The ‘Liberium Veto’ Led to the Death of an Empire – Why do we expect it to Work for the Greater Manchester Strategic Plan?

Andy Burnham on his century's long fruitless hunt for Greenspace in Greater Manchester not designated Green Belt

Andy Burnham on his century’s long fruitless hunt for Greenspace in Greater Manchester not designated Green Belt

In the 17th/18th Century the Parliament of the Polish-Lithuaainian Empire operated by a rule known as Liberium Veto (Latin for “the free veto”) which meant any member could announce Nie pozwalam! (Polish: “I do not allow!”), to stop  any legislation in its tracks.

From Wikipedia

Many historians hold that the principle of liberum veto was a major cause of the deterioration of the Commonwealth political system—particularly in the 18th century, when foreign powers bribed Sejm members to paralyze its proceedings—and the Commonwealth’s eventual destruction in the partitions of Poland and foreign occupation, dominance and manipulation of Poland for the next 200 years or so. Piotr Stefan Wandycz wrote that the “liberum veto had become the sinister symbol of old Polish anarchy.” In the period of 1573–1763, about 150 sejms were held, out of which about a third failed to pass any legislation, mostly due to liberum veto. The expression Polish parliament in many European languages originated from this apparent paralysis.

And yet we allow the leader of Stockport, Oldham or Any Burnham the ability to cry Nie pozwalam! and bring the entire Greater Manchester Strategic Plan to a halt given its unanimity rule under the City Deal.  Crazy

Manchester Councils in Green Belt Climb Down

Manchester Evening News

Greater Manchester’s controversial green belt plans could be substantially scaled back in the face of furious opposition, the M.E.N. has learned, in signs of growing concerns within the region’s ‘super-council’.

Consultation on the 20-year masterplan – officially called the spatial framework and drawn up by then region’s ten council leaders- closes on Monday. There’s been fierce criticism of the plan from campaigners, MPs and mayoral candidates.

It proposes building on a string of protected green sites, arguing that without doing so, the region will not be able to meet its housing and employment targets.

The plan has sparked uproar and Labour mayoral candidate Andy Burnham – whose backing would be needed should he win in May – joined a string of other MPs in vocally criticising it, arguing the scale of green belt development proposed was ‘unfair and disproportionate’. He called for it to be ‘radically’ rewritten.

 Multiple senior sources have told the M.E.N. that may well happen.

One said in order to get the plan approved by Stockport council, where councillors of all parties are furious, it will need to be substantially revised. They said that had now been accepted at a senior level.

The framework currently allocates thousands of homes to green belt sites in Heald Green and High Lane. Next week, the town hall’s Liberal Democrats will attempt for the second time to pass a motion blocking the plans – and insiders believe there is a strong chance they could succeed.

A second source said they believed council bosses elsewhere may also ‘backtrack’, highlighting Oldham as a particular problem.

One MP said there was recognition within the local Labour party – dating back some time – that the plans had been a ‘cock-up’, adding that council bosses would now start ‘rowing back very quickly’. Some council leaders had not handled controversial proposals on their patches very well, they added.

Any large-scale changes, however, could then make it difficult for the region to hit its housing target.

Town hall bosses have based their target of 227,000 new homes on population and economic growth forecasts – but are in a tricky position, with campaigners saying their figure is too high and developers saying the opposite.

A second MP said they believed that number was too high and ‘couldn’t be backed up’.

But that could give council leaders a get-out clause, they said, adding: “The leaders supported green-belt development because they were told they had little choice. If the forecasts aren’t accurate, that gives them the route to backtrack.”

Nevertheless, one combined authority insider said they would be furious if that turned out to be the case.

“I think it would be gross incompetence if we now turn round and say ‘we got it wrong, it’s now 140,000 homes, not 227,000’,” they said.

“We’ve been told these are independently-assessed figures using demographic statistics, so it would be a scandal – because it would mean we’d have gone out and taken a hit on something we didn’t need to do.”

A government white paper expected next week may make arguments over growth forecasts irrelevant, however.

Ministers have been considering whether to bring in specific housing targets for every area instead of town halls having to predict how many homes they will need in the future.

Estates Gazette – Confusion surrounds Date of Housing White Paper


Confusion surrounds the timing of the government’s eagerly-anticipated White Paper on housing.

Respected property industry weekly magazine Estates Gazette has tweeted that the White Paper will be released on Monday; a Savills PR also tweeted saying January 16th had been heard.

Samuel Horti, a well-informed reporter from another industry publication, Property Week, said on social media that he, too, had heard the 16th – although a little while later he understood that while the 16th was still possible, there were some strands of the document to be pulled together which might mean it would not be released until January 30.

