Starter Homes and Vacant Buildings Credit Shoot Each Other in Dual

Imagine you had someone like Alex (half baked) Morton in your Local Plans team, former Policy Exchanger now Number 10 Housing and Planning Adviser.  The kind of freewheeling but poorly analytical planning assistant that was forever coming up with policy ideas for the local plan that cancelled each other out.

‘Why dont we require more affordable housing in Mixed use schemes in the Deangate area ‘

‘But Alex you just suggested we dedesignate this area from mixed use zoning’

‘How does that make a difference?’


Tthere then follows half an hour attempted futile explanation from the head of local plans.

Almost every local plan team has an Alex.  Sadly quite a few are heads of local plans.

Imagine though you had one in effect running new planning policy initiatives which then get put into Prim Ministerial Speeches unedited.

A disaster, as it has turned out.

A funny if it wasn’t so serious example is he greatest disaster so far in a long long list of policy disasters.

1) Vacant buildings credit, you get a discount for vacant and  redeveloped floorspace off affordable housing.  So if you replace X floorspace of industry with X floorspace of residential you dont need any affordable housing.

2) Starter Homes, for vacant and underused industrial sites you dont need affordable housing.

What Alex didn’t realise is that  2) will never apply and so never be an ‘exception’ to anything as affordable housing will already be exempted under 1, unless there is a net increase in floorspace.  So starter homes are an exemption to an exemption to buildings that in most cases are already exempt – especially in denser areas like Southwalk for example where industrial buildings have high plot coverage and are multistorey.

So the whole cunning plan of matching the Oppositions 200,000 target through 200,000 starter homes dies a death before it is even launched.

And this is how prime ministerial policy is set?

The sadness is that vacant buildings credit was never needed.  Who was lobbying for it?  Was it a wheezes designed to boost brownfield development, but there is already a viability test that is applied every day of the week.  Similarly pretty much every planner knows that exceptions test to a protected land use only applies to uses that can be protected – when the existing use is viable, not as the starter homes policy states where it is unviable.  You really couldn’t make policy up that is so well designed to be ineffective and counterproductive.










Harlow Gets Preemptive Injunction to Stop Any Possible Traveller Site

LGC Of course the problem is the acute shortages of pitches in East Essex. The proposed change to policy will make matters worse as other East Essex authorities will need to take overspill from unauthorized encampments in Basildon.

An ‘unprecedented’ ban on unauthorised traveller encampments across an Essex town has been granted by the High Court.

Harlow Council and Essex County Council last week applied for the measure after months of collaboration.

The High Court interim injunction will stop any unauthorised traveller encampments being set up on 454 parcels of land across Harlow. It is thought no ban on this scale has ever been granted, with parks, playgrounds, highway verges, schools and private land all identified for protection.

Travellers on an unauthorised local encampment are being served with the order today, with papers being displayed across the region.

Councillors said that the move was ‘not about attacking travellers’ and emphasised Harlow was ‘a tolerant place’.

Some 109 different unauthorised encampments are thought to have been set up in Harlow since October 2013, with a high number of complaints from businesses and residents being lodged with the town hall.

The interim injunction will now remain in place until a further hearing.

Cllr Jon Clempner, leader of Harlow Council, said: ‘The town has had enough and we needed to resolve this situation with a long-term solution to protect land now and in the future.

‘This injunction is about protecting the town’s vulnerable open spaces, upholding the law and responding and listening to the concerns of residents and businesses. It is not – and never has been – about persecuting any particular group of people or their way of life.’

‘Places like green open spaces, which are part of the town’s unique character, are much-loved and residents are both fed up and angry with persistent unauthorised traveller encampments and the impact these cause. This situation has really tested the patience of the whole community and we need to end this cat-and-mouse game which is being played.’

A Local Pub for Local People – Community Pubs Get an ACV Certificate


Community Pubs Minister Kris Hopkins has launched a national day of celebration for all pubs listed as assets of community value. Community Pubs Day will be held on 23 March to raise a glass to the hundreds of ACV­listed pubs and urge other communities across the country to consider listing their local to give it additional protection.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is producing a ‘community asset certificate’, which will be made available to every listed pub to hang behind the bar, giving publicans the chance to celebrate the fact their pub is prized so highly by customers.

Hopkins has written to the licensees of all the listed pubs asking them to consider taking part. Hopkins said: “A lot of hard work has been put in by communities up and down the land to protect their beloved pubs from sell­off and I believe many more could be afforded this protection, which is why we are calling on people to consider whether they might want to list their local.

