The Way Development Plans are Project Managed is 20 Years out of Date

‘We can’t decide on anything that will go into the new spatial plan until everything is in place’

‘We can’t determine the strategic growth locations until we have the results from the transport team’ (planners)

”Tell us the strategic growth locations and we will tell you the transport implications’ Transport Planner

‘After your have found 200k for us to do an area wide transport model – and then wait a year’ Transport Planner

”Ok well make a bid in 2019-2020′ (planner)

These are the kind of common statements you hear around those plan making today, especially the new larger scale joint spatial plans.  They are very frustrating because they all are highly symptomatic of a style of project management that is known to have  failed and has known to be a failure for over 20 years.  What is worse is that it is not even the case in many circumstances that a specific style of project management has been adopted at all.  Because if it is the case that:

  • The plan is managed on excel and not a proper Gantt chart in project management software
  • There is no clear PMO
  • There is no clear and dedicated programme manager with allocated project managers in a clear PMO structure (not a committee of peers)
  • There is no project specific governance
  • There is no reporting by exception
  • There is no risk register
  • There is no project specific budget and resource tracking
  • There is no Prince 2 compliant process

Then, which is at least 80-95% of cases, there has been no conscious design of ANY kind of project management approach.  It has just been carrying on as normal and using the skill sets as possessed.

Large projects however need to be managed in different ways.  When you are talking of housing allocations for counties of a million or more with investments on the back of that of 100s of million or more, when you are talking increasingly of local aithorities getting into teh property development game with Garden Communities requiring those authorities to borrow 100s of million in the expectation of cpaturing land value gains of potentially billions then entirely different methodologies are needed, ones that ensure projects don’t go off track.

What is worse the skills gap and poor practice has been state subsidized with MHCLG grants used to perpetuate such poor practice and consequentially slow and inefficient plan making.

Knowing it or not most development plans are still managed as ‘waterfall projects’.

You do survey before draft plan before consultation before submission etc.

This doesn’t work in plan making.  The housing numbers are forever changing, and your always going around in a loop to stage 1.

The rest of the world has changed to Agile.  So does development plan making.

Agile is iterative and based upon continuous improvement of system design, based on 2-4 week cycles called sprints each of which builds a usable small component, so that over time you build towards a usable and ever improving product.  Scope is rigoursly controlled and only expanded where it is essential to meeting customer (stakeholders in planning too) essential requirements.

It has become central to central government working – here is the governments service manual – but is still only central to a handful of local authorities.

Homes England has been an enthusiastic adopter.  The speed of systems change in Homes England has been such that LPAs will soon have to run to catch up.

The key to adopting such an approach is ensuring that a plan is broken up into a number of sprintable modules and ensuring there are dedicated full time teams able to handle these simple components.  We often see in local government contracts of 4-6 months to the private sector juggling too many such contracts across many authorities in several stages with even the first stage typically taking the full length of the original contract when it should be only 4-6 weeks work.  These kind of contracts don’t work.  More flexible contracts of seconding staff to lead dedicated scrum teams for 4-6 weeks with payment at the end based on delivery of the component should be the norm.

Often the basic building blocks are not put in place first, such as common data platforms, GIS systems to avoid double counting, consultation platforms, even list of consultees and statutory consultees.  Foundational components also include the absolutely basic user requirements from bodies such as infrastructure and transport bodies.  They should not have to wait till preferred option stage before being able to set down their requirements, far too late.

A component based approach can proceed that you can design some things before you know everything, because you will never know everything and if you try you will be forever out of date.  That means banishing forever the irrational morbid fear of English trained planners of lines of maps.  Starting with rough lines on maps of potentially good sites based your imperfect knowledge and information is the only way to elucidate and capture the spatial wisdom of teams and stakeholders on how to make place.

As a result of the initial sprints what you dont know about your ‘reasonable options’ will be clearer earlier on, rather than in a panic of a few weeks before your consultation deadline where the gaps in understanding are painfully exposed from the consultation.  There is also the opportunity to make the merging plan process more open and transparent by gradually opening up discussions on components as alternatives become clearer. Cpomponents can also be designed around finding what we dont know but need to know to make certain things happen, continuously controlling and managing risk.







