UKIPS Presumption Against Sustainable Development

Of all of this elections mammoth manifestos UKIP’s is at once the best designed and written and the most ludicrous and impractical.

Introducing a ‘presumption in favour of conservation’ as opposed to the current ‘presumption in favour of development’ in planning legislation.

The term ‘sustainable development’ doesnt appear once, presumably they have a tea party like dislike of the term?   So the UKIP presumption would lead to refusal development that is not conservation even when it is sustainable.

It is unclear if the manifesto would ban all loss of countryside, loss of ‘prime’ (current national policy anyway) or only ‘excessive’ development in the countryside.

They would let every LPA set its own targets which we know from recent experience leads to an undershoot of around 150,000 completions a year.

They say they would build 1 million brownfield by 2025, 300,000 – 150,000 = 1.5 million so we can assume thats 1 million on brownfield and 1/2 million on greenfield leaving a supply gap of 1.5 million homes by 2025.

Aha but that assumes 250,000 a year HH growth +50,000 backlog.  UKIP would say the numbers would be reduced by reducing immigration.   UKIP dont actually set an immigation target so it is  difficult to know if the 1.5 million gap in their numbers could be reduced by less immigration.  However banning unskilled labourers is going to have a negligible impact on household formation by itself.

Around 60% of the projected population increase is due to migration (directly and indirectly) and population increase contributes to around 98% of household formation – but only because people can no longer afford to form homes so they cram into the existing stock.  Sp even if we had a zero net in migration from day one – not I stress UKIP policy – then HH formation would shrink from 250,000 to 100,000 +50,000 backlog (UKIP dont support repatriation) =150,000 a year.  So if UKIP banned all immigration from day one their numbers would add up, but they dont because they would allow skilled in migrants.  So even if they reduced immigration by 50% they would face a 750,000 gap in their numbers till 2025.

Every Major Party Manifesto Promotes Garden Cities But Not the Shift in Policy to Deliver Them

This years election is the first since the 1970s to see all three Major Parties promoting Garden Cities as part of the answer to the housing crisis, quite a move. The first ever I think for all three to mention Garden Cities specifically as opposed to just New Towns.  Quite a shift in the political consensus.

The Conservative manifesto says it will support ‘locally led’ Garden Cities.

The Labour Manfesto says it will implement the Lyons Review – without providing a Hyperlink – bad form – which backs ‘– A new generation of Garden Cities and Garden Suburbs’  who will implment them ‘  location specific Garden City Development Corporations’  who will decide where they will go? Correctly learning the lessons of the Ecotowns programme it states that a bidding approach will not deliver them in the right locations.  Rather it proposes ‘A locally led approach’ da dah (page 95) – but with an ‘active role’ for central government is publishing areas of search.  The Lyons proposals for improving sub-regional planning would in effect require areas around major cities to search out areas of overspill.

The Liberals launched today states

The Liberal Democrats plan at least 10 new garden cities to be created in England building 300,000 new homes a year.

The Lib Dems said the new garden cities would be built in areas where there is local support, providing tens of thousands of new homes.

The direct commissioning of homes by government agencies is already being trialed at a former RAF base in Cambridgeshire and is seen as a way of boosting construction when the market alone fails to deliver sufficient numbers.

So all three support ‘locally led/supported’ Garden Cities.

But national policy has supported this anyway since the now Lord Denham was Environment Secretary – when national policy backed ‘locally supported New Settlements’.  So in the last 30 years when providing you ticked all the policy boxes.  In those 30 years we have had





-Dickens Heath

-Bicester (more an expanded town)




Add up all of the housing built in these locations (Bicetser Post Garden City announcement) over the last 30 years, it probably comes to less than 5,000, almost entirely at Cambourne and Dickens Heath. In other words we have tested and tried and a ‘locally led’ Garden Cities policy and it has delivered less than a 10th of 1% of  household formation over the last 15 years.

Many of these were soft pickings, big brownfield sites airbases and so on, or here the LPAS proposed a counterproposa to avoid an imposed Ecotowns, as at Bicester and Rackheath.  How does anyone expect a continuation of ‘locally led’ to deliver any more than this over the next 15 years?

I am not saying ‘locally led’ Garden Cities are a contradiction, clearly they are desirable and in a few as rare as hens teeth almost locations they are happening.  But not happening enough or anywhere near large enough.

