So lets ban non-Italian food

Forte dei Marmi one of the endless dull towns on the Tiscan coast has decided to ban foreign (non italian) food – ok lets start with:

Pasta – China via arabia

Chillies – South America

Pizza – Asia Minor

Sausages and pepperioni – Austria

Tomato – South America

Olive Oil – Anatolia

Zucchini – South America

Rice/Rissoto – Persia

Ragu – France

Garlic – Ancient Egypt

Errr anything left?








Final British Property Fed #NPPF Response


Full response here

NPPF: Property industry welcomes ‘unprecedented’ power shift to local communities

The British Property Federation (BPF) has today welcomed the largest ever transfer of planning power from Whitehall to local communities in its response to the consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The draft NPPF puts local plan making at the heart of the planning system, meaning for the first time that democratically-elected local authorities, rather than unelected regional quangos, will have the final say over what development should take place in their areas.

Under the proposals, a planning application would only be judged against the principles set out in the NPPF in the absence of an adopted core strategy, giving local authorities a strong incentive to plan positively to meet the needs and aspirations of their area while paying full regard to the principles of sustainability. Currently almost 70% of local authorities do not have an adopted core strategy, seven years on from the legislation instructing them to do so.

Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The extra powers that will be given to communities are welcome, but with power comes responsibility. Although resources are stretched, preparing and maintaining an up-to-date core strategy should be seen as one of the most important functions of any local authority. For whatever reason most local authorities haven’t produced a strategy. At the very least the NPPF should incentivise them to prepare one.”

In its response the BPF again reiterated its support for the changes, believing they should lead to a framework which will be clear and succinct, help to create urgently needed jobs and homes and take into account the principles of sustainability.

Commenting specifically on other aspects of the draft NPPF, the BPF said:

1) Brownfield first. In its consultation response the BPF suggests an explicit reference to a brownfield land first policy to help allay concerns expressed by green groups that it would lead to the despoliation of the countryside.

Liz Peace said: “We do not believe that the draft NPPF seeks to undermine environmental concerns but if greater clarification would allay these fears then we would be happy to see some changes.

“We want to see as much new building as possible take place on brownfield land, accepting that in some cases ‘brownfield’ land may be of greater environmental value than greenfield sites.”

2) The presumption in favour of sustainable development. The BPF welcomes the presumption and believes that although it is not the radical change some have claimed, it will produce better outcomes for local authorities, communities and the development industry.

Liz Peace said: “While the presumption is an important aspect of the emerging NPPF, we do not see it as marking a radical change to the existing planning system. The crucial point, which so many of those attacking the draft NPPF have ignored, is that the presumption should not be exercised in a vacuum but within the context of a local plan drawn up by an elected local authority following extensive consultation with their local community.”

3) The presumption will create a ‘developers’ charter’. The BPF said that the presumption would help local authorities plan positively for growth, but would not mean that those without a plan would find unwelcome and inappropriate development thrust upon them.

Liz Peace said: “The suggestion that if there is no up to date plan then ‘anything goes’ is an inaccurate interpretation of the Government’s proposals. If an up-to-date local plan is not in force, then decisions about planning applications will be made in accordance with the principles set out in the draft NPPF.”

4) The definition of sustainable development. The BPF believes that the definition in the NPPF is widely accepted, but is happy to agree to a different form of words if this would allay the fears of environmentalists.

Liz Peace said: “The definition of sustainable development in the draft NPPF uses the classic Brundtland definition and talks appropriately about balancing economic, social and economic considerations. The Brundtland definition has the merit of familiarity. However, we recognise that it was designed to cover a wide spectrum of issues relating to the development of nations rather than built development per se and we are not wedded to this definition if a better form of words can be found.”


Patrick Clift, Media and Public Affairs Manager, on 07834 439 505 or at
Paul Sweeney, Media Officer, on 07841 732 194 or at

Brighton and Hove final #NPPF response



  • indicates that harm can be justified by virtue of the benefits of development without clearly setting a requirement for the applicant to demonstrate any harm has been minimised.
  •  increases the onus on and places the burden of proof with Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), when refusing an application, to demonstrate significant
    adverse impacts of sufficient scale to outweigh the benefits
  • If there is an explicit presumption in favour of sustainable development there should be an equally explicit presumption in favour of preserving urban open space
  • “approve all individual proposals wherever possible”
    should either be deleted (it is unnecessary in view that the majority
    of applications are granted) or clarity provided in respect of what is
    meant in respect of ‘wherever possible’ eg technically, viably and/or
    sustainably. Without clarity this will undermine the plan-led system and
    give rise to planning by appeal.
  • Why is there no mention of the role and importance of tourism to local
    economies, economic growth and the viability and vitality of town
  • Having adopted the 5 national transport goals, and encouraged local authorities to develop their Local Transport Plans around them, these goals have not now been given similar or sufficient weight in this framework
  • it is disappointing that the reference in PPS1 to ‘promoting local distinctiveness’ has been omitted
  • If a building is ‘well-designed’ it cannot at the same time be
    ‘incompatible with an existing townscape’.
  • Has localism led to more overturned decisions? – Planning Resource

