Why HS2 will be Reprofiled but not Scrapped (and the Link to East Midlands and Sheffield could be put back)

A lot of speculation in the press today that the review group will scrap it as the panel includes some critics.  I note however the critics on the panel have all questioned it on rational cost-benefit grounds and are not doctrinal opponents. Let looks at the terms of reference.

Terms of Reference

For the whole HS2 project, the review should rigorously examine and state its view on:

  • whether HS2 Ltd is in a position to deliver the project effectively, taking account of its performance to date and any other relevant information

  • the full range of benefits from the project, including but not limited to:

    • capacity changes both for services to cities and towns on HS2 and which will not be on HS2
    • connectivity
    • economic transformation including whether the scheme will promote inclusive growth and regional rebalancing
    • environmental benefits, in particular for carbon reduction in line with net zero commitments
    • the risk of delivery of these and other benefits, and whether there are alternative strategic transport schemes which could achieve comparable benefits in similar timescales
  • the full range of costs of the project, including but not limited to:

    • whether HS2 Ltd’s latest estimates of costs and schedule are realistic and are comparable to other UK infrastructure
    • why any cost estimates or schedules have changed since the most recent previous baselines
    • whether there are opportunities for efficiencies
    • the cost of disruption to rail users during construction
    • whether there are trade-offs between cost and schedule; and whether there are opportunities for additional commercial returns for the taxpayer through, for example, developments around stations, to offset costs
    • what proceeding with Phase 1 means in terms of overall affordability, and what this means in terms of what would be required to deliver the project within the current funding envelope for the project as a whole
  • whether the assumptions behind the business case, for instance on passenger numbers and train frequencies, are realistic, including the location and interconnectivity of the stations with other transport systems, and the implications of potential changes in services to cities and towns which are on the existing main lines but will not be on HS2

  • for the project as a whole, how much realistic potential there is for cost reductions in the scheme as currently planned through changes to its scope, planned phasing or specification, including but not limited to:

    • reductions in speed
    • making Old Oak Common the London terminus, at least for a period
    • building only Phase 1
    • combining Phases 1 and 2a
    • different choices or phasing of Phase 2b, taking account of the interfaces with Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • the direct cost of reprioritising, cancelling or de-scoping the project, including but not limited to: contractual penalties; the risk of legal action; sunk costs; remediation costs; supply chain impact; and an estimate of how much of the money already spent, for instance on the purchase of land and property, could be recouped

  • whether and how the project could be reprioritised; in particular, whether and, if so how, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) (including the common sections with HS2Phase 2b) could be prioritised over delivering the southern sections of HS2

  • whether any improvements would benefit the integration of HS2NPR and other rail projects in the north of England or Midlands

  • any lessons from the project for other major projects

Three key points.  Firstly as everyone acknowledges the key benefit is capciaty and there is no plan b to increase intercity capacity.  Secondly the overuns have been on land aquisition primarily.  This is a sunk cost.  It is an application of the sunk cost fallacy to include these, the money cannot be recovered.

There is money within the (too low) Treasury cealing of 56 billion to get to Curzon Street but not phase 2a or 2b

However the cost benefit ratio only significantly increases when you get to Manchester, and potentially Liverpool and HS2 with a chord can cut travel time between Liverpool and Manchester by half an hour.  We still dont yet have proper plans for Manchester Picadilly   So extending 2a North of Manchester Airport would be impractical until the  concept design of the NPR/HS2 interface at Piccadilly is finalised.   The previous chancellor had pledged to look at a direct HS2 connection requiring a new station in Liverpool.  However designs are at such an early stage that it would be impractical to include in 2a.

The review includes a number of measures oft touted in terms of improving CBA including termining at Old Oak in the short term, unlikely I think given sunk costs.  Although the speed and headway (18 trains per hour) have been criticised as costly the UK has gained much greater experience of ‘digital railway’/japenese style signalling, and several examples of this will be in operation by the mid 2020s.

Two sections of the paper struck me.

whether there are opportunities for additional commercial returns for the taxpayer through, for example, developments around stations, to offset costs

There are several examples of where this is planned, at Birmingham Interchange for example and Taton.  There are several more where it is possible at Old Oak (with a much more publicly led land acquisition strategy then planning including the Car Giant Site), at Calvert where it could interchange with East West Rail (providing there was additional terminal capacity in London) and at the proposed Garden Town at ROF Swynnerton where a maintenance depot and new junction to the M6 is proposed as well as reopening the rail link to Stoke.  Half way between Brum and Manchester the strategic case is much the same as Calvert.   All of these require additional accelleration/deceleration/passing lines (as proposed already at Birmingham Interchange and japenese style light trains (proposed anyway) – done together these could transform the business case, as like in Japan 25% of revenues could come from commuter traffic.

