Planning applications validated by EDDC week beginning 24 August

Could Devon get Brexit lorry parks?

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “Devon County Council is aware of the Order which is scheduled to come into force on September 24 2020.”

Andrew kay planetradio.co.uk 

Under new powers the Government is set to grant itself, temporary planning permission to develop land for the lorry parks in 29 areas of the UK, including Devon and Plymouth, would be granted, subject to the secretary of state’s approval.

The move comes as the government prepares for new border controls, which will be introduced for all goods imported from the European Union, in January.

Local councils will not have the power to stop the new developments, which could soon be built within the areas listed – and stay in place until 2026.

Devon County Council said that they were aware of the new Order and would ensure that Devon’s interests were represented if and when any plans came forward, no information about where any such lorry parks would be sited.

The Order would not apply to areas such as Devon’s National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, European Protected Sites, AONBs, World Heritage Coastline or listed buildings – meaning that Dartmoor, Exmoor, and large parts of East Devon – would not be available for use.

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “Devon County Council is aware of the Order which is scheduled to come into force on September 24 2020.

“Each application would need approval by the Secretary of State who would consider elements including whether there would be a likely significant effect on environmentally sensitive areas.

“The Order would not apply to areas such as Devon’s National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, European Protected Sites, AONBs, World Heritage Coastline or listed buildings.

“We currently have had no indication about the planning of any sites within the DCC area but will ensure that the Council is engaged in the process and Devon’s interests are represented.”

As well as Devon, Plymouth is also on the list of 29 ports and inland cities where the Government has given itself powers to create new border control posts, with plans are already well advanced in the city to set up a new border control post at Millbay Docks.

The city council has been working with owner Associated British Ports and Brittany Ferries on the new unit, in consultation with the Brexit planning team at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The council also identified a site for a temporary lorry park at Derriford in October last year to cope with possible disruption to port traffic caused by a no-deal Brexit.

The UK Government is in talks with the EU about a trade deal to come into force from January, but there is no agreement in sight despite a deadline being set for October to get approval in time.

The regulation giving the Government powers to set up the lorry parks acknowledges concerns about preparations for new trade arrangements after the free flow of goods between the UK and the EU ends.

It says new controls will apply to all goods imported from the EU from January 1, 2021. They will need new border facilities for customs compliance and health checks.

The document says: “While port operators would normally provide the border facilities, there is limited space for the new facilities at some ports.

“Additionally, the Government is aware that the impact of coronavirus may have affected the ability of port operators and businesses to provide the necessary infrastructure by the end of the year.”

It says where there is limited space at ports, the Government will provide new inland sites where checks and other border processes will take place.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government memorandum explains why the order, which comes into effect on September 24, was made.

It said: “The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. A transition period is now in place until 31 December 2020. During this period the UK must comply with all EU rules and laws.

“There will be changes after the transition period, whether or not an agreement is reached on the new relationship between the UK and the EU.

“This Special Development Order is an important component of the Government’s preparations for an orderly transition to the new system of controls to secure the border of Great Britain from 1 January 2021.

“From 1 January 2021 the UK will introduce new controls that apply to all goods imported from the EU.

“This will require building new border facilities in Great Britain for carrying out required checks, such as customs compliance, transit, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks.

“While port operators would normally provide the border facilities, there is limited space for the new facilities at some ports.

“Additionally, the Government is aware that the impact of coronavirus may have affected the ability of port operators and businesses to provide the necessary infrastructure by the end of the year.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are taking back control of our borders and leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year, bringing both changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare.

“In July 2020, the government committed to spending £470m on new border infrastructure to support ports in building extra capacity to meet the new control requirements where there is space to do so, and, if necessary, to build additional inland sites across the country where checks can take place.

“Engagement is underway with ports and we are speaking to local authorities about potential inland sites. Final decisions on inland sites will not be made until we have established the extent of new infrastructure that will be delivered at ports.”

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporting partnership

Boris Johnson’s new homes scheme ‘will harm Tory pledge to level up UK’

Infrastructure levy tied to PM’s plan to build 300,000 houses a year will benefit south-east most, say experts

Michael Savage www.theguardian.com 

Boris Johnson is facing fresh warnings that his planning overhaul risks denting his commitment to “level up” the country, amid mounting Tory anxiety over the proposals.

