No A Land Value Tax is Not a ‘Garden Tax’

The Telegraph this AM on land value tax.

Opponents of the tax say it would cause house prices to plummet, putting homeowners at risk of negative equity and forcing families to sell off their gardens to developers to lessen their tax burden.

 Ah the attack line, start describing it as a ‘garden tax’
However land value tax is a tax on the value of land if developed to its permitted planning use.  As under the NPPF gardens are not counted as brownfield sites the size of the garden could not be counted in valuation, only the footprint of the house itself, the land the house stands on.
Whether it is wise or not to exclude gardens is another thing entirely.  It would be much better to zone which areas with large gardens are desirable to densify and to what degree and to allow taxation above a certain level for elderly occupants to be deferable until death.
As for the calculations of tax rises, nonsense produced by an afternoons works by a junior researcher – excluding as it does all development land, business land and vacant land.  According to Savills these account for 25% of land values.
According to those who have done the math 1.83% of value would raise the same sums as Council tax leaving 83% of households better off.
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How PiP differs from Outline Planning Permission & How LPAs can ensure the form of Development is Acceptable

A reserved matter to an outline planning permission is not a planning application but an application to discharge a planning condition on specified reserved matters.  The LPA has the power under the GPDO to refuse to determine the application without sufficient details (T&CP (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order, article 7 and the DMO (Wales) Order 2012, article 3).

One common issue is the means of access.  Highways authorities often refuse to determine applications without sitelines and a plan of the access point – so this is often included in applications with all other matters reserved.

Scale is one of the reserved matters.  However under well established principles of planning law reserved matters cannot abrogate the terms of the outline permission.  So if a description of development is ‘5 bungalows’ you have permission for 5 bungalows not 6 and not for two story houses.

PiPs have no such power of the LPA to ask for further details.  And because it is not a planning permission the regulations have to state in schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 on the contents of the register requirements over the number of units.  Note the wording it is very interesting.

(m)(i)a description of any proposed housing development; or

(ii)the minimum and maximum net number of ‎dwellings, given as a range, which, in the authority’s opinion, the land is capable of supporting;‎

(n)the minimum net number of dwellings which, in the authority’s opinion, the land is capable of supporting;

A typical case with an outline permission is an LPA grants planning permission for 5  2 bed units based on an ‘illustrative layout’ and when the reserved matters come in for 5 4 bed units it wont fit.  Under  Crystal Property (London) Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Hackney London Borough Council [2016] EWCA Civ 1265 refusal would be acceptable as even ‘illustrative’ drawings show the proposed scale of the development so the subsequent application would be outside the terms of the permission.

The ability to ask for further information, together with ever increasing application of this power effectively circumscribed outline permissions more and more.  Development interests felt it was no longer possible to ‘redline’ a site with minimal information.

The ‘dual track’ approach of the regulations gives LPAs a choice.  If they opt for the clause m (ii) route then if they state in the register 50-65 units then these would be 50-65 units of any size and form. 

If however they take the m(ii) and n clause route they can fully describe the development and just specify the minimum number of units – which might be as established in the local plan of SHLA.

The regs dont specify the ‘description’ so It is entirely possible for LPAS to do a mini planning brief with a diagram and extended description in the schedule.

To my mind it would be foolish for any LPA to so specify the maximum number of units.

‘Some for example a description could be

‘A minimum of 50 housing units with a dwelling mic in accordance with local plan policy H3, accessed off Jolt lane (fig x), and including 0.5ha of public open space situated on the eastern part of the site.  No unit shall be above 3 storeys in height, except for units fronting Jolt Lane which shall be a maximum of 4 storeys in height.  The layout shall be in accordance with the approved planning brief for a site.  No built development is permitted within the flood risk area shown on fig x or within 10m of the 400 kv overhead lines as shown on Fig x.  Sufficient flood storage should eb provided on site to ensure no net run off from its present state in accordance with EA requirements and local plan policy E5’

This is somewhat of an extreme example but for large sites with a lot of work already doe and continued opposition, and where local plans are not yet adopted, there may be considerable pressure following the required consultation for the LPA to not consider the site suitable based on ungrounded fears as to what might be permitted on the site.

