The Brexit Confusion Bill and the Special Status of EU Legislation in Planning Law

This week the Brexit Freedom Bill will be published.

The attorney general states Telegraph that

“The Brexit Freedoms Bill, announced today, will remove, once and for all, the special status and supremacy of EU law within the UK legal system. It will also make it easier to remove or amend EU law.”

Currently the assumption is that where there is a conflict between planning legislation and EU Law EU Law triumphs. A good example perhaps is the Habits Directive, so for example the Wealden Case states that you have to consider the cumulative impact of traffic schemes in a TIA feeding into an AA.

For this reason in almost all cases EU law has not been transposed into planning law, to an extent that was confusing as planner had to memorise principles and procedures that arnt in secondary legislation and acts. If this was replaced by a principle that UK law was paramount it would effectively take straight off the books things such as the EIA directive, the SEA directive, the Air Quality Directive, The Water Quality directive. Noone would know where they stood. Hence it would be a Brexit confusion bill, even opening up years old cases thought settled for future judicial review.

Less than One Local Authorities Worth of Green Belt Housing ‘saved’ by new Brownfield First Fund – a drop in the Ocean. Would cost over 1p on income tax to scale up to make a difference.


Towns and cities across the country will be transformed thanks to a radical new regeneration programme that will breathe fresh life into disadvantaged communities.

Under plans set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, due to be published next week, derelict sites in towns and city centres will be transformed creating new homes, jobs and beautiful new communities across England.

Wolverhampton and Sheffield will be the first of 20 places that will be supported by government to deliver ambitious regeneration projects that will boost local communities and create urban areas people will be proud to live and work in.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

Here in the West Midlands we have been the real pioneers of a brownfield-first approach to housing, using government cash to remediate derelict old industrial sites and turn them into thriving new communities – all whilst protecting irreplaceable greenbelt land.

£28 million will be allocated to the West Midlands Combined Authority and £13 million for the South Yorkshire Combined Authority, to fund the projects most needed to support local levelling up ambitions.

A total of £120 million of funding will also be given to 7 Mayoral Combined Authorities to transform derelict brownfield sites into vibrant places where people want to live and work. Seven MCAs – West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Liverpool, South Yorkshire, North of Tyne, and Tees Valley stand to gain 7,800 homes.

Lets be clear, this isnt new money, it was money already allocated in the Budget and as we reported on at the time iti not new government expenditure simply not a cute in the current departmental budget for brownfield, so does nothing to slow the current rate of greenfield loss. It just maintains the status quo. What is more 7,800 homes are less than the Green Field loss proposed until last week in the local plan of just one authority Hertmere 0roposing over 12,000 around 5% of the district). Many of the areas receiving funding are already popular for house building, rather it might simply mean more family and affordable housing on city centre sites rather than just student housing, which will more students driving up costs of existing rented homes. So lets be generous and say 50% of the houses would be additional net new. To scale up to the amount of housing proposed for Green Belt loss (from CPRE figures), what would cost around 8 billion pounds, or 1.25 pence on income tax. Would the treasury ever permit that when building on less marginal sites could pay for its;lef through land value cpature?

Dorset Begs Gove – Please Let us be Nimbys – Forget 5yHLS, Undershoot Standard Method and ignore the Duty to Cooperate

Rebadging Selfishness as Sustainable. Nothing radical or new here; back to Pickles failed system

Dorset Council

Cllr Spencer Fowler Leader

Local Plans are a key component of the planning system. They shape how land use and places will change and develop in the future. This is why I have been, and continue to be, in a dialogue with the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and his officials, offering a constructive, bold and ambitious alternative for the way we develop our new Local Plan – one that is right for Dorset.

In my dialogue with Michael Gove, I have been arguing that the current national planning framework is not providing councils with the means to promote sustainable development through their Local Plans but is instead about chasing housing targets.

I am seeking reform of this framework and proposing that Dorset could be a pilot for a new way of creating Local Plans, based on sustainability and local needs over the next 30 years, that also recognises the ambitions of our Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy.

We must have a Local Plan in place: without one we face the risk of unmanaged development in Dorset, but it has to be the right plan. Our hard-working and innovative planning officers have ensured the draft Local Plan is the best it can be, but it is constrained by current planning legislation.

As a result, of the unprecedented 9,000 responses our public consultation received, many residents share my view that the draft Local Plan chases housing numbers rather than prioritises local needs.

I also believe it is better to have fewer bigger-scale new developments in Dorset which bring in the necessary funding and infrastructure, rather than lots of small developments which put further pressure on already-stretched community resources.

