Greater Manchester Spatial Framework could be delayed by a year – It cant be an SDS

Manchester Evening News

You will recall I questioned the legality of this in a blogpost year as the secondary legislation referred  applied only to the London.  Deleted the post after being assured the the combined authorities legislation allows the SoS to enable SDSs in combined authority areas but questioned why the secondary legislation referred to the wrong act – a separate secondary legislation mandates SDSs in combined authority areas but did not enable them.  What a mess, dont say you wernt warned.  .

Greater Manchester’s leaders are in a race against time to avoid their long-term ‘spatial framework’ housebuilding plan being delayed yet again – by up to a year.

It is understood the blueprint’s current timetable, which has already drifted repeatedly, is now unexpectedly contingent on housing minister Kit Malthouse signing off a technicality before a new Prime Minister takes charge and Parliament breaks for summer recess later this week.

If that is not possible, the framework – which was supposed to be submitted to government by early next year – could be delayed until after next May’s mayoral elections.

The spatial framework allows Greater Manchester’s leaders to map out a major development blueprint for the next 20 years and was a key part of the region’s devolution deal in 2014. Since then it has been delayed a number of times, partly as a result of Andy Burnham promising to rewrite the original draft when he took office as mayor in 2017.

However the latest problems hinge on an arcane technicality that senior figures had, until recent weeks, believed would be ironed out in Whitehall.

It is understood the region’s original devolution legislation was supposed to have included a particular technical designation for the plan, meaning it would be classed as a London-style ‘spatial development strategy’.

That gave the mayor and leaders more control over a process that would have ultimately seen them consult this autumn, before then – if all went to plan – finally submitting the framework to government in the new year.

But the key element of the legislation was never actually carried out, meaning the timetable is now, at a late stage, up in the air.

One senior source said it had been a ‘inadvertent’ legislative error in Whitehall, but one they claimed civil servants had repeatedly promised would, in practical terms, be no problem as it could simply be approved by the minister in question instead.

However earlier this year the ‘mood music changed’, they said, and that no longer became so definite.

A flurry of high-level meetings between senior advisers followed and, eventually, a phone call between Andy Burnham and housing minister Kit Malthouse.

On Friday Mr Malthouse then wrote to the region asking a number of questions about the plan, to which Greater Manchester responded this morning.

However with Parliament due to break up for recess this week and a new Prime Minister due in Downing Street tomorrow, they now face a race against the clock.

If the necessary order is not passed this week, the region may not be able to proceed as intended.

Without being classed as a ‘spatial development strategy’, the framework falls by default under another category – known as a ‘joint development plan’ – which would require a different process.

That would need officials to gather every last final bit of Greater Manchester’s evidence for the plan before going out to consultation, work that has not been completed, as they had assumed they did not need to do so until the plan was finally submitted to government.

As a result that would delay it for a fifth time, potentially kicking it past next spring’s mayoral election.

It is understood council leaders were only told of the latest problem a few weeks ago.

One senior councillor called the situation a ‘total f*** up’, adding that they were ‘furious’ that the region was now in that position. Others were more circumspect, with one speculating that the government was ‘playing games’.

A source close to the mayor’s office said: “It’s not a good place to be in, but it’s another symptom of government not really being focused. This should be a really simple change. Officials have admitted it was an error in the draft legislation and it just hasn’t been sorted.”

It remains unclear why official advice over the plan has changed, but many senior figures in Greater Manchester believe the problem is directly linked to tensions between the region and housing minister Kit Malthouse.

In February a row broke out between the minister and Andy Burnham over green belt development, while a few weeks later government pulled a £68m housing deal leaders had long been expecting.

Moggy and the Hunt for Unicorn Green Belt Sites

IEA Raising the Roof

  • Where green belt land achieves none of its official purposes, it can be selectively re-classified, with a presumed right to development. Most green belt land should remain, however. This proposal should apply in particular to derelict or already-developed sites. Green belt land near transport hubs should be a declassification priority, including Metropolitan Green Belt land within realistic walking distance of a railway station. The amount of green belt land needed is very small: just 3.9 per cent of London’s green belt is needed for one million homes.

Every piece of Green Belt land acheives at least one Green Belt purpose as every Green Belt review and the PAS guidance acknowledges.  This is actuaally far more strict than existing Green Belt review where a site might perform weakly through meeting one or two of the purposes.

A reminder:

The five purposes of Green Belt in the NPPF are:
• to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas
• to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another
• to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
• to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
• to assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other
urban land. (which every site meets)

Of course it is possible for derilict or partially developed sites to strongly meet the criteria.

Calderdale Inspector Finds Standard Housing Method 25% too low

Important finding.  Claderdale submitted under the transitional arrnagement but used the standard method rather than the SHAM + employment figure.  Shows how ridiculous it is that the standard method formula reduces SAON below need in many northern town.

Here is the link as the link on the councils news page is wrong.  The PDF is encrypted, so you cant directly cut and pastre from it.  The easy workaround is to print to pdf from a non adobe application then open in word directly.

 The submitted Plan identifies a housing need and requirement of 840 dwellings per annum (dpa) …The figure is based on the standard method for assessing local housing need and the minimum number of homes needed, as set out in the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2019) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG).

The application of the current standard method was discussed at the hearing session in the context that the Plan was submitted under transitional arrangements (prior to 24th January 2019), and therefore falls to be considered against policies in the NPPF 2012. ..The assessment should be thorough but proportionate, building where possible on existing information sources outlined within the guidance (paragraph 2a-005-20140306). In this context I consider that the use of the standard method for assessing local housing need could, in principle, be appropriate for transitional plans where particular circumstances are demonstrated. The specific circumstances in the case of Calderdale, and justification for the need/requirement figure of 840 dpa are considered below.