LPAs need to get there a%%%s into gear given the December deadline.  If any LPA wants assistance on the urban design, capacity and other issues in compiling their brownfield registers please get in touch. Unless LPAs have a clear audit trail on how they assessed the suitability, deliverability and capacity of sites they could be subject to JR.

Garden Cities East of Oxford and the Restoration of the Wycombe Line

Having considered the opportunities near Cambridge represented by the Varsity Line it is necessary to look at Oxford – the other end of the Cambridge-MK-Oxford Arc.

Oxfordshire has been struggling with appropriate l;ocations within and beyond its Green Belt.  The number of big brownfield airbases are much lowers than Cambridgeshire and those that exist are not always in good places.  Landscape and flood risk constraints around most of Oxford are severe – which would make you think expansion of the least constrained areas would be easier – but it isnt as Oxford is severely underbounded.

On the restored link to Bicester which the Varsity Line will pass through Bicester itself of course is the biggest opportunity.  The only other station between is Islip, but flooding constraints mean the scale of development suitable here is limited.

The big opportunity lies through restoration of the Wycombe line – the first line to reach Oxford – which originally ran through Cowley to Princes Risborough and Wycombe and Maidenhead.

A number of positive opportunities come together

  1.  Network Rail is considering restoring services on teh Cowley Branch which serves Oxford Business Park and The Mini Factory
  2. With Cross Rail coming to Maidenhead Wycombe council is studying restoring a service to Bourne End – a major growth area.

So why not look at restoring the whole line which would link up several major towns west of London.

Indeed it offers potential for major expansion at Princes Risborough – where development stops dead at the Station, as well as a new Garden City beyond the Green Belt north of Junction 7 around restored station at Tidlington – not a conservation village and not constrained by flooding until you get to the Thames Flood Plane. This to me makes much more sense than the proposal for a new town put forward by landowners south of Junction 7 which would be very car orientated.  There is about 2 km of developable area between the A418 and the A429 and developed to Central Oxford type densities could house around 50,000 people.

Thame could also get a station in the town though it is already proposed for major extension in its neighbourhood plan.

Wheatly is also being considered for extension though it is in the Green Belt.

Time to Replace PTAL with a better measure of PT Accessibility

PTAL was first developed by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and later adopted by Transport for London as the standard method for calculating public transport accessibility in London.  Through the London Plan it has become embedded in policy with density thresholds based on Public Transport accessibility.

PTAL was a breakthrough enabling for the first time scientific mapping of relative public transport accessibility.  I was once on the London PTAL working group and do not underestimate the sheer hard work that went into the development and the effort TfL has made in providing London wide maps.

The PTAL method however is showing its age and needs a replacement.  It simply adds up walking and waiting time to the public transport network.  It is therefore a measure of accessibility to the public transport network.  It does not take account of where the service is to.  Also reflecting the limited computational power of when it was developed it has arbitrary cut off points of walking distance so that PTAL levels can fall off from very high to none in a short distance.  More technically the PTAL index is calculated against a rectilinear grid of points which means that accessibility levels are distorted at a local scale as travel times are not equal in all compass directions. Finally TfL enormously simplified calculation by only calculating accessibility from population weighted centroids of super output area rather than every address, but that does average out levels across a district.  The bands 1-6 were chosen as a suitable range for H&F but the method has had to be hacked to add additional categories for central and outer London.

TfLs CAPITAL model shows travel times from a node of interest – such as a shopping centre, but does not show accessibility from home in a universal index.  Similarly the newer ATOS model shows access to the nearest schools, 10,000 jobs etc as a map but is essentially a measure of local rather than strategic accessibility.

