Has the St Ives Second Homes Ban Backfired?


Out-of-towners have long flocked to St Ives. Artists such as J.M.W. Turner and Barbara Hepworth were drawn to the town’s clear light. Others come for the seafood and sandy beaches. Even the town’s notoriously aggressive seagulls, who dive-bomb unsuspecting tourists and steal their Cornish pasties, are not enough to put off outsiders. But St Ives’s popularity has a downside: visitors dominate the local housing market.

Locals worry that the town is becoming a playground for rich Londoners, who in the summer months whizz down on the sleeper train from Paddington. At the last count, a quarter of the dwellings in St Ives were second homes or holiday lets. So in May 2016 locals decided to do something about it, voting in a referendum to introduce a “principal-residence policy”, which stops newly built houses in the town from being used as second homes. The thinking went that by stopping holidaymakers from snapping up new-builds, housing would become more affordable to people who live in St Ives all year round.

Building firms and DIYshops, for whom second-homers are prized customers, opposed the plan. One property firm even challenged the policy in the High Court. But the legal challenge failed and the second-home ban went ahead. Since then a few other Cornish towns have introduced their own versions of the policy.

Those involved in designing the plan say that, three years on, it is too early to assess its impact. But official statistics suggest that excluding second-home buyers from the new-build market has removed a big source of demand. The price of new homes in the town is 13% below what it might have been if the previous growth rate had continued.

Locals struggling to afford a property may like the sound of this. But it has had an unwelcome side-effect: housebuilding has slumped (see chart). Developers who bought land when it was pricier can in some cases no longer sell homes at a profit. Others may be holding off from breaking ground in the hope that the policy is scrapped. In 2015 Acorn Property Group, a local firm, was about to buy a site for 34 homes, 14 of them “affordable” (ie, sold or let at below-market rates). But the policy made the scheme unviable because the open-market dwellings could no longer subsidise the affordable ones, the company says.

Construction elsewhere in Cornwall has held up, suggesting that broader factors, such as Brexit-related uncertainty and a national levy on second homes introduced in 2016, are not to blame.

Meanwhile, second-home buyers in St Ives seem to be shifting their attention to existing buildings, which are not covered by the policy. Data from Hamptons International, a property firm, suggest that in St Ives second-homers form a larger share of transactions than before the policy came into force. Excluding new-builds, prices have continued to climb. That represents a windfall to locals who already own their homes—and may eventually persuade even more of them to cash in and move out.

What the #CaMkOx Local Industrial strategies say about its future Governance.

Annoying the government new page on the launch of the strategies doesn’t contain a link to the startegies, I started making a page but then discovered the government has set out an unlinked page !!!!

What this does show is that the Arc, from the governments perspective is divided into four

  • Buckinghamshire
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • Oxfordshire
  • the South East Midlands

So where is the South East Midlands – Its Bucks and Northants, and used to include Cherwell before it pulled out.  So in terms of data and policy Bucks is covered twice.  With both Nortants and Bucks going unitary a simple county split might seem on the cards however MK wants a foot in both camps/

Cambridge and Peterborough no longer has a LEP so BIS published it on iots own site, which shows how well the Combined Authority (especially its Mayor) who took over responsibility is trusted in central government circles.

So some progress on governance has been made, especially as the original NIC report prioritised, in its central section, but its still slow moving and in all areas something of a slow motion car crash – as you can see in the Oxfordshire Growth board machinations and the disagreements between the Greater Cambridge Partnership and the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority.  Until this settles down there will be no serious proposals for new strategic growth locations out to 2050 anywhere in the Arc.

BIS is to be congratulated though on publishing the first set of sub-regional policies in a consistent format across the arc.  Of course it funds the LEP network.  MCHLG has produced nothing but hot air.  BIS was supposed to be the end of BIS running everything through regional development agencies.  THE LIS process has been one of them taking back control.  Lets see which way Liz Truss lets them develop (I suspect she will cut all their funding to zero).




Brokenshire Pledges to End Poor Doors


Ministers have pledged to put an end to the use of so-called “poor doors” in housing developments in England.

The separate entrances for social housing tenants living in new builds “stigmatise” and divide them from private residents, the government said.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said he had been “appalled” by the examples of segregation he had seen.

Under the new measures, planning guidance is to be toughened in a bid to create more inclusive developments.

Developers are often required to build social or affordable housing units in private developments as a condition of being granted planning permission.

But in some cases, social housing tenants have been excluded from using some facilities, and made to use different entrances from those which give access to privately owned homes.

In March, one development in south London was reported by the Guardian to have blocked children living in social housing from using a communal playground.

The BBC also visited a London apartment block in 2015 where there were separate entrances for private and social housing tenants.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan promised during his election campaign in 2015 to ban the practice, describing it as an “appalling form of social segregation”.

“Poor doors segregate people who are living side by side, they drive a wedge between our communities,” he said at the time.

As part of new measures, the government said a new design manual will set expectations for the inclusivity of future developments and help ensure planning decisions promote social interaction in communities.


