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SEA OF CHANGE The challenge facing the nation's resorts

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years of Planning Aid

Find out more about Planning Aid in your area:

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20 13



8 RTPI proposes fresh approach to 'unlock' large-scale housing

10 The low-down on fracking – where does planning permission come in? 12 HS2 – the latest situation in this high profile saga 13 Government takes step forward on green compensation

13 House builders hit out at onerous planning conditions as figures show jump in number of homes seeking approvals 15 Preston City Council to 'consider carefully' the Government's decision to list Preston Bus Station



16 Higher housing output vital if economic recovery is not to mean higher prices, argues Tony Fyson 19 Richard Crawley: How to define a good planning service 19 Trudi Elliott: What I've learned about the state of planning guidance in England

32 FEATURES 20 Mark Smulian looks at the changing fortunes of the UK's seaside resorts 24 Carl Sargeant explains his plans to use the Welsh planning system to make Wales a growth nation




INSIGHT 37 Sector experts give recent development decisions the once over 42 Making the most of speaking in public – first in our series of professional development articles 44 Plan Ahead – our pick of upcoming events for the planning profession and beyond 46 The latest news, views and interviews from the offices of the RTPI.

28 Why is there a gap between permission for housing and actual construction? Huw Morris investigates 32 Has the Planning Act 2008 really helped speed up authorisation for national infrastructure projects?


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Are you proud of planning and proud of planners? If you want to let the planning world know of a great initiative, award, major project or just want to endorse some of the great work that planners across the world are involved in, then join our Facebook page today.

Find us at: Proud of planning proud of planners. Set up by the Royal Town Planning Institute, following the RTPI’s President Dr Peter Geraghty’s inaugural speech in January 2013, to demonstrate pride in the profession and its achievements.

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Leaderr Housing demand debate has an all too familiar air – When Harold Macmillan was appointed housing minister in 1951, he faced the enormous task of rebuilding the country after the ravages of World War Two. A total of 300,000 homes a year was needed, and Winston Churchill told him “it’s a gamble, but it will make or mar your political career”. Working tirelessly with Labour and Tory local authorities alike on an enormous public and private building house building programme, he hit the target a year early. If only he was around today. More than 60 years later, today’s politicians are struggling to get anywhere near half that figure. As Macmillan once said, consultation is telling the other side what you’re going to do. Labour leader Ed Miliband is the latest to set out his stall, pledging 200,000 homes a year. But observers will note his predecessor Gordon Brown made a similarly bold promise only for that to

turn to dust. This inaugural edition of The Planner shows that the country is still some way off the 220,000 new homes a year it needs, never mind the 245,000 figure suggested in some quarters. This is not the medium to debate which policies could spur such a building rush. However let’s look into the crystal ball and suggest a few scenarios. When the country


continues to get nowhere near meeting housing demand, how long will it be before whichever government takes the easy road of listening to vested interests and bonkers think-tanks before it blatantly blames planners and the planning system? How long before another new planning minister comes on the scene with yet another round of reforms? You don’t have to be Mystic Meg to come up with this. The signs are already here. Councils and developers accuse each other of being too tough with permissions or slow to build. Even where the relationships are more cordial, there are now complaints by developers that planning departments have been cut to the bone and this is starting to hamper their handling of applications. Does all this sound familiar? Well, just look back over the past 15 years at how planning has played out in Whitehall. We’re not saying goodbye to all that, but hello again.

CONTACTS Consultant Editor Huw Morris Editorial Desk Tel: 020 7880 7664 email: RTPI Membership 020 7929 9462 Education 0207 929 9451 Planning Aid Advice Line 0330 123 9244 41 Botolph Lane London EC3R 8D

Media enquiries James Butler 020 7929 8182 ISSN 2053-7581 The Planner is produced using paper derived from sustainable sources; the ink used is vegetable based; 85 per cent of other solvents used in the production process are recycled.

© The Planner is produced on behalf of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) by Redactive Publishing Ltd (RPL), 17 Britton St, London EC1M 5TP. This magazine aims to include a broad range of opinion about planning issues and articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the RTPI nor should such opinions be relied upon as statements of fact. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in any print or electronic format, including but not limited to any online service, any database or any part of the internet, or in any other format in whole or in part in any media whatsoever, without the prior written permission of the publisher. While all due care is taken in writing and producing this magazine, neither RTPI nor RPL accept any liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein. Printed by Polestar Colchester Ltd.

The Royal Town Planning Institute 41 Botolph Lane London EC3R 8DL Tel: 020 7929 9494 Fax: 020 7929 9490 RTPI website:


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You're holding the first in a new style of magazine for RTPI members and the planning profession – one written both for and about you and your chosen career.


The Planner will update, inform and entertain in equal measure – not just reporting on our profession, but reflecting its character. Our promise to you, the time-poor planning professional, is that each edition of this magazine will offer something you can put to use, be it fresh insight, useful explanations or a wider perspective. It's a magazine that you can be proud of. «

What we're providing




Considered analysis of the policy, practice and process issues affecting you and your colleagues in the work you do.

Expansive features detailing the economic, social and environmental issues likely to inform future planning policy and activity.

(3) Interviews with the people whose work is most likely to impact on the role of planning and planning professionals.

(4) Interviews with you, the planner, to discuss and share aspects of your everyday work.

(5) Training tips and career development advice specifically focused on the needs of the planning professional.


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HOW YOU' YOU'LL LL BENEFIT BEN -> In recent years, planning has managed to get itself a stronger profile in the media – but does this mean the public now has a fair and balanced view of the UK's planning systems and the people who work within them? We want this magazine not just to help present planning in its best light, but to ensure that anyone else picking it up gets to appreciate the full extent and value of this profession's contribution to society. Planning is in a position to drive economic growth while balancing the needs of the community and protecting the environment. It would be easy to focus too much on our own internal process issues without painting a wider picture of the broader context in which planning operates. We'll be doing everything we can to highlight the status of the planning profession and its importance to the national debate.

HOW YOU CAN BE INVOLVED -> The Planner is for RTPI members of all levels of experience, and our content will be balanced accordingly. Most importantly of all, this is your magazine – we'll always value your opinion and involvement. We're keen to ensure that the sense of community conferred through membership of the RTPI is reflected in our pages. Please always feel free to correspond with us on anything we publish, or indeed to suggest the topics you'd like us to cover. Email us at with any comments you may have.

(6) Routinely updated data 'dashboards' providing an ata-glance status of new and upcoming policy and legislation.

(7) The legal perspective on the changing planning landscape.

(8) A forum for people in and around the profession to debate topical issues as they affect them.


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Analysis { G O VE RNME NT

RTPI proposes fresh approach to ‘unlock’ large-scale housing


The scenario seen in many communities is often one where developers want to build lots of homes and local people put up a big fight to stop it happening. Two entrenched positions are taken as both sides slug it out until one wins and either the homes are built or the community celebrates a victory for their local area. In the meantime we risk failing to identify the sites for large scale development needed to ensure housing supply is sufficient. Is there another way, where the community works with developers and the government to find suitable locations for new homes? Can local people be persuaded that homes must be found for their The central problem is that supply is not meeting children and grandchildren? demand and hasn’t done for many years, the report A new Royal Town Planning Institute report sugnotes. There is a backlog of two million homes needed, which pushes the annual figure of new gests there are ways of breaking down the confrontations that often occur. Delivering Large homes required from 265,000 up to 300-330,0001. Scale Housing: Unlocking Schemes and Sites to Richard Blyth, RTPI head of policy, practice and Help Meet the UK’s Housing Needs proposes a research, and a co-author of the report, said the recession is not a major factor in the problems of more rounded approach to local planning, with 15 recommendations for action. housing supply, and that there was a serious issue The report stresses, for example, that if the voice before it began. of the silent majority of local There is also no one simple solupeople heard as clearly as that of tion to the issue and several protestors, then local authority different things need to be done at "WE HAVE SPENT AN planning decisions will be more the same time. “There is no silver AWFUL LOT OF TIME reflective of the wishes and needs bullet,” he said, “Things need to PROVING THE CASE of the community. happen in parallel.” FOR THIS" Planning professionals can take The government is concentrating on boosting demand through on a more strategic role, using their expertise to greater effect, the report says. They can assisting more mortgages, Blyth added. “We think support local leaders, such as senior councillors and it is more important to look at a supply guarantee.” The report’s 15 recommendations fall under five officers, to give direction and ensure communities face the challenges of housing supply. broad headings: community engagement, land, The report also addresses the question of how we infrastructure, finance and leadership/governance. can ensure development is “locally-inspired” and Among the recommendations are the suggestion not piecemeal. A Scottish perspective offers a conthat central government should offer incentives for trast to the experience in England, with attention local authorities to plan larger developments over given to Scotland's regional Strategic Development a longer period of forward planning, beyond fivePlans and planning hierarchy that distinguishes year plans. The report also proposes that resources could be between local, major and national development.


UNLOCKED Delivering Large Scale Housing has 15 recommendations to enable land to be released for major housing development. They fall under five themed headings:

(1) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Informing communities about the case for development (2) LAND Removing barriers around land availability (3) INFRASTRUCTURE Resolving infrastructure funding stalemates (4) FINANCE Ideas to access funding and de­risk development (5) LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE Improving political leadership to ensure informed decisions


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Armitt calls for infrastructure commission

Housing completions from 1919 to 2011 450 ■ Private Completions ■ Housing Associations ■ Local Authorities

400 350

Housing completions

300 250 200 150 100 50 0 1919


Source: British Historical Statistics

pooled between local authorities, infrastructure providers and government agencies, to facilitate investment in large scale schemes. Furthermore, central government could consider underwriting some building to lessen the risk of schemes stalling short of new infrastructure projects as developers are concerned about covering their contribution. The report also recommends that spending on new infrastructure needs to be linked up more effectively with housing and planning policies. This approach can unlock large sites and lower the risk for developers. There are some quick wins that could help progress towards producing large sites for development, according to the report. One would be to share risks of future uplifts in land values evenly between councils, developers and landowners. A landowner would then be less inclined to hold onto land waiting for prices to rise. The first recommendation, however, is a message to politicians, campaign groups and planners, calling on them to make the case for large scale developments. Everyone needs to realise the consequences of not building enough houses, and that large scale sites are needed, the report stresses. Blyth said: “In the national media we hear it said that ministers should come in and solve the problem, but it is about winning hearts and minds.” Perhaps a new approach from everyone involved in planning new homes would avoid the old problems we are so familiar with. 1RIBA The Future Homes Commission – Building

the Homes and Communities Britain Needs


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An independent commission must be launched to identify the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs, the former chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority has recommended. In a review of longterm infrastructure planning in the UK set up by by the Labour Party, Sir John Armitt said the commission should assess the country’s needs over a 25-30 year horizon. The commission should then monitor plans by government departments for each infrastructure sector, including specific projects. The review found that successive government have failed to set strategic priorities for infrastructure based on clear projections of future needs. The Office for National Statistics forecasts that the UK’s population will grow by another 10 million to more than 73 million

National parks under policy spotlight The Government is considering reviewing planning policy in national parks. Planning minister Nick Boles told the House of Commons that national parks would retain their appeal “only if they are allowed to change and develop, and if people can get jobs and set up business”. A total of 41 communities within national parks are

robust proposals for major schemes within clear timescales. Read the review at:

people by 2035. Sir John said such a commission would also hold politicians to account to implement



Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Northumberland North York Moors Yorkshire Dales

Lake District

Peak District Snowdonia

Broads Pembrokeshire Coast Brecon Beacons Exmoor

South Downs

Dartmoor New Forest

currently working on neighbourhood plans. Mr Boles said officials will look at whether

present planning policy reflects desires for a more localist approach and whether decisionmaking could be more responsive, transparent and accountable to local needs. “I should like to have a conversation with all the people who represent national parks and with the national park authorities to reach a better understanding of what we might do so that national parks remain the proudest jewels in the crown of the English and Welsh landscape, while also being living communities that grow, develop and thrive.”