I’ve asked Mr. Gove to consider several radical alternatives:

  • allow Dorset to pilot a radically different approach to Local Plan making
  • break the link between the housing land supply numbers and the Duty to Cooperate – i.e. the requirement for Dorset Council to accept unmet housing need from neighbouring councils
  • allow Dorset an extension of two years until April 2026 to give more time for the new Dorset Local Plan to be developed and approved. During this extended period of plan preparation, Dorset should be protected against speculative housing development by suspending the five-year land supply requirement or by other means necessary
  • fully recognise the climate and ecological emergency in the planning system, including new building regulations.

We recognise that this is national policy and may require changes to primary legislation, which is not in our gift locally.

Representing you is a privilege that I take extremely seriously, and my approach to the Government recognises both my and Dorset Council’s commitment to the needs and aspirations of the residents of Dorset. I am a strong advocate for Dorset and remain committed to lobbying for a better deal for the communities of Dorset.

Hertsmere Scraps Local Plan – Green Belt Loss too Painful for Councillors

Borehamwood Times

Given recent appeals in Herts they will probably get Green Belt loss now by appeal – as local plan lead cllr Cohen has warned

Hertsmere Borough Council has shelved its draft local plan after acknowledging its residents had “clearly rejected” the plan.

Following council leader Morris Bright’s sudden announcement at a full council meeting last night (January 26), it looks like the council will go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan that is more widely supported.

However, this comes with risks with a councillor leading the local plan process warning the council could end up with developments “it does not want”.

The draft local plan is an important document that sets out how Hertsmere will grow over the next 15 years and beyond by providing homes, infrastructure and jobs for future generations.

Primarily, it set out what land in the borough could be sacrificed to meet Government housing targets of around 12,000 – and the Government expects local authorities to have new local plans in place during 2023.

Around 20,000 comments flooded in during a public consultation period towards the end of 2021 after the draft plan revealed huge swathes of green belt land in Hertsmere were severely at risk of being built on.

In a statement published last night on the Hertsmere Conservatives website, Cllr Bright said: “Our residents have clearly rejected the draft local plan. Now the council must reject it too.”

He added: “Whilst residents and councillors understand the need for new homes, this potential decimation of large swathes of green belt has been too much for local people and local councillors to accept.

“I think it unlikely we will have a new local plan in place before 2024.”

This week, Cllr Bright and his colleague Cllr Harvey Cohen met with the borough’s Conservative MP Oliver Dowden to discuss the local plan. 

Following last night’s announcement, Mr Dowden said: “I think it is right that councillors look again at how best to deliver new houses in the borough and draw up a new plan which places the protection of green spaces at its heart.

“I will continue my campaign to get the [Government] housing department to reconsider its approach to Hertsmere, where it is hugely difficult to meet housing targets without damaging the beautiful green spaces which make our area such a wonderful place to live.”

Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, left, meeting with lead local plan councillor Harvey Cohen, centre, and council leader Morris Bright this week outside Hertsmere Borough Council’s offices in Borehamwood.

Local plan chief Cllr Cohen says producing a new local plan “will take time” adding: “I advise that we may now not meet Government deadlines for a local plan. We must expect opportunistic planning applications and we may lose some on appeal and end up with developments we do not want.”

But the Tories believe these risks should be taken if the “ultimate aim is to construct a plan that will gain traction and the support of residents and local businesses”.

Opposition members at the council appear to have welcomed the news of the draft local plan being shelved, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats both indicating this was a “victory for residents”.

But Labour said the consultation response had been “scathing” and claimed the Conservatives have been “embarrassed” into withdrawing it. The Lib Dems say the ruling Tories have “finally conceded” they need to go back to Government to “fight for a better deal” on housing targets.

Make me an Offer I wont Approve- Gove the Gangster Threatens to Use Planning System to Extort Developers


What a tptally ridiculous idea. Gove acts in a quais judicial rule – and he is behving like a Meddelin Gang Lord threading a haircut with a Chainsaw. His job is to build confidence in the fairness of the planning system not to use it as a vehicle for extortion to let government incompetence over building regulations not have a cost to the Treasury. Withouit primary legislation it would drag every scheme into JR and jhow does he believe in a million years that primary legislation would pass. In a period of government chaos this will last 5 minutes.

Michael Gove threatens developers with planning veto unless they create £4bn cladding fund

Levelling Up Secretary says housebuilders need to fund compensation scheme for flat owners affected by the cladding crisis

Michael Gove has threatened to block major housing developers from securing planning permission if they fail to come up with a £4bn compensation scheme for victims of the cladding crisis….

Options for punishment include using government powers to “call in” and block all proposed new estates, as well as banning refuseniks from competing for government contracts and buying land from the state.

Developers reacted to the warning with fury. One executive called the meeting “shambolic” and another described the policy as “Marxist”.

He added: “He didn’t threaten to kill my children, but everything else was on the table. You wouldn’t expect Shell to pick up the costs of a BP oil spill.

