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20 14


6 Biodiversity offsetting: kicked into the long grass?

7 Garden cities – the next generation

8 Pickles deals new blow to wind farms 9 Record shortlist for RTPI Awards 10 “Arc of co-operation” needed to stave off housing crisis 11 Let’s build on Cornwall’s potential, says Eden founder


OPINION 12 Chris Shepley: Osborne’s Budget pledge: Selling England by the pound


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C O V E R I M A G E | E M I LY F O R G O T


16 Alexa Morrison: Opencast mines leave black holes in Scotland 16 Daniel Black: Planning is powerless; ‘eco-literacy’ is key 17 David Marshall: Thoughts on the Tyne and Wear Metro strategy 17 Debbie Marriage: Ground solar’s great, green growth potential

18 What combined authorities mean for growth and infrastructure. Mark Smulian reports 22 Huw Morris talks to Clive Betts MP about how the National Planning Policy Framework is working

30 Rob Cowan assesses the Farrell Review recommendations





26 Could low-quality green belt be sacrificed for the common good? asks Simon Wicks






34 Decisions in focus: Development decisions, round-up and analysis 38 Legal landscape: Opinion, blogs, and news from the legal side of planning 40 Effective negotiation in planning: Tips from those in the know 42 Plan Ahead – our pick of upcoming events for the planning profession and beyond 44 RTPI round-up: News and interviews from the institute 50 Plan B: Glasgow’s demolition farrago – Commonwealth Games CEO’s explosive comic turn




28/04/2014 12:33

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24/04/2014 17:31


Leaderr Horror story with a depressing narrative – Imagine you are one of those high-flying, troubleshooting consultants brought in to review whether a vitally important service is functioning properly, never mind fit for purpose in the 21st century. Imagine that the brief is to probe the planning system. What would you find? Not quite mission impossible, but close to it. The first, second, third, indeed umpteenth impression would be that the horrors are legion. More than 15 years of grandstanding, posturing and downright meddling by a succession of politicians. An overblown and oversold concept called localism that has often turned to dust. A dysfunctional target culture in which some poor performers do as well as the best. Meanwhile, those trying to do the right thing could end up on the naughty step for it (or

Huw Morris “special measures” as the Orwellian phrase describes it). That consultant would quickly learn that looking for trouble is a quick way of finding it. An obsession with efficiency when the real judgement should be about effectiveness. A sector exhausted by constant consultation and change. A minister in the greenest government ever interfering in renewable energy schemes. Another minister who chastises the

head of his leading quango for its interpretation policy. There are other outrages. A government that thinks people would want to live in warehouses, many of which are in the middle of nowhere, if only they were converted into housing. A country with a capital that builds homes for foreign investors and not its people. And amid all this, major cutbacks in staff that in some places have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, with developers now complaining that they can’t get anybody on the phone. Yet the aims behind this system are noble – trying to find the highest common denominator that protects the environment, provides certainty, creates markets, drives forward society and


safeguards its heritage among numerous other ideals. “If you wanted to get there, you wouldn't start from here”, would probably be the conclusion of that high-flying, troubleshooting consultant. Little wonder that one of the more effective bands of MPs, the Commons Communities Local Government Committee, should want to cast a beady eye over some but not all of these issues. Its chair, Clive Betts, tells this edition of the The Planner with typical understatement “it's a reasonable time to see if improvements can be made or problems that need solving”. He is well aware that the charge sheet is already a long one and the Commons inquiry cannot go on forever. The MPs are going to have their work cut out getting to the bottom of many of them, never mind coming up with solutions. Their report is likely to be a depressing narrative on the state we’re in.

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28/04/2014 11:29


Analysis { B I O D I VE R S IT Y

Biodiversity offsetting – kicked into long grass? In May 2012 the Department for Food and Rural Affairs launched a pilot scheme to test how feasible biodiversity offsets would be in reducing biodiversity loss. Two years on, it isn’t looking good. Simon Wicks reports


t was introduced by environment secretary Owen Paterson as a flagship policy to enable development in ecologically sensitive areas without loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity offsetting, went the argument, would improve both the economy and the environment. Where development had previously caused loss of habitat that wasn’t compensated for through established mechanisms such as Section 106 agreements, the developer would now have to restore the loss elsewhere. Where development had previously been turned down because of loss of biodiversity, it could now take place because there would be no net loss, just a shift in location of the identified biodiversity. The mechanism for ensuring that loss and gain would occur in a like for like way was a “metric” to value the biodiversity of land in biodiversity units. Two units lost would mean two units to be gained elsewhere. Government guidance suggested it would take about 20 minutes to calculate the biodiversity value of a site. Biodiversity offsetting – which, supporters point out, is used as a planning tool in some 25 countries – may well be a good mechanism for ensuring that loss of biodiversity caused by development is properly compensated for. But its successful operation is contingent on: a) An incentive for developers to actually take up the scheme rather than run the gauntlet of existing constraints (a mandatory requirement, for example); and


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b) A mechanism for calculating biodiversity that is thorough and accurate. In April 2012, six two-year pilot schemes were launched around England. These were voluntary schemes, with deals brokered by the Environment Bank (EB), a company founded for precisely this purpose. EB said that in 2007/8 the £98 billion construction industry incurred £4.9 billion in section 106 obligations, but only £5 million went on nature conservation schemes. On the other hand, biodiversity offsetting would generate new funding of more than £400 million a year for conservation projects. Moreover, it would create an 80 per cent reduction in habitat loss as a result of development. In June 2013, Collingwood Environmental Planning, charged with assessing the pilot schemes, published its interim report. It identified four stages of evaluation, the third of which was to look at individual offsetting projects within the pilots. There was no stage three evaluation in the report. “The lack of suitable biodiversity offsetting projects coming forward to date is noted and should be considered as a significant finding in itself,” the report said, adding: “It does appear developers are cautious about what they see as an additional process with limited obvious benefits.” By now, biodiversity offsetting was coming under attack from some conservationists and in mainstream media. How could the biodiversity value of a site be measured in just 20 minutes? How could habitats that had evolved over centuries be replaced, like for like, in a few months? This, some said, was simply

“THE METRIC, WHICH THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATES WOULD TAKE ONLY 20 MINUTES TO APPLY, IS OVERLY SIMPLISTIC” Biodiversity offsetting in the UK. The pilots: (1) Essex (2) Nottinghamshire (3) Doncaster (4) Greater Norwich (5) Warwickshire with Coventry and Solihull (6) Devon


Biodiversity offsetting would generate new funding of more than

£400m a year for conservation projects



The number of countries globally that use biodiversity offsetting as a planning tool

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a charter for developers to rip up the countryside. In September 2013, Defra launched a green paper consultation on biodiversity offsetting. Two months later, the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) launched a scathing attack on Defra’s vision of offsetting. “The metric, which the government estimates would take only 20 minutes to apply, is overly simplistic,” the MPs reported. “A proper metric needs to reflect the full complexity of habitats… Biodiversity assessments would need to be transparent and independent to command respect from developers, local authorities, environmental groups and local people.” The committee called for a mandatory offsetting scheme that would “encourage a market to develop, which would in turn allow more environmentally and economically viable offset projects to be brought forward”. It’s not that the committee didn’t support offsetting. It’s just that they felt it could be done much better than the government envisaged. As the pilots came to an end, a chastened Defra replied to the EAC’s report, saying: “The government will follow the EAC's recommendation and wait until the pilots have been assessed before making any policy decisions on biodiversity offsetting. Those policy decisions will be made in light of the EAC's enquiry, as well as feedback from the public consultation and the pilots themselves.” A scheme trumpeted as the solution to the evil of development destroying biodiversity now hangs in the balance. Neither Defra nor the evaluating body, Collingwood Environmental Planning (CEP), was willing to comment to The Planner on the state of play. We must wait until CEP’s report in the summer to see if biodiversity offsetting will become a part of the planning system and what form it will take.

Risk factors for restoring or recreating different habitats Habitat

Technical difficulty of recreating

Technical difficulty of restoration

Aquifer Fed Naturally Fluctuating Water Bodies

Very high/ impossible





Wood pasture and parkland



Source: Defra Guidance for offset providers

Looking for the next generation of garden cities The government has invited local authorities to come forward with plans for garden cities Its 10-page prospectus, Locally-led Garden Cities, launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and communities’ secretary Eric Pickles, says potential garden cities should have the full backing of all local authorities in which they are sited. Local authorities should also involve the community in planning. Clegg said up to three garden cities could be built, with funding from a £2.4 billion existing pot available for developments up to 2020. Each development is expected to be at or above 15,000 homes on brownfield land and comprise “integrated and thriving communities” that provide the full range of commercial, retail, educational and community facilities. They should also have good access to either existing or planned transport infrastructure. The prospectus doesn’t prescribe the delivery model for each scheme but says delivery should be managed by publicly led arm’s length companies, joint ventures, or development corporations. Proposals will need to “consider how to draw in private capital and make use of the land value uplift to finance infrastructure”. The government has pledged to support development by co-ordinating key partners, including Whitehall departments, agencies, local enterprise partnerships, developers and local authorities. Successful expressions of interest will also receive help through planning performance agreements, local development orders, joint plans and the community infrastructure levy. The document references the Town and Country Planning Association’s garden city principles and invites applicants to “consider” them, saying: “In essence, we think garden cities are livable, viable, modern communities with the resident at the centre of planning.”

Sargeant commits to 10,000 homes and extra regeneration cash A pact to deliver 10,000 affordable homes by 2016 has been signed by the Welsh Government and Community Housing Cymru, representing the nation’s housing associations. Although 60 per cent of the government’s affordable housing target of 7,500 homes was reached in the first two years of the administration, demand for new homes significantly exceeds supply. Housing, planning and regeneration minister Carl Sargeant has now increased the target to 10,000 homes by 2016 when the next elections are due. “Increasing the supply of homes in Wales is my top priority and I am committed to working with developers, housing associations, local authorities and financiers to bring forward innovative schemes that will increase the supply of good quality affordable homes,” he said. Meanwhile, Sergeant has announced a further £2 million of funding to help regenerate some of the most I M AG E S | A L A M Y/ U N P

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deprived areas in Wales. The additional funding comes on top of the £5 million announced last September and means that seven local authorities will each receive £1 million. The areas receiving the funding are Tredegar in Blaenau Gwent; Rhymney in Caerphilly; Grangetown in Cardiff; Llanelli in Carmarthenshire; Rhys in Denbighshire ; Caernarvon in Gwynedd and Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan.



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Pickles deals new blow to wind farm developers


t was a move that made the blood of many working in the renewables industry run cold. Last October, communities secretary Eric Pickles announced that he would call in renewable schemes for a six-month period. Then last month he quietly extended his period for calling in decisions for a further 12 months. So far, 35 onshore wind schemes have been called in. But now a new obstacle has emerged. Pickles had previously limited his interventions to deciding appeals. Now he is intervening in planning committee approvals of wind farm schemes. In February, South Lakeland District Council's planning committee backed a proposal by developer Banks Renewables by seven votes to three for the three-turbine Killington wind farm at a site next to junction 37 of the M6 motorway. Pickles has since called in the scheme because it might lead to “substantial cross-boundary controversy” and conflict with national policies. Banks Renewables is outraged at the move and cites an extensive public engagement exercise around the scheme in the past two years which attracted more than 1,400 letters of support to the council. Chief among the benefits the scheme would bring is a fixed wireless system capable of bringing fast broadband to the area for the first time, a move specifically developed by Banks in response to the priorities expressed by local people. “The National Planning Policy Framework puts particular emphasis on decision-making being focused at a local level,” says development director Phil Dyke. “Having a clear mandate from a local council called in for review at a national government level in this way shows that this principle is not being realised in practice.” RenewableUK, which represents the wind and marine energy industry, is a bitter opponent of Pickles’ move.


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Deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “Telling local authorities that they can’t decide on wind applications runs counter to the principles of the Localism Act, and introducing more delays is anti-business. The extension is a costly mistake for the UK. “Pickles’ intervention has led to further delays for developers, a couple of project withdrawals, and a court case. The fact that many of the projects he has called in still haven’t had decisions shows that he’s got more than enough on his plate without adding to it, and disrupting more projects. Now is the time to let the planning system do its job – not to throw further confusion and delay into it with these anti-localism measures.”

the percentage of all wind capacity at appeal in England


megawatts – the amount of electricity schemes at appeal could generate


the number of homes that could be supplied with electricity by the schemes currently at appeal

Scottish wind farms paid record sum to stop working Scottish wind farms were paid a record £8.7 million in March to turn off their turbines, says the latest research. The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) said March also saw 107 gigawatts of wind energy “constrained” off the National Grid, triggering the payments. The foundation, which campaigns against wind farms, said the constraints are essentially caused by difficulties in exporting excess wind electricity generated in Scotland. Around 12 per cent of the potential wind power

output of large Scottish grid connected farms had to be constrained off the system. The average price charged by wind farms to reduce output in March was £80 per megawatt. Wind farms charge this sum as compensation for lost subsidy while not generating. The REF argues that since other energy-generating industries don’t have this option it is unfair that the wind industry alone should be compensated. The first quarter of 2014 has seen £13.7 million paid to wind farms to reduce output, a record

in itself according to the foundation. The research comes amid reports that Prime Minister David Cameron was considering placing new limits on onshore turbines in the Conservative election manifesto. RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, Maf Smith, said: “The message going out is that if a vocal minority complain about popular, much-needed infrastructure the prime minister is unwilling to defend it. That’s bad for investor confidence across the board.”

I M AG E | G E T T Y

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240,000 Record shortlist for RTPI Awards

HS2 route who are likely to suffer losses, claims the HS2 Action Alliance

HS2 compensation For homes and small businesses:

By Craig McLaren, director of RTPI Scotland

Sixty-three projects, consultancies and local authority planning teams are in the frame to win RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The record number of shortlisted entrants across 10 categories reflect the “very high standard of submissions this year”, the institute said. The awards, sponsored by The Planner among others, offer recognition across 10 categories: (1) Outstanding planning to deliver growth and employment; (2) Leading the way in planning for community; (3) Excellence in planning and design for the public realm; (4) Best planning for natural and built heritage; (5) Exemplary planning to deliver housing; (6) Innovative planning practice in plan-making; (7) Innovative planning practice in decision-making; (8) Planning consultancy of the year; (9) Small planning consultancy of the year; and (10) Local authority planning team of the year. Shortlisted projects, teams and consultancies include the Hitachi Capital Campus, the Cockermouth Flood Alleviation Scheme, Indigo Planning, AZ Urban Studio and Wokingham Borough Council. “I am proud to say that once again our shortlist reflects the very best planning projects, strategies and processes that are helping to make great places for people to live and work,” said Sir Terry Farrell, who is chair of the 24-strong team of judges. “It will be far from easy to pick individual category winners, but I am looking forward, with my fellow awards judges, to that exciting challenge.” RTPI president Cath Ranson said: “In this, the RTPI’s centenary year, I am delighted that we are able to celebrate the contribution that planners and planning make to society, to the economy and to the environment, and highlight through these awards truly exceptional examples of planning. “It is wonderful to see that there is a pride and confidence in the profession and its achievements.” n Award winners will be announced at the Pullman London St Pancras on 23 June. Tickets are available from Eventbrite

Within 60 metres of the line: full market value, plus 10% (up to £47,000)


Within 120 and 300 metres: £22,500 to £7,500, based on distance from the line



Within 60 and 120 metres of the line who do not wish to sell: cash compensation of 10% of the market value, up to a maximum of £100,000

It is proposed that the payments should be tax-free.