30/09/2013 12:18


Analysis { E NE R GY

The lowdown on fracking


The exploitation of shale gas reserves, better known as fracking, has been in the spotlight due to major protests against energy company Cuadrilla's exploration site near the village of Balcombe, West Sussex. Chancellor George Osborne has introduced tax breaks for shale gas exploration, prime minister David Cameron said it will reduce energy bills, while energy secretary Ed Davey suggested fracking would not endanger the UK's climate targets. However, the process has provoked fears of flames coming out of water taps and earthquakes. National campaigners such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are hostile to the process.

How does fracking work? Water containing sand is pumped at high pressure into the rock. The sand keeps the small fractures in the rock open while the gas is extracted.

Where is it and how much is there? Research by the British Geological Survey shows formations with most shale gas potential run from the North East of England down to the South and South West. It estimates this may contain 37.6 trillion cubic metres of shale gas, between 1,800-13,000 billion cubic metres of it recoverable.

What are the economic implications? The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee concluded in 2011 that shale gas was unlikely to be a "game changer" as in the USA, citing that there is less land available to drill on. In March, the Institute of Directors presented a scenario where UK shale gas production attracts investment of £3.7 billion a year and supports up to 74,000 jobs, often in regions of high unemployment and in sectors such as manufacturing.

What is the regulatory regime? Shale gas drilling is currently only in the exploratory phase in the UK. It is covered by the normal UK regime for all oil and gas exploration and development. A UK Petroleum Exploration and Development licence from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) allows a company to pursue a range of exploration activities, subject to necessary drilling/development consents and planning permission.


Where does planning permission come in? Proposals for shale gas exploration or extraction are subject to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 administered by the minerals planning authority (MPA) for the area in which the development is located. DECC’s consent for all drilling or production operations for oil and gas is given only once planning permission has been obtained. The MPA will take the decision in accordance with policies set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and government guidance published in July.

Anti-fracking protestors block access to the shale gas extraction site at Balcombe, West Sussex.


What counts as material planning considerations? There is no exhaustive list of what constitutes a material planning consideration but government guidance does offer some "principal issues". These are noise associated with the operation, dust, air quality, lighting, visual intrusion into the local setting and wider landscape caused by any building or structure within the site area, landscape character, archaeological and heritage features, traffic, risk of contamination to land and soil resources, impact on agricultural land, flood risk, land subsidence, designated wildlife sites and protected habitats and species, site restoration and aftercare.


annual investment UK shale gas production could attract


number of jobs it could support, according to IoD


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MPs hit out at poor transport for the disabled MPs have denounced transport facilities for disabled people as “unacceptably poor” a year after the Paralympics. The Department for Transport had published an action plan for improving the accessibility of transport for disabled people, provide better information and improve attitudes to disabled passengers. But the Commons transport committee said while the aims are “praiseworthy", it doubted how closely the government is monitoring the plan. It called on ministers to publish annual updates, including data on changes in the number and types of journeys made by disabled people. The MPs said better access to transport for disabled people will create more employment, education and training opportunities and encourage more travel to healthcare centres, shops and leisure destinations. n The report can be seen at -http://bit. ly/199EBXI

What issues are not material considerations? Certain issues have been held by the courts not to be material considerations. These include loss of property value, loss of view and opposition to the principle of development. Representations on these issues will not be considered when a planning decision is taken.

Are there other permissions? All drilling operations are subject to notification to the Health and Safety Executive. Each site is assessed by the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the bodies that regulate discharges to the environment, issue water abstraction licences and are statutory consultees in the planning process.

How many applications have been made and who has made them? Cuadrilla has submitted seven applications, six of which have now expired. Elsewhere, i-Gas had two applications approved in 2010, while Coastal Oil and Gas had its proposal refused by Vale of Glamorgan Council only to be approved on appeal in July 2012. Celtique Energy is planning to submit applications this year.

I M A G E S | A L A M Y / N E W S I N T E R N AT I O N A L

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Lib Dems review planning policy Liberal Democrats are holding a wide-scale review into the party’s thinking on planning policy. The party believes that while the National Planning Policy Framework has defined the broad parameters of planning, it has further aspirations for the system to deliver strategic vision. The review, chaired by MP Annette Brook and Lord Tope, is asking how planning decisions could be made at the right level and how to ensure democratic accountability for central government’s vision for major infrastructure projects.

Key questions to party members include whether the Planning Inspectorate should be abolished and what role the Secretary of State should play in any decisions which are not national and could be resolved locally. The review also covers central and local government's roles in delivering business and growth while revitalising areas which fall into neglect. It is asking how many homes should be built in an area and whether the planning system should ensure different housing tenures feature in local plans. Other questions posed by the party include whether planning officers are trained to deliver strategic outcomes and whether council structures for planning

are fully compatible with other policies. It is also seeking views on how communities can be encouraged to take part in neighbourhood plans and how the planning system can lever in social benefits such as open space and affordable homes. The party is also questioning whether standards for design quality, building sustainability and enforcement should be top-down from central government or entirely set at local level. Liberal Democrat councillors will be invited to a major consultation event on the review in the autumn. The party will then meet professional bodies and other interested organisations before producing a paper for further consultation.


30/09/2013 12:18


Analysis { T RAN S P O R T

Mounting opposition has case for HS2 on the rails High-speed rail has faced a torrid few months amid mounting claims over the cost of the project. Huw Morris looks at both sides of the debate. Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin is adamant the UK’s most significant infrastructure project in decades is essential to the country’s future prosperity.: “The main reason we need HS2 is a heart bypass for the clogged arteries of our transport system.” HS2 will link London with Birmingham by 2026 and with Manchester and Leeds by 2033. McLoughlin cites findings by accountants KPMG to state the at £80 billion - £7.5 billion of it from the price of case for the high-speed rail line. It will boost the UK new trains and £30 billion from new road links and economy by £15 billion a year, with regions outside tram lines, extra tunnel and design changes to buy the UK the biggest winners from the project, KPMG off opposition, and regeneration schemes around claims. Birmingham’s economy could be boosted new stations and towns impacted by the project. The National Audit Office has raised doubts over by between 2.1 and 4.2 per cent a year, while Leeds would enjoy a 1.6 per cent rise. Manchester would the business case while the Commons Public benefit by between 0.8 and 1.7 per cent. Accounts Committee was even more blunt, saying Although the economic boost will not be felt until there is no evidence HS2 will spur the growth of regional cities. Instead, the committee claimed, 2037, the transport secretary believes scrapping the London would suck even more flagship scheme would be a “national loss of nerve”. Faster business out of the provinces. It journey times, new jobs and up to attacked McLoughlin’s ministry "AN INFLUENTIAL for taking decisions “based on 500,000 fewer lorry journeys a day ARRAY OF OPPONENTS on the country’s roads are among IS LINING UP AGAINST fragile numbers, out-of-date data the benefits. Most of all, he rejects and assumptions which do not THE SCHEME" fears over HS2’s budget as “scare reflect real life”. stories”, claiming it will remain The business lobby is divided. £42.6 billion with a contingency of £14.4 billion. The British Chambers of Commerce sees HS2 as McLoughlin’s problem is that there is an influen“one of the key infrastructure projects for the UK”. tial array of opponents lining up against the scheme But the Institute of Directors (IoD) brands it a and telling these scare stories. Previous supporters “grand folly”, citing investment in the West and East of HS2, such as Lord Mandelson and former chancoast main lines combined with other infrastruccellor Alistair Darling, now openly doubt whether ture projects as more sensible options. the project is worth the money. Treasury officials A particular gripe focuses on the government’s have stopped using the £42.6 billion estimate and assertion that time spent on a train is unproductive. are briefing that the true figure is £73 billion, once An IoD survey of members found this assumption inflation and VAT are factored in. Free market thinkis wildly inaccurate, as only 6 per cent say they never work on a train, while 48 per cent say they tank the Institute of Economic Affairs puts the cost


21% 6% 26%


c 6% say they never work on a train c 48% say they spend at least half of the journey working c 26% work for between a quarter and half the time c 21% spend up to a quarter of the journey working


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Government takes step forward on green compensation Developers and wildlife groups have been asked how the planning system can provide alternative sites for nature following development. The government is consulting on how the planning process can create nature sites to compensate for damage caused by development. Under the move, known as biodiversity offsetting, developers operating in ecologically sensitive areas would be allowed to proceed if they pay for conservation schemes elsewhere. “We want to hear from developer and wildlife groups alike on how we can simplify the existing planning process while enhancing our natural environment,” said environment secretary Owen Paterson. “There is no reason why wildlife and development can’t flourish side by side.” Six pilot areas were selected in England in 2012 for two-year trials

spend at least half of the journey working. Some 26 per cent said they work for between a quarter and half the time and 21 per cent spend up to a quarter of their journey working. “Station upgrades, inter-city improvements, tunnels, electrification and capacity improvements should all be considered alternatives,” said IoD secretary general Simon Walker. “It is time for the government to look at a thousand smaller projects instead of falling for one grand folly.” With so many influential bodies lambasting the scheme’s costs, will the government press ahead? Certainly a revised business case in favour of HS2 is on the cards. However, a torrid few months for the scheme has bitterly shown the perils facing highly ambitious infrastructure projects. Long-term planning is a battleground for number crunchers and lobbyists alike. I M AG E S | G E T T Y/ H S 2

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Approvals up but too many conditions, say builders House builders have hit out at onerous planning conditions, despite a 49 per cent year-on-year rise in approvals for new homes in England in the second quarter of 2013. Figures released by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) show 77,686 permissions granted in the first six months of the year, a 26 per cent increase. The figures, compiled

n The consultation paper

of a voluntary approach to offsetting through the planning system. In March, a government task force suggested rolling the scheme out nationwide. Biodiversity offsetting has been used in 25 other countries, including the USA, Australia, India and Germany.

