Hammersmith Conservative Councillor wants to knock down Listed Buildings

Harry Phibbs in Conhome – stark raving bonkers imposing his narrow aesthetic on everyone else irrespective of the law – cultural fascism in other words.  I dont mince my words as only fascists wish to knock down buildings with which they have an ideological disagreement with and then distort their aesthetic to match – read any book by Roger Scruton for example.

The spirit of localism should mean that if local residents and their elected councillors wish to get rid of a hideous tower block spoiling the skyline they should be able to do so. However in some cases it is not possible because a block has been listed by English Heritage (now renamed Historic England).

There has been much rejoicing over the decision not to list the brutalist Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar – it can now be knocked down.

But what of those eyesores that are listed? For instance the Park Hill flats in Sheffield (right) or the Trellick Tower in Kensington (left). Or Byker Wall in Newcastle (below right) or Keeling House in Tower Hamlets (bottom left)).

Trellick-TowerEnglish Heritage is supposed to:

“Promote public understanding and enjoyment of the historic environment.”

It is hard to see how forcing the retention of eyesores (often with hefty repair bills) fits in with that brief. An organisation that should be trusted as an ally of beauty and tradition has betrayed that trust.

Listing buildings is not their only role. But for them to exercise such staggering poor judgement does cast doubt about their credibility more widely.  For example they boast in their report for last year:

“We gave constructive conservation advice on 21,942 planning cases this year, focusing our advice on preserving the best of the past whilst exploring opportunities for positive and creative change. 

“At Girton College, Cambridge, a new wing comprising 50 en-suite bedrooms opened and the College’s listed swimming pool was refurbished. This successful modern intervention received a RIBA regional award in 2014.”

The Girton College development looks awful – no surprise that RIBA gave it a prize.

bykerwallThis is a Quango which gets £100 million of taxpayers money a year – via the Department for Culture Media and Sport. But how accountable is it? Supposing, for instance, it was proposed to delist certain buildings (such as some of those illustrated here) in order that they could be demolised? What is the mechanism for that review?

keelinghouseA spokesman tells me:

“Once a building is listed. It stays listed.”

The spokesman later elaborated:

“Anyone can apply for a building to be de-listed and they can do that through an online application form. All buildings are listed based on their architectural and historical importance. To get a building de-listed, the applicant needs to prove that what made that building “listable” is no longer valid. It may be a place has been damaged and has lost the elements of the building that made it eligible for listing in the first place. Or it may be that the building has, for example, been wrongly attributed to an architect and if they can demonstrate our original research was wrong, it would also be considered for de-listing.”

That is unsatisfactory. If the decision was quite mad in the first place it should be ditched – even if the facts have not changed.

Osborne’s ‘Any Village in England has a freedom to expand’ doctrine

In case you missed it in the rural productivity plan, any village implies in Green Belt as well naturally.

The government will increase the availability of housing in rural areas, allowing our rural towns and villages to thrive, whilst protecting the Green Belt and countryside. This will include a significant contribution to the 200,000 ‘Starter Homes’, to be offered at a 20% discount for first-time buyers under the age of 40, that the government is committed to delivering this Parliament. Through the right combination of measures, the government wants to ensure that any village in England has the freedom to expand in an incremental way, subject to local agreement. In addition to carrying out the review of planning constraints in rural areas [business pd rights] mentioned above, the government will:

• Ensure local authorities put local plans in place for housing according to agreed deadlines and require them to plan proactively for the delivery of Starter Homes. The government will also bring forward proposals to speed up the process of implementing or amending a plan.

• Help our villages to thrive by making it easier for them to establish a neighbourhood plan and allocate land for new homes, including through the use of rural exception sites to deliver Starter Homes.

• Review the current threshold for agricultural buildings to convert to residential buildings.

• Introduce a dispute resolution mechanism for section 106 agreements, to speed up negotiations and allow housing starts to proceed more quickly

How a Chinese Equity Black Monday Transmits to a Global Money Supply Collapse

China’s stock markets are having a really bad day. A black Monday, down 8.45%, with knock on falls in closely intertwined markets such as Japan and Australia- and now spreading globally.

There are still those that doubt whether a stock market collapse has an impact on ‘real’ economies – so it is worth spelling out precisely the transmission mechanism via the banking system.

