Project Planning Fear: MP Truss says rip up planning rules or get Corbyn!

“A cabinet minister faced a furious backlash yesterday after saying the Tories must build homes in the countryside – or they will hand power to Jeremy Corbyn.

Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said planning laws should be ripped up as she complained about the number of Nimbys in Britain.

The outspoken minister said ‘a lot more’ sites needed to be opened up. She also called for those living in cities to be allowed to add extra floors to their homes without needing permission. Miss Truss argued the house-building overhaul was needed to keep Mr Corbyn out of Downing Street at the next election.

Liz Truss argued the house-building overhaul was needed to keep Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) out of Downing Street at the next election

But Tory colleagues warned the party would be ‘run out of office’ if it went ahead with ‘catastrophic’ proposals that fail to protect rural Britain and the green belts around London and other major cities.

The row comes a day after campaigners warned the green belt is already being ‘gobbled up at an alarming rate’ to build thousands of homes.

A report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, published yesterday, showed plans for almost 460,000 homes have been pencilled in for green belt land since 2013 as councils lift planning protections, opening the way for developers.

Asked in an interview whether she would you be happy to ‘start paving over our green and pleasant land’, Miss Truss replied: ‘I do think we need to open up more land for building, a lot more. There are a lot Nimbys in Britain.’

Questioned on whether there are many ‘not in my backyard’ objectors in her own party, she said: ‘There are, but I think it is a dwindling number.

‘People recognise the choice is building on more greenfield sites and making sure there are enough homes for next generation or losing the election and ending up with Jeremy Corbyn, whose policy appears to be appropriating property.

Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said planning laws should be ripped up as she complained about the number of Nimbys in Britain

‘So I know which one I’d choose – it’s having more homes available on the open market for people of whatever generation to afford.’ The minister added: ‘I also think we need to make it easier to build up in cities. I quite like the Japanese system where essentially you can build up on top of your house without having to get extra planning permission. I think we need to be more liberal about these policies.’

Miss Truss, who was appointed second-in-command at the Treasury last June after previously serving as justice secretary and environment secretary, said in the interview with the Financial Times’ politics podcast that she would one day like to be the country’s first female chancellor. ‘Well, who would say no to that?’ she said.

But when asked if she would like to be prime minister, Miss Truss, who is MP for South West Norfolk, replied: ‘I’m not sure about that one.’

Tory former minister Crispin Blunt last night warned the party it would suffer an electoral ‘catastrophe’ if it does not protect the green belt. The MP for Reigate, who is co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for London’s green belt, said Conservative local councillors already faced being ‘run out of office’ in areas where ministers had raised housebuilding targets.

‘Residents’ associations are going off their rocket,’ he said.

Mr Blunt said trying to meet demand in the South East was ‘sucking the best and brightest out of the North’. Hindering development in the South-East would encourage growith in the North, he added.

Tom Fyans of the CPRE said: ‘We agree that there is a severe lack of affordable homes available for people to buy and rent.

‘However, what Liz Truss fails to recognise is that, opening up the green belt will not solve this issue.

Tory former minister Crispin Blunt (pictured) last night warned the party it would suffer an electoral ‘catastrophe’ if it does not protect the green belt

‘Almost three quarters of the homes built on green belt land last year were unaffordable.’ He said the ‘perfect solution’ to ‘this barbaric assault on the green belt’ was to use brownfield land to its full capacity.

The CPRE’s report showed there are plans for almost 460,000 homes on green belt land. Green belt areas can be built on if councils grant planning permission directly or remove the land’s official status. Both methods have been used.

Only 70 houses or flats were built in the green belt in 2009/10 compared with 8,143 in 2017/18.

