Use it or Lose it to be introduced – The Times – but it wont work

Times Front Page

Persimilar New Homes builds out a site slower than expected, so does Ferret Homes,  Both lose it.  However no problem Ferret getting permission on Persimilar’s site, and Persimilair on Ferret’s site.  Once permission is granted they then transfer.  How would it work personal to anyone other than the original owner?  If so likely illegal under Convention of human rights.  Only a land tax based system would work


Islington Wins Affordable Housing Apeal on site of fewer than 10 units

Islington Gazette

An appeal was made against Islington Council’s decision to demand affordable housing payments for a semi-detached home in Parkhurst Road, Holloway.

Islington’s own planning guidance states developers building 10 homes or fewer must make a contribution for affordable homes elsewhere in the borough.

This is at odds with a written ministerial statement from 2014, which ruled developments of the same size should be exempt, to “relieve the disproportionate financial burden on small-scale developers”.

Islington submitted evidence to the Planning Inspectorate arguing the threshold should be lower, because most developments in the borough were of 10 homes or less and if no contribution was made it would “compromise the borough’s ability to deliver on its affordable homes target.

Lawyers for the council referenced a 2016 Court of Appeal judgment which, in upholding the WMS, found it should not be applied without first considering the “local circumstances” of the area.

Inspector Debbie Moore sided with the council. She said: “I am satisfied from the evidence submitted by the council that there is a demonstrable affordability gap in both the home ownership and private rented sectors, and there is a significant need for affordable housing in Islington.

“The evidence also indicates that an absence of contributions from small sites would compromise the borough’s ability to deliver its objectively assessed need for affordable housing, and contribute towards the London Plan annual target for affordable homes.

“On this basis, I consider that the specific local circumstances are such that the WMS does not outweigh relevant local policy.”

It is the second affordable housing planning victory in recent months for the council. In June the inspectorate upheld the town hall’s refusal of planning permission for a separate site in Parkhurst Road on the grounds it didn’t provide the “maximum reasonable amount” of affordable homes.

Islington’s housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward welcomed last week’s decision. He said: “Islington, like London, is facing a housing crisis and genuinely affordable housing is badly needed in the city. We are very pleased the inspector supported our arguments to help secure this.”

Homes England is CPOing the Wrong Oxford Airfield

Inside Housing

The government agency, which was launched from the former Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) last week, has issued a warning to aircraft parts designer Martin-Baker Aircraft Company that it will use CPO powers “as appropriate”.

The company has a lease on the site running through to 2063 which is delaying the planned development of 3,000 homes on the Chalgrove airfield in South Oxfordshire.

At the Autumn Budget, chancellor Philip Hammond said the new Homes England would have additional powers to drive the development of new homes, including compulsory purchase where necessary.

In a statement published online this morning, the agency announced it is considering using these powers to bring the airfield development forwards, should other means fail.

This would represent the first use of these new powers.

The statement said: “Homes England confirms that the shareholder board of Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Limited (MBACL) has rejected our latest formal approach to work with us on developing plans for a housing-led development at Chalgrove Airfield in Oxfordshire.

“While we are disappointed by this decision we will continue to look to work with MBACL to agree private treaty terms, if at all possible. However, as a last resort, Homes England confirm that we will seek all necessary approvals for the use of our statutory powers including, as appropriate, compulsory purchase orders (CPO)s to bring this much needed new housing development to fruition.

Chalgrove is a terrible site for housing, 17 miles, and a 3/4 drive through bad roads, to Oxford and without any rail connections.  It is only pursued by South Oxfordshire because they dont like the obvious site, South of Grenoble Road, because it is in the Green Belt, even though it is already publicly owned.  If Homes England were to CPO a site it should be Oxford Airfield which sits in the heart of the Begbroke/Yarnton area which is the favored and largest development area around Oxford, shifting the airfields activities to Charngrove.  This is the very example of non joined up government activity – premature until there is a proper Oxford-MK-Cambridge strategy setting out the favoured sites for growth – with joined up infrastructure – around Oxford


UKIP Council fails to agree local plan

Kent Online

Councillors in Thanet have rejected a planning blueprint that would have meant that the former Manston Airport site being developed for houses and businesses.

