York Halves Green Belt Take in Revised Local Plan

Yorkshire Post

Thousands fewer new homes than previously forecast will be built in York over the next 15 years if a new revised planning blueprint for the city is agreed.

Proposals drawn up by York Council after years of political rows show the total amount of land designated for new homes in the city’s long-awaited draft Local Plan will be halved – from 960 hectares (ha) to 480ha.

The amount of greenfield land earmarked for development – a long running source of contention – has also been halved, while 57ha of land is planned for employment sites; four less than before.

It is an approach that the council said means detailed Green Belt boundaries would be set around the city for the first time.

At least 8,277 homes would be built by 2032, another 2,450 homes by 2037, and up to 11,000 new jobs would be created, according to the new draft plan drawn up under the council’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition leadership.

Three years ago, the-then Labour-led council’s draft plan set out to deliver 22,000 new homes and up to 16,000 new jobs in the same period.

But the revised proposals are more suitable for the city’s development, said council leader and Conservative councillor David Carr.

Coun Carr told The Yorkshire Post: “The figures in this plan are evidence based on forecasts made by experts who looked at population growth figures and household formation.


New affordable Housing Definition Excludes those Under 35

Letter in Guildford Dragon

Lib Dem ward councillor for Friary & St Nicolas

I have seen and heard comments that we Guildford Borough Counci], as an authority, are not filling places in some of the town centre residential developments, in particular the Barratt’s site in Walnut Tree Close, and implying that we therefore don’t have an urgent need for housing.

There are reasons why these newly built flats are taking time to fill.

Firstly, it is normal to phase the letting of properties in new developments simply for logistical reasons. There are 20 rented one bedroom flats in the development that are classified as “affordable” and let at what is referred to as “affordable rents”.

Affordable rents are normally 80% of a market rent or may be set at the equivalent Local Housing Allowance rate (Housing Benefit rate) if this is lower, which means the rents are currently some 40% higher than equivalent town centre council owned one-bedroomed flats.

The term “affordable” is a misrepresentation. Although lower than the market rent, these flats are beyond the reach of many with a regular but not highly paid job.

Additionally, new welfare reforms also affect younger single people and have made these flats unsuitable for those that will be under the age of 35 on April 1st 2018, as, after that date, any new tenants will only be entitled to less than 50% of the housing benefit than they can claim at present.

Given that over half of our single housing applicants are under 35, they would not be able to afford to live at this development.

The affordability issue means all those that have expressed interest in the flats have been subject to financial assessments to ensure that they can afford the rents and council tax as well as meet their day to day living expenses without getting into financial difficulty in the future.

Sadly it has been shown that although there are very many housing applicants that would love to live in these properties, they simply cannot afford to do so.

In a new development such as this it is right that the council spend time getting a good mix of tenants, and more importantly ensure that they can afford to meet the rent and other living.

The fact that it is taking time does not mean that there’s no urgent need for housing across the whole borough.

Government Sets Last Minute 6 Week deadline to do a Garden Village Masterplan

Today in the ádditional guidance’set out in March – why not in March – and why only for smaller Garden Villages not Garden Cities?

Provide a high level spatial plan illustrating the ambition for the Garden Village. Include the existing and proposed infrastructure connections; rail stations, road junctions, access roads, power supply, drainage, etc. What is the scale of development? Include: site size, proposed number of homes, schools, employment space, community facilities and green space provision.

Demonstrate how the proposed settlement meets the principles of wellplanned, designed and sustainable Garden Villages. What is innovative and progressive about the Garden Village and what makes it a locally distinctive place? Describe how parks, play areas, community facilities, open spaces and environmental systems will function and help create the sense of place. How will local employment opportunities be created?

Waltham Forest to Knock Down Festival of Britain Era Masterpeice

Walthamstow Guardian

MORE council tenants could be moved out of their homes as another town centre site has been earmarked for new development.

Central Parade in the heart of Walthamstow is a block of with 27 Council rented homes and 9 leasehold flats, with a number of shops below.

The shabby old block which faces the multi-million pound development The Scene could be demolished in favour of a new development.

Next week, the council’s cabinet will be asked to agree the search for a development partner.

A report which will be delivered by Councillor Clare Coghill, portfolio holder for economic growth and high

streets will recommend a deal with a private developer.

However, the council recently agreed to hold a Creative Industries and Cultural Hub in the vacant shops in Central Parade.

This initiative receives financial support from the Greater London Authority which requires that the Hub be operational in Central Parade for a minimum of two years.

Development then may have to wait until 2018 as the ‘hub’ is set to open in Spring 2016.

Last year the Customer Service Centre in Central Parade was shut, with customers being directed to use services in the library,

Juniper House currently occupied by around 220 staff from the Families Directorate has also been earmarked for possible development.

