Tag Archives: 5 year housing supply

Dates, Canvey Islanders won’t even Notice! Thorney Bay’s, on its way!

Canvey Islanders, it is said, haven’t the nous to have a cynical thought cross their little minds.

Firstly, following the Election announcement on the very last day prior to the period of Purdah commencing, the Jotmans Farm Appeal Inquiry was Rejected by the then Secretary of State, thereby saving important mainland Green Belt from development.

Secondly, tomorrow, 6.6.2017, just 2 Days prior to the General Election, castle point council development committee will decide the Recommended Approval “first phase” of the Thorney Bay vast green field development, on Canvey Island.

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

This so called first phase at Thorney Bay amounts to 113 new dwellings.

The development committee Agenda paperwork indicates officers advise :

It is not considered necessary for Members to visit the site prior to determination of the application.

This despite :

To the north of the site is the Local Wildlife Site (LoWS) Thorneyfleet Creek, which comprises a water body with Common Reed and rough grassland; beyond this is residential development. To the east is Public Open Space, in the form of a grassed area and children’s play space. To the south and west is the wider expanse of the Campsite. A water treatment works lies to the west of the wider site and beyond this is the Calor gas terminal. To the south is the Canvey Island Sea Defence, beyond which is the River Thames.

Of the Health and Safety Executive’s comment;

..more than 10% of the housing development area lies within the (Calor Gas Hazardous) middle zone….and HSE Advised Against Granting Planning Permission.

The HSE then go onto excuse the proposed development layout, stipulating that castle point council must not in future use the self regulating facility, instead be referring any future development directly to the HSE!

The Case Officer comment, which will no doubt be pointed out to the planning committee members in the Agenda Paper states; 

Health and Safety Executive  No objection.

As far as potential flooding is concerned, especially as the site is directly reliant on the Canvey Sea wall Defences;

Environment Agency  No objection: following the receipt of a revised FRA, subject to conditions and the satisfaction of the LPA that the proposal will be safe for its lifetime

It should also be noted, should the are become flooded yet again that responsibility has been relieved of the Leal Local Flood Authority (Essex CC.);

It is the applicant’s responsibility to check that they are complying with common law if the drainage scheme proposes to discharge into an off-site ditch/pipe. The applicant should seek consent where appropriate from other downstream riparian landowners. 
The Ministerial Statement made on 18th December 2014 (ref. HCWS161) states that the final decision regarding the viability and reasonableness of maintenance requirements lies with the LPA. It is not within the scope of the LLFA to comment on the overall viability of a scheme.

But of course the Rumours emanating from CPBC is that Thorney Bay will become a Park Home site, So None of these Rules Will Apply!

1,600 static caravans could quite easily become 1,000+ Park Homes, and there is the next Local Plan’s 5 Year Housing Supply.

Let existing Canvey Island residents and future property owners be warned!

We make no apology for over-simplifying these issues but for anybody interested the webcast and recording should be available via;  https://castlepoint.gov.uk/webcasting

The meeting Agenda papers are available via; https://www.castlepoint.gov.uk/agendas-minutes-library

 

Could it Be? Spade Ready – Persimmon Up for a Win Double in Castle Point?

Could it be that with the recent activity around the Canvey Dutch Village area that Persimmon see a potential for developing Canvey Island and Benfleet’s Green Belt off of the Constraints Map?

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New paperwork added to the CPBC planning portal for the Dutch Village site and the pending Appeal Inquiry decision on Jotmans Farm indicates no let up ahead of the CPBC Local Plan Examination.

Jotmans Magaret March Benfleethistory.org.uk

Jotmans Farm

It is indication that Persimmons will be one of the strongest critics of the Local Plan2016.

No doubt having two major Green Belt development proposals will put Persimmon in a seemingly strong position should the LP2016 falter.

The apparent lack of a 5 year housing supply to back up LP2016 may also be a factor. Persimmons are positioning themselves in a way that would appear to suggest to the Examining Planning Inspector, that they are “SPADE READY”!

Most appealing to CPBC will be the possibility that persimmon could, handling 2 sites at the same time, devote the Dutch Village site chiefly to affordable homes, leaving the Jotmans Farm venture as entirely market value housing!
Our controllers at cpbc might see the advantage of sweetening the taste for the mainland electorate in that, should it be suggested.

