Refusal of 1,000 Home Allocated Site at Canterbury shows Why Zoning is Essential

What a collosal waste of time. Costs are inevitable. I will ask someone from CPRE what is the possible justification in terms of ‘local democracy’ that a decision of a committee can overturn that of a full council. This is as undemocratic as Trump asking state reps to overturn a general election decision. It isnt democracy it is Advocado fascism.

Kent Messenger

A major housing development has been rejected by councillors – despite warnings that the decision flies in the face of a government planning ruling.

The council’s planning committee controversially voted on Tuesday to throw out a scheme for 650 homes at Sturry, on the outskirts of Canterbury.

This led to the withdrawing of associated plans for a neighbouring estate of 456 homes at Broad Oak.

The rejection, which could lead to a costly appeal for the authority, came after impassioned objections about the traffic and environmental impact of the scheme.

he sites are both allocated in the Local Plan for development. They also play a key role in funding the planned £28 million Sturry relief road – which is said to be necessary for the schemes to go ahead.

The combined 1,156 homes of the two schemes are considered crucial to the city council’s target for allocating land for housing. Although both are on the same strategic site, the applications were being considered separately by the planning committee.

As the objections mounted up, the city council’s head of planning Simon Thomas fired a warning shot and reminded members of the crucial Local Plan status of the sites.

Before the vote, he questioned members’ reasons recommended for refusal. He suggested many of them would not stack up if challenged at appeal and the application was only an outline one with details that could change.

They included the objection about the lack of any affordable housing. Mr Thomas said this had already been accepted during the Local Plan process because of the £9 million cost to the developer towards the link road, which the inspector considered took priority.

After the meeting Cllr Baker said he feared the refusal would “not stack up” at appeal and could have a damaging effect on the council’s requirement to deliver a five-year housing allocation plan.

“There was a lot about the application I wasn’t happy with but this decision could end up being costly for the council if an inspector decides the refusal was unreasonable,” he said.

“There must also be serious doubts whether the South East Local Partnership’s contribution to the link road, which is a key element of the funding, will now be forthcoming.”

How will New Zero Carbon Communities Get their Heat and Power?

This is a much harder question than for transport. Their are three options and their is no clear consensus amongst those experts I have spoken to.

What is worse is their are no clear pioneers in the UK with most projects being too small and most housebuilders being terrible power and heat suppliers (its not their bag). I can only think of Bicester Energy Centre as being a successful district heating urban expansion example and that has still not yet had an evaluation.

Their are basically three options:

  • Hydrogen
  • District Heating
  • Ground or Air Source Heat Pumps.

Hydrogen could use with adaptation the existing gas networks serving 75% of households. The disadvantage is it is 3 times less energy efficient than ground source heat pumps. Also the energy density of hydrogen per unit volume is one third that of methane. So if we were to use it as a direct replacement, we will need three times more storage and distribution capacity than we currently have for methane, massive investment in tanks and gas mains would be needed. I cant see it being practical unless you use biogenic methane – which uses Algae to convert Co2 to Methane – overall carbon neutral. This so called ‘Renewable Natural Gas’ is so far more a proposal than a reality. The biggest problem however is the massive extra energy needed to produce Hydrogen. As 75% of energy is lost from conversion this alone would require UK electricity production to increase to roughly double to compensate.

District heating has potential but is much easier to do wit new developments and requires high density urban areas. The downside being the heavy insultation they require

Heat pumps have potential, but Guardian

because this technology works at a lower temperature than existing boilers, it requires many homes to be much better insulated, or to have larger radiators, capable of delivering more heating power. For those who have switched to heat-as-you-go combi boilers, it will necessitate the reinstallation of a hot water tank.

Their effectiveness however depends on the underlying geology. They are common in Jersey as it is built on granite. They also require electricity to run. However as they produce more heat than the electricity they consume recent modelling suggests no net increase in uk power requirements. The real challenge is upscaling – The Times

Overall heat pumps seem the most practical. Our housebuilders have poor knowledge of their use however and I have heard several horror storeys of bad installations which generated nothing. There are success storeys however, such as the 700 unit Wandsworth riverside proposal, some integrating with district heating especially at higher densities.

What will the role of planning be?

I see see a two stage process. One an ‘energy strategy’ stage done at masterplanning stage – as commonly happens in London. The second through building regs only where buildings have both to reach an energy use standard and a net zero use of carbon standard. There might also be an allowable solutions systems, as proposed and dropped a few years ago, for small residual emissions. Lets hope the Zero Carbon Hub fires up again.

However care would need to be taken that no land was included in any national scheme of treeplanting/habitat restoration as part of a national zero carbon plan.

Does @joannaaverley understand what local plans do and how zoning is different? It seems not

Planning Portal Conference

Combining this with the proposed move for local plans to make area-based allocations and for “greater clarity of expectation in terms of design and other placemaking aspects through coding and masterplans” means “we can have a clearer expectation, therefore speeding through decisions, informed by strong policies and engagement”

Local plans already make allocations.

They dont make ‘as of right’ decisions on development consents.

Joanna’s language only makes sense in light of the current system where you only make a decision ‘informed by policy’ and after a masterplan. You would use different language and logic in a zoning system. At what point is the decision made and for what elements of a masterplan. When does ‘as of right’ kick in and when does design control kick in?

This is very very worrying. It either shows she hasn’t got her head around what zoning is, or that the government want to take us through two years of legislation to introduce a fake zoning system still with discretionary decisions on ‘as of right development consent’ much like New York’s system.

She should urgently qualify.

More hopefully the ‘informed by strong policies’ means zoning decisions would be informed by strategic policy. Something the White Paper proposed to get rid of. However as the language so mixes up and confuses different types and levels of decision in a zoning based system it is really hard to know what she meant, or if her and her civil servant knew what they meant, given of course how little of the proposals in the white paper were written by civil servants.