Two Years Late DCLG Research – Bungs won”t reduce Opposition to Housebuilding

DCLG

The main findings from the evidence review are:
– The review confirmed that there is limited empirical or theoretical evidence that is
directly relevant to financial payments aimed at reducing opposition to new
development.
– Theoretical work that has been undertaken suggests that direct financial payments are unlikely to influence the attitudes or behaviour of those opposed to new housebuilding and may lead to concerns about due process in determining planning applications.
– Some of the concerns about new housing development that lead to opposition are
unlikely to be assuaged by a financial payment.

Javid- A Plan can Say Nothing About Something and Not be Silent

Recovered decision 

LAND WEST OF CASTLEMILK, MORETON ROAD, BUCKINGHAM MK18 1YA
APPLICATION REF: 14/02601/AOP

The application site, being outside the settlement boundary, is not allocated for
housing in policy HP1 nor covered by policy HP7 which relates to windfall sites within the settlement boundary. The Secretary of State notes that the Inspector finds no conflict with these policies as he considers that the BNDP does not place a cap on housing numbers norc ontain policies specifically restricting housing development outside the settlement boundary (IR 123). The Inspector, therefore, considers that the BNDP is silent in terms of the proposed development of the application site (IR 189).

Having carefully considered the Inspector’s analysis at IR122-125 and IR 189-191, the
Secretary of State does not agree with the Inspector that the BNDP is silent in terms of the proposed development of the application site as he considers there is a relevant body of policy in the BNDP (summarised at paragraph 5.18 of the Statement of Common Ground between the applicants and AVDC (GEN1)) sufficient to enable the development proposals to be considered. The Secretary of State also disagrees with the Inspector’s conclusion that there is no conflict with policy HP1. The Secretary of State considers that read as a whole, including with the vision for the BNDP and its Introduction, the proposal, being an unallocated site outside the settlement boundary, conflicts with the purpose and effect of  Policy HP1. While there is no cap in the BNDP, and no obvious corollary of the site allocation policy HP1 (i.e. that land not allocated is not supported), the larger housing sites, representing both the acceptable location and level of housing, are specifically identified and allocated in the BNDP. Both larger sites and the smaller windfall sites being confined to within the settlement boundary (HP7). The application site, being both unallocated and outside the settlement boundary, falls within neither category above and, as a consequence, the Secretary of State considers the proposals are not policy compliant.

I would not have out it as the SoS did.  There will be inevitably a JR.  But Javid should prevail.

The mistake I think is reading the Np in isolation from teh rest of the DP and one part of the NPPF on ‘silence’in isolation.

Heres how I would have put it.

Par 14 of the NPPF commences with plans meeting objective need

Then considers where plans are silent, absent or out of date

The AVLP is out of date, it allocates some land for development and protects the open countryside.

The NP, using the latest household projections, allocates sufficient land for development to meet a 5 year supply pro-rata.

Therefore, read as a whole, the development plan is not out of date or silent.  In allocating land within the NP the implication and intention of the Neighbourhood Planning body was to protect the open countryside outside teh development boundary in line with the local plan.  It is the act of the NP in allocation which brings the development plan back into date and  means the LP policy for protection of the countryside remains current.

Why building homes – but not enough – makes Housing Affordability worse

It was the greatest act of political cowardice in Planning post war.

To what am I referring.  John Prescott’s response to the Crow/Whittaker report on the South East Plan in 1999.

The background.

SERPLAN had issued a draft South East Strategy to build no more than 660,000 homes to 2016, against household growth of over 900,000.  They only proposed one growth area.  milton Keynes, and deferred that to further study.  Figures were based on aggregated ‘capacity’ rather than need.  A capacity set by highly restrictive policies.  The term ‘sustainable development’ was tortuously redefined to mean a shortage of development.

Naturally The Late Professor Crow and Rosamund Whittaker would have nothing to do with it. They increased the requirement to 1.1 million (household growth plus allowances for non completion etc.  all rather standard and required these days), with a realistic target of 50% of this coming from Brownfield sites  The response was outrage from the shires.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England called it “a nightmare future of sprawling development, traffic congestion and urban decay”

John Gummer then in opposition concluded

 “the truth is that the electoral arithmetic is absolute. The seats in the South East that the Conservatives need to win are seats where people are implacably opposed to development. They are, of course, also the seats that Labour needs to defend. So neither party is going to look with any favour on the idea of more than a million new homes where voters don’t want them.”

Prescotts ‘compromise’ response was to build 860,000 homes.  Of course we have built half that in the South East outside London.

It simply made matters worse.  Unlike the US where there is a strong correlation between improvements to housing affordability and rate of housebuilding in the UK there is a negative correlation.

