Room Size Standards to Be introduced for Office to Resi PD – Ministerial Statement

Hansard

Planning: independent report on build out rates and permitted development

At Autumn Budget 2017 the Government announced an independent review, chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin, to examine the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned, and make recommendations for closing it. I sincerely thank Sir Oliver and his panel for their hard work over the 12 months that followed.

Sir Oliver’s draft analysis, published in June 2018, took an in-depth look at the rate of housing delivery on a number of large sites in high pressure areas around the country. He concluded that the binding constraint on housebuilding rates once implementable planning permission had been granted was the ‘absorption rate’ – meaning that homes are built at the rate at which housebuilders believe they can be sold at their target prices. Importantly, the Review found no evidence that speculative land banking is part of the business model for major house builders. I note that there has been widespread acceptance of Sir Oliver’s analysis across the sector and a consensus has emerged that it is the market absorption rate that determines the rate at which developers build out large sites.

Sir Oliver’s final report, published alongside Autumn Budget last year, concluded that greater differentiation in the types, tenures and design of housing delivered on large sites would increase the market absorption rates of new homes.

I welcome Sir Oliver’s support for greater emphasis on housing diversification within the planning system. The revised National Planning Policy Framework has already embedded a requirement for a greater mix of housing; it explicitly requires a mix of size, type and tenure of housing that reflects the diverse needs of local communities. My department is also committed to improving the design of new development. The purpose of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is to tackle the challenge of poor quality design and build of homes and places, and I look forward to their final report later this year. My department also has a number of funding programmes specifically designed to support a more diversified housing market, such as the Home Building Fund.

As confirmed in Spring Statement, my department will shortly publish additional planning guidance on housing diversification – to further encourage large sites to support a diverse range of housing needs, and help them build out more quickly.

I note Sir Oliver’s recommendations that authorities should further capture land value uplift by insisting on specific levels of greater housing diversification – and also note that many in the housing-building industry are sceptical of this approach. I agree with the principle that the costs of increased housing diversification should be funded through reductions in residual land values. The Government is committed to improving the effectiveness of the existing mechanisms of land value capture, making them more certain and transparent for all developments. My focus is on evolving the existing system of developer contributions to make them more transparent, efficient and accountable and my department is gathering evidence to explore the case for further reform.

I will keep the need for further interventions to support housing diversification and faster build out, including amendments to primary legislation, under review. My department will also work closely with Homes England to identify suitable sites and will look for opportunities to support local authorities to further diversify their large sites. Once again, I am very grateful to Sir Oliver and his panel for their important analysis and recommendations, and for their hard work over the course of the Review.

My priority now is to ensure faster decision-making within the planning system. My department will publish an Accelerated Planning Green Paper later this year that will discuss how greater capacity and capability, performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process. This Paper will also draw on the Rosewell Review, which made recommendations to reduce the time taken to conclude planning appeal inquiries, whilst maintaining the quality of decisions. I will also consider the case for further reforms to the compulsory purchase regime, in line with our manifesto commitment.

Permitted Development Rights

The consultation, Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homesclosed on 14 January 2019. As confirmed in the Spring Statement it is our intention to bring forward a range of reforms. To support the high street we intend to introduce additional flexibilities for businesses. This will be to amend the shops use class to ensure it captures current and future retail models, which will include clarification on the ability of (A) use classes to diversify and incorporate ancillary uses without undermining the amenity of the area, to introduce a new permitted development right to allow shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), hot food takeaways (A5), betting shops, pay day loan shop and launderettes to change use to an office (B1) and to allow hot food takeaways (A5) to change to residential use (C3). Additionally, to give businesses sufficient time to test the market with innovative business ideas we will extend the existing right that allows the temporary change of use of buildings from 2 to 3 years and enable more community uses to take advantage of this temporary right, enabling such premises to more easily locate on the high street. I will also shortly publish “Better Planning for High Streets”. This will set out tools to support local planning authorities in reshaping their high streets to create prosperous communities, particularly through the use of compulsory purchase, local development orders and other innovative tools.

