Now Its Official Policy – The Oxford-MK-Cambridge Strategy Gets a lot more Legally Complicated – Or Why the Budget didn’t announce the Location of 5 New Garden Towns

Many people who read this blog will know EU directive  2001/42/EC commission guidance and caselaw backwards – and even write textbooks on it.  So I won’t bore you with the details.  If you want that read the textbooks  🙂  Just buy them – after all there are lots of remaindered stock.

Just a quick note.  The NIC may have been considered a ‘safe space’ for the early exploration of the return of strategic planning because it is a non statutory advisory only body.  No legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions  (to use the words of the directive) have ever been issued by them.  They may have played a part in the government backing down on gideon’s promise to make the NIC statutory.  Even strategy doesn’t set the framework  for land use decisions directly it will automatically require SEA if governed by an ‘administrative process’ and the plan or programme promulgated would be covered by the Habitats directive – 1 million new homes – of course would require AA.

In the German and Dutch versions of the directive the terms ‘administrative process’ was left out.  But of course Germanic police powers law – under which zoning was established was automatically legal.  For strategic planning in the UK for many years there was no legal requirement for regional planning and when it was introduced it was very short lived.  It was always accepted by the government and texted in the courts that RPG/RSS was governed by an administrative process through government policy rather than a statutory one and so fell under 2001/42/EC.So now the government backs the NIC report (and they have saved themselves having feared abolition in the post Gideon Era) – that report says prepare a proper strategy covering economics, transport and land use/housing – including the location of Garden Cities/Towns etc.

No work thus far has been done on an environment baseline report, screening, scoping, assessment of options or early consultation on them.  All the directive stuff.  That Now kicks in with full legal force.  If the DCLG tried to circumvent this the locational announcement of any New Town would immediately and successfully be challenged in court.  Even the DCLG must know this.  So now things get interesting and complicated.  the question is is the DCLG ready and geared up to manage this after losing almost all of its key staff who knew anything about strategic planning?

 

 

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The Government’s new OAN method – Instantly Out of Date with the Budget

   Planning for Homes in the Right Places Para 21

As the housing White Paper noted10, external commentators suggest that England needs net additions in the region of 225,000 to 275,000 per year.

Budget

to create the financial incentives necessary to deliver 300,000 net additional homes a year on average by the mid-2020s.

Oxfordshire saw a reduction in its housing targets in the OAN Method   To 85,375 over 25 years (equivalent).  In the budget the stretch target 2016-2031 is 100,00k per annum – though this appears way too low as this does not appear to include any overspill from land constrained areas such as London.  My own MOAN method produces – before employment growth –  a target of around 84,000 – and before London overspill (including Oxford Overspill backlog).  Even the NIC method produced by Savills underestimates as it calculates the corridor taking the same share nationally as other areas of London overspill, and a pre London Plan revision overspill (target now increased by 50%) at that (even though Kent- Sussex and East Anglia have far lower areas of unconstrained land within commuting distance of London) .

As for the Corridor the NIC state in the Oxford-MK-Cambs Final Report Page 26:

there is good reason to believe that the methodology used in undertaking assessments of local housing need can be conservative and can mask high levels of unmet need.22 Although local authorities are not consistent in their approach to calculating need, many use trend based household projections\which are based on recent migration trends. In many cases historic migration has been suppressed by low housing supply, leading to underestimates of migration in areas with high levels of demand and
growing housing needs. This is a national issue, but of particular relevance to the study area given high levels of demand for housing.

The Corridor Budget Announcement and ‘Planning for Homes in the Right Places’ the latter designed for an age without Strategic Planning, the former the first step in a new Age with it, have become massively out of step.  The Governments spreadsheet is now an embarrassment.  Even the NIC corridor target contains major technical errors (from teh Svills report which informed it) and is over a year out of date reflecting matters such as 17 year old census data a d p[re London Plan review .

Expect DCLG to quietly drop it and develop a new method in the new Year.

