Housing Minister Writes to Castlepoint over Local Plan Scrapping – Naughty Boys do it again

The mildest possible non-rebuke compared to what he could have done – simply asking them to do a new local pln timetable – to an authority already in special measures. This will signal to every authority with frit spineless cowardly members they can not do local plans and not upset the nimbys and hence have a quiet life enlesslessly kicking teh can down the road. Also ouragiously it support the Dorset position – its ok to use the excuse of a new Bill which changes little in terms of local plan production to set back timetables by three years at least – a disgrace.

Neil O’ Brien MP @NeilDotObrien demolishes Ian Mulheirn @ianmulheirn on the Need to increase Housing Supply


An Argument made on this blog for nearly 10 years – indeed articles from here on household formation have had quotes lifted by ministers.

Note Ian was the fake Nimby guru who caught the ear of Nimby Mps who caught the ear of the disastrous era for housing, Gove and Boris; that meeting national housing targets post Amersham doesn’t matter, just boost sub-prime debt instead. So this is a sideswipe at the last era too from a former housing minister. Other suggestions in the article are a bad defense of failed policies on his watch; like the urban uplift (the Greenbelt eating uplift as it should be known) and failure to strategically plan for housing needs not met in constrained areas, as for making all of labour London adopt Croydon policies – how did that work out hmmmm? And abandoning affordable housing (seemingly seen as occupied by nasty oiks from elsewhere – perpetuating the NIMBY stereotype) in the infrastructure levy – which would then be used to reduce general taxation funding general taxation for reduction and the NHS, is that the secret plan? Note education and NHS contributions are formula based so increasing them would just displace general taxation (Liz cackles – let developers fund tax cuts and those in need of affordable housing can rot forever in their damp overcrowded B&Bs).

Some people argue that the laws of supply and demand don’t apply to housing.

It’s not true.

They say the ratio of households to homes hasn’t worsened. That ignores the huge number of households that don’t form in the first place because of housing costs. You can see that in the way people cram together, with rising household sizes in expensive cities. You can see growing numbers of young adults unable to leave home: numbers aged 20 to 34 years living with parents rose from 2.4 million in 1999 to 3.5 million in 2019. The proportion of young men aged 22-26 living with parents jumped from 39 per cent in 2008 to 49 per cent by 2019 and 51 per cent last year. No wonder young people are having fewer kids.

Around 600,000 households were prevented from forming over the last decade. Saying there’s no shortage of housing based on the ratio of households to houses is like claiming during a famine that there’s no problem – because the ‘ratio of food consumed to food available’ hasn’t changed.

The Dumb Claim that Meeting Housing Needs will blow our Carbon Budget


Silliest Avocado Nimby Claim yet

Target of 300,000 new homes a year not sustainable, finds researchers, with negative biodiversity and climate impacts

England would use up the entirety of its 1.5C carbon budget on housing alone if the government sticks to its pledge to build 300,000 homes a year, according to a new study.

The building of new homes under a business as usual scenario, coupled with current trends on making existing homes more efficient, would mean the housing system would use up 104% of the country’s cumulative carbon budget by 2050.

Radically retrofitting existing houses, cutting the number of second homes, stopping people from buying houses as financial investments and making people live in smaller buildings would be more sustainable ways to address the housing crisis, the paper says.

A carbon budget is the cumulative amount of emissions a country can emit over a specific period. England’s 1.5C budget means restricting total emissions to 2.5 gigatonnes of CO2 between 2022 and 2050 say the researchers, who did not look at how this compares in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but they believe it is likely to be a similar picture.

“In the long run, we argue that England can’t go on building new houses forever, and needs to start thinking about better and more systematic solutions as to how we are going to house everyone within our environmental limits,” said lead researcher Dr Sophus zu Ermgassen, from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent.

The paper, published in Ecological Economics, is the first to comprehensively analyse the impact of the government’s response to the housing crisis on national carbon and biodiversity goals. The researchers write: “Secure housing is a fundamental human right. However, potential conflicts between housing and sustainability objectives remain under-researched.”