We will take forward a permitted development right to extend upwards certain existing buildings in commercial and residential use to deliver additional homes, engaging with interested parties on design and technical details. We would want any right to deliver new homes to respect the design of the existing streetscape, while ensuring that the amenity of neighbours is considered. We will also make permanent the time-limited right to build larger single storey rear extensions to dwellinghouses and to introduce a proportionate fee. I do not intend to extend the time-limited right for change of use from storage to residential. This right will lapse on 10 June 2019. Alongside I intend to review permitted development rights for conversion of buildings to residential use in respect of the quality standard of homes delivered. We will continue to consider the design of a permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes. We will also develop a ‘Future Homes Standard’ for all new homes through a consultation in 2019 with a view, subject to consultation, to introducing the standard by 2025.

Finally, we intend to remove the permitted development right and associated advertising deemed consent in respect of new telephone kiosks, reflecting that mobile technology has changed the way people access telephone services since the right was introduced in 1985; amend the existing right to install off-street electric vehicle charging points to allow for taller charging upstands to address advances in rapid charging technology; and will look to bring forward a draft listed building consent order which will grant a general listed building consent for works to listed waterway structures owned, controlled or managed by the Canal & River Trust.

I intend to implement an immediate package of permitted development right measures in the spring, with the more complex matters, including on upward extensions, covered in a further package of regulations in the autumn.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1374

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: government ambition and joint declaration between government and local partners

MHCLG

29 pages not insubstantial but not yet a spatial plan. I dont think it was mentioned in Hammond’s Speech as it didnt include a housing number, he likes those

Joint Declaration of Ambition between
Government and the Arc
This joint declaration has been agreed between the Government, local authorities across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, the Arc’s four local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), and England’s Economic Heartland.
We, the parties mentioned above, recognise that the area incorporating the ceremonial county areas of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire forms a strategic belt, which we refer to as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc (‘the Arc’). We also acknowledge the vital links beyond the Arc: for example, there are important relationships with the Midlands, with the M4 corridor and Heathrow Airport, with London and the Greater South East, and with the rest of East Anglia.

We recognise that the Arc is first and foremost an area of significant economic strength and opportunity, which can further benefit its existing and future communities and businesses by realising its potential. It has a population of over 3 million and a Gross Value Added over £100 billion per year. Building upon strengths in individual parts of the Arc, especially in science, technology and high-value manufacturing, there is the long-term potential to transform the Arc as a whole into a world-leading economic area, acting as a testbed for innovation. Because of this potential, the Government has already designated the Arc a key economic priority. We jointly set out to meet its full economic potential, building on forthcoming Local Industrial Strategies, for the benefit of existing and future local communities and businesses, and in the national interest.
We acknowledge that meeting this economic potential will demand our collective
determination, over the long-term, to deliver significantly more homes in the Arc, of the right quality and in the right places to meet its needs. We recognise that this could include the development and expansion of existing, as well as new, settlements. This will be needed both to address the housing affordability issues already felt in many parts of the Arc, and to provide places to live for future communities attracted by the Arc’s economic opportunities.
We know that meeting our long-term economic and housing delivery ambitions for the Arc will require long-term commitments to provide the enabling infrastructure, in the widest sense, that communities and business will need. We support the delivery of transport links such as East West Rail and improvements to the strategically important roads network, and remain committed to involving local communities and businesses in helping to decide where and how infrastructure is built. We recognise the need to plan for and deliver substantial additional infrastructure ahead of the arrival of new communities, including necessary transport infrastructure, utilities, digital connectivity, health and education.
Crucially, we value the natural environment highly, and aim to meet our economic and housing ambitions while overall improving, rather than degrading, the environment in the Arc. We want better places to live, which are beautiful and inspiring, to benefit the Arc’s residents today as well as tomorrow. The Government has already set out its intention for the Arc to embody England’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which we will work together to deliver, including through planning for local natural capital. We want new developments to
use intelligent and sensitive design to create or enhance habitats and improve habitat connectivity, in situ and in the surrounding area. We also want to improve access to the environment for existing and new communities in order to improve health and wellbeing.
We recognise that meeting all these ambitions for the Arc requires us to take a long-term view, at least to 2050, and for us to work collaboratively across geographical, political andthematic boundaries. Doing so will require open thinking and dialogue without harming the ongoing plan-making process. While extant local development plans and joint plans must evidently retain their integrity whilst they are in place, we will consider what planning approaches and flexibilities may be appropriate in future, within and across the Arc, to better support meeting our overall ambitions. This could include considering the role of a
spatial vision or strategy for the Arc as a whole, as well as the most suitable delivery vehicles for specific developments. We recognise that resources would need to be available for this work.
We agree that a collaborative approach to meeting our ambitions also means changing the way we work, as organisations and collectively. The Government has established a crosscutting portfolio and delivery team for the Arc, bringing together departments, agencies and projects, with common high-level reporting lines at a ministerial and departmental
level. Local authorities and LEPs have established Arc-wide coordination groups both for council leaders and LEP chairs, and for council and LEP chief executive officers.
England’s Economic Heartland provides a single local voice for strategic infrastructure across the Arc and beyond its boundaries. Both within Government and locally, we have organised our work relevant to the Arc across four thematic areas, reflecting our ambitions set out in this joint declaration:
• Productivity – ensuring we support businesses to maximise the Arc’s economic
prosperity, including through the skills needed to enable communities to benefit from the jobs created;
• Place-making – creating places valued by local communities, including through the
delivery of sufficient, affordable and high-quality homes, to increase affordability and support growth in the Arc, as well as wider services including health and education;
• Connectivity – delivering the infrastructure communities need, including transport and digital connectivity, as well as utilities;
• Environment – ensuring we meet our ambitions for growth while leaving the
environment in a better state for future generations.
To act as a bridge between Government and the Arc itself, the Government has committed to establishing a joint Advisory Group comprising experts and leaders across these themes, led by an independent Business Chair. Their role will not only be to provide expertise, but to be a figurehead for the Arc nationally and internationally, galvanising the necessary leadership and support to help realise our ambitions across these four thematic areas.
Our ambitions for the Arc are long-term, and while we believe it is right to maintain pace of delivery on existing commitments such as East West Rail, we recognise the need to plan to meet our full ambitions for the Arc in an integrated and inclusive way. As a next step, we are therefore going to launch a broad, joint, public engagement exercise over Summer 2019. This will engage with the public across the four themes above and will be used to help inform our future plans for the Arc and ensure they benefit existing and new communities and businesses.

