an up to date 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites, the Secretary of State has gone on to consider the appeal under paragraph 71 of PPS3, having regard to the policies in PPS3 including the considerations in paragraph 69. For the reasons given in IR201-213, the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s conclusions at IR209 that this proposal should be considered favourably. He has noted the Inspector’s view at IR212 that the Ministerial Statement ‘Planning for Growth’ lends significant weight to this proposal, which would provide much needed housing in a sustainable location close to significant employment opportunities, and he agrees that the Ministerial Statement weighs in favour of the proposal.

The phrase ‘At this stage of the Parliamentary Process’ is interesting, would the approach be different following Royal Assent but prior to the Revokation (of course he still needs to do his SEA). It is clear though that growth smites localism every time.

Test Valley had identified the east of Andover as preferred location for development . The Draft Submission Planm (Oct 2008)identified Picket Piece for the strategic allocation of 800 dwellings. The Core Strategy was subsequently been withdrawn due to concerns expressed by the Inspector, concerning matter such as whether the strategy was sufficiently spatial, whether the vision was sufficiently clear and whether the document was more akin to a Local Plan than a Core Strategy.

The key was the 5 year supply. Test Valley had proposed to go with 9,320 districtwide, as opposed to the RSS (SE Plan) figure of 10,020. This gave them 5.4 years supply. Although they had attempted to backload the completions rate. Appeals had said before Pickkets Piece that the assumptions about sites coming forward was overly optomistic. Unlike in regions where market dmeand has been lower the former regional office had discouraged backloading unless there was clear justification.

The inspector determined the case on the basis of the RSS figure, and the SoS agreed with him.

The inspector found:

199. It is a fact that market conditions are likely to be a big contributory factor to the current shortfall in supply, with house-builders building fewer houses than they have the potential to. However, although the Council argues that adding to the supply would be unlikely to achieve anything in such circumstances, an increased supply of housing land with the potential for a further developer or developers contributing to delivery may well be an appropriate response in the current climate.

This approach is fundamentally different to the approaches taken by the SOS to the previous Cornwall and Metacre Flyde cases – simply because of CALA II and ‘Planning for Growth’.

Expect a flood of appeals now on major housing sites. No reason now for housebuilders not to quickly draw up am outline scheme and get an appeal in, threatening costs for ‘an unecessary’ appeal