Civic Voice calls for Smart Growth

Civic Voice

“We have been clear all along that the Government’s approach to sustainable development must balance economic, environmental and social issues more equally in order for communities to be able to secure the development that meet their needs. Quite simply, the Minister should allow the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to take effect before suggesting other concepts”.

“Developers will always chase low density, greenfield development regardless of the environmental and social consequences because that is what makes them the most profit. A strong planning system based on a smart growth approach is needed to ensure top-quality homes, built to the highest standards are located in the right places, with the support of the community. The Planning system is not stopping house building; it is an inability of people to access affordable mortgages from the banking sector that is the real issue”.

The Planning Minister made his comments “Building houses will create more ‘human happiness’ than preserving fields” in an interview with the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331847/Houses-better-green-fields-Ministers-explosive-claim-unveils-new-plans-concrete-countryside.html

Paula Ridley finished by saying “The Minister needs to focus on keeping our cities alive, and preserve our countryside through smart growth. Good quality, high density housing schemes on brownfield sites should be the priority.”

Civic Voice believes the planning system has untapped potential to engage people in becoming more actively involved in their community as well as managing land use change and development for the widest public good. It combines vision with necessary regulation and plays a critical role in protecting and improving the quality of local places. That is why we are recommending that Government try and find more ways to harness local support – in addition to neighbourhood planning – by funding research into where communities and developers have worked successfully together.

Civic Voice is again calling for:

  • Smart growth – avoiding the economic deadweight from urban sprawl due to higher infrastructure and travel costs by planning for high quality, well designed development in towns and cities which respects their history and protects open space

  • Strong local voices –ensuring planning policy that respects community views in deciding what is important and protects everyday places

  • An end to “planner bashing” – recognition at the highest levels of Government that far from being a barrier to enterprise – 80% of planning applications are granted and less than 1% take more than a year to decide – the planning system is key to informed discussion about the kind of society we want to live in and the places we inhabit

As Policy Exchange Promotes Bungalows Uganda Outlaws Them

All Africa.com

The Government is coming up with physical planning regulations that will forbid construction of bungalows within the vicinity of Kampala’s Central Business District and promote only high-density buildings of ten storeys and above.

The minister of lands, housing and urban development Daudi Migereko said on Tuesday that this is intended to provide sufficient housing for the ever-rising population in Kampala city.

“The plans we are coming up with require that we build going up in the sky because the population is going up and services must be provided. Construction should be of high rise structures to optimally utilize land,” Migereko said.

“Individuals who want to have one-acre pieces of land and build bungalows, and maintain their secrecy behind wall fences will move 30 to 50 miles from the capital city,” Migereko said.

The minister however did not explain what will happen to the existing bungalows in Kampala. He was on Tuesday speaking during the breakfast meeting at Imperial Royale Hotel on the need for changing cities and providing adequate housing. The meeting was organized by the Shelters and Settlements Alternatives, Uganda Human Settlements Network and the Uganda Cooperative Alliance.

Present were Members of Parliament on the physical planning committee, officials from banking institutions, lands ministry and representatives of tenants within Kampala.

Migereko said that with the increasing population, there is need to emphasize the respect of laws relating to physical planning in the country and strictness in following of the urban physical plans.

He also cautioned people who set up unplanned structures in the country, that they risk losing their investments, and asked officials not to approve plans for structures that do not conform to the laid out physical plans for areas.

According to Migereko, Uganda currently has a shortage of houses of up to 1.6 million units, which challenge also presents an investment opportunity in the construction and real estate industries.

He said the housing sector in Uganda faces challenges such as unreasonably priced land and houses in urban areas, fraudulent land titles, costly building materials, as well as limited information on the construction industry.

He said that government is revising the law on construction codes, which sets the specifications of building materials to be used in the country. Migereko said that with advance in construction technology, there are affordable innovations such as prefabricated materials, steel and glass, which is moving away from the conventional use of blocks and bricks as building materials. Ends…

Boles Daily Mail Interview – Houses Cause More Happiness than Fields

Daily Mail

Building houses will create more ‘human happiness’ than preserving fields, the Planning Minister has claimed.

Nick Boles says the Government is determined to speed up the rate of house building, despite opposition from countryside groups.

And he said communities who refused to support the initiative risked losing their hospitals and high street shops as their populations shrank.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Boles acknowledged that rural rights campaigners and Conservative supporters were ‘very worried’ when greenfield land was replaced by ‘the sheer ugliness and soullessness of housing estates’.

But he insisted that current planning laws were sending Britain ‘back to the 19th century’ when only the wealthy could afford their own home.

He said: ‘The sum of human happiness that is created by the houses that are being built is vastly greater than the economic, social and environmental value of a field that was growing wheat or rape.’

His comments were met with a furious reaction from environmental campaigners who said the reforms would cause  ‘further sprawl’ in the countryside.

In Mr Boles’s Grantham constituency, 7,000 homes are being built on greenfield land.

Defending the plans, he said: ‘The only way we will get to hang on to the services we want to have, the local hospital, the only way we’ll get M&S back and get a John Lewis at some future point, is if the population of the town grows.’

The minister revealed he intends to bring in a further wave of changes to planning rules to ease the housing crisis, including:

  •  Bribing home owners with compensation if new development causes their house price to fall;
  •  Allowing agricultural barns to be converted into residential housing without the need for planning permission;
  •  Changing high street planning rules to make it easier for shops to be converted into homes;
  •  ‘Bullying’ developers into building ‘more beautiful’ homes rather than ‘soulless, identikit rabbit hutches’;
  •  Pressing developers to speed up building on land that has planning permission.

Mr Boles said: ‘It’s a difficult thing to be a Conservative MP arguing for more houses to be built, sometimes on green fields.’

But he branded councils who refuse to co-operate ‘deeply irresponsible’.

He said: ‘There’s no question that some local authorities are dragging their feet.

‘Some of them think to themselves they will sit on their hands and let applications come in and refuse them and then blame Nick Boles. It’s deeply irresponsible.

‘They’re elected to serve their communities and take responsibility for the difficult stuff as well as the easy stuff.’

The Campaign to Protect Rural England chief executive Shaun Spiers said the moves could damage both the countryside and town centres.

He added: ‘Housing can make people happier than fields but that doesn’t mean it is necessary to spoil fields to produce the new houses that we need.

‘All this is the antithesis of good planning. You get transport on inappropriate roads.

‘You suck the life out of high streets, empty inner cities and create further sprawl as you drive people out of towns to go shopping because Nick Boles has converted town centre shops to residential use.’