Fixing Nottingham: Britain’s Poorest City

It comes as a surprise to many to discover that the place with the lowest earnings in England (before housing and other costs) is Nottingham, with the least disposable income and lowest employment rate amongst working age people. Visiting Nottingham City Centre, it seems thriving compared to example with many northern cities and town, it has a tram, its horrible broadgate centre is being pulled down etc.

Explanations have been given, student population (also applies to Sheffield and Manchester), Underbounded with wealthy suburbs outside (also applies to Leicester and Derby).

When you look at the maps of multiple deprivation in Nottingham you find something shocking, high deprivation in all directions from city centre except the South West (which is the industrial area). Even in leafy Victorian areas, which presumably have high levels of multiple occupancy.

Historically it was a textile town and in post world warII firms Boot, Raleigh and Players dramtically reduced their workforces. Now the economy is overrepresented in back office low paid business services an ‘Experian Economy’ typified by Experian having their HQ here.

An interesting question to ask is why Nottingham has adjusted less well than Derby and Leicester. In Nottingham the railway in the centre is elevated because of the Trent. In Derby it is at Grade with the station away from the historic core, allowing Derby to become a major railway town and later providing land for growth at Pride Park. Leicester has no Green Belt, allowing growth of distribution and logistics along the M1 at Lutterworth and Coalville. Nottingham is the only east midlands city with a Green Belt and this has led to no major economic or housing growth, and expansion has been enormously contentious.

Greater Nottingham has had a shared joint core strategy now somewhat aging. They commissioned AECOM to do a (very good) growth options study, but the LPAS joint consultation did not follow through just spaffing all the SHMA sites out and saying what you think, and no attempt to refine strategic options linking housing, economic growth, transport and infrastructure.

There are several options for extending the tram however with the announcement that HS2 East will terminate at East Midlands Parkway the obvious thing to do is extend Line two (south West) rather than the planned line three (to Toton). This would free capacity for through HS2 trains on conventional Track to Nottingham.

This could be a major growth corridor linked to the East Midlands Freeport/Airport/Radcliffe on Sour Power station. This is a challenging area straddling Leicstershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Having had dealings with some of these I sadly really don’t see the strategic vision, its all about bids. There is a clear case for a ‘Three Cities” strategic plan as HS2 and the planned Ivanhoe line restoration will effectively link their labour markets (and Burton’s) as well as a development Corporation for the Freeport area.

Urban Uplift requires ‘Castles in Sky’ and would lead to massive loss of Green Belt

Sheffield Star – as we predicted

Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East, questioned ministers on how they thought it was possible to build more than 53,000 new homes without building on protected green land.

After the debate, Mr Betts said: “What the Government is asking Sheffield Council to do in their local plan is quite literally impossible. They have told us that we need to provide 13,000 more homes than we originally expected, but with no new money or support. We do not want to build on green belt land, but the Government are not giving Sheffield Council any real choice.“It is abundantly clear that Sheffield won’t need that number of homes and shows again how Westminster are happy to make decisions on issues they know little about that will have huge consequences in areas they don’t have to worry about. All this latest decision will serve to do is eat into our precious green belt whilst failing to regenerate areas of the city that would benefit far more from the investment and attention.”

Stuart Andrew, minister for housing, agreed to meet with Mr Betts and other local leaders to discuss the issue.

Backlash at housing uplift

Councillors, officers and campaigners have all called the target “unrealistic” and one top councillor said they would have to build “castles in the sky” in order to meet them.

The council planned to accommodate around 40,000 new homes up to 2039. But the government imposed a 35 percent increase for the largest cities, making Sheffield’s new target more than 53,000 in the same time period.

However, the council said a more accurate estimate is around 1,000 homes per year less than that.

It comes as the council prepares its long-awaited local plan, which will guide where future housing, offices and other developments will go across the city.

Councillor Julie Grocutt, deputy leader of the council, said: “I just think it’s extremely disappointing that we were so far down a path, we understood the housing numbers, we have done lots of work in research in relation to housing infrastructure and jobs and the expert planning advice we have received just does not tally with what feels like the government has done on the back of a fag packet, frankly.

“They have uplifted our number along with 19 other cities. What’s happened to the rest of the country? Where are their housing numbers and expectations? This is not about levelling up, this is just about overcrowding. It’s really not fair to the people of Sheffield.”

Council officers said meeting the government’s housing targets would mean building more than 16,000 homes in the current green belt, affecting seven percent of it.

They warned this would “likely cause serious harm to the environment and undermine Sheffield’s reputation as the Outdoor City”.

However they said the target should be taken as a starting point and not a goal.

