Government Nods a Wink towards Increased Land Value Capture

Rseponse to CLG Committee report on Land Value Capture

Some Highlights

The Government agrees that there are some circumstances where significant increases in land value arise from the granting of planning permission by local planning authorities, and from public investment in infrastructure. We agree with the principle that it is fair that a proportion of this uplift should be retained by the public sector to invest in new infrastructure and public services…

The Government agrees that there is scope for central and local Government to claim a greater proportion of land value increases. The Government’s priority is delivery, in line with the Housing Minister’s commitments to provide more higher quality housing more quickly.
Changes to land value capture systems can have profound impacts on the land market in the short term, even where they are sensible for the longer term. Accordingly, the Government’s priority is to evolve the existing system of developer contributions to make them more transparent, efficient and accountable. It will of course continue to explore options for further reforms to better capture land value uplift, providing it can be assured that the short-run impact on land markets does not distract from delivering a better housing market.

The Government recognises that there is considerable interest in reforming the basisof compulsory purchase compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1961. We share the Committee’s view that compulsory purchase compensation should be fair, reflecting the requirements of planning policy. This is what the current legal framework seeks to provide for. Through the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017,
The Government has recently taken forward wide-ranging reforms to make the compulsory purchase process clearer, fairer and faster for all. These reforms include extensive changes to the Land Compensation Act 1961. We are keen to let these recent reforms bed in but will continue to monitor their practical application and remain open to considering practical improvements to the framework. The Committee will be aware that the Rt Hon Sir Oliver Letwin has published his independent review of build out alongside Autumn Budget 2018. The review has set out recommendations to increase the market absorption rate of new homes –which Sir Oliver identified as the binding constraint on build out rates on large sites – including on compulsory purchase. The government will respond to Sir Oliver’s report in February 2019.
Compulsory purchase compensation is currently based on the overriding principle of‘equivalence’. This is the principle that people whose interests are acquired compulsorily, or under the threat of compulsion, should be put – at least in monetary terms – in the same position as if the land had not been taken, being entitled to compensation which is neither less nor more than the value of their loss. Reflecting this, they are entitled to the market value of the land to be acquired , disregarding any increase or decrease in value caused by the ‘scheme’ (e.g. regeneration project, new settlement, trunk road etc) underlying the acquiring authority’s Compulsory Purchase Order – or the prospect of that scheme. This is known as the ‘no scheme principle’, which was codified through changes in the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 which came into force in September 2017. The basic premise is that compensation should reflect what the land or property would be worth on the open market if the scheme to which the Compulsory Purchase Order relates did not exist (i.e. in the ‘no-scheme world’).

Compensation includes ‘hope value’ (i.e. value based on the land’s development potential) only insofar as it can be demonstrated to exist in that no-scheme world. The extent of this hope value will reflect the prospects of obtaining planning permission for an alternative development in the absence of the scheme, taking into account the risks, uncertainties and costs associated with implementing such a development. This includes the costs of providing the affordable housing, infrastructure and supporting facilities required to make the development acceptable in planning terms, as well as any Community Infrastructure Levy liability….

The Government accepts that the use of compulsory purchase can play an important role assembling land for new settlements. If land is acquired by a new town development
corporation, compensation would be assessed in accordance with the no-scheme principle. In practice, the value of compensation would depend on the location, character and planning status of the specific land being acquired. If there are limited prospects of the relevant land
being developed in the absence of the designated new town, the market value is likely to be the same as or close to existing use value. As noted in paragraph 31, even where planning permission for an alternative development has been granted or can be assumed, the level of
compensation would reflect the ability of a claimant to implement that development, and the costs of providing the necessary infrastructure…

We are working with local areas through our work on.
the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and Housing Deals to support local authorities to develop the most effective mechanisms for capturing uplift in land values to reinvest in their areas,

Thi is important in that it makes explicit was was implicit in the case law (pointe Gourde) and the changes fro the 1917 Act, stating clearly that a new settlement is to be consider a new scheme.  If an LP is to build a new road to be funded by a scheme it can apply it.  But perversely if it has already built the road it cannot. This could have the perverse incentive of making it more beneficial to allocate strategic sites where there is no existing infrastructure compared to where there is already as there ill be more potential to capture land value for affordable housing in the former areas.


the Government is opposed to land value taxation of existing properties. As noted in the evidence to the Committee, it would require frequent, complex and expensive revaluations of land; would lead to very significant increases in taxation in some parts of the country and would penalise homes with gardens (a ‘garden tax’).

On the ‘Arc’ it reveals for the first time I think a formal cross government working party

We recognise the importance of working across departments to ensure a co-ordinated
approach to maximising benefit for the public sector as a result of Government decisions on growth and investment. The National Infrastructure Commission, in their National Infrastructure Assessment have set out the importance of taking a co-ordinated approach to housing and transport and this was also highlighted in the NIC’s report on growth in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, Partnering for Prosperity: a new deal for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes–Oxford Arc. We are already working cross-Government to ensure that the Government’s decisions on placemaking, economic growth, the environment, and infrastructure and connectivity, are made in a
joined-up way.

This cross departmental working in support of the high ambitions for growth in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc will set a benchmark for aligning housing and transport decisions and ensuring a co-ordinated cross-Government approach. We will report back to the Committee by the end of 2019 on our progress with this


Local Plan Naughty Step Castle Point reject Local Plan 15 votes to 14 Over Green Belt Sites

Agenda here.  The recommended plan was voted down 15 votes to 14 at a special council.  This comes after the remarkable step of their own Chif Exec saying in September that cllrs were failures for not agreeing a local plan.  They have failed again.

They were one of only three authorities threatened with special measure.  This was their last chance.  They already had there last local plan judged unsound after halving their housing target to remove controversial Green Belt sites.  The SoS was watching and now will undoubtedly intervene.

The politics of Castel Point make plan making almost impossible.  Indeed it has no directly employed policy staff, they all have left, and relies on aid from the County and adjoining authorities.  Why should they now bother. helping out?  Canvey Island has its own party which is unlikely to vote for any local plan likely to be found sound.  It is very unlikely that they could fully meet all their OAN in Borough because of flooding and other constraints, and the forthcoming South Essex JSP will need to met a part of their OAN elsewhere.  However their are some relatively ‘soft’ in planning terms GB sites, but the delicate South Essex Politics made even these politically too tough.  Now given they wont even meet 240/annum out of an OAN of 342.,  and are delivering 100, why should the other South Essex Authorities take more than 240?    Unless the SoS intervenes it could screw up planning in the whole of South Essex.

The SOS would be wise simply to appoint a commissioner to submit the plan as is as it went to the special council last night, or ask if Essex CC would take the responsibility to submit it.  It would be a waste of time to appoint consultants to go over against the same things the county and district has gone over.    Just get on with it.  The only way you can reasonably get over 240/annum is to sort out the Fairglen junction to free up  Land at North West Thundersley, which can only be done through the JSP as it this gordian know affects potential strategic sites in 3 different authorities that meet at this point.  The best would be the enemy of the good here.  The SoS would like more im sure but be patient they will come if a submitted plan removes the potential Catsepoint impasse.

Why is the British Planning System so Peculiar – the Origin of ‘Planning Permission’?

I have been reading and contrasting two sweeping reports on English Planning by the TCPA and Create Streets.