Most of the copy is similar to the Budget policy statement.  Three things are new.  Firstly it is the first joint political statement including by the local authorities for ‘significantly more new homes’ though not yet stating how many

The second new element is the committment to a summer of engagement in 2019.   Though I suspect that without clarity over route options, strategic growth potential locations etc. it will simply become a summer of blight and fear.

The third is a committment of several million pounds towards nautural capital planning, though this will be of limited value until it can be integrated with planning of places.

It reveals 100 Garden Community bids were received for’ 523,000 homes, of which a
number are within the Arc;’  though I myself made a bid for 250,000 homes on one site as an example of the 5 or so settlements that would be needed to meet the housing needs of teh area plus inevitable overspill from land constrained areas (such as London) which illustrates the gap that needs to be filled.

On next steps it states:

• Complete the analysis into new or expanded settlements and consider where
economic and housing growth, including through locally-led plans, could maximise
the benefits of new road and rail infrastructure;
• Consider how the design of new settlements can support the Industrial Strategy
Grand Challenges, through the demonstration and deployment of new technologies;
• Complete underway assessments on Garden Communities bids, and announce
successful proposals in spring 2019;
• Work with the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission to gather evidence on design and quality place-making in order to identify opportunities to promote
improved design quality and greater community consent; the Commission will
publish an interim research report by July 2019;
• Work with local authorities to consider what planning approaches and flexibilities
may be appropriate to better support planning and increased housing supply over
the long-term.

The first point being the completion of the AECOm work.

Accelerated Housing Green Paper Announced in Spring Statement

Next step of Planning reform

Spring Statement

To move us towards [300,00/annum] target, today the government can announce further progress on planning reform, as set out in more detail in the accompanying Written Ministerial Statement laid by the Secretary of State
for Housing, Communities and Local Government. In the coming months, the government will:
Independent Report on Build Out Rates – Introduce additional planning guidance to support housing diversification on large sites. Sir Oliver Letwin concluded that greater differentiation in the types andtenures of housing delivered on large sites would increase build out rates.
Response to consultation on Planning Reform – Introduce a package of reforms including allowing greater change of use between premises, and a new permitted development right to allow upwards extension of existing buildings to create new homes.
Accelerated Planning Green Paper – Publish a Green Paper setting out proposals on how greater capacity and capability, performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process.

