No Khan isn’t Fiddling Housing Completions – So Work Out a deal on where London’s Housing Overspill will go


Sadiq Khan plans to deal with London’s housing crisis were savaged today by the Government.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has threatened to intervene if the Mayor fails to radically improve his London Plan. In a letter, he warned Mr Khan that his target to build new homes is too low.

Mr Brokenshire has also asked Government officials to investigate how more information on newbuilds could be made public, amid claims that City Hall has exaggerated the number of homes being built, an allegation Labour has rejected.

Letter here
Its not possible to fix this in London, which in any event has the best system for housing monitoring in the country, for the very good reason that every new home in London is CIL liable. All you have to do is check TfLs CIL income from here.
I was at a meeting with MHLG official last week when myself and a GLA planner put forward a proposal for a ‘dashboard’ system for completions replacing the 5 different and overlapping notification currently providing the minister and everyone else with instant data on housebuilding.  It could be triggered automatically by a request for an electricity connection for example as it is in many jurisdictions.  Please minister don’t use genuine proposals for more transparency as fake news sticks to be only drawn out in the run up to a mayoral election.

In his hard-hitting letter, Mr Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup, stressed that London faces the most severe housing pressures in the country.

He said average house prices are now more than 12 times average earnings, compared with an England-wide ratio of less than eight, and “far more than what an individual can typically expect to borrow for a mortgage”.

Mr Brokenshire added: “This is clearly unacceptable. Housing will continue to remain out of reach of millions of hard-working Londoners unless we see a step-change in housing delivery.”

He welcomed the proposed increase in London’s housing target in the Mayor’s draft plan from 42,000 to 65,000 a year. But he said it was just a “helpful first step” and accused Mr Khan of failing to recognise the scale of the challenge. “I am not convinced your assessment of need reflects the full extent of housing need in London to tackle affordability problems,” he said.

Government officials believe the target should be as high as 100,000 a year. The figure cited in revised planning policy guidelines is 72,000.

Mr Brokenshire urged Mr Khan to get on with housing schemes but stressed he should review the London Plan, taking on board the planning changes, “at the earliest opportunity”.

“I remind you that if this is not forthcoming, I have powers to direct the review to ensure London delivers the plan and homes that communities need,” he warned.

City Hall accused the Government of giving London an affordable housing grant of £700 million a year, compared with £1.75 billion in 2009/2010.

A spokesman for the Mayor said: “Rather than criticising the Mayor’s ambitious plan and plucking numbers out of thin air, ministers should meet with him to discuss the powers and investment London urgently needs.

“With Sadiq as Mayor, City Hall started building more genuinely affordable homes — including more social homes — last year than in any since devolution, smashing the record under previous mayors.”

The fall in house prices in London picked up during April to June to the fastest pace for almost a decade.

The drop means that the average London homeowner has seen more than £9,000 wiped from the value of their property over the past year, making it worth £468,845, according to lender Nationwide.

Such a price is still beyond the dreams of many Londoners paying exorbitant rents. Tens of thousands of people are also on councils’ housing waiting lists.

Other issues raised by Mr Brokenshire include fears that the Mayor is banking on many homes being built on small sites by small or medium-sized firms.  It is also claimed the London Plan  lacks detail on achieving housing targets, including how City Hall will work with boroughs.

Mr Brokenshire added: “I would remind you that I have powers to intervene before the Plan is published, by giving a direction to avoid any inconsistencies with current national policy.”

City Hall insists a 100,000 target could be achieved only through loss of greenbelt and metropolitan open land, and that its plans, which include building at greater density on brownfield sites, protect the overall level of “green cover”, including green roofs, when small sites are developed.

