South West Herts to Prepare Statutory Joint Startegic Plan


Following the demise of the old county structure plans and the regional spatial strategies, it has become evident that many key planning and infrastructure issues extend beyond individual borough and district boundaries. Consequently there are a number of cases where authorities are working together on strategic planning matters.
Some partnerships of local authorities have taken a non-statutory approach to preparing infrastructure frameworks and plans. Areas that have been doing this include West Sussex and Greater Brighton and South Essex. Such plans are useful for bringing infrastructure providers together and helping co-ordinate growth. However as they are non-statutory they only have of limited weight when guiding the preparation of individual Local Plans and strategic development proposals. As a result of this limitation, a number of authorities are now working together to prepare statutory Spatial / Strategic Plans. Examples include Greater Exeter, Oxfordshire and Greater Manchester.

The closest example of what is being considered for SW Herts is a statutory document akin to the emerging West of England Joint Spatial Plan which covers Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire.


Fox Promotes Two Garden Towns to International Investors

Otterpool Park and Wisbech

Dr Liam Fox launches global investment drive, bringing more than £30 billion to the UK

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox launches a new drive to attract more than £30 billion of investment to 68 projects across the UK.

International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox
International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox
  • part of the modern Industrial Strategy, setting out how the government is building a Britain fit for the future – helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK
  • online one stop shop launched to help global investors find UK projects
  • High Potential Opportunities scheme to be extended across more than 20 new sectors and areas of the UK after pilot schemes in Doncaster, Telford and Greater Manchester
  • as the Board of Trade meets in Stirling, Dr Fox recognises the exceptional international trading performance of 6 Scottish companies with Board of Trade Awards (BOFTAs)

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox will today (Thursday 17 May) launch a new drive to attract foreign investment into the UK at a meeting of the Board of Trade in Stirling.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is promoting 68 UK investment projects worth more than £30 billion to overseas investors. Dr Fox will also extend the highly successful High Potential Opportunities scheme, piloted in Doncaster’s rail industry, Telford’s agri-tech sector, and Greater Manchester’s innovative graphene-based lightweight materials sector to new industries and parts of the UK.

Dr Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary and President of the Board of Trade, said:

This is a bold and ambitious programme, building on the UK’s position as the leading destination for foreign investment in Europe through the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, helping to build a Britain fit for the future.

The High Potential Opportunities scheme will deliver growth where it is most needed, ensuring that the benefits of global investment are felt in every part of the country.

And with more than £30 billion worth of new opportunities, my international economic department’s overseas network is working hard to attract top investors to the UK.

DIT works directly with companies in 177 cities in 108 countries around the world. Last year, DIT helped attract 2,265 investment projects which created or safeguarded 108,000 jobs in the UK.

The 68 projects worth more than £30 billion, with more to be added over the coming months, will also be promoted through a revamped online one stop shop for potential investors:

The extended High Potential Opportunities scheme is now taking applications from business organisations, Local Enterprise Partnerships and councils from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the first phase, more than 20 new sectors and areas of the UK will benefit from a boost in investment – creating new jobs and securing the UK’s prosperity.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:

The UK has a strong standing when it comes to attracting investment to these shores. That investment leads to real, tangible benefits for people and communities – more jobs, prosperity and choice.

The International Trade Department’s drive to attract billions of pounds worth of investment to projects in each corner of the country is warmly welcomed by firms.

The new online catalogue of British projects for global investors to find and research will also be a vital tool to attracting even more capital to the UK, enabling the benefits of free trade and investment to flow into our communities.

Through the modern Industrial Strategy, the government is setting out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how the government is building a Britain fit for the future – helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

Whilst in Scotland, Dr Fox will also announce the winners of the BOFTAs – Board of Trade Awards. Six companies are being recognised for their excellence in international trade, demonstrating innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism.

