Grand Union Investments Likely to Challenge Dacorum’s 4 Year Core Strategy

Hemel Guardian

We previously covered the issue of whether an unsound plan could be temporarily made sound here, the inspector concluded as they had a 5 year supply surplus in the four five years an early review would be acceptable.

A developer that wants to build 800 new homes on Green Belt land in Berkhamsted will challenge the core strategy for 1,180 new homes in the town.

Dacorum Borough Council’s strategy was approved by councillors in a landslide vote at Hemel Hempstead’s Civic Centre on Wednesday. There were four votes against it, one abstention and 36 in favour.

Grand Union Investments says that the planning document for homes building between 2006 and 2031 does not provide enough sites to meet the area’s need for housing. It says the council has breached the National Planning Policy Framework by releasing insufficient Green Belt land to meet housing demand.

A report to the council’s cabinet, reporting the firm’s grounds for legal challenge, says: “Taken with the need to plan for a 15-year period, these are serious defects.”

A letter to the council from solicitor Paul Winter, acting on behalf of Grand Union Investments, describes the core strategy as an ‘unsound development plan’.

The firm has previously suggested that based on 2008 Office for National Statistics forecasts there should be 2,871 homes built in Berkhamsted between 2006 and 2031.

The company argued that its scheme, which would be built on a long strip of land next to the A41, should go ahead alongside core strategy plans for the town.

Both the company’s and the council’s figure include the hundreds of homes already built in Berkhamsted between 2006 and present day.

Dacorum Borough Council says its legal advice is that Mr Winter’s concerns have already been addressed by the authority. Weaknesses in the core strategy highlighted by the Planning Inspectorate have also now been rectified, the council says.

Tory MP condomns ‘Planning Anarchy’ as Houses ‘plonked down from above’ by Appeal

Guardian- we covered Hook Norton last week

It is a quintessentially English village, nestled in the Cotswolds, where David Cameron‘s favourite real ale has been brewed since 1849. Hook Norton, five miles from the comparatively bustling Chipping Norton, where the prime minister has spent many happy weekends, is a quiet place, home to 2,000 souls. But unwelcome change is in the air, and an enormous row is brewing, one with seismic implications for a Tory party accused of losing touch with its own grassroots.

On Tuesday Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, signed off on a splurge of planning applications in the area which, combined with other plans, will increase the size of Hook Norton alone by more than 10%.

Two large fields, currently home to a few cows and a footpath or two, are to make way for 70 homes, car parking, a pumping station and other ancillary works. In making the decision, overturning a ruling by Cherwell district council to block the development, Pickles has thrown what was a quiet village into tumult, with campaigners venting their anger. “It’s got quite nasty,” said one villager seemingly too fearful to give her name.

The ill-feeling that has ensued is likely to be repeated across the country as both the Conservatives and Labour commit to huge housebuilding programmes. In Hook Norton, Tom and Gloria Williams own the two fields set for development and a shop on the high street.

Their shop used to be popular, but it was relatively empty on Friday, as many locals have taken their business elsewhere. Village talk that the couple are set to enjoy a £5m windfall by selling their green fields to FTSE 250-listed building company Taylor Wimpey does not help their cause. Down the hill, the great-great grandson of the founder of Hook Norton brewery, its managing director, James Clarke, is also in the line of fire after daring to voice his support for the new homes on the village’s Facebook page.

“It’s a shame that it has got personal,” he told the Observer, sitting at his desk in the brewery. “One of the members of the parish council complained that my view was biased because my mother owns a field on the edge of the village. It’s got nothing to do with it. We have seen villages that have died around here because they haven’t grown.”

The prime minister has inevitably been drawn into the row. Cameron, MP for Witney, whose constituency home in the Oxfordshire village of Dean is less than 10 miles from Hook Norton, has not been protected by his enthusiastic patronage of Hooky and Hooky Mild brews.