The figure of 840 dpa represents the minimum starting point for assessing housing need, using the new standard method (as set out in paragraph 60 of the NPPF 2019). The current PPG (paragraph 010) indicates that there will be circumstances where it is appropriate to consider whether actual housing need is higher than the standard method indicates refers to situations where increases in housing are likely to exceed demographic trends due to growth strategies or strategic infrastructure improvements or where changing economic circumstances may affect demographic behaviour. It also states that authorities should take account of up-to-date Strategic Housing Market
Assessments (SHMA) which identify significantly higher needs than the standard method.
The Council is part of the Leeds City Region (LCR) which benefits from an agreed £1 billion plus Growth Deal overseen by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Local Economic Partnership. The Local Plan reflects the ambitions in the LCR Strategic Economic Plan and makes provision for above baseline employment
growth ( policy on plus transport growth scenario) and delivery of at least 73 hectares of new employment land to meet objectively assessed need (OAN).

Whilst the growth projections incorporate an element of aspiration, the Council confirmed its commitment at the hearings to the ambitions of the LCR and the Growth Strategy programme, and outlined the range of funding available and progress made in the delivery of several major strategic highways projects within Calderdale. The method for deriving the employment OAN makes reasonable allowances for losses and flexibility, and I am satisfied that the general approach is soundly based.
The evidence indicates that actual housing need is higher than the
standard method indicates, and that an uplift above the minimum figure is
warranted to support likely employment growth. In conclusion, taking account of all the evidence before me, I consider that housing need in the borough is higher than 840 dpa and is likely to amount to at least 1001 dpa. .The housing requirement of 840 dpa in the Plan is the same as the identified housing need figure. As such, for the reasons set out above, I am concerned that the Plan provision for housing would not adequately support the employment growth advanced by the Plan, and could result in higher rates of in-commuting or conversely impact on the ability of businesses to grow and develop. Accordingly,
the Council is requested to consider the implications of the above
conclusions for the housing need and housing requirement figures in the
submitted Plan, and confirm how it wishes to proceed. Further work may
be necessary to assess the implications of housing need and requirement figures which align more closely . Linked to this the
Council may determine it necessary to identify additional housing sites. Or
alternatively the Council may wish to revisit the economic strategy to better align with housing growth.
The plan does not clearly distinguish between need and the housing requirement, and it appears that some conjoining of the issues has occurred. In reviewing its position, the Council will need ensure the assessment of housing need and the process of determining the amount of housing that should be provided are carried out as separate stages, in line with national policy and guidance.

…At the hearing session the Council suggested that the housing requirement of 840 dpa had been selected in order to limit Green Belt release, but were unable to point to specific evidence showing unacceptable harm to Green Belt purposes arising from higher housing requirements in the Cabinet report. I also note that the Initial Draft Plan was based on a higher housing requirement figure of 1,261 dpa (taking account of shortfall in early years), and incorporated a proposed supply of 13,286 allocated dwellings rather than 9,460 identified in the submitted Plan. …

‘Banning Caravans!’ The Planning Committee Chairman too Lazy to Read his Own Local Plan

Minister FM

[Yorkshire Dales] National park planning bosses have emphasised that caravans will remain welcome in a national park following concerns that they were to be banned as part of a  long-term strategy to preserve the landscapes.

Paul Fellows, head of strategic policy at the North York Moors National Park Authority, told members of its planning committee that the draft Local Plan that was submitted to the Government earlier this month featured changes to policies over static rather than mobile caravans.

The national park is home to numerous caravan sites, such including ones at Rosedale Abbey, Ugthorpe and Ladycross Plantation.

Mr Fellows was responding to concerns over the Local Plan raised by the authority’s planning committee chairman, farmer David Hugill, who is also a North Yorkshire County and Hambleton District councillor.

The  authority receives 700 to 1,000 planning applications a year, which have to be considered in accordance with the development plan, unless there are strong reasons otherwise.

Mr Hugill had asked officers for confirmation about the proposals relating to caravans in the Local Plan, which is nearing its climax with a week-long public examination of the proposals set to take place by October.

He said while there had been significant speculation over the future of caravans in the 554sq miles area, he had understood the authority was putting

Mr Fellows said the policy had been amended so as not to permit any new static caravans or the conversion of existing camping or caravanning sites to static ones, partly due to concerns over their visual impact.

The impending ban on new static caravans also follows the authority finding that nearly three-quarters of caravans and chalets in the park are not available for public hire and are being used as main homes, second homes or holiday rentals for prolonged periods of residence.

After the meeting, Mr Hugill said:

“There was a perception that caravans were no longer welcome in the North York Moors National Park.

That is definitely not the case.”

While drawing up the Local Plan the authority found that recreation and tourism, whilst not as large a sector as agriculture in terms of the jobs it creates, brought in around £647 million of spending, 7.93 million visits and provided around 10,900 full-time equivalent jobs a year.

It also found accommodation services is the biggest type of employment within this sector, and touring caravan and tented campsites make up the largest proportion of accommodation.

Mr Hugill said:

“Caravans are very important to the local economy. Many caravan owners enjoy setting off from different parts of the country to visit the North York Moors.”

Can not the Chairman of the planning committee read his own local plan?  Or do Yorkshire Councillors think this is what officers are for?

The policy T3 is pretty clear, and the difference in law between static and mobile caravans (the former requiring licensing) should be know to everyone involved in planning in rural areas.

New sites for static caravans will not be permitted. Small extensions or increases in the number of static caravan pitches on existing sites will only be permitted where they would be well screened or would improve the visual impact of the site within the surrounding landscape. Additional units will be restricted to holiday use and short term letting or will be required to be removed from site between 1 November and 1 March.