FT UK Government to Look at Extra Runway in South East


Third one at Heathrow won’t be enough to satisfy passenger demand says official

The government will set in motion in December the process to determine which UK airport will get a new runway, before ground has even been broken for the last runway it approved. Sarah Bishop, deputy director of aviation policy in the Department for Transport, said in a speech to a transport think-tank that government forecasts for aviation growth from 2015 were “already looking quite out of date” and that the south-east of England could need a new runway by 2050, “so we need to be on the front foot and set out the decision-making framework for considering that question”. Ms Bishop said the government would launch a consultation in December to examine whether it needed a new airports commission, like the one which awarded Heathrow a third runway; a site-specific government-led white paper; or “a more market-led approach” with a “more permissive National Policy Statement”. The Davies Commission, which endorsed Heathrow’s new runway in July 2015, predicted at the time that another new runway might be needed by 2050 but said its environmental impact had to be considered “if further expansion is not to materially affect the UK’s ability to meet current and future climate obligations.” It also said: “There would not be any credible case, however, for a fourth runway at Heathrow.” Heathrow has said its new runway will be ready in 2026, if it passes a series of legal and planning challenges. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “It truly beggars belief that a further runway is even being mooted. Given environmental targets are struggling to be met with the existing Heathrow plans, yet another new runway would make a laughing stock of the UK’s commitment to the environment.” The DfT sounded a note of caution in a later statement: “The Airports Commission has set out that there would likely be sufficient demand to justify a second additional runway by 2050, or in some scenarios earlier — although this does not necessarily mean that this would be justified on economic or environmental grounds.” Heathrow said: “What is clear is that a third runway is urgently needed now and our focus remains directly on delivering this for Britain. We have always been clear that we would accept a commitment from government ruling out a fourth runway at Heathrow, but that is a matter of government’s policy to enforce.”

Vaizy on Scruton – Don’t Simply advocate Neo-Georgian Pastiche

AJ reporting on urgent question about Scruton/Better Buildings Commission

 Tory former minister, Ed Vaizey, echoed concern raised by architects at the new commission’s emphasis on ‘beautiful’ buildings.

While he defended Scruton’s character, he added: ‘I don’t want him to lead a commission that simply advocates for Neo-Georgian pastiche as a definition of beauty, and I hope the commission will include contemporary architects, women architects and people from BAME backgrounds as well,’ he said.

However former Tory transport minister John Hayes, known for his distaste of contemporary architecture, was overjoyed at the traditionalist’s appointment. ‘Scruton will bring a lively, imaginative, well-researched report which will inform all of our thinking and, my god, we need it after years of dull egalitarian Modernism.’

Miscalculating Population and Housing Yield from Strategic Developments

Yesterday I read not a bad new book called Connected Cities from a journalist interested in planning, suggesting a ‘string of pearls’ approach to building new settlements .  Great, much like long suggested on this blog and in Peter Hall and Colin Wards Book Sociable Cities.

However it was difficult to take the book seriously as it didn’t make two essential calculations.

The first was how spare spare capacity there was on the railway and how it might be possible to boost the capacity to support the level of population proposed with the necessary modal split.

The second was it assumed that all roads were polylines consuming no space, and did not include land take for schools etc., SUDS, surface water storage and other non sellable land.  As a result it overestimates the number of dwellings at the proposed density by around 100%.

Interestingly Mr Ebenezor Howard and friends in their Garden Cities Challenge response did do a correct such calculation of their’land budget’  and modal split here.

The error is fairly common.  Quite often local plans include housing yield circulations for strategic sites based on gross to net ratios applicable to much smaller sites (30-40%), by omitting the huge land takes for secondary schools, connector and arterial roads etc.  when the governments own Harmen review (local plan delivery group) in 2012 stated:

One error that has a very large impact on the outcome of viability testing is
overlooking the distinction between the gross site area and the net developable area (ie. the revenue-earning proportion of the site that is developed with housing).
The net area can account for less than half of the site to be acquired (that is, the size of the site with planning permission) once you take into account on-site requirements such as formal and informal open space, sustainable urban drainage systems, community facilities and strategic on site infrastructure etc. On larger sites, sometimes the net area can be as little as 30%.

