So what is the Governments Response into the Thames Estuary 2050 (Armitt) report? 1 sentence only

Original report here

One sentence in the red book on page 72 of the red book.

4.97 Thames Estuary – Drawing on the Thames Estuary Commission report, the government is supporting a study to develop options and consult the local area on a Great Thames Park.

Thats its, nothing on a Kent-Essex rail link for example (which could be done as part of the LTC tunnelling) why?  I suspect because the report panel was top heavy and included the like of Lord Foster and Nick Roberts of Atkins who included rewarmed pipedream ideas from Boris Island,  like a second Thames barrier (which the GLA rightly say is unnecessary) had the report been done within the NIC formally it would have been far more hard headed and included more specific infra proposals.  Also May is known to hold grudges forever and so anything which smacks of Hesiltine or Boris is not likely to be judged a strategic priority whilst she is around.

The study will completely and for the better transform the way the JSP for South Essex is being done.  No longer can it be a series of growth ‘fuzzy felt planning’ blobs, it will have to be landscape led with a natural capital plan built in as part of the vision, as it is for example in the new approach to the Oxford Cambridge Arc.  This is much better as no strategic growth location in South Essex can work at all unless it is landscape led and design led; however this will need a refresh in the skill set , project management and political leadership priorities here as this is not a frontloaded priority at all at the moment. (as neither oddly is infrastructure or transport work).  Yet another set back for South Essex, do they have the political strength and unity of vision to succeed with such limited government support?

So the the study – expect to see large areas restored as ‘Fanns‘ old Essex for fen, new Salt Marsh , Mire and Carr, on the hillsides and tops broadleaved woodland.  Strategic growth locations will have to wrap around them, which is how it should be.

Now what about Kent?

Governments Strategic Approach to the ‘Oxford-Cambridge Arc ‘ (Second new name in a month) – announced #CaMkOx


Its gone from @Carmbridge-Mk Oxford Arc’ to Growth Arc to ‘Oxford Cambridge Arc’ in a months (MK will be so pleased.

Lots of good stuff (natural capital , recognition of heritage assets) , lots of weak stuff (integrating transport and planning, public consultation lack of SEA, very weak governance on joint planning, status of ‘Joint vision statement’ , will it be spatial (no that will be later) , will it be consulted on) here.  Ill comment on it in more detail tomorrow, now signing off after long Budget day.

The response is a little more PR sensitive – no ‘growth’ in title and no especific mention of 1 million homes or any other number I see.

The problem with aspatial visions is as Greater Exeter found, they are totally meningless fluff.

Letwin Review Proposes Radical Approach to Land Value Capture

First what the chancellor said in his budget speech about no evidence that Housebuilders were engaging in speculative landbanking was nonsense, the final report does not mention the terms landbanking or speculation once- that was all in the draft report, and the same analysis that housebuilders were restricting build out to ‘absorption rates’ for reasons of maximising profit is held – that statement was just red meat to housebuilder shareholders and executives who are major Tory donors.

What it does say I wont attempt to summarize.  Letwin has a reputation for detail and mastering his brief.  Read it in full yourself.

I will simply quote the killer para.

To ensure that a reasonable balance is struck between promoting the public interest through increased diversity and faster build out rates on the one hand, and proper recognition of the value of the land on the other hand, I recommend that the Housing Secretary (when issuing updated viability guidance alongside the new planning framework) should guide local planning authorities towards insisting on levels of diversity that will tend to cap residual land values for these large sites at around ten times their existing use value. In the case of agricultural land, for example, this might result in values of around £100,000 per acre – perhaps as little as 5% of the current residual development value of a straightforward site with unconstrained development permission and no major infrastructure requirements in an area of high housing demand.

That is the bottom end of the 10-20x of the Harmen Report,  Good news. Surely 10x what land is worth satisfies the ECHR requirement of compensation, and no ‘dual market’ issues as it would apply to all development land above the threshold, below the threshold, why not include the 10x cap in the PPG on viability – simple no ‘dual market’ the Association of CPO lawyers endlessly wine about.

