Planning By Resistance – How The Powerful Divert Development to Poor Areas

Yet another extremely bad habit learnt from our American cousins.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

In an outstanding PHD thesis from 2013 Robert Morrow coins the term ‘Planning by Resistance’.

this dissertation explains the origins and impact of Los Angeles’s slow-growth, Community planning era between the Watts (1965) and Rodney King (1992) civil unrests. …
The dissertation explains how the slow-growth movement was facilitated by the shift from top-down planning during the progrowth, post-war period to a more bottom-up Community planning…

The project illustrates the dramatic land use changes that occurred during this period – first, the down-zoning of the City by 60% in the initial community plans in the 1970s, and the subsequent shifts in residential densities as homeowners shapedlocal community plans. These shifts were strongly correlated to socioeconomic characteristics and homeowner activity, such that areas with well-organized homeowner groups with strong social capital were able to dramatically decrease density as a means of controlling population growth, and areas with few to no homeowner…

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Savills – Planning Permissions for New Homes not Concentrated in Most Unaffordable Areas

Did we really need Savills to tell us this? Curious that one of the biggest names in land acquisition and disposal for the well heeled, should be seeking to expose the stranglehold those self same people and organisations have on building land and housing delivery in this country.
London must surely be a lost cause when it comes to trying to keep the ordinary working class people, who actually keep the city running, living close to where they work.
Some might argue that many hundreds of thousands of such people do indeed still live and work inside the M25. However, how many of these workers live in what might be considered decent, affordable, family housing, let alone have any hope of owning it?
Gentrification, is the rather innocuous term used to describe the wholesale culling of ordinary people from the most desirable postcodes. Much of the workforce required to keep London prospering, is now forced to the outskirts and into the ratty and increasingly decrepit and rundown areas of Outer London. Would the massively expensive Crossrail project have been required if this hadn’t happened?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Telegraph

Planning permissions granted for new homes are being concentrated in the wrong areas, where there is less need for housing, according to new research by Savills.

It found that there is a lack of 90,000 planning consents for homes in the least affordable and most in-demand areas of the country.

Only 20pc of planning consents in 2016 were in the most unaffordable places, where the lowest priced homes are at least 11.4 times income. However, 40pc of the country’s total need for new homes is in these markets, while there is a surplus of consents in the most affordable locations.

Research found that in areas where the house price to earnings ratio is over 11.4, which includes London and much of the South East, there is a shortfall of 73,000 planning consents for homes.

Since the National Planning Policy Framework was launched four years ago, with the…

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Two Gaps in Planning – Delivery and Regulatory

Plenty of answers around from experts such as Andrew and the author of this piece. However, weak and now weakens politicians are incapable of grasping the nettle. They continue to bend to their own internal self interests and those the ones who support their ambitions , both as politicians and professionally.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

RTPI Dr Michael Harris

‘Planning reform’ was never going to resolve the housing crisis, because ‘planning restrictions’ were never its cause.

As the title of the UK Government’s White Paper “Fixing Our Broken Housing Market” (February 2017) suggests, we’ve overlooked the complex range of reasons why we aren’t building enough homes.

…the fact that the ongoing gap between housing supply and demand is equivalent to the house building that used to be done by local authorities before the 1980s.

Looked at this way, the solution to housing crisis may not actually be that complex: we need local authorities to build more houses.

If that is the solution where?  If it simply on the inadequate land zoned for housing it won’t solve the crisis.  Housing will be more affordable, and with land value capture it may both be more affordable and fund infrastructure, but it wont be enough and…

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Roads, footpaths, grass verges, roundabouts and lighting: who does what?

It’s a question that’s particularly relevant at the moment, given all the hoo-haa over grass cutting and prior to that, street lighting.

Most people now realise that the county council looks after the light of all public streets and roadways.  There are a few exceptions to this, but these are few and far between and there’s a way to check.

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Every post, including those used to support illuminated road signs, have a number sticker on them.   As well as a number, there will be three, or four letters.  Lamp posts that are the responsibility of Lincolnshire County Council, have LCC on the sticker, with South Holland’s having SHDC.

The only odd-ball street lights, I am aware of, are a couple on wooden poles at the bottom of Burr Lane, Spalding.

The lighting columns used to illuminate footpaths running through open space areas and residential areas, are almost always the responsibility of South Holland District Council.

So the rule of thumb is, defective light, check the sticker letters, make a note of the number and report it to the council matching the letters.

Unfortunately, our grassed areas don’t come with stickers, but can, in most cases, be attributed reasonably easily.

Again, there are a few odd-ball patches of grass that are the responsibility of a different council than you might expect, but very few.

In general terms, the roadways are maintained by the highway authority which is Lincolnshire County Council.  Roundabouts are all LCC’s responsibility.

When it comes to the grass along public roadways and streets, it helps to look at these in the same way as pavements, or foot pads as locals sometimes call them.  In other words, any strip of land, in this case, the grass verges alongside streets and roadways, are the responsibility of LCC.

