Developers ‘Chomping at the Bit’ for final #NPPF – Telegraph

Telegraph – Back on the Front Page.  Though the reports on some specific sites id dodgy so ive left those out.


Last night, campaigners warned that developers were “chomping at the bit” and said the countryside could suffer “irreparable damage” under the draft plans.

Fiona Howie, the head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Developers are giving us a sign of what could be to come. Clearly some developers are looking to pre-empt the publication of the final NPPF and are chomping at the bit to make the most of the more damaging provisions that were contained in the draft document.”

Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative MP and David Cameron’s former environmental adviser, said: “If it [the Coalition] steamrolls through destructive changes to the planning system the Government will alienate millions of people.

“The fact that developers are already getting controversial projects through the system on the promise of a degraded planning system can only exacerbate concerns.”

Campaigners are hoping the strength of the opposition from a range of different environmental groups has forced the Government to recast the document so that it will no longer favour increased development over environmental concerns.

Miss Howie added: “If weak and ambiguous planning policies make it into the final NPPF, we could see a significant increase in attempts to overturn good local decisions, and far more development on greenfield land, rather than the re-use of brownfield sites.

“This would not seem to chime with the Government’s claims that they are seeking to promote sustainable development.

“We can only hope that ministers will have listened to the thousands of people who took part in last summer’s consultation, and improved the final document sufficiently to avoid a rash of appeals and dodgy decisions that could leave a long-lasting negative impact on both our urban and rural areas.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The Planning Inspectorate is clear that the NPPF is still in draft and should be considered as such by inspectors. Our reforms will put planning power into the hands of local communities and deliver a simpler planning system that provides the sustainable development, homes and jobs that the next generation needs while protecting the environment and green spaces.”

A source added that the NPPF “will only become national policy when a final text is published”.

He added: “The final framework will be published by the end of March. We are not going to comment on speculation about its content ahead of publication.”

Tea Party Planning comes to Bromley, Lib Dem Cllr in Adam Smith pamphlet calls for abolition of Green Belt #NPPF

In the you almost couldn’t make it up category.

Planning for a Free Society

It is pretty much the same argument as the Policy Exchange part from abolition of the Green Belt.

It is little more than another repetitive rant against the Green Belt as stated in dozens of similar IEA etc. pamphlets over the years and brings nothing new to the table.

It makes no new intellectiual case simply arguing from authority that austrian economics says planning restrictions restrict property rights and the free market.  Though quoting Hayeck on several occasions why then did Hayeck argue that a planning system was essential to safeguard property rights and the enjoyment of property through prevention of nuisance in a free market economy, because of course the legal system would be clogged up with claim and counter claim, and without the rule of law there is no stability to enable property markets to function.  If you are arguing solely from authority please get your authorities right Cllr Papworth.

These loopy Austrian ideas seem to have gone down like a lead balloon with the British public, so why then are its followers such a clique in a cabinet office?  One reason why the coordination of government policy has become so incoherent.  The wonks in the Cabinet office have been infected by a Rathbardist tendency that dont even believe in government.

York Inspector – First to Raise Legality Concerns Over Duty to Cooperate #NPPF

David Vickery, one of our most experienced and respected development plan inspectors has raised concerns about the legality of the York Core Strategy in a note issued beofre Aprials examination exploratory meeting.  This can be constrasted with the approach of the inspector at the Recent BANE hearing.

My concerns are set out below and they are either legal compliance matters or soundness issues concerning what will be delivered; where it will be delivered; when it will be delivered; and how it will be delivered

Even the bold type seems to come from our alternative NPPF draft – anyway succinctly put sir.

Amended section 20(7B) of the 2004 Act establishes that the duty to co-operate imposed by amended section 33A is incapable of modification by me at this Examination. Therefore, this is one of the first things that I have to examine because if the legal requirement is not fulfilled then I have no choice other than to recommend non-adoption of the CS.
Document CD23 provides information on this duty, but it is ‘broad brush’ and deals primarily with the very early stages of initiating the overall co-ordination of wide ranging strategic policy across the various sub-regions of which the City of York forms a part. It does not address the relevant questions about the ‘local’ strategic impact of the CS itself on its immediate neighbours in terms of its allocations, policy implications, and its infrastructure and infrastructure requirements – or vice versa (i.e. the impact of neighbouring Plans on the City of York). The duty is about strategic planning in the context of localism.

