East Devon Pulling out of ‘Monstrosity’ Joint Plan Proposing growth in most Obvious Place Shows what would happen if you Abolished DTP without Statutory Strategic Plans

Devon Live

They are right though – consulting on a plan without strategic options (simply a laundry list of sites) is not consultation. So far EVERY SINGLE joint plan has failed the test of consulting on strategic options – it is a mjor theme of my forthcoming book

A major blueprint for development across the Greater Exeter region has been thrown into doubt after East Devon councillors recommending pulling out of the process.

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan will provide the overall strategy and level of housing and employment land required across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge in the period to 2040.

But while Exeter and Teignbridge councils had recommended going out to consultation on the draft policies and site options document, East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee – after more than four hours of debate on Thursday night -proposed instead pulling out of GESP.

As the initial decision to take part in GESP was a full council decision, the recommendation stands referred to full council to make the final decision.

Putting forward her call to pull out of GESP, Cllr Eleanor Rylance said that the plan was not fit to be consulted on now or at any point.

She said: “They say a camel is a horse designed by committee and this is what this is. We are being asked to send a camel out to consultation, and instead of putting forward this monstrosity of a dead camel, we should withdraw from GESP. This plan is not a fit plan and there is nothing about we should pass to consultation at this point or any point.

“This has self-contradictory polices clearly written by different people and it is unreasonable to put this before anyone. We are living in a different world from when this was drawn up and our world has changed and I am bemused that we are sticking doggedly to a timetable drawn up last year.

“This defies common sense, this does nothing for East Devon, and we should not be a member of GESP going forward. This document is all about volume house building, is dangerously flawed and contradictory.”

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the council, seconded her recommendation, and said that the promises in the plan were an illusion, the analysis of economic growth a dangerous fiction and doubling what was realistic, and that if the council voted for this, it would legitimise all that was come before.

He added that it was a ‘complete myth’ that East Devon would get the infrastructure it required from this, like the Whimple passing loop, and that East Devon should head in a different direction and ‘take back control’.

Cllr Paul Hayward added: “This is putting the cart before the horse. Anyone who has played Sim City knows that by plonking houses onto your field and hoping people will come and live in them is preposterous.

“The document is deeply flawed and doesn’t cover what is good for the people of East Devon. Some of the reports are ten years old, and the most up to date report is three years out of date, and the way people live, work and shop has completely changed.

“We must not follow blindly because we have spent money and time on this and it sums up the Field Marshall Hague approach that we have lost millions of men so need to throw more over the top. It is ludicrous and bound to fail and based on a vision that has profoundly changed. My feeling is we cannot park it and I cannot support moving with a consultation that will scare the bejesus out of people.”

Cllr Jack Rowland added that so many assumptions in the plan that don’t stand up with what will be happening with the world and said: “It is time to hit the pause button on this,” while Cllr John Loudoun added: “It is foolhardy to ask residents to look at something that isn’t a final document, and it is way off. This will cause concerns and confusion, so why waste money, time and energy on proposals that you don’t agree with?”

But Cllr Mike Howe, while saying that he wanted to ‘tear the document to shreds’, said that the council should not withdraw from GESP but instead reshape it.

He said: “This document is a diatribe of mis-information, poor information, and no options. I want GESP to be positive as we have to part of GESP, but the document needs some aspirations. The transport structure is unbelievable stupid and I am getting fed up of it I have told you this many times.

“I want GESP to be successful but this is not a consultation and we cannot send a document to consultation that does not have choices in it. We haven’t got a choice on housing numbers and do have to deliver them and have to work with our neighbours, but the policies need to be adjusted and looked at properly to address the concerns that we have.

“This in its current state does not do any good for anyone, give hope to anyone, and this does not do a thing other that deliver housing in an unsustainable way that wrecks the environment. We need to go through policies and make the right recommendation, but pulling away from GESP will be a disaster.”

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Cllr Ben Ingham though said that pushing the pause button would be a disaster and leave the council in a dangerous position if they take the wrong decision, while Cllr Kevin Blakey added: “Despite my misgivings and that there is nowhere near information and forward thinking in the transport policy, we should go to consultation and deal with the results when they come in.”

Cllr Ian Thomas added that while there were fundamental flaws with the document, there would be a significant implication if East Devon didn’t go forward with it and he would be concerned if the council withdrew. He added: “It is in the interest of East Devon to ensure the correct GESP is delivered in a timely manner.”

