Labours Unworkable Response to the Unworkable Tory Starter Homes Policy

Nothing to do with the PM’s speech then.

This is the policy announced last October

Councils would be able to reserve 50 per cent of the new homes in “housing growth areas” for local first-time buyers, who would enjoy “priority access” for two months. Local authorities would also be able to stop new homes being sold for buy-to-let or to be left empty.

Labour officials insist that migrants who had lived in the area for two years would have equal access rights. They admit that many residents oppose housebuilding in their area because they do not believe new homes would go to “local people” or first-time buyers.

So far so good, local qualifications is a policy that works well in some rural; areas like National parks and in at least one made local plan.

But rather than an in perpetuity restriction lets consider how easy it would be to circumvent.

Lets say you have built a housing estate in St Albans an area popular with wealthy London commuters. You build the estate and put the houses on sale for 5 million a pop and get no takers, and then after two months drop the price to 2 million a house and sell them, mostly to outsider second and third home owners.

How could this be prevented?  We know how local qualifications lists and covenants in perpetuity can work and be enforced.  Thsi is unenforcable.  Another example of Bennett hypocrisy in housing, The key failaure of both Tory and Labout initiatives to a failure of lack of tough in perpetuity restrictions designed to force down the cost of land.

Must Read Case on the Definition of Valued Landscapes #NPPF

Stroud V SOS ex parte Gladman

Still not on Balli but was sent judgement from Gladman.

The site was outside but could be seen from the Cotswolds AONB, a stuation the inspector said probably applied to most of the district.

Justice Ousley

It is important to understand what the issue at the Inquiry actually was.  It was not primarily about the definition of valued landscape but about the evidential basis upon which this land could be concluded to have demonstrable physical attributes.  Nonetheless, it is contended that the Inspector erred…because he appears to have equiparated valued landscape with designated landscape.


Always beware of unjustificated equiparation.

He goes on

There is no question but that this land has no landscape designation. It does not rank even within the landscape designation that is designed to protect the boundaries of the AONB and apparently its setting, which is NE9, a policy derived from the Structure Plan. It is not a Local Green Space within policies 75 and 76 of the NPPF. It has no designation at all. The Inspector, if he had concluded, however, that designation was the same as valued landscape, would have fallen into error. The NPPF is clear: that designation is used when designation is meant and valued is used when valued is meant and the two words are not the same.

in [the inspectors] description of demonstrable physical attributes needing to be shown rather than just popularity, he was not remotely persuaded that the points made … that it had attributes that took it out of the ordinary, but did not warrant formal policy designation.



The terms ‘demonstrable physical attributes’ was Justice Ousleys as far as I can tell.

In another part of the judgment Mr Ousley refers narrowly to NPPF para 15 and not at all to NPPG which refers to the CRWA duty on the setting of AONB. Very odd. Another reason why the Abercrombie test on the setting on AONB should be within the NPPF not in NPPG, if the courts treat NPPG as not as important. Which is not of course to state it should be given as great a weight.

Oxfordshire proposes 500m “Transit Tunnels’ under Oxford City Centre

Here in Vol 2 Oxford Transport Startegy Pg 16.

A longer-term option which would address all these problems would be to tunnel under the city centre, removing the majority of the mass transit operation from street level. New ‘stations’ would be constructed underground, close to the main attractions in the city centre. BRT and bus services could run with ease directly across the city centre, without being impeded by other road users or using indirect routes. Interchanges between north-south and east-west routes would be provided, solving several issues faced by passengers and operators in the existing situation. Whilst the construction cost would be very high (benchmarked costs for similar schemes suggest a capital cost in excess of £500 million), the resulting positive impacts on the public realm, conservation, safety and accessibility would be substantial. We have not yet considered in detail the technical or environmental feasibility of constructing transit tunnels. Clearly, there would be very substantial construction works (and construction risks) and environmental impacts. Within the central core, parts of commercial properties may need to be purchased to allow for street-level entrances to the tunnel stations. If this option were to be explored further, the business case would need to be developed in more detail. This would need to consider the benefits to passengers and reduced operating costs for the service operator(s). Innovative sources of financing would need to be considered, including financing of borrowing costs through departure charges for all services (such as those often used to pay for maintenance or renewal of bus stations).