Those areas like London and Cambridge that have seen the greatest increase in population, and highest levels of housebuilding, have seen the greatest increase in unaffordability.

What is going on?  This seems perverse.  Think about it.  If you are building houses but at less that the rate required by OAN all you are doing is increasing you population baseline for housing need.  You are adding over time more people in need of homes as children age and adults divorce and retire.  Compromises, very British compromises of the Gummer and Prescott variety simply make matters worse.  If you are going to build build to at least need but never less.

I suspect the debate will flare up again with the NICs forthcoming Oxford-MK-Cambridge Arc competition.  My estimate of how much housing this area (South midlands + London Stansted corridor) will need over 35 years – just under 1.5 million new homes.  I suspect though this time the political arithmetric will be different.  In the motorway corridor seats the conservatives lost seats.   They plus London now firmly outweigh the reclacetrant shires.

 

The Sun – Javid to Announce Housing Delivery Test with “private target’ of 275,000 homes/annum

The Sun

Will this work – not a chance – what about Green Belt areas, Brighton, London, an automatic Green Light in conservation areas, to 80 storey buildings?  The exceptions are likley to be so great that it will be nullified and only really hit in scattered locations on the edge of villages and towns outside the Green Belt where the NPPF hits, and which in total still lead to less than 200,000 houses a year being built.  Sooner or later the penny has to drop, if we want to build 275,000 houses a year then the public sector will for them and build them in places where they can be delivered.

HOUSE prices in desirable areas could go down for the first time under a radical new government test to see more building, The Sun can reveal.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is preparing to unveil a striking new rule that will make NIMBY councils take local affordability into account.

Tories could cut house prices in in desirable areas in a radical test to spark new building

Under it, every authority will have to calculate how easy it is for young workers to get on the housing ladder by working out their local salary-to-house price ratio.

The average house in Britian now costs 7.8 times the average salary – an all-time record.

And in some areas of the south east, the figure rockets to above 12 times people’s wages.

Mr Javid wants to slap a new automatic legal requirement on councils with ratios that are too high to make them green light thousands more homes, so that a significant increase in housing supply reduces prices over time.

Mr Javid’s test has been debated intensely in No10 for six months over fears it will spark a rebellion from some Tory MPs, The Sun can also reveal.

It could also ignite a dangerous backlash in solid Tory areas as home owners panic about their own houses losing value.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to unveil radical government plans to lower house prices in key areas

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But a senior government source said last night: “Sajid has come up with what he insists is an objective and transparent test to increase supply.

“For once, councils won’t be able to fudge it, and that is key.

“There was nervousness in Downing Street before the election about upsetting the horses, but he has persuaded a lot of us round.”

Mr Javid’s plan could be unveiled as early as tomorrow.

In a preview of his plan, Mr Javid mounted a withering attack on councils three weeks ago for failing to build enough.

The Cabinet minister branded them refusal “not good enough” and declared that “the era of tolerating such poor, patchy performance is over”.

Dropped a big hint about his salary ratio test, Mr Javid telling Local Government Association conference: “Where housing is particularly unaffordable, local leaders need to take a long, hard, honest look to see if they are planning for the right number of homes”.

He also slammed some councils for still failing to come up with a local development plan years after they were introduced.

Mr Javid added: “Our aim is simple: to ensure these plans begin life as they should, with an honest, objective assessment of how much housing is required”.

Ministers are working to a private target of seeing 275,000 new homes a year built just to keep up with the soaring population demand – more than 100,000 more than today’s rate.

Since the 1970s, an average of just 160,000 new homes each year have gone up.

As The Sun revealed earlier this year, new powers will mean ministers can also force councils to increase their new build numbers if they refuse to deliver them.

Planning rules that prevent higher buildings will also be relaxed in a bid to increase housing density.

Theresa May is has ordered ministers to answer young people’s cry of anger at the general election by tackling the housing crisis once and for all.

A new survey from accountants PwC yesterday revealed continuing huge demand will hike the average house price to an eye-watering £302,000 a year by 2025, up from £212,000 now.

Knock Two Houses to One Successful Court Challenge in K&C

Standard

Two multi-millionaire tycoons have had their hopes of creating palatial homes in west London halted by a judge.

Charles Noell, who founded private equity group JMI, wanted to knock four flats into one massive home in Clarendon Road, Notting Hill, where houses sell for up to £10 million.

Aref Lahham aimed to knock together two “cottages” — each worth about  £4.5 million —  in the heart of Kensington. But at the High Court, Judge Neil Cameron QC overturned planning permission for both schemes.

The core issue was whether the projects meant a loss to housing stock in the area. Planning inspectors who granted initial permissions were wrong in their calculations, the court heard.