The Dutch Solution to Nitrate Neutrality – CPO and Close Livestock Farms Next to European Sites

Dutch News

The government could legally withdraw the permits of farms whose operations emit too high volumes of nitrogen-based pollution if it wants to solve the crisis quickly, according to formal advice to the farm ministry, the AD reported on Tuesday. The paper said that withdrawing the licences of highly polluting farms close to nature reserves would force their closure more quickly than buying out farmers, a process which can take years. The paper quotes government lawyer Hans Besselink as saying that ‘buying out farmers may not lead to speedy results’ but that ‘withdrawing permits may do so’. The comment is contained in a letter to the farm ministry and is a reaction to a ministry paper outlining plans to reduce the number of livestock farms close to nature reserves.

While the government’s focus in on voluntary buy-outs, ‘there are no reasons from a legal perspective’ not to withdrawn licences or issue compulsory purchase orders, Besselink said. A spokesman for the ministry confirmed that it had received the legal advice but said no decisions had yet been taken. ‘We are looking at what steps could be taken to further tackle the nitrogen crisis,’ the spokesman said. ‘That exercise is ongoing.’ Scenarios Last week, the Dutch environmental assessment agency published a number of scenarios about what could be done to tackle livestock farming, including compulsory purchase orders. ‘But that would be a last resort,’ farm minister Carola Schouten told MPs. Compulsory buyouts would be a response to the low take-up of voluntary buyout offers. Fewer than 300 pig farmers have signed up for a scheme to give up their business, although twice as many initially applied. The agricultural sector is the biggest source of nitrogen pollution in the Netherlands and numerous large-scale infrastructure projects which also produce nitrogen have also been put on hold.

The odd dropping of the Statutory Requirement for Public Participation on Development Plans

The Levelling up committee has written to Gove following a legal opinion which found ‘the Bill radically centralises planning decision-making and substantially erodes public participation in the planning system’

Apart from the obvious that the bill introduces statutory national development management policies I find little in the former assertion, overall the bill is just codification and introduction of language more aligned with terms used in national policy (like local plan). But the latter assertion is correct.

The bill completely swaps out the sections of the PCPA2004 relating to development plans. This includes section 18 on Statements of Community Involvement.

This was always a curious beast. It replaced a statutory duty to consult on development plans in the 1990 act (details in regulations), compliance with an SCI was a test of lawfulness of the plan (through spectacularly complicated wording in that it isn’t a DPD).

It had a curious history as Lord Falconer was lobbied over the 2004 act by various lobby groups who wanted planning to be more ‘people led’. At the meeting the SCI was cooked up, with independent examinations, which proved a spectacular waste of time as for the first two years after 2004 LPAs spent all their time on SCI examinations rather than plans. The requirement for SCIs was soon dropped.

I can only assume that the intention was to drop the requirement for SCIs but in a drafting error they dropped altogether the requirement to consult on local plans. Actually there is strictly no need for this. The requirement to consult on planning applications is not in the 1990 Act but the GDPO. The new local plan regs could do the same. Nethertheless it would do no harm to frame a clause with the same scope as sections 39-41 of the TCPA1990 which the 2004 act replaced.


(1)A local planning authority who propose to make, alter, repeal or replace a local plan shall proceed in accordance with this section…

(2)They shall take such steps as will in their opinion secure—

(a)that adequate publicity is given to the proposals in the area to which the plan relates;

(b)that persons who may be expected to wish to make representations about the proposals are made aware that they are entitled to do so; and

(c)that such persons are given an adequate opportunity of making such representations….

Overall this seems more like drafting cock up than centralising conspiracy. There is a statutory requirement for consultation in the new SDS section.

Litchfields- Brownfield Sites can only met 1/3rd of Housing Needs over next 15 years, and Levelling Up will make matters worse

1.4 million. Even CPRE says it can only meet 1.5 million. This makes it clear issues is NOT where development goes but whether nationally we have the kodjonies to face down the Avocado NIMBYs who in the face of the evidence simply want to push down the housing numbers per-se

Banking on Brownfield

We have analysed all local authority Brownfield Registers.
We find that, even if every identified site was built to its full capacity, the capacity of previously-developed land equates to 1,400,000 net dwellings. This equates to just under a third (31%) of the 4.5m homes that are needed over the next fifteen years. Even with significant government support, brownfield land can only be part of the solution to the housing crisis.