What is the point of setting national OAN targets if the government immeadiately applies tipex to them without any evidence. The National OAN method already assumes an additional 10,000 people will move from the North of England than the SHMa predicts to move into jobs that no employment forecast has predicted, because that what its excel global fudge factor.
London has had a long term average of 20,000 a year completions, with heroic efforts that might nudge up to 30,000 or so, more in boom years (now passed).  No way will it triple as the Mayor proposes or increase five fold as Brokenshire proposes.  This is unicorn planning.  Waving around fantastical and undeliverable targets.
If there wasnt a mayoral election pending the two should sit down and discuss what a deliverable London target per annum would be, some more suburban small sites but no so high to make the suburbs sequel, or more than the 2% or so loss of Green Belt we see in the rest of the South East, some more housing estate redevelopment but no so much as to make Labour Boroughs squeal.  Somewhere around 35,000 an annum.  Then the Minister should write to every authority with 100km of London asking then to take the overspill of 35,000 houses a year, thats 1 million to 2050.  Not impossible that 4 Milton Keynes sized developments, readers of the blog will know of good locations where they can go.
So rather than a rational plan for the housing crisis we get mudslinging in the maytoral election run up where the minister is complaining the targets are too low and the conservative mayoral candidate are complaining the targets are too high.  What is they won.  Here we go again.  You couldnt make it up.

Brokenshire’s Bizarre Attack on ‘Garden Grabbing’ Khan

Inside Housing

Housing secretary James Brokenshire has attacked Sadiq Khan’s London Plan for allowing building on people’s gardens.

In a letter to the mayor, he threatened to use his powers to intervene if the plan – the mayor’s spatial development strategy for the capital – is not changed to reflect the recently published National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

As well as instructing Mr Khan to remove his policy allowing development on residential gardens, he criticised “the detail and complexity” of the policies, saying they “have the potential to limit accessibility to the planning system and development”.


The new NPPF has removed the restriction on garden development being counted as windfall.

Whilst on garden it says.  Para 71. (para 70 old version).

‘Plans should consider the case for policies to resist innappropriate development of residential gardens, for example where development would cause harm to the local area’.

In other words entirely optional.

The London Plan no longer contains a policy restricting garden development.  As it is perfectly allowed to do under the NPPF.

The issue is policy H2 which provides a presumption in favour of development

Including ‘infill development within the curtilage of a house’ however in line with the NPPF there is a harm clause ‘unless it can be demonstrated that the development would give rise to an unacceptable level of harm to residential privacy, designated heritage assets, biodiversity or a safeguarded land use that outweighs the benefits of additional housing provision.’

The type of harm is not defined in the NPPF.

This is a cheap point scoring exercise prompted by lobbying from Mayoral candidates.

Fair dos to the Minister though for calling out the London Plan for ‘“stray[ing] considerably beyond providing a strategic framework” – it has certainly grown to become a monster and could be reduced to a couple of dozen policies over 100 pages, and that it does not provide enough information about how its increased housing targets will be delivered.  Of course it targets are deliverable, especially with ruling out Green Belt development and no deal to deliver overspill.

Favorite for London Mayoral Candidate wants to Double Size of London

As celeb is standing it seems Andrew Boff might finally get it

Con Home

Many of the city’s transport, housing, and economic issues impact upon areas situated outside of Greater London, and millions commute in and out of the city every week. Indeed, London’s travel-to-work area extends well beyond the city’s boundaries and is almost equal to London in size. There are whole swathes of the Home Counties where more people work in London then in their home county, as the below map clearly highlights:

Residents of the Home Counties have very little say over the governance of London or the policy decisions that have a great impact upon their regions. The city limits of London should be extended to include its travel-to-work area. This would give people in the wider travel-to-work area a voice in the governance of London and help spread the proceeds of growth throughout the South East.

London’s current borders were drawn over 60 years ago and are clearly no longer fit for purpose. In 1957, the then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan established the Herbert Commission. A key plank of the Commission’s proposals was that a ‘Greater London’ should be established to approximate what was then London’s travel-to-work area. The Commission was quick to highlight that the complex and parochial set of institutions that grew out of London’s medieval core had become redundant. Modern London is now at a similar juncture.

Extending London’s borders to include the commuter belt could create a Southern Powerhouse worth £500 billion, which would make it the world’s third largest city economy.

Also of interest

The are 350,000 young people being brought up in overcrowded conditions in London. This creates enormous obstacles to their educational and social development, as well as leading to poorer health outcomes. Despite knowing this, Mayor Khan has abandoned targets for larger family-sized homes. It is nothing short of a disgrace. I will restore and enhance those targets.

Current housing targets count front doors. This creates incentives to build smaller homes when London, overwhelmingly, needs large ones. Housing targets will be expressed as numbers of bedrooms, not front doors.

The social divisions in London are not helped by new developments that avoid mixing tenures by having separate entrance doors for the wealthy and the poor. Under a Boff mayoralty, the London Plan will reject mixed tenure developments that segregate social classes.