They looked at two existing models, one for evaluating the emissions needed to run UK houses, and the other, emissions from constructing new housing. The figures come from looking at decarbonising trends of housing between 1990 and 2019, meaning housing is set to be 50% more efficient by 2050.

For England, if current trends continue, 92% of emissions will come from existing housing, and 12% from the emissions of building and running new houses, the study finds. There are about 25m dwellings in England, and the amount of emissions from existing homes is high because large parts of the housing stock are prewar, and more challenging to insulate. For example, half of homes built between 1919 and 1930 have uninsulated solid walls which account for almost half of heat loss.

The study has huge methodological errors, so large the whole Nimby Hypothesis falls apart.

Firstly it doesnt look at opportunity costs i.e. where people who move into new houses would otherwise live. The study seems to assume new house dwellers come from mars Many will move into the existing stock further away from where they work balooning carbon costs from transport.

Secondly many will be concealed household, living in the existing stock, as existing stock is so much more efficient than current, and as new build embodies energy costs can be radically reduced (through more use of cross laminated timber instead of brick and concrete, and use of zero carbon concrete) and above all as 97% of housing will be existing housing forcing people to stay in existing housing will increase emissions – a simple model will show through linear algebra that forcing people to stay in cold damp old housing expensive to upgrade will be more expensive and less effective than building more low embodied energy new homes combined with efforts to upgrade the category of most innefficient older homes which are economic to upgrade (mostly stock with cavity walls).

The problem is the ideological Advocado Nimby philosophy of the authors. Growth is evil and people have to accept a sackcloth and ashes forced to consume less if they are not of the gneration that got on the property ladder. Lets hope that cllrs dont fall for this rubbish.

Truss to Drop Nutrient Neutrality – But it means Lurb Bill will have to state Environmental Controls will be Weakened Post Brexit


Liz Truss wants to ditch an environmental rule blamed for slowing down the construction of more than 100,000 homes if she becomes prime minister, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Foreign Secretary is planning to scrap the “nutrient neutrality” requirement, brought in after a European Court of Justice ruling in 2018.

The rule requires developers to detail the impact in terms of pollution of their proposals on rivers and wetlands and to promise mitigation measures, such as the creation of new wetlands, to secure planning permission.

But critics argue that tit has slowed construction, over-exaggerated environmental impacts and created uncertainty, exacerbating the housing crisis.

In March, the Home Builders Federation conducted an analysis that found 120,000 homes were being delayed. Some 74 local planning authorities are bound by the rule, which is ordered by Natural England, part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

A Truss campaign source told The Telegraph: “Our current system of planning is too bureaucratic, too slow, and too complex. We would reform the planning system and cut red tape that prevents local communities from building the houses they want.

“We would remove Brussels red tape, such as nutrient neutrality, that has stalled housing projects without delivering on what it is designed to address.”

The move would be part of Ms Truss’s promised overhaul of house-building strategy but could be criticised by environmental groups.

She has promised to scrap “Stalinist” top-down housing targets, arguing that there should be a bottom-up approach instead.

That position means she has effectively promised to abandon the 2019 Conservative election manifesto pledge to provide 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Truss campaign figures believe the targets have failed to deliver a marked increase in house building and proven ineffective despite being adopted by successive Tory governments.

Ms Truss’s desire to ditch the “nutrient neutrality” rule is the first indication of what her local approach to speeding up construction could look like.

She would change it through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which is going through Parliament, according to a campaign source. 

How this would be enacted remains to be seen, with the exact wording of any legislative changes to be worked up if she wins office.

How might it be done – well the Levelling Up Bill contains an ‘Environmental Outcomes Report’ section replacing AA/SEA/EA which contains a statement as required by the Brexit legislation that the new legislation would have no detriment to the environment compared to existing. There could be powers in the bill to override and direct the equivalent of AA where a project would cause net detriment to a national networks (formally European habitat) site but that would mean abandoning the safeguard that new rules protect as much as old post Brexit. It also means that in the grip of the farming lobby the Tories would be protecting the intensive chicken farmers owning the 16 million chickens pooping in the Wye (the biggest concentration in the world) effectively killing off our most scenic river. Its right to say it is wrong to make housebuilders bare all the mitigation burden, rather than water treatment companies (though there is a new bill clause hitting them) or intensive farmers. However politics has affected farmers. The tories don’t want to go down the Dutch route of closing down chicken farms or imposing a nitrates tax of nitrates cap and trade because they dont want , as in the Netherlands, government buildings sprayed with chicken shit by rioting farmers. George (Usless) Esutace has refused to impose intensive farming constraints on the worst effected rivers. So we should simply expect from Truss legislation killing off rivers.

