So it Turns Out the Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan isn’t a Lawful Neighbourhood Plan After All #NPPF

Following this mornings story I fund from various sources, including Andy Boddington, that following questions being asked over the last few weeks of the legality of a Neighbourhood Plan being submitted for examination in advance of finalisatioation of the regulations it would seem it is not a lawful neighbourhood plan at all.

From Teignbridge’s responses to the questions asked to the examiner (I was told off by an Inspector for calling the good professor an inspector)

While the process for preparing the Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan embraces elements of the process for preparing formal Neighbourhood Plans significant work has been undertaken prior to the enactment of the Localism Bill and has been in advance of Neighbourhood Planning Regulations that came into force on 6th April. As such the Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan is not being prepared as a formal Neighbourhood
Plan and is not in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Localism Act 2012 and The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.

The Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan will be a non-statutory / informal community planning document forming part of the evidence that will be material to, and which can be used to help inform the preparation of a strategy for the future planning of the Dawlish area included in the Teignbridge Core Strategy (soon to be Teignbridge Local Plan). The Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan will not be a Development Plan Document or Supplementary Planning Document and as such is not intended to be adopted by Teignbridge District Council.

Sorry but what a joke, why not just withdraw it and resubmit it once the minor work needed to make it lawful is understaken? Perhaps because they know that then it would be examined under the NPPF and it would not conform to the strategic policies of the local plan and so would have to be rejected. What a case of climbing up to the top of the hill.

So some questions

Will the Examiners Report set any precedent? – none whatsover the process is not that of a lawful neighbourhood plan

Do the Town Council and District have to follow the inspectors’ report? – They can make paper hats out of it if they wish it is not a lawful neighbourhood plan

Is it planning policy? – No – under the 2004 act section 17 (3) it must be part of the LDF to be policy ‘relating to the development and use of land in an area‘ this is not and so cannot be planning policy.

Is it required to be SEAd? – No only policy used to inform development consents are required to be SEAd under the SEA directive. This is not planning policy that can lawfully be used to determine such consents and so there is no SEA or habitat directive implications. Of course if it were used in any way to determine development consents unlawfully under UK law this would then also be unlawful under European law.

Can it be used as evidence as part of the LDF? – Possibly but not in any way relating to decisions that are required to be SEAd – for reasons above.

Can Pathfinder money be used to fund the referendum and examination process? – This money is for pioneering the neighbourhood plan process not for neighbourhood plans per-se. However part of the money relates to ‘new burdens’ as the examination and referendum are non statutory they do not qualify and Teignbridge of the Town council will have to fund this out of their own pocket. Indeed I imagine the ‘new burdens’ component of the 20k will have to be returned to DCLG unspent. As with other non-statutory referendums in the news local residents may then ask the district auditor questions.

Should the examiner continue? – ask him seems a bit of a waste of time to me, an inspector I am sure would have halted it by now.  He may wish to ask questions over whether paying his fee will be lawful.

Teresa May Attempts to Tamper with Scene of PR Crime – and Falls into Perfect Police Trap

Teresa May today turned up at a Police Federation Conference at Bournemouth to speak to find the backdrop displaying ‘cutting police 20% is criminal.  Following ‘heated exchanges’ the fed repositioned the podium to stage right so she wouldn’t be directly in front.  As you can see from the design of the backdrop however, with the typography on the second line offset to the rigtht,  it was perfectly and deliberately designed so that May and banner could be seen perfectly framed in one shot, which she would have half covered had she stayed in the original position.

May is like the perfect Columbo protagonist, the fed relaying on her famous stupid hotheadedness for her to dump herself in the doo doo.

At the end of her speech there was total silence.

New RIBA Report on Hobbit Homes

Today RIBA have launched their latest report in their campaign against stingy modern Hobbit Homes through a report commissioned fro IPOS/MORI The Way we Live Now – What People need and Expect from their Homes

Key findings: What people need and expect from their homes:

Large windows for natural light, large rooms and high ceilings, typically referred to as ‘period features’
…when prompted, they described as large rooms, large windows and high ceilings. Their expectations of a new home were often shaped by the homes which they had lived in previously; they perceived that newer homes did not offer period features and therefore preferred older properties. Most were keen to have a sense of space in their homes, which they typically felt was important for wellbeing – especially for those living in urban London – and older homes were also perceived to be more spacious.

Large main living area for eating and socialising, either with members of the household or for entertaining guests
Social activities such as eating and entertaining were the foundation of the home and, for this reason, participants tended to have strong views about their main living space (which they would use for eating, relaxing, entertaining and sometimes cooking). Although households with members at different life stages reported very different requirements for this area, most participants stated that it was important to them to have a sense of space. Most preferred the area to have some element of an open plan layout to accommodate entertaining friends or family.

