“Priced out of flats, now moved on in their vans: Bristol’s rent crisis”

“Brian Meekle’s caravan is parked beside the M32 motorway that cuts through the eastern half of Bristol. Meekle has been living there for the past two months because he doesn’t earn enough from the 33-to-45-hour weeks he works at a nearby retail warehouse to pay the rent for a flat.

“The rents in Bristol have rocketed,” he says above the roar of lorries and cars. “I am doing agency work but it could dry up on Monday. It’s all minimum wage stuff.” Meekle’s temporary home is in a ramshackle line of 16 caravans and vans. There are at least seven other vehicle encampments in the city, including in wealthy neighbourhoods such as Clifton Down. Bristol city council estimates that around 200 people are sleeping in vehicles across the city.

While some of them enjoy the freedom of life on the road, many are low-paid workers who have been priced out of Bristol, which has in recent years experienced some of the fastest-rising rents and house prices of any city.

Rents in Bristol have gone up by 33% over the past four years, according to the government’s Valuation Office Agency. A one-bedroom flat in the city now costs on average £795 a month. “There are a lot of people in this situation that don’t want to be,” says Meekle. “But it’s better to have a roof over your head than be out on the streets.”

He will soon be forced to move on to a new road because the council has served all the vans and caravans with eviction notices following complaints of antisocial behaviour. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/20/bristol-van-caravan-dwellers-rising-rents-end-of-the-road

Second judicial review as a Development Management Committee defies first one!

Owl says: another “follow the money” situation?

“Folkestone & Hythe District Council faces its second judicial review in a year over a dispute concerning a proposed holiday park.

Local businessman Tim Steer was granted an application for the latest judicial review by Deputy High Court judge John Howell QC.

The case concerns an application to develop a 5.5 hectares site at Little Densole Farm, which is within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and locally designated as a special landscape area.

Planning and licensing committee members rejected officers’ advice and allowed the application last year, leading to Mr Steer successfully taking the council to judicial review.

When the application came before them again in July councillors again went against the officers’ recommendation and gave planing permission.

Judge Howell: “It is at least arguable that [the committee] failed to give any reasons for rejecting their officer’s appraisal that the development and associated landscaping proposed would not conserve the existing character of this part of the AONB…and that it would introduce alien and incongruous features that would permanently change the existing character of the landscape in that area.”

Mr Steer said: “Not for the first time the council will waste taxpayers’ money defending the blatantly questionable decisions of its planning and licensing committee, a committee which in my view is not fit for purpose and is unable to grasp or follow policy and legislation.

“It might appear to some that this particular committee simply follows its own agenda.”

He said the project would cause “permanent destruction” of the AONB.
Clive Goddard, chair of the planning and licensing committee, said: “Leave has been granted by the court to apply for judicial review in respect of Little Densole Farm. The council has nothing further to add and will be seeking legal advice.”

Folkestone & Hythe was known until last April as Shepway District Council.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36987%3Arow-over-holiday-park-sees-permission-granted-for-second-judicial-review&catid=63&Itemid=31

Say No to Sidford Business Park meeting

Owl says: notable by his absence was District Councillor and DCC Transport supremo Stuart Hughes, who, it seems, may have preferred going to his gym than attending the meeting:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/10/10/where-was-eddc-and-dcc-transport-councillor-during-the-say-no-to-sidford-business-park-meeting/

“The only way to ensure proposals like the Sidford Business Park and others like it stay in the dustbin of history is for the community to buy it themselves.

Those are the words of campaigners who would like to see the Two Bridges site, where the multi-million pound scheme is proposed, turned into an area for the good of the community – but it would only work if the plans were rejected and the landowners agreed to sell.

More than 100 people attended the latest No Sidford Business Park meeting on Wednesday at St Peter’s Church Hall, Sidford.

Permission is being sought to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space but among the concerns raised are flooding risks and the extra traffic, especially lorries, it could bring to the area’s ‘inadequate’ roads.

During the meeting, John Loudoun from the group, revealed they now had 1,379 signatures on their petition, which opposed the plans and was only carried out in Sidford and Sidbury. And by the time they present the petition to East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Development and Management Committee, campaigners say it will have more than 1,400 names on it.

John said: “The call to you and everybody out there – and your friends, your family, your neighbours – is please come along on Tuesday, October 30, at 9.15am at The Knowle and be with us when we present the 1,400 signatures to the committee.

“Let’s try now and make sure that this is the second time that we actually kick this planning application and any others like it into the dustbin of history.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson said: “I really can’t see what has changed since last time.

“If we are lucky, it could be refused again, which would leave us potentially facing yet another revised application at some date in the future. But personally, I don’t relish the prospect of wading through another 500-plus pages of documents so I have a radical suggestion. How would you feel about trying to raise the money to buy this land. I can’t promise they would agree to sell but this is the only way we can guarantee that this development or something similar couldn’t happen. Once the Japanese knotweed on the site has been eradicated it could then be a community asset and used for the public good.”

