MCHLG issues Misleading Response to Misleading Times Article fed by Misleading CPRE ‘research’


The Times today (Tuesday 25 May) reported on inaccurate analysis by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), stating that rural areas will have a legal requirement to meet the new house building targets. They say this will put pressure on councils to accept more development of Green Belt sites and in areas of outstanding natural beauty.

This analysis is deliberately misleading. To compare housing delivery in different parts of the country based on Local Housing Need formula is to misunderstand the nature and purpose of these numbers. That’s not how they work – the numbers mentioned are a starting point for local councils to help them understand how much housing is needed in their area and are not legally binding. Put simply, it is a measure of an area’s housing need, against which councils must then consider their local circumstances and supply pipeline. Councils draw up a local housing target, taking into account factors including land availability and environmental constraints such as Green Belt.

Protecting the Green Belt is a priority and our national planning policy reinforces regenerating previously developed land, known as brownfield sites, and prioritising urban areas. The uplift in local housing needed within our biggest cities and urban centres in England will direct homes to where they are better served by infrastructure, and therefore protect our countryside. It also supports our wider objectives of regenerating brownfield sites, renewal, and levelling up.

Green Belt decisions will remain with councils and communities, ensuring they have influence over development, location and design.

This government is committed to levelling up all around the country. This includes the development of much needed new homes in both the north and the south of England. For example, a number of places outside of the South East have gone over and above to provide much-needed new homes in recent years, including:

  • Bolsover: Current Local Housing Need: 224  | Three year annual average delivery: 278
  • Copeland: Current Local Housing Need: 11 | Three year annual average delivery 134
  • Darlington: Current Local Housing Need: 165 | Three year annual average delivery 414
  • Hartlepool: Current Local Housing Need: 180| Three year annual average delivery: 274
  • Redcar and Cleveland: Current Local Housing Need: 89 | Three year annual average delivery: 486

We have been clear that local plan policies should be informed by up-to-date assessments of the need for open space and sport and recreation facilities, and communities can designate Local Green Space to protect important green areas from development.

The government signed off the London Plan in Feb 2021 which is now set for the next 5 years. The local housing need uplift will, therefore, only be applicable once the next London Plan is being developed in 2026.

The Local Housing Need is simply a measure of need and we recognise that not everywhere will be able to meet their housing need in full – for example, where available land is constrained due to the Green Belt and an area therefore has to plan for fewer new homes. At the same time, there may be areas which want to be more ambitious in planning for more homes, and they should be able to continue this where appropriate.

Local Plans should cover a minimum period of 15 years. However, councils are able to review their plans for housing during this period, and to be clear, plans must be reviewed at least once every five years to take into account changes in circumstances and to ensure policies remain effective.

But the standard method is no longer a measure of local need. It is based on 2014 need redistributed because of a cap and arbitary urban redistribution. Also the Planning White paper said many times the revised method would be binding and not just a starting point, only for the minister to say in the response to the standard method consultation that oh you misunderstand us, its just a starting point. If its just a starting point what is the method to redistribute need that cant be met locally given the proposal to abolish the duty to cooperate.

This is dodging the political question. Does there need to be more housing in the countryside or less. If housing cant be built in some areas where should it be built? Can the MCHLG answer these questions in single paragraphs in terms non planners can understand?

‘Dozer’ Oliver Dowden condemns ‘Socialist Town Planners’ He’s an Ignoramus of History

You usually find those who condemn ‘wokery’ want to remain historically ignorant because they didnt’t want the fantasy ‘sceptered isle’ view of history challenged by critical thought or evidence.


He launches into a passionate soliloquy about the dangers of big institutions being swept up by statue-topplers and history-rewriters.

“What I’m saying is, let’s make sure we have a longer term perspective on all of this. You just have to look at what happened to our urban landscape after the Second World War. More damage was done by the misplaced idealism of socialist planners than by the Luftwaffe.

There is no evidence of any major city plan in the post war period having been drawn up by a socialist planner, apart from Stevenage who was quickly fired for being too left wing and an outspoken woman. A previous generation of planners had many prominent socialists (libertarians) with very different ideas about style (often favouring vernacular and arts and crats styles). But that’s not what he is talking about.

This concept comes from Gavin Stamps book ‘Britain’s Lost Cities’ which is a prominent part of contemporary cultural conservative historiography. I’m not accusing dozer Dowden waking up and reading Stamp. More likely he read a blog on CONHOM from someone who once read a pamphlet by a dumbtank that once attended a lecture from someone who once read the book.

This had a simple argument, post war reconstruction did more damage than the Luftwaffe. A whole chapter often book being given over to Exeter.

