No New Large Sites – and Nothing New in the #Camkox Arc- In Garden Town /Villages Announcement

All of the large sites announced had either been in the announcement two years ago, been admitted since or like Carlisle have been in emerging plans for several years.

Despite the prospectus favouring large sites (10,000 dwellings plus) especially in the Oxford Cambridge Arc, everything else is village scale and even includes additional funding to some old sites where the Ministry and Homes England are furious with the authorities for slow progress.  Some of the sites are too small even to support  primary school and are just edge of settlement estates that would have come forward anyway.

What does this show? It shows that a short term competitive process removed from strategic plans is no mechanism for working up proposals for strategic scale garden communities.  The ministry’s efforts should be focussed on support strategic plans – which are struggling everywhere in terms of expertise, quality of spatial expression and methodology.



East Cambs fails to publish unsoundness finding, inspector goes postal, issue is under standard method old plans easier to pass 5 YHLS

East Cambs Inspector

25 Jan

I am disappointed that following several requests, my Programme Officer is still unable to upload my letter to the Council of 19 December 2018.
It is now over a month since I sent my original letter, which in the interests of transparency, should have been placed on the Examination website.
I have asked for this to happen on numerous occasions. As, no doubt, you are aware, this situation is highly irregular.
Please ensure that the Programme Officer’s job is facilitated and the letter is uploaded today and without delay.
Over seven weeks have elapsed, since my letter to the Council of
5 December 2018, which stated that I found that the plan was unsound but
could be found sound with main modifications. The Programme Officer has, and no doubt, will be receiving further enquiries as to the progress of the Plan.
In such circumstances, I have instructed the Programme Officer, who works independently of the Council, to respond that a letter has been sent to the Council setting out what I consider to be the main modifications which would be required in order that the Plan be found sound. If a request is made for a copy of the letter, clearly the Programme Officer will provide such a letter as it should be in the public arena, and indeed, I have explicitly asked that it be so.
I understand from email correspondence, via the Programme Officer, that the Council is still considering the implications of the potential main modifications.

8 Feb

In early December, following the hearing sessions, and taking into account all representations, hearing statements, together with my site visits, I came to the conclusion that the Plan as submitted was unsound. However, I was of the opinion that with modifications it could be capable of being found sound. I informed the Council of this in my letter of 5 December 2018.
I sent a further letter on 19 December 2018. This set out where the main
modifications were required and requested that the Council work these up to form a schedule of modifications, which could then be formally consulted upon. This would
have enabled me, with the benefit of any consultation responses, to write my final report to the Council which would have included the main modifications necessary for the Plan to be found.
Unfortunately, as the Council has given no firm indication to date that it intends to progress work on a schedule of modifications and has not replied to my previous requests for confirmation that it would do so, I am unable to move forward with my examination of the submitted Plan which must take place in an open and transparent

Whats the reason for the delay?  See this report

Normally, and in line with the procedural guide, officers work collaboratively with an Inspector so that common ground is reached on what modifications are likely necessary to a Plan. In practice, around 98-100% of modifications are normally
‘agreed’, either in principle or in precise detail, as part of the hearing sessions themselves i.e. they are debated and ‘agreed’ in the public forum, even for those matters which a Council might not ideally want the modification, but accepts the
need for it for a Plan to be found sound. To put it another way, an Inspector rarely springs surprises on a council, post hearing sessions. If that happens, it is usually for a very small number of modifications, on matters where it was clear that agreement could not be reached on the day, and the Inspector would therefore have to make a ‘final call’.
3.10 Our Inspector did not undertake the examination in this way.
3.11 After most hearing sitting days, participants (including the Council) were left wondering what the Inspector was going to do about matters debated that day. Agreements were often not reached, or a suggested way forward not given by the Inspector. The Inspector catch phrase became ‘I have a lot of thinking to do on that matter’.