Another section struck me.

different choices or phasing of Phase 2b, taking account of the interfaces with Northern Powerhouse Rail

The description of 2a is misleading as North of Crewe and the link to Sheffield are both described as 2b.  However the eastern arm is projected to cost twice as much as the link to Manchester.  Large part of this is due to a costly and slow link to Sheffield City Centre when there are several cheaper options.  Also the choice of a Sheffield station needs to be taken at the same time as how it would interface with Northern Powerhouse Rail, for example a link through to Sheffield Victoria then eastwards to the Woodhead Tunnels, though the diasdvantage of this is the loss of a Braford alignment.  Leeds and Braford are so close though a fast metro style link makes much more sense than a HSR link as the headway impact on including a Bradford (or Rochdale) links are crippling of the business case.

if you want to rapidly massage the CBR than the easiest thing to do to delay phase 2b north of Taton for 5 years as well as North of Manchester Airport, compensating whilst announcing NPR/HS3 with links to Sheffield and Liverpool, though delayed by 2-3 years whilst the precise alignment and connection details are finalised.  This could save around 20 billion in current spending committments for the project.  At the same time announce land value capture programs at Old Oak Common, Birmingham International, Calvert, Taton and Swynnerton .  Each one of which could yield around 5 billion (3 billion after local infrastructure) adding 15 billion to the benefits pot.  #

Both of these together bring the project within the Treasury cost envelope.

 

 

New Zealand Tackles Nimby Defence of Property Interests Head in in New National Policy Statement

A very interesting read

Of course the New Zealand System is based on resource management which the draft statement says has not been focussed enough around spatial planning, or social and economic considerations.

Current processes for public participation tend to favour wealthier property owners over others (in particular younger, non-English speakers, ethnic minorities, the less educated and renters)….

Some planning decisions on urban development appear to consider only the effects on the natural environment or specific amenity considerations, and not how the urban environment meets the social, economic and cultural needs of people and communities. Many decisions
focus on the adverse effects of development, and do not adequately address its benefits (including for future generations). This can have a local and national impact…

The Government intends to introduce objectives and
policies in the NPS-UD that would:
• emphasise that amenity values can change over time, with changes in communities and their values, and through the opportunities urban
development offers
• shift the current perception that urban development only has negative effects on amenity for individuals, to also recognise that it can enhance amenity for other people and communities
• emphasise that local authorities should consider amenity values for current and future communities.

Current planning reflects a bias towards the status quo and away from change….

Part of the reason for the current constrained supply of housing and continuing unaffordability is the limited choice and variety of well-integrated, higher-density housing. A lack of higher density housing fuels higher prices across entire cities, not just where intensification might
be appropriate.
Often higher-density housing is not developed in a way that enhances the urban environment – in the right quantity, type or location that supports affordable living to meet the diverse needs of people and communities.

One cause is a political bias towards local propertied interests. Restrictions on intensification often reflect the interests of current property owners (who may not want change in their neighbourhood) over the needs of the wider community – for example renters, new home
buyers, social housing providers and future generations. These groups are prevented from living in homes close to the best job options, services and amenities. They are also less likely to live in areas easily accessible by public and active transport. Those most affected are people on
low, medium and even above average incomes, particularly young people, working families, Māori and Pacific people. As a result they spend more on transport to get to high-demand
locations

The document could be improved n a number of ways.  It could replace the term ‘urban development’ with ‘Urban Living’ as pioneered in Bristol to emphasise the positive qualities a well planned urban environment has on people and the planet.  Secondly it should make clear that urban living is essential in the transition to a zero carbon society.

The Strategic Tradeoff in New Style Strategic Plans

The story of strategic planning since the 2004 Act has been in large part an innovation of new styles of plan facing the harsh reality of  contact with the Planning Inspectorate.

Now the results of the NEGC and West of England examinations into new style joint strategic plans offers an opportunity reflection similar to that following the unsoundness fining of the first core strategy for Stafford.

