Naughty Wealden Inspector proposes Arbitrary Illeagal Local Plan Changes

I dont like criticising inspectors but in this case the inspector appears to be trying to illegally thinking he was running a core strategy examination not an allocation one.

Legally there was no need to pull the strategy from examination.  They should have instead used their legal right to demand of the inspector changes to make the plan sound, and if he proposed illeagal/ultra vires actions JR them.  An LP inspector cannot propose changes to an allocation DPD that would require a strategy review, unless the whole chain of conformity from national policy is broken by national policy changes.

Wealden District Council is seeking authority to pull the document from examination at a full council meeting tomorrow (27 May) and instead wants to proceed with a scheduled review of its core strategy.

It submitted the strategic sites plan for examination in March 2014, and hearings were held in June last year and in February and March this year.

Among planning inspector Mike Fox’s proposed modifications were the addition of 190 additional homes at Hailsham and the relocation of 30 homes from Crowborough to an unassessed site in Uckfield.

Council leader Bob Standley said the changes ran contrary to the authority’s agreed 2013 Core Strategy Local Plan – which identified sites for 4,070 new homes – and that legal challenges were expected if the modifications were enacted.

“The core strategy is Wealden’s local plan,” he said.

“Making arbitrary changes, as proposed by the inspector, is not appropriate or justified and in any case would require extensive infrastructure, environmental and habitats assessments.

“We are committed to carrying out the 2015 review of the local plan and need to concentrate our resources on this as the best way of maintaining current economic growth while safeguarding our countryside from haphazard development.”

A report to tomorrow’s meeting said that withdrawing the strategic sites plan and proceeding with the 2015 Core Strategy Review would provide certainty for developers and allow the Wealden Local Plan to be progressed “to an appropriate timescale”.

However the document concedes that the move will mean some funds spent on the strategic sites local plan will have been wasted.

Correspondence between the Planning Inspectorate and the council concerning the strategic sites local plan can be found here.

Sorry Matt Thompson You Cant Count to 7 #GardenCities

Matt Thompson at CPRE Blog

Whether locally-led or not, Garden Cities, will make next to no difference to meeting housing need.

The most ambitious manifesto commitment to Garden Cities suggests up to 10 of them across the UK. Howard envisaged that Garden Cities would accommodate around 32,000 people – which in today’s money is about 12,500 homes – with the occasional larger ‘central’ Garden City of about 50-60,000 people (24,000 homes). Ten almost certainly highly controversial Garden Cities would give us an absolute maximum of 240,000 new homes across the UK.

Ok lets count then in Howards diagram below, 1 2 3, 4,5,6,7 Total population 250,000.  Not much different than Milton Keynes, or Stevenage and the cluster of new Towns and Garden Cities around it.  And thats at 12 to the acre, image we did the densities CPRE recommends like three times that.  10 proper ‘Scoial Cities’ at that density would produce 7.5 million homes.  Readers of this blog will know there are 10 such sites at least and they are pretty soft ones. It would meet Londons housing shortfall and overspill over the next 30 years and the rest of the countries to boot.

Try tellling any major emerging economy country now building 100s of new settlements that they are not capable of building enough houses because of a selective misreading of a 100 year old text they will fall about laughing.

So please less of this obscurantist Ken Shuttleworth math either distorting what Howard said or pretending that his estimates or diagrams are gospel to be discared if a narrow interpretation of them doesnt fit your world view.

Cambridge Joint Inspectors Want More City Fringe Green Belt Development – The Lesson

A letter from the joint inspectors on plans I was deeply involved with.  The plans had undertaken a Green Belt review and proposed small scale release.

A number of respondents have questioned the methodology employed in the Green Belt Review and we have found it difficult, in some cases, to understand how the assessment of ‘importance to Green Belt’ has been derived from the underlying assessments of importance to setting, character and separation. … Whatever the shortcomings of the Green Belt Review may be, the Councils accept that it does not take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development, as required by paragraph 85 of the National Planning Policy Framework. In response to our question on this point under Matter 6Aiii, the Councils indicated that this requirement had been taken into account in the wider evidence base across a range of documents. Following a further request the Councils provided a more detailed Note of where this information could be found. The Note provides more detailed references across a significant number of documents, but this kind of paper trail does not aid clear comprehension and we have found it difficult to understand how the various dimensions of sustainable development were assessed in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 85 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

The situation being is the assessment on certain key sites was deliberately fudged because cllrs considered there was too much development in the Trumpington Area (especially) already – lesson never ever do this you will always be found out.

It might be expected that such an exercise would be carried out through the SEA/SA process. However, larger releases of Green Belt land to meet development needs were rejected at an early stage in the process of sustainability appraisal. No further consideration was given to a number of proposals for development on the urban edge on the grounds that these could not be considered as reasonable alternatives. Bearing in mind the conclusions of the SDSR and the apparent shortcomings of the Green Belt Page 3 of 5 Review (see above) we have significant concerns regarding the robustness of the SEA/SA process.

