Now London Like Birmingham Negotiating To Export Overspill

The duty to cooperate is really biting with London in talks, like Birmingham, to export some of its housing overspill, which will undoubtedly affect the Green Belt.  Property Week report that

Home counties could help ease housing pressure in capital GLA in talks with neighbors to ease capital’s housing shortage.

I posed a question when I was speaking at a City hall Seminar last year over whether a North London Borough such as Islington should object to a North Devon local plan if it assumed no net inward in-migration – the answer from the audience was of course not, then I presented the interegional migration flows data showing three figure migration each year from North London to North Devon, so no net inward migration could leave a borough short of many hundreds of units over a plan period if outside London drew p the drawbridges, from that small area of England alone.

Again what the abolition of regional planning has shown is the critical importance of planning regionally.    The Core Cities (part from Liverpool and Newcastle), Birmingham and Newcastle are now gorowing at a rate unprecedented since the1960s, and if we don’t have a planned overspill programme then either we lose the Green Belt or we have another housing bubble and economic crisis.

Some Early Thoughts on the ‘Alpha’ Planning Guidance

Well after two days its finally working for me though not everybody yet.  Will the consultation period be extended by a couple of days to compensate?

Clearly the site is ‘alpha’ not yet ‘beta’.  This jargon- which will completely bypass anyone not computer literate.  The site is not yet comprehensive, listing some national policy for example but not all (Gypsy’s and Travellers and Waste for example arn’t listed).   It does not yet include planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy and onshore oil and gas.

The jargon too obscures whether this is a genuine consultation.  It seems that the site is subject to ‘feedback’ but not necessarily its content.  The website says the content will be finalized later this year but not necessarily after consideration of comments received,  There is a big difference to consultation and feedback, you profide feedback on points of view to a past episode of Eastenders but it doesn’t mean you can influence past or future content.  Why not simply state this is a consultation period and do as normal and produce a proper consultation document rather than this silly survey monkey type second best alternative.  Are the  planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy and onshore oil and gas subject to consultation and if not why not?  The Government could be vulnerable here to an Aarhus convention complaint.  Please use plaine English describe it as a consultation period and make it easy to comment para by para (the paras arnt even numbered).

The style and design of it seem to reflect the use of a cheapjack awful content management system.  You cant comment para by para and they arnt numbered.  You cant produce printer freindly PDFs for any individual section.  Citing it in appeals and JRs will be hell.  There is not even a single photo or drawing, not even in the design section.

In terms of content a lot of it is not bad at all.  For example the local plans section contains lots iof stuff which should have been in the NPPF but was left out because of its artificial page limit.  The procedural sections are good but could be more user friendly set out, for example why an AZ layout and why not in terms of fuction, pre-apps, validation, consultation, decision, conditions, enforcement, then plan making, then topic specific stuff.

It would be helpful if the government listed all of the documents which the guidance would supercede as it did with the NPPF consultation document.  So far it seems comprehensive to replace circulars on planning obligations, conditions, costs etc. but not CIL.  It is not clear if quasi governmental guidance, such as the BRE sunglight and Dyalight guide or manual for streets would be superseded.

In terms of content a few areas seem to introduce wholly new policy not guidance.  Such as for example on the water environment and rural housing, both black holes in the NPPF.  The section on rural housing is particularly bad being doctrinaire, neoloberal rubbish trying to define scattered dispersed housing as ‘sustainable’ it would as drafted allow fairly unrestricted growth of almost any village. It is also illogical and contained no-sequiteurs and poor syllogisms, all finger;prints of a policy badly drafted by John Rhodes.  Where guidance is really needed and is lacking, such as that promised by Steve Quartermain on Agricultural Occupancy, it has been left out.

The sections on the Duty to Cooperate and Assessing Local Housing Need are curates egg with significant gaps and errors which ill blog on separately, for example their is no guidance on teh key methodological issue of how or if you should assess ‘backlog’, and it fails to make the distinction that forward looking memorandums of overstanding on the DTC cannot demonstrate compliance as the test is backward looking (as a number of inspectors have pointed out).  The guidance on application of the sequential and impact tests has been reduced to an unwoprkable rump.   Will the guidance on Gyspy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments be dropped?  They consulted on dropping it in 2012 but did not when the G&T policy annex was published.  Now the guidance says for overall housing need that you should unless their are strong justifications apply the national methodology, so will there be a national G&T methodology?  The overall guidance contains a number of assumptions (such as no need for primary research) that simply don’t apply to G&Ts.  Clearly there has been no assessment under the Equalities Act on the impact of this new guidance on different groups, ironic because of course all inequalities guidance has been dropped.  This could open up the guidance to legal challenge.  Of course Pickles like all others saying ‘just use common sense’ is really saying let me continue with my prejudices.