Every new tower block is a symbol of how our city has contempt for the needs of its citizens. More traditional and popular development typologies, such as suggest by Create Streets and others, will be favoured and the word “beauty” will be brought into the London Plan. Apart from in five established high-rise areas, no new residential development will exceed six storeys.

De-Risking Growth – Finally some Movement on Cam-MK-Ox Strategy?

Finally months after a spring statement that was supposed to lead to New Town announcements ‘within two weeks’ a seminar is being organised by Homes England with the Highways England and the Environment Agency on De-risking growth in the corridor – and how to take the vision forward.

Sadly since then progress has been slow with Homes England taking the lead from the NIC (which makes sense) without any clear remit or programme from the DCLG.

Sadly Homes England hasn’t helped – for example by backing Chalgrove Airfield – a site that doesn’t synergies with the corridor in any way, only for South Oxfordshire councillor’s rightfully to throw it out.

There has been some progress the Heart of England partnership, covering close to a sensible border for the corridor, is working on joining up transport strategies. Oxford is working on a strategic plan, as is Cambridgeshire. Bedfordshire has taken a step backwards as major site was proven deliverable in the Bedford Local Plan whilst progress in Northants is non existent (they even disbanded the joint committee as sone as the old West Northants Joint plan was adopted).  Mk has moved forward a little with its local plan but progress on its long term growth options is slow, and Bucks overall is somewhat paralized by what future shape local government should take in the area.

What needs to happen:

  1. Swift resolution on joint strategic plan structures for Northants, Bucks and Beds. One for Northants and One for Bucks and Beds is the simplest solution, with Mk now expanding into Bedfordshire and the Marston Vale being the key link.
  2. Clear indication from Government on just how much London overspill the corridor should take.  Otherwise no-one can plan strategically.  The NIC report assumed that the corridor would take come housing from ‘land constrained areas’ but no rationale for how much and where (its technical basis for the redistribution was very weak and based on 20 year old census data and TTW patterns).  It simply assumed all areas would take some equally, even though the corridor is far less constrained by AONB etc and so should take more.   So far the housing growth deals for Oxford and Cambridge simply assume roughly the national OAN numbers with no London overspill.  if are are planning for 15 years and no London Overspill no need for large new settlements over and above what is planned.  But if you plan for 2050 or so (the timescale to deliver strategic developments) and London overspill then there is simply no alternative to large new settlements.  Lets stop going round in circles, just set a number in discussion with the Mayor of London.
  3. Agree the alignment (concept) for East-West Rail and Oxford Cambridge Expressway.  We all know what the preferred routes (roughly) are – get them out the door by the Autumn otherwise there will be widespread confusion and blight.
  4. Stop thinking of the expressway as a means of widening car based commuting to Oxford and Cambridge.  If you do then it will face widespread and justified opposition and will hold everything up.  The expressway should be there for business and residual travel that cant go by public transport, and with several new cities on a corridor road access on roads better than old coach roads is inevitable.
  5. Stop giving the impression of concreting everything from Oxford to Cambridge.  That will imply lead to mobilisation of protest risking the whole project.  Rather think of it this way.  Cambridge and Oxford, even Mk, can only grow so much without losing their character and creating congetion, but they need to grow as a national economic priority.  Solution clone them, build three new cities along the corridor where development will be focussed as where public transport, walking and cycling is the norm. They will focus development leaving the vast majority of the corridor as rural as ever. inevitably such cities will be more linear in form , high density nodes along rail and BRT, linking to urban extensions of all three cities, and of Bedford, Northampton and Luton, but will high frequency transit (suing autonomous trains and automatic signalling) mean that there is no need for base any strategic development in teh whole corridor away from walking distance from a train station or BRT station.  I’ve tested this hypothesis and sure it can be done.  This derisks as you wont get Highways England objections all over the shop.
  6. Align infrastructure prioritisation, pragmatic land value capture and viability assessment.  The big lesson from the North Essex GC clusterf@@k.  You dont need everything cadded to full design or even final alignments.  All you need is a broad costing with contingencies at early strategic concept stage., ruling out in the short term concepts that cost billions (like tunnelling metros, huge light rail networks etc.)  Then when you have a broad concept and broad strategic locations you can calculate ‘peak debt’ to use teh key phrase from the governments New Town Guidance and do a DCF calculation for each strategic location.  As each strategic location would only go ahead at this scale with this transport investment you can capture land value at EUV using the ‘Point Gourd’ principle.  Indeed you can rule out now car based new settlements as acquiring the land value would make the schemes unviable, there would not be enough capture to mitigate the road impacts.  This shouldnt take years. Enough work has been done on possible startegic locations that a study on infra to support them with broad costing should take 8 months or less.
  7. Put together the CBR case to government.  Ok Minister we have x peak debt, creating x thousand new jobs, y% extra to gdp and the extra housing leading to z extra consumer spending that would therwise be sucked up in higher house prices.  The CBR is 8.7 (it wont be lower than that im sure) making the project amongst the highest rated major infra projects in the world. However without this we will only be able to build X% of these houses without unaccptable congestion.  Thats our plan b.  That’s what I call derisking.