Hmm.  The inspector here may be confusing the act and process of cooperation – as in the localism act, with the outputs and outcomes of the process, as in the NPPF.  The former is incapable of amendment, have you strived to cooperate yes or no, examination can only proceed if yes.  The outcomes of the process are capable of amendment, so providing the other legal tests are met (such as SEA and consultation) an inspector can add a developer promoted strategic site (as at Ashford).  What an inspector cannot do is amend a plan to include cross LPA outcomes, so if for example there is a lack of a key road junction accessing a site in an adjoining authority all both inspectors can do is keep sending both plans back until there is agreement,

A second ground concern was the SEA compliance issue in the light of the Forest Heath and Greater Norwich cases.  The inspector cites a lack of evidence about why the chosen strategy was chosen over others and states that the he is not convinced that the alternatives presented are reasonable ones.

A key issue raised by the inspector is a 5,130 dwelling shortfall.  Like the vague Coventry core strategy it identifies vague ‘areas of search’ to cover this shortfall, the inspector is rightly having none of this.

It is clear from the above that the Areas of Search are likely to be used to accommodate most of the 5,130 dwellings in the longer term. The shortfall is so large that the CS has to take this hard, strategic decision now – it cannot rely on the hope that windfalls or other brownfield sites will take up a shortfall of such a large extent. Key sites which are critical to the delivery of the housing strategy over the plan period must be identified in the CS. But I can find no evidence on the potential capacity of these Areas of Search, or even on their likely area for housing. And they are not assessed in the SHLAA.

As the Areas of Search are key sites which are critical to the delivery of the housing and (possibly) the employment strategy in the later part of the plan period, they need to be identified now and removed from the policy CS1 Green Belt, thus setting boundaries which will endure beyond the plan period. Leaving such important strategic decisions to a lower level Plan will lead to confusion and uncertainty. The Areas cannot just be ‘safeguarded land’ outside the Green Belt because some of it is clearly needed for development within the plan period.

So as we have long predicted the implications of the legal duty to cooperate, especially when it becomes a soundness test, will be quite profound, Green Belt authorities with a shortfall of housing as here will either have to agree to undertake a strategic review of the Green Belt and/or have their neighbouring LPAs agree to take the overspill.  There is no other way out of strategic planning without causing a shortfall of housing.

Telegraph – Full text of Zac Goldsmith/45 MP letter on #NPPF

The Telegraph

As the Government puts the finishing touches to the National Planning Policy Framework we wanted you to know how much importance we attach to a planning system that protects the countryside and wider environment from inappropriate development.

You will be aware of the substantial public concern expressed about the implications of the draft NPPF which was issued for consultation last year. While some of the fears about the draft were exaggerated, we believe there were some serious problems with the drafting that would make it difficult for the Government to realise fully its ambitions for planning reform and to be the ‘greenest ever’.

We all support a simpler system with more local control, but this should not come at the expense of the ability of planning to protect and enhance the environment.

There are a number of changes to the draft NPPF that are needed to address these problems some of which have been promoted by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. In particular, we are concerned to ensure that the final version contains explicit reference to:

  • The need to use suitable brownfield land for development before green fields in order to prevent unsustainable urban sprawl;
  • The intrinsic value of the ordinary, undesignated countryside which is loved so much by the local communities we represent; and
  • A commitment to genuinely sustainable development that does not prioritise short term economic interests over long term quality of life and wellbeing.

We know that you attach great value to the countryside and we share your instinctive recognition of its importance. An effective planning system is central to protecting our rural areas from urban sprawl and inappropriate, sporadic development.

We ask you to ensure that the final NPPF enables us to secure the growth and development the nation needs while safeguarding one of our most valuable environmental assets, the English countryside, for future generations.

Yours sincerely,

Zac Goldsmith MP (CONS)

William Cash MP (CONS)

Martin Horwood MP (CONS)

Jonathan Evans MP (CONS)

Andrew Turner MP (CONS)

Jason McCartney MP (CONS)

Henry Smith MP (CONS)

Robert Walter MP (CONS)

Charlie Elphìcke MP (CONS)

Robert Buckland MP (CONS)

Julian Lewis MP (CONS)

Anne Marie Morris MP (CONS)

Chris Heaton-Harris MP (CONS)

Peter Bottomley MP (CONS)

Sarah Wollaston MP (CONS)

Tim Yeo MP (CONS)

James Gray MP (CONS)

Caroline Nokes MP (CONS)

Dominic Raab MP (CONS)

David Nuttall MP (CONS)

Stuart Andrew MP (CONS)

Andrea Leadsom MP (CONS)

James Clappison MP (CONS)

Mark Spencer MP (CONS)

Julian Sturdy MP (CONS)

Margot James MP (CONS)

Heather Wheeler MP (CONS)

Bernard Jenkin MP (CONS)

Nicholas Soames MP (CONS)

