Centre for Cities – Green Belt Land Needed for Housing in Bristol

BBC Bristol –  Omitting the best and largest site is in Somerset outside the combined authority area.

A think tank has called for more homes on greenbelt land around Bristol and Bath.

The Centre for Cities says building on greenbelt is the only way of addressing the region’s growing housing crisis.

Alexandra Jones, from the think tank, said: “About 4,300 houses could be built on brownfield land – clearly that’s nowhere near what’s needed.”

The Metro Mayor for the west will have the power to decide housing policy when he or she is elected in May.

Ms Jones, from the independent organisation, added that greenbelt takes up half the land in South Gloucestershire and two thirds of land in the Bath and North East Somerset Council area.

Three local councils which have signed up to the Metro Mayor model have all pledged to increase the number of new homes being built.

The aim is to build another 85,000 homes in the next 20 years which is the equivalent of building two cities the size of Bath.

In October, the government backed a £1bn devolution agreement to Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council.

The agreement involves creating a Metro Mayor who would make key decisions on major areas such as housing, jobs and roads.

Even out of date policies have weight if in Line with National Policy – The Daventry Case

Cornerstone Barristers

The impact of Daventry ‘on the ground’

Planning permission refused for up to 276 dwellings in a Local Green Gap, Clacton-on-Sea

In Daventry1 the Court of Appeal explained that, because a central theme of the NPPF was to (re)emphasise the importance of plan-led decision making, “significant weight should be given to the general public interest in having plan-led planning decisions, even if particular policies in the development plan are old” (at [40(iv)]). The Court also stressed that, when considering the weight to be given to ‘old’ development plan policies, it is necessary to consider the degree of consistency with national policy (ie the test set out in para 215 of the NPPF). The chronological age of the policies is ‘legally irrelevant’ to this question.

The impact of Daventry is demonstrated in a refusal by an Inspector last week of three proposed (and alternative) residential schemes on a site within a Local Green Gap between Clacton-on-Sea and Jaywick, Essex.

The inspector found the schemes would “fail to [maintain] separation between Clacton and Jaywick in this locality, and would effectively close the countryside gap between the settlements in this area” and therefore would be contrary to the Local Green Gap policy (Policy EN2). Despite it being common ground that the Local Planning Authority could not demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply such that the ’tilted balance’ within para 14 of the NPPF was in play, and despite the fact that the LPA had previously promoted the site for housing development within the emerging Local Plan, the Inspector refused the appeal.

In doing so the Inspector recognised that although the Local Green Gap policy was old (it was adopted in 2007, and the plan period ran to 2011) its objectives were consistent with national policy and therefore its age provided no basis for substantially reducing the weight to be given to the policy. Furthermore, having regard to the decision in Hopkins Homes2, the limited degree of the housing supply shortfall and recent improvements in the supply position due to action taken by the LPA meant that significant weight should be given to the Local Green Gap policy.

As this appeal demonstrates, the combination of Hopkins Homes and Daventry is such that it now cannot be taken as a given (if it ever could) that where a development plan is dated and where the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing, planning permission for housing proposals will ordinarily be granted. In circumstances where local policy in question is consistent with national policy, the housing shortfall is not overwhelming and the local planning authority is taking steps to address it, housing proposals which do not comply with the development plan are liable to be refused.

A copy of the Inspector’s decision is available here.

Robert Williams acted for the Local Planning Authority in the Inquiry. Cornerstone Barristers regularly acts for both Developers and Local Planning Authorities in a wide range of planning matters. For more information please contact 020 7242 4986 or email clerks@cornerstonebarristers.com

1Gladman Developments Limited v Daventry District Council [2016] EWCA Civ 1146
2Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes and Richborough Estates v Cheshire East [2016] EWCA Civ 168