Stock market bubbles are fulled on speculation – on what Guzman and Stiglitz (2015) call tellingly ‘pseudo wealth’.  It is the collapse in that pseudo wealth that causes aggregate demand collapse in the wider economy.

The transmission mechanism is through the banking system, principally through the collapse in the perceived real value of equities and company assets held as security on loans.  Collateral enables banks to leverage their ability to lend – their ‘lending power’.  Banks are not passive intermediaries they can create money at the stroke of a pen, but not without limit.  They need existing assets (equity) and then leverage those assets depending on the collateral lenders provide and future perceived income streams from lending.

When perceived future revenue streams provide to be pseudo-wealth then this has a strong feedback loop on the ability of banks to lend.  Non performing loans increase and banks can leverage less with less collateral to bank their existing loans books.  The ability of banks to lend – their lending power – their ‘charter value’ as it is known collapses.  From levering we go to deleveraging and the familiar debt deflationary cycle described famously by Fisher and elaborated by Minksy, Steve Keen and others.

In good times banks expand the money supply, but this is not deflationary as the money is destroyed on repayment of loans and if the investment is used to reduce factor inputs it may raise wealth and even deflate prices increasing real wealth.  If however the loans are spend on assets and ‘pseudo wealth’ the repayment of debts in a downturn becomes purely deflationary not backed by increases in productivity and we get a depressionary cycle.

This is why an equity collapse, in a highly leveraged economy, can have non linear impacts on money supply and growth.  In China a collapse in formal bank lending will also have a knock on impact on shadow banking because of the carry trade to less well regulated shadow banking.

Can the global economy cope with a trillion dollars knocked off equities in one day? What matters though it how leveraged that equity is.  The answer is straightforward; it is highly leveraged and no it can’t.

Their is only one possible response for the Chinese authorities.  Flood the Chinese banks with ‘helicopter money’ to prevent a banking collapse, it that leads to a collapse in the Yuan so be it.  The global response has to be to avoid a ‘currency wars’ response.  This is precisely what was done to the Japanese banking system in the Great Depression and worked well compared to the dramatic austerity in Europe for example in the same period.

Their would be some irony then if China and its closely interlocked economies saw their savior in an economic measure derided as ‘Corbynomics‘.

Who Will Take Over from Anchorman at DCLG? (They wont be an LG Chief Planner)

With the sad news (as a lonely voice of sanity at DCLG) that Chief Planner Steve Quartermain is to move on to Pins who will take over?

It used to be the case that the chief planner at Brum or Newcastle or wherever would step into such a job.

Very very unlikely and inadvisable.  Why?  Because as the chancellor has flagged English planning is at the cusp of transformational change to a zoning and subdivision system.  What is needed is an expert at such transformational change.  So even the star planners or managers of planners in England – such as Waheed Nazir , Emma Peters, Fiona Fletcher Smith, Alice Lester or Barra Mac Ruairí, I dont think would get a look in.  If you are a chief planner whose main achievement on your cv is keeping Councillors happy rather than getting houses built don”t even bother asking for an application form.

Far more likely would be a former chief officer at somewhere like Vancouver, Seattle, Abu Dhabi, Melbourne or Singapore, or an associate in firms working in such sectors.  Someone like Brent Toderian, Larry Beasley, Jeffry Ho, Jerome Frost or Anna Reiter (my tip).  The DCLG would really need to dip into its pockets to attract someone of such international calibre though, and in doing so would signal that it valued planning and planners.


Osborn Proposes More Rural Planning Reforms

In the telegraph – with Liz Truss – all re-announcements

More and more of us are moving from city to countryside. According to the latest Government figures, predominantly rural areas in England are experiencing net internal inward migration of more than 60,000 a year. It’s a social trend that makes Britain almost unique among developed economies, which see mostly rural to urban migration. This Government is determined to support the millions that already choose a rural life and those that are joining them.

…we’ll look at planning and regulatory constraints facing rural businesses. In a recent survey of rural businesses the main barrier to growth that most identified was planning restrictions. So for a start, we’ll review rules around agricultural buildings such as barns to allow rural businesses to expand more easily.

