CPRE adds its voice to major criticisms of National Planning Policy Framework

“The Campaign to Protect Rural England has labelled the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) a ‘speculative developers’ charter’, as the government published its new planning rulebook earlier today (24 July).

Despite a promise to ‘build attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are needed’, CPRE points out that far from fulfilling this promise, the NPPF will continue to favour the delivery of any development, rather than development that meets communities’ needs, respects the environment, and adheres to policies in the NPPF other than those which deal with housing delivery.

CPRE’s key concern is the new ‘housing delivery test’. The NPPF continues to encourage councils to set high targets for housing delivery and this new policy has been produced to enforce this delivery. However, the ‘housing delivery test’ will penalise councils when house builders fail to deliver homes in their areas by removing local control over planning decisions. This in turn will leave them and the countryside open to speculative development.

CPRE have a number of other concerns, including:

a failure to provide an effective brownfield first policy

the continuing failure to support provision of affordable housing in rural areas

the discouragement of neighbourhood planning because of uncertainty over the validity of plans older than two years

continued implicit support for hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas, despite massive public opposition and little evidence of need
Matt Thomson, Head of Planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

‘Rather than delivering “what communities want” as it claims to promise, the new planning rulebook and its new “housing delivery test” will result in almost all local plans becoming out of date within two years. It is a speculative developers’ charter and will lead to the death of the plan-led system.

‘Without a local plan, councils and communities have little control over the location and type of developments that take place. This results in the wrong developments in the wrong places – local communities’ needs are ignored and valued countryside destroyed for no good reason.’

Despite heavy criticism of the revised NPPF, CPRE are pleased to see that government has taken some positive actions.

They include:

National Parks and AONBs reinstated as having the ‘highest status of protection’

maintaining Green Belt protections and an improved definition ‘exceptional circumstances’ for releasing land from Green Belts

improved clarity and focus for policies on making better use of land

clearer guidance for viability assessment and that price paid for land should never be a justification for viability revisions

excluding National Parks, AONBs and Green Belts from the Entry Level Exceptions Sites policy

‘Social housing’ being reinstated in the definition of affordable housing.
CPRE will be providing further analysis of the revised NPPF shortly.”

http://www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/sound-bites/item/4923-new-planning-rulebook-heavily-criticised-by-cpre

“Thousands in East Devon live in fuel poverty, new figures show”

“One in 10 East Devon households are in fuel poverty, according to a government report. Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show nearly 6,000 households would be pushed into poverty by the cost of heating and lighting their homes properly.

Across the South West, around 240,000 households are in fuel poverty. Each household is on average £391 short of their required energy bills each year – a measure called the ‘fuel poverty gap’.

A household is considered to be ‘fuel poor’ if they have fuel costs which are above the national median average and if meeting those costs would push them below the poverty line. …”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/one-in-10-east-devon-households-in-fuel-poverty-1-5613713

More planners criticise new National Planning Policy Framework

“Communities face “punishment” if developers fail to build enough homes in their areas, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned after the Government published a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Housing and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the new NPPF would make it easier for councils to challenge poor quality and unattractive development, and “give communities a greater voice about how developments should look and feel”.

But the LGA’s Conservative chair Lord Porter said: “It is hugely disappointing that the Government has not listened to our concerns about nationally set housing targets, and will introduce a delivery test that punishes communities for homes not built by private developers.

“Councils work hard with communities to get support for good quality housing development locally, and there is a risk these reforms will lead to locally agreed plans being bypassed by national targets.”

Mr Brokenshire said the revised NPPF would promote high quality design of new homes and places, give better environmental protection, secure “the right number of homes in the right places” and put greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery on councils and developers.

It also gives a new method for councils to calculate housing need and from November 2018 imposes the housing delivery test to which the LGA objects.
This will penalise councils in areas where insufficient homes are built.
Lord Porter said: “Planning is not a barrier to housebuilding, and councils are approving nine out of 10 applications.

“To boost the supply of homes and affordability, it is vital to give councils powers to ensure homes with permission are built, enable all councils to borrow to build, keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts and set discounts locally.”

Other major changes from the original NPPF include making it easier for councils to refuse permission for developments on grounds of poor design, and a more explicit protection for green belts.

Royal Town Planning Institute president John Acres welcomed clearer definitions of concepts like ‘sustainable development’ but warned about, “the significant pressure the new NPPF requirements will put on local authority planning teams”.