“If he wants homes, why not build them where he lives?” grumbled one female resident who declined to be named. Jem Hayward, a parish councillor who has lived in Hook Norton for 28 years, added, with no little mischief: “I wouldn’t build in Dean, that would make even less sense. But if I was a developer Witney town might make be a good place.”

Some in Hook Norton dismiss the row as another example of rural nimbyism. The south-east of England alone is facing a shortfall of 44,000 homes over the next five years. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation believes that Britain is heading for a property shortage of more than a million homes by 2022. But Emma Kane, an internet consultant, mother of two children in the local primary school and chair of the parish council, said the country should wake and up and listen to what is happening in Hook Norton.

She regrets that things have turned poisonous in places and, unlike some, she hastens to add, she is not shunning the village shop. But Kane believes in the campaign to stop the development and says that others across the country should recognise the precedent Pickles has set as being dangerously anti-democratic. More than nine out of 10 villagers who responded to the proposals objected. But local feeling has, she said, been dismissed out of hand as the government blindly seeks to deliver on its promises of more homes.

Pickles was able to overturn Cherwell’s decision because the council only had a draft five-year plan for the area, a predicament shared by 198 other planning authorities which have failed to swiftly come up with plans to fit the coalition’s new planning policies, and are therefore seen as lacking the drive to build more homes. For all the talk of localism, building homes and stimulating the economy are now the watchwords of this administration.

“I have lived in the village for 10 years and there were various attempts before and since I moved here to get planning permission on these fields that have been owned by a local family,” Kane said. “Taylor Wimpey saw an opening and have rushed ahead to get planning permission on these fields without any consultation.

“There has been quite a lot of development in the last 20 years and people have been starting to get upset. The village can get very congested just driving through, the primary school is full because it is pretty good; there is something like 34 in one class.

“We have had meetings where 300 people have turned up to object, but have been ignored all the way along. David Cameron said this wouldn’t happen, this plonking down from above. He lives 10 miles away. Yet this is exactly what is happening.

Local MP Tony Baldry, who is usually one of the prime minister’s loyal acolytes, is equally perplexed: “This is planning anarchy. My frustration, disappointment and indeed anger is that what has happened runs counter to what everyone assumed would happen. Up and down the country people will be asking what this decision means for them.”

Cameron would be well advised not to turn up for a pint of Hooky Mild any time in the near future.

Village you can always take some more!

I havent been through in detail the Beta Guidance, and frankly apart from a few sections it doesn’t need it.  One that does however is the section on rural housing probably the weakest of all the sections.

Why is it so bad?  Does it do the jobs asked of it – no.  Is is clear logical and helpful;, not in the slightest.

Its only four paragrapgs long, nothing for example on the thorny issues regarding agricultural dwellings and rural needs dwellings, where Welsh guidance could have been a useful template.

The only para which adds to the NPPF is a model of how not to write clear guidance, dogmatic idelogical, self contradictory and not making the slightest bit of sense.

Assessing housing need and allocating sites should be considered at a strategic level and through the Local Plan and/or neighbourhood plan process. However, all settlements can play a role in delivering sustainable development – and so blanket policies restricting housing development in some settlements and preventing other settlements from expanding should be avoided unless their use can be supported by robust evidence.

All plans need a rural strategy which states the degree of expansion suitable by settlement or settlement ctaegory, how can such evidence strategies be ‘blanket’ they are the opposite.  What would the DCLG rather have a policy which allows unlimited expansion of every village, how could that be sustainable.  The statement ‘all settlements can play a role in delivering sustainable development’ does that mean all can take some more?  What if a draft strategy allocated 30 units to the village but 50 were granted in a 5 year panic prior to submission only to see another application for 50 come along?  Is planning for villages a widows cruse where they can always take some more and the village is never full?

Planning guidance for villages should be about landscape, settlement form and careful design and integration so villages unless there are pressing growth requirements in the most sustainable locations, grow organically meeting primarily local requirements.

Housebuilders – Supply can only be increased by 6-10% a year – FT


Housebuilders have warned Ed Miliband that his “wild” plan to double the number of new homes built in the UK to 200,000 a year is not physically possible.

The country’s largest housebuilders met with chancellor George Osborne and Treasury officials last month to try and temper expectations that supply could be quickly increased – despite recent initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme.

 During the discussions, developers warned that production could only be stepped up by between 5 and 10 per cent a year – far short of the 20 per cent annual increase needed to reach Mr Miliband’s target.

“We are an inelastic industry. Where are we meant to find that sort of growth?” said the chief executive of one publicly quoted housebuilder.

One industry executive said he had been given the impression that the government could cancel the first element of Help to Buy – which is a shared equity scheme for new build properties – if builders did not ramp up their production levels more swiftly. The Treasury denied there had been any such threat.

Charles Fairhurst, chief executive of Fairbridge Residential, a housing investment group, suggested that politicians were once again failing to understand how “real” markets worked.

“The bigger issue about Labour’s wish to increase new build levels to 200,000 per annum is the already serious lack of construction staff,” he said. “That is already leading to demand for eastern European bricklayers, electricians and roofers. We are also seeing an increasing shortage of construction materials, which can only lead to construction inflation and invariably to more expensive and fewer homes being built.”

Mr Miliband said in his keynote speech at Labour conference that he wanted housebuilding to double to 200,000 units a year by the end of the next Parliament in 2020.

“Who is going to build these homes?” said an executive at one housebuilder after hearing Mr Miliband’s conference speech.

“The 200,000 homes per year is a sound bite,” said the boss of another top five housebuilder. “If [Labour] get in, they will turn around and say ‘the industry has let us down by not delivering’. It’s a wild target.”

Barratt, the UK’s largest housebuilder by volume, has said it will increase its output to 16,000 units a year by 2017 from 13,600 in 2013.

Housebuilders typically buy and hold land for a period of years before developing it. The method allows them to cash in on rising property values. It is this lag between purchasing new sites and building homes that, the industry argues, makes it impossible to rapidly step up production.

Mr Miliband has threatened to end that “hoarding” by promising to give councils stronger powers to fine developers which sit on land for too long – although Labour has not yet put a timeframe on this. In addition, the Labour leader said he would strengthen councils’ power to seize undeveloped sites through compulsory purchase orders.

At the same time he has promised a new housing review – under Sir Michael Lyons, former chair of the BBC Trust – to examine ways to create more New Towns.

So if materials and labour is the contraint isnt modular construction the answer

Shoot That Beaver Part 5: Clearing Up Confusion About the Labour Theory of Value

‘Lets be clear’ it was Fisher

‘Before we had a rate of physical surplus all of which went to wages as labour was the only factor’

‘Now we have introduced a capitalist who creates a firm and introduces an enhanced process, this increases the rate of surplus, this additional value may flow to extra wages or more likely to the capitalist as profit’.

‘We need to be very careful here’ it was James Mill ‘where the profit comes from intensive actions they add to the surplus of society as a whole, where they come from extensive actions, such as market power, monopolies and so on it subtracts from the surplus of society as a whole’

‘The value surplus then is split between the factors wages and profits’ said Ricardo

‘Which is why I term profits –surplus value’ added Marx ‘value created by labour but not returning to labour’.

In our scheme an increase in the rate of profit reduces the labour share ‘Added Sraffa

‘But you can still have a decrease in the labour share and an increase in the real wage’ added Adam Smith, if the source of profit is innovation – an intensive rent – not market power – an extensive rent – it is difficult to see the whole of the latter as exploitative, only if it is above a level reasonable to ensure the innovation is brought into play.

‘Thus far you have considered changes in supply conditions’ stated Fisher ‘Lets now consider changes in demand, such as from metal to plastic toys’.