    Planning Resource

    Taylor Wimpey’s Keith George told Planning that in the last three months the company had seen eight applications that had been supported by officers refused permission. “Members flexing their muscles has become more apparent,” he said, attributing their new assertiveness to ministerial influence. In June, housing minister Grant Shapps told elected members “not to let council officers be the backseat drivers of local government”.

    George said he had mentioned the issue to decentralisation minister Greg Clark’s team, who responded by saying that the planning system was in a transitional period and should not be judged on such a short timeframe.

    George said he accepted that the figures could be a seasonal abnormality, and that people “were feeling their way” into a new system. But it was “a statement of fact” that the company was seeing “more refusals against officer recommendation than we have had in the past,” he said.

    George said Taylor Wimpey’s consented land bank was still “adequate for its current needs”, but that in the medium to long term land that had been given planning permission needed to be replaced. If the decision-making trend was to continue, he said, it would become a “structural problem and not just a local annoyance”.

    He described current decision-making as “volatile”, when “a smooth, orderly predictable process” was needed to maintain current housebuilding volumes and provide for potential future increases in housing delivery.

    Lets look at some cases

    In Bromsgrove in March cllrs votes unaminously to refuse a scheme, but were unable to find a highways witness to defend the refusal

    According to the council, consultants refused because they see no “technically justifiable case”, and fear damage to their professional integrity as there is no, or a limited, chance of success.

    The council has now taken the decision to attend the appeal only to explain the council’s position

    Also in March a scheme was refused in Kingswood Stroud for really scraping the bottom of the barrel grounds ‘urbanised edge’ to the village and ‘increased pluvial flooding’ reasons, reasons that are always signs of desperation.  Indeed the logic of the local group is not helpful when referring to a revised scheme to remove the first refusal reason.

    Heidi Dann, from residents’ campaign group Keep Kingswood a Village, said: “If the 27 houses are approved it effectively dissolves the reasons for refusal for the initial 37 which would make it much easier for Taylor Wimpey at the appeal.

    “The message is we have to fight the 27 because if we lose the 27 it is highly likely we will get the 37.”

    Heidi the revised scheme will make no difference to the urbanised edge reason the appeal scheme.  If it removes that reason then that reason has to be dropped, indeed the inspector can use his or her powers if this is a valid reason for objection to reduce the numbers of units on the site (wheatcroft powers). The idea that you have to oppose everything because a scheme has gone to appeal is a total planning myth every planning scheme has to be decided on its planning merits and its planning merits alone.  You should also be aware that costs can be awarded against third parties at appeal if their behaviour is unreasonable.

    It would appear that Taylor Wimpey have a point.  Indeed if councils continue to behave this way they could find themselves considerably poorer in terms of costs awarded.





    North Lanarkshire planning corruption – journalists source protected by Human Rights Act – In Free Football Tickets case

    Press Gazette

    A local government watchdog dropped its attempt to force a journalist to hand over notes which could have disclosed a confidential source of information after lawyers argued that he was protected by the rights to freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The case arose as officials at the Standards Commission for Scotland, which promotes and enforces Codes of Conduct for councillors and those appointed to devolved public bodies, investigated a complaint by the leader of North Lanarkshire Council that a specific councillor had leaked a copy of a report on the case to Mike McQuaid, deputy editor of the Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker newspapers.

    The Public Standards Commissioner had sought to make McQuaid hand over his notes in relation to a story from a confidential source about a planner on the council having been sacked for corruption.

    McQuaid was warned that failing to comply with the request would amount to obstruction of the inquiries and could be a contempt of court which would be dealt with by the Court of Session.

    But a panel of the Commission dropped the request after solicitor Campbell Deane, of Glasgow-based law firm Bannatyne Kirkwood France and Co, for McQuaid and the newspapers’ ownersJohnston Press, told a hearing that McQuaid was entitled to protect his journalistic sources, and that that right could be overcome only by a pressing social need.

    He pointed out that under section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 no court could require a journalist to disclose a source unless the disclosure was “necessary in the interests of justice or national security or for the prevention of disorder or crime”.