The BOFTA winners are:

  • world-leading bus and coach manufacturers Alexander Dennis from Falkirk
  • Speyside Distillery from the Cairngorm Mountains
  • oil and gas company EnerQuip from Aberdeen
  • plastics suppliers McGavigan from Glasgow
  • Bowalds Energy from Aberdeen
  • Glasgow-based power generation company Aggreko

Further information

The Department for International Trade (DIT) secures UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade. We are an international economic department, responsible for:

  • bringing together policy, promotion and financial expertise to break down barriers to trade and investment, and help businesses succeed
  • delivering a new trade policy framework for the UK as we leave the EU
  • promoting British trade and investment across the world
  • building the global appetite for British goods and services

Details of the 68 projects being promoted by DIT, by location and value:

East of England

  • Wisbech Garden Town, Cambridgeshire, £2,500 million
  • CAMRO, Ely, £800 million
  • Nelson Quay, King’s Lynn, £120 million

Midlands Engine

  • Loughborough University Science & Enterprise Park, Loughborough, £625 million
  • Island Site, Nottingham, £500 million
  • Ashton Green, Leicester, £480 million
  • Drakelow Park, Derbyshire, £360 million
  • Waterside, Nottingham, £340 million
  • Grantham Southern Quadrant, Lincolnshire, £200 million
  • Tudor Cross, Bolsover, £175 million
  • Heart of the City, Derby, £165 million
  • Space Park Leicester, Leicester, £100 million
  • Boots Enterprise Zone, Nottingham, £100 million
  • UK Central Hub and HS2 Interchange, Solihull, £2,000 million
  • Birmingham International Station, Birmingham, £1,400 million
  • Birmingham Curzon, Birmingham, £1,000 million
  • Friargate Coventry, Coventry, £700 million
  • i54 Western Extension, Wolverhampton, £600 million
  • Paradise, Birmingham, £550 million
  • Stafford Gateway North, Stafford, £381 million
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, £310 million
  • Worcester Growth Corridor, Worcester, £300 million
  • MIRA Technology Park Southern Manufacturing Sector, Nuneaton, £150 million
  • Interchange Commercial District, Wolverhampton, £150 million
  • Skylon Park, Hereford, £105 million
  • Telford Investment Cluster, Telford, £105 million
  • Redditch Gateway, Redditch, £100 million

Northern Ireland

  • Sirocco Quays, Belfast, £465 million
  • Titanic Quarter, Belfast, £365 million
  • Weavers Cross, Belfast, £250 million
  • McAleer & Rushe, Belfast, £175 million
  • One Bankmore Square, Belfast, £100 million
  • 21–29 Corporation St, Belfast, £92 million
  • Norwich Union House, Belfast, £54 million
  • Baptist Church, Belfast, £30 million

Northern Powerhouse

  • Wirral Waters, Wirral, Merseyside, £4,000 million
  • Trafford Waters, Manchester, £1,000 million
  • Kirkstall Forge, Leeds, £400 million
  • Protos, Cheshire, £300 million
  • MediaCityUK, Manchester, £300 million
  • Property Alliance Group Portfolio, Manchester, £300 million
  • Pall Mall Exchange, Liverpool, £150 million
  • Stockport Exchange, Stockport, £140 million
  • Future Carrington, Manchester, £100 million
  • Liverpool Waters, Liverpool, £100 million


  • Dundee Waterfront, Dundee, £500 million
  • Buchanan Wharf, Glasgow, £350 million
  • Magenta, Glasgow, £280 million
  • AMIDS, Renfrewshire, £244 million
  • Edinburgh International Business Gateway, Edinburgh, £185 million
  • Queen’s Square, Aberdeen, £150 million
  • Bothwell Street, Glasgow, £140 million
  • George Street Complex, Glasgow, £100 million
  • Perth West, Perth, £100 million

South East

  • Otterpool Park, Folkestone, £2,000 million
  • Fawley Waterside, Hampshire, £1,000 million
  • Hickstead Science & Technology Park, Sussex, £350 million
  • Bexhill Enterprise Park, Sussex, £150 million
  • Bargate Quarter, Southampton, £150 million

South West

  • UK Cyber Park, Cheltenham, £600 million
  • West Carclaze, Cornwall, £400 million
  • Gateway Development, Plymouth, £100 million

Yorkshire & Humber

  • Sirius Minerals Polyhalite Project, North Yorkshire and Teeside, £2,900 million
  • York Central, York, £750 million
  • Axiom Regional Shopping Centre, Wakefield, £400 million
  • Aero Centre Yorkshire, Doncaster, £100 million
  • Unity Doncaster, Doncaster, £100 million