…And if we are going to attract and maintain a dynamic workforce, we need to make it easier for people to stay in their rural communities and for newcomers to settle there too. We’ll always want to protect our green belt and beautiful natural environments, but the lack of housing in rural areas is a scandal. Those living in villages want to see them thrive, want to maintain enough housing for their children to live in and want the local shop, school and village services to flourish. So we will reform planning laws, making it easier for villages to establish their own neighbourhood plan and allocate land for a small number of new homes.



Clark Unikely to Conclude Local Plan Examinations Himself if it Means Green Belt Dedesignation

Why has Greg Clark refused to step in and complete the Warawick Examination after the inspector had a preliminary conclusion of unsound through lack of providing OAN?

My thoery is the realisation has dawned after ploughing through the West Somerset Papers that getting a plan adopted means either Green Be,t loss or not meeting OAN itself – forcing it on others – and that he would much rather let LPAs do this.

This also means I think he lacks the balls of steel necessary to take over local plans if they do nt meet the yet to be announced cut off date for submission.

The result should not surprise Warwick complaining of ‘spending the next two years resolving Coventrys housing problem’ when the reality is they have spent the last four years avoiding taking their fair share of Coventrys housing problem and are now paying the consequences.




Economist – Osborne’s Productivity Plan Needs Building on Green Belt to Work


Britain is crying out for new homes. The country needs to add about 250,000 per year to satisfy demand; in 2014 it built probably 150,000. As part of a 15-point “productivity plan”, on July 10th George Osborne, the chancellor, announced big changes to planning regulations, in a bid to stimulate housebuilding. A much-hyped “zonal” system will grant automatic planning permission on suitable brownfield sites, a policy borrowed from American cities. Londoners will be able to add extra storeys onto their houses up to the height of adjoining buildings. Around transport hubs the government will cajole local planning bodies into building high-density housing (it isn’t clear how)….

Mr Osborne also wants to give central government the power to force through planning applications when local authorities dawdle. Councils that fail to make decisions “on time”—which probably means within 13 weeks—will suffer penalties. (The delays are partly a problem of the chancellor’s creation: local councils’ spending per person has been cut by 20% in real terms in the past five years.)

To understand how all this could boost productivity, consider the geography of the job market. London is by far the most productive part of the country, thanks to its clusters of finance, technology and nerds. Since the recession Britain has created 2m jobs, one-third of them in the capital. London could create more still, but its lack of housing hems it in. The average house there now costs £370,000 ($577,000), nearly double the national average; in some boroughs the ratio of prices to earnings exceeds 20:1. Soaring demand has met stagnant supply. In the past decade the number of homes in London has grown by just 9%.

Workers are cramming in more tightly. The average number of people per dwelling in London has risen from 2.3 to 2.5 in the past decade (see map). Others are moving out of London, taking jobs in less productive places or wasting time on marathon commutes. From 2005 to 2014 the number of people commuting into the capital rose by 32%. One paper published in 2010 found that absenteeism among German workers would be 15-20% lower if they did not commute. If it were somehow possible to scrap commuting altogether, British workers would see a productivity boost worth about £12 billion a year, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a research group

there is no guarantee that relaxing planning laws will produce a long-term increase in the rate of housebuilding, argues Neal Hudson of Savills, an estate agent. For years land has been an appreciating asset; as a result many landowners’ price expectations are firmly set. There are limited incentives for them to sell at a faster rate, since that might lower the price they can get. They will be particularly unhurried where land is already generating income through other uses. Moreover, building firms are not in the best shape. Having cut back during the financial crisis, they may struggle to ramp up production.

Most ominous of all is Mr Osborne’s promise to exploit brownfield land but “keep on protecting” the green belt, the rings of development-free land (much of it not particularly green) around cities. Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP), a planning consultancy, suggests that just 1m homes could fit into existing brownfield sites. That is nowhere near enough: more than 3m extra houses will be required in just the next 15 years, NLP reckons. And brownfield sites tend not to be located where demand for housing is high, meaning that the productivity-boosting effects of redeveloping it are limited. Paul Cheshire of the London School of Economics points out that there is enough green-belt land in Greater London alone to build 1.6m houses at average densities. Few politicians want to bulldoze the green belt. But if housing supply is to increase, and with it productivity, that may have to change.