HS2 compensation scheme outlined The government has unveiled a compensation scheme for homeowners and businesses affected by the proposed route for HS2 between London and the Midlands. The package includes an express purchase option allowing owners in the “surface safeguarded area” or those closest to the line to sell their homes to the government at full, unblighted market value plus 10 per cent and reasonable moving expenses. A voluntary purchase option for people in areas outside the safeguarding areas and up to 120 metres from the line will be launched later this year. A “need to sell” option will also be available to owners who have a compelling reason such as job relocation or ill-health to sell their home, but are unable to do so because of HS2. Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the government is considering additional compensation offers “in recognition of the exceptional nature of HS2. These include a cash payment of between £30,000 to £100,000 for owners outside the safeguarding area and up to 120 metres from the line who do not want to sell their home and move”. The government will also consult on a homeowner payment scheme for those between 120 metres and 300 metres from the line in rural areas. The HS2 Action Alliance, which opposes the proposed line, claimed that nearly 240,000 homes within one kilometre are likely to suffer losses and most will be ineligible for compensation.


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28/04/2014 16:22


Analysis {

Overspill from London to “key migratory” areas is set to become a big problem for outlying local authorities


“Arc of co-operation” needed to stave off housing crisis HOUSING IN CRISIS The five authorities with the greatest discrepancy between planned housing and need, according to Savills: Borough/District levels of housing vs need

Locally planned

Brighton and Hove Luton Epping Forest Elmbridge St Albans

-732 -509 -394 -358 -356

By comparison, in areas where demand is lower and there is a higher proportion of affordable housing, there are relatively high numbers of houses planned. Thurrock’s target is set 262 beyond its forecast requirements, Dartford’s is an impressive 719. Source: Savills Planning Research


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ocal authorities around London must form an “arc of co-operation” to prevent a shortfall of 160,000 homes in the south of England by 2018, says a report by real estate adviser Savills. If councils fail to jointly plan new housing in a way that acknowledges cross-boundary house-buying and travel patterns, the housing crisis in the South will intensify. In Planning: Countdown To The Election, Savills predicts that within only four years the region could be 21 per cent short of its housing requirements forecast by the Town and Country Planning Association. As England requires 240,000 homes a year, this amounts to some 152,900 homes a year across London, the South-East, East of England and the South-West. Overspill from London to “key migratory” areas is a particular problem that local authorities will have to deal with, said Charles Collins, associate director of planning at Savills. But few local authorities have factored this into their calculations. “Following the abolition of the Regional Spatial Strategies, many local authorities have produced their local plans largely in isolation, I M AG E | G E T T Y

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Homes needed each year across London, the South-East, East of England and the South-West

paying little proper regard to the housing needs of neighbouring LPAs,” asserts the Savills report. Collins added: “Boundaries between local authorities are set historically and don’t really reflect housing market trends and travel patterns. The London housing market is huge and in some ways extends as far west as Bristol. In doing your local needs assessment you cannot just shut the doors off to the fact that you are in a wider context.” According to Savills, of the 50 local authorities within the assessed area with an adopted or advanced stage post-NPPF local plan, only 15 were planning to deliver more homes than under the previous planning-led regime. The RTPI’s head of policy and practice, Richard Blyth, challenged the Savills assessment, saying that although its figures were robust, its analysis was missing the view of the local authorities themselves. “It’s equally arguable that outer London should take into account the needs of towns that are now in the green belt,” he said, adding: “This begs the whole point that there isn’t a forum in which we can ”IT’S EQUALLY have the discussion properly.” ARGUABLE THAT Blyth also acknowledged OUTER LONDON that stronger connections were SHOULD TAKE INTO required between national and ACCOUNT THE local planning. “We [the RTPI] will NEEDS OF TOWNS be recommending and proposing THAT ARE NOW IN something to take place instead of THE GREEN BELT” the duty to co-operate,” he said.

New planning policy to protect heritage of Northern Ireland A new planning policy for Northern Ireland will enable developers to get planning permission for historically significant places, contrary to published planning policy. The enabling development policy aims to generate funding for restoration of historic places which otherwise might be left to deteriorate because funding from traditional sources is now hard to come by. “Historically significant places” includes scheduled monuments, archaeological remains, historic buildings, and industrial heritage and conservation areas. Planning Policy Statement 23: Enabling Development for the Conservation of I M A G E | R E X F E AT U R E S

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Historically Significant Places includes criteria under which development in historically sensitive areas might be permitted. These include: c It will not materially harm heritage values; c Funding is unavailable from other sources; c Conservation would otherwise be unviable; and c The scale of the proposed enabling development does not exceed what is necessary to support the conservation of the historically significant place. Northern Ireland’s environment minister Mark H Durkan said: “Northern Ireland is

blessed with a wealth of significant places but many are under threat because of the inherent difficulty in securing funding for their conservation. “Enabling development can make good this funding shortfall or ‘conservation deficit’ and help ensure that these important places are preserved in the public interest. He added: “Schemes may take the form of a small residential development or other commercial proposal in the grounds of an endangered historic building, where the funds generated are used to finance the conservation of the building, securing its future for generations to come.”

Let’s build on Cornwall’s potential, says Eden founder As the Dawlish railway comes back into service after two months, one of Cornwall’s leading entrepreneurs argues the case for greater investment in the region Entrepreneur and Eden Project founder Tim Smit told The Planner that more investment is needed to develop the region’s infrastructure and its status as a centre for renewable and sustainable technologies. “It is genuinely a green peninsula, and you’d have thought it would be very good for ‘Brand UK’ if they’d be more encouraging to allow it to develop,” he said. Smit also said transport links to and from the area are less than sufficient. “The railway infrastructure highlights the poverty of it,” he said. “You can’t get to the end of Cornwall on a dual carriageway, and people who work in London drive to Exeter to catch the train from there. That’s how bad it is.” The comments come after Smit told the BBC on the reopening of Dawlish’s storm-damaged railway line that the South-West is subject to a “political inertia”. The region, he said, lacks “the levers of power” to make it “seem important” and a lack of investment is causing the South-West’s potential to be wasted. “I think part of the problem for places like Cornwall is that if you believe its future is in green technology and the environment, why don’t you invest in something that will cost you several hundred million, such as a proper cycling/riding/walking paths, so that you’ve got some unique selling proposition? You could create fantastic outdoor leisure facilities, but again it needs investment,” he added. “But, bearing in mind you’ve got nearly five million visitors to Cornwall, you would get your money back pretty quickly.” Alongside tourism, Cornwall is reliant on its “thriving agriculture scene”, said Smit. “Yet, again, there’s not enough capital available to make the added value of making all the products down here real yet. Although that is coming,” he added. “Part of it is psychological. The notion that we’re a long way away from places is wrong. I commute to London every week but it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t feel like a barrier,” he said. CORNWALL STATISTICS


Cornwall’s contribution to the UK economy (Source: Cornwall Council)


Percentage of UK population living in Cornwall (Source: 2011 UK census)

£491m 61.2% Exeter and Falmouth Universities’ contribution to Cornwall’s economy (2002-12)

Cornwall’s Gross Value Added (GVA) as a percentage of the UK per capita average

(Source: Oxford Economics)

(Source: Cornwall Council)

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O Opinion Osborne’s Budget pledge: Selling England by the pound I take as my text the words of Simon Jenkins in The Guardian on 21 March: “Money talks. The planning regimes that should channel profit to wherever it is least destructive are ever more corrupt.” It has been one of the pillars of the success and acceptability of planning that corruption has been rare. I’m not so naïve as to think that money has never changed hands but, were such behaviour rife, the number of occasions when anyone has been found out would be more than just a handful. And, wary of financial incentives, successive governments have been careful. In the various guises adopted by planning gain, it has always been the rule that any payment should strictly be for matters relevant to the development. Handing over cash for irrelevancies to secure a permission that would not otherwise have been granted was rightly and tenaciously opposed on all sides so we have been free to take objective decisions. As you (but apparently not ministers) know, this involves identifying a need, looking at options and selecting sites for development. Public views are important, but a weight of opposition is not usually determinative if the principles behind the choices are sound. But now cash insidiously enters the equation. Starting with the New Homes Bonus, and moving through wheezes such as offering cash to those prepared to sell their villages to frackers, we saw in the


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“THERE IS LITTLE EVIDENCE THAT MARKETS MAKE BALANCED SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUDGEMENTS” Budget that, “the government will launch a governmentfunded staged pilot for passing a share of the benefits of development directly to individual households”. A frenzied extension of this comes from the Adam Smith Institute. In a blog in January it proposed: “Significant planning reform that abolished the Town and Country Planning Act (which includes the legislation ‘protecting’ the Green Belt from most development) and decentralised planning decisions to individuals through tradable development rights (TDRs). This would give

locals an incentive to allow new developments because they would be compensated by the developers directly, allowing for a reasonably efficient price system to emerge and making new development much easier”. All this is deeply worrying and would change the nature of the planning system in fundamental ways. There are many objections to the monetisation of activities such as planning (read What Money Can’t Buy by Michael Sandel for an analysis). Mainly, of course, the lousy development that would ensue; random, inconsistent, and unpredictable. There is little evidence that markets make balanced social and environmental judgements. Even if we accepted that this is mainly a matter concerning adjacent residents, appalled by the dreadful prospect of having other people living near

them, rather than one for the wider community, there is a fairness objection. Those who don’t need the cash will continue to resist incentives for unwelcome development, while those less fortunate will take it and never mind the environment. Development will head not to places where it’s needed but places where there might be acquiescence. And there is a corruption objection – not just the opportunities it opens up for impropriety; but also the corruption of social integration, the removal of the need to explain and convince and its replacement by the simplistic norms of the market and the abandonment of selflessness. And any cash disbursed to the locals is cash no longer available for genuine community benefits. The RTPI took a dim view of the Budget announcement, and rightly so. Among the chaos-inducing blizzard of tinkering we’ve endured for four years, this must be the most dangerous. Simon Jenkins’ warning is timely.

Chris Shepley is the principal of Chris Shepley Planning and former Chief Planning Inspector

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“The high-speed mitigation train n needs to leave the station very soon and all of global society will have to get on board” INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE CHAIR RAJENDRA PACHAURI ON THE PUBLICATION OF THE UN’S LATEST CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT

“Picnic nic parties sat on London’s ndo on’s Hackney Marshes hes as tower after tower exploded and crashed into a pile of wasted idealism and dreams” ARCHITECT MAXWELL HUTCHINSON RECALLS THE DEMOLITION OF LONDON’S 1960S TOWER BLOCKS


“My point has always been, let’s return to the genius of the people who have the vision of saying ‘We need a Milton Keynes, we need a Welwyn Garden City, we need Hatfield’ ” NICK CLEGG PLANS TO CREATE COMMUNITIES WITH AT LEAST 15,000 HOMES IN “AN ARC OF PROSPERITY” ACROSS THE SOUTH OF ENGLAND

“The Americans do love an implosion, particularly around Las Vegas – every implosion of a hotel is a major event” MARK ANTHONY, EDITOR OF DEMOLITION NEWS, COMMENTING ON THE PROPOSAL TO DEMOLISH GLASGOW’S RED ROAD DURING THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES OPENING CEREMONY

“The time is up for developments like London City Airport that destroy more social, environmental and economic value than they create” ELIZABETH COX AND HELEN KERSLEY, AUTHORS OF NEW ECONOMICS FOUNDATION’S ROYAL DOCKS REVIVAL REPORT I M AG E S |

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“Trees are more important than at any time over the past few hundred years because they have the ability to help us adapt to climate change” GABRIEL HEMERY, SILVOLOGIST, ON THE 350TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PUBLICATION OF JOHN EVELYN’S SYLVA

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I Inbox


Philip Bisatt I read the Farrell Review and what it has to say about the UK planning system. I then read the RTPI’s response to Farrell, and began to wonder if I’d been reading the same document as my institute colleagues. The RTPI’s response seems in part to be a defence of the UK’s reactive approach – an approach that Farrell says is pretty much unique in the world. It does not, therefore, really address one of the big failures of planning in this country – that the UK statutory system has proved unable to secure good design in new greenfield development, and other areas where the existing built environment does not provide a robust context for development control. The RTPI says “development management is an important element of the planning system, and is much valued by the public”. This is in part because of the peculiar nature of UK planning legislation, and the legislation is something about which Farrell has pertinent things to say. In any case, the public are, one would hope, primarily interested in the quality of development that arises, not in the modus operandi of the bureaucracy that gave rise to it. It’s sobering to reflect that it’s not just on the Continent, that they do things differently – the rest of the Englishspeaking world seems to have eschewed the British approach. This approach might be characterised as one of weak plans that omit to define the future physical form of development that will


THE PLANNER ONLINEE WWW.THEPLANNER.CO.UK The Planner is now online at (and our sister jobs site, For a limited period, is open access with no restrictions on viewing content. This This will enable us to promote and build up awareness of the site beyond existing members and to allow everyone to easily explore the breadth of the content nt available and share articles without encountering any barriers. It also enables Google and other search engines to begin to recognise the site. In a few months we will implement a log-in procedure, making key content restricted to members only. Also, The Planner recently took over the Friday Briefing, the weekly email news bulletin fir RTPI members. The intention, over time, is to allow you to tailor the type of news you want to receive and to have the option of more frequent news alerts. Please take the time to check out these new services – and let us know what you think.

be permitted. Control of built form is instead left to a parallel, reactive system of development management that is ineffective and consumes most of the available resources. I chose public sector planning as a career because I wanted to do my bit to secure high standards of what we now term “urban design” and “sustainability”. Thirty years on, I find it hard to defend the way the system operates and, more to the point, a large proportion of the “outputs” during that time (characterised by Sir Peter Hall as “dismal”). The Farrell Review should be a call to planners who want to see a real uplift in the quality of development in the UK. It is hard to avoid the feeling that the RTPI regards some of his key recommendations as a threat to “the way we do things here”. Philip Bisatt is planning policy officer at Taunton Deane Borough Council

For more on the Farrell Review please see Rob Cowan’s appraisal, p.30.

A LL OF A TWIT TER @ThePlanner_RTPI Craig McLaren @RTPIScotland Good discussion at summit on payday lending and gambling in town centres. Planning seen as part of the way forward. Malachy McReynolds @mcreynma @peteriwestbury @policytessa @ThePlanner_RTPI Good planning, and an appreciation of good planners, absolutely vital. Much maligned, unfairly NI Executive @NIExecutive Durkan launches simpler, clearer #planningni guidance that will save applicants time & money

Ben Castell @ben_castell Found my undelivered copy of the latest @ ThePlanner_RTPI in my neighbouring curry house, on the table by the Bombay mix #bombaymixeduse Rob Cowan @cowanrob ‘The public realm can be simply defined as a place where strangers meet” – Richard Sennett

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O Opinion


Alexa Morrison Conservation policy officer (focusing on climate and energy) – RSPB Scotland

Shale gas might be the “new fossil fuel abo about town”, but have we figured out o how to tame the old dog yet? Forty per cent of the UK’s energy still comes from coal – much from opencast mines. The liquidation of two opencast operators in Scotland last year exposed a regulatory shortfall that has implications for fracking. With the collapse of Scottish Coal and ATH Resources it fast became apparent that there would be difficulties restoring the sites. Scottish planning practice is that opencast operators must provide a financial bond to ensure that restoration happens should they get into financial trouble. This is to avoid industrial dereliction and ensure that the “polluter pays”. Scandalously, it emerged that the bonds were in many cases almost worthless; the funding shortfall across Scotland stands at £200 million. In East Ayrshire alone restoration could cost £160 million, with less than £30 million available from bonds. Two mines are protected under the EC Habitats and Birds Directives, so failure to restore them could breach EC law, putting the UK and Scottish governments at risk of heavy fines. The liquidator KPMG tried to disclaim the environmental liabilities of the companies in court, abandon polluted sites and ensure that remaining funds

Daniel Black, director of db+a, advises on the integration of health and sustainability into large-scale planning

Planning is powerless; ‘ecoliteracy’ is key

Opencast mines leave black holes in Scotland

would go to creditors rather than a clean-up. But the courts ruled that environmental obligations cannot just be abandoned when a company gets into deep water. Sadly, the ruling did little for restoration as funds were only available for short-term maintenance. It’s hard to comprehend the scale and impact of an opencast coalmine until you stand on the edge of one. But it can be possible to restore sites to a reasonable environmental quality. Firmer environmental controls are needed. There is no place for light-touch regulation of high-impact industrial development. And how should we approach regulation of a polluting industry that is in decline as we move towards a low-carbon economy? A Scottish government consultation suggests that change is afoot. We recommend taking a precautionary approach to consenting damaging development in areas that are impossible to restore effectively. We also question reliance on commercial bonds to secure restoration. Surely a standardised restoration funding mechanism is needed to ensure that the industry pays without recourse to public money? The UK government would be wise to apply lessons from opencast to the roll-out of fracking. The last thing we need is to sleepwalk into another restoration financing crisis.