Why the Budget is Only Half Land Value Capture

Only the land value capture from new infrastructure – not the value created by the community from existing infrastructure and the act of zoning.

That i’m sure is to come – New Town Development Corporations have little point without it.

Red Book

Land value uplift – In this year’s Housing White Paper, the government committed
to respond to the CIL Review. DCLG will launch a consultation with detailed proposals on the
following measures:
• removing restriction of Section 106 pooling towards a single piece of infrastructure
where the local authority has adopted CIL, in certain circumstances such as where the
authority is in a low viability area or where signifcant development is planned on several
large strategic sites.8
This will avoid the unnecessary complexity that pooling restrictions
can generate
• speeding up the process of setting and revising CIL to make it easier to respond to
changes to the market. This will include allowing a more proportionate approach than the
requirement for two stages of consultation and providing greater clarity on the appropriate
evidence base. This will enable areas to implement a CIL more quickly, making it easier to
set a higher ‘zonal CIL’ in areas of high land value uplift, for example around stations
• allowing authorities to set rates which better refect the uplift in land values
between a proposed and existing use. Rather than setting a fat rate for all
development of the same type (residential, commercial, etc.), local authorities will have
the option of a different rate for different changes in land use (agricultural to residential,
commercial to residential, industrial to residential). All the protections for viability from CIL,
such as the Examination in Public, will be retained
• changing indexation of CIL rates to house price infation, rather than build costs.
This will reduce the need for authorities to revise charging schedules. This will ensure
CIL rates keep up with general housing price infation and if prices fall, rates will fall too,
avoiding viability issues
8
Section 106 agreements are legal agreements between local authorities and developers. They are a mechanism which makes a development proposal
acceptable in planning terms, which would not otherwise be acceptable. Section 106 agreements provide site specific mitigations.
62
• giving Combined Authorities and planning joint committees with statutory
plan-making functions the option to levy a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff
(SIT) in future, in the same way that the London Mayoral CIL is providing funding
towards Crossrail. The SIT would be additional to CIL and viability would be examined in
public. DCLG will consult on whether it should be used to fund both strategic and local
infrastructure

 

Pickles You were Wrong all Along – The Return of Strategic Planning in the Budget

Red Book

Strategic planning in the South East – To ensure that this investment is well‑targeted and helps grow the economy, the government will support more strategic and zonal planning approaches through housing deals in the South East, where housing need is at its most acute.
As a first step, the government has agreed a housing deal with Oxfordshire, part of its wider strategic investment in the Cambridge‑Milton Keynes‑Oxford corridor. Oxfordshire has agreed to bring forward for adoption a joint statutory spatial plan and commit to a stretching target of 100,000 homes in the county by 2031, in return for a package of government support over the next five years, including £30 million a year for infrastructure and further support for affordable housing and local capacity. The government is also continuing housing deal negotiations with Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Leeds and the West of England.

The Budget Red Book on the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor

Here

Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor
4.65  The corridor between Cambridge and Oxford has the potential to be a globally
signifcant economy. Following the National Infrastructure Commission’s report, the Budget  sets out an ambitious integrated programme of infrastructure, housing, business investment and development.

4.66 Housing – The government recognises the need, highlighted by the NIC’s report, to build up to 1 million new homes in the area by 2050 to maximise its economic potential, starting with a housing deal with Oxfordshire for 100,000 homes by 2031, and working with Central and Eastern sections on commitments in 2018. The government will also consider significant new settlements and the potential role of development corporations to deliver these using private finance.

4.67 Rail – By 2024 the western section of East West Rail will be complete, allowing services between Oxford and Bedford, and Aylesbury and Milton Keynes. A new East West RailCompany is being established to accelerate delivery of the central section between Bedford and Cambridge, aiming for completion by the mid-2020s and leveraging private sector investment.