How The Donald Trump Blowhard Local Plan Speed Up Will Slow Down their Adoption

The Demoines Register has published one of the all time great political editorials.

Trump should pull the plug on his bloviating side show

Blovating is to make a blowhard meaningless speech – particularly associated with Ohio Politics ‘.

President Warren Harding Described it as “the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing”.

An art that seems to have been mastered by DCLG ministers making speeches about planning or housing.

The is especially true of the follow up to the productivity plan on speeding up local plans – Written Statement – and many other similar ‘get your finger out’ speeches and announcements on the same subject.  Lots of biovation, lots of huffing and puffing and in the end nothing of substance and little new.

Whist the productivity plan talked of cutting down red tape and making plans shorter all the statement does is repeat references to guidance etc. that has been made many times before.

Are local plans to be statutory – no.  Ministers simply plan to use existing on the statute intervention powers unless submitted by ‘early 2017’  – will there be a single LPA that wont submit however bad or unsound a local plan by that date to avoid intervention?  Of course not its meaningless blowhard.

As structured the ‘reform’ is likely like an endless other series of misconceived ‘reforms’ to perversely slow things down.  Bad submissions always do.

The only other new thing in the statement is poorly thought through

We recognise that those councils who produce a Local Plan have committed considerable resources, as have others contributing to its development. They should be able to rely on Planning Inspectors to support them in the examination process. I have made it clear to the Planning Inspectorate that this support must be provided. In particular, Inspectors should be highlighting significant issues at an early enough a stage to give councils a full opportunity to respond. As we have made clear in planning guidance a commitment to an early review of a Local Plan may be appropriate as a way of ensuring that a Local Plan is not unnecessarily delayed by seeking to resolve matters which are not critical to the plan’s soundness or legal competence as a whole. The Planning Advisory Service has published a note on where Local Plans have been found sound, subject to early review, which local authorities should consider.

But submission is at the end of the process, if you have a good plan, of not it can be the beginning.  If as is hinted at teh six moth maximum delay is to be extended then we will have perma-examinations like the 2 1/2 year West Berks examination – and of course inspector legal scope on allowing for early review is limited – as the complex variation in practice on this point as inspectors have been faced with differing circumstances leading to different conclusions is made clear in the PINS note. Early review is not an option to the hold out we won’t cooperate councils who propose deliberately low numbers – in these cases inspectors have no legal scope to approve an unsound plan that might one day be made sound and in such casees there is not a single example of an inspector allowing such.

Ill considered submission of bad plans, perma-examinations, adoiption of dodgy plans that one day might be acceptable.  You really couldnt make up a dafter statement designed – as ever – to blow up in the Ominshambles DCLG face in a year or two.  When will they get a grip.

First Chink in London’s Inner Green Belt as Havering propose to delete 46 sites

If you must do this surely it makes more sense to delete a few larger more accesible sites according to a strategy rather than a scattegun approah.


Hornchurch Life

To reflect changes in the government’s London Plan and the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework the council is preparing a new Havering Local Plan.

Part of this new plan involves a list of previous green belt sites that may have there status removed. Havering’s website advises that this is still in the planning stages and the sites may change, for a full and up to date list please look at the Havering Local Plan site

Here is a list of sites in or around Havering:

Site Number
Site Location and Size
Potential Propose use(s)


Land of Wingletye Lane (Land at Lillyputts Farm) 2.7h


Land to the east of Heath Drive and to the south of Eastern Avenue East, Gidea Park, Romford 2.9h


Manor Fields, Rainham (land to the east and west of Berwick Ponds Road) 30h
Mineral Extraction/reclamation and restoration back to agriculture


Land to the north of Squirrels Heath Road (to the east of Archibald Road) 1.18h
Open space and parkland


Land to the south of Squirrels Heath Road (to the East of Brinsmead Road) 1.3h
Residential and open space and parkland


Land at Hill Farm, Noak Hill, Church Road 68.3h
Residential and employment


Upminster Garden Centre, Nags Head Lane 3.52h
Residential, retail, office, leisure, warehousing, industrial, cultural and community


