S Glocs – Has the ‘Sedgefield’ method had its day in favour of the Liverpool’ Method?

For housing wonks/

Will Upton pointed me to the Greater Norwich Inspectors report which found in favour of the Liverpool method.  That was a special case in that it was a partially remitted plan and the rest of the area used (pre NPPF)  the Liverpool method.  I have previously blogged on here that taken nationally the Sedgefield approach is impractical as the numbers quickly go exponential meaning you might as well do away with plans and strategic allocations as you would always be allowing piecemeal development.

I think the South Glocs decision is much more definitive paras. 95 onwards.  As the inspector said ‘There is no indication in the NPPF, however, that one method is preferable to the other.’ and simply and wisely went on what was practical.



Balls on the Lyons Review

First time I have seen a proper terms of reference.

From the Shadow Chancellors Speech today

‘at our conference in September, Ed Miliband set out our commitment to build at least 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 – through a roadmap to support the private sector in building more homes, including more affordable homes, and a planning system that helps, not hinders, house-building.

In setting out our ambition, we have asked Sir Michael Lyons to lead a new housing commission to advise us on what needs to be done to achieve our goal.

The Independent Lyons commission will look at:
• How we can get much more residential land to market;

• What flexibilities could be granted to local authorities to they can build more affordable homes;

• How we can ensure that communities that want to expand but do not have the land on which to grant planning permission can do so;

• Whether the current planning gain system is fit for purpose;

• And whether land made available for development is being land-banked in a damaging way and how this can be prevented.

We will certainly want to hear your views on all of these issues.’

Cameron Says Countryside Tories should Stop Protesting Planning Reforms


Countryside Tories should stop opposing the Coalition’s controversial planning reforms because the changes will allow their children to get ahead in life, David Cameron has suggested.

The Prime Minister said that the changes to the planning system will allow people to “achieve their dream of home ownership”.

The boost in the number of housing developments beginning as a result of the new planning rules will help to create a “socially mobile opportunity society”, Mr Cameron added.

His comments came after he last week said that he agreed with comments made by Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, who warned that there has been a “collapse in social mobility” in Britain.

Mr Cameron’s remarks will anger countryside campaigners, who say that the changes have led to unwanted development on some of Britain’s most precious rural landscapes.

Councils which fail to adopt local plans setting out where building can take place are at risk from developers.

Opponents have warned that the Coalition’s changes have led to “poor quality developments” being “plonked down on green fields” despite local opposition.

The Prime Minister appeared to dismiss the concerns of rural Tories across England who believe that green belt and green field sites are coming under increasing threat because of the reforms.

Asked what he would say to Tory voters who will refuse to vote for the Conservatives because of their concerns over planning, Mr Cameron said: “I think that planning reform is important.

“It’s important that we build more houses because the average age of the first-time buyer has crept into the 30s and I believe in a socially mobile opportunity society where people can achieve their dream of home ownership.”

Mr Cameron indicated that if campaigners look at the new rules “in the round”, they will see that they benefit Britain.

“I think that when you look at our planning reforms in the round you will see that [with] the arrival of local plans, the arrival of neighbourhood planning you’re actually going to see more local choice and discretion,” Mr Cameron added. “But I think the planning system was in need of reform.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England on Monday night said that Mr Cameron should “take off his rose-tinted spectacles and see what is really happening to [the countryside].

Shaun Spiers, the groups chief executive, said: “House building is slowly increasing because the market is picking up, but the only difference planning liberalisation has made is that houses that would have been built in towns and cities, aiding urban regeneration, are now sprawling into the countryside instead.

“David Cameron needs to take off his rose-tinted spectacles and see what is really happening to it – not local choice and discretion, but far too many poor quality developments plonked down on green fields in the teeth of opposition from local people.”

Mr Spiers said that the Prime Minister must “get a grip of his Government’s planning reforms before more countryside is lost unnecessarily”.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, on Monday said that he is “very alert to how strongly” people feel about the new planning guidelines.

He claimed that the Government has “entrenched and maintained the protection for development on the green belt”.

Mr Clegg said: “We have to build more homes but we mustn’t of course throw the baby out with the bathwater as far as the green belt is concerned and where we can, always exploit the opportunity to build more homes on brown field sites.”

Nick Boles, the planning minister, has previously admitted that reforms to the planning system could cost the Conservatives votes at the next election.

Why Large Commuter Villages are the ‘Planning Anarchy’ Frontline

From the remarks by Micheal Hepburn in the excellent ‘Unplanned England’ article in Planning last week it would seem like many in the consultancy business would not be unhappy if local plans went away altogether.