Amber Valley Green Belt Review Refusinik Council Concedes

From Inspector’s letter

This is the authority that refused to take part in joint planning arrangements around Nottingham and refused to take part in a joint Green belt review

The Council proposes to undertake a Borough-wide Green Belt boundary review in order to inform the process of identifying and proposing additional housing sites for allocation in the Local Plan to ensure that it can demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply on adoption and to meet the requirement for 9,770 dwellings between 2011 and 2028.
As the Borough forms part of the Derby Housing Market Area (HMA), I would expect the Council to firstly seek agreement with the other HMA authorities
(Derby City Council, South Derbyshire District Council and Derbyshire County Council) regarding the criteria and framework for the Green Belt review, including the consideration of the overall effect on the Green Belt around Derby. The Council has confirmed that this has occurred and that the criteria and framework for the Green Belt review have been agreed by the HMA authorities.
In carrying out this Green Belt review, the Council should have regard to the guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework (The Framework), in particular paragraphs 80, 83, 84 and 85 and should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development. With this in mind, existing Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances. If the outcome of the review is that certain parcels of land are identified as being suitable for removal from the Green Belt, then the exceptional circumstances for each change should be clearly set out and evidenced. Furthermore, the review should consider the Green Belt boundary having regard to its intended permanence in the long term, so that it should be capable of enduring beyond the plan period. As such, if alterations to the Green Belt boundary are proposed, it may be prudent for the Council to take account of the case for safeguarding land to meet longer-term development needs and whether or not that would be appropriate in the circumstances.
Any proposed alterations to the Green Belt boundary should ensure consistency with the Local Plan strategy for meeting identified requirements for sustainable development and should have regard to the five Green Belt purposes. Any proposed alterations to the Green Belt boundary should be clearly defined, using physical features that are readily recognisable and likely to be permanent.
The Green Belt review will be used to inform the process of identifying and proposing additional sites for housing and other uses in the Local Plan, including the assessment of reasonable alternatives. The Council has confirmed that,

Also interesting is what evidence the inspector wants on site deliverability.

• Whether or not the site is in the control of a housebuilder – if not, the anticipated timescale for a housebuilder to be in place, if known
• Start dates – assumptions made regarding the lead in times for sites without pp, with outline pp etc, including the implications of any Section 106 Agreement
• Build out rates including, where appropriate, specific thresholds above which a particular build out rate would be considered appropriate
• Market strength, based on past completions data, viability information and professional judgment
• Impact of 2 or more developers/outlets on site and the size of sites above which this is anticipated to happen
• Record of delivery by developers on previous/current development schemes via Building Regs/Council Tax returns
• How sites with pp are to be assessed, where no response has been received from the developer/landowner


Wirral Chief Exec – Building on Green Belt Inevitable

Wirral is a Local Plan intervention aiuthority.  They claim they have 26 years supply on brownfield sites – ridiculous as this includes 13,000 Hing Kong style density units at Wirral water which no investor in the world will fund.

The answer is obvious – release council owned Hoylake Golf Course which has rail access rather than is more likley Brackenwood golf course which isnt and being privately owned where there is likley to be far less land value capture.

Wirral Globe

A MAJOR threat has emerged to the future of Wirral’s protected Green Belt land, according to the council.

For the local authority’s chief executive has told the Globe there is likely to be “no other option” than building on the Green Belt if Government housing targets are to be met.

