Economist – Osborne’s Productivity Plan Needs Building on Green Belt to Work


Britain is crying out for new homes. The country needs to add about 250,000 per year to satisfy demand; in 2014 it built probably 150,000. As part of a 15-point “productivity plan”, on July 10th George Osborne, the chancellor, announced big changes to planning regulations, in a bid to stimulate housebuilding. A much-hyped “zonal” system will grant automatic planning permission on suitable brownfield sites, a policy borrowed from American cities. Londoners will be able to add extra storeys onto their houses up to the height of adjoining buildings. Around transport hubs the government will cajole local planning bodies into building high-density housing (it isn’t clear how)….

Mr Osborne also wants to give central government the power to force through planning applications when local authorities dawdle. Councils that fail to make decisions “on time”—which probably means within 13 weeks—will suffer penalties. (The delays are partly a problem of the chancellor’s creation: local councils’ spending per person has been cut by 20% in real terms in the past five years.)

To understand how all this could boost productivity, consider the geography of the job market. London is by far the most productive part of the country, thanks to its clusters of finance, technology and nerds. Since the recession Britain has created 2m jobs, one-third of them in the capital. London could create more still, but its lack of housing hems it in. The average house there now costs £370,000 ($577,000), nearly double the national average; in some boroughs the ratio of prices to earnings exceeds 20:1. Soaring demand has met stagnant supply. In the past decade the number of homes in London has grown by just 9%.

Workers are cramming in more tightly. The average number of people per dwelling in London has risen from 2.3 to 2.5 in the past decade (see map). Others are moving out of London, taking jobs in less productive places or wasting time on marathon commutes. From 2005 to 2014 the number of people commuting into the capital rose by 32%. One paper published in 2010 found that absenteeism among German workers would be 15-20% lower if they did not commute. If it were somehow possible to scrap commuting altogether, British workers would see a productivity boost worth about £12 billion a year, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a research group

there is no guarantee that relaxing planning laws will produce a long-term increase in the rate of housebuilding, argues Neal Hudson of Savills, an estate agent. For years land has been an appreciating asset; as a result many landowners’ price expectations are firmly set. There are limited incentives for them to sell at a faster rate, since that might lower the price they can get. They will be particularly unhurried where land is already generating income through other uses. Moreover, building firms are not in the best shape. Having cut back during the financial crisis, they may struggle to ramp up production.

Most ominous of all is Mr Osborne’s promise to exploit brownfield land but “keep on protecting” the green belt, the rings of development-free land (much of it not particularly green) around cities. Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP), a planning consultancy, suggests that just 1m homes could fit into existing brownfield sites. That is nowhere near enough: more than 3m extra houses will be required in just the next 15 years, NLP reckons. And brownfield sites tend not to be located where demand for housing is high, meaning that the productivity-boosting effects of redeveloping it are limited. Paul Cheshire of the London School of Economics points out that there is enough green-belt land in Greater London alone to build 1.6m houses at average densities. Few politicians want to bulldoze the green belt. But if housing supply is to increase, and with it productivity, that may have to change.

How The Donald Trump Blowhard Local Plan Speed Up Will Slow Down their Adoption

The Demoines Register has published one of the all time great political editorials.

Trump should pull the plug on his bloviating side show

Blovating is to make a blowhard meaningless speech – particularly associated with Ohio Politics ‘.

President Warren Harding Described it as “the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing”.

An art that seems to have been mastered by DCLG ministers making speeches about planning or housing.

The is especially true of the follow up to the productivity plan on speeding up local plans – Written Statement – and many other similar ‘get your finger out’ speeches and announcements on the same subject.  Lots of biovation, lots of huffing and puffing and in the end nothing of substance and little new.

Whist the productivity plan talked of cutting down red tape and making plans shorter all the statement does is repeat references to guidance etc. that has been made many times before.

Are local plans to be statutory – no.  Ministers simply plan to use existing on the statute intervention powers unless submitted by ‘early 2017’  – will there be a single LPA that wont submit however bad or unsound a local plan by that date to avoid intervention?  Of course not its meaningless blowhard.