Andrew Bingham MP (CONS)

Paul Uppal MP (CONS)

Mike Weatherley MP (CONS)

Simon Reevell MP (CONS)

David Ruffley MP (CONS)

Gordon Henderson MP (CONS)

George Hollingbery MP (CONS)

Geoffrey Cox MP (CONS)

Steve Brine MP (CONS)

Sir Bob Russell MP (LIB DEM)

Greg Mulholland MP (LIB DEM)

Adrian Sanders MP (LIB DEM)

Annette Brooke MP (LIB DEM)

Steve Gilbert MP (LIB DEM)

Andrew George MP (LIB DEM)

Dr Julian Huppert MP (LIB DEM)

Rumour – Greg Clark telling BPF that #NPPF being pushed back to End of March not Budget Day

We will see what the DCLG press offices says.

This of course is the cabinet office business plan deadline, and possibly indicates more time for tackle the milkrun comments especially from the Treasury, make of that what you will.

Of course with 45 mps in your pocket which could force a commons defeat the DCLG could face down any Treasury taliban fundamentalist arguments, especially now DCLG is no longer a big spending department.

How the Met could track Olympics incidents in real time

It is with some incredulity that I read in the Standard.

he Met’s central control room which will handle the policing of the Olympics is running outdated Eighties software.

A Scotland Yard report on the London riots says the system failed to cope with the scale of the policing operation, resulting in a series of failings.

Police admit the age of the software means senior commanders “have no simple way to view the latest situation in an evolving incident”. The force issued a statement today saying it was working on upgrading the system but it can’t be done in time for the Games…

Senior officers were unable to log key decisions and there was a “lack of capability” to hand over command to an another team. Green Party London mayoral candidate Jenny Jones said the revelations were “extraordinary” and the Met should have “invested in essential technology to deal with the challenges posed by the Games”.

Lib-Dem candidate Brian Paddick said London would have to keep its “fingers crossed” for no serious incidents during the Olympics.

Ok heres how to do it very cheaply in time for the Olympics with little or no software needing to be written.  All that is needed is some GIS know how.  After all the Metops system is just va simple messaging system.

  1. Issue all pcs with iphones.  This will transmit the location of all officers every 10 seconds.  There is off the shelf software that will aggregate this.  Each phone would have a unique pc code, like a police pocket log book.
  2. Use twitter for messaging and turn geolocation on, use hastags like #riot to track reports to the Mets central communications system
  3. Then all you need is to link the twitter API to a system which maps the incidents using GIS, some simple sql might suffice to sort messages into tables for the GIS database and met central coms database.
  4. Central command can then use pms to issue key commands to operational commanders.  Tweetdeck on one screen and A gis on the other would still be infinitely better than the current set up, and could be set up in weeks.

Why Goole isn’t a City – The Town the Internet Forgot

John Precott is quick to condemn the decision yesterday not to make Goole one of the Diamond Jubillee Cities.  But it is a good decision.  As a purely honorific title it only has a point if it attacts tourists and we dont want to put foreign tourists off as all there is to see is its unusual tom pudding dock hoists and salt and pepper pot watertowers, for geeks only.

Besides tourists might want to look up something about Goole.  Goole is the hardest place in the world to research on the internet because Google thinks Goole is a mispelling of Google, so you have to type in ‘Google, Town East Riding Yorkshire’ to find anything.  If you dont already know Goole its a lost cause.  So because of the internet sadly Goole doesn’t even exist.  It is lucky there isnt an austrailian town called Google.  There is town called Bing in Belgium but try and look up anything about it – perhaps they should twin with Goole and attract some tourists by advertising that they are the paces the internet forgot?

Some Simple Solutions to Beds in Sheds

Eric Pickles has said existing powers on the ‘Beds with Sheds’ issue are ‘more than adequate’ and said one council who he would not name (though he was referring to Bristol) had let the issue get out of hand.

But the problem is rapidly spreading outside the area of Ealing west through to Slough where it had become endemic.

Rather than existing powers being more than adequate it is an enforcement nightmare.  A good test is whether or not it is easy to tell whether a breach has occurred, here you cant.  Why?