Cllr Rixson said she believed the landowner, Tim Ford, paid around £402,000 for the site.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/nearly-1-400-residents-say-no-to-sidford-business-park-1-5733085

“Ombudsman offers practical guidance to planners when recording decisions”

It then neglects to post a link to the guidance on its website ….. anywhere ….. including using the search facility …..

“The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has issued new guidance for planners when recording the decisions they make.

The Ombudsman receives more than 2,000 complaints and enquiries each year about English local authorities’ planning functions.

Common areas in which the Ombudsman finds fault with the decision-making process include failing to explain properly the reasons for decisions, or overlooking material considerations.

Based on real casework examples, the learning points in the report offer clear, practical steps planners can take to ensure the decisions they make are evidenced and recorded properly.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, said:

“Communities can only have confidence in the planning process if councils fully and accurately record the reasons for their decisions, including the information they have taken into account to make them.

“We have created this new guidance to share the learning from our investigations with professionals about this aspect of the planning process, and to help councils improve their procedures, and services for the public, to ensure the decisions they make are as transparent as possible.”

The guidance also includes a number of good practice suggestions, along with links to relevant legislation and resources, including the framework Ombudsman investigators use to publish their own investigation decisions.”

https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2018/sep/ombudsman-offers-practical-guidance-to-planners-when-recording-decisions

Blackhill Quarry: planning application at DMC 4 September 2018 10 am

Owl says: How unfortunate that people who work for a living may not be able to attend.

But how fortunate so many of the DMC members are long-retired and can be at Knowle at 10 am with no problem at all.

TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990
PROPOSAL:
LOCATION:
Outline application seeking approval of access for construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of B2 (general industrial) floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure (details of appearance, landscaping, scale and layout reserved for future consideration)

Blackhill Quarry Woodbury Exeter EX5 1HD

… the application has been placed on the agenda for consideration by the Council’s Development Management Committee at their meeting on 4 September 2018.

The meeting will take place at The Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Knowle, Sidmouth and is due to commence at 10am.”

“Manchester launches consultation on planning system reform”

“Manchester City Council has set out measures it says will “improve the transparency” of the planning process, including adding public viability assessments for new housing projects.

The council has started a consultation on the changes, which it says would signal “a new approach for developer contributions”.

Among the key changes will be the inclusion of affordable housing statements and viability assessments for all new housing projects; typically, viability statements are not typically made available on the city’s planning portal.

The council said public affordable housing statements would “provide an overview of the affordability ambition of a new development”. Currently, the council stipulates that 20% of new homes should be designated as affordable.

Under the consultation, it is proposed that affordable housing statements are made public for schemes of 15 or more homes. Where no affordable housing is proposed, a full, un-redacted copy of the viability assessment will need to be submitted.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of viability assessments would allow the public to scrutinise developer requirements for Section 106 contributions.

These will be required when a project does not “include the necessary policy provision or financial contributions”, justified on viability grounds.

Viability assessments will need to be provided “in its entirety,” according to the consultation guidelines. This includes the purchase process, purchase costs, estimated construction costs, professional fees, land acquisition price, and estimated profit and developer target returns.

The consultation is now open and is set to run until 14 September, and the documents can be accessed here.

Cllr Angeliki Stogia, Manchester City Council’s executive member for environment, planning and transport, said: “We want the people of Manchester to have faith in the planning process so they know the decisions being made have been fully scrutinised and where possible, Section 106 is being negotiated working with developers on larger developments.

“This consultation signals a new approach for developer contributions so that everyone who has an interest in the planning process is clear whether affordable housing contributions will underpin new development in the city.

“The move towards publication of viability assessments and affordable housing statements mark the first step in making the process more open and transparent bolstering our clear commitment to affordable housing through the planning process.”

https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/manchester-launches-consultation-on-planning-system-reform/

New planning rules = developer free-for-all again

As Owl understands it (feel free to correct) Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans are now basically ripped up unless developers are BUILDING just about everything for which they have permission (building, not land-banking).

A new “Housing Delivery Test” will apply from November 2018. If DEVELOPERS have not built enough homes using these calculations COUNCILS will be penalised by having planning decisions taken from them and DEVELOPERS WILL BE ALLOWED TO BUILD JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE. Just like the old days when we had no Local Plan. Neighbourhood plans will then also count for nothing.

As the CPRE points out:

“…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.”

https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/planning-construction-news/revised-national-planning-policy-framework-provokes-mixed-feelings/43866/

Nice one, Tories!

For the geeks amongst us, the methodology of the “Housing Delivery Test” – (9 pages) which will be implemented from November 2018 – is here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728523/HDT_Measurement_Rule_Book.pdf