Miss Truss has become one of the most prominent advocates in the Cabinet for free market liberalism. Earlier this year, she attracted attention for a speech in which she appeared to ridicule the Prime Minister’s plan to ban plastic straws.”

http://35.192.208.249/2018/08/07/tory-minister-liz-truss-sparks-fury-after-demanding-laws-protecting-green-fields-are-ripped-up/

“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.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/06/planning-system-uk-landscapes-listing-rural-britain

“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

“Advertised broadband speeds fall dramatically after rule change “

“Broadband providers have dramatically cut their advertised speeds following a recent rule change to prevent misleading claims, a consumer group has found.

Which? analysis of the UK’s biggest broadband providers found that 11 have had to cut the advertised speed of some of their deals since the new rules came into effect in May, with the cheapest deals dropping by an average 41 per cent.

The move has forced a number of providers to admit that they offer 10Mbps or 11Mbps, which is widely considered as the slowest acceptable speed for home internet.

These include BT, EE, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Sky, Zen Internet, Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk and Utility Warehouse.

Previously they all advertised their standard broadband deals as “up to 17Mbps”, around a third higher.

Under the new tougher rules, home broadband providers must now ensure that at least 50 per cent of their customers can achieve advertised speeds during peak times.

They had previously been allowed to advertise “up to” speeds as long as they were available to a minimum of just 10 per cent of customers, resulting in widespread complaints from Government, consumer groups and the public.

Which? found that across all the deals on offer from the 12 biggest providers, the advertised speeds from “up to 17Mbps” to “up to 100Mbps” had decreased by an average 15 per cent. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/03/advertised-broadband-speeds-fall-dramatically-rule-change/

“Death knell sounds for High St bank: Britons left in lurch as bank closures hit 80 a month”

Meanwhile, word reaches Owl of a near-riot in Sidmouth, where recently the beleaguered Post Office had a queue outside into the street and only two counters open while one customers wanted foreign currency and the other counter had a business customer with several items to deal with.

“Nearly 3,000 branches have shut their doors since 2015, or will do so by the end of this year, depriving communities of essential services.

Added to that is the steep decline in ATMs, which has a devastating impact on the 2.7 million adults who rely almost entirely on cash for their day-to-day lives.

The closures come as the Big Four – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland – are expected to unveil a combined £13.6billion profit for the first half of 2018.

A study by consumer campaign group Which? showed 2,868 high street branches have closed in the past three years at a rate of almost 80 a month.”

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/997113/bank-closures-atm-customers-misery-barclays-hsbc-lloyds-rbs

“Firms CAN bury nuclear waste in vaults under national parks, say MPs as search for underground site continues”

“Nuclear waste could be stored in vaults deep under national parks after it emerged yesterday that MPs backed the proposal.

However, the controversial plan is certain to be fiercely opposed by green campaigners.

After the Government began looking for a site to locate an underground radioactive waste vault, the Commons business committee backed its approach – but decided against calling for national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) to be excluded. …

Energy minister Richard Harrington told the committee: ‘I am not saying we should have them on national parks, but it would be very wrong to exclude them at the moment in this big policy statement.’ …

The committee said the plan was ‘fit for purpose’, adding: ‘We decided against an exclusionary criterion for national parks and AONBs.

‘Although we agree that major developments should not be allowed in designated areas except under exceptional circumstances, we believe existing planning legislation and the national policy statement contain sufficient safeguards against intrusive developments and environmental damage in national parks and AONBs.

‘We support the Government’s view that it is conceivable for a GDI to be designed in a way that would be acceptable to communities, preserve the socio-economic benefits that national parks and AONBs bring them and avoid any intrusive surface facility in conservation areas.’

But Kate Blagojevic, from Greenpeace UK, said: ‘The Government have decided to bet the house on new nuclear reactors without any clear idea of how high the spiralling costs will be… or where to put the unknown quantity of waste they will generate.

‘Now we learn that the main protection for national parks is that local people won’t agree to anything bad, even though the local people won’t know what they’re agreeing to.’ “

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6008763/Firms-bury-nuclear-waste-vaults-national-parks-say-MPs.html