The first -Planning 2020  the Raynsford Review of Planning in England – takes a sweeping overview of the system.  Specifically on regulation of building it states:

Organisations such as Create Streets are promoting an active debate about the  removal of national development rights, on the basis that the 1947 planning system was fundamentally flawed. They advocate instead a system of control which has as its root the by-law regulation of the built environment that dominated prior to 1909.
The idea of tight regulation of building types and standards as a way of improving the urban environment reflects a disenchantment with the current outcomes of planning and could relate to a more European-style approach to detailed building codes. We recognise that the beauty of Bloomsbury Square, for example, was created through a combination of basic standards set by the London Building Acts and the vigorous application of leasehold agreements by landlords. The uncomfortable
lesson appears to be that, whether by private or public means, high-quality environments depend on detailed design ‘rules’ which are rigorously enforced.he Review team considered these ideas in detail and
recognised the potential utility of more prescriptive building codes. However, there are extensive questions about how such a system would work for the nation as a whole. How would it deal with the scale of the
challenges set out in this Section or with the necessary long-term planning for transport, equality, minerals and energy? How would such a system operate for the regional and national geography that we have to plan for? How would it deal with architectural innovation and, most importantly, the complex job of place-making in the round? It would appear that prescriptive standards in the built environment have a powerful role to play, not least in securing people’s safety, but it is
hard to see that such an approach offers a complete solution to the management of complex change.

However I don’t think now anyone, least of all Create Streets is suggesting that this is a complete solution to be implemented as part of national regulation.  The debate is how far design can and should be regulated through locally driven zoning codes which are part and parcel of the development plan – the continental model.  A model which the review acknowledges we are edging towards in a messy and unsatisfactory manner – as witnessed by the ‘bolt on’ manner of permission in principle.

Create Streets have just published (together with the Legatum Foundation) a report by its director Nicolas Boys Smith More good homes Making planning more proportionate, predictable and equitable.

The British system is very odd. It is nationalised and discretionary in principle rather than regulated and rules-based. It [grants permission] on a case-by-case basis rather than setting clear rules for what can and cannot be done. Politicians and many planners have been so habituated to the system that they have lost sight of how odd it is. Moreover, many leading lights of the British planning profession hold its flexibility dear.[For example see the recent defense of discretionary planning in the interim report of the TCPA’s Raynsford Review]

Though they exaggerate to make a point (that discretion is limited by adopted development plans which are not mentioned in the passage above) they are spot on on the issue of peculiarity.  The British system is very odd and almost unique (apart from Ireland) in not going down the zoning and subdivision route.   Though those planners operating in the strictest zoning regimes look in envy at British flexibility, particularly on design control and conservation, many in Britain look in envy at the results and outcomes of zoning and housebuilding in near continental countries, and some regimes (not just the continent but also cities like Vancouver and Planning in Victoria Australia) seem to have a found a happy medium between the predictability of zoning and more focused design review within a zoning and subdivision based system.  The wider appreciation of the benefits of a shift towards such a system, particularly in terms of its ability to deliver at scale, pace and quality is the agenda of the moment – witness the Letwin review final report for example.

The Create Cities report appendices contains very useful background on the evolution of British Planning and Building Regulation and comparisons with continental systems.  At what point though did it go wrong?  At what point did Britain decide ‘stuff that European nonsense we need British planning for British People’ .

I dont think we ever did.  Part of the Create Streets narrative was that the original sin of British Planning was the socialist premises of the 1947 Act

The post-war settlement was premised on a socialist vision for Britain that (while very popular with some) was not able to command a political consensus for more than one parliament.

History is a bit more complicated.  Before WW11 there was very little party politics about Town and Country Planning.  The Planning movement included people of progressive ideas in all parties and the first planning legislation was passed by liberal and conservative governments; whilst the first comprehensive legislation, the 1932 Town and Country Planning Act was passed by the National Government. There was a move during the war towards more state driven solutions though this was across all parties (witness the Butler education act) and the Uthwatt and other reports which laid the foundations for the post war British Planning Settlements were commissioned by a coalition cabinet and the Uthwatt report recommendations accepted on all sides of the house in the Land Use White paper of 1944 which civil servants used as a template in drafting the 1947 act.  The Create Streets reports notes how Churchill was skeptical about the importance of post war planning but Eden was very much for it.   The conservatives in opposition in 1947 did not oppose the bill at second reading but sought to amend it.  The wartime coalition government only introduced small scale planning legislation (one appointing the first town planning minister) rather than comprehensive legislation with the compensation and betterment provisions of the Uthwatt report delayed because the first planning minister, Mr William Morrison, thought the 1932 sound but amendable (he was right), though in introducing the Land Use White paper in 1944 he did broadly accept the Uthwatt Commission findings.

The passage in time, and differences,  between the 1932 Act and the 1947 Act was the critical event in British Planning history.

The decision to scrap the 1932 act and start again was undoubtedly driven by the need for zeitgeist by an incoming government but also may have been fueled by spite against legislation introduced by the Ramsey MacDonald government.  If you set aside the issue of land nationalisation there was little in the 1947 Act changes from the 1932 Act that were specifically ‘socialist’, rather then drive was towards a more discretionary and less rule bound zoning system.  So I suspect political spite and an overreaction to some of the rigidities of the 32 Act were the drivers of the regulatory framework rather than ‘socialist’ ideology.

The 1932 act was probably the most radical and least understood today piece of British Planning Legislation.  It was very well written but had many holes and had the disadvantage of being introduced in the Great Depression when few local authorities had the powers to plan positively and comprehensively.  It was the first Town and Country Planing Act extending not just to urban extensions but to the countryside (though covered by the first agricultural exemption) and inwards to existing urban areas.  The planning authority was  the London County Council (in London apart from the City) and the district outside it , of which in 1932 there were 1,414.

The means if regulation was the ‘Town Planning Scheme’ preparation of which was discretionary. Section 1 

A scheme may be made under this Act with respect to any land, whether there are or are not buildings thereon, with the general object of controlling the development of the land comprised in the area to which the scheme applies, of securing proper sanitary conditions, amenity and convenience, and of preserving existing buildings or other objects of architectural, historic or artistic interest and places of natural interest or beauty, and generally of protecting existing amenities whether in urban or rural portions of the area.

Section 12 dealt with the powers of such schemes to regulate

Provisions in schemes with respect to buildings and building operations

(1)The provisions to be inserted in a scheme with respect to buildings and building operations may include provisions—

(a)prescribing the space about buildings;

(b)limiting the number of buildings;

(c)regulating, or enabling the responsible authority to regulate, the size, height, design and external appearance of buildings;

(d)imposing restrictions upon the manner in which buildings may be used, including, in the case of dwelling-houses, the letting thereof in separate tenements; and

(e)prohibiting building operations, or regulating such operations in respect of matters other than those specified in this subsection:

Provided that, where a scheme contains a provision enabling the responsible authority to regulate the design or external appearance of buildings, the scheme must also provide that any person aggrieved by any decision of the responsible authority under the provision aforesaid may appeal against the decision either to a court of summary jurisdiction or to a tribunal to be constituted for the purpose under the scheme, as may be thereby provided, and the grounds on which such an appeal may be brought shall include the ground that compliance with the decision would involve an increase in the cost of the building which would be unreasonable having regard to the character of the locality and of the neighbouring buildings.

(2)The provisions to be inserted as aforesaid may—

(a)differ as respects different parts of the area to which the scheme applies; and

(b)be made applicable, either with or without modifications, to existing buildings as well as to buildings which are not existing buildings; and

(c)be imposed as permanent provisions, or as provisions operating only pending the coming into operation of an order under the provisions hereafter in this Act contained with respect to general development orders.

