Budget to Give Green Light to Garden Citie(s)? – in MKSM – The Wolfson Prize Winner?

Now we know where the overspill from The Green Belt u turn will go – but Garden Cities, though helpful, are a long term solution, Boles has created a short term crisis.


The government [in the Budget] …is expected to revive a plan for new conurbations in the south east. David Cameron, prime minister, had previously said he backed the concept but went cold on the idea after ministers warned of a public backlash in Tory constituencies. Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, is understood to have won a deal that will see the plan resurrected – although the location of the new towns may not be clarified.

As long as they are not Gerrards Cross and Yalding.  Since when was Letchworth a ‘conurbation’?


George Osborne will announce plans to build the first new garden city in Britain for 40 years in his Budget next week, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The Chancellor will say that the government wants to build a new settlement with tens of thousands of homes to help solve the housing crisis.

Ministers were yesterday still locked in talks about the potential location of the city, with Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire believed to be under consideration.

The announcement in the Budget on Wednesday is likely to trigger a Coalition row, with the Tories and the Liberal Democrats trying to take credit for the policy.

Earlier this year Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said David Cameron had to be “upfront and honest” and publish a secret Whitehall “prospectus” into garden cities.

However, the Tories have come under growing pressure to fulfil a pledge made by Mr Cameron in 2012 to “apply the principles of garden cities” to new settlements.

A source close to Mr Osborne said: “The announcement will be for a real plan for a real place rather than a vague booklet of ideas, which is what Nick Clegg has been pushing for with his prospectus. This is the Chancellor’s pet scheme.”

So are civil servants rushing to identify a real place in thew few days before the Budget?  Remeber the Wolfson prize deadline was the 3rd of March . so the judges and civil servants have had two weeks to assess entries (I and many others were simply too busy to submit entries). Of course nop SEA and no consultation – have theyt learned nothing from the Ecotowns fiasco?  You really couldn’t make it up.

If you are going to do it here do it big and link it to HS2.  Possible if trains are very lightweight on the Japenese model and can accellerate/stop quicikly and if accesslerating/decceratling lines in key sections.  The trouble is the best locations within the current HS2 alignment, such as providing a Warwick/Coventry Parkway, are in the Green Belt, (see previous Arden City posts) which somewhat defeats the political purpose.  Sites further south would require major new road infrastructure as they are m,ostly in the middle of nowhere – though of provided a site somewhere in the Brackly area, where it would cross the planned POxford/Cambridge rail link, would be attractive, especially as these would link s a high tech growth node.  Do I win the 250,000?


Boles Green Belt U-Turn – Could Reigate and Bansted simply Withdraw their Local Plan on 10th April ?

Steve Quartermain Announces the Planning News of the Year – Exclusive to Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

We picked up the planning story of the year , and biggest planning policy U turn since Patrick Jenkin — Boles pitting a halt to strategic Green Belt reviews following pressure from Chrispen Blunt MP – a week late because I was so busy (in UAE) that I did not pick up my emails tipping me off.  Even then Planning in its usual way did not publish the story until after we did!

I apologise for not giving this story the attention and analysis it deserves, the background, the politics, the history, whether or not the entire planning inspectorate has been getting it wrong (no), if it has what it says about the clarity and coherence of the NPPF (if it is so easy for the wjole of PINS to ‘misinterpret’, sorry get right and then ministers paniced, what does it say?),  whether it is a U turn (yes), whether the implications of the NPPF that without growth being diverted to growth areas major growth would have to be taken in the metropolitan Green Belt was a policy that could be politically sustained (no as we have said for three years). whether or not some Green Belt reviews in suitable and sustainable locations like Reigate is still necessary (yes) and now with the Duty to Cooperate recast as the Political Duty to Obstruct in Green Belt areas, does the government now plan to meet housing need in full the main policy of the NPPF  (no, its a Gideon political calculation, they cant anyway before the next election – so they can score some points on the ‘duty to expand’ and reverse the policy after the election and/or announce a slew of Garden Cities to take the displaced need).

So what will R&B do – they are due to adopt on the 10th April.  Under the regs they have little alternative.  What they might do is what Coventry (ridiculously and subsequently indefensibly) did a couple of years ago and adopt and then withdraw the plan by another motion at the same meeting (how Alice in Wonderland planning has become under the Con-Dems).

They may find themselves injuncted on = the principle has been set on pre-meeting injunctions in Basingstoke and Deane.

Straight forward following the Cala Homes decision on the SEP.  Withdrawing a plan has the same SEA implications as adopting one.  Under the DTC and the NPPF that housing need will be displaced to adjoining LPAs, and if they are mainly Green Belt LPAs too to the next tier out.  So to where – eerrr Mid Sussex which is now supposed to take everyone’s overspill need.   They and there local MP will now surely enact their revenge on Boles and Gideon.   Similar cases in the past have not been JRd, but that was before the DTC, before the NPPF, and before the gold guidance makes clear a draft plan is a material consideration and therefore falls under the SEA directive in terms of guiding ‘development consents’. The defense would be that the inspector has already seen the environment report and it has been consulted on.  The problem of course is that related and backs up the plan R&B no longer wish to defend.  At the very least they would have to give very clear reasons why they are rejecting the findings of their own environmental report.  Other authorities and developers will argue this is effectively issues a new environmental report and that they have a duty to consult on it. R&B are between a rock and a hard place here, the more they justify the decision in common law terms the easier it becomes to challenge in European law terms. Messy.  In may ways R&B being about to adopt was the worst possible case for Boles to stake a stand on.  Bath, York etc. etc. could withdraw their submitted plans too but again it could be argued that this has Cala implications.

As ever it is unclear if DCLG thought this through and took legal advice.  Probably.  The pressure was on at the Westminster Hall debates two months ago which would have made the PM sit up and take notice.  The Reigate adoption would have set a deadline and about that time to think through the implications.  Have DCLG war-gamed the potential outcomes, no they are not very good at that.   The fingerprints are there notably in the gold guidance using the same language used by the judge in the Hunstan case.  My guess too is that the advice would have been that this is a high risk strategy and ministers didnt care – as , cynically, as lomg as they could blame judges, labour, pins, their own officials, anyone but themselves.