The Plan as a Deal for Housing – The Schleicher and Hills Theory

One for Students (and the students at UK Treasury) – couched in very American terms but an important paper as it couches land use plans within the framework of public choice economics\

Iowa Law Journal

plans and comprehensive remappings are best understood as citywide deals that promote housing. Plans and remappings facilitate trades between city councilmembers who understand the need for new development but refuse to have their neighborhoods be dumping grounds for all new construction. Further, by setting forth what can be constructed as of right, plans reduce the information costs borne by purchasers of land and developers, broadening the market for new construction. We argue that land-use law should embrace binding plans that package together policies and sets of zoning changes in a number of neighborhoods simultaneously, making such packages difficult to unwind. The ironic result of such greater centralization of land-use procedure will be more liberal land-use law and lower housing prices.

The context here is within a city but it should be applied in economic terms to within a housing market area.

One benefit of plans can be to facilitate cross-neighborhood bargains by giving the parties confidence that costs will be equitably distributed and citywide benefits will ultimately be achieved. It is helpful to think of such a plan as a “zoning budget,” in which regulatory restrictions are the costly item being allocated among neighborhoods. The purpose of such a “zoning budget” is to make cross-neighborhood commitments to limit such restrictions that, in the absence of partisan leadership, are difficult to supply. Such a budget would specify an overall goal of locally undesirable land uses, or simply quantity goals for different types of housing, for the entire jurisdiction. It would also allocate those land uses across neighborhoods, seeking to allay concerns from council members about being dumping grounds for new construction and to capture the benefits of cross neighborhood trades. Finally, the budget would include an enforcement mechanism, creating some sort of presumptive entitlement for developers to build the budgeted use until the citywide goal is met. None of these elements requires special apolitical expertise on the part of planners. The point is not that the plan represents some higher wisdom about the best uses of land in a city. Instead, the budget’s goal simply solves a collective-action problem from which local legislators otherwise suffer, because the goal is not focused on any particular neighborhood.

JR – Broads can Pretend to be a National Park but without the Sandiford Principle

Harris v Broads Authority

  1. he Claimants say this case raises an important legal issue. “Can a public body which in law is not a National Park, represent itself (and allow itself to be represented) as a National Park and thereby to enjoy the benefits of National Park status despite the fact that that authority has decided to cease to seek to become a National Park inter alia because it does not wish to be subject to the legal duties imposed on National Parks and National Park Authorities?” On the Claimants’ renewed application permission to apply for judicial review was granted by Singh J (see his order dated 12 August 2015).

  2. The Authority was constituted under the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988 (“the 1988 Act”) and has a general duty “to manage the Broads for the purposes of –

(a) conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Broads;

(b) promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Broads by the public; and

(c) protecting the interests of navigation.”The Authority is also the local planning authority for the area and a harbour and navigation authority. However, the Broads is not a National Park designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (“the 1949 Act”), nor is the Authority a National Park Authority under that statute. Nevertheless, for many years it has been treated as forming part of the “family” of National Parks. The claim for judicial review challenges a resolution of the Authority passed on 23 January 2015 by which the Authority decided inter alia “that the brand “Broads National Park” be adopted for marketing related purposes…”.

  1. The Claimants live within the area of the Authority. For over 7 years they have been campaigning to protect Catfield Fen within the Broads, a site of international conservation significance and of which they own a large part, against harmful effects arising from water abstraction. In paragraph 3 of his witness statement, Mr. Harris states “my main concern is to conserve the bio-diversity and the environmental value of the Broads Area for future generations; hence my campaigning for the Defendant to either fully become a National Park or, at the very least, to confirm its application of the “Sandford Principle”. If it is not doing this, then it should not hold itself out as a National Park and hence why I am seeking relief through the court in these proceedings.”