  • Penrhos Coastal Holiday Resort, Anglesey, North Wales, £105 million

In all, the 68 projects are worth £33,791,000,000

The government’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Strategy

The government’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Strategy consists of operational changes which will:

  • improve the effectiveness of our work and help teams to focus on the projects which contribute most to the UK economy
  • clearly define DIT’s priorities for promoting investment opportunities

DIT has been working closely with colleagues across government to ensure the closest possible alignment of activity to support the Industrial Strategy’s initiatives around supporting the business environment, growing clusters and sectors, and the promotion of FDI through DIT’s FDI strategy.

This will deliver a more targeted approach to promotion and investor support, and better address market failures to maximise wealth creation across the UK.

From next financial year, we will change our measure of performance from the volume of projects landed to a comprehensive measure of economic impact.

Alongside this, we will work with local partners to build a portfolio of ‘High Potential Opportunities’ across the UK to promote investment opportunities showcasing UK sector strengths, skills bases, cost bases and infrastructure programmes that are not readily referenced by current market information and have a high potential to deliver economic benefits.

This will enable us to be more responsive to the needs of foreign investors and better match investor requirements with opportunities across the UK that have the capacity to drive high value growth and jobs.

The London Plan and Suburban Intensification – A Greenford Case Study

The London Plan contains an important new policy on small site intensification (25 units or less) designed to help bridge the gap between housing need and the SHLAA assessed numbers.

It will help though not fill the gap, however the risk is that if not designed well it will be used as a presumption in favour free for all for poorly conceived schemes.

We have learned a lot internationally of best practice in zoning for intensification.  the best defence for outer boroughs that fear this is to plan it and design it with design codes, as the London plan draft rather weakly hints at.

As a case study as to what this might look like ill take Greenford it that it is high;y accessible but has lower densities that some nearby areas such as Alperton, Southall and Ealing and has few ‘nicely designed’ suburban estates.  It also has industrial areas which are prime candidates for intensification with mixed uses being narrow and next to canals and open spaces rather than large industrial areas such as Park Royal which has many areas best kept free of residential on noise and HGV amenity grounds.

The scope of this article however is on residential intensification.  Ill look here at the area just south of Grenford tube station, all 30s Osbert Lancaster bypass variegated style housing.

The key for zoning is such areas is to classify by back lot line and plot depth.  The back lot line is the line at the rear of the plot.  There are many plots where houses back onto houses which limits the density because of privacy concerns.  There are also as you see lots that back onto open spaces, rear lanes, railway lines and industry which have much more potential, as do corner lots.

The other main parameter is number of lots in a scheme.  A key concept here is ‘graduated density zoning’ where the number of allowed units is increased as the number of lots is increased, as lesser set in requirements mean more units can be accommodated on site.

In this suggested approach you would classify lots according to these parameters and then do test fits of different development forms on these lots.  You would then set down a design code, potentially allowing permission in principle for compliant schemes, zoning in good practice and zoning out undesirable forms (such as controversial end on schemes).

To take an example a single semi plot with a depth of less than 40m might only allow for redevelopment to three storys and maximum 3 units.  Combine two lots and you could go up to 4 storys and 4 units.  For deeper lots without a residential rear lot line this could be increased to six storys and up to 10 units, 20 units for 4 or more combined lots, 25 for 5 combined lots.  Corner lots could gain an extra story and a 20% unit boost.  FAR would be used to prevent the system being gamed with overlarge unit sizes, indeed with FAR you need to rely much less on complex dwelling mix rules.

Such schemes are controversial everywhere, but they need to be introduced if we are to be serious on intensification.  the GLA should sponsor with Boroughs a number of pilots, without the cop out of stripping all street names out of the final report.

If you want to totally screw up the National Infrastructure Regime Add Fracking to it

Successful fracking fields have 100s if not thousands of wells.  In the US 125,000 have been dug since 2005.