Working in partnership with local stakeholders, the government is committing £5 million to develop proposals for Cambridge South station, and is starting a study on the enhancements needed to accommodate future rail growth across Cambridgeshire. As a first step towards opening a station at Cowley, the government will also make available £300,000 to co-fund a study of opportunities for new stations, services and routes across the Oxfordshire rail corridor. (28)

4.68 Road – Construction will begin on key elements of the Expressway between Cambridge and Oxford in the second Roads Investment Strategy. The government will also accelerate work on the ‘missing link’ elements of the Expressway so that it is ready to open by 2030. The government is commissioning England’s Economic Heartland to analyse how communities not on the route of the ‘missing link’ will be able to beneft from it.  55

4.69 Land value uplift – The government expects authorities and delivery bodies in the
Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor to use existing mechanisms of land value capture and the new powers (subject to consultation) announced at the Budget to capture rising land values from the additional public investment. The government will also encourage authorities to explore the introduction of a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff, in addition to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), supported by appropriate governance arrangements. These approaches will require developers to baseline their contributions towards infrastructure into the values they pay for land.

4.70 Governance – The government is setting out its vision for the future, and inviting local partners to contribute. The government has agreed with Oxfordshire that it will work toward the adoption of a new joint statutory plan (JSP), and will seek further JSPs in central and eastern sections.

Hammonds Announces 5 New Towns/Garden Town Development Corporations and Backs Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor – Here’s where they almost certainly are.

Of course those who have read the background papers on the Corridor – and our own detailed submission presented at a seminar to the NIC –  know there is strong consensus on 5 areas within the Corridor alone – Bassingbourne, Sandy/Biggleswade , Marston Vale , Calvert and Kindlington/Begbrooke/Yarnton.  More on this before the weekend.  There are many other good locations  (around Northampton, Grove etc.) its just the local planning and thinking hasn’t yet caught up

The Housing/Planning section of the budget speech.  Remarkable it seems Javid got 8/10s of what he was asking for at first glance – though much less when analysed as only around 5 billion is new money for house building.  He’s unsackable now.  As for Land Value Capture – read the red book – at last!

Speech

Mr Deputy Speaker.

I want to turn to the challenge of the Housing Market.

But before I do, I want to touch on the aftermath of the appalling events at Grenfell Tower.

We have provided financial support for the victims of this terrible tragedy.

And today I can announce we will provide Kensington and Chelsea Council with a further £28m for mental health services, regeneration support for the surrounding areas and to provide a new community space for Grenfell United community group.

This tragedy should never have happened, and we must ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.

All Local Authorities and Housing Associations must carry out any identified necessary safety works as soon as possible.

If any local authority cannot access funding to pay for essential fire safety work, they should contact us immediately.

As I have said before, we will not let financial constraints get in the way of essential safety work.

Mr Deputy Speaker.

I want to address the issue of empty properties:

It can’t be right to leave property empty when so many are desperate for a place to live.

So we will give Local Authorities the power to charge a 100% council tax premium on empty properties.

We will also launch a consultation on barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector, and how we might encourage landlords to offer them to those tenants who want the extra security.

And I want to say something about rough sleeping.

It is unacceptable that in 21st Century Britain there are people sleeping on the streets.

So we’ll invest £28 million in three new “Housing First” Pilots in the West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool.

And establish a homelessness taskforce.

As part of our commitment to halving rough sleeping by 2022, and eliminating it by 2027.

Mr Deputy Speaker.

I’d like to thank the many colleagues who submitted ideas on how to tackle the challenge of the Housing Market.

Including Honourable Friends for North East Hampshire, Eastleigh, and Weston-Super-Mare.

By continuing to invest in Britain’s infrastructure, skills and R&D we will ensure the recovery in productivity growth that is the key to delivering our vision of a stronger, fairer, more balanced economy.

And the assurance to the next generation of their economic security.

But however successful we are in that endeavour, there is one area where young people today will, rightly, feel concern about their future prospects – and that is in the housing market.

