Why May and Khan are in a ‘War of Words’ over Housing

Nothing to add to this picture of doom.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Evening Standard – 13/10/2017 Oddly not on website.  Briefing from No 10 not city Hall.  Thanks to Daniel Bentley for the Pic.

The fatal weakness of PM May is her inability to partner with anyone.  She behaves with everyone like the worst form of hectoring boss.  Contrast her behavior on Friday with that of Lord Adonis and City Mayors in launching the National Infrastructure Assessment   on the same day.

Clearly Gavin Barwell is having an influence, but in giving May more things to panic and strut about not necessarily a good one.

The mistakes on housing, particularly planning for housing land, and the taxation of land, are so longstanding and systemic.  You can’t turn that around in a couple of years.  It would be much better to take bold long term decisions, like on Garden Cities and New Settlements, that will leave a legacy.

But lets look at another…

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Introducing MOAN – Model for Objective Assessment of Needs – A Fudge Factor Free Approach

What a brilliantly ironic acronym for such a controversial process.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

We only have till 9th of November to respond to Planning for the right homes in the right places.

I have a week next week between finishing one contract and starting another so what better time to write up a model i’ve been developing for many months for estimating need for every LPA in England, and crucially without the ‘Global Fudge Factor’ that fatally undermines the DCLG -LPEG derived approach.  This model was a free by product of a research project which has to remain confidential for a few weeks.

There will be many technical post explaining the different modules and assumptions of the approach but first – here – a non technical introduction.

In summary the DCLG model wont work and will make our national systematic housing shortfall far worse.

The housing crisis in Britain has two main supply side reasons (there are demand side reasons but they are…

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May (in panic) to Housebuilders – You Naughty Naughty Boys

The culprit is named at the start of this piece, one Eric Pickles, now Sir Eric Pickles, his reward as is often the case, for such people when leaving chaos in their wake, when in a ministerial position. Given the damage he managed to do in such a relatively short space of time, I’m amazed he wasn’t elevated to sainthood, although I did anticipate a lordship at least for the Bradford wrecking ball.
As a reminder, just a couple of things of Pickles did to make the planning system the mess it is now and blight the housing estates built in the last ten years are. He trashed regional planning, because it was a top down system dictating housing numbers, this being replaced by the farcical duty to cooperate and objectively assessed housing need figures that tie every local Plan examination in knots.
He changed the density requirements, so that even the most rural locations had to build at 30 to the hectare, almost double in many cases. If developers and house builders had a track record of working to such densities and knew how to design sympathetically to such densities it might not have been such a problem. However, they didn’t and the y still don’t.
All they did, was build small houses on smaller plots, with smaller garden, more cramped parking arrangements and then serve many of these estate with private and therefore unadoptable roadways.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Telegraph   

Given the lead in times between outline on big sites and development – even with a drop in ‘landabnking’ only a realtively number of extra homes could be buolt by yhe next election.  Upping numbers is a long term game.  The Tories are paying the consequences years later of Eric Pickles breaking the Planning System for Growth areas/

Theresa May has called Britain’s biggest developers to a Downing Street summit this week after pledging to “dedicate” her premiership to fixing the “broken” housing market.

Government sources said the Prime Minister will “lay down a challenge” to the industry to construct more homes, in a “significant intervention” following her promise to get more people onto the housing ladder.

Leading developers and building firms are expected to attend the summit on Tuesday, together with representatives from local authorities and housing associations.

The meeting comes after Mrs May used her conference…

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Buying property in Britain to get tougher for foreigners

I assume this is more about London than anywhere else in the country.  Even so, one has to wonder how it can possibly help deliver a single, genuinely affordable dwelling within the M25, for an ordinary working person, or family.

Taking highly expensive scarce housing out of wealthy foreign hands and placing into the welcoming arms of our domestic rich list, seems like another form of gerrymandering.  In this case, R.A. ther than manipulating electoral boundaries for political advantage, this could be seen as the manipulation of financial boundaries for political purposes.

How this will ensure that those needing to live in London in order to work, is a mystery and can only create more work for those lawyers expert in international property law.

intriguing comments by Luke Hall MP at the end of the article.  Given his relatively youth and inexperience as an MP, one can only assume that he has either personal experience, or received significant constituency pressure in this respect.

The watered down version now in place, doesn’t seem especially effective at addressing the issue of the many thousands of empty dwellings across the country.  Many of these are in some of the more high demand areas and attempts to prise them out of the hands of absent owners, or uncommunicative lawyers, is frustrating, time consuming and expensive.

Given the limited resources of the majority of councils and the likelihood that there will be more than enough longterm empty propertiesto be dealt with, Luke Hall appears to be making a great deal of noise about issues that would simply never arise.