Inspector – Sub regional approach needed for Sussex Coastal Overspill

Inspectors findings on housing

Unmet housing need in other districts

Crawley Paragraph 47 of the Framework indicates that the full OAN should be met in the housing market area, subject to consistency with other Framework policies. Crawley, like Mid Sussex, is in the Northern West Sussex Housing Market Area and is unable to meet its housing need within its boundaries. Written into its plan is an obligation to work closely with neighbouring authorities to explore all opportunities for meeting its need in sustainable locations. Its shortfall is in the region of 335 dpa, of which 150 dpa is being taken by Horsham, leaving a residual unmet need of 185 dpa. The proposed Mid Sussex housing requirement of 800 dpa would leave only 46 dpa to meet this need. Given the position of Mid Sussex immediately adjacent to Crawley, and within the same HMA, this aspect of the plan is not sound. Mid Sussex is the only authority other than Horsham that can make a significant contribution towards accommodating Crawley’s unmet housing need. Opportunities in other authorities are very limited. It is reasonable for perhaps 35 dpa to be catered for elsewhere. The Mid Sussex District Plan should therefore include a contribution of 150 dpa, the same as that of Horsham, to meet this need. Coastal West Sussex The Coastal West Sussex Housing Market Area overlaps with the southern part of Mid Sussex District and is relevant to plan preparation in the District. Brighton and Hove’s total housing need amounts to 30,120 of which the agreed plan target is 13,200, leaving a shortfall of 16,920 or 56% of the total. There are also large amounts of unmet housing need in other authorities including Adur and Lewes. However, the coast has different characteristics and patterns of migration, and any plan to satisfy this level of need will require input from a number of local authorities and necessitate a sub-regional approach of the kind referred to in paragraph 179 of the National Planning Policy Framework. Several local authorities, including Mid Sussex, are collaborating on a study, but it is in its early stages and there is not enough evidence available now to ascertain the proportion of this unmet need that ought to be accommodated in Mid Sussex. It follows that there is no strong basis at the present time to make a numerical addition to the housing requirement of the Mid Sussex District Plan to address this need. But the cross-boundary study should be progressed as quickly as possible to bring an end to the uncertainty over how the unmet need is to be provided for. The District Plan should make a commitment that the Council will co-operate with Brighton and Hove and the relevant authorities in the Coastal West Sussex HMA to bring forward the study within a short space of time, and that it will be taken into account in the next review of the District Plan. A commitment to a plan review in two years’ time, advocated by some at the hearings, is too onerous given the scale of the task, but a review is unlikely to be more than 5 years away. 8 Meanwhile the Council should consider whether the matter should have some influence over the pattern of smaller site allocations either in the present plan or in the subsequent site allocations plan.

Javid Favours Liverpool Approach in Planning Appeal

Land to the North of Dark Lane Alweras recovered appeal

There are two commonly used methods for addressing an accumulated shortfall. The ‘Liverpool approach’ apportions the shortfall across the remaining years of the plan period, whilst the ‘Sedgefield approach’, seeks to make up the shortfall during the next five years. The Secretary of State has had regard to the Guidance which advocates the ‘Sedgefield approach’ stating that Local Planning Authorities should aim to deal with any undersupply within the first 5 years of the plan period where possible.

30.However, he notes that this was an issue recently considered by the Local Plan Inspector who found, following rigorous examination, that the ‘Liverpool approach’ was more appropriate in the case of Lichfield notwithstanding the advice in the Guidance. The Local Plan Inspector’s conclusion was reached having regard to past rates of delivery in the district, including prior to the recession, and the requirement for completions far in excess of the highest levels ever achieved in the district if the ‘Sedgefield approach’ were adopted. The Local Plan Inspector highlighted that plans are required to be realistic as well as aspirational and that the Local Plan would likely fail if the Sedgefield approach was used.

31.The Secretary of State further notes that the Local Plan Inspector recognised the potentially critical impact of using either the Liverpool or Sedgefield approaches, and the Guidance, before reasoning that the required housing trajectory using the ‘Sedgefield approach’ was highly likely to prove unrealistic due to the serious doubt about the necessary high rate of delivery over five years would be attainable in market terms.

32.The Secretary of State has carefully considered the parties submissions in favour of the ‘Sedgefield approach’ being adopted. These are, in summary: That past rates of delivery were constrained by policy to direct development towards the urban area; That the Council has published increased housing projections; and That in the period since the LP Inspector considered this issue, it has become clear that the under-provision of housing in Birmingham will lead to increased housing demand in Lichfield (IR 12.50).

33.Having carefully considered these issues, the Secretary of State considers that these matters do not represent sufficient grounds to not follow the ‘Liverpool approach’ to addressing shortfall adopted within the LP following rigorous examination and, therefore, he agrees with the LP Inspector and the Inspector (IR 12. 51) that the shortfall should be apportioned across the remaining plan period.