Conservative MPs have already raised concerns directly with the prime minister about planning reforms designed to push through the construction of more than 300,000 houses a year. MPs have focused on the model used to allocate new housing targets for each area, with Tories warning it will lead to houses being built in their shire heartlands, rather than the metropolitan centres.

However, there are new warnings that other parts of the plan could end up hurting the government’s central election pledge to “level up” more deprived parts of the country, where the Tories found new supporters at the last election.

Under the proposals, funds for new infrastructure and social housing would be raised from a nationally fixed levy. The levy, handed to local councils, would be applied to the predicted market value of a building development once completed.

Planning experts warned that the huge disparity in the market value of developments between London, the south-east and the rest of the country meant the system could end up raising most funds for areas that already had good local amenities.

Setting the rate nationally could mean developers are attracted to more profitable schemes in the south-east than elsewhere. An initial analysis by some of Britain’s leading housing academics warned there were “consequences for regional imbalances”.

“Since the values of completed developments are much greater in London and the southern regions of England than elsewhere, [councils] in these areas will have greater capacity to benefit and fund their infrastructure needs, including schools, doctors’ surgeries, highways … in addition to securing new affordable homes,” write professors Tony Crook and John Henneberry from the University of Sheffield and Christine Whitehead from the London School of Economics. “All of these will be more difficult to secure elsewhere.”

There are calls for the levy to be set locally instead. Neil O’Brien, Tory MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, said this was preferable “because what can be raised varies so much that one size is unlikely to fit all”.

Christopher Pincher, the housing minister, writing on the Conservative Home website, has tried to calm MPs’ fears that the model used to allocate housing needs across the country will hit Tory seats. He said the initial calculations were only “the first step”.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government was contacted for comment, but had not done so by the point of publication.

One room, one window: the ‘cells’ for rent coming to your high street

Building back better! – Owl

Scarcely bigger than a parking space and starved of natural light, they could soon be a feature of your local high street.

Developers are exploiting planning laws to convert empty banks, takeaways and barbers into tiny flats, causing fears Britain’s high streets are becoming modern slum housing.

Tom Calver and Gabriel Pogrund www.thetimes.co.uk

Relaxed planning laws and the impact of the coronavirus on the high street have led to a flood of applications to convert shops into homes under so-called permitted development rights (PDRs), which until recently had mainly been used for office conversions.

In Southampton’s Shirley Road, the Open Fire Centre store sold electric and gas fires. Now it is six studio flats. The smallest measures 15 square metres (160 sq ft), about half the area needed for a home to be eligible for a mortgage. In five of the flats, the only external light comes via a narrow sidelight next to the door.

Chloe Gray, who lives in one, is desperate to leave. She has nowhere to put a wardrobe and has a single cupboard for food. The 20-year-old, who is on universal credit, said: “I have been here for about a year now but I will be moving out in October as it is just too small. I moved here from home because I needed my independence and this was all I could afford. It really does feel like living in a pod.”

Chloe pays £525 a month including bills to rent the property, which works out at about £33 a square metre, making it more expensive to rent than a house in Islington, north London.

The block was designed by a local firm specialising in redevelopments, Concept Design & Planning, although it does not feature among the projects showcased on its website. The firm boasts of having a “proven track record in gaining planning permission across the south coast”.

Next door to the flats, Robert Webb, 43, has been running a barber’s for 21 years. His parents were among locals who opposed the development, but “everyone’s complaints just got rejected”, he says.

“The flats are tiny,” he added. “I have a friend who lives not far away in the New Forest, and the kennel for his two dogs is bigger than these flats next door.”

Since 2013 PDR has let developers bypass the requirement to apply for planning permission when turning office blocks into flats. This was expanded to include shops, bookmakers and launderettes in 2016, before fast-food outlets were added last year.

Government data suggests 60,399 homes have been created. Developers may not transform the outside appearance but have automatic rights to change how the property is used.

In July Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, announced that PDR would be expanded further to let developers demolish vacant buildings without full planning permission so they can be “quickly repurposed to help revive our high streets and town centres”.

A report published the same month, commissioned by the government and carried out by University College London and Liverpool University, suggested PDR is leading to “slum housing” and poses a risk to the “health and wellbeing of occupiers”.

The Royal Institute of British Architects has branded the decision to extend the policy “disgraceful”.

