Laurie McFarlane @L__Macfarlane Talks Total Rubbish on Zoning and Democracy in Guardian

Guardian – This article shows how many fail to understand zoning and the history of planning and planning around the world and cant even be bothered to learn.

Ever since the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 was enacted, landowners and developers have had to apply to their local authority for planning permission to build new property or convert existing buildings from one use to another. The act was an elegant attempt by Clement Attlee’s Labour government to balance public and private interests: land was kept in private ownership but the right to develop it was nationalised.

This is historically innacurate as I have written on this site many times. Consent was needed from the planning acts of the 1920s and 1930s. This was a zoning system but ‘interim’ consent was needed for permission outside zoned areas. The main effect of the 1947 act was to abolish the ability of zoning plans to grant development consent, the interim system being made permanent. The intent was to speed up post war reconstruction. The end result was to remove design control from development plans and hand it to council surveying and architecture departments. A disaster. Almost noting about public consultation in 47 Act, that came in post Skeffington in 1968. In fact there was little progressive about the 1947 Act it was regressive in most respects apart from land value capture, which is setting too high a rate did not last beyond that parliament.

under the reforms published this week, this will be replaced with a zoning system under which all land will be designated as one of three categories. In so-called growth areas, permission will be granted automatically without having to submit a planning application. In “renewal” areas, which are expected to cover urban and brownfield sites, permission will be automatically granted subject to some basic checks. Only in “protected areas”, such as the green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty, will stricter development controls apply.

This totally misunderstands how zoning works. The only difference is that under a zoning system ‘permission in principle’, or development ‘as of right’ is granted, which means for example if a local plan says 100 houses on a site with access at point x developers dong need to apply again for outline permission for that, they move straight to detailed consent. The problem with the current system is you have to apply twice for the same thing. Even though it is against government policy to refuse permission for sites in local plans refusal is common, they almost always win on appeal and costs granted against the council. Total waste of time. What is more it is not democratic. Allocation is voted on by all cllrs. Planning permission only by a small number.

only those with psychic powers to foresee future developments will be able to object to them at the initial plan-making stage. Democratic oversight of individual developments will soon be a thing of the past.

Nonsense you dont need psychic powers. The design of development is only revealed at reserved maters stage and then of course the only material planning consideration IN LAW under the current system is the design. ou cant object to the land use which is clear for all to see at local plan stage. Laurie is encouraging planning authorities ro break the law and have costs awarded against them at planning appeal.

nine out of every 10 planning applications are approved by councils anyway. Some maintain that this figure is misleading, because only those who expect planning permission to be granted bother applying. But more than a million homes that have already been granted planning permission in the last decade have not yet been built. If the planning system really is the problem, why have these homes not been built?

In a system where development is left in the hands of profit-maximising firms, there is a strong incentive to build strategic land banks and drip-feed new homes on to the market at a slow rate. The reason for this is simple: releasing too many homes at once would reduce house prices in the area, which in turn would reduce profits.

By handing over even more power to private developers, the government’s reforms will make this problem even worse.

Why, you answered your own question, In a world where land is rationed it is in short supply. Future development consents are real options which landowners and developers speculate on for future profits. They ration the release of consents to no more than the absorption rate of the local market. This is a symptom of not enough land coming forward through planning, it would reduce the problem not make it worse . Even so where are the other 4 million homes over 30 years to come from? The solution to this is to tax land, which it seems the planning bill is to do starting with empty plots. The problem is MacFarlane’s discredited denialism that supply has anything to do with housing price, which many papers in recent years have debunked.

From the opening sentence to the final full stop, the government’s white paper emits a strong stench of corporate lobbying, and represents a slap in the face to evidence-based policymaking. 

Corporate lobbying led to the NPPF which was a failure no long term increase in housebuilding above pre global recession levels. No housebuilder have been lobbying for zoning. The pressure has been from think tanks and planning experts, because zoning is the universal system for planning outside Great Britain, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Island. Where is the case for little island exceptionalism when the rest of the world builders greener, better houses, in grerater numbers and often with greater public participation?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s