As the Jockey Clubs plans to redevelop Kempton Park hit the headlines its useful to think of Husrt Park the other side of the Thames from Kempton Park – sold off for housing in 1960 – they even sold off the Turf.
It has a unique and stunning location alongside the Thames. In retrospect it would have been better to have sold off Kemton Park and kept Hurst Park.
Sajid Javid is set to defy grassroots Conservatives and some of his own MPs with a fresh bid to boost housing construction that could anger the party’s shire heartlands.
After numerous delays the government is set to present its plan to address Britain’s housing shortage early next week. The housing white paper, originally due before Christmas, was expected last month but its publication was delayed again after reports of tensions between Downing Street and Mr Javid, the communities secretary.
Mr Javid wants to accelerate homebuilding but Theresa May, prime minister, is said to be worried that backbench Conservative MPs will threaten to rebel over the issue.
A row has been going on at Westminster for months over a proposal to force councils in the south-east to increase the amount of land they allocate for new construction. Conservative-dominated councils in the shires have in the past proved resistant to increasing the number of homes in their local plans.
Ministers have considered “punishing” such councils by excluding them from funding sources such as the New Homes Bonus or the recently announced Housing Infrastructure Fund. Mr Javid said last year that he would “be very tough” on English councils that fail to allocate enough land for housing.
This could also prove contentious if, as planning experts suspect, it includes the watering down of “right to light” rules, which restrict new buildings from casting shadows over existing homes.
Ministers are also looking at encouraging developers to construct more homes on high streets, in an effort to revitalise failing shopping areas with an influx of new occupants. They will further seek to encourage a greater variety of players in the housebuilding sector to increase competition, particularly to attract more smaller builders.
The number of small housebuilders has fallen sharply in the past decade, with industry groups blaming a lack of access to business finance and overly complex planning rules.
The white paper is expected to emphasise the importance of building on brownfield sites but could also see the government authorising some building on the greenbelt if the land lost is replaced with other safeguarded sites .
Ministers are likely to set out plans for a swath of new prefabricated housing, using modular, or off-site, construction in a bid to speed up housebuilding volumes.
The Conservatives have promised to build 1m new homes by 2020, but construction rates are running at below the level needed to meet that target.
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
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.
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 doesnt like).
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.
THERESA May is to force councils to build hundreds of thousands more homes a year in the most radical housing shake-up in 50 years. The PM will target inner-city sites, stop big developers sitting on empty land and allow more prefabs to solve the homes crisis.
She aims to unblock the development logjam with a blueprint containing two particularly controversial elements.
The first will relax long-standing height restrictions based on light, allowing home owners and developers to extend or build houses as high as the existing tallest property on their block without special planning permission.
The second will see 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.
No10 is braced for a bitter revolt among Tory shire backbenchers over the moves in the long-expected Housing white paper.
MPs, charities and developers familiar with the Government’s thinking also disclosed the blueprint will:
TARGET open inner-city sites for development, such as railway station car parks which will move underground;
END the scourge of “land banking” by stopping fat cat developers from sitting on sites by either withdrawing planning permission or issuing the threat of compulsory purchase orders;
OPEN up development sites to many more small builders, who have been locked out by the big firms’ market dominance and lack of credit access
RESERVE sites for prefab builds, which can be erected far quicker but finished to look no different to brick buildings.
A key part of the plan is to demand councils in high pressure areas come up with far more ambitious building targets.
And if they fail, Whitehall will impose strict five-year quotas on them.
Until now some “not in my back yard” councils have infuriated ministers by hiding behind loopholes and falling well short on granting enough planning requests.
The average house price nationwide is 7.7 times annual wages.
In some parts prices are 12 times the value of annual wages, making it impossible for many to get on the housing ladder.
Ministers want to hit a target of 300,000 new homes a year to keep pace with Britain’s mushrooming population, as well as a Tory pledge to build a million new homes by 2020.
Mrs May will next week personally champion the house building revolution as the boldest reform yet in her agenda to deliver for the “Just Managings” who suffer most from unaffordable mortgages and rent.
One of the UK’s largest housebuilders has called for a “critical reassessment” of green belt land to help solve Britain’s housing shortage.
Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson said that if 1% of green belt was released for building, it would be enough for up to one million new homes.
And the L&Q housing association said Britain faced a choice: build on “green field” or continue with a shortage.
The comments come ahead of a major government announcement on housing.
A controversial white paper on revitalising England’s housing market, which has been delayed three times, could now be published next week.
It is expected to propose a relaxation of planning rules and that local authorities should be allowed to build more council houses for rent as well as purchase.
“The green belt has doubled in size in the last 20 years, it is 4 million acres now,” Mr Wilson told the BBC.
“We’ve got to have a much greater critical assessment on what is and what isn’t green belt.
“Nobody wants to build on the Chilterns, or the Malvern’s or the beautiful parts of Britain, but there are lots of areas that have been designated green belt which are really brown field sites and we absolutely have to build on more brown field sites,” he added.
Sajid Javid, the cabinet minister responsible for housing, has said the government’s plans will be “radical”.
Mr Wilson said: “I think there was a great obsession in the UK with house price inflation, the way you get house price inflation is denying supply and that is what has happened for 30 years in the UK.”
The moves on releasing more land were backed by David Montague, the chief executive of L&Q housing association, which builds thousands of affordable homes for purchase and rent.
“If you look at what we’re doing here in Barking Riverside [in east London], we’re building 11,000 new homes on brown field land, and of course it makes sense to prioritise brown field land,” Mr Montague said.
“But if you go just a few miles up the road to Chelmsford in Essex, we are working there on a green field site with a Tory council with the support of the local people to produce a 4,000 home new town.