If each individual well was subject to the DCO regime even with a 1/4 of the US population over 25,000 wells would be needed.   The full cumulative impact of fracking on water can only be judged cumulatively at a field scale.  So what are we to have 25,000 individual applications, each with documents filling a skip, or several hundred for several hundred each?  One can imagine for example the uproar at an application for several hundred rigs in the Weald, England’s most promising field.  this is why operationally and politically fracking is a no go.  Large windfarms in upland areas well away from where most people live are far less toxic.

4 Million new Homes needed by 2031 Acording to Natfed Sponsored Research


I note their estimate of 340,000/annum till 20131 is very close to my own MOAN model estimate of 338,000/annum over the same period. Why the similarity, my method estimated how many houses would be needed if supply kept up with demand for household formation in ‘normal times’ the Heriot Watt Research claculated how many people were inadequately housed.  Of course the two figures are and should be broadly the same.

As many as four million  homes are needed to meet burgeoning demand, it was claimed, as new research reveals the “epic” scale of the housing crisis facing England.

The estimate, calculated for the National Housing Federation and the charity Crisis, takes a comprehensive view of how many people do not have a place to call home.

It counts people who are homeless, “boomerang” generation adults still living with their parents, couples who would otherwise have separated, and people in flatshares who would have moved out.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “This groundbreaking new research shows the epic scale of the housing crisis in England.

“The shortfall of homes can’t be met overnight – instead, we need an urgent effort from the Government to meet this need, before it publishes its social housing green paper in the summer.”

The research looked at Office for National Statistics (ONS) population figures and the English Housing Survey as well as other reports to arrive at the four million estimate.

The research, conducted by Heriot-Watt University, also estimates that to both tackle the backlog of homes needed and keep up with new demand, the country needs to build 340,000 homes per year until 2031.

It said 145,000 of these 340,000 homes should be affordable homes. Of the 145,000 affordable homes, 90,000 should be for social rent, 30,000 should be for intermediate affordable rent and 25,000 should be for shared ownership.

The news comes after HuffPost UK revealed former Housing Minister Sajid Javid surrendered to the Treasury a total of £292m allocated for desperately-needed affordable homes over the course of two years, despite demand rising. 

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “To truly get to grips with this crisis and ensure everyone has a safe and stable home, we must build the social and affordable housing we need to end homelessness once and for all.”

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “This isn’t just a numbers game and we have to make sure we build the right homes, in the right places and that people can afford them.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Now is the time to redesign our housing market so that it works for everyone – no matter who they are or where they come from.”

And Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Government can turn things around but only by building many more of the high quality, genuinely affordable homes this country is crying out for.”

John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said the Government must act.

He said: “This research confirms the immense scale of the housing crisis that Britain faces and just how far short this Government is falling.

“It also reinforces Labour’s case for a big new affordable housebuilding programme, with a million new genuinely affordable homes over ten years, starting from the current record low level under the Tories.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said Theresa May was investing.

He said: “This Government is committed to building a housing market fit for the future, with the homes our communities need.

“We have a comprehensive plan to deliver this, including reforming planning rules and investing £9 billion in affordable homes.

“We are also allowing councils to borrow more and providing them with increased certainty over rents so they can build more homes.”

Lichfields Research – Neighbourhood Plans not Focussing on Housing


Shows 60% of Neighbourhood Plans make no allocations for housing.  Raise housing numbers by 3% compared to local plans.

Our analysis of 330 ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plans shows that local
communities are using them to focus on broader local issues – such
as green spaces and infrastructure provision – rather than housing;
very few plans contain a housing target and/or site allocations.
Of those that do make provisions for housing, allocations are
rarely ‘new’, often benefiting from an existing allocation or extant
permission. We conclude this in part is due to the slow Local Plan
process, with a majority of plans coming forward ahead of their
respective Local Plans, and thus within a ‘strategic policy vacuum’.