Whatever the fallacies and distortions in Ken Shuttleworth’s misconceived criticisms of Garden Cities he got one thing right.  If you build Garden Cities of 30,000 population it would take 67 of them to meet London’s spill.  That sint going to be locally led and supported.  So where will the spill go?  Sustainable Garden Cities will be much larger and rail connected, how will a new Garden City of 300,000-400,000 be locally led and supported?

Lets get real – if we want to get Garden Cities on the scale we need to be something other an curiosities they need to be nationally backed, have the best locations determined in larger than local plans, be ideally locally supported and be delivered by partnership development corporations.  This requires a spectrum approach across multiple tiers and between the private and public sectors, not one resting at one level only without dedicated delivery mechanisms.  We’ve tried that doesn’t work, doesnt pass the Acid Test of building enough homes.  We now have a consensus we need Garden Cities, so lets move the debate on to how we get them delivered in sufficient scale and to adequate standards.



Conservative Manifesto – Pledge to End Appeals on Windfarms?

Both manifestos support Garden Cities and brownfield development, really nothing new in either, apart from the Conservative Right to Buy HA policy (which to my mind fails to add up for all sports of reasons – i’d like to see the CBA – and the sensitivity of the CBR to the interest rate given the time  lag between sale of housing and new build during which additional HB needs paying out because of the inability to relet) but one thing was strikingly new

Onshore windfarms often fail to win public support, however, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires. As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications.

What can they mean?  Ending the major infrastructure regime for large farms will not mean locals have the final  say so they can appeal, so does it mean ending appeals altogether? Why for this only and not other forms of development.  Ending appeals will simply mean every case in the courts and clog the whole system up.  I think it perhaps is just badly drafted in a day of badly drafted manifestos.

Anyway I found today on site studying Istanbul’s South American style BRT system (the first in Europe) vastly more interesting, flawed though the design of the system is.

The SoS Still Rejects the William Davis Principle – the Salford Case #NPPF

Following my post questioning whether following Brandon Lewis’s letter to pins was applying a ‘double hurdle’ sustainable development test as per ‘William Davis’ a correspondent draws my attention to a new recovered appeal decision the next day.


Whilst alwsy good to see the world worst developable lose an appeal relating to protected green space the SoS decision is notable for rejecting the inspector’s view that William Davis applied.

The Secretary of State has very carefully considered the views of the parties (IR149- 155 and IR210-254), and the Inspector’s reasoning at IR359-402, as to whether the proposal is sustainable development. He has considered the Inspector’s remark at IR323 that the courts have ruled that the presumption in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 14 of the Framework should only be engaged if the development is found to be sustainable development and his remark at IR359 that, the second part of the second section of Framework paragraph 14 is only engaged if the proposal can be judged to be sustainable development. The Secretary of State observes, however, that a two-stage approach was rejected by Patterson J in Dartford BC –v- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014] EWHC 3058 (Admin). Turning to IR359, the Secretary of State shares the Inspector’s view that, as the proposal is not in accordance with the DP, the first part of paragraph 14 of the Framework is not engaged. However, he does not agree with the Inspector’s subsequent remark that the second part of the second section of paragraph 14 of the Framework is only engaged if the proposal can be judged to be sustainable development (IR359). 

In other words it all rest on the issue of ‘other material considerations’ and the SoS of course can give whatever weight to them he or she likes, turning a presumption in favour of development into a predisposition against development as and when the electoral calculus takes hold.  So deciding whether to appeal is back to a high risk proposition having to predict which way the wind in blowing six months ahead.  The certainty the NPPF was supposed to give is gone, as is the simplicity as it is backed by dozens of amendments and ‘side policies’ more then ever under the PPG regime, and certainly more caselaw about the decision protocol paragraphs.  As such the NPPF has become as useful as a hole in the head for all sides.  How can anymore any one defend a policy that the SoS is applying in a way that gives him discretion to refuse or approve anything or any planning reason?  There is no longer a default ‘yes’, the default is what will please ministers gut political instincts.

As such is is unwise to appeal in those cases where there is any doubt about whether or not a landscape policy is a ‘housing supply policy’ or not and even when there is no local plan policy where there is any doubt about ‘valued landscapes’ or landscape character.  In this case Peel were arrogant enough to think that a high powered council and sheer pressure would wear everybody down.  Under Boles or Clarke yes, not under current political circumstances.