PDR flats are not bound by the minimum space standard, which says studios have to be at least 37 square metres. The government report surveyed more than 2,800 flats and found three-quarters had windows on just one side; 10 had no windows at all. A link between natural light and mental health is well established.

A two-storey building at 187 Whitehall Road in Bristol housed a barber called Super Tonic for several years. However, plans by a local architecture firm, We Are Not Architects, were approved in June to convert the premises into five small flats. The building is squeezed between a shop and a house, so the only natural light in the rear ground-floor flat will come from two windows facing a narrow alleyway.

Developers must now show that PDR flats have “adequate natural light in all habitable rooms”, yet no minimum window size is given and planning officers are “expected to exercise their planning judgment” when approving homes, leaving the rules open to interpretation.

In Croydon, south London, an application was approved on August 7 to convert a 93 square metre basement owned by a financial services company into three studio flats, with daylight entering only through two light wells above.

Experts say Covid-19 has accelerated the residential takeover of the high street. Jamie Lockerbie, a planning partner at the law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “If you own a retail space and the tenants have gone bust — as many have during the pandemic — then, instead of leaving it empty, many will be persuaded to turn it into flats.”

A survey of five councils found 55 successful applications to convert shops into flats since last September, with the majority — 35 — happening after Britain went into lockdown on March 23. The resulting developments across Bristol, Southampton, Leicester, Birmingham and Croydon will lead to 132 new homes, suggesting that there may be thousands of new high-street flats being constructed across the country.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative London assembly member, said: “The Tory party simply won’t be thanked for building crappy homes.”

Tom Copley, London’s deputy mayor for housing and residential development, added: “The solution to the housing crisis is not to create new slums out of old offices and shops, but the delivery of high-quality, well-planned, affordable homes. If lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic should teach us anything about housing, it is the importance of minimum space standards, both internal and external.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government dismissed the findings as “misleading and unfounded”, adding that PDRs “make an important contribution to building the homes our country needs and are crucial to helping our economy recover from the pandemic by supporting our high streets to adapt”.

Covid-19 ‘could be endemic in deprived parts of England’

Covid-19 could now be endemic in some parts of the country that combine severe deprivation, poor housing and large BAME communities, according to a highly confidential analysis by Public Health England.

The document, leaked to the Observer, and marked “official sensitive”, suggests the national lockdown in these parts of the north of England had little effect in reducing the level of infections, and that in such communities it is now firmly established.

The analysis, prepared for local government leaders and health experts, relates specifically to the north-west, where several local lockdowns have recently been put in place following spikes in numbers. But it suggests that the lessons could be applied nationally. Based on detailed analysis of case numbers in different local areas, the study builds links between the highest concentrations of Covid-19 and issues of deprivation, poor and crowded accommodation and ethnicity.

Produced in the last few weeks and containing data up to August, it states: “The overall analysis suggests Bolton, Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale never really left the epidemic phase – and that nine of the 10 boroughs [of Greater Manchester] are currently experiencing an epidemic phase.”

The five worst-hit areas are all currently in the north-west. Bolton had 98.1 cases per 100,000 people last week, with 63.2 in Bradford, 56.8 in Blackburn and Darwen, 53.6 in Oldham and 46.7 in Salford. Milton Keynes, by comparison, had 5.9 per 100,000, and it was 5.2 in Kent and 3.2 in Southampton.

Comparing other English regions, the study says: “Each region has experienced its own epidemic journey with the north peaking later and the NW [north-west], Y&H [Yorkshire and Humber] and EM [East Midlands] failing to return to a near zero Covid status even during lockdown, unlike the other regions which have been able to return to a near pre-Covid state.”

It also questions, under a heading marked for “discussion”, why anyone should expect fresh local lockdowns to work in these areas now: “If we accept the premise that in some areas the infection is now endemic – how does this change our strategy? If these areas were not able to attain near zero-Covid status during full lockdown, how realistic is it that we can expect current restriction escalations to work?”

The comments point to friction between Public Health England and the government over the strategy to tackle local outbreaks as a potential second wave of Covid-19 threatens.

Last night, Gabriel Scally, visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of the independent Sage committee, described the findings of the leaked report as “extremely alarming” after being shown them by the Observer.

“The only way forward is to build a system which provides much better, more locally tailored responses,” Scally said. “There is no integrated find, test, trace, isolate and support system at the moment. The data on housing is extraordinarily important. Overcrowded households are part of public health history. Housing conditions are so important and always have been, whether it was for cholera or tuberculosis or Covid-19.