Rugby Inspector Deletes Isolated Lodge Farm ‘Garden Village’

Examination Library

Whilst the Plan’s overall development strategy focussing the majority of new housing and employment development at Rugby, with some limited housing
development at Main Rural Settlements (MRSs) to sustain the borough’s rural communities, is sound, the proposed new MRS at Lodge Farm (DS3.15)would not be soundly-based as part of this strategy.
In terms of the suitability of this location for major development, the
proposed site for Lodge Farm is situated around 10 kilometres (km) from the centre of Rugby and 24 km from Coventry. Paragraph 34 of NPPF expects plans to ensure that developments which generate significant movement are
located where the need to travel will be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes can be maximised. Even if the new village could viably support a new bus service and cycle route into Rugby, the distance and
journey times to both Rugby and Coventry by either of these modes or a
combination of them would be unlikely to encourage their use. Whilst some day to day journeys to the local shops, surgery and primary school could bemade on foot within the village, trips to secondary school, employment locations and main shopping and leisure destinations off-site would be largely car dependent. As such, I am not persuaded it is a location which could be
made sustainable in transport terms. Whilst paragraph 34 also notes that
account needs to be taken of policies for rural areas, the emphasis in
paragraph 55 of the NPPF is that to promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. It is not apparent that Lodge Farm would
support existing surrounding rural communities to any significant extent,
since its local facilities would be scaled to serve the needs of the new
Lodge Farm is also located in the countryside, within the Leam and
Rainsbrook Valleys. Although not subject to a national or local designation,
the landscape surrounding the site is open and attractive, visible from the
surrounding valley sides including the Rainsbrook escarpment, and contains many historic features, including both designated and non-designated heritage assets. The area also has a distinctive settlement pattern, characterised by small scale villages and hamlets. It is a core planning
principle in paragraph 17 of the NPPF that account should be taken of the
intrinsic beauty and character of the countryside. The development of a new
settlement of 1,500 dwellings in this setting, even with the inclusion of
landscaping and green space, would cause significant harm to the intrinsic beauty and character of the countryside in this part of the borough.
Whilst it would provide additional market and affordable housing and support new transport and secondary school infrastructure within Rugby, Lodge Farm is not required to meet those needs. The site would deliver some 665 homes
within the Plan period, which represents around 4% of the total housing land supply of 15,369 homes for the borough over the Plan period. Without LodgeFarm, the remaining housing land supply would still exceed the housing requirement of 12,400 dwellings by 18%, significantly boosting the supply of housing and meeting both the market and affordable housing needs of theborough. In terms of the 5 year housing land supply, based on the housing trajectory in the submitted plan, Lodge Farm would contribute just 25 dwellings to the Plan’s first 5 years of housing land supply and therefore the borough would not be reliant on it to ensure a 5 year deliverable supply ofhousing sites. Neither would the loss of 80 dwellings per year, which Lodge Farm would contribute to each of the remaining years of the plan period, compromise the delivery of a rolling 5 year housing land supply. In terms of its contribution to the borough’s infrastructure requirements, the Lodge Farm development would contribute to the costs of the proposed new
secondary school and spine road at South West Rugby. However, from
evidence presented to the hearings, the South West Rugby development on its own would be viably able to deliver the full strategic transport and
education requirements necessary to support that development, including the spine road network and Homestead link around Dunchurch. Therefore, the Lodge Farm allocation is not required to meet the development or infrastructure needs of the borough.
3For these main reasons, I find that the allocation of Lodge Farm as part of
the Plan’s development strategy is not positively prepared, justified as an
appropriate site, effective in addressing the cross-boundary unmet needs of Coventry or consistent with national policy in enabling the delivery of
sustainable development. Therefore, in order to make the Plan sound, the
main modifications should include the deletion of the proposed allocation at Lodge Farm, together with consequential modifications to the related policies and supporting text of the Plan.

Housebuilders State Common OAN Methodology will Undermine Northern Powerhouse

Place NW

Business leaders from across the North have joined together to warn Government that its proposed revisions to national planning policy could undermine efforts to rebalance the economy through the Northern Powerhouse.

The key concern raised is that by using data from a period when the UK was still suffering from recession, the methodology will “lock in” low and inadequate levels of housing.

Among those organisations that have put their name to a letter sent to Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry are the Home Builders Federation, Greater Manchester’s Housing the Powerhouse pressure group, Peel, Barratt, Taylor Wimpey, Jones Homes, Strategic Land Group, Harworth, HIMOR, Gladman and various Chambers of Commerce.

The same group has written to Government previously, expressing concern that the draft housing need methodology will have the unintended consequence of reducing assessments of housing need in much of the North.