3.12 As such, officers:
 struggled to know what modifications might be necessary;
 for many policy areas, had no opportunity to discuss with the Inspector
whether such modifications were indeed necessary, or what form of
wording they should take.
This is highly unusual, and, whilst not unlawful, not in accordance with the
procedural guide.
3.13 Thus, throughout the process, officers were frustrated by both the slow speed of the examination and the considerable uncertainty as to where matters were
heading, and what modifications might be necessary.
3.14 At the close of the Hearing sessions (end of September 2018 in our case), it is normal practice for the full set of modifications to be known, perhaps subject to some detailed refinement of wording to be agreed with the Inspector on a small number of matters. Consultation on such modifications then normally takes place within 2-3 weeks of the hearings closing. In our case, that would mean an October-November 2018 consultation.
3.15 Unfortunately, our examination did not follow this normal procedure.
3.16 First, officers were left wondering what modifications might be necessary.
Second, we did not hear from the Inspector, in any meaningful way, until
December, approaching 3 months after hearings closed.
3.17 In December, the Council then received the ‘good news’ letter of 5th December 2018, which confirmed that, subject to (then unspecified) modifications, the Plan
was capable of being made sound i.e. it was suitable for adoption, provided her modifications were accepted by the Council. That letter meant that the Plan had been prepared in a lawful manner i.e. it had been prepared in accordance with all applicable legislation, consulted upon appropriately and met the Duty t
Cooperate provisions. However, we still did not know the extent of what the modifications might be.
3.18 Finally, on 19th December 2019, the Council received a letter from the Inspector,
nearly 3 months after the Hearings closed, setting out what modifications were, subject to consultation, necessary to make the plan sound. That letter is attached at appendix A.
3.19 The content of the letter raised considerable concerns, for five prime reasons:
(i) the sheer scale of modifications the Inspector feels necessary;
(ii) the lack of explanation or reasoning for the modifications (especially those
which the Council was previously unaware of);
(iii) the consequence of the modifications, which go to the heart of (or rather
take away the heart of) the Plan prepared by the Council;
Agenda Item 14 – page 4
(iv) the lack of ability for the Council to attempt to reach a consensual
agreement to the potential modifications necessary (as would normally be
the case); and
(v) the questionable basis of whether many of the modifications are truly
necessary (and whether the Inspector is, instead, trying to ‘improve’ the
plan, rather than focussing entirely on soundness matters which go to the
heart of the plan).

The following summarises some of the more fundamental ‘modifications’ required
by the Inspector, together with some brief officer comments.
 All reference to community-led / CLT development be removed from the Plan –
both ‘in principle’ supporting policy, and sites allocated for such forms of
development. No reasons are given by the Inspector as to why such policies are ‘unsound’ (nor, for that matter, why her decision contradicts the previous
Inspector examining our 2015 Local Plan, who found the principles of such
policies to be sound).
The redistribution of housing across the Cambridge sub-region (as agreed by all Councils of the sub-region) be removed, resulting in 1,500 homes increase to East Cambridgeshire. Inspectors concluding other Cambridgeshire plans in 2018 (Cambridge and South Cambs) and the almost finalised plan in 2019 (Huntingdonshire), all accept the redistribution and cooperation associated with it to be sound. Our 2015 Local Plan Inspector also found it sound….

ALthough the lack of communication is worrying the striking down of the Cmbridgeshire redribution is even more worrying as this was critical in getting the deal on numbers done.

Council should be mindful of an important implication which will arise, if the recommendations attached are agreed.
3.29 As a reminder, the Council has struggled since June 2015 to be able to demonstrate a ‘five year land supply’ as required by national policy, with two appeal decisions (in 2015 and again in 2018) going against the Council. The overriding reason why the Council has been unable to demonstrate a five year land supply is not due to a lack of permissions given by this Council or a lack of allocations in our Local Plan (we have approximately 9 years’ worth of immediately available supply on that count), but due to the lack of delivery of homes on the ground. Where homes are not built, national policy requires the  Agenda Item 14 – page 7
‘backlog numbers’ to be added to the next five years. As each year passes, the backlog increases, to the point whereby it becomes virtually impossible to regain a five year land supply (for example, we would need to be building approximately 1,200 homes per year, for the next few years, to ever ‘catch up’, a 400% increase on current build rates).
3.30 If the Council decides to proceed with the current emerging plan (i.e. it accepts the Inspector’s modifications and does not withdraw the plan), it is possible that the Local Plan can be adopted by Autumn 2019 (having taken into account the next procedural steps required). At that point (but not before), we would have a
Five Year Land Supply. However, as highlighted in this report, there would be a considerable risk of that position being lost again in the not too distant future, because the Inspector has: (a) increased the overall housing numbers; (b) removed our policy to spread any backlog over the whole plan (and instead made
it, in effect, compulsory to make it up in the first five years); and (c) has
unrealistically increased housing numbers on allocation sites. Policy within the NPPF will probably mean our five year land supply will be secure, post adoption, until 31st October 2020 (i.e. for about a year after adoption), but realistically the Inspector modifications are likely to make it very hard to sustain a five year land supply beyond that date.
3.31 Thus, in simple terms, proceeding to adopt the Plan will likely mean a five year land supply position is secured from Autumn 2019 to October 2020, but unlikely beyond that date.

3.32 If the Plan is withdrawn, we obviously would continue to have no Five Year Land Supply for the present time.
3.33 However, under the ‘withdraw’ option, and perhaps surprisingly, when we reach April 2020 we almost certainly will, under current national policy, regain our five year land supply position. This is because new (autumn 2018) national policy states that, when a Local Plan is 5 years old (which ours will be, come April 2020), any ‘backlog’ of development not built gets wiped clean (the precise reference for this policy being NPPG Paragraph ID: 2a 017 20180913).

Totally peverse.  The para reference refers to every para in that guidance but the issue is the ‘cap’ which is based on the annual rate, and should be withdrawn or irgently clarified it is the average plus the backlog.


Planners in Oxfordshire Take Cue from May in Kicking Spatial Options Can Down the Road


Oxfordshire has just launched its first consultation on its Joint Spatial Plan.

At this stage its very high level all goals, aspirations and context.  You will recall the last JSP that tried this, Greater Exeter, was widely condemned for being ‘just PR’ and ‘not fit for purpose’.

It sets out transport issues, but no solutions other than mentioning in passing ongoing projects like the expressway.   It deals with the future economy in a one sentence motherhood statement without any analysis of how to tackle the labour and housing market challenges in Science Vale.  It doesn’t discuss the demographic challenges of an aging population or the challenges of university expansion.   It even fails to mention the wider arc initiative.

In terms of housing and spatial challenges it does mention a number of ‘spatial options’ like hub and spoke, new settlements, urban intensification etc.  whilst acknowledging that no one will be enough.  But it doesn’t give any clue as to the huge scale of the challenge with its growth deal numbers and how and where development might be located on a map in ‘planet earth’ space.  Instead ‘options’ exist in a conceptual ‘none space’ with no relationship with real settlements and real fields on a map.  It is difficult therefore to see how people can reasonably respond without writing long essays telling Oxfordshire the already held and known views of stakeholders.

The problem here is that the return of strategic planning has ran ahead of strategic planning thinking.  Ill be publishing a long essay on this soon.  Thew strategic planning challenge is about locating units of ‘strategic scale development – that is development sufficient to support a district centre and secondary school, which depending on school re-organisation can be anywhere between 6-11,000 (likely around 10,000 in Oxfordshire) – see this recent report for Southend and surrounds, where I set out the methodology for them.  Suitable places for development on this scale can be narrowed down to reasonable options and in my piece ill be setting out a high level GIS based method for assessing these.


Nearly a million young people living with parents hidden from Household formation figures


Shows you cant simply rollback one census, it goes back over 20 years.  Civitas report here.

Nearly a million more young adults are living with their parents than was the case two decades ago, a study has found.

The figures, in a report by the cross-party thinktank Civitas, will fuel concerns that too little is being done to protect young people from Britain’s housing crisis.

The proportion of people aged 20 to 34 who live with their parents has risen from 19.48% in 1997, equating to 2.4 million people, to 25.91% in 2017, equating to 3.4 million.

The report says the findings have profound implications for the government’s housebuilding targets. It also notes a “collapse in single living” among those who do move out of their parental home, as young people are now far more likely to be living with partners or friends.

This has implications for how many homes will need to be built in the future. The government develops its housebuilding targets using household projections, calculating how many households are likely to be formed in the future by looking at patterns over recent decades. Bentley said if the government failed to acknowledge the drop in the number of young people moving out or living alone, “it will reinforce an undersupply for housing for decades”.

The growth in young people living with their parents has been strongest in London, which saw a 41% increase between 1996-98 and 2014-15.

How can this be reflected in planning? The easiest way is to model those aged over 30 living with their parents having the same propensity to form a household as in 2002.  This could be done very quickly to produce variant forecasts using current demographic data..

Treasury to use Spending review to Take on Nimbys

Daily Mail

Another shift towards ‘as of right’ zoning?

iz Truss warned her party it must take on ‘NIMBYs’ today to get more houses built and cut prices.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said the Tories must reform the ‘rigid’ planning system to make it harder for developments to be blocked by existing home-owners, who she described as ‘the worst vested interest we’ve got’.

Ms Truss – seen by some as a potential successor to Theresa May – said a shortage of affordable housing was driving voters into the arms of Jeremy Corbyn‘s Labour.

Speaking to the Resolution Foundation think tank in London, she said this year’s Spending Review – setting out Government budgets for 2020-23 – is an opportunity for the Conservatives to set out a ‘popular free market agenda’…

Liz Truss  warned her party it must take on ‘nimbies’ today to get more houses built and cut prices

She said the party should take a cue from market-leading brands like Aldi and Netflix, which ‘deliver what people want, when they want it at a price that they want’.


Joking that she was not calling on her party to adopt a strategy of ‘Netflix and chill’, Ms Truss said Tories must take a ‘ruthless’ approach to stripping back wasteful spending and tearing down barriers to getting on in life.

These include barriers preventing state school pupils getting into Oxbridge, difficulties female entrepreneurs experience in securing finance, and obstacles to building affordable housing for young people.

High house prices were among factors which had led to a 25 per cent drop in people moving to find work over the last 15 years, said Ms Truss, citing studies which suggested workers were missing out on £2,000 of salary as a result.

Conservatives must be ‘prepared to take on vested interests’, including ‘those who want to protect their existing privileges’, she said.

She added: ‘The worst vested interest we’ve got is existing home-owners who block development.

‘I think that is the biggest challenge we face – how are we going to reform the system when there’s a fundamental anti-development bias in our country?’

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said the Tories must reform the ‘rigid’ planning system to make it harder for developments to be blocked by existing home-owners, who she described as ‘the worst vested interest we’ve got’

Ms Truss blamed ‘rigid planning rules’ for ‘house prices that are out of reach of many, many people’.

‘We do have to be prepared to take on those who don’t want a house built in the field next to them,’ she said.

‘The alternative is getting a public who … feel like the housing market is not responding to their demand, not because they are dyed-in-the-wool socialists but because they are simply frustrated. I think there’s a danger that people will support the Labour Party because they are so frustrated about the situation.’

She hailed liberal planning regimes in Tokyo, Vancouver and Germany which had cut back on bureaucracy and resulted in lower house prices.

Ms Truss – seen by some as a potential successor to Theresa May – said a shortage of affordable housing was driving voters into the arms of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour

People in communities like these would respond to a Conservative Party following the US mantra of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ and offering them control of their own lives and the opportunity to get on, she said.

‘I think if we advocate a popular free-market agenda, we can win over those parts of the country, we can drive up economic growth, we can create prosperity and give people a greater feeling of control over their own destiny and a greater feeling of pride in their country, their area and themselves.’

Car Giant and Old Oak Park Royal DC at War as 6,500 houses Scheme Collapses

Old Oak Park Website

Welcome to Old Oak Park

This website contains a historical archive of the now abandoned plans to bring forward the comprehensive redevelopment of the 46 acre Cargiant site, which is central to unlocking any major development within the area.

Between 2013 and 2017, Cargiant, faced with the possible closure of its business when its land was designated a regeneration area, became reluctant developers and spent £8.5 million trying to bring forward a planning application for their land which could fund their relocation.

For many years fortnightly planning meetings took place with the public sector agency supposedly leading the regeneration, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC). The scheme, known as Old Oak Park, was taken through extensive public consultation – the full details of which you can see on this website – and which were very well received by the local community and other partners.

However, despite all the collaboration, the OPDC concluded that the scheme wasn’t viable as it couldn’t meet the costs needed for infrastructure and social benefits required for the area.

For any development to happen it has to be able to pay for three things:

1. The relocation of Cargiant. Cargiant is the largest independent car processing and retailing plant in the world and a hugely successful and valuable business, built up over 40 years and employing over 700 people directly with many hundreds more reliant on Cargiant’s supply chain. The cost to buy new land and move the business is estimated at in excess of £600 million;

2. New infrastructure including new roads and bridges and all the cabling and pipes for water and energy supplies. In 2016, the OPDC estimated these costs for the land around the Cargiant site at £532 million. Since then the costs have gone up; and

3. Affordable housing. The planning policies of the GLA and the OPDC set a strategic target across the area of 50% affordable housing, so half of the homes don’t contribute any profit at all to all the costs which are needed.

Since Cargiant’s Old Oak Park plans were developed, the OPDC has also put forward new planning policies that see even fewer homes delivered on Cargiant’s land (5,300 homes to be built by 2038 compared with 6,500) with higher levels of affordable homes required. At the same time, the prices for industrial land (needed to move Cargiant) have gone up substantially, partly because so much has already been lost to residential development along with very large areas lost to HS2 constructions sites, and construction costs have also gone up while the values for residential development have gone down and construction costs have escalated.

In short, the development simply doesn’t stack up and no developer can afford to meet the costs of developing the land. Cargiant’s window of relocation has been lost. The OPDC doesn’t have worked-up designs for the land, doesn’t have a development partner and hasn’t solved the huge technical challenges of delivering the infrastructure to the site.

Despite this the OPDC is pressing ahead with seeking £250 million of Government money and has even started a Compulsory Purchase Order process which will see over 1,000 jobs lost. They have also already spent nearly £30 million in just four years.

Cargiant is calling for an immediate halt to further spending and consultant appointments and a full inquiry into the spending and strategy of the OPDC before any more money is wasted and jobs are lost.

What happened here is that Tony Mendes owner of Car Giant has been attempting to do his own thing at the centre of the area irrespective of the other landowners or the masterplan.  As such he would have needed to pay for all the linking connections himself.

He seems to be particularly poorly advised as he seems to be admitting that without the public sector providing the enabling infrastructure the site has a negative residual value – perfectly making the case for CPO at ‘no scheme world’ values, needing only to pay for compensation for loss of Car Giant., not even the full cost of relocation.

Im sure Homes England could find a nice site on land they own or Basildon or somewhere.

Greater Manchester Framework reduces Housing Targets – Halves Green Belt Loss

Evening news

The new version aims for slightly fewer new homes than previously, revising down the target from 227,000 to 201,000.

Andy Burnham at the 2017 mayoral election count (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Insiders say this was because the original document was planning for more homes than the region needed.

It also concentrates even more ‘high density’ development in Manchester and Salford – apartments, essentially – as well as in town centres such as Stockport and Bolton, in order to reduce the amount of protected green space under threat elsewhere.

Around 15 green belt sites have been removed from the plan altogether.

Nevertheless, nearly 40 of those earmarked in the original version are still in the new draft – albeit substantially reduced in size in many cases, if not the majority.

The total amount of green belt space under threat has roughly halved under the new plan, with a further 65 patches of land given new green belt status.

It also provides more detail than previously about the new transport links that would connect the developments, including proposed tram stops, train stations and rapid bus routes.

And around a quarter of the homes to be built would be classed as ‘affordable’ – 50,000 – with over half of those at social rent, although how the conurbation intends to define affordability, and where those houses would go, is yet to be confirmed.

Never Mind the Soundness – See the reduced Green Belt Loss – Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to be published Monday

A special meeting of the combined aithority wil mett next friday with the papers being published Monday.

According to MEN

‘It is understood a compromise has now been reached that will not see ‘no net loss’ of green belt ]which Andy Burnham campaigned on], but that will see a considerable reduction in the number of sites proposed for development.’

What do we know?

  1. It will be an SDS not a development plan. which means only the leaders need approve not every full council (politically impossible) so the soundness tests doesn’t apply
  2. Which means like London it can simply propose unrealistic and unevidenced targets for intensification without any evidence of deliverability and then ignore any EIP report
  3. It is likely that the ‘compromise’ involves loss in the more deprived East and North whereas Stockport and Trafford will see radically reduced Green Belt loss – the losses will be driven by politics not strategy or potential for intensification in each LPA, indeed there is likely to be an inverse relationship given the more prosperous south and west will have greater viability.
  4. Its a fix which will only be defensible as such at the EIP.

Tandridge Agrees Local Plan with Green Belt Garden Village – but only meeting Half OAN Need

Surrey Live

The controversial blueprint to build thousands of new homes in Tandridge including a new garden community in South Godstone has been effectively signed off by the council, despite ferocious opposition.

A string of councillors attacked the Local Plan during a two-hour debate of Tandridge District Council‘s planning policy committee, many saying it could leave the district without the schools, GP surgeries or adequate roads needed to support thousands more residents.

Others blasted the loss of green belt land, or said that building a 4,000-home new community at South Godstone would blight the lives of thousands of people.

The plan will now be submitted to the government. A planning inspector will examine it in late spring or early summer and decide whether to reject or endorse it.

The document sets out where 6,056 new homes should be built up to 2033. Any of the proposed schemes would still need to go through the usual planning process, but the plan is an outline of where Tandridge intends to build homes to meet its targets.

At the start of the debate on Wednesday, December 19, committee chair Keith Jecks urged members that the council would be forced by government to take thousands more homes if the plan was not submitted before January 24.

Council leader Martin Fisher said young people were being forced out of the district by a lack of appropriate housing and it faced a “demographic time bomb”.

“The preparation of this plan has been a balancing exercise, balancing the needs of our whole community and this has not been an easy task,” he said. “On the one hand we need to provide affordable homes to meet the aspirations of our younger generation whilst on the other hand our established residents hugely value the open spaces of Tandridge, which make our area such a desirable place to live.”

The plan is “infrastructure led”, the council says, and will lead to better roads, an improved Godstone railway station, improved healthcare, and schools.

However, independent councillor for Godstone, Chris Farr, called for the whole plan to be scrapped.

Proposals for the new South Godstone ‘garden community’ would blight the lives of thousands of residents, he said. He also decried the loss of two per cent of the district’s green belt.

“When we have conceded this loss and concreted it over, which bit will be next? Any loss sets a precedent that will make it harder to defend any of the green belt.”

South Godstone would be completely transformed but many think it won’t be for the better (Image: Grant Melton) 

A key issue raised was the absence of funding commitments for better infrastructure from Surrey County Council and other bodies. A string of improvements, such as new footpaths and pedestrian crossings – which would need to be paid for by the cash-strapped county council – have already been deleted from the final draft.

“The lack of detail, funding and land allocated for any of the new infrastructure in the supporting documents means it is unlikely that the promise of new infrastructure will ever be delivered,” said Cllr Farr.

“Developers will chip away at the infrastructure and other requirements until there is almost nothing left.”

Catherine Sayer, Oxted and Limpsfield Residents’ Group councillor for Oxted North and Tandridge, said the council had failed to identify the two key things it needed to improve infrastructure – land and cash – and highlighted an embarrassing denial by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership that it would provide funding.

The plan was based on weak documents and was not policy compliant, she said.

Chris Botten, Lib Dem leader and councillor for Portley ward in Caterham, said the authority was in an “impossible” position and his group members would abstain from the vote.
Cllr Fisher told councillors the plan was sound, and it was vital it was voted through, and was submitted by January 24.

Letwin, Land Pooling and Homes England Assembly of Strategic Sites

Land Value Capture was a major theme of 2018, culminating in the Letwin review which the government isdue to respond to in Feb 2019.

The nature of the likely response is already given in the response to the MHLG Select Committee report on land value capture

Through the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017,
the Government has recently taken forward wide-ranging reforms to make the compulsory purchase process clearer, fairer and faster for all. These reforms include extensive changes to the Land Compensation Act 1961. We are keen to let these recent reforms bed in but will continue to monitor their practical application and remain open to considering practical improvements to the framework. The Committee will be aware that the Rt Hon Sir Oliver Letwin has published his independent review of build out alongside Autumn Budget 2018. …The government will respond to Sir Oliver’s report in February 2019.

[those being CPO’d] are entitled to the market valueof the land to be acquired
, disregarding any increase or decrease in value caused by the ‘scheme’ (e.g. regeneration project, new settlement, trunk road etc) underlying the acquiring
authority’s Compulsory Purchase Order – or the prospect of that scheme. This is known as the ‘no scheme principle’, which was codified through changes in the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 which came into force in September 2017. The basic premise is that compensation should reflect what the land or property would be worth on the open market if the scheme to which the Compulsory Purchase Order relates did not exist (i.e. in the ‘no-scheme world’).
Compensation includes ‘hope value’ (i.e. value based on the land’s development potential) only insofar as it can be demonstrated to exist in that no-scheme world. The extent of this hope value will reflect the prospects of obtaining planning permission for an alternative development in the absence of the scheme, taking into account the risks, uncertainties and costs associated with implementing such a development. This includes the costs of providing the affordable housing, infrastructure and supporting facilities required to make the development acceptable in planning terms, as well as any Community Infrastructure Levy liability…. If land is acquired by a new town development corporation, compensation would be assessed in accordance with the no-scheme principle .
…If there are limited prospects of the relevant land being developed in the absence of the designated new town, the market value is likely to be the same as or close to existing use value.

All the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 did on this point was consolidate the caselaw regarding the ‘Point Gourde’ principle, that the ‘no scheme world’ was the value without the roads and infrastructure making the site developable in the first instance.

Therefore forget for strategic sites the land compensation act 1961, as the market value for compensation purposes is simply existing use value plus the level of ‘compensation’ dictated by caselaw on the ECHR.  Therefore primary legislation would not be needed to implement Letwin, who in any event recommended compensation recommended valuation at the bottom end of the 10-20x agricultural value embodied in current practice by the Harmen Report.

There is no need to rehearse the potential advantage soft land value capture here to further housebuilding through funding infrastructure and affordable housing.  The issue is whether landowners will take seriously a regime where the official value of there land is reduced by millions of pounds an acre and whether they will simply without their land, as the owners of the North Essex Garden Communities have, daring public authorities to acquire land compulsorily.  The risk is a regime that doesn’t offer some share in uplift to landowners will fail, as it has before, with authorities with little appetite or expertise in land acquisition to accept instead ‘leapfrog’ sites, sub optimal sites in terms of accessibility which don’t require assembly.  After all this was the problem with the implementation of the Uthwatt report regime and is very much the problem is many Asian and African cities where there is scattered and fragmented land ownership around major cities often leading to large scale leapfrog development to unsustainable locations.

The plea here is for a policy of pragmatism, not going for a policy on land value capture which leaves insufficient share of the cake for landowners so that strategic assembly is thwarted.  An appeal for pragmatism must be based on proposals that have been shown to work, and what has been shown to work is land pooling.