House prices are increasingly out of reach for many.

It takes too long to save for a deposit.

And rents absorb too high a portion of monthly income.

So the number of 25-34 year olds owning their own home has dropped from 59% to just 38% over the last thirteen years.

Put simply, successive governments over decades, have failed to build enough homes to deliver the home-owning dream that this country has always been proud of.

Or, indeed, to meet the needs of those who rent.

In Manchester a few weeks ago, my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister made a pledge to Britain’s younger generation that she would “…dedicate [her] premiership to fixing this problem”.

Today we take the next steps to delivering on that pledge.

By choosing to build.

We send a message to the next generation that getting on the housing ladder is not just a dream of your parents’ past.

But a reality for your future.

We’ve made a start with schemes like Help to Buy, which has helped over 320,000 people buy a home.

We’ve increased the supply of homes by more than 1.1 million since 2010.

Including nearly 350,000 affordable homes.

Housebuilding stands at its highest level since the crash, with the latest figures showing that over 217,000 net additional homes were added to the stock last year.

That is a remarkable achievement.

But we need to do better still if we are to see affordability improve.

This is a complex challenge.

There is no single magic bullet.

If we don’t increase supply of land for new homes, more money will inflate prices, and make matters worse.

If we don’t do more to support the growth of the SME housebuilding sector.

[Political content removed]

We will remain dependent on the major national housebuilders that dominate the industry.

And if we don’t train the construction workers of tomorrow.

We may generate planning permissions, but we will not turn them into homes.

Solving this challenge will require money, planning reform and intervention.

So today we set out an ambitious plan to tackle the housing challenge.

Over the next five years we will commit a total of at least £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support our housing market.

To boost the supply of skills, resources, and building land.

And to create the financial incentives necessary to deliver 300,000 net additional homes a year on average by the mid-2020s.

The biggest annual increase in housing supply since 1970.

New money for the Home Builders Fund to get SME housebuilders building again.

A £630 million small sites fund to unstick the delivery of 40,000 homes.

A further £2.7 billion to more than double the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

£400 million for estate regeneration.

A £1.1 billion fund to unlock strategic sites, including new settlements and urban regeneration schemes.

A lifting of HRA caps for councils in high demand areas to get them building again.

And £8 billion of new financial guarantees to support private housebuilding and the purpose-built private rented sector.

And because we need a workforce to build these new homes.

We are providing an additional £34m to develop construction skills across the country.

Mr Deputy Speaker.

Solving the housing challenge takes more than money.

It takes planning reform.

We will focus on the urban areas where people want to live and where most jobs are created.

Making best use of our urban land, and continuing the strong protection of our green belt.

In particular, building high quality, high density homes in city centres and around transport hubs.

And to put the needs of our young people first, we will ensure that councils in high demand areas permit more homes for local first time buyers and affordable renters.

My Right Honourable Friend the Communities Secretary will set out more detail in due course.

However, one thing is very clear: there is a significant gap between the number of planning permissions granted and the number of homes built.

In London alone, there are 270,000 residential planning permissions unbuilt.

We need to understand why.

So I am establishing an urgent Review to look at the gap between planning permissions and housing starts.

It will be chaired by my Right Honourable Friend for West Dorset.

And will deliver an interim report in time for the Spring Statement next year.

And if it finds that vitally needed land is being withheld from the market for commercial, rather than technical, reasons.

We will intervene to change the incentives to ensure such land is brought forward for development.

Using direct intervention compulsory purchase powers as necessary.

Mr Deputy Speaker, my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister has said we will fix this problem.

And no one should doubt this government’s determination to do so.

But the solution will not deliver itself.

Local Authorities will need help and support.

Developers will need encouragement and persuasion.

Infrastructure to facilitate higher density development must be funded and delivered.

So the Homes and Communities Agency will expand to become “Homes England”.

Bringing together money, expertise, and planning & compulsory purchase powers.