Lets be clear on terminology here.  By gross-new ratio  i’m referring to the proportion that is taken from a site to reveal sellable area (including retail and employment) which is then divided into sellable land uses of different types.  Internationally this is known as the ‘exaction rate‘  A term I hope we would use in the UK as it is precise and clear.  This varies by climate and geography.  You need less open space in desert climates but ironically much more land for surface water storage (flash flooding).   The figure is around 35%-60% internationally.  1 minus exaction rate in net developable sellable.  55% is a reasonable estimate given UK road (Design for Streets) and community services standards in my experience but will vary site by site i n terms of how much land is usable in any scheme (including flood plain.  This assumes semi natural greenspace which forms the borders of settlements are outside the ‘green line’ community area boundary for calculation purposes even if they are within any masterplanning ‘red line’ .  Care needs to be taken with screened out ‘undevelopable’ areas such as flood plain which are proposed to be zoned within any masterplan – such as for public open space.  Then , unless it forms an outside of community semi natural greenspace function should be included within the ‘green line’.

With much hard work on optimising layouts you can reduce the road take by several % but it is unwise to assume this at the outset it just pushes up the price of land.  Take a conservative assumption and then later optimise layouts and use the uplift to increase affordable housing.   Ensure the settlement wide population design size  and infrastructure load assessments include a 10% or so headroom allowance to encourage such optimised neighbourhood area masterplanning., but allow this increase by design review not as an ‘as of right’ zoning.

Similarly in the future new technologies such as self driving and parking cars may reduce the need for wider streets on main roads or two way streets on local access roads; however it is better to treat this as a bonus towards space towards people and streets and open spaces.  In one scheme recently I used saved space to enable cycle facilities to Dutch Crow design guide standards. The housing should be zoned in any event at an optimal density in terms of natural light and access to services and transit.

The only way to be sure of the figures on your land budget in any strategic planning areas is to do a ‘test fit’ using your local design guide and infrastructure standards of a reasonably representative strategic growth location or two, and even in such a test fit you only need to design one neighbourhood down to local access road standard to be able to calculate and apply that figure across all neighbourhoods designed down to local collector road level. .  How many areas do this if any?  I also note some local design guides only work for schemes of up to several hundred dwellings (Central Beds is good example -good design guide but only for small sites) in contrast to those for Essex and Kent for example which are designed for sites at all sizes.  Of course we also have the problem that many counties still run pre design for streets roads standards (such as Herts and Gloucestershire), and all of them provide too little space for cycling.  This I would not worry too much about as if you design a masterplan to CROW standards with a 250m Dutch cycling grid of dedicated routes you shift the modal split so much you need a much lower land take of major collector/link roads and minor collector /feeder roads and the land budget balances out.

If any areas wants such an assessment done i’m available.  If we spend such a large amount of money running spreadsheets on viability on proposed allocations at least we can spend a little on getting the pends and cad out for them as well.

Doing this transforms the strategic planning exercise into much more of a positive design and landscape led process where transport and pother problems that might have held back such sites present themselves with creative solutions.  It also moves beyond the ‘fuzzy felt planning’ trap of big blobs envisaged as concrete and tarmac rather than active placemaking which can often enhnce green infrastructure and natural capital on a site. The best way to derisk is to design.

Whips try to defend @Roger_Scruton Extremist Views because he’s a Sir who’s Written 50 books @kitmalthouse

Wasn’t Oswald Mosely Knighted?  Didn’t many eugenicists  (another Scruton belief) write lots of books?  Total nonsense.  None of these FUD questions actually address Scruton’s unpleasant prejudices.   he won’t last a week, and if he is kept on his commission will be boycotted by everyone, as a result will only represent his narrow 1980s prejudices from the style wars,  and so will have no impact, a total waste of public money.  Just go.



Westminster Bans Large Homes – Bloomberg


About the size of a small second home in Sweden.  How lucky we are to live in a country where Nimbys say we have an oversupply of housing.

