The Grocer – Government ‘not prepared to challenge’ big 4 supermarket chains on planning #NPPF

From the Grocer

With two thirds of all newbuild activity driven by the supermarkets, the government’s response to Portas’ call was to “continue to use sparingly” a rule that has seen just one out-of-town development rejected since 2008.

Ministers have been heavily infuenced by the economic arguments in favour of reducing restrictions rather than piling more on, with LSE research last year claiming restrictive planning policies had reduced productivity in the retail sector by 20%, leading to high prices that particularly hit the poorest households. Supermarkets were smaller than they would otherwise be, there was less competition and planning applications dragged on for years, it found.

“A lot of retailers were up in arms about the plans for secretary of state sign-off , which would have brought another heap of red tape ,” said another lawyer working on planning on behalf of one of the big four. The CEO of one organisation closely involved in talks over Portas and the NPPF adds: “The vast majority of planning consent in the pipeline is from the big four and the government has shown it is simply not prepared to challenge them. It’s a massive cop out,” she [liz] adds.

“If you speak to anyone in the planning business, everyone bar none says the whole Portas process will prove to have been absolutely worthless.”

However, construction and planning experts say that while the week’s developments could have worked out much worse for the big supermarkets, they are far from a green light for unhindered expansion. “The NPPF is clearly seeking to direct new commercial investments towards revitalising the nation’s town centres and we believe the tough sequential approach definitely means there are more barriers to out of town,” says Allan Wilen, economics director at analysts Glenigan

Enterprise Zone Row in Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph

[SoS] Owen Paterson wants to see an enterprise zone, or zones, in Northern Ireland.

George Osborne says he’s “looking forward” to seeing one.

But [finance minister] Sammy Wilson  doesn’t fancy the idea.

A single zone would “not be practical”, he says,

[…”You can’t apply relaxed planning laws across the whole of Northern Ireland. You would have factories up against a residential area. What we have said is that we would like some of the powers of an enterprise zone to apply across Northern Ireland.”…]

while a number of smaller ones would not create any new jobs.

On the face of it, Westminster and Stormont are poles apart.

Part of the apparent rift comes from the question: what exactly is an enterprise zone?

If it means simply creating business-friendly conditions, no politician or businessman would be against that.

But when it means targeted support for areas of need ahead of other parts, the concept becomes more controversial.

There are plenty who think it would work in Northern Ireland, but it’s a model that stirs opposition, with critics claiming the zones simply displace existing businesses to the detriment of other areas.

It is also hard to see how the system in England, which is focused on small, specific sites, could be replicated across the whole of Northern Ireland — not least, as Sammy Wilson points out, because it would create chaos in the planning system.

It’s unlikely that the Secretary of State had this in mind when he spoke of the need for Northern Ireland to keep pace with what’s happening in England, Scotland and Wales. He recently said “some of these ideas” could apply to Northern Ireland.

Crucially, any bid from Northern Ireland would need Treasury approval — and as we’ve seen with the long-running move towards a corporation tax reduction, those purse-strings aren’t easily loosened.

Wain Homes Loses on Key Prematurity Case At St Austell #NPPF

News has come in that Wain Homes has list a key prematurity argument which relates to land to the north west of St Austell at Treverbyn Road, but outside the China Clay Area, which is the preferred area for development by Cornwall County Council.  Wain have also threatened to block the regeneration framework for the China Clay area.

We do not know the details as the judgement has not been published yet however as the local plan here is very advanced and firmly states a preferred option it would be a slamdunk case normally for applying the prematurity test under both PPS3 and the NPPF.  This is quite different from other cases where there has been no alternative site preferred in a draft plan.

Plannerman attacks this.

So throw all that NPPF nonsense out of the window then and apply the emergency brakes to potentially all and every type of development (prematurity is not just for Christmas it’s until the LDF is approved), whilst we await the outcome of yet another round of development plan consultations and enquiries.
Brilliant. Just what we needed. Delay, delay and more delay.

But should developers be allowed to uprail the plans of other developers which may be much more preferable and in the public interest? Plannerman confuses the private interest of his own clients with the public interest both of other developers who also wish to build homes and the local public.  If developers were allowed to railroad democratically decided plans it would be clear that politically such an approach would have a very short shelf-life and probably would be replaced by national planning policy which truly would be a Nimby Charter.  Plannerman should also note the principal delay here is from Wain homes who have attacked and delayed the regeneration framework for the area, preventing submission of a rival planning application, and the conclusion of findings and decisions on the aspect of the Cornwall Core Strategy that relate to this site.

Lib Dems could lose 50 of its 57 seats – Poll


An opinion poll conducted in Liberal Democrat strongholds suggests the party could lose all but seven of its 57 MPs at the next general election unless it regains popularity.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Cabinet colleagues Vince Cable and Danny Alexander are among those risk of defeat, according to the YouGov survey for The Sun.

It found support for the junior coalition partner at 24% – 17 points down on 2010 and enough only for third place behind the Tories and Labour.

Based on redrawn boundaries, the pollster sought the opinion of 1,524 voters in 46 seats the party would have won and another 30 it would have challenged for, closely based on 2010 votes.

Allowing for tactical voting, it concluded that former leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy would also lose their seats and that Ed Davey would be the only surviving Cabinet minister.

David Laws, Norman Lamb, Don Foster, Mark Williams, Bob Russell and Alistair Carmichael would be the only other survivors, it suggested.

Although Labour led the poll – on 31% to the Tories’ 28% – it would be David Cameron’s party that benefited most – gaining 21 seats to 18.

Voters were evenly split over whether of not Mr Clegg acted responsibly by joining the Tory-led administration (by 41% in favour to 43% against) but 57% said the decision meant the party had “sold out its principles”.

Former Shadow Minister Admits Green Pledges were ‘preposterous greenwash which would be swiftly junked in government’

Paul Goodman in the Telegraph

David Cameron…and Mr Barker travelled together to the Arctic to study climate change and be seen to study it: the former was famously photographed on a sledge, being transported across the fragile ice by a team of huskies. The Energy Minister is a committed and knowledgeable expert on his brief. And Mr Cameron was right to believe that the party had neglected environmental policies for too long. But there was more than a whiff of public relations positioning about those that emerged. The party committed itself to nuclear power only as “a last resort”, opposed a third runway at Heathrow and committed itself to tough emissions targets.

As a Conservative shadow minister at the time, I presumed that all this was a bucket of preposterous greenwash which would swiftly be junked in government. This view was evidently held elsewhere, and I was wrong only about the time scale. ..

Today we also have in the Guardian we have senior minister stating anonymously they want to junk the whole of the Green Deal, not just the building regulations related elements, the label however is the prime ministers own idea.

The recent setbacks reflect deep confusion over the main governing party’s direction on green policy. Osborne has repeatedly taken the side against green subsidies. Tory MPs and Lords are under near-constant lobbying from Lord Lawson’s climate sceptic group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

This plays particularly well with the Tory faction who want to ape the “culture wars” of the US, by making climate change a left-right issue rather than one based on science.

One prominent Tory MP said: “As someone who’s convinced by the science, and wants to tackle climate change, I’m finding myself an endangered species within my own party.”