It didnt mention the Oxford-Cambridge Arc – though a joint statement was made on that today

Shropshire Plans 3,000 Home New Settlement at Green Belt Motorway Junction with No Public Transport

At Tong junction M54 and A41, seriously in this day and age.  The A41 is rapidly becoming a corridor of sprawl as is used as M6 bypass.  Classic example of unsustinable strategic planning.  Logistiocs site yes, housing site no.  So much potential for rail restoration in Shropshire. Why not in the Shifnal -Albrighton Rial Corridor, the wierd district borders here should not be used to distort logical development patterns.  No strategic options, no alternative, contrary to revised NPPF how out of date and going nowhere.

Shropshire Star.

Policy Exchange Calls for 15 ‘Millenial’ New Towns in London Green Belt

Standard

A generation of “millennial” new towns needs to be built in the commuter belt circling London to provide homes for young workers priced off the housing ladder, a report concludes today.

It says the “pioneering spirit” of post-War planning that created new towns such as CrawleyBracknell and Milton Keynes needs to be rekindled to solve the capital’s housing crisis.

In total, 15 “new millennial towns” with 30,000 homes each should be created along major transport routes out of London, the report from the centre-Right Policy Exchange think tank says.

Each town would help meet demand for affordable home ownership, increase access to green space and provide “beautiful” housing developments.

The report, co-authored by Richard Blakeway, ex-deputy mayor for housing under Boris Johnson, warns current plans to boost housing supply, including Sadiq Khan’s London Plan, will “fall short”.

The new towns proposal is likely to be controversial with environmental campaigners as it would require green-belt land to be built on.

But the report says this loss could be acceptable if the towns “are built to the highest quality … with a proportion of new homes available for discounted sale to millennials”.

Co-author Jack Airey, a research fellow at Policy Exchange, said “a more reasoned discussion” was needed about the green belt: “Most of this land deserves the utmost protection from development, but a significant chunk of farming and scrub land does not.”

Labour housing spokesman John Healey said the report “rightly identifies the need for Government to do more to … the next Labour government will start a new generation of new towns and garden cities”.

Next boss Lord Wolfson, founder of the Wolfson Economics Prize for “new thinking” on economic policy, said: “Political leaders who want to win the support of young millennial renters should read this report and act on it.”

Hengrove Park Fiasco Shows How Flaws in Neighbourhood Plan System means they are poor at Allocating Strategic Sites

Hengrove Park is not a good advertisement for teh British development plans system.

The largest startegic site in Bristol, the former airport.  1,500 homes plus a park etc.  included in made neighbourhood plan.  Site council owned, councils own application and masterplan.  Refused for not having a high enough density or large enough park.

The problem:

Four potential options for the development of the site were put forward for consideration- set out in full in the Design and Access Statement.
These included a range of layouts for, and amounts of, the proposed housing and siting of the new north/south road link. One showed the housing adjacent to St Giles Estate with the main park in the centre of the site while the others kept this area undeveloped with differing layouts of housing particularly in the area to the north of the Bottleyard.
At this time, the Neighbourhood Planning Forum (NPF) for the Hengrove and Whitchurch Park area was actively promoting possible uses and ideas for Hengrove Park and were consequently invited to participate in the focus group. As an NPF they introduced their own master plan for the development
of the park for consideration – Option 5 though this was outside of the scope of the formal consultation.
It is this masterplan that is referred to in the adopted Neighbourhood Plan.

In other words multiple competing plans and the one in the neighbourhood plan not the one favoured by the lanowner – the council.

Clearly there needed to be one and only one masterplan.

Now you might ask why the council didnt object to the masterplan put to referendum as contrary to startegic policies.  Well it wasnt.  They could have objected as the allocation was not deliverable because it was contrary to national policy – as the site as not deliverable if not proposed as the landowner favoured.  They didnt.  Probably thinking that as the mastyerplan in the neighborhood plan was only ‘illustrative’ it had little weight.