The consultation will last until early November and the government will then offer proposals on how biodiversity might work in the UK.

by construction analyst Glenigan, also show that the annual number of house builds has risen by 34 per cent year-onyear to 156,608. The HBF said the upturn reflected the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework and the government's help to buy scheme. But the numbers are short of the estimated 220,000 homes a year needed to meet housing demand and the HBF claimed that "pre-commencement" conditions prevent work starting on sites. Builders called on planning authorities

to be "realistic" and consider whether such conditions are necessary or can be fulfilled later on. Glenigan's economics director Allan Wilén said: "While off the high point seen at the end of 2012, approvals remain significantly ahead of a year ago. The current strengthening in housing market activity points to a further rise in planning approvals in the second half of the year as house builders bring forward sites for development during 2014.” n Read the research at http://bit. ly/19LXxLs

is available at http://bit. ly/17BbbmI


30/09/2013 12:19


Quicker decisions in London, but applications fall in numbers

London needs more than 800,000 homes to meet demand London's status as a global city is in severe danger as the capital struggles with the worst housing shortages since the Second World War, according to the city's boroughs. London Councils, which represents 33 boroughs, analysed Department for Communities and Local Government and Greater London Authority housing statistics and found that 809,000 homes will be needed to meet projected housing demand in 2021. A total of 526,000 new homes will need to be built by 2021 just to keep up with new demand as the capital's population is expected to increase by more than one million to nine million. But only 250,000 homes will be built on current projections. A further 283,000 homes will also need to be built to meet the housing backlog. London Councils said current housing supply levels suggest there will be a deficit of 559,000 homes by 2021. Even when excluding factors such as overcrowding, this amounts to 329,000 fewer homes than the city will require. Executive member for housing Sir Steve Bullock said: "The last time we faced such an acute housing supply crisis was after the Second World War. This is a long time coming and the capital's future prosperity is on the line. "If the housing crisis is not solved, costs for the London economy will continue to spiral. More working families will struggle to rent and to buy, and more people could be forced out of the capital." The group is calling on the government to lift the housing borrowing cap which prevents councils from investing in housing. It also demands more investment in the rental sector, support for smallerscale builders on contstruction contracts and sustainable development near London's tube and rail network. A total of 134,000 homes could be built if these measures were introduced.


Major planning applications are being handled much faster than a year ago but their number has dropped significantly over the period, according to new research. Property consultant GL Hearn and the British Property Federation canvassed the views of local planning authorities (LPAs) in London and applicants over the summer and found that during 2012-13 there were 22 per cent fewer major applications determined - 775 applications against 1,075 in 2011-12. Of the 775 applications, the average time for processing them fell to 24 weeks in 2012-13, down from 34 weeks in 2011-12. The average approval rate was only very slightly down this year, from 85 per cent in 2011-12 to 82 per cent in 2012-13. However, the large majority of applicants remain unsatisfied with the time it takes to determine applications - 70 per cent in 2012-13, down from 75 per cent in 2012, with 63 per cent still concerned with the cost of applications. GL Hearn's head of investor and developer planning Shaun Andrews said: “It may be that there are fewer applications in the system, therefore LPAs are able to allocate resources efficiently. Or it could be due to greater emphasis being placed upon the pre-application period so that although applications are being processed more quickly, overall the length of time for the application process remains the same.

“Alternatively, it could be that the Government’s reforms are having a positive effect and as such LPAs are making considerable efforts to determine applications more quickly.” British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace said: “One area where there appears to be agreement is ensuring local authorities have the resources and staff to ensure planning


applications are dealt with in a timely manner. In the face of government spending cuts, there are fears planning departments are smaller and less well equipped." Major schemes were defined in the survey as those with ten or more homes, residential sites over 0.5 hectares, non-residential schemes over one hectare or the creation or change of use of more than 1,000 square metres gross.



22% Fewer applications

70% Unsatisfied with the time it takes to determine applications


82% Approval rate

63% Concerned with cost


Local teams to advise on "high street health checks" Teams of local experts will train towns to adapt their high streets to changing consumer behaviour, under a government initiative. The training and mentoring programme will target the leaders of 350 town teams across the country, following recommendations by retail guru Mary Portas. The training will encourage towns to carry out "high street health checks" and to agree what the town centre offer will be to residents and visitors. Workshops will be led by experts from organisations such as the Association of Town and City Management, Centre for Local Economic Strategies and Business in the Community. They will advise town teams on how to ‘future-proof' their towns by turning high streets into thriving centres of culture, entertainment and social activity for the future. The training will draw on examples of successful high streets across the country.


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Preston bus station


Turbine project gets Scottish ministers' consent – The largest tidal turbine energy project in Europe will go ahead after Scottish ministers granted consent. MeyGen Ltd will install the tidal array in stages in the Pentland Firth between Orkney and the Scottish mainland. It will start with a nine megawatt demonstration project of up to six turbines. Each turbine will be 22.5 metres tall, weigh 1,500 tonnes and have a rotor diameter of 18 metres. When fully operational, the array could generate enough electricity to power 42,000 homes. Due to the strength and speed of its tides, the Pentland Firth was once described as the "Saudi Arabia of tidal power" by Scotland's first minster Alex Salmond. The Carbon Trust estimates that wave and tidal resources could provide 20 per cent of the UK's electricity if fully developed.

Liverpool homes project set for public inquiry – Ministers have decided to call in a highly controversial proposal to tear down hundreds of homes and rebuild a site in Liverpool's Welsh Streets area. In July, Liverpool City Council's planning committee backed a plan to demolish 440 homes, build more than 150 new houses and refurbish a further 37 - including 9 Madryn Street, the birthplace of former Beatle Ringo Starr. Heritage campaigners have fiercely resisted the plan. A public inquiry will now hear concerns about a range of architectural and design issues and how far the proposals meet planning policy on conserving and enhancing the historic environment. It will also hear how far the proposals are in line with policy on bringing empty homes back into use and whether they conform to the area's development plan.

Welsh government consults on LDP improvements – The Welsh Government is to consult further on improvements to the local development plan (LDP) process in the light of experience of the present system. A total of eleven LDPs have been judged to be sound following examination, with a further six having reached the deposit stage or beyond. Among the issues the government will seek feedback on are increased and improved front-loading, reduction in the number of required stages for revising plans and a repackaging and reduction of the soundness tests. I M A G E S | A L A M Y / PA

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Preston City Council said it will consider carefully the impact of the government's decision to list Preston Bus Station as a building of significant and historical interest. Last December, the council took an "in principle" decision to demolish the brutalist-style station, which costs £300,000 a year to maintain and needs significant investment estimated at between £17 million and £23 million to bring it up to modern standards. Culture secretary Ed Vaizey granted the station a Grade II listing after English Heritage described it as "a dramatic building which combines innovation with architectural panache". Council leader Peter Rankin said the listing was "not the outcome we were hoping for".

Consultation on radioactive waste site Proposals for working with communities who agree to host a site for radioactive waste have been unveiled. The consultation covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland for locating a national disposal facility for medium and long-term radioactive waste. The government said the geological disposal facility (GDF) would be seen as a nationally

significant infrastructure project to be examined by the Planning Inspectorate. A National Policy Statement on a GDF would be developed soon after the launch of the new siting process. Selecting a site would vary according to the specific needs of the community but could take around 15 years with construction taking a further 15 years. Under the proposals, the government would provide interested communities with information on regional geology, an inventory of the waste for disposal

and socio-economic impacts of hosting the facility. The government has already promised a community fund to ensure the strategic national importance of the facility is reflected locally. The government is consulting on the new arrangements until 5 December and intends to launch a national site selection process in 2014. A series of events will be held across the country with interested parties.. n The consultation document can be found at


30/09/2013 12:19


O Opinion 60%

A dismal record In the past three years, all the major theoretical arguments about planning have been won hands-down by a combination of planning and environmental organisations, but with little or no discernible effect on government policy. The most anti-planning regime in 60 years has ruthlessly pursued its dismantling agenda. Regional planning has been abolished, infrastructure decisions distanced from democracy, spatial strategic thinking derided and a spurious localism substituted, ostensibly as a way of letting local communities get control of what goes on around them. In practice it threatens to allow the power of markets and government sweeteners to combine in support of limited and uncoordinated private sector development, with only modest benefit likely in terms of extra housing where needed.

Looming crisis The democracy of local government is belittled and disproportionately starved of funds while struggling to exert worthwhile control by requiring neighbourhood plans to conform to local plans conceived without meeting up-to-date regional or national needs. The chief effects of this mayhem are an ever increasing shortage of housing and many abandoned sustainable development and renewable energy standards. Of all the ideologicallydriven outcomes that the coalition has caused, the



has been embraced by h all three main parties during and since the last election, but in practice has failed to find political support from the coalition with its obsessive rejection of state-led policy direction for local development planning.

Housing projects housing situation has that in the first decade of deservedly attracted most the century household attention. With little over formation levels dropped forty per cent of the annual sharply with more adults requirement currently being sharing accommodation. built, it is worth emphasising This reversed an established that this critical situation trend and suggests that there is not like the economy, is also pent-up housing where recession can change demand that cannot be met at to growth in the blink of present. Researcher Professor a quarter’s figures. GDP Christine Whitehead argues may take time to regain a that planning for much higher previous peak housing output but improvement is vital otherwise is signalled at economic the slightest recovery will percentage rise. lead to higher By contrast in "HIGHER HOUSING prices and loss most years that OUTPUT IS VITAL of affordability. housing supply “Planning based OTHERWISE improves but still ECONOMIC on the past few falls short of its years of recession RECOVERY WILL target there is no LEAD TO HIGHER will simply build improvement in in the next crisis,” PRICES" the plight of the she warns. under-housed Sixty per cent population. of the demand for As a new TCPA-sponsored new housing is in London and analysis of the 2011 census the South, but the remainder shows, the new housing is also concentrated in and requirement in England is around big regional cities. The now 240,000 to 245,000 TCPA’s well-known response annually, five to ten thousand is that a significant proportion more than the currently cited of new houses should be figure. The increase is largely built in substantial new due to population growth, settlements following Garden though there is also evidence City principles. This solution

The RTPI’s new paper on delivering large scale housing adds useful discussion of problems associated with community engagement, land, infrastructure, leadership and governance. The paper points to the ability of New Town Development Corporations to buy land at existing use value and thus to finance their own infrastructure and bravely draws attention to Scotland’s new national spatial plan. Location decisions about major housing projects are bound to need coordinated planning at a regional level within a framework set nationally. To leave such matters to the haphazard chance of local acceptance and the effect of persuasive ‘incentives’ is to risk a chaotic and inadequate outcome.

Tony Fyson is a writer on planning matters


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“What I see is not only house prices 25 per cent lower than they were, but mortgage approvals half what they were, transactions two thirds of what they were. In other words, we are a long way from a housing boom.” CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER GEORGE OSBORNE


“Politicians oliticians are always excited by ‘visionary’ schemes. One thing I have learnt is that transport, rather like banking, is at its best when it is boring. That is when it tends to work.” FORMER CHANCELLOR ALISTAIR DARLING, ON THE HS2 RAIL LINK

“Perhaps now, at a time of such continuing change, it is opportune to take a lead from Wales and review the operation of planning committees in England.” DR PETER GERAGHTY, PRESIDENT OF THE RTPI

“Talking towers with London architects is like talking disarmament with the National Rifle “There’s never been a more important time for the planning research community Association.”


to engage with policy and practice, and to defend the very notion of ‘planning’.”



9.7% I M AG E S | S H U T T E RSTO C K / R E X

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Rise in London house prices to July, according to the Office for National Statistics OCTOBER 2013 / THE PLANNER 17

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O Opinion


Juliette Bradbury is an associate in the Planning Team at Gateley LLP. She has experience of advising on all types of development schemes and planning law.