In 2010, the government called climate change “one of the greatest public pu health threats of the 21st century”. Effects are expected across all sectors, particularly food and water, but also transport and energy. The Environment Agency estimated that the 2007 and the 2012 floods together cost £4.2 billion. These represent a fraction of expected future costs. Most planners know that lifestyles based on over-consumption are unsustainable, yet most consultants spend their working lives planning settlements built to that specification. Why? The main decisions are made by the investors; mainly remote landowners and developers with little or no stake (other than financial reward) in the area they operate. On the other side of the fence are council planners, whose biggest weapon is (fast-dwindling) red tape aimed at the lowest common denominator, which does little to alter developers’ approaches, and in fact is counter-productive when applied to eco-literate developers. “Eco-literacy” is a simple yet profound idea coined by David Orr and Fritjof Capra in the 1990s that draws a parallel between the need for the knowledge of natural systems with the widely accepted need for the ability to communicate. Take impact assessment. In the UK we now have so many

different methods that “impact assessment fatigue” is recognised by Public Health England as a genuine problem. The limitations of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – a mechanism that mitigates against a single very large development proposal (e.g. a motorway) – have long been recognised, hence the legal evolution of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), created to consider options strategically upstream. Lack of stakeholder engagement in EIA was recognised by the government as far back as 2000. More recently a 2010 government report suggests that the same is true of SEA, citing in addition lack of skills and “clear spatial focus”. Bizarrely, public consultation is only mandatory at the end of each process. These legal and policy drivers were created with the best of intentions and provide consultants like me with work, but their impact on the health of people and the planet is marginal. They are reactionary add-ons, and external to a system directed by pounds and pence. Eco-literacy is the solution. It must be a core of every curriculum so that it is a primary consideration in every decision. I wonder, would a “duty of local responsibility” on landowners and developers ensure that their assets are used with the longterm future of that area, its people and the planet in mind?


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Have your say Give your feedback on the National Planning Practice Guidance beta site: The closing date for submitting feedback is Wednesday 9 October.


David Marshall provides transport policy advice to a local authority in north-east England

Debbie Marriage, senior consultant, Parker Dann Chartered Town Planning Consultants

Ground solar’s great, green growth potential

Thoughts on the Tyne and Wear Metro strategy

News tha that local transport chiefs have giv given the green light to a new d development strategy for the Tyne and Wear Metro presents a particular challenge to spatial planners to ensure that extensions to the system serve the parts of the area allocated for development in the local plans that cover its patch. Despite the headlines that have focused on potential extensions and street-running trams, the main drivers for the strategy are much more mundane. The main one is the need to specify new rolling stock to keep the existing lines open and the need to make key decisions on this before the operating franchise with DB Regio ends in 2019. It’s a world away from the original plan for the Metro, itself the centrepiece of the old Tyne & Wear Structure Plan, which was developed in the 1970s. This was almost a text book example of an integrated land use and transport plan. This vision was never implemented in the envisaged form. The structure plan was watered down at the inquiry stage. Tyne & Wear County Council was abolished and the plan was replaced with five Unitary Development Plans. The buses were deregulated with a loss of the envisaged type of modal integration. And developments such as the Gateshead Metrocentre have taken place on the Trunk Road network rather than the Metro.



The current strategy includes some extension proposals and rail services to Washington New Town for the first time since 1964 and a street-running tram serving the West End of Newcastle, which is also remote from the Metro. What strikes me is that the strategy and the individual extension proposals within it make scant reference to land use policy or the emerging local plans for the area. This is because of the current disconnect between land-use and transport planning processes. The administrative and governance structures make the strategic approach difficult to achieve through “duty to co-operate”. We await a national policy framework for transport and the funding streams are relatively short term, making planning of locally promoted large infrastructure projects like Metro more problematical. But there is hope and planners have a role. The new LA7 Combined Authority was due to be created at the start of April with its functions covering transport along with skills and economic development. Planners will need to develop the spatial dimension to LA7’s proposals in those fields. The relationship between the emerging local plans and Metro plans will need to be nurtured. The exciting possibility is the role of the planner as an advocate in working with the rail engineers and specialists.


In March the BRE National Solar Centre (NSC) (N published a survey of jobs in the solar sector, concluding that one gigawatt of solar capacity installed in 2013 had led to an estimated 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs. Unsurprisingly, the labour-intensive rooftop sector generates more (20 jobs/megawatts) than ground installations (7MW). As a planning consultant delivering groundmounted solar installations, I often hear criticism that a large solar farm can’t maintain jobs once the plant is operational. In solar’s defence, energy generation across the board is highly automated so it doesn’t create the big levels of direct employment by turnover one expects in other sectors. After all, the primary purpose of a power plant is to generate power. Sizewell B nuclear facility generates 1.18GW and employs 455 people, or 2.6MW per job. Drax coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire generates a huge 4GW of power, or 7 per cent of the country’s needs, but employs just 560 people. The importance of the solar sector is really about supply chain economics. Solar farms require continual maintenance. While this is “as needed”, the Solar Trade Association’s Ten Commitments include “buying and employing locally as much as possible”. Local companies

specialising in fencing and electrical maintenance can, and are, employed by solar companies in the UK to take on long-term site maintenance. Of course, solar farms will continue to employ people in the design and development stages for several years to come, as more solar farms are planned and built. This includes all those involved in the development pipeline, from land agents to civil engineering contractors and planning consultants. And what of manufacturing? In March, Siemens said it is to build wind turbine production and installation facilities beside the Humber, creating 1,000 jobs. The UK is the fastest-growing market for utility scale solar, so can we similarly expand solar manufacturing? We are seeing a start. On 4 April, energy minister Gregory Barker opened SunSolar Energy’s new 75MW Birmingham production facility. The company produces photovoltaic modules and in-roof solar systems. This is innovative and advanced manufacturing. The sector has great, green growth potential. The government’s 2020 target of 20GW of installed solar capacity will create opportunities for UK manufacturers, installers and all involved in developing pipelines. We just need to avoid the problems felt by the onshore wind sector.


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Sefton Knowsley Halton




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long with grandiose visions and not a little fanfare, three-and-a-half new local authority groupings devoted to strategic planning, transport and economic development were launched in April. These new “combined authorities” cover Merseyside, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, the “half” being the North East, which must first complete some legal formalities. Is this merely another organisational upheaval dreamed up by politicians to make planners’ lives difficult at a time when budgets are stretched? Planners with long memories may recollect the metropolitan county councils being abolished in 1986, and conclude there is truly nothing new under the sun. But combined authorities are intended as something different, and may offer a way to make the duty to co-operate work. They are statutory bodies, but they are not elected and do not directly provide any services. Rather they enable councils in conurbations to come together to plan their area’s growth and infrastructure even as these sprawl untidily across municipal boundaries. They will work with local enterprise partnerships – which may or may not operate to the same boundaries – to gain control of public spending related to transport, infrastructure and economic development and, at least in theory, be able to use this without constant reference back to Whitehall. Each council leader serves on his combined authority, and these have absorbed the old boards that oversaw metropolitan area public transport. The glaring omission is the West Midlands – bogged down in disputes over whether there should be one combined authority for the whole metropolitan area, or one for the Black Country and another for Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull. Greater Manchester supplied the forerunner by setting up its combined authorities in 2011.



MARK SMULIAN Mark Smulian is a freelance journalist specialising in planning and regeneration

St Helens

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Under a ‘City Deal’ – essentially the name for local growth deals in major urban areas – agreed by the government in 2012, the combined authority has the country’s first revolving infrastructure fund, under which it can “earn back” up to £30 million a year from the Treasury if the 10 councils involved successfully promote economic growth relative to a baseline. Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese says: “The combined authority has been very successful and if it had not I doubt we would have just had four more formed. “It has allowed us to do some things more easily, and some we would not have been able to do.” He gives the example of the selection of an enterprise zone adjacent to Manchester Airport. “We developed a methodology for site selection so there was not a bidding war between councils, and when we have used the regional growth fund or our own North West Evergreen Fund that too has been to agreed criteria according to what is best for the regional economy. “It gives us scale across the functional economic area for 2.5 million people and the ‘earn back’, the most radical thing in the city deal, was only an option because of the scale we operate at.” After the coalition’s abolition of the old regional planning mechanism, the combined authority has given the 10 councils a way through which the duty to co-operate can work. Planning at the Greater Manchester scale is

City Deals City deals were reached for the eight core cities in 2012 Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield. Those so far agreed in the second wave are: Black Country (Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell) Greater Brighton (Brighton & Hove, Adur, Worthing, Lewes, Mid Sussex) Greater Cambridge (Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire) Greater Ipswich (Ipswich, Babergh, Mid Suffolk, Suffolk Coastal) Greater Norwich (Norwich, Broadland, South Norfolk) Hull and the Humber (Hull,


carried out by officers from the member councils as needed, and Sir Richard does not see the combined authority emulating the Greater London Authority (GLA) by employing its own planners. “London has 32 boroughs with no functional connection with the GLA, and that appears to employ planners so as to have conflicts with them,” he says. “Our combined authority is the property of the 10 boroughs, so it is quite different.”

Mersey beat The Liverpool City Region combined authority is chaired by Phil Davies, leader of Wirral, and not by Liverpool’s elected mayor Joe Anderson, a peculiarity of Merseyside internal politics that nearly provoked a walkout by Liverpool on the new authority’s second day. Davies says: “I’m very keen to use the combined authority to lever in additional powers and responsibilities across the whole vision set out by Lord Heseltine’s growth report. There has clearly been a disagreement between the government and Heseltine on the full implementation of responsibilities he called for at local level.” Davies would like to see combined authorities gain control over infrastructure investment, housing and skills, as “I’m sure those could be better delivered at a local levels than they are by central government”. The city region’s growth deal bid calls for £126 million over 2015-21 from central government. “It would not all be new money but it would all be under our control rather than under individual government departments so we would stop having to jump through hoops each time to draw down money,” he says. “We need it to unlock opportunities including the Port of Liverpool, our Mersey Waters enterprise zone, low carbon industries and the knowledge economy.” As with Manchester, Davies does not expect the new authority to employ its own planners. “Critics have said it is a revival of Merseyside County Council or another tier of bureaucracy, but I see it as a way for local authorities to work together better.” He does, though, hope to see the combined authorities expand. At present only unitary councils or one sort or another have been allowed to join combined authorities, as they are all pooling the same powers.

East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire) Leicester and Leicestershire Oxford and Oxfordshire (Oxford, Vale of the White House, Cherwell, South Oxfordshire, West Oxfordshire). Plymouth and South West Peninsula (Plymouth, Cornwall, Torbay, South Hams, West Devon). Preston (with South Ribble) Southampton and Portsmouth Southend-on-Sea Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Sunderland and South Tyneside Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, Stockton. Thames Valley (Reading, West Berkshire, Wokingham, Bracknell, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead)


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They must also be contiguous. Thus York has a literally and figuratively semi-detached status from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Despite the acknowledged interdependence in transport and economics, York can’t be a full member because it is split from West Yorkshire by part of North Yorkshire, which being a two-tier county cannot itself join. As Davies says: “It has led to anomalies. I’m very attracted to the idea that the combined authorities could grow, as there is a lot of sense in adjoining areas coming in to ours, such as West Lancashire, or Cheshire West and Chester.”

Collaboration, not full reorganisation Sir Richard too hopes to see barriers breaking down so that councils that need to collaborate can do so without the massive upheaval that a full reorganisation of local government would involve. “As with the combined authority, I see county areas with districts having economic prosperity boards, which is like restructuring without restructuring – you get the advantages without having to go through the cost and pain. “Take integration of health and social care and promotion of public health. “That goes way beyond social services to include spatial planning and housing, and so you need counties and districts working together for that.” Some might see the glimmerings of a new model of local government in this, in which local authorities are gathered together around functional economic areas rather than historic boundaries. Spending cuts have lent impetus to this and indeed there are already examples – such as Adur and Worthing, and Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury – of shire districts merging in all except their political roles. Meanwhile, city deals have been concluded by the government initially with the eight core cities and subsequently with some others (see boxes), under which the councils concerned are awarded control over various spending pots and greater freedoms and flexibilities according to plans they have tabled to promote economic growth. This process has run in parallel with the creation of the combined authorities. Such a jumble of authorities, deals, LEPs and growth plans might provoke any planner to lie down in a darkened room while making sense of it all. David Jones, director of the Institute of Economic Development, says: “There are a lot of different models out there at the moment. The idea of LEP areas was that they would not necessarily be coterminous with local authorities but would follow functional economic areas, and that creates some confusion. “Greater Manchester has worked well with all 10

The new combined authorities (1) Liverpool City Region Halton Knowsley Liverpool Sefton St Helens Wirral (2) South Yorkshire Barnsley Doncaster Rotherham Sheffield (3) West Yorkshire Bradford Calderdale Kirklees Leeds Wakefield (York)

(4) North East Durham Gateshead Newcastle North Tyneside Northumberland South Tyneside Sunderland (5) Greater Manchester Bolton Bury Oldham Manchester Rochdale Salford Stockport Tameside Trafford Wigan

authorities singing from the same hymn sheet, at least when viewed externally, and a single LEP.” Jones feels there is “a lot of logic to LEPs and the public sector sorting out their areas and even though it was said that LEPs need not follow administrative boundaries, in reality there has been some confusion, overlap and tensions with duplication of effort. “Reorganisation of local government round functional economic areas would be good, but I doubt this government or any other would do it.” Catherine Staite, director of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Local Government Studies, says: “Economic geography can be very complex. That leads me to believe that the answer is not to draw new boundaries but rather to look for more flexible systems and arrangements which enable people to work together, across boundaries, at the right level – from regional to neighbourhood, depending on the purpose. “I think it comes down to the old question ‘what do you want to change?’ The answer may be structures, systems or behaviours. In the past we have put a lot of faith in structural changes and complex governance arrangements, but my experience suggests that getting the systems and behaviours right is actually much more important.” The government is taking a “let 1,000 flowers bloom” approach to councils working together on planning, transport and economic development. It has the potential to be a confusing mess. But if it is made to work it could enable planners to work at conurbation scale with colleagues elsewhere without going through the horrors of a disruptive reorganisation of local government when there is little money around to pay for that anyway.