    While section 17 (5) of the Ethical Standards in Public Life (Scotland) Act 2000 gave the Commission the right to require a person to attend a hearing and produce documents, section 17 (6) provided that nobody could be compelled to produce documents when they could not be compelled to do so in civil proceedings in the Court of Session.

    Deane told the panel hearing that whether the councillor was or was not McQuaid’s source was irrelevant – the issue was the journalist’s right to protect his sources.

    But in any event, even asking McQuaid what a source had said ran contrary to the journalist’s right not to disclose a source.

    Section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act established qualified circumstances in which someone might be compelled to disclose a source – but Article 10 of the European Convention, and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights set the bar higher on the issue of protection of journalists’ sources, and required there to be a pressing social need if the presumption in favour of anonymity for a confidential source was to be overturned.

    It was not for McQuaid to defend his rights under Article 10 – rather, the Commission bore the burden of demonstrating why those rights should be overridden, which it had failed to do.

    The panel rejected the Commission’s claim that no issue about the disclosure of a source arose, because it was seeking notes and documents, rather than the source’s identity.

    The fact that obtaining McQuaid’s notes would help decide the complaint against the councillor was not sufficient to establish an overriding requirement in the public interest.

    The panel said: “We do not doubt that disclosure of McQuaid’s notebook would be expedient in the context of pursuing the current complaint, but are not persuaded that, in all the circumstances, the high test to be met to justify disclosure of the journalist’s source is satisfied.”

    McQuaid would not be compelled to produce his notes in civil proceedings in the Court of Session, and thus could not be compelled to produce his notes for the Commission.

    Here is the original story – North Lanarkshire Planner Sacked for taking gifts

    A NORTH Lanarkshire Council planner has been sacked for allegedly getting gifts from a developer in return for passing on sensitive information.

    Danny Welsh was quizzed as part of a major investigation by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, the national body which probes organised crime. He now faces a corruption charge.

    His sacking was confirmed by a council sub-committee this week and prompted the council’s SNP group to call for a full inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into the authority’s planning department.

    Mr Welsh (43) had been with the council since its inception in 1996. He admitted that a developer had given him tickets for SPL football matches over a four-year period and he had also been given use of the developer’s apartment in Spain.

    Material relating to a planning department computer system was allegedly found at the home of the developer during an SCDEA raid.

    Mr Welsh denied providing the developer with any documentation and said he was merely a friend.

    However, he was sacked from his post for gross misconduct. His appeal was dismissed on Monday after a four-hour hearing at Motherwell Civic Centre.

    Councillor Paul Delaney, SNP group media officer, said the sacking of Mr Welsh follows a number of controversial land deals involving the council and private developers, and it is time for an external inquiry.

    He said: “We want a full and thorough impartial investigation by Parliament into the matter to ascertain if any other officials or councillors have been involved.”

    A council spokesman refused to discuss the case or the SNP demand, saying only: “I can confirm that, following a hearing, a former employee’s appeal against dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct was rejected by a councilsub-committee.”

    Heritage Alliance #NPPF Response


    The Alliance on the National Planning Policy Framework

    14 October: The Alliance submits it response to the CLG consultation

    Following consultation with members, on Friday 14 October The Heritage Alliance submitted its response to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s NPPF consultation. See our covering letter here and our full response here.

    Round-up of Alliance members’ comments & responses on the NPPF consultation

    • NPPF must not be silent on culture, says The Theatres Trust
    • We believe in growth, but not at all costs, says The National Trust
    • The purpose of the planning system is to secure long-term public interest, says CPRE
    • We need more planning not less if we’re to achieve smart growth not urban sprawl, says Civic Voice
    • The NPPF proposes a more flexible system within environmental limits, says the CLA
    • The NPPF lacks key detail and clarity on the historic environment, says the HHA
    • The NPPF represents dumbing down and oversimplfication of complex issues, says Greenspace

    Members whose responses haven’t yet been noted above can email their link for inclusion to Emma Robinson

    ‘Hamburger Hill’ EU Habitat Regulations to be Flattened in Government Growth Review #NPPF

    Guardian Allegra Stratton

    As government advisers contemplate the growth review, due on 29 November, they know this gives them a communications problem. How to dramatise, make more vivid, the very technical nature of what they are trying to do?

    It’s why strategists don’t mind the fight over the green belt. They are quite sure they will not be paving paradise (only 9% of current British land is built on; if housing stock were doubled that would still not top 11%, they say). They think the battle gives the public the impression the government is doing something (anything).

    In trying to galvanise the economy, language and confidence – getting people to spend again – matter as much as reforms in the undergrowth.

