Cumbrian Nimbys Add weight of their 106 Year Campaign to Cambridgeshire Anti East -West Rail Protesters

Five generations if Campaigners in Cumbria have continued there vigil against the Ribblehead Viaduct, contending that the 32m High Viaduct will ruin the countryside. Even 30 years after it was listed grade II*.

In Cambridgeshire campaigners too inspiration from the campaign.

12m high what a monstrosity‘ said Dr Avodaco Nimby of the Harston Residents Group, ‘north of Cambridge can have a 20m high viaduct instead. Just look how Cumbria has been wrecked by the Settle Carlisle Railway and the Ribblehead Viaduct. The last thing we want is to give oiks visiting Cambridge a view.’

Bev Banana of the Save Ribblehead group added her oar in. ‘Me my, dad, my grandad and my great grandad, we will prevail, as Thatcher planned the carbuncle viaduct will be pulled down, and I hope in that Spirit, the Harston Viaduct will never be built. ‘

The Single Window Concept and Planning Reform

Lets say you are an architect and are preparing a scheme for a listed building in a county council area. You do a joint listed building and planning joint application, as is good practice. There is a problem. The planning application has to be dealt with by the County under reg 3. The County has no powers over listed buildings, that’s a district matter. If in the course of negotiation repair become replacement or vice versa you have to to and from between the two.

This is just one of many examples of multiple consent regimes. For example in many areas planning consent is just the beginning, a variety of consents from the Environment Agency and Natural England may be required.

Believe it or not uk town planning is just one of may hat and another if international customs processes and business process reengineering. A key concept in this realm is that of the ‘Single Window‘. This originated in Singapore. The idea is you fill in a form once, and then the state handles the bueracracy of multiple sign offs. You will notice with the Irish Border the British Government really doesn’t have a clue how to facilitate trade in this manner.

World Customs Organization

The single window …permits the trader or transporter to submit all the data needed for determining admissibility of the goods in a standardized format only once to the authorities involved in border controls and at a single portal. The Single Window concept places the onus on the authorities to manage the Single Window and to ensure that the participating authorities or agencies are either given access to the information or are actually given the information by the managing authority. It eliminates the need for the trader or transporter to submit the same data to several different border authorities or agencies.

There are a couple of international cases where the concept has been internationally applied. In the middle east there is the system of NOCs (no objection certificates) where a planning case has to signed off by multiple agencies (fire, environment etc. etc.) In Bahrain there is the Developers One STop shop system, which I studied closely and in KSA set up the Ministry of Housing Developers Centre at the Ministry of Housing, discovering that where legal authority is driven by Royal Decrees you will only get regulatory reform when driven by the centre.

Another good example if the reform of the Dutch Planning System.

The cabinet wants to simplify the laws on the environment and planning and to combine them in a single Environment and Planning Act. For the time being, the Act will replace 15 existing laws, including the Water Act, the Crisis & Recovery Act and the Spatial Planning Act. The provisions of eight other laws will be transferred to the Environment & Planning Act.

The new bill has been approved by both Chambers of Parliament. The cabinet now draws up introductory legislation. The expectation is that the Act will take effect in 2021.

Environmental Plan for authorities

Currently, some municipalities have over 100 land-use plans. A single environmental plan for the entire area will replace all of these. This means fewer regulations and more cohesion.

‘One-stop-shop’ for citizens and companies

If citizens or companies want to implement a project, they will be able to apply for a (digital) permit at a ‘one-stop-shop’. The municipality or province will then make a decision. Are they both responsible for the decision? No matter, only 1 will make the decision. This simplifies things for the applicant and speeds up the permit application procedure.

Companies need to conduct fewer studies

To obtain a permit for a spatial project, companies have to conduct studies (for example, a soil survey). With the Environment and Planning Act, research data will remain valid for longer. This makes it easier to re-use data. Moreover, some research obligations will be abolished and this means lower costs.

The scope of the Dutch Planning system is beyond the scope of this post. There has been toing and froing over the years between planning based on string principles and that base don rules, between planning being state driven and being ore locally driven and discretionary. However the principle of simple enabling legislation enabling a single window approach is a good one. In the Netherlands water is the driver and the need to simplify and unify systems around flood and water management. In the 1980s they replaced the previous approach of stopping water with one of making space for water, hence water became part of the planning and zoning system.

There isnt really time to do this in the new Planning Act. But it could have a few enabling Planning and Enterprise Act type Henry VIII clauses to enable future consolidation of regimes and plans in the future with a legislative aim of introducing a single window approach.