Aylesbury Proposes 33,000 Homes Following DTC Failure

Bucks Herald

A total of 33,000 homes will be built in the Vale by 2033, with Aylesbury taking the majority of the housebuilding.

Aylesbury Vale District Council published the draft plan this week, setting out numbers of new housing and where they should go.

Aylesbury will take more than 14,000 new homes, Buckingham 2,600, Haddenham and Winslow 1,000 and Wendover 861.

In addition a new settlement of 4,500 homes, the first to be built since Milton Keynes, will be built either at Winslow or Haddenham.

Current railway provision is already in place in Haddenham, and this week a disputed application to build homes at The Glebe was approved by the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile in Winslow the town is set to benefit from East West Rail, although progress on this has been slow.

Planning chiefs this week refused to speculate on which site would be chosen, and urged everyone affected to take part in the forthcoming public consultation to have their views heard.

The plan, which is in its draft stages at the moment, read: “The primary focus of strategic levels of growth and investment will be at Aylesbury, and development at Buckingham, Winslow, Wendover and Haddenham supported by growth at other larger, medium and smaller villages, and where appropriate development will be supported by neighbourhood plans.

“The strategy also allocates growth at a new sites and on sites adjacent to Milton Keynes.”

The plan says that the new developments would make Aylesbury a ‘garden town’ and that Aylesbury would grow by 50% as a result.

Councillor Carole Paternoster, portfolio holder for growth strategy at Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “We did try to bring in a local plan in 2014, but that had to be withdrawn because the inspector said that our numbers were far too low.

“Without a plan we are subject to opportunistic planning applications coming in from developers.

“This has led to planning applications being granted but without any infrastructure and this impacts on current and future residents and has a knock on effect.”

Task Force to Accept BPF Recommendations on CIL

Estates Gazette

The government’s specially appointed task force is to call for a radical overhaul of the community infrastructure levy six years after it was introduced.

It will recommend a major policy U-turn, stripping CIL back to its original purpose by funding local infrastructure with a simple, national base tax on all new developments.

Section 106 charges would return for infrastructure requirements on large developments.

The changes are expected to be considered after parliament’s  summer recess. The recommendations come from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s CIL review panel, set up as an
independent working group chaired by former British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace.

Changes are likely to need primary legislation and could be inserted into the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill.

The rate is optional and set by individual local authorities, which can charge all at once or in phases Compulsory low-level tariff across all new developments
Rates can vary by geographic area or use or size S106 infrastructure payments reintroduced for large developments
S106 payments are only used for affordable housing provision and site-specific mitigations Local authorities to integrate CIL charging schedules into Local Plans

CIL was introduced in 2010 to create a “fairer, faster and more certain and transparent” levy than s106 payments, which can require lengthy negotiations.

However, the regulations have been amended every year, adding layers of complexity (see below).

Barratt Developments’ group land and planning director Philip Barnes said: “We were hoping that when CIL was introduced it would give us more clarity and certainty, but actually we are finding we often have to negotiate s106 on top of CIL. If these changes were introduced they would give developers greater flexibility, whichcould speed up the delivery of larger sites.”

Details yet to be determined include how the base tariff would be set, whether any types of development would be exempt, and howmedium-sized developments could avoid being hit by both CIL and s106 requirements.

CBRE’s chairman of UK planning Stuart Robinson said: “The key questions will be, who will set the tariff and on what basis? And how will does affordable housing fit in?”

Simon Ricketts, partner at law firm King & Wood Mallesons, said he would not want a lower CIL rate subsidised by higher s106 payments. He added: “If there is a shortfall between what is needed and a new, low CIL, that should not come from s106, which would add extra complexity.”

The recommendations are in line with those put forward by the BPF in response to the government’s consultation on proposed changes, which ended in January.

Chief executive Melanie Leech said: “The BPF has long been pushing for government to introduce a more flexible approach to CIL for complex, large-scale development sites and for the introduction of a simpler, lower charge for smaller developments so to see government take such recommendations forward would be very welcome.”

Scottish Review Recommends Shift to a Zoning based System


Collectively, the evidence suggests to us that planning authorities at all scales are mired in the process of producing plans on time, but many cannot work proactively to deliver development. The focus on fitting complex and overly comprehensive work into the preparation timescale obscures much fuller consideration of the long term vision for a place. Frustratingly, despite the considerable efforts that go into preparing the plan, there appears to be little faith that it will form the basis of subsequent development management decisions. As a result, there are calls for plans to have greater certainty, with allocated sites being afforded planning permission in principle and key agencies being required to commit to supporting delivery of the action programme….

The certainty provided by the development plan in development management should be strengthened.
To incentivise this, allocated sites should be afforded planning permission in principle, could be exempted from pre-application consultation requirements and could benefit from fast-tracked appeals. Conversely, where non allocated sites are being proposed for development a charrette or similar fuller consultation or mediation exercise could be required….