Although Berry responded to that, stating that the methodology sets a minimum “starting point” level of housing delivery and that local areas are expected to “go beyond” in return for receiving more housing-related powers and funding, the industry is concerned that in practice, that will not happen. They fear that local authorities will have licence to do the bare minimum, leaving housing growth to trail commercial expansion. It is noted that some authorities are already looking to “duck their obligations”.

Planner Turley was commissioned to compare the effects of the proposed standard method with requirements set out in the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, concluding that housing delivery in accordance with the proposed standard method would not achieve the “business as usual” conditions assumed by NPIER, let alone the accelerated growth scenario on which the Northern Powerhouse relies. The letter states that “the use of backwards-looking, trend-based projections is fundamentally at odds with the Northern Powerhouse”.

Essentially, this is a challenge to Government on how serious it is about rebalancing the economy. Referring to the NPIER, Turley’s report said that if the North continues under “business as usual” conditions then its economy could be expected to grow by approximately 700,000 jobs by 2050 – but in the NPIER’s “transformational growth scenario’ this would be 855,000 jobs – 530,000 of them in the 2020-2040 period.

Turley said that under the proposed standard method, by 2040 there would potentially be a gap of 1.24m people not being planned for, translating into approximately 570,000 households across the North – this suggests, it said, that an additional 23,000 households will annually need homes but would not be captured if planning only to meet the ‘minimum’ need.

The consultancy said that the construction of these homes would itself represent an economic catalyst, contributing to rather than detracting from economic rebalancing. To provide for these households, Local Plans would need to plan for at least 61,000 homes per year to 2040 as a minimum – a total it described as “a significant ‘step-up’ from the Government’s implied minimum need of 46,000 homes per year.

The letter identifies the NPPF consultation as “a unique opportunity to meet Government national housing targets and rebalance the national economy” by making a “simple adjustment to the housing need methodology and strengthening the link between economic ambitions for growth and assessments of housing need”.

In the letter, Rob Loughenbury of Lexington Communications, the author on behalf of the various signatories, stated: “Our main concern regarding the methodology is that whilst it boosts the housing requirement in the South – a boost that is necessary – it reduces it in the North.

“It does this because it relies on data from a short recessionary period that skewed economic growth to the South. This concern is compounded because the methodology does not hardwire economic growth strategy into assessments of housing need. Instead, it is left to the discretion of LPAs whether to link their stated economic ambitions to their housing plans.”

The letter continues: “We estimate that fully meeting the housing needs of the North, under the accelerated growth scenario, would require an uplift from the OAN methodology minimum starting point of some 30-40%. We predict that very few, in any, local authorities will rise to this challenge.”

Government Policy Statement on Fracking – Plans Can’t Ban it

But you can windfarms – logic?


My Rt. Hon. Friend James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and I wish to reiterate the Government’s view that there are potentially substantial benefits from the safe and sustainable exploration and development of our onshore shale gas resources and to set out in this statement to Parliament the actions we are taking to support our position. This joint statement should be considered in planning decisions and plan-making in England.

The UK must have safe, secure and affordable supplies of energy with carbon emissions levels that are consistent with the carbon budgets defined in our Climate Change Act and our international obligations. We believe that gas has a key part to play in meeting these objectives both currently and in the future. In part as a result of the UK’s diverse range of energy sources, which include natural gas, we have had competitively-priced energy since 1990 whilst reducing carbon emissions across the economy by 49% – a leading performance among developed nations. Gas still makes up around a third of our current energy usage and every scenario proposed by the Committee on Climate Change setting out how the UK could meet its legally-binding 2050 emissions reduction target includes demand for natural gas. As set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, innovations in technologies such as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) have the potential to decarbonise this energy supply still further and prolong its role in our energy mix.

However, despite the welcome improvements in efficiency and innovation from companies operating in the North Sea, the ongoing decline in our offshore gas production has meant that the UK has gone from being a net exporter of gas in 2003 to importing over half (53%) of gas supplies in 2017 and estimates suggest we could be importing 72% of our gas by 2030. Our current import mix, via pipelines from Norway and Continental Europe and LNG terminals that can source gas from around the world, provides us with stable and secure supplies. However, we believe that it is right to utilise our domestic gas resources to the maximum extent and exploring further the potential for onshore gas production from shale rock formations in the UK, where it is economically efficient, and where environment impacts are robustly regulated.