Sorry Everton, Your New Stadium Will Have to Go Back to Planning Committee

A quick summary. the application for Everton’s new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock, and redevelopment of Goodison Park, was determined by Liverpool Special Planning Committee on 24th Feb 2021.

The site is within the Liverpool Maritime City World Heritage Site

English Heritage objected

We understand the attraction of this exceptional location and appreciate that there is a strong desire to build a new stadium that is sensitive to its surroundings and context. However, our advice stated that the proposal to infill the dock would fundamentally change its historic character as a water-filled basin which so clearly tells the story of the docks and has contributed to its status as a World Heritage Site. We advised that the loss of the water would result in substantial harm to the significance of the Grade II listed Bramley-Moore Dock and cause harm to the World Heritage Site.

As did ICMOS as advisors to Unesco

It was passed subject to no SoS call in and a S106, the SoS did not call it in.

The WHS issue has of course been very controversial in Liverpool. the former Mayor Joew Anderson said he did not mind if the WHS status was lost. And as for the Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.


Henri Murison, director of the partnership, said: “Unnecessarily delaying a £1bn mega-project such as this – which will support constructions sectors and related trades in the coming years and will create 15,000 jobs – would be a huge mistake at a time when we’re facing rising unemployment, with this a material economic intervention in the city region.

“Historic England reading of the requirements of the World Heritage Status – which has already served its purpose in establishing its visitor brand – shows the time may have come when its disadvantages for the city outweigh any residual benefits it brings.

Bruro Happold crowed about its own role

How to Build a Football Stadium on a World Heritage Site

What is interesting is that the Planning Committee was just two weeks before the decision of the Court of Appeal decision in the Bramshill Case. A decision so critical in the recent dramas regarding the Whitechapel Bell Foundary case, where the inspector there was bound by the previous Palmer approach (it was before Bramshill) and applied it, but stated he would not have come to a different view if the Court came to a different view in Bramshill. By the time the decision came before the SoS Bramshill was decided

Why this is important is that the committee report has a section right in the middle of the report on applying the ‘internal balance’ in Heritage Terms.

Weighing the harm and benefits
1.86 This section of the report should be read together with the sections that
precede and follow it. It is presented at this stage to explain to members how
the interim heritage balance required by chapter 16 of NPPF is assessed, and
how that fits into the overall balance. It is not to be viewed as a free standing
part of the report – but pre-supposes the assessments in the remainder of the
report. It is presented at this point to assist members to understand how
officers have concluded that the interim heritage balance should be weighed
and how that then informs the overall judgment.

To be fair the report does not try to ‘net off’ internal heritage benefits in the Palmer Case manner but does acknowledge there would be a significant residual heritage harm to a heritage asset of world importance. The harm being the infilling of the dock and breaches of the dock wall (though reduced through negotiation).

it is clear the public benefits would be substantial and
there is a convincing case why they should be considered to outweigh the
substantial harm to the heritage assets and justify the development.

I hate reports written in this wimpy passive voice. What head of planning is your recommendation? Are you convinced? Should be considered implies at some future point, at what point? Do they justify the development?

What is worse the report does not make reference to the views of the conservation officer. Continuing the bad Liverpool tradition of stifling these. Even though the courts have ruled twice recently that you must include such expert advice in reports. Of course it is open to the Head of Planning to come to a different view.

There is a a planning balance section at the end of the report which wraps things up and gives a recommendation but confusing lacks a heading as such (page 167) this is a simple editing error.

it acknowledged that the development will result in
harm to heritage assets of the highest importance and that level of harm has
been assessed to be at the substantial end of the scale, it is considered that
there are wholly exceptional grounds for approving the application in that the
development would bring significant public benefits to an area that is in real
need. The application is a unique opportunity and it is considered there are
compelling reasons why on balance the development is necessary to achieve
substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm that would occur.

In the heritage section it states (pages 74-75)

The Northern Docks are situated in an area that constitutes some of the most deprived parts of the City and the entire UK. … The City Council supports the positive work EitC undertakes to address the areas disadvantages. The football stadium represents a unique opportunity to expand these initiatives and extend its reach with new
programmes. Fundamentally it is extremely unlikely there would ever be another potential investment on a comparable scale in North Liverpool or even elsewhere in the city from any other development in the foreseeable
future. This is why many describe the proposals as a once in a generation opportunity and this understanding is reflected in the overwhelming level of support the stadium proposals received during the club’s public consultation
and to the formal application consultation.
For all these reasons it is clear the public benefits would be substantial and there is a convincing case why they should be considered to outweigh the substantial harm to the heritage assets and justify the development.