Government Plagarises Development Plan from Neighbouring Country

Somialand Monitor

The Government of Puntland is unable to undertake any meaningful development because it relies on irrelevant data and subsequent planning.
This was the unanimous decision reached by members of the Puntland parliament during a special sitting in the capital Garowe where an Urban Master Plan had been tabled for approval and the purported author castigated.
According to the legislators the Urban Master Plan submitted for approval by the minister of public works Minister Abdirashid Hirsi Mohamed was irrelevant since it had been plagiarized in toto from that of Neighbouring republic of Somaliland.
The plan already approved by the Puntland council of ministers at a meeting chaired by President Abdiweli Gas and published by the ministry of public works is irrelevant to our country thence can not receive our approval, said the legislators.
“unfortunately Puntland, an administrative region of Somalia which has been existed for 18 years, has its Government failing to present studies based on a genuine assessment of its needs” a legislator told Garoweonline


In justification of their castigations and subsequent approval denial to the urban plan the legislators who accused the government of President Gas of having resorted to duplication of plans from Somaliland especially a book titled “Urban Master Planning”

The perturbed members who accused the Puntland government and more so its public works minister of mindlessness quoted page 9, article 1.2.2 of the wrongful appropriated publication”

Why a ‘standard methodology ‘ for calculating Neighbourhood Housing Need would not work.

The Housing White paper

[local planning authorities will now be] “expected to provide neighbourhood planning groups with a housing requirement figure, where this is needed to allow progress with neighbourhood planning. As part of the consultation on a new standard methodology for assessing housing requirements, we will seek views on whether a standard methodology could be developed for calculating housing need in a neighbourhood plan area“.

Three reasons:

Firstly local people priced out of the area wont show up, neither will in migrants for work or retirement, on any measure of housing need arising from the area.  Whether the method is based on local surveys, census data etc.  This produces a systematic under representation of ‘local’ need in locally based methods.  This has been a systematic problem.  The old Cotswolds Local Plan for example said their was no housing need in the prettiest Cotswold Villages because no one living in them said they were in need in local surveys.  This is like asking residents of Mayfair if they are ion need of food banks.

Secondly most neighbourhood plan areas are too small to get meaningful data.  Census OAs rarely match to parishes. Therefore you need to make statistical estimates for a parish which might include data from several OAs and some OAs may include data from other parishes.  This requires advanced GIS statistical techniques such as aerial interpolation and empirical Bayesian Kriging to estimate, and probably using an intermediate interpolation matching population to household/postcode locations using NOMIS data to account for the correct clustering of population in villages as opposed to across the whole countryside.  By default interpolation techniques assume the population by default is evenly spread which clearly it is not.  Also the smaller the area the larger the standard error, which is why quite rightly SHMAS usually cluster villages to reduce the error to acceptable parameters.

Thirdly a crude carving up of need per village is the opposite of planning.  Villages vary hugely in terms of their constraints and opportunities (both land availability and sustainability of services and location).  A carving up would see too much housing in the least sustainable and most constrained villages.

Gavin Barwell’s Own Summary of Housing White Paper

His Blog

Planning for the right homes in the right places

• Make sure every part of the country has an up-to-date, sufficiently ambitious plan so that local communities decide where development should go, not speculative applications.

• Simplify plan-making and make it more transparent so it’s easier for communities to produce plans and easier for developers to follow them.

• Ensure that plans start from an honest assessment of the need for new homes and that local authorities work with their neighbours so that difficult decisions are not ducked.

• Clarify what land is available for new housing through greater transparency over who owns land and the options held on it.

• Make more land available for homes in the right places by maximising the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land, regenerating estates, releasing more small and medium sized sites, allowing rural communities to grow and making it easier to build new settlements.

• Maintain existing strong protections for the Green Belt and clarify that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in exceptional circumstances when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements.

• Give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning.

• Make better use of land for housing by encouraging higher densities where appropriate, such as in urban locations where there is high housing demand, and by reviewing space standards.

Building homes faster

• Provide greater certainty for authorities that have planned for new homes and reduce the scope for local and neighbourhood plans to be undermined by changing the way that land supply for housing is assessed.

• Boost local authority capacity by increasing planning fees.

• Consult on deterring unnecessary appeals by introducing a fee (refunded if your appeal is successful).

• Ensure infrastructure is provided in the right place at the right time by coordinating Government investment and through the targeting of the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund.

• Secure timely connections to utilities so that this does not hold up getting homes built.

• Support developers to build out more quickly by tackling unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions, facilitating the strategic licensing of protected species and exploring a new approach to how developers contribute to infrastructure.

• Take steps to grow the construction workforce.

• Speed up build out by encouraging modern methods of construction in house-building.

• Speed up build out on surplus public sector sites through our Accelerated Construction programme that can build homes more quickly than traditional builders.

• Having addressed the things that developers say slow them up, hold them to account for the delivery of new homes through better and more transparent data and sharper tools for local authorities to drive up delivery.

• Having given them extra powers, hold local authorities to account through a new housing delivery test.