Experience with GIS based accessibility modelling internationally has developed to the extent that a serious research effort is needed in the new London Plan to drive updated policies on the best areas for densification.

A particularly promising approach is offered by the Access Across America project by the Minnesota Dept of Transport/University.  This maps for all modes access to employment (number of jobs) within a certain travel time.  They have mapped all major US Metros.

The methodology is to take job numbers and population number from centroids of census blocks and to map travel times based on Google transit data.

to reflect the of transit service frequency on accessibility, travel times are calculated repeatedly for each origin-destination pair using each minute between 7:00 and 9:00 AM as the departure time, and an accessibility value is calculated using each travel time result. The accessibility results are averaged to represent the expected accessibility value that would be experienced by a traveler departing at a random time in this interval.

And then

accessibility is averaged across all blocks in a CBSA (census block), with each block’s contribution weighted by the number of workers in that block. The result is a single metric (for each travel time threshold) that represents the accessibility value experienced by an average worker in that CBSA.

In the UK we face more challenges in calculating employment locations, we no longer have a census of employment and travel to work data is taken on a 10% sample.  However various departments do have geocoadable employment data  which is available.

My suggestion is to base an index based

  1. on the number of jobs accessible within the 95th percentile commute time in England
  2. The boundaries between the zones be based on the natural breaks (Jenks) method rather than equal interval per category to produce a more uniform spacing of variations in the map more useful for policy purposes.
  3. The index is based off the population weighted centroids of output areas, however in areas where the number of commuters is too low to calculate a statistically meaningful result they should be weighted.
  4. The results need to be aerially interpolated across a uniform grid.  I have used a hexagonal grid – known as a planagon grid successfully on a number of projects developing a technique pioneered by the CSIR research institute in Pretoria.  On a hexagonal grid distances are equal in all compass directions to surrounding centroids.   A grid of 7 planagons to 1 sq km (about 212m accross) is sufficient.  Any smaller it becomes very data heavy.
  5. Extract non developed, roads and no parcel areas from the planagon polygons.
  6. For employment weight number of jobs in the output area by the building height in the planagon, the same for residential, using a linear regression technique pioneered by the Technology University of Riyadh to interpolate census data to buildings. Then add up the numbers for all buildings with centroids inside the plangon grid hexagon.
  7. Then calculate travel times using the OS ITN network and the TfL services database as per PTAL.  Rather than taking a equally weighted sample across the morning peak  the sample should be weighted by the likelihood of work related travel across the whole day.

How an Economic Equilibrium is Like and Not Like a Physical Equilibrium

In a physical equilibrium the system is in a state of least action – or minimum free energy – if that system is conservative – that is it obeys the laws of conservation of energy.  The laws of dynamics and conservation of energy can all be deduced from the principle of least action for conservative systems.

Even in a situation of no growth – simple reproduction- without accumulation an economic equilibrium is is not like a physical equilibrium – it is a dissipative system – it requires a constant input of energy to maintain production, reproduce the workforce and maintain the capital stock against the wear and tear accounted for in depreciation.  Indeed value creation – work – can be seen as the continual struggle to restore and expand the scale of a dissipative system to a larger conservative one.

This I think is why those attempts to apply the universality of the principle of least action to Economics – such as in the Samuelson – Solow growth model – have been less than successful.

There are conservation laws in economics but they are of a different kind and it is a great mistake to apply too strictly analogies with energy conservation or imply a similar conservation of money doctrine (for example Godley).

For example the principle of least action is simply energy=potential energy+kinetic energy.

The equivalent in economics would be assets=liabilities+capital.  But assets here is not energy, the maintenance of the asset stock implies the continual input of energy. A non conservative system.