“Doing something about housing conditions for someone who has an active infection is extremely important and it is not something that can be handled by a call centre run by a commercial company hundreds of miles away.”

Scally said that helping people to isolate by giving financial support was also crucial: “Taking two weeks off if you are on a zero-hours contract is not an option for people.”

Matthew Ashton, director of public health at Liverpool city council, said on seeing the study: “This report shows a strong link between our most deprived areas, our BAME communities and poor housing communities, and that can lead to the virus becoming endemic. I absolutely agree with that. But I think it is also more complicated in that there are different types of outbreaks and different types of ways in which the virus could become endemic, such as opening the night-time economy and young people getting the virus asymptomatically and then passing it on.”

Last night, amid continuing confusion over rules on quarantining when returning to the UK, Labour called for a “rapid review” to restore public confidence. In a letter to the home secretary, Labour is urging the government to consider introducing a “robust testing regime in airports” that could help to safely minimise the need for 14-day quarantine.

There have been more than 340,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far in the UK, and more than 40,000 people have died, according to government figures.

Local lockdowns are now being implemented or relaxed across the country in response to surges. The most recent have seen Norfolk, Rossendale and Northampton added as “areas of enhanced support”, meaning the government will work with local authorities to provide additional resources – such as testing or contact tracing – to help bring infection numbers down.

Improvements in Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, Slough in Berkshire and Wakefield. West Yorkshire, mean they have been removed from the watchlist. Restrictions already in place in parts of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been eased.

In Scotland, restrictions on visiting other households were reintroduced this week in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire.

Desperate Boris Johnson to step up personal attacks on Keir Starmer

An increasingly desperate Boris Johnson has ordered his staff to step up personal attacks on the Labour leader Keir Starmer and his record as a lawyer, as confidence in the prime minister’s leadership collapses among Tory party members.

The Observer has been told that Johnson was so furious after last Wednesday’s prime minister’s questions – where he was asked to withdraw comments he made about the Labour leader and the IRA by the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle – that he turned on his staff for leaving him under-prepared, and asked them to come up with more attack lines on the Labour leader’s career as a lawyer.

“He was furious,” said a well-placed source. “He told his team and people at CCHQ [Conservative campaign headquarters] that he wanted them to go after Starmer’s legal record and double down on the attacks on him.”

Last week’s Commons row erupted after Starmer pressed Johnson at PMQs over the recent exams fiasco and his party’s succession of policy U-turns.

Johnson attempted to turn the tables, suddenly suggesting the Labour leader had somehow been sympathetic to the IRA because he had worked under Jeremy Corbyn. “This is a leader of the opposition who supported an IRA-condoning politician,” said Johnson, to the bemusement of MPs on all sides of the house.

An angry Starmer pointed out he had in fact spent five years of his legal career prosecuting IRA terrorists and working with the intelligence services to bring terrorists to justice. Despite Hoyle’s request for Johnson to apologise he refused to do so.

A Labour source said: “If Boris Johnson wants to have a debate with Keir about past careers then bring it on. While Keir was a human rights lawyer or director of public prosecutions Johnson was being sacked for lying.”

Last night Downing Street claimed it was “not true” that Johnson had blamed his staff for his performance at PMQs or that he had said to anyone that he wanted to prepare more attacks on Starmer over his time as a lawyer.

But increasingly his and the government’s performances are causing alarm among Tory MPs, and disquiet in Whitehall.

Some senior Conservatives are beginning to worry that Starmer is regularly outperforming the prime minister at the weekly confrontation on Wednesdays. A senior Tory MP said: “It is the issue of competence that we worry about against Starmer.”

As the country faces a possible Covid-19 second wave and the prospect of an economically damaging no-deal Brexit, there is evidence that the wider Tory party is losing faith in Johnson’s ability to lead them against Starmer – and signs that the chancellor Rishi Sunak has become the new favourite of the Conservative grassroots.

According to the latest survey of Tory members by ConservativeHome, the website for party activists, Johnson is now in the bottom third of cabinet ministers in the satisfaction ratings – having been the runaway leader nine months ago.

In December 2019, shortly after the last general election, Johnson topped the net satisfaction ratings with a score of plus 92.5%, while Sunak was fourth on plus 78.5%.

