A useful critique on new planning regulations (local councils stay silent on their views)

Why CPRE thinks it is a developers’ charter (again):


EDDC objects to new Exeter shopping centre in Cranbrook’s back yard!

Makes a change to see EDDC objecting to anything that developers want – but in this case they do NOT want the Exeter City Council-led Moor View shopping centre in Cranbrook’s back yard!

And how many times have we pleaded for impact assessments and sequential tests on developments in East Devon, only to be told they are not required! Boot now on other foot!

Officer comments on the proposed development which Exeter City Council officers are recommending although it goes against their own Local Plan.

“East Devon New Community Partners (Cranbrook developers) Objects

The applicants have stated that one of the purposes of the development is to provide retail facilities for new business and residential communities, some of which are in East Devon.

However, these developments have been designed with their own centres/ancillary facilities, which represent the most sustainable solution to meeting the needs of people living and working in the area and the proposal could undermine the viability and deliverability of these.

The Moor Exchange development should not be seen as being in any way necessary to meet these needs.

The applicants have not carried out a sequential test or impact assessment of the proposal on Cranbrook Town Centre.

This is contrary to the NPPF and PPG.

Land is available at Cranbrook Town Centre to meet the identified need. There is already development in the consented town centre at Cranbrook which would face competition from this development and emerging developments will also be affected.

The impact assessment should take into account existing development and development expected to come forward over the next 5 years.

The response stating that Cranbrook Town Centre is not identified as a town centre on the Local Plan proposals map is semantics – Strategy 12 refers to the provision of a town centre at Cranbrook.

It also has outline consent. It will be included on the proposals map for the forthcoming Cranbrook Plan DPD.”

“If we value rural Britain, we can’t build houses all over it”

“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.”


New National Planning Policy Framework – effective from TODAY

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

Report to follow.


“Home Builders Federation criticises planning proposals”to

Oh, those poor, poor developers … less profit … that’s all this is about:

Proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework could cause the cost of land to increase and exacerbate the housing crisis, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has warned in a letter to the Government.

The industry body claimed that proposed changes, which would enable councils to base contributions towards affordable housing based on the existing value of land – rather than its projected sale value – would mean they would have to offer lower sums to landowners and therefore be able to build fewer homes.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that proposed changes “will mean that developers know the contributions expected of them and local communities are clear about the infrastructure they will get alongside new homes. We are currently analysing responses to the consultation and will set out next steps in due course.”

Sources: Telegraph p1, Times p1 (pay walls)

“Building free-for-all [in new planning regulations] puts rural West at risk”

Western Morning News article, Saturday 21 April:

“Pristine protected areas of the South West could be at risk from housing developments plans, a conservation charity has warned. Even officially designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty would face developments due to “vague” proposed new planning guidance for local authorities the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says.

The Government argues that the new rules, part of a move to open up land to solve the housing shortage, would still protect the environment.
However Justin Hague of the South Hams CPRE, said “this would be game over” for conservationists.

Some of the south West’s pristine and most beautiful landscapes could have houses built on them under Government plans conservationists have warned.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England says even officially designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty would face major development due to the “vague” new planning guidance for local authorities.

The proposals- which are being consulted on until May 10 – would end the fight to preserve the precious areas, said the chairman of the group in one of the most under-pressure parts of the regain.

“Not to sound too dramatic, but for countryside campaigners it would be game over” said Justin Hague, chairman of the South Hams branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. (CPRE)

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) would be handed “on a plate to the developers”

He is urging people to write to their MPs to build opposition to the proposed changes.

The controversy is over sections of the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) which sets out the Government`s Policies on proposed developments and how they are expected to be applied.

Changes are being but forward partly to help solve the housing crisis.
The aim is to “bring forward more land in the right places” for development, the Government says “Protecting and enhancing the natural environment “ is one of the three key objectives , the document states.

However conservationists are concerned by what they say is watering down of the NPPF policies protecting special areas of the countryside and coast which were put in place in 2012.

Their attention focuses on one section of the proposals, Conserving and Enhancing the Natural Environment.

In the existing document, reference is made to protected areas such as National Parks and AONBs as having the “highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.

The wording disappears under the new proposals.

Mr Hague said absolute tests that helped reinforce protection of the special areas would also go if new guidelines were agreed.

“The proposals say major developments will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances. But what is “major”? Is that 100 homes? In the South Hams in the AONB 10homes could have a huge impact.

“It massively opens the door for development in AONBs” he said.

“My concern is these proposed changes are buried in a huge document that few people have the time or interest to read.

Mr Hague said he had an “unprecedented” response since he expressed his concerns in newsletter to fellow CPRE members in the South Hams.

“Usually I get three or four responses” he said “This time I had 70!”
Mr Hague said the South Hams faced particular pressure for development because of the desire for second homes.

Developers were struggling to sell homes in less-desirable areas, even with the assistance of the Governments Help to Buy Scheme “

They would be able to sell those houses like hot cakes to second home owners if they were able to build in beautiful areas and on the coast” he said.”

“Stampede to build homes threatens the rights of locals”

Article by Andrew Motion, President, CPRE in today’s Times (pay wall):

In launching the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) last month, the communities secretary Sajid Javidpromised “a continued emphasis on development that’s sustainable and led locally”. Was he really talking about the same NPPF that, for the past five years, has forced wholly unsustainable development on communities already struggling with overstretched infrastructure and shrinking green spaces?

Initial analysis of the revisions by the Campaign to Protect Rural England shows that there is still not enough emphasis on a plan-led system such as the one that has been a cornerstone of our local democracy since 1947. We are calling for the final version to give a cast-iron guarantee that locally agreed development plans (including neighbourhood plans) should be upheld when deciding planning applications. It is the only way to restore communities’ faith in neighbourhood planning.

Local volunteers spend a great deal of time and effort in promoting good development, assessing housing needs and negotiating sites that respect settlement boundaries and preserve valued green spaces. So it is deeply disheartening that the revised NPPF could allow local authorities to overrule neighbourhood plans, either when local plans are reviewed (every five years) or if not enough homes are delivered elsewhere.

Communities across England are being targeted by parasitic “land promoters” who speculate on their ability to shoehorn large, expensive homes on to greenfield sites. In many cases the financial might of these companies allows them to steamroller councils in the appeals process, where the NPPF’s current “presumption in favour of sustainable development” provides the necessary loophole.

If it’s hard to achieve democratic decisions with respect to housing, the situation threatens to become even worse with fracking. The majority of recent applications have been decisively rejected by local authorities, yet the revised NPPF forces local authorities not only to place great weight on the supposed benefits of fracking for the economy, but also to recognise the benefits for “energy security” and “supporting a low-carbon transition”. This misguided emphasis can only lead to more travesties like January’s approval for oil exploration by West Sussex county council, in the face of 2,739 letters of objection (and 11 in support).

We must have new housing and infrastructure, but it remains vitally important that development benefits those who have to live with it. Now more than ever, we need to put people at the heart of the planning system.”