In addition to all that Labour’s John Healey, the shadow housing minister, told Twitter that: “We were set to get housing white paper with Autumn Statement, then ‘before Christmas’, then ‘in January’ … I now hear it may be delayed again.”

Just for good measure, Inside Housing reporter Nick Johnstone has suggested that the document may see the light of day next Tuesday.

Enquiries yesterday by Estate Agent Today have found out nothing more specific.

Housing White Paper still unfinished and Delayed Again as May Says ‘Not Meaty Enough”

Clearly designed to deflect blame onto Javid and Barwell as May and her advisers have stripped all meat off the bone.  Also she wants to hog limelight with Tuesday Brexit Speech.  I suspect also Javid refused to publish it unless he got the meat he wanted and this is just fake news to deflect blame.

City AM – although DCLG confirmed yesterday it would be published next Monday!!!!

The long-awaited housing white paper is still weeks from publication as the government looks for ways to beef it up so that it passes muster with the Prime Minister Theresa May.

The flagship policy document was originally pencilled in for publication late last year.

Several key industry figures had expected the white paper to be published this Monday. But they now believe it will come out the week after next at the earliest, with 30 January being eyed as a potential publication date.

 A senior source close to the process said that the Prime Minister did not find early drafts of the policy blueprint “meaty” enough and that she was seeking a set of policies that could deliver on promises made.

The government has indicated that the much-trumpeted housing reforms will include “radical” solutions. It has vowed to build 1m new homes by 2020.

Government insiders told City A.M. that the housing paper could arrive within weeks, but they denied any suggestion it had been delayed from a launch next Monday. They added that Sajid Javid‘s Department for Communities and Local Government would need to brief other ministers before a white paper could be published, and that had not yet been done.

The new policy blueprint could seek to build on the Farmer Review, commissioned by two government departments last year, which called for more support for off-site and modular construction. Such pre-constructed housing can be put up in as little as 24 hours with at vastly reduced costs.

Earlier reports on the housing white paper have suggested that ministers were preparing to green light 100,000 of these types of homes.

Alongside Brexit, the housing plans are expected to be a key part of the Prime Minister’s attempt to define her tenure, with May positioning the document this week alongside her recent comments on a “sharing society” and an incoming industrial strategy green paper.

A raft of housing policies have already been unveiled, leaving those in the sector scratching their heads as to what the government can pull out of the bag.

The government has announced that it will be giving £2.3bn in a housing infrastructure fund for building new homes in high demand areas and a £1.4bn fund for building 40,000 new homes. Meanwhile, London is getting £3.15bn for 90,000 affordable homes.

Burham Says Development should go on Non Existant non Green Belt Greenspace in Greater Manchester

Manc Evening News

Show everyone a map of where these non existent sites in Greater Manchester are – or the sites in Cheshire or elsewhere you wont control,  Andy if you are to have any credibility at all as GM Mayor, its the first thing the inspector will ask.

Greater Manchester’s Labour mayoral candidate Andy Burnham has called for the region’s controversial green belt plans to be radically rewritten, calling them ‘unfair and disproportionate’.

The Leigh MP says councils should be aiming to avoid any net loss of green belt at all in their development blueprint for the next 20 years.

His demand is likely to cause frustration within the ‘super-council’ of ten council leaders, most of them his Labour colleagues – who have spent years drawing up the plan and are aiming to submit it to the government by the end of the year.

In his official submission to the public consultation on the plan – which is aimed at providing a framework for 227,000 new homes over the next two decades, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs – he says it should focus far more on building affordable housing in ‘high densities’ on former industrial sites.

It comes after outcry in many parts of the region over plans to build large residential developments on green space that is currently protected, including in south Stockport and north Bury.

“As a result, it could diminish quality of life in some communities and restrict people’s access to good air and green space. The plan needs to be rebalanced to respond to these concerns and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development.”

He adds: “I would go further and propose that we consider the aim of no net loss of green belt.”

 Thousands have taken part in protest marches across the region against development on green belt land.

The plan should instead focus more on the region’s existing town centres, he says, rather than building onto green belt.

Greater Manchester’s larger towns should be redrawn as attractive places to live, he adds – with empty shops making way for new homes.

He also believes the masterplan focuses too much on warehousing and industrial development, rather than hi-tech industries such as health and technology.

Meanwhile far too little focus is being given to public transport, he adds, warning the region’s roads are already ‘close to saturation’ and will become more so if hundreds of thousands of new homes are built without a better network.

But it is on green belt that his view will cause most concern among council colleagues, who believe Greater Manchester cannot absorb a growing population without redrawing some areas that are currently protected.