If that clause had survived we would have had a system very much like that of the Netherlands, Denmark or Germany.   It was very much drafted in terms of best practice in town planning internationally of the time.  It even had a clause allowing developers to put forward their own zoning schemes based on masterplans for approval by the local authority and ministers (known as supplementary orders), clearly taken from innovations in zoning practice in America in the 1920s, as well as a clause allowing for development of Garden Cities (as well as Garden Suburbs and Garden Villages).    The scope of town planning schemes didn’t only include land use and buildings but roads, water supply drainage, lighting and sewage.  Britain was a pioneer here and such schemes were introduced not just in England but through the empire around the world, some (such as in parts of Israel) still in force today.  The issue is then why didn’t we?  Why in 1947 did we resile from zoning?

I think the answer lies in the introduction of ‘interim’ measures in the 1932 act designed as a bridging mechanism to control development before plans came into force. These interim measures became the norm, just as the ‘build what you like where you like’ clauses of the NPPF have become the norm when plans are out of date (the norm).

The 32 act introduced the concept of a ‘General Development Order’, but not as now as a national instrument but as a local instrument permitting operations subject to conditions in line with a scheme.  This was very much on the model on the continent, in the States and around the world, of a local city ordnance being the basis for zoning under the police powers allowed by constitutional arrangements for that City.  In Britain however cities and towns only ever had rights as permitted by the crown under charter and all other powers were ‘untra vires’ therefore British Towns and Cities were uniquely vulnerable to state takeover, abolition, nationalisation or privatisation, as it found when the water networks, hospitals etc. they had built were taken away whether by ‘socialist’ or ‘neoliberal’ administrations.

What about though when a scheme had not been prepared yet.  Herein came the Trojan horse through which the British botched planning system came into being – the ‘interim planning order’. Section  16

(1)Where the provisions of a scheme prohibit or restrict building operations on any land pending the coming into operation of a general development order, a person, who, before such an order comes into operation with respect to that land, desires to commence thereon any building operations which would contravene any such temporary prohibition or restriction may, in accordance with such directions, if any, as may be contained in the scheme, apply to the responsible authority for their consent to the carrying out of the operations specified in the application.

(2)The responsible authority shall, in deciding any such application, have regard to any injury likely to be caused to the applicant by the refusal of the application, as well as to any public advantage likely to result from the maintenance of the prohibition or restriction, pending the coming into operation of a general development order, and may, if they are satisfied that the proposed operations will not contravene any permanent provisions of the scheme, grant the application unconditionally, or subject to such conditions as they think proper to impose :

Provided that, where the authority have power under this subsection to grant an application, they shall not refuse that application unless they are satisfied that other land suitable for such building operations as are specified in the application is available on reasonable terms and either—

(a)that the operations would involve danger or injury to health by reason of the lack of roads, sewers, water supply or any public services and that the provision of the necessary services would be premature, or likely to involve excessive expenditure of public money; or

(b)that the operations would be likely seriously to injure the amenity of the locality.

(3)Any person aggrieved by the refusal of any such application as aforesaid, or by any conditions imposed by the responsible authority, may within twenty-eight days from the date on which he received notice of the decision of the authority or such longer period as the Minister may allow, appeal to the Minister, and the Minister may dismiss or allow the appeal, either unconditionally, or subject to such conditions as he thinks proper to impose. The decision of the Minister on an appeal under this subsection shall be final and shall have effect as if it were a decision of the authority.

This is recognisably a system of planning permission and appeal, even with a nascent ‘presumption in favour’ in the ‘shall not refuse unless’ part (with the interesting provision that they needed to specify ‘other land suitable’-  if only such a discipline applied today.).  Note however the procedure and ‘shall not refuse unless’ provision only applied in those cases where a planning authority had not yet introduced its ‘development code’  that is the general development order giving effect to the planning scheme.

The 32 Act system had great successes and great weaknesses.  It allowed for joint committees and even delegation upwards to County Councils to prepare schemes.  It was discretionary and hence by no means universal and many rural authorities didn’t introduce them, some hadn’t even introduced plans well into the 1990s.  This led to the need for sticking plaster legislation on ribbon development in 1935.  Also crucially the ability to plan positively through the local authority aquiring and subdividing land, as had happened from the earliest stages of the Prussian system for example, was weakened by the provisions of the 1919 compensation act (we complain about the 1961 land compensation act but all it did was reintroduce the familiar provisions of the 1919 act still carried over in legislation today, of land being purchased on open market value.)   However the 1932 Act did include an element of betterment, which the Uthwatt Commission traced back through English Statute dating back to 1427.  Section 21 of the 32 Act:

Where by the coming into operation of betterment any provision contained in a scheme, or by the execution by a responsible authority of any work under a scheme, any property is increased in value, the responsible authority,[may] make a claim in that behalf, may, subject to the provisions of this Act, recover from the person whose property is so increased in value an amount not exceeding seventy-five per cent. of the amount of that increase:

However if land was zoned in a development scheme the thorny issue then arose about how much it was worth before the scheme, given that before the scheme no permission was needed, but before the roads, sewers etc. of the scheme were built no large scale development might be practical.  Arguments about valuation of betterment led to the effectiveness of this clause.  A great pity as 25% of uplift is certainly far greater than the Letwin suggestion of 0%+10x existing land use value.

Mills and Reeve

Under the 1932 Act 75% of betterment could be recovered by local authorities and in Parliamentary debates, the principle had been accepted, even by opponents. However, for various reasons, including the difficulty of identifying just the betterment element, it had not worked well and little betterment had been recovered.

Although the 32 act was permissive rather than compulsory by 1933 according to the then lord chancellor

 out of 37,000,000 acres in England and Wales some 27,000,000 acres have been subject to a resolution of the appropriate local authority with, the consequences that follow from that. The balance of 10,000,000 acres have not.

In 1943 ‘interim development’ control was extended to not only cover those areas that have prepared a scheme but all local authorities who were now deemed to have resolved to prepare a scheme.  The Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) Act 1943 had created planning permission as we know it.

Hence despite the shortage of planners and a rate of 300,000 houses built a year determination to plan was carrying on apace.

The wartime reports such as Uthwatt allowed for an evaluation of the operation of the 1932 act.  Restriction of development in areas of great beauty but great undesirability for development, such as on the coast or the South Downs, created liabilities for compensation under the 1932 act.  Uthwatt termed this:

“unquestionably the greatest obstacle to really effective planning”….

“Action for ensuring that the best use is made of the nation’s land resources is practically impossible under the existing planning legislation on account of the liability placed on the local planning authority for compensating all the land owners concerned for deprivation of land value. “(para 22)

However his proposal, 75% of the increase in all land value, whether caused by zoning, development or improvement or not was unworkable.  Why expend capital on buying land and developing it and receive a 75% marginal rate when you would have been taxed at half of that spending capital outside development?  The proposal was condemned as unworkable by the Liberal party planning spokesperson in the Commons debate on the 47 Act., mentioning with some bitterness the defeat by the House of Lords of the Liberal land tax proposals of 1910.  So it proved such a high rate led to landowners holding onto land hoping for restoration of the old system, and planning authorities forced further and further out to acquire land where the landowners weren’t forcing CPO.

Lewis Silkin in his speech on the second reading of the 47 Act summed up some of the problems of the 32 Act system.