Now Johnson has slumped to 19th place, below Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords, with a rating of plus 24.6%. Sunak meanwhile is out in front on plus 82.5%.

Patrick Stevens, a former colleague of Starmer at the crown prosecution service who was head of its international division, said the Labour leader’s legal career was beyond reproach.

“I worked with Keir Starmer at close quarters for five years. His work with the CPS’s world-class counter-terrorism division – the most serious and sensitive the service faced – was unwavering.

“He was equally committed to the CPS playing its part internationally in the UK government’s national security strategies, leading the CPS to engage in some of the most difficult jurisdictions around the world.

“His efforts went way beyond just doing the job; personally I haven’t met anyone more committed to the rights of victims and witnesses and the protection of the public.”

On Saturday ministers were facing new difficulties in persuading civil servants to “get back to work” as soon as possible.

The government says it wants 80% of civil servants to be able to attend their usual workplaces at least once a week by the end of the month. But unions have described the government’s attitude as outdated.

Six things older people with care needs should expect when they leave hospital – Which? News

Your care shouldn’t end the minute you leave hospital. A ‘discharge plan’ helps older people transition from hospital to home or residential care.

By Natalie Healey www.which.co.uk /news/

During the coronavirus pandemic, there were reports of older people in hospital being discharged into care homes without being tested for COVID-19. It’s believed that this was a major contributor to the crisis in care homes. Now the government has announced extra funds to ensure people can be safely discharged from hospital into the most appropriate setting and with the support they need.

From 1 September, the NHS can access £588m to provide up to six weeks of additional support for people leaving hospital. This funding is expected to pay for home care, community nursing, residential care or services such as physiotherapy.

People were already entitled to this support through a service called NHS Intermediate Care, but many found this was delayed or unavailable during lockdown. In order to free up beds during the coronavirus crisis, the organising of intermediate care took place after many patients were back in their own home.

Now hospitals are getting nearer to something resembling normality, Which? explores what older people with care needs can now expect when they’re discharged:

1. Questions about your support needs

Discharge planning should start as soon as possible and you (or your carer or relatives) should be informed at all stages. You should be given an expected date of discharge which will be reviewed regularly.

You might need extra support when you leave hospital. A hospital social worker should help establish whether that’s the case. They will ask you some questions, such as whether you can manage tasks such as climbing stairs, personal care routines and preparing meals. This will help them come up with a plan that outlines who will be involved with ongoing care once you leave hospital.

It should also include the details of who to contact for help and support once you’re back home.

2. Help with transport arrangements

You have the right to discharge yourself from hospital at any point, but we wouldn’t recommend leaving until your doctor is happy that you are well enough to go home and there’s a discharge plan in place. You want to be confident that you can manage safely at home.

But once you do have expected date of discharge (EDD), plan how you’re going to travel from the hospital. You’ll probably want to arrange for a family member to come and collect you. But if there’s no one who can help, healthcare staff should help you arrange appropriate transport.

3. A decision on temporary care

You may be entitled to up to six weeks of free care at home or in a residential care home. This is what the government has announced new funding for.

This service is called NHS Intermediate Care and is arranged by the hospital social work team before you’re discharged.

If you need care for longer than six weeks, you may have to start paying for it yourself.

4. Support if you have complex needs

Older people with complex health needs may be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare.

This is care which is fully funded by the NHS, for people who have a need for significant, ongoing health care outside of hospital. There isn’t a specific set of conditions that are covered by the scheme. Eligibility is based on the level and complexity of an individual’s health care needs and is decided after an assessment.

During the height of the pandemic, many assessments for this service were delayed. But the government says these will restart from September to ensure that people with health problems can continue to access the care they need for free.

5. A plan for a needs assessment

If you may require long-term social care once you return home but are not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, you should get a needs assessment from your local authority. This assessment may take place before you leave hospital or, if there’s a temporary care plan in place, before the six weeks of the NHS Intermediate Care package is up.

6. COVID-19 precautions if you’re going to a care home

Care homes were badly affected during the peak of the pandemic. While transmission of COVID-19 is still a concern, extra precautions are in place for care home residents who have been in hospital. For starters, all current and new residents must have a coronavirus test before they return to or move into residential care.

After arriving at the care home, you must then undergo a 14-day period of isolation in your own room. This is to further reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to staff and other residents.