After four hours of debate, councillors rejected Cllr Andrew Moulding’s proposal to adjourn the meeting. They then rejected Cllr Howe’s motion to not go to consultation until all policies had been reviewed individually by the committee within two weeks and go through the wording of the policies one-by-one. Both motions were defeated by nine votes to four, before councillors voted by eight votes to four, with one abstention, to Cllr Rylance’s proposal to withdraw from GESP.

‘Avocado Politics’ The Emerging Dominant Reactionary Nimbyism Taking Over English Rural Local Government Politics

You see this across the whole of the South East – Local Politicians Describing themselves as ‘Green’ opposing all major development on Greenfield Sites as ‘climate unfriendly’ but without offering any positive framework as to where development must go. Lets be clear this isn’t progressive, its right wing, reactionary pulling up the drawbridge politics.

Nils Gilman has the perfect term

Unfortunately…embracing a catastrophic view of climate risk — including the threat of creating massive numbers of climate refugees and migrants — is unlikely to provoke “progressive” responses on the Right, but rather quite the opposite. In particular, while the rhetoric of “environmental emergency” may inspire efforts to protect broad-based populations, it may also drive hoarding by the powerful and the exclusion of out-groups. In other words, the barriers that people may want to build to adapt to the realities of rising temperatures may include not only seawalls to hold back the rising tides, but also border walls to hold back the flood of humans fleeing the consequences of climate change, restricting economic development opportunities to white people, or perhaps even outright advocacy of genocide.

This prospect is what for the last decade I have been calling, less descriptively than predictively, “Avocado Politics”: green on the outside but brown(shirt) at the cor

You can see this in places like South Oxfordshire and Uttlesford, reported many times on this blog. You can see it in the leader of Wokingham, district threatening to wave his willy in front of parliament.

He even has a reading list

How to Qualify as a Government Planning ‘Expert’


Membership of the Planning Taskforce

Details of the taskforce of experts who have offered their time and expert advice as we have developed our proposals for reform.Published 6 August 2020 From:Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Planning For The Future, published today, sets out how we will reform the planning system to realise that vision and make it more efficient, effective and equitable.

Our approach has been informed by discussions with the planning and development sectors, and by research and reports published by leading commentators – including, most recently, reports from the Royal Town Planning Institute, Centre for Cities and Policy Exchange.

As part of this work, we are also extremely grateful to the taskforce of experts who have generously offered their time and expert advice as we have developed our proposals for reform.

The task force is chaired by the Minister of State for Housing, the Rt Hon Chris Pincher and members consist of industry leaders, acting in a personal capacity, and include:

  • Christopher Katkowski QC
  • Sir Stuart Lipton
  • Miles Gibson MCD
  • Bridget Rosewell
  • Nicholas Boys Smith
  • Dr Tim Leunig

In order to qualify four minimum requirements are necessary:

  1. Having no planning qualifications [correction Mils Gibson has a Masters of Civic Design from Liverpool – though has never practiced at the coalface)
  2. Never having practiced as a town planner
  3. Having no experience or expertise in planning in a zoning and subdivision system
  4. Never having designed a masterplan or a large scale planning project

The only requirement seems to be an ability to moan about the current planmning system, expertese in other planning systems not required.

Imagine if this were a COVID-19 expert panel

Where the minimum requirements were

  1. Not being a scientist
  2. Never practiced medicine
  3. Never works in infectious disease control
  4. Never having made any medical advances

There would be an outcry. As there should be . This is a redefinition of the term ‘expert’ expert in what?

On a Standardised Approach to Zoning

‘Planning for the Future’ doesn’t say it up front that ‘they do it better over the pond’ or that ‘we used to do zoning well – then mucked it up in 1948’ but they are implicit – and the first point is very much tucked away later in the report.

In Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, you can get twice as much housing space for your money compared to the UK

As every planner who has read Peter Hall, Nick Falk or David Rudlin, or who has visited or practiced in continental zoning systems they produce THE model of modern high quality sustainable planning.

So lets not be cynical that a push towards zoning is designed to produce a charter for ugly sprawl and a bonfire of regulations designed as a charter for developers. This is the instant knee jerk response of bodies such as the TCPA and RIBA. A considered response would start with the core of the concept – the British regulatory system – unique in the world – produces sub optimal outcomes. Start with that and deal with that.