The Town and Country Planning Act, 1932—which re-enacted earlier similar provisions—provides for the payment of betterment by an owner whose land is increased in value in these circumstances. Unfortunately, the provisions regarding betterment are so circumscribed, and so difficult of application, that only in three cases has a local authority ever been successful in securing betterment, except as a set-off against a claim for compensation….in general this amount is not payable until the property is sold or developed, if sold or developed within 14 years, and not at all after 14 years. So that all an owner has to do is to hold on to his property for 14 years, and he is saved from any betterment charge. …

This problem of securing for the community the benefit from increases in land values created by the community is accentuated by the fact that when land has to be acquired for public purposes the price is increased against the local authority or the acquiring authority by the very improvements carried out at public expense….

Once the greatest single deterrent to effective planning is removed, an opportunity is afforded us of looking at the planning structure afresh. The Town and Country Planning Act of 1932 provides the planning machinery which is in operation today, and I have examined this machinery to see what are its defects, and what alterations are necessary in the new circumstances to make it effective for the carrying out of our new conception of positive planning. The Uthwatt Report summarises the most important of these general defects. The first is that the planning powers in the 1932 Act are permissive only, and there were at the time of the Report large areas of countryside, and certain important towns, in respect of which the local planning authority had not even taken the first step of passing a resolution to prepare a planning scheme. It is true that since the Report was published the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) Act of 1943 has been passed in pursuance of which this first step of passing a resolution is deemed to have been taken, and so permission has now to be obtained of the Local Planning Authority for development. But relatively few local authorities have actually prepared even tentative plans to enable them to judge applications for development, and there is no effective means of requiring them to do so….

The second general defect is that planning schemes under the 1932 Act are necessarily local and not national in their outlook. Planning authorities have naturally regarded themselves as having a duty only to their own ratepayers, and in their planning operations have an eye on their own finances and the trade of their district, regardless of the interests of people outside their area. Authorities regard it as their main object to attract industry and population, and thus rateable value, to their area, irrespective of wider planning considerations. This inevitably leads to planning in isolated compartments. There are today 1,441 authorities with separate planning powers in England and Wales, and it is obvious that the preparation of plans by so many authorities—even if they all did prepare plans— is not likely to produce anything in the way of comprehensive or co-ordinated planning. An attempt was made to remedy this in the 1932 Act by providing for the creation of joint planning committees. A number of planning authorities which have a community of interest are empowered to combine voluntarily for the purpose of making a plan, or are required to combine by my Ministry in default of agreement, after a public inquiry has been held. The carrying out of the plan and the giving of decisions on applications to develop, generally remain with the district councils. This system has, on the whole, not been found to be conducive to good planning. I do not for a moment wish to decry the good and effective work which has been carried out by many of them, but the disadvantages of joint planning committees must be obvious. They offer opportunities for log-rolling and bargaining by the representatives of the different planning authorities, and the resulting plan is often no better than, or different from, the combined plans of the separate authorities. Let me here quote from a report which I recently received: Members of joint planning committees are apt to concern themselves only with matters directly of interest to the district they represent, and do not look at problems on a regional basis….

The third general defect to which the Uthwatt Report refers, is that powers of planning authorities under the 1932 Act are largely regulatory in character, and do not, except to a limited degree, enable them to undertake or secure positive development. As the Report puts it: The planning scheme secures that if development takes place it shall take place only in certain ways. It does not secure that in any particular part of the area of the scheme, it shall in fact take place. …

A further defect of the existing planning machinery is that the making of a planning scheme is a long, cumbersome and elaborate process, and that planning is regarded as static, rigid—a scheme once made can only be amended by revoking it and making an entirely fresh scheme. It normally takes some four to five years at the least, and involves a number of public local inquiries, before a scheme comes into operation, and to amend it involves a similar process. What is wanted, says the Uthwatt Report, is something which is simple, more expeditious, and more positive in character. All these three defects are, I hope, remedied in the Bill before the House

It is useful to analyse his thinking here, interim development control was already in force so the issue of there being areas free from planning was no long relevant.  The issue was rather there being not enough planning schemes finished.  However the issue here was shortage of resources and shortage of planners, something the 1947 act did nothing to resolve.  Similarly there was a case for shifting planning from districts to counties, but the issues of log rolling and bargaining exist in any arrangement.  The 1947 act still left many underbounded county boroughs needing to expand into district council areas.  Silkin also rejected advice to give planning powers to many of the larger non county boroughs.   The 32 Act allowed planning authorities to cooperate with neighbours and expand outside their areas.  Abercrombies’ plan for Greater London in 1944 was a good example – technically illegal unless (as never happened) their was a joint committee with the receiving authorities.  Still illegal under the 47 act which abolished joint committees, and only got around by the ‘hack’ of the New Towns Act allowing New Towns to be directly designated without any statute for regional planning.

The criticism about lack of positive planning in the 32 Act was genuine, and the 47 Act included clauses to rectify this.  It did not require the scrapping of the 1932 act.

It was the last criticism that was the killer.  They scrapped a system which took ‘four or five years’ to prepare plans, then replaced it with one which took a decade or more to prepare town and county maps, then in 1968 with one which took 20 years or more to prepare structure plans, then with one in 2004 which didn’t even allocate land automatically and which still doesn’t have complete coverage 15 years later.  Silkin failed to distinguish between the problems which were inherent to plan making and those which were specific to the 32 Act zoning system.  If schemes could not be amended he should have introduced a clause to allow amendments, then they could have initially prepared a broad land use plan (which Uthwatt wanted) and them focused in on areas of change needing more detailed plans with design controls (much like the German B Plans system).  Now all that was left was the ‘interim’ development orders approach of planning permission, now made permanent and universal.

It is interesting to read the response to second reader by the former (and first)  Minister for Town Planning William Morrison (later Speaker) who responded to Silkins Speech as follows.

That there are defects in our planning code, which time has revealed, is certainly also true. I think, though, when we look at the old Act of 1932, we must not forget that a great deal of useful work has, in fact, been done under it by enthusiastic persons in local planning authorities….

On the planning proposals in this Bill I see a great deal to comment, at least in intention. There is no doubt that the planning system of the Act of 1932 suffered, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, from two vices, its rigidity and the cumbersome nature of the provisions providing for Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman has sought to avoid this rigidity, and the object of avoiding it is certainly meritorious. My doubt is whether he has not gone too far in the other direction—too far, that is, for really good planning to result. He has gone too far, I think, in the direction of vagueness. There is a dilemma here which extends over the whole field of planning, and I will try to state it shortly.

If Government planning were the only activity we had to pursue, and if Government planning were the only sort of planning, the obvious course for us to adopt would be to surrender these problems to the wisdom and prevision of the Government and their agents and then do exactly what we were told, and hope for the best. That attitude of mind -as between the subject and the Government is not a true picture of this country, though it was true of the regimes with which we have just recently been in such deadly conflict. Here, though hon. Gentlemen opposite like to speak of the chaos of our free system, an immense amount of planning has been done successfully in industry, in agriculture and on other lines, and the result is that we have survived a conflict, in fact, with those more modern and brittle regimes. Hitherto the State has confined itself to general direction, and the planning has been done by the whole community, with each man forseeing as best he could the future of his own vocation in which he was expert. Even, let it not be forgotten, in the more limited realm of town and country planning we owe a great deal to those who planned the London squares and parks, and such cities as Bath and Edinburgh, as well as the largely man-made beauty of our countryside. There is no doubt of it. If men had not taken care in the past of many of the beautiful spots we now have, they would not be with us today.