But Tory group leader Cllr Ian Lewis told this newspaper today the problem rests squarley at the authority’s door as it has failed to take appropriate action earlier.

Government housing ministers have set town hall chief’s a target of identifying land to build 12,000 new homes by 2035 – despite knowing there is not enough brownfield or urban land available to meet this number.

Mr Robinson says this means releasing some Green Belt land is unavoidable.

He said: “Having an up to date, current Local Plan in place is vital.

“It’s a fundamental legal requirement every council in the UK must meet, and it actually protects the borough from unwanted developments and helps us make local decisions on what we want Wirral to look like in the future.

“Government ministers have made it absolutely clear to us that if we don’t deliver our Local Plan, and if we don’t conduct a full review of our Green Belt land, then they will come and do it on our behalf.

“The land we have available for housing right now, compared to the land we need to meet our targets, means some level of Green Belt release is inevitable.

“The leader of the council has been unequivocal on this subject: Green Belt release must be the absolute last resort.

“This is why we’ve spent such an extensive amount of time reviewing every square inch of the borough, trying to find alternatives and more imaginative uses of existing development land.”

Later this month the council’s cabinet will meet to consider proposals for Green Belt release and other development in the borough.

Should cabinet agree to the initial proposals, a comprehensive programme of consultation with every Wirral resident would take place from September.

Control the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas

Prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another

Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment

Preserve the historic setting and special character of historic towns

Assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict urban land

The proposals for consultation will include those sites which could be safely removed from the Green Belt without compromising the character and rural setting of the local area.

Mr Robinson continued: “We are legally obliged to set a Local Plan for Wirral.

“It has to provide us with enough land to meet housing targets for the next 15 years, and the land – to quote the legislation – must be suitable, available and deliverable.

“If we don’t do this then we have been told in no uncertain terms that it will be done for us.

“The council leader [Cllr Phil Davies] has been clear we must ensure our plan is delivered locally, with local needs and the views of local people at its heart.”

Tory group boss Cllr Lewis is unimpressed.

He said: “To listen to the council, you would think they have no responsibility whatsoever for the failure to protect our green belt.  

“Once again, they are shifting the blame to the Government. 

“Fifteen years ago, Wirral Council, like every other council, was told by the then-Government – a Labour Government by the way – to produce a plan to protect the green belt and identify alternative sites suitable for development. 

“This week, the chief executive tells us what the council should have done but fails to say why it hasn’t. 

“The chief executive is also incorrect when he states the leader of the council has said that ‘green belt development is a last resort’. 

“The Labour leader of the council actually told the Globe, in February last year, that he was ‘not prepared to allow our green belt land to be built on’ and that he was ‘resolute about that commitment.’

“So resolute, in fact, that he gave away green belt land at Saughall Massie and is throwing money at a scheme to build luxury houses on green belt in Hoylake while rumours persist that Brackenwood golf course is under threat.

“There is no evidence to support the loss of our green belt. 

“It is, instead, due to a political failure by those running the Council to redevelop neighbourhoods in Birkenhead, Egremont and Seacombe.  

“Areas that are in desperate need of regeneration and more affordable housing. 

“These are areas that have established transport links, GP surgeries, schools and parks and where the local shops need all the support they can get, as we have seen within the leader’s own ward of Birkenhead & Tranmere.

The National Infrastructure Assessment – Cities without Regions, Regions without Cities and Mayors with Powers but no Accountability

Its Here

On the NIC website.

The first impression is the lack of specific schemes and priorities.  Its initial brief from George Osborne seemed to define the NIC’s role as to do this.  Under the current chancellor it seems to have been downgraded to super think tanks, mainly though usefully engaged in futurology over how to adapt our neworks to future challenges such as a post carbon world and climate change adptation.

It only gives advice on specific projects and corridors when asked (e.g. Northern Powerhouse Rail, Crossrail 2, Cam-MK-OX),  but what is now lacking is any National component of strategy on how national networks need to be changed and what the priorities should be given the constraints given in its remit of 2.5% of GDP ( a figure I think which would trap us in long term national decline).

The report makes bold recommendations on quadrupling funding on flood resilience and putting renewable energy at the top of the queue for funding.  Well done so I wont comment in detail on these.