Finally standards.  No noise standards nut says you can introduce noise standards?  Why not just a single national standard which many plans are fitting in anyway based on the PSS?  Similarly guidance is needed on the relationship between planning building control and the new housing standards, especially with regards to information requirements on carbon standards at planning application stage.  Room and dwelling size standards should either be in the building regs or this guidance rather than any silly idea of an industry led voluntary ‘hutchmark’ scheme.

I can find no reference to bungalows, simply to the housing needs of elderly people.   The one reference to town centre parking asks town centre strategies to ask how town centre parking can be increased, this should really refer to town centre access as a whole as you clearly dont want to increase parking in a town centre like Kingston upon Thames which suffers considerable congestion on Saturday’s peaks.  Many historic towns like Chester and Salisbury are quite rightly trying to reduce town centre parking in favour of park and ride and increased bus use, and those town centres that have done this such as Cambridge have seen retail growth not decline.  Pickles Dogma on this is not evidence based.  The press release a couple of weeks ago quoted a BCC survey which found a correlation between footfall and parking levels but did not assume causation, indeed statistically it is probably a good example of spatial autocorrelation as the larger centres will likely have more footfall and automatically such centres will have more parking.  A student would receive a fail mark for making such a botched statistical assumption.


The Perfect Way of Avoiding Another #NPPF Controversy – A Non-Existant Website

You really couldn’t make it up, an ‘experimental’ website for the results of the Taylor Guidance review that simply docent work (it hasn’t even had its domain name activated, usually evidence that the fee for registration hasn’t been paid), together with a press release on what we assume it says listing every Pickles obsession (bins, parking, bungalows) except flags and crown pin bowling.

One cant even comment on the seemingly dodgy (as described in the press and by Boles) legal obligation to release land when affordability goes below a certain level (which seems to go well beyond NPPF para 17, but we don’t know as we cant see the website).

Perhaps the government has been inspired by holding a commons vote before publishing legal advice and receiving a UN inspectors report to put the website live only after the consultation.

If a local planning authority had such a major out on the day it launched its draft submission plan their would be hell to pay and they would be forced to extend the consultation period, will DCLG?

Pants on Fire Prisk on Threats to the Green Belt

How long can ministers (in this case Mark Prisk) keep spouting the same SPAD scribbled outdated nonsense on threats to the Green Belt without putting on their thinking caps and looking at current threats and their scale.  Prisk from yesterday’s story on how threats to the Green Belt in plans have doubled in a year.

“We have increased green belt protections by abolishing every single one of the last government’s top-down regional strategies that sought to delete the green belt in 30 areas — Local Plans are now sovereign,”

The figure is simply a repeat of the numbers given by Andrew Stunnell in NPPF commons debates and completely sidesteps the key issue which is whether there has been a net increase or decrease in threats to the Green Belt.  Today  ill send an FOI request to the DCLG to ask what these areas are, how much housing in these areas was envisaged in RSS and how much housing in the same areas is now planned in the Green Belt including new areas.   These are all matters of fact.

Lets have a look what the then Minister Andrew Stunnell said in the Westminster Hall Debate on the Green Belt on 18th October 2011

Some 30 green belt areas are currently under the kind of pressure that my hon…due to the pressure exerted by regional spatial strategies, which often impose highly inappropriate numbers on areas without the physical capacity to take them.

Whilst on the day he proposed (somewhat hopefully) to immediately revoke RSS on 6/July/2010 Pickles stated

Councils will now be free to protect Green Belt surrounding 30 towns across the country. The targets system forced them to redraw Green Belt boundaries and designate large areas of countryside for new development. Communities will now have the power to prevent encroachment on the Green Belt and decide themselves where they want to build.

And in a press release relating to a letter to all LPAs on 31st May 2010 Pickles states

“The previous Government gave a green light for the destruction of the Green Belt across the country and we are determined to stop it.“We’ve promised to use legislation to scrap top-down building targets that are eating up the Green Belt,

So the threat wasn’t caused by necessarily high housing targets but unnecessarily high housing numbers. So what is the government’s response now to the current threats in draft local plans, that these numbers are necessarily high?  If they are necessarily high the whole ‘Green Belt’ case against regional planning falls away.  Mark Prisk cannot use only half of the argument provided to him in briefings because it no longer has any logical basis.

Lets look at the list of these areas from the 31/5/2010 press release.

Towns and areas that were planning to make Green Belt cuts and reviews because of Whitehall-imposed targets will now be able to make their own decisions where new development is built. They include: Bath, Bedworth, Bournemouth, Bristol, Bromsgrove, Broxbourne, Cheltenham, Chertsey, Coventry, Gloucester, Guildford, Harlow, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Leeds, Lichfield, Maidenhead, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Oxford, Redditch, Redhill, Reigate, Rushcliffe, Stevenage, Solihull, Tunbridge Wells, Welwyn, and Woking and Worcester and in West Yorkshire beyond Leeds.