None starter – but here’s my alternative hair brained plan.

1) Knock down Magdelene College School at the Plain (relocated to edge of City) and use it to intercept in city traffic in South Cambridge not intercepted  by edge of city P&R

2) Close the A420 High Street Bridge to cars, buses and cycles/peds only.

3) Place a P&R site/Bus Station at the former Magdelene College School

4) Create a new bus only road across the Cherwell in the short distance between Merton College and Kings Mill Lane

5) Route all buses to the new P&R across the new bridge

6) With the High Street now essentially car free, buses only you create a new on Street bus station just south of Cornmarket to mirror the one at Magdelene Street

7) You dont need to dig under – you intercept all buses before the Cornmarket and there pedestrian walk.

Just think how cities in the Netherlands and Germany would have approached this problem.


Courts Clarify how to Count the 6 week Period for Local Plan Challenges


Lewis J today dismissed an application by Nottingham City Council to strike out a challenge under s 113 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to the Greater Nottingham Aligned Core Strategies. The Council alleged that the challenge was out of time.

The document was adopted by Nottingham CC on a Monday. Applying Barker v Hambleton DC [2013] P.T.S.R. 41, the six week period for challenge under s 113(4) would have ended on the Sunday six weeks later. Lewis J accepted the Claimant’s submission that in such circumstances, as a matter of statutory construction the period should be taken to expire on the next day on which the Court Office is open, i.e. the following Monday. In doing so he applied the principle of law in Pritam Kaur v S Russell & Sons Ltd [1973] 1 Q.B. 336 to limitation periods under the Planning Acts.

A copy of the judgment is available here.

The point may however prove to be of limited importance once the provisions of Schedule 16 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 come into force. Section 113 PCPA 2004 will be amended to provide that the six week limitation period for challenging development plan documents will run from the day after adoption, rather than the day of adoption (thereby reversing the position Barker). As a result, the six week period for challenging a document adopted on a Monday will, once these provisions are in force, expire on the Monday six weeks later. The CJCA 2015 will also introduce leave requirements for claims under s 113 PCPA 2004 and statutory appeals under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Richard Turney acts for the Claimant, Calverton Parish Council. The substantive hearing of the claim is listed later this month.

Labour – Starter Homes will Cannablise Affordable Housing

Guardian -the swap idea is not in the NPPF amendment today but is in conservative press briefings – expected in NPPG amendment due shortly.

Our main concern from today’s announcement is whether these Starter Homes will be built in addition to existing plans, or whether they will actually cannibalise planned affordable housing. The BBC are reporting that developers will be able to swap affordable housing for Starter Homes on their existing and future plans. Not only would this mean that many Starter Homes won’t be additional (they’ll just be instead of homes that would have been built anyway), but it also swaps a low rent or shared ownership home for a home costing up to £450,000 in London. That’s more than 10 times the average salary in London and even outside, it’s more than average house prices in almost every region.

This would be a massive shift. Instead of councils being able to negotiate genuinely affordable, low rent homes from developers – they would be able to build homes for sale, albeit ones with a discount.

In the most recent year with data (2010/11), the majority (62%) of affordable housing built was from these sorts of planning agreements with developers. If this new proposal simply swaps these low rent and shared ownership homes for much more expensive Starter Homes then people struggling with their housing costs will be worse off, not better.



Statement to Parliament on Starter Homes Initiative – Another (Unworkable) Amendment to #NPPF

Hansard Written Statement – numbers are only half those in the PMs Speech today, clearly Grant Shapps got his red pen out overnight and forgot to tell Brandon Lewis.

I would like to update hon. Members on the outcome of the Government’s consultation, launched by the Prime Minister in December, seeking views about our proposals for planning reform to support the development of 100,000 new high quality, low cost Starter Homes for young first time buyers.

We are determined to ensure young people are not denied what their parents took for granted – the opportunity to buy their own home, settle down and enjoy the security that home ownership brings. Nearly 192,000 households have now been helped by the Government to buy or reserve a home since 2010, through schemes like Help to Buy and the reinvigorated Right to Buy. But we know there are still far too many hardworking young people from all walks of life struggling to gain a foot on the property ladder, so we want to go further and give them access to a new generation of high quality, low cost Starter Homes.