Although strategic planning has seen an inevitable revival the reason why it has not been welcomed with open arms is that in England we have never got the structure or geographical level of strategic planning right.  Numerous messing around with local government structures always short of a comprehensive form has led to a messy combination of strategic plan structures covering districts, unitaries, counties and combined authorities.  Though we have moved beyond the weak duty to cooperate to an effective duty to plan strategically there is still no consensus on what the new style strategic plans should look like or do.

When some of the first of the large new unitaries were created such as Cornwall and Wiltshire they adopted a core strategy approach with allocations plans coming along later.  The problem was this first generation of plans was highly variable in quality in terms of settlement structure and policy (stop gap solutions) and leading to a delay of 5-7 years between core strategy adoption and allocations adoptions.

Far from advancing on from the problems of Structure Plans/Local Plans they repeated them.

The concept of  strategic plans created on a broad brush scale with broad locations on a key diagram on a non map base came from the PAG report in the 60s. It was the model for the structure plan.  Structures plans were slow to produce and the transition to allocations not much quicker.

After the 2004 act it became clear that core strategies were not getting the job done in terms of bringing strategic sites forward.  Even before the NPPF came out the ministry made it clear that strategic sites could be allocated in strategic plans.

The trade off that strategic plans face is between simpler plans more quickly produced at a high level and plans that give certainty on allocation of land. The latter requires lines on maps. Lines that define policy such as Green Belt and allocate land.

The concept of the spatial development strategic was explicitly PAG based, not being on a map base and not able to define policy areas or allocate site according to current law.  Though footnote 15 on page 9 hints that the law would be changed (following the GMSF issues).  So even if an SDS is agreed you cant break ground on strategic sites until an allocation plans comes along to implement the Green Belt changes in the SDS and draw lines on a map.

The problems of the West of England solution to the trade off between simplicity and certainty is to return to a pure PAG approach of ‘broad locations’ likely to spread fear across whole counties as to where these might be and without the opportunity to pursue landscape led and design led solutions to mitigation, natural capital and infrastructure.  It is a discredited 60s style of planning that wont work.  Broad locations dont exist on a higher plane from the geography of roads, rail lines and topography they create places.

There are solutions to the simplicity/certainty trade off and we perhaps see them best in the new Cheshire unitaries.  Where we have as a first stage strategic plans defining strategic growth locations and refining the Green Belt, allocations of numbers to broad locations of small towns, villages, clusters of villages.  And then followed swiftly by allocations plans to define smaller scale sites.  Note they are unitaries of an appropriate functional regional scale.

The lesson to be learned,  If you are a small scale authority outside joint arrangement just produce a single simple local plan.  If you are a large unitary outside joint arrangement do the Cheshire two stage approach.

If you are a large joint planning area then do the two stage approach – allocating strategic sites in the joint plan, and make your governance arrangements as unitary like as possible.  If you dont all of the evidence so far suggests crude political disagreements will either unacceptably delay the plan or lead to it failing at examination for not having strategy options distorted by raw local political interference, of the Not in My Term of Office variety.

Parish Council Claims Boys Scouts will be Molested if New Housing Built

Bucks Free Press

Chalfont St Peter Parish Council have blasted the proposed Local Plan, saying that one local scout camp will be forced to close should the proposals be approved.

The Council claim that the proposed construction of 200 homes in the open greenbelt land located next to the Paccar Scout Camp will have massive implications on the group.

They claim that the Paccar Scout Camp will be ‘driven out’ if the proposals go ahead, given the possible safeguarding problems that building 200 new properties could cause.

EIPS and Equally Justified Strategies

Although the main failing of new style strategic plans so far had been on failure to look at reasonable alternatives, once they have taken a step backwards and done so through a new SEA there is no guarantee that one strategy only will pull clear of the rest.

A good example is North Essex where the SEA concludes that the preferred strategy and one incorporating elements (more development East ofColchester) of the opponents preferred approach score roughly equally.

Look at the soundness test in the NPPF

Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable
alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;

Note no longer the ‘most appropriate strategy’.  Providing that there is not on strategy which has significantly more environmental effects than another it is perfectly possible for more than one to pass the hurdle.

Then what is the role of the EIP panel – well if the strategy preferred passes this test it has to be found sound.  It is not the panels job to have a beauty contest of strategies. which might come to a surprise to opponents of the preferred strategy.  At the end of the day the choice between strategies where significant environmental effects are avoided/mitigated is a job for elected politicians not keyboard warriors or land promoters.

