Civitas Report gives Support to Land Hoarding Theory

More finger pointing, more claims that it’s not us, it’s the planners holding things up and claims from the developers that even though they’ve got their planning permission, the planners make it too difficult to get on with the job.
Sadly, the politicians often listen to this whinging and whining, taking it at face value and rejigging the planning regs repeatedly to accommodate it. The worst example of this is the viability card played by virtually every developer within weeks of gaining permission and used to wriggle out of providing affordable housing, or infastructure improvements.
Not content with having this ace in their pack, the developers were able to get the government to put out further guidance, effectively telling councils not to challenge a developer’s viability claims. Despite having such an unlevel planning field, with everything tilted in their favour, developers continue to cry foul at every opportunity and the government continues to listen.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


The new prime minister, Theresa May, has signalled her intention to deal with the “housing deficit” – the year-after-year shortfall in the number of homes that are built compared with the number of homes that are needed. The government’s target is to build 1 million new homes by 2020, the equivalent of 200,000 a year. Many housing economists think that England needs at least 250,000 new homes a year to keep up with demand. Neither of these targets are being met: last year (2014/15) only 155,000 new-builds were completed.

In order to tackle the shortfall it will first be necessary to correctly identify the obstacles. For many years it has been claimed that the planning system is a major barrier to progress on the grounds that it is slow and cumbersome in issuing planning permissions. This briefing note seeks to explain why this is not, in fact, the main…

View original post 369 more words

NIMBYs to be ‘bribed’

imageWorryingly, Therasa May has made her first poor decision and regrettably, it’s one that has an impact on planning.

Even if this isn’t her idea and just something one of the surviving bright young policy wonks has been saving up, it’s a bad one.  It should be consigned to the bin, by the time MPs have returned from swanning around their various hot and sunny retreats.  I say swanning around because, let’s not forget, Brexit has not actually happened yet, so nothing’s changed.  The EU still rules the roost on everything, apart pieces of domestic policy madness, such as this one.

Community Infrastructure Levy, where it’s actually levied that is (not so South Holland)  is used to fund local infrastructure needs.  See bottom of page for a more detailed explanation.

Top slicing what is already, in many instances, an inadequate amount of money, to pass on to people who may well just bank it, or quickly move out of the area altogether, doesn’t make sense.

CIL is supposed to be about improving things for the community in general and reducing the impact of the development that generated the CIL in the first place, not lining the pockets of a few NIMBYs.

There will also be a direct impact on those areas that have a neighbourhood plan in place, as this will cut the percentage share of CIL they receive.


The Telegraph

Ben Riley-Smith, political correspondent
7 AUGUST 2016 • 10:00PM
Homeowners in countryside villages and towns could be given cash payments to offset disruptive developments in their communities, the government has said.

Ministers’ concern has grown that people affected by unwanted developments near their houses are not adequately compensated.

It could allay residents’ frustration when they feel planning permission is being granted for a building project they oppose.

Theresa May is said to be personally interested in the idea as it fits with her drive to create an economy that “works for everyone”.

The scheme would follow the blueprint of a similar one announced over the weekend to give money directly to households affected by fracking.

It may also help tackle the problem of so-called Nimbys – people who support more house building provided that it is “not in my back yard”.

Ministers and civil servants in the Communities Department are reviewing the Community Infrastructure Levy, a charge placed by councils on developments that have more than 100 square metres of floor space.

They are now considering whether some of the money raised by the charge can be handed directly to homeowners as well as spent on local services.

A government source told The Telegraph: “One of the things we’re interested in is if we can get a better linkage between a community agreeing to take certain kinds of development and actually then getting money to spend on improving their local area in return.

“Let’s say you’re a village and you accept a significant housing development on the edge of the village, at the moment you might not see very much of the money that’s comes in from that development at all. It might be sent elsewhere in the district.”

Asked if households could be given cash payment directly, the source said: “Absolutely there is some thinking about what mechanisms can you come up with that ensure that the people affected by development actually see the benefit of that development.”

The move could help the Government hit targets for house building while keeping the communities affected on side in the coming year.

There were concerns that the communities were becoming less able to veto planning applications under George Osborne, the former chancellor, as he changed rules to encourage more new houses.

Environmental charities attacked the Tories last year for planning rule changes and warned that the green belt was under growing threat despite an election manifesto promise to protect it.

Announcing a similar change to the way communities affected by fracking will be compensated, Mrs May on Sunday referred to her drive to rebalance the economy.

“The Government I lead will be always be driven by the interests of the many – ordinary families for whom life is harder than many people in politics realise,” she said.

“As I said on my first night as Prime Minister: when we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful but of you.”

However environmental groups attacked the announcement. Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, said: “The Government has tried to sweeten the fracking pill with cash bribes before, and public opposition just kept on growing.

“The simple truth is that people’s concerns about climate change and their local environment cannot be bought off with a wad of cash.”

“You can’t put a price on the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the beauty of our countryside.”