The other interesting interesting about the appeal is that every other para. of argument on both sides was every other paragraph relating to case law.  In a simple and ffective planning system this should not have to be the case, all again due to the vague and contradictory language and test used in the NPPF.  Again will anyone stand up and defend this now it requires a lever arch file of contradictory case law to (fail) to make sense of.  I thought not.  John Rhodes has been very quiet in recent months, well hes had teh usual award for public service failure – the Order of the Boot Extended – hasn’t he.



The Labour Statutory Local Plans Idea – PINs should not be Judge and Jury @EmmaReynoldsMP

Emma Reynolds MP at the National Planning Forum said that Local Plans should be statutory and if you didn’t have one by the end of 2016 the government would intervene and give the job to PINS.

This won’t legally work.  PINS would be judge and jury in this case.  The reason we have independent local plan examinations in the first place is largely because of because of article 1 of protocol 1 of the ECHR  and the right for a fair hearing when that right is interfered with guaranteed by Article 6.  It is very doubtful whether or not PINS examining a PINS plan would be ‘an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time’ under this article.  Besides it would be contrary to common law and rather a rather distasteful charade.

Who else, PINs is the obvious candidate however they are an arm of IDEA which is an arm of the LGA, so the government would be giving it back to local government, and it interferes with the fundamental advisory role of PINS.

How to deal with the issue – a supplier framework as for neighbour hood plans awards would be a possibility.  Another [possibility is a National Town Planning Agency (which might have a range of tasks in any labour led government).  The key issue for this is governance, would any meetings where a minister decides be public, as ministers currently insist local government meetings are?  Would ministers at least have hearings from local government and other experts to advise them and would these be public?  Its possible but difficult and needs to be carefully thought through. I would not envy a minister which potentially would have to take on deciding site by site on dozens of local plan sites for dozens of local plans.  Given the SoS workload already I think DCLG would have to take on a couple of extra junior ministers just to get the job done.

Lewis Writes to PINS to Underline the Shift to Block Rural Development – Back to the William Davis ‘double hurdle test’

As if the shift wasn’t already obvious enough with recent recovered appeals – Lewis underlines it.  Effectively their is no longer a default of yes when landscape harm is involved.  Indeed the letter doesn’t even mention ‘valued landscapes’ stressing  the importance Lewis gives to areas ‘outside designated areas’ and ‘landscape character’ more widely.  It leaves a huge gulf though between the lanugae and tone of the NPPF – the presumption in favour – and the way ministers now preelection wish to apply it – pretty much identical to the old PPS3 and PPS4.  It now implies that the key test in no longer para.14 but para 17. which is being applied as if it were a test.  The early NPPF caselaw and appeals were contradictory until the SOS backed an inspector who rejected the ‘William Davis Ltd.’ principle – that the presumption only applies to development which is sustainable implying a double test.  Pickles on several occasion backed inspectors who said this was contrary to the NPPF most notably in in conjoined appeals at Droitwich Spa

The Secretary of State also notes the recent decision in Dartford Borough Council v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Landhold Capital Limited where Mrs Justice Patterson rejected elevating William Davis into a formulaic sequential approach to paragraph 14 of the Framework. Like the Inspector, the Secretary of State finds the relevant policies for the supply of housing are out of date… and therefore the presumption applies, and that the evidence…demonstrates that the Appeal A scheme is sustainable in terms of economic, environmental and social benefits.’ –

Now he appears to have changed his mind and we are back to a ‘double hurdle test’. It is difficult to see how Brnadon Lewis is not appliying a’formulaic sequential approach to paragraph 14 of the Framework’ if he is applying para.17 first to test whether there is harm to landscape character and ‘taking full account of the environmental as well as the economic and social dimensions of development proposals. ‘ first to state that development is not sustinable.

This is a fundamental shift by a government that does not want to admit it got it wrong and bottled it.  Let Brandon Lewis open a home for three legged donkeys.