  2. The Sandford Principle derives from a Report of the National Park Policies Review Committee chaired by Lord Sandford and published in 1974. Paragraph 2.15 of the Report stated:-

“The first purpose of national parks, as stated by Dower and by Parliament – the preservation and enhancement of natural beauty – seems to us to remain entirely valid and appropriate. The second purpose – the promotion of public enjoyment – however, needs to be re-interpreted and qualified because it is now evident that excessive or unsuitable use may destroy the very qualities that attract people to the parks. We have no doubt that where the conflict between the two purposes, which has always been inherent, becomes acute, the first one must prevail in order that the beauty and ecological qualities of the national parks may be maintained.

  1. The effect of section 11A(2) of the 1949 Act, inserted by section 62 of the Environment Act 1995 some 25 years after the Sandford Report, is that where there is a conflict between on the one hand “conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of” a National Park and on the other “promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of [a National Park] by the public” then greater weight must be given to the former purpose. The Claimants submit that within National Parks the conservation objective is always “uppermost”. In paragraph 6 of his witness statement Mr. Harris says that “The “Sandford Principle” is the fundamental distinguishing characteristic of all National Parks and all National Park Authorities, and gives priority to the purpose of nature conservation over other purposes, such as tourism.”

L.A Seeks to Authorise its own Version of Beds in Sheds

in L.A. they are called ‘Bootleg’ housing

Ultimately you can never win in these cases.  Globally you always find that if there are not enough affordable ‘on plan’ houses are provided then the market or other informal provision will find ‘off plan’ housing solutions to the standard the low paid can afford – always.


Los Angeles is moving toward creating a path to amnesty and affordability for habitable, but unpermitted residential units.

Under a proposal backed by a council committee, the city would waive unpermitted units’ compliance with certain planning, zoning, and building codes—including density and parking requirements—if landlords agree to provide affordable apartments in the same building for a minimum of 55 years.

Every year, L.A. city inspectors discover 600-700 unpermitted units—a kind of “black market economy” in a city where unaffordable rents are continuing to rise. But landlords say that as of now, it’s easier to evict the tenants and remove the unit when they get caught, rather than go through the legalization process.Out of 2,500 such units cited from 2010-2015, only 201 were legalized; 80 percent were removed.

The city began considering a legalization program in 2014, and the idea has enjoyed support from a rare alliance of both landlord and tenant advocates. Butthe affordable-housing component has caused landlords to balk, while tenants and advocates are questioning the probability of enforcement.

Neighboring cities West Hollywood and Santa Monica have similar ordinances.

The plan has to be approved by one more committee before and going to the full council.


Guildford Take a Year to Determine Planning Application – Propose to Allocate Site – Then Recommend Refusal

From the department of things which give the Planning System a Bad Name

The Wisley Aerodrome Site

Heres the report –  which has taken a year to write

Published IN THE SAME WEEK as Guildford propose to allocate the site in its sbmission plan and remove it from Greenbelt.

The application is for 2,038 units plus the other uses you would expect in a project of this size.  Including 8 Travellers pitches.

The proposed zoning is ”Approximately 2000 homes”

What is more if the government change to the NPPF goes through it wont even be inappropriate development in the Green Belt – this application may be the last chance to shape the site within firm national policy – so the recommendation to refuse seems tactically and politically numbskulled.

So what are the reasons for refusal

Lets look at the main ones, some are so weak they seem to be inviting a partial award of costs – leading me to think the recommendation is under political duress as cllrs wish to see a local plan inspector making the final decision which they can claim is forced upon them.

The key of course is Green Belt.  The recent Houghtonm Regis Case, as well as the SoS call in on the Tewksbury case (too late to be referred to in the report) state that a proposed allocation in a draft plan is capable of being a ‘very special circumstance’for loss of GB.

The balancing exercise is very professionally done – after a year of effort two sentences

While the benefits associated with the proposal are significant they do not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and the other harm that has been identified in this report. Accordingly the benefits of the proposal, taken individually or cumulatively, are not considered to amount to the very special circumstances necessary to justify a grant of planning permission.