We also believe that further development of onshore gas resources has the potential to deliver substantial economic benefits to the UK economy and for local communities where supplies are located by creating thousands of new jobs directly in extraction, local support services, and the rest of the supply chain. A potential new shale gas exploration and production sector in the shale basins of England could provide a new economic driver. We also see an opportunity to work with industry on innovation to create a “UK Model” – the world’s most environmentally robust onshore shale gas sector – and to explore export opportunities from this model, a core theme of our modern industrial strategy.

But to achieve these benefits, we need to work with responsible companies prepared to invest in this industry as they proceed with the exploration process, to test the size and value of the potential reserves and to ensure that our planning and regulatory systems work appropriately whilst assisting local councils in making informed and appropriate planning decisions. So we are setting out a series of actions, including those committed to in the Government’s 2017 manifesto to support the development of shale gas extraction.


The UK has world class regulation to ensure that shale exploration can happen safely, respecting local communities and safeguarding the environment. The development of the shale gas industry so far has already led to millions of pounds being invested in the UK, supporting businesses and the supply chain, and creating British jobs. We have recently seen four planning approvals for exploratory shale development. The Government remains fully committed to making planning decisions faster and fairer for all those affected by new development, and to ensure that local communities are fully involved in planning decisions that affect them. These are long standing principles. No one benefits from the uncertainty caused by delay which is why, in September 2015, Government set out a range of measures to help ensure every planning application or appeal was dealt with as quickly as possible.

However, recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow against a statutory time frame of 16 weeks where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required. So, we are announcing a range of measures to facilitate timely decisions. These measures only apply in England.

Planning policy and guidance

This Statement is a material consideration in plan-making and decision-taking, alongside relevant policies of the existing National Planning Policy Framework (2012), in particular those on mineral planning (including conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons).

Shale gas development is of national importance. The Government expects Mineral Planning Authorities to give great weight to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy. This includes shale gas exploration and extraction. Mineral Plans should reflect that minerals resources can only be worked where they are found, and applications must be assessed on a site by site basis and having regard to their context. Plans should not set restrictions or thresholds across their plan area that limit shale development without proper justification. We expect Mineral Planning Authorities to recognise the fact that Parliament has set out in statute the relevant definitions of hydrocarbon, natural gas and associated hydraulic fracturing. In addition, these matters are described in Planning Practice Guidance, which Plans must have due regard to. Consistent with this Planning Practice Guidance, policies should avoid undue sterilisation of mineral resources (including shale gas).

The Government has consulted on a draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The consultation closed on 10 May 2018. In due course the revised National Planning Policy Framework will sit alongside the Written Ministerial Statement.

We intend to publish revised planning practice guidance on shale development once the revised National Planning Policy Framework has been launched ensuring clarity on issues such as cumulative impact, local plan making and confirmation that planners can rely on the advice of regulatory experts.

Planning decision making

To support a decision-making regime that meets the future needs of the sector we will progress our manifesto commitments by:

  • holding an early stage consultation, in summer 2018, on the principle of whether non-hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development should be treated as permitted development, and in particular on the circumstances in which this might be appropriate.
  • consulting, in summer 2018, on the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime.

Further, we will strengthen community engagement by consulting in due course on the potential to make pre-application consultation a statutory requirement.

Support for those involved in decision making

We are aware that the shale applications and the planning process can be complex for local authorities. Building capacity and capability within local authorities to deal with shale development is a vital step towards speeding up decision making. We will help achieve this by announcing, today:

  • the launch of a new £1.6 million shale support fund over the next two years to build capacity and capability in local authorities dealing with shale applications.
  • the creation of a new planning brokerage service for shale applications to provide guidance to developers and local authorities on the planning process to help facilitate timely decision making. The service would focus exclusively on the planning process and will have no role in the consideration or determination of planning applications. The service will not comment on the merits of a case and will also have no role in the appeals process.