Both applicants argued that their projects would not make a difference to housing stock, with Mr Lahham pleading that his plan to turn 1 and 2 Pembroke Cottages into a single home would cause no harm to anyone.

The loss of just one housing unit in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea — which has 87,000 homes — was “insignificant”, he claimed.

 Mr Noell, who was involved in planned takeover bids for Everton and Nottingham Forest, argued it was larger properties that were lacking in the borough, not smaller flats like those in his application.

He said there was a pressing need for more “good-sized family dwellings” and while there were lots of one and two-bedroom flats in the area, those with three or four were in short supply.

However Judge Cameron told the High Court that planning inspectors who had given consent for the projects had both blundered when calculating the future need for housing land in the borough.

Vacant units returning to use in the future had been put on one side of the equation but had been omitted from the other.

In quashing planning permission, the court ruled that the mistakes were important and may have affected the outcomes.

Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, accepted that the inspectors had made a mistake and did not defend the planning permissions.

Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC, for both businessmen, argued the mistakes had made little or no difference to the outcome. He argued the plans would cause no prejudice to the borough’s housing policies.

Overturning both permissions on behalf of the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Judge Cameron said the errors made by the inspectors were “material” and could have made a difference to the conclusions they reached.

Neither of the two businessmen could be contacted for comment.

City Planning Chief wants Less Glitzy Architecture

Building

Carolyn Dwyer says the corporation will tend towards more ‘harmonious architecture’ in future

The head of planning at the City of London Corporation has said she wants to see less glitzy buildings go up in the Square Mile in future.

Carolyn Dwyer (pictured) was appointed two years ago as director of the built environment at the Corporation of London, the City’s local authority. She took the job after Peter Rees stepped down as the City’s chief planning officer three years ago. He had backed Rafael Viñoly’s controversial Walkie Talkie skyscraper built by Canary Wharf Contractors.

Dwyer said the corporation wants to see “slightly calmer and more harmonious architecture” in future.

She added: “We have to have architecture of the best possible quality that delivers for 21st-century needs, but every piece doesn’t need to be a stand-out landmark building. We are not developing individual tower blocks that stand alone on the skyline; we are developing a cluster of buildings that will have to respect each other.

“We are very keen to maintain the high standards of building in the City and we believe we have.”

Dwyer said she was a fan of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Cheesegrater at 122 Leadenhall Street, built by Laing O’Rourke. “It’s an elegant and beautiful building but quite sparse, it doesn’t have any bells and whistles,” she said. Dwyer also lavished praise on Foster + Partners’ new European HQ for Bloomberg, due to open in the autumn and being built by Sir Robert McAlpine, saying: “It will be one of the most beautiful buildings in London.”

A number of new towers are slated for the City, including Eric Parry’s 73-storey tower at 1 Undershaft, granted planning last November.

St Albans Court Challenge Fails – It Did Breach Duty to Cooperate

Herts AdvertiserBalli Law Link

Planning inspector David Hogger recommended the district’s crucial Strategic Local Plan (SLP) was withdrawn last year – it outlines major developments for the district planned until 2031, including building 4,000 homes in the Green Belt.

Mr Hogger said SADC had not fully co-operated with surrounding districts after objections by Dacorum borough council, Hertsmere borough council, Three Rivers district council, and Watford borough council were lodged under the group name South West Herts Group (SWHG).

The four councils said SADC had not consulted them when planning to build thousands of houses close to their infrastructure.

Hertfordshire County Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Welwyn and Hatfield District Council and North Herts District Council were also named on the court papers along with the other councils as “interested parties” in the case.

SADC pursued a case at the High Court, overseen by Sir Ross Cranston, to overturn this decision and rescue all the time and money which would be lost – more than 10 years of work. They now face the likely prospect of having to re-write the plan.

At the High Court hearing last month Matthew Reed QC, for St Albans Council, told the judge that St Albans had discussed the issue at length with the other councils.

However, he said that the other councils didn’t come round to their point of view adding that they had therefore “agreed to disagree”.

He said that the planning inspector’s finding that they hadn’t cooperated was “irrational” because of his “failure to take into account material considerations”.

In his decision today, though the judge in backing the inspector said he accepted that the duty to cooperate was not a duty to agree, and that whether or not there was agreement it was “not determinative of the duty to cooperate.”

He said the inspector “fully appreciated the issue,” and continued: “The issue before him was that of cooperation, and in my view he was entitled to reach the conclusions he did on whether it had been effective, constructive, and ongoing.”

In a complex, 18 page, written judgment running to more than 8,000 words he said: “It is plain from his reasons that the Inspector considered cooperation along a range of dimensions and over time. He reached, as he was entitled to do, an overall judgement about compliance with the duty to cooperate.”