Local Plans are likely to require updating in whole or in part at least every five years. Should the Local Plan 2016 not fulfil the expectation to “boost significantly the supply of housing” during this initial 5 year period Castle Point residents could expect to face having to fund planning appeals! And the likelihood of further appeals in the subsequent years cannot be disregarded should the reliance on the Blinking Owl site H11 be unfulfilled.

The necessity for a 5 year housing supply, is a rolling, never ending requirement of a local authority. An insatiable requirement of land!

How often should a Local Plan be reviewed?

To be effective plans need to be kept up-to-date. Policies will age at different rates depending on local circumstances, and the local planning authority should review the relevance of the Local Plan at regular intervals to assess whether some or all of it may need updating. Most Local Plans are likely to require updating in whole or in part at least every five years.  Reviews should be proportionate to the issues in hand. Local Plans may be found sound conditional upon a review in whole or in part within five years of the date of adoption.

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites. Local planning authorities should also consider whether plan making activity by other authorities has an impact on planning and the Local Plan in their area. For example, a revised Strategic Housing Market Assessment will affect all authorities in that housing market area, and potentially beyond, irrespective of the status or stage of development of particular Local Plans.

Of late this requirement has seen pressure from those in authority at cpbc to approve all development proposals on Canvey Island, except those few that fall into a similar category of the LP2016 policy to protect mainland Green Belt sites from development.

This has seen proposals approved, despite having Holding Objections from the Lead Flood Authority! This level of disregard to important constraining issues underlines the depths our local authority are prepared to stoop.

Once again we venture to suggest that without a Neighbourhood Plan, Canvey Island is defenceless against the power and deviousness of developers.

Castle Point Green Belt development-Damned if you do-Damned if you don’t!

Just to add further to the upheaval that appears to be occurring behind the scenes of the Castle Point Council Local Planning process, news contained within a recent Amber Valley Council announcement gives opportunity to reflect.

The importance of a 5 Year Housing supply appears paramount to Local Plan processes.

Confusion and frustration are introduced when work on sites selected for development within Local Plans, fails to materialise.

This can lead to sites reserved for development at later dates are promoted prematurely. And sites removed from Local Plans and considered protected, become the subject of Planning Appeals.

On one hand the value of Land Banking would be valued in developers accounts sheets and on the other a Local Plan becomes the opposite of its intention; a free for all of un-planned development.

The fact that in Castle Point very little of the promised infrastructure is likely to materialise, little may be made of a haphazard development approach if the above scenario was to unfold.

An emerging Plan for Castle Point may include a new “village” site being proposed. This in itself should through developer contributions assist in new access infrastructure. The issue of Essex County contributing a proportion of the access funding needs clarity.

Other less large sites, should they come forward would only affect traffic wise less strategic junctions, these would be unlikely to receive funding despite what our Local Plan may aspire to!

IMG_0160

I will make no suggestions as to the merits or the folly of our councillors having approved the daft New local Plan despite it being the best possible at the time. What it clearly did, as well as officers behind the scenes being motivated to encourage developers to invest time and money in preparatory work on sites in a Flood Risk Zone, was to expose a large number of Green Belt sites that our local authority deemed suitable for development.

Having put on record these intentions may allow a scenario to develop similar to that at the Amber Valley district and lead to an amount of land banking and unfortunate development in  areas within Castle Point.

Readers will have their own opinions as to the future outcome and the rights and wrongs of the next stage of the local process.

It was timely that as this article was posted Greg Clark,Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,  tweeted a reminder that “Local councils answerable to local people, rather than central government.” All well and good until local decisions are challenged through the Planning Appeals process.

However it is clear residents, those being involved at least, have indicated a preference for a new approach from our local authority. Whether there will be a price to pay in the long run, will be one of a few consequences residents appear willing to take, and face that risk.

Derbyshire local plan withdrawn over housing delivery glitch

by Planning Portal Content Team

A Derbyshire planning authority has withdrawn its local plan from public examination after announcing it could no longer demonstrate a five-year supply of sites which would deliver the council’s objectively assessed housing need as set out in its draft Core Strategy.