There is no universally accepted formulation of the extension of the principal of least action to thermodynamic and dissipative systems, which is not to state it cant be done. You can derive the laws of thermodynamics from the principle of least action but with the introduction of external energy sinks and sumps you cannot predict the course of action of the system from internal energy states alone.  Feedback in dissipative systems does not have to be positive – the la Chatelier principle that Samuleson used in Foundations.

Another key difference is whether an economy is on an equilibrium or non-equilibrium path is whether expectation have been dissapointed.  It takes little energy to form an expectation and no difference in energy between a correct and false expectation.  However a correct expectation can be modelled as information, and an incorrect one as no information.  Therefore equilibrium can be modelled as a state of maximum entropy – which is equivalent of least action.  This value creation system though is parallel and separate from – though connected to – the system for valuation of past work.  It is the creation of value which links the two.

One issue over which there is great confusion is whether economic systems – being inter-temporal and dynamic – are different from economic systems where prices shift according to the compatibility of plans and expectations.   If plans are compatible so that expectations are realized then an external disequilibrium input will cause a ‘shock’ – there will be a price path but that path will restore to equilibrium.  This is an example of Wicksells ‘Rocking Horse’ – which requires a Frisch’s type ‘shock’ of a hammer hitting it to knock out of equilibrium.  This is why the term ‘inter-temporal equilibrium’ is a misnomer.  There is no such thing – rather it is the path of reaction of a conservative system towards equilibrium.  Equilibrium is not a law – rather it is a result of a law – the principle of least action – that describes the state of a system fully at all points along its path in and out of equilibrium.

If however plans are incompatible and expectations are not realised then negative feedback is introduced – we have a dissipative system – value will be net created or destroyed. Most plans are incompatible most of the time. The creation and destruction will create net winners and losers.  There will be opportunities for arbitrage and bringing plans back into compatibility. The act of economic failure and mispricing destroys value but creates information.   So far as these opportunities are not realised then the negative feedback will continue.  The economic system will drift away from the point of maximum information.  Expected prices will become more and more misvalued.  Only when these expectations change and the price system increases in information content will an equilibrium path be restored.  The introduction of feedbacks makes the system non-linear.   The ‘normal’ state of the system need not be at rest – it can be a limit cycle – with saddlepoint properties outside a certain range.  This is another reason why it is better to think in terms of the underyling causative forces of least action and maximisation of information rather than the fixed point of equilibrium at rest.

This approach also has applications in terms of thinking about money.  If expectations are held for all time and are correctly realised then- as Hahn set down – money has no function.  However if the value of products is uncertain then a mechanism is needed to guarantee the realisation of a contract in the future.  Money as a store of value is an information store allowing the alignment of two plans in the future.

 

Local Authorities Doing Land Capture – Great but not Easy or Risk Free

This election will be the first in which all major parties propose some form of land capture in the housing market.  It is also historic in the sense that the generational interests of boomers owning homes are deemed less important than millennials shut out of the housing market.  The Conservative Party in particular no longer the ‘alliance of landed and business interests’ that Peel founded, landed interests take a back seat.

The Conservative proposal is essentially the same approach adopted in most European Countries such as the Netherlands, France and Germany, as well as in China and Singapore.  Local authorities buy land at close to existing use value, parcel it up some for social housing some for sale to housebuilders.  Housebuilders become more like car builders than land speculators.

Although this, at least in high value areas, can at a stroke resolve and replace the complications of CIL and planning gain for affordable housing it is not an easy process to set going, and carries considerable risks that must be mitigated.

1. The Initial Land Purchase must be funded  

Once a system of land purchase and resale becomes established it becomes self funding as land sales fund new ones.  It is difficult to set these up without initial funding.  LAs are constrained as to how they can use RTB receipts (mainly because of land costs and this constraint is now removed) and of course in their borrowing.  A way forward could be through issuing of equity – similar to the 19C housing copartnership schemes as set up by the Liberal and Conservative parties.  Those seeking an affordable home could purchase an equity share in a development corporation and in return have a right to a shared ownership plot or a plot where the land is owned by the corporation and a right of development is sold (known as usufruct) separating land speculation from home ownership.  This works especially well with custom build plots and with reducing barriers to entry to small housebuilders who could also provide equity for land development rights.  Similarly an increase in ‘back to back’ arrangements with eventual developers is likely.

