One of our affiliates has now heard of two stories of landowners being threatened with compulsory purchase orders by councils to facilitate developments.
Teignbridge threatening to do it to a farmer who doesn’t want to sell to enable a developer to use it as a public open space as he doesn’t have any as all his land will be used for the housing and another (unverifiable as rumour only) where a farmer was told his land would be compulsorily purchased to build a sewerage works for an adjacent developments. For both, only agricultural value would be paid.
In the second case, the farmer, knowing the land would be taken whatever happened, acted first and sold out (at development value, of course) to the adjacent developer. Presumably, the sewerage farm will now be built elsewhere or not at all.
We think this new scam may be operating in other places too. Do you know of any others?
Next week is Neighbourhood Planning Week on Facebook and Twitter starting 8th Dec. The week’s events include opportunities to chat online to Brandon Lewis, Minister for Planning and Housing, get your questions on neighbourhood planning answered by the NP team at the Department of Communities and Local Government, and share your thoughts on the process and what you’ve learnt from being involved in neighbourhood planning. See our home page for more details.
As one of our affliates said recently: “Our village of around 2,000 houses has had a total of 60 houses either completed or in the process of being built, 75 have had permission granted, we have just had an appeal upheld in favour of a developer for really inconsequential reasons for another 55 homes, we are facing yet another appeal from another developer for 150 homes, the developer in question being the County Council. This application was roundly refused by the Borough Planning Department and was the subject of a poll amongst the residents which resulted in over 95% of those who voted being against the development and today, another planning application for 90 homes was lodged with the Borough Council. A total of 230 homes, an increase of more than 10%, with no increase in infrastructure (water, sewage, electricity, telecoms etc), our Infants & Primary School is due to be demolished and replaced with a more modern but smaller version, the demolition means that the village is to lose its swimming pool. Traffic surveys carried out by developers are farcical and “prove” that there will be no problems on the one “A” road out of the village. All of these developments have been on valuable agricultural land. So I hope that you can see that we feel as if we are under siege”.
We all feel much the same with the percentage increase in housing varying from 10% to 70% and infrastructure on the never-never if at all. We do feel a little like Alice through the Looking Glass “Sometimes I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll. The problem is that this isn’t fiction – developers will build unsustainable homes on green spaces and flood plains without infrastructure and no-one seems able to do anything about it.
The one glimmer on the horizon is the power of the neighbourhood plan. Emerging Neighbourhood plans are being given consideration in planning decisions at appeal. For example: Eric Pickles has overruled an inspector and blocked proposals for 77 new homes in Wiltshire because they clash with a draft neighbourhood plan about to begin examination. It’s worth further investigation.
Keep it Green 2014 in Barnsley are currently awaiting Barnsley Council’s response to a long list of questions about their involvement with a developer concerning Green Belt land nearby. They’re advised that a Green Belt Review is in progress, via Ove Arup consultants, to help them prepare for the Local Plan consultation that was due to start in June, now delayed to September, reasons not clear. The cynical view is that the Green Belt Review will be used to de-designate sections of Green Belt, including the part we’re concerned about, so that they don’t have the embarrassment of asking the Secretary of State if they can build on it
Do you or other association members have any information on similar reviews elsewhere? Anything they can use to help prepare would be welcome.
Time to give communities a real say in the planning process
On the 30th April 2014, Greg Mulholland MP introduced a bill, under the ten minute rule, for amendment of the NPPF. He was supported in this by the following MPs: Rosie Cooper, Jim Cunningham, Jason McCartney, Stuart Andrew, Philip Davies, Martin Horwood, Chris White, Ian Swales, Mike Thornton and Julian Huppert,
The Bill addresses a number of issues that affect us.
- Right to Appeal for Developers abolished & the abolition of the Planning Inspectorate
- Paragraph 49 will be amended to demand that developers must still meet local policy objectives.
- Drop the requirement in the NPPF that local authorities should allocate an additional 20% ‘buffer’ of deliverable housing sites.
- Give councils the power to refuse applications on ‘prematurity’ grounds.
- Ensure Brownfield Land is prioritised.
- Replace plans panels with equitable planning hearings with an independent chair
- Remove permitted developments rights that allow local assets and services to be changed for use without any community say.
- Bring in a genuine community right to buy.
The Bill will now receive a second hearing on 6th June 2014. We believe that this Bill, which enjoys cross-party support, will address most of the issues that have angered and frustrated us all since the inception of the NPPF. The relevant details can be seen via the link to Hansard(see the very bottom of the page).
Lobby your MP to vote in favour!
The four schemes, put forward by three different developers, proposed 32, up to 120, up to 59, and 83 dwellings. The inspector identified three main issues which were common to each of the appeals. These were the housing supply position in the district, the effect on the character and appearance of the area and whether the village was an appropriate location for the development.
The parties agreed that the deliverable housing site supply for the district was in the range of 2.2 to 4.3 years, constituting a significant shortfall. The inspector noted that the mechanism for applying the presumption in favour of development was set out in paragraph 14 of the NPPF. This explained that where relevant policies were out of date, then permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole. She considered that this clearly did not equate to a blanket approval for residential development in locations that would otherwise have conflicted with local plan policies. She judged that if the adverse impacts of the proposal, such as harm to the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefits, then planning permission should be refused.
There was a pressing need to address the shortfall, she decided. The inspector was satisfied that the 32-home scheme would have a beneficial rather than an adverse impact on the character and appearance of the area, but that the outline schemes of up to 120 and up to 59 houses would have an adverse impact of great weight and that the 83-home scheme would have an adverse impact of substantial weight. See our News page for links to more detail
BANDAG have submitted their response to the Parliamentary Enquiry See the Forum entry
The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework. The inquiry follows research findings, published by the Committee, that some local planning authorities may be forced into perverse behaviour to meeting the NPPF policies and government targets. Written submissions can be sent to the Communities and Local Government Committee.
Since the introduction of the NPPF, Local plans are taking about 40 per cent longer to get through the examination process, according to new research by planning consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners.
It now takes four months longer for a council’s development plan to be found sound following formal submission than it did before the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was introduced – 14 months for the average plan compared to 11.
One of the key aims of introducing the NPPF was to simplify and speed up the planning process?