Lets go through these areas.  Of course in 2010 the particular scale of Green Belt loss was not necessarily known as RSS simply required strategic reviews to meet an residual housing need which in many cases was not yet calculated.  Also in many areas the housing targets implied Green Belt revisions but did not specify where.

Bath They withdraw Green Belt proposals from the plan but inspector said they had underestimated housing need,  They now have consulted on plans for  1,370 homes on the Green Belt.

Bedworth, Nuneaton Nuneaton and Bedworth have fearcly resisted plans for Green Belt loss and refused to cooperate with Coventry on a SHMA.  Following the Coventry inspectors decision that Coventry breached to Duty to Cooperate and set housing targets too low a joint SHMA is now being prepared, as well as a joint Green Belt Study.  The threat to the Bedworth Green Belt has not gone away.

Bournemouth The South East Plan proposed a review of the Green Belt North of Bournemouth, It submitted a plan in 2011 after the decision to revoke the SEP but before the NPPF came in.  This did not include the North of Bournemouth proposals.

The inspector found on the basis of a revised SHMA that household formation had gone down but affordable needs had gone up.  The inspector (pre NPPF) found that

‘Given the ‘aspirational’ nature of such surveys and the acknowledged lack of realism in meeting the identified needs, I consider more weight should be accorded to the realistic expectations of general household growth.’ [rather than affordable housing needs].

Of course this was pre-NPPF and post NPPF inspectors have consistently held that this must be met in full whatever the funding position.  The inspector did require an early review however so the threat has not gone away one little bit, merely shunted tempoariliy to surrounding districts.

Bristol The South West Plan proposed significant development South West of Bristol in North Somerset District, the inspectors report was subject to successful JR because teh inspector misunderstood the extremely technical way the Council has fixed the housing numbers.  The threat has not gone away one little bit.

Bromsgrove, Redditch The West Midlands plan proposed expansion of Redditch northwards.

Broxborne  Their submitted was found unsound in 2010.  The inspector however backed the Green Belt development.

Cheltenham, Gloucester   A joint plan for Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewksbury proposes over 4,500 homes on  land to the north west of Cheltenham.

Chertsey in Runnymeade District.  Probably refers to the DERA site a former Tank Factory nearer Oxted, was included in the Preferred Core Strategy, still in the draft local plan.

Coventry, Coventry withdrew its adopted plan the day it was adopted following a change in administration.  Its revised plan was found unsound and to breach the duty to cooperate.  There is now a joint Green Belt study and SHMA.

Guildford The South East Plan requirement for a ‘selective’ Green Belt review, but this was successfully challenged for not being strategic.  They did not get a plan through before the South East Plan was revoked (unlike Woking) and they wont consult on a draft plan until this October, will it have to consider Green Belt release?  Of course it will.

Harlow The East of England Plan proposed expansion North of Harlow into East Herts and Epping Forest Districts.  A joint consultation was carried out but things have been very quiet for the past three years, its seems there is a lack of agreement of the three authorities.  The threat has not gone away it has simply got mired in the Duty to Fight like rats in sack.

Hatfield in Welwyn Hatfield District. The East of England plan  proposed a Green Belt review but this was challenged successfully for failure to consider alternatives.  The proposal top expand St Hatfield is in St Albans District.  Cllrs bravely voted not to submit a Plan for St Albans District which was unrealistic and did not include a strategic Green Belt review, a joint Green Belt study is now under way.  The threat has not gone away at all.

Hemel Hempstead is in Dacorum district. Their plan was judged not to have 15 years housing supply and an early review is required after three years.

Leeds There proposed local plan contains plans for over 2,000 Green Belt homes.

Lichfield Probably a mistake to include as the plans related to an area of strategic reserve along the A38 corridor rather then Green Belt, this area is proposed for development in the submitted Lichfield Local Plan recently at examination, the question is how much.

Maidenhead  In Windsor and Maidenhead District.  Teh SEP set a target of 7,000 houses which the District felt required loss of 130Ha of Green Belt South of Maidenhea, for 3,750 houses. The district has yet to publish a local plan.  Their last plan consultation did not consult on housing numbers and simply asked whether people supported protection of the Green Belt.  What a joke.  Chances of any such none plan being found sound – zero.

Newcastle Under Lyme Covered by the Core Spatial Strategy for Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent an early plan adopted in 2009 prior to the revisions to the West Midlands Plan being published,  This plan is now out of date so the issue has not gone away.

Nottingham, Rushcliffe Ha, Rushcliffe was foiund unsound and not meeting the duty to cooperate.  They have now been forced to review there housing numbers and like other Greater Nottingham Districts consider Green Belt sites.