2. Some form of risk sharing is necessary

If LAs are to get into the housing market big time they bear considerable risks when the market crashes.  In the Netherlands in the Great Recession many municipalities were exposed left with part sold or developed large land holdings.  for this reason the liberal governments Treasury tried to clamp down on it to the resistance of the housing ministry, municipalities and the housebuilding industries, citing the success of the policy and for housebuilders its risk reduction.  Of course the Treasury might have born in mind how much worse the crash could have been if the Netherlands had had the low housebuilding rates of England.  None the less it is a risky business and it is not one for very small rural authorities alone unable to bear large financial shocks.  Those getting into it need to share and pool risks and there needs to be a ‘land buyer of last resort’ who can step in and purchase surplus plots at times of financial crisis.  Ireland offers a highly successful model here which has largely paid for itself after the economic recovery.

3.  LAs have to get into Masterplanning

Ok you have a large site after CPO.  You need to start selling plots to make a return on your initial investment. What do you need to do in between?  The shift towards a zoning system through permission in principle is welcome.  Through local plans the future land bank for housing is immediately set and enables LA to value their future worth.  There is a step missing however in the legislation, between a site and a parcel you need a masterplan to define the ROW, streets, Parcels and undevelopable ,and (green space, community facilities and utilities plots).  Also be having a clearer understanding of permitted heights and bulk LAs can more accurately predict revenue streams from land.

4.  Be bold CIL and Section 106 Affordable Housing are history

The theory is that CIL, section 106 and planning gain affordable housing should not add to the price of land as taken off the economic rent – as should land value capture.  So in theory once rolled out there would no longer be any need for CIL or S106 affordable housing it could all be covered through value capture.  CIL and S106 would be relegated to deal with old sites bought and permitted but not implemented under the old system.  Even there developers would need to get a move on to avoid unimplemented sites being CPO’d.  If the government was bold they would announce the ending of CIL and section 106 affordable housing, with affordable housing being defined as part of the zoning decision.  This would incentive use of land value capture.

5. The valuation and compensation rules have to be totally unambiguous 

If as seems likely valuation is based on existing use rather than permitted or alternative use valuation should be relatively easy.  However if not clear cut, and with at least some compensation to incentivise release cases could get bogged down in the land tribunal.  The easiest way to do this is to value all land and map it as part of taxation reforms replacing council tax.  Even if agricultural land contained partial or full exemptions this would be worthwhile.  Such a mapping exercise would also be essential to post Brexit agricultural support payments and avoiding deadweight loss of public funding.  Some landowners will now be worried about undeveloped land being CPOd, they rush to commence – which would be a good thing.  The cannier developers will be seeking to do deals, offering parts of sites at existing use value, or a reduced markup over existing use value, in return for equity investment in development corporations, giving them the seedcorn capital they crave.

6.  Shared Expertise over CPO and Land Assembly is Needed

Very few local authorities have legal expertise over CPO in their legal department.  LAs need to pool this and develop expert specialist teams.  LAs could also ‘twin’ with municipalities in other European countries to learn best practice in land assembly, development and land capture.

7.  Land Pooling/Redistribution is Needed 

This is less obvious. Any CPO practitioner will tell you that once you introduce the prospect of CPO at less than market value any rational owner will seek a sale and no CPO will be necessary.  The incentive for developers to bring forward their own schemes with high proportions of affordable housing is therefore strong.  What however about the hold out owner who thinks that their land holding isn’t getting a fair share of the value pie.  In Germany and Japan there existing land pooling/redistribution powers whereby the newly masterplanned and suvdivided plots are distributed amongst the various landowners in an equitable way.  Such powers are also useful where there is a major change in market conditions and a project needs to shrink or grow and the mew or left out owners need to share in the risks or rewards respectively.

