Warwickshire – Faking the Duty to Cooperate and Breaching European Law

I find it very nteresting that the MoU for Warwickshire has been subject to SEA – so its a strategy then err no…

Is there a joint Spatial Strategy for Coventry and Warwickshire? No. The merits of different spatial approaches have been assessed and are set out in appendix 3. However this does not form part of the MoU and it has been an important principle underpinning the preparation of the MoU that the “sovereignty” of each Council to prepare a local plan according to a locally derived spatial strategy must be adhered to. The MoU therefore sets out the quantum of housing to be delivered by each authority, but does not constrain the spatial strategy to provide this housing.

So having appraised they state this does not form part of the MoU”’not for a minute lawful as this contravenes article’s 8 & 9 2001/42/EC as the MoU says its findings ‘does not form part of the MoU.

So we have a non strategy that sets out a distribution of land uses without any coherence i terms of connectivity which the SEA says is crucial to ensuring sustainability.  Given the massive overspill both from Brum and Coventry this is a crazy, chaotic and unlawful way to deliberately not do strategic planning and to fake the duty to cooperate.

Pumped up Commodity Collateral Has Masked Lack of Liquidity in Fragile Emerging Markets


the IMF said market liquidity, or the ease with which investors can quickly buy or sell securities without shifting their price, was “prone to sudden evaporation”, particularly in bond markets, when the Federal Reserve started to raise interest rates.

It said a steady growth environment and “extraordinarily accommodative monetary policies” around the world had helped to maintain a “high level” of liquidity. However, it warned that this was not the same as “resilient” liquidity that could support markets in time of stress.

How can this fragility have arisen?

Of course QE has not added to global liquidity as it has been an asset swap.  Those assets were swapped for reserves however and some spilled over as excess reserves and in liquid form – they were more liquid in the hierarchy of money.  In the absence of explicit fiscal expansion companies needed to leverage this relatively narrow liquidity expansion to assuage their need to acquire safe assets.  This leverage is a function of principal and collateral.  By spending excess reserves on  commodities, often in emerging markets and puffed up by Chinese demand, they were able to leverage lending to purchase bonds – ‘safe assets’.  Hence a narrow expansion of liquidity is expanded many fold through complex collateral chains on bank lending.  The most notorious examples being the rolls of copper in Qindao port used many times to back loans.  Hence the failure to expand properly the money supply after the financial crisis stole the potential for the next one.

Margin calls are now forcing commodity traders to liquidate commodities, which will send the prices down and reduce the value of collateral.  Many companies may be technically insolvent in ‘mark to market’ terms.  If lenders panic it could trigger a balence sheet recession.

The Next London Mayor Must Get Serious on Londons Capacity

Zac Goldsmith in the Telegraph

We need to ramp up our efforts to meet these housing challenges. And to do that, we need to consider planning, land and finance. Planning is a political problem, solved by a mayor working with local authorities.

There is no shortage of land. For one thing, a large portion of the Fifties and Sixties housing estates in London are reaching the end of their lives. There are 3,500 such estates in the capital: if only a fraction were redeveloped to produce low-rise, high-density streetscapes we would generate enough new housing to cater for our needs for many years. It would take time, and existing communities would need to be thoroughly on-board and protected.

But that’s just a start. The Mayor and Government have launched a land commission for London, to identify all publicly owned brownfield land. It is expected to uncover vast swaths of the capital that could be developed. We know, for example, that Transport for London alone owns the equivalent of 16 Hyde Parks.

Of course everyone says there is ‘more then enough’ bownfield land ‘ if only we can unlock it’ – the ability to get serious about unlocking it is a mark of whether you want to solve the housing crisis or merely make it worse by postponing tough decisions.

Take the Land Commission – the government should have been doing this for years through the National Land Use Database, and the fact that land is publicly owned does not mean it is suitable, available or viable.  Take the Tfl landholding, few public bodies are doing more to sweat their estate.  Their is no magical hidden capacity here just tracks, depots sidings and stations in the main.  Like everyone else who studies it there is capacity there but not enough.

More promising is the post war estates.  Again when studied in detail they will dissappoint.  These are mostly wartime bomb sites and so small other than in the carpet bombed areas of south central and East London.   To redevelop areas of four storey housing you’ll be looking at 9-12 stormy development to be viable and probably 15 if you have to include sub basement parking to accommodate the extra units.  Hardly ‘low rise’  those Boroughs that are trying to do this, like Lambeth with the Cottomore Estate, are facing massive political opposition and charges of social clensing.  Without a massively publicly subsidise and centrally government subsidised bulldozer this will only at best deliver a few thousand extra units, and in the short run demolition driven strategies reduce capacity.

It is deeply dissappointing that London unlike every other major city in the UK is not having a mature and evidence driven debate about how much its housing need is and how much of it will overspill.  Largely because the Mayor of London is unique in not being bound by the discipline of a binding inspectors report requiring their plan to be sound.  When the new Mayor produces their revised London plan I expect to see a costed, programmed and outlines on a map programme for which sites are to be redeveloped at higher densities and where.  If not hes or she will just be adding to London’s housing backlog.