Thats it no balancing exercise – just a statement without support.  if they dont clearly outweigh why propose deleting the’site in your local plan?  No argument is made that the it çlearly outweighs’in exceptional circumstances terms but not VSC terms?

The Council seem to be relaying on their famous legal dispute with KitKat that ‘Green Belt harm and other Harm’ allows one to use a GB refusal reason in cases where there is other harm.  However it is difficult to justify this when the planning balance- which part from GB the NPPF makes clear is the same for allocating sites as permitting them – of Guildford is that the benefits outweigh the harm.

The exceptional circumstances test is a test set down by the courts rather than ministers.  For an excellent summary of the law see the local action groups website.

Guildford have stated reasons why they consider the exceptional circumstances test has been met

There is no definition of what constitutes exceptional circumstances, as this will vary locally. Legal advice suggests that it is likely to be interpreted as circumstances arising that are not commonplace. We consider that a combination of factors exist locally that together constitute exceptional circumstances that enable us to take the decision to amend our Green Belt boundaries. This includes the high level of housing need, including affordable homes, exacerbated by a significant backlog of unmet need, the lack of suitable alternative land, the general lack of affordability across the borough and issues with housing mix. Additionally we need to consider the consequences of not amending our Green Belt boundaries which would be to significantly worsen an already difficult housing position, and the consequential economic situation.’

But they have not stated why they do not consider the`VSC test has not been, other than in the (joke) ‘planning balance’ para.

If the tactic is to stall and leave KitKat as few words to go on why then are the other refusal reasons so weak and poorly drafted – it makes little sense?

For example the SPA reason states that there has been no AA, but as no housing is proposed within 400m of the SPA none is needed.  English Nature have no objection.  A SNGS scheme is proposed.  The refusal reason being the narrow one that no means of securing it has been realised?  Have Guidford never heard of a Grampian Condition?

With the off site highway works and funding of buses there are outstanding concerns from the HE and SCC, but again the canny tactic here is to resolve to approve ‘subject to a legal agreement to…xyz’ draft a unilateral undertaking and challenge the applicants to sign it.  You arnt going to get any better on appeal.    Especially as the HA have a weird technical objection to the TA.

Traffic counts for the typical morning peak hour of 8-9 am do not represent the true demand on the network;

So when does 2am in the morning?  KitKat must be chewing the cud to x-examine the HA and SCC officers for 3 days a piece at PLI.  Such officers have never emerged with the same nervous disposition again.

This is a weak case for refusal – a stalling measure -playing games with local residents (raising expectations that cant be met) and the applicant.  It provides the perfect case of why we need to move towards a zoning based system.




10% Completed in 15 Years – Ravenscraig Shows the Grim Private Sector Led Future for Port Talbot

I dont believe for a minute Port Talbot will be sold given the global overcapacity in Steel – which means at some point the bullet will have to be bit on what to do with the site.

The obvious think to do is develop a combined deep sea contained port (DSCP) / Logistics hub – given the deep waters off the coast and its rail access, with a mixed use new town around the Victorian Aberabon port basin and a new rail station further south.  The site is ideal – you could fit all of Victorian Cardiff or Swansea within its huge sea fronted bounds located between Swansea and Cardiff.

The Second Severn Crossing and the pathetic Container Port capacity in Wales provide the opportunity.  The model of sorts is the DP World DCSP on the Thames on the former Shell Haven site, which predicts 30,000 jobs when complete.  However world freight overcapacity is slowing build out and so far it is only around 10% complete.  Perhaps a better model is a Freeport/Freezone, where goods can be imported, manufactured and exported free of tax.  It has always puzzled me why the UK has never developed such as special economic zone.