Assets of Community Value were introduc introduced by the Localism Act 2011; regulations were made to bring the subject into force and it commenced in September 2012. The policy was formulated on the basis that communities were losing local amenities and buildings of importance to them, from local pubs and shops to village halls and community centres. Now a local authority can list an asset of community value if the current use furthers the wellbeing or interests of the local community. This is widely defined. The owner of an asset proposed for listing may resist the application. If the asset is subsequently listed, the owner can ask the council to review its decision, and if that is unsuccessful, appeal to the First Tier Tribunal for further review. If an asset is listed, the owner faces two problems. Firstly, they cannot dispose of it unless they have notified the council. The community group can then say within six weeks that they wish to be treated as a bidder; then follows a period of six months for them to sort out make a bid for the asset. The owner has to wait for up to six months before being able to sell. Secondly, listing means the planning authority can decide that it is a material consideration when determining a planning application. Since September

Andrew Piatt is a partner and head of the planning team at Gateley LLP. He is an experienced public inquiry advocate.

Planning: The movie?

Assets of Community Value – a kick too far?

2012 quite a few local authorities have registered assets following public nominations for amenities such as pubs, shops, village halls, museums, community centres, allotments, churches and playing fields. There are concerns that the listing scheme can be used by objectors to delay development and to cause problems to the owner. In April, Manchester United supporters applied to list Old Trafford as an asset. Listing would stop the club selling the ground or moving to another stadium, and had major financial implications to a club with an estimated debt of £370million. When it was announced on 1 August that Old Trafford had been listed, the supporters encouraged fans at other clubs to take action, too. Listing a premier league club stadium can trigger fluctuations in share prices. It is most unlikely that the local community could ever get funding of several millions of pounds to buy the stadium. Was the listing of a major football ground within the spirit and guidance of assets of community value? Probably not. But the reaction of Eric Pickles would suggest otherwise as he said he was “delighted” with the decision which ensured that “even a global iconic institution like Manchester United will remain rooted in the community in which it was founded”.





Birds do it. MPs do it. Now Mr Pickles wants everyone to be doing it. Tweeters, bloggers, Facebook and YouTube users should be able to report live from the town hall on the decisions being made by elected representatives and officers. New regulations came into force a year ago, stating that councils should offer reasonable facilities to anyone reporting meetings “so far as practicable”. These are public meetings; councillors and staff should be held to account for what they are doing with maximum transparency. Not all councils find this new way of reporting practicable, refusing to let their meetings be filmed or preventing the use of Twitter. One council banned journalists from tweeting during meetings as they perceived a risk that they were “not accurately portraying a debate”; another barred filming due to the risk of “reputational damage to the authority”. Yet another cited health and safety issues. In June, new guidance encouraged councils to consider a policy on filming. It recommends that those wanting to film should liaise with council staff before the meeting, and that those who do not want to be filmed should not be filmed. In August, Mr Pickles announced pending guidance to allow planning appeal hearings to be filmed, tweeted and

reported. Not good news for anyone who has ever had a bad hair day. But, as Mr Pickles expressively and succinctly put it, “an independent local press and robust public scrutiny is essential for a healthy local democracy: without the sunlight of transparency, the flowering of localism will wither.” We are used to camera crews at major appeals but only on day one and before proceedings start: after 10am, silence. Does boredom set in? The DCLG says what happens thereafter is a mysterious and rarely seen side of the planning process. If the press can be there all the time, they might want to film cross examination or local residents having their say. Any such filming should not distract from proceedings. The other type of filming would be by the public using cameras or camera phones. It would not work if they were getting up and walking round the room. The guidance needs to be firm, and ban the use of flash. A major concern is that filming will result in comments taken out of context so as to not accurately portray what was happening. A greater concern is whether filming will impact upon process by allowing transcription of oral evidence at appeals, and whether such transcriptions are allowed as evidence in applications to the court to challenge a decision.



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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 16 October.


Richard Crawley is a programme manager for the Planning Advisory Service and specialises in leadership.

Trudi Elliott is chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute. This is an abridged version of an article first published on the RTPI website:

The Taylor Review: What I learnt about the state of planning g guidance in England

How to define a good planning service

Planning is uniquely difficult – not only do we have the same proble problems as GPs (sometimes ‘success’ is something not happening), but when it does we’re often mediating between people who want opposing things. We keep at it because it’s important. And a definition of 'good planning' doesn’t have to be perfect to be useful. It’s clear there is no single measure, but here are my thoughts on what we can measure to improve a planning service. In this case, I’m going to concentrate on the applications process only. Three perspectives are primary. I’d restrict to these three and spend time getting the quality of the data right. The applicant: don’t cavil – this is your customer and we need to make the process easy and worthwhile for them. The ward councillors: All of them. They have a unique perspective on the politics of planning and should see all sides of the developmental process. Your staff: They want to do a good job. Does your organisation allow them to do so? To reduce these things to an absolute minimum, I’d start with just three areas: how well we hit targets, how much waste we tolerate and how much it all costs. I suppose it's just because it’s annoyingly preventable that I’d have several ‘waste’ indicators: Repeat applications: often following a withdrawn application.



No fee. Repeat consultation. Annoying for everyone. Reworked applications: usually at the initial stages of validation. Every time an application is picked up, assessed as wanting and flipped back to the agent, it costs time and money. Appeals: appeals represent a failure, even when you ‘win’ and are a sound indicator of poor quality service when you lose. Success: How often do you do what you say you’ll do – which is issue a decision on time? Cost: Part of doing things well is to do things slickly and that means applying resources where they’ll make the most difference. No service can afford to be cost-blind. So if I were setting out to improve my department, I’d use three opinions and five facts: 1. Applicant happiness. 2. Councillor happiness. 3. Staff happiness. 4. Waste on repeat applications. 5. Waste on reworked applications. 6. Waste on appeals and lost appeals. 7. How many applications hit their target? How many missed? 8. How much extra did the council have to pay per application to make this happen? Then I’d think about plan how to improve these eight indicators. In six months’ time I’d measure again. And that, friends, is how continuous improvement rolls.


At the he height of discussions on the draft the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2011, the RTPI convened a series of meetings to discuss planning guidance. At that point the question being debated in some quarters was ‘Do we need any planning guidance at all?’ The consensus was a resounding ‘yes’. There was a ‘but’, however – about the state and extent of that guidance, and even about exactly what was or was not ‘government planning guidance’. At every opportunity, we raised the need to address planning guidance with the government. Fast-forward to September 2012 and Lord Taylor invited me to join a small team to review planning guidance for England and make recommendations to the minister Nick Boles on what should happen with it. I’m not sure that any of those who agreed to join in this task had any more idea than me of the scale of the endeavour we were taking on. Twenty or so years in the field and there was so much material I had never seen or, indeed, heard of. It quickly became clear that the canon of guidance was out of date, hard to navigate, very extensive and not fit for purpose. One subject could include as much as 26 pieces of guidance. Much of the material read like special pleading or as if it was written by special interest groups rather than government. Much was also of its time, with

out-of-date case studies and references to defunct bodies or funding streams. However, when we looked beyond the preambles, special pleading and case studies, we often found gems of useful guidance. It did not shake my view that government planning guidance is necessary. Hence our recommendations for a fresh approach. We said that in future, planning practice guidance should be clear, accessible, up-to-date, and easily available on a web resource actively managed by DCLG. The government accepted almost all of our 18 recommendations and commissioned a guidance website with freshly written planning practice guidance. We were invited to ensure the draft guidance met the tests of clarity, accessibility and up-to-dateness. The draft National Planning Practice Guidance beta website reflects what we recommended – guidance hosted on a single site under 38 subject headings, readily printable and date stamped, with links to the NPPF and other source material. I hope this means the guidance is kept in better order in future and is more responsive and transparent.


n You can help – please take part in the feedback survey by 14 October. You can find the survey at http:// planningguidance.


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F E AT U R E : S E A S I D E R E S O R T S




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I L L U S T R A T I O N | E M I LY F O R G O T



I M AG E S | A L A M Y/ E Y E V I N E /G E T T Y

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s people streamed to the seaside during this rare hot summer, there lurked some troubling stories that few visitors will have seen behind the sun, fun, deck chairs and candy floss image of seaside resorts. Some resorts thrive, but for others there are deep-seated economic problems that planners are helping to address. Whether it is by using planning policy, licensing powers or even the benign intervention of local millionaires, resorts are working hard to revive their fortunes. Seaside towns are hampered by having only half an economic hinterland – since the sea occupies their other boundary – and many are remote from population centres. Add in the decline of the traditional holiday in the face of package deals and budget airlines, and the conversion of old guesthouses to cheap accommodation for mainly workless people, and there is a challenging mix of regeneration issues. Things can get really bad beside the sea. Top of the English Indices of Deprivation 2010 was not a former coalfield but Jaywick, an Essex resort developed in the 1920s as plotland holiday bungalows, now in severe deterioration but occupied year round. This summer the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) think-tank looked in its report, Turning The Tide, at Rhyl, Margate, Clacton, Blackpool and Great Yarmouth and spoke of “social breakdown” and “ingrained disadvantage”.

The report noted: “Cheap property has meant that some councils have used seaside towns to house vulnerable groups such as children in care and ex-offenders. Similarly, some towns have seen high numbers of economically inactive people [who] move in to take advantage of lowcost property.” An Office for National Statistics (ONS) report in August reached similar gloomy conclusions (see table, page 23), as did the communities and local government select committee in a 2007 report,. This led to the creation of the three-year £45m Sea Change fund, which invested in cultural projects judged to enhance regeneration. Sea Change was succeeded by the Coastal Communities Fund, due to pay out £80.6m between 2012-13 and 2014-15 and now extended to 2016. This fund is backed by revenue from offshore wind farms, tidal power and other marine activity. But is this picture of decline and deprivation an accurate one? Peter Hampson, chief executive of the British Resorts and Destinations Association, insists: “UK resorts benefited from the recession because the ‘staycation’ was a reality. Its not just that lower income people don’t go on foreign package holidays but that middle class people ‘staycation’. But they stay in nice cottages in, say, rural Norfolk, not Great Yarmouth.” The seaside’s social problems stem, Hampson says, from a change in visitors’ choice of accommodation. OCTOBER 2013 / THE PLANNER 21

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Planners are at the heart of efforts to regenerate resorts, and each needs a different approach. This is what four seaside towns are doing.


“The sort of place people stayed in 30 years ago was a Victorian boarding house where the owner lived for the rest of the year,” he explains. “People don’t want to stay in those any more. They still go to seaside towns but stay in a Travelodge or something, which leaves these old boarding houses bought up by speculators as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). “It distorts the economy, where people who are not working come to the seaside so they can be ‘not working’ in a nicer place than they’ve come from.” Since these old guesthouses tend to be in the commercial heart of resorts, this means these decayed HMOs are right where local “PLAN NNING APPEAL authorities wish COSTTS ARE AN to attract tourists ISSUEE WHEN and investment, NCILS WANT COUN “so it creates a OUNTER THE TO CO bad impression”. SPREEAD OF HMOS.”” Hampson adds: “Planning appeal costs are an issue when councils want to counter the spread of HMOs.” Fred Gray, an emeritus professor of the University of Sussex, who researched coastal towns for the former South East England Development Agency, says the most successful have been those like Brighton and Bournemouth, which have large universities and where serious deprivation is well away from visitor areas. Graduates may stay on to enrich the local labour force, and while they are students “they support a lot of cultural facilities and amenities and create an attractive presence, so visitors like it,” he says. “Smaller towns cannot do that but they can do other things. The south west fascinates me, where you have a culinaryled economy in Padstow, surfing in Newquay and art in St Ives. “None of it is traditional, but it makes these places viable, although you do have problems with house prices driving out local people.”