Clark in Historic U Turn over War with Housing Associations

Over the summer the government – and in particular George Osborne – has been gearing up for a fight with housing associations over the right to buy.  The government even seemed ready to take HA debt into the public sector and be ready to sell off high value social housing to fund the scheme.  There were numerous briefings to the Times about how inefficient housing assocations were.  It seemed they were being set up to have their assets confiscated.

Yet for a government that wants to build homes kiasboshing the sector capable of filling the gap between private sector house building and need seemed odd.  Instead the state would have to set up and subsidise an entire new third sector.  It was crazy.

And so the government has realized in now accepting the alternative plan proposed by David Orr of the Nat Fed.

In his speech yesterday to the Nat Fed Greg Clark set a target of one million new homes over 5 years.  He then candidly set out the policy choice.

I’ll be completely candid, there are some who say that to achieve the transformation we need requires a fresh start – that the housing association sector has taken us so far but might not be the right partner for the future.

That the energy and appetite for rapid and creative development is not what it was. That in truth the sector’s heart is in developing properties for rent, and little zeal for developing homes for home ownership.

That a once insurgent movement has become staid – with development too low and executive salaries too high.

That for the transformation in housing we seek we should look elsewhere. To councils through the devolution agenda, to private developers, to our own agencies in government and to new entities.

But there is another view: that this is a sector that has scored big successes over many years. That can be agile and adaptable to the changing opportunities and requirements of our nation. A sector that has always been respectful of the mandate of that successive governments have had.

That deep in the DNA of this sector is an instinct to empower and give opportunities to people, going beyond the strict business of building and renting out homes. And that the devolution agenda, putting local communities in the driving seat is an unmissable opportunity for associations who know their communities inside out often better than most other people in those communities.

A view that this is a sector which is a standing army of expertise, motivation and experience, capable of building hundreds of thousands of new homes that our country so desperately needs.

So two contrasting views: Be content with the achievements of the past – or look to build and to own a new future.

And the choice between them will determine the very future of the housing association movement.

My unambiguos opinion is that this sector’s future lies with the second option.

The Orr plan now makes HA right to buy ‘voluntary’ with the same kind of restrictions (such as in rural areas) as council house RTB.  There will be a ‘1 for 1’ replacement policy (yeah right) with gap funding so they get built sooner (acknowledging 1 for 1 wasnt working).

The government has backed away from a fight which would onl;y have seen less homes built, but you also get the sense that an historic opportunity to rebuild a third sector capable of building 1 million new homes over 5 years has been missed.  The target has been announced but the policy only applies to replacement homes, there is no policy announcements on how we will bridge the current gap between private sector buildings and the 250.000 annum need.

Telegraph worried war on countryside to recommence


Campaigners fear government plans to streamline planning rules will herald a “war” on rural areas and blight the countryside with new buildings.

Brandon Lewis, the planning minister, has hired an eight strong team to “slash” the amount of time it takes for councils to set up local plans which set out where building can take place.

But half of the group have backgrounds which have involved with the construction of more homes and other buildings, prompting fears that the needs of developers will be put first.

John Howell MP – the architect of the Tory policy which underlies the new National Planning Policy Framework – is also on board as well as a former senior planning inspector.

Other members include John Rhodes, a planning consultant, Adrian Penfold, the head of planning at developers British Land, and Richard Harwood, a senior barrister who specialises in planning

Liz Peace, the former chief executive of the British Property Federation, was one of the leading cheerleaders for the planning reforms, which were introduced in March 2012 with a bias in favour of development.

The announcement of the new panel led to online exchanges between Mr Lewis and Shaun Spiers, the chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Mr Spiers told the minister on Twitter that it was “another developer-led panel on planning, without environment or community representation”. The outcome would be “depressingly predictable”, he said.

Mr Lewis defended the group saying that “their first-class advice will help councils push on and deliver the homes and infrastructure that their communities need”.

Councils are duty bound to publish five year housing plans in local development plans but only two thirds of local authorities in England have done so.

Earlier this year ministers raised the prospect forcing councils which have not set up local plans to accept housing quotas.

Mr Spiers told The Telegraph last night: “Everyone wants local authorities to get plans in place, to strengthen the economy and get houses built.

“But planning is also about the communities and places we love. Reconciling our different aspirations makes planning complex and deeply political. Assembling a bunch of developers and politicians to streamline the process won’t work. We’ve been down that path before.

“If the government is going to get the development it wants, it will have to win people’s consent. And to win that consent, it will have to show it is listening and wants to safeguard the countryside and the wider environment.

“Brandon Lewis has been a good listener, and I hope the composition of this panel, without any voice for the environment or local communities, does not signal the return of the war on planning.”

Councils have until early 2017 to produce local plans before ministers will intervene and arrange for one to be written. In cases where no Local Plan has been produced the Government will intervene to arrange for one to be written, in consultation with local people.

Mr Lewis said: “Our planning reforms have caught the imagination of communities across the country, allowing them to bring forward developments that are a real benefit to local people.