In most cases this is 1 metre, or 1.8 metres wide, but can be somewhat deeper, such as the corner plot at Two Planks Lane on Woolram Wygate.  Annoyingly, this area is used as a second hand car lot from time to time by certain selfish residents, but LCC dont appear to have time to challenge them about it.

Trees, shrubs and bushes within these areas also tend to be the responsibility of the highway authority.

So for highways, grassed areas adjacent to the highway, are the responsibility of the highway authority, LCC.

Open space areas, including those with play equipment on, are generally the responsibility of the district council, SHDC.  Again, all trees, shrubs and bushes on these areas, will also be the district council’s responsibility.  However, LCC does have a couple of open spaces around, but very few.

So what’s changed and why has some of the grassed areas been cut and some not?

The simple answer on this, is that LCC has stopped paying SHDC to cut their grass, 7 times a year, on their behalf.  The downside of SHDC getting paid to cut LCC’s grass for them, is that it gives residents the impression that SHDC is also directly responsible for all grass.  LCC will now only cut areas of grass twice a year and only for road safety reasons.

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Even this is confusing, because it currently leaves us uncertain if that means that LCC won’t cut the grass at all in residential areas, where they feel there’s no road safety implications.

Spalding councillors are not prepared to accept this situation.  Unfortunately, unlike parish councils, we are currently hamstrung by the lack of straightforward access to the money required.  We are however, working on it.

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This is what Lincolnshire County Council say on their website
Grass verges and cutting

The county council maintains most grass verges alongside adopted roads and footpaths.

We don’t cut grass on privately-owned land or on developments which have not yet been adopted.

Saqfety cutting is done twice a year in rural areas, during the summer months, to a width of 1m either side of the road and footpath. At junctions and some bends, verges are cut to the highway boundary to improve visibility.
We no longer cut grass to an amenity standard in built-up areas. These areas and
approaches to major junctions and central islands of roundabouts are now included in the safety cutting twice a year. In some areas, this work will be taken on by the district, parish or town council, who may carry out additional cuts at their own discretion.
You can report overgrown grass and hedges but we will only fix issues where there is a risk to public safety.’

A lesson for life?

A frog falls into a vessel filled with water on a stove. As the temperature of the water begins to rise, the frog adjusts its body temperature accordingly. The frog keeps adjusting its body temperature with the increasing temperature of the water. Just when the water is about to reach boiling point, the frog cannot adjust anymore. At this point the frog decides to jump out. The frog tries to jump but it is unable to do so because it has lost all its strength in adjusting with the rising water temperature. Very soon the frog dies.
What killed the frog?
Think about it!
I know many of us will say the boiling water. But the truth about what killed the frog was its own inability to decide when to jump out.
We all need to adjust with people and situations, but we need to be sure when we need to adjust and when we need to move on. There are times when we need to face the situation and take appropriate actions.
If we allow people to exploit us physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually or mentally they will continue to do so.
Let us decide when to jump!
Let’s jump while we still have the strength.

Thanks to Steve Laws for this pearl of wisdom from his recent LinkedIn post

i clearly haven’t got the hang of this one though, because I normally manage to jump out of the near boiling water straight into the fire.

Democracy and politicians – never the twain shall meet?

As Whitehall politicians become more and more impatient with the drain local democracy places on the public purse, successive governments are finding ways to marginalise local politicians and insert those in their own image into that level of government, to do their bidding.

Labour attempted it with regional assemblies, with a sop to local democracy being made via the quality parish council initiative.  Regional government would emasculate every democratically elected body that currently existed outside of the Westminster bubble, with parish councils taking on parochial service delivery, thereby offering their local electorate a facade of local democratic power and control.

The current government has offered local government the ‘carrot’ of devolution.  The stick comes via the wresting away of democratic decision making and therefore wider than local spending powers, from directly elected local representatives, with the introduction of elected mayors.  These mayors would apparently see the bigger picture and establish a more direct line of ‘communication’ for their areas with central government.

Having failed to get these in place in a number of areas, they now appear to have come up with another cunning plan to do away with these pesky councillors.

Copied from The MJ Online Thursday 25 May 2017

Strengthening local democracy
By George Jones and John Stewart | 24 May 2017
Few have commented on a strange proposal in the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper. It states: ‘We will work with local government to review how to bring more business expertise into local government, for example through the creation of a modern “alderman” type of role within local government’. There is no explanation of what this sentence means.

The use of the title alderman clearly repeats the use of the title mayor, which used to be restricted to the person indirectly chosen by the council to perform the politically-impartial role of chairing the council and carrying out ceremonial and social functions. But now it also refers to a person directly elected by the local electorate as the executive leader of the authority. The use of the word ‘mayor’ was intended to make this new role attractive to voters, but instead it confused the electorate as to what the role was to be. Now the term ‘alderman’ is perhaps seen as a way of making the new proposal (whatever it is) acceptable.

Whoever thought up this word may have misjudged how most people think. Aldermen have long been forgotten. They were abolished in the 1974 reorganisation of local government with little regret. They were seen as often frustrating the democratic will of the people, since they were appointed by the councillors, not the voters, and served for a six-year term.

