Most councillors in green-belt areas believe that the land will be given over to housing in the next five years.
A survey for the National Trust found that 58 per cent of councillors agreed the land would be lost, compared with 51 per cent of those asked the same question in 2013.
The responses to the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) survey came just before the government publishes its housing white paper. Nearly three quarters of local councillors believe that the planning system favours developers while just over half said that housing was being approved even if they were not in line with local plans, because of relaxed regulations.
The LGiU warned that many councillors felt that the democratic tool of having to approve applications at a council level was being undermined and power was being skewed towards developers and the government. It voiced concerns that the National Planning Policy Framework, introduced in 2012, was failing to put communities first.
Almost half of respondents had seen an increase in the number of planning decisions being challenged and overturned since the framework was adopted. Of those respondents, half said that it made councils more likely to approve schemes.
Less than a fifth believed that the framework had improved design quality and half of the 1,278 councillors surveyed thought that their planning departments were not adequately resourced.
Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU chief executive, said: “The planning system is one of the fundamental pillars of local democracy, allowing communities to help shape the physical structure of the places they live. Councillors are the most important link between communities and the system. Our survey with the National Trust shows that many councillors feel that this democratic tool is at risk of being undermined.”
Ingrid Samuel, historic environment director at the trust, said: “It is almost five years after the government’s planning framework was adopted, so it’s worrying that councillors feel it hasn’t delivered the localism promised.”
Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, is due to launch the white paper this month. There is tension within the Conservative Party between the need to build more houses and fears over a “backlash” from middle England.
Note in Scotland “outline consent” has been replaced by “permission in principle” its just the same except that the ‘reserved matters’are left open.
We commissioned research to consider whether planning permission in principle should be attached to allocated sites within the development plan. The research has found that there is ‘conditional support’ for the proposed reform, but that this is ‘complex and nuanced.’ We have reservations about the amount of upfront work that would be needed to achieve this, and the implications arising for all those concerned as well as for development planning procedures. This would also need to be fully in line with and meet all European obligations for environmental assessment.__Whilst we agree that this approach has potential benefits, we are concerned that it may provide limited benefits which do not outweigh the extra time and complexity it would add. We would like to hear people’s views on whether this change would be either necessary or helpful, taking into account the research findings. We believe that a more strategic, zoning approach to housing allocations, such as improving the use of Simplified Planning Zones, could be a simpler way of strengthening the development plan and establishing the need for development at an early stage (see section 3).
What the Scottish Government has got which the English havn;t is that the benefits flow from a continental like ‘strategic zoning approach’ not grafting outline consent with all matters reserved at plan stage. What the English have got which the Scottish haven’t is that Simplified Planning Zones are a complex, poor and inflexible choice for delivery of the instrument. All that is needed is a structural plan with main roads and open spaces only which structures zoning districts with fixed quanta of development permitted per zoning district. What is needed is a simple enabling power to allow development plans to grant such PiP. Then one needs to make the distinction between what a zoning district is ‘zoned for’and whether subsequently every local road has been defined and land subdivided and building forms determined to state whether in international terms there has been ‘subdivision’consent and then ‘building consent’.
What I dont think both England and Scotland have to fully resolve is:
-What is the proper instrument for ‘strategic zoning'(structural consent”)
-What is the proper instrument for platting (parcel level subdivision)
-What is the proper instrument for building level consent?
Internationally we know the answers to this. The place specific masterplan shows the form of change for the place and a form based zoning code sets down the rules for subdivision and building form based typologies. For an excellent example see the new Green Code for Buffalo.
When you get the urge to send an email to the entire company the best advice is usually to lie down.
Unfortunately for the boss of one of the world’s leading architects’ practices, the impulse to hit send has caused fresh embarrassment months after he advocated the end of all social housing.
“Hey, shit happens . . . and lessons are learned! Politics and professional service don’t mix,” Patrik Schumacher wrote at five minutes to midnight to everybody at Zaha Hadid Architects.
The design partner and succesor of Dame Zaha, who died last March, was responding to the firm’s decision not to back his “end social housing speech”.
At a conference in Germany last November, Mr Schumacher, 55, claimed that only free-market economics could provide “housing for everyone”.
So radical were his proposals, such as concreting over Hyde Park, privatising London’s public squares, and expelling council tenants to free up “precious” social housing for the likes of his own staff, that Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, called him “just plain wrong”.