The vote to reject what is known as the Local Plan has thrown a lifeline to campaigners who want to see the airport reopened.

However, the decision to block the plan in its current format means that the government is now likely to intervene if the council fails to adopt it by the end of March.


At a special meeting tonight councillors voted decisively against the plan.

The vote could have consequences for the UKIP administration which runs the council and its leader councillor Chris Wells.

There was a split in the UKIP group over the plan and that split could lead to a vote of no confidence in Mr Wells.

He has vowed to continue in the job  and took on his critics, saying that the ‘no’ vote  meant that Thanet could face possibly thousands more homes being built in the area

He urged his colleagues to think carefully before rejecting the plan.

“It helps to remember strong feelings do not always reflect fact. Feelings are not fact.

“A local plan must be real and verifiable. Tonight’s decision requires calm, adult judgement.

“A local plan so long overdue is better than no plan at all. My advice to councillor’s is to hold your heads high and shoulders back and vote to keep control.”

The government has warned Thanet that if  it fails to adopt the plan, it will assume responsibility for it including setting house building targets.

Housing minister Sajid Javid said last year he could force the council to accept more homes.

Under the current draft plan, the authority has said it requires 17,140 to built on the isle by 2031.

A yearly target set by Thanet council to build 857 dwellings per year could rise to 1063.

The fate of Manston had become the focus  of the plan over recent months.

The site had been earmarked for some kind of aviation use originally but was then removed and instead planners said the site should be used for housing development.

That is in line with what the current owners Stone Hill Park have pledged to build, along with businesses.

At tonight’s meeting, Conservative group leader Cllr Bayford said:”Housing could go anywhere else, aviation could not.

“It’ll create jobs.We will not be supporting the local plan tonight.”


London Attrition Rate Shoots Up


Sadiq Khan’s ambitious new homes targets are under threat because thousands of sites with full planning consent for development have been mothballed, according to figures.

In 2014, housebuilders were given permission for schemes that would have created 54,941 new homes, but three years later work had started on only 29,701 — or just over half.

The “attrition rate” — the proportion of homes not built within councils’ standard three-year time limit — of 46 per cent is a dramatic increase from 33 per cent in 2016.

The problem is particularly acute in outer London. Only 1,029 homes were built in Zone 5 last year compared with 10,106 in Zone 2.

The Mayor’s target is for 66,000 homes to be built each year. Ian Tasker, of accountants Grant Thornton, which carried out the research, said permission rates for applications were too low to meet this target.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group London First, which commissioned the figures, said: “Unless we get to grips with the housebuilding hold-ups, generations of Londoners will be priced out.”

Some developers accuse City Hall of making schemes unviable by setting a 35 per cent affordable housing target. Confidence in the London market has also been knocked since 2014 by higher taxes and the Brexit vote.

Antony Stark, of developer Linea Homes, said: “It is understandable why some companies would choose to freeze building plans while they wait to see if the market improves.”

A spokesman for Mr Khan said one of his priorities was building “significantly more” affordable homes and that he “has made the case to the Chancellor that more needs to be done at a national level to make sure planning permissions turn into new homes”.


Can the English Planning System Adjust to the 25 Year Environment Plan?


Chapter 1 is the most radical

We will seek to embed a ‘net environmental gain’ principle for development to deliver environmental improvements locally and nationally. This will enable housing development without increasing overall burdens on developers.

Current policy is that the planning system should provide biodiversity net gains where possible. We will explore strengthening this requirement for planning authorities to ensure environmental net gains across their areas, and will consult on making this mandatory – including any exemptions that may be necessary. This will enable those authorities to develop locally-led strategies to enhance the natural
environment, creating greater certainty and consistency and avoiding increased burdens on developers, including those pursuing small-scale developments. We would expect this should have a net positive impact on overall development.