The council in charge of some of London’s priciest postcodes is calling time on the mega-mansion.

Westminster City Council, which includes the Mayfair and St. James’s districts, won’t allow new homes to be built that are more than 150 square meters (1,615 square feet) in size under draft plans unveiled Monday.

Officials are making the change because they’re worried that demand from oligarchs and tycoons is superseding the needs of less wealthy local residents. They’ve already placed limits on the size of basements to prevent the construction of so-called ‘iceberg homes,’ which have drawn complaints about noise during construction.

The new maximum home size is less than 40 percent bigger than the average new three-bed home in the U.K. capital. The one exception will be homes that have been converted into apartments can be turned back into single family properties. The city is consulting on the rules for the next six weeks before their possible introduction later next year.

Homes England Forms Land Aquisition Team for Garden Communities in Oxford-Cambridge Arc

Homes England Jobs

None if the namby pamby language used elsewhere such as ‘vision’ designed to obfuscate the need for an SEA.  As it says here its a government plan and programme, a plan or programme needs consultation and an SEA.

there is a requirement for a specific team based in the South East of the country to assist in the delivery of the emerging Garden Settlements in this area. The skills required are the same as in the team highlighted above, but the roles will focus exclusively on supporting the emerging preferred locations in terms of creating and delivering a bespoke land acquisition and disposal programme that will help achieve government’s ambitious plans in the Oxford to Cambridge arc.

SoS Refusal on new #NPPF Access Grounds if a Planned Garden Village with a bus route can’t expand by 200 houses then Garden Villages are Doomed

Cliffe Woods is a planned garden village (with shops, school etc.)  on a scattered plotland site, assembled and developed by CPO from 1967.  It has around 2,700 residents and one bus route to the Medway town with two services between 7 and 8 am.   A planning application to expand by 222 houses has just been refused on a recovered appeal.

If the SoS was seeking to make a message on unsustainable locations in terms of the new NPPF this is an interesting one as it is by far not the most unsustainable site that could have come forward.

The Secretary of State notes that the site is located close to the village of Cliffe Woods which has a range of shops, services and community facilities (IR101). He agrees with the Inspector (IR109) that residents are likely to travel further afield for larger food supermarkets, specialist shops, leisure, employment, and secondary schools, and that this is likely to generate trips by car.

The Secretary of State has carefully considered the Inspector’s analysis of available public transport (IR102-104). He has taken into account that bus services do not operate in the very early morning or after early evening, that cycling is not a realistic option for most or an attractive option, and that the nearest train station is 2km away.
He has further taken into account the proposals to improve accessibility of the scheme (IR105-7), and whilst he agrees that the proposed measures will go some  way to facilitating sustainable travel modes, given the uncertainty around the operation of the ‘Arriva Click’ service (IR106) he gives these measures limited weight.
20.The Secretary of State has further taken into account the Framework’s statement in paragraph 103 that the opportunities to maximise sustainable transport solutions will vary between urban and rural areas, and he agrees with the Inspector that given the rural character of the area, a realistic approach to the general travel method of residents is required (IR109). However, in the Secretary of State’s judgement, the proposed development does not limit the need to travel or offer a genuine choice of
transport modes, and is therefore in conflict with the Framework’s policy on promoting sustainable transport (paragraph 103 of the Framework). His concerns are not overcome by the proposed mitigation. He therefore disagrees with the Inspector’s conclusion that there is no intrinsic conflict with the requirement of Policy BNE25 that development should ‘offer a realistic chance of access by a range of transport modes’
(IR110). The Secretary of State considers that these conflicts carry substantial weight against the proposal.

So if your planning a garden village of a few thousand houses and a primary school and a single bus route with a couple of services at peak hours only forget it.  This appeal sets a clear precedent.  It seems the ministry only want larger developments.  As the ‘form’ for applying for a Garden Community makes clear, less than 10,000 dwellings your in trouble, less than 5,000 ‘garden village’ (a term Eb Howard or Raymond Unwin never used) forget it.