Why Wealden is Wrong to Impose a Sewage Embago on New Housing


Wealden DC has said it will defer the majority of planning applications it has received until after “full and satisfactory” reports are received from Southern Water.

The council’s planning committee unanimously voted to defer applications for 205 new homes in East Hoathly, around 28 homes in Horsebridge, and up to 24 homes in Horam.

Last month, the council called on Southern Water to share further information about the impact of new housing on its sewage network.

This was part of a raft of measures passed by the council at a meeting on 20 July relating to the impact of sewage overflows on the local environment.

According to the Rivers Trust, Southern Water was responsible for raw sewage being spilled into Wealden’s waterways for over 17,000 hours. This spanned four river catchments which all serve areas of outstanding natural beauty and ecological significance.

Last month, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said that water companies would have a legal duty to reduce nutrient pollution, a measure set to be introduced by a government amendment to the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill.

Susan Steadman (Con), the chair of Wealden’s planning committee said: “Southern Water has not addressed our concerns nor fully answered our questions in relation to these three, major applications.”

Councillors have been advised that a meeting is set to take place between Southern Water and the council in late September. In the meantime, the council is looking to arrange further dialogue with the water authority.

Ann Newton (Con), the chair of the council said she was “appalled” and “dismayed” by Southern Water’s lack of a meaningful response in respect of the planning applications.

“Southern Water has clearly not taken on board the feeling of the council, representing residents in Wealden,” Cllr Newton said.

“Our cross-party proposal made it quite clear, and I call upon the water authority to act with alacrity. We will not simply gloss over vital issues such as sewage flooding,” she added.

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “We are aware of this motion, and are reviewing its requirements in line with our statutory duties. We continue to work closely with all stakeholders regarding this issue.”

The ability for planning to consider potable and foul water connections has been severely curtailed ever since the Water Act of 1989.  Under what is known as the ‘non duplication principle’ (most clearly set out in NPS – planning should assume other regulatory regimes operate efficiently) planning cannot duplicate regulatory regimes (e.g. building control) and one such is water connections and capacity.

The current applicable regime is the Water Act of 1991 which gives a statutory duty to water companies to make connections to potable and foul networks and to make a charge for that connection to developers.   As such it is not normally possible to collect planning obligations for water supply or refuse applications on water supply/sewerage reasons.

There are a couple of exceptions.  It is legitimate to consider infrastructure when it is of such a scale as to require new facilities and the impact of these facilities (such as on European protected sites) such as in the local plan and for very large scale applications. 

Also, local plans subject to testing can impose consumption targets in water scarce areas then LPAs can impose conditions and the government have proposed in a recent consultation that this then triggers higher standards in the Building Regs. (part G) Although resilience of local water supply and concerns over overloading of STPs and seawater outlets are critically important local issues they are controlled by OFWAT the water regulator in their oversight of Southern Water.   Therefore, it would be beyond the powers of a council to impose a planning moratorium on these grounds. –  Also the planning committee cannot determine planning policy.  Every five years OFFWAT must approve their capital expenditure programme and charges.  As well as consumer issues OFWAT must also consider sustainability issues in exercising these duties.

 Water companies plan for new development and population growth in accordance with water industry regulations and standards. They assess future demand through our analysis of Local Plan growth projections and population forecasts which are used to inform their long term Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP). Each WRMP sets out how they will maintain secure water supplies to our customers in the face of future growth and other pressures such as climate change. They are updated every 5 years to ensure any revisions to predicted growth for that plan period are captured.