We are habituated as to the infinite ability of the ministry to screw things up. There are goods reasons for this. They have screwed up every attempt to ‘reform planning’ over the last 20 years. Each attempt making things worse. At the heart of this has been the peculiar expertese of the British Civil Service to add extra layers of complication at every attempt for simplification through an excessive degree of contral control for a system which at its heart is one of local ordnances.

Also has been the janus headed tensio between the neoliberal impulse against planning as ‘red tape’ or ‘soviet control’ and the recognition that ‘planning’ is necessary to produce quality outcomes. There is also a certain inevitable cynicism about a process launched in a parliamentary recess and led by a SoS en mired in scandal, and undertaken without any input from experts in planning in zoning and subdivision regimes.

There was a time when Town Planning was an international movement for social reform – led from the UK. It moved beyond the early Prussian types attempts where planning was purely regulation and health to one driven by a vision of the quality of place and the sharing of land value uplift.

Again despite our cynicism the urge towards better places- as epitomized by the building better building beautiful commission and to capture a proportion of land value uplift are now drivers of reform – which was absent during the botched NPPF reforms.

Lets be clear too. The proposals here are far more thought through than the botched PAF/NPPF changes, which did nothing and indeed were counterproductive in solving the key problem of plans not allocating enough land quickly enough for housing.

If the proposals were refined and phased – focusing on zoning strategic housing sites in the first phase, with zoning of existing urban areas deferred to a future phase, they could be workable.

Bodies responding should think, how do the best planning systems around the world work, and how might they work here?

One of the key advantages of zoning is standardisation. If for example you buy land in zone R3 you can value and design fairly easily a scheme based om the zone regs and this standardization enables predictability of land price which enables easier capturing of land value uplift.

The risk is a tower of babel of different zonings and rules between every plan area, of which the US system is the worst example. Then layers tend to take over as zones tend to become means of freezing change and existing social and racial advantage. In such a case lawyers not planner dominate the system. As Jason Segedy argues

Let’s get real once again.  Zoning is not primarily, nor is it fundamentally, an urban planning process.  It is a legislative process.  It has the force of law, and it is ultimately enacted by legislators, not urban planners. You might be surprised by how little many planners have to do with land use policy in our cities

This can clearly be seen in President Trumps cack handed attempts to stop zoning reform in the states, prevent the market determining development and embed segregationist zoning rules forever.

Hence many processes of zoning reform, for example conducted at US State level, or most recently by the New Zealand Government, have been to set down certain standardised rules to ensure zoning does not become regressive. These typically include scope for increased intensification in transit areas and to restrain minimum parking standards.

If local planning authorities are to start zoning it would be of enormous benefit if the ministry set out a standardised set of zones, as happens in Germany, the Building Utilization Ordinance ( BauNVO for short ) last reformed in 2016 to reduce the number of zones and allow more mized use in urban areas.

I give a google translate link to the system here.

There are essentially 11 zones, and even here the number reflects certain historical additions – such as the need to allow for certain agricultural uses in small towns and villages, and make special accommodation for large tourism uses. You wouldn’t start with such a system if you had a blank sheet of paper.

Small settlement areasWS§ 2 BauNVO
pure residential areasWR§ 3 BauNVO
general residential areasWA§ 4 BauNVO
special residential areasWBSection 4a BauNVO
Village areasMD§ 5 BauNVO
Mixed areasMI§ 6 BauNVO
Urban areasMU§ 6a BauNVO
Core areasMK§ 7 BauNVO
Industrial areasGE§ 8 BauNVO
Industrial areasGI§ 9 BauNVO
Special areasSO§ 10 , § 11 BauNV

Overview of permissible combinations of uses (BAUNVO)

Residential buildingJaJaJaJaJaJaJa
Shops, restaurantsJaJaJaJaJaJa
Ecclesiastical, cultural, health, social, sports facilitiesJaJaJaJaJaJa
Hotels, pensionsJaJaJaJaJa
Gas stationsJaJaJaJa
Non-disruptive craft businessesJaJaJaJa
Non-disruptive businessJaJaJaJaJa
Other businessesJaJaJaJaJaJa
Administration buildingJaJaJaJa
Business and office buildingJaJaJaJaJa
Places of amusementJaJa
Agricultural and forestry businessesJa
Kitchen gardens, horticultural businessesJaJaJa
Warehouses and placesJaJa
Industrial companiesJa
exceptionally permissible [1]

There is also a standardized system for definitions bulk zoning – that is regulations for controlling the intensification and form of buildings on parcels, like construction mass number (BMZ) which is the same as FAR. Such regulations and regulations such as build to lines are a matter for local discretion.