Diversifying the market

• Help small and medium-sized builders to grow through the Home Building Fund and supporting development on small sites.

• Support custom-build homes with greater access to land and finance, giving more people more choice over the design of their home.

• Bring in new contractors through our Accelerated Construction programme.

• Encourage more institutional investors into housing, including for building more homes for private rent with family friendly tenancies.

• Support housing associations to deliver more homes through a package of measures.

• Ensure the public sector plays its part by encouraging more building by councils and changing the way the Homes and Communities Agency operates.

Helping people now

• Continue to support people to buy their own home through Help to Buy and launching Starter Homes.

• Help households who are priced out of the market to afford a decent home that is right for them through our investment in the Affordable Homes Programme, which delivers homes for shared ownership, rent to buy and affordable homes for rent.

• Make renting fairer for tenants.

• Take action to promote transparency and fairness for the growing number of leaseholders.

• Improve neighbourhoods by continuing to crack down on empty homes and support areas most affected by second homes.

• Encourage the development of housing that meets the needs of an ageing population.

• Help the most vulnerable who need support with their housing, developing a sustainable and workable approach to funding supported housing in the future.

• Do more to prevent homelessness by supporting households at risk before they reach crisis point as well as reducing rough sleeping.

The Sun – Housing White Paper – will ‘remind [developers] they are now allowed to build on the green belt’

The Sun

LAND will be seized from fat cat developers if they fail to build on it in time, under radical new powers to be unveiled tomorrow.

Councils will also be able to slap orders on firms to finish plots within two years, or lose their planning permission.

The housing white paper, published in Parliament today, will also;

  • propose tough new criteria on councils in high demand areas to calculate how many new homes they must build every five years

  • remind them they are now allowed to build on the green belt in “exceptional circumstances” that there is no room left in towns to fulfil new quotas

  • allow taller buildings to go up in towns, to see more ‘high density’ mansion blocks erected

  • introduce a £3bn new loan fund for smaller builders to give them a bigger share of the housing market

Javid’s Numbers Don’t Add up – Avoiding ‘tearing up countryside’ needs 16+ storeys not 4

Javid in Daily Mail

Having a safe, secure place to call your own is something many of us take for granted. Yet with the average house now costing eight times average earnings, many of our children and grandchildren have found the door to the housing market slammed shut in their faces.

The only way to open it again is by building a lot more houses. But as today’s White Paper makes clear, we don’t have to tear up our precious countryside to do so.

We’re simply not making the best use of the space that’s available. London, for example, is much less densely populated than European equivalents such as Paris, Berlin and Rome. Madrid is a beautiful city of low-rise buildings and broad boulevards, yet every hectare is home to 3.5 times as many people as the same space in the British capital.

But increasing density doesn’t mean filling our towns and cities with huge, ugly tower blocks packed with tiny one-bed rabbit hutches.

After all, some of the most densely populated parts of London are places such as Kensington and Chelsea, home to extremely desirable mansion blocks, mews houses and grand terraced streets. There’s plenty of scope for building more of the high-quality homes people want to live in, in places where they want to live. We just have to be more imaginative.

Look at your railway station. The chances are it’s in a built-up area where demand for housing is high, yet it’s also quite likely to be surrounded by under-used or derelict land that would be perfect for housing.

Maybe that’s warehouses that could be better situated elsewhere, or car parks that could be moved underground. Elsewhere, buildings could be extended upwards by a floor or two to increase capacity without ruining skylines.

Creating more homes in the hearts of our towns and cities will also revitalise our high streets. I grew up above the family shop on the high street in Bristol, and loved being able to walk out of the door into a thriving, buzzing community.

Getting more people living in town centres, within walking distance of shops, pubs and cafes, won’t just create lively new communities – it will provide a much-needed boost for local businesses.

Add in serious support for new infrastructure – from GP surgeries to playgrounds – and it’s clear our built-up areas are home to huge untapped potential. The plans I’m publishing today show how we can make them home to thousands of ordinary working people too.


This is nonsense.  By all means build at higher densities, but if you want to do mainly mansion blocks not tower blocks (and most development in the SE is at mansion block density anyway so what difference will it make – without ‘tearing up the countrtyside his numbers just dont add up). Indeed his policy sound suspiciously like that adopted by Hammersmith Torys before they lost there majority which was seeking a REDUCTION in density from the norm in London.

I did a detailed analysis of this before the weekend here  ill repost below:

Sun on HWP

local authorities told the green belt is no longer sacrosanct for development. They will be encouraged to start building on it once brownfield sites have been filled.