Dear Simon, Landscape character and prematurity in planning decisions

I have become aware of several recent appeal cases in which harm to landscape character has been an important consideration in the appeal being dismissed. These cases are a reminder of one of the twelve core principles at paragraph 17 of the National Planning Policy Framework – that plans and decisions should take into account the different roles and character of different areas, and recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside – to ensure that development is suitable for the local context. While National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coasts quite rightly enjoy the highest degree of protection, outside of these designated areas the impact of development on the landscape can be an important material consideration. We are publicising some of these appeal cases more widely, with the help of the Planning Advisory Service, to promote greater understanding of how landscape character can be taken into account by local planning authorities in their decisions. These cases also reflect the wider emphasis on delivering sustainable outcomes at the heart of the Framework, which means taking full account of the environmental as well as the economic and social dimensions of development proposals. And, of course, these roles should not be undertaken in isolation – the economic factors can secure higher social and environmental standards. I would also like to take this opportunity to restate our position on prematurity, which I know is also an issue that causes debate in some cases. Paragraph 216 of the National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that weight can be given to relevant policies in emerging Local and neighbourhood plans, and the particular factors that need to be considered when doing so. When arguments relating to the prematurity of development are advanced, our planning guidance sets out the tests to be applied. The weight that can be attached to an emerging plan will need to be considered carefully when assessing whether a prematurity argument is justified. We will continue to consider whether this careful balance is best serving local communities.

FT – Government backtracks on offices-to-homes plan

FT – So after endless warnings it wouldn’t work, the DCLG at first fighting off Treasury attempts to force it, initial supporters such as oris and Vince Cable fiercely fighting it, the government finally admits it didn’t work – simply because everything planning and housing wise the Policy Exchange Dumb tank proposes is tested and has to be proven wrong because the government doesn’t trust any one else’s ideas and is too dumb to realise that the last body they should be listening to is Britain’s dumbest dumb tank with an unenviable world record beating record of clusterfuck disastrous policy failures,  So will Alex ‘Half Baked’ Norton the author of this policy and now number 1o’s housing adviser, and author of pretty much every disaster in waiting such as the vacant buildings credit, The NPPF and the Starter Homes initiative now resign his head in shame, totally disgraced or will he prove Parkinson’s law and get a promotion?

Plans to extend developers’ right to convert offices into homes have been abandoned by the government after a backlash led by central London boroughs, business leaders and London mayor Boris Johnson.

Rules were relaxed in 2013 to make it easier for developers to convert empty offices into homes but a large proportion of conversions involved occupied offices, triggering fears that established businesses were being evicted.

 Westminster has lost 5 per cent of its office space to residential use since the policy change came into effect, a report last year found — enough space for 78,000 workers.

The change was originally introduced for a three-year period but Whitehall last year proposed to make it permanent. However, it has now quietly dropped this idea, an explanatory memo released by the government this week reveals.

Responses to a government consultation carried out last year had raised “concern on the future availability of business premises, the impact on surrounding businesses and the quality of the new dwellings”, according to the memo.

The government will “further consider the case for extending the office to residential reforms”, communities secretary Eric Pickles said this week — but that will have to wait until after the general election.

Mr Johnson warned last year that making it easier to convert offices to homes “threatens the future of the City”.

The government’s high street champion Mary Portas and business leaders also lined up against the measure, arguing that clusters of creative and design businesses in particular were being damaged.

The news comes too late for the businesses of Utopia Village in Primrose Hill, north London. Mr Pickles last week approved plans by the small business park’s owner to convert the Victorian buildings into homes, despite a fierce campaign by its occupiers.

Camden council had rejected the plans but Mr Pickles overruled it.

John Chambers, of music tour promoter and Utopia tenant Marshall Arts, welcomed the U-turn “though it is probably too late for us, which is sad”.

The way the policy relaxation had been drafted was “ham-fisted”, he said.

Peter Box, housing and planning spokesman for the Local Government Association, said he was “pleased” the government was ending the relaxation in the rules.

The change has “led to existing businesses being evicted and seen homes created which do not meet the identified needs of a community”, Mr Box said.

Despite its U-turn on the conversion of offices to homes, the government on Wednesday announced plans to allow casinos, distribution centres and storage facilities to be turned into homes more easily.

If you had to contain London’s Green Belt loss to One Site its this One

The Chessington Line to Nowhere

Kingston Guardian

Kingston Liberal Democrat politicians have called on the Mayor of London to oppose suggestions by business leaders for a new suburb in Chessington.

The recommendations, outlined by business group London First earlier this month, call for tens of thousands of new homes to be built on green belt land within London.

The new suburb would be served by train expansion through the planned Crossrail 2 scheme, the group said.

Edward Davey started a Facebook group today called: “Say no to 70,000 homes in Chessington”.

Kingston Council leader Liz Green said: “We call on Boris [Johnson] to reject the recommendations that suggest building on our green belt.

“We fight to keep some green and open space within Kingston. We already don’t have that much.”