Oxford  Same legal issue as Guildford etc.  They scraped through withe a sound plan but early review is required because of the large gap in housing.  A joint SHMA is being preapred for the housing market area, hence the threat to the land to the South of Oxford, in South Oxford Distruct, will return.

Reigate and Redhill Thier plan was found unsound and they are now doing a strategic Green Belt Review.

Stevenage The East of England Plan supported development West of Stevenage in North Herts District.  The Stevenage plan (pre duty to cooperate) was found unsound because the adjoining housing was considered undeliverable without North Hert’s support.  North Herts have yet to subkite their plan but in July 2013 was forced to reconsult on land adjoining both Stevenage and Luton.  It is difficult to see them having a sound plan without West of Stevenage or its numerical equivalent.

Solihull Plan submitted in 2012 now at examination.  The Panel Report on the Phase 2 Revision 2009 noted that Green Belt review is required for the area of North Solihull, north of the A45 as realigned to accommodate the runway extension at Birmingham International Airport, and west of the M42/M6 Motorways. A review proposes removal of two parcels in this area and bringing two areas of reserved land into the Green Belt.  The inspectors interim report backed the housing targets but made no conclusion over Green Belt issues.

Tonbridge Wells Again a mistake to include as the South East Plan referred to an area of strategic reserve which the LPA wanted to declare as Green Belt not development of Green Belt itself.  They rather seem to have based it off a report by Labour South East committee in 2010 not the South East Plan.

Woking  Same legal issues as Guildford and Oxford .  The hole in the housing numbers as a result meant they scraped through with a sound plan (just before the NPPF became live)  but an early review is required, the threat has not gone away merely postponed.  A Green Belt review is required by the local plan in 2016/2017.

Worcester A mistake Worcester has no Green Belt, parts of Wychavon district around Driotwich Spa are in the Green Belt and will be covered by a joint ‘South Worcestershire’ development plan.  Changes are proposed to the Green Belt following a 2010 Green Belt study from July 2010 proposing only minor revisions.  I think it was included as a mistake as the West Midlands Plan panel did not propose Green Belt revisions ion Worcester, rather it rejected suggestions that the Green Belt should be extended between Droitwich Spa and Worcester.

West Yorkshire Beyond Leeds Several thousand homes included in teh Draft plans for West Yorkshire authorities.

If anyone has more detailed local info please let me know.  I have no idea why the list did not include Luton (another fine mess), Warwick or Cambridge.

So I make that 14 areas not 30 when areas wrongly included , double counting is eliminated and wrongly counting policies in the SEP subject to successful JR are excluded  Has the threat gone away from any of these areas?  No the Green Belt is under just as much threat now as it was in 2010. So in terms of a fact check, sorry Mr Prisk pants on fire.  

What I think is needed, following the formation of the all party Green Belt Group, is a specific DCLG select committee report into the future of teh Green Belt.  I suggest this should be in two parts, firstly to quantify the current threats to the Green Belt from Emerging local pans, secondly to examine whether the NPPG mechanism for considering alternatives to Green Belt development – including the duty to cooperate- are proving workable.  It is clear to me that in those authorities with cross boundary Green Belt issues, Stevenage, Harlow, Coventry etc.  it isn’t working at all.

Many of the issues that pressure the Green Belt are now the same as those that drove RSS, demographics, viability of brownfield sites.  The big change with the abolition of regional plans however is that it is much harder to consider alternatives beyond the Green Belt.

CPRE – Number of Houses Planned in Green Belt Doubles in Year

How long can the government continue to claim that the removal of RSS and the introduction of the NPPF reduced pressures on the Green Belt when it has done the opposite.  The issue here is not so much the scale – 26sq miles is not so much when considering 10 years growth, but whether in all cases these are the right options.


Plans now exist for more than 150,000 homes to be built on protected land, an analysis of council documents has found.

The sites include some of England’s most scenic areas, including parts of Dorset and the rural outskirts of York.

In addition, more than 1,000 acres will be lost to office blocks, warehouses and the HS2 rail link, according to the research carried out by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The increase comes after planning reforms diluted the protection given to the green belt and introduced a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

The CPRE analysis shows that there are now dozens of areas of protected land where councils have given the go-ahead to development, including:

• More than 46,000 dwellings and 607 acres of warehouses proposed across Yorkshire, with Leeds, York and Calderdale to lose the most of their surrounding countryside;

• Up to 30,000 homes to be built as part of a development around Birmingham’s airport;

• Nearly 10,000 homes at sites across the South West, including plots close to Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham and Gloucester;

• Plans for 1,250 homes in Epping Forest and 1,400 on the edge of Oxted, Surrey.

Widespread building on unspoilt land comes despite repeated promises by Coalition ministers that they would safeguard the green belt.