This is in contrast to the Japenese system where zoning is much looser but rules on bulk zoning, in terms of how much you can build, is more standardized.

It is generally accepted that the best system is that of form based zoning as pioneered by Andreas Duany and the CNU. Here the different types of zone are structured along a transect and for each zoning fabric along the transect rules set out acceptable development forms.

An ideal system for England would set out a National Transect – which sets out a range of zones, within which certain uses would apply, with local discretion on the range of forms that would be permitted in each fabric, and some variation in permitted uses where there is a strong local case. Local Planning authorities or groups of authorities could adapt form based zones according to their own local character – building on existing documents such as the Kent and Essex design guides. It is far quicker to zone out fabric areas, detailed form based zones for growth areas can come later, and for existing areas later still. This is a pragmatic and deliverable approach to zoning reform based on acknowledged best practice. It would be far more productive if the various lobby groups got together and advocated reform on these lines rather than being purely opposition.

The consultation paper recognises that in growth areas permission cannot be ‘automatic’ and uses conflicting language here. All that is automatic is the zoning consent for the use.

where plans identify areas for significant development (Growth areas), we will legislate to require that a masterplan and site-specific code are agreed as a condition of the permission in principle which is granted through the plan. This should be in place prior to detailed proposals coming forward, to direct and expedite those detailed matters.

This is a two stage process not one. The zoning gives consent for the use, but the use cannot be build out until a masterplan is drawn up with a subdivision scheme, which sets out areas for roads, open space etc.

The section on land value capture would be much clearer if this was much clearer. Land for roads, schools, SUDS, open spaces, and affordable housing would be transferred at existing use value and thereafter a percentage (50%) of land value uplift would be captured to build the roads, transit, open spaces, schools and affordable housing. Internationally this process is known as exaction and Oliver Letwin in his review understood the importance of it – with the master planning done wither by the local authority, a development corporation or a private developer and approved by the local authority. The language is woolly but the government seems to have accepted the essence of the Letwin report.

On how plans would be preared the consultation paper is sketchy and poorly thought through.

Local communities and developers submit sites as a first stage but local communities get no opportunity to decide between alternative strategies which is the fundamental weakness in the current system. The paper uses handwaving to dismiss the complications of SEA, HA etc. then magically tries to state that existing international obligations will be met. It is much better than government build in this as part of the simplified system.

A revised standard method is proposed with much more emphasis on planned increases to the dwelling stock rather than the circular household formation projection approach. None the less they have as very predicatably managed to completely muck up the sensible proposals for reform put forward by Litchfields and Savills. So rather than giving ‘increased weight’ to graduated increases in the dwelling stock replaces it with a sytem where it has zero or 100% weight.

Also it makes the disastrous confusion of land constraints and policy constraints with objective need. Green Belt has nothing to do with need, and is a policy constraint NOT a land constraint. If some areas cant take the need then there should be a national system for reallocation of need, and one that in line with current policy produce sprawl just beyond the Green Belt.

Then there is the issue of strategic planning. The report want to get rid of the Duty to Cooperate. This was a poor second best for strategic planning. But there still needs to be a system for strategic planning if we are not to hardcode into the revised system undershooting national housing target. For example if Sevonoaks district says it is land constrained where will get its overspill need?

We may in the future get larger authorities, this will resolve much of the problem, but we will still get overspill need fromm large cities such as London. The paper makes the preposterous suggestion that combined authorities Mayors allocate between areas. They is really working well in areas such as Cambridgeshire and the west midlands isn’t it. Rather there should be statutory joint committees to decide on the mandatory strategic issues such as housing allocations. At the very least these should be interim measures now as local government reform will be over just at the point the new plans are needed.

Finally the paper makes the mistake of seeing the zoning as ‘the plan’ replacing policy documents. As anyone who has followed zoning reform internationally the zoning is not the plan. There are endless examples of bad zoning. Rather zoning is the outcome of implementation of the policies in a comprehensive plan. The plan provides the vision and narrative. I really don’t care if a comprehensive plan is 50, 100 or 200 pages long as long as the zoning maps and regulation can fit (forn a city) on two sides of A1 and areas of growth have illustrative masterplans to illustarte future form and character.

