“Green belt earmarked for homes ‘that may never be needed’ “

“Swathes of green belt in the heart of England have been earmarked for new homes for people who may never exist, in a trend fuelled by the drive to double the number built annually nationwide, campaigners have warned. …

… The city council believes it needs land to accommodate 42,400 new homes in the next 12 years, based on population predictions by the government’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), which predict the population will surge by almost a third between the last census, in 2011, and 2031. Green belt in neighbouring areas, including Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Rugby, has also been earmarked for housing to help Coventry meet its target.

Analysis presented at the British Society of Population Studies, in Cardiff, on Tuesday suggested homes earmarked for open fields were being planned for “ghosts”, because there is no wider evidence of the sharp predicted population growth. Just 15,000 new homes were needed, requiring the loss of far less green space.

“If there has been hyper population growth in Coventry, they are ghosts or vampires,” said Merle Gering, a Coventry-based campaigner whose analysis has been endorsed by leading demographers. “They don’t go to school, don’t attend A&E, don’t have babies, don’t own cars, don’t claim state pensions, don’t use gas or electricity, and don’t put waste into their bins … The net result? The death of the green belt.”

Similar fears have been raised elsewhere. Last week campaigners in Birmingham claimed housing need had been deliberately over-estimated after a scheme for 5,000 homes by 2031, on fields near Sutton Coldfield, was halved in size. In January, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, accused the government of making it impossible to reduce the amount of protected green belt allocated to housing through the use of old population growth figures, which are higher than the most recent projections.

Housebuilders prefer to build on open land because they consider it quicker, cheaper and easier than previously-used brownfield sites. The government wants 300,000 new homes to be built annually by the middle of the next decade – more than double the output over the last 10 years. Campaigners fear planning inspectors are facing political pressure not to query ambitious targets set by councils, even when they involve the destruction of green belt.

“We agree with him entirely in terms of these crazy projection figures,” said John Wareham, the chairman of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England in Warwickshire. “Coventry has forecasts of around 30% increase in population compared to Stratford-upon-Avon and others which are 10%, which makes no sense. This land between large urban settlements has been there for many hundreds of years and is valuable for leisure and for farming.”

Housebuilding targets set by councils are based on ONS population projections but Gering believes the figures for Coventry are skewed by a large number of foreign students, many of whom will not settle in the area. The ONS, which said it was always looking to improve its statistics to inform policymakers, said it used methods assessed by experts in the field and “we look to produce these estimates as accurately as we can”.

A spokesperson said: “We will continue to engage with the group of concerned residents in Coventry, as we would with any users who need assistance in understanding our estimates.”

Coventry city council said the population projections and the green belt site allocations were assessed by the government’s planning inspectorate.

A spokesperson said it saw “no evidence at this time that the housing requirements identified within its local plan are wrong or failing”.

It added it “will continue to work with our neighbours to monitor housing delivery and supply to inform any need to review the plan in the future”.

Gering’s analysis of the 2011 census and ONS predictions found the rate of growth predicted for Coventry was well over twice the regional average. He found attendances at A&Es over the last decade grew faster in Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Burton; increases in car registrations grew no quicker than in many other areas; and birth rates fell slightly as in most areas.

There was a lower-than-average increase in gas meters, electricity use fell quicker than in other areas, school admissions were average and the number of people on the electoral roll remained steady from 2011 to 2017. He also checked the volumes of domestic waste and found that it was trending in line with other areas.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/09/green-belt-to-be-destroyed-for-homes-which-wont-be-needed?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Local “Experts” win the day in the battle of Woodbury Power Plant (but the war is not yet over)

From a correspondent – as positive as it is, Plutus Energy will almost certainly appeal so we must await a final outcome.

“East Devon District Council has rejected plans for the construction of 20 gas-fired electricity generators on grounds including that the scheme would be “inappropriate development in the open countryside”.

Acting against the recommendation of Planning officer EDDC`s Development Management committee, refused permission for the construction of “20 self-contained natural gas engine driven electricity generators”.

The scheme, proposed by applicant Plutus Energy, would have been built on land close to Woodbury Business Park, Woodbury.

The Key to the decision was Strategy 39 of the council’s local plan, which states the authority’s commitment to promoting the use of renewables and low carbon energy, as grounds for refusing the plans.