With a clear remit to facilitate delivery of sufficient new homes, where they are most needed, to deliver a sustained improvement in affordability.

But Mr Deputy Speaker, the battle to achieve and sustain affordability will be a long-term one.

So we also need to look beyond this Parliament, to long-term measures.

We will use New Town Development Corporations to kick-start 5 new locally agreed Garden Towns in areas of demand pressure.

Delivered through public-private partnerships designed to attract long term capital investment from around the world.

Last week the National Infrastructure Commission published their report on the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor.

Today we back their vision and commit to building up to 1 million homes by 2050.

Completing the road and rail infrastructure to support them.

And as a down-payment on this plan, we have agreed an ambitious Housing Deal with Oxfordshire to deliver 100,000 homes by 2031.

Capitalising on the global reputations of our two most famous universities.

And Britain’s biggest new town,

To create a dynamic new growth corridor for the 21st Century.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

This is our plan to deliver on the pledge we have made to the next generation.

That the dream of home ownership will become a reality in this country once again.

But I also want to take action today to help young people who are saving to own a home.

One of the biggest challenges facing young first-time buyers is the cash required up front.

We have put £10 billion more money into Help to Buy equity loan to help those saving for a deposit.

But I want to do more still.

I’ve received representations for a temporary Stamp Duty holiday to first time buyers.

But that would only help those ready to purchase now.

And would offer nothing for the many who will need to save for years.

So, with effect from today, for all first-time buyer purchases up to £300,000, I am abolishing stamp duty altogether.

To ensure that this relief also helps first time buyers in very high price areas like London, it will also be available on the first £300,000 of the purchase price of properties up to £500,000.

Meaning an effective reduction of £5,000.

A stamp duty cut for 95% of all first-time buyers who pay stamp duty.

And no stamp duty at all for 80% of first time buyers from today.

Mr Deputy Speaker.

When we say we will revive the home-owning dream in Britain.

We mean it.

We do not underestimate the scale of the challenge

But today, we have made a substantial downpayment

Unreported parts of @sajidjavid Speech – Time for Large Garden Cities- ‘Unplanned Development is Not the Answer’

Here 

The end of the anti interventionist unplanned localist era where teh government stepped back and expected the market to fill the gap in housing needs and local communities to spontaneously decide and agree how much housing to build.  Those days are over.  The NPPF is of another time-  Out of date.

Ill highlight a few parts that didn’t get in the new newspapers

Can and should central government take a bigger, more active role in building homes?

Our vision for Garden Villages and Garden Towns have been well received by planners and residents alike.

But should we now be more bold, taking the concept to the next level and creating larger Garden Cities?

How can we get more land into the system, freeing up more sites on which to build?

Despite what some claim, our green and pleasant land not about to turn concrete grey.

Twice a day, more of Britain gets covered by the incoming tide than is currently covered by buildings.

England is the most developed part of the UK, yet less than 10% of its land is urban.

Building the homes that we need does not mean ruining vast tracts of beautiful countryside. It doesn’t mean that at all.

It just means working with local communities to make sensible, informed decisions about what needs to be built and where – and finding the right sites on which to do so.

….

Tomorrow, the National Infrastructure Commission will publish its report on the opportunities on offer if we open up the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor.

I’m very much looking forward to what Lord Adonis has to say.

That’s because infrastructure has to be at the heart of any major development. And as Secretary of State I will make sure make sure that it is.

Too many commentators seem to think we have to choose one solution and stick with it, whether that’s planning reform, it’s infrastructure, it’s training or it’s investment.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are many, many faults in our housing market, dating back many, many years.

If you only fix one, yes you’ll make some progress, sure enough.

But this is a big problem and we have to think big.

We can’t allow ourselves to be pulled into one silo or another, and I don’t intend to let that happen.

So there is much that central government can do.

But, acting alone, we won’t be able to do anything.

Fixing the broken market requires action on many fronts, and from many actors.