Copied from Sunday Telegraph 24 September 2017

Home Affairs

By Ben Riley-Smith
FOREIGN buyers will face tougher restrictions on purchasing British property under Treasury plans to help first-time buyers.
Polices could be announced within weeks as getting younger people on to the housing ladder becomes a major part of the Conservatives’ autumn 
 political drive.
“There’s an issue in London with a large proportion of new-build flats being purchased off plan by, particularly, Far Eastern buyers: China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia,” a Whitehall source said.
“They are bought when the flats are still under construction, meaning first-time buyers don’t get a look-in. That is not just in central London, but in the suburbs and other cities such as Manchester.”
Number 10 and Treasury officials will discuss housing policy this week ahead of the Conservative Party conference in the first week of October and the Budget in November.

Other ideas in the running include accelerating the sale of government-owned land and easing the rules on building on brownfield sites to help boost supply.
Some Whitehall figures also back more borrowing to invest in housing. Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, has previously supported the move in public – though the Treasury is concerned about cost.
Theresa May wants her domestic policy agenda to dominate the party conference after delivering her speech in Florence on leaving the EU. Sources involved in the preparations said that housing is likely to become a big theme of the coming weeks as the Tories look to win back younger voters who backed Jeremy Corbyn in June.
Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, told Tory MPs at the 1922 Committee recently that he wanted to address the difficulty faced by first-time buyers.
He called for ideas to be submitted for the November Budget and – alongside student debt – identified it as an area the Tories must tackle to win back young voters. An ally of the Chancellor said he feared people in their twenties and thirties were being “left behind economically” and therefore “punished” the Tories, as the governing party, at the election.
Ministers have already announced “accelerated” plans for selling off Government land for housing, but some Tories feel that more could be done.
Land around railways, owned by the Ministry of Defence or part of the NHS estate is especially being considered by Treasury officials.
The developments come as the Conservatives launched an attack on a little-known Labour policy announced in its housing manifesto during the election.
Labour pledged to restore Empty Dwelling Management Orders – a controversial policy introduced by New Labour in 2006 but watered down by the Tories – to its full strength.
The change would empower councils to take over private homes that have been left empty for six months, rather than two years.
Luke Hall, the Tory MP for Thornbury and Yate, warned: “The return of John Prescott’s bullying powers would mean town hall bureaucrats seizing everyday homes in streets across the country, including those of recently deceased.
“Labour’s hard-Left agenda would entail widespread state confiscation of private property, targeting the elderly and the families.”

A welcome statement of the blindingly obvious

Successive governments have an unenviable track record of jumping in to the middle of problems and dealing only with the here and now and not the root causes.

The planning system is very much a victim of this knee jerk approach.  Labour bulldozed into it, with its impossible to produce Local Development Framework process, remnants of which still remain with us policy wise and on the ground, literally.

The Conservatives spent all of their time in opposition, listening to their grass roots members whinging on about the Labour government’s planning system and vowing to reform it as soon as they took back control.

This promise saw the demise of regional spatial strategies and the rise of the ludicrously described ‘streamlined’, National Planning Policy Frame, the NPPF.  This was claimed to bring us everything we ever wanted to know about planning, in 52 easy to read pages.  In reality,  every page contained footnotes leading to other planning documents, containing hundreds more pages.

The NPPF was quickly followed by a technical guidence of twenty plus pages, so that professional planners could actually make some sense of its vague and ambiguous statements.  It has also been followed by a number of ministerial and chief planner letters, offering yet further and necessary clarifications.  Then of course there’s the inevitable high court rulings that have occurred, because of the poor drafting and ambiguity of this badly drafted document.

However, none of this planning policy interference, has helped to deal with the issues raised in the article below.  The excuse used as always, is that such matters are best determined locally.  What they really mean is that government doesn’t want to upset the development industry, or be directly responsible for reducing the returns on land prices that come with planning permission.

Expecting individual local planning authorities, to build the evidence base required to prove that a development should be built in an attractive and user friendly way, is a nonsense.  The public often attack planners for not listening to local concerns, or of not using common sense when approving a development, because they don’t understand the severe constraints and limitations they are required to operate under.

Ugly housing is a product of many things, lazy and greedy developers, being only one.   Lazy and expedient politicians, unwilling to create effective national standards for room sizes, a requirement for internal and external storage spaces, minimum road widths, adequate levels of off street parking and high quality amenity space, are an even bigger cause.  Likewise, the use of parking courts and private drives, no matter the housing types, all add to the drop in the quality of housing development and a trend that can only lead to the building of the slums of the future.

latterly, the use of leasehold agreements for the purchase of family homes and the buy to let initiative, have ultimately damaged the establishment of traditional communities.  Such arrangements turn housing developments into nothing more than transit camps, full of people with little, or no interest in their local community and simply waiting to move on to the area, or property they really want.