South Hall Farm, Wennington Road, Rainham 12h
Residential and Leisure


Berwick Ponds Farm, Berwick Ponds Road, Rainham 11.2h
Residential and Leisure


Great Sunnings Farm, Sunnings Lane, Upminster 12.5h
Residential and Leisure


Havering College of Further and Higher Education Quarles Campus, Tring Gardens, Harold Hill 3.8h
Residential and Leisure


Land between the A12 and Romford Golf Club, Romford 3.5h
Residential, education and employment


Land west of Upper Rainham Road, Hornchurch (north and south of Maylands Health Care Centre 0.25h


Land to the east of Doriston, Cranham, Upminster (north of Brookmans park drive and south of Southend Arterial Road) 0.51h


Plot 231, Prospect Road, Harold Wood 0.03h


Land at Copthorne Gardens, Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch 1.55h


Land east of Moor Lane, North of Moor Lane Church, Cranham, Upminster 2.27h
Mixed use, residential and cultural and community


Land Adjacent to no. 2 Redbrick Cottages, Warwick Lane, Rainham 0.06h


Land at Wood Lane, Rush Green (Training Facility) 11h


Land to the east of North Road, Havering-atte-Bower 5.5h


Orange Tree Farm, Orange Tree Hill, Havering-atte-Bower 0.45h
Leisure, residential and cultural community


Land East and South of Orange Tree Hill, Havering-atte-Bower 46.82h
Leisure and cultural and community


Land between 194 and 196 Hall Lane, Upminster 0.28h


Little Paddocks Farm, Shepherds Hill, Harold Wood 33.5h
Residential, leisure, cultural and community, and public open space


Land at Lincoln Close and north of Hubbards Close, Hornchurch 2.2h


Land to the East of Wingletye Lane , Hornchurch (Surrounding Lillyputts Farm) 48.9h


Land to the North of New Road, Rainham (south of the Ingrebourne River) 22h
Mixed use, residential, park and green space 50% Park and Green Space 4 Site Number Site Location Site Size Potential Proposed use(s)


Land at Lillyputts Farm, Hornchurch, (to the east of Elliot Playing Fields) 4.7h


Chapmans Farm (Site 1), Upminster ( to the south of Southend Arterial Road and west of Hall Lane) 28.3h


Chapmans Farm (Site 2), Upminster (land to the south of Southend Arterial Road and East of West Hall Lane and land to the north of Southend Arterial Road and east and west of Hall Lane) 16.5h


Chapmans Farm (site 3), Upminster (land to the north and south of Southend Artierial Road and east and west of Bird Lane and Tomkyns Lane 21.4h


Land north of Ockendon Road, Upminster (Adjacent to Redcrofts Farm) 4.97h


Gaynesborough, Little Gaynes Lane, Upminster 0.73h
Continued Residential


Land between Collier Row Road and Hog Hill Road, Collier Row, Romford 1.8h


Land at Gobions Farm, Collier Row Road, Romford 1.3h


Land between London Road and A12, Mawneys, Romford, 34h
Leisure, residential


Land between Marlborough Road and A12, Mawneys, Romford 12h


Cardrome, Upper Rainham, Hornchurch, 4.85h


Land at Bush Farm, Corbets Tey, Upminster 79.74h
Residential, education and community facilities


Land at Mardyke Farm, South Hornchurch 37h


Land between 306 and 312 Wennington Road, Rainham 0.04h


Land to the North of Brookmans Park Drive, Upminster 1h


Land at Park Farm & Meadow Farm, Eastern Avenue East, Romford 5h


Land on the West side of Risebridge Chase, Romford 4.5h


Land adjacent to Ivy Holt, North Road, Havering Atte Bower 0.06h


Land at North Road, Havering Atte Bower 1h


Greg Clark refuses a Scheme for Harm to Green Belt even though It must be Taken Out of the The Green Belt

This one will run and run in the courts.

Today on redetermination following a court judgement Greg Clark refused an incinerator scheme in Grant Shapp’s constituency for harm to the Green Belt even though the local planning authority when it submits its local plan will have to take the site out of the Green Belt for it to be sound (conformity to a waste local plan) bending logic past and beyond the point where its snaps.

The case is out of date before it was even published as this line of argument is rendered totally untenable by the recent Stroud Incinerator court judgement.

That decision would have been before it landed in Greg Clark’s box – but in not checking before it was put in the post the DCLG has wasted around 100k in unnecessary court costs.