Guardian – Planning Shake Up Will Lead to Slums of Tommorrow


The biggest shake-up of planning for decades has caused fury that moves to fast-track the construction of “beautiful” homes across England will “dilute” democratic oversight, choke off affordable housing and lead to the creation of “slum” dwellings.

Under the proposals, unveiled on Thursday, planning applications based on pre-approved “design codes” would get an automatic green light – eliminating a whole stage of local oversight within designated zones.

Land across England would be divided into three categories – for growth, renewal or protection – under what Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, described as “once in a generation” reforms to sweep away an outdated planning system and boost building.

New homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices would be allowed automatically in “growth” areas. In “renewal” zones, largely urban and brownfield sites, proposals would be given “permission in principle” subject to basic checks. Green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty would be protected.

While the proposed changes are likely to appeal to developers, they prompted stinging criticism from housing charities, planning officers and architects who warned of a new generation of fast and substandard housing.

Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said the measures ‘cut red tape, but not standards’. Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) condemned them as disruptive and rushed, saying 90% of planning applications are currently approved but there are up to 1m unbuilt permissions. Labour called it “a developers’ charter” that will “set fire to important safeguards”.

The long-awaited government white paper touts a new streamlined process designed to reduce red tape and harness technology to deliver homes more rapidly, ministers said. Government sources insisted there would be no dilution in building standards.

Changes out for consultation under the white paper also include:

  • Requiring local housing plans to be developed and agreed in 30 months, down from the current seven years.
  • Extending the current exemption of small sites from having to make “section 106” payments – the means by which developers are forced to provide affordable housing.
  • Ensuring that all new homes are carbon-neutral by 2050.

At the weekend, Jenrick said the new regime drew inspiration from “design codes and pattern books” used in the construction of Bath, Belgravia and Bournville.

But the prospect of a modern-day application and use of such codes to give developers “permission in principle” in zones categorised as being for growth was greeted with alarm in some quarters.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) described the proposals as “shameful” and said they would do “almost nothing to guarantee the delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes”. “While they might help to ‘get Britain building’ – paired with the extension of permitted development rights last week – there’s every chance they could also lead to the development of the next generation of slum housing,” said RIBA president Alan Jones.

Proposals to extend the current exemption of small sites from having to make section 106 payments were slated as a way of helping smaller developers bounce back from the economic impact of the pandemic.

But Shelter said social housing “could face extinction” if the requirement for developers to build their fair share was removed. “Section 106 agreements between developers and councils are tragically one of the only ways we get social homes built these days, due to a lack of direct government investment,” said its chief executive, Polly Neate.

“So, it makes no sense to remove this route to genuinely affordable homes without a guaranteed alternative.”

The proposals contain scant detail on any alternative way to boost the number of affordable homes, promising only that they will not decrease.Advertisement

The white paper proposes a consultation on developers making in-kind payments of affordable homes toward the levy or allowing local authorities to buy a proportion of affordable housing at a discounted rate.

Hugh Ellis, director of policy at TCPA, criticised the reforms overall, saying: “This kind of disruptive reform doesn’t suit anybody, neither landowners nor developers. They’re turning the system on its head at a time when it’s working very well for the volume house builders – 90% of planning applications are approved and there are about a million unbuilt permissions.”

He added: “It’s about local democracy. When local people are walking down the street and come across a new development they didn’t know about, the answer will now be: ‘You should have been involved in the consultation eight years ago when the code was agreed.’

“It’s diluting the democratic process. At the moment, people get two chances to be involved: once when the plan is made, and once when a planning application is submitted. Now they’ll only have a chance when the code is being prepared.”

Zack Simons, a planning barrister at Landmark chambers, said there was a lot to welcome in a move towards digitising the planning system but added that “literally nothing” trailed in Jenrick’s public statements could not already be achieved under the current planning system.

“Promises of “radical reform” can grab headlines. But remember that of more than 400,000 planning applications which are determined every year, over 80% are granted permission and under 0.5% are appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.”

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, called for a guarantee of affordable housing. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The GuardianAdvertisement

A government source said it was misleading to suggest planning rules were not an obstacle to building. “The [90%] approval statistic masks the numbers of people who are put off applying altogether because of how bureaucratic and difficult this is,” the source said.