Of course this is partially to do with the relatively weak and subjective goals achievement matrix type scoring used, and the lack this far of good land-use/transport wide area models which assess carbon impact.  Im sure these will improve and will help justify.

Hence I think the attention will switch among oppositionist to challenging the justification given by cllrs towards one strategy than other.  I dont think justifications such as West Somerset/Bolton wouldn’t countenance any Green Belt Sites and Stockport said they had enough would justify as land use planning considerations as it would lead to weighted and unfair consideration between alternative sites in terms of their objective environmental impacts.

Braintree Leader – Opponents of Garden Communities a Minority of ‘Keyboard Warriors’

Of course when leaders start pandering to Keyboard Warriors Chief Planning get suspended

Essex Live

Graham Butland, the leader of Braintree District Council, said: “Clearly there are feelings that run high.

“I don’t believe that there is the amount of opposition that some are trying to tell us. Someone mentioned keyboard warriors. I think it is a lot like that.

“I think we have to resolve.

“No-one wants housing. The people who lived in White Court didn’t want Great Notley.

“Now it’s all part of one community.

“But what is important, and I’m delighted that some of the younger councillors spoke, because this is what this is about.

“I’m one of the lucky generation who picked the right time to be born when it was automatically assumed that when you were in your mid twenties and got married you would buy a house.

“And if you didn’t there was sufficient council housing to rent.”

Oldham Chief Planner @StevethePlanner – Recommends Approving Housing – Suspended as classed as ‘Gross Misconduct’

Place Northwest

What happens when you have an incompetent planning chair and seeking to shift blame for an inevitably unpopular development

Oldham’s head of planning Stephen Irvine has been suspended amid claims of “gross misconduct”, with the borough’s Liberal Democrat leader calling for an investigation as to whether the allegations focus on two controversial planning applications, including one by Russell Homes at Knowls Lane.

In a letter to Oldham Council’s deputy chief executive Helen Lockwood, Cllr Howard Sykes, leader of the borough’s Liberal Democrat group, flagged the Knowls Lane application as one of two schemes to be investigated following the allegations against Irvine. The other project relates to 32 houses for First Choice Homes at Hodge Clough Road.

Cllr Sykes said: “If it is the case that the allegations of ‘gross misconduct’ apply in any way to either of these applications, then I would ask that a similar process to the way that the approval decision for Saddleworth School was passed and then ‘revoked’, the decisions in relation to these applications are similarly ‘revoked’ and returned to the planning committee with appropriate reports for decision.

“The impact of both these applications is huge, especially in relation to openness, transparency and public confidence.  People need their faith restoring in modern politics, the Liberal Democrats want answers for local residents.”

Irvine has been in his role since November 2015, having previously worked as a planning director at NLP, and at Cheshire East Council, where he was planning manager.

Oldham’s planning committee has been embroiled in controversy in recent months particularly around Russell Homes’ application; local groups vehemently opposed the project, which will see 265 houses built on a 39-acre greenfield site in the Lees area of the borough.

At the committee on 1 July, following the initial cases for and against the scheme, an initial motion to refuse was defeated by five votes to three; with shouts from the chamber calling for a decision to be deferred, and a confused break where the process of putting forward a motion to approve was explained, another vote was held.

Commitee chair Cllr Clint Phythian, councillor for Royton North, initially announced the decision was unanimous to an incredulous response from other speakers. A final figure of the vote was not announced by the chairman, who simply said the application had been approved, before adjourning the meeting. The decision was greeted by a wave of heckles and cries of “kangaroo court” from the public gallery.

At the same committee, proposals for 27 homes at Pearly Bank were also passed despite a vote having to take place three times. During the meeting planning process was explained to the committee’s chair in detail, before it was announced the project had been refused; however, following another vote, the scheme was approved following several miscounts.

The Council Leaders Own Blog

Shock suspension of Head of Planning at Oldham Council

After a formal request, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Liberal Democrat Leader in Oldham Borough has been informed that the Head of Planning and Infrastructure, Steven Irvine, has been suspended from the Council.  He has been suspended from duties whilst allegations of ‘gross misconduct’ are ‘fully investigated’.