Senior officers in both authorities undertook long and personal attacks on me simply for daring to suggest that reasonable alternatives should be considered.  How much money has this now wasted.

This is not to state that Green Belt release is easy around Cambridge or that most sites are not problematic in some way, but not even to consider some of the better ones?

The inspectors conclusion sums up the perversity of the Boles doctrine

if the Green Belt is to be protected, the plans should make it clear that the Sustainable Development Strategy will not be pursued beyond the completion of existing commitments and the very limited releases of Green Belt proposed through the Plans currently under examination.


Ok protect every inch of the Green Belt if you wish but dont pretend this is sustainable seems to be the conclusion.

To summarise, we are concerned that an apparent inconsistency between the SDSR and the Plans’ reliance on meeting development needs in new settlements may lead to a finding of unsoundness. Without further work we are not confident that we could recommend modifications to overcome these concerns.

They have an important finding on the NPPF issue of the affordability ‘boost’

There is no evidence before us that the Councils have carried out the kind of assessment of market signals envisaged in the Guidance; or considered whether an upward adjustment to planned housing numbers would be appropriate. It is not, in our view, adequate simply to express doubts as to whether such an upward adjustment would achieve an increase in the provision of affordable housing (which appeared to be the approach taken by the Councils at the hearing), or to suggest, as in the Councils’ Matter 3 Statement, that this could only be tackled across the HMA, rather than in individual districts. There should be clear evidence that the Councils have fully considered the implications and likely outcomes of an upward revision in housing numbers on the provision of affordable housing.

Of course you need a big boost to make a modest difference, but that does not mean it is wise to make no boost to not make a small difference.  It is always wise to add a couple of thousand to assuage inspectors on this point.

we consider that the best course of action would be for the Examinations to be suspended while the Councils revisit the sustainability appraisals so as to appraise all reasonable alternatives (including sites on the urban edge) to the same level as the preferred option, and to suggest modifications based on that work. For the avoidance of any doubt this letter should not be interpreted as an indication that further releases of Green Belt land would be necessary to ensure soundness.

This puts two options, land at Trumpington Meadows (a small site) and south of Cambridge (Great Shelford) in the frame, the other options are very landscape sensitive.  The political problem is the latter is almost entirely in South Cambs, and the landowner has presented a dreadful masterplan, but that should not stop the councils putting forward its own with rail and guided bus links. The new settlements in Cambridgeshire will take a long time to come online, and it is not acceptable for Cambridge to suffer some of the higehst house prices in the country when a soft fringe site exists which so happens to be Green Belt.

Oh No Niave Greg Clarke is back to Replace Pickles

At last we hoped we might get a new SoS to replace Big Eric, one focussed on solving the housing crisis rather than obsessing about flags, crown green bowls and teaching people how to cook curry.  One from a constituency that doesn’t have the highest proportion of Green Belt countryside in the country and so wouldnt simply spread sprawl everywhere else.   But arrrgh we get Greg Clarke.  How now are senior civil servants to explain to the architect of the NPPf what a total omnishambles it has been with local plans falling ever further out of date, fewer and fewer big sites being allocated and the necessary hard decisions about where to house the 2 million plus overspill from our big cities being kicked ever further into the long grass, with housebuilders racking up permissions and drip feeding completions.  Every prediction that Greg Clarke made about what impact the NPPF would have has been proven untrue, just read his parliamentary speeches.

Greg Clark is a proponent of a hippy dippy view of politics.  Where if everyone just loved each other and was nice that every problem in the world would be solved.  His Polyannesque view was that localism would solve everything and local would simply want to allocate more.  His naivety about the realities of countryside wars led Gus O Donnell counting the NPPF development as one of the three greatest policy development failures in his lifetime.  One can imagine his approach to Garden Cities ‘ oh please please locally lead on a Garden city’  ‘No’ ‘ Oh please please be nice, have a cup of tea’ ‘No let Boris build it’  ‘But we are only building half the houses in London we need, please please please, how about a few thousand’  “but minister we need Garden Cities of 100,000s in size to meet the 2 million shortfall’  ‘Ok how can we ne really nice to people to get them to say yes, a few quid for their parks and schools say’  ‘These local politicians need to get elected minister’ ‘Oh im sure a charm offensive will do wonders, invite them in for a confab on my sofa’

So at least 2 years I guess of total non progress on planning till we get a fresh face who can be detached and objective about what needs to be done.