However, little has been announced on what measures, if any, will be taken against developers who do not use the permission they have been granted.

The white paper takes aim at the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, which has acted as the basis for planning since it was passed by the Labour government of Clement Attlee.

A “complex” planning system has acted as a barrier to building the homes people need, said Jenrick. “We will cut red tape, but not standards, placing a higher regard on quality, design and the environment than ever before,” he said. “Planning decisions will be simple and transparent, with local democracy at the heart of the process. As we face the economic effects of the pandemic, now is the time for decisive action and a clear plan for jobs and growth.”

The Conservatives will hope the overhaul will be favoured not only by investors and developers, but also by the younger voters currently outside its reach.

The Tory manifesto commits the government to 300,000 new homes built every year and, before coronavirus hit, senior Tories saw housing as the key mission of the government as a way of targeting a primary concern of many under-40s and city-dwelling voters shut out of the housing market – those most likely to vote Labour.

“We are seeing a huge generation divide on housing,” one Tory source said. “The under-40s may have half as much chance of owning a home. That is being directly addressed by the first homes programme but the broader point is this planning system has held back homes being built on land that is ready to be built on.

“And we know the main concerns which local people may have are about good design, environmentally friendly, buildings that fit into the architectural landscape, ones people are proud to own. We are not cutting any building standards.”

Wokingham Leader Threatens to Protest Naked at Westminister if Housing Numbers Not Reduced

Perhaps if as many leaders felt as passsionately about building to meet our needs

Wokingham Paper

WOKINGHAM council leader John Halsall has invited fellows councillors to protest naked in Westminster in a bid to get housing numbers in the borough reduced. 

And he was joined in the threat by independent councillor Jim Frewin, whose Shinfield ward has born much of the brunt of the new homes. 

Cllr Halsall said: “I was yesterday at the LGA pleading my case. I see each of our MPs once a week to plead my case.

“Currently it seems impossible to establish a dialogue with (the ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government).

“So, I may have to do something more vivid to gain the MHCLGs attention – maybe parading naked with a banner in Whitehall. I trust the opposition leaders and members will join me.”

The comments were made during a debate on whether the council should redouble their efforts to challenge the housing numbers being inflicted on Wokingham Borough by central government was made by the Liberal Democrats. 

It was held during a virtual meeting of Wokingham Borough Council on Thursday, July 23. 

Cllr Clive Jones introduced the motion, calking on senior government ministers to come to see the borough for themselves. 

“Wokingham over the last 20 years has taken more than its fair share of new houses.

However, more new homes are being forced upon us by the (Conservative) government.

The last few Council Leaders have told us, and I have no reason to disbelieve them, that they have been in many discussions with Ministers about getting the numbers reduced.

“Last year WBC also spent over £50,000 on a survey of ALL households in the Borough to get residents views on what was appropriate future development. This revealed that 95% of residents didn’t want lots more development … something that we already knew. But we hoped the confirmation of this might change the governments mind about numbers.

“It hasn’t, they aren’t listening and new housing numbers are still over 800 homes a year.”

He added: “We want to let residents have the opportunity to change the minds of the Ministers and civil servants. We want them to see for themselves the semi-rural nature of the borough that would be destroyed for ever if we have to accept the high number of new homes that they are forcing onto us.”

Seconding it, Cllr Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey said: “Whilst the North and West of England are crying out for more new homes the government seems to be only focusing on building new home is the South East.  

“Our levels of the Objectively Assessed Need (the OAN) has been kept high it has not taken into account the change in the economy caused by the delayed response to Covid-19 and the oncoming likely detrimental financial impact of the No-deal Brexit many in the ruling party want. “It is time to actually adjust housing numbers to prevent a continuous urban sprawl from London to Reading. This sprawl is putting extra pressure on the already stretched and poorly funded Wokingham Borough services for residents.”

She also warned: “If the current government removes some planning powers away from our council it won’t let us redesign Wokingham’s new homes and could allow developers not the council decide where and what they want to build.”

An amendment was suggested by Cllr Wayne Smith that noted that housing numbers were the results of policies of successive Labour, Lib Dem and Conservatives governments. 

He said that the council had tried to engage previous prime ministers to change the numbers. 

Cllr Halsall seconded and said that he had lived here 50 years and would have supported the original motion had it not just blamed the Conservative government. 