Aldermen were usually senior councillors protected from defeat by the electorate. The position had been created in the 19th century as constituting a kind of House of Lords in local councils, acting as a constraint on the dangerous democratic processes of elected councillors.

The Government is intensifying its attack on local democracy. It is following its previous demotion of elected councillors into only the role of scrutiny of executive mayors by now proposing to diminish them further by inserting into councils aldermen, appointed not elected locally, with full voting rights.

This proposal signifies that in the culture of central government there is little interest in local representative democracy and no concern for its principles. It shows talk of local devolution is a sham.

The result of central government’s neglect of local representative democracy, or even of understanding its importance, has been that in a series of initiatives it has undermined elected local government.

Over the last 20 or more years, functions have been removed from elected authorities and placed under appointed bodies. The outstanding example is education, where schools are increasingly under the control of ‘chains’ which have emerged without any clear legislative basis.

The essence of local representative democracy is expressed in the direct election of councillors by citizens of the area they represent. But in combined authorities the mayor is the only member who is directly elected. The other voting members are appointed by their own councils.

The principle of direct election has been replaced by indirect election, usually of the leaders of the separate authorities. The principle of equal representation of areas is undermined by a restriction to a single individual for each authority, despite greatly varying populations.

The creation of directly-elected mayors undermines the position of councillors. The concentration of power in a single individual weakens local democracy. The council, as the expression of local representative democracy can alter policies and the budget only if there is a two-thirds majority, which is impossible in most local authorities.

The introduction of such ‘special majorities’ is a recent development in legislative bodies. It means the majority of a council can have no power even if a majority has voted for a proposal.

Local representative democracy is the principle on which our local government has long been based. It is the only effective way in which citizens can ensure accountability. Some, however, urge the merits of participatory democracy, and see it as opposed to representative democracy. We are not opponents of the techniques of participatory local democracy, but regard them as ways to strengthen representative democracy.

In a variety of ways local representative democracy is being eroded, leading to greater centralisation.

These developments have rightly led many, including The MJ, to argue for the start of a discussion on the future of local government, hoping it would help to reverse the process of centralisation, which has been a feature of the last 40 or so years under various governments.

Local representative democracy must be the basis on which effective and accountable local government can and must be built. There is no alternative if local government is to have the authority of responsibilities that can challenge the process of centralisation.

Centralisation cannot deliver effective government, since it thinks in terms of uniformities, whereas reality consists of diversity. Local government is the government of difference: it can respond to messy reality in ways that reflect the diversity of local circumstances.

Critical requirements to strengthen local representative democracy are for all concerned to recognise its importance and understand that political representation is an active role, involving interaction with the electorate, seeking out its views and ideas, and not merely waiting at surgeries for people’s complaints and specific problems to be aired, important though that is.

Indirect election and special majorities should be eradicated, as should the focus on single individuals as directly-elected mayors. Councils should be recognised as the supreme body locally and not regarded as requiring mechanisms to constrain its operations.

One basic constitutional change is needed to strengthen local representative democracy, ensuring it is truly representative, and that is to introduce proportional representation into local elections. The case for local government proportional representation is stronger than for Parliamentary elections, and it grows stronger in an increasingly multi-party society.

These ideas and more are set out in a book written in collaboration with Professor Steve Leach of De Montfort University, entitled Centralisation, Devolution and the Future of Local Government in England (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).

John Stewart is emeritus professor of local government at the University of Birmingham. George Jones, emeritus professor of government at the London School of Economics, died last month, shortly after writing this article

A tribute to George Jones, originally published in The MJ, can be viewed here

Government in a drive for housing, but only of a certain type it seems

UK councils ‘increasingly unable’ to meet affordable housing demands

23rd May, 2017

The report, published by the Association for Public Service Excellence, and researched and written by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), considers 166 local authorities in Britain. It suggests that just 1 per cent of councils rate their need for affordable homes as not substantial.

Building Homes, Creating Communities notes the pressure on councils to meet the growing demand for affordable housing because of a lack of new homes being built, and that those that are being built are not affordable to those in need.

It looks at how the cumulative impact of existing housing and planning policies in England – such as the “continued deregulation and reform of the planning system” – has reduced the ability of councils to secure “genuinely affordable homes” for social rent.

Kate Henderson, chief executive at the TCPA, said the incoming government must make tackling the housing crisis a priority.

“An ambition to increase housing numbers is not enough; we need to ensure that the homes that are built are affordable and well designed.”

The study looks at how local authorities are taking a more active role in housing delivery through entrepreneurial approaches, such as setting up local housing.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, said more council homes would help to support local economic growth, jobs and skills in the economy.

“Housing could be an effective driver for a renewed industrial strategy, but to achieve this we need to place local councils at the heart of delivery on housing need. That means the future government of whatever political make-up must provide the financial freedoms and flexibility for councils to deliver solutions to our chronic housing shortage.”

copied from Planning Portal website