Why CPRE thinks it is a developers’ charter (again):
A new nature protection group has been formed in East Budleigh to try to save eleven species of bat from having their habitat destroyed. Six of these species are amongst the rarest found in Britain. The story has broken today simultaneously on BBC Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight, presented by Adrian Campbell, and in the Exmouth Journal.
Owl will comment after using the following Journal story to set the scene:
“Landowners have defended their plan to redevelop an area of land in East Budleigh amid concerns for wildlife living on the site.
Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) has applied for permission to demolish a barn at The Pound, in Lower Budeigh, and replace it with a new dwelling.
Residents have raised concerns about the bats that have traditionally called the barn their home.
There are also concerns about access to the site; it is argued to be through the centre of The Pound, which is claimed to be in the village’s built-up area boundary.
CDE say the new building will provide ‘conditions more suitable’ for bats, including a dedicated loft area and ground floor with free flight access for the animals.
Writing in objection to the application, Mr and Mrs Moyle said: “We should be proud that we have so many rare bats, including gray long-eared bats, which are very rare.
“Building this so-called bat house means we have no proof that the bats will use it.
“It is being built a long way from the barn, so we are likely to lose out rare bats.”
Another letter, from a Mrs Maynard, said: “This is an absolutely ridiculous and totally unnecessary attempt to develop what is at present is an extremely pretty corner of a very lovely village.”
A spokesman for Clinton Devon Estates said: “The new building, whilst smaller than the existing barn, has been designed to provide conditions more suitable for breeding bats in the summer; for example, it will have a slate roof to provide a warm loft, as opposed to a draughty metal shed. “It will also have a cool ground floor to provide fairly stable winter temperature and high humidity, with the aim of providing a potential winter roost.
“For horseshoe and long-eared bat species, a dedicated loft area and ground floor with free flight access will be provided.
“For crevice-dwelling bat species, roosting provision will be provided in various places within the bat barn, including bat slates, a raised ridge tile, timber cladding, a Schwegler bat tube and internal crevices.”
CDE providing a brand new Des. Res. for free? There must be a catch.
Owl fears for these bats.
Are they going to be sent away for a holiday by the sea whilst their ancient barn (oldest still standing in East Budleigh) is bulldozed away and their new bat loft constructed?
Temporary social housing is a non-starter. As mentioned in one of the Spotlight interviews, what are they going to do for food. They feed on moths but the overgrown habitat of the moths is also going to be bulldozed?
And how are they going to navigate when the trees they use for echo location have also been razed to the ground as well?
Owl has many, many bat friends who join it in its nocturnal foreys and is VERY protective of them.
However, for the status of Clinton Devon Estates environmental credentials see just a few recent Owl stories here (there are many more):
“A cabinet minister faced a furious backlash yesterday after saying the Tories must build homes in the countryside – or they will hand power to Jeremy Corbyn.
Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said planning laws should be ripped up as she complained about the number of Nimbys in Britain.
The outspoken minister said ‘a lot more’ sites needed to be opened up. She also called for those living in cities to be allowed to add extra floors to their homes without needing permission. Miss Truss argued the house-building overhaul was needed to keep Mr Corbyn out of Downing Street at the next election.
Liz Truss argued the house-building overhaul was needed to keep Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) out of Downing Street at the next election
But Tory colleagues warned the party would be ‘run out of office’ if it went ahead with ‘catastrophic’ proposals that fail to protect rural Britain and the green belts around London and other major cities.
The row comes a day after campaigners warned the green belt is already being ‘gobbled up at an alarming rate’ to build thousands of homes.
A report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, published yesterday, showed plans for almost 460,000 homes have been pencilled in for green belt land since 2013 as councils lift planning protections, opening the way for developers.
Asked in an interview whether she would you be happy to ‘start paving over our green and pleasant land’, Miss Truss replied: ‘I do think we need to open up more land for building, a lot more. There are a lot Nimbys in Britain.’
Questioned on whether there are many ‘not in my backyard’ objectors in her own party, she said: ‘There are, but I think it is a dwindling number.
‘People recognise the choice is building on more greenfield sites and making sure there are enough homes for next generation or losing the election and ending up with Jeremy Corbyn, whose policy appears to be appropriating property.
Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said planning laws should be ripped up as she complained about the number of Nimbys in Britain
‘So I know which one I’d choose – it’s having more homes available on the open market for people of whatever generation to afford.’ The minister added: ‘I also think we need to make it easier to build up in cities. I quite like the Japanese system where essentially you can build up on top of your house without having to get extra planning permission. I think we need to be more liberal about these policies.’
Miss Truss, who was appointed second-in-command at the Treasury last June after previously serving as justice secretary and environment secretary, said in the interview with the Financial Times’ politics podcast that she would one day like to be the country’s first female chancellor. ‘Well, who would say no to that?’ she said.
But when asked if she would like to be prime minister, Miss Truss, who is MP for South West Norfolk, replied: ‘I’m not sure about that one.’