“However, while many have seized this opportunity, it’s fair to say the process of getting Local Plans in place can sometimes be lengthy and complicated.

“That’s why we’ve brought together this panel of experts to help look at ways to streamline the process. Their first-class advice will help councils push on and deliver the homes and infrastructure that their communities need.”

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The Local Plans panel comprises experts from a range of backgrounds.

“In addition, because plan-making involves a wide range of considerations, the panel can call on other experts as they see fit.

“Local plans are all about giving power to the people and the panel will make sure that happens more efficiently while maintaining strong protections for the Green Belt”.

Scotland’s Panel to Review Planning Legislation is Designed to Fail and Will

If you were to structure a review of a planning system that has been designed by civil serpents to fail you could not do better than what is currently happening in Scotland. where the planning minister has set up a ‘game changing’ review panel of three without any planners on it, a quangocrate, a developer and a planning aid rep instead.

There have been calls from both sides for reform.  From developers looking jealously at the more developers led system in England, and community groups proposing a radical community led (and anto development) agenda they think devolution now enables.  Both of course would be a disaster.

If civil servants wanted reform they would have appointed a serious panel that was independent of axe grinding stakeholders rather comprised of independent international experts and legal experts with a clear research and evidence gathering agenda, also bringing in systems and public sector performance expertese to streamline buerarcy.  Rather this is a panbel in classic Royal Commission split the difference we cant decide what to do style.  It is a joke.  The RTPI Scotland ism right to cry fowl and shpuld boycott the whole process.

No Architectural Tweaks without Strategic Urban Design Won’t Solve London’s Housing Crisis

This week New London Architecture has launched 100 design ideas for meeting London’s Housing Crisis.  Meanwhile Savills & London First has launched a report on increasing density in London.

Both labour under a fallacy.  Designers everyday of the week are coming up with ideas to increase density and build more housing.  But each is a drop in the ocean and London’s housing gap keeps getting bigger and bigger.  The fallacy is one of com position.  Every rooftop could be built on. every social housing estate redeveloped etc.  But each of these has a cost and to universalize them would require massive state spending and massive state interference with property rights, as well as an unfeasible number of compulsory purchase lawyers and court dates to take up the 100s of thousands of affected property rights.  If it was going to happen it already would have, and already is happening to the maximum extent given current resources.

If you want to show extra capacity you need to show strategic design solutions that are deliverable, on sites that are suitable and viable.  If you cant show this then its fantasy stuff.  Continuing to peddle such thinking is institutionalizing the problem, a lack of strategic planning to effect change that will deliver new units in suitable numbers, thinking a quick design fix here and thee will solve the problem.  It wont we have tried that and had 40 years of failure.  So lets try something else we know works in every growing city in the world, large scale new housing zoning and delivery – there is no other answer.


Its PAG II – They are the Main Cause of Slow Local Plans – So Why let them Wreck them Further?

Oh No John Rhodes and John Howells MP are back 

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis today (15 September 2015) launched a new group of experts to help streamline the local plan-making process.

The 8-strong panel will consider how it can be simplified with the aim of slashing the amount of time it takes for local authorities to get them in place.

This will provide greater certainty to communities regarding plans for new homes and infrastructure in their area, while speeding up the planning process so developers can get on site quicker.

Members include:

  • Chair John Rhodes of planning consultants Quod
  • Adrian Penfold from developers British Land
  • Richard Harwood QC from legal firm 39 Essex Chambers
  • Councillor Toby Elliott from Swindon Borough Council
  • Keith Holland, a retired Senior Planning Inspector
  • Liz Peace, formerly of the British Property Federation
  • John Howell MP, member for Henley
  • Derek Stebbing, Local Authority Plans Manager for Chelmsford City Council

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said:

Our planning reforms have caught the imagination of communities across the country, allowing them to bring forward developments that are a real benefit to local people.

However, while many have seized this opportunity, it’s fair to say the process of getting Local Plans in place can sometimes be lengthy and complicated.

That’s why we’ve brought together this panel of experts to help look at ways to streamline the process. Their first-class advice will help councils push on and deliver the homes and infrastructure that their communities need.

So lets get this clear

  • The NPPF with its ‘build what you like where you like’ mantra gave a huge incentive for developers and landowners to throw the book at emerging plans because you no longer get a presumption in favour on non allocated sites.
  • The NPPF system in abolishing regional plans provided no clear framework for allocating overspill need, enormously slowing down plans due to duty to cooperate challenges

Lets look at the evidence.  The rate of plan adoption has dramatically slowed down since teh NPPF is in place.  Now plans even adopted are getting outof date more quickly than new plans meeting need in full are coming forward.  In other words the NPPF had the opposite effect as to what was intended.  Rather than scaring LPAs into producing plans more quickly it has complicated the process so much – especially with teh lever arch folders of caselaw – than plan making has slowed to a halt.

All of this is unequivocal and supported by the evidence.  How else does John Rhodes and John Howells MP explain how the NPPF had the opposite effect on plan making they predicted?  If the other panel makers cant get a good answer from them at thefirst meeting they should both resign and let real experts take over.