# I want the Homes and Communities Agency to be less cautious, to be more aggressive, and to be more muscular.

To take its foot off the brake and use all the tools we’ve created for it.

The agency is taking that approach here at Temple Meads, and the results are clear for us to see.

Now it’s time to repeat that success right across the country.

The private sector developers must also play their part, building more homes more quickly.

They’re great at securing planning permissions – but people can’t live in planning permissions.

The government is actively removing barriers to build-out.

As the white paper said, we’re tackling unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions.

We’re making the process of dealing with protected species less painful.

And we’re committed to tackling the skills shortage and boosting the construction workforce.

We’re giving the industry the support that it needs, and I expect the industry to respond by getting shovels in the ground.

That’s why the white paper also set out plans to increase transparency and accountability, so everyone can see if a developer is dragging its feet.

Now, I’ve been very clear about the need for an end to unjustifiable land banking.

But the sector should remember that it’s not just government that wants to see this happen.

….

Finally there is the most important cog in the housing and planning machine, local government.

Some councils – most in fact – are doing very well.

Where that’s the case, where councils are showing real drive and ambition, the government will back them every step of the way, including with the kind of housing deal we’re negotiating here in the West of England.

And in the areas where supply and demand are most badly mismatched, where most homes are unaffordable to most people, I want to give local authorities the tools they need to build more – and that includes financial help.

I want to help local authorities because most of them deserve that help.

They’re recognising their responsibilities and they’re stepping up to meet them.

But too many still leave much to be desired.

It’s more than 13 years since our existing local plan process was first introduced, letting England’s 338 planning authorities set our how and where they expect to meet their residents’ needs for new homes.

Yet, incredibly, more than 70 still haven’t managed to get a plan adopted.

Of these, 15 are showing particular cause for concern.

Deadlines have been missed, promises have been broken, progress has been unacceptably slow.

No plan means no certainty for local people.

It means piecemeal speculative development with no strategic direction, building on sites simply because they are there rather than because homes are needed on them.

It means no coherent effort to invest in infrastructure.

It means developers building the homes they want to sell rather than the homes communities actually need.

And so on.

It’s very simple: unplanned development will not fix our broken housing market.

It will most likely make things worse.

I do believe in localism above all else, which is why I’ve been willing to tolerate those who took their time to get the process moving.

What mattered most was that they got there in the end.

But today is the day that my patience has run out.

Budget to look at Strategic measures ’20 to 30 years ahead’ to Increase Housebuilding (at Last) – But Rukes out ‘Building On Green Belt)

Note it does not rule out (like current policy) designating Green Belt in exceptional circumstances then it is not Green Belt – carefully chosen words. The reference to ‘strategic measures…20 to 30 years ahead must be a reference to the Oxford – MK-Cambridge Strategy

Sunday Times


Hammond to Raise Housebuilding Target to 300k a year in Budget – but puts off Measures to Hit Target

Sunday Times

300k is getting there

My own MOAN model shows we need around 294,0000 a year if we are to get an affordability increase of 20% (the old NHPAU target) though this falls to around 264,000 if labour market gaps from increased house building are not filled from abroad (at a consequent blow to GDP).

But precious little here about how to double housebuilding, all announcements around the edges.

Housebuilder need a 3 year surplus of land banks over annual completions to navigate through the planning process, since the NPPF came in however their typical land bank are 5 years –  too much.  Also there is a much bigger problem with land owners and land promoters holding back land, especially in London.  His delay till Spring however is a cop out to cover cabinet disagreements.  What will it show – the big problem is the failure of the duty to cooperate to fill the gap left by strategic planning?   We know that already the authors of the NPPF in the LPEG report acknowledge that – so lets do something about it by driving the first obvious step – the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Strategy forward.

 

Why @sajidjavid , Hammonds & @GarvinBarwell Green Belt Plan would have very little impact

From yesterday in the Sun

Theresa May has been resistant to the kind of planning reform that would mean enough houses get built where people actually want to live.