Copied from Sunday Telegraph online Sunday 3 Sept 2017

PLANNING
Ugly new homes will create more Nimbys
By Edward Malnick and Steven Swinford
BRITAIN risks creating a new generation of Nimbys unless the Government stops “ugly” Sixties-style modernist designs being imposed on communities, a senior Tory MP will warn this week.
Neil Parish, the chairman of the environment select committee, will tell ministers that a drive to build a million more homes by the end of the decade risks “killing any sense of goodwill” in local communities if the new buildings are inappropriate. The MP, a former council planning officer, will suggest that parish councils and neighbourhood forums are given funding to draw up binding “design codes” based on ­input from residents to ensure new developments reflect their views.
His intervention comes after ­research uncovered concern across ­Britain about “poorly-built” and “unattractive” new properties appearing around the country.
The Conservative manifesto reaffirmed a pledge to build a million new homes by 2020. But there are fears among some MPs that the move could prompt a backlash in local communities if the homes are unsightly.
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, warned in July that the Government needed to “avoid the disastrous design choices of the past” in order to build “local support” for additional construction.
In a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday, Mr Parish will warn that some communities are “terrified” of new buildings “because they have seen how previous developments in the last 50 years have left communities with homes totally unsuitable for their area”. “If we fill our towns and cities with housing people feel is totally inappropriate for their area, we will kill any sense of goodwill,” Mr Parish is ­expected to say.
“We can’t go back to the mistakes of the Sixties and Seventies. It damaged trust in new housing for a generation.”
Research published last month found that 60 per cent of people feel there are too many “poorly-built, unattractive new-builds”. Two fifths of people feel that newly built properties are eyesores, according to the survey of 2,000 people.

Birmingham International HS2 – A car Park or New Urban Hub

Another expensive piece of this overpriced, inadequate and unnecessary rail line. Meanwhile our existing transport system continues to fall apart.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Birmingham Post

The Government is being urged to upgrade plans for a Midland high-speed rail interchange in a bid to create a gigantic new urban centre.

The Department for Transport has been formally asked today to alter its blueprints for the Birmingham Interchange HS2 station near Birmingham Airport by development body UK Central Solihull Urban Growth Company (UGC).

Its ambitions for a major mixed-use development near the airport could add billions to the local economy – but it feels the current HS2 plans do not go far enough.

Published plans for the site comprise just a ‘parkway’ rail station and car parks serving the HS2 high-speed line between Birmingham and London, due to open in 2026.

Now the UGC has outlined the major changes it wants to see to the controversial transport scheme to deliver the infrastructure needed for a fully-connected urban quarter – with HS2 at its heart.

Original vision for Birmingham Interchange HS2 station in Solihull
Original…

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Narrow roads squeezing buses out of new estates

Unfortunately, Stagecoach have chosen the wrong target when trying to find somebody or something to blame for this problem.  It’s not the planning rules, it’s the lack of them.  The drive for deregulation across many areas of government, has seen minimum road widths disappear and developers allowed to get away with doing the absolute minimum.  The only rules that seems to apply these days are those about visibility splays, to ensure that views are sufficient for a driver to pull out into traffic safely.

once again the politicians have allowed the developers to hold sway over common sense and good planning, creating blighted estates for generations to come.

Copied from The Times online

Narrow roads squeezing buses out of new estates
Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
July 31 2017, 12:01am,
The Times
Stagecoach says high-density developments are being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators need 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors
Stagecoach says high-density developments are being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators need 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors
RICHARD MILLS FOR THE TIMES

Residents on newly built housing estates are being cut off from the bus network because developers are failing to construct wide enough roads, according to public transport bosses.

One of Britain’s biggest operators warned that buses were being forced to avoid many estates amid concerns over narrow roads, sharp bends, overzealous traffic calming and parked cars.

Stagecoach said that high-density developments were being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators needed 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors.

It blamed planning rules that have cut road widths or pushed the layout of sharp bends to keep car speeds down.

The company also said that national guidelines introduced by Labour 17 years ago intended to clear roads of cars by providing less off-street parking had backfired, with many motorists leaving vehicles on the street.

 

Stagecoach has issued its own guidance to councils, urging them to build roads at least 6.5m wide, with sweeping bends and off-street parking provided.

It also said that “shared space” schemes that seek to declutter streets by stripping out kerbs, road markings and traffic signs should be redesigned to “avoid buses straying into areas intended mainly for pedestrians”.

Nick Small, Stagecoach’s head of strategic development for the south, said examples included the Shilton Park estate in Carterton, Oxfordshire, where the company could not operate a full-size bus, and the Kingsway development, Gloucester, which had areas “impenetrable by buses”.

Daniel Carey-Dawes, a senior infrastructure campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Bad design will lock our towns and countryside into toxic congestion and car dependency for decades.”

Martin Tett, housing and transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “We will be looking closely at this blueprint and continuing to work hard to deliver places where our communities can thrive.”
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