His comments about overseas investors buying up property, noting that however short their visits “they throw some key parties”, and about “free-riding” council tenants shocked his audience of designers and developers and led to him being branded the Donald Trump of the profession.
A swift climb-down followed, with an open letter sent on behalf of his practice saying that the speech did not reflect the principles of Hadid. “Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past — and will not be our future,” the letter states.
Mr Schumacher, who has worked at the firm since 1988, responded to the letter with a rambling late-night email, entitled “all cool!!!” and claimed that Roger Howie, his PR man, had exceeded his authority by sending out the statement.
“Don’t worry, I am in charge and won’t let you down,” he wrote. “Roger unfortunately temporarily drowned in the quicksands of the media spin and issued a statement which had nobody’s endorsement except his very own.”
In the email leaked to The Architects’ Journal, Mr Schumacher laughs off rumours that he is leaving, “about to ‘stress test my libertarian ideology’. Hahahaha!!! Hey, there is at least still some humour out there” but apologises that staff had to face protests from anarchists as a result of a “phantasmagoric controversy that I regretfully enflamed with embarrassing innocence”.
There were protests outside his office after his speech in Berlin. “I hope the protest is peaceful! In any case please be careful and avoid confrontation — as broken teeth or similar calamities are to be avoided by all means,” he wrote.
“Patrik has the full support of everyone at ZHA,” Davide Giordano, a company spokesman, said.
Taken as a whole throughout the preparation period from 2011 to August 2016 it appears that cooperation was structured and frequent. Whilst there may have been some loss of focus on strategic planning matters between 2014 and the early part of 2016, activity did not come to a complete stop. There is no chronological record of what took place when but the picture painted by all those involved is one of active and more or less on-going engagement.
However the information provided is weaker in showing how cooperation actually influenced the New Local Plan.
The New Local Plan is based on an objectively assessed need for housing of 400 dwellings per annum. Paragraph 13.22 recognises that the target for new homes does not equate with this but it reflects the capacity of the Borough to accommodate growth. A subsequent updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) in May 2016 gives a range for objectively assessed need of between 326-410 dwellings per annum. Be that as it may the draft New Local Plan proceeded on the basis of providing 200 dwellings per annum but this was reduced to 100 dwellings after the failure of the Task and Finish Group to reach agreement on the release of Green Belt land for housing in November 2015.
As far as the Council is concerned no amount of further conversations would have altered the difficulties in meeting its objectively assessed needs within its boundaries.
- The questions of whether the strategy for housing is the most appropriate one and therefore justified and whether it is consistent with national policy, including paragraph 14 of the NPPF, are soundness ones. However, paragraph 179 of the NPPF provides that:
Joint working should enable local planning authorities to work together to meet development requirements which cannot wholly be met within their own areas – for instance, because of a lack of physical capacity or because to do so would cause significant harm to the principles and policies of this Framework.
This is precisely the situation in Castle Point. Indeed, the officer report of July 2014 which set out the full document representations on the draft New Local Plan (CP/05/008) includes the following as an action point:
Given that the Council has not been able to identify a sufficient supply of housing to meet its objectively assessed needs, it is also necessary to engage with neighbouring authorities under the auspices of the Duty to Cooperate in order to determine how the objectively assessed need for housing, and other strategic matters, will be addressed within the housing market area.
- However, notwithstanding the lengthy and detailed engagement across south Essex there is no formal mechanism in place to distribute unmet housing need. In order to comply with the duty there is no requirement for this to be done by any particular means. Indeed, the outcome of joint working in this respect could take a variety of forms and it is not for me to say what they should be. Nevertheless, the position is that there is simply nothing in the New Local Plan to indicate how the unmet need for housing will be tackled. This is because the authorities have not yet deliberated about the matter in any meaningful way. Therefore the question of how the objectively assessed need will be addressed, as raised by officers in 2014, has not been adequately grappled with.
- The Council is now anxious to ensure that the delivery of its objectively assessed needs is addressed with neighbouring authorities and intends to play a full and active part through the various DtC mechanisms that are now operating. There is no reason to doubt this but a failure to demonstrate compliance cannot be corrected after submission (PPG ID 9-018-20140306).