It retreats from its assessment in the draft that we should downgrade rail freight in favour of autonomous trucks.  It got burnt and was out of its depth on this one so it rightly is doing more focused research on freight and logistics, something we badly need a national strategy for, especially rail freight, air freight, transhipment points and lorry parking.

Where it loses its way is a section on housing and cities.

Unlocking growth in cities requires:
-developing integrated strategies for housing, employment and
transport, to allow cities to grow and people to live and work where
they want
-devolving planning and funding for urban infrastructure to all cities
-prioritising major upgrades for cities with the most growth
potential and capacity constraints
-£43 billion of additional investment in urban transport by 2040

The focus is on cities not city regions.  Some combined authorities and their mayors cover city regions some don’t.   It is very complicated and messy.  Some major growth corridors have no  ‘cities’ in governance terms at all – like Thames Estuary (former Thames Gateway) outside London, PUSH etc. etc.  Its a mess.  The government focus has been to shift to combined authorities with mayors, but you have to ask does this work?  It certainly hasn’t worked in Greater Cambridgeshire for example.  None of the Combined Authority Mayors like the Mayor of London has the discipline of having their strategy needing to be funded by a budget voted on by an assembly, and the transport planning arrangements have duplicated rather than replaced or built on existing arrangements, whilst only in one case the West of England has it been mirrored with a joint strategic plan that is statutory, and even there its governance is entirely separate.  Increasingly the combined authority ‘cities’ look to me like the mess in New York State where the leadership is dominated by suburban concerns and an anti-urban concern to prevent cities growing and to divert infrastructure funding to the electoral base of a donut ring – increasing sprawl.   Doug Ford, James Palmer, Andrew Cuomo – you see the connection.  We see around the world that such governance arrangements don’t work.  They were a Osborne plot anyway to undermine power independent cities that might have been independent bases for other parties.

The government is in a bit of a pickle on this one.  It want more joint strategic plans, but completely lacks the legal powers and structures to make this work.  As I have blogged on here before.  It also has seen what some of the combined Mayors are doing and isnt impressed much.  Where next – especally in an age where shotgun mergers and reorganisations are on the cards. ?

New Planning Minister Said ‘Time Was Ripe’ for Green Belt Deregulation in 2014

International Business Times

he deputy mayor of London, Kit Malthouse, has called for regulation to be loosened so that new houses can be built on London’s greenbelt.

He said that London’s boundaries hadn’t been reviewed since 1965 and that the “time was ripe” for housing deregulation.

Speaking at the Cities 2030 event in London, he also called for a removal of barriers to market entry for small firms.

How to Capture Land Values under the Current Rules

It is very likely at some point in the next couple of years that clauses of the Land Compensation Act 1961 will be reformed (the Letwin Review and the MHCLG Select committee report may prompt it) so that something like EUV+20% becomes the norm (as the viability annex to the draft NPPF almost reaches) – at least for newly allocated as opposed to existing sites.  I’m sure that there would be little opposition to a ‘profit sharing’ partnership arrangement (say 80:20 in favour of the public sector) available to landowners who sign up rather than fight all the way to CPO.

As EJEU caselaw and systems on the continent confirm there is no Human Rights objections to such systems as long as landowners suffer no material losses and the CPO scheme is superior to that without.

There are however techniques that can be used to capture such value under the existing CPO rules – especially as rationalised under the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017, which arn’t universally known by planners, as sadly confirmed by the inspector for North Essex Garden Communities.

This is key as the viability of strategic developments, whether Garden Communities or any other form, is now critical.  Long gone are the days  when structure or regional plans could allocate large blobs without any real economic or infrastructure costing. A key (though vacuous) line of attack against these proposals is that they wont be viable, that land acquisition costs will create high ‘peak debt’ (to use the governments new phrase)  Which will then cripple the discounted cash flow.

‘Ah Mr Howard’, as the QV for CAUSH (Campaign against Urban Sprawl in Herts) asked at the Letchworth Examination ‘This masterplan by Raymond Unwin is all very well but where is you discounted cash flow calculations’?

I jest however progress in the early years of Letchworth was slow because it did not have access to loans at public sector rates, contrasted to the rapid progress of the 1st gen New Towns which did.  There is no State Aid consequences where as on the continent preparation of strategic land for development is considered a nationalised duty of the state.