Free man, however, cannot plan unless the Government give him some degree of predictability, some guarantee that if he keeps the laws he will be established in the work of his hands, the creation of his mind, and it seems to me that in increasing the elasticity of the Government’s planning powers the Bill goes too far in that it renders the future destiny of man too uncertain and makes it liable to so many unpredictable vicissitudes. I think the development plan of this Bill, as it is called, is an improvement on what was cabled the scheme in the 1932 Act, but there seems to be no adequate provision for giving the developer any status or security to go ahead with development in accordance with an approved plan. The only reference I can find is in Clause 12, Subsection (1), at the top of page 12 of the Bill, where the local planning authority is directed, on dealing with an application to develop, to have regard to the provisions of the development plan, so far as material thereto, and to any other material considerations. The development plan, even when approved, seems to me to give so little security to the would-be developer that the resulting uncertainty will cloud his future and deprive him of the chance of playing his proper part in what is a task for the whole community.

Many commentators on the 47 Act have drawn attention to the almost complete absence of concern about aesthetic and design considerations in discussions in parliament.  I think the explanation is the assumption was the private sector development was now superseded by the public sector who would now drive reconstruction.  the assumption was don’t worry about design controls in plans as everything would be designed by municipal architects departments.  Though as these would be district level for housing rather than County (except on London) there was an immediate disjuncture between planning and design.

It is right to praise the heroic ambitions of the post-war settlements and its faith in the positive good in Planning.  It is wrong however to consider the 47 act as ‘progress’ in all matters other than CPO and compensation the 47 act took a giant step backwards.  Silkin made wrong calls on the land question, wrong calls on zoning, wrong calls on design control and failed to introduce statutory regional planning & replaced Garden Cities with New Towns where the state not the community captured all land value increases. Planners have often been taught (badly) that 1947 was a heroic year for planning.  In reality progress in Britain was ruptured from mainstream practice in the rest of the world and as soon as the years of heavy spending and state intervention on post war reconstruction was over the emaciated form and narrow powers of British Planning were then exposed and caused a generations long decline which we have yet to recover.

We live with the consequences today, by possibly being short of over 5 million homes comparing the annual rate of development under the 32 Act to that under the 47 act and its successors.

A New London Rail Terminus at Bishopsgate – Heres How it could be Done

Last week I blogged about Bishopsgate Goodsyard, and how now it has reduced to less than 300 units of housing how it could block the potential for a new rail terminus here to boost the capacity of Liverpool Street and the Great Anglia line and in particular rail based Garden Communities in Essex and East Anglia.

Its difficult but I believe possible in engineering terms.  Difficult because the new link of the East London line, to the former railway from Hackney and Islington that led to the former Broad Street Station (where Broadgate now is) crosses over the former Great Eastern Terminus approach alignment at almost the same grade, so any new terminus would have to bridge over it.

Ive done a quick sketch to determine if it is possible.  The ELL bridge top is about 1.5m above the Braitewaite viaduct.  meaning you would have to jack up the platforms above the viaduct.  You could do this like St Pancreas, with the concourse with restaurants etc. on top of the listed viaduct, creative spaces in the arches below and then the platforms suspended about three metres above. If you did this you would then need to get back to grade on the  station throat viaduct which survives intact for over 500m.  At the point you need to get back on avoiding demolition I make the necessary gradient about 1:185, acceptable.

The next technical issue is whether on not a station box could fit onto the viaduct,  yes there is space for a 12 carriage way length platform with 4 platforms comfortably, especially as the concourse would be below the platforms.  Doing so you lose little of the development potential of the site as the new development would be outside the viaducts as mostly proposed now, the only loss being the open space, which in my sketch below is substituted for an at grade park created by bridging over the line in a cutting to Liverpool street creating a new green link at close to grade between Shoreditch High street and Brick Lane, the businesses using the arches would now have a double frontage, onto the green link and onto the new street between the viaduct and the blocks on Scatler street.  The canopy of the new station would arch over it resting on the narrow parts of the  site where you can rest foundations either side of the viaduct rather than the viaduct itself.

The remainder of the design is just a rough sketch showing a tall building the same height as Tower 42 on the corner of the site not impeded by St Pauls backdrop constraints.  There would be space for over 1,000 dwellings in mid rise towers spaced to avoid a wall like effect to the north unlike the original scheme. The new station could interchange with the new Shoreditch High Street ELL station on site and digging down 16m (not much more than the deep foundations needed) create a new station on the Central Line.

Therefore there does not seem to be any irresolvable problems with the concept.


What does @kitmalthouse ‘s ‘British Vernacular’ imply about where Strategic Development should go?

Kit Malthouse speaking at Policy Exchange AJ on the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

 ’It’s totally critical to our mission of building 300,000 homes that we get this design conversation – this beauty conversation – correct. That we get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. That the architectural profession stops being so defensive about the preferences of the public.’

Talking about a ‘British vernacular’ of the mansion block, the mews house, the garden square and the terrace street, Malthouse said this was what the public seeks out and wants to live in ’even when it has a kind of Modernist interpretation’.

He said: ’Somewhere, because of this fractious debate, the profession has retreated from embracing this, and giving people what they want.’

He’s talking about Create Streets style mansion block type densities .  Rarely more than 6 storeys high.  A limit set by the height of ladders on Victorian fire tenders and the London buildings acts.  In London this was the kind of density assumed in the old London Plan density matrix.  That has now gone. It was exceeded too many times.  Tower blocks of 8 storeys or far higher crept into every major scheme where conservation and view constraints permitted, especially in Inner London and increasingly in town centre and main road sites in Outer London.  This of course is what the skyline campaign was founded to stop.

Is the signal now that we shouldn’t exceed 6 storeys?  That we should ‘give the pubic what they want’.  It is no surprise that given consumer surveys more of the public prefer mansion blocks to higher densities, but in London only the very rich can afford mansion blocks.  The case for going higher than six storey’s is one of affordability.  Internationally those cities that have built large numbers of flats in blocks of 6 or more storeys, like Seattle,  have kept a cap on affordability compared to those that havn’t, like San Fransisco and have on occasion seen surpluses of housing.  Leeds city centre is probably the closest analogue in England.  This is not to say the street, and traditional vernacular ground plane need be abandoned; we arn’t talking about Chinese superblocks of 30 storey buildings without traditional streets.  It is perfectly possible to build a base street layer of 6-8 storeys with occasional towers above spaced to avoid a ‘wall’ like effect and overshadowing.   Tower blocks don’t of course imply automatically higher densities if they are located in parkland type settings, but that never now occurs with higher density outbidding lower, and with tower blocks there is the pressure to locate them ever closer together and with ever higher ground coverage.  The Olympic Village and almost every major regeneration site in London now are examples of this.  The second argument for going higher than 6 storeys is avoiding sprawl.  The more higher density you build the less Green Belt you need to use and the less people need to travel longer distances, and/or by car.

There is a risk here of the government sending conflicting signals about the form of development they wish to see in cities such as London.  If as the minister says it is not a reheat of the 80s style wars but about form what form do they wish to see?  If they want to see less tower blocks that implies a lessening of housing targets in London.  However the SoS wants to see the already dramatically (and unrealistically) increased London Plan targets increased yet further, implying a tripling of London house-building.  This implies far far more tower blocks.

There is a certain economic niavity about Kit Malthouses view of architects here.  They don’t sit around thinking ‘hmmmm what does the public want’ , they work to briefs about what their clients want and if they don’t provide the floorspace in their briefs to which the site was evaluated and bought at and if they don’t deliver that they don’t work at all.  Almost every major site is a battle between the developer wanting to increase towers and objectors wanting to reduce them.  In extreme cases such as Bishopsgate Goods Yard the yield has reduced by over 80% from nearly 2,000 units (the capacity assessed in the London Plan and local plans) to under 300, in order to ‘fit in’.    Is the minister wishing to see similar reductions across the board in London and other major cities with concomitant reductions in urban intensification?