Heres One you Can Print Out

This Grotty Run Down Pub Which has Seen No Investment for 20 Years and is Much Loved But Never Used By Locals is Hereby Declared An Asset of Community Value
This Means that if the Owners Greedy Head of Property wants to Sell the Site for a Fortune for Housing We Will Have Six Months to Raise the Money to Buy it, and as it is Probably Losing Money Hand over Fist it won’t cost a lot, if the local planning authority has the guts to refuse your application.  Sadly at the end of the day the locals probably won’t be arsed and won’t be able to raise the ½ million to renovate it (as there average age is 73 they wont get a bank loan) and make it a going concern, sad really. 
Kris Hopkins – Minister for Community Pubs

In other News CAMRA reveal that two pubs a week are being converted to Supermarkets under PD to get round the ACV regime.

The Housing Tardis – Both Main Parties Blame Each Other For Identical Records of Failure

Look at the following Quote

‘When we came into Office Housebuilding had fallen to its lowest level since the 1920s’

What he admots to mention is that under his government housebuilding fell to an even worse level

Dont take my word for it take that of the Tory Favorite Think Tank Policy Exchange who warned in 2012

” getting rid of regional spatial strategies (RSSs) had contributed to a situation whereby ‘the coalition could end up presiding over the lowest level of house building since the 1920s’.”

And this is exactly what happened.

The 109,370 homes built last year under the ConDems was the lowest since the 1920s.

Daily Mirror 13 April 2014

So we have the ridiculous position where both of the main parties correctly blames the other for achieving the lowest level of housebuilding since teh 1920s.

Its as if each inhabits a Tardis and wants to take the voter back to the point in time where the statistics look best for them, neglecting that whatever start and end point you use since 2007 you get identical records of failure.



Adur Shows Off its Outstanding Affordable Housing Performance

Live Table 1011: Additional Affordable Housing Supply 2013-14; detailed breakdown by Local Authority
ONS Code: E07000223
Type of unit: Data Source Adur <– Select Local Authority Name
Social Rent, of which:
New Build
HCA/GLA with grant HCA/GLA IMS 0
LA New Build (see note) HCA/GLA IMS/LAHS 0
 of which grant funded by HCA/GLA HCA/GLA IMS 0
S106 nil grant (see note) HCA/GLA IMS/PCS 0
S106 nil grant total 0
Other (see note) LAHS 0
with HCA/GLA grant HCA/GLA IMS 0
without HCA/GLA grant LAHS 0
AHGP HCA/GLA IMS/delivery partner 0
Permanent Affordable Traveller Pitches TCC 0
Total Social Rent 0
Affordable Rent, of which:
New Build
HCA/GLA with grant HCA/GLA IMS 0
S106 nil grant (see note) HCA/GLA IMS 0
Local authorities HCA/GLA IMS/LAHS 0
Permanent Affordable Traveller Pitches HCA/GLA IMS 0
with HCA/GLA grant HCA/GLA IMS 0
without HCA/GLA grant LAHS 0
Permanent Affordable Traveller Pitches HCA/GLA IMS 0
Empty Homes Community Fund Tribal 0
AHGP HCA/GLA IMS/delivery partner 0
Total Affordable Rent 0
Affordable Home Ownership, of which:
New Build
HCA/GLA with grant HCA/GLA IMS 1
S106 nil grant (see note) HCA/GLA IMS/PCS 0
S106 nil grant total 0
Other (see note) LAHS 0
with HCA/GLA grant HCA/GLA IMS 0
without HCA/GLA grant LAHS 0
AHGP HCA/GLA IMS/delivery partner 0
Assisted Purchase
Total AHO 1
Intermediate Rent
New Build
with HCA/GLA grant HCA/GLA IMS 0
without HCA/GLA grant LAHS 0
with HCA/GLA grant HCA/GLA IMS 0
without HCA/GLA grant LAHS 0
Total AHO and Intermediate Rent 1
Grand Total 1


Boy George Refused Permission to Increase Light to His Gloomy Gothic Pad

Planning Applications of the Rich and Famous


Boy George is locked in a battle with Camden council after plans to brighten up his multi-million-pound Victorian mansion overlooking Hampstead Heath were thrown out.

The Culture Club singer hoped to increase the amount of natural light in his Grade-II listed home by building a glazed extension and chopping down three trees in the landscaped gardens.

But Camden council rejected the proposals last September. He is now appealing against the decision. The 53-year-old Eighties pop star, whose real name is George O’Dowd, has lived alone in the house since his pop heyday 30 years ago.

