Which Green Belt Sites in a Local Plan Review? Weighing Strategic Green Belt Assessments in the Balance

This post ios not about the principle of loss of Green Belt.  Rather it is about where an LPA has a shortfall which sites its chooses in the GB.

In quite a few sites I have seen one site has potential good PT access and could form the nucleus of a transit orientated community.   Another site less so, perhaps not on a rail line, a rounding off far suburban site – but being less exposed,  is judged to meet Green Belt purposes better in a strategic review.

The sites for expansion may even be in another local planning authority – witness Slough and South Bucks this week

I dont think you should apply the findings of the strategic  review mechanically.  Sometimes the best site when judged against all criteria may not be the very best site when judged solely against GB purposes issues.  Sites along existing or potential transit corridors may be definition be exposed through running along flat easy accessible land.  Oxford is a good example of this.

So whilst weighing in the balence complex landscape issues they cant trump good planning.  Sometimes good planning has to be seen, even in the Green Belt, and if it is the choice between a transit orientated extension and sprawl at a site that marginally does less well in Green Belt purposes terms good sustainable planning should always trump mechanistic application of a single rule.  In those cases bit the bullet and produce a new harder better Green Belt edge.

Lets face it too every single Green Belt review is manipulated by the commissioning authority to tilt the balance against the sites the politicians think most contentious.  They should be treated with a healthy pinch of salt by inspectors.  If you doubt this look at the warring assessments produced for South of Grenoble Road between Oxford CC and South Oxfordshire.

Corbyn accused of ‘oversimplifying a complex issue’ on Estate Regeneration

Its like Brexit.  Why should elected representatives who represented every local resident- including the currently unhoused – be trumped.  Im with Javids guidance here it strikes precisely the right balance on preventing gentrification whilst insuring densification and preventing metrication for its own sake.  It would seem that Corbyn would rather let major estates in London rot rather than bring in new investment and 10s of thousands of new houses, many of which would enormously reduce local councils current bills for temporary accommodation.  Old style loony left posturing rather than real ‘actually existing labour’ governance.  Having said that there are cases in London, like Cressingham, where the residents campaigns are right and refurbishment should be backed.  Indeed I think the Cressingham estate should be a conservation area.


A Labour-run council has said it is opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to force local authorities to ballot residents before carrying out housing redevelopments because a yes/no vote would risk oversimplifying a complex issue.

Haringey council in north London, which is carrying out a major regeneration project in association with the developer Lendlease, said it would resist the idea of a compulsory ballot.

The Haringey Labour councillor Alan Strickland, who holds the housing and regeneration brief, said: “We will continue to put comprehensive and meaningful engagement with residents at the heart of our regeneration plans, but we do not expect to start using yes/no ballots.”

The borough cited guidance from the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, which warns ballots “can risk turning a complex set of issues that affects different people in different ways over many years into a simple yes/no decision at a single point in time”.

The ballot idea was among a cluster of housing policies outlined by Corbyn during his speech to the Labour party conference in Brighton on Wednesday. The leader said he believed too many council regeneration schemes amounted to “forced gentrification and social cleansing”, with social tenants pushed out by private developers.

Corbyn said that under a Labour government, those who lived on an estate earmarked for redevelopment would have to be guaranteed a replacement home at the same site and on the same terms, and no work could take place unless approved by a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders.

The plans were viewed by many as a thinly veiled attack on some Labour-run councils, especially in London, where boroughs such as Haringey, Southwark and Lambeth have carried out huge and often controversial rebuilding schemes.

Facing a squeeze in funding and increased pressure for housing, councils and others have sought to replace 1960s council estates with privately built developments, some including little social or affordable housing.

Other councils were more circumspect but defended their regeneration plans. Mark Williams, in charge of housing in Southwark, said opponents of schemes such as the ongoing rebuilding of the 1960s Aylesbury estate had wrongly claimed many tenants were being forced out of the area, when 95% of those who had moved still lived in the borough.

Protesters outside Aylesbury council estate in 2015
 Protesters outside Aylesbury council estate in 2015. Photograph: Andrea Baldo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Corbyn’s plans do, however, tap into longstanding public opposition to some of the schemes. In Lambeth, residents of a 1960s low-rise estate, Cressingham Gardens, have fought a long battle against the council’s plans to demolish what they say is a vibrant community.

Jo Parkes, one of the campaigners, said that after Lambeth declined to ballot residents on its plans, her group did, and found 86% of households opposed them, with a 72% response rate.