He said that he had written to the Prime Minister last week and threatened to protest naked in Westminster to draw attention to the plans. 

Cllr Jones said he would accept the amendment if it took out the references to the different governments. Cllr Smith suggested changing it to current and previous governments, which Cllr Jones accepted. 

Cllr Gary Cowan (Ind) called the Conservatives butchers for their housing polices and added that the north of the borough had been protected. 

Cllr Jim Frewin (Ind) said that the housing plans had meant that Shinfield parish had been trebled in size. 

“We have to do something – at this moment in time we are very close to destroying three communities. 

“Grazeley would be the biggest housing estate in Europe, we cannot allow that to happen”. 

He pledged to join Cllr Halsall in a naked protest. 

Cllr Andrew Mickleburgh (Lib Dem) said that “The UK government has acknowledged the potential for a green economic recovery from the pandemic – encapsulated in the slogan ‘build back better’. This must include all matters relating to housing. 

“There is a wonderful window of opportunity to respond to this. But the response in terms of housing must not be homogenised. 

“Local circumstances, needs and wishes vary. 

“Ministers and Civil Servants must visit Wokingham Borough and listen to our residents. The invitation to visit our borough must be sent with great urgency, as the potential harms if immediate action is not taken are very real, significant, and irreversible.”

Cllr Stephen Conway (Lib Dem) echoed this, saying: “Even before Brexit and Covid 19, the housing allocation greatly exceeded local needs.

“If we are to see a return to a regional policy that takes jobs to the workers in the north and midlands rather than obliging workers there to move south, then there will be even less need for over-development of our area.”

Cllr Andy Croy (Lab) said that the Heathrow expansion was related to housing expansion and said that Dominic Cummings must be invited – if he’s not coming, nothing would change. 

He also said that the election was fought on the Conservatives ripping up planning laws and that was what they were doing. 

Cllr Jones said he was “really, really, really very pleased” that senior politicians and civil servants were invited to the borough so they could see for themselves. 

He also called on those who had influence with Robert Jenrick to come and meet residents and “have a nice civilised chat”.

Not an Oversimplification but an Over complication of Zoning

The government proposals just dont get zoning. They propose to introduce an untried any where else in the world system of three zones – growth, renewal and protection.

If you are going to introduce zoning you do so because there are examples of it working better elsewhere – like for example in Geermany or the Netherlands.

At its simplest all you do is introduce one category for everywhere – a zoning district. The Type of zoning district.

The CPRE has described to the Mail the system as ‘oversimplified’ as usual they are 100 percent wrong – it is over complicated.

Zoning districts are typically scaled along an axis which describes the degree of intensity /growth permitted. The key innovation introduced in the last 40 years by Andreas Duany (based on ideas of Planning Pioneer Patrick Geddes) is that of a transect – a cross section of urbanism for example running from remote areas through agricultural districts to city centres. The transect is based on local geography. Classically this then intersects with areas of centres of nodes of public transport to create ‘fabrics’ . The fabric zone describing the form and intensity of land uses permitted.

Where there are areas to be protected, such as open spaces, historic areas, areas of natural beauty, even Green Belts these are typically ‘overlay zones’ rather than fabriz zones. The reason being is they doint ban development. Take for example AONBm a restriction of manjor development not development per se. It is still for a local plan for example to allow a small extension to s historic town or village in an AONB.

The gross oversimplication into three zones will cause mass confusion.

For a start will it be the case that local plans will be able to determine the nature of zoning rules they wish or simply be confined to three zones?

Secondly the only real distinction between ‘growth’ and ‘renewal’ areas is that the former don’t yet have roads and infrastructure. In no zoning system in the world do the former areas automatically get permission. All they have ‘as of right’ as the jargon goes is to develop to a certain intensity as permitted by the zoning district rules. Before you can do so however you need ‘subdivision consent’ to lay out roads and subdivide into parcels. This needs a masterplan consent and in many areas a special set or rules/codes which determine how the principals of the masterplan are translated to plot led development. In areas where public bodies such as development corporations do the masterplans they are typicaslly submitted by developrs for approval.

It is helpful for zoning to be comprehensive but not essential. It is common for the effort of zoning to apply most emphatically in growth/expansion areas only.

However even if you are a farm in a protected area you still get ‘as of right’ rules. for example to build a replacement farm.