How to Stop Zero Plotting

House of Lords Built Environment Report on Meeting Housing Demand

Zero plotting is when housebuilders plot streets using suburban house types
as tightly as possible. Design for Homes informed us that these schemes allow
no space for soft landscaping at the front of the house and the streets tend
to have no verge or tree planting. This allows the developer to maximise
their land bid and win the tender. David Birkbeck explained that these
homes were previously built at 12,000 square feet to the acre and are now
built at 17,000 square feet to the acre. He remarked that builders “work
out how to build the maximum number of units with absolutely nothing
except for the minimum depth of garden allowed … and enough space for
two parking bays on plot to the front of the property” and suggested that
the business models of several companies are based on this practice. Homes
England does not allow its land to be sold to developers who adopt zero
plotting. We heard evidence that mid-rise developments use space effectively
to provide medium density dwellings and have less of a harmful impact on
the surrounding environment

Zero Plotting meaning Zero land left over after roads, footways, rear gardens and front parking.

If you assume two storeys then clearly the developer who pushes closest to zero plotting will achieve the greatest number of units and most likley to win a tender. Zero plotting is a symptomn of basic bulk zoning controls in British Planning that would guarantee space for greenspace on the frontage of the public realm. Of possible controls density is the crudest and least effective. Next is floospace area ratio, though that is only moderately less crude. Next and best is a proper design code (form based) with rules on Street Row (guaranteeing trees on appropriate non urban typologies) and front gardens on units with a villa or urbs in rus identity. Finally Urban Greenspace Factors and maximum plot coverage ratios can be effective, but like sensible FAR controls they should be based on measures which include half of the width of the frontage road added to the plot size denominator.

It is perhaps indicative of the failure of design controls in Engalnd that they became reduced to measures which only controlled adjoining amenity, and not quality (like minimum garden depth), and then mandated suburban solutions.

The Times Gets it Wrong no Planning White Paper U Turn

The Times typically bad reporting on planning

Homeowners will still be able to object to individual planning applications after the government confirmed a U-turn on its intended reforms to the system.

Homeowners will still be able to object to individual planning applications after the government confirmed a U-turn on reforms to the system.

Ministers had planned to replace the planning application process with a zonal system and mandatory housebuilding targets, stripping homeowners of their right to object.

The Times reported in September that the shake-up of planning laws was to be abandoned after a backlash from voters and Conservative MPs in southern England. A change of approach from the government, however, was contained in a submission to the Lords built environment committee.

In the report it said: “There will be a continuing role for public consultation as part of the planning application process. Even where the broad principle of development is agreed . . . all the details would still need to be consulted on with communities and statutory consultees, and approved by officers or committees where appropriate.”

The government’s submission added: “Our reforms will give communities a greater voice from the start of the planning process … We also want to see more democratic accountability, with communities having a more meaningful say on the development schemes which affect them, not less.”

In response to the move, Tom Fyans, director of campaigns at the countryside charity the CPRE, said: “It appears the government now genuinely understands the need for local communities to have a powerful voice in planning decisions. These are encouraging signs that suggest a fundamental change of approach when it comes to determining what gets built where.”

The Lords report warned that ministers would not hit their target of building 300,000 new homes a year unless they stopped dithering over planning reforms. The cross-party committee said that uncertainty and delays in overhauling the system had had a “chilling effect” on housebuilding.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, chairwoman of the committee, said: “The most important aspect in terms of housing supply is planning. Frankly all the twisting and turning over reform has had a chilling effect, creating uncertainty for housebuilders and planners.

“The government needs to bite the bullet and actually build housing of all types and tenures.”

The report said: “The challenges facing the housing market have been well documented: too many people are living in expensive, unsuitable, poor-quality homes. To address these complex challenges in the long term it is necessary to increase housing supply now.”

Local councils should be forced to come up with a plan for their area, Neville-Rolfe said, as more than half do not have an up-to-date strategy for building more homes.

Help to Buy, the government’s flagship homeownership scheme, is criticised for pushing up prices. The £29 billion cost of the scheme would “be better spent on increasing housing supply”, the committee said.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We share the ambition to reform the planning system to meet the demand for more high-quality homes and create a fairer housing market. We delivered more than 216,000 homes in England in 2020-21, well above the 186,500 forecast for the whole of the UK, and are investing a further £12 billion in affordable housing over the next five years.”

What this shows is no u-turn – it simply was the Planning White Paper was so badly drafted the point wasnt clear. In zoning system you still need permission for a design, unless, as now, a design code would grant you permission on compliant design. This is simply doing what the government botched in drafting the White Paper – selling what a zoning system is and how it works. In fact this is the first full indication from Gove that he is not ditching a zoning system – whilst spinning to Nimby backbencher that it is a u-turn. It isnt.