He then rightly goes full on continental

I recommend that the new primary legislation should also give local authorities explicit statutory powers to draw on precedents in England and on  models of development which are entirely familiar in much of continental Europe.

Development Corporations…e able to buy land on the basis of the value which such land would have in the absence of the development scheme. They are fully staffed and have the resources tocommission proper masterplans that respond appropriately to the characteristics of the site and can be accompanied by detailed and enforceable design codes; in this way they can make the architecture of the site and the landscape and infrastructure of the site internally consistent, congenial and convenient for the inhabitants. Finally, they have the capacity to raise finance, to invest in appropriate infrastructure (including major infrastructure) and thereby to provide well-prepared terrain (or even serviced plots) which major builders, small and medium-sized builders, private rental institutional investors, housing associations, providers of student accommodation, providers of accommodation for the elderly, custom builders,
and self-builders can all use to enter the housing market on the site.

…However, unlike their counterparts in most continental European countries, non-mayoral local authorities in England do not (without obtaining special permission from the Housing Secretary) currently have statutory vehicles capable of governing the development of large sites in areas of high housing demand. Clearly, if we are to see in future the greatest possible well-planned diversity on these sites, it would make abundant sense to empower local authorities to establish a new form of development vehicle which could perform this role inEngland as their counterparts so often do elsewhere in Europe.

The Dutch/German system (France is pretty similar) Yes Yes Yes Yes – it produces best planned and most equitable large sites in the world, what is not to like.  Peter Hall bless hi would be smiling now.

Big Time CPO Powers for New Town Development Corporations

Forget bout acquiring in bits (like North Essex Gaden Communities)this ll only be viable however with LVC.  Back to much the way it was done in the 60s, serve the CPO order then negotiate.


In what circumstances can new town development corporations use their
compulsory purchase powers?
It is for new town development corporations to decide how best to use their land acquisition powers, having regard to this guidance. The compulsory purchase powers
available to a new town development corporation in section 10 of the 1981 act are expressed in broad terms, and are intended to assist with land assembly that is necessary to carry out its statutory objects of securing the laying out and development of a new town.
The Secretary of State will expect new town development corporations to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to acquire the land included in a compulsory purchase
order by agreement. Depending on when the land is required, it may sometimes be necessary for new town development corporations to initiate the compulsory purchase process in parallel with negotiations to acquire the land by agreement.
New town development corporation ownership of land early in the development process may assist with the proper planning for, infrastructure provision in and sustainable development of, a new town – in pursuit of its statutory objects under sections 4(1), (1A)
and (1B) of the 1981 act. New town development corporation ownership of land may also help to stimulate confidence that the new town will proceed, help to secure infrastructure investment, and thereby promote development.
6. Can new town development corporations acquire land even if they have no specific development proposals in place?
Section 10(1) of the 1981 act enables new town development corporations to acquire land
(compulsorily or by agreement) within the area of the new town whether or not it is
proposed to be developed. The Secretary of State recognises that to achieve its statutory
objects, it may sometimes be justified for a new town development corporation to acquire
land for which it has no specific development proposals in place.
7. What level of detail do new town development corporations need to provide when seeking an order?
Given their scale, new towns are likely to be developed over an extended period of time,during which market conditions may change. In this context, the Secretary of State
recognises that it will not always be possible or desirable for new town development
corporations to have fully worked up, and secured approval for, detailed development
proposals prior to proceeding with a compulsory purchase order.
Where a new town development corporation does not have detailed proposals for the
order lands, it will still be expected to demonstrate a compelling case for acquisition in the
context of the planning framework that will guide development of the new town. The new
town development corporation needs to be able to show that using compulsory purchase
powers is necessary in the public interest and that the acquisition will support investment
in and development of the new town.
The Secretary of State will expect the statement of reasons accompanying the submission
of the compulsory purchase order to include a summary of the planning framework for the development of the new town and the justification for the timing of the acquisition, and that
the new town development corporation will be in a position to present evidence at inquiry to support its case for compulsory acquisition.
While confirmation of a compulsory purchase order is a separate and distinct process from
that of designating a new town, the Secretary of State acknowledges that evidence used to
support the case for designation in the national interest may also be relevant to justifying
the use of compulsory purchase powers in the public interest under section 10 of the 1981
8. What factors will the Secretary of State take into account in deciding whether to confirm a compulsory purchase order under section 10 of the 1981 act?
Any decision about whether or not to confirm a compulsory purchase order will be made
on its individual merits, but the factors which the Secretary of State can be expected to consider include:
• the statutory objects of the new town development corporation
• whether the purpose(s) for which the order lands are being acquired by the new town
development corporation fits in with the planning framework for the new town area
• whether the new town development corporation has satisfactorily demonstrated that
the order lands are needed to support the overall development of the new town
• the appropriateness of alternative proposals (if any) put forward by the owners of the land or other persons
• the quality and timescale of both the new town development corporation’s proposals
and any alternative proposals
9. What does the Secretary of State have to consider where there are other proposals for the use of land contained within a compulsory purchase order?
Where owners or other parties have their own proposals for the use or development of land contained within a compulsory purchase order, factors that the Secretary of State can be expected to consider include:
• whether these alternative proposals are likely to be implemented, taking into account
the planning position
• how the alternative proposals may conflict with those of the new town development
• how the alternative proposals may conflict with the new town development
corporation’s statutory objects, and/or the purposes for which it was established.