“The key thing is that we need an adult conversation about where we’re going to build these homes.
“The alternative is that we just deal with the consequences of not building enough homes and that means more people in temporary accommodation, more people living on the streets, more people not about to afford to buy a home of their own, it means rising waiting lists for rising housing benefit bills.
“We have a choice, we either find the land to build the homes we need, or we deal with the consequences of not doing that.”
Green belt land often surrounds towns and cities where people want to live, and so is highly prized by developers.
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said that unravelling the green belt risked losing precious countryside.
“We are an incredibly crowded country, the most populous big country in Europe, and [green belt] is the countryside nearest to where people live,” he said.
“It stops towns merging into each other, it is an incredibly valued resource. There is loads of land with planning permission in the country already.
“There is enough brown field land to build over a million homes. We don’t need to be building on the green belt to solve the housing crisis,” Mr Spiers said.
CPRE figures reveal that 360,000 houses have been proposed for green belt land in England – up from 81,000 in 2012 – as local authorities come under pressure from the government to hit the one million homes target.
Although the housing white paper will only deal with England, there is anecdotal evidence that similar controversies over green belt protections have affected Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement
Today I will be laying before Parliament a draft Airports National Policy Statement and beginning a period of extensive public consultation on the policy proposals it contains. National policy statements were introduced under the Planning Act 2008 and are used to set out government policy on nationally significant infrastructure projects. This draft Airports National Policy Statement sets out the need for additional airport capacity, as well as the reasons why the government believes that need is best met by a north-west runway at Heathrow.
draft Airports National Policy Statement
Appraisal of sustainability of the draft Airports National Policy Statement, incorporating a strategic environmental assessment
Assessment of the policy under the Habitats and Wild Birds Directive
Health impact analysis
Equality impact assessment
will be made available online.
The Airports National Policy Statement, if designated, will provide the primary basis for making decisions on any development consent application for a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport.
For a scheme to be compliant with the Airports National Policy Statement, the Secretary of State would expect Heathrow Airport Ltd to:
demonstrate it has worked constructively with airlines on domestic connectivity – the government expects Heathrow to add 6 more domestic routes across the UK by 2030, bringing the total to 14, strengthening existing links to nations and regions, and also developing new connections
provide compensation to communities who are affected by the expansion including noise insulation for homes and schools, improvements to public facilities and other measures – this includes establishing a community compensation fund and a community engagement board
honour its commitment of payments for those people whose homes need to be compulsorily purchased to make way for the new runway or for those who take up the voluntary scheme of 25% above the full market value of their home and cover all costs including stamp duty, reasonable moving costs and legal fees
put in place a number of measures to mitigate the impacts of noise, including legally binding noise targets and periods of predictable respite – the government also expects a ban of 6 and a half hours on scheduled night flights
set specific mode share targets to get more than half of airport users onto public transport, aimed at meeting its pledge of no more airport-related road traffic with expansion compared to today
implement a package of industry-leading measures to limit carbon and air quality impacts both during construction and operation
demonstrate that the scheme can be delivered in compliance with legal requirements on air quality
I have appointed Sir Jeremy Sullivan, the former Senior President of Tribunals, to provide independent oversight of the draft Airports National Policy Statement consultation process and ensure best practice is upheld.
Consultation on airspace policy
We need to think about how we manage the rising number of aircraft in an efficient and effective manner. By taking steps now to future-proof this vital infrastructure, we can harness the latest technology to make airspace more efficient as well as making journeys faster and more environmentally friendly.
I am therefore also publishing proposals to modernise the way UK airspace is managed, which will be consulted on in parallel. The policy principles set out in this airspace consultation influence decisions taken later in the planning process for a north-west runway at Heathrow, if the Airports National Policy Statement were to be designated, including how local communities can have their say on airspace matters and how impacts on them are taken into account.
It is an important issue and one that will define the principles for shaping our airspace for years to come. It is therefore sensible to allow members of the public to consider both matters at the same time.
The proposals being published for consultation today include the functions, structure and governance of an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, which we will establish. The commission would build relationships between industry and communities, embed a culture of best practice, and ensure an even fairer process for making changes to airspace.
The proposed new call-in function for a Secretary of State on airspace changes, similar to that used by the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government for planning applications, create a democratic back-stop in the most significant decisions, much called for by communities.
The consultation on airspace policy, new Air navigation guidance and the Strategic rationale for upgrading the UK’s airspace will be made available online.
The aviation sector is a great British success story, contributing around £20 billion per year and directly supporting approximately 230,000 jobs across the United Kingdom. It also supports an estimated 260,000 jobs across the wider economy.
I want to build on this success. My department is currently progressing work to develop a new strategy for UK aviation.
This strategy will champion the success story of the UK’s aviation sector. It will put the consumer back at the heart of our thinking. The strategy will also explore how we can maximise the positive role that our world class aviation sector plays in developing global trade links, providing vital connections to both the world’s growing economies and more established trading partners. Connections that will only grow in importance as our trading network expands.
I will come back to the House to update you on our plans for the strategy as they develop over the coming weeks.
Consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny
These 2 consultations will last for 16 weeks and close on 25 May 2017. At the same time, and as required by the Planning Act 2008, a period of Parliamentary scrutiny (the ‘relevant period’) now begins for the Airports National Policy Statement, ending by summer recess 2017.
I will be placing copies of all relevant documents in the Libraries of both Houses. Following consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, and assuming that in the light of these processes the decision is made to proceed, we expect to lay a final Airports National Policy Statement before Parliament for debate and an expected vote in the House of Commons by winter 2017-18.
The Grasslands Trust team blog about nature conservation and broader environmental issues, always with a focus on our threatened grassland habitats. The views in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the Trust.