As structured the ‘reform’ is likely like an endless other series of misconceived ‘reforms’ to perversely slow things down.  Bad submissions always do.

The only other new thing in the statement is poorly thought through

We recognise that those councils who produce a Local Plan have committed considerable resources, as have others contributing to its development. They should be able to rely on Planning Inspectors to support them in the examination process. I have made it clear to the Planning Inspectorate that this support must be provided. In particular, Inspectors should be highlighting significant issues at an early enough a stage to give councils a full opportunity to respond. As we have made clear in planning guidance a commitment to an early review of a Local Plan may be appropriate as a way of ensuring that a Local Plan is not unnecessarily delayed by seeking to resolve matters which are not critical to the plan’s soundness or legal competence as a whole. The Planning Advisory Service has published a note on where Local Plans have been found sound, subject to early review, which local authorities should consider.

But submission is at the end of the process, if you have a good plan, of not it can be the beginning.  If as is hinted at teh six moth maximum delay is to be extended then we will have perma-examinations like the 2 1/2 year West Berks examination – and of course inspector legal scope on allowing for early review is limited – as the complex variation in practice on this point as inspectors have been faced with differing circumstances leading to different conclusions is made clear in the PINS note. Early review is not an option to the hold out we won’t cooperate councils who propose deliberately low numbers – in these cases inspectors have no legal scope to approve an unsound plan that might one day be made sound and in such casees there is not a single example of an inspector allowing such.

Ill considered submission of bad plans, perma-examinations, adoiption of dodgy plans that one day might be acceptable.  You really couldnt make up a dafter statement designed – as ever – to blow up in the Ominshambles DCLG face in a year or two.  When will they get a grip.

First Chink in London’s Inner Green Belt as Havering propose to delete 46 sites

If you must do this surely it makes more sense to delete a few larger more accesible sites according to a strategy rather than a scattegun approah.


Hornchurch Life

To reflect changes in the government’s London Plan and the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework the council is preparing a new Havering Local Plan.

Part of this new plan involves a list of previous green belt sites that may have there status removed. Havering’s website advises that this is still in the planning stages and the sites may change, for a full and up to date list please look at the Havering Local Plan site

Here is a list of sites in or around Havering:

Site Number
Site Location and Size
Potential Propose use(s)


Land of Wingletye Lane (Land at Lillyputts Farm) 2.7h


Land to the east of Heath Drive and to the south of Eastern Avenue East, Gidea Park, Romford 2.9h


Manor Fields, Rainham (land to the east and west of Berwick Ponds Road) 30h
Mineral Extraction/reclamation and restoration back to agriculture


Land to the north of Squirrels Heath Road (to the east of Archibald Road) 1.18h
Open space and parkland


Land to the south of Squirrels Heath Road (to the East of Brinsmead Road) 1.3h
Residential and open space and parkland


Land at Hill Farm, Noak Hill, Church Road 68.3h
Residential and employment


Upminster Garden Centre, Nags Head Lane 3.52h
Residential, retail, office, leisure, warehousing, industrial, cultural and community


South Hall Farm, Wennington Road, Rainham 12h
Residential and Leisure


Berwick Ponds Farm, Berwick Ponds Road, Rainham 11.2h
Residential and Leisure


Great Sunnings Farm, Sunnings Lane, Upminster 12.5h
Residential and Leisure


Havering College of Further and Higher Education Quarles Campus, Tring Gardens, Harold Hill 3.8h
Residential and Leisure


Land between the A12 and Romford Golf Club, Romford 3.5h
Residential, education and employment


Land west of Upper Rainham Road, Hornchurch (north and south of Maylands Health Care Centre 0.25h


Land to the east of Doriston, Cranham, Upminster (north of Brookmans park drive and south of Southend Arterial Road) 0.51h


Plot 231, Prospect Road, Harold Wood 0.03h


Land at Copthorne Gardens, Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch 1.55h


Land east of Moor Lane, North of Moor Lane Church, Cranham, Upminster 2.27h
Mixed use, residential and cultural and community