These issues raise particularly difficult issues for ministers and groups I greatly admire such as Create Streets.  #MoreBetterFaster in terms of housing- yes.  More Beautiful buildings – yes.  But both are motherhood statements without making the tough planning choices about form of development and location.  If minister are serious that it is not about style but form then it becomes a planning issue about what bulk of development in what forms goes where.  If you avoid crunching those numbers and making those choices you are wishing for two impossible things before breakfast.  You are falling into the Brexit like trap of wishing for conflicting unicorn like objectives then rejecting everything that comes along for violating one or the other and in the end doing little or nothing to alleviate the housing crisis.

forgive me for focussing on London but the issue is most pointed and critical here.  The problem we have with the draft replacement London Plan is it sets now parameters on form and density whatsoever, it just sets numbers and assumes windfalls will make the numbers up through changes to density and small site policy.  Then no-one knows how much to bid for land, so sensible developers are outbid by those who pay too much so affordable housing and other contributions are squeezed out of the system.

One of the reasons I favour a shift to a modern form based zoning system is that everyone knows what you can get on a plot, and incentives can be given to bulk for meeting various planning objectives.  You can zone areas for intensification clearly showing in 3d the envelopes permitted and if people don’t like that bulk you can clearly work out how much bulk needs to go elsewhere – for example outside London into new Garden Communities.  We lack that debate in London and everywhere at the moment because none can visualise housing numbers.  1,000 a year, what does that mean? So instead we have a messy hybrid discretionary-zoning system which satisfies nobody.

Imagine instead the London Plan was only two pages long, one one sheet of paper was a zoning map of London, dividing London and across boroughs into large scale zoning districts where a certain FAR (floorspace area ratio) of development was permitted and it added up to a certain bulk of development in London and per borough on side 2.  The figures would be defined by a GIS based method depending on the assessed capacity and rate of land use change assumed by different typology areas, i.e. cleared sites in outer London, town centres, inner and central London, in and outside CAs etc. and the assessed suitable forms and typologies for each.

Now lets say Hammersmith and Fulham for example complained, no Dawes Road should not be zoned the same as Studdridge Road etc they are quite different, to which the GLA could replay, ‘fine, refine the zoning locally how you like but every FAR you take off one street you must add FAR to another to meet the same targets, but in the meantime these are the zonings that apply, and what is more permission in principle with automatic affordable housing quotas apply’.    Then at lease we would have a proper debate about how much and where intensification is expected to what forms, what typologies and with what design controls.  Don’t expect planning to be any less controversial.  Many of those sites could be proposed with wonderful, beautiful designs and they would be almost as controversial.  Controversy is likely to push further overspill and Greenfield sites will always be opposed by Nimbys whatever the beauty of buildings.  If Bath has never been built there would be strong groups today protecting that they don’t care about the Georgian Squares and circuses they want to protect the valley of the Avon






New Zealand Aims to Reduce 5 Year Lead in for Major Housing Projects from 5 years to 1


Housing Minister Phil Twyford has detailed plans for the long-discussed Urban Development Authority, a Crown mega-developer with the power to transform suburbs.

The agency, known as the Housing and Urban Development Authority (UDA), will combine KiwiBuild, Housing New Zealand, and its subsidiary HLC into a “one stop shop”.

Twyford said the UDA would have two key roles: leading urban development projects and being a public landlord.

“Our plan is to reduce the amount of time it takes to go from concept to build – that currently would be five years or more – to one year.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford announced plans for a new Crown development agency in Auckland on Saturday.

This would be achieved by “streamlining” the RMA planning process for larger development projects, which he admitted could result in limited appeals.

This, in turn, would be mitigated by having much more community consultation up front, leading to “much less litigation at the back end”.

“The community can still have a say. We’re going to have an independent hearing panel headed by an Environment Court judge.”

Labour promised 100,000 new homes in 10 years. Its first deadline is 1000 built by July 1, 2019.

For some complex development projects, the UDA would have access to a range of statutory powers, funding infrastructure and development, bringing together parcels of land and reconfiguring reserves.

“The authority will transform the way New Zealanders live, work and play by building communities with a mix of public, affordable, and market housing, as well as the jobs, transport links, open spaces and facilities people need,” Twyford said.

“It will do this at scale and pace so we can build our way out of the national housing crisis.”

For large-scale developments, the authority would have to seek the agreement of local councils and enter into public consultation.

It would also be able to enter into agreements with local authorities to create infrastructure and amenities around those developments.

Twyford said the authority would also be the new landlord for houses and tenancies currently managed by Housing New Zealand (HNZ).

However, there would be “no change” for HNZ tenants.

“This Government is committed to ensuring Housing New Zealand and the authority is a world class landlord.”

The authority would also build more public housing for those in “greatest need”, Twyford said.

It was modelled on examples from overseas in the UK and Australia and been in the pipeline for about 12 months. Cabinet papers about it would be released for public feedback.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development would report back to Cabinet on the plans within the next few months.

Legislation would then be needed to establish the authority through Parliament.

Documents released by Twyford indicate ‘brownfield’ development would be a big target for the new Crown agency. Brownfield development is redevelopment of already-developed land into newer housing and infrastructure.

“Second generation or ‘brownfield’ development is often difficult and risky with poor quality, ageing or at-capacity infrastructure and disparate and fragmented land ownership. This means it’s often too risky and difficult for the private sector to do alone,” the documents stated.

“The authority will drive change and urban renewal through transformational urban development. New public housing will be built alongside affordable and market rental housing, KiwiBuild, and open market housing.”

The UDA was expected to be created by 2020 and carry out its first projects – including developments that had already been announced in Porirua and the Auckland suburbs of Mount Roskill and Māngere – in that year.

Inspector – Next steps for North Essex Garden Communities

Letter here

1. Thank you for your letter of 19 October 2018 setting out the North Essex
Authorities’ [NEAs’] views on the way in which they would like the
examination of the Strategic Section 1 Plan [the Plan] to be taken forward.
I am sorry for the delay in replying but, as you know, I wanted to seek the
NEAs’ response to correspondence regarding the legal compliance of the
Sustainability Appraisal [SA] process before doing so. I will deal with that
matter under the SA heading below.

2. I have considered the contents of your letter and the three documents
enclosed with it: the Summary of NEAs’ ongoing evidence base work, the
North Essex Local Plan Section 1 Additional Sustainability Appraisal Method
Scoping Statement prepared by LUC, and the legal opinion of Mr LockhartMummery
QC dated 8 August 2018.