Amber Valley Borough Council, a semi-rural local authority, has taken that draconian step after telling the planning inspector examining the strategy that discussions in the past month with relevant land owners and site promoters had revealed that fewer homes than originally anticipated would be available over the five years to 2020. Some 310 fewer dwellings were involved, the council reported.

The council told the inspector: “it will not be practical to achieve a demonstrable five-year supply through the identification of further sites for housing development without revisiting its overall strategy for housing growth. It anticipates that the process of reviewing the growth strategy and reaching a conclusion as to an alternative approach, including appropriate public consultation and engagement, will take at least 12 months”.

Alan Cox, Leader of the Council, said: “I am deeply dismayed that such a decision had to be made at the eleventh hour, after so much effort and expenditure on the process by so many.

“Regrettably, however, despite the fact that there are many sites within the borough that have been given planning approval by the council, the council has no powers to force developers to start building the houses, or influence the timeframe over which a site is developed.”

He added: “The council remains fully committed to establishing an up-to-date local pan for Amber Valley, which will provide a robust set of policies and proposals to support housing and economic growth in the borough, whilst at the same time safeguarding and enhancing the environment.”

View more information

Roger Milne

Hokey Cokey Local Planning and confusing the defence of Green Belt Appeals!

Castle Point New Local Plan Task and Finish group members, retracted the work and decision making they had made during their previous meeting.

The proposed Housing development site H18, the Blinking Owl site having previously been decided to suspend background work upon until the Constraints issue had been re-visited, had that decision reversed so as to direct officers to continue seeking supporting evidence that H18 was a viable proposition.

The Local Plan process is appearing to be going through a period of taking one step forward followed by a another step backward.
download

The decision to re-visit was, in part, considered a re-plugging of the breach of defence that Castle Point Council will offer in protection during the Jotmans Farm and Glebelands Appeal examination.
It appears that there has been a shift in Planning Guidance in that the previously “all deciding” need for an immediate 5 Years worth of Housing supply, has been relegated in favour of a requirement that, a Local Plan is continuing to progress towards a final document.
It now appears that being able to evidence a 5 Year Housing Supply is not as crucial as we were led to believe.
Arthur-Daley-FT
Or is it? Are we simply being told what suits policy makers at the time of delivery?
Whether confidence in this change of guidance will alter should local authorities extend their “work in progress” into an endless timeframe remains to be seen.
Until then it makes sense, ahead of two possible Green Belt Application Appeals, to use this tactic.
The Task and Finish agenda paperwork, again reminded members of the NPPF principles, that preparation of a Local Plan should be; Positively prepared, Justified, Effective and Consistent with national policy. The agenda paperwork then reminded members that “the Council has undertaken considerable work on developing an evidence base” and that “it is on this evidence that the policies and proposals within the Local Plan should be based if it is to meet the tests of soundness set out in the NPPF.”
Seemingly an officer’s warning that by re-visiting the H18 proposal as a priority, the Local Plan progress may be in danger of becoming unsound.
The fact that Castle Point is without a 5 year Housing supply, 0.7 years worth in the reckoning of the Glebelands Inspector, remains so far un-addressed by the Task and Finish committee.
This may be due to the 5 Year supply not being part of their remit. Then again the original remit of the committee appeared to be to simply consider the responses to the draft Local Plan’s consultation, prior to returning to full council with a recommendation.
There will be consideration on whether extra CPBC funding is to be allocated to appoint consultants Peter Brett to evaluate the viability of the H18 proposal.
Officers reminded members that should the Blinking Owl site be released for housing,  Castle Point Council would be undermining one of the main functions of the Green Belt in that area, that is to keep neighbouring districts from merging.
A decision would require a decision on what width of Green Belt does retain that function, ie 25 metres or 50 metres etc. The other option is that the whole of the site is taken out of the Green Belt and the area opposite, across the A127, Rayleigh Green Belt is solely relied upon to perform the required function.
Either way a decision by Castle Point Council, possibly objected to by Rayleigh, would have to be made.
This decision would then possibly undermine local opposition to other Green Belt housing proposals in other parts of Castle Point, chiefly alongside other main highways such as Jotmans and Glebelands, where the particular function of the Green Belt, in protecting districts from merging, is supported by neighbouring district’s land, during development Appeals.
The “new” Castle Point policy of defending Green Belt unless it has any examples  of development on it, theoretically only adds to the area of Green Belt that may become available for release. Other areas that poorly support the function of Green Belt but also are supported by developers will be found difficult to defend at Examination, unless sufficient sound evidence is available.
Site H18 contains some development, it is also linked along the A127 to other Castle Point land previously released for development. This in turn links to the released Green Belt across Rayleigh Road where the Fire Station is situated.
Therefore it is fair to say that the integrity of the Green Belt within Castle Point is allowed to be compromised when it suits!
What residents should be aware of, once these perimeter assets are conceded, is that the areas between these “new” sites and the existing urban areas may become available as “infill.”
This is one of the difficulties developed over many years in defending the area around Felsted and Bowers Road and why the Planning committee did not use loss of green land as a reason for refusal, despite the areas obvious amenity value, and was included in the Local Plan’s 5 year housing supply.
In re-visiting the viability of the H18 site access will be an issue, especially for County if a new access onto the A127 is considered necessary, and residents if the existing road network is to be expected to alone support the new development. If the H18 site is to reach its full potential then a new access onto the A127 will be critical.