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MPs are to study how the National Planning Policy Framework is working in practice. Huw Morris talks to the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee chair Clive Betts about what to expect from the inquiry P H O T O G R A P H Y | B E L I N D A L AW L E Y



live Betts was once described as an optimist with a glass-half-empty view of the future. Although the chair of the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee agrees with the first label, he disputes the second. But he does have serious concerns about how the planning system is operating. Last month Betts’s committee launched an inquiry into how the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is working in practice. But there is more to this than pesky MPs putting a major government initiative under the microscope. The committee has form on the issue. When the then-planning minister Greg Clark announced a revised and slimmed-down version of the NPPF and guidance, the committee made 23 recommendations – all of which were accepted by the government. “It’s one thing to make recommendations to change a policy document but it’s important to test that it works in practice,” Betts says. “Two years is a reasonable time to see if improvements can be made or problems that need solving.” The committee’s inquiry is a wide-ranging one but has three key elements. It will look at the impact of the NPPF on planning for housing, town centres and energy infrastructure – excluding that covered by National Policy Statements. “At a time when we are in desperate need of more homes, effective planning is more important than ever,” says Betts. “But it is also essential if our town centres are to become thriving community hubs and if our long-term energy { 22

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needs are to be met in a sustainable way.” There are already clear signs of where the MPs may be heading with their investigation.


Driving perverse behaviour

Before announcing the inquiry, the committee WHEN N WE AREE IN N commissioned Cambridge University’s centre DESP PERATTE NEED D for housing and planning research to probe any RE HOM MES, OF MOR pinch points in how the planning system hanEFFEECTIVVE dles housing schemes. The centre also took the NNING G ISS PLAN first steps to find out why planning’s effectiveMOREE IMPORTAN NT ness varies so much between authorities. N EVER” THAN Betts’s fears are manifold. The research suggests that government planning targets, which measure performance by the number of decisions taken with eight or 13 weeks from the start of the formal process, may at best be leading to ‘unintended consequences’ or at worst “driving perverse behaviour”. It revealed that some planning authorities might be exemplary according to performance data but seen as horrendous by developers with first-hand experience of working with them. Indeed, Betts is extremely concerned that efficient authorities that focus on enabling good development and customer service could be placed in special measures by the government because they miss what he describes as “arbitrary targets”. On the other hand, poor authorities that play the system are being praised for meeting the same targets. The research indicates that the time taken to reach a planning consent may not be that different between authorities that meet the targets and those that do not. The difference, it suggests, may be what takes place within and outside pre-application talks. In one case uncovered by the research, the lack of a formal pre-application process meant the authority could not hit the targets, as all the detailed work could not be completed within either the eight or 13-week deadline. This did not mean the same discussions are not taking place as in the authorities that do hit their targets, but they are happening within the



C LI V E B ETTS Born: Sheffield 1950

pre-application or post-determination talks – time that is not reflected in the final statistics. “I think authorities that take care to fully understand an application, work closely with a developer and consult those in the locality who will be affected can reach a better-informed decision but be outside the target,“ he says. “Another can take an uninformed decision that ticks all the boxes and be inside the time frame. It could penalise those who are doing better.”

Target practice Another concern is that some planning authorities are engaging in poor practice just to meet the targets. “Some are even rejecting applications then asking developers to resubmit the same application for no reason other than to meet the target time for a decision,” says Betts. Regardless of whether the authority meets its targets or not, the time might not vary from a developer first making contact and gaining consent. Nevertheless, developers and authorities agree it is better to have pre-application talks and formal applications that are likely to be approved within the deadline than refusals and re-applications simply to meet targets. The research found that authorities with high approval rates and quick decision-making had undergone an internal review of planning processes leading to changes in approach and culture. These changes included focusing on improving customer service, cutting waste in their systems and using a culture of trust and openness for applications. Indeed, such changes had followed consultation with developers and agents about what would improve the application process. Developers are positive about authorities that are quick to respond, easy to contact, and make clear what they want in an application, carry out

Timeline: 1971

1971 1973 1974 1976 1979 1986 1987 1992 Graduates with a degree in economics and politics from Pembroke College, Cambridge. Joins the Trades Union Congress as an economist


Joins Derbyshire County Council as an economist

Moves to South Yorkshire County Council

Elected to Sheffield City Council

Unsuccessfully stands at the general election for the safe Conservative seat of Louth

Joins Rotherham Borough Council as an economist

Becomes leader of Sheffield City Council

Wins the safe Labour seat of Sheffield Attercliffe

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“AN ANTI­DEVELOPM MENTT ETHO OS ISS CLEEARLLY A PROBLLEM UTHO ORITIIES AND D THE COMM MITTEEE WILLL WITHIN SOME AU HIS CAN N BE TAACK KLEED” LOOK AT HOW TH the necessary consultation with other parties and work with them on a scheme that would be approved once it was formally submitted. But there is disquiet among developers where they see that planning charges are acting as a revenue stream without an increase in resources or customer service.

Culture club Culture is another key factor that the committee will investigate. Clear leadership from the top – from the chief executive, from members through to planning officers – was highlighted by the research. Those authorities with high approval rates and above-average processing of applications within the deadlines stingily emphasise pre-application talks. Most aspects of the application, including the section 106 agreement, are in place before a scheme is formally submitted. Crucially, effective planning depends on having an adopted local plan and an identified five-year land supply for housing in place. The absence of a local plan leaves the authority wide open to appeals. The research suggests


1996 1997 1998 2002 2010 Becomes an opposition whip

Enters the government as an assistant whip

Promoted to full whip with the title of Lord Commissioner to the Treasury

Member of the Commons Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Committee

Becomes MP for Sheffield South East and chairman of the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee

that in some authorities there is an expectation that applications will go to appeal because members do not want to make planning decisions, frequently do not support officer recommendations, or where Nimbyism is rife. “Councils are elected bodies and officers are there to make recommendations,” says Betts. “But it is not a given that every officer recommendation should be accepted. Yet where councillors reject applications without planning reasons, that is a different thing. Should there be any consequences when this takes place? “Having a local plan in place helps everybody, but we want to explore why some authorities have not got them in place. The planning system has not covered itself in glory in having local plans in place in the past 15 years.” The familiar bugbear that is lack of resources in planning departments will also come under the committee’s spotlight. Betts fears “aggressive cutbacks” on local authority planners may have poured fuel on the fire. The loss of experienced officers may be leaving those still in the department struggling with workloads or only working part-time. “Then you get into the issue if a developer wants to pay for planners,” says Betts. “How should that be viewed? One of the issues that kept coming out of the research is developers complaining they can’t get hold of anybody. If the problem is a lack of resources, then planning authorities should tell us.”

A frontline service Part of the problem, Betts concedes, is that planning is not widely seen as a frontline service, a perception he is keen to challenge. “It’s a service seen as people in a back office pushing paper around,“ he says. “But it is as frontline a service as you can get. The results are visible for everyone to see. There has to be a rethink at a national and local level about this.” Betts admits that an anti-development ethos is “clearly a problem” within some authorities and the committee will look at how this can be tackled. Co-operation between authorities will also come under the microscope, as will assessments of regional housing need. “Localism is important and local planning can decide where the housing can go, but is it going to meet local need?” he asks. But he agrees that not all the planning system’s travails should be put at authorities’ doors. Developers must admit they also have a role to play. “They can do more work on getting the design right. They can take account of the local topography and the local environment. They can consult local residents before the scheme gets into a fixed situation rather than coming along with a standard scheme designed by a computer and say ‘that’s what you are going to get’.” MAY 2 0 14 / THE PLA NNER

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y first job was with the Greater Manchester Council and I caught the tail end of the process of defining the Greater Manchester Green Belt,” recalls Roger Hepher, head of planning for Savills. “A planning technician was sent out with maps, drawing lines where he thought it was appropriate. I’m sure if they were here to defend themselves they would say it was all subject to further scrutiny – but once you get a line on the map it tends to stick.” Drawing up what became London’s Metropolitan Green Belt was even more arbitrary, says Jonathan Manns, associate director of planning at Colliers International. In the midst of the Second World War, Sir Patrick Abercrombie and his part-time assistants created a proposed green belt from maps. Their lines stuck, too. “I can’t believe no one actually went around London and said ‘We’re going to designate this as green belt’,” says Manns, editor of Kaleidoscope City, a collection of essays about planning and London. “It seems an arbitrary and quick process and wasn’t challenged, not least because the London population declined for the next 50 years.” This is changing. In 2016 London’s rising population is expected to regain its 1939 historical peak of 8.6 million. By 2021, it is forecast to hit nine million. By 2030 it could be 10 million. The pressure on space and housing is intense. Savills calculates in its Countdown To The Election report that London will require 49,000 new houses a year for the next 20 years. This is 7,000 more than London Mayor Boris Johnson has promised. Where are they going to go?

For decades green belts have been protective girdles around our major cities, untouchable. But many planners are beginning to see them as instruments that suffocate essential development. “A lot of the green belt isn’t actually green,” observes Manns. “A lot is poor quality land or full of fly tipping. I’ve never seen an audit of the green belt in terms of its quality, character and appearance. Is it achieving what it’s designed for?”

Rethinking the green belt Thirteen per cent of the land area of England is green belt. The built area is around nine per cent. England’s 14 green belts total around 1.6m hectares. London’s alone is 516,000 ha and now extends beyond Abercrombie's original conception and deep into the Home Counties. For some, this is indicative less of need than of local authorities using green belt to inhibit change. “Authorities in Hertfordshire used green belt extensions as a Nimby policy,” Bartlett professor of planning and regeneration Peter Hall told The Planner. “I tend to be for the original 10-mile green belt



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The Metropolitan Green Belt that Abercrombie drew around London. Extending it out to 35 miles – that may be a step too far.” The total scale of green belt fluctuates but remains relatively stable. Presently, though, the very concept of the green girdle is under greater scrutiny than at any time in its 70-year history. This is not least because new housing and infrastructure is also seen as a route to economic development. Although most local authorities are instinctively opposed to development in green belt, more have begun to concede that some is tolerable or even desirable. Hepher credits Cambridge’s emerging status as an economic powerhouse to the “pragmatic” release of green belt land in the early 2000s. “There seems to have been an unusual degree of co-operation between neighbouring councils,” he notes. “It’s something which hasn’t been seen at Oxford, as a result of which it’s now facing a crisis. There’s a sense that where Cambridge has prospered Oxford has stagnated.” Pragmatism is key for Hepher. Neither he nor Manns advocates releasing green belt for the sake of it. But each affirms that it is necessary for our cities and their outlying suburbs to shoulder the burden of swelling populations and economic growth. “The same argument as in London is raging around Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle,” says Hepher “I CAN’T BELIEVE NO – but London is where the pressure is ONE ACTUALLY WENT most intense and visible. AROUND LONDON AND Hepher favours denser housing and SAID ‘WE’RE GOING TO development around transport infrastrucDESIGNATE THIS AS ture as a first resort. But this doesn’t always GREEN BELT’ ”

In 2009, Metropolitan Green Belt in and around London was 514,495 hectares – or roughly a third of England’s total green belt. Nineteen of the 32 London boroughs have green belt and many districts in neighbouring counties harbour Metropolitan Green Belt.

meet the approval of local communities. He gives the example of a 20-storey tower block close to a forthcoming Crossrail station in Forest Gate in East London. “It seemed very logical to focus development around this massive bit of infrastructure. But the local community reacted against the plan and said we like Forest Gate at its current level of three and four storeys. The borough council didn’t have the inclination to stand against that.” For his part, London Mayor Boris Johnson’s Draft Housing Strategy has identified 10 “housing zones” and three “garden suburbs” on brownfield land at Barking, Dagenham and Thamesmead as new housing hubs.

Brownfield vs greenfield

What’s the point of green belts? Green belts had been debated but the Metropolitan Green Belt – the first – remains much as drawn up by Sir Patrick Abercrombie for the first Greater London Plan during the Second World War. Green belts were enshrined in law by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947.

According to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2012, Green Belt serves five purposes:

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)


To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas To prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Once green belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the green belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land. Source: NPPF paras 80 and 81 Scotland has its own green belt principles enshrined in Scottish Planning Policy 21, with a greater focus on access and development that promotes rural diversification.

Planners and policymakers generally agree that brownfield land is the first stop for development. But it’s not necessarily the best stop. “You can take brownfield land as meaning you can build houses on it,” says Mann. “But where you can viably build is another question. Without the Olympics, East London would still be barren. It cost tens of thousands of pounds per square metre to clean it. “We may well have enough brownfield land in London [the London Brownfield Databank records 2,300 sites, totalling 2 per cent of London’s footprint], but what that means is that the public sector will have to step in and bear the cost.” The public sector has the power to do this, but largely lacks the will. Then there’s the simple fact that some brownfield sites are more biodiverse than some greenfield sites. This challenges the concept of green belt, says Mann. Brownfield sites are not always conveniently placed where we want them, either. David Leam, infrastructure director for the London promotion organisation London & Partners, feels that new housing development should go hand-in-hand with transport infrastructure. “King’s Cross, St Pancras, HS1, Stratford, what’s now happening for Battersea, Crossrail… where we’re putting in new and improved transport infrastructure this can be transformative,” he stresses. “We risk trying to preserve the past," he says of

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10 green belt. “The green belt is clearly too restrictive and inflexible how we treat it at the moment,” he adds. “But to see progress we need to be careful not to swing the pendulum to the other extent and give the impression that the whole thing is up for grabs. “We need good planning. We need to redesignate these areas of green belt that are unloved scrubland where it might be firmly in the public interest to do so – as long as you are increasing environmental protections elsewhere and making green belt land higher quality and more accessible, so there’s not just a sense that we’re replacing grass with tarmac.” In other words, community development needs to be led by proximity to infrastructure, rather than land designation, which, as Hepher and Manns point out, can be surprisingly arbitrary.

Spheres of influence

How big is the green belt? The extent of the 14 designated green belts in England in 2011/12 was estimated at 1,639,410 hectares, about 13 per cent of the land area of England. This has fallen from 1,671, 580 hectares in 2003. There is a single green belt in Wales, 10 in Scotland and 20 in Northern Ireland, covering 16 per cent of the land area.




Manns wonders why we don’t build right up to the M25, which itself forms a constraining barrier. LSE professor of economic geography Paul Cheshire has argued that this alone could meet London’s housing needs for generations. Hepher points out that many London workers prefer to live in the Home Counties. The London housing market, he argues, extends as far west as Bristol. Any discussion of the housing requirements of a large metropolitan area cannot take place in a vacuum. Cities and their neighbouring authorities need to form an “arc of co-operation” as seen in and around Cambridge, says Hepher. “I think it would be very sensible to have a national debate and to have some sort of national spatial plan. But I don’t see that happening in any meaningful way in the foreseeable future.”

