Castle Point to Waste £1.6million in Needlessly Doing Local Plan Again – and no Guarantees on Green Belt

Essex Lives More than their entire annual Planning Budget

Castle Point Borough Council has committed to spend up to £1.65m to develop a new local plan – but cannot guarantee green belt will not be ultimately earmarked for development at the end of the process. The money – to fund the “unavoidable costs of examination and the evidence” – comes after around £685,000 was earmarked to develop a plan for 5,325 homes that was started in 2018 but scrapped earlier this year.

It is anticipated that work on the new plan will start in January 2023 with a period of engagement to find out what people value about the places in Castle Point, and what people would like to see changed. At the same time, work will be undertaken to collect data about the borough and importantly to see if all its allocation can be accommodated in brown fields and urban areas. Among the major concerns with the 2018 plan was to allocate land in Canvey Island for housing.

The council decided in June to start afresh to develop a plan “that reflects local need” even though the unadopted local plan was deemed to have been sound and suitable for adoption by the Government inspector. Castle Point Borough Council has been since urged by the Government to deliver its new and revised local plan “at pace” in light of its decision to start the process all over again.

Within the previous draft east of Canvey Road had been allocated for 300 homes, land west of Canvey Road had been allocated for 199 homes and land at Thorney Bay caravan park had been allocated for 820 homes. Ian Butt, head of place and policy at Castle Point Borough Council, warned against predicting the outcome of the new process – including any pre-judgements against building on green belt.

He told Castle Point Borough Council on November 30: “This is the beginning of the process of the new local plan. We have a long process to go through, we have to make sure we follow the legally compliant process as laid down by Government. Everything will be done to try to ensure we can accommodate local needs appropriately and within urban areas as far as we possibly can.

“But I would caution members in terms of pre-determining the process by assuming that it will not be necessary to make any changes to the green belt. At this moment in time we just don’t have that answer. But the process we are going through will build the data and the evidence to give us that answer.

“And as part of the process one of the first tasks we are going to be doing is a very deep dive into the capacity of our urban areas to see what can be accommodated and run various scenarios around that capacity. And if that capacity is sufficient to meet our needs then that will provide us with the answer.”

Gove Considering Third Party Right of Appeal to Appease Nimby MP rebels – Times

Telegraph

The government will make it harder for new properties to be turned into holiday homes as part of an attempt to see off a Tory rebellion over planning rules, it has been claimed. 

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, is currently in talks with a group of around 60 Conservative MPs who are opposed to plans for mandatory centrally set targets to build 300,000 homes a year.

One of the measures being considered would see restrictions placed on properties built in popular tourist locations.

This could see owners being forced to submit “change of use” planning applications to the council if they want to let buildings to short-term visitors.

Mr Gove is also preparing to impose sanctions on developers who delay building on land that they already own with planning permission. 

This could result in powers that mean developers lose planning permission if building does not start within a year, The Times reports.

Other amendments under consideration include measures to incentivise construction on brownfield sites, and giving residents a new right of appeal against planning permission for unpopular developments.

Mr Gove is understood to be opposed to the Tory rebels’ central demand to allow local authorities to ban all greenfield developments other than in “exceptional circumstances”. 

One senior Tory said concessions in other areas would be “far-reaching”, adding: “They are definitely in deal-making mode.”

Another of the rebels said: “We’re clear this is not about stopping development but stopping the wrong development in the wrong areas.” 

Proposed changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will address criticism that coastal communities are being hollowed out by a surge in holiday homes. 

The rebellion has been led by the former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers and Bob Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight. 

Speaking last month, Ms Villiers said: “There is very serious concern on the backbenches that top-down housing targets are undermining local decision-making in planning and pushing through development which damages the environment and quality of life.”

Tory MP Paul Holmes said the Government’s target to build 300,000 homes made the “blood drain” from many faces in local communities.

Mr Seely said opposition to the planning proposals had no connection with the election of Mr Sunak following the resignation of Liz Truss, adding it would be an issue for whoever was in charge.

National Map of Planning – Says No Conservation Areas In Windsor and Maidenhead

First place I looked was where I knew the data was dodgy. There is no single good database of conservation areas held by NE as (unlike London, Wales and Scotalnd) as it shows no data where LPAs has refused to sign an Inspire directive sign off – and teh national map rather than showing np data shows no CAs. Similarly the data is not grouped by theme, has major gaps and doesnt filter, (fpor example former i.e. cut down ancient woodlands).

As a prototype this wouldn’t be worrying, but already it is being piloted for Plan X, the supposed online platform for applying for everything, first LDCs in Southwalk, so if rolled out for Windsor and Maidenhead for example it would be wrong wrong wrong. A huge data cleansing and checking process is necessary, for which a national geospatial agency should be responsible for, like in many other countries.

Sunak to give way on Onshore Wind

Guardian

Downing Street appears likely to allow new onshore wind projects in England after years of an effective ban, Grant Shapps has indicated, with ministers giving way in the face of a growing backbench Conservative rebellion.

Shapps, the business and energy secretary, said there would be more onshore wind projects “where communities are in favour of it”, which would mean the end of a de facto block on such projects since 2014 under planning rules.

While Shapps sought to present the idea as already proposed by Rishi Sunak, this is not the case. The U-turn instead appears to be a direct response to an amendment to a bill tabled by Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, which Labour is also expected to support

Clarke, one of a growing list of Tory MPs, including Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, to oppose a ban, has tabled an amendment to the levelling up bill to allow new onshore wind projects in England.

Asked about the issue, Shapps told Sky News: “We already have quite a lot of onshore wind. There will be more, over time, particularly where communities are in favour of it.

“That is, I think, the key test of onshore wind – is it of benefit to communities locally? That has always been the principle for us, for quite some time now.”

Shapps denied the government was backing down over fears it would lose a vote on the Clarke amendment. He said: “I don’t recognise it in those terms at all. Simon Clarke has put in an amendment, which I haven’t studied all the ramifications of yet.

“But it’s essentially saying what I just said to you, for local people to have a very, very keen say in this, which is indeed government policy. There are always different ways to skin a cat, as it were, but we will have a close look at what is being proposed.”

Pushed again on whether this was an enforced change of stance, Shapps said: “No, it’s exactly what we’ve said all along. Rishi Sunak said the other week that where onshore happens it needs to have local agreement.”

Shapps said incorrectly Sunak had “always” argued that onshore wind could happen with local consent, adding: “What is being proposed [in Clarke’s amendment] is something which would guarantee that. I haven’t studied all the ramifications of that in terms of the planning changes, but to present it as some sort of massive gulf is completely untrue.”

During the summer campaign to become Tory leader, where he lost to Liz Truss, Sunak released what he termed an energy independence plan, which stated: “In recognition of the distress and disruption that onshore wind farms can often cause, Rishi has also promised to scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore wind farms in England, providing certainty to rural communities.”

Clarke’s amendment would oblige the government to change planning rules within six months to allow new projects.

It is not yet known when amendments to the bill will be voted on. Last week, No 10 pulled a scheduled vote after a rebellion over planning policy.

An amendment led by the former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers and backed by more than 50 Tory MPs seeks to scrap mandatory local housing targets and make them advisory only.

The Problem with Housing and Infrastructure is an Aging Population – Not New People Moving In

John Harris Guardian

one objection came up time and again: how “a whole new town” would cause the wider public realm to buckle under the strain. o quote one eloquent statement of opposition, “Services and infrastructure are already overstretched. Who will fund what is needed? 

Compare the situation to even 15 years ago when S106 contributions to matters such as school places and GP facilities were rare, now they are almost universal. There have been several attempts to systematise the process, such as CIL, but it is acknowledged they cant pay for the big ticket items, like major transport infrastructure. However recessions and poorer parts of the country in planners eyes the problem is solved. The contributions are enough to mitigate health and education impacts. Indeed as many planners will tell you around 2/3rds of new home occupants in most areas are existing residents in the housing market areas, the net new impact will be minimal.

Yet why don’t many local campaigners see it that way? The problem is they see local schools being closed, the number of schools has declined by around 7,000 since 2010, with closure of many rural schools. GPs feel overloaded, many retire, and the CCTs find it hard to attract new doctors, or find new premises, especially in rural areas, and single doctor practices are inefficient. There is a common theme here. Primary care pressure is rising because of an aging population, and birth rates are falling. Far more work per patient on rolls. The demographic for school age children is shrinking in rural areas, making schools less viable. The available workforce for teachers and GPS is shrinking as the dependency ratio rises, areas just outside London cant compete with London weighting.

The logic here is that housing for young people needs to increase in such areas not slow down, otherwise public services could simply collapse, or like Japan with its anti-immigration stance there will be a mad rush to robotise services with most people dead before the technology catches up to be of any use.

An aging population in a broadly fixed housing and population stock causes a financial vicious circle of doom for local public services as the cost of services rises and the number of local taxpayers to fund them declines. Then those who rely of care for the elderly but don’t need for an expansion of the housing stock vote against its expansion, leading to the revenue cost of services spiralling whatever the funding of capital.

The solution, adding to the standard method an additional allowence for areas with a high dependency ratio, restricted to small units for elederly residents only. This would lead to a much more efficient re-allocation of the existing housing stock as those over-occupying houses (two or more bedrooms free) which is nearly half the over 65s. Capital receipts on profits from sale of large houses should no longer be exempt from CGT, with the receipts ringfenced to expansion and training of additional public service workers in those areas.

Government to Placate Nimby MPs by Watering Down Housing Targets

Telegraph

Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove are considering watering down their flagship planning bill in an attempt to head off a growing Tory revolt, rebels have claimed.

Downing Street officials, along with the Levelling Up Secretary and ministers have held a series of discussions with planning rebels in an attempt to reach a compromise, The Telegraph understands.

“The Government is making an effort to find where there is common ground,” a source involved in the discussions said. “There is no agreement yet, everyone is proceeding with caution.”

Last week, Rishi Sunak was forced to delay long-awaited planning reforms after dozens of Tory MPs threatened to rebel.

The Prime Minister was facing the first major test of his authority when MPs were set to vote on his plans for mandatory, centrally-set targets to build 300,000 homes a year.

But initially a group of 50 Conservative MPs – including eight former cabinet ministers – signed an amendment to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill that would have abolished the targets.

On Sunday night, rebel leaders said that the number of signatories has now risen to 56, as they claim that several more MPs have indicated they would be willing to vote for the amendment when it came to the House of Commons.

Possible areas of compromise include the Government agreeing to greater flexibility on house-building targets, and finding legal routes to making sure developers prioritise building on brownfield sites.

Theresa Villiers, a former cabinet minister who is leading the planning revolt, said: “We have had many meetings with Michael Gove and various housing ministers who have expressed public sympathy with our point of view. No doubt conversations will continue. There is a problem that needs to be resolved.”

Labour had already said it would not be supporting the rebel amendment – meaning there was no chance of the Government being defeated. But a vote would have been a huge test of the Prime Minister’s authority just a month after he took office.

The MPs who have signed the amendment – “new clause 21” – are from all wings of the party.

As well as Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Ms Villiers, former cabinet ministers include John Redwood, Dame Maria Miller, Damian Green, Chris Grayling, Priti Patel and Esther McVey.

The amendment would have meant that house-building targets “may only be advisory and not mandatory” and so “accordingly such targets should not be taken into account in determining planning applications”.

A source close to Mr Gove declined to comment on the nature of the discussions with rebels but said he “wants to work constructively with colleagues”. 

Former Planning Chair says Old People are Are Wicked for Living in Large Homes – not Nimbys

Times Letters

It’s targets that are wicked
There is nothing “wicked” in local people seeking to protect their local environment. Rather, it is wicked to impose housing targets on communities, riding roughshod over their wishes.

The government should look more closely at the underoccupation of existing housing stock. There are many single elderly people rattling around in houses far larger than they need or want. Building higher-density extra-care apartments — where they can live independently but with care on hand — would release homes for families. That is the way forward.
Roy Perry, former chairman, Test Valley borough council planning committee

This is a well known myth. Most newly forming households are smaller households. Unless you build new smaller homes there will be nowhere for overoccupying homes to move to. The solution to over-occupation amongst the old and housing need of the young are not opposite they are the same – build more homes. There is no alternative to building more homes as over a fascist state forcing old biddies to move at gun-point would find a shortage of smaller homes for them to move to. You simply have to build more homes to unlock the logjam. Once you do household formation in the future might be less than projected as the new plus existing stock can filter through and down more efficiently.