This is partially true. You find in every blitzed city far more was knocked down than was blown up. What replaced it was driven far ore by a classical conception of planning than modernist. And modernism, when it did become fashionable had few associations with socialism (look for example at La Corbusier’s authoritarian right wing syndicalism and coporatism). But that is too much history to get in the way of so many bad conservative aesthetic scribblers who want to paint a false ‘asleep’ narrative of triumph of the people over socialism. The facts don’t support the ‘dozers’ narrative.

The facts are, lets use Exeter as a case study, by the time Thomas Sharp, Exeter’s planner, arrived for his site visit Bedford Square, its most famous example of Georgian Town Planning, was bulldozed and he wrote of it as such. In fact the corporation had bulldozed it in the previous weeks. Reports at the time said many houses simply had broken windows. It is difficult to tell because there are no records how deep the damage was. Georgian and early Victorian houses were flimsy structurally behind the front façade. The blast wave from a bomb can weak a whole terrace, sometimes fatally, rippling down a whole terrace, even when frontage appearances of damage are limited.

It appears the motives of the corporation (tory I might add) were financial. They had massive loss of rates income and lobbied furiously central government for relief. They were strongly motivated by getting redevelopment done as quickly as possible

Sharp was not beyond fault, his report strongly downplayed how many buildings in the centre from Medieval facades were Victorian, we know now in all cities how much refacading was done in front of medieval buildings. But Sharpe did not knockdown the medieval street pattern in the area which was not bomb damaged.

There certainly were cases where bad planning did much damage. Think for example of Leicester where a ring road split the old town in two. The fault of its City Planner Konrad Smigielski a man who fought (with a gun) invading communists in his home country.

There really is no evidence that British Post War Town Planning in any way followed a ‘socialist’ ideology. Modernism as an aesthetic was followed by architects of all political persuasions, and the dominant ideology of post war planning was to find a consensus of all political views as a technical exercise.

Three Rivers Local Plan Shows Lib-Dem’s New ‘Party Of Nimbys’ Strategy in South

A land promoter has been promoting a site next to a station and blighted by the M25 for years. Members have been positive. Officers recommend it to meet the new standard method target. As all rural areas are Green Belt you have no alternative but to release Green Belt following a review. How then do you spin it.

You spin it by releasing lots of sites to Green Belt but pretend your protecting it to meet public -pressure before even you have consulted on the site. You do it without any discussion with your officers, and via a smoke filled room group only discussion and motion before a meeting. You question the new standard method knowing you will fail at examination through undershooting by nearly 2,800 without any reserve sites, but it gives you the pretense of pushing back against the government. This is all about the Lib Dems out competing the Green as part of a national Nimby strategy, not about good, defensive, sustainable or zero carbon planning.

Watford Observer

Three Rivers District Council says it will refuse to allow at least two huge pieces of greenbelt land to be used to help meet Government housing targets.

The council is putting together its local plan, which will help shape future development across the district.

Councillors and officers have been tasked with finding space to build around 10,000 new homes over the next 15 years in a district which is more than 70 per cent greenbelt land.

With a list of potential development sites ready to go out to consultation, senior Liberal Democrats say they are “on the side of residents” and are refusing to put forward some sites which have been deemed appropriate to build on.

This includes land between Abbots Langley and Kings Langley, known as the ‘Kings Langley estate’, where more than 2,000 homes have been proposed to be built either side of the M25.

Outlined in red is roughly the land referred to by the council as the Kings Langley Estate where they are appear to be refusing to build as many as 2,000 homes. Credit: Google

Outlined in red is roughly the land referred to by the council as the ‘Kings Langley Estate’ where they are appear to be refusing to build as many as 2,000 homes. Credit: Google

The other piece of land is off Rousebarn Lane, where nearly 800 homes could be built on land between Croxley Green and Chandler’s Cross.

Matthew Bedford, the lead councillor working on the local plan, says the council is also ready to refuse a list of contingency sites being put forward for development.

This includes land next door to Parmiter’s School, further parts of the Kings Langley Estate, land south of Bedmond, Hill Farm in Chorleywood, and land at Heronsgate.

A rough outline of land at Heronsgate, being considered a contingency site for around 1,600 homes that Lib Dems say they will refuse to put forward. Credit: Google

A rough outline of land at Heronsgate, being considered a contingency site for around 1,600 homes that Lib Dems say they will refuse to put forward. Credit: Google

Cllr Bedford said: “We have a responsibility to provide sites for new homes in the area so our young people and elderly downsizers have places they can afford locally.

“But this cannot be at the expense of the quality of life and wellbeing of our existing residents. If residents agree with us, we hope they will respond to the consultation and support our proposal to safeguard key areas next to existing settlements.