Are these regulations working well no – the WRMPs are offered under assessed on population because local plans are dragging and hence not providing clear enough proposals well enough in advance to bring STPS and WTP up to speed with growth. The regulatory regime based on reducing prices is also enaminic to long term planning compared with similar regulations on the continent. There are also similar problems with electricity – witness the data centre issues along the A4/M4. The amendment to the the LURP bill is welcome as it places a long term duty on water companies that will help with nutrient neutrality.

Having said that is it unlawful to impose an STP housing moratorium when there are no AA issues on habitat – absolutely not.

Oxfordshire Councils Scrap Joint Plan

A joint statement from the leaders of Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council

“The five Local Planning authorities in Oxfordshire have been working together on a joint plan for Oxfordshire to 2050. It is with regret that we were unable to reach agreement on the approach to planning for future housing needs within the framework of the Oxfordshire Plan. 

“Local Plans for the City and Districts will now provide the framework for the long term planning of Oxfordshire. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 work programme will end and we will now transition to a process focused on Local Plans. The issues of housing needs will now be addressed through individual Local Plans for each of the City and Districts. The Councils will cooperate with each other and with other key bodies as they prepare their Local Plans.”

The background here is the Oxfordshire Growth deal required such a plan to be in place by 2021. There was no progress so the government suspended the deal. The background being Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire being opposed to ‘growth’ per-se – ‘scary‘.

It only goes to show that unless you press forward with positive strategic planning Nimbyism will drive you back to square one every time. Its almost if the government now positively wants less housing built?

Only in June the Future Oxfordshire Partnership (former Growth Board as members didnt like the Word Growth) said ‘“We have recently agreed with DLUHC that we can amend the timescale, with the goal of adopting the plan by December 2024.’

Government Admits Levelling Up Bill and End of Duty to Cooperate will lead to delay of Three Years to Local Plans

Dorset Cabinet

“We received an unprecedented 9,000 responses to our consultation on the draft Dorset Council Local Plan. In summary, respondents told us we should:

  • Challenge the housing numbers – they should reflect needs of Dorset, not blindly follow a government calculation and not include housing for BCP Council

That the adoption of the new Dorset Council Local Plan is expected in 2026. This gives us more time to develop the plan. (Previously we were aiming for adoption in 2023/4)

We have asked for Dorset to be a pilot for a new national approach to local plans being introduced through revised national policy and legislation. This will allow Dorset to take advantage of the improvements we fully expect to be enacted, including a genuinely plan-led system that has been shaped by engagement with our communities, make use of support from Government and where development accords with what the plan sets out, streamlined processes and a national suite of development management policies.

As part of this, the Government is planning to remove the ‘duty to cooperate’ which currently requires us to take account of unmet needs that our neighbouring authorities such as that BCP Council cannot deliver. The changes will mean Dorset can focus on a strategy that is right for us in meeting our needs

This is very odd as the guidance notes on the Bill stated the DTC would be replaced ‘a more flexible alignment test set out in national policy (see below)’.

‘Local plans, including minerals and waste plans, will also continue to be assessed for whether they are ‘sound’ at examination, but we will review whether the current tests are sufficiently proportionate as part of the work to update the National Planning Policy Framework, detailed below.’

So one assumed the test would be similar to the current ‘positively prepared’ test and Jonanna Averly and colleagues have hinted as such at online seminars. One also assumed that if targets stayed (a big if) that the line about meeting unmet need from neighboring areas would remain? However Gove has said in Parliament that the problem with the DTC is that it caused overspill, err Govy that was the entire point,to ensure unmet need would be met somnewhere. So now a bunfight on unmet need at every local plan examination, a bun fight at every local plan examination on claculating housing need and nubers. just as per pickles and just as in 2012 an on average 3 year delay to local plans across the country, regardless of whether Truss or Sunak get in as they both are now pandering to Nimby Cllr biases not those of the swing electorate. We can all look forward to 2025 when as I predict on the Gove-Prescott cycle there will be a another screaming uturn as a result of predictable collapse of plan adoption and housing numbers in local plans.

If I was at the HBF or Natfed letter now id be writing an outraged letter. Are you now going to let every local plan be 3 years late? What have you agreed? . Even before consultation on national policy on housing. Isnt this predetermination. Can any smoke filled deal with a sacked Sos be binding?