8.  Common Spaces need to be Defined and Managed

If LAs are to become primary developers selling land on to secondary developers the issue arises as to the management of open spaces and shared public realm. Las need to return a proportion of returns to management companies designed to fund the public real in perpetuity.  The Olympic Park is a good example of this.

9.  It needs a proper system of subdivision control and Cadastre

If an LA is creating a parcel this immediately becomes a title for land registry and taxation – in most countries this is done in a single step in the LAs parcel fabric database.  In England unlike most countries operating Torrens based cadastre systems there is no requirement to register and only around 2/3rds of land is.  The Conservative Manifesto contains a quite radical proposal to combine the land registry and Ordnace Survey and make land data open source.  This really should be combined with legal reforms to create a proper land cadastre system as the basis for all land tax charges and subsidies.  Again this only makes sense if there is a proper legal framework for subdivision.  If a buyer of two LA parcel decides not to combine them but build single houses on each parcel, or even to build say three houses in a new subdivision – why should they need a fresh planning application if this is within the subdivision rules of the original masterplan?  Without subdivision rules it becomes impossible to keep accurate data on the number of available parcels and their taxation status.  Planning law should be reformed to make subdivision development with wide permitted development exemptions such as where subdivision rules are met within a masterplan implementing PiP.

Conservative Manifesto Shifts from ‘Protect the Green Belt’ to Protect only ‘designated ..Greenbelt’

Implying of course it can be dedesignated.  The wekaest Conservative Manifesto commitment on this issues since 1979.

Other takeaways

  • Keeping the weak 200,000 homes a year target for housebuilding
  • A new focus on high densities
  • It is clear from the manifesto commitment that the land value capture scheme is not restricted to brownfield – it refers to ‘urban regneration and development’
  • Mention of rebalencing housing growth across the coutry – omitted from Housing White Paper – consider this like the immigration pledge – met someday never without an horizen.

Here

We have not built enough homes in this country for generations, and buying or renting a home has become increasingly unaffordable. If we do not put this right, we will be unable to extend the promise of a decent home, let alone home ownership, to the millions who deserve it. We will fix the dysfunctional housing market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future. The key to this is to build enough homes to meet demand. That will slow the rise in housing costs so more ordinary, working families can afford to buy a home and bring the cost of renting down. And it will ensure that more private capital is invested in more productive investment, helping the economy to grow faster and more securely in future years. We will meet our 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and we will deliver half a million more by the end of 2022.

We will deliver the reforms proposed in our Housing White Paper to free up more land for new homes in the right places, speed up build-out by encouraging modern methods of construction and give councils powers to intervene where developers do not act on their planning permissions; and we will diversify who builds homes in this country.

More homes will not mean poor quality homes. For too long, careless developers, high land costs and poor planning have conspired to produce housing developments that do not enhance the lives of those living there. We have not provided the infrastructure, parks, quality of space and design that turns housing into community and makes communities prosperous and sustainable. The result is felt by many ordinary, working families. Too often, those renting or buying a home on a modest income have to tolerate  substandard developments -some only a few years old -and are denied a decent place in which to live, where they can put down roots and raise children. For a country boasting the finest architects and planners in the world, this is unacceptable. We will build better houses, to match the quality of those we have inherited from previous generations. That means supporting high-quality, high-density housing like mansion blocks, mews houses and terraced streets.