In defence of green The fact that we’re feeling the squeeze is an indication that the green belt is doing its job, says Shaun Spiers, the chief executive of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). Spiers argues that the quality of green belt land is in a sense immaterial – its location and preservation are what matters. Even so, he points to CPRE research showing that green belt land is generally of a better quality than adjacent non-green belt land. As the NPPF makes clear, the primary purpose of a green belt is to be a buffer. Amenity and biodiversity are secondary. “What we’re seeing at the moment is huge pressure on the green belt,” says Spiers. “But the whole point of the green belt is to stop that development and to direct investment into cities.” London, he notes, wouldn’t be the city it is without the constraints imposed by the green belt, which have concentrated resources into a circumscribed area. By preventing sprawl, green belts also prevent a kind of civic lassitude. Contrary to Hepher, Spiers maintains that the release of green belt around Cambridge – supported by CPRE at the time – is potentially disastrous. “Give an inch and a mile will be taken from the green belt around our most pressured towns,” he says. “In Cambridge this has happened. There was a substantial release and now they are asking for another.” Not that Spiers is anti-development – he stresses that the CPRE is happy


Source: DCLG Local Planning Authority Green Belt Statistics: England 2011/12

to discuss the release of green belt land “in exceptional circumstances”. It’s just that he feels those exceptional circumstances have not been reached; brownfield development and “imaginative diversification” have yet to be properly explored. Spiers would appear to be backed up by Nick Boles, whose interventions may well render any debate about the green belt academic. In March, the planning minister reaffirmed the NPPF priorities, issuing a ministerial statement “noting that unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh harm to the green belt and other harm to constitute very special circumstances justifying inappropriate development.” In the same month, Boles wrote to Planning Inspectorate chief Sir Michael Pitt to say he was “disturbed” by an inspector's use of language in a local plan examination report that recommended Reigate & Banstead give up green belt to housing. Green belt reviews, he stressed, are the sole preserve of local authorities. Yet, even as the government issues plans for garden cities to relieve the pressure, discussion continues.

So what’s the solution? Spiers is reluctant to describe it as “spatial planning” as that sounds too “top down” for modern political tastes. But Michael Heseltine and Andrew Davies, he says, have both put forward visions of growth around infrastructure that will generate economic activity outside London. “Vision” is what’s needed to resolve the housing and green belt debate. Transformative infrastructure projects are under way that will intrude upon our green and pleasant land. In a sense the dice have been rolled. It remains to be seen how they fall. And that seems to be the problem, according to planners, developers and conservationists alike; we’re rolling dice when we really should be stacking them. Maybe it’s time for a national spatial plan. MAY 2 0 14 / THE PLA NNER

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D I A LO 30

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GUE ROB COWAN is director of the consultancy and training provider UDS

“Primarily funded, researched, written and organised by Farrells. Commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.” Those words on the back cover of the Farrell Review of Architecture & The Built Environment seem incongruous. If the government department commissioning the report was not sufficiently committed to the project to fund it, what was the point of Sir Terry Farrell, his team and 1,000 consultees spending a year trying to answer the department’s detailed brief? Creative industries minister Ed Vaizey asked Farrell to make recommendations to inform the department’s approach to promoting high standards of design. His request came a few days after a round of job losses at Design Council Cabe caused by that same department’s withdrawal of financial backing. The publication of the report a year later, on 31 March 2014, coincided with Design Council Cabe being quietly wound up. Cabe had already lost its capitals; the name was no longer an acronym – the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment having been abolished. Now it has been decided that in future the residual, minimal Cabe-ish activities will be carried out by the Design Council itself, MAY 2 0 14 / THE PLA NNER

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under the brand “Cabe at the Design Council”. In the face of all the evidence that promoting high standards of design is not high on the government’s agenda, Farrell took on the task with impressive seriousness. Not having to answer to the department as paymaster, he has taken the opportunity of giving the 200-page report a strong autobiographical element, and of highlighting some of his own company’s work in promoting a wider interest in design. Vaizey said at the launch: “I hope this report is the beginning of a dialogue within the industry about how we can build on our successes and recognise the critical importance of architecture and design in all aspects of our lives.” Some observers groaned. After a year’s intensive work, were we only at “the beginning of a dialogue”? Was that dialogue to be only “within the industry”? Was there no commitment by the


department – or, more relevantly, Eric Pickles’ Department of Communities and Local Government – to implement at least a few of the report’s 60 carefully considered recommendations?

A snapshot in time The Farrell Review is not actually the beginning of anything. The issues that it highlights are ones that Farrell himself has been campaigning on for at least 30 years. He was one of the early members of the Urban Design Group in the late 1970s; he helped found the Urban Design Alliance in the late 1990s; and he campaigned for what eventually in 1999 became CABE. It was Farrell who lobbied for the government’s intended “Commission for Architecture” (CA) to be given an additional “BE”, on the grounds that it had to be about more than just architecture. As Farrell’s report acknowledges, the review is a snapshot in time. Few of its ideas and proposals are new, many of them have a long and chequered history, and implementing them is not necessarily a job for government. Contrary to what is commonly assumed, governments rarely lead, and the built environment will be no exception. Farrell has spoken of changes in attitudes being needed on the scale of those that have been seen in the UK in recent decades in relation to health and food. Governments have passed the necessary legislation in those fields, but the revolutionary changes in attitudes came from below. Dramatically different attitudes to standards of design and development will depend on educators, communities and neighbourhoods, the civic and environmental movements, developers and the property industry, and a wide range of professionals and their professional organisations. When those people succeed in making the political weather, politicians will take notice and start asking what they can do to make things happen. We are not there yet. When the Farrell Review was commissioned, some commentators complained that the brief seemed to have an excessively architectural focus. Question 1 asked: “Britain has some of the best architects and designers in the world but that does not automatically mean that standards of architectural design in England are as good as they could be. Why is this?” The answer seemed staggeringly obvious. A great deal of development is not designed by architects, let alone by notably good ones. Most clients are not interested in commissioning the best architects and designers, and the standards of development depend on much wider issues than just architecture. Question 3 asked: “Would having a formal architecture policy (as some European countries do) help to achieve improved outcomes?” It was not a question that anyone else seemed to be asking, and not even the RIBA’s evidence to the review favoured the government introducing such a policy. The Farrell Review wisely answered succinctly – in essence, “no”.

Quality of life Farrell has successfully steered the review from architecture to the wider matters that shape the built environment. The report’s title is Our Future In Place, and place is the key. That short word is taken as summing up what needs to be addressed. “Quality of life” might have set the remit even wider, but place has a physical, spatial dimension that urban designers, planners and architects tend to be comfortable with. When thinking of the role of built environment professions, the review suggests, we should regard them as each representing some of the core skills needed to make successful places. Think of PLACE as an acronym, 32

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Farrell says: P for planning, L for landscape, A for architecture, C for conservation and E for engineering. Actually, to include all the professional members of the now-defunct Urban Design Alliance we would have to add U for urban designers and S for surveyors. That would replace PLACE with CAPSULE, an acronym that would do little more than remind built environment professionals to keep taking the tablets. Five cross-cutting themes run through the Farrell Review:

(1) (2)

A new understanding of place-based planning and design.


A new level of public engagement through education and outreach in every village, town and city, and volunteering enabled by information and communications technology.

A new level of connectedness between government departments, institutions, agencies, professions and the public.


A commitment to making the ordinary better and to improving the everyday built environment.


A sustainable and low-carbon future.

How the professions relate to these themes is not clear. The professionals in Farrell’s P-L-A-C-E professions have valuable skills, but professionalism in the built environment these days is a flexible business. Individual professionals have a wide variety of competencies and experience, and many develop these in unexpected ways over their careers. Increasingly they may be members of more than one professional body, or change allegiance as they progress. Attempts by professionals to organise themselves in ways that promote placemaking go back to the creation in 1978 of Architects in Planning, which in a few weeks changed its name to the Urban Design Group. In 1997, with the active support of Farrell, the Urban Design Alliance (UDAL) was formed by a group of professional and campaigning bodies that identified a common interest in improving the quality of life through urban design, particularly through collaboration between professionals and their institutes. It took the initials UDAL rather

than UDA to distinguish it from the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association. Urban design’s time seemed to have come. Richard Rogers’ 1999 Urban Task Force report Towards An Urban Renaissance, urging the importance of high standards of design in urban regeneration, caught the mood of the New Labour government that had commissioned it. The creation of CABE in the same year seemed to offer hopes of everything that the urban design movement had dreamed of; the establishment of urban design thinking in professional practice and at all levels of government. A report by a government Urban Design Skills Working Group followed in 2001. By 2004 the government’s urban-design-related buzzword was “sustainable communities”. Sir John Egan’s review Skills For Sustainable Communities was published in that year. The following year Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced the creation of the Academy for Sustainable Communities to help develop those skills. In 2011 the process seemed to stop. The dramatic scaling down of CABE seemed to reflect the coalition government’s lack of conviction about the value of urban design, and certainly about any significant local or central government role in promoting it. In that year the Bishop Review reported to the government on “how good architectural, landscape and urban design can be achieved”, but it had little effect beyond providing its chairman, Peter Bishop, with useful experience for his later role as a member of the Farrell Review’s expert panel.

Urban room Seen in that context, the Farrell Review is one more attempt to get to grips with the complexities of placemaking in a history rich in expectations and disappointments. Frustrating as the present situation is, the urban design movement needs to keep working on strategies to lift it out of its government-induced slough of despond. The Farrell Review’s proposals range from the general to the specific. The report calls for built environment professions to be guided by a common pursuit of place quality, and to educate their members through a common foundation year in further education. It wants “place reviews”, with panels representing all the place professions, to replace design review. Every town without an architecture and planning centre should have an “urban room”, actual or online, to focus interest and debate. The government should have chief place advisers and a chief architect, and it should be advised by a Place Leadership Council with representatives of the private and public sectors. Above all, the review says, planning needs to become more proactive. “Our planning system has become too reactive and relies on development control, which forces local authority planners to spend their time firefighting rather than thinking creatively about the future shape and form of villages, towns and cities,” it says. “Proactive planning would free up valuable time for local authority planners to develop masterplans and design codes which are supported by local communities, while reinvigorating the planning profession and its public perception.” Who is going to make it happen? Not this government, which does not see the value of providing the necessary resources. Not the Urban Design Alliance, which no longer exists. Not “CABE at the Design Council”, which does not have the capacity. Not the professional institutes, which have yet to learn how to collaborate with one another, or to focus effectively on place rather than on narrower concerns. The urban design movement needs to rethink and regroup. The Farrell Review does not provide a blueprint for making that happen, but its deep thinking may be of considerable value in supporting the process MAY 2 0 14 / THE PLA NNER

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DiF { D


Decisions in Focus is where we put the spotlight on some of the more interesting, offbeat and significant planning appeals of the last month – alongside your comments. If you’d like to contribute your insights and analyses to future issues of The Planner, email DiF at Permission for 250 homes at Rothley, near Leicester, has been granted on appeal


Pickles backs 250 homes in Rothley (1 S U M M A R Y Communities secretary Eric Pickles has agreed with an inspector’s recommendation to grant two appeals, one for 250 homes and the other for open space at Rothley, to the north of Leicester. (2 C A S E D E T A I L S William Davis Ltd sought to build up to 250 homes, a replacement primary school, a change of use from a home to a medical facility garden extensions and the demolition of barns on a 32.8 ha site. The second appeal concerned an area of public open space including water balancing ponds and green infrastructure. The developer launched the appeals after Charnwood Borough Council failed to determine both applications within the prescribed period. Inspector Harold Stevens recommended that the appeals be allowed and outline permission was granted after a public inquiry in December 2013. (3 C O N C L U S I O N R E A C H E D Pickles noted that Charnwood’s development


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plan was out of date and that the council could not demonstrate a fiveyear supply of housing land, thereby applying the presumption in favour of sustainable development. He agreed with the inspector’s conclusion that the appeal accorded with a wide range of development plan policies, but there would be limited conflict with a policy on development in areas of local separation (ALS). He also ruled that the development would not significantly harm the character and appearance

of the area or undermine the planning purpose or overall integrity of the wider ALS. Landscaping proposals in the appeal scheme’s masterplan and the design of a relief road to include areas of new planting outweigh the loss of ALS and greenfield land.

Appeal references: system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/302222/14-04-08_3-in-1_ Mountsorrel_Lane_ Charnwood_2196928.pdf

(4 A N A LY S I S [1] DANIEL PALMAN There are similarities between this case and a number of other recent secretary of state-recovered decisions including the four schemes permitted in Cherwell, where the SoS applied the presumption in favour of sustainable development in line with the NPPF after concluding that the council’s housing policies were out of date and there was a significant shortfall in the borough’s five-year housing land supply and

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Pickles backed Allerdale council’s rejection of a wind turbine plan at Lane Head Farm in Cumbria

there was currently little evidence to suggest that sufficient sites would be allocated through the core strategy process. The appeal decision reinforces the need for councils to ensure that they have an up-to-date development plan and, in particular, evidence to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply. Where this is not the case there is clearly an opportunity for developers to unlock development sites and promote arguments in favour of sustainable development consistent with paragraph 7 of the NPPF. As we are now seeing in a number of these types of appeals, the SoS is recognising the “tilting scale” in paragraph 14 of the NPPF requiring harmful effect of development to outweigh the benefits of delivering new housing in sustainable locations. In this case, the arguments were compelling and overwhelmingly in favour of new housing outweighing the loss of the ALS. DANIEL PALMAN senior planner at Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners

[2] DAVID BAINBRIDGE The decision by the secretary of state to recover for his determination and then to allow up to 250 dwellings, replacement primary school, public open space and other development at Mountsorrel Lane, Rothley, is another welcome boost for delivery of development and it is of interest beyond Charnwood Borough in Leicestershire. The decision is a further example of the secretary of state recovering planning appeals for his own determination following reporting by a planning inspector.

Whilst it was the case that a threshold was set at 150 dwellings, the current determining factors for recovery include impact on neighbourhood plans and the effect upon the government’s objective of delivering housing and economic development. In this decision the secretary of state gave little weight to the Charnwood Local Plan, which had been submitted and was under examination prior to the decision on the appeal. This is arguably a better steer than can be found in the Planning Practice Guidance and continues the approach that it is for decision-takers to decide what weight is to be attributed. The appeal decision is another example of consistent application of policy contained in the National Planning Policy Framework. The secretary of state and the planning inspector found the development to be sustainable and arrived at the conclusion that the adverse impacts of granting planning permission I M AG E | A L A M Y

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would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits following assessment against the policies in the framework. Leicestershire does not have green belt which elsewhere insulates some planning authorities from such positive appeal decisions. Given the failure rate of submitted local plans it might be some time to come before plan-making delivers sufficient housing land and in the meantime allowed appeals for sustainable development such as this one are much needed. DAVID BAINBRIDGE partner at Bidwells


Inspector’s ruling on Cumbrian wind turbine vetoed by SoS (1 S U M M A R Y Communities secretary Eric Pickles has overturned an

inspector’s recommendation and upheld a council’s decision to reject a 61-metre wind turbine at Lane Head Farm, near Boltongate, Cumbria. (2 C A S E D E T A I L S Allerdale Borough Council rejected the application amid concerns about its impact on a nearby grade I listed church. Inspector JP Watson approved the scheme, deciding that the turbine would have a modest effect on the church and not seriously adversely affect its setting. Pickles’ intervention referred to section 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act 1990 and the Court of Appeal’s ruling on a Barnwell Manor Wind Energy scheme in East Northamptonshire. (3 C O N C L U S I O N R E A C H E D In the light of the Barnwell Manor case, Pickles found that “it does not follow that if the harm to heritage assets is found to be less



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DiF { D than substantial”, then the subsequent balancing exercise should ignore the overarching statutory duty imposed by section 66. He gave “considerable weight” to preserving the setting of all listed buildings and noted English Heritage’s objection to the appeal for its adverse impact on the church. He also gave significant weight to the harm the proposal would cause to the landscape at most locations within 2 km. Pickles dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission. publications/recovered-appeallane-head-farm-wigton-ref2191503-16-april-2014


Inspector rejects three out of four Feniton appeals (1 S U M M A R Y Four appeals were submitted against East Devon District Council’s refusal of 294 homes around Feniton near Honiton. Feniton Park Ltd appealed on a scheme comprising 32 homes, while Strategic Land Partnerships (SLP) made two appeals, the first involving 120 homes and the second involving 59. The fourth appeal was made by Wainhomes (South West) Holdings against the refusal of 83 homes. (2 C A S E D E T A I L S The appeals are known locally as the Feniton Super Inquiry. The main issues that had to be decided and which


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Feniton Park Ltd’s appeal for 32 homes at Acland Park in Honiton, Devon, was allowed

were common to all three sites were the district’s housing supply and its policy implications; the effect of the proposals on the character and appearance of the area; and whether Feniton was an appropriate location for the proposed development. (3 C O N C L U S I O N R E A C H E D The inspector, Jessica Graham, allowed Feniton Park Ltd’s appeal for 32 homes at the Acland Park site on condition that work starts within two years to tackle the shortage of housing in the district. SLP’s proposal for 120 homes was dismissed because of the scheme’s adverse impact on the character and appearance of the village and on Grade II listed buildings known as Sweethams. The inspector also noted the adverse impact on the ancient boundary between Ottery St Mary and Feniton and the loss of 5 ha of grade two agricultural land. The scheme proposed employment land but little weight was attached to this because there was no real likelihood of it being achieved. The inspector ruled SLP’s proposal for 59 homes would cause harm to the appearance of the area while offering only 25 per cent affordable housing compared with the 40 per cent required by East Devon in its local plan. Wainhomes had succeeded at an appeal in August 2012 to build 50 homes in the area. The latest appeal, which concerned 83 homes (33 of them affordable) was dismissed because of the harm they would cause to the character and appearance of the area and the loss of grade two agricultural land. The inspector also noted an increase in journeys by private car and the adverse impact on the community.