Approximately 12.4 per cent of England is designated as green-belt land, a status introduced in the Fifties to protect the countryside around major towns and cities, prevent urban sprawl and encourage the re-use of derelict urban land.

But in total, the CPRE found that 150,464 houses are planned for green-belt sites, compared with just over 81,000 when the same exercise was conducted in August last year.

The CPRE’s report says that “swathes” of green-belt land in the Midlands and the North will be lost to HS2, including large sites near Manchester and Birmingham, to accommodate stations.

The proposed high-speed rail line between London and the North will also cut into green-belt land near Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire and Ruislip in north-west London.

Campaigners have suggested that Conservative ministers are at war over the building programme, with George Osborne, the Chancellor, at loggerheads with Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary.

The extent of green space at risk of development is also causing growing alarm on the Tory back benches.

Shaun Spiers, the chief executive of the CPRE, said ministers are “deeply divided” over how much protection the green belt should have from development.

He said that Mr Pickles is fighting to preserve the countryside but Mr Osborne, regards the green belt as an “irritating impediment” to economic growth.

Nick Boles, the planning minister, has indicated that the large increase in Britain’s population has made modest building on these areas unavoidable.

“The green belt is hard to defend at the best of times, given the development pressures it faces,” said Mr Spiers.

“The job becomes almost impossible when powerful ministers such as the Chancellor and Nick Boles give out signals that it is up for grabs and that the need for growth trumps all other considerations.”

Mr Spiers urged David Cameron to back Mr Pickles against the Chancellor.

“The only person who can sort this out is the Prime Minister,” he added.

A source close to Mr Pickles said that it was “slightly fanciful” to suggest the Communities Secretary was “at war” with the Chancellor.

Councils are changing the boundaries of their green belt as part of their core strategy plans for development, under which they are obliged to set aside land for house building over the next five years.

The Planning Inspectorate, a quango which approves the local authorities’ plans, has ordered some councils to review their green belt boundaries in order to meet these house-building targets.

Mark Prisk, the housing minister, said that the Government remained committed to maintaining the green belt.

“We have increased green belt protections by abolishing every single one of the last government’s top-down regional strategies that sought to delete the green belt in 30 areas — Local Plans are now sovereign,” he said.

Mr Prisk added that the Government is selling off brownfield land owned by the public sector for development and making it easier for empty buildings to be brought back into use.

However, the scale of building on green-belt land is causing increasing unrest on Tory back benches.

Five weeks ago, Chris Skidmore, a Conservative MP, set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group [APPG] to oppose development on green-belt land.

Twenty MPs have already joined the APPG including Cheryl Gillan, a former Cabinet minister, and a range of fellow Tories including Nigel Mills, Henry Smith, Gavin Williamson and Anne Main.

Anna Soubry, the outspoken health minister, has also challenged Mr Boles over plans to build on the green belt in her constituency.

In a letter to Mr Boles she wrote: “Assurances about localism and continuing protections for the green belt at ministerial level are flying in the face of advice from the inspectors, leaving local authorities with no alternative but to agree development on green-belt land.”

Other Conservatives known to be concerned about the erosion of land with this protected status include Julian Sturdy, Guy Opperman, Andrew Jones and James Gray.

However, Mr Cameron is facing mounting pressure from Liberal Democrat ministers to build more housing. More than two million people are believed to be on the waiting list for social housing.

Andrew Mitchell, the former chief whip, has campaigned against proposals to build 10,000 homes on green-belt land in his Sutton Coldfield constituency.

If all the 150,000 properties mentioned in the CPRE’s report were built, the lost green belt would amount to an area totalling 21.61 square miles.

The group said that there are enough brownfield sites to build 1.5 million homes and that it “should not be necessary” to sacrifice the countryside.

It is urging ministers to issue new guidance to ensure that losses of green-belt land are avoided or minimised.

Englands First SHMA (1685)

The Citizens are afraid that the Building of new Houses will lessen the Rent and Trade of the old ones, and fancy the Inhabitants will remove on a sudden like Rats that they say run away from old Houses before they tumble.


Nicholas Barbon is a good candidate for the worst developer in history.  In the freewheeling age of the restoration, and in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London, developers could run riot.  Despite the Grand Plans for the reconstruction by Wren and the meticulous rules for construction of buildings Barbon simply ignored them, he built much of what we today would call ‘midtown’ connecting Westminster and the City for the first time, and largely due to him most of the development followed medieval rather than the planner new street patterns.  He even became a MP to avoid the numerous lawsuits against him benefiting from parliamentary privilege.   He shoddilly built houses at Mincing Land fell down and he plans for Red Lion Square were only stopped by Grays Inn Lawyers physically battling with the builders before obtaining an injunction.  At least his houses were brick built and fireproof and knowing that earnt a fortune by selling for the first time fire insurance.

