Did Northumberland Sack Chief Planner for Refusing to Change Garden Village Recommendation?

Newcastle Chronicle

The company behind a massive development in Northumberland has filed an explosive complaint accusing the leader of the council of serious misconduct.

Lugano are behind a controversial plan for 2,000 homes on the Dissington Estate, north of Ponteland, which have long been opposed by Conservative leader Peter

Now Lugano has launched a sensational attack, accusing the leader of attempts to influence the planning process and bullying.

Mr Jackson strenuously denies the allegations and the council is taking legal advice over what a council spokesperson described as “inappropriate, untrue and defamatory statements”.

In a letter to the council’s head of legal services seen by ChronicleLive, Lugano’s executive chairman Richard Robson and director Allan Rankin set out their claims.

The letter alleges: “Our evidence shows how Mr Jackson employed various unlawful practices which included bullying, intimidation, attempted coercion and the exercise of improper influence, of councillors and council officers, employed by the Council, over an extended period of time.”

It alleges that he used “unlawful means” to remove Mark Ketley, the former head of planning services, from his role and discussed the sacking while on a “game shoot”.

Lugano claim it has evidence that “strongly suggests… Mr Jackson’s intentional withdrawal of the Local Plan and Core Strategy was part of his wider plan to undermine the Dissington Garden Village scheme.”

The letter goes on to state: “Mr Jackson and the other individuals involved have lost sight of the responsibility of their roles.

“Mr Jackson is not fit to hold public office. Accordingly, NCC must instigate forthwith a full third party independent enquiry into their actions, with a mandate to make public the enquiries findings.”

It is unclear is the council can legally determine a planning application which they have resolved to approve a-lthough the law on this matter on ‘minded to grant’ resolutions is not black and white.

South Oxforshire should be Given a Local Plan Pass

For the very good reason that Housing England is largely responsible for promoting the dreadful Changeover site.  The new housing ites are interesting but mainly have the potential of meeting overspill need from Reading.

South Oxon

South Oxfordshire District Council will look again at all available sites for major housing development in the district, as long as the extra time it will take does not significantly impact on a countywide housing growth agreement.

Councillors last night (15 May) backed Cabinet recommendations to do more work to determine the most suitable locations before finalising its Local Plan.

The Plan sets out where the main housing sites around the district should be up until 2033, as well as identifying the employment opportunities, schools and other infrastructure that will be needed to support housing growth.

The council intends to reassess each of the main housing sites currently proposed in the Plan, along with previously-considered locations and some additional sites that have more recently been put forward by developers:

  • Current proposed sites: Culham, Wheatley, Berinsfield and Chalgrove Airfield;
  • Previously considered (but not progressed) sites: Thornhill, Wick Farm, Lower Elsfield, Grenoble Road, Northfields, Harrington and land at Great Western Park;
  • Additional sites submitted by developers: land at Emmer Green, Reading, Reading Golf Club, Playhatch at Reading, land off Thame Road, North Weston.

Cllr Felix Bloomfield, Cabinet Member for Planning and the Council’s Deputy Leader, said: “When you’re talking about future housing in a rural district like ours, it’s very important that you get it right. By reviewing the housing sites, we’re looking to ensure the Plan we submit stands the best chance of a planning inspector finding that it’s a ‘sound’ plan and gives us a robust base on which we can build a better South Oxfordshire for everybody.”

This work will happen as long as there is no significant impact on the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, agreed by all of Oxfordshire’s councils to bring £215m of government funding over the next five years to support housing and infrastructure growth.

If there is an indication that there will be a significant impact on the deal, the Council agreed that Chalgrove Airfield should stay in the Local Plan as a strategic housing site for 3,000 new homes, with a reserve site or sites added following assessment work.

Further information about the Local Plan and the steps taken so far can be viewed via the Local Plan page. More information about the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal is available on the Oxfordshire Growth Board website.

Standard – Scrappy Green Belt should be Released for Housing

Standard

A heavyweight group of MPs, peers and think tanks from across the political divide has called for “scrappy” green belt land near train stations to be sacrificed to help solve London’s housing crisis.

A submission to new Housing Secretary James Brokenshire claims that one million homes could be built on land officially classified as “Metropolitan Green Belt” that has little value as open space.

It says planning applications for green belt sites within a kilometre — roughly a 10-minute walk — of a TfL or National Rail station that is no more than 45 minutes from central London should be waved through.

The land is protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives or designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest; falls within a National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Local Green Space; has irreplaceable natural habitats such as ancient woodland within it; or is at risk of flooding or coastal change.

The submission says that the exemptions “would ensure that no land of significant environmental or amenity value could be developed and, in reality, much of the land which would be made available for development is not green at all”.

Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden and lead signatory on the submission, said: “It’s time to grasp the nettle and to stop promising new homes without the means of providing them.

“Would we rather have homes that our young people can afford to buy or are we happy for scrappy plots of ungreen land to remain wrongly designated as green belt just because of the potential furore that de-designation may cause? I believe that this is a fight worth having.”

She pointed out that 14 London boroughs have more land designated as green belt than is built on for housing.

The submission is being made to the consultation on the Government’s proposed National Planning Policy Framework.

London’s green belt covered 514,000 hectares last year, almost one third of the national total, and virtually unchanged since 2014.

@Asymptosis asks a good question – why isn’t #LVT Everywhere?

Very good question.

I think there are three reasons:

1. Hybrid Systems lead to some land value capture – lessening political pressure.

Im thinking in particular of the system used in much of continental Europe where local authorities are able to buy land at existing use value, subdivide and profit from uplift.  Its still a change on uplift but not full LVT.  Also consider places like China and Singapore where development land is essentially state owned.

2.  Full LVT requires advanced cadastral and zoning systems to work well.

In the UK for example which does not operate a Torrens system it is often unclear who own land and what the charges are on land.  Also in Britian tax assessors would have to guess the tax aliability on land or operate the second best (though still workable) approach of only taxing land where consent or rezoning for an uplift is granted.

3. Until recently Politician relied on rising Housing Real Estate Values as a vital Political Constituency.

From the early 20th century on their was symbiosis between rapidly expanding cities aided by changes to transport technology, a rising middle class and a low dependency ratio facilitating purchase of real estate and credit.  Housebuilding however could not keep up once cities reached a certain size and house prices rose faster than inflation.  The bubble of course would pop but it pops so infrequently that like Japanese Tsunamis it becomes something of folk memory to never forget the risk.  Until recently the size of this aging property owning cohort made them the dominant constituency politicans sought to favour – one that would be harmed by vanilla LVT.  This of course has no changed and we are in a lag period before it is claimed by mainstream political groups.

In a sense the period of 20th century car based deurbanisation – following Henry Georges period – took the pressure off – but now can be seen as historically transitory.