Perennially near the top of every list of deprivation, Blackpool still pulls in some 10m visitors a year. Borough council head of strategic housing and planning Steve Matthews, says: “Our policy to try to stem the growth of HMOs. This is a great place with beaches, three piers, loads of attractions and millions of people come each year.” Among those, some 7,500 are not tourists but new residents, 94 per cent of them on housing benefit and with as many leaving creating a huge ‘churn’ in HMO occupation. “We’re looking to make sure the housing supply stops drifting into the HMO sector by using our selective licensing powers,” Matthews says. Blackpool once had 5,000 guesthouses, but now there are only 1,500. The rest have become HMOs and “just gradually fell into that use and now have planning consent through existing local usage,” he says. “We didn’t give permission for each one, and it happened over a long time. “Now if people want to convert we want to know first if it is viable as a guesthouse.” Blackpool has also adopted a supplementary planning document for accommodation in areas that still have a tourist character. “Unless they are very large, we say that guesthouses can be converted only for a single family dwelling,” Matthews says. The town is also trying to develop a commercial quarter, in which a new civic centre will be the centrepiece.


The ONS found Skegness the most deprived large or mediumsized resort in the England. Planning consultant Russell Wallis, director of consultancy Globe, has drawn up a vision document for the town for local entrepreneur Roy Sanderson, who is promoting various developments. Wallis explains: “The main issue is very low skill levels, and there are a lot of retried people. “It has been an economy driven by the traditional bucket-and-spade holiday and we are looking for ways to diversify it. “The town centre and its retail offer hold up quite well, but like all seaside towns it only has a 180-degree catchment area, and everything else is fish.” Skegness is remote and has only one main road link, which can get very congested and causes further snarl-ups in the town itself. There is a proposed a western relief road which, while backed by Lincolnshire County Council, has no funding. Sanderson says: “Although a bypass has been mooted for more than 30 years no feasibility studies were instigated, so I decided to instruct Globe in conjunction with AECOM road designers.” Skegness’ economy also depends on getting superfast broadband connected to make it viable for remote working and is reliant on creating opportunities for remote learning for young people in a town too small to support a further education establishment.


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Five most deprived large seaside destinations

Once a thriving port, Folkestone fell on hard times when the Channel Tunnel opened and nearby Dover took what remained of the ferry trade. But local multimillionaire, Saga founder Roger de Haan, had retired and wanted to do something for the town. He is the driving force behind Folkestone’s Creative Quarter, an attempt at regeneration by attracting a critical mass of creative industries. While this is independent of Shepway District Council, the two work together. Planning policy and economic development manager Dave Shaw says: “We’re very much in tune with the Creative Quarter, which was driven by our local artists community and backed by Roger de Haan. It’s becoming self-sustaining – there is clearly a clustering effect.” The council gave permission in July for a 23 hectare redevelopment on its seafront of homes, offices, leisure facilities and public open spaces, which Shaw says is “critical, the main regeneration project in Folkestone”.



Tendring District Council presides over four very different seaside towns: severely deprived Jaywick; Clacton, which ran Blackpool close for deprivation in the ONS survey; prosperous and ultra-sedate Frinton; and Walton-on-the Naze, which is less deprived than Clacton and subject to a regeneration strategy based on creating year-round attractions. The flipside of Jaywick’s crumbling homes and unmade roads is cheap land, says council leader Peter Halliday. Tendring has gained the Environment Agency’s agreement that new homes can be built despite the village being in one of the highest flood risk categories. “We argued that new homes would be more likely to stand up to flood than what is there, which are essentially timber chalets,” he says. “There are 1,000 properties in Jaywick that probably wouldn’t withstand a flood.” Halliday says planning applications usually provoke concern about street scene impact, but the council would be “happy with that and flexible about what we allow”, since anything built would look radically different from what is there. He adds: “There’s very cheap land so we want the development industry to have a look. There are opportunities, and it has some of the best beaches and views in the country. “We hope new jobs will follow residential development, and our planners will help in any way they can.”

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


Five least deprived large seaside destinations (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)


Five most deprived mid-sized seaside destinations (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)


Five least deprived mid-sized seaside destinations (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)


Sources: A Profile of Deprivation in Larger English Seaside Destinations, 2007 and 2010; Office for National Statistics 2013.


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P H O T O G R A P H Y | S I M O N R I D G WAY / U N P

The Welsh government’s planning minister wants to reform the planning system to help turn Wales into a growth nation. CARL SARGEANT outlines his vision to Huw Morris. 24


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hen Carl Sargeant took over the planning portfolio at the Welsh Government earlier this year, he had an urgent question for officials: what does a good planning authority look like? Several months later, it is a question he is still wrestling with as he spearheads the nation’s drive on housing, regeneration and planning. The minister is firm about his objective: planning will drive growth across Wales. Housing development is a key engine behind that growth, although by no means the only one. Fundamental reforms are on the horizon to the Welsh planning system to achieve that objective. Sargeant’s agenda is steadily gathering pace. All the more so as momentum is building behind a draft bill on planning due to be published alongside a consultation paper before the end of the year. A bill is then set to be debated by the National Assembly by the middle of 2014. If needs be, a “consolidation bill” will be introduced to cover any unresolved issues either before the Assembly’s next elections due in 2016 or early in the following term. “It’s all about having a vision for planning,” says Sergeant. “About planning becoming an enabler for Wales, creating an environment for enterprise, environmental sustainability and community cohesion. “Across my portfolio of housing, regeneration and planning, I have been very clear about the links between growth of the economy and creating opportunity, most particularly in delivering more homes in the planning system.”

Simplifying the system Since devolution, the Welsh government has updated national planning policies appropriate to the nation’s needs and made a firm commitment to sustainable development, economic revival and affordable homes. Sargeant is now keen to press for a step-change in planning reforms. The message for planners is that Wales is another country and they do things differently there. While Whitehall ministers make no secret of their contempt for regional planning – one of the coalition government’s first acts was to abolish it – their Welsh counterparts are going in the opposite



direction. However, they will not be rolling out regional planning nationwide. Housing development is one of those tricky elements that often falls between the stools of local and national decisionmaking. Then there is the thorny question of whether Wales has too many planning authorities, which vary dramatically in size and scale. “We have 25 planning authorities for a population of about three million, which is the size of Birmingham,” Sargeant explains. “To make that right we need strategic planning decisions. We need to make Wales a growth zone yet balance that with the needs of communities. “Across the 25 authorities, the planning system is complex for individuals who want to take part in it. We want a regionality that gives opportunities for developers and people seeking growth, and for local government to have a statutory vision for having that growth both locally and nationally. There will be more opportunity for people to interact with the planning system. “The planning bill is an opportunity for a Wales-only bill that will define the difference between the UK and the devolved governments, with a planning system that needs to adapt to economic regional plans. “My view is that 25 planning authorities are too many, but we need to get the functions right –


Born: St Asaph, North Wales Professional training: Quality and Environmental Auditor, industrial firefighter In politics: 2003








Elected to National Assembly for Wales; re-elected 2007, 2011

Labour chief whip

Minister for social justice and local government

Minister for local government and communities

Minister for housing and regeneration


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that they are fit for purpose and that they work for growth in Wales. It’s up for grabs.” In July 2012, a government task force recommended city-regions based on Cardiff and Swansea to boost economic performance, increase investment, develop tourism, and attract higher skilled and better paid jobs. This July saw the launch of a city-region for Swansea Bay covering Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The move aims to encourage public and private sector organisations to think beyond their geographical boundaries. “It’s a complex area where planning authorities work,” Sargeant admits. “One of the first questions I asked when I became planning minister was what does a good planning authority look like and what are the reasons why? “There is a huge variety, not just in the way the planning system performs but how it operates in local authorities, too. We have smaller authorities that are very effective. It’s not as clean-cut as saying smaller is bad and big is better. Whatever structure the planning authority takes, it should be fit for purpose.”

Legislating for growth Sargeant is very keen to create opportunities for growth before any legislation is in place. He wants to see authorities build on their existing relationships, with more cross-border working, particularly on specialist functions. Observers have highlighted minerals and waste, heritage and biodiversity as services under consideration. Sargeant himself is not ruling out introducing a statutory duty for local authorities to cooperate at this stage. “We may have from the planning bill a different type of planning authority – that I am considering. But I’m asking local planning authorities to look at what they do, at the knowledge base that is needed and the functions where they can share information, and work more closely together.” The draft bill is also likely to look at reforms to the nation’s local development plans (LDPs). Sargeant believes the process is not flawed and works, “provided you follow the rules”. However, there are persistent grumbles with the system, chief among them when planners recommend approval for a development that meets the LDP which is then thrown out by councillors. The minister acknowledges the issue but says it is no more prevalent in Wales than anywhere else in the UK. Indeed, he hopes the forthcoming draft bill will bolster confidence in LDPs. “We have some authorities delivering on their LDPs but part of the problem with revisiting that is that there is a professional function within planning and a political process,” he says. “When you create a plan and get political buy-in only to get a refusal based on the politics of the application, that does not give any assurance to growth. “We are seeking to give confidence to councils, both the professionals and councillors, to look to the future and support a plan for what is acceptable. My concern is that you get consistency: wherever you are in Wales, you get a fair approach to planning.” One option on the table is for the minister to call in applications that have been “MY CONCERN IS approved by planners but refused by memTHAT YOU GET bers, which Sargeant does not rule out. He CONSISTENCY: says a national policy statement on infraWHEREVER YOU ARE structure is “likely” and he is holding talks IN WALES, YOU GET A with his officials on including a national FAIR APPROACH TO development framework in the draft bill. PLANNING.”

“There are significant changes coming in Wales where planning becomes the enabler and makes decisions appropriate for Wales at the appropriate level with fairness and equity.” Other issues up for debate before the draft bill is published include delegating decisions on all but major applications to officers, while planning committees could also be reformed to ensure that no more than half of the authority’s councillors sit on them. Again, this feeds into Sargeant’s strong belief that there should be consistency across Wales, with similar applications getting similar results. His advisors are also giving some thought on how best practice can be shared across the Welsh planning profession. Sergeant is undecided on whether a statutory or voluntary body is needed to back the initiative but admits, “I am attracted to a body of people with planning knowledge and interest which can make sure that works”. He is also heavily in favour of annual monitoring reports for planning authorities to improve their performance. An independent advisory group suggested to the Welsh government in September 2012 that such reports should cover economic factors such as inward investment and job creation, as well as more traditional aspects of the planning service, such as community satisfaction, public awareness, application of planning policy and engagement with the planning system, a matter of particular interest to the minister. “It’s not about what the government wants. When it comes to monitoring, you can always ask for results but that does not mean you are getting the right decisions,” he says. “It keeps coming back to this question of what makes a good planning authority. What is it that they would want to record that includes the right outcome for the place? “With those planning authorities that do pre-application consultations, I think that is a very good process of engagement. But what does that entail and how many people did you speak to? Monitoring is not a capture-all exercise whereby you tell us how many applications you have had and how many you refused. That is interesting but it is not always useful.” In essence, Sargeant is not only asking what makes a good planning authority, but what it takes to make good planning. “What are we trying to achieve and why now?” he asks. “We find ourselves in a challenging economic climate. We have a legislative programme which a new planning bill fits into and we can make an assessment across the government of where planning fits in. Across the government we want to enable Wales to become a growth nation.”