• Layouts which take into account technology used within the home
Participants had an expectation that new-build homes would include suitable storage for technology and layouts which reflected how they use technology. This meant they expected homes to have enough television and plug sockets for them to arrange rooms and furniture in different layouts, to support greater use of electronic devices. They also expected suitable provision for computers and telephones which, with wireless technologies, are now moved around the home.

• Space for private time away from other members of the household
Private space within the home made an important contribution to participants’ wellbeing and was important to participants of all
ages. This was especially marked in households where a number of different generations lived together, and where a member of
the household was sick or convalescing. The reduction of noise both within and between households was essential for a sense of
Private space outside, particularly for families, or access to green public space in urban locations
Open outdoor space – whether part of the home or a public area – was widely felt to be important for wellbeing. Private outdoor space was crucial for families, because it allowed parents to feel comfortable that their children had safe places to play while they completed other tasks. Outdoor space was also important for the wellbeing of children and parents: parents reported that children enjoyed being outdoors and the opportunity for messy play, and parents liked children to take noise and mess outside.
• Long-term and short-term storage for functional items, and for personal possessions people have chosen to keep during their lives
Most participants needed more short-term storage (for day-to-day access of items like food or outdoor clothing), and more long-term storage (for seasonal items and items which they stored nostalgically). …In particular, the need for long-term storage was widespread, but not one which participants gave consideration to when choosing their home. Privacy of storage
space was also an important consideration: many participants felt that they had things they wanted to store yet access regularly, but which they wanted to keep private from visitors, such as clothing, bed linen and food. Participants felt that new-build homes would not offer them enough storage space for their clothes, food and other everyday items and also for longer-term storage.
Dedicated space for domestic utility tasks, such as, washing, drying and ironing clothes, as well as for storing vacuum cleaners, rubbish bins and recycling
Vacuum cleaners, rubbish bins and areas for recycling proved difficult for many participants to accommodate in their homes. Participants preferred to have an outdoor area close to the home where they could keep recycling and certain types of rubbish. Having suitable space to wash, dry and iron clothing and bed linen was a widespread problem for participants in the groups, as were difficulties in storing washed clothing and linens. These needs were typically only revealed on prompting in the discussion groups, or through observation in the ethnographic case studies.
• Options for different layouts, as no consensus was reached for a single standard layout which was preferred across all households and life stages
No consensus was reached as to an ideal layout or single design layout that would cater for all households. Life stage was a major contributing factor, with families, people later in life and first-time buyers without children each prioritising different layouts and qualities that suited their differing lifestyles. Separate areas for working at home, space needed for children, and the potential for adaptations for older people were raised as preferences for different types of households. When considering more progressive design solutions attitudes varied according to participants’ past experiences and the constraints they face in the housing market, with those who had seen or lived in homes with rooms with flexible design solutions (e.g. movable partition walls), and those who needed to use single rooms for a range of purposes being most receptive to progressive design. Nonetheless, some degree of flexibility across the main living area was important to most participants in the research, reflecting the fact that many activities took place simultaneously, such as eating and relaxing by watching television; entertaining and cooking; preparing meals and supervising children’s homework. This suggested that more progressive home layouts may accommodate householders’ needs more fully than most current designs.

Ian Watmore Resigns to spend more time on ‘spousal duties’: More Public Services White Paper Fall Out?

This morning we wrote about the almighty row over the rejection by Number 10 of the civil service draft public services white paper.

We dont know who wrote it but odds on  Ian Whatmore the Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office was in charge as they have Civial Service responsibility and as he was in charge of the ‘the efficiency and reform agenda’

This afternoon we learn.

Ian Watmore, Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office, is leaving the Civil Service at the end of June, after a seven year career in the Civil Service, six of them as Permanent Secretary in three different roles, and a long career in the private sector. He is returning to his home in the North West of England to focus on non-executive and spousal roles in charity, sports, academic and church activities.

It would seem to be a case of – ok if you dont like my white paper and are serious about sacking 70% of the civil service, even if in one dept as a ‘pilot’ im off.  Or even him taking the bullet for Bob ‘bungalow/two jobs’ Kerslake – as getting rid of the Head of the Civil Service would be such an epochal event it would shake the whole of government.

No job to go to ‘spousal roles’.  Is code modern form of ‘to spend more time with my family’, or rather My wife loves me but Steve Hilton and David Cameron don’t.

How could the Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan Pass Examination? #NPPF

Under the final NPPF an examiner into a local plan has only one question before them, under para. 184 ‘Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan.’

The draft NPPF requirement of whether the NP is appropriate having regard to the NPPF is deleted.  This seems to remove from the Inspectors discretion whether or not the NP is positive and permissive as the NPPF states, or even whether it is supported by the evidence, is a good plan, or includes sites which are supported by evidence.

In Dawlish’s case there is no core strategy yet adopted.  There is a save policy from the old local plan, but saved policies H1 and H2 only allow development within development boundaries, and the urban extension for Dawlish promoted in the CS and NP is outside this.  So it isnt in gneral conformity with the local plan.  If the inspector was examining it in line with the wording of the draft NPPF on this point had it been carried forward he could say ok but it has additional development because it is ‘appropriate having regard to the NPPF’.  But now the inspector has no such discretion.

One can see a galactic clusterfuck to neighbourhood planning coming.  Due to the poor drafting of para 184 of the NPPF if the inspector acts as this sets out the NP will have to be rejected, even if it ios a good plan, and if not a legal challenge by an objector to the urban extension seems certain, especially as its appropriateness has not yet been determined in accordance with the SEA directive.  In cases where a major urban extension is ahead of a local plan as here the NP inspector would appear to be the ‘SEA Authority’ (to use the phrase often used by inspectors) in this regard under article 4 of  Directive 2001/42/EC .

In structure plan days there was a way out – policy allowed inspectors to make the ‘permitted assumption’ that general conformity could be with a draft plan not an adopted one – but that permitted assumption has long since been removed.

Im not the only one with concerns here Outlaw:

Planning Inspector Christopher Balch is expected to publish his report on the Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan following examination hearing sessions that took place on 23 and 24 April. It is the first Neighbourhood Plan to reach the examination stage in England. 14 May 2012

Balch’s examination of the Plan focussed on housing growth, the balance between housing and jobs and on protecting the environment. It is anticipated that his informal, non-binding, report of examination will be published by 21 May.

“The Inspector’s report will be eagerly anticipated not least because it must consider whether the Neighbourhood Plan is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for Teignbridge,” said Jamie Lockerbie, a planning expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind

“It will be interesting to see how the Inspector addresses this condition bearing in mind the departures from the emerging Teignbridge Core Strategy and the additional complication of this document not yet being the development plan for the area by virtue of its emerging status,” said Lockerbie.

The Future of Neighbourhood Planning Funding – Some DCLG Clues

Was speaking at an Urban Design London event yesterday and the second part of the session was an update at neighbourhood planning in London, which as always at these events show the sheer variety of neighbourhood planning going on.

Miranda Pearce of the DCLG was there but not due to speak, however being asked to answer one question about funding turned into an impromtu 1/2 hour question and answer session.

She replied that the first year of funding to four facilitator bodies was simply to determine what neighbourhood planning would look like rather than to produce neighbourhood plans specifically, and the four month extension was to give ministers time to determine what approach should replace it.  There was a heavy hint that any bidding process would have to be OJUE compliant – so get writing those bids now.

As for direct funding the answer was that prior to royal assent and implementation of the Localism Act the SoS had no power to fund neighbourhood organisations directly – he has that power now, so funding was via LPAs.  She made the distinction between costs to LPAs and costs to neighbourhood forums.  For LPAs the ‘New Burdens’ doctrine agreed with the LGA means that new burdens on local authorities have to be funded, so costs of of the duty to support, referendums etc. should be replaced by a formula grant from 2014/15.

I was rather surprised that some groups doing neighbourhood plans had not yet constituted forums and in some cases where resistant to do so, which of course means that they will be unable to receive any funding.

Miranda was also critical of those local groups pursuing neighbourhood plans with one objective, to add restrictions, as ministers were clear that neighbourhood plans should be ‘positive and permissive’.  This appeared to be aimed at a neighbourhood plan proposed by the Markham Sq. assn, one of the pathfinders, who propose a single issue NP (no problem with that) aimed solely at restricting megabasements (!!!).  No fan of megabasements but discussing this with a former inspector over lunch we saw little prospect of a positive report – where is the evidence that policy has to be more restrictive here, they complain of more traffic but no evidence to back it up, similarly the structural concerns are dealt with under building regulations, and if the application is accompanied by a structural engineers report giving the ok, as most central London boroughs now insist on, there will be no grounds for refusal on this regard.  The risk is that even the examiner gave the ok a banker or footballer will get there lawyers to block the whole NP process in order to persue their proposal leading to a couple of years of wasted effort.

It was raised that there was nothing in the localism act requiring neighbourhood plans to be positive and permissive, but this is a policy requirement under paras 118 and 119 of the NPPF. Though to my mind the final NPPF is much less clear that the draft on the tests the examiner should be applying, and there are no tests in the localism act The draft NPPF said the tests   whether it is appropriate having regard to national policy and in general conformity with the strategic policies of the development plan.  For the draft NPPF para ‘whether it is appropriate’ could have included whether it is supported by evidence, doesn’t leave good sites out and is a good plan overall.  Now it is unclear whether an examiner can consider these matters at all, whether it is within his or her powers, it now seems only open to them to consider whether it is in general conformity with the strategic policies of the local plan.  Whether or not LPAs can consider these issues prior to examination is also unclear. It would have been useful however for the NPPF or guidance to make this clear one way or another.  Neighbourhoods should have to have the regs, localism act, and schedule all open in front of them and cross reference to do neighbourhood planning.  It should need a lawyer to do neighbourhood planning, it should be obvious.  An easy to use guide such as that produced by BANES seems essential.

On the positive and permissive point there was a lot of debate on whether or not this prevented NPs which effectively take over the function of Conservation Area Design Guides – as a good minority of the neighbourhood attendees seemed to be proposing just this.  Surely if they give design solutions and possibly accompanying NDOs suggesting what will get consent and removing the need for consent under an A4D that is positive and permissive – a point firmly and rightly put by Esther Kursland of design for London.  Miranda was of the view that article 4 directions was under different legislation – so not suitable for the 11 act referendum process, quite right, but that isnt making the distinction between the neighbourhood planning process and the different legislative channels that the results of that process can be pursued through – the 11 act (referendum)  the 90 act (non referendum)  or the 91 (LB and Con) act (conservation) – if ever there was a case for rationalisation of planning law into a single act capable of being grasped by non-lawyers it is this.

The most interesting presentations of the day were from Stamford Hill, a vast NP covering four wards where the big issue is how to extend homes, the area has very large families because of the large population of orthodox jews.  They are valiantly coping without a 20k pot.  Also interesting was Bloomsbury (well that bit of it west of Southampton Row which seemed odd as it excludes the Bloomsbury set bit of Bloomsbury which was my semi permanent camp out 20 years ago), which uses some interesting ‘sticky notes’ tech from slider studios on its website.  Finally Ealing (Ealing and West Ealing town centres) though what was notable was the history of conflict between local conservationists and the Borough; it seemed to me a case of where an area action plan would be more appropriate than a neighbourhood plan as the conflicts between the strategic issues and local ones were so severe.

‘Bungalow Bob’ Kerslake undermined by 10 Downing Street

Missed this spin operation to the Daily Mail on Saturday which because it was missed is being respun across the broadsheets today

Daily Mail – James Forsyth

Whitehall was shaken last  week by a heated row between  the Government and the Civil Service over how to reform the bureaucratic machine.

Steve Hilton, the Prime Minister’s passionate senior adviser who leaves for a one-year unpaid sabbatical in the US this week, even stormed out of a meeting with the head of the Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake, in frustration at the latter’s approach.

At the heart of the row is the Civil Service reform White Paper. This is meant to pave the way for a far smaller Whitehall machine and to make it easier to bring people in from the private sector.

Kerslake, nicknamed ‘Bungalow Bob’, and fellow Permanent Secretaries produced their own plan and sent it to No 10 and the Cabinet Office. 

Those who have seen it describe it as a joke, the kind of thing you would expect from a second-rate human resources department, with ‘lots of verbiage about valuing our staff more’.

Approach: Permanent secretaries are pushing Francis Maude, the minister in charge of the Civil Service, to give them fixed term contracts

What caused particular irritation is that Kerslake, having taken more than a month to deliver this draft, then argued for publication within weeks. 

This prompted the suspicion  that mandarins were trying to bounce Ministers into accepting their proposals.

This resulted in a fierce exchange of views between Hilton and Kerslake. I understand that Hilton’s frustration about the slow pace of Government led directly to him moving to California. 

At his meeting with Kerslake, he said all the things he wished he’d said months ago about the amount of pointless bureaucracy there is in Government.

It is not only Hilton who is raging against the machine.  Ministers are planning to push Francis Maude, the Minister in charge of the Civil Service, to place Permanent Secretaries on fixed-term contracts in an attempt to make them more accountable.

These ideas are unlikely to be approved by Kerslake.

He told civil servants on Friday that Hilton’s talk of shrinking their numbers by 70 per cent was  ‘flipping nonsense’. 

But as one insider tells me:  ‘You can’t trust the bureaucracy to fix itself.’

According to the Telegraph Hilton suggested testing the theory by cutting the number of civil servants in one department by 70% to see how it coped’

On Friday Bob Kerslake said on Twitter ‘”For the avoidance of doubt there are absolutely no plans to cut the civil service by either 70 or 90 per cent,”