  • You can build under PD up to an incredible 50% of a garden area – back garden monsters.
  • The rules on ancillary accommodation and use for sleeping are vague.  And made much worse by the 2008 reforms does ‘a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house’ include sleeping accommodation and kitchens?  The appeals cases here are all over the place, there is no consistent pattern.  Some say its ok to have rooms for guest but not permanent self contained accommodation.  Some say its ok to have toilets and kitchens others not.  Working for one rich client who wanted to max out the potential of his many homes I had to find out which local authorities kept a close eye and this and those which didn;t, but it didnt really matter as you took pot luck on appeal.  Hence it is very difficult to prove that accommodation is not ‘incidental’ especially when the occupants cant speak English and the owner claims they are all his cousins.
  • You cant use PCNs as a fishing expedition, there is caselaw on this, there has to be a prima faci case.  If an owner claims it is incidental then there is little you can do, a neighbours complaint is not enough.  You cant even use powers of entry if on oath the owner says there has been no breach.  Article 8 of the Human Rights convention is relevant here on privacy of family life (see the Scottish RTPI Handbook).
  • You cant tell when a breach has occurred, the four year rule again.  The Localism Act will help here on ‘concealed’ breachs, but as it is not retrospective this will have no effect for four years.

So an action plan:

  • Commence the powers on the statute book from the 1984 Building Act to extend the four year rule to an across the board 10.
  • Replace the 50% rule with a 40 sqm rule – the same as the building regs, with some limited exceptions
  • Replace the ‘incidental’ rule with one which restricts outbuildings to those ‘ordinarily used for ancillary purposes in a garden or within a dwelling curtilage, but excluding sleeping and living accommodation (including kitchens and/or bathrooms) which would enable buildings to be used as self contained living accommodation.
  • To reduce bureaucracy introduce a prior notification rule for ancillary buildings between 40 sqm to 70 sqm where the applicant would submit a commitment that a building would not be self contained accommodation and then if there were no objection after 28 days they could go ahead.
  • Clarify the law so that PCNs and right of entry can be used without fear if there is complaint stating evidence.
  • Introduce minimum room size standards for new and converted dwellings and introduce powers under the housing acts to enforce it, including charging landowners for replacement emergency accommodation of those displaced.
  • Where a property is being used for living accommodation and an owner cant prove when it commenced make them liable for council tax back to the year the building was constructed.

Thoughts on Phasing

One of the things I get asked most about is phasing, and clearly it is an issue that may LPAs struggle with.

Two of the biggest problems is lack of proper phasing, housing coming as an undifferentiated lump and unsupported delay, where controversial sites are put in the developable or 10-15 year phases without justification just to kick the can down the road.

The key test is that for allocation, is it developable, is it deliverable? The second of the two being the onbe which is most time bound. So if not in the deliverable phase when? The default would be in the developable phase if not short term deliverable but there are obstacles which can be predictably overcome, if there are uncertainties about delivery shift back to 10-15, when of course it is optional to identify the sites, but little harm in identifying them if the planning work on them has been done and they are clearly identifiable and deliverable.

Lack of proper phasing is a sign of lack of good infrastructure planning – no clear programme to deliver infrastructure. Indeed an all too common default position is that a developable phasing means a district has given the county council 5-10 years to sort out school places or highways issues, or the water company the 5 years it has requested to sort out sewerage issues.

For small towns I often see very odd numbers for allocations, around the 250-350 mark, which imply half a reception class of additional demand. You cant build half a reception class. One of the lessons the almost forgotten skill of threshold analysis tells us is that you have to develop settlements in quantums determined by infrastructure. For example planning in Uxbridge found a minimum threshold of 2,000 or so dwellings in order to build a sixth form. As SPA issues set a maximum figure of 2,500 dwellings the allocation decision was not that difficult.

If there are no infrastructure issues there is little justification for delaying phasing, unless the concern is to regulate the pace of change. This might be justifiable in a village or sensitive market town but not in areas used to considerable change such as growth areas. If a key purpose of allocating housing is to meet housing need and to reduce upward pressure on house prices then the sooner the better.

In can be argued that if all of the 1-10 years sites are used up in the first 5 years then there will be more pressure to allocate additional sites in that period to maintain a rolling 5 year supply. This is to make a mathematical mistake. Exactly the same issue arises with even phasing, though less dramatically after year 5. The problem is caused by not anticipating updating the local plan on a 2 1/2 year cycle to ensure that the residual method for calculating the housing trajectory always has 5 years supply.

I am beginning to see some plans introducing fairly arbitrary caps on estate size in both towns and villages to ensure that towns develop ‘organically’ rather than as a single estate. But this is an issue for masterplanning even in a single land ownership. It is perfectly possible to develop a masterplan where a urban extension is developed in a number of phases over years designed in plot and block terms by different architects. After all the volume housebuilders are likely to drip feed their build rates in this way. I know of some urban design practices, noticeably DPZ, that deliberately mimic this practice by having different designers designing different areas and even getting out the rubber and redegining parts of others quarters – what Andreas Duany calla ‘pallimpsest’ – a revival of the practice advocated by Patrick Geddes.