After the Election -‘Architecture Will Lead Planning’ at DCLG

BD – back to the position pre 1997.

Architecture will move from culture department to communities after election

Government oversight of architecture is to move from the ministry of culture to the far more powerful communities department, BD has learnt.

The switch, which will place architecture alongside the crucial planning and housing portfolios, is one of the most significant outcomes of the Farrell Review process begun by culture minister Ed Vaizey two years ago.

The decision is expected to be announced next week and implemented after the general election, BD understands.

“This is a really significant change. It moves architecture from the relative backwater of design and the creative industries to a department with real clout,” said a source close to the decision.

“It’s essential that design leads planning, yet that’s been impossible while the two functions have been split across departments. In the past architecture has always been one interest among many in a junior minister’s portfolio.”

Vaizey, who has been the architecture minister most highly rated by the profession in years, is believed to have been closely involved in the decision. He has spoken in the past about his desire to make his colleagues across government more design literate.

Note to @robertabwMP A SHMA Doesnt Tell You Where the Housing Should Go

Planning on PaS/BPF Conference

Blackman-Woods also ran through the main elements of last year’s Lyons Review, commissioned by the party.

She repeated Labour’s commitment to reform the duty to cooperate requirements in local plan making, and said Labour believed government-level intervention was required when councils in particular areas were unable to agree on new housing levels.

“We think that what might need to happen is that the secretary of state can direct local authorities to conduct a Strategic Housing Market Assessment,” she said.

“It wouldn’t happen if authorities took responsibility for delivering the housing that is needed, but if it’s not happening, you need something that brings that forward.”

In a few, very few, areas there are still hold outs against joint SHMAs, but that isnt the key issue.  Take Greater Derby, or Oxfordshire for example, here we have joint SHMAs but no agreement on how it should be distributed.  The key issue now is not lack of OAN evidence, the only job the SHAM does, but the policy and strategy om how that should be distributed, given that some LPAs will be too underbounded to meet all needs locally.  SHMAs cannot and will not do that joint plan making capability for you.  The only option in these cases is joint plans.


Pickles Introduces Pre-Election Presumption Against Loss of Countryside Policy in Osborne’s LPA

The creativity pre-election Pickles is finding to refuse schemes, especially if they happen to be in Cheshire East, is knowing no bounds.

Take this new called in case.


APP/R0660/A/13/2197532 and

No 5 year supply

Hard to argue prematurity as local plan prelim findings unsound as not enough housing land.

The inspector recommends approval.

But the SoS finds for appeal A

the Secretary of State disagrees with the Inspector at IR12.23 that circumstances mean that the loss of BMV land and open countryside are unavoidable. He accepts that, across the District, some such losses are likely to be inevitable once the true picture on housing land supply has been established through CELP, but he does not consider that the appeal site will necessarily be one of the most appropriate sites to take and that it should not therefore be assumed at this stage that the development of this good quality agricultural land in open countryside for uses which are not in accordance with the LP should proceed on a piecemeal basis. On balance, therefore, and as things currently stand in relation to the LP and CELP, the Secretary of State concludes that the appeal scheme fails to represent sustainable development in terms of being the most effective way of improving the economic, social and environmental conditions of the wider area.

Note the new doctrine, wider even than prematurity, its a ‘no piecemeal’ principle as is ‘not the most effective way’ of meeting need’.  In other words it might not be the best site, even though in this case without  draft local plan that meets need the LPA cannot even point to where a better site might be.  For those who criticised the NPPF for promoting piecemeal development this seems to be the new policy that this point is accepted by the SoS.  The problem is it allows the SoS to behave like  bad LPA, saying it is a bad site but not saying where a better one is.  In these cases the default position then becomes no and not yes and we undersupply housing.  Again how can anyone say the NPPF is clear and effective when in the same breath it can be used to provide a presumption in favour of or against the development of the open countryside, depending on how close an election is.  The NPPF has become a joke, vague cover to allow almost any decision of the SoS’s choosing based  on solely political factors.

Appeal B is the same argument without even BMV

The Secretary of State accepts that it is highly likely that some of the land falling within the terms of LP Policies NE.2 and RES.5 will need to be used to meet the housing
land supply requirements of the Council’s area once these have been finalised through the CELP, but he considers that the adverse impacts of adopting a piecemeal approach in the interim period would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of bringing forward more housing land quickly, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole.

If Lack of Supply is the Issue why should the State Subsidise First Time Buyers by 3k?

Help to Buy ISAs quite the dumbest idea since help to buy. (HMT factsheet).

A 3k tax break to first time buyers,

First-time buyers who save in a help-to-buy Isa will have their savings boosted with a payment from the government when they decide to buy a property. The bonus will be equal to 25% of their savings, so for every £200 they save, the government will give them £50.

The maximum amount that can be put into the Isa and boosted is £12,000 – the government’s payment will top this up to £15,000.

The bonus is being offered for each person, not each house, so a couple will be able to get up to £6,000 towards their purchase.

As well as the government bonus, the Isas will also pay interest.

Stupid for three reasons

1) as a state subsidy it will  immediately find its way onto the price of land, especially as it will take until 20176/2018 to be operative

2) House prices are likely to rise far more in this period.   Shelter

We need to double the number of homes built a year to solve our housing shortage, and this is yet another example of government attempting to put a sticking plaster over a gaping wound.

Only measures that actually build more homes will make a material difference to all those priced out and struggling with sky high housing costs. Put in black and white, the money spent on this scheme could build almost 65,000 affordable homes.

Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of Dragonfly Property Finance

 The irony of the Help-to-Buy ISA is that it may not help first-time buyers at all.

“Throwing £50 at first-time buyers for every £200 they save gets people into the savings habit, which is no bad thing.

“But if we’re not building more homes then it may well drive prices higher in the medium term as even more people compete for the same level of property.

“A first-time buyer might be able to put £15,000 rather than £12,000 down as a deposit, but if the property they want has risen even further in value due to the strength of demand, where has that got them?”

3) It will only make a difference to wealthy couples with wealthy parents who can currently afford deposits.  What it does therefore is reduce the amount of equity release the older couples have to take out for their children, another case of intergenerational inequity, a prelection state funded bung to the wealthy baby boomer generation.

The issue of young people lacking savings for FTB is a real issue, but again lack of targetting means the scheme will not boost supply.  A well designed scheme would be targetted in those areas only where supply is being boosted (e.g. Waterbeach), with housing releases restricted to eligible first time buyers only, with state funding capped to basic rate taxpayers only, and the cost of funding split evenly between social rented and intermediate housing assistance.