The Woodcock Holdings Case – The Neighbourhood Plan Bait and Switch Gets a Deathblow

The Neighbourhood Plan Bait and Switch will no longer work given

  – and –  

The emarging Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common NP had set a housing cap, despite the OAN being disputed in the emerging local plan.  The court held that the issue of prematurity on whether the cap should be held until the EIP should not be the determining issue.

the Secretary of State did not assess whether the inclusion of any cap in draft policy H4 accorded with the NPPF, nor the strength of the objections made to the plan, particularly that policy’ (para .145)

  1. In my judgment, the policy in paragraph 216 of the NPPF should be read as a whole. It is not a policy which simply makes the trite point that decision-makers may give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans. Rather it is a policy that they may do so “according to” the three criteria or factors which follow. The policy clearly stipulates that the three criteria are relevant in each case. Of course, when dealing with a particular planning proposal it may be the case that the relevant policies in a draft plan have not attracted any objections and so it would not be necessary to consider the second criterion beyond that initial stage. But plainly the second criterion is material in each case in order to ascertain whether a relevant draft policy has attracted any objections and if so, their nature, before going on to make an assessment of the significance of any such objections….It follows that if the Secretary of State had applied the second and third criteria in paragraph 216 of the NPPF, he was obliged to give reasons explaining how he had done so and resolved important planning issues raised by the parties. He did not give any such reasoning in the decision letter.

This is critically important.  Of course in so far as material the decision maker can give any weight to a material consideration they wish, but now they cant simply dismiss objecions to an emerging plan, they must assess them in determining the weight to give to the emerging plan.

Millibands ‘Policy Tombstone’ requires Listed Building Consent – another Total Policy Fuckwit idea #Edstone

Really sometimes you could not make it up


Ed Miliband suffered his “Neil Kinnock moment” on Sunday, opponents said, after pledging to install an eight-foot limestone monument [A better plan a better future] to his manifesto in the Downing Street garden.

Labour descended into infighting over who was responsible for the eight-foot-six limestone monolith engraved with six election pledges.

Mr Miliband unveiled the edifice in Hastings on Saturday to show his vows would be “carved in stone”.

…critics dubbed it a “policy cenotaph” and “the heaviest suicide note in history”, and likened it to the stone tablets carried by Moses.

…Government sources pointed out that Downing Street is a Grade One listed building, and the smallest alterations to the exterior require planning permission from Tory-controlled Westminster City Council.

However, if Mr Miliband appealed the decision, it could ultimately be decided by the Secretary of State – likely to be Hilary Benn. “He wouldn’t last very long if he said no,” said a council source.

It would be likely to fall foul of the Ministerial Code, which bans the use of government buildings for the “dissemination of material which is essentially party political”, sources said.

Labour sources were swift to point the finger at Torsten Henricson-Bell, Mr Miliband’s 32-year-old director of policy.

And who is this fuckwit Torsten Henricson-Bell?  How anyone could be more of a total policy fuckwit than Alex Marsh strains credibility, as does the fact that our party leaders employ total policy fuckwits, who would not last 5 minutes in local government, at the highest possible levels, is a mystery.  But that is the tragedy of our time.  Policy is now set by total policy fuckwits.  Torsten is described as ‘terribly bright but totally devoid of any politics’  and described as ‘Gaffe Prone’ , He never tires of telling us how ferociously clever he is,’ says one insider’, in other words a perfect total policy fuckwit – designed to engineer initiatives designed to sink like a stone in the lake of reality.  Of course all of Eds many enemies said nothing when this idea was floated passed the, it gave them a perfect stone to lash to Ed and Torstens careers after the election, especially after Torsten had planted many bad ideas and blamed John Cruddas and others for them – revenge is so sweet.

Where do total policy fuckwits spawn from?  Without real they are former spads, sometimes graduating from dumbtanks who have never had the burden of designing and implementing policy in a proper job.  For the total policy fuckwit policy is an intellectual wheeze designed for temporary polictical leverage at the small minority of floating voters rather than in the public good.  They are the enemies of public services and the chief architects of policy trainwrecks.  They are a growing breed, politics spawns them as being a total policy fuckwit is seen as being teh best way of getting in with senior party figures and swinging a safe seat.  Sadly total policy fuckwits oftem fail to get any seat because they are universally seen as total policy fuckwits.  Prominent total policy fuckwits are Sheridan Westlake (SPAD to Eric Pickles), Torsten Henricson-Bell, Alex Marsh (Downing street Housing ‘expert’ cough cough),  former Gove ideologue Dominic Cummings, Tom Shinnor, former Giove Special advisor disgracefuly appointed to DE director of strategyu despite having almost no experience, and the uber overpaid Clegg Spad (of 21) Ryan Coetzee.   Of course SPAD also stands for ‘signals passed at danger’ and the total policy fuckwit is so enamoured of their superior intelligence they pass them without seeing the signs flashing red.