Castle Point residents may need to be prepared to contribute financially alongside developers and Essex County Highways. Should funding be required to come singularly from County then the scheme will have to join a long list of aspirational improvements, not only in the Borough with Canvey’s new access road and Roscommon Way final phase, but other County projects.
Meanwhile the New local Plan Task and Finish group turn their attention to the subject of housing constraints.
It will be interesting to hear how, after the exhaustive discussion on mainland green belt, members value the safety concerns of living within range of hazardous industrial installations and within a Flood Zone, as on Canvey Island, when considering what constitutes an actual Constraint and the weighting they consider should be applied through the Local Plan!

This work commences this week and will be available to follow  on the Castle Point Council’s webcast.

Glebelands – Has time just run out on this piece of Castle Point Green Belt?

“You win battles by knowing the enemy’s timing, and using a timing which the enemy does not expect.”

News has filtered through that a new Appeal Inquiry has been launched for the Glebelands housing development proposal.

The timing is most intriguing, an expected hearing date during March.

The result may not be available until General Election time.

Does this mean that there is a possibility that the Secretary of State would not call in the decision? Allowing the Planning Inspectorate to decide.

Previously the refusal to develop has relied on the fact that Castle Point Council have been busying themselves with producing a Local Plan.

However this has proved, even since Mr Pickles’ decision, a timely exercise.

Last weeks Local Plan Task and Finish group meeting heard officers suggest that the addition of site H18, the Blinking Owl site, would quite possibly only add to the Green Belt sites available for development, rather than be in place of some named sites!

It appears this time consuming progress of the CPBC Local Plan may have led to an opportunity for the Fox Land and Property group to take advantage of the political calendar. The period of purdah may prevent some wishing to give evidence in defence of the Green Belt at Inquiry.

With Glebelands watching in the wings this will indeed be a test for Castle Point Council.

Much of the previous Appeal finding relied on the timetable and progress of the Local Plan process.

Officers suggested adhering to a strict timetable was achievable.
The 5 year housing supply / or lack of, may well also be a stumbling block for Green Belt campaigners despite cllrSmith’s re-assurances.

Extracts from the Appeal application paperwork suggest otherwise:

Progress of the Local Plan remains stalled since 2006.

 Reason for Refusal 1

that there are in actual fact a number of ‘very special circumstances’ under which the appeal proposal should be released from the Green Belt (as set out above), and believes that the proper consideration of this issue will require detailed evidence to be presented and tested in respect of policy compliance with the Framework; the current housing land supply position in the Borough; the need for affordable and market housing in the Borough; and, the contribution of the appeal site to the functions of the Green Belt and its suitability and a sustainable urban extension.

Reason for Refusal 2 states that the appeal proposal is premature to the emerging Local Plan, and so would prejudice the plan’s ability to allocate land for housing at the strategic level. Again, the factors that inform this position are complex and will require cross examination to determine at what stage in its development the emerging Local Plan is currently and to what extent the appeal proposal is of the scale and significance necessary to prejudice the planmaking process.