*What can the Community Infrastructure Levy be spent on (and by whom)?
The levy can be used to fund a wide range of infrastructure, including transport, flood defences, schools, hospitals, and other health and social care facilities (for further details, see Section 216(2) of the Planning Act 2008, and Regulation 59, as amended by the 2012 and 2013 Regulations). This definition allows the levy to be used to fund a very broad range of facilities such as play areas, parks and green spaces, cultural and sports facilities, academies and free schools, district heating schemes and police stations and other community safety facilities. This flexibility gives local areas the opportunity to choose what infrastructure they need to deliver their relevant Plan (the Local Plan in England, Local Development Plan in Wales, and the London Plan in London). Charging authorities may not use the levy to fund affordable housing.

Impeach Juncker and make Booker our chief negotiator

Once again, I’ve shamelessly borrowed from Christopher Booker’s writings in the Sunday Telegraph.  He seems to be one of the few, both inside and outside of the political arena, with any real grasp of the issues.

Juncker in breach of his own treaty

By nominating a chief negotiator for Brexit, Jean-Claude Juncker has acted in breach of treaties.
We may be getting used to the idea that senior Tory Eurosceptics seem to be woefully ignorant of all the legal complexities involved in extricating us from the EU. Rather more surprising, however, is the blatant disregard being shown for EU law by no less a figure than Jean‑Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission.
On July 27 Juncker announced he had appointed Michel Barnier, a former commissioner for the internal market, to be “Chief Negotiator in charge of the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)”. They do like their initial capital letters in Brussels.
What no one seems to have picked up on, however, is that under Article 50 of the TEU and Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, Juncker had neither the right nor the power to do anything of the kind.
First, reading these two articles in conjunction, it is clear that the EU’s chief negotiator can only be appointed after a state wishing to leave the EU has invoked Article 50, thus setting the negotiating process in train.
Secondly, Article 218 makes it clear that the Commission can only make a recommendation as to who “the head of the Union’s negotiating team” should be. The appointment itself must be made through a formal decision of the European Council, consisting of the heads of state and government of the other EU members.
Thus, in personally nominating Barnier as chief negotiator, Juncker was not just jumping the gun, he was acting wholly ultra vires, in flagrant breach of the treaties he is sworn to uphold.
It might seem extraordinary that the EU’s most senior official should break the law like this. Perhaps when Theresa May next meets her fellow members of the European Council in September, she should ask them as politely as possible whether they are happy for the president of the Commission to usurp their authority in this way.


Of course, this is why Juncker acts in this high handed and arrogant manner.  He clearly believes that the democratic element of the European model, is an inconvenient and frustrating obstruction to his vision of a European superstate.


There really are some A…holes in this world!

On our way home from a very pleasant afternoon spent celebrating a family friend’s wedding with a pinic at Burghley Park, Stamford – if you’ve never been go, it’s beautiful and free to enter – we had an encounter with the subject of this post.

Although today’s weather was not wall to wall sunshine, it still gave us enough excuse to drop the soft top on the Mini for the drive home, adding a nice finish to the day.

Turning on to Littleworth Drove towards Spalding Common, a red Ford van was coming towards us, roof festooned with ladders and driver’s window partially open.  You might think the window was open because the driver liked to get some fresh air and keep alert whilst driving.  This would be a commendable if it were true, but the opposite was the case, because this lout was breaking the first of several motoring laws, by smoking in what was a obviously a work vehicle and therefore technically a workplace.  Such smoking had been banned since 2007 and includes shared work vehicles.

The van also had a company name on it, confirming its work van status.  Looking at the video I’ve captured, it appears to start with a letter S, but the reflection and angle means I was unable to get more of it, more’s the pity.

What I did get however, is a very nice shot of the number plate.  Which, just in case you have any difficulty reading it, is:


The driver then broke another law, by not being in full control of his vehicle at all times.  How could he be?  As he saw us approaching him, in an open topped car, he appears to have gone out of his way to try to flick his burning cigarette end into our open car.  Waving his hand out of the window of his moving vehicle for no good reason to deposit litter on to the public highway, makes that criminal offence three.

I got a good enough view of the offending butt and could see that it was actually a roll-up. He obviously needs to rip off a few more of his cash in hand customers, so he can afford to buy tailor mades from some of the dodgey people he knows who no doubt smuggle them in.

Arguably this louts most serious offence, if I could ever prove intent, would be the act of attempting to send a lighted, or even just hot cigarette butt into our moving vehicle.  Any object intentionally thrown towards another vehicle is bad enough, but when that vehicle is open and that object could easily hit the driver in the eye, causing serious injury and a crash, that is assault with intent in my book.

If anybody recognises this vehicle and therefore the company that owns it, I would love to hear from you, in confidence of course.  As a minimum, I am going to give a witness statement to our environmental enforcement officer, along with the photo.  He will then write to this litter lout, warning him that what he did might only have been a cigarette butt, but it’s still littering.  I should make it clear, I will not be given access to the information he uses, that would also be a criminal offence!