In what follows I aim to respond where necessary to the points and queries
in your letter and, where relevant, the enclosures. However, as you will
appreciate, I am not able to express any view on whether or not your
proposals will enable the Plan to be found sound. Nor would it be
appropriate for me to comment on the merits of any suggested change to
the Plan.
4. For ease of reference, my letter uses the same sub-headings as yours.
References in square brackets [X] below are to specific paragraphs in your
Agreed approach
5. I understand from your letter that the NEAs wish to proceed broadly along
the lines described as Option 2 in my letter of 8 June 2018 [2-4]. In this
regard, I welcome your statement that the NEAs will ensure that the Plan,
and the evidence base to support it, are progressed with strong evidence of
constructive engagement and involvement with local communities
throughout the plan, and acceptance derived locally [3].
6. Later you say that the revised Sustainability Appraisal and the updated
evidence base will enable the NEAs to decide whether they wish to pursue
or amend the Plan strategy [14]. This indicates that the NEAs are
approaching the necessary further work on the SA and the evidence base
with an appropriately open mind and without preconceptions as to the
outcome. That is important if the further work is to be carried out
successfully. I assume that the last sentence of paragraph [2] of your
letter is to be read in that context.
7. I note that the NEAs propose a revision to the Plan to include a review
mechanism in the event that strategic infrastructure investment does not
come forward as planned [5]. I assume that consultation on any such
proposed revision would take place alongside consultation on the updated
evidence base and SA [17]. In addition, it is likely to be subject to
discussion at the examination hearings. Moreover, as you will be aware, if
the proposed revision (or any other proposed change to the Plan) materially
affected any of the policies in the submitted Plan, it could only be made if I
considered it necessary to make the Plan sound and recommended it as a
Main Modification2
.The Evidence Base work programme (excluding Sustainability Appraisal)3
8. I have reviewed the document Summary of NEAs’ ongoing evidence base
work, which was enclosed with your letter. The first column of the table in
that document correctly identifies the issues in my post-hearings advice
letter to the NEAs of 8 June 2018 on which further work on the evidence
base is needed. For completeness, I would ask that paragraphs 72-
73 and 83-84 of my 8 June letter are also referenced in the
“Viability evidence” section, and that paragraph 132 is also
referenced in the “Infrastructure planning, phasing and delivery”
9. The second column of the table summarises the NEAs’ approach to
addressing the identified issues, setting out the scope of the further work
on the evidence base which is to be carried out. I have only one comment
to make on the contents of this column, as follows. It is unclear from
the summary whether or not the proposed further work on the
rapid transit system (RTS) is intended to cover all the points in
paragraphs 42 & 43 of my 8 June letter. I would be grateful if you
would provide further clarification on this.
10. As you will appreciate, it is not possible to for me to say at this stage
whether the outcomes of the further work summarised in the second
column of the table will adequately address the shortcomings I identified in
my 8 June letter. That will be for the examination to consider when the
further work is complete.
Sustainability Appraisal
11. I have reviewed the North Essex Local Plan Section 1 Additional
Sustainability Appraisal Method Scoping Statement [the LUC Method
Scoping Statement], which was enclosed with your letter. My comments
on it are set out in a table annexed to this letter (on page 8).
I would be grateful for a response to each of them. They are
provided without prejudice to any conclusions I may reach after considering
the final SA report and any written and oral representations made on it.
12. Lightwood Strategic wrote to the Programme Officer on 24 October 2018
raising, among other things, a number of points on the legal compliance of
the SA process for the Plan (the Lightwood letter is examination document
EXD/039). I am not inviting or accepting comments on the content andtimescale of your proposals for further work. But because the Lightwood
letter raised specific legal compliance points, I considered it necessary, first
to seek clarification from Lightwood of three points in their letter (see
document EXD/040), and then to seek a response to their letter from the
NEAs. The Programme Officer received the NEAs’ response on 19
November 2018 (document EXD/041).
13. Lightwood’s points concern (a) LUC’s proposal to use different evaluation
criteria from those used previously for the further SA work that they
propose to undertake, and (b) whether there has been a proper scoping
process for the Section 1 Plan as a whole. In respect of point (a), LUC
propose consultation with both the statutory consultation bodies (the
Environment Agency, Historic England and Natural England) and with
participants in the examination hearings over the scope and level of detail
to be included in the SA report4
14. I assume that the reference here to “participants in the examination
hearings” means all those who took part in the hearing sessions held
between 16 and 25 January and on 9 May 2018. Please confirm that
this is the case. I also infer from the LUC Method Scoping Statement and
the NEAs’ letter of 19 November 2018 that the proposed consultation will
include consultation on the revised assessment criteria that are to be used
in the further SA work. Again, please confirm that this is the case.
15. If my assumption and inference are correct, on the information currently
before me I consider it unlikely that substantial prejudice to any party
would arise specifically from changes in the evaluation criteria to be used in
the further SA work, given the extent of the proposed consultation process
on any such changes. However, I reserve the right to reconsider that view
in the light of any legal opinion(s) that may be submitted (see below).
16. Lightwood’s point (b) is a wider one, questioning whether the SA scoping
process, including consultation, that has been carried out for the Section 1
Plan as a whole is legally-compliant. The NEAs’ response on this is as
Initially each of the NEA local planning authorities was working on an individual
plan before the decision was made to combine the strategic sections of the Local
An SEA for that strategic section of the Local Plan was prepared taking account of
the responses from the consultation bodies. No complaint has been raised, to date,
about that approach5
. .Notwithstanding an absence of complaints, I suggest that it would be
prudent for the NEAs to seek a legal opinion on whether the process
they describe here meets the requirements of the Environmental
Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004, and in particular
Regulation 12(5) in respect of consultation on the scope and level of detail
of the SA report for the Section 1 Plan as a whole. The legal opinion would
need to consider whether the relevant requirements of the Regulations
have been followed; and if any have not, whether any prejudice potentially
caused thereby is capable of being remedied, and what the necessary
remedial steps would be.
18. I note from their email of 5 November 2018 that Lightwood are seeking a
legal opinion on the points raised in their letter. It would be premature for
me to reach any finding on point (b) before I have seen that opinion and
any legal opinion that may be sought by the NEAs.

Overall programme
19. Proposed timescales for further work and consultation on the evidence base
and on SA are set out in your letter [17-23]. The NEAs are in the best
position to determine what resources are needed to carry out the further
work, and how long it is likely to take. I do not have the necessary
information to comment in detail on these points. In general terms,
however, I would advise that the NEAs should take as much time as is
needed to ensure that the further work addresses all the shortcomings in
the evidence base and the SA that were identified in my 8 June letter. In
order to avoid further delays to the examination, it is vital that all the
necessary further work is complete when the examination resumes, even if
that means extending the original timetable for its preparation.
20. I agree that it would be appropriate for the examination to be suspended
until all the NEAs have considered and approved the updated evidence base
and SA and confirmed their position on the Plan’s strategy [21]. If the
current proposed timetable is kept to, I confirm that I would be available to
carry out hearing sessions in June 2019. However, your proposal for a
monthly review and report on progress on the further work [22] is a
sensible one. It will enable the examination timetable, and the suspension
period, to be adjusted if that becomes necessary. I would like the NEAs
to provide a report to me at the end of each calendar month,
beginning at the end of November 2018.
21. For the avoidance of doubt, the monthly reports should deal only with
progress made in taking forward the necessary further work on the
evidence base and SA, and any necessary adjustments to the timescales for
this work. They should not provide details of its content, as it would be
inappropriate for me to consider evidence in preparation while the
examination is suspended.
22. Subject to my comments on paragraph 7 above, I am content for public
consultation on any changes which the NEAs may propose to the Plan to be
carried out alongside consultation on the evidence base and SA [18]. I will
provide comments on the proposed changes already suggested by the
NEAs, as set out in document SD002a, to you separately via the
Programme Officer by 21 December 2018 [19].
23. I would like to be advised of, and have the opportunity to comment on, the
NEAs’ detailed proposals for consultation on the evidence base, SA and any
proposed changes to the Plan, before the consultation arrangements are
finalised [17-18].
Examination process
24. Paragraph 214 of the current National Planning Policy Framework (July
2018) makes it clear that the policies in the previous Framework apply for
the purposes of examining plans, where those plans are submitted on or
before 24 January 2019. Because the Plan was submitted for examination
in October 2017, I confirm that the policies in the previous Framework
(March 2012) apply for the purposes of examining it [24]. Similarly, any
previous guidance in national Planning Policy Guidance [PPG] that has been
superseded since the current Framework was published will continue to
apply for the purposes of examining the Plan6
25. I acknowledge the NEAs’ concern to ensure that they and other
examination participants have an adequate opportunity to respond to
issues raised on the further evidence that is to be prepared, including the
evidence on viability [25]. I will give further thought to your suggestions
for managing the submission of hearing statements and to the
arrangements for the hearing sessions. These are matters that can be
discussed, if necessary, once all the further work on the evidence base and
SA has been completed.
Adoption of Section 1
26. The legal opinion from Mr Lockhart-Mummery QC enclosed with your letter
advises that the NEAs may lawfully adopt their Section 1 Local Plans
separately from, and in advance of, their Section 2 plans (subject to my
examination report finding that the Section 1 Plan is, or can be made,
sound) [26]. I note that the NEAs do not seek any further comment on this matter [27]. In any case it would be inappropriate for me to comment on
it, as my jurisdiction over the Plan will come to an end when my report is
issued. Section 23 of the 2004 Act7 makes it clear that whether and when
to adopt the Plan are matters for each NEA to decide.
27. I am grateful for the NEAs’ constructive proposals for taking the
examination forward. I have highlighted in bold above the points on which
I would like further information or confirmation. Once those points have
been resolved, I will be in a position to set the examination suspension
period, subject to review as explained in paragraph 20 above.
Yours sincerely
Roger Clews