Further, brownfield land is not evenly distributed, and not well aligned to current demand for new homes.
There is less brownfield land available in the places with the highest demand for new homes. The three regions where brownfield land is most relatively prevalent (North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and North East), are those where the price of homes is more closely aligned to average incomes.
Even in these regions, the capacity on registers is less than the current level of housing need. If ‘levelling up’ achieves economic re-balancing and drives higher levels of housing need, the gap between capacity of previously-developed land and homes needed will grow. Further, the type of homes that might be built on brownfield sites do not always match local housing needs and aspirations….

there are no housing market areas where the current standard method is acting as a ceiling on realising the potential of brownfield land.

If the Government did follow the recommendations of
The Building Back Britain Commission report, and redirect its support for house building towards areas that
might see higher job growth through levelling up, this
would not overcome the fundamental points that:

  1. There is not enough brownfield land in any
    housing market area to meet current housing need,
    let alone if that need is boosted through ‘levellingup’.
  2. The areas of the country where ‘levelling-up’ might
    be most desirable, are also those where there is
    greater viability risk to brownfield development.
  3. By positioning housing delivery in ‘levelling
    up’ areas instead the most unaffordable areas,
    price imbalance will continue to rise as supply
    undershoots in high demand areas.
    Any brownfield policy focus would need to be
    accompanied by targeted and effective funding and not
    be expected alone to provide the homes that are needed
    in every area of the country.

SoS Failure to Intervene to Stop Castle Point Withdrawing Local Plan will bring Local Plan Making in Green Belt Authorities to a Crashing Halt

The fact that Gove has failed to intervene – even post plan being found sound – in two authorities now, despite previous SOS threatening to intervene shows he will never intervene.

Housing Today

Castle Point council has withdrawn its local plan in a bid to protect “precious open spaces” in the Essex borough.

The council, which since 5 May has been controlled by independents, is ditching its 5,325-home plan and going back to the drawing board to build fewer homes.

A council spokesperson said: “Although the plan had been found sound, the council will prepare a new local plan that better reflects the needs of the borough and protects precious open spaces.”

Castle Point councillors this week also refused permission to for-profit provider L&G Affordable Homes to build 44 affordable homes on greenbelt land, in Thundersley, despite officers recommending it for approval.

Officers said any impact on the greenbelt was outweighed by ‘significant unmet need’ for housing in the borough . They also pointed out the site was allocated for housing in the local plan, saying even though the plan has not been adopted the evidence underpinning it remains “valid”.

Annette Simpson, director of development and partnerships at L&G Affordable Homes, told the committee the land was not publicly accessible and therefore not part of the borough’s open countryside.

A spokesperson for L&G said: “In the midst of a housing emergency and an ever growing ‘cost of living’ crisis, we are disappointed that our new scheme at Hart Road did not move forward.

“With the average house price over 12 times local salaries in the borough, the scheme represents a fantastic opportunity to provide the community with 44 much needed new affordable homes, designed to achieve the highest possible Energy performance rating, EPC A. “

She said L&G would continue to work with planners to bring forward the development, despite the outcome.

Conservatives lost control of Castle Point in May to two groups of independents, the largest of which has pledged to rein in greenbelt development.

Castle Point is just one of at least 14 councils that have withdrawn or put on hold their local plans, according to Savills.

Does Nadine Dorris Have Power to List Cecil Rhodes Plaque at Oxford – Probably not?


A University of Oxford college’s plaque of Cecil Rhodes is set to be given Grade II listed status after Nadine Dorries intervened to protect the imperialist donor’s monument, The Telegraph has learnt. 

The plaque on King Edward Street has stoked division since student-led “Rhodes Must Fall” protests erupted in 2016, and again during the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020.

An independent inquiry set up following the murder of George Floyd in the US backed the wish of Oriel College governors to remove the plaque, along with a separate statue of the 19th-century benefactor.

Oriel’s governing body then backed down because legal barriers made the statue too costly to remove, but added “contextualised” notice boards and launched an equality and diversity drive, such as race awareness training for staff.

However, historians complained that the large plaque remained vulnerable to activist attempts to pull it down because, unlike the more famous High Street statue, it is unlisted. 

The plaque, made of a sculpture and tablet, was erected in 1906 on the facade of Rhodes’ house during his final term spent studying at Oxford in 1881.

Now, the Culture Secretary wants to give it Grade II listed status, documents seen by The Telegraph show, after she rebuked Historic England for “relying on a presumption against listing plaques generally”.

This would overturn Historic England officials’ ruling four years ago not to legally protect it, in the latest chapter of Oxford’s long-running Rhodes culture war.

Its a tough one. Buildings are listable, not structures, not freestanding strictures or plaques screwed on or loosely attached.

This was clear in Jenryks statement on contested heritage

This Government are committed to ensuring our nation’s heritage is appropriately protected. It is important that all decisions on removing historic statues, plaques (which are part of a building and whose alteration or removal materially affects the external appearance of the building), memorials and monuments—even for a temporary period—are taken in accordance with the law and following the correct process.