Its Budget Day – Will it be Growth Arc, Land Value Capture and Infrastructure Day?

What should planners expect today – three things

  1. Housing – the lifting of the restrictions ability to borrow against HRA  to build council houses has already been re-announced by the Prime Minister.  What about those councils that have no HRA (6 boroughs in London for example that missed out on 1 billion from the mayor last week) even though they followed government advice at the time. Council house building must include new legislative requirements for RSLs too – though the government may expect a quid-pro-quo.
  2. Growth Arc (formally CaMkOx) ay ear since the last budget and momentum severely slowed once Javid had left the MHCLG, Raab did nothing and Malthouse has done a lot to catch up.  The full response to the NIC Growth Corridor report is due today – expect it in the background papers (red book)  The Chancellor may make further announcements on East-West rail and the expressway and finally announce the AECOM study, and possibly a dedicated fund that might be available if New Towns/Garden Cities are proposed.  Lets hope he announces a formal approach including partnership and consultation/engagement not just growth from on high. Also expect a response to the Arnott commission (Thames Estuary 2050) report, and a long shot a proper Kent-Essex Rail including extra tunnels for rail as part of the Lower Thames Crossing.
  3. National infrastructure Plan -The chancellor is required to respond to the National Infrastructure Assessment today.   Lets hope its not just roads (already re announcing an Osbourne promise as red meat to Tory backbenchers) and includes the NIC recommendation for a 40bn fund to 2040 to support transit. walking and cycling initiatives in towns and cities.
  4. Land Value Capture response to the Letwin review due today.  May just announce a consultation on the controversial bits on LVC the PM is sceptical of.
  5. Town Centres already preannounced
  6. Funding for Green Spaces already preanncounced  Allowable solutions in a new form The Budget is also expected to approve a study into a new “Great Thames Park” in the Thames Estuary- great lets hope it expands the ‘Land of the Fanns’ vision and replaces the defunct Green Grid = with a ‘garden Grid’ so that new towns in the estuary and properly landscape led and design led and not just fuzzy felt scared of lines of maps blobs.
  7. Planning Every chancellor nowadays wants to ‘free up’ the planning system to ensure supply blockages on new housing are removed.  The chancellor may offer a carrot and stick approach, growth funding for new style JSPS on new housing, and loss of funds to LPAs that cant agree new housing.
  8. Data and Innovation More of a long shot but perhaps more announcements on implementing manifesto commitments on open data – such as open mastermap – through the geospatial commission.  Do expect an announcement that BIS has already flagged extra funding to Catapult, and funds for studies into impact of self driving/parking cars etc.   Expect the robotisation of planning, as already seen in Southwalk, Hackney and MK – to roll out nationally.