Bristol only have themselves to blame.  They needed a one masterplan process with the extent of the development and the park inked into the policies map.

The problem is that nolt every element of national policy is relevant to the basic conditions.  The guidance hints that only para 29. is rel event i.e. scale, providing that is met the form and locations within the NP area doesnt matter.  But it does matter if landowners agreement isn’t met at the NPPF tests of viability, availability and devliverability are met.

If Neighbourhood plans are to play with the big boys and allocate major sites then the tests for inclusion of sites in national policy should be met,

 

 

 

 

 

How @KitMalthouse quoted withdrawn government policy, and why @MayofGM -called him ‘dishonest’ on Green Belt

In making any plan an LPA has two different numbers.  The first is the OAN, the target.  This with the revised NPPF as of last week can only be deviated from in exceptional circumstances.  However this does not necessarily mean loss of Green Belt.  Guidance always allowed  this to be considered a ‘constraint’ however this then creates an unmet need elsewhere.  This dated from an amendment to guidance issued 4th October 2014 headlined ‘Councils must protect our precious green belt land’ This inserted a new ‘section 5’ to the guidance stating that ‘constraints’ such as Green Belt didnt mean you had to meet needs in full’.

The Framework is clear that local planning authorities should, through their Local Plans, meet objectively assessed needs unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole, or specific policies in the Framework indicate development should be restricted. Such policies include those relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives, and/or designated as sites of special scientific interest; land designated as green belt, local green space, an area of outstanding natural beauty, heritage coast or within a national park or the Broads; designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

However this section of the new guidance issued last week no longer exists, it exists in the diagram but no longer in the text.  The original statement is highligted as ‘coalition’ policy’ and so to be checked against current government policy.

Clearly Malthouse misled the house quoting old withdrawn guidance.

Even if it was withdrawn by mistake and was an editing error the strengthened ‘prepared positively’ tests meant that agreement would be needed through joint strategic policies to take any overspill need.  In either even the accusation of dishonesty is accurate.

Manchester Evening News

Andy Burnham has hit out at the government amid a fresh row over the region’s green belt – accusing ‘dishonest’ ministers of having ‘misled’ people over housing policy.

Housing minister Kit Malthouse had sparked fury in the mayor’s office last week by suggesting Mr Burnham is not being forced by Whitehall to earmark green belt for new housing, as he had previously claimed.

Mr Malthouse said the government housing targets blamed by the mayor were not in fact ‘mandatory’ or rigid, telling MPs that concerns over green belt loss may give local leaders some wriggle-room.

His comments could have significant implications for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, the latest draft of which still earmarks green belt for housing, despite a public backlash in many parts of the conurbation.

In January Mr Burnham admitted he would miss his manifesto goal of ‘no net green belt loss’ in the rewritten document, but blamed that on ministers, who he said had made the task ‘impossible’ by forcing him to use outdated population forecasts.

The minister contradicted that on Thursday, however, telling a specially-convened debate in Westminster that ‘any’ planning inspector would accept a ‘properly evidenced and assessed variation from that target’.

“If, for example, you have constraints like areas of outstanding natural beauty or green belt, or whatever it might be, and you can justify a lower number, then an inspector should accept that,” he said.

Mr Malthouse added: “I think there’s been a lot of misunderstanding about the notion that this is somehow a mandatory number that local authorities have to hit.

“We recognise that within the UK, there’s lots of variables to be taken into account.”

Those comments sparked anger from Mr Burnham’s office, which swiftly issued a strongly-worded response.

“The minister’s comments in the parliamentary debate on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework came as a surprise as they do not reflect current government policy,” said the mayor.

“They give a very different impression to the one offered in private by civil servants.

“Under pressure from Conservative backbenchers, it would appear that the government is trying to soften its line on housing numbers and greenbelt and deflect blame towards councils.

“We see this same tactic with council tax rises. It is unfair and dishonest.”

Mr Burnham said Greater Manchester ‘does not believe it has the discretion over housing numbers which was suggested by the minister’.