If a plaque or statue is paermenatly attached so as to be part of a building as opposed to being a chatel (that is movable) then it can be protected as a fixed part of a building. However as far as I know the SoS has no power to list part of a building, only a whole buildings and its curtilege.

As EH state

Listing covers a whole building, including the interior, unless parts of it are specifically excluded in the list description.

It can also cover:

  • Other attached structures and fixtures
  • Later extensions or additions
  • Pre-1948 buildings on land attached to the building. (In the planning system, the term ‘curtilage’ is used to describe this attached land.)

‘I was told b4 I started to expect to stay up all night & be humiliated the next morning at the crit & I was only going to Manchester Poly’ Toxic Culture at architecture Schools Exposed as Barlett Head Resigns


The culture of bullying, harassment, racism and sexual misconduct by staff at Bartlett School of Architecture exposed in a report published yesterday comes as no surprise and happens in many other schools, according to architects who have commented on social media.

“No surprises about toxic culture at the Bartlett,” tweeted Invisible Studio founder Piers Taylor, a former Bartlett student and one of many architects to take to social media to comment on the report.

“The most unpleasant crit I’ve ever been in was at the Bartlett,” he added.

The report, which identified a culture of bullying, harassment, racism and sexual misconduct by staff, “is both shocking and completely unsurprising,” according to architect Alison Killing.

“Disgusting that this behaviour has been allowed to go on so long and that it was so widely known about,” tweeted Killing, who won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing Chinese internment camps.

Published yesterday by legal consultancy Howlett Brown, the report found a “toxic learning and teaching culture” had been in place for decades at the school, which is part of University College London (UCL).

More than 300 students and staff were interviewed for the investigation that informed the report. Today it emerged that Bartlett director Bob Sheil resigned ahead of the report’s publication….

Many of those who have reacted to the report on Twitter believe that the issues identified at the Bartlett are widespread in UK architecture education.

“Glad to see that UCL is finally waking up to this 30+ year problem,” wrote architecture and design critic Olly Wainwright.

“But these issues are not unique to the Bartlett – the findings of this report apply to so many architecture schools.”

Architect Douglas Murphy shared a similar view, stating that “most of the behaviours described are things that can been found throughout architectural academia”, while campaign platform Future Architects Front (FAF) said that the report “represents a pattern of abuse from across all of architectural education”.

“This moment must act as a powerful precedent for how students and alumni can organise in order to demand justice,” FAF shared on Twitter.

This claim was backed by architects Sean Griffiths and Dinah Bornat, who are among those who believe in the toxic culture that runs throughout the architecture industry.

Bornat said she “left teaching for reasons I can’t go into” but that the report’s findings “could equally apply” to the school in which she taught.

Griffiths said this was “only the most intense example of what has long been a toxic culture in architectural education”.

“I was told b4 I started to expect to stay up all night & be humiliated the next morning at the crit & I was only going to Manchester Poly!” he added.

“Serious reflection at RIBA” required

The investigation has also led some industry figures to question the lack of response by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

“Where is the RIBA response to the Bartlett report?” asked Laura Marks.

“Accreditation should look at not just what is being taught in the schools but the environment in which it is being taught,” she continued. “By accrediting schools with widespread issues it enables these problems to carry on and endorses them.”

In response, designer Adam Nathaniel Furman wrote: “There needs to be some serious reflection at RIBA with regards to how consistently celebrated the Bartlett, and Bartlett-lite schools have been over the past few decades”.

Gove Admits Planning Inspectorate are just implementing government policy


We will also be taking steps to ensure that the Planning Inspectorate, when it is reviewing a local plan and deciding whether it is sound, does not impose on local communities an obligation to meet figures on housing need that cannot be met given the environmental and other constraints in particular communities. There are two particular areas, I think, where the Planning Inspectorate —and it is simply following Government policy—has in effect been operating in a way that runs counter to what Ministers at this Dispatch Box have said over and over again. That has got to change, and it is through both legislation and changes to the NPPF that we will do so. We will end abuse of the five-year land supply rules, and make sure that, if local authorities have sound plans in place, there cannot be such speculative development. We will also make sure that, even as we democratise and digitise the planning system, we are in a position to make sure that the Planning Inspectorate ensures not that every plan fits a procrustean bed, but that every plan reflects what local communities believe in…

 we will also end the so-called duty to co-operate, which has often led some urban authorities to offload their responsibility for development on to other areas in a way that has meant that we have had not urban regeneration but suburban sprawl.