The planning report said that the proposed development “would be powered by natural gas and therefore it is important to recognise that this technology is a “facilitator of renewable energy” rather than a renewable technology or low carbon energy project itself and therefore there is little direct policy support within Strategy 39 for this proposal.”

However, it added that “whilst Strategy 39 of the local plan promotes renewable and low carbon energy, it does not in itself provide an “in principle” reason to refuse proposals for fossil fuel energy development.

Therefore, on balance, the Planning Officer considered that the adverse impacts from the scheme would “not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits that would be derived from the scheme which would support the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy by providing back-up generation to help achieve the transition to a sustainable, low carbon future.”

However a team of local residents including an expert from commercial finance, a Professor who is recognised as a world expert of climate change, a solicitor, local councillors, planning experts spoke at the planning meeting with a very detailed forensic exposé of the proposed development that exposed that the far from “facilitating renewable energy it was would block any renewable energy being added to the National Grid, and rather than running at “only a few hours a day in winter time it would actually run over 3000 Hours a year, having a devastating effect on the area.

After a short debate, where the Legal Officer of the council recommended a referral because of the further information the committee voted against the proposal and the Legal Officers recommendation.

A statement from the council said the application had “proved controversial with the local community who raised a number of concerns regarding noise and pollution from the facility, as well as fears that a low carbon energy generation and storage facility was not being proposed, which would be consistent with addressing the climate change emergency declared by the council only a few weeks earlier.”

It added that the committee resolved to refuse the application on the basis that “it would be inappropriate development in the open countryside, with local plan policies only supporting renewable and low carbon energy projects in the open countryside” and a further reason for “related to concerns about the impact of the proposal on air quality in the locality.”

Lib Dems at Mid-Devon challenge developers on zero-carbon development, Tories whinge

“A motion was passed at Mid Devon District Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, July 24, following on from the declaration of a climate emergency in June.

Developers will face a zero-carbon requirement on all future development taking place in Mid Devon.

A motion was passed at Mid Devon District Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, July 24, following on from the declaration of a climate emergency in June.

Councillor John Downes (Boniface, Liberal Democrats) who put forward the following motion: “That this council instructs the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration to take the earliest available opportunity in planning policy terms to embed a zero-carbon requirement on all future development taking place in Mid Devon to respond to the climate emergency.”

Cllr Downes said he had wanted to word the motion so that planning which wasn’t zero-carbon would be refused as policy, and that it would be down to the planning inspector to agree to development or refuse. He added that the Chief Executive, Stephen Walford, had offered advice to defer to the head of planning to allow policy to change.

He said: “This is to make the point that we declared a zero-carbon target and any development we allow that is not zero-carbon is effectively carbon debt which is making the problem more difficult for us in the future.

“One developer, with the profit they made this year, could have made all their houses zero-carbon with the profit that they returned. The point is, if we do make the point and champion zero-carbon, technologies will need to change because that’s the way people are going to start making money and doing developments.

“It’s just about keeping it alive and making it current. I understand that policy will take time, but I think having declared a crisis, we need to show that we’re trying to do something, and planning and licensing are areas in which we can.”

However, Councillor Andrew Moore (Clare & Shuttern, Conservative) questioned whether the motion could be acted upon.

“Do we have any idea as to whether this can be done?” he said.

“An eco-home can operate carbon neutrally, and I’m advised that the likely uplifting cost to build is about 30 per cent, which of course is going to have a significant impact. That will come down in time naturally, but this is not necessarily a cheap thing to be imposing in policy.

“The thing that worries me though is what of the build cost in carbon terms? A study identified that on average, the carbon cost of simply constructing a home – forget the operational cost – is about 65 tonnes of CO2 on average. An average family car uses five tonnes per year, so that’s 13 year’s worth of car travel to build a house.

“Normally, one would amortise that over the life of the house, which is typically taken as 100 years, and how do you do that? Well a UK native tree would consume about one tonne in its whole life of 100 years, so build a house, plant 65 trees, and you know what, it equals out over time. But to be carbon neutral by 2030, that debt payoff model doesn’t work anymore because we’re saying it’s got to be neutralised at the point of the build.

“I have no idea, through my research, as to how on earth that is going to be accomplished. How at point of build, you’re going to get rid of 65 tonnes of CO2. I think it’s a great challenge and I am going to look forward to what actions and policies this motion will ultimately deliver.”