In addition, the Government recognises that early engagement with local authorities, including capitalising on formal pre-application discussions, is critical in building confidence in decision making and securing support for development proposals and set realistic timeframes for decisions. We expect this to be formalised by a Planning Performance Agreement providing certainty for all parties. And we then expect all parties – including decision-makers in local authorities – to stick to the timetable.

Opportunities for Redress

While we are confident that the measures announced in this Written Ministerial Statement will speed up decision making on shale applications, we cannot be complacent. Therefore:

  • we will continue to treat appeals against any refusal of planning permission for exploring and developing shale gas, or against any non-determination as a priority for urgent determination by the Planning Inspectorate, making additional resources available where necessary.
  • under the Written Ministerial Statement in 2015 the criteria for recovering planning appeals were amended to include proposals for exploring and developing shale gas. This was applied for a two-year period subject to further review. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has conducted a review and remains committed to scrutinising appeals for these proposals. We are therefore announcing that the criteria for considering the recovery of planning appeals are continued for a further two years. The new criterion is added to the recovery policy of 30 June 2008, Official Report, column 43WS.
  • the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will actively consider calling in shale applications particularly where statutory deadlines have been exceeded. Each case will be considered on its facts in line with his policy. Priority timeframes for urgent determination will be given to any called-in applications.
  • the Government continues to commit to identifying underperforming local planning authorities that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within statutory timeframes. When any future applications are made to underperforming authorities, the Secretary of State will consider whether he should determine the application instead.

Shale Regulator

The UK regulatory regime for shale gas is considered among the most robust and stringent in the world. However, we acknowledge that it is also complex, with three regulators, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Oil and Gas Authority, all with responsibilities for regulation. It is not always transparent to both the public and industry who is responsible for what. Therefore, the Government is setting up a Shale Environmental Regulator which will bring the regulators together to act as one coherent single face for the public, mineral planning authorities and industry. We intend to establish the regulator from the summer.

We anticipate that the plans for the Shale Environmental Regulator and future consultations will only apply in England.

Community Benefits

We strongly believe that communities hosting shale gas developments should share in the financial returns they generate. The Government welcomes the shale gas companies’ commitment to make set payments to these communities, which could be worth up to £10m for a typical site. Actions to support local communities are an important complement to the planning actions set out above. With that in mind, we want to go further, and we will work with industry to see how we can improve this offer.

In addition to this offer we also announced in the Autumn Statement 2016 that the Shale Wealth Fund will provide additional resources to local communities, over and above industry schemes and other sources of government funding. Local communities will benefit first and determine how the money is spent in their area.

Did Northumberland Sack Chief Planner for Refusing to Change Garden Village Recommendation?

Newcastle Chronicle

The company behind a massive development in Northumberland has filed an explosive complaint accusing the leader of the council of serious misconduct.

Lugano are behind a controversial plan for 2,000 homes on the Dissington Estate, north of Ponteland, which have long been opposed by Conservative leader Peter

Now Lugano has launched a sensational attack, accusing the leader of attempts to influence the planning process and bullying.

Mr Jackson strenuously denies the allegations and the council is taking legal advice over what a council spokesperson described as “inappropriate, untrue and defamatory statements”.

In a letter to the council’s head of legal services seen by ChronicleLive, Lugano’s executive chairman Richard Robson and director Allan Rankin set out their claims.

The letter alleges: “Our evidence shows how Mr Jackson employed various unlawful practices which included bullying, intimidation, attempted coercion and the exercise of improper influence, of councillors and council officers, employed by the Council, over an extended period of time.”

It alleges that he used “unlawful means” to remove Mark Ketley, the former head of planning services, from his role and discussed the sacking while on a “game shoot”.

Lugano claim it has evidence that “strongly suggests… Mr Jackson’s intentional withdrawal of the Local Plan and Core Strategy was part of his wider plan to undermine the Dissington Garden Village scheme.”

The letter goes on to state: “Mr Jackson and the other individuals involved have lost sight of the responsibility of their roles.

“Mr Jackson is not fit to hold public office. Accordingly, NCC must instigate forthwith a full third party independent enquiry into their actions, with a mandate to make public the enquiries findings.”

It is unclear is the council can legally determine a planning application which they have resolved to approve a-lthough the law on this matter on ‘minded to grant’ resolutions is not black and white.