At the launch of London First’s report, Home Truths, deputy mayor for housing Richard Blakemore stated his support for its recommendations, which include calls for a review of whether green belt land could be used for housing.

But Mr Johnson told the Comet this week: “You don’t have to do this on green belt. My plan is to develop only on brownfield sites.

“Crossrail 2 will make a huge difference.”

Home Truths also recommended boroughs use compulsory purchase powers to reclaim land for housing.

Kingston and Surbiton MP Edward Davey said a new suburb would “put intolerable strain on our roads and local services.”

He added: “The authors of these reports can’t have ever been to Chessington because if they had, they would have realised how daft and damaging these proposals would be.”

There are four reasons why this site is one of the very few in London where GB loss makes sense

1) there is an unbuilt rail corridor extending from Chessington Station to Bansted, construction stopped because of teh second world war, it could easily be linked in to Crossrail and so unlike almost every other site proposed in London’s Green Belt does not raise a transport capacity objection

2) The area around Malden Basset is visual contained with forests and hills all around.

3) Kingston has an acute housing need, lack of large sites and  Chessington has an aging and increasingly poor population in desperate need of a boost

4) There is very little accessible Green Space in this area, for loss of a few 100 acres in Chessington you could create new country parks several times greater in size.

[Am] option would be to allow more intensive residential development at a location along the south western end of the route. As an example, the group identified the area around Chessington South in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, which is one of the destinations being considered for Crossrail 2. The area to the south of the Borough contains land that could potentially be released for new housing. The main transport connection at the moment is an underutilised branch line to Chessington South, which provides two trains per hour to Waterloo with a 36 minute journey time. An extended Crossrail 2 line and new station in the area could at least double service frequency to a minimum of 4 trains an hour and provide a direct rail connection into the West End in 35-40 minutes. For illustrative purposes, if 450 hectares of land were released for housing then some 70,000 new homes could be built in a new high value residential location. Assuming a CIL contribution of £200 per square metre per dwelling, initial modelling suggests that some £1,660 million could be raised for Crossrail 2.

Well Ed you asked for it. Its actually quite a good site that any sensible London Green Belt review would have on its shortlist. Is this small amd dull area of countryside worth 1.7 billion, where else would you find it for Crossrail 2?


Government Adopts Scottish Definition of ‘Pay Day Loan Shop’ (almost)

For which no less than 27 exemptions in the new GPDO aply in new UCO Amendment

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2015

Amendments to the Use Classes Order

2.—(1) The Use Classes Order is amended in accordance with the following paragraphs.

(2) In article 3(6) (exclusion from use classes), at the end, for the full stop substitute a comma and insert—

(n)as a betting office,

(o)as a pay day loan shop.

(3) After article 3(6) (exclusion from use classes), insert—

(6A) For the purpose of paragraph (6)—

“high-cost short-term credit” has the meaning given in the edition of the Financial Conduct Authority’s Handbook which came into effect on 1st April 2014 (following an amendment by the Authority in the Consumer Credit (Consequential and Supplementary Amendments) Instrument 2014(1)); and

“pay day loan shop” means premises—


from which high-cost short-term credit is provided principally to visiting members of the public and includes premises from which such credit is provided in addition to other financial or professional services, and


which, but for provision made in this article, would fall within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of the Schedule to this Order.

(4) In Part A (Use Classes) of the Schedule, in Class A2(c) omit “(including use as a betting office)”.

This is pretty much exactly the sensible definition the Scottish Government consulted on recently. 

As the scottish consultation said ‘In many cases, …, PDL may form only a limited aspect of the range of financial services offered from the premises and may be a part, perhaps only a very small part, of the overall use of the premises.’  In other words it probably wont meet the ‘primary purpose’ test for a change of use.  Interestingly the government has adopted  the solution I suggested back in Nov 2104. But without the sophistication of the Scottish approach, no exemption for example for Pawn Shops and Credit Union branches.

SHMAs have a Shelf Life of One Year – Pickles

From his megatstatement yesterday

In response to our commitment made during the passage of theInfrastructure Bill (26 January 2015, Official Report, Column 644), the government is also updating planning guidance to make clear that up to date assessments of housing need should not normally need to be updated for a full 12 months, and that untested assessments of housing need are inevitably less robust than those which have been subject to examination.

So Shmas – and the evergrowing list of privately prepared Anti-SHMAs are only an annual event now – phew there was I thinking that permanent arguments had replaced plan making!