@SimonClarkeMP to Stop ‘hammering’ Local Authorities with Housing Targets – But he has a far bigger Hammer to Bash them With: Libetarian Deregulation of Green Belt and Planning Law to Defeat ‘Curse’ of the Nimbys


Government should stop ‘hammering’ communities with ‘top-down housing targets’, says new secretary of state.

The newly-appointed levelling up secretary has said the government should move away from the “top-down housing targets” that “poison” the relationship between government and local communities and promised to create some “rational incentives” to aid the delivery of new homes.

Im sure was in commons but need to track down exact source in Hansard.

Ive heard the ‘Hammered’ phrase before from a council leader ‘Dorset’ maybe can’t remember. just the kind of Saloon Bar talk you get on the Tory leadership campaign.

Where too start? Well lets look back at the days before inspectors reports were binding – the current political theme is to knock them down a peg or too even though all they do is implment government policy. PINs have always been a patsy to prevent the SoS getting blood on their hands from assassinating NIMBY council leaders with decisions on plans and applications which conform the SoS’s own policy.

I remember before the 2004 act, in 2002. There was a recent case of the Hammersmith and Fulham Local Plan inspectors report where the local council had just ignored almost all the inspectors key findings on the King Street big roundabout scheme. The legally commentary in the planning encyclopedia I think was it brought ‘the development plan system into disrepute’.

At the time how to reform the local plan system was very much in the government’s mind. The Treasury wanted to abolish local plans (serious i was in the room) and im not worried about Chatham House rules any more as a) its 20 years later and b) pretty much everyone else involved is now dead or retired and history needs to be told. I recommended that local plan inspectors reports were made binding and what later became known as a ‘soundness’ finding was made they became directly adopted (avoing the silly Castepoint problem). Before they were binding the SoS had to directly intervene in many many local plans and structure plans it was a nightmare. A good example was the West Sussex SP where they tried to push down dramtically their housing numbers with evidence they later admitted was not supportive of their case.

So non binding has been shown by hitsory to have failed. Lets move on to next issue ‘targets’.

Firstly as many minister have said they never were targets and I always tell people

a) the word target is nowhere in the planning acts or bills

b) the word target is nowhere in the NPPF or NPPG

So talk of amending the Levelling Up bill to abolish targets is just bullshit, its a matter of planning policy not law and it isnt even national policy.

National Policy arose because of the useful amendment introduced a few years ago of the standard method.

The idea didnt come from me though I lobbied for it but the underlying term ‘Objectve Assessment of Need’ did come from me.

Before we had some standardisation of what housing need was it was chaos, local authority after local authority hired tinpot one man band consultancies to manipulate and mangle demographic statistics to push numbers down because they didnt want housing. If you had three options for housing numbers consultation always showed support for the lowest number (as Nimbys write green ink letters of objection, hard working young people in need of housing don’t and often are forced to live in overcrowded acomodation elsewhere where they dont get to hear about the latest consultation in Nimbyland ‘Developers go away district council ‘95% greenbelt err greenfield and proud of it’ (im only half joking one east of England authotity really does have a motto like that)). So they chose the lowest number. It was a joke. It was too many degrees of freedom to handl what large sites and what

Pickles of Course abolished ‘Soviet’ Housing targets and strategic plans

Estate Agent Today

Clarke has backed Truss in opposing top-down housebuilding targets.

A Twitter post during the Conservative Party leadership contest said: “Building more good homes is a top priority. Creating rational incentives and reassurances for communities to embrace them is vital. 

“The cult of top-down targets, however, has become a toxic distraction and Liz Truss is right to say she would scrap them.”

He still appears committed to building new homes though and has previously tweeted: “If we do not build the homes we need, where we need them, it will be a disaster for  the Conservatives.

Commenting on his new role last night, Clarke said: “It’s a huge honour to be appointed Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

“Delivering on levelling up for communities in all parts of our country, unlocking the homes we need and supporting the economic growth that is so central to Liz Truss’ government is our mission – will give it my all.

“This is a department that I know really well, and which I am so looking forward to returning to – the commitment and expertise of officials there on themes as diverse as homelessness, building safety and devolution is second to none.”

Housing Addressed: Freeing up land, while protecting the environment September 2018 Thinkhouse

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