Barbon – one of thefounders of classical economics and one of the first advocates of free trade -in his pamphlet ‘An Apology for the builder’ arguedthat the increase in housebuilding was so important that public policy should put the needs of the builder first and that country needs to give ‘privileges’ to assist them.

Some selected Quotes from it:

THE Cause of the Increase of Building is from the natural increase of Mankind, that there is more born than die…

Now as the Rabbits increase, new Burrows are made, and the Boundaries of the Warren are enlarged. So it is with Man, as he increaseth, new Houses are built, and his Town made bigger.

It is demographic change that drives demand for housing.  This could be calculated.

It is plain that the natural increase of Mankind is the cause of the increase of the City, and that there are no more Houses built every year in it, than are necessary for the growth of the Inhabitants: As will somewhat appear by the number of Apprentices made free, and Marriages every year in the City….

if Mr. Grant’s Computation be right, that these Houses contain Eight persons, one with another, then there ought to be a thousand Houses at least built every year for these Nine thousand Apprentices that come out of their time, and the Ten thousand Weddings to have room to breed in.

And the market will not oversupply

there are no more Houses built every year than are occasion for; because there are Tenants for the Houses, when built, and a continuance every year to build more. For the Builders will do as other Traders, who, when the Market is overstocked with their Commodities, and no occasion for those already made, forbear to make any more, or bing them to the Market, till a new occasion requireth them. And when they find they cannot
lett those already built, they will desist from building, and need no Act of Parliament to hinder them

Houses increase the wealth of a city because increase numbers of houses make the central houses accessible to an increased number of houses and this causes economies of scale furthing increasing a cities growth (a very modern argument for which Krugman won the Nobel prize).

NEW Buildings are advantageous to a City, for they raise the Rents of the old Houses. For the bigger a Town is, the more of value are the Houses in it. Houses of the same conveniency and goodness are of more value in Bristol, Exeter and Northampton, than in the little Villages adjoyning.
Houses in the middle of a Town are of more value than those at the out-ends; and when a Town happens to be increased by addition of New Buildings to the end of a Town, the old Houses which were then at the end, become nearer to the middle of the Town, and so increase in value.

And an increase in the size of towns would not harm or drain the country.

The Materials of these Houses, as Stones, Bricks, Lime, Iron, Lead, Timber, &c. are all the Commodities of the Country. And whatsoever the inhabitants of these New Houses have occasion for, either for food, Apparel, or Furniture for their Houses, are at first the growth of the Country; And the bigger the Town grows, the greater is the occasion and consumption of these Commodities, and so the greater profit to the Country.

Which increase tax revenues

NEW Buildings are advantageous to the King and Government. They are instrumental to the preserving and increasing of the number of the Subjects; And numbers of Subjects is the strength of a Prince: for Houses are Hives for the People to breed and swarm in, without which they cannot increase

And this is in the national interest

This is sufficient to shew that a Nation cannot increase without the Metropolis be inlarged, and how dangerous a consequence it may be to obstruct its growth, and discourage the Builders. It is to banish the People, and confine the Nation to an Infant Estate, while the Neighbouring Nations grow to the full strength of Manhood, and thereby to render it an easie  conquest to its enemies.

For the Metropolis is the heart of a Nation, through which the Trade and Commodities of it circulate, like the blood through the heart, which by its motion giveth life and growth to the rest of the Body; and if that declines, or be obstructed in its growth, the whole body falls into consumption:

And of course he blamed regulation for hindering him

And if the City of London hath made such a Progress within this five and twenty years, as to have grown one third bigger, and become already the Metropolis of Europe, notwithstanding the Popular Error the Nation have been infected with, and the ill censures and discouragements the Builders have met with; had they been for this last hundred years  encouraged by the Government, the City of London might probably have easily grown three times bigger than now it is.


Does Bear Gryills Manslide Require Planning Permission?

All over the papers this morning


A slide pinned to a cliff face that shoots users into the sea – as long as the tide is in – has landed adventurer Bear Grylls in hot water.

The television survivalist for whom grappling with crocodiles and venomous snakes is all in a day’s work now finds himself facing a more mundane but potentially more successful challenger, the local planning officials.

Chief Scout Grylls provoked the interest of the authorities when he cheerfully tweeted a picture of a slide that had just been installed on the island he owns off the coast of North Wales.

“New slide attached at home on our island! You hit the water very fast!!!” he enthused.

The slide, however, has prompted concerns about safety because it can only be used for two hours a day, when the tide is in, and about planning regulations because it is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

Officials from Gwynedd Council are now investigating whether the Grylls has breached any planning rules by installing the slide on St Tudwal’s Island West, off Abersoch.

“Officers from the Council’s Planning Service are investigating this case and will be discussing the matter with the site owner,” said a spokesman for the council.