The SPZ concept should be rebranded and evolved into a more flexible and widely applicable zoning mechanism which identifies and prepares areas to make them ‘investment ready.’

e have considered the role of a more ‘zoned’ approach to housing land to reduce the focus of the debate on the effectiveness of individual sites, and looked in more detail at the Simplified Planning Zones (SPZs) in Hillington and Renfrew Town Centre. We were also struck by the potential of SPZs to help to reintroduce residential use in town centres. Establishing a SPZ requires frontloaded site assessments and design work, and this can be costly. The evidence shows that the low level of uptake may be partly explained by the more limited scope for SPZs in Scotland – specifically that they cannot be deployed for schemes requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Our view is that this type of approach need not undermine the environment or quality of place. Frontloaded assessments, site briefs and masterplanning can support placemaking in a holistic way and embed in an infrastructure first approach to area-based development…
The written evidence highlighted the scope for delivery of quality places to be driven by development briefs and master plans, and the use of charrettes for housing sites. The need for multi-disciplinary teams to drive forward development is clear. Affordable housing needs are a key concern and a confirmed priority. Meeting these needs can support the prevention agenda by reducing housing benefit costs and contributing to wider wellbeing and equality.
We were inspired by the flexibility provided by Simplified Planning Zones and propose that their principles could inform an adaptable approach to zoning areas of land for development including housing. These areas would be identified to incentivise development by creating greater certainty as well as flexibility and should be rolled out across Scotland. This approach could help to kick start high quality housing development at a large scale in the immediate future,
but their impact would be much greater if pump priming of funding was made available to help establish them. We recommend that the new approach would relax current restrictions on SPZs in Scotland to allow for greater flexibility in their timescales, reduce procedure and enable them to come forward for schemes which fall under the EIA Regulations….


Oxford Report Proposes 10,000+ Green Belt Homes

Oxford City

The City Council has published a new report which sets out the technical evidence to support its case that Oxford’s unmet housing need is best addressed through urban extensions closest to the city.

The report provides authoritative evidence of the exceptional circumstances justifying the need for a review of the inner boundaries of the Green Belt to allow strategic housing allocations on the edge of Oxford. It also assesses the comparative sustainability benefits of the various options for urban extensions to the city.

A key conclusion of the report is that an urban extension to the north of the city in Cherwell District, providing 2,800-3,600 homes, and an urban extension to the south of Grenoble Road, providing 5,500-7,500 homes, would be the most sustainable and most readily deliverable options for addressing the need.

The Council has also assessed the transport opportunities and constraints associated with the preferred options and put forward high level mitigation strategies to effectively address the transport impacts.

Other urban extension options that may receive further consideration include Wick Farm/Elsfield estate to the northeast of the city, a strategic housing site at Begbroke/Yarnton, or an enhanced strategic allocation north of Abingdon.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning, Transport and Regulatory Services, said: “Successive Planning Inspectors have concluded that there are “exceptional circumstances” that justify reviewing the Green Belt boundaries mainly due to the severe housing crisis and the lack of suitable land for development that threatens the viability of the city.

Our evidence shows that properly planned urban extensions are an efficient and sustainable solution to housing need. They provide opportunity to extend existing public transport and cycle networks as part of an integrated transport strategy, and reduce the need to travel longer distances.”

The City Council has published the report as part of its responses to the Local Plan reviews of neighbouring local authorities.

‘”Earth will be zoned residential and light industrial” says Amazons Jeff Bezos

lon Musk wants us to build human colonies on Mars. Jeff Bezos has a slightly more measured take.

Onstage at the Code Conference on Tuesday, the Amazon founder and CEO said that we have to start bringing parts of the industrial economy to space in order “to save Earth.”

“Let me assure you, this is the best planet. We need to protect it, and the way we will is by going out into space,” he told Recode Editor at large Walt Mossberg. “You don’t want to live in a retrograde world where we have to freeze population growth.”

Bezos says tasks that require lots of energy shouldn’t be handled on Earth. Instead, we should perform them in space, and that will happen within the next few hundred years.

“Energy is limited here. In at least a few hundred years … all of our heavy industry will be moved off-planet,” Bezos added. “Earth will be zoned residential and light industrial. You shouldn’t be doing heavy energy on earth. We can build gigantic chip factories in space.”

Solar energy, for instance, is more practical for factories in space, he said.

“We don’t have to actually build them here,” he said. “The Earth shades itself, [whereas] in space you can get solar power 24/7. … The problem with other planets … people will visit Mars, and we will settle Mars, and people should because it’s cool, but for heavy industry, I would actually put it in space.”

No word yet, however, on when Bezos plans to move Amazon fulfillment warehouses beyond the surly bonds of Earth.

By Noah Kulwin, Recode.net.