Land Adjacent to no. 2 Redbrick Cottages, Warwick Lane, Rainham 0.06h


Land at Wood Lane, Rush Green (Training Facility) 11h


Land to the east of North Road, Havering-atte-Bower 5.5h


Orange Tree Farm, Orange Tree Hill, Havering-atte-Bower 0.45h
Leisure, residential and cultural community


Land East and South of Orange Tree Hill, Havering-atte-Bower 46.82h
Leisure and cultural and community


Land between 194 and 196 Hall Lane, Upminster 0.28h


Little Paddocks Farm, Shepherds Hill, Harold Wood 33.5h
Residential, leisure, cultural and community, and public open space


Land at Lincoln Close and north of Hubbards Close, Hornchurch 2.2h


Land to the East of Wingletye Lane , Hornchurch (Surrounding Lillyputts Farm) 48.9h


Land to the North of New Road, Rainham (south of the Ingrebourne River) 22h
Mixed use, residential, park and green space 50% Park and Green Space 4 Site Number Site Location Site Size Potential Proposed use(s)


Land at Lillyputts Farm, Hornchurch, (to the east of Elliot Playing Fields) 4.7h


Chapmans Farm (Site 1), Upminster ( to the south of Southend Arterial Road and west of Hall Lane) 28.3h


Chapmans Farm (Site 2), Upminster (land to the south of Southend Arterial Road and East of West Hall Lane and land to the north of Southend Arterial Road and east and west of Hall Lane) 16.5h


Chapmans Farm (site 3), Upminster (land to the north and south of Southend Artierial Road and east and west of Bird Lane and Tomkyns Lane 21.4h


Land north of Ockendon Road, Upminster (Adjacent to Redcrofts Farm) 4.97h


Gaynesborough, Little Gaynes Lane, Upminster 0.73h
Continued Residential


Land between Collier Row Road and Hog Hill Road, Collier Row, Romford 1.8h


Land at Gobions Farm, Collier Row Road, Romford 1.3h


Land between London Road and A12, Mawneys, Romford, 34h
Leisure, residential


Land between Marlborough Road and A12, Mawneys, Romford 12h


Cardrome, Upper Rainham, Hornchurch, 4.85h


Land at Bush Farm, Corbets Tey, Upminster 79.74h
Residential, education and community facilities


Land at Mardyke Farm, South Hornchurch 37h


Land between 306 and 312 Wennington Road, Rainham 0.04h


Land to the North of Brookmans Park Drive, Upminster 1h


Land at Park Farm & Meadow Farm, Eastern Avenue East, Romford 5h


Land on the West side of Risebridge Chase, Romford 4.5h


Land adjacent to Ivy Holt, North Road, Havering Atte Bower 0.06h


Land at North Road, Havering Atte Bower 1h


Greg Clark refuses a Scheme for Harm to Green Belt even though It must be Taken Out of the Green Belt

This one will run and run in the courts.

Today on redetermination following a court judgement Greg Clark refused an incinerator scheme in Grant Shapp’s constituency for harm to the Green Belt even though the local planning authority when it submits its local plan will have to take the site out of the Green Belt for it to be sound (conformity to a waste local plan) bending logic past and beyond the point where its snaps.

The case is out of date before it was even published as this line of argument is rendered totally untenable by the recent Stroud Incinerator court judgement.

That decision would have been before it landed in Greg Clark’s box – but in not checking before it was put in the post the DCLG has wasted around 100k in unnecessary court costs.

A Planning Book Perfect for George Osborne

Sadly we have to explain the most basic purpose of planning.  This book is perfect for Gideon, send him a copy


Where Things Are From Near to Far

 A Children’s Book About Planning

by Tim Halbur and Chris Steins

While playing in the city park, little Hugo wonders, “Who put these buildings here?” Hugo’s mother leads him on a whirlwind trip through the city, the country, and everything in-between to explain the answer. This engaging book is an easy introduction to the world of urban planning, and illustrates that “every building has its place.”