Spitalfields Parish Council Proposal “a white elite trying to oppress and impose rules on the Bengali community”

East London Advertiser

Campaigners trying to set up a parish council in Spitalfields for the first time in 100 years were dealt a blow when the town hall officially rejected the idea.

He told the full council meeting on Wednesday, July 17: “There is not significant support for the creation of a parish council, either within the area or within the broader community. A parish would not be reflective of the identity and interests of the whole community.”

Just over 60 per cent of Spitalfields residents who filled in a consultation said they were in favour of the parish council, which would be apolitical and could include a say in running the Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane’s Sunday street markets.

However, the plan was rejected by 28 councillors, while three voted for the referendum and four abstained. Ten councillors left before the vote or did not attend the meeting.

The campaign argued that a new parish council would increase accountability and allow issues, such as litter and street lighting, to be addressed more easily.

But critics said it would only add to bureaucracy, increase council tax bills and cause a divide between the poorer people living in council accommodation in the east and south of the area, the large Bengali community and more affluent residents.

At previous meetings campaigners accused the Tower Hamlets Labour administration of “cheating and lying” about the plans.

They claimed they had experienced “racism” from some members of the administration who labelled them a “white elite trying to oppress and impose rules on the Bengali community”.

James Frankcom said: “This campaign was always about getting better local infrastructure and representation.”

Mayor John Biggs said: “I respect the legal right for communities to lobby for and promote parish councils in London. But I do endorse the recommendations of the chief executive. There is no whip on this decision.

“I regret comments made by a couple of councillors but I wouldn’t consider them to be racist in the way they have been labelled. I think the reality is that area is increasingly polarised and any one wanting to set up a parish council would have to show they could unite everyone.”

What Outweighs ‘Great Weight’ – A Primer

Although many complicated interpretations of the NPPF decision rules have been advanced over the years the courts have increased developed the ’tilted balance’ doctrine. over various complicated other approaches.

For example in the Suffolk Coastal/Cheshire East case the doctrine is

In the absence of relevant up to date development plan policies, the balance is tilted in favour of sustainable development and granting planning permission except where the benefits are ‘significantly and demonstrably’ outweighed by the adverse impacts or where specific policies in the NPPF indicate otherwise.

This is underlined by two instances where the NPPF uses the term ‘Great Weight’ no less than 6 times, when their is Great Weight  on one side of the scale and not yours you cant usually win – simple.

Appeals often focus on two environmentally protective Great Weights, AONB and Heritage Assets.  Even where the harm is less than substantial harm to an heritage asset which might itself not be of the highest  category then recent appeals, especially recent SoS appeals, suggest they will lose.

A good example is an SoS appeal decision today on Chiswick Roundabout.

Overall, the Secretary of State disagrees with the Inspector at IR12.164, and finds that the moderate weight to be attached to the benefits of the appeal scheme in terms of housing provision, workspace provision and economic benefits, are not collectively  sufficient to outweigh the great weight attached to the identified ‘less than substantial’ harm to the significance of the above heritage assets. He considers that the balancing
exercise under paragraph 196 of the Framework is therefore not favourable to the proposal

In other words a single building by itself is unlikely to outeigh Great Weight.

Hang on though that isnt government policy.

support the development of windfall sites through their policies and decisions – giving great weight to the benefits of using suitable sites within existing settlements for homes; (NPPF para. 68C)

Windfall sites are by nature mostly small and scattered.  Their public benefits come from their cumulative public benefits rather than their individual ones, in achieving urban intensification.  This presumably was what this NPPF section was getting at.  Why therefore was it not referred to once i the inspectors no SoS letters, why did they put their finger on the balance?


Wycombe Local Plan Inspector – Dont revisit Numbers on basis of 2016 based HH Projections


The 2016 – Based Household Principal Projections for England were issued shortly after the completion of the LP hearing sessions in September 2018. The projections indicate that household growth in Wycombe has slowed significantly and that the number of households shown in the 2016-based household projections is approximately 40% lower than that shown in the 2014-based household projections. Additional evidence presented in respect of this matter indicates that should the OAHN be revisited in light of the latest projections it is likely to result in a reduced housing requirement for the District20
.However, there are some doubts about the reliability of the 2016-projections and their reliability for plan making. Notwithstanding this, the PPG on HEDNA makes clear that the household projections are only the starting point for establishing a housing requirement figure. For these reasons and having regard to the importance of boosting the supply of housing, it would be unjustified to revisit the Plan’s evidence base and delay adoption of the Plan in the light of the 2016-based projections

Zero Carbon Heat – A Vision for the Thames Estuary

In terms of making progress towards a zero carbon future there is a clear path head for decarbonising energy emissions and transport emissions (on roads if not by air or sea).  The big unknown is heat which currently is now 80% supplied by Gas.

There are basically two choices – as the National Infrastructure Commission stress – Heat Pumps or re purposing the gas network towards hydrogen.   The first higher benefits, the latter lesser.  I think the latter makes sense for three reasons.