Councillor Sykes MBE wants to know how long for and what steps have been put in place to maintain a planning service.  “Currently it is far from perfect and I and other councilors are getting lots of complaints from residents and business,” stated Councillor Sykes.

“There is currently a large amount of public unrest in relation to the Planning Officer’s Reports in relation to two applications leading to decisions of approval:

1: PA/342008/18 Land at Hodge Clough Road Oldham

2. PA/343269/19 Land at Knowls Lane, Oldham

The implication of the approval for both these applications is significant, particularly in relation to openness, transparency and public confidence.”

“If it is the case that the allegations of ‘gross misconduct’ apply in any way to either of these applications, then I would ask that a similar process to the way that the approval decision for Saddleworth School was passed and then ‘revoked’, the decisions in relation to these applications are similarly ‘revoked’ and returned to the Planning Committee with appropriate reports for decision,” Councillor Sykes demanded.

“The impact of both these applications is huge, especially in relation to openness, transparency and public confidence.  People need their faith restoring in modern politics, the Liberal Democrats want answers for local residents.”

Copy of letter below:

1 August 2019

Dear Helen Lockwood,

Re:  Suspension of Head of Planning

After a formal request I have now been informed that the Head of Planning and Infrastructure, Steven Irvine has been suspended from duties whilst allegations of ‘gross misconduct’ are ‘fully investigated’.

It would be useful to know the time period for the above and what specific steps have been put in place to maintain a planning service for residents and businesses.

However, that is not the main point in my writing.

There is currently a large amount of public unrest in relation to the Planning Officer’s Reports in relation to two applications leading to decisions of approval:

1: PA/342008/18 Land at Hodge Clough Road Oldham

2. PA/343269/19 Land at Knowls Lane, Oldham

The implication of the approval for both these applications is significant, particularly in relation to openness, transparency and public confidence.

If it is the case that the allegations of ‘gross misconduct’ apply in any way to either of these applications, then I would ask that a similar process to the way that the approval decision for Saddleworth School was passed and then ‘revoked’, the decisions in relation to these applications are similarly ‘revoked’ and returned to the Planning Committee with appropriate reports for decision.

I await your comments and response with interest.

Yours sincerely

Howard Sykes

Although the Cllr management of the committee and the nature of the suspension is disgraceful there was a howler of an error in the reports that any planner will spot

Lets consider the relevant Policy 3 JLP lemma

Managing the release of housing land
Planning applications for residential development, in whole or as part of a mixed-use scheme, will be permitted where:

a. the site is allocated for residential development or mixed-use and has come forward in line  with the council’s approach to phasing, reflecting the residential distribution described above;
or
b. the site is allocated for residential development or mixed-use and has come forward
prematurely from the phasing set out in the Site Allocations DPD and does not undermine other national and local guidance and policies: and
i. a deliverable five-year supply of housing land cannot be demonstrated; or
ii. it contributes to the delivery of the borough’s regeneration priorities; or
iii. it contributes to the delivery of affordable housing that meets the local affordable housing needs.
Proposals on a non-allocated site for residential development will be considered favourably where it meets the three criteria listed under b above or it is for a small development, comprising a change of use or conversion or not identified in the council’s SHLAA.

The Committee report omits the highlighted section and then says that as the site is not -allocated the three criteria apply.  Which has led some objectors to state that the policy doesn’t apply as the site is not allocated.  There certainly was an editing error in the report however planning committee members can be expected to read and know the key policies of a local plan, as can, with some help often, objectors.  There is a case only for a mile reprimand from the CE and not suspension as the outcome of the case would have been the same recommendation and the same decision.  As the leader of the Council should know if he took 30 second to read his own local plan.  The suspension is a disgrace and should be revoked immediately.

Inspectors You had One Job ‘ We are Not just Going to Choose a [Housing] Figure We Prefer’

No wonder the West of England Joint Plan ran in to trouble with such strangeness.

Just is what a panel for – to choose the ‘style’ of plan they like [facepalm].

Bristol Live

Councils don’t want too many houses built in the West of England over the next 20 years in case they are “left empty”.

The local authorities for Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset have estimated the region will need 105,000 new homes by 2036.

They defended that number on July 4 as an examination of their joint spatial plan by government officials entered its third day.

Planning inspectors Malcolm Rivett and Steven Lee will determine whether the plan should be adopted, revised or withdrawn.