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F E AT U R E : M I S S I N G H O U S E S




HUW MORRIS Consultant Editor of The Planner

It’s a perennial argument that cuts to the heart of the planning system’s effectiveness. Is planning a barrier to growth? Is it playing its part in promoting and encouraging investment locally? Or is this yet another case of lies, damned lies and statistics? This debate was reignited last month when new research by the Local Government Association (LGA) was published. It revealed that nearly 400,000 homes in England with planning permission have not been built – a figure equivalent to more than three years of housing development. Ministers have identified housing as one of the quickest ways to boost economic growth, but the LGA argues that government schemes to help buyers access finance risk creating a bubble if there is not an increase in house building to match it. The research, by construction analysts Glenigan, also showed that there has been little progress in reducing a "bumper backlog" of unbuilt homes in the past year. To add fuel to the fire, the LGA claims

developers are putting in fewer planning applications and taking longer to work on site. The fall in applications is prompting widespread fears among local authorities that are threatening the prospects for long-term housebuilding. For Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board, the research shows that the planning system itself is not holding back the building of much-needed homes. “Councils are approving nine in every ten planning applications they receive and we know that there has been an increase in the numbers of firsttime buyers getting mortgages,” he says. According to the Glenigan analysis, the backlog in homes with planning permission yet to be built was reduced by just 6,000 in the past year. It now takes on average 27 months from sites receiving planning permission to building work being completed – seven months longer than in 2007-08. Last year the average was 25 months. In 2012/13, 3,057 schemes obtained planning permission, totalling 165,903 potential homes. There were 6,500 schemes with planning permission yet to be completed on 31 March 2013, consisting of 381,390 unbuilt homes. Building work had yet to start on 61 per cent of the uncompleted schemes.



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F E AT U R E : M I S S I N G H O U S E S


Government figures, released at the end of September 2012

457,007 homes with planning permission were classified as undeveloped



were on sites already under construction


were on sites with planning approval that have yet to start



The mean average time taken for a development to progress to completion having obtained planning permission was 27 months in 2012/13. This has increased from 20 months in 2007/08 and 25 months in 2011/12. The research also took the number of unimplemented planning permissions by the end of March 2013 – 381,390 homes – and divided it by the most recent Department for Communities and Local Government statistics for completed permanent homes, or 113,700. In short, this calculates that three years’ worth of homes could be constructed. The Planning Officers Society's senior vice president Mike Kiely is annoyed at the suggestion that planning is “burdensome and inconsistent” for businesses. “Planning is not the barrier to growth and is playing its part to promote and encourage investment locally,” he argues. “Councils are updating and bringing forward local plans which provide certainty for business, they approve 87 per cent of planning applications and are working to unlock stalled sites. There are an estimated three and a quarter years’ worth of homes in unimplemented units, showing that local authorities are overwhelmingly saying ‘yes’ to viable and sustainable residential development through the planning system.” However, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) counters that the figures mask the reality of development. The construction and sales process means that not every plot on a site can be built at the same time, they argue. On any sizeable site, new homes can only be built at the rate at which they can be sold and, importantly, at a sustainable rate for employment of the many different trades needed to construct each house. Medium and larger scale sites have to be built sequentially due to the phasing of the provision of infrastructure and services. In short, it is impossible to build out a 1,000-home site in, say, a year irrespective of the state of the market. Indeed, the HBF points to government figures, released at the end of September 2012, which tell


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a different story. These showed that 457,007 homes with planning permission were classified as undeveloped. Of these, 284,416 or 62 per cent, were on sites already under construction. There are just 172,591 units – 38 per cent of the 457,007 and a mixture of both social and private homes – on sites with planning approval that have yet to start. This is less than one year’s supply if the construction industry were building enough houses to meet official household projections of 221,000 homes a year; and less than two years’ housing construction at current record low building rates. These 172,591 homes will be located on sites owned by many different companies and organisations, not limited to home builders, the HBF insists. Where sites are owned by home builders and are currently not started, it claims that although detailed planning permission may have been granted this may not be enough for them to legally start work on site. Increasingly, local authorities are imposing planning conditions on permissions that must be discharged before work can start, and such pre-commencement conditions are currently one of the biggest brakes on house building activity levels, the HBF claims. For while many of the sites in question may superficially appear to have planning approval and be ready for development, in practice they are not. I M AG E | A L A M Y

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PLANNING IN NUMBERS Even where any sites with homes included in the 172,591 are owned by house builders, have planning approval and conditions are not an obstacle to development, there remains another important reason why construction may not have started – finance, and in particular, viability. Because of the cumulative costs of the requirements levied on sites by central government and local authorities, many sites with permission are currently not viable. No business in any sector can operate at a loss, the HBF points out. A further feature of the perennial argument about planning is the hotly disputed accusation the house builders are land banking. House builders need an assured land supply to build homes – land is their most important raw material as a business. Because it takes time – often many years – to acquire land, obtain planning permission, discharge planning conditions and build out and sell all the homes on a site, home builders must hold enough land to sustain their business. “This is not land banking; in fact, the more homes they are building and selling – the opposite of land banking – the more land they will need to buy to maintain their business output,” the HBF insists. House builders are not the only ones who need certainty in terms of land. Local authorities are currently required to have identified enough land to meet housing need and therefore their housing requirement for five years. Paragraph 47 of the National Planning Policy Framework requires sites within the five-year supply to be deliverable and achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years. Sites with planning permission are considered deliverable unless there is clear evidence that schemes will not be implemented. House builders are also quick to point out that the publicly owned land bank is, while not necessarily consented, one of the largest. Indeed, the recent Treasury Spending Review suggested that the public sector holds up to 40 per cent of developable sites. For Mike Jones, the Treasury must lift its cap on the amount councils can invest in new housing, which would allow councils to build up to 60,000 additional homes over the next five years. “The challenge now lies in actually getting houses built,” he points out. “Government schemes to help buyers access finance risk creating a bubble if there isn’t an increase in house building to match it. The government has an unrivalled opportunity to create jobs, provide tens of thousands of homes and help the economy without having to find a single extra penny. New homes are badly needed and councils want to get on with building them. The common sense answer is for the Treasury to remove its house building block and let us get on with it.”

Applications under the spotlight The latest government statistics on planning applications in England cover January to March 2013. They reveal that district councils in that period:

93,800 93,8 Decided 93,800 planning applications, seven per cent lower than in the same quarter in the previous year.

77,000 77 Granted 77,000 permissions, six per cent lower than in the same quarter in 2012.

88% 8 Granted 88 per cent of applications, compared with 87 per cent in the same quarter in 2012.


Decided one per cent fewer residential decisions compared to the March quarter 2012, although numbers of major decisions (10 or more homes) were up seven per cent.

In the year ending March 2013, district councils:

418,500 418 Decided 418,500 planning applications, a fall of four per cent on the year ending March 2012 figure.

87% 7 Granted 87 per cent of decisions, unchanged from the previous year.

341,700 341 Granted 341,700 permissions, a drop d of four per cent compared co to the figure fo for the year to March 2012 2012.


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F E AT U R E : M A J O R S C H E M E S






ince the beginning of March 2010, the UK’s major infrastructure projects have been steered away from the conventional town and country planning system and funnelled into a new process that aims to grant development consent more rapidly than the established system (see The one-year approval target, p.35). Though the Planning Act 2008, which founded the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), was conceived pre-economic crisis, its enactment was timely. In theory, the Act handed government just the tool it needed to push through the large scale projects that can help to get the wheels of the economy turning more freely again. However, in the three-and-a-half years since the Planning Act regime flickered into life, just a dozen applications have passed all the way through the new process. Meanwhile there have been two rounds of alteration to structure and process, and a comprehensive review of the regime is due to begin this month. Does this tweaking suggest the new process isn’t working as well as hoped? Or are planners and policymakers learning from practice to make it function as well as possible? Of the 12 planning applications that have been dealt with, all but one were approved. That one – for a gas storage project in Lancashire – is currently under judicial review. Three other projects are also being delayed by legal challenges to the Inspectorate’s decision (see Up for review: the case of Hinkley Point C, p.age 34).



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F E AT U R E : M A J O R S C H E M E S

Perhaps it’s not as bad as it looks. A further 28 applications are at various stages of the accelerated process. These represent an enormous variety of proposed infrastructure projects, from highways to offshore wind farms and a gigantic sewer beneath the River Thames in London. The fixed timescales that were introduced by the Act have been largely stuck to, although one application has had its three-month decision deadline extended by seven months. Note, though, that the clock doesn’t start running when the application is made, but when it starts to be examined – and this can be a few months later, after preliminary steps have been carried out.

Tweaks and changes Even in its brief history, the Planning Act regime has already experienced a number of alterations, initiated by the coalition Government. The Localism Act 2011 introduced the most substantial change, abolishing the IPC and splitting its functions between the new Planning Inspectorate (as far as examining applications was concerned) and Government itself (as far as taking decisions was concerned). Though it could have been disruptive, this transition was actually achieved very smoothly – although it did have the advantage of the IPC and the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) occupying the same building in Bristol. More refinement followed with the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. Notably, this restricted the ability for applications to be referred to Parliament for "special parliamentary procedure", a duplicate process of considering objections to an application. In fact, the first application to be decided under the ‘development consent’ regime befell this fate and took an extra 16 months to meet approval as a result. It was unscathed but emerged from the Parliamentary frying pan into the fire of judicial review. The Government has also just finished replacing the first series of guidance notes that accompany the regime with a new set. Advice notes now produced by the Planning Inspectorate have been revised, too – sometimes several times. Although it has been subject to numerous changes in a short space of time, the application process introduced by the Planning Act is bedding down and becoming more familiar to repeat users such as the Environment Agency, which is engaged on virtually every application made. Encouragingly, it’s also becoming more accessible to those affected by it infrequently – if you happen to work for a local authority planning department, you might



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Up for review: the case of Hinkley Point C In March 2013, the Government approved the construction and operation of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, one of the largest applications to have been made under the Planning Act regime. Not one but two judicial reviews have been launched against that decision. The first was by the Irish counterpart to the National Trust, An Taisce, which alleged that Ireland should have been consulted on the application because of the potential for trans-boundary environmental effects. The second was by Greenpeace, which alleged that the Government should not have approved the project following the withdrawal of Cumbria County Council from negotiations for a long-term nuclear waste storage site, saying that it was contrary to Government policy to do so. The Government says it is optimistic that a storage site will be found. The two cases are being heard together on 5 December in the High Court.


30/09/2013 15:30


The one-year approval target

« Proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset

only see one project on this scale in a decade.

