“New green belt housing applications push total to a record 460,000”

“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. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/06/new-green-belt-housing-applications-push-total-to-a-record-460000

The Times: “The ruinous planning policy MPs don’t want you to know about”

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)

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

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

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

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

New National Planning Policy Framework – effective from TODAY

Very rushed so there must be a great number of controversial changes!

Report to follow.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/revised-national-planning-policy-framework