Model of how not to do it are even slower progress on former large industrial sites like Longbridge whose anchor was to be a ‘nano technology park’ (so small you cant see it) and worst of all Ravenscraig.  This project for a ‘new town’ on the old steelworks was to have 3,500 homes, after 15 years less than 350 have been built.  The problem was it was privately driven with a dreadful masterplan.  Initially rejected by the Scottish government, it was little more than a mall with a few other uses scattered around roundabouts, with landscaping that screened rather than integrated, and bearing no relationship to the new station and other public transport.  Challenges in the courts by surrounding towns fearing devastation of their town centers held it up for 5 years and last autumn the master plan was effectively scrapped – the rise of online shopping etc. had made it a pipe dream.

The lessons for Port Talbot, and other former giant steelworks such as at Redcar:

  • Don’t automatically assume a viable redevelopment can be achieved without state intervention.  Europe is replete with former steelworks which have been simply allowed to rust, in some cases turned into museums and heritage attractions – with varying success.
  • The models of private sector led development – as opposed to a development corporation – have failed.  Development is drip fed at a pathetic rate by housebuilders.  If the public sector is expected to build the schools and strategic infrastructure they need a slice of land value uplift, and if the cost of reclamation and decontamination is prohibitive the state should intervene compensated for by securing a long term interest in the land value.  The short term costs of decontamination are still likley to be more economic than the million per day cost of keeping the balst furnaces running to service only a few jobs to make steel noone wants to buy.
  • Keep the plan flexible based on the sites key advantages, when you are dealing with SqKM you dont need a rigid masterplan but what is known as a ‘structural plan’ a modern (form based?) zoning instrument based on a flexible grid of 300m or so squares forming 600m x 600m neighborhoods.  The zoning of different typologies and uses within a flexible grid form focused around public transport is recommended as the best practice model globally for urban expansion by UNEP and the World Bank.  They are spot on.

John Rhodes Proposes to Abolish Green Belts Where You Dont have a Up to Date Local Plan

LPEG  Report Page 29

iv. the Government should abandon the principle of “saved policies” i.e. the practice by which planning policies are allowed to continue to carry weight beyond the expiry period of the local plan period;

There you have it in black and white.  Green Belt boundaries and policies only persist in such circumstances where you have a saved policy.

But you may counter the Green Belt still exists it just isn’t defined – as for example with York errr which only has a Green Belt because of a ‘saved’ policy from the former RSS.

Oh if it wasn’t for the local plan ‘experts’ where would we be?

How Zaha Hadid changed how we Design Space

“Hadid has changed the way we see and experience space.”

Ada Louise Huxtable, Architecture Critic

How before Hadid arrived at the Architectural Association buildings and places were designed like this

Boxes sliced up in orthogonal plan and elevation

Indeed for her Mentor at the AA Rem Koolhaus it was quite literally chopping up space in orthogonal cubes of polystyrene – the foundational principle of his practice OMA

Zaha changed all that.  Frustrated at the narrow mathematical range of her teachers, and inspired by her mathematical training in Beirut she set up her own AA studio in an Abandoned Covent Garden Warehouse and invited expert designers and specialists to explore how new forms might be possible.

What resulted was Parametricism – where the CAD section is just one slice of a infinite mathematical description of space.  The term coined by Hadid’s protogee and employee Patrick Schumacher.

Richard Adam argued that Hadis break from the orthagonal box was not architecture just sculpture.


Gallery Image

Now it is may be the case that – according to her naysayers – that curves for curves sake may result in driving fireman mad, too much steel, too expensive and hard to construct buildings etc.  But the same was said of those who accused her may nearly 15 years of being a ‘paper architect’ whose buildings could never be built.  In 2016/2017 there are likely to be more physical major Hadid buildings than from any other architect – then tragically no more ever.