Faltering first steps Yet the Government is poised to launch a comprehensive review of all aspects of the new regime with the publication of a discussion document this month. The 2014 Review is not intended to make substantial changes, but will focus on further minor tweaks and improvements. Later this year, we can also expect one more National Policy Statement (NPS) covering roads, railways and rail freight. Such statements are intended to accompany the new infrastructure planning consent process and express the need for development, while setting out the impacts that project promoters should assess and PINS should examine. A full suite of energy NPSs have been produced but the DfT and Defra have been a little slower to draft theirs. These early steps in the evolution of the Planning Act regime may seem difficult to follow, but the new National Infrastructure Planning Association (NIPA) is keeping a close eye on its progress. Founded in the wake of the Planning Act 2008 to spread knowledge and best practice of the regime, NIPA welcomes RTPI members with an interest in infrastructure planning – indeed, the RTPI’s chief executive Trudi Elliott is on its council. ->You can find out more at

The Planning Act regime currently applies to 16 different types of infrastructure project, from wind farms to airports and sewage plants. The process is compulsory to use for projects above a certain size – for example, an onshore electricity generation project that is capable of generating more than 50 megawatts must use it. Promoters of projects that fall within the relevant threshold can continue to use their established process to obtain planning consent or opt to use the new regime. By the end of 2013, the Government intends to extend the regime to certain types of business and commercial development, although this will be optional rather than compulsory. Smaller infrastructure projects, too, can opt to use the speeded-up process. The key innovation of the new process is a compulsory pre-application consultation exercise that aims to ensure applications are as robust as possible at the point that they are made rather than evolving later. Responses to the consultation must be taken into account and reported in one of the application documents. Applications are made to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol and a set process follows, mainly involving the exchange of written material but also a small number of hearings. The inspector(s) has up to six months to examine an application and a further three months to make a recommendation to Government. The Government then has three months to make a decision, although this can be extended and has been in one case. In theory, a decision should be made within a year of submission.


The Planning Act regime covers such major projects as wind farms, airports and sewage plants

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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D ECI S I O NS I N F O CU S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............. P. 37 LEGAL LAND S CAP E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............. P .4 0 CAREE R D E VE LO P ME NT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............. P .4 2 P LAN AHE AD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............. P .4 4 RTP I NEWS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............. P .4 6 P LAN B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............. P. 50

WELCOME TO INSIGHT Each edition of The Planner will include a range of thought-provoking feature articles. Insight is where you'll find our regular departments – our events, professional development, legal and planning decision analysis pages. You're welcome to contribute to or comment on any of our Insight pages – get in touch by email at



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DiF {


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 A G R I C U LT U R A L

(4 A N A LY S I S ADAM SHEPPARD The financial motivations associated with this proposal are an interesting element to this decision. The reservoir would be permitted development if the material remained on site and the inspector’s decision points to a key motivation for moving the materials off-site, and therefore necessitating the application, as being the financial benefit. The minerals to be extracted are not specifically required, the irrigation needs of the agricultural enterprise do not appear pressing and wider issues concerning the financial viability of the farm are not presented. Thus this motivation actually becomes a core feature in the benefits to be measured against the adverse impacts. Were the minerals required or the agricultural need more urgent, a different outcome may have occurred. As it is, while beneficial to the farm financially, the proposal is not considered more widely necessary to the extent that it could override the relatively temporary adverse impacts of the planned activities.


Mineral extraction scheme pulls the plug on agricultural reservoir plan – (1 S U M M A R Y An application for an agricultural reservoir to irrigate farmland in Great Bromley, Essex, has been dismissed because: c construction and associated mineral extraction would be too disturbing to neighbours over too long a period c the appellants had not given strong enough justification for the development on the proposed site in particular c they had made too little effort to find an alternative site that would have less impact and not sacrifice good quality agricultural land. (2 C A S E D E T A I L S Three farmers made a joint application for a 146,000m3 capacity reservoir next to ancient woodland. The reservoir would be fed from existing boreholes on the farmers’ land and minerals extracted during the

I M AG E S | A L A M Y

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excavation over four years would be sold to industry as a “windfall” benefit. The development would require construction of an internal haul road, ancillary buildings and widening of an access road. A “significant number” of residences are along the proposed haulage route. The application was refused by Essex County Council in March 2012. (3 C O N C L U S I O N R E A C H E D The inspector, Katie Peerless, accepted that without removal of spoil off site, the reservoir would be permitted development and noted the efforts in the proposal to reduce environmental impact. Nevertheless, citing the Tendring District Local Plan and Essex County

Council’s emerging Mineral Local Plan, she said the disturbance to neighbours was not outweighed by an “overwhelming” need for mineral extraction in the area or a strong enough justification to site the reservoir in the chosen location. Dismissing the appeal, the inspector concluded that the appellants had not adequately explored either alternative sites or methods of construction.

Appeal reference: APP/ Z1585/A/12/2182774 Read the inspector’s letter: http://www.pcs.planningportal.

ADAM SHEPPARD is JDL course director and senior lecturer in planning for the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of the West of England.


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DiF { D




Wheeled gazebo permitted – provided it is not moved

Appeal reference: APP/ D1780/A/13/2191654 Read the inspector’s letter: http:// pcsportal/fscdav/

– [2] COLIN HAYLOCK Clarity of development objectives and understanding of planning processes lay at the heart of consideration and dismissal of this appeal. Was a 146,000m3 capacity agricultural reservoir being constructed primarily to protect borehole-based water supply for irrigation of three farms? Or was the proposal more driven by the associated extraction and sale of 300,000 tonnes of sand and gravel required to create the reservoir? The inspector reached the view that the proposal was being driven more by production and sale of the aggregates than the irrigation benefits of the reservoir – and that, with the County’s Minerals Plan identifying sufficient provision of the aggregates involved, the onand off-site impacts from the extraction and transport of the aggregates could not be justified. COLIN HAYLOCK is principal at Haylock Planning and Design and sits on the Mayor’s Design and Advisory Group at the Greater London Authority.

site, the proposals would be permitted development. Such proposals only need to identify the agricultural need for the development rather than the need for the mineral resource. The inspector in this case placed significant emphasis on the appellants’ need to establish the agricultural need and did not accept previous decisions that a proposal that was related to agriculture would be acceptable without detailed justification and, therefore, the appeal was dismissed. The granting of aggregate permission, on the basis of agricultural needs, in areas where new mineral proposals would not be supported is not a new phenomenon. Based on this appeal, inspectors seem to be prepared to equally test the robustness of the appellant’s agricultural case, which is likely to be welcomed by the minerals industry

(1 S U M M A R Y A “prominent” wheeled gazebo erected prior to a planning application has been allowed to remain near the common boundary between two properties in Bitterne, Southampton. (2 C A S E D E T A I L S Having built the gazebo in March 2012 and sited it within view of a neighbour’s living room window, the applicant sought planning permission in August of that year. Southampton City Council rejected the application because of the gazebo's impact on the “living conditions” of the neighbour with “particular regard to outlook and daylight”. (3 C O N C L U S I O N R E A C H E D Though noting that the gazebo’s roof rose “prominently” above the common boundary fence, the inspector, Simon Warder, said its unadorned frame had little extra impact on an outlook already partially obscured

by a fence and rooftops beyond. He allowed it, with two conditions: the gazebo stays where indicated on the application; and no covering or features be added to its roof. The inspector noted that the proposal would not conflict with Local Plan Review policies ensuring development safeguards the amenity of surrounding occupiers. (4 A N A LY S I S [1] RICHARD BLYTH In the inspector’s assessment, the gazebo in question was constructed on wheels but its open timber roof and current location allowed sufficient light and views of the sky from one adjoining occupier’s window already close enough to a boundary fence that restricts views of the structure. A standard condition suggested by the council requiring the development to be carried out in accordance with the approved plans was not appropriate in this case as the structure was already

MARK WALTON is an associate director of Alliance Planning and works within the natural resources team.

[3] MARK WALTON This appeal highlights a perennial area of frustration for the minerals industry – namely, applications for agricultural development that enable minerals extraction. If the mineral is retained on the 38


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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 in place. The condition was modified by the inspector to ensure it is retained in its current form and position to safeguard living conditions. In essence, planning permission to wheel the gazebo to another part of the garden has not been granted. In making his assessment against the council’s local design policies adopted in 2006, the inspector specifically states these policies are not in conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework. RICHARD BLYTH is head of policy practice and research at the Royal Town Planning Institute.


COLIN HAYLOCK An appeal against refusal to grant retrospective consent for an already erected gazebo on wheels. The application was for the gazebo as constructed – with a roof with no covering, eaves or guttering, and, although on wheels, in the location in which it was positioned on the application and at the time of the inspector’s visit The inspector concluded that the relationship he saw produced effects which were not sufficient to harm the living conditions of the neighbours. He was mindful, however that were the gazebo to be wheeled to another location closer to the neighbours, or have roof coverings etc. added its impact could be damaging. Appeal granted subject to the retention of the gazebo in the particular position shown and the retention of the constructed open-framed roof construction with no covering, eaves features or guttering. bemusing appeal for anyone who has ever dealt with advertising on parked vehicles. I M AG E S | S H U T T E RSTO C K

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Here are ten 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:



(1) Application: Change of use of land in Navestock, Essex, to provide one pitch for a Gypsy/Traveller family comprising a mobile home, a touring caravan, two log cabins and a stable building. Decision: Application refused: secretary of state overturned the inspector’s decision to grant permission. Main issues: Inappropriate development in Green Belt, sustainable development, requirement for suitable accommodation for Travellers. Application reference: 11/00638/FUL Secretary of State’s decision: government/uploads/ PLANNING APPEALS


(2) Application: Change of use of paddock to caravan pitches in Geoffrey Hill, Morecambe. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: Sustainable development with regard to location, coastal development and visual impact. Application reference: APP/ A2335/A/13/2196198


(3) Application: Demolition of property and construction of two homes in Epping Forest, London. Decision: Permission

granted. Main issues: Inappropriate development in Green Belt. Application reference: APP/ J1535/A/13/2198529


(4) Application: New dwelling in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland. Decision: Permission granted, with conditions. Main issues: Effect of scale and layout on character and appearance of street scene; living conditions of future occupants. Appeal reference: APP/ P2935/A/13/2198692


(5) Application: Change of use of Grade II listed town centre commercial property in conservation area in Stockton-on-Tees from A1 to A2 and A3. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: Difficulty of letting retail-only properties in modern high streets. Appeal reference: APP/ H0738/A/13/2198512


(6) Application: Expansion of commercial garage to incorporate larger showroom, workshop, three light industrial units in Shefford, Bedfordshire. Decision: Appeal dismissed. Main issues: Sustainable development, effect on safety of public highway users. Appeal reference: APP/ P0240/A/13/2194529


(7) Application: Change of design to agricultural building in Bury after development had started. Decision: Appeal dismissed. Main issues: Inappropriate development in Green Belt. Appeal reference: APP/ T4210/A/13/2195378


(8) Application: Construction of 34 homes in Calne, Wiltshire. Decision: Permission granted. Main issues: Loss of employment land, noise environment for future residents. Appeal reference: APP/ Y3940/A/13/2194511