Documents filed in 2013 by Soho-based Syte Architects explain: “The house does not benefit from a great deal of natural light into its interior. Its frontage is orientated to the north-east. The rear has a southwesterly orientation but a combination of factors mean that the interior often suffers from poor levels and quality of natural lighting.

A property you can only enter at Midnight After your Car Breaks Down in the Middle of a Thunderstorm


Renovation: Boy George wants to build a glazed extension, but planners argue it will be detrimental to the property’s character (Picture: Glenn Copus)“The proposed extension has been designed to create living spaces with a greater sense of connection to the garden and better levels of natural light. These spaces will have a different atmosphere and character to the internal spaces in the existing house.”

But in a letter stating its reasons for refusal, the council argued the proposed extension would “appear as an over-dominant and incongruous addition” and would be “detrimental to the character, appearance and special architectural and historic interests of the hosted listed building”.

A letter sent to the town hall from the Hampstead Conservation Area Advisory Committee stated that the scheme was an over-development and would affect neighbours.

They wrote: “We object to the extension and the hard landscaping because of the garden take-up and potential light pollution.”

Even the IEA says Starter Homes Wont Increase supply

Once you set aside their (very funny) prejudices

The housing crisis tells us zilch about ‘our economic model’ (whatever that is) as a whole. The way to solve it is not to bring back Arthur Scargill, reopen the coalmines and renationalise British Airways. It is to roll back the greenbelt, deregulate planning, and ignore the whining of the Nimbys. But try to explain that to an angry student audience, copy of the Guardian in one hand, and Russell Brand’s or Owen Jones’ book in the other.

Then they talk sense

as always, Cameron has followed the well-known script for a politically harmless statement on the subject: Talk about housebuilding in the abstract, but at the same time, send reassuring signals to the anti-housing lobby, showing them that you don’t mean it. Rule out touching the greenbelt, and reheat the brownfield myth. Say nothing tangible unless you talk about demand side subsidies and other gimmicks.

Hence Cameron talked about low interest rates (demand side), the Help to Buy programme (demand side) and the Right to Buy programme (demand side). Unless it involves an increase in the number of planning permits, the talked-up ‘starter homes’ initiative will not lead to a net increase in housing supply either, but merely to a relabelling of development projects that would have taken place anyway.  Exempting developers from the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 payments may lower prices for buyers, but presumably, central government will have to compensate local governments for the ensuing shortfall in revenue, which would turn this measure into just another repackaging of costs. Reserving homes for first-time buyers, at the expense of Buy-To-Let landlords, will benefit the ‘marginal first-time buyer’, but since it does nothing to stimulate overall supply, this has to come at the expense of the rental sector. Cameron has offered precisely nothing that could reverse the long-term decline in housebuilding. 

If Boris Wants a Stadium at Park Royal here is How he Can Secure it Despite Cargiant

If you have been following this Saga.

The Opportunity Area Planning Framework published today contains a classic planners wolly wording that doesn’t bite.

potential for large-scale catalyst uses such as a new educational facility, football stadium, sports complex, health, arts, leisure or cultural centre

Imaging fighting a CPO inquiry on that wording?

I’m a real wonk on this issue as it is a common one.

Heres the planning law issues

1.  Private Football Club Survival is a private interest not a public interest – planning is about public interest.

Witness Dulwich Hamlet football club inquiry (which I fought and won on behlaf of locl residents) where the inspector agreed with this point and that football is all about the risk of success and failure and failure.

2. Hence the Concept of the ‘Community Stadium’ 

Drempt up by Prescott at the Falmer Stadium Brighton to overcome AONB issues, whilst private interests were not material he considered the stadium as a ‘community stadium’ because it offered sporting opportunities and facilities open to the wider community as a bonus.  The term is now used universally to get around this legal  point.  Witness community stadium proposals (often misconceived) in York, Cambridge etc, et, ad nausium.

3.  You can specify any grade of Community Stadium you like providing it meets a planning purpose.

So you can specify a premier league quality, national stadium quality, league 1 Rugby ground (as in High Wycombe Community Stadium for Wasps), Division 1 Cricket Ground, etc. etc.

4.  You cant Specify the Club in Policy

A private interest.  Which always stuffs QPR as Chelsea has bigger pockets.  So what QPR can buy Stamford Bridge.

With this in mind I dont need  to specify how the policy should be worded, you can work it out for yourself.

If Deptford can rebrand itself as New Bermondsey, (as pontless in the glamour stakes as Welling rebranding itself New Erith) then Old Oak can rebrand itself as New Chelsea.