Land pooling, in some countries also known as land readjustment,  was an approach first implemented in German Planning Law

its origins are in Germany and are often attributed to the 1902 Lex Adickes of Frankfort-am-Main. This city’s expansion was hindered by ancient
inheritance laws, which created long, narrow strips of land difficult to convert for development. The mayor of the city, Franz Adickes, steered enabling legislation through the Prussian Parliament, the application of which was extended by the Prussian Housing Act 1918

and then adopted in Japan, and now widely copied throughout South east Asia and increasingly India as an alternative to large scale land appropriation.  It works as follows.  The land is subdividided by a public authority and land owners get back a smaller proportion of the land which recognises both the land needed to build roads, public spaces, community facilities and affordable housing and the sale of plots necessary to fund this enabling infrastructure.  There is a wide spectrum of type of pooling ranging from the voluntary to those facilitated by compulsory acquisition powers, from those where the landowners get back the bulk of land to those where they get back a smaller part but one of much higher value.  I have seen it successfully applied in several countries and its success in wide;y different cultures suggests to me that it is an idea begging to be tried.

There are several major advantages

  • It gives landowners an incentive to cooperate
  • Public authorities don’t need financing for the compensation, just grant of title back
  • It leads to more orderly development of strategic sites subdivided into smaller ones, sites that are more accessible without ‘leapfrogging’ and easier to service.
  • Landowners don’t need to forward fund the enabling infrastructure.
  • It created subdivided parcels with multiple landowners and potential developers, just what we want to see in oligopolistic markets such as England.

In England I suggest a very simple rule, land owners get back 1/4 of the area of sellable plots (not withstanding final land use) following subdivision and allocation for roads, parks and community facilities.  This would not be too dissimilar to the position that existing in case law and statute (dating back to the 16th century) prior to the 48 Act.  International experience suggests this is sufficient to enable most strategic sites to come forward with voluntary pooling in the large majority of cases.

A great example is the new Capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh Amaravati. It had an (admittedly dreadful) masterplan by Fosters, just the sought of plan which gives imperialistic planning of sites without seemingly visited the sites and imposing a geometry on it (ignoring even the flow of gravity of water to the adjoining river, and as originally planned without any public transport and giant squares with ridiculously pompously public buildings) but that aside it needed to be implemented over the top of a landowners pattern which gave typically a couple of dozen plots per superblock.  It could have used compulsory means but there heavy handed use had fallen into disfavour as farmers fought for grater compensation and against forced dispossession.

Out of the 24 villages approached to give up their land, 22 agreed within four months
of the scheme’s announcement. Following this, the returnable land plots were allocated through electronic lotteries for fairness.
These lotteries were held at the villages, with landowners receiving confirmation of their plot allocation via mobile message. Their plot allotment letters were also printed and handed out to them immediately, with softcopies made available online.

Within just 60 days of implementation, the government managed to persuade 25,000 farmers to give up 30,000 acres of land….To secure land necessary for Amaravati’s development, the state is moving to invoke the Land Acquisition Act, where
the villagers will be required by law to give up their land in return for
monetary compensation. These pockets of resistance, however, are small in comparison to the majority support, with nearly 90% of the required land already secured through land pooling.

The compensatory plots were around 1/4 of the original land.  My suggestion of 1/4 sellable reflects the higher ‘exaction’ for community facilities and public open space necessary in English Masterplans.

What would be needed to make this work in England?  Not a lot as it could be done initially on a voluntary basis with conventional CPO used a a fallback.  In the long-term though regulations would help, as part of a wider much needed powers for masterplanning and subdivision of land, to help resolve disputes bout the size and value of reallocated plots,.  Here there is a wealth of experience of such regulations around the world, indeed many land readjustment systems such as Japan were simply verbatim translations of the German law.

The government is faced with how to implement the potentially hugely complicated Letwin system.  Land readjustment based on an internationally tested systems of land assembly and subdivision offer a pragmatic way forward, and Housing England a potential body with the funding and expertise to do it, initially on a voluntary and experimental basis.  So far there is a lack of potential sites in development plans of Garden Community or Strategic growth location scale, but that will change and by the end of 2019 there should be several in development plans that offer great potential.