(9) Application: Construction of tourist self-catering log cabin accommodation in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire Decision: Appeal dismissed. Main issues: Local policies regarding tourist accommodation, character and appearance of surrounding area. Appeal reference: APP/ N6845/A/13/2198132


(10) Application: Construction of detached workshop garage in Newport, Gwent. Decision: Permission granted, subject to conditions. Main issues: Effect on character of street scene. Appeal reference: APP/ V6945/A/13/2201306 OCTOBER 2013 / THE PLANNER 39

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LLegal landscape TIME TO KISS GOODBYE TO CIL? There is a growing consensus that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is simply not fit for purpose and should be radically overhauled or even abandoned. The genesis of CIL under the previous Labour Government was an understandable reaction to the even less palatable Planning Gain Supplement (PGS). CIL was designed in very different economic circumstances and was intended to act as a tool to collect greater funding for infrastructure in a fairer, faster and more transparent way than under Section 106. However, in practice, it is emerging that CIL is unlikely to collect the level of contributions initially anticipated, largely due to current viability circumstances and lower than anticipated charge rates together with an increasing number of exemptions. In addition, CIL has always only ever been a collection mechanism for pooling contributions into a common pot. While the funding of infrastructure is the principal objective of CIL, there is no guarantee that CIL will pay for, let alone deliver, the required infrastructure. Furthermore, where CIL is introduced, planning authorities are inevitably tempted to seek to secure certain on-site infrastructure and benefits through Section 106 in addition to CIL. While not unlawful, this has led to accusations by developers that there is an additional


seems that both the coalition Government and the Labour Party have an increasing appetite to review the levy. The scope of these most recent proposals implies a general acknowledgment that CIL has run its course. As a consequence, a number of planning authorities have put their CILs on hold pending the outcome of the latest consultation, expected later this Autumn.

A fresh fix

Stephen Webb financial burden that acts as a barrier to development.

Badly drafted When introduced in 2010, the CIL Regulations were badly drafted and unnecessarily complicated. There have now been three further sets of regulations published in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to amend the 2010 Regulations, with a further consultation paper issued in April 2013 proposing around 25 further amendments.


These most recent amendments respond, finally, to a range of issues raised by the property industry at the outset of the CIL debate. Importantly, they introduce a number of further exemptions, including extending relief from CIL for affordable housing, exceptional circumstances and self-build housing. In addition, the introduction of payments in kind where on and off-site infrastructure may be set off against CIL is a welcome change. However, all of these measures further reduce the amount of CIL that is to be paid into the infrastructure funding pot. The recent consultation paper also proposes the postponement (by a year) to April 2015 of the drop dead date by which planning authorities are to prepare their charging schedules (and lose the opportunity to pool more than five planning obligations for the finding of infrastructure). The April 2015 date is conveniently just before the General Election and it

However, the vexed issue of infrastructure funding will not go away, and there is much good work that has been done under CIL that should not be wasted. An easy immediate fix, and one which is entirely consistent with the Localism agenda, would be to give planning authorities the choice of whether or not to introduce CIL. Regulation 123 of the CIL Regulations currently has the practical effect of making the introduction of charging schedules mandatory. Amending Regulation 123 to remove the restriction on pooling of Section 106 obligations to fund infrastructure would allow those authorities who wish to rely on the tried and trusted Section 106 approach to do so. Section 106 also provides greater certainty to developers and local authorities that infrastructure will be provided when needed, or development should not proceed.

– STEPHEN WEBB Partner, SJ Berwin LLP Stephen Webb is a qualified solicitor and town planner. He advises private and public sector clients on all aspects of planning


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B LO G S This month, Caroline Bywater outlines efforts to speed up planning-related judicial reviews. Martin Goodall rails against the selective minds of politicians.


Rapid reviews – Caroline Bywater July saw the time limit for starting planningrelated judicial reviews (JRs) reduced from three months to six weeks, in an effort to add certainty to the industry and kickstart development. In the same month, a Planning Fast-Track was put in place in the Administrative Court to identify planning JRs at an early stage, prioritise them so target deadlines can be met (including sending paper applications to a judge within 14 days of receipt and hearing substantive JRs within three months of the decision of a provisional hearing) and ensure they are allocated to “appropriate members of the judiciary”. September’s consultation paper on further JR reforms suggests that more can be done, noting that in 2011 the average time that elapsed between lodging an application and a full hearing was 370 days. The paper suggests the creation of a “specialist planning chamber” – in fact, to be part of the Lands Chamber, with specialist judges deployed. At the moment, judges sit on a range of cases, from asylum to planning and criminal trials. It is hoped that having specialist judges will speed up the process

and allow planning cases to be better prioritised. Whether or not you think that is a good idea presumably depends on what side of the fence you are sitting on. But there can be no doubt that the historic delays in dealing with JRs causes frustration and added cost to many. Caroline Bywater is a senior solicitor for Mills & Reeve. Blog:


Ministerial oversight – Martin Goodall In an article for the Daily Mail, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling called for further restrictions on the right to apply to the High Court for the judicial review of ministerial decisions on planning and infrastructure cases. Grayling casually remarked that there are now thousands of judicial review applications each year. But he carefully omitted to mention that, as a proportion of all JR applications,


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planning and infrastructure-related JR applications account for less than 2 per cent of the whole! Most of the 11,200 JR applications in 2011, which ministers are so fond of quoting, were immigration/ asylum cases. Even as a proportion of JR applications other than immigration, asylum and criminal cases, planning-related cases account for only about 7-8 per cent. It is not possible to discern any indication that there has been an increase in hopeless applications in this area of the law. The notion that ministers have been peddling that there is a rising tide of hopeless JR applications, made simply as a delaying tactic to frustrate development and infrastructure projects, is clearly nonsense. In most years, at least a third of planningrelated JR application were given permission to proceed, which is a much higher proportion than the average for other types of JR application. Martin Goodall is a consultant lawyer with Keystone Law. Blog: http:// planninglawblog.blogspot.

Designating under-performing planning authorities Under, Section 62B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, a planning authority will be “designated” if it is considered to be underperforming. The criteria for designation will be based on the speed with which applications for major development are dealt with and the extent to which such decisions are overturned at appeal. Under Section 62A of the same legislation certain applications can be made to the Secretary of State where the planning authority has been designated. Fees for such applications are to be paid directly to the Secretary of State. n uploads/attachment_data/file/204771/ Improving_planning_performance_-_Criteria_for_ designation.pdf

New planning fees Planning application fees are to be refunded if an application is not determined within 26 weeks. Applications for prior approval of permitted development under Schedule 2 of the (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 are to be charged £80 where there is a material change of use and where an application is not submitted for planning permission at the same time. n contents/made

Planning appeal reforms A raft of reforms to planning appeal procedures came into force this month. The reforms, which aim to increase transparency and speed up the appeal process, will require applicants to do more up-front work before submitting their appeals. Appeal forms will be accompanied by a full statement of case, a statement as to the preferred procedure for the appeal and a statement of common ground where relevant. Similar requirements apply for listed building and conservation area appeals. n contents/made The Secretary of State will have increased powers to award costs at planning appeals and to recover costs where a scheduled inquiry or hearing does not go ahead. n ukpga/2013/27/section/2/enacted The Planning Inspectorate has said 80 per cent of written representations and hearing appeals will be decided within 14 weeks, with 80 per cent of nonbespoke inquiries to be decided within 22 weeks.

Conservation areas and demolition The demolition of unlisted buildings in conservation areas which previously required conservation area consent will in future only require planning permission. No fee will be charged for such applications. Planning permission will not be required for the demolition of ecclesiastical buildings, buildings included in the schedule of monuments compiled under Section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 or any other buildings specified by the Secretary of State such as those listed in Circular 01/2001 which covers applications.


30/09/2013 16:13


Career { D E V E L O P M E N T C SP E AK I N G


Speaking in public is never likely to top a planner’s list of enjoyable work activities – standing up in a packed council chamber to put the case for or against an application is a nerve-wracking experience for many. Trevor Morton explains how to lessen the nerves and improve performance.


hether presenting to an audience, making a pitch or leading a debate in council chambers, the key thing to remember is that you are persuading people to share your vision even thoughtthey may not initially be enamoured with the idea. Clearly not everyone relishes being the centre of attention during a presentation. Consider the pinnacle of debating, Prime Minister’s Questions, where the wit and focus of the members in the Commons is enough to frighten even the most accomplished performers. James Callaghan was known to be grumpy beforehand, Margaret Thatcher carried a Scotch with her and Blair took a melatonin pill to guarantee six hours’ sleep the night before. Debates aren’t necessarily a foregone conclusion, as points need to be purpose of your presentation and identify your made and the opposition won over. Presenting and arguing a case is an art objectives. If you don’t know what you’re trying to requiring skills that need to be learned and built upon, and even the most achieve, it’s impossible to prepare arguments; and seasoned professional can benefit from brushing up on them. without knowing your arguments, you’ll convince These skills are important and they are overlooked. Employability Skills no-one. for Planners, published in August 2012, looked at graduate skill levels and The English Speaking Union (ESU) recommends brainstorming points to be made and noted that weaknesses in newly qualified planners tended to include comanticipating the opponent’s point of view in each mercial awareness, decision-making/judgment, negotiating/influencing and case. It helps to be familiar with the arguments the use of evidence/argument. that may defeat your motion – remember, barristers never ask a question to which they don’t 1. Set clear objectives know the answer. If you cite any facts, make sure Successful presentation and debate arises from preparation and confident delivery. Of course, it helps to have a strong case. To begin with, determine the that you know where they come from and that they are accurate.

2. Structure your presentation With any speech, a great deal of information is being delivered to an audience in a short time.




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M O R E I N FO Breaking your information into small sections makes it easier for the listener to take in. Keep points succinct and follow the ESU’s recommendation not to include more than three or four arguments in any speech. You need the audience to be able to follow the issues and see how you build your case. Your introduction should seize the attention of your audience by telling them your major point and putting the topic into context. Follow this with your point-by-point argument along with supporting evidence. Any evidence you present should feel integral to a good deductive argument, rather than a series of seemingly disconnected facts. Round off with a conclusion that links all the elements together and clarifies and reinforces your objectives for your audience. and inappropriate comments will undermine your persuasiveness and credibility.

3. Engage and persuade It’s important to relate the subject to your audience and hold their attention. You might illustrate with appropriate statistics, for example. The ESU suggests telling a story because listeners often respond well to a narrative – especially if it’s personal. Your credibility matters a great deal. It’s important that the audience believes that you are making the presentation for the right reasons, that you are exercising sound judgement and that you are qualified to speak on the topic. Evidence and personal experience can be very persuasive tools in your presenting armoury. Humour can be a useful tool for getting an audience on your side. But use it judiciously: offensive

4. Prepare and deliver, with confidence By definition, good delivery of a speech is essential and factual errors, along with slips in grammar and tense, can undermine your message. Writing out a speech word for word is never a good idea as it requires you to keep your eyes on a page, rather the audience. It also makes deviation – whereby you can demonstrate your expertise on the hoof – difficult. However, where evidence is key, good notes will help, as will good graphics. The ESU recommends practicing the speech in full beforehand and even recording it, to help you determine an effective speