So the #NPPF might be amended to put back the Agricultural Dwellings Tests

A classic example of a policy that was solely excluded because of an arbitrary 50 page limit.  How many dozens of responses asked to keep or amend them to avoid a policy black hole.

Mark Southgate (PINS) at an Agricultural Workers Conference, according to Planning Resource

Southgate was speaking at the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants rural planning conference, which took place near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

He also told delegates that tests applied to applications for essential agricultural workers’ dwellings might reappear following the government review of the guidance that previously underlay planning policy guidance and statements. The tests were largely swept away by the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework.

R&R Shadow Planning Minister – Labour Favours Sub-Regional Plans not Return to RSS #NPPF


Q: How are you finding the planning role so far?

A: “I’ve always had a huge interest in planning for lots of years. In my constituency [the City of Durham] it’s a huge issue for me. So I’m someone who came to the brief knowing something about planning and having very particular views on it. I have a much more positive view about planning to shape places than we are getting from the government, who tend to see it as a stop on development. That’s not my view. I would like us to have a different discussion about planning, about what it can deliver and what it can’t.”

Q: What do you think of the government’s recently-announced reforms to the planning system?

A: “If they wanted to get growth in housing and in construction, this is not the best way to go about it. The problem is not lack of planning permissions because probably every local authority in the country has got sites with permission that are not being developed. It’s a lack of confidence in the economy, sometimes a lack of investment. What they need to be doing is looking at stimulating the housing market. We think it’s simply ridiculous to choose the route that they have.

“We also have lots of questions about what they are proposing. We are concerned about what they are proposing on section 106 agreements. While we can see there might be a need to renegotiate 106 agreements, that was happening anyway.

“It’s the lack of detail. They haven’t told us how they are going to decide if a planning department is failing. Will they be giving the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) more resources to deal with that?

“We saw all of those announcements as panic measures to encourage economic growth because they haven’t got a plan B.”

Q: Would Labour reverse any of these proposals? If so, which ones?

A: “At the moment we are not saying that we would bring legislative changes partly because of this issue of needing to have some stability. And we think with some tweaks, we can probably work with what’s there.

“With the NPPF, we are looking very closely at neighbourhood planning, and whether it could work much better. We are looking at whether we can give communities real incentives to support the development of their communities, such as giving them some commissioning powers as well and involve them in the procurement process. We are looking at whether neighbourhood planning can deliver more than a land use plan. And we want to look at how to simplify the local plan process, and maybe make it more flexible.

“And then the next thing we want to look at is how we get beyond local authority-level planning but without it being seen as a top-down approach. Is there is a mechanism to bring local authorities together, maybe around travel-to-work areas?

Q: Will Labour restore a system of regional strategic planning, with regional house-building targets? Or will it stick to the current localist system?

A: “I think at the moment we would not go back to that. What we are looking at is other more bottom-up mechanisms of bringing authorities together to enable that, beyond the local authority level.

“We are also looking at whether that could fit into a national framework. I’m going to look at Scotland and what’s happening in Wales. We are looking at whether they [local authorities] can be brought together around a level of planning that would make sense, in sub-regional hubs. We are looking at a bidding-in process for local authorities.

“It’s hard for us to use ‘regional’, because it’s gone out of the lexicon. So that’s why we are talking about just bringing local authorities together at a level of strategic planning for travel-to-work areas.

“We do need something at a national level that says: ‘These are our priorities for infrastructure. This is what we think should happen to happen to support development.’

“But that’s very tentative, very early thinking.”

Q: Hillary Benn had some quite strong criticisms of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) when it was published in March. What are Labour’s thoughts on it now? Will you revise it if you come to power?

A: “The plan itself doesn’t go as far on developing brownfield sites as we would like. But at this point in time we are not thinking about massively re-writing it. We think it needs to be tweaked. We need to think about guidance to go alongside the NPPF.

“Again, there may be tweaking of the Localism Act where we think it’s not strong enough to support localism or doing the opposite of what it’s intended to do, the community right to bid being one of them. But at this point in time, we are not thinking: ‘Let’s tear it all up’, because that would just bring such instability into the system. Lets see what we can work with.”

Q: What do you think about the way the government talks about the planning sector?

A: “We talk about planning very differently. When the government talks about planning, they see it as a break on growth. We see planning much more pro-actively. We see it as a positive way of shaping communities in the future. I never hear that from government ministers and I think that’s dreadful. They are not using the planning profession and their skills the way they should be used.”



Now the Policy Exchange wants to Demolish Poyle

Since when was Tim Leunig an expert on Airport Civil Engineering and Surface Access?  Our favourite SW1 Dumbtank surpasses all previous low expectations.

The UK needs a four-runway airport either at Heathrow or Luton if it wants to compete with other European hubs such as Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, a report by a think tank has said.

The best option would be four runways immediately west of the current Heathrow site in west London, the report from Policy Exchange said.

A four-runway airport at Luton in Bedfordshire would be the next-best option.

The report did not rule out an extra, third runway at Heathrow, but said Thames Estuary airport plans, as supported by London Mayor Boris Johnson and by architect Lord Foster, were not practical.

Policy Exchange said an estuary airport would be too difficult to get to for too many people and would present greater environmental and construction challenges than expansion at Heathrow.

Also ruled out were four-runway airports at Gatwick or Stansted.

The report also called for a complete ban on the noisiest of aircraft at all times, a complete ban on night flights (between 11pm and 6.15am) and steeper landing angles to cut down on noise.

The report was written by Tim Leunig, chief economist at the liberal think tank CentreForum., who said: “We can and should expand aviation capacity in south east England. Doing so will send a much-needed signal to people that Britain is open for business.

“It is possible to expand Heathrow in such a way that it cements itself as Europe’s number one hub while significantly reducing the noise nuisance over west London. A four-runway airport would be straightforward to construct and relatively low cost by the standards of hub airports. It causes the lowest level of disruption to the wider economy of any likely airport expansion scenario.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “The strength with which the different options are put forward shows precisely why we were right to set up a proper independent review with the timescale to consider fully what is in the country’s interest. Maintaining the UK’s status as a leading aviation hub is vital to our economy and history suggests that, without an agreed evidence base and a high degree of political consensus, it will not be possible to deliver a lasting solution that is right for the UK.”

I have read through the report.  Sadly its incompetence is breathtaking.  It proposes to build new runways 3km to the west of Heathrow – next to the village if Datchet is located by my measurement, very close to Sunnymeads, Windsor and Old Windsor, and also likely to see the demolition of Poyle, Horton and Warysbury and the need to replace a (European protected RAMSAR) reservoir.  It proposes to ‘reuse’ existing terminal and infrastructure, sorry but what airport in the world has a 3-55km taxiway from the terminal to takeoff? Airfreight would in some cases have to taxi 6km.  The space given for peripheral associated uses is too low, no space even for a peripheral circulation road;  a practical design would require the demolition of the historic villages of Poyle and Datchet, and the closure of terminals 1,2 and 3 relocating them within the footprint.

There is no modelling of surface access, he proposes doubling passengers numbers to Heathrow and expects an upgraded Piccadilly line to be able to cope.  Neither is their any modelling of urbanisation effects.  Where will the 75,000 additional workers be housed?

The report suggests a Luton 4 runway airport as a plan B – Err there is not space, Luton Hoo and the Chilterns it calls the terrain ‘challenging’ more like impossible.  Luton could take a second runway physically, but not three more.

By retaining the existing Heathrow Site nor would there be any real estate uplift capture to fund the runway.

I looked in vain for any planning, transport planning, aviation or civil engineering expertise commissioned as part of the report.  Zero – sorry the report is wastepaper basket bound and must be causing some hilarity in the DfT – who need a lugh at the moment.  Tim may have expertise as a transportation economist but attempting a new career as a transport engineering designer is well out of his depth.

if You are going to accept a hub airport case – which is really only a case in terms of attracting tourists from emerging economies – then the only practical site, which we have said on here many times before – is the former RAF Gaydon.

Republican Press Release ‘Dont Vote for this Level 85 Orc Assassin Rougue’


Maine state Senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz is not a witch.

She is, however, an orc assassination rogue with a potty mouth — and the Maine Republican Party believes that disqualifies her from public office.

In an unusual press release issued Thursday, the Maine GOP attacked Lachowicz for a “bizarre double life” in which she’s a devotee of the hugely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In the game, she’s “Santiaga,” an “orc assassination rogue” with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears.

Lachowicz is a Democrat running against incumbent state Sen. Tom Martin in south-central Maine, a heavily Democratic district of about 80,000 people. Martin, elected in 2010, is the first Republican to hold the seat since the 1960s, and his seat is one Democrats are eager to flip back.

Lachowicz has blogged under her own name about her World of Warcraft achievements as well as left-wing politics in a dedicated section of the liberal DailyKos.Com. The Maine GOP excerpted several provocative lines form her posts including one on tax policy that concludes, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I may have to go and hunt down Grover Norquist and drown him in my bathtub.”

Other postings use curse words and make to the joy of “stab[bing] things,” joke about “being in a Socialist guild” and admit to “seriously slacking off at work.”

Martin said he was unaware of the state Republican Party’s press release or Lachowicz’s hobby until contacted by POLITICO. He said he’s met his opponent once so far and she “seemed like a nice lady.” He said he deplores “mudslinging politics.”

Still, the state GOP is going all the way on his behalf, with a special website, ColleensWorld.Com, and mail pieces to be sent to voters attacking Lachowicz this week.

“We think anyone making comments about drowning Grover Norquist and stabbing things shows a shocking level of immaturity and poor judgment that voters should know about,” Maine GOP party spokesman David Sorenson said. “Certainly the fact that she spends so much time on a video game says something about her work ethic and, again, her immaturity.”

According to her website, Lachowicz has a master’s degree in social work and runs the school-based programs for a statewide mental health center. She’s the former Democratic Party chairwoman for her town and has served as vice chairwoman of the county party.

The candidate did not return calls or emails seeking comment, but the Maine Democratic Party responded swiftly by creating a website to collect donations for “a gamer who’s under attack.” The party’s chairman, Ben Grant, also issued a statement calling the attacks “a new low this year.”

“Colleen may play ‘World of Warcraft’ online, but it has been far more harmful to Maine people that Tom Martin has been playing ‘Worlds of Hurt’ (at level 90) with their pensions, access to health care, and public schools,” Grant said. “It’s time GOP grew up and talked about the real issues.”

Martin said he has no plans to make an issue out of Lachowicz’s alter-ego and explained that the parties frequently operate without consulting candidates in local Maine races.

“From the first time I was elected, I didn’t like the mudslinging,” said Martin, who owns Nitram Excavation Services. “Somebody’s personal life is their personal life. What you do in society and in the community is what matters. I’ve seen three or four attack ads against me from the Democratic Party. We have no control over that, which is unfortunate.”

Sorenson had no apologies.

“It’s pretty outrageous, it really is,” he said. “It’s something you don’t see every cycle.”