About the Book

The book is based on the urban-to-rural transect, which divides cities into six different zones ranging from rural countryside to dense skyscrapers. The transect is a great way to look at the building blocks of a city, and to start thinking about how all the pieces of a city get planned in relation to one another. The urban transect was originally created by Andrés Duany, a Miami architect.

Every day, city planners help shape our cities and towns — making streets safe for pedestrians, improving building designs so they meet the needs of citizens, improving traffic flow, creating bike paths and city parks, and preserving historic buildings. This book is a tribute to the work that they do in hopes that kids will learn more about this fascinating career at an early age.

This fun to read, 22-page, full-color, 6″x9″ hardcover book was written by Planetizen Managing Editor Tim Halbur and Editor Chris Steins, and features hand-colored illustrations by artist David Ryan. The book was inspired by Steins’ desire for a book to introduce planning to his twin three-year-old boys.

Sorry but the Blanket Ban on Fracking in SSSIs was Irrational and Had to Go

I don’t like fracking.  I don’t like the lobbying tactics of fracking companies and the way they distort the evidence on climate change.  I particularly dislike Osborne’s slathering support for it.  Yet here I am strongly arguing that the blanket ban on fracking under SSSIs, introduced in a panic by the government last year, has to go.  The announcement of its repeal has led to sequels of ‘betrayal‘.

Almost nothing in the UK has a blanket ban.  They are always evidence based tests and exception where the the evidence to protect is weak and the evidence to develop is strong.  That even goes for National Parks and Green Belts.  Except of course where the discretionary nature of  such decisions is undermined by knee jerk primary legislation.  There are great advantages in certainty over planning, but where the impact of certain developments cant be fully known in advance and is highly development and site specific, such as with windfarms, incinerators and fracking rigs there is advantages in making a decision following a full and objective environmental assessment.

Yes many developments will be unpopular.  They will give you a pain in the stomach approving them.  Particularly for local politicians.  But planning is often about deciding where unpopular uses have to go where national policy is in their favour.  The alternatives to an objective evidence based system is one based on cronyism, corruption, favoritism, fashion or dictat.  I would much rather have a system where an inspector hears evidence and sometimes makes a locally unpopular decision than one where decisions are based on whom a minister is sharing a Jacuzzi with – the system prevalent sadly in most of the world. Where this happens the cumulative impact of bad decisions is horrific, and if you want a planning system where things are so slow and clogged up that no hard objective decisions are ever made go to Rome and watch the litter in the streets, the horrible suburbs and the Romany camps along the Tiber and wonder why such places regularly voted to have such a terrible quality of life.

When it comes to unpopular uses planning often stands in for national policy. Don’t use local planning impacts as a surrogate for when you dislike national energy policy.    Dont like energy policy on solar farms/fracking rigs/windfarms, its so much easier to use local impacts as a surrogate and urge refusal whatever the evidence on those local impacts.  If that happens often governments of any com,lexion will simply strip local planning decisions makers of powers over local energy applications.

We don’t have undeground SSSIs we have terrestrial ones.  The impact is on water, water flows for miles from deep underground.  Whether a rig is precisely over an SSSI or not has little to do with whether it will harm the SSSI.  If the impact on water is harmful it will harm wherever the water flows, if not not.  So it is the evidence on water that matters not vertical propinquity.  You might as well ban all flying over SSSIs simply because it crosses an at grade line on a plan.  This is a malefaction on a map only not a planning impact.  There is no rational defense to an outright ban.  What its defenders are saying is whatever the evidence we should allow them.  If you think the risks are high then ban them altogether and be done with it.  If you think the risks should be assessed and be based on evidence then let them, be assessed and make a rational choice.

If you disagree with me please supply an argument that doesnt equate to fracking should be banned everywhere.  I might agree wit you but so long as it isnt we have to make decisions and you have no logical case.

Building Design – Localism Has Failed – Osborne Right to Take Powers Back

BD  Amanda Baillieu

what really matters is Osborne’s two-fold message.

First, that localism is failing a younger generation who can’t get on the housing ladder and, second, he’s had enough of our selfish ways.

