“Griff Rhys Jones supports new report and says we must not lose our precious countryside by building low density sprawling estates”

Press Release:

“Civic Voice president Griff Rhys Jones has today added his voice to campaigns by six community groups fighting “garden communities” being imposed on them by the Government.

He has penned a powerful Foreword to a Smart Growth UK report mostly written by community groups around the country who are opposing garden towns and villages. Griff warns that, far from being utopias, these are disordered schemes that ignore local communities and would be located in unsustainable locations.

“We encounter proposals that are not going to answer local needs for housing at all, but will waste precious countryside by building low density sprawling estates and creating expensive houses. Brownfield land in England can accommodate one million houses, So get on with it and use that.” he says.

Griff warns that terms like “housing crisis” and “emergency” are being used to force through development of the countryside which fails to provide the affordable homes we need as a nation.

The report sets out detailed objections by six groups opposing Government-sponsored garden communities and four opposing large greenfield developments marketed as “garden villages” by their promoters.

““Planning” by definition means looking to the future. That must mean the long-term future as well as the next few years. We need to recognize that people who urge care, caution and attention are not dwelling in the past. They are not NIMBYS, says Griff. “They are protecting the future.”

He says the protests, assessments and legitimate concerns in the report make sober reading.”

Report:

http://www.smartgrowthuk.org/resources/downloads/Garden%20Communities%20Report.pdf

“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.”

“The Greater Exeter plan has been delayed”

Owl is STILL having difficulty understanding how the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) fits in with the Devon and Somerset Heart of the South West Strategic plan!!! So many strategies, so many plans, so many people being paid to work out how to invent what might, or more likely might not, turn out to be a wheel – though one of them MIGHT just manage to invent a square one!

“Mid Devon, East Devon, Teignbridge and Exeter City Council, in partnership with Devon County Council, are teaming up to create a Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) which focuses on the creation of jobs and housing until 2040.

… A consultation on the issues that the GESP should focus on took place 12 months ago and it was initially hoped that a consultation on a draft plan would begin in January of 2018.

But publication of the draft plan has been delayed and it is now likely that the draft GESP will be published in the summer of 2018.

Explaining the delay, a statement said: “In respect of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP), and since our last Local Development Scheme was approved, there have been a number of factors which have delayed plan production.

“These include the fact that a great many sites were submitted through the Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment ‘call for sites’ and these are being carefully assessed as well as further draft changes to national Government planning policy and a wish to investigate differing ways to ensure we can secure the best forms of development, including the highest quality new housing with supporting facilities, to meet our future needs.”

… The GESP will sit above District-level Local and community Neighbourhood Plans, taking a long-term strategic view to ensure important decisions about development and investment are coordinated. … “

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/greater-exeter-plan-been-delayed-1412993

Letwin explains rationing new builds to keep up prices with a new phrase “absorption rate”!

“A Government-commissioned report has blamed delays in the house-building process on builders concerns about future sale prices.

In the Autumn Budget the Chancellor set up an independent review to look at the delays between planning permission being granted, and houses being built. This review is being led by Sir Oliver Letwin.

The Treasury has now published the commission’s interim report alongside the Spring Statement:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/689430/Build_Out_Review_letter_to_Cx_and_Housing_SoS.pdf

These initial findings suggest that house-builders concerns about sale prices are a major factor in slow “build out” of homes on many of these larger developments.

Letwin says this review had initially focused on larger housing developments and major housebuilders. Further analysis may look at smaller scale models.

In a letter to the Chancellor and Sajid Javid – the secretary of state for housing communities and local government – Letwin says housebuilders have cited a number of “limitations”, including a shortage of available skilled labour, the availability of capital, provision of local transport infrastructure and the slow speed of installations by utility companies.

But in the interim report Letwin says: “I am not persuaded that these limitations are in fact the primary determinants of the speed of build out on large permitted sites at present.”

He goes on to say the fundamental driver of build out rates, once detailed planning permission is granted, appears to be the “absorption rate” – that is the rate at which newly constructed homes can be sold into the local market without materially disturbing the market price.

This rate, he says appears to be largely determined at present by the type of home being constructed and the pricing of the new homes built.

The interim report goes onto say this problem can be exacerbated by many larger development having a style of size of home that is fairly homogeneous.

The next stage of this review will look at whether build-out rates could be improved, either by reducing the reliance on large builders, or by encouraging them to offer more variety in terms of the type and price of property offered.

The report adds: “We have seen ample evidence from our site visits that the rate and completion of the ‘affordable ‘ and social rented’ homes is constrained by the requirement for cross-subsidy from the open market housing on the site.” This can delay the build out of these homes, the report adds.

Letwin says he plans to publish more detailed draft analysis by the end of June, which will contain a more detailed description of the problem and its causes.

The independent review will then seek comments from interested parties before a final analysis which will include a list of recommendations to improve the situation.”

https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/interim-report-planning-delays-published-alongside-spring-statement/

Foreign money raised house prices 20% over 15 years

“House prices in Britain have soared by around 20 per cent in the past 15 years due to an influx of foreign money, according to a new study.
The research by King’s College London showed the average price is around £215,000 but would have been about £174,000 without the investment from overseas.

University researchers said the cash has also had a ‘trickle down’ effect to less expensive properties.

Money from abroad has impacted house prices mostly in the South East and major cities in the north, such as Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.
But researchers warned there was no evidence the increase in foreign investment lead to an increase in housing building or in the share of vacant homes. …”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5543887/House-prices-rise-20-cent-15-years-pushed-influx-foreign-money.html

Weasel words on affordable housing from the government’s minister

Sajid Javid faces battle over 4% affordable homes in Sainsbury’s scheme

“The housing secretary, Sajid Javid, is facing a legal challenge after he approved a 700-home housing scheme by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which includes just 4% affordable housing.

The 29-storey development in Ilford, east London, will be built in a borough that has a stated policy that 50% of all new homes should be affordable. It estimates it needs an extra 15,000 affordable homes in the next 15 years, but Javid backed a scheme with just 27 affordable homes. The rest are expected to be sold for about £400,000 for a two bedroom flat.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, branded the approval “outrageous” and said 4% was a “disgraceful” contribution. Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healey, said it was “a clear case of ministers backing private developer profit over the homes that local people need”.

A local residents group Ilford Noise is now preparing to request a judicial review of the decision after Javid accepted Sainsbury’s claim that the scheme would not be viable with any more affordable units. Javid’s report concluded: “There is no good reason to dispute the agreed conclusions of the financial experts.”

The decision came just weeks after Javid gave a speech insisting it is “totally unacceptable” for developers to claim they cannot afford to meet affordable housing promises.

He said: “It cheats communities of much-needed housing and infrastructure and gives new development a bad name.”

But in this case, where Sainsbury’s never promised more than 4%, he has allowed the developer to hugely undershoot the local target. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/23/sajid-javid-faces-battle-over-4-affordable-homes-in-sainsburys-scheme

Could Sidford cope with a new industrial site? A 75 minute traffic gridlock says not!

The idea of an industrial complex in Sidford has not died – it could return at any minute.  This was the situation when two large vehicles met on one of the narrowest parts of the road  – vehicles were trapped for more than an hour … imagine if there had been a medical emergency or fire during that time …

Sidmouth DCC councillor Stuart Hughes has responsibility for transport issues in Devon.

A picture is worth a thousand words …