Following the previous Appeal the Secretary of State amongst other considerations found:

Housing Land Supply

The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s analysis of housing land supply at IR297-334. He share’s the Inspector’s conclusions that the requirement figure for assessing the 5-year forward supply should be 2,350 dwellings (IR323). Whilst the Secretary of State broadly agrees with the thrust of the Inspector’s overall conclusions on land supply and housing delivery, as set out in IR335-340, he does not agree with the Inspector’s comment at IR339 that the current programme for adoption looks somewhat optimistic, especially in the light of the Council’s experience with the now aborted Core Strategy (CS). In the Secretary of State’s view, whilst the now withdrawn CS was in preparation, there were no real drivers to ensure that the Council pressed ahead. With the publication of the NPPF, he is more positive than the Inspector that the Council can achieve its’ programme for LP adoption, especially given the drivers within it.

While he also agrees with the Inspector that there have clearly been difficulties for many years in planning for sufficient housing in Castle Point, he does not consider that this history means that the task of preparing a new local plan cannot be accomplished easily or quickly (IR359).

The Secretary of State has found that there are factors in favour of the appeal including a severe lack of a forward housing land supply and that, setting aside GB considerations, development of the appeal site would not cause demonstrable harm. He also wishes to emphasise that national policy is very clear that GB reviews should be undertaken as part of the Local Plan process.

Whilst the previous Appeals Inspector’s findings revealed:

In Castle Point, there have clearly been difficulties for many years in planning for sufficient housing. The LP failed to plan far enough ahead. The long-term reserve sites all turned out to be poor choices, because none came forward to fill the gap.

The CS took too long to prepare, and in the end failed because the housing provisions were inadequate. In the light of this history, it cannot be assumed that the task of preparing a new local plan will be accomplished easily or quickly. Although it is right that planning decisions should be plan-led where possible, the Council’s own action in announcing a list of preferred housing sites, in advance of having any kind of draft plan , seems to acknowledge that some decisions will not be able to wait for the new plan to be in place.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this must be related to the lack of any up-to-date or adopted local plans, or relevant DPDs, since 2001. The lack of housing delivery in 2001-12 therefore seems to reflect a failure in terms of planning, rather than any failure of the housing market.

It is common ground amongst all those involved in the appeal that the task of finding suitable land for housing in Castle Point is not an easy one. The Borough has severe constraints, including the already high density of development, the close spacing of existing settlements, the widespread flood risk, the SPA, and the relative scarcity of suitable land. In the light of these constraints, the Council has acknowledged that there is a need to take land from the Green Belt, even for the lower level of housing provision that they currently propose.

Other than GB considerations, development at the appeal site would not cause demonstrable harm. There appear to be no particular constraints on delivery, and the site could thus make a valuable contribution to the District’s housing needs in the short term.

The development would not conflict with any development plan policies. Nor would it conflict with any policy in the NPPF, apart from the loss of GB. The protection of GBs is one of the Framework’s core principles, but it is not the only one, and may be outweighed in very special circumstances. Boosting the supply of housing and delivering sustainable development are similarly important. In all respects other than the loss of GB, the present scheme would represent sustainable development.

On the other, there is the severe lack of a forward housing land supply; the acute shortage of affordable housing; the Council’s very poor track record in delivering all forms of housing in the past; the past failures of the development plan process in the area, and consequent delays in the release of land through that route; the acknowledged need to release GB land; and the suitability and availability of the appeal site.

Castle Point Council may find difficulty in mounting a reasonable defence to these issues, given recent investigation work. However Green Belt campaigners will wish them well. It would be a shame if these recent investigations have in themselves caused an issue for Castle Point Green Belt.

What cannot be denied is that progress on the Local Plan has once again fallen way behind schedule.

Castle Point Local Development Scheme January 2014

Key milestones (for the Local Plan) are as follows:

Issues Consultation (Reg 18) Jan-Mar 2012

Draft Consultation  Jan-Mar 2014

Submission Consultation  Jul-Aug 2014

Submission Sep 2014

Examination Dec 2014 Inspectors Report

Feb 2015

Adoption Mar 2015

Green Belt protection, agreed by Planning Inspectorate and Government, raises hopes in Castle Point!

During the meeting with the Housing Minister, Castle Point mainland Green Belt groups and the Council Leaders heard Brandon Lewis refer to Planning Appeal news that he was not at liberty to give details of until an official announcement was made.

Brandon Lewis

Possibly he was referring to the proposal for 500 dwellings on Green Belt in Aveley.

The Government have backed the Planning Inspector’s decision to refuse the development. Previously, under these circumstances, the Inspectorate’s decisions have been somewhat at odds with Government Guidance.

The Aveley decision is despite the local council having a “significant shortfall in its 5 year housing land supply.”

“the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that the development would reduce significantly the openness of this part of the Green Belt. As noted at IR14.10, the proposal would result in the permanent loss of some 14.5 hectares of Green Belt, harming the fundamental aim of the Green Belt to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open.”

Furthermore:

“the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that that the proposed development would cause some harm to the Green Belt purpose of preventing the merging of neighbouring towns.”

“the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that that the proposed development would encroach into the countryside, at least to some extent, and therefore that there would be some harm to this Green Belt purpose.”

“the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that that the proposed development would not intrude unduly into the views identified at IR14.17 and that its impact on the character and appearance of the area would be limited (IR14.31). Accordingly he gives this only limited weight.”

So it now appears, as in the Glebelands Appeal, where the Government considered that harm to the the Green Belt purposes should be not be added accumulatively, the Planning Inspector is now in agreement with this approach in considering harm.

Affordable housing was not considered sufficiently covered. The old Local Plan, similar to Castle Point’s, required a 35% allowance, however locally we have seen the affordable housing requirement being adjusted by our local authority down to nearer 10% !

 “The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that, in this case (Aveley), the combined weight of the contribution of the proposal to housing land supply and the limited weight that can be afforded to the provision of some affordable housing and the education contribution, does not clearly outweigh the substantial negative weight he attaches to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, loss of openness and permanence, and conflict with at least three of the five stated purposes for Green Belt, and the additional limited weight he attaches to the harm to the character and appearance of the area.”

“On balance therefore, the Secretary of State concludes that very special circumstances to justify the proposal do not exist in this case (IR14.75). Even if the Inspector was incorrect in her reasoning in regard to the matter considered at paragraph 26 above, the Secretary of State considers that although the balance of benefits and harms would shift in those circumstances, this would not, in his view, alter the balance sufficiently to establish very special circumstances and justify grant of planning permission.”

This, Aveley, decision further supported the hopes of Castle Point campaigners that their own Green Belt sites can be protected.

Across the country there is a need for housing, locally we are considered to have a poor record in supply. We also do not have a current 5 year supply of housing land.

Recent decisions suggest that whilst the Local Plan is being processed it can be assumed there is a level of protection for Green Belt against development.

This will be used in support of the Thorney Bay development proposal, despite the locality of this site, being in a Flood risk Zone 3 area and in very close proximity to the Calor Gas hazardous site.

The Thorney Bay area, not being in the Green Belt, will not be afforded that status’ protection despite the fact it may be an unsuitable area to propose for permanent dwellings.

The main problem with Castle Point’s Green Belt may be to follow in the Local Plan’s Examination.

There is, I gather some further investigation into the feasibility on whether the Blinking Owl site may yet be available for housing development, despite that its position may be considered to fulfill the GB purpose of preventing towns merging.  This is a large site that is capable of realising in excess of 1200 dwellings.

Developers will be observing and concerned should this site be formally added to the medium term Local Plan housing supply.

These developers will, in support of their own site’s suitability, point out that their sites had been indicated as available and suitable within the Castle Point Local Plan within the first 5 years housing supply.

In effect the Castle Point Council have suggested, by voting that they considered the draft New Local Plan suitable for consultation, that local Green Belt is available for development.                                                                         And there is quite a lot of it that the Plan indicates suitable for  release!

What developers could be claiming is that Castle Point’s consideration of Green Belt release, rather than being decided by Planning Practice, with its 5 Purposes of the Green Belt etc, could be being “out-weighed” by Residents’ Preference.

Developers will suggest that that is localism gone too far.

This may well not be decided by local decision makers, but by an Inspector and / or the Government at Examination or Appeal.