‘If the cost of production between metal and plastic toys is the same’ said Ricardo ‘and the overall demand for toys remains the same then the price of production of the toy alone will determine the price’

‘It the prices of production are different then the price will vary in proportion to those prices, in other words to the embodied labour making the toy as we have calculated it’

‘A shift in demand from metal to plastic toys will simply see less metal toys sols and more plastic, in all cases it will be the objective conditions of production which set the price’.

‘What about the preferences of the consumer?’ askled Hotelling

‘That can also be thought of in terms of labour’ said James Mill ‘ for which money is just a creditory token’

‘Lets say someone is paid for 35 hours a week at an average wage of which 20 hours a week were disposable income’

‘If someone invents a highly desirable consumer good, an innovation which only takes 15 hours labour (as we measure to make)’

‘As the first supplier of that good they are able to charge a price greater than the labour embodied price, but no higher than the price of labour commanded that the consumers are willing to part with it for, they are able to leverage a monopoloy power.’

Ricardo spat out his tea

‘Are we then saying that the labour theory applies also to monopoly goods – but at a labour commanded rate?’

‘Yes’ said JS Mill

‘If the demand is greater than the supply the good will trade at the labour commanded rate the higher rate, but conversely if the demand is less than the supply the good will trade at the labour commanded rate the lower rate, in both cases labour is production will shift or cease so that the long run trend is for labour commanded to equal labour embodied’

Hotelling chipped in ‘Both are examples of the short side rule for trading in disequilibrium – the short side of the market rules’

‘And because we have a comparator in the labour embodied value we don’t suffer from Ricardo’s measuring problem if we relied on labour commanded alone’

‘Each element of labour commanded represents a bundle of effective demand, the demand for the good and the proportion of the overall real wage labour budget devoted to it’

‘I of course object to any measure of demand that does not wise hen a want for supply of a good has not risen’ said Ricardo

‘It hasn’t’ said Fisher ‘but if say fuel has a shortage that means its price doubles then a budget holder will have to reduce consumption of other goods relative to it to compensate, from a producers perspective the money flow thye effective demand has doubled, it is the demand expressed through money that creates market signals’

In part 6 ill consider rent


The Difference Between Land Hoarding and Landbanking – A Graphic to Explain

Ive talked about the stock-flow distinction between legiminate land banking and illegitimate land hoarding before.  I was struck by this balanced section from the


A study of landbanks by Savills last month said there was no evidence of hoarding: permissioned land held by the top eight housebuilders fell by 100,000 plots between 2007 and 2012 while developers are now “working through their land banks more quickly than at any time since 2007/8.”

However a report, “Barriers to Housing Delivery”, by Molior London for Boris Johnson revealed that 45pc of the permitted homes in the capital are in the hands of “non-builders”.

Some are owner-occupiers but far more are owned by investment funds, private developers who do not build, historic landowners and the Government itself. “Site-by-site interviews suggest the obvious,” said Molior in its report. “Builders intend to build their sits, non-builders do not.”

Ill use a definition of landbanking from Sarah Payne, I aopologise it is isn’t verbatim, ‘a range of sites in various states of consent, financing and development reflecting the time taken to advance each stage’  to illustrate that land hoarding can be a problem element even when the flow of sites in planning is sufficient and vice versa.


Cherwell May JR 4 Recovered Appeal Approvals in Prematurity Row


Cherwell DC is seeking legal advice after communities secretary, Eric Pickles, overturned the refusal of four major planning applications.

The council initially refused the applications, but they were later granted approval upon appeal by Mr Pickles who said the council lacked a five-year housing supply.

Michael Gibbard, lead member for planning, said: ‘I can’t understand why Ministers called in these appeals if all they ever intended to do was rubber stamp them. This flies completely in the face of both localism and the plan making process. Cherwell District Council is now taking expert legal advice and if appropriate will take action to counter these appalling decisions, much as we did with the Asylum Centre at Piddington some years ago.’

The council had refused the applications as it felt the proposals were in areas not suitable for development and that went against the policies set out in its Local Plan.