    This was the point of the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The chancellor sent them on their way with the clear message: “Nothing is going to get in the way of growth. Anything that does will be flattened.” In private, the watchword remains “Hamburger Hill”, the brutal 80s Vietnam war film named because Vietnamese bullets turned human flesh into hamburger meat. Cameron watched it the day before Tory party conference.

    But in the next breath GI Osborne told assembled colleagues about their communication problem, and his solution. Hampshire council spent £7,000 on a bridge allowing dormice and lizards to cross the road safely, Osborne told colleagues, some of whom recognised it to be a Daily Mail story from February last year. “These are the ridiculous things that get in the way of growth,” Osborne told the cabinet, putting a £100m price tag on these sorts of quaint projects. Away from the cabinet Alexander recalls how his constituency wanted a Tesco but couldn’t have it because it was to be built on a pond because it that was home to a rare breed of protected fly.

    The cabinet heard more fighting talk from the foreign secretary, William Hague, who also delivered a paper on growth – this time a call to turn European dictats into hamburger meat.

    Britain was too risk-averse, he said. If there was a 1% chance of a legal challenge to a big project, British civil servants would counsel against it, whereas Germany and Belgium would go ahead and chance it. That should change, Hague said.

    The growth review sees both sides of the coalition fairly united. Cable and Osborne meet every fortnight with their human calculators, Giles Wilkes and Rupert Harrison, to trade figures about the economy, only occasionally teasing one another about their respective party problems. One of Osborne’s closest aides spent time liaising with Cable, pre-conference. It was to ensure no gaffes, but nonetheless it was a Tory advising a Lib Dem minister.

    In some cases the economic teams are incredibly close-knit: when Alexander announced the £500m, it came as a surprise to Lib Dems in Clegg’s office. Nick Clegg would brag to journalists that Wilkes’ pamphlets were the only ones by a thinktanker quoted in a monetary policy committee session. Then King wrote back saying QE did get to small businesses but that they would be not be going any further – picking winners was not what the Bank of England did. Osborne’s announcement is a Wilkesian way around what they all see as BoE intransigence.

    It is not uncomplicated – Cable’s department is holding the ring as No 10 pushes for yet more deregulation and shredding of employment rights – but it is better than believed.

    But a relationship that is working less well is that with Chris Huhne, who Nos 10 and 11 believe briefed against the Treasury as it emerged Downing Street’s permanent secretary had ticked off Osborne for holding up action on renewable energy.

    Cameron appears to have finally decided that environmental policies standing in the way of growth fit Osborne’s “flattened” category. The PM could be said to have turned from green to brown this week, like the leaves.

    So these are the tropes: a shelving of anything that holds back growth, vigilante interpretation of Brussels dictats, an eye for the communications of it all. Do expect a gamechanger, sources say: this is Osborne, after all. But also expect arterial and bypass roads, and jokes about why the dormice and lizards crossed the road.

    As ever it would seem that silly tabloid storeys about cats and newts drive bad policy.

    As anyone who knows about infrastructure knows the absolute stupidest most numbskulled thing you can do is ignore the EU Habitats directive.  What could government do, pass a bill which would then get defeated in the suprme court to overturn or suspend it as Steve ‘Guru’ hilton or William Haugue would like.  This would leave 100s of infrastructure projects in legal limbo for years.

    We know what happens if you blithely and casually  ignore this directive.  As Cornwall found out this week the courts will block you on a 100s of millions of pounds project, when following it would have seen the project sail through.

    One does have to woinder about the basic competence of ministers on this point as such a route would end in disaster and is picking the wrong target.  The enemy is unemployment and poorly planned infrastructure – not bats and newts.  It is the Pickles and May tabloid strategy of picking diversionary and irrelevant targets for crude populism.  Where are the number 10 civil servants advising ministers on how such a brain dead approach will hold up infrastructure rather than speed it up?

    One imagines that if such a ‘Hamburger Hill’ strategy is advanced then the NPPF row will just be the first front in a much broader and longer campaign which may see Osborne accused of advancing the greyest government ever.  

    Localism Bill clauses to make #NPPF statutory, and provide statutory Sustainable development defintion withdrawn

    Debate proceedings here the government is to look again at the dfinition of SD issue – but most likely through the NPPF.  There were a lot of problems with the wording of Lord Greaves amendment and some good speeches.

    The amendment to make the NPPF statutory fell.  PSrt of the reason im sure was that it would have triggered an SEA requirement under european law, whereas at the moment it (arguably) does not.

    Back to the planning clauses of the bill on the 17th where I believe they will tackle the various ‘transitional arrangements clauses.