He added : “In my view the Inspector was neither irrational nor unlawful in his approach.”

SADC’s portfolio holder for planning, district Cllr Mary Maynard, said: “We were pleased that the judge found sufficient merit in our case to give us permission to apply for judicial review. Nevertheless, today’s judgment is disappointing.”

She will “take stock and re-assess [the] approach”, and “commutted to delivering” the SLP, and will arrange meetings with portfolio holders from all neighbouring councils to move forward into the future.

“We want to make sure we achieve the very best outcomes for residents. This will include balancing the delivery of the right number of homes to meet the needs of our growing population, ensuring our business and retail community continue to thrive and protecting our precious Green Belt and green spaces.”

Planning policy committee member, district Cllr David Yates, agreed it was disappointing: “The Inspector may have been legally entitled to conclude that St Albans had not shown him that it had cooperated sufficiently with neighbouring local authorities, but that doesn’t get us any closer to having an SLP in place.

“It’s frustrating that whilst everyone acknowledges that a duty to cooperate is not a duty to agree, reaching a disagreement is taken as indicating a failure to cooperate.”

Another planning police committee member, district Cllr Iain Grant, added: “I hope to see early progress in our continued work with neighbouring authorities to resolve the points of difference and make progress on delivery of much-needed affordable and other housing for this district.”

Some notable sections

The issue before him was that of cooperation, and in my view he was entitled to reach the conclusions he did on whether it had been effective, constructive, and on-going. …

I accept the Secretary of State’s submission that once there is disagreement, I would add even fundamental disagreement, that is not an end of the duty to cooperate, especially in an area such as housing markets and housing need which involve as much art as science, and in which no two experts seem to agree. As Paterson J underlined in R (on the application of Central Bedfordshire Council) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 2167 (Admin), the duty to cooperate is active and on-going, and that to my mind means active and on-going even when discussions seem to have hit the buffers. …

 

CPRE Double Counting and Air-rights Potential in London

CPRE Times

More than half a million homes could be built in London without sacrificing green space by copying Paris and replacing buildings with five-storey apartment blocks, a report says.

Low-rise development over schools and commercial buildings would help to save the green belt and protected land without blighting areas with new tower blocks, according to research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Its report says there is enough “airspace” above existing one and two-storey buildings in the capital to provide at least 500,000 new homes.

CPRE says that developers are targeting greenfield land for housing because this yields higher profits.

..the report urges that all suitable brownfield sites should be built on before Greenfield Sites are released

The redevelopment of existing low density non residential development already comprises well over half of all development in London.  London only builds  20,000 or less units a year, we need to build 50,000.

Around half of the units identified are in strategic industrial areas, many are planned for release in the London plan and again would be double counting, greatly increasing this rate would lead to developments in the middle of industrial estates and loss of jobs in London.  If we exclude these buildings and 10,000 a year from these sources already coming forward then over the 25 years of a strategic plan thats 10 years supply, ‘ This would simply lead to the rapid development of brownfield bringing forward by a decade the point at which major Green Belt loss would be needed if you take the ‘runs out’ scenario.

However if these sites outside strategic employment areas are already supported by planning policy why arn”t they coming forward at a faster rate? Because they are not viable.  So what is the CPRE suggestion?  Drop affordable housing and CIL requirements?

Given viability concerns only building on brownfield means building too little, less than half of what London needs.  It gives priority to ‘suitabkle’ before ‘viable’ and ávailable’.

This is not to suggest we should be adopting a more YIMBY approach with positive zoning and planning, but this is a simplistic non-solution that avoids the reality of the market.

Adam Smith Institute – Capturing Land Value Uplify is the Real Magic Money Tree

ASI Blog

The government faces a dilemma: it is under heavy pressure to row back on austerity without losing its hard earned reputation for fiscal responsibility.

Fortunately Dr. Madsen Pirie, President of the Adam Smith Institute, has come up with an idea that manages to bypass the objections that are seen of the classic ways of funding deficit spending: raising taxes, printing money, borrowing and the political problem of cutting tax to pursue growth.

A fifth way is to raise money from selling things.

‘This time it would mainly be land that was sold, partly land already owned by government, but overwhelmingly land acquired for the purpose.

‘Local authorities should be empowered to buy land in their areas, land without planning permission for development. They should be authorised to grant it planning permission, and sell it on for development.’

Read the whole paper relating to this idea here, and his words in the Telegraph here.

Local authorities should be empowered to buy land in their areas, land without planning permission for development. They should be authorised to grant it planning permission, and sell it on for development. This would command many times the price they paid for it, and would bring in billions of pounds of revenue. We calculate it could raise almost £30 billion for the first million units.