We are the problem – not planners, banks, overseas investors buying off-plan or housebuilders hoarding land, but all of us who have somewhere decent to live and choose to deny that right to anyone less fortunate.

And it’s no longer just NIMBYs in their Gloucestershire villages who are stamping their green wellies in protest; it’s people in Havering and Hampstead as well who have taken advantage of localism’s improvisational nature to say “no”.

But this was not how it was supposed to be.

The Localism Act gave people power to decide about new development in their area with the proviso it would only be allowed if they voted for it.

While “neighbourhood plans” are not perfect – they are too complicated and have proved expensive to implement – they gave people a chance to say what they thought development should look like and where they wanted it.

To date, only 35 plans have been adopted (one in London) and they are almost all concerned with hyper-local issues, like parking and the design of traffic junctions, rather than the bigger picture.

Local plans have fared no better. More that half of all district councils lack an up-to-date local plan, not because they’re under-resourced and being bullied by housebuilders, as the TCPA would have us believe, but because a local plan would mean councils having to take their fair share of the total UK housing need, which they clearly don’t want to do.

Many of these councils are Conservative-led and what’s so exciting about Osborne’s proposals is that he’s taking on these recalcitrant Tory councils and telling that they’re out of time.

He’s also called time on his party which always has a tricky balancing act in the run-up to an election, with the last one no different.

In the first three months of this year Eric Pickles, then communities secretary, granted only 10% of called-in applications, blocking the development of 9,200 homes in Conservative-controlled areas. But in the three years prior to that he granted more than 70% of similar applications. Of course elections slow things down but such politically motivated decisions leave a bad taste in the mouth when people are desperate for somewhere to live.

And then there’s the time it all takes. Not just for planning but also to unlock sites in public ownership, which is another power Osborne has wrestled away because, left to their own devices, councils wouldn’t do it themselves.

Localism was a way around that, cutting red tape, transferring power to the local level and changing the way development took place. But it has failed. We were handed the reins, but it turns out we didn’t want them so Osborne has taken them back.

Varoufakis is Wrong – Once an Electronic Drachma is Created The Market Will Quickly Supply the Currency

Guardian – one of the very few things Yanis has said I will disagree with

Exiting a common currency is nothing like severing a peg, as Britain did in 1992, when Norman Lamont famously sang in the shower the morning sterling quit the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM). Alas, Greece does not have a currency whose peg with the euro can be cut. It has the euro – a foreign currency fully administered by a creditor inimical to restructuring our nation’s unsustainable debt.

To exit, we would have to create a new currency from scratch. In occupied Iraq, the introduction of new paper money took almost a year, 20 or so Boeing 747s, the mobilisation of the US military’s might, three printing firms and hundreds of trucks. In the absence of such support, Grexit would be the equivalent of announcing a large devaluation more than 18 months in advance: a recipe for liquidating all Greek capital stock and transferring it abroad by any means available.

Yanis is quite right to emphasize the difference between ending a currency as for example Argentina did against the Dollar, and creating a new currency from scratch.  However he seems to think that no transfers can take place until the physical currency is in circulation, as if it is the currency itself which is what what has value.  However cash is simply a contractual IOU, a note of assets and liabilities, a note of a debt.  I will you with whatever backs the note – in modern currency terms the work done to produce goods and services to pay the taxes that balance exactly the government spending that brings currency into circulation, and ensures that the IOU retains its value.

Providing the public can pay its taxes don’t need physical currency.  For those that cant or wont use electronic payments – like some pensioners and those without bank accounts – the market has found a solution.  You can buy in almost any country the world electronic payment cards preloaded with electronic currency.  We know that Visa has already set up its systems to allow for a new Greek only Euro.  This would be bound to trade at discount becoming a new Dracma for reasons I have explained.  Therefore as soon as any Greek Government is forced to create electronic currency to jointly provide liquidity to its banks and pay wages the market within days would be issuing such cards.  Print on them the domination stored and don’t allow change except in other smaller cards – how is that any different from cash?  Hence you don’t need any more a fleet of Jumbos to create a currency – just state electronic payments and the market will swiftly supply it.