Appeal references: APP/ U1105/A/13/2191905; APP/ U1105/A/13/2197001; APP/ U1105/A/13/2197002; APP/ U1105/A/13/2200204

(4 A N A LY S I S [1] CHRIS JONES Firstly, this appeal gives weight to those seeking to show a housing supply shortfall on the basis of housing requirements set out in former RSS policies, even where those policies were based on population projections that have been shown to be optimistic. Clearly, this is only available to those areas where updated assessments have not been undertaken or where emerging policies have been insufficiently tested. Secondly, it reiterates the view of many inspectors that paragraph 49 of the NPPF applies to any out-of-date policies that are “relevant… for the supply of housing” and not just to those policies that have housing delivery as its main purpose. This includes spatial policies that direct development towards or away from particular locations. Finally, it demonstrates the broad approach that can be taken to “sustainable development”. The inspector

considers the economic, social and environmental impacts of the schemes individually and when taken together. The impact on the character and appearance of the locality appears to be the key negative weighing against all but one of the applications. Another consideration of the inspector is that the scale of the housing proposed is so significant in proportion to the scale of the existing town that the “social and cultural wellbeing of existing residents” would be harmed. Whilst this appeal decision won’t change the planning landscape, it does add to the growing list of cases that consider the application of paragraphs 14 and 49 of the NPPF and how these should be weighed in decision making. This particular case makes clear that a lack of housing supply will not override all other planning considerations and highlights the importance of ensuring all aspects of a proposal are well-considered and wellpresented, in particular, its scale and location relative to its surroundings.

JOHN ACRES director at planning consultancy Turley. Email: uk. Visit

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+ We’d like to incorporate your comment, insight and analysis into Decisions in Focus each month. Whether you can offer a brief obversation on a matter of interest within an inspector’s judgement or an informed interpretation of a decision, please let us know by emailing DiF at

ROUND­UP Here are some more decisions that we think are worth a look this month. All the details and inspector’s letters can be found on the Planning Portal website:


Appeal reference: APP/ GO908/A/13/2206629


that adds to the vitality and activity of the frontage. Appeal reference: APP/ K5600/A/13/2207206


(1) Application: Appeals against a refusal to grant permission for the removal of pergola to be replaced by a garden room and a refusal to grant listed building consent at a converted barn in High Easter, Essex. Decision: Appeals allowed. Main issues: The building is a converted grade II listed barn in a conservation area. The effect on the area’s character and appearance with regard as to whether it would preserve the listed building, special features of architectural or historic interest and its setting. Appeal references: APP/ C1570/A/13/2203331; APP/ C1570/E/13/2201921


(3) Application: Change of use and conversion of seven former agricultural buildings to provide live/work units with parking, access and landscaping together with the demolition of three former agricultural buildings at Plaxdale Green Farm, Stansted, Sevenoaks. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: The inspector ruled the proposal was not inappropriate in the Metropolitan Green Belt as it involved the reuse of buildings that are permanent. It would lead to an increase in the openness of the green belt and not encroach into the countryside. Appeal reference: APP/ H2265/A/13/2206613

(2) Application: Application to install an aerial for internet access at a school in Westnewton, Wigton, Cumbria Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: Whether the installation of the aerial preserves or enhances the character of appearance of a conservation area. Inspector pointed to paragraph 134 of the NPPF, which states that where a development will lead to less than substantial harm to a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal. The inspector also considered the NPPF’s support for the promotion and development of community facilities in villages.


(5) Application: The building of one home for local needs including a detached garage at Top Farm, Baschurch, Shrewsbury. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: Shropshire Council objected to the use of brick for the main part of the home. The inspector noted that buildings in the vicinity are built in various materials including render, brick and metal cladding. The appeal building is therefore one of a variety of materials with none presenting a dominant feature. Appeal reference: APP/ L3245/A/13/2207308


(4) Application: Installation of an automated teller machine (ATM) at Londis Supermarket in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: The inspector referred to a policy under the council’s core strategy, which seeks to ensure that building entrances and windows support active street frontages. The ATM was entirely in keeping with the contemporary shop front and is part of the character and appearance of the shopping parade. The ATM also performs an important role and is a well-used facility

conditions on the site harmed the Green Barrier and whether noise from traffic using the A55 would harm the living conditions of the occupiers. Appeal reference: APP/ A6835/A/13/2206627

(6) Application: Change of use from a shop to a kebab house in Donington, Spalding. Decision: Appeal dismissed. Main issues: The effect on nearby residents with noise and disturbance in a conservation area. Appeal reference: APP/ A2525/A/13/2211193


(7) Application: The stationing of caravans for five gypsy pitches, utility and day rooms plus retaining existing stables at Ewloe, Flintshire. Decision: Permission granted Main issues: Whether any unacceptable living


(8) Application:The building of two single-storey homes with garages and landscaping. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: The proposal would result in the loss of garden land, which is no longer counted as “previously developed land” under planning policy. The NPPF indicates that policies should establish the circumstance in which such development is inappropriate. The inspector found there is no development plan policy that objects to this type of development in this particular settlement. Appeal reference: APP/ J3530/13/2209527


(9) Application: The building of an agricultural barn to house sheep, chickens, pigs and horses in winter and for storage of feed and hay at Mays Coppice Farm, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: Whether the proposed barn is necessary for the purposes of agriculture on this plot of land and its effect on the character and appearance of the area. Appeal reference: APP/ M1710/A/13/2208712


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LLegal landscape POLITICISING THE PLANNING ACT IS BLOWING IN THE WIND At the moment, any onshore wind farm with a capacity of more than 50 megawatts must use the Planning Act 2008 regime to be authorised. As a standard turbine has a capacity of around 3MW, that works out at 17 turbines or more. According to Wikipedia there are currently just two onshore wind farms in England with a 50MW capacity greater than 50MW – Scout Moor in Lancashire and Little Cheyne Court in Kent (although SSE's Keadby wind farm in Lincolnshire will be a third at 68MW when it becomes fully operational this summer). Since the Planning Act came into force in March 2010, another two applications have been made for onshore windfarms, both in Wales – Brechfa Forest West and Clocaenog Forest. Recently, the government has made a couple of moves to make the authorisation of onshore wind farms more difficult – first, invoking the Localism Act power to require pre-application consultation on wind farms of more than two turbines or where one is more than 15 metres high (i.e. virtually all of them), and second, having communities secretary Eric Pickles extending the power he granted himself in October to call in wind farm applications for his own determination from a sixmonth period to 18 months.



Angus Walker Last month the Conservative Party issued a press release which says that if it wins the next election, it will scrap subsidies for onshore wind farms.


However, the same release then goes on to say that a Conservative government would return decisions on onshore wind farms to local control – i.e. it would remove them from the scope of the Planning Act regime. I think this is the first time the Planning Act has been used as a political tool, but it probably won’t be the last. The proposal won’t have much effect given the small proportion of onshore wind farms that are above the Planning Act threshold, but it underlines the Conservatives’ ambivalence towards

onshore wind – being officially in favour of it and unofficially against it. Judging by the timing, the election that the announcement is intended to influence is not next May’s general election but this month’s European Parliament (and local) election. It is interesting that the combined effect of taking onshore wind farms out of the Planning Act regime and then calling in applications when they are made to local authorities would be to transfer decisions on such projects from Liberal Democrat secretary of state Ed Davey to Conservative secretary of state Eric Pickles. If a week is a long time in politics, a year is even longer, and we shall see what the parties’ manifestos actually say about infrastructure planning when the time comes.

– ANGUS WALKER Angus Walker is a partner at law firm Bircham Dyson Bell and specialises in planning issues. He blogs about the Planning Act regime on the NIPA website

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B LO G S This month… Will the new Planning Court really speed up decisions and do recent changes to the Commons Act need revisiting?

L E G I S L AT I O N S H O R T S Low impact David Bainbridge The Ministry of Justice has estimated that 400 planning cases a year will be resolved through the new Planning Court, which began on 7 April. The court hears judicial reviews and statutory challenges under the Planning Acts and other matters, including EU environmental legislation. The government says the court is part of its drive to reduce delays to delivery of development. But what is the likely impact on planners and the planning system? Undoubtedly for those planners involved in cases determined by the court there will be a positive impact through fast-tracking and specialist judges. However, the estimate of 400 cases a year is possibly an overestimation and in any event it is insignificant compared with the number of planning applications each year. In 2013 in England, applications received by district level planning authorities totalled 464,400. It is unlikely, therefore, that the planning court will deliver much of an impact on the speed and amount of development. In any event, the procedure should remain a remedy of last resort. It remains to be seen whether the speed and specialist

knowledge of the court will impact on the type and number of challenges and deliver the stated intention of the government to reduce the number of meritless cases. Overall, the Planning Court is a positive step forward for the relatively low numbers of schemes involved but ultimately unlikely to achieve any noticeable impact on delivery of development. David Bainbridge is a partner with Bidwells

The village green innovation society Sue Manns Recent changes to the Commons Act 2006 were intended to ensure that Town and Village Green (TVG) applications were not used to frustrate much-needed development. Once a planning application has been submitted (a ‘trigger’ event) it is now not possible to apply for the land to be registered as TVG, unless or until a “terminating event” occurs. However, many developments have pre-application requirements including scoping requests with regard to environmental statements (ES) and pre-application public consultation. This draws attention to the emerging proposals

and enables those intent on frustrating them to prepare a TVG application before submission of the application. We have experience of a case whereby a TVG application was submitted shortly after pre-application consultation, whilst the ES was being completed, and before submission of the planning application. Pre-application consultation was undertaken early sought to engage local people in shaping the scheme. Comments received were taken on board and changes made to the proposals in response to views put forward. However, those opposed to the development sought to frustrate the scheme by submitting a TVG registration application within weeks of the close of consultation. The effectiveness and good intent of this legislative change is at risk of being undermined as a consequence of developers following a responsible approach to pre-application requirements. It would seem sensible to consider amending the legislation to move the ‘trigger’ event from the point of submission of the application to the point at which proposals first become public knowledge, i.e. when a scoping request is submitted or pre-application consultation. Sue Manns is a director of the Pegasus Group

Planning Court throws out Grantham relief road challenge The Planning Court has rejected a landowner’s challenge against plans for a relief road near Grantham, Lincolnshire. Mr Justice Lewis threw out Larkfleet Ltd’s claim that the full environmental impact of the road had not been considered alongside separate plans for 4,000 homes. Lincolnshire County Council had applied for planning permission for the road while developer Buckminster is working on plans for an urban extension but has yet to make an application. The judge found that while it could be said the road and the housing development were linked, the two schemes were separate for the purposes of environmental impact assessment.

Inspector did not breach natural justice The Court of Appeal has ruled a planning inspector did not breach rules of natural justice or procedural fairness when she rejected an appeal on grounds that had not previously been identified as “main issues”. Inspector Janice Trask had rejected developer Hopkins’ appeal for permission to build 58 houses at the edge of Wincanton, Somerset. At the inquiry, Trask said matters to be addressed included the need for housing, highway safety and the proposal’s effect on users of a local hospital and future residents. In her decision letter, she identified additional issues based on the area’s character and appearance and whether the site was in a sustainable location. Hopkins said the inspector had reached conclusions based on issues it had not had a chance to deal with. Lord Justice Jackson said while sustainability was “clearly a live issue in the inquiry”, the fact that the inspector had not identified it in her initial statement was no more than an indication of her preliminary views and the developer had a reasonable opportunity to make submissions on the topic. Third parties had raised the issue of character and appearance at the inquiry and the inspector could consider it as a matter, especially when she made a site visit.

Islington acts over "buy to leave" homes A London borough has consulted on plans to use Section 106 agreements to tackle “buy to leave” homes. The London Borough of Islington said that as many as half the homes in recent developments in the EC1 postcode had no one on the electoral roll. The council said homes sold as investments, often marketed off-plan overseas and left to stand empty, are making it harder for people to find somewhere to live. Islington is considering requiring a financial contribution where new homes are unoccupied to contribute to affordable housing elsewhere. It is also considering putting the onus on owners of new homes to prove they are regularly occupied.

Lawyers return to Bircham Dyson Bell Three planning lawyers who left Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) last July are rejoining the firm. Ian Cameron, Sarah Clark and Tom Henderson will become legal directors in the company’s government and infrastructure department. The trio are experienced in delivering major infrastructure projects, including energy, highways and urban transit. The three moved to Pinsent Masons last year.

MAY 2 0 1 4 / THE PLA NNER

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From everyday interactions to complex deals, negotiation is a crucial skill. Helen Bird gleans some tips from those in the know and finds out how they can be applied effectively in planning negotiations


ost people talk about getting planning permission in the same way that they describe root canal treatment – painful, unnecessary and the other party seems to take an unnatural delight in the task. It’s only since working with town planners that I have understood the situation from the other side. Planners are passionate about doing the right thing by communities and making a space that is fair and suitable for all. So why the tension and antagonism in planning negotiations?

Play the game


The first step in achieving this interest negotiation is to understand the other party. Ask questions that get to what is really important to them. The next stage is to educate them about why you are objecting to their first position by explaining your interest. You can then work together to explore options that will help both sides to achieve what they need. Of course, the world isn’t perfect, and sometimes the other party refuses to budge. However, it is important not to take it personally. Although the language they use might be personal, it would be the same for anyone in your position. Keep your emotions in control and treat it as a game, not a matter of life and death.