Developers, transport chiefs, campaign groups and other interested parties weighed in over the councils’ housing target, with home builders calling for it to be boosted to 140,000 and opponents saying it should be cut by as much as half.

But consultant Jonathan Lee, representing the four councils, defended the 105,000 figure, saying it was based on a “sound” assessment of housing need.

He admitted that figure would not deliver all of the 30,000 affordable homes needed, but said the council did not want to risk adding too many more homes to the market.

“We have to understand who is going to live in those houses,” he said. “We don’t want houses to be left empty.”

Barrister Christopher Young, representing a consortium of eight housing developers, said he found Mr Lee’s comments “strange”.

“I don’t think there’s any problems with houses being filled,” he said on behalf of Barratt Homes, Bloor Homes, Crest Nicholson, L&Q Estates, Gladman, Redrow Homes, Robert Hitchins, and Taylor Wimpey.

Mr Young argued vociferously that the housing market was “broken” and a “substantial boost” in the numbers was needed to improve housing affordability.

The consortium proposes boosting the housing target to 140,000, a figure backed by the Home Builders Federation.

The federation’s James Stevens said: “This is one of the most highly charged housing markets in the country. You could build 200,000 homes here and have no problem at all.”

Simon Fitton, from Crest, said “overallocation” of housing was the only way to build sufficient flexibility into the housing plan.

And Matt Griffith from industry group Business West warned that constraining house building risked jeopardising economic growth in the region.

But representatives from residents’ groups TRAPPD (Thornbury Residents Against Poorly Planned Development) and Nailsea Action Group expressed concern that the councils’ target of 105,000 homes was too high.

Robert Davis from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Avonside suggested a much lower target of 70,000 to 80,000, saying the West of England had already done “its fair share” of house building over the last 20 years.

Mr Davis said area was becoming “overcrowded” and that adding too many more new homes would put too much pressure on the community.

Mr Young asked the planning inspectors whether they would contemplate an “uplift” in the housing target to the level sought by developers.

But Mr Rivett replied: “We’re not just going to choose a figure we prefer.”

The councils’ calculation of housing need took into account predictions of population growth, demographic trends, migration, job growth, household numbers, house prices and other factors.

Student growth was also taken into account, except in the Bath area, where student housing is to be considered separately under the local plan.

Each factor used in the calculation was argued over by participants in the meeting.

The examination of the joint spatial plan continues next week, and further hearings are planned in September and October.

A decision is not expected before the end of this year.

West of England Joint Plan Found Unsound for not examining Alternatives, But Want Strategic Planning to Go Back to Dark Ages

Inspectors Report

This was supposed to be the model.

As I long ago argued and the panel now agree

we are not persuaded that there is evidence to demonstrate that the Strategic Development Locations, and thus the overall spatial strategy, have been selected for inclusion in the plan, against reasonable alternatives, on a robust, consistent and objective basis. We therefore cannot conclude that these fundamental aspects of the plan are sound

Sadly though they go down a totally impractical soft planning route where it will be impossible to test SEA wise vague non specific areas

it might be appropriate to consider developing a high-level strategy
for the plan area which, not based on specific SDLs, identifies how housing, employment and other development should be broadly distributed. Proposals for specific strategic development locations would then follow on from this.
Obviously such a strategy would need to be tested against reasonable
alternatives. This approach would also potentially provide the plan, and the follow-on local plans, with the flexibility to select lternative/additional SDLs should this be necessary if one were to “fall away” or if the quantum of development needs were to change over time.

Bearing in mind the amount of additional evidence which has already
been prepared since the plan was submitted for examination in respect of the SDLs and the spatial strategy, we seriously question whether the production of even more evidence, as opposed to going back several stages in the plan making process, would be likely to address our soundness concerns. Importantly, we also question whether such work could be seen as genuinely having been carried out with the necessary objectivity, rather than being an exercise to justify a predetermined spatial strategy.

The predetermined strategy being in this case to deliberately allocate as little in the Green Belt as possible without causing impossible congestion.