He said the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) provided adequate tests in terms of sustainability and design to ensure that quality remained high even for unallocated development, and added that the pre-application engagement and consultation process as well as the formal planning process gave councils and communities “plenty of scope” to have some control over such schemes. “The last thing we want is for people to think that development outside an adopted plan is automatically poorer quality.

Indeed it is not. However that doesn’t mean it is the right development in the best location.  We should be careful though is scouring the biggest appeals for urban extensions.  Many of these sites would come forward for development anyway, if not in the next local plan the one after that, or the one after that.  Public outrage per-se is not to be taken as good evidence of policy failure, after all housing will always be controversial and lack of public buy in to an appeal led system is an issue of political legitimacy not one of necessarily of poor planning outcomes.  Nor should any infrastructure gap be insuperable.  You can always block development by saying their is insufficient infrastructure and the current approach of the government is to build the housing first and then have parents desperate for school places, or doctors filling the shortage of primary care, to come along later and build free schools or surgeries using new homes bonus funding on developer supplied land.  A non planning approach that always delivers too little infrastructure too late, but at least it delivers some.

Rather I think for examples of where the NPPF is failing is to loom at where a disproportionate amount of development is proposed when there are better alternatives, better alternatives that can’t be considered under the NPPF.

Where developers are now targeting now they have optioned out every urban extension potential site is large popular commuter villages.  Arguably these places have received too little development in recent rounds of local plans.  Villages with populations of over 2,000 within 5 or 10 miles of a larger employment centre, with good a or b road connections or a rail link, with good schools capable of expansion , some shops and services and a bus link.  These will tick the minimum sustainability standards of the NPPF.

These villages often had lpost war estates built of poor quality and this led naturally to hostility to developement, and many local plans/core strategies have focussed development on urban extensions or have dispersed strategies.  The problems with these is deliverability.  large urban extensions often have infrastructure prerequisites with long lead in times.  Whilst spreading development across dozens of villages is often impractical as you cant build have a form entry onto a primary school.

Classic examples of such villages are Feniton in Devon and Tattenhall and Hartford in Cheshire.  The last having 350 houses allowed on recovered appeal.   Some of these villages have proposals to increase their size by 30%, 50% or more in one fell swoop.  A more reasoned expansion over a plan period would be more like 15% to cover natural household growth plans a small premisum of 5% or so if a village was to absorb some growth from smaller villages where it si impractical.  Such a rate of growth, of one percent a year or so in population terms over a 15 year plan can be absorbed organically across multiple sites and not have the appearance of a suburbanised estate.  It is impossible to make any estate of more than a couple of dozen houses appear ‘rural’ and a natural part of a village.

A very simple change to the NPPF could accommodate this.  Simply requiring the scale and pace of development in a village to be appropriate to a villages size and character.


Two Inspectors Say You Can’t Adopt Allocations Plans Without Gypsy Sites

Chorley and South Ribble , the South Ribble partial report is not yet completed.  Both Inspectors said they would only issue partial reports because of the lack of Gypsy and Travellers sites and lack of an up to date evidence base on the issue.

So if you have delayed allocating G&T sites or have a comprehensive plan without them, increasingly the norm recently, you are likley to be stuffed.

Remitted Greater Norwich Joint Core Strategy Found Sound


This deals with the parts of the core strategy that were remitted for reconsideration following the judgment of the High Court in Heard v Broadland DC and others [2012] Env. L.R. 23.m this found that it did not meet the @forest Heath’ Test in examining reasonable alternatives in the Broadland District area to a startegic allocation.

The Planning Inspectorate appointed Inspector David Vickery DIPT&CP MRTPI to conduct the examination and on 13 November 2013 the Inspector issued his final report. The report concludes that, subject to a number of Main Modifications, the Joint Core Strategy for Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk, the Broadland part of the Norwich Policy Area Local Plan is sound and is an appropriate basis for the future planning of the area.

If Parliament Debates Local Plans Whats The Point of Localism or Local Allocations

It looks like MPs now realise that they are a losing wicket fighting at Examinations as Inspectors stand inlieu of the SoS.

Coventry Telegraph

The controversial Borough Plan for Nuneaton and Bedworth is to be put under the spotlight in the House of Commons.

Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones has secured a Parliamentary debate over an issue which has caused waves of protests from residents’ groups.