Councillor Richard Chesterton (Lower Culm, Conservative) applauded Cllr Downes for bringing the motion forward but warned that planning policy was a slow process.

He said the Council would also have to manage public expectations.

“I was at a parish council meeting recently in Uffculme where there was an assumption by members of the public that because we had made the decision we had made, that automatically a contentious planning application on the edge of the village wouldn’t happen because it wasn’t in keeping with that decision,” he said.

“I had to explain how the planning process works with policies set out at both national level and local level and that even the adopted local plan, while having some very good policies in them which will encourage the use of green technology and things like that, wouldn’t necessarily get to where you’re looking to get to, and wouldn’t necessarily be able to rely on that in their reason for why it should be turned down.

“The public expects that it will be different from the speed that we will meet, so we mustn’t get our hopes up too fast. It will also be complicated because any local plan and any planning policy that we bring forward has to be in line with national planning policies which don’t, at this moment in time, set out the same deadline and timescale that this Council has set out.

“That’s going be a stumbling block along the way. We need to be aware of that, and we need to know how the executive will push forward a planning policy that might be at odds with Government policy. It might not be of course by the time we get there.”

Cllr Chesterton quizzed the cabinet member for planning and economic generation, Councillor Graeme Barnell, (Newbrooke, Liberal Democrats) about a timescale, and whether or not the Council would have to introduce a revised Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

He added: “Would it be through a revised local plan at the earliest available opportunity, or would it be just through maybe a revised development management policies? And what timescale do you see it being able to come forward?”

Cllr Barnell replied: “We haven’t been idle as a cabinet in responding to the green agenda. We have been very active in thinking through our policies, but as you quite rightly point out, there are a number of constraints including Government policies that are pre-existing and the plans we’ve inherited from the previous administration.

“We’re looking at a greener Devon policy which the biggest single thing we can do in making practical steps towards zero-carbon. We are looking to get people out of their cars, get people working locally, sustain the rural economy, plant trees and hedgerows. These are long term, not short term fixes. They are long term answers to a chronic problem.

“We have to take every practical step within our planning policies to be able to implement this, not just indulge in wishful thinking. We’re going ahead with careful thought about this and how it will impact on the Cullompton Garden Village, the Tiverton Eastern Urban Extension and making sure we have a mixed development with local jobs that aren’t reliant on commuting, that is reliant on high-quality local jobs that people don’t have to get in their cars to go to.

“Reducing car journeys, so people don’t have to take their children to school are really important issues, and they may sound small, but they’re an important contribution to implementing the climate change agenda, and they will be filtering through as soon as possible into local planning policy.

“The last thing we want to do is tinker with the Local Plan. The Local Plan has been subjected to repeated delays; we want to see it across the line. We will be bringing forward changes to local planning policies in line with our greener Devon agenda and moving towards sustainable local Devon communities and more details soon, you will be being asked to consider those.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/zero-carbon-requirement-imposed-future-3167887

A new way of planning: are no-overall-control councillors up for it?

” Participation not Consultation:

At Civic Voice we are aware of the growth agenda and the need for more homes to be built. Our members understand this too, yet all over England many of these members, who are knowledgeable and positive people, have had to engage in fighting Local Plans and planning proposals that they feel passionately are not right for their places.

It is time to change the way things are done and to bring communities genuinely to the heart of planning and place-making. ‘Participation not Consultation’ is about bringing people in at an early stage to develop the proposals through collaborative planning processes, also known as Charrettes.

The Charrette approach involves community members working alongside local authorities and developers to co-create design-led, visual plans and strategies. It is an inspirational and energising activity where the results of collaboration are seen immediately, with the knowledge that an individual’s input actually matters. It also has the potential to greatly increase the speed of the formal planning and design process.

Civic Voice has launched a campaign to bring these collaborative processes into mainstream planning so that, through shared working from an early stage, communities can help shape and support growth and development that is right for their place.”

http://www.civicvoice.org.uk/uploads/files/Collaborative_planning_1.pdf

Cranbrook to get massively BIGGER – first planning test for no-overall-control council

The first test of The Independent Group on large-scale development. It got to make up the EDDC Cabinet and its Leader, Ben Ingham, has appointed several current and former Tories to positions of influence.