The four applications were 145 homes off Salt Way in Banbury, 70 dwellings in Hook Norton, and two separate applications for 75 and 85 homes in Bloxham.

The top four appeals here, two of them related to Bloxham and the SoS concluded that ‘that the quantum of development in Bloxham should not be regarded as a determining factor’

At first glance I cant see anything challengable.

Are Labour’s Housing Plans ‘Stalinist’? – Telegraph


Labour was accused of adopting a “Stalinist” approach to planning after Ed Miliband unveiled measures to extend towns into the countryside and seize land back from developers who are not building houses.

The party leader wants to force rural councils to allow major development in the countryside to stop them “strangling” towns and cities that are trying to expand, his aides said.

Towns would be given “a right to grow” even when development is opposed by neighbouring local authorities responsible for planning decisions.

Mr Miliband would also allow councils to buy back land being “hoarded” by developers waiting for prices to go up.

He signalled the plans in a conference speech that critics said indicated a renewed Left-wing agenda that would extend state power into people’s lives.

Under the scheme to boost house-building, neighbouring town halls at loggerheads over development would be forced to come up with “joint plans”.

Controversial decisions would then be fast-tracked to prevent disputes causing delays to building programmes.

Labour aides insisted that the party does not want to “concrete over the countryside” but added: “You have to build houses somewhere.”

Sir Michael Lyons, a former BBC Trust chairman, is leading a commission for Labour setting out proposals to build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020.

Mr Miliband also wants to build a new generation of garden cities, echoing Gordon Brown’s failed attempt to impose nearly a dozen eco-towns across middle England in 2008.

Labour wants to hand local authorities strengthened compulsory purchase powers so that they can buy and grant planning permission on land held back by developers.

Councils could also be given the power to charge developers if they acquire land with planning permission but do not build on it immediately. Graeme Leach, the chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: “Mr Miliband’s ‘use it or lose it’ declaration is a Stalinist attack on property rights.

“The fundamental problem with the housing market is the public-sector planning system, not private-sector builders. It’s hard to imagine a more statist solution to a problem caused by the state.”

Fiona Howie, the head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “We are concerned about ‘right to grow’. It is unclear how an authority would be able to demand neighbouring authorities drop opposition to proposals. Such language doesn’t lend clarity and sounds like a return to regional planning.”

However, the CPRE welcomed Mr Miliband’s commitment “to look at the UK’s dysfunctional housing market and try to get badly needed houses built”.

What Hilliary Benn Announced – Not the Back of the Envelope Version This is It

Labour Party   Err No its Not what the Attlee Government did – As Silkin quickly discovered localism doesn’t work for new towns when he got booed at a public meeting at Stevenage.

So what will a Labour Government do?

First, we must admit that we can’t carry on saying on the one hand “where are the homes for the next generation?” and on the other “please don’t build them near me”.

Nor will we get more homes by top-down targets. Councils and communities must take that responsibility but they need more power to be able to do so.

Communities should know where land is available. That’s why we will ensure developers register the land they own or have options on.

And where land is not brought forward for homes, communities should be able to do something about it.

And when communities have given planning permission they should be able to say to developers: we’ve given you the go ahead so please get on and build the homes you said you would. And if you don’t then we’ll charge you and, if you still don’t, we’ll sell the land on to someone else who will.

Secondly, there are areas in the country where councils and communities see the need for more homes but there just isn’t the land to build them on. So the next Labour government will give those communities a new ‘Right to Grow’, allowing them – if they want – to expand and ensuring that neighbouring areas work with them to do so.

Thirdly, conference, it’s time to build new communities – new towns and new garden cities. That’s what the great Attlee Government did as they started to rebuild Britain and we need that same spirit again. So we will invite local authorities to come forward, and in return, we will make sure that they get the powers and the incentives they need to acquire land, put in the infrastructure and build. Build those new communities.

Getting Britain building, with communities taking the lead. People deciding where the new homes will go and what land they want to preserve.