There is no duty to agree (PPG ID 9-00320140306). However, whilst it might be firmly in view now, there is no clear evidence that consideration of this admittedly difficult issue was attempted as part of the preparation of the New Local Plan. Within that process it has been treated as an ‘afterthought’.
all the indications are that in this respect the Council decided to ‘plough its own furrow’. Failing to address the wider impact of its ‘last minute’ decision to lower the housing target by a considerable amount is the very opposite of cooperation in plan preparation.
the Council fell well short of making every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on the strategic cross-boundary matter of housing before submitting the New Local Plan for examination. The engagement undertaken as part of its preparation was fundamentally flawed.
Whilst the Borough may not hold all or any of the answers to the shortage of (travellers) pitches in Basildon it should attempt to play its part. Ultimately it might be that providing more traveller sites in Castle Point is not the best planned solution but there is a duty on the Council to try. In preparing the New Local Plan it simply has not done enough in this respect and there has been a DtC failing.
In specific terms the housing policies have failed to address how unmet need will be dealt with across the housing market area. This is exacerbated by the lack of consideration of this matter when reducing the housing target by 50%.
However, there have been fundamental shortcomings in the steps taken, or not taken, to secure the necessary cooperation on the strategic cross-boundary matter of housing. In addition, the Council has not made every effort to consider how it might deal with the significant unmet need for traveller sites in south Essex arising, in particular, from Basildon.
Therefore my final conclusion is that the duty to cooperate has not been complied with. Clearly this is not the outcome that the Council would have wanted and it is not a view I have reached lightly or without full consideration of the material put to me.
Nevertheless I must recommend non-adoption of the New Local Plan under Section 20(7A) of the 2004 Act. In this situation the PPG advises that the most appropriate course of action is likely to be for the local planning authority to withdraw the plan under Section 22 and engage in necessary discussions and actions with others. That is the course of action I would favour. The alternative is to receive my report but the content of this would be substantially the same as this letter.
Times – would we have leaks like this if the Housing White Paper wasn’t jammed at No. 10
Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, is pressing Theresa May to allow him to take on the vested interests, including house-building companies and some Conservative councils, that he says threaten to scupper the government’s pledge to provide a million new homes by the end of the decade.
He is putting the finishing touches to measures that he says are urgently needed if the government is to deliver on its promise.
Later this month he will publish proposals to speed up the planning process and force councils to accept thousands more homes in a bid to ease the housing crisis.
Almost all areas of the North will see considerable household growth – its certainly not being ‘restricted’in Greater Manchester for example – a never been north of Watford Gap southerners framing- – just not the same as the South – after all it has lower population. The issue is whether in making 15+ year housing forecasts do you ‘build in’success of a policy that has not yet been tried. John Prescott thought this thinking it foolish to plan for 20yrs housing targets when his policies would see a shift to growth in the north, he was wrong despite a far stronger policy framework the regional imbalences increased and he worsened the housing shortage as a result. Javid should resist such a foolish policy repeat.
The communities secretary said he was determined to face down political opposition amid warnings of a backlash over plans to encourage councils to increase the number of homes being built in local areas, which could in turn see some pockets of green belt used for housing.
“I am not pretending it is always going to be easy, but the opposition I am concerned about most of all is what happens if we don’t make these reforms,” Mr Javid told Sky News.
“The opposition of young people and others out there that are looking for decent homes – either to rent or buy; what would happen if their political leaders fail them – and that is certainly not going to happen with this government.”
Mr Javid said his white paper would contain measures to ensure that more land was released in the “right places” for development, but that the focus would be on building on brownfield sites rather than the “sacrosanct” green belt.
However, he did acknowledge that in “the most exceptional circumstances” the green belt could be built on.
Under the legal test the responsibility rests with the LPA consulting on its plan irrespective of boundaries.
RESIDENTS living near fields outside Oxford where thousands of homes could be built have slammed council bosses for not consulting them.
They said proposals to develop land between the city and Kidlington could wreck views from Cutteslowe Park and cause traffic chaos.
It is part of changes Cherwell District Council is considering for its Local Plan, with a consultation closing on January 9.
The local authority’s boundary stops short of homes in North Oxford, so it has not directly contacted people there – even though they live next to the area affected.
It is understood the district council said it had asked neighbouring Oxford City Council to contact households on its behalf, but the city council instead said it suggested Cherwell get in touch with them.
