City Planning Chief wants Less Glitzy Architecture

Good luck with trying to prevent architects from convincing their clients that their project needs to outdo the ones built before it.


Just like the recent comments by others, that the heart of London is being overwhelmed by sky scrapers, with the most notorious being the one that has blighted the wider view of St Paul’s Cathedral.

I believe somebody in the London planning system actually offered a sort of apology, for not considering the impact on a world heritage asset from the wider perspective. Too little, too late.

Super shiny vanity projects seem to be the order of the day for those wishing to squeeze the maximum floor space into their high priced piece of inner London.

So whilst the well-heeled residents of London are busy digging down to get more space from their investment – being a home seems to be secondary, most have several across the world – the commercial sector are feverishly wrecking the historic London skyline, all in the name of maximum profit.

Although we should be justifiably worried about destroying the environment and the planet with it, for future generations, we also need to protect our own heritage for future generations.

Personally, I’m not particularly optimistic, given our appetite for eventually adopting every bad habit the USA has. The market always wins.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


Carolyn Dwyer says the corporation will tend towards more ‘harmonious architecture’ in future

The head of planning at the City of London Corporation has said she wants to see less glitzy buildings go up in the Square Mile in future.

Carolyn Dwyer (pictured) was appointed two years ago as director of the built environment at the Corporation of London, the City’s local authority. She took the job after Peter Rees stepped down as the City’s chief planning officer three years ago. He had backed Rafael Viñoly’s controversial Walkie Talkie skyscraper built by Canary Wharf Contractors.

Dwyer said the corporation wants to see “slightly calmer and more harmonious architecture” in future.

She added: “We have to have architecture of the best possible quality that delivers for 21st-century needs, but every piece doesn’t need to be a stand-out landmark building. We are not developing individual tower blocks that stand alone on…

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Did we dodge the bullet in Lincolnshire? This NAO report is no help to us really

National Audit Office questions combined authorities’ economic benefits
By Hiba Mahamadi | 10 July 2017
There is inadequate evidence to suggest that combined authorities deliver improved economic outcomes, a report published by the National Audit Office has said.

Auditors assessed draft monitoring and evaluation plans for combined authorities in the West Midlands, the North East, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Tees Valley.

They found that while authorities were working to link spending with outcomes and impact, the results varied in quality.
Accountability and scrutiny may also be compromised in combined authorities, the report added.

The report found the Greater Manchester Combined Authority had experienced difficulties retaining representatives on its scrutiny and audit committees.

It also found that many authorities have had to take staff from transport and other local authorities.

Court of Appeal holds #NPPF presumption does not apply where Local Plan is up to Date

Yet again the courts are required to step in a to clarify the mean of the ‘much simplified’ NPPF, because another court had got it wrong. Working a treat at making the planning system easier and capable of delivering the increased housing we need isn’t it?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Kings Chambers

The Court of Appeal has today handed down judgment in the East Staffordshire Borough Council v Barwood Land II LLP appeal. The Court upheld the judgment of the High Court which quashed an inspector’s decision on the basis that he wrongly treated the presumption in favour of sustainable development as applying despite having accepted that the local planning authority could demonstrate a five year supply and there was no other relevant deficiency in the development plan (i.e. it was not absent, silent and relevant policies were not out of date for any other reason). The Court of Appeal has therefore definitively confirmed that the benefit of the presumption can only be obtained in the circumstances defined by NPPF para.14 and that Mr. Justice Coulson’s view to the contrary in Wychavon District Council v SSCLG is wrong. The Court also took the opportunity to explain the operation of NPPF para.14 more generally…

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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


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.


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.


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.


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.’