Although I disagree that cycling to Higham station only 2km away is not practical, the gradient is not hard and its not  busy a or b road.  Highham itself though is a much better candidate for growth as was Medway’s position in their emerging local plan.

Oxford-Cambridge Expressway – The Legal Basis for Avoiding a Plan, an SEA and Consultation, but it Can’t Last

Why has the government not not conducted an SEA for the Oxford Cambridge Expressway?


Government plans to build an Oxford-Cambridge motorway over some of the UK’s most biodiverse nature reserves break EU laws and should be put on hold, according to a cross-party group of MEPs.

Up to a million homes could be built in the planned conurbation link-up which would carve across some of the UK’s richest floodplain habitats such as the Otmoor Basin and Bernwood forest. [not in the latest option B which rejected the Otmoor Route, and the Bernwood Forest is not floodplain, but anyway Gaurdian]

Local people say they have not been consulted about the project and the Berks, Bucks, Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) have already launched a legal challenge against Highways England, which lobbied hard for the scheme.

Now, in a letter to the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, the 11 MEPs say: “Ploughing ahead with this expressway project, without first conducting an open and thorough public consultation, sends very worrying signals about whether, despite the commitments it has made, the government will maintain European-wide environmental standards in practice [after Brexit].”

The answer surely is down to the Supreme Court judgement on HS2 in 2014.

Its a quite simple issue legally.  A Strategic Environmental Assessment is needed for the schemes as whether it was

“plan or programme” which “sets the framework for development consent” and was “required by administrative provisions” within the meaning of articles 2-3 of Directive 2001/42/EC (“the SEA Directive”).

The court accepted that it was a project not a plan or programme.  That HS2 did not set the framework for future development consent (like a land use plan does for example) and was governed by a .political or regulatory. process (a hybrid bill) not an administrative one.  So it didn’t fall under the directive and only an EIA at final hybrid bill stage was needed.

The HS2 style process seems to have become the default  at DOT.  They want to avoid the need for ‘early consultation’ on ‘reasonable alternative options’ which the SEA route requires.  The DOT is not good on consultation and they are worse at options.  If they ever plan a road they never want the wider transport package tested as it would show their under investment in public transport, even if the road is still needed.

In taking the ‘No SEA, its a project not a plan’ route however it means rigorously separating the expressway planning from any other planning in the corridor.   The great vice of infrastructure planning in England, planning transport seperately from land use.

This creates a problem for the DOT as we know have the ‘Oxford-Cambridge Arc’ .  This weeks name. It was for a million homes but could be increased as they have now enlarged the study area  to include North Northants and South Bucks (most of the England’s Economic Heartland area minus Swindon and Herts. It should be noted that around 300k of this is already in development plans at least at preferred options stage so the actual net additional housing that needs to be planned for to 2050  is around 1.1-1.2 million.)

At the time of the budget the government published its response to the National Infrastructure Commissions Report on the arc a year ago.

The government supports the National Infrastructure Commission’s ambition to build up to one million high quality homes by 2050 to maximise the economic growth of the Arc. This ambition will require a step change in housing delivery, including engagement on how this can be accommodated through vibrant new and expanded settlements. The government has demonstrated its commitment to investment to support this level of ambition, including in relation to proposed new road and rail links which could best achieve this vision. The government supports the Commission’s finding that in order to deliver the full economic potential of the Arc, there needs to be an integrated  approach to the planning and delivery of infrastructure, homes and business growth. This is why the government has invited local authorities from across the Arc to
bring forward and commit to ambitious proposals for transformational housing and economic growth, including for new settlements. With the right interventions and investment, we believe
there is a transformational opportunity to amplify the Arc’s position as a world-leading economic place and support the government’s Industrial Strategy aim to boost the productivity and earning
power of people across the UK. To achieve this the government has designated the Oxford Cambridge Arc as a key economic priority and will consider ways of maximising growth opportunities in the Arc.