Acres added: “It is imperative that chief executives, council leaders and politicians resource planning departments sufficiently, particularly as they will now be held more accountable for delivery under the housing delivery test and are expected to carry out more regular reviews of their plans.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36155%3Acouncils-criticise-delivery-test-as-revised-national-planning-policy-framework-issued&catid=63&Itemid=31

Neighbouhood plans, conservation areas – who cares? Not EDDC

A correspondent writes:

Many of us in East Devon have spent, or are spending many volunteer hours in setting up a Neighbourhood Plan for our area.

Is it worth the effort?

Perhaps those in East Budleigh would say no. An application -18/0954-to build 2 bunkers in the conservation area, in the setting of many thatched, cob, listed buildings and within a stone’s throw of the Grade 1 listed church has been approved by planning officers. The application totally contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan and objected to by the Parish Council. Not a whisper from the Budleigh Boys, hence the application was not debated by the Development Management Committee.

The subjective decision by the officers can be summed up as “The benefits outweigh the harm” (see below). The residents may struggle to see the public benefits of 2 more potential second homes to add to those already in the historic centre of one of Devon’s historic villages. The private benefit is all too clear.

They may also struggle with the weight put on the Neighbourhood Plan Policy D2 to contribute to the need for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom houses and the absence of any weight put on Policy B3 which supports development only on previously developed land and dwellings that reflect the character of the surrounding area.

Here is the planning officers reasoning:

“CONCLUSION

The location of the site within the built-up area and the characteristics of its past use suggest that appropriate forms of development would be acceptable in principle. The submitted scheme does have some shortcomings, particularly in terms of layout and changes to ground levels. These would result in some loss of significance to the conservation area because the historic layout and levels would be permanently lost. The only evidence that would remain would be documentary evidence in the form of maps and photographs. These impacts, however, would occur at a site level and would not affect the significance of the wider conservation area. For this reason the harm is regarded as less than substantial.

According to the NPPF, where a development proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal, including securing its optimum viable use.

In this case the proposal would contribute to the supply of housing in a sustainable location, bring additional people into the village to support local services and contribute to the need for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom houses identified in the NP (Policy D2).

While it would not support the provision of a community orchard as desired in the NP, the land was not allocated for such purposes and there is no evidence that it could be delivered. The benefits identified would be in the wider public interest whereas the harm would have limited public impact and would not harm the more public parts of the conservation which make the most contribution to its significance.

With regard to securing the optimum viable use of all land in the conservation area, it is considered that the site is effectively redundant for garden use and does not have any value as a public open space (it being in private ownership). Its development can therefore help to secure a viable use for the land while conserving the areas of main significance elsewhere in the conservation area.

Having regard to all other matter raised, it is considered that the public benefits outweigh the limited harm in this case and therefore the proposal is recommended for approval.”

RIP EDDC Development Management Committee and goodbye Local Plans

“Council chiefs today warned the Government was creating a developers’ charter that could see local objections to house building ignored to hit targets.

Under new rules unveiled today, housebuilders would be able to ignore local plans for mapping areas for homes if fewer than 75 per cent of those required by Whitehall targets for 2020 are constructed.

It means in some cases developers could be able to override a rejection of planning permission by appealing over local councillors.

The Local Government Association (LGA) claimed the new ‘housing delivery test’ would ‘punish communities’ opposed to bad developments.

The test is part of the new national policy planning framework (NPPF) announced by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire on Tuesday.

Mr Brokenshire said the rules would create a planning system ‘fit for the future’ which married requirements for building numbers, build quality and environmental requirements.

But Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said the plan failed to give councils the powers they needed ‘to ensure homes with planning permission are built out quickly, with the necessary infrastructure, in their local communities’.

He said: ‘It is hugely disappointing that the Government has not listened to our concerns about nationally set housing targets, and will introduce a delivery test that punishes communities for homes not built by private developers.

‘Councils work hard with communities to get support for good-quality housing development locally, and there is a risk these reforms will lead to locally agreed plans being bypassed by national targets.

‘Planning is not a barrier to housebuilding, and councils are approving nine out of 10 applications.

‘To boost the supply of homes and affordability, it is vital to give councils powers to ensure homes with permission are built, enable all councils to borrow to build, keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts and set discounts locally.’

In a written ministerial statement Mr Brokenshire told the Commons that the NPPF ‘provides greater certainty for local authorities in the decision-making and planning appeals processes’, adding: ‘A new Housing Delivery Test will also measure delivery of homes, with consequences for under-delivery.’

The British Property Federation said it welcomed the test.

Ian Fletcher, its director of real estate policy, said: ‘This will provide a consistent measure against which different local authorities’ performances can be compared.

This is the way that the Government will deliver on its housing promises, and as importantly, cater for a generation that wants to have a home to call their own.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5987591/Council-chiefs-claim-planning-overhaul-developers-charter.html