Parkes said she believed campaigns such as the Cressingham one had helped push Corbyn into action. “Absolutely,” she said. “We’ve been talking about it for some time, and it had been a bit disappointing that Corbyn was silent on this before now.

One senior Labour figure in a council, speaking anonymously, said that if Corbyn wanted to crack down on public-private housing schemes he would need to find a replacement source of funding.

He said: “One thing missing from the speech is that there wasn’t an acceptance that while the aims are perfectly laudable, a Labour government would have to put serious amounts of cash behind it. I think it would, but that has to be recognised.”

A source in the national Labour party said Corbyn had a plan to fund the proposals. “There would be new funding,” the source said. “Jeremy recognises councils have had to be creative over these plans, and his speech wasn’t intended as a direct criticism of them.”



Northern Powerhouse Back on Agenda – Watch out on Budget Day

Budget Day is the two year ‘Hard Deadline’ given to the NIC for the National Infrastructure Strategy and the Oxford=MK-Cambridge Strategy report- so watch this space.  A perfect opportunity for the chancellor to make jokes about the sides of buses and set the agenda.


Theresa May is “allowing and even almost lightly encouraging” more focus on the northern powerhouse since her two closest advisers quit after the election, one of the plan’s architects has said.

Jim O’Neill, the former commercial secretary to the Treasury, said the plan to rebalance the UK’s economy appeared to be back on the government’s agenda following the resignation of Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill in June.

“It may be complete coincidence, but I’m sure it’s not, that since they’ve gone there is more interest in stuff to do with the northern powerhouse, as evidenced by [Philip] Hammond’s visit [to northern leaders this month],” he said.

Lord O’Neill, who resigned from the government last September, spoke as a report published by former chancellor George Osborne’s northern powerhouse thinktank said 850,000 jobs could be created by 2050 with investment from the government and business.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) report, written by business leaders including the Siemens UK chief executive, Juergen Maier, said the government had a “vital role” and urged Hammond, the current chancellor, to use his upcoming budget to commit billions of pounds to close the productivity gap between the north and London.

O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs chief economist who sits on the NPP board, said the projects needed government investment of about £5bn. It was a “big ask”, he said, but one the government could afford and that fit within its industrial strategy.

The report, Powerhouse 2050: the North’s Routemap for Productivity, says the north of England could be £100bn more productive and be world-leading in four fields – including energy and digital – with the right backing.

Among the four sectors, it calls for £2bn to replace the entire gas network of Leeds with hydrogen, which would be produced in the Tees Valley, and £1bn to creating a new northern economy of small nuclear reactors.

It also calls for £60m for the north to become the UK’s first region commit to industrial digitisation, and £100m to reinforce the UK as a leader in health data.

O’Neill said investment in those four areas would be “game-changing for the north and of a sufficient magnitude that it would boost the rate of growth of the country as a whole”.

In a foreword to the report, Osborne called for the north to bring together its areas of expertise that were currently “in pockets across the region, separated by traditional geographic boundaries with proud local identities”.

The former chancellor added: “National government has an important role too, especially in providing the infrastructure needed – like northern powerhouse rail, the transformational scheme to connect the great cities of the north.

“There are other investments in science and research and training the government needs to fund, which we cost in this report and which government can clearly afford over the coming years as part of the money it has set aside for its industrial strategy.

“Bring what the north has committed to deliver and what the government can provide, and you have an economic plan that would raise productivity across the northern economy and could deliver an additional 850,000 jobs.”

Last month Osborne suggested May could “relaunch her premiership” at the Conservative party conference this weekend by making a bold commitment to improving transport infrastructure in the north.

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has infuriated mayors, civic and business leaders by scrapping the planned electrification of railway lines in the Midlands and the north.

O’Neill described rail electrification as a “red herring” and said it may not be the most cost-effective way forward. The former minister said he had met Grayling last week and was confident the government was committed to improving the north’s transport links.

“The idea that Whitehall isn’t focused on what the north needs for transport, I don’t think it’s actually very well founded,” he said. “The key for what’s needed for the north on transport is the straightness of the lines and the number of points. How it’s powered is of much less importance, and that I’m pretty confident about. I know the geeks get all caught up in this stuff but it’s sort of a red herring.”

He said he would be “amazed if there isn’t some kind of signal intent on transport” in the budget on 22 November, and Hammond’s visit to northern leaders this month was significant. “I’m also hopeful that now [Hill and Timothy] have disappeared the PM seems to be allowing and even almost lightly encouraging more focus on the northern powerhouse,” O’Neill added.