… We will explore the ways in which new data, tools and strategies can support development that brings wider environmental improvement, including linking with fresh initiatives, such as the Nature Recovery
Network into the planning system…

Through changes in the way we manage our land, we will develop a Nature Recovery Network providing 500,000 hectares of additional wildlife habitat, more effectively linking existing protected sites and landscapes, as well as urban green and blue infrastructure.
Such a network will deliver on the recommendations from Professor Sir
John Lawton: recovering wildlife will require more habitat; in better condition; in bigger patches that are more closely

The term ‘natural capital’ replaces ‘ecosystem services’ and, seven years late, the Lawton review gets serious attention.  Around 25 large areas for nature recovery will be designated.

The expansion of the principle of biodiversity offsetting is welcomed.  There is no mention of carbon negative development or allowable solutions although carbon fixing is mentioned as one of the main benefits of natural capital and similar structures would be necessary.

In most parts of the country there are local partnerships and studies for landscape scale restoration.  In some areas these can be linked to strategic planning exercises.  Seen at a simplistic level planning for more houses on one hand and enhancing natural capital to see net gains on the other seems an obvious win-win situation.

But it isn’t that easy.  By far the largest disbenefit of new development is emissions from transport.  This is no shortcut for strategic planning to integrate planning and transportation on a large scale and investment in infrastructure.

Secondly the structures for planning for large scale restoration are weak and informal – though great strides have been achieved.  Large scale restoration projects will require new forms of strategic planning and links through planned green infrastructure networks to new development.

New tools will also be needed to measure the dis-benefits on the one hand to benefits from linked restoration on the other – and there will always be disputes as to how closely geographically related the two need to be.

Finally it is no shortcut to avoiding tough choices.  Dieter Helm for example argues that we should not lose any Green Belt as its natural capital can be enhanced.  However he neglects the issue of opportunity costs from pushing development further out and whether the areas lost are necessarily the best areas for enhancement, and whether enhancement can be more strongly delivered locally from some loss.

This is unknown territory for modern planning – though there is a long heritage dating back to the RPA, The Tennessee Valley Project and Patrick Geddes for such joined up work at a regional level.

A key test will be the future plan for a Oxford-MK-Cambridge corridor and landscape scale restoration as part of this.  The sheer variety of landscapes here – from gravel extraction areas along the Thames, opportunities for marsh, forest and fen restoration, illustrates the challenge, as well as the sheer number and variety of options for enhancing natural capital across the normal pastoral landscapes of the region  which will be by far the most important natural capital restoration initiatives and will be done primarily through agricultural policy rather than planning.


Government Launches Review of Build Out

Rt Hon Sir Oliver Letwin MP
House of Commons

I am grateful to you for agreeing to undertake the Review announced in the Budget into build out of planning permissions into homes.
I have agreed the following terms of reference for your review with the Prime Minister andChancellor:
“The Review should seek to explain the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned in areas of high housing demand, and make recommendations for closing it. The Review should identify the principal causes of the gap, and identify practical steps that could increase the speed of build out. These steps should support an increase in housing supply consistent with a stable housing market in the short term and so that over the long-term, house prices rise slower than earnings. The review will provide an interim report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report for Budget 2018.”
We have agreed that you will chair a “Panel” to support this work. The Panel members will be Richard Ehrman, Lord Jitesh Gadhia, Lord John Hutton, Baroness Usha Prashar and Professor Christine Whitehead.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will provide support to the Review including a base for you in 2 Marsham Street and a review team of 2-3 officials. The
Housing Minister will chair a fortnightly steering group with Her Majesty’s Treasury and No. 10 Downing Street teams to provide you with appropriate support. My officials, with Simon Gallagher as Senior Responsible Officer, will support this with an officials’ group. Should it prove necessary to involve other departments I would be happy to expand to cover broader groups.
I am copying this letter to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to Sir Jeremy Heywood, and will make this letter available on my department’s website