I am told she has even knocked on the head a plan that would see houses allowed to be built within half a mile of train stations in the green belt in areas of high demand.

This small change would have led to tens of thousands of much-needed new homes in London and the South East. But even this was too much for No10. May’s own caution on this issue is being reinforced by the whip’s office, who are warning that Tory MPs in leafy seats won’t like any changes to the planning regime

But it would not be a major source of supply.

Look at the map below.

It uses the Planet Planagon method I have hinted at on this website several times and soon to be launched as an open course research technique.  It divides the globe into hexagons inscribing 800m walking distance – 10 mins walk and area of a neighbourhood.  It is designed for rapid high order modelling of options and scenarios for rapid urbanisation,  the major environmental and economic challenge we face as a planet.  It has already achieved remarkable results – such as where to best site 16,000 new schools in Saudi Arabia, and potential options for growth in the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridoe.

For the UK we have a database if every major planning constraint and whether already developed or mainly green field.  We have screened out already built up areas, then in The London Green Belt those covered by planning constraints which the NPPF would generally rule out major urbanisation – SSSI, AONB, Flood Risk Areas etc.

This leaves unconstrained and developable areas in the Green Belt.  So how many of these have a station within them? We should say this method is designed for strategic scale analysis.  If you look at a small area this level of generalisation wont wash.  A station might be just outside a planagon, or not all of a planagon may be unavailable.  But the important point is that for a large enough area the law of large numbers kicks in and the local inaccuracies cancel out at a strategic scale.

The answer is 25 (highlighetd with a yellow border on the map).  In the Oxford Green Belt just three (two of which are already proposed for release) and in Cambridgeshire just one.    The reason being that so many parts of the Green belt around London are constrained for non Green Belt reasons, especially AONB and Flood risk, meaning that Green Belt is only a serious constraint to the North and East of London.  Also the vast majority of stations in the Metropolitan Green Belt are fully developed around them.  The policy shift could make a proportionately bigger (though still relatively small) contributions around great northern cities.

How large an area is this and what potential number of houses?

Each planagon is 2.01 sq km so that is 50.25sqkm for the Metropolitan Green Belt, already a far larger area than this is proposed for release from the Green Belt – though mostly in the North of England.  for typical two storey dwellings that’s only  52,000 dwellings.  For four storey twice that.  That’s two towns the size of Brentwood.  Or put another way 11 weeks housing supply.  Many of the stations, such as around Theydon Bois in Essex, are already proposed for release.  Some of the stations make sense (like Watton at Stone) some none at all – like Apsley Guide which to the South provides the Green Sand Ridge which marks the natural boundary to Milton Keynes expansion southwards.  Ongar is a heritage only station with no passenger service (it shouldnt be on the OS maps) .  Two of the areas are metropolitan open land – the Within London equivalent of Green Belt – like Mill Hill East.  Another is Ascot Racecourse – the Queen would be pleased at that one.  So only around 18 are available and new – around 37,400 dwellings or 2 months supply.  So a huge political pain for very little housing gain.  It is also very likely, as RTPI research underlines, that unless part of a wider planning strategy the vast majority of households in these locations will commute by car.

Many of these areas will come through the local plan process anyway (slowly) and should come forward because they are good sites. However we need by around 2050 7.94 million dwellings.

There is a big take away from this.  The housing need of the UK is so great the release of key Green Belt sites can only make a small contribution to it in the South East. Indeed it is so great we need to build large new Garden  cities, of Milton Keynes scale (by use of this methodology around three in the Oxford Mk Cambridge Corridor, two in Kent, One in East Anglia , two between Swindon and Bristol, two in the Midlands (one East one West) one in the North West and One in Yorkshire)   as well as Garden Towns and Garden Suburbs of every scale.  I’ll be blogging on the results of this – with suggested sites, soon.   If the budget wants a magic bullet on housing announce this.