Our Starter Home consultation proposed the introduction of a new national exception site planning policy to enable Starter Homes to be built on under-used or unviable commercial or industrial sites not currently identified for housing, on both public and private land; for these Starter Homes to be only sold to young first time buyers at a minimum 20% discount below their open market value; that local planning authorities should not seek section 106 affordable housing and tariff-style contributions on Starter Homes; and they should be exempt from the Community Infrastructure Levy to enable developers to help deliver the discounted sale price.

We received over 250 responses to the consultation. There was strong endorsement from prospective first time buyers for the Starter Homes policy. Many local authorities, developers and lenders also endorsed more support for first time buyers, and made helpful comments about how this new planning policy could be implemented. The Government has published its consultation response today, and I will place a copy in the Library of the House. It will also be available online at:

After careful consideration of these responses, the Government is today making the following change to national planning policy:

Local planning authorities should work in a positive and proactive way with landowners and developers to secure a supply of sites suitable for housing for first time buyers. In particular, they should look for opportunities to create high quality, well designed Starter Homes through exception sites on commercial and industrial land that is either under-used or unviable in its current or former use, and which has not currently been identified for housing.

Where applications for starter homes come forward on such exception sites, they should be approved unless the local planning authority can demonstrate that there are overriding conflicts with the National Planning Policy Framework that cannot be mitigated.

Planning obligations should be attached to permissions for starter homes on Starter Homes exception sites, requiring that the homes are offered for sale at a minimum of 20% below open market price, to young first time buyers who want to own and occupy a home. They should also prevent the re-sale and letting of the properties at open market value for a five year period.

In view of their contribution to meeting housing needs, Starter Homes exception sites should not be required to make section 106 affordable housing or tariff style contributions.

Exception sites may include a small proportion of market homes, at the planning authority’s discretion, where this is essential to secure the required level of discount for the starter homes on the site.

Starter Homes developments are expected to be well designed and of a high quality, contributing to the creation of sustainable places where people want to live, work and put down roots to become part of the local community. A new Design Advisory Panel set up by the Government, involving leading industry experts, is developing an initial set of exemplar designs for Starter Homes which we expect to publish shortly for wider comment. While recognising the need for local flexibility, we would expect these designs over time to become the default approach to design to be considered for Starter Homes developments.

This new national planning policy should be taken into account in plan-making and decision-taking, and should be read alongside other policies in the National Planning Policy Framework.

We will shortly publish revised planning guidance to assist local planning authorities in implementing this policy change. This guidance will support implementation of the policy, including the definition of under-used or unviable land and young first time buyers.

We will also work with developers, lenders, and local authorities on the development of further supporting technical material.

In addition to this policy change, the Government will seek to amend the Community Infrastructure Levy regulations in the next Parliament to exempt discounted Starter Home developments from the levy. We will also consider further how the development of more Starter Homes can be encouraged through further planning reforms, including the opportunity to use other forms of land.

This Written Ministerial Statement sets out agreed Coalition Government policy to deliver a national Starter Homes scheme and planning policy; it is separate from the announcement by the Prime Minister today setting out further Conservative policy intentions on Starter Homes for the next Parliament.

This is is an elementary error as everyone who has worked with exceptions sites in an urban context before, There is no legal justification for applying the policy to unviable &/or uneeded sites as these cannot justify a refusal for loss of employment – hence para 14 of the NPPF applies, hence there is no policy to be an exception to – you have to grant permission for general market housing (with an affordable %).  This was the clear legal advice of those authorities that successfully applied the policy at H&F, Brent and some other London Borough a decade ago, a policy that led to massive uplift in real (social rented) affordable housing, in those boroughs.  I know because I was their I commissioned the advice I fought the appeals.  Im sorry but this cack handed policy crafting wont last 5 minutes in the real world.

The lack of an in-perpetuity clause simply means this will lift up hope values.  Whilst the whole economic theory behind exception sites is to keep them down.