Interest vs position

In the loop

If you want a successful negotiation, you need to be operating at the level of interest rather than position. Position is all about the details: “I want this.” If someone wants something different then there’s going to be a loser in the negotiation. Interest is at a higher level. “I want a solution that meets my high-level desires, but there might be a number of different answers that give me what I want.” With interest negotiation, there is more scope for all parties to come out with a win. The planner has a set of rules (the position) which are there to ensure that there is a fair system in place, that the character and look of

I often hear town planners saying that developers or householders “cheat” by appealing directly to the council members. My response is simple; if you keep your stakeholders informed of the reasons for your decisions, and you proactively manage them and understand their wishes, then those same members can become your allies. Don’t complain if someone goes to their democratically elected representative and asks for help – it’s all part of the system. Just make sure “KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS that you’re aligned IN CONTROL AND with your TREAT IT AS A GAME, stakeholders as part NOT A MATTER OF of your planning. LIFE AND DEATH”

Collaborate to accumulate


areas is maintained, and so on (the interest). The other party, be they developer or householder, has their own position and interest. Conflicts usually arise when both parties want to retain their position but are unwilling or unable to see that they can get what they want in a different way.

+ Top tips Bearing the following in mind will make your negotiations easier:

(1) Take time to listen and

understand the interests of the parties involved;

(2) Explore options that will satisfy the interests of both sides;

(3) Manage your

stakeholders; and

(4) Don’t take it personally.

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We spoke to three practised negotiators to find out what works best for them SI M ON J AMES —

The LPA negotiation SIMON JAMES, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DLP CONSULTANTS n In 2012, and following the withdrawal of an initial planning application for the development of 2.5 ha of land for homes, a resubmission was made to the local planning authority (LPA), Luton Borough Council. This was later refused on five grounds including development, design and air quality. At this point, DLP was first instructed


The Section 106 negotiation DAVID HODGETTS, CHASE & PARTNERS n I recently worked on a Section 106 for a scheme in the West Midlands for a warehouse development – 18,000 ha on 600,000 sq ft of new floor space. In October, it went to committee, which unanimously voted in favour, although members raised some issues with the proposed Section 106 contributions, so a process of negotiation was therefore needed. It was imperative that the permission was granted as soon as possible, but there were also financial constraints, so it was about balancing those two motives. To complicate matters there was debate as to whether the highways authority should be party to the Section 106. By not having them party there

and appealed the decision. A public local inquiry was held. The inspector dismissed the appeal on detailed design and contribution grounds, but upheld the principle of development. We then opened negotiations with officers on these specific matters. Our initial task was to analyse the inspector’s conclusions and agree with the LPA those elements of the scheme that were fine and those that required amendment. This gave a framework for the subsequent redesign, which has found favour with officers. On the matter of contributions following a lengthy and detailed analysis of social infrastructure requirements and the instruction of a viability assessment of the finalised scheme design, we again arrived at agreement with officers on a package that sees a full contribution towards education and waste, and a nil affordable housing requirement given the substantial abnormal costs associated with the scheme. The application is to be determined shortly and officers now support the proposal as it meets all the inspector’s

would be potential time savings. The council started the negotiations and proposed increasing the amount by about 25 per cent – the proposed Section 106 contributions. On the advice of the client we went in opposing the proposed increase, and I did a detailed analysis of the reasons used to justify the increase. I think we’d have been successful if we’d held our position, but as the weeks passed the timing became an issue, so we had to advise the client to accept the council’s justification for the increase in funds, and therefore open up the avenue of proceeding down the Section 106 without the local highways authority being party to it. In the end we’ve managed to get it agreed quicker than it would otherwise have been. Although it incurred slightly greater financial cost, the client is, on balance, happier with that position. The negotiation was tricky in terms of keeping the case officer on side, along with the complexity of doing a section 106 without the Highways Agency being party to it. But it simplified the process, so we were able to reach an agreement more quickly.

conclusions and is consistent with policy and addresses an otherwise large shortfall in housing land supply.


The community negotiation

JAMES FENNELL MANAGING DIRECTOR (WITH PAULINE ROBERTS, SENIOR ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR), NATHANIEL LICHFIELD & PARTNERS n Pre-application is where the negotiation usually starts. NLP recently obtained planning permission for the West London Mental Health Trust for 600 new homes on surplus land at St Bernard’s Hospital in Southall, the proceeds from which will help fund a £60 million improvement programme. A Planning Performance Agreement provided vital structure to negotiations with the council. The London Borough of Ealing offered its senior officers to provide strategic guidance at critical points in talks; likewise the trust committed senior staff, smoothing the path for technical negotiations after common ground in key areas was established. This was a complicated scheme involving the conversion of the grade II listed asylum buildings in a poor state of repair, with substantial new build in the hospital grounds. Many stakeholders had to be convened, including the hospital’s service users, residents, English Heritage, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. The key issue underlying all the negotiations was reconciling heritage and conservation impacts to deliver a viable scheme. Open-book appraisal and good working relationships with the council led to pragmatic discussion and agreement on all the determining issues including density, affordable housing provision and community uses. Large schemes take a lot of time and effort and building trust with officers and stakeholders is central to successful negotiations. MAY 2 0 14 / THE PLA NNER

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Plan ahead P

Send feedback to Tweet us @The Planner_RTPI

Continental shift If we want to revive the garden city tradition as we meet the demands of a growing population, then we need to turn to Europe, argues Sir Peter Hall by Simon Wicks

“It’s all about the garden city tradition and how that turned into new towns after World War II. Then how that tradition has gone and looks like being revived,” explains Sir Peter Hall, University College London’s Bartlett professor of planning and regeneration. “The question is: how do we revive it?” It’s a question addressed in the renowned urbanist’s latest book Good Cities, Better Lives: How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism. It’s will also be at the heart of the Thomas Sharpe Memorial Lecture at the University of Newcastle on May 22. “In the book we look to the Continent and say that in fact in Europe they didn’t really adopt that garden city tradition, although they used the word,” Hall adds as he offers clues to the direction the lecture will go in. “It wasn’t the Ebenezer Howard concept of freestanding garden cities but what we now call ‘urban extension’. It’s a tradition that’s continuing.” Describing a “European Grand Tour” to view best practice, Hall speaks approvingly of sustainable development in Scandinavia and the Dutch achievement of creating 500,000 new homes in garden suburbs. He reserves particular praise for Freiburg in Germany, “the ultimate success city”. “These are very much urban


extensions,” he observes, warming to the theme. “It’s interesting that the tradition survives over nearly a century, but with a European approach rather than our garden cities approach.” Having said that, is there scope for us to take back what we once gave to Europe? The lecture’s title gives a clue – “From Good Cities to Social Cities: European Models and English Adaptations”. “We probably now need to meld these two traditions,” Hall says. “We need to borrow from European best practice. This would consist of extending existing towns and also some new towns.” Peterborough, he says, is an excellent example of a small city successfully extended. “We should be doing more of this 60, 70, 80 miles from London beyond what I call the ‘Nimby frontier’. They’re more open to the idea of development there.” And what of the North, where he’s going to be delivering the lecture?


“A lot of it will be going back to ask how Germany produced good, balanced economic growth across the country, including old industrial areas. “People say there isn’t the

same pressure in cities like Manchester to push people out. But I think this could change. At some point with the revival of Manchester, Salford, Leeds and so on, the people now living in these new apartment buildings are going to have kids. Where will they go then?” Sir Peter Hall will deliver the Thomas Sharpe Memorial Lecture in the Curtis Auditorium at Newcastle University at 5.30pm on Thursday 22 May. Admission is free, but advance booking is required.

THE THOMAS SHARPE M E M O R I A L LEC T U R E From Good Cities to Social Cities: European Models and English Adaptations Where? Curtis Auditorium, Newcastle University When? 22 May 2014 Theme: Why England needs to look to Europe to revive its garden city tradition Find out more and book at:

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LISTINGS Talks, conferences, training, master classes – everything you need to keep on top of the latest thinking and developments in the planning world.

DON’T MISS RTPI Planning Convention 2014 Meeting the challenge: How will planners shape the future? What are the planning challenges that will shape the next 50 years? Led by Anil Menon, Cisco president of globalisation and smart and connected communities, an expert panel will address how to deliver quality as well as quantity in housing and how to overcome constraints on economic growth.

NORTH EAST 14 May – The Changing Face of Development Management A one-day event on issues in development management, including the dilemma of fewer staff and rising numbers of applications. Venue: Ward Hadaway, Newcastle Details: www.bit. ly/1g5uyau 22 May – The Planning Project: Past, Present and Future One-day seminar organised by Global Urban Research Unit asking such questions as “Why do we need planning?” Venue: Newcastle University, Newcastle Details: www.bit. ly/1oaA26e 23 May – 10 June Newcastle City Futures: People, Place, Change Multi-media exhibition and events series featuring evocative imagery of Newcastle’s built heritage. Venue: Guildhall, Newcastle Details: S0Oh4S

NORTH WEST 08 May – Health: The Challenge of Mainstreaming One-day conference offering opportunity to discuss why and how health considerations should be embedded into policy and development. Venue: BDP Manchester Details:

YORKSHIRE 13 May – Rebuilding Hull: The Abercrombie Plan and Beyond Afternoon seminar with a walking tour looking at the Lutyens and Abercrombie city plan and asking why it was not implemented. Venue: The Guildhall, Hull Details: www.bit. ly/1cN6GIV

15 May – Creating Places Centenary Lecture Sir Terry Farrell considers the relationship between design quality and cultural heritage, the economic importance of architecture and the built environment. Venue: The Rose Bowl, Leeds Details: www.bit. ly/1iV0gcH 22 May – The Development Management Law Conference One-day conference covering development management, especially from a legal perspective. Venue: The Merchant Adventurers Hall, York Details: www.bit. ly/1euLuG0

EAST 14 May – Garden Cities and Sustainable Urban Extensions One-day conference in Letchworth Garden City considering how the past can inform the present and shape the future of new towns. With a tour of Letchworth with RTPI President Cath Ranson. Venue: Spirella Building, Letchworth Garden City, Herts Details: www.bit. ly/19RFYh2 14 May – Young planners event: The City Deal, Growth and the Cambridge Sub-region An evening discussion and networking event with presentations from David Henry of Savills and Graham Thomas of Cambridgeshire County Council. RTPI President Cath Ranson will attend. Venue: Hughes Hall College, Cambridge Details: www.bit. ly/1nyoHRv

EAST MIDLANDS 14 May – Preparing for Planning Inquiries Morning seminar on how to prepare and give evidence

Date: 24 June Venue: Central Hall, Westminster, London Details:

at planning inquiries. . Venue: New Walk Museum, Leicester Details: www.bit. ly/1nUY9qW 19 June – Economic Development: The growth agenda in the East Midlands Morning seminar looking at economic development from the perspective of a local authority planner, a local enterprise partnership and a planning consultant. Venue: The Enterprise Centre, Derby Details: PKdWg7

WEST MIDLANDS 16 May – Sustainable Communities – Bournville and Lightmoor Day-trip offering a chance to compare the community of Bournville with its new counterpart in Telford, Lightmoor, being developed by Bournville Village Trust. Venue: Bournville, West Midlands Details: www.bit. ly/1d50tK5 22 May – MPA/RTPI Mineral Planning Conference Is there a shared understanding of what “sustainable” means in the context of minerals development? Organised by the Mineral Products Association. Venue: Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham Details: www.bit. ly/1k2i2bM 03 June – Home Truths A half-day seminar covering topical housing issues including the pressures for new housing across the West Midlands and the problems created

by the Duty to Co-operate. Venue: SGH Martineau LLP Solicitors, Birmingham Details: www.bit. ly/1cN8Ckr

SOUTH WEST 16 May – Planning for Renewable Energy The challenges posed by renewable energy sector targets and the emergence of new technologies. Venue: Plymouth Details: 13 June – Planning for Housing: Exploring Alternative Modes of Delivery One-day conference examining attempts by government and local planning authorities to use the planning system to increase the number of new homes being developed and exploring the potential role of alternative delivery models. Venue: Poole, Dorset Details: Ko9GAB

SOUTH EAST 08 May – Brighton Rock Centenary Lecture Prof Janice Morphet talks on infrastructure, LEPS and sub-regional development. Venue: University of Brighton, Brighton Details: www.bit. ly/1d0pe8X

LONDON 13 May – Time Management for Planners A practical approach to time management. Venue: TBC Details: 14 May – Design in the Planning System Dealing effectively with design and having the right

policy and guidance in place. Venue: Hatton Garden Details: QU3jZ0 15 May – Essential Finance Skills for Planners Masterclass offering practical financial skills Venue: Hatton Garden Details: www.bit. ly/1nyp66s 04 June – Cultural Heritage in the Planning System One-day masterclass gives developers and planners all of the tools needed to adeptly deal with heritage and archaeology during the planning process. It covers the requirements under the new NPPF, the methods and value of surveying and establishes the value of a ‘statement of significance’. Venue: Hatton Garden, London Details: www.bit. ly/1nUZI8q

SCOTLAND 22 May RTPI Centenary Ceilidh A very Scottish celebration of the RTPI centenary. Venue: Ghillie Dhu, Edinburgh Details: www.bit. ly/1fkxAf9

WALES 04 June – Wales Planning Conference A packed agenda as Wales prepares for the introduction of the Planning (Wales) Bill to the Assembly, including an address by Carl Sargeant and the launch of the first of the RTPI’s Centenary Planning Horizons Papers on Thinking Spatially. Venue: City Hall, Cardiff Details: www.bit. ly/1hYA3wp

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RTPI Learn is our new virtual learning site, developed to support planners increase their knowledge. All RTPI members commit to maintaining and developing their expertise through a minimum of 50 hours of continuing professional development over a two-year period. It is this commitment to ongoing quality learning and development that sends a powerful message to employers, clients and the general public that membership of the RTPI is the gold standard mark of planning professionalism. Cath Ranson, RTPI president, says: “RTPI Learn is a great new benefit to our members. Ensuring our members remain up to date with changes in planning law and the planning system is a priority and we are continually looking into the different ways we can aid members. We launched RTPI Learn in January as a new way to support planners, but it is also an excellent source of CPD.”

Free to use More than 1,000 planners have already signed up to use the RTPI’s free online virtual learning site. For RTPI member Keith Naylor, RTPI Learn provided a lifeline following a cycling accident that left him unable to travel. “The accident last year made it very difficult to get to RTPI events and keep my CPD up to date. RTPI Learn appealed because it is free to use and easy to access. You can log on when you want, dip in and out as you want and you can learn in your own time at your own pace. It also produces a good, checkable record of CPD.” RTPI Learn offers four learning modules each with about 15 hours’ worth of learning. The modules are a mix of text, web links, video clips and diagrams


RTPI news pages are edited by Tino Hernandez at the RTPI, 40 Botolph Lane, London EC3R 8DL

and interactive quizzes with instant feedback. “The interactive element is one of RTPI Learn’s strengths,” said Naylor. “It makes you think about what you’ve just gone through. There is up-to-date analysis and isn’t static like a book.”