It means maintaining the existing strong protections on designated land like the Green Belt, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It means not just concentrating development in the south-east but rebalancing housing growth across the country, in line with our modern industrial strategy. It means government building 160,000 houses on its own land. It means supporting specialist housing where it is needed, like multigenerational homes and housing for older people, including by helping housing associations increase their specialist housing stock. We will never achieve the numbers of new houses we require without the active participation of social and municipal housing providers. This must not be done at the expense of high standards, however: councils have been amongst the worst offenders in failing to build sustainable, integrated communities. In some instances, they have built for political gain rather than for social purpose. So we will help councils to build, but only those councils who will build high-quality, sustainable and integrated communities. We will enter into new Council Housing Deals with ambitious, pro-development, local authorities to help them build more social housing. We will work with them to improve their capability and capacity to develop more good homes, as well as providing them with significant low-cost capital funding. In doing so, we will build new fixed-term social houses, which will be sold privately after ten to fifteen years with an automatic Right to Buy for tenants, the proceeds of which will be recycled into further homes. We will reform Compulsory Purchase Orders to make them easier and less expensive for councils to use and to make it easier to determine the true market value of sites. We will also give greater flexibility to housing associations to increase their housing stock, building on their considerable track record in recent years. And we will work with private and public sector house builders to capture the increase in land value created when they build to reinvest in local infrastructure, essential services and further housing, making it both easier and more certain that public sector landowners, and communities themselves, benefit from the increase in land value from urban regeneration and development. And we will continue our £2.5 billion flood defence programme that will put in place protection for 300,000 existing homes by 2021. These ambitious policies will mean more and better homes, welcomed by existing communities because they add, rather than subtract, from what is already there. This is the sustainable development we need to see happen in every village, town and city across our country. These policies will take time, and meanwhile we will continue to support those struggling to buy or rent a home, including those living in a home owned by a housing association.

The Varsity Line and Opportunities for Garden Cities West of Cambridge

With talk of a study driven by the Infrastructure Commission for the Oxford/MK Cambridge Arc and a new Spatial Plan for Cambridgeshire +Peterborough driven by Lewis Herbert it is appropriate to talk about opportunities in Cambridgeshire.

I have previously written at length about opportunities further East as they are more immediate – the extra capacity from HS2 to WCML and the first phase of the Varsity Line.

The medium term requirements for Cambridgeshire are set out in the MoU agreed by all districts.  However this maintains the status quo and not the level of jobs driven growth the Infrastructure commission is aiming at.  Housing targets would be much more if Cambs had to take its share of shortfalls from the London Plan.

The biggest opportunity comes from the RAF Mildenhall closure – large enough for a Garden City – though just over the border in Suffolk it is within the ever expanding housing market area for Cambridge and shows how strategic planning cannot stick rigidly to county boundaries.

The old structure plan strategy was to discourage commuting to London by focusing growth North of Cambridge.  This is out of date.  Traffic modelling by the county shows it has little benefit, and of course where will London overspill go – clearly to places with strong jobs growth such as Cambridgeshire.

There is a particular cluster of opportunities West of Cambridge along the old North Road (Ermine Street) which I think should be upgraded to serve them and act as a growth corridor within an Easy commute both of London and Cambridge only 12 miles away, as well as providing improved connections to infrastructure starved Huntingdonshire and Peterborough from the South.

Those opportunities are:

  • Papworth Hospital Paworth Everard – due to move to Cambridge Biomedical Campus in 2018
  • Longstowe – where Ermine Street crosses the route of the former Varsity line – and site of a former Station. If the old route is chosen, even if not could be used as a guided bus route as per Northstowe.
  • RAF Bassingborn – Closed in 2016, and close to the revised proposed southerly route of the Varsity Line
  • The area around Ashwell and Morden Station – which will have increased capacity to serve Cambridge following completion of the Hitchin Chord (in North Herts)

The concept here would be to dual Ermine Street to the A429  and Huntingdn- which would also enable substantial expansion of Camborne.

Development of new/expanded commuter stations at Longstowe and Ashwell and Morden

Development of a Garden Village expansion at Papworth Everard

Development of a Garden Town at Longstowe

Expand Royston to the North East and develop a new Garden City to the North and East of Royston in a arc between Ashwell and Morden Station and RAF Bassingborn.  This would be large enough to be developed as several neighbourhoods with substantial space between to preserve the setting of attractive villages such as Steeple Morden and Litlington.