Mr Burnham’s statement represents a huge political headache for the mainly Labour council leaders alongside whom he would be running the region should he get elected in May.

Under the rules of Greater Manchester’s devolution deal, the masterplan has to be agreed not only by the mayor but all ten council leaders – and the region legally needs a planning framework in order to control where developers build in the future.

It also needs to be passed by all ten councils. Stockport councillors in particular are currently looking unlikely to approve it.

On the current timetable it is supposed to be signed off in its initial form over the summer before going out to consultation again in the autumn.

After that, it will be submitted to the government for a public hearing and a final decision


Brentwood Leader – New Garden Village Helps Protect Villages from Overexpansion

Con Home

With a severe national shortage of housing, councils up and down the country are busy identifying land and sites for future growth and development.

In Brentwood, we need to find space for around 7,500 homes for over the next twenty years. In a borough like ours, which is made up of villages and which is 88 per cent Green Belt, this is no easy challenge.

As part of our plans, we are seeking to preserve the nature of Brentwood and protect the rural environment of our villages. With enough brownfield land to satisfy around half of the target number of new dwellings, this inevitably brings us in to the green belt.

Rather than over-expand the existing villages, our proposals include the creation of a new garden village at Dunton Hills for upwards of 2,500 homes. The government announced in the new year that the Council’s bid to include the site as part of their Garden Villages, Towns and Cities Programme had been successful, a result which we are rightly proud of.

Larger scale development is always controversial but I believe that if the scheme is done correctly, it will help in protecting the existing villages from future expansion, whilst also delivering new homes for the next generation. 35 per cent of the scheme will be made up of affordable and starter homes, supported by key investment in the necessary infrastructure, something which is paramount to ensure that new growth areas like Dunton Hills are both deliverable and sustainable.

With plans included for a new all-through school, the creation of an additional country park and healthcare facilities along with a shopping and leisure area, we have an opportunity here in Brentwood to deliver something special and in keeping with our borough in the form of much needed homes, with a real heart at the centre of the community.

The successful bid to Government means that funding support will be provided so additional background work can be done, focusing particularly on the issue of road capacity and associated improvements to the A127 to ensure that we get the very best for both our existing and future residents.

In addition, we will be looking to draw on government’s knowledge and expertise via the Homes and Communities Agency, as we finalise the details of the proposals to deliver a new village that we can be proud to call part of Brentwood and we will still have protected 87 per cent of our Green Belt.

‘No retreat, no Surrender’ from England’s Stubbornist Council Leader over Local Plan

Herts Ad  You have deliberately refused to cooperate and meet a share of neighbouring needs for years – when in a hole stop digging.  Part of a pattern of years of delay and obfuscationism.

Following two public consultations, St Albans council asked the government to approve its draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP), to replace its out-of-date predecessor, dating back to 1994.

But in November last year, planning inspector David Hogger told the authority it had failed to meet its duty to cooperate with neighbouring councils while drawing up its new planning blueprint.

Setting out two likely scenarios, Mr Hogger warned he would have to recommend non-adoption of the plan, or the council “may choose to withdraw the SLP”.

However the inspector’s stance and interpretation of the draft plan has riled St Albans council, which has since disputed his conclusions. After taking external legal advice, it started proceedings last Thursday (5) against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to quash the inspector’s decision. St Albans council also wants the defendant to pay its costs.

Cllr Julian Daly, the council’s leader, said the authority “believes the inspector’s conclusion that we did not meet the duty to cooperate is flawed. We are therefore seeking a judicial review of the decision and look forward to having our case heard.”

The SLP sets out overarching policies on major development throughout the district, including construction of 4,000 homes in the Green Belt, until 2031, and identifies land for new infrastructure, commerce, industry, residential and social amenities.

In its application to the High Court for permission to seek a Judicial Review of the planning inspector’s decision, the council warns that Mr Hogger’s decision, which would effectively result in the withdrawal of the SLP, “will have direct consequences on the direction of development within the district.”

The council asserts that, “it is of critical importance the future of the plan is resolved as soon as possible.

“A substantial delay in the hearing of the claim is likely to prejudice the council’s ability to direct development within its area strategically, as planning applications are likely to come before it within the near future, without the benefit of an adopted plan.

“A delay in the adoption of the plan will also affect developers’ decisions as to when and if to bring forward development.”

One such plan potentially affected by this stumbling block is the new secondary school proposed for Green Belt land in Harpenden.

Criticism has been levelled at neighbouring councils who have effectively thwarted the plan’s adoption by complaining about St Albans’ lack of cooperation with them over the siting of their own future housing.