The panels suggested approach – not following on from anything in national policy or guidance, would require communities to accept vague structure plan/RSS like locations like ‘5000 houses South West of Thornbury’ without any idea of the extent or supporting infrastructure for that community or the availability, viability or deliverability of the site.  For anyone involved in developing such plans will know this is simply politically impractical, and as experience of such plans such as in South Hampshire over a generation they simply result in non master planned sprawl, planning by numbers without any design., and very often complete lack of delivery where local communities are hostile and local plans arn’t delivered.  It would also be impossible for such a non map base plan to delete Green Belt sites – exactly the alternative the panel want considered – as Greater Manchester has found. It would also delay the first spade in the ground for strategic sites by a decade or more – the worst of planning in the 80s and 90s.  Lets not go pack to a time when strategic planning was a process a thing but slow and delivering poor quality results.  We know that strategic plans that are high level and still define strategic locations can and do work (North Northamptonshire for example), with a local tier below, or not (North Devon, Plymouth and South West Devon).  So why not go with what works rather than the out of date PAG styles plans the panel yearn for from what they were taught at planning school.

The local authorities should use their powers to demand recommendations to make the plan sound (as often mentioned on here – under Section 20(7C) of the PCPA)  and consult on real options, as successfully pursued in NEGC.  The panel cant legally refuse this.

It also raises severe questions about whether Anchorman, PINS and Home England have any clue or degree of coordination about what a new style strategic plan promoting new communities looks like and what form and procedures (complying with the SEA directive) should apply.  Is it every authority and panel make it up as they go along until the egg hits the fan.  At this rate new style strategic planning is going nowhere.

Homes England Persue 10,000 Home Community West of Crawley

Crawley Observer

I do like the infographic

A massive 10,000-home development west of Ifield is being proposed by Homes England.

The large-scale strategic site on the edge of Crawley would include 35 per cent affordable housing, primary and secondary schools, a new western relief road, community facilities and would help to create 10,000 new jobs.

The target is for 50 per cent green space in the new development, with Ifield Meadows protected and a comprehensive flood protection scheme.

Homes England has launched a public consultation on the plans which will run until December.

The Government’s housing agency has also been in discussions with Horsham District Council as the authority carries out a review of its local plan and looks at potentially allocating new strategic sites.

Homes England said: “At the appropriate time we will support the local authorities to secure the opportunity to create the next new neighbourhoods for Crawley, complete with the social, health and transport infrastructure to make it a place which residents will be proud to make their home and existing residents can benefit from.”

They added: “We are seeking to create a new sustainable community on land to the west of Ifield. The neighbourhoods will deliver homes in West Sussex where they are most needed, new infrastructure and green spaces to create a vibrant new community. In addition to providing the new homes, we will also provide a link road, schools, and other community facilities and we want you to feedback on our proposals.”

It went on to describe how it would work with residents to ‘build a great community for both existing and new residents’ and would invest in the right infrastructure as well as homes.

HE said it recognised infrastructure had to be delivered early to benefit both existing and future communities and is also committed to creating a sustainable new community with biodiversity net gain ‘leaving a richer more diverse environment after the work’.

A Horsham District Council spokesman said: “We are currently in the process of reviewing our local plan, as the Government requires us to do every five years. The Government is seeking a ‘step change’ in the number of houses which are built nationally. Horsham District Council has no option but to contribute to meeting the increased level of housing development through the revised local plan.

“As part of this process, we are looking at a range of strategic sites which have been put forward to the council to consider as part of the local plan review and the proposed development site on land West of Ifield is one of those.

“As we carry out this plan led process of reviewing the local plan we will focus on the need to create sustainable developments, providing homes where they are most needed and where we can meet Government requirements.

“Whilst we appreciate that the proposed development of some 10,000 homes on the land West of Ifield is a significant figure, any development of that scale has the potential to help bring forward much needed infrastructure in terms of new road systems, primary and secondary schools and GP surgeries, alongside green spaces and opportunities for new jobs for local people.

“It should be noted that all strategic-developments offer a significant number of homes and if progressed, would be spread over a period of time depending on their size. “

A Crawley Borough Council spokesman added: “The Government wants to significantly increase the number of houses which are built nationally, including on the land the Government owns West of Ifield. Despite being on the border of Crawley, this proposed development by Homes England is located in Horsham district and consequently they will be the decision makers on any application which eventually comes forward.

“This site is likely to be one of several strategic sites that Horsham District Council will have to consider for development as part of its local plan review and this council will be involved in that process at the appropriate time. Whatever the outcome we will work tirelessly to ensure that Homes England and Horsham District Council are aware of how the development will impact upon our town and our residents.

“We’d urge anyone with an interest in these proposals to have their say at Homes England’s consultation events over the coming months.”