It should be noted that in this falt dull landscape it is the villages and historic houses that provide interest – so Garden Cities, Villages and Suburbs could enhance teh landscape.

All of these areas could share infrastructure – such as Sewerage and public transport, secondary schools etc, benefitting from Major Economies of Scale.

At Bassingborn there is the potential to relocate Cambridge Airport there – a site with potential for over 10,000 homes.

At Longstowe I would relocate Anglia Ruskin University and Oxford University Press, and Fulborne Hospital, opening up precious brownfield sites in Cambridge.  None of them really needs to be there.

In total with infrastructure upgrades they could house around 150,000 population.

The Manifesto for Surrey – Move Development to Hampshire

As Surrey’s Green Belt includes the entire non urban part of the County and as OAN includes a migration component under the NPPF and DTC Surrey authorities would need to agree for adjoining areas – such as Hampshire – to agree any planned shortfall – is that the intention – or simply that Surrey becomes a retirement home for boomers already having paid their mortgage?

Get Surrey

Surrey can’t go on “losing precious countryside to developers”, a campaign group has said.

The Surrey Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has now issued its “Manifesto for Surrey” setting out policies to protect the Green Belt, countryside and villages.

The group, which describes itself as strictly non-party political, and is a registered charity, has now called for candidates of all political parties in the General Election to endorse the manifesto and agree to incorporate its policies in their election addresses.

The manifesto for Surrey sets out policies to protect the Green Belt and other countryside and green spaces in Surrey from “inappropriate development”, oppose excessive and unsustainable housebuilding figures and ensure that new development meets “genuine local need” not demand from outside Surrey.

It also aims to prioritise urban and brownfield regeneration, make better use of existing housing stock, and ensure a significantly higher proportion of well-designed affordable and social housing.

The group, which has more than 2,500 members in Surrey, is also calling for new housing to only be permitted where funding is available to provide significant improvements in infrastructure and public services.

It also wants measurably higher standards in air and water quality and to ensure rural tranquillity and dark night skies.

CPRE also wants the boundaries of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty redrawn to bring existing Areas of Great Landscape Value within the AONB.

Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey branch director, said: “Our Manifesto for Surrey sets out the policies that would protect our countryside and green spaces from unnecessary and inappropriate development.

“Surrey is getting full up. We are already losing precious countryside to the developers. Our infrastructure and public services are under massive pressure.

“We can’t go on like this. Surrey needs to build more homes but we need the right housing in the right places, and on a scale that is sustainable.

“CPRE’s duty is to defend the countryside and Green Belt. We have heard many politicians promising to do the same. But for this to be meaningful they need to agree to policies that relieve the pressure on our rural areas and provide real protection for our green spaces.

“The CPRE Manifesto for Surrey provides a way forward.”

To read the full manifesto visit the Surrey Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s website.

Tory’s new Temporary Council Homes Programme Only Affordable if no RTB for 20 Years

Here I assume that the price of a home (2 bedroom London) is equal to

  • The NPV of London living wage for the year it remains a council house
  • The average London rent for the remaining period to amortise the mortgage ( year 10 or 15 to year 25)

For simplicity I excluded Mortage and agents fees etc.  Current 3.75% mortgage rates.

A simple calculation shows that for no RTB period of less that 20 years would the income stream for the period before RTB be more than the income stream for the period after.  In other words the post RTB period makes the property unaffordable.

For 10 years RTB exemption the property would only be affordable at around 10% discount.

For higher interest rates the no RTB period comes down dramatically, for example at 5% the period comes down to 15 years.

With tweaks the policy could work – for example it could be a rent to mortgage policy where on top of the living rent renters paid a small premium to cover the 3.75-5% gap to purchase a shared ownership and the right to full RTB after 15 years.