He added that officials “are still looking” into the regulations to establish how slides are classified within planning law, adding: “They don’t know at the moment whether planning is needed or not.”

The key issue is whether it forms part of the ‘domestic curtilege’.  The island has a former lighouse convertered into a home and nought else and a very small demarkated garden directly around it.  The key issue is whether PDS rights applying to a ‘domestic curtilege’ apply.

The case of Sinclair-Lockhart’s Trustees v Central Land Board (1951), applies.

Sir Graham Eyre QC, sitting as deputy judge, considered that in determining the nature and extent of the curtilage of a dwellinghouse, it is important that it should serve the purposes of the dwelling in some necessary or useful manner … On the facts in this case, the rough part of the garden could not be described as part of the curtilage of the cottage, since it did not serve the cottage… One definition of curtilage often cited is ‘the ground which is used for the comfortable enjoyment of the house or building… serving the purpose of the house or building in some necessary or reasonably useful way’. This formulation, from

So rough land on an island not demarkated as a curtilege does not benefit from PD rights under class E

The provision within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse of any building or enclosure, swimming or other pool required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such, or the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of such a building or enclosure.

There is no AONB exemption.  However such a harmless bit of fun, adding a minor curiosity to our coastline, I cant see any but the most anal planning authority refusing.

Stratford’s Strategy – proposed by Chair of ‘Stratford Conservative Patrons Group’

You really couldnt make it up.  The neo-liberal handing over of planning to property interest taken to new extremes.  Local ‘Patrons Clubs’ exist ‘exists to back the local Conservative Party financially, by contributing funds that enable the Association to remain a fighting force.’

The Indpendent

Fourteen miles west of William Shakespeare’s birthplace is a stretch of 44 acres of agricultural land which would be a pleasant place to take refuge from human noise, but for the never-ending babble of traffic on the M40 nearby.

Around it lie three small villages – Gaydon, Lighthorne and Lighthorne Heath – where professional families seeking to escape city life have made their homes.

But now urban life is threatening to invade their country retreat, in the form of a plan by Stratford-on-Avon District Council to fill those 44 acres with a “green village” including 4,800 homes.

One dark suspicion voiced to The Independent by one of the villagers is that Tory “cronyism” is at work. One of the members of the consortium that will benefit if planning consent is given is the Stratford-based Bird Group, whose joint managing director, Tony Bird, is the chairman of the Stratford Conservatives Patron Club. Stratford Council is under Conservative control, but its leader, Christopher Saint, insists that Mr Bird’s connection to the party has not influenced its  decision.

Laura Steele, a criminal barrister on extended maternity leave, and her partner, a long-haul airline pilot, moved to Lighthorne three years ago because it was a peaceful location in which to raise their three-year-old daughter. Ms Steele now chairs the Lighthorne parish council.

She said: “We fully appreciate that houses have to be built somewhere, but we were told that the policy was to be a fair distribution, not to distribute them in a way that would devastate any one community. If this development was in London, it would stretch from the Houses of Parliament to St Paul’s Cathedral. There will be at least 10,000 cars going through the village to the M40.”

Carol Schofield, who also moved to Lighthorne three years ago, said: “A lot of people feel the injustice of it because it has come out of nowhere and we haven’t been given enough time to respond. One thing that really annoyed us is that most of the village did not find out about this until the end of July.”

But Mr Saint says the council’s options are limited, because it has to follow rules set by the planning authority in Whitehall, which is part of Eric Pickles’s Communities Department. In April, after analysing the drift of population out of big cities into attractive rural areas, the planners in Whitehall ordered Stratford council to add 1,500 more homes to its 20-year plan, meaning it would have to find room for 9,500 dwellings altogether.

The council was advised by the developers it consulted that one option was to put more than half the required new houses on one site – and the Lighthorne site’s proximity to the motorway would avoid the cost of building a new road.

Mr Saint is confident enough of his case to agree to go in front of a meeting of irate villagers to defend it. He insists that it has been made on planning grounds alone, and the fact that it would give a lucrative contract to a company run by a prominent local Conservative is irrelevant.

“I can understand why people would think that, but the charge of cronyism is ill-founded,” he said. “The Patrons’ Club is a fundraising organisation. It’s not part of the Conservative Party constitutionally but it has existed for some time and is recognised.

“I have spoken to Tony Bird. I said to him, ‘Tony, if you come up with a good scheme, I’ll support you. If you come up with a lousy scheme, you will get nowhere.’ I’m not in his pocket. The fact that he and I subscribe to the same political group – that’s fine – but I refute any charge of that sort of connection giving him any more influence than somebody else.”