What will each group’s stand be on large-scale development? And what happens if the smaller parties have different views to that of the Independent Group and Tories if they agree? Interesting.

There are a few worrying words in this press release – potential, proposed, outlines, capable of, vision, could, opportunities. Lots of leeway for developet mund-changing at a later date.

And missing words: affordable and social housing.

Plus our local NHS Trust wants more than £1.3 million before it considers the proposal sustainable for health needs.

“Plans for 930 new homes as part of the western expansion of Cranbrook have been revealed.

The proposals for the Bluehayes site would also see a primary school, sport and recreational facilities, community uses, green infrastructure, as well as a mixed use area of shops, food and drink and professional services built.

The Bluehayes site, which lies between the existing Cranbrook development and Broadclyst Station, is one of four proposed expansion areas of Cranbrook.

A new link road that would run from the Cranbrook railway station to London Road and to Broadclyst Station, through the middle of the Bluehayes site, is also proposed in the scheme handed in recently to East Devon District Council planners.

And the plans also reveal that a footbridge over the London Road that would connect the Bluehayes site with the proposed Treasbeare site, south of the road, could be built.

The Cranbrook Plan was backed by East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee in February which outlines the land where a further 4,170 new homes will be built.

It allocates 40 hectares of land at the Bluehayes Expansion Area for around 960 new dwellings, land capable of accommodating a community building, formal open space recreational land, a 420 pupil place primary school, formal play space with facilities for children and youth and allotments totalling an area of 0.55 hectare of land

Details with a planning statement submitted with the planning application says: “The submission of the new outline application for the Western Expansion of Cranbrook and the change of use of agricultural land to the north of Cranny Brook to SANG land, is consistent with the planning policy and the longstanding policy to deliver new homes to meet the needs of the area.

“The submission of the application for the Western Expansion area and their progression delivers certainty required in the long term delivery of growth and of the delivery of the vision for Cranbrook.

“The proposals have been designed to be residential led with the potential for the delivery of a new primary school and formal outdoor sports pitches to provide complementary community and social infrastructure to meet the needs of new residents.

“The application demonstrates provision of the necessary infrastructure to include internal roads, public transport provision, formal and informal open space uses to support itself and to mitigate any impacts of development on existing communities and wider infrastructure.

“Cranbrook and its Western Expansion have been fully justified in the context of local planning policy and in the context of the growth agenda and the national and local need for housing.

“The proposals will result in substantial and demonstrable benefits in terms of meeting the need for new homes in a sustainable manner, fostering economic development and further underpinning the sustainability of Cranbrook.

“The proposals will also help deliver the vision for Cranbrook and underpin the planning and delivery of infrastructure and the town centre.”

A 1.14 hectare site for a one-form entry primary school could come forward as part of the plans. The primary school will be built in either the Bluehayes or the Treasbeare allocation, depending on which is constructed first.

Details with the scheme also outline that a new link road from the Cranbrook station to London Road and to Broadclyst Station will be built.

There will be a new frontage to London Road which will comprise a mixed use area, providing opportunities for a range of residential, retail and small scale employment uses, and in future, a crossing over London Road to the southern expansion area may be accommodated.

But the Royal and Devon Exeter NHS Foundation Trust have requested a contribution of £1,332,313 from the developers, cash which will be used directly to provide additional health care services to meet patient demand.

Commenting on the application, they say: “Without the contribution being paid, the development would not be acceptable in planning terms as the consequence would be inadequate health services available to support it.”

Having considered the cost projections, the Trust say that they will require the full figure to ensure the required level of service provision is delivered in a timely manner.

They add: “Failure to access this additional funding will put significant additional pressure on the current service capacity, leading to increase delays for patients and dissatisfaction with NHS services.

“The contribution will ensure that Health services are maintained for current and future generations and that way make the development sustainable.”

The Bluehayes expansion is one of four proposed expansion areas for Cranbrook, which development also proposed for Treasbeare and Grange, south of the existing town, and Cobdens, to the east of the town.

A reserved matters application has also been submitted for 80 homes, for which outline planning permission has already been granted, for land north-east of the Cranbrook Education Campus.

East Devon District Council planners will determine the fate of the applications at a later date.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/cranbrook-getting-bigger-930-new-2923726