But so far it has been a classic case of these not being integrating with the DOT determined to plough the No SEA route.  However if it is clear that the expressway is being planning not on its own (like HS2) but as part of a wider ‘programme’.  The funding (£3.5 billion) for the expressway has been committed but no formal decision yet in legal terms of the project or its final route. The government says it has carried out ‘ extensive engagement with local communities and environmental groups in
our early planning for the Expressway and East West Rail’ but this has not extended below key stakeholder level (e.g. local government) and putting up a website and email.   Proper consultation on route options for the western section wont begin until Autumn 2019.

So what is the plan for the arc now.  Here’s the Budget 2018 timetable.

•  Consult in early 2019 on route options for the East West Rail Central Section (Bedford to Cambridge)
• Publish an ambitious, corridor-wide Joint Vision Statement to 2050 with local partners by Spring 2019
• Explore options for delivering a pan-Arc spatial vision, underpinned by a local natural capital plan, to co-ordinate investment in housing, infrastructure and the environment to support delivery of transformational growth across the Arc
• Consult on route options for the Expressway in late 2019 and then announce a decision on a preferred route. We will continue to work closely with local partners on the development of route options for the Expressway

Note how each of these are discrete, no clear integration between the transport and land use elements.  The  vision statement in 2019 is aspatial, the later ‘spatial vision’ has no timetable – it will this that will do the coordinating.  The expressway western section route options ploughs its own furlough in Autumn next year but decision later when not known.

If the government wants a ‘spatial vision’ to to ‘co-ordinate investment in housing, infrastructure and the environment’ then to be meaningful it would have to ‘set the framework for development consents’ and so would be subject to the SEA directive whether statutory or not.  The government still hasn’t decided what route this would take.  A vision is not necessarily a plan, but a vision that says here not there, this many houses here and this many houses there coordinated with infrastructure is a plan.  Such a plan whether a statutory land use plan or not would have to be conducted by an administrative process and so would have to be SEA compliant including ‘early public consultation’.

There may be a conflict here between the MHCLG, saying we need some kind of plan and the DOT desperate to avoid SEA, by going down the HS2 political route.  The fallout is uncertainty for plans for housing not knowing where infra will go, as we saw at the AVLP.

As a result opponents have seized on the lack of an SEA as a potential blocker

The Campaign to Protect Rural England said the proposal is “completely unacceptable” and its head of strategic plans and devolution Paul Miner said: “Rather than taking a ‘growth at all costs’ approach, it is imperative that a strategic environmental assessment is conducted.”

He added: “We need much stronger commitments to protecting and improving the unique and precious rural landscapes in the arc.”

One option is a national policy statement route,  As the NIC recommended and its chairman Sir John Armitt hints strongly at here

“The growth arc is in desperate need of new homes and improved transport links.

“These things won’t happen without continued and concerted effort from government and [the Budget] measures, while welcome, will not achieve that on their own.”

And EEP’s Martin Tugwell calls for

One year on from the National Infrastructure Commission’s final report, what is it that England’s Economic Heartland is looking for from this year’s Budget?

My time dealing with planning applications in the past has taught me that private sector investors are looking for confidence before making a decision. Time and again the call I’ve heard is for clarity on the ambition and certainty that planned investment in infrastructure and services will be delivered when we say it’ll be.  And in truth our residents and communities likewise look for that confidence – sceptical that investment often comes after the event, not in time for it.

The scale of economic potential identified by the National Infrastructure Commission is a long-term project.  What we need is a framework that can engender confidence – for both communities and investors.

That is why we believe what is needed is a National Policy Statement for the Heartland.

Until now used to focus on a single topic – like energy – there is no reason why we cannot use the legislative framework that exists and apply it to a geographical area.

It would be a clear statement of intent by Westminster that the UK’s commitment to the Heartland is long-term.  Even better it would be a simple and effective way of ‘joining up’ investment in strategic infrastructure.

At a stroke we would have a quick and efficient way of aligning investment decisions on transport, with that on digital infrastructure with that on power and water; ensuring that investment in infrastructure and services is aligned to deliver our shared ambition – realising the potential of the Heartland to be the UK’s equivalent of Silicon Valley.

Since the idea was originally discussed at the start of the year I’ve been really encouraged by the positive reaction, so much so that we’re developing it to the point where we can have a further, detailed, conversation with Government.