Four modules The four modules currently available through RTPI Learn are: Viability: understanding development economics; Planning for climate change; Public engagement in planning; and Infrastructure delivery planning. Planning consultant Lee Prebble said: “I’ve found RTPI Learn really useful. After nearly 40 years in the industry, it’s not often I come across something completely new, but the viability module was one. It offered a great explanation of what a developer is looking for. It explained the different approaches to development and the financial differences between large and small developers.” Neale Hall, another learner, said: “The viability module was very interesting. It gave lots of detail “AFTER 40 YEARS about dealing with IN THE INDUSTRY, developers. I knew IT’S NOT OFTEN the ins and outs I COME ACROSS of the topic, but SOMETHING it was great to see COMPLETELY the calculations NEW, BUT THE developers use VIABILITY when assessing MODULE the viability of a WAS ONE” development. I now have a much greater understanding of how a developer would look at a site and of the issues developers face. “I’d advise others to take advantage of RTPI Learn,” said Hall. “It’s an asset for those professionals who struggle to get the time to go on a course. You can do the modules in your own time, free of charge, and it gives you CPD hours. It’s a brilliant tool to use when you’re working away from home.” For the RTPI’s overseas members, RTPI Learn has proved to be an invaluable resource. Ashish Kelkar is an RTPI affiliate member living in India. He is studying for an MA in Town and Country Planning (Distance Learning) at the University of the West of England and has also registered with RTPI Learn. “I’m getting a good knowledge of the planning systems in the UK and a broad view of planning as a subject. The modules are very easy to understand and are very informative.” n For further information about RTPI Learn or to register as a user

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Editorial E:

RTPI (switchboard) T: 020 7929 9494 F: 020 7929 9490

Registered charity no. 262865 Registered charity in Scotland SCO37841


(1) What do you currently do? I am mostly retired from paid work, but seem to be as busy as ever unpaid. I am on the RTPI Policy Committee and represent the institute on the Transport Planning Society Board, and also maintain an active involvement in the NHS, the West Midlands Futures Network and Birmingham’s Lunar Society. At present I am deeply engaged in the national debate about the economic value of HS2, organising a Lunar Society event on housing and another with King’s College Cambridge Choral Scholars, plus chairing West Midlands Socialist Health Association.

(2) If I wasn’t in planning, I’d probably be…. I originally graduated as a geologist, so I’d probably be chipping at rock faces alone on the hot/dusty or cold/wet places where minerals tend to be found, while beating off wild animals and/or blood-sucking insects the size of crows.

(3) What has been your biggest career challenge to date? As a Birmingham City Council officer under the Thatcher/Major governments in the 1980s and 1990s, coping with the city’s economic meltdown in the context of dogma-driven legislative change in both planning and transport. This was a valuable training for leading the integration of transport and spatial planning in the city and the region, and for my later work as a consultant, applying this experience in other regions and nationally. Sadly, it remains all too relevant.

(4) What attracted you to the profession? I realised the downsides of a geological career (see above), plus I was reliably informed that planners could rule the universe with only two A-levels. More seriously, it was the difference between a future in which expertise and horizons might tend to become narrower, and (as it has proved) a career with ever-widening scope, throwing up unforeseen changes and challenges.

(5) What do you regret having left undone? Two long-running battles have dominated my career: between an increasingly dominant and reductive economic orthodoxy and planning as an expression of wider human and social aspirations; and between the forces of centralisation and local autonomy. I have striven for the broader view and for greater subsidiarity, but these struggles continue.

(6) If you could change one thing about the planning profession, what would it be? I would like to see a more proactive, less reactive profession, with a better balance between the three main strands of development policy, implementation and control.


RTPI AWARDS SHORTLISTS ANNOUNCED A record number of entries have been shortlisted for the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence, reflecting the very high standard of submissions this year. The awards, which celebrate the very best in planning, will be hotly contested with 63 projects, consultancies and local authority teams competing across 10 categories. Sponsors and supporters for the 2014 awards include AMEC, Barton Willmore, British Land, GVA, the National Planning Forum, the Royal Borough of

Kensington & Chelsea and Perkins Slade. Sir Terry Farrell, chair of the judges, said: “It will be far from easy to pick individual category winners, but I am looking forward, with my fellow awards judges, to that exciting challenge. I anticipate celebrating some truly outstanding examples of planning.” Join the UK’s leading planning and development professionals on 23 June for the awards ceremony, followed by an evening of high-quality networking for 400 over wine and canapés.

n To book your tickets please visit

RTPI RESPONDS TO LABOUR ON LEPS Leader of the Labour Party, the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, has outlined new thinking on local growth in a letter sent to council leaders, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and universities in England. Cath Ranson, president of the RTPI, said: “Labour’s thinking on how best to foster local growth is welcome. The RTPI stresses that the proposed economic plans must be truly spatial and genuinely strategic in their approach if they are to be effective.

Research the RTPI commissioned on the recently submitted LEP strategic economic plans indicates that there are some marked differences across Strategic Economic Plans in terms of their planning content and also the degree of sophistication of spatial planning analysis, and that some LEPs may not yet be equipped to plan strategically.” The RTPI stresses that the proposed economic plans must be truly spatial and genuinely strategic in approach if they are to be effective.

n For more information on RTPI policy positions visit the Briefing Room:


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Places from £195=VAT. To book visit:

Make the most of the Planning Convention TUESDAY 24 JUNE 2014 | LONDON

A topical theme for 2014

Meeting the challenge: How will planners shape the future? c What might the future hold? c What are the great challenges? c What are the solutions and opportunities?



c Choose sessions on housing, transport

and infrastructure, economic growth and health and urbanisation c Join an interactive Q&A with the chief planner from the DCLG c A keynote speech with a government minister

c Find out more on the key issues in spatial



c Make new contacts during the day c Tweet with the convention using the

c Find solutions to your organisation’s key

hashtag #plancon14 c Extend your network further at the drinks reception

c Gain the latest industry updates c Meet with the biggest names in spatial


c Take part in a guided walking tour

the day before the convention c Be led by an expert with a passion

for the subject and ask questions along the way c Tours are FREE to delegates


planning c Don’t miss more than 15 excellent

speakers take to the stage c Take notes, ask questions and contribute

ideas to the debate



RTPI AWARDS FOR PLANNING EXCELLENCE c Join more than 400 planning

professionals and celebrate the best achievements within planning c Don't miss leading architect Sir Terry Farrell host the ceremony c Network afterwards over a glass of wine and make new contacts

DON’T JUST TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT… “Once again a very good event for keeping up to date and networking” MIKE HAYES

“An opportunity to meet and speak with other professionals about current issues affecting the profession” KEVIN BURBRIDGE Gravesend Borough Council

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RTPI members discuss their big career-changing decisions

READ THE NEW RTPI CENTENARY BLOGS This is an extract from The Role Of Planning In Preventing Needless Mortality by Inge Hartkoorn: “Planners and others need to embrace the opportunities for preventative measures, and learn from successful methods from around the globe. Think of how planning can influence and stimulate active travel through walking and cycling, and promote urban design that encourages exercise, how it can promote more green spaces and age-friendly communities, how it can influence high street composition to tackle ‘toxic high streets’, how it can facilitate the reduction of air pollution and so on. “But perhaps the biggest challenge in achieving healthier places is realigning public health and the planning profession. The two are currently largely disconnected and are driven by different forms of evidence. We need to find ways to reunite the two, and to work together in responding to current and future health challenges in response to the social determinants of health. Only when public health and planning work together effectively can we be more successful in creating places where people not only have the highest life expectancy possible, but also there are reduced inequalities in disability-free life expectancy as well.” To read the Centenary blog series please visit


NOTICE OF MEMBERS’ DEATHS The institute notes with very great regret the deaths of the following RTPI members and offers its sincere condolences to their families and friends: c Ernest Lilbourne

c David Tackley



c Brian Panter

c Ian Neal



c Frances Mary

c Kenneth Evans



c Cyril Spouncer

c Derek Statham

(East of England)


c Charles Browing

c Adrian Murray


(West Midlands)


Craig Woolmer Spatial planning officer COFELY UK I was elected to Hull City Council in 2008. I was only 20 and still an undergraduate studying Government at the University of Hull when I won my seat on the council. I was appointed chair of the planning committee in 2010, which sparked my passion for planning. I now work for Cofely UK as a spatial planning officer working as part of a team that delivers the planning service for North-East Lincolnshire Council. I hadn’t thought about a long-term career when I was first elected, but in the final year of my four-year term on the council I started to think about the future. That was when I made my step-change decision to become a planner. Planning was the obvious choice for me because it’s a career that provides real opportunity to make a positive difference to the places in which we live. So in my last year as a councillor I studied for a master’s degree in town planning at Sheffield Hallam University. When my term as a councillor ended in May 2012 there wasn’t an abundance of graduate planning jobs, so I took a role as planning and building control technical administrator with Balfour Beatty WorkPlace (now part of Cofely UK). Luckily, it was the right decision and I was promoted to my current role as a spatial planning officer within a few months. I am passionate about my career. It’s interesting and challenging. I joined a small team, which has been great because it has given me the chance to take on responsibility quickly and carve out a career path. When I joined I was keen to develop my interest in areas such as housing and infrastructure, but the role has given me a chance to develop experience in areas I hadn’t considered before, such as waste and minerals. Serving as an elected member was a fascinating experience and I learnt a lot. I think that planners should have an understanding of governance and public administration because it is so vitally important in all planning roles. I am now a licentiate member of the RTPI, working towards the APC.


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Recruitment {

WE C A N HE LP Y OU FI N D YOU R P E R F EC T J O B • Jobs by email • CV upload • Tailored searches

O R Y O U R P E R F EC T C A N D I D AT E Access to job seekers: • Print • Online • Email

C O N TA C T Contact the recruitment team on 020 7880 7665 or email


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WHERE POTENTIAL MEETS AMBITION Maidstone is a place with a lot going on. With an investment budget of £6 million and provision for regeneration projects of £1.8 million this year the Council is committed to ambitious regeneration and development of the borough – protecting the unique character of our historic urban centres and stunning rural settings, while encouraging and supporting responsible and sustainable economic growth. As a result our Development Management Service is a place where Planning professionals can see their potential turn into achievement and realise their own professional ambitions.

Planning Development Manager

Principal Planning Officer

Up to £54,170 inclusive

This role offers a valuable step forward to your career as, alongside your own caseload, you will also support and help manage a small team of other Planning Officers. You’ll ensure an appropriate blend of support and challenge helps shape a high quality Development Management service.

Up to £46,908 inclusive

You’ll lead our Development Management service (incorporating enforcement and HLD) creating a team environment where high expectations and standards are backed up with professional support and development opportunities. You’ll ensure that planning decisions are sound and delivered in a timely and professional manner. You’ll also take the lead on certain major applications, appeals and projects.

To find out more detail about each of these roles visit or contact Steve Guest at SOLACE Enterprises on 0845 6010649. Closing date: 3 June.

Reach the largest possible talent pool of RTPI candidates by advertising your planning vacancies in The Planner. The new RTPI magazine provides the only way to access all 20,000+ members each month and is the best way to reach the largest targeted and relevant audience.

The next booking deadline for Recruitment Advertising is: 1.30pm Thursday 22nd May

Please contact the recruitment team on 020 7880 7665 or email




We are a Town Planning Consultancy in Lincolnshire with a positive approach towards development and landscape design. Whilst our base is rural, our workload is varied, including projects throughout the East Midlands and further afield.

TOWN PLANNERS (£28,000 - £33,000 + BENEFITS) We are looking for Town Planners with the skills to deal with a diverse workload, working with an existing team of professionals assessing development potential, advising clients as well as preparing applications and appeals. Experience of Development Management is desirable but not essential. Must enjoy working in a quiet village location where the air is clean and the rush hour your own making. Please apply in writing with a CV and current salary by 30 May 2014 to: The Company Secretary, Robert Doughty Consultancy Limited, 32 High Street, Helpringham, Sleaford, Lincolnshire NG34 0RA. For an informal discussion about the post and the Consultancy please telephone Robbie Doughty on 01529 421646. Alternatively visit

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Plan B P


GLASGOW DEMOLITION FARRAGO Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg has this month become Plan B’s favourite unintentional comedy character. David, you may remember, is the man behind the plan to demolish five residential tower blocks (the Red Road flats) in Glasgow during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. A neighbouring sixth block, full of asylum-seekers, was to remain while all around it disappeared in a massive heap of dust and rubble and ignominy. To recap, their destruction would have contributed a 15-second segment to be broadcast live to a giant screen at Celtic Park and to TV viewers

around the world. This, apparently, would have symbolised the regeneration of the city. In a really sensitive way, obv. The plan was quickly kiboshed under protest from interfering dogooders. In true David Brent style, David Grevemberg said he saw nothing crass or insensitive about the demolition scheme. Instead, he pledged to find “other ways” to tell the story of Glasgow’s



regeneration. “We want to delight people [you’ve certainly tainly delighted Plan n B] and we want people ople to be really engaged gaged around thiss and I really am confi nfident that this wass one part of the ceremony,” emony,” he told the BBC. C. “There’s lots of parts rts to the ceremony and d I feel very confi nfident that people are going to enjoy this and d it’s going to be a great at moment.”

We’re confident you’re going to come up with something equally daft, David. Please do. It’ll be a great moment, we’re sure.

Prior to facing questions in the Commons, our planning minister and apparent Game of Thrones fan Nick Boles wrote on Twitter: “Distracted from Orals prep by this topical question: which of my colleagues wd best fill the role of Khaleesi? @trussliz? @EstherMcVeyMP?” A hasty follow-up qualified his initial comment, lest the planning minister earn the nickname Nick Bolesusconi: “Let’s face it, either of them would be magnificent with three dragons at their command. As would @stellacreasy and @

NadineDorriesMP”. All well and good, butt it’s fair to say that Plan B is now distracted from writing this column by the topical question: which TV character would uld best be played by Nick Boles? s? Actually, he’d be rather er fetching himself as Daenerys enerys si), as Targaryen (aka Khaleesi), our picture on the right testifies. That said, if he were to play any character in Game Of Thrones Thrones it would have to be Stannis nnis Baratheon (the likenesss is uncanny). You may have ve a better idea, though. Indeed, you ou may even like to send Plan B your #Bolesonthetelly suggestion stion on Twitter via @ThePlanner_RTPI. er_RTPI.

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I M A G E S | M I R R O R P I X | P O L I C Y E X C H A N G E | S H U T T E R S T O C K | R E X F E AT U R E S

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“Our cities are losing their smells,” says Victoria Henshaw, town planner turned odour advocate at the University of Sheffield, who has made it her mission to champion the importance of aroma in urban spaces. Thus reported The Guardian on Ms Henshaw’s “smell walks” that she led for the Royal Academy’s Sensing Spaces exhibition. Victoria’s major concern is that cities are losing their distinctive aromas to the limited range of “clone smells” emanating from the smells same o old same old high street shops. It’s a an interesting take on “clo “clone towns” and the homogenisation of high homog streets. Being right on, Plan streets B is in sympathy. But we caution against going too far cautio in the desire to return to “how fings used u to be”. For, as any true Londonist Lo knows, the Victorian city was also full of Victor scents and odours. But these were rather less fragrant than the whiff of posh fragran soap leaking from Lush. Try walking through a miasma walk of ti tiny slaughterhouses, chemical manufactories and chem tanneries, then come and tann tell u us all about the lovely smell of cities. Mmmm, oh sme yeah. yeah NB On a rare serious NB: note, historical Medical no Officer of Health reports for London have been fo published online by the p Wellcome Trust. These W were integral to creating w tthe sanitary living conditions that we enjoy c iin modern cities. Take a look at the London’s Pulse project at: https:// moh/

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24 June 2014 • Central Hall Westminster • London

Join us at the most important planning event of the year for:

D Conference sessions with expert speakers on housing, transport & infrastructure, economic growth and health & urbanisation

DA variety of guided study tours DExhibition and networking opportunities

RTPI members just


Call 020 3740 5696 | Visit

RTPI Conferences and the Planning Convention are managed by Kaplan Hawksmere on behalf of the Royal Town Planning Institute

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Highlight ‡ celebrate ‡ inspire Join us in celebrating the very best at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence ceremony on 23rd June at the Shaw Theatre, Pullman London St Pancras. Our awards highlight exceptional examples of planning and celebrate the contribution that planners and planning make to society, inspiring others to achieve the highest standards.

To book your ticket visit

Sponsors include:

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Supported by:

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The Planner May 2014  
The Planner May 2014