  1.  It utilises the sunk costs in terms of investment in gas networks
  2. Gas boilers are more efficient
  3. If you can produce a zero carbon gas source it rescues the potential for CHP/Cogeneration – which makes increasingly little sense with Carbon Gas power

As new style strategic plans are produced around the country a key question each will need to answer is what will be the zero carbon source of heat for all of these strategic growth locations and new communities?   Currently there is no clear answer.

Another issue is whether current Co2 energy producers will be forced to ‘keep it in the ground’ an issue which makes many in the middle east fall asleep in a cold sweat.  Though I think heat pumps are the long term solution the main advantage of a bridging technology of re purposing Coal, oil (to gas via syngas) and Gas (LNG then regassified) is it gives Russia, China and the Middle East a reason to invest to maintain their markets.  I cant see anything more dangerous geopolitically than a zero carbon future where the economies and infrastructure of Russia, China and the Middle East are wiped out.

The key technological piece in the jigsaw puzzle is what you do with the Co2 which is the byproduct of syngas hydrogen from Coal, Oil or Gas?  You can store it underground but it makes much more sense to use it commercially.  A small amount can be used to make carbon fibres and plastic, you can use it to cure concrete, but natures way is to embed it in plants such as trees, if those trees are then used for building materials which are ultimately recycled it is a carbon sink.

Imagine a LNG/Oil terminal – like the Isle of Grain link to a regassification plant and pipeline to Coryton North of the Thames (a former oil terminal becoming the Thames Enterprise Park) where there is a cogneration CHP plant feeding hear and power to the several garden communities to the North that will emerge in the South Essex Plan (as well as Basildon and Southend) – the wast Co2 is then fed to ‘vertical farms’ glasshouses up to 15 storeys high, growing vegetables using the ‘dutch methods’ or fast growing bamboo.  The bamboo then being processed into laminates using the Cross Laminated Timber (though grass here) method.  In one stroke we have a zero carbon material to build the Garden Communities and a more than sufficient compensation for the limited loss of farmland to build them.  Surplus bamboo can be burnt anaerobically and carbon fixed in the soil as biochar.  As a result all hydrocarbon based fertilisers can be phased out in a generation.   This is known as Quadgeneration 

What is more is providing a secure market for there products investors in the gulf would be queuing up to invest in the infrastructure; and as an extra bonus the syngas process can be used as the elusive  means of storing surplus renewable power through acting as the energy input to the syngas process.

The Thames Estuary is the only part of England with the port access, hydrocarbon infrastructure and strong housing demand (as well as good soils)  to make this work.

Quad-generation in the Netherlands

South Oxfordshire Fudge – Votes to Keep Local Plan at Same time as Pleading to reduce Numbers in Growth Deal

Oxford Mail Nathan Briant

The recommendation said ‘alongside satisfactory progress being made on resolving issues in the emerging Local Plan, work on a subsequent Local Plan shall commence, strengthening climate change considerations’

I.e. they keep the current local plan examination, and the inspectors have confirmed by letter that unless they raise soundnes concerns they can’t reduce the housing numbers by main modification, and uin parell work on a future plan which is already of course going ahead anyway across Oxfordshire.  In otherwords a fudge (a word mentioned 13 times last night I fiind through twitter) making it look like your reducing housing numbers when the very predictabvle government response to teh growth deal knocks the idea back.

A COUNCIL will ask for time to decide if it wants to change a critical housing plan but keep £218m of key Government infrastructure funding.

In the latest twist as South Oxfordshire District Council seeks to pass its Local Plan, its new Liberal Democrat/Green coalition was accused of ‘fudging’ a decision by opponents.

The coalition swept to power in May promising to scrap its unpopular Local Plan but now it has said it needs more time to decide what to do.

It said it wants to ensure £218m that would be spent on improving infrastructure in and around Didcot is not lost.

South Oxfordshire council’s cabinet member for planning, Leigh Rawlins, told a packed meeting it ‘wouldn’t be sensible to make a knee-jerk decision and crash on’.

The coalition has said it also wants to build an appropriate number of new homes. But it believes the need for about 28,000 that could be built in the district before the mid-2030s is unproven and far too high.

The decision leaves potential planning sites at Grenoble Road, Chalgrove Airfield and Culham up in the air for at least a few more weeks.

The council will now seek to get county council and Government reassurance that the £218m in Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) money will be secure regardless.

The county council, which has led the bid, said it wants to sign it off in September.

District council officers had urged councillors to continue with the current Local Plan, which seeks to build on several contentious Green Belt sites. But 20 councillors to 13 voted to try to keep HIF money and delay the plan.

More to follow later. 


South Oxfordshire’s Letter to Boris

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you to ask if we can have our cake and eat it.

We understand this is your favorite pastime and so you should be sympathetic.

We want to keep the growth deal and reduce the housing numbers.  As a result you will be able to claim you are supporting housing growth but without the brother of Nimbys voting against you.

What is more we understand cake eating fortifies you to hunt unicorns, we intend to look for some nice unicorn zero carbon  sites outside the Green Belt and close to Oxford where people wont drive to them.


South Oxfordshire