This year’s Budget is an opportunity for Government to build on this idea and make a clear statement of intent that its support for the Heartland is long-term.

There are a number of problems with the NPS route.  They cant be used for housing other than ‘associated development’ .  It is doubtful they could pass that in the current parliament.

The NPS route would ease land assembly by allowing CPO when development consent orders were applied for for individual schemes, but the legislation doesn’t envisage this being through a permission in principle type route on agreement of a locally led development corporation masterplan.  Again bespoke legislation is needed.

The NPS would put all the burden of consultation on the state.  The government is not good at geographically specific consultation.  It would rather local government take all the Nimby flack.

An NPS being a political decision would not need SEA.

The government clearly havn’t got its head around what form the ‘pan arc spatial vision’ will take.  Its a regional plan.  Lets call a spade a spade.  There is no longer a statutory framework for regional planning.  The government is loathe to admit it made a cock up abolishing it in 2011.

What are the options?  There could be a ‘pan arc’ Joint spatial plan. even if only a few policies, with a lower tier local plans being joint county wide plans.  But this would require unanimous agreement.  Unless the government legislates for this and joint planning committees as compulsory (with majority voting powers) it wont happen.  There could be a joint Spatial Development Strategy, as in London, but this would require a combined authority which when you mix unitaries and two tiers is highly complicated.  Note an SDS does not have to be ‘sound’ an anomaly as the legislation was pre the reform of local plans.

In other words there is no way out of the need for legislation.  So be patient till after the collapse of Brexit.

Then a ‘hybrid’ mechanism, joint statutory regional JSPs (with government and LEP seats at joint committees), with SDS scope (i.e. including Environment and Infrastructure )  backed up by Government (equivalence to NPS) following EIP.  Practically it would be the same as old style conference preparing a draft RPG and submitting to the Sos for agreement, but nobody say that to avoid ministers embarrassment.  Then when the JSP is confirmed as an NPS when a LP and/or LLDC Masterplan is approved it would automatically trigger a DCO,  permission in principle and accompanying land assembly.  This would be done through a few clauses added to three existing pieces of legislation and at the same time and in an integrated manner as legislation for the Letwin review.   The aim should be for a ‘single process single decision’ on large scale schemes rather than multiple seperate processes on local plans, Development Coproration Masterplans, CPOs etc.    As a hybrid rather than a purely political process SEA would be required.    There is no off the shelf workable model.  Roll on the post peoples vote 2 Planning and Housing Act 2019.

For campaigners though this will be a double edges sword.  Once you open up the process to EIP the first thing the HBF will say is you have expanded the ‘corridor’ by 3/4 people, so we need 300,000 more homes.  Plus pro rata increase in land constrained growth.  The clumsy process effectively enabled the government to reduce the housing target per capita in the budget, dropping off London Overspill in effect.  If as it will the London Plan EIP says London cannot wholly meet it needs within its own area (as neither can Herts or Slough) then all of these issues open up.  So roll on a proper housing needs assessment linked to the employment targets for the corridor as a basis for a spatial plan.

Few ‘Fresh Proposal’s in Oxford-Cambridge Garden Communities – So where is the additional growth?

Planning – in other words thee is no clarity from locally led proposals on where New Settlements to form part of the 1million+  homes will go – they are rewarmed existing or emerging local plan proposals. So who will break the empass?


In an interview with Planning shortly after the September deadline, Malthouse would not be drawn on which authorities had applied. However, Planning can reveal that one of the 14 proposals put forward was the expansion of Milton Keynes to become a city, proposed by the town’s unitary council (see panel). Another authority we contacted, Cherwell District Council, told Malthouse it is “not yet ready to identify specific sites”, while Central Bedfordshire Council said it had not responded. In the interview, Malthouse said the ministry is happy with the reaction and emphasised that the government is keen to pay for the necessary infrastructure. However, he admitted that few, if any, of the new settlements mentioned in the responses are fresh proposals. “Most of them, to be fair, are ones that have been in the ether but need something to unlock them,” he said. According to Malthouse, authorities, in their proposals, were outlining “ambitious” housing growth plans that were dependent on infrastructure funding.