What this will mean in practice is that developers will

1) evict tenants to meet the ‘underused’ test

2) Knock the buildings down to ensure redevelopment for employment is unviable

3) bid more for sites, as they can get permission for starter homes free of AH/S106/Carbon requirements and the lack of an in- perpetuity requirement

4) then apply for conventional housing and win any appeal because redevelopment for employment is now unviable

5) Now that has site has PP for housing it is no longer an exception site

6) Because the land value is now higher without a fallback use the developer builds units at at best 20% off a 20% higher land value.  The LPA has zero recourse.

I dispair.  A policy designed to cut house prices which in its design simply raises them.

Its the Mumsnet Planning Battle at 1 pm


We’re pleased to announce something a bit different to shake up your Monday lunchtime: a joint simultaneous webchat with the Conservative Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis, and the Labour Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds. They’ll be joining us live for an hour on Monday March 2 at 1pm.

We know that lots of MNers are interested in housing issues, so here’s your opportunity to quiz Brandon and Emma about house-building, the Green Belt, planning restrictions, new towns, private landlords, rent levels, sustainable building, social and affordable housing, and their long-term plans for making supply meet demand – and anything else that catches your eye. How do the Conservatives and the Labour party plan to build and fund housing for the next generation – and what do they want to do about short-term housing issues? Now’s your chance to find out.

Joint Working Doesnt Necessarily Mean Joined Up Planning

Bob asked Jill (names made up) ‘what are you writing’

I’m writing a letter from Stratford on Avon District to another district saying we wont accept Brum overspill because of ‘constraints and so under the Duty to Cooperate they should.’

‘Ok who is it to?’

Oh to South Northants and Cherwell.

‘Thats to yourself, now we have a joint team?’


‘So what will you write back to yourself.?

‘Oh I imagine cllrs will ask me to write back exactly the same letter’.

Bob went back to Building Control scratching his head, he wished he could be paid to write letters to himself all day.

Local Government Chronicle

Cherwell District and South Northamptonshire Councils are to conduct a two-year review into extending joint working into all service areas.

The agreement, which has already generated annual savings of £3.3m since 2011 for the two councils, is expected to pave the way for a confederation model in the future.

Cllr Mary Clarke, leader of South Northamptonshire Council, said: ‘If all goes to plan, we expect that over a ten year period, joint working could generate additional savings of £4m for South Northamptonshire and a further £8m for Cherwell. This helps to protect the front line services which matter most to our residents.’

The agreement originally included a three-way option with Stratford-on-Avon District Council, who later decided to postpone its decision until after May’s elections.

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: ‘As Cherwell and South Northamptonshire already share some management and services an obvious option was to extend this approach across all areas and to open it up to Stratford as a neighbouring authority.’

QE and the Asset Price Inflation/Deflation Cycle

More a thought experiment than a fully worked out theory, as the channels are complex.

1. QE increasing the lending power of banks, but not necessarily investment, this we know, its stacked up in balance sheets and company share buy backs.

2.  QE is funnelled towards assets as ‘safe assets’ because of chronic low aggregate demand caused by austerity and deleveraging.

3.  But firms that produce assets are also boosted – such as shale oil – or housebuilders, if asset prices are high they will also receive a boost to investment, even if overall investment is low.

4.  These asset producers received a boom to credit growth, even though credit growth overall is restrained.

5. This impacts on overall economy, through the multiplier/accelerator, it gives the impression monetary policy is working.

6. New assets come on stream, we have a glut – a Homer Hoyt type glut

7. Because banks now have a healthy lending power (supply of potential credit) following QE they can fund the risk premium on high risk loans themselves rather than through external funding, hence QE lowers risk premiums and lead to higher risk lending to ponzi borrowers.

8.  This leads to asset oversupply

9. This is deflationary

10.  The deflation, exacerbated by competitive currency devaluations,  leads to loans which were low risk and repayable becoming unpayable

11.  Minksy Moment-  Banks and Bad Banks like Heta last week go bust

12. Asset price and Asset Producing firms bubble goes bust, this time new rules require bale ins – especially in Europe

13. This leads to a recession – but because of the bale ins it leads to a global liquidity shortage and, unlike in the aftermath of 2007, the lack of an NGDP boost leads to mass unemployment.

How does this end happily? Only with a coordinated return to fiscal policy, with helicopter drops and similarly coordinated exchange rate policy.