The plan, being prepared by the Labour-controlled council, is designed to shape the economic and social development of the borough for the next 15 years.

Proposals include building 7,000 new homes – with almost half of them earmarked for two wards, St Nicolas and Weddington – and petitions and letters of objection followed a series of public consultation sessions held during the summer.

Opposition councillors have also spoken out against the plan – labelled as “unfair and unbalanced” – and it is now listed for discussion in the Commons chamber on Friday.

Mr Jones said: “I am delighted that I have been able to secure this debate with the Planning Minister because many people in Nuneaton are very concerned at what is a flawed plan from Labour.

“There is a lot of concern over the way the consultation process has been carried out, with evidence being overlooked and proposals seeming very much like a political fix.

“Residents also fear the consequence of large scale developments, which don’t seem to have adequate or realistic infrastructure to support them, and don’t take into account the effect on the settled community.

“In many ways we need new development, but that needs a proper vision and buy-in from the public.

“At the moment, local people feel that they are being completely ignored.”

Mr Jones added: “During the debate, I hope to get the minister to understand the anxiety in Nuneaton over this process and most importantly to get these issues on the record so that the independent Planning Inspector, who has to sign off these local plans, knows exactly why local people are so concerned.”

The final Borough Plan will focus on the long-term future of Nuneaton and Bedworth and replaces the Local Plan which was adopted in 2006.

Responses to the “preferred options” consultation are currently being considered and Coun Danny Danny Aldington, cabinet member for planning, said: “There will be a further public consultation before we go to the planning inspector.”


A Permanently Smaller State Means Permanently Less Planning

In David Cameron’s Lord Mayors Speech he talked of

‘building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.’

For some this appeared a shock as if austerity was just temporary for hard times.  But liberals such as Osborne have been talking about this for years. Indeed logically if you want to extent austerity to run a government surplus over another 10 years then you have to see a small state as an intrinsically good thing.  This is the neoliberal project, not wasting a crisis by using austerity to create a smaller state.

So expect another 10 years with fewer planner.  Expect permanent planning reform with more and more permitted development and fewer and fewer restrictions on the presumption in favour of development, less and less resources on local plans, and more and more favours to development when plans inevitably become out of date.

Indeed Boles as a died in the wool neoliberal says very little in terms of complaints of plans being late.  He believes that development even without plans is a good thing.  So plans simply get in the way.  If plans get bogged down then the system of local planning becomes discredited.  This is part of the project easing the way for future reforms to either reduce the power of plans, abolish them or hand them over to privatised interests.

Coventry May be Forced to Double Housing Target After SHLAA

Coventry Telegraph

Coventry City Council may be forced to allow between 21,000 and 24,000 new homes to be built – more than double the figure it wanted.

Warwick District Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth are also facing much higher numbers than expected – after Coventry and Warwickshire councils commissioned a joint study of housing need.

The new figure for Coventry emerging from the consultant’s study is between 21,000 and 24,000 homes by 2031.

The study comes after intervention from a government planning inspector.

Coventry council’s Labour leaders had hoped to set a housing target of just 11,000 homes – after an election pledge that they would protect all green belt and green fields from housebuilding.

That plan was a third of the 33,000 target for Coventry and bordering land set under the last Tory council and Labour government.

But a planning inspector earlier this year ordered the study, warning the council’s 11,000 target could unfairly disproportionately force more housebuilding in neighbouring areas.

The new figures are set to inform the new “Core Strategy” local plan, which will set Coventry’s housing targets for two decades.

They would have to be approved by the council – but any rejection could fall foul of the planning inspectorate.

The previous core strategy before 2010 planned 26,500 homes for the city and 33,000 once neighbouring land was included.

The plans included controversial plans to build hundreds of homes of green belt in Keresley, King’s Hill near Finham and on land in Bedworth – prompting protests from residents.

Developers are eyeing up the land in Keresley once again, and have made a speculative application to Coventry’s planning department. The last local plan for the city has now expired, giving the council less legal power to reject development on the green belt.

Coun Kevin Maton, chairman of Coventry’s planning committee, insisted the council could still protect all green fields under the new proposals.

He said: “We don’t want to become a commuter city. Green space is crucial.”

Defending the previous target of 11,000 homes, he said: “It was based on population and the amount of employment we could expect in Coventry.” [Err it was capacity based how far did you get with that cllr?]

The study says Nuneaton and Bedworth should build 8,600 new homes; Warwick district 13,200; Stratford 9,600; and North Warwickshire 3,000. Rugby has a target of 11,500.