Monday, 1 March 2010

The Conservatives Planning Green Paper

Whatever type of Property Guru you are, the Planning Process is bound to have an impact on you in one way or another. You can't avoid the politics behind the scenes. So with my usual desire to 'research, disect and summarise' I share with you my take on the Conservatives Planning Green Paper.

The main thrust of the document is ‘local participation and social engagement’, giving local people and neighbourhoods control over what kind of development and land use they want in their area by consulting every resident in the neighbourhood in the evolution of their Local Plan.

Regional Spatial Strategies and National and Regional Building Targets will be abolished in favour of a National Planning Framework supported by short and focussed planning guidelines replacing the existing Planning Policy Guidance documents (PPG’s) and Planning Policy Statements (PPS’s). Within which Local Authorities can create their own distinctive policies to create sustainable communities.

Local Authorities have already submitted to Government their projected housing requirements which are known as ‘Option 1’ numbers. As Regional Building Targets are abolished, ‘Option 1’ numbers will be used as a base-line for the start of the collaborative planning process and a 5 year land supply is generally accepted as adequate.

Financial incentives for Local Authorities to permit development of new homes, businesses, schools, wind farms and affordable housing. A local tariff to be introduced for all permissions starting with just a single dwelling, with exemptions for Developers building affordable homes and Self Builders.

Use Classes Order to be amended to permit land and buildings to be used for any purpose as defined in the Local Plan. Buildings to be used for educational purposes (Class D1) to come under Permitted Development and existing class D1 buildings to remain as D1 unless Secretary of State for Schools agrees otherwise..

Classification of gardens as brownfield land to be reversed allowing councils to prevent overdevelopment and stop ‘garden grabbing’. Conversely, brownfield land is to include land previously occupied by Agricultural Buildings (built before a specified date) to facilitate use of disused buildings for other purposes.

Legislation will ensure a ‘duty to collaborate’ between Authorities and upper tier bodies on infrastructure planning. A National Major Infrastructure Unit to be established.

Travellers face new criminal offence ‘intentional trespass’ if local authorities have provided an authorised site in their area, councils to be funded and Travellers to contribute financially to service provision.

Human Rights Act to be replaced with British Bill of Rights

Mining & Minerals – minerals should be used as close as possible to where they are worked – “the proximity principle”

Conservation credits to build up banks for provision of biodiversity schemes

Simplification and expansion of Permitted Development Rights particularly with regard to shops, offices & public buildings

National Planning Framework to prevent development of the most fertile farmland in all but exceptional circumstances.

The Freeing up of Planning Resources with this streamlined system will permit more enforcement capabilities and Planners to return to what they were originally intended to do – designing and implementing visionary plans for their local areas.

So what do you guys think? Will you be voting Conservative?
Read the Conservatives' Planning Green Paper in Full


Anonymous said...

Hi Jo, to be honest I'd be unlikely to vote Conservative anyway, and this makes it less likely than ever. 'Garden grabbing' has a bad name, justifiably in some cases, but it's sometimes very justified in my opinion. For instance, a rank of five terraces I'm currently looking at which are completely missing from the street. This happens in Bristol sometimes as a result of subsidence (mining) or old bomb damage from the war. I can see no reason for not reinstating them, but currently the space they would occupy is taken up by very long thin gardens belonging to the next terrace - too long and thin to be much use unless you wanted a market garden! Better (and greener) to keep most housing within urban areas I think.

I can also see some logic in classifying as brownfield certain previously occupied agri buildings. I can see a rush to buy these up if this happens/ looks likely to happen, and folk cashing in.

The fact is we have a dreadful (and rapidly getting worse) housing shortage in UK and something has to be done. Almost no one likes new development near them, there are always objections, which is understandable. But if developers stopped developing every time someone objected nothing would ever get built. Planning policy in cities needs to be eased, not restricted further.

Oh dear your blog won’t accept my HTML for my sig. Understandable really I suppose.


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Rich said...

Posted by Rich!

I just tried to post with my wordpress account but for some reason it said the URL contained illegal characters. I'll try this

Rich said...

One other thing I’m not clear about is do they mean agricultural buildings which were previously occupied by people, or just generally occupied by animals, farm machinery etc?


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Jo King said...


Sorry about the links problem, I hope it works now.

I agree with all of your points about the Green Paper. It seems to me that it will bring some opportunities for Property People but will also take some away. If it speeds up the planning process 'after application' this is bound to save money for the taxpayer but I don't think it will speed up the entire process as the Applicant will spend more time trying to sort out issues with the local community.

I see opportunities for self build and for Property People to exploit this proposed 'no tariff' opportunity using Joint Ventures.

Overall I don't think it will deal with housing needs but it might help those who want to 'defend & protect' their immediate environment - as usual with the Conservatives I see it very much as protecting the 'haves' at the expense of the 'have nots'.


Antony said...

I am a small developer and distinctly discouraged by the Conservatives' attitude. In my view so-called garden grabbing could just as easily be termed more efficient use of prviously developed land, thereby improving use of existing infrastructure and local shops and other services, rather than having to provide everything from scratch on greenfield sites. The Conservatives' approach seems designed to kill off small developers - the only people who will succeed in their world will be self-builders on single sites, or very large developer-builders who will build on greenfield sites and stump up for all the infrastructure and "affordable" homes. This is exactly what's happening in my local borough (Wokingham), which is just about to sign off four Strategic Development Locations, all greenfield sites under the control of large consortia or the Ministry of Defence, which will deliver 10,000 out of the 11,000 planned houses up to the year 2025. The council doesn't yet have the powers to block backfill development entirely, but if PPS3 is changed and combined with a punitive approach to roof taxes, I will be left with almost no options for future sites - I just won't have the capital and business clout to deliver the hundreds of houses that appear to be the only way one will be allowed to build in future.

Jo King said...

Absolutely Anthony.

Same is happening here in Mid Devon, they just want large 'easy' sites whereby the land is already in the hands of a big Developer (no hassles with ownership issues).