Sajid Javid is facing opposition to reforms to the planning system from MPs, including some senior ministers, because of fears there will be a “huge backlash in Middle England”.
The communities secretary will publish a housing white paper later this month to try to accelerate homebuilding figures despite misgivings from Theresa May about a potential rebellion by Tory MPs over the issue.
Despite positive housebuilding data, Mr Javid has warned that current levels of construction are “nowhere near good enough” after the failure of successive governments to take action. “I’m not talking about small tweaks, building 1,000 homes here or there,” he said recently. “I’m talking about major, long-lasting reform.”
The most contentious issue is a plan to force councils to increase the number of homes in the local plans that they are required to produce.
The prime minister still remembers, according to people familiar with the debate, the reaction from the shires when the coalition sought to overhaul the planning system five years ago through changes to the national planning policy framework (NPPF).
“You have to remember that Theresa May is MP for quite a leafy home counties seat where people are probably not very gung-ho about new homes being built,” said one official, while a senior Tory MP said: “It’s not just May who has issues with this, other senior ministers are very concerned. They just can’t speak out because they are ministers.”
Mr Javid has the backing of Greg Clark, business secretary, who as a junior minister led the reforms to the NPPF. Both ministers believe that tackling house prices is a crucial plank of the government’s attempts to help “just about managing” voters.
But Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that it would be “toxic” to force councils to increase their targets when local authorities are already struggling to meet existing goals.
“If this happens there will be a huge backlash in Middle England. People will not have faith in the planning system,” he said. “We will return to a situation where not enough homes are getting built but we still have lots of planning battles.”
Andrew Mitchell, the party’s former chief whip, recently threatened to use “all legal means” to block the government’s decision to let more than 6,000 homes be built on greenbelt land in his seat of Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands.
The development was approved despite a Conservative manifesto pledge to protect the greenbelt. Mr Mitchell has spoken of “anger and disappointment” in his constituency over the issue.
He argued that other MPs are likely to see Mr Javid’s white paper through the prism of that decision: “The Sutton Coldfield decision is likely to remove the benefit of the doubt from the government over greenbelt issues,” he said.
The NPPF obliged councils to draw up growth-focused local plans, including an assessment of housing need and evidence that they have five years’ worth of development land available. Authorities that fail to produce these targets face an appeal process which favours developers.
Local people are up in arms. They are not getting any infrastructure or any kind of gain from these developments and they see themselves as besieged by builders.
Ministers have also considered “punishing” such councils by excluding them from funding sources such as the New Homes Bonus or the recently announced Housing Infrastructure Fund.
One person present at a meeting between Gavin Barwell, the housing minister, and local councils said the minister had appealed to Conservative local authorities to support increased local targets for new housebuilding.
“There haven’t been any incentives for local authorities to support this . . . When you try to make the small local planning system bear this enormous obligation on housing, it’s like putting 20,000 volts through a small hamster,” he said.
Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association and Conservative leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “If you get into a situation with central government effectively imposing top-down targets, you are back to a situation where local communities will really resent these housing numbers.”
He cited the local example of the Vale of Aylesbury, which has twice had its local plans rejected by the Planning Inspectorate and hence has no current plan in place. “It’s open season for virtually any speculative housebuilder in the country to come in and stick in planning applications which are very difficult to refuse.
“Local people are up in arms. They are not getting any infrastructure or any kind of gain from these developments and they see themselves as besieged by builders.”
Housebuilding in the UK has recovered from its post-crash lows and data published on Tuesday suggest a rise in activity and in mortgage approvals. But annual housebuilding, at 189,900 in 2015-16, is still below the estimate of at least 220,000 new homes needed just for the market to tread water.
The white paper is expected to emphasise the importance of building on brownfield sites and moving away from a reliance on the big housebuilders and could remove some height restrictions on new buildings.
A DCLG spokesperson said: “Local Plans put power in the hands of local people to decide where developments get built in their area. Planning policy encourages locally led development and does not set national housing targets.
“Our White Paper, to be published this month, will clearly set out how we plan to build the homes this country needs.”
The Robocop of Neighbourhood Plan Examiners- as we have previously reported.
Local residents stated that they felt that they were “being ignored,” that there was “no opportunity for meaningful input or discussion” and that the Neighbourhood Plan was a “fait accompli.” In this latter regard, I note that the Parish Council stated at the public hearing that there was little change to the document from its “inception” to its final submission.