The key here is to understand the ‘No Scheme World’ and the ‘Pointe Gourde’ principle

in that case a quarry was acquired for the purposes of building a naval base, but that quarry included stone which would be particularly of value or useful to the acquiring authority in building said naval base. Thus, if the naval base were being constructed elsewhere on the Isle of Trinidad the quarry owners might have exploited their strategic market position in selling the stone to the acquiring authority for the construction. However, where the acquiring authority were acquiring the whole quarry the owners of that quarry were unable to benefit from that windfall. In that case it was found as fact that only the acquiring authority, or a similar undertaker would be in a position to avail itself of this benefit, and as such any potential uplift in value as a result did not fall within the definition of market value.

Pointe Gourde Quarrying & Transport Co Ltd v SubIntendent of Crown Lands (Trinidad) [1947] AC 565, which is a decision of the Privy Council. In that case, Lord MacDermott said at page 572 that:

“It is well settled that compensation for compulsory acquisition of land cannot include an increase in value which is entirely due to the scheme underlying that acquisition.”


The substance of the Pointe Gourde principle in reverse is that where the ultimate resumption of land is part of a scheme to take the subject land for a public purpose, planning restrictions which are part of that “scheme” should be disregarded when valuing the land that is taken.

This is known as the ‘no scheme world’.   Any special suitability of the land taken for the purpose of the acquiring authority is not to be taken into account

Take the Olympics for example, much of the land subject to CPO for example would have taken decades to come forward and might not have come forward at all without the infrastructure as part of that project.  The end result of the land tribunals etc. cases here was that whilst existing use value was too low as the basis for compensation the amount and scale of residential would be significantly higher in the scheme world.

The law on this has been clarified following publication of the Law Commission’s report: ‘Towards a Compulsory Purchase Code’ which was included in the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 and Housing and Planning Act 2016 which came into force this year, which included broadening of the definition of the ‘scheme’ to allow the identification of specified transport infrastructure projects that are to be disregarded within a defined area, over a defined period of time.

The key addition was the extension of the definition of the scheme to allow for specific transport infrastructure projects to be disregarded. The reason for this change was to prevent those owners facing a CPO for, say, a regeneration scheme securing increased compensation for their site when that increased land value could be attributed to a transport scheme, such as a new road which opened up that site for redevelopment.

Lets look at a real world example, South Anywhere County is preparing a Joint Strategic Plan.  It assesses through SEA, A ‘Plan a’ which involves CPO and land value capture for strategic locations funding infrastructure (or government funding in default) and a  a ‘Plan b’ which involves no CPO and hence no contribution for land value capture (and no government funding in default).  The plan b might involve conventional medium scale urban extensions.  The plan a might involve larger scale new communities.

The key here is that the plan a sites and the plan b sites overlap as little as possible.   Then the plan a sites will be valued at existing use value + compensation.

Of course SEA considerations might mean some overlap is inevitable, but under the current rules the less overlap you have the more you can fund affordable housing and infrastructure through land value capture.

The ‘plan a’ ‘plan b’ approach will also heighten the case for government infrastructure funding,   Without funding of the new rail crossing South Anywhere JSP can support 70,000 new homes, with it it can deliver 100,000.  For example.  This means all of the direct and indirect benefits of the additional 30,000 homes can be fully included in the CBA for the new infrastructure.  Finally the calculations can include the additional affordable housing and infrastructure that could be constructed on the ‘overlap’ sites that would be developed anyway in the ‘no scheme world’ including many urban brownfield sites that don’t have excessive delivery costs.

What all of this means is that viability, planning and infrastructure delivery concerns must all be aligned from the outset in any strategic planning exercise.  You can only do an infrastructure strategy and viability study at the end of the process and after SEA.  They need to be iterated at all stages in the process.


Zombie Cars do mean the death of the Car – Autonomous Vehicles will worsen Congestion

A remarkably evidence free and ill informed  article in the Telegraph from Madeline Grant

The death of the car has been greatly exaggerated – yet ministers still want to bury it

We’ve bet the farm on a future without cars, when in fact there will be more than ever

I explained in an earlier article why electric vehicle will still cause a major environmental problem.

The key problem with self driving cars is them getting from customer A to customer B – the so called Zombie Car problem.