This really sounds a bit too cut and pasty from the planning statement. It is effectively stating fan pressure should outweigh heritage concerns. It confuses private interests (fan pressure and views of a private firm) with public interest (Deprivation and sport and football in general). But these benefits only fall to be considered if there are no other alternative sites within North Liverpool. This is where the alternative sites assessment ASA comes in.

To satisfy itself that the ASA is sound and provides a credible and
comprehensive appraisal sufficient to inform the planning assessment the
LPA has sought advice from Leading Counsel. The original ASA report has
been updated with an expanded area of search, the minimum size for the site
has been reduced and more robust explanation provided for this, Goodison
Park has been assessed and comparison added of BMD to explain why the
alternative sites considered are not better than BMD when all relevant factors
are taken in consideration overall. Counsel has reviewed the revisions
undertaken and confirmed the ASA is now fit for purpose. In effect it enables a
properly considered view to be taken over the justification for the proposed
development. In particular, the updated ASA provided in the revised
submission is now a sufficiently robust document which responds to concerns
raised in relation to the original application document, as well as those of
principal consulates and therefore comprises a proper basis to inform decision
making. Importantly it is plainly not to be considered as a mechanistic filtering
exercise, but rather an evidence based document to enable comparative
judgments to be formed.

So what is the Head of Planning’s view on how it informs the recommended decision. None is given. The ASA is simply taken as given.

Of course planning consent is not granted until the S106 is signed. Caselaw states it has to be reported again to committee if there has been a significant change in circumstances. As for example in the recent case of the Whitehaven Coal Mine.

The decision is challengeable in that the Court of Appeal have now given clear instructions on how to apply national policy and planning balance n heritage issues after the committee date.

Though the report did structure advice that would apply in either Bramshill or Palmer it failed to considered properly whether alternative sites would be appropriate.

Lets say an ASA for a site on an SPA concluded a site outside the SPA would be more expensive. That still would not be good enough would it as internationally designated sites you would expect to be screened out at an early stage, especially for EIA schemes such as this.

The truth is Everton have been looking for alternative sites for years. It could have leant on Peel Estates to require a site on the foreshore of Liverpool waters. It looked at an onshore site at Clarence Dock (already filled in) a few years ago. It never did because Peel Estates had LCC in their pocket and LCC was never prepared to put its hands in its pocket to acquire land at EUV or designate land for a ‘premier league class stadium’ for whatever club or both (it is illegal to do it for a specific club, that is a matter of private interest not public interest’). Peel did not want to lose a site for high value housing. Clarence Dock wasn’t even considered in the Everton ASA even though it was considered in the Liverpool 2007 ASA. No explanation is given. The ASA doesnt even have a conclusion section on alternative sites. (note it is unclear on the planning portal site if the report is the final version).

There is a simple solution to this. The SoS could state that in order to protect the WHS it will acquire an alternative dockside site for Everton. As a matter of national policy it could acquire it at EUV, especially as this might be the only course which would avoid having the WHS dedesignated by UNESCO.

In the meantime the decision looks eminently challengeable,

‘The Word Growth Scares People’ – is the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan Effectively Dead?

Although the Conservatives lost overall control in the May 2021 Oxfordshire Lections they had already lost control of the Growth Board in 2019 given that it comprises chairs of the LPAs, only 2 of the 5 being labour

Oxford Mail 2019

THE new Lib Dem leader of the Oxfordshire Growth Board has revealed that members have agreed to review its name and responsibilities.

Sue Cooper has warned the body, which channels government funding, that the word ‘growth’ scares people.

Mrs Cooper, who took the chairmanship after being elected leader of South Oxfordshire District Council in May, said members had agreed to look at how it works this summer ahead of possible changes in September.

The same leader who tried to scupper her own local plan.

The Growth Deal required local plans meeting 100k to be submitted in 2019 and an Oxfordshire Plan to 2050 by 2021. Well more than twice the housing will be twice as scary.

The government made it clear the 2021 target would be broken and withdrew the three year supply concession in the plan. Slightly irrelevant as all 5 authorities now have statutory plans. The deal is history. Can you really see the Lib Dems, whose Southern Startegy now is to Out Nimby the Greens, supporting an extra 100,000 plus homes when sites of several thousand were too much for them? The governance arrangements were not statutory and required unanimity. The plan is dead.