In its statement of facts, the council points the finger of blame at such counterparts, including Dacorum, Hertsmere and Watford councils, over differences in opinion over the local housing market.

While St Albans council has concluded that this district is principally its own housing area, to choose where major residential schemes should be placed in future, neighbouring authorities have argued that they, too, want to expand their residential schemes, across boundaries, into the district’s Green Belt.

The local council argues that, since the parties had reached the stage where they had agreed to disagree on what comprised the housing market area, “there was no further discussion which could fruitfully be had”.

St Albans is challenging the inspector’s ‘unlawful decision’ on five grounds, including his interpretation of part of the government’s planning framework, and that he made conclusions on the soundness of the SLP which were wrong.

A spokesman for Harpenden Green Belt Association said: “Very few – if any – informed observers, including developers, think it is ‘sound’.”

Cllr David Mitchell, chairman of Redbourn parish council, said the council was ‘clutching at straws’ by launching the legal challenge.

He added: “I’m very surprised that common sense has not prevailed and they haven’t started the plan afresh.”

A Freedom of Information request in regards to the cost of preparing the plan has revealed that the wider budget spend incorporating the SLP and related material, from April 1, 2011 to date is about £490,000.

Watered Down Housing White Paper to Rely only on NHB Withdrawl to Force Housing Land Release

Huffpost – the restructuring of the NHB is nothing new – it was announced under Cameron and has been reduced by a 1/3rd since to fund Social Care.  In othe words the ónly ‘in the article indicates the Housing White Paper has nothing new to announce.

Councils which fail to free up extra land for new homes could miss out on a £4.8 billion Government fund, The Huffington Post UK has learned.

The Tories are likely to use the New Homes Bonus fund as “a stick to beat” councils with if they do not allocate more land for houses, a local government insider told HuffPost UK.

The fund is paid out to councils as a reward for building affordable houses and filling empty homes.

But the Conservatives may now threaten to withdraw the extra money, in a “tough new drive to get more houses built”, a government source said.

The rumours are they are going to really push councils to release more land for building. It’s likely to be only through removing grants, such as the New Homes Bonus”, he said.
The paper is expected to suggest more incentives for building on brownfield sites and to move away from a reliance on the big developers.

It is also likely to include plans to force councils to release more land for development, HuffPost UK has learned.

But Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey told HuffPost UK Conservative MPs should “look to themselves before they start pointing the finger at councils”, over a lack of housing in the UK.

“Since 2010, we’ve seen investment in new homes slashed, ministers moving the goalposts on planning rules, and big cuts for council planning departments”, he said.

“This has slowed down new housebuilding and knocked the number of new affordable homes being built to the lowest level in 24 years

Housebuilding rates have risen in the last eight years, but still missed Government targets of 220,000 new homes a year in 2015-16.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has said:

“Local plans put power in the hands of local people to decide where developments get built in their area. Planning policy encourages locally led development and does not set national housing targets.

“Our white paper, to be published this month, will clearly set out how we plan to build the homes this country needs.”

DCLG declined to comment further on the contents of the white paper.

LGIU 58% of Cllrs in Green Belt Areas believe Some Green Belt will to be Sacrificed for Housing


Most councillors in green-belt areas believe that the land will be given over to housing in the next five years.

A survey for the National Trust found that 58 per cent of councillors agreed the land would be lost, compared with 51 per cent of those asked the same question in 2013.

The responses to the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) survey came just before the government publishes its housing white paper. Nearly three quarters of local councillors believe that the planning system favours developers while just over half said that housing was being approved even if they were not in line with local plans, because of relaxed regulations.

The LGiU warned that many councillors felt that the democratic tool of having to approve applications at a council level was being undermined and power was being skewed towards developers and the government. It voiced concerns that the National Planning Policy Framework, introduced in 2012, was failing to put communities first.

Almost half of respondents had seen an increase in the number of planning decisions being challenged and overturned since the framework was adopted. Of those respondents, half said that it made councils more likely to approve schemes.

Less than a fifth believed that the framework had improved design quality and half of the 1,278 councillors surveyed thought that their planning departments were not adequately resourced.

Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU chief executive, said: “The planning system is one of the fundamental pillars of local democracy, allowing communities to help shape the physical structure of the places they live. Councillors are the most important link between communities and the system. Our survey with the National Trust shows that many councillors feel that this democratic tool is at risk of being undermined.”

Ingrid Samuel, historic environment director at the trust, said: “It is almost five years after the government’s planning framework was adopted, so it’s worrying that councillors feel it hasn’t delivered the localism promised.”

Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, is due to launch the white paper this month. There is tension within the Conservative Party between the need to build more houses and fears over a “backlash” from middle England.