Paul Priestman

you’re just going to get traffic jams full of autonomous vehicles with nobody in them as they go to pick up other people,” he said. “It’s going to exacerbate the situation rather than improve it.”

Which is why the Paris Deputy Mayor wants to ban them.

Currently you have cars driving 5% of the time and parking 95% of the time – a wastful use of land in central areas.  Imagine of they were driving 95% of the time and parking 5% of the time.  Hence the Zombie Car Problem.

But this issue isnt a simple one.  In the future cars will be of two types.  People in their own self driving cars and people sharing self driving cars.  The trend has been very much to the latter however it is still likely that the former will be predominant.

Individual self driving cars drive far more cautiously than humans and leave greater space between vehicles.  For this reason at first self driving cars will increase congestion according to DOT research here in the UK.


The Department for Transport predicted a “decline in network performance” once one in four cars become driverless.

However, should driverless vehicles make up between 50% and 75% of cars, DfT researchers say they will reduce congestion.

The DfT said early models of the vehicles acted more cautiously and the result could be a “potential decrease in effective capacity” on motorways and A roads.

But as more people adopted the technology and it became common place on the country’s road network, the study found that congestion could be cut by 40%.

The reason being that if a self driving car detects it is behind another self driving car it can drive in a troupe with minimum space between vehicles, more predictable breaking can also reduce phantom traffic jams caused by poor breaking propagating in waves. .   However self driving vehicles can add to vehicle driven miles where there is no guaranteed parking space at the end of a trip when the self driving car can drive further out to find one and further in going to pick up the driver.  Likely to be a common occurrence in cities with on street parking.  Owners could also send their zombie cars on errands like picking up shopping, delivering parcels, dropping off dry cleaning or picking up children from school. They also of course could use them after drinking when they wouldn’t otherwise drive.

So the issue is whether the positive congestion effect of individual self driving vehicles will be cancelled out by the negative effect of shared self driving vehicles.  The issue is even more complicated as ride hailing services may displace taxis and one thing is for sure taxis have an enormous amount of ‘dead heading’ that is driving around looking for customers.

Research by Schaller consulting in New York found:

1. Passenger trips increased by 15 percent from 2013 to

2. Vehicle miles increased by 36 percent, reflecting trip
growth, a trend toward longer trips and lower
utilization rate.

3. Traffic speeds declined 15 percent overall, and by 18
percent during the day.

4. The number of taxi/TNC vehicles in the CBD increased
by 59 percent from 2013 to 2017.

5. Taxi and TNC vehicle hours spent transporting
passengers increased by 48 percent from 2013 to 2017

6. Unoccupied taxi/TNC vehicle hours grew by 81
percent from 2013 to 2017.

To what extent will autonomous vehicles increase ride hailing?

John Zimmer, CEO of ride hailing service Lyft predicts that in 5 years’ autonomous ride hailing will be ubiquitous in cities “and by 2025, owning a car will go the way of the DVD.”

One report suggests that by 2030 95% of US miles will be via shared vehicles

Its a linear programming problem – if autonomous vehicle use does rise above 50% then the gains to congestion will be obliterated if shared use rises above a 4:5 ratio according to the research.

Even if there were gains to congestion again experience and theory suggests that as consumers seek to minimise their misaligned cost of travel and housing costs they will drive further on less congested roads to access cheaper housing, or switch from transit, leading to the reappearance of congestion.  Exactly the scenario created by the first introduction of cars leading to sprawl and the distopian nightmare of car dependent megacities.   We are already seeing declines in Metro ridership in major cities such as New York and London with a danger of a death spiral of worsening services and fer ridership.

Transport planning needs to adapt to encourage trips from autonomous vehicles that don’t increase congestion, such as outside peak hours and to transit hubs, from those that do.  We can use a combination of pricing charges and incentives and ‘ridership as a service’ apps – linking transit and ride hailing in a single seamless service.  We can for example, charge more highly for single occupancy and empty occupancy vehicles and ensure they arnt exempt from congestion charging (as should neither be taxis).  We can restrict free surface level parking and encourage shared charged multiple level parking where autonomous vehicles can park between trips rather than deadheading.

There is some irony that the libertarian wet dream of individualized transport depends on being enslaved to robot cars and requires ubiquitous behavior changing taxes to make work in the first instance.



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