The relationship between zoning and existing statutory protections such AONB and national non statutory policies such as GB are unclear.

It is unnecessary to mandate three zones. Just mandate zoning starting in a phased and pragmatic way in areas of growth and expansion, where large such areas designated in local plans automatically get ‘permission in principal’ once local plans are adopted. Then there would be a time period to get developmnet codes/masterplan concents organised which would give plot level approval.

They system is typically botched and incompetent by the ministry because they asked no-one with actual experience of working in a zoning or subdivision system. They as per usual asked hacks and SEA Dumbtank axegrinders who knew nothing.

A transition to a greater zoning based system is a necessity and would be a good thing if done gradually and sensibly, and with a full ‘toolkit of parts’ which make a zoning system work – like subdivision and masterplanning consent, and if the system had certain standardisations to ease the transition with local variation in implementation, such as the German standardisation of zones, and the Japnese standardisation of bulk zoning rules (bulk zoning is the rules for intensification.

Around the world zoning systems work better than the English bastardized discretionary system. However there are many dysfunctional zoning systems. To be successful the English government needs to show it has followed and understood how zoning systems work, and in particular the lessons from the progressive reform of zoning systems deriving from the form based zoning movement in the US’

All of England to be Zoned under Jenryk’s Plan

Telegraph The three way zoning principle similar to that in a Policy Exchange

New homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be given an automatic “permission in principle” in swathes of the country, under Boris Johnson’s plan for the biggest overhaul of the planning system since the Second World War.

The Prime Minister is preparing to slash red tape to produce “simpler, faster” processes as part of a “once in a generation” reform of the system.

It will see the entire country split up into three types of land: areas designated for “growth”, and those earmarked for “renewal” or “protection”.

Writing in the Telegraph, Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, describes the country’s planning system as “complex and slow”. He reveals that under the new system, “land designated for growth will empower development – new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be allowed automatically. People can get going.”

The shake-up will form the centrepiece of Mr Johnson’s plans to significantly increase the rate of construction in the UK and to “build build build” in order to help build homes and revive the economy following the national lockdown.

Mr Jenrick claims the reforms will create thousands of new jobs in construction and building design.

As part of the reforms, Mr Jenrick is planning a “digital transformation” that would allow residents to view proposals for their area on interactive online maps, rather than viewing “notices on lampposts”.

Writing in the Telegraph ahead of a consultation to be launched this week, Mr Jenrick states that the existing system through which developers and homeowners seek permission to build “has been a barrier to building homes which are affordable, where families want to raise children and build their lives.”

Currently, it takes an average of five years for a standard housing development to pass through the planning system “before a spade is even in the ground.” The Government believes it can reduce the process by up to two years.

Mr Jenrick also warns that the system has caused delays to the construction of new hospitals, schools and road improvements, which are often needed alongside large housing developments.

Under the new system, councils will be asked to earmark land for “growth”, “renewal”, or “protection”, following a planning process to which residents will be asked to contribute.

A digital overhaul of the system will be designed to encourage locals to easily have a say in the creation of local design codes, which would set out the types of buildings that are acceptable in each area.

Developers would be given “permission in principle” for schemes in “growth” areas, with full consent provided once the council has confirmed that the design is in line with local development plans which stipulate the type of buildings that can be constructed on that land.

All proposals would also be checked against the design codes, which would be incorporated into the local plans.

Areas marked for “renewal” would largely encompass brownfield and urban sites. Ministers will consult on how a similar “permission in principle” could work in practice in these areas. One option is to require proposed buildings to be based on designs in official “pattern books”.

Protected areas will include Green Belt land and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Mr Jenrick states: “Our complex and slow planning system has been a barrier to building homes which are affordable, where families want to raise children and build their lives.”

He adds: “Under the current system, it takes an average of five years for a standard housing development to go through the planning system, before a spade is even in the ground. 

“This is why the Prime Minister has been clear that we need an ambitious response that matches the scale of the challenge in front of us. A once in a generation reform that lays the foundations for a better future.”

Mr Jenrick insists that the Government is “cutting red tape, but not standards”, saying that the new model “places a higher regard on quality and design than ever before.”

He confirms plans to stipulate that every new street should be tree-lined unless there are exceptional reasons.

The system will incorporate a “model design code” based on recommendations from the Government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, stipulating minimum standards on the quality of design.