Tory former minister Crispin Blunt last night warned the party it would suffer an electoral ‘catastrophe’ if it does not protect the green belt. The MP for Reigate, who is co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for London’s green belt, said Conservative local councillors already faced being ‘run out of office’ in areas where ministers had raised housebuilding targets.
‘Residents’ associations are going off their rocket,’ he said.
Mr Blunt said trying to meet demand in the South East was ‘sucking the best and brightest out of the North’. Hindering development in the South-East would encourage growith in the North, he added.
Tom Fyans of the CPRE said: ‘We agree that there is a severe lack of affordable homes available for people to buy and rent.
‘However, what Liz Truss fails to recognise is that, opening up the green belt will not solve this issue.
Tory former minister Crispin Blunt (pictured) last night warned the party it would suffer an electoral ‘catastrophe’ if it does not protect the green belt
‘Almost three quarters of the homes built on green belt land last year were unaffordable.’ He said the ‘perfect solution’ to ‘this barbaric assault on the green belt’ was to use brownfield land to its full capacity.
The CPRE’s report showed there are plans for almost 460,000 homes on green belt land. Green belt areas can be built on if councils grant planning permission directly or remove the land’s official status. Both methods have been used.
Only 70 houses or flats were built in the green belt in 2009/10 compared with 8,143 in 2017/18.
Miss Truss has become one of the most prominent advocates in the Cabinet for free market liberalism. Earlier this year, she attracted attention for a speech in which she appeared to ridicule the Prime Minister’s plan to ban plastic straws.”
“Government housing policy has lost all contact with planning Britain’s countryside. This week the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) is up in arms over house-building in green belts, and over the lack of what it calls affordable housing. These are a distraction. It is planning as such that has collapsed.
The CPRE is concerned that 8,000 houses were built last year on green-belt land, or 24,000 over the past decade, and that hardly any were affordable. This has predictably raised a green light over all green belts, with developers rushing forward with applications for 460,000 new homes now in process. Already, unplanned and sprawling “toy-town” estates are spreading across the home counties, the Fens, the Somerset Levels and the Severn Valley. It has sucked development into the south-east of England, denuded town centres and put ever more pressure on transport corridors. It is the worst sort of “non-planning”.
New green belt housing applications push total to a record 460,000
The issue should not be green-belt building or affordability. All rural land is now in contention. As for affordability – usually 20% off market price – such a subsidy is always short-term, and should never be a loophole for allowing building where it would otherwise be stopped.
New houses in the countryside have intense local impact, yet they form a trivial element in the housing market, of which some 90% involves existing stock. Policy should be aimed at genuinely boosting supply. This means cutting Britain’s shocking underoccupation of existing buildings. It means help with downsizing and subletting. It means not taxing sales, as stamp duty does. It means densifying urban sites and being more flexible on building uses. Modern “green” development is in cities.
Local planning must be restored. The government claims the right to decide how many new people come to Britain. It should grant local people the same right, to control the pace and nature of settlement in their communities. New planning rules deny them that right. They dictate that, should local people fight imposed targets, they will lose any further say in the matter, allowing free rein to development. It is heads we win, tails you lose localism.
Britain’s reputation for town-and-country planning has all but evaporated over the past decade. Each change in planning rules, usually dictated by the building lobby, has drawn ever more of the countryside into speculative play. The solution does not lie in arguing over a few hundred green-belt acres and a few thousand subsidised houses. County land-use planning has to be restored. Landscape considered worthy of long-term preservation – and much of it is still outside national parks – should be “listed” for its scenic and environmental value, like conservation areas in towns. Other land could then be declared a potentially developable land bank.
Listing the landscape would replace the present fighting with proper planning. Everyone would know where they stood. Rural Britain would not, as now, be up for speculative land grab. The old mistakes would not be repeated.”
“Hundreds of people have lodged objections against the controversial application to create 8,445 sq m of employment floor space at the Two Bridges site.
The plans, which could create 250 jobs, represents 37 per cent of what was previously proposed and submitted to East Devon District Council (EDDC) in 2016.
Sir Hugo has hit out at the plans and raised concerns, slamming it as an ‘unwanted development in the wrong place’.
In a letter to East Devon District Council’s leader Councillor Ian Thomas, Sir Hugo said: “We have already seen Sidford absorbed by Sidmouth. It was because of this that I objected to a proposal for a cycle path between Sidford and Sidbury as I believed it would not be long before someone insisted on an illuminated path which could lead to gradual urbanisation between the two.
“Likewise, it seems to me to build a business park between Sidford and Sidbury, albeit nearer to Sidford, is an unwanted development in the wrong place.
“You will be familiar with the well-rehearsed arguments both for and against but I cannot see how this proposed development would do anything but detract from the area and to lead to more congestion and pollution on what is an already overused road.
“Equally I cannot see why the Alexandria Business Park could not be properly redeveloped to accommodate any need for new light industrial space.”