So Chistoper Saint talked to his main local donor to get him out of a fix because the obvious and technically superior scheme – West and North of Startford- was naturally unpopular in Stratford – Hmm, who is running the Stratford Local plan its local planner or party donors/developers? (see here for our previous coverage of this sorry tale).  The only way I think Stratford can dig itself out of this hole is to ensure the SEA process is run by a politically neutral and independent commission – as for example in St Albans.   It would be clear that any member of the local conservative party would have to declare a pecuniary interest before voting on the plan (even after the localism act changes), one imagine the local barrister will be very busy.

DECC is Right to Block Patterson’s Silly Wind Farm Report

This post is not about the pros and cons of Windfarms but about proper governance.  It is amazing how the politics of the coalition is now played out across the pages of newspapers using windfarms as a surrogate.

The Telegraph

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, has commissioned a consultancy to investigate whether renewable technologies – including wind turbines – lower house prices in the countryside.

Coalition sources said the report is being blocked by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, amid fears it will conclude that turbines harm property prices.

It has emerged that a significant focus of the report will be the financial impact of wind farms upon the value of neighbouring properties.

Opponents of wind farms claim it is “highly likely” that the report will reveal that turbines in rural areas will detract from the value of nearby homes.

The consultancy company, Frontier Economics, has been asked by Defra to calculate how house prices will be affected by a series of energy projects across Britain. It has been asked to look at onshore and offshore wind, overhead power lines, shale gas, anaerobic digestion plants and nuclear power plants.

The remit of the report states that it “aims to determine whether [energy projects] have a significant impact on the prices of houses nearby and, if so, compare how that impact differs between different types”.

Chris Heaton-Harris, the Conservative MP for Daventry, said: “Wind farms definitely affect house prices and it is highly likely that this report will come to that conclusion.

“I would expect there to be billions of pounds of planning blight because of wind turbines close to properties.”

He added: “It’s almost like elements of DECC are acting like a mafia … now you’ve got DECC trying to stick its dirty great footprints all over another department’s work.

“While this is unsurprising, it will all unravel in the end and I’m sure the evidence will come out soon that proves a number of these points correct.”

He said that one of his constituents had seen the value of their £700,000 property fall by £250,000 because of approved plans for a wind turbine.

Details of the study, the first major review of renewables and their impact on house prices, were disclosed in The ENDS Report , an environmental policy magazine. A spokesman for Defra said: “It is our role to rural-proof policy. We need to ensure that energy is generated in a way that is sustainable. Sustainability includes the economic as well as social and environmental impacts.”

Jennifer Webber, of RenewableUK, said: “All the expert academic research published in this country and abroad over the last few years shows there’s no conclusive evidence to suggest that wind farms affect house prices.”

So what if it does.  Impact on house process IS NOT A MATERIAL PLANNING CONSIDERATION.  They can go up or down for all kinds of silly reasons. Does Mr Patterson consider it is part of his remit of ‘rural proofing’  to puff up rural house prices.  If so he should ensure that no houses get built in the countryside and that as a result no rural businesses can attract a workforce.  This goes to the issue of whether high house prices are a good or bad thing for the economy, surely they are a bad thing otherwise the government would not be committed to increasing housebuilding.  If it now believes the opposite it should put ba stop to housebuilding in the countryside.  This whole premise might be applied to any rural industry, what about pig farms, that stink and depress house prices, so lets do a study and then ban pig farms.

If Bungalow Bob Kerslake has any balls he should put a stop to this, ensure joined up government around a common material research agenda and stop SPADS trying to force the hand of ‘objective’ corporate government research. agenda.

Warwick District Misapplies Green Belt Policy

Reading through Warwick District’s recent plan consultation.  Impression of going through the motions somewhat as the Coventry Inspector required a Joint SHMA for NE Warwickshire and so they are only able to set an ‘interim’ housing target.  They will have to go through the whole process again as some development outside Coventry will be needed to meet the tightly bounded Coventry needs.

Constrary to thye previous strategy they now focus on South of Warwick-Leamington rather than to the North – of course National Policy requires you to consider non green Belt sites, however they state that the aim of the new strategy is to

protect the Green Belt from development where alternative non-Green Belt sites are suitable and available

But this is not quite what the NPPF say, what matters is the sustainability of the  strategy even if an individual site is suitable.

Para. 84

When drawing up or reviewing Green Belt boundaries local planning authorities should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development. They should consider the consequences for sustainabledevelopment of channelling development towards urban areas inside the
Green Belt boundary, towards towns and villages inset within the Green Belt or towards locations beyond the outer Green Belt boundary.

I can see no evidence of them having done so, and so there preferred strategy doesn’t not meet the NPPF or the Forest Heath SEA test.

Rather than properly weighing and balencing alternatives this is an example of the Warwickshire/Uttlesford disease. wildly tooing and froing between diametrically opposite strategies based on how unpopular the last consulted on preferred strategy was.    This is the third authority (after Coventry and Starteford) in the county to have fallen to this maldicament.