@kitmalthouse peels off scar tissue of 1980s style wars

Rather defensive.  If you want to refight the style wars and make it all about style and not design you appoint Scruton,  Scruton now has a commission different from his philosophy, he will be neutered and leave or plough on and be ignored, His commission is now an irrelevance,

Building Design

Architects must rescue us from blankness of homes designed by those without training or history’

Housing minister Kit Malthouse claimed Roger Scruton’s controversial beautiful homes commission will “heal the scar tissue” that has built up between traditionalists and modernists.

He claimed the government wanted to “let architects rip” rather than “poking them with a stick”, and said there was room for all styles in the drive to build 300,000 homes a year.

Malthouse, speaking at Policy Exchange, the think tank that inspired the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, swung between trying to mollify architects and accusing them of being defensive and unwilling to design what the public want.

How Little New Road Can You Get Away With in Designing Large New Settlements?

1. All of the above statements are true (to a point):

  • Building roads induces new traffic
  • Taking links away on a traffic network can reduce traffic and adding them can increase it
  • Excessive car use is a major cause of air pollution and CO2 emissions
  • We face a climate emergency

Does that mean that we should never expand the road network?

That is hard because settlements spawn, extend and grow always have and always will through a road grid, well before the car is invented.

Its all an issue about how roads are used and whether they are used and planned as part of a wider network to minimise the above network effects.

2. Because the following are also true (to a point):

  • If people cant afford a house near there place of work and they only have access to a car they will drive ever further out to afford housing;
  • If a network is incomplete then unnecessary miles will be driven causing pollution and congestion at its most overloaded points
  • Many people living in a new settlement will be locals and be driving on the roads anyway and so wont add net to traffic.

3. Which of these effects predominate will in all cases depend on the topology of the network, the management of the network and the disposition of land uses, in other words its transport and land use planning.  Each case is unique and in large sites can only be discovered through modelling.  Yes its a highly mathematical issue, an issue of graph theory, and one that can only conclusively be concluded through up to date traffic models that fully take into account multimodal trip distribution and assignment.  Its tough stuff – if you want you can look up in various contexts as the Downs-Thomson Paradox, or the Lewis-Mogridge Position.  A more sophisticated variation is known as The Braess Paradox which building new roads in the wrong location can lead to longer travel times for everyone, even without induced demand, because new roads may lead more car drivers to the weakest most congested  links in the network. The reverse may also be true: removing roads may even improve traffic conditions.  Both of these effects occur because each driver chooses the mode (in the first theory) or the route (in the second)  that is quickest without considering the implications his or her choice has on other drivers.  However it all depends on the network and the efficiency of alternative modal choices.  In the US for example traffic growth is highly correlated and elastic to road growth, in the Netherlands many new roads have been built to airports and ports but overall traffic growth for commuting to major city has fallen because of the promotion of alternative modes.

4. This dependence on network conditions and transport policy mean it is unwise to take an absolutist position, no roads ever even if it means building no houses,  Such a position means all of the negative impacts in section 2 apply and could mean that traffic congestion and CO2 emissions get worse.

5. If we want to both build new homes, move towards sustainable transport and reduce CO2 and other emissions we have to take an integrated design led approach to both land use and transport ensuring the network as a whole reinforces sustainable modal choice minimsing the effects of induced traffic.

6. International experience suggest the following are most successful

  • Ensuring that major development is based around transit, walking and cycling
  • But that isn’t enough, transit, walking and cycling have to be easier, safer and and faster (filtered permeability), which means taking traffic away from residential areas, which in some cases will mean ring roads and bypasses, as well as a dense ‘dutch’ 240m cycling grid and all intersections to safe dutch standards for cyclists.
  • Roads should be restricted to essential access, emergency service and PSVs, an major roads only access to major settlements, access to employment premises and transhipment locations (motorways, logistics hubs, ports and airport.

7.  How few major roads can you get away with? You can work this out by calculating a desirable modal split in favour of sustainable modes (say 60=70% low country urban areas split) then working backwards from that (households converted to commuters (% 55.2 working of population of working age x % 77  age dependency ratio – which works out at around 42.5%) .  So a Garden Community of 10,400 homes (one secondary school ) with 23,300 approx population will generate 9,900 workers, assuming 10% working from home equals 8,810  commuters.  Assuming a low 30% car share (assuming a highly sustainable design, infrastructure  and public transport infrastructure) , that’s around 2,643 car commuters a bit less assuming some may have double occupancy.

We can work out how many arterial (that is major access to the settlement) roads this equates to by referring to this official government table (table 9)  on the free flow capacities of roads.

A 40 mph (60 kph approx) carriageway has a free flow capacity of 1,380. So a single carriageway highway with access to two major sources of employment (one in each direction) so we are just fine.  We dont need more that the bare minimum single access road in each direction you would need to service the shops and industries in the settlement anyway.  Any extra connections would add resilience and extra choices to the network, but we don’t need to go overboard.  If we build at higher densities in a sustainable way we don’t need a huge MK like grid, the only occasions where you do need more than one arterial road is where you are building a larger garden community of more than one district where a minimal arterial grid is needed, and most roads accessing neighbourhoods need only be major collector (link) or local collector (feeder) standard.

Once you start pushing modal share by car below 50% you start to take vehicles off the network, the key is is the % below the number of local residents already driving through the area to work?  If it is s sustainable new settlement which means people can reduce their communing distances and potentially not need to drive at all can theoretically reduce not increase traffic.  And we also know from areas of Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden that have designed new settlements in this way and seen a reduction in car commuting it can be done, no need to be cynical.

8.  None of this is saying the way we design and plan major housing in the UK is all right.  Strategic growth locations in the wrong place, and /or not designed around sustainable modes from the get go will make matters worse.  Which it is why every agency, especially you Homes England and you MHCLG must see ensuring sustainable infrastructure and design is not just a ‘risk’ but task number 1 in planning.   Whose job is it. mainly county councils and combined authorities, but in most home counties growth is most needed there are one man and a dog outfits unless they have already done growth deals.  If we want to solve out housing crisis then this field is where we currently have the biggest capacity, skills and research gap.