The Government puts great store in the house building industry driving the economy back onto the track.

The NPPF has sustainable development as the “golden thread” running through it.

Green belt is important to local residents, hopefully not just on the basis that housing is not developed in their own locality.

There will need to be a balance between developing in the “correct” places and Green Belt protection within the Local Plan.

The level of protection afforded to Green belt sites under threat of development at present, is directly affected by the stage of progress the Local Plan has reached. Green Belt boundary consideration during this process will be expected and examined.

The new Local Plan will need to be re-addressed carefully and skilfully if housing need is to be fulfilled and Green belt protected.

Gov. Report into NPPF and Local Plan making published today.

There are a few points that will suit campaigners and developers, and a few points that will upset them.

There is the usual “flaky” use of language that encourages loop holes to be explored. The fact that planning guidance had been concisely rewritten to form the NPPF, should have left those interested with clear and definite meanings and requirements on development and regeneration.

It should however give MP’s the opportunity to fill their Parliamentary time, once they return in the New Year, prior to the May elections.

Committee publishes its report on the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework.

  • Report: Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework
  • Report: Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (PDF)
  • Inquiry: Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework
  • Communities and Local Government Committee

The Government’s flagship planning policy, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), needs to do more to protect against unsustainable development in England and ensure communities aren’t subject to unwanted housing development, says the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee in a report published today.

Protection from speculative development

The CLG Committee found that developers are taking advantages of loopholes in the framework to launch ‘speculative’ planning applications leading to unwanted developments contrary to the wishes of local communities.

Commenting on the Report, Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said:

“The NPPF has brought welcome simplification to the planning system but the Government must strengthen the planning framework to tackle emerging concerns about inappropriate and unsustainable development. The same weight needs to be given to environmental and social factors as to the economic dimension to ensure the planning system delivers the sustainable development promised by the NPPF.”

The Committee welcomes the Government’s efforts to simplify planning by reducing, in the words of the former Planning Minister, “over 1,000 pages of often impenetrable jargon to around 50 pages of clearly written guidance”. However, the Committee is concerned that communities are at risk of unsustainable development due to the granting of planning permission to substantial housing development on the edge of towns and villages as a result of ‘speculative’ applications by developers. This problem was particularly acute when a local plan or five year supply of housing land was not in place. In these cases, developers take advantage of the absence of the plan or five year supply to seek planning permission in areas that local communities do not consider suitable for development.

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“Councils must do more to protect their communities against the threat of undesirable development by moving quickly to get an adopted Local Plan in place. The NPPF is designed to work side by side with local plans. At the moment, 41% of local authorities do not have an adopted local plan which is simply not good enough. To put an end to councils dragging their feet on this issue, we call for the Government to make it a statutory requirement for councils to get local plans adopted within three years of the legislation being enacted.

We must also close the loophole that allows developers to challenge the inclusion of sites within a council’s five year supply on the grounds of viability. We heard that developers were claiming sites were unviable in order to obtain planning permission on other, more lucrative sites against the wishes of the council and community. In doing so, they are undermining and delaying the local planning process. Requiring all sites with planning permission to be counted towards an authority’s five year supply will help put a stop to this behaviour and give communities greater protection.”

Assessment of land for housing

The Committee also recommends that clearer guidance is needed about how housing need should be assessed and that local authorities should be encouraged to review their green belts as part of the local planning process.

The Committee agrees that more homes should be built on brownfield land, but is not convinced the Chancellor’s local development orders policy will do enough to stimulate activity. Given the biggest barrier to more building on brownfield sites is the availability of resources to make the land suitable for development, the Committee calls on the Department for Communities and Local Government to establish a remediation fund for brownfield sites.

Support for town centres

The CLG Committee also finds the NPPF and Government planning policies are not doing enough to ensure the health and vibrancy of town centres.

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The internet has revolutionised the way we shop and yet too often the way we plan for our town centres seems preserved in aspic. Planning needs to develop greater flexibility to adapt to changing trends and be sharp enough to offer our town centres greater protection. The Government should scale back “permitted development” which allows shops and banks to become homes without planning permission. It is too random and is hollowing out the commercial heart of our town centres. Councils have to be able to plan strategically for the future of their communities.”