The government’s own planning guidance says local authorities are ‘expected’ to uses centrally-set methodology to work out many houses they will need in the coming years, he said – and only allows them to deviate from that ‘in exceptional circumstances’.

As a result, he said, Greater Manchester had come up with a housing number ‘close’ to the government’s own local target.

“When local authorities have sought guidance on this from civil servants, they have confirmed this as the right approach rather than the more flexible interpretation which appeared to be offered by the minister in the House,” he added.

At the same time, he said, government had told Greater Manchester to set even higher housing targets if it wants to access national funding to clean up former industrial land for development.

“So, for these reasons, Greater Manchester does not believe it has been offered the flexibility over housing numbers as claimed by the minister,” he said.

“His comments were at best partial and at worst misleading.

“Given that we are in the middle of a consultation, and endeavouring to give the public the most honest, up-to-date information we can, I will be asking the minister for an urgent meeting, together with the City Mayor of Salford, to clear these matters up.”

In January Mr Burnham admitted he would miss his manifesto goal of ‘no net green belt loss’ in the rewritten document, but blamed that on ministers, who he said had made the task ‘impossible’ by forcing him to use outdated population forecasts (Image: PA)

The spatial framework – which plans out Greater Manchester’s development over the next two decades – has already been rewritten once in the wake of Mr Burnham’s election, in which he promised to scrap the original contentious version.

Mr Burnham – who is up for re-election in just over a year – claimed he had no choice but to do so, however, because the government had forced him to use old population projections, thereby tying the region to targets that could not be met any other way.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been asked to comment.

East Cambs to become ‘Planning Klondyke’ if it Withdraws Local Plan

Ely Standard

Tory controlled East Cambridgeshire District Council will vote on Thursday to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water and remove its emerging local plan – and two years of scrutiny – from independent examination.

john elworthy@johnelworthy

Number 1 from @kennettaction

john elworthy@johnelworthy

At Kennett and with @kennettaction and future of the village. Here’s what one protester told me just now

Embedded video

See john elworthy’s other Tweets

If the vote is carried it could mean a temporary reprieve for residents of villages such as Kennett who are fighting proposals to stop the council’s scheme for 500 homes there.

But it could also mean East Cambridgeshire becomes a planning Klondike for speculators and developers as it will remain without a Government requirement of a five year supply of land for housing.

East Cambs Council says that if it had accepted the inspector’s latest recommendation green spaces in Witchford and Reach would be at risk and significant extra housing could be built at Soham, Littleport and Sutton

One such site is Kingfisher Drive in Soham which had been allocated for 100 homes but which the inspector believes could sustain 175 homes.

john elworthy@johnelworthy

No 2 voice from @kennettaction

john elworthy@johnelworthy

Second voice from today’s meeting with members of @kennettaction and continued displeasure with the ambition of @EastCambs to build 500 homes there

Embedded video

See john elworthy’s other Tweets

And the council claims that if they adopted the inspector’s proposals for a new local plan it would mean deleting the council’s flagship community land trust policies.

Withdrawing the plan, however, could be fraught with complications and is opposed by Lib Dem Cllr Lorna Dupre.

She said that questions to be answered about why the council thought fit to “conceal the inspector’s modifications to the plan for two months.

“The proposal to withdraw the draft plan without proper discussion is grossly disrespectful to participants – landowners, developers and objectors alike”.

And withdrawal of the plan is being questioned by the Kennett Action Group that gave evidence to the inquiry and accuses the council of “acting undemocratically” by moving so swiftly against it.

Barclay Dutton of the action group said the Kennett Community Land Trust “was not community led, and survey evidence was accepted by the council that the majority of Kennett did not want the 500 homes development”.

It is faint consolation to the group that reverting to the 2015 plan will see Kennett – theoretically -once more be designated a small village with only modest incremental growth.

His group fears 500 homes are still on the cards and that a massive weight of evidence compiled by the Kennett protestors could now be destroyed.

It is a view shared by action group colleague Fahmy Fayez Fahmy who says that reverting to the 2015 plan means the 500 homes proposal is unlawful but fears East Cambs Council “will press on regardless”.

East Cambs Council is not only the planning authority but owns Palace Green Homes that wants to carry out the development. And council budgets have been put together on the basis of millions of pounds of expected revenue from their flagship Community Land Trust (CLT) scheme.