Simple simple maths on Stock and Flow for Theresa May and her Sith Aides (there can be only two). 

How many housing units gets built on brownfield each year?

The last data we have from 2014 showed that 60% of new residential address built in 2013-14 were constructed on previously developed land. It falls to 45% for net additional addresses.  This figure has risen to that which it was for several years before the recession.  So we can assume it will be steady in the future in a ‘policy off’ scenario

Of course sites become ‘previously developed’ all the time – and CPRE point out that NLUD data on available site remains static – so that suggests a steady ‘inflow’ of brownfield sites roughly matching the ‘outflow’.

Last year around 170,000 houses were built.   Again assuming a ‘policy change off’ scenario that equates to around 76,000 houses per year brownfield and brownfield land suitable and available for housing of around the same number.

So that’s the flows in and out whats the stock.

The NLUD data now rather out of date and dating back to 2010 suggest 325,000 or so.  In 2015 the Dept finally agreed to update it and provide a brownfield register which we have not seen yet.

CPRE always claimed a figure of 1 1/2 million before 2014, not the need over 15 years is 3 million.  To their credit they commissioned research estimating it at around 1 million.  However most of this land was that already with planning permission and so not net additional supply.  So if we dont have 5 year supplies things were only going to get worse not better.

They estimated a further 550,000 homes can be located on suitable vacant or derelict land.  This is the figure that should be quoted.  Being generous lets use it.

So lets assume in our neutral forecast we have a brownfield ‘stock’ which is being added to by around 76,000 (land for equivalent housing units)/annum and being depleted by 76,000 units/annum.

Accepting the HWP target of 300,000 units per annum (which including drawing down backlog and restoring affordability to 1997 levels) then 25% of the houses we need are being developed on Brownfield Sites. But the shortfall will have risen by 300,000-175,000=125,000.

Lets assume two policy scenarios.

In scenario one brownfield development stays static and all increase come from greenfield.

In the other the rate of brownfield development doubles to around 150,000/annum.

In the first 75% of all housing must come on greenfield sites to meet the target.

In the second 175,000 a year in first year is brownfield, 58%, so 125,000 greenfield units must be built, a 75% increase on the current number of houses built on Greenfield.

But that rate cant be sustained because the stock is depleting by 500,000-175,000+76,000=  around 100,000/annum.  So within 5 years the stock is depleted to only 76,000 /annum of new brownfield sites coming forward.

The numbers dont add up.  Even in a heroic assumption of brownfield development doubling over night most of it would be used up in 5 years leaving only a trickle of new brownfield sites which would never run out and provide only 25% of the supply we need.  In this context ‘Brownfield first’ if applied extremely as in the phrase ‘filled up’ would mean 75% of those needing a home would be without one.

There are policy alternatives

  1. build all brownfield sites at 4x the density requiring public subsidy if necessary and families being forced (at point of a gun?) to move to areas with more brownfield sites- like milltowns with few jobs.
  2. Increasing the rate at which brownfield sites come forward by 4x redeveloping all employment sites assuring those forced to move at a point of a gun have no job to move to even if they could move freely (which of Course Theresa Maybe doesn’t like).
  3. Dont build housing if it means building on greenfield – reduce housing targets by 75% and everybody lives in bunk beds in their mums house.

Its a none starter policy reminiscent of the early policies of John Prescott which failed and which will be forced by the continuing housing crisis to be reversed.

So Javid to avoid ‘tearing up thecountryside’ requires a 4X of density.  Typcially 4-8 storeys in London becomes 16-32 – Chinese City heights.

Less than that requires an increase in both the rate and % of development of greenfield sites or the elimination of employment space in London- no way around this.

BTW Sajid cities are good places for warehouses otherwise our roads would be full of trucks making longer deliveries and further ruining our air quality targets.

Daily Mail -Government is reintroducing National Housing Targets

Of course they were never national – local authorities set them themselves collectively in groupings

Daily Mail

Councils will be ordered to give permission for hundreds of thousands more homes today as part of Government plans to fix the ‘broken’ housing market.

Today’s move effectively reintroduces national housing targets after they were scrapped by the Coalition Government in 2010.

The move puts ministers on collision course with countryside campaigners, who warn that England’s green belt land is already ‘under siege’.

Writing in the Daily Mail today, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid says the move is needed to end the situation where thousands of young families ‘have found the door to the housing market slammed in their face’.

The changes are the centrepiece in today’s long-awaited housing White Paper, which is designed to deliver on Theresa May’s pledge to tackle the housing crisis.