So where next for the curve?  the style is best for feature buildings that are star buildings, it is hard to make a whole city of such unless you take a parametric approach across wide areas – as Schumacher has done

But this to me seems forced.  The line of sight – the pedestrian to eye to vista – works always in straight lines – and economically the best way to support any weight in space is to stack a structure directly and orthogonally underneath it or in a symmetrical structure such as an arch.  That said Hadid opened our eyes to how the natural beauty and structural strength of parametric curved sections found in nature – and which we are biologically attuned to see as beautiful,





Local Plan Experts Group (Sic) shows advance in Strategic Planning Thinking over 50 Years

Local Plans Expert Group pg 21

Government should consider the extent to which it is necessary to create the circumstances to enable the establishment of growth points to complement the capacity of local plans to meet national Options include:

• a refreshed New Towns programme;

•         increased powers for the private sector to promote large scale housing using the infrastructure planning powers of the Planning Act 2008;

•          facilitating the preparation of locally produced spatial plans based on transport corridors; and

•          incentivising bids or growth, for instance, through the devolution agenda.


In the wider South East, for instance, as the Mayor of London has explained to us, even the most concerted attempts to apply the Duty to Cooperate are unlikely to achieve agreement over the distribution of London’s unmet High level joint plans distributing needs in sectors (such as transport corridors or quadrants) of London’s shared market areas within and outside the GLA boundary would be an enormous step forward.


South East Strategy 1967

It would not be an enormous step forwards but reversing the enormous step backwards that Greg Clark and John Rhodes led us on setting back large scale housing delivery in England by (before we have a proper system in place) 7 or so years.  Be man enough to say you made a huge mistake and move forward.

The first step in being an éxpert’is having some sense of history and some modesty in learning from mistakes.

Commons Committee Calls for Review of National Planning Policy #NPPF

DCLG Select

A comprehensive review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should be carried out before the end of this Parliament, says the Communities & Local Government (CLG) Committee in its report, ‘Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on national planning policy’.


The Committee’s inquiry into the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy (PDF 495MB) found that there has not been sufficient robust, objective and evidence-based monitoring, evaluation or review of the National Planning Policy Framework (PDF 1.98MB) since its publication in 2012.

The Committee calls for an overall review of the operation of national planning policy to pull together the various significant pieces of work in this area, including the Local Plans Expert Group report, the Housing and Planning Bill, and the technical consultation on the implementation planning changes.

Chair’s comments

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said:

“We welcome many of the proposals in the Government’s consultation. However, particularly at a time of significant change for the planning and housing sectors, it’s important that people are reassured that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) works effectively and that it supports sustainable development in their communities. The Government needs to ensure there is confidence in the planning system by carrying out a comprehensive review of the NPPF by the end of this Parliament”.

Local authorities responsibilities

The Committee is clear that communities will not benefit fully from the NPPF unless their local authorities properly fulfil their responsibilities to publish and adopt Local Plans. The CLG Committee expresses disappointment that, four years on from the publication of the National Planning Policy, 17 per cent of local authorities still have not published Local Plans and 34 per cent have not yet adopted Plans.

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said:

“Councils need to do more to identify suitable brownfield sites and to protect their communities against the threat of undesirable development by getting an adopted Local Plan in place. The NPPF is designed to work side by side with local plans. It’s simply not good enough that 34 per cent of local authorities don’t have an adopted plan.

The Government needs to act to put an end to dawdling local authorities and indicate whether they will take up the recommendation by the Minister’s own Local Plans Expert Group, and we call on him to reconsider the recommendation made by our predecessor Committee that a statutory duty should be placed on local authorities to produce and maintain Local Plans”.

Housing delivery test

The Committee welcomes the proposed housing delivery test to provide clarity about whether housing delivery in a local area is meeting identified housing need. However, the Committee believes that the proposed consequence of under-delivery – requiring local authorities to allocate more land for development – may not, by itself, mean that more houses will be built. The Committee calls for the Department to review the proposals, and identify the powers local authorities ought to have in order to require or encourage developers to build out sites in their areas.

The Committee supports the development of brownfield sites for housing where it contributes to meeting local housing needs, but asks for greater clarity about the definition of a ‘brownfield sites’ and about how a presumption in favour of development will operate alongside brownfield site registers and permission in principle arrangements.