Councillor Anna Bailey, the deputy leader of East Cambs Council, remains adamant CLT schemes – including the Kennett proposals – will not be lost.

“The inspector’s modifications include deleting the community led development policy (that is already found sound and in our current local plan, and is what delivers Community Land Trusts) and deleting Kennett as an allocated site,” she tweeted over the weekend.

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the ermerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the emerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

But in response to whether it would mean an end to the 500 homes proposed for Kennett she replied: “No, it doesn’t”.

Last year Mayor James Palmer won agreement from the combined authority to loan East Cambs £6.5 million for CLT homes at Haddenham and an ‘in principle’ deal for a further £40 million for East Cambs Council’s commercial arm East Cambs Trading Company Ltd for an extended programme of CLT housing.

It will now be up to East Cambs to see where those proposals fit alongside the intervention of Government inspector Louise Nurser who warned in December that the local plan proposals were “unsound”.

Richard Kay, strategic planning manager at East Cambs, has penned a report to full council on February 21 which contains the recommendation to withdraw the submitted local plan from its independent examination.

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the ermerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the ermerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

The effect will be to reduce the status of that emerging plan “to zero for the purpose of making decision on planning matters”.

The council began work in 2016 on the new plan and Mr Kay says it was submitted a year ago for examination. Inspector Louise Nurser was appointed to determine if it was “sound and legally compliant”.

Mr Kay said: “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”.

These changes he says go to the heart of “or rather take away the heart of the plan prepared by the council”.

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the ermerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the ermerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

When the council did finally get her findings, he says, they expressed concern over the “sheer scale” of modifications needed, lack of explanation or reasoning, and the consequences.

Mr Kay believes the inspector ought to have stuck to her brief of focussing entirely on soundness matters as opposed trying to “improve” the plan.

Should the council accept all her suggestions “it would be one which is perhaps better described as an inspector-led plan. In short, with the modifications, the plan would become largely unrecognisable from the plan submitted for examination”.

Mr Kay summarises many of the technical aspects of why the council rejects the inspector’s findings including the fear that standards of new housing would fall with implications and ignoring the needs of the elderly and disabled.

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the ermerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

How a Twitter fire storm was evoked over the news that the ermerging local plan for East Cambridgeshire is about to be ditched by East Cambs Council after disagreement with the independent inspector. Picture; TWITTER

And he says he is mystified by a reference by the inspector to “provide for those of a nomadic lifestyle” since it was unclear what this meant and why it is needed.

Mr Kay argues removing policies about village growth was unreasonable since these policies had been prepared in conjunction with village

“It remains unclear why the policies are, in their entirety, ‘unsound’ and incapable of being made sound,” he says.

Of modifications suggested he says “officers believe the vast majority are so wholly unjustified as to not be defendable at a future five year land supply inquiry i.e. rather than making the plan ‘sound’.

“They would actually make the plan ‘unsound’ by having over ambitious dwelling targets for sites, impacting on our supply and deliver of units”.

He added: “Another effect of the increase in numbers of specific sites is to significantly increase total growth in Littleport, Soham and Sutton.

“The Kennett site of 500 community-led dwellings be deleted. No reasons given.

“Local Green Spaces as backed by the local community in Reach and Witchford be deleted, the latter (Horsefield) being the one most supported by the parish council – no reason for deletion given.”

Mr Kay added: “A plan can be withdrawn at any time, for any reason, by a council.”

Once the plan is withdrawn, East Cambs will rely on legislation as well as “the direction of travel the combined authority is taking” to guide growth.

#CAMKOX Garden Communities Submissions Exempt from FOI

Oxford Mail

NO INFORMATION can be given out about potential housing sites that might be used for hundreds of thousands of new homes, the Government has said.

It wants to build one million new homes between Oxford and Cambridge before 2050.

About 100,000 homes are currently included in Oxfordshire councils’ Local Plans until the mid-2030s – but many more housing sites would be needed in the county to meet the Government’s target.

The Ministry of Housing (MHCLG) said all information returned by councils about potential housing sites ‘relates to the formulation and development of policy’ and is currently secret.

It was replying to a freedom of information request that it returned two and a half months late.