Sir Hugo then urged the council to turn the ‘unwanted’ planning application down.
Say No to Sidford Business Park campaigners held a protest last week that was attended by more than 80 people.
Petitioners have also been going door-to-door to gauge people’s views.
A Say No to Sidford Business Park spokesman said: “Obviously we welcome the position taken by Sir Hugo on what is a very important issue for local people. On this matter, we feel he has got it completely right.”
When the Herald went to press, EDDC had received 368 comments about the application, 254 of which were objections and 111 of which were in support.”
“Applications to build an additional 35,000 homes on green belt land were submitted last year, taking the total number proposed for construction on protected land to a record 460,000.
New data from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) released on Monday showed that more than 24,000 homes were constructed in the UK’s green belts in the past nine years. Its State of the Green Belt 2018 report reveals that the number of finished homes constructed on the protected areas almost doubled last year to about 8,000.
The government has pledged to protect green belt land but housing campaigners believe much more controlled land could be released to build badly needed affordable new homes.
Most of the construction to date has been on brownfield sites within the green belt, but the data suggests that the vast majority of homes constructed on greenfield green belt land is in higher price brackets unattainable to most buyers. Only 27% of homes built or approved on greenfield land since 2009 fitted the government’s definition of affordable housing. …”
If The Times is worried, everyone should be worried!
“To save you the eye strain, or possibly to sublimate some Freudian desire for self-flagellation, I have waded through all 73 pages of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Slipped out last week under cover of Brexit, the document that will shape the look of England for years to come was duly awarded minimal coverage by the press.
I partly blame its clunky title. If the NPPF were called “Why a ghastly housing estate will soon be built just outside your favourite village” it would get a lot more attention. Still, at least the name of the minister responsible for it — the housing and communities secretary, James Brokenshire — has an ominous ring.
The trouble with having a “national plan” for anything, as Russia found in the 1930s, is that what seem like good ideas to centralised bureaucrats tend to collide with overlooked local realities to produce unforeseen catastrophes. I fear that’s the case with the NPPF, particularly since it covers everything from new housing and the future of town centres to protecting the environment, dealing with floods, promoting sustainable transport, rolling out broadband and preserving historic buildings.
Take its emphasis on “good design”. On paper, that’s admirable. Theoretically it gives local councils the power to reject those soulless estates of identical, boxy homes beloved of the big developers. The aim is to ensure that all new developments excite the eye, please their residents and enhance their environments as much as, say, Ralph Erskine’s celebrated Byker Wall in Newcastle. That would be a fine aspiration if local councils had the experts, time, resources and money to match what any big housing developer can deploy in a planning battle.
Unfortunately, thanks to central government’s ruinous cuts to their budgets, they don’t. Some, such as almost bankrupt Northamptonshire, can hardly run their bin collections let alone turn themselves into architectural watchdogs. For every Byker Wall built in the future, there are still likely to be a hundred soulless “off-the-peg” estates nodded through by councillors too helpless to resist.
And there’s a new threat. From November local authorities will have to comply with a “housing delivery test”. It will penalise those that fail to conjure up an agreed number of new homes in their area. Again the intentions are good: to bridge the enormous gap between the number of new homes given planning permission by councils and the number actually built by the developers. Councils will have to police much more thoroughly the progress of approved building applications — another strain on their scant resources.
The real worry, though, is that councils will panic because they aren’t meeting the set targets and will nod through schemes of scant architectural and social merit, repeating the appalling mistakes made in the 1950s and 1960s. No wonder that the Campaign to Protect Rural England has called the combined effect of the new planning rulebook and the housing delivery test “a speculative developers’ charter” that will result in councils and communities having “little control over the location and type of developments that take place”.
On town centres too, the NPPF seems to be living in a bygone age. The big problem in the next ten years won’t be banning ugly shopfronts or propping up small independent butchers and bookshops, or even halting the march of out-of-town shopping malls. It will be ensuring that there are any shops left, as the relentless shift to online retail gathers pace. As town centres fast become boarded-up wastelands, local authorities need the power (and the money) to make much more imaginative interventions. Yet the NPPF has nothing to say about this.
I find its paragraphs about protecting England’s green belts a bit weaselly too. These sacrosanct meadows are apparently safe from development except where local authorities have “exhausted all other reasonable options”. OK, but who decides what “exhausted” and “reasonable” mean? And there’s another glaring loophole. When it comes to brownfield sites inside green belt areas, it’s apparently a free-for-all.
There’s much that is sensible in the NPPF, of course. If I were an ancient woodland, for instance, I would feel better protected from rape by chainsaw. Nevertheless, my overall impression is that the bureaucrats who penned this well-meaning document imagine that England is still a country of communities safeguarded by strong, efficient local authorities. The sad truth is that government ministers have spent the past eight years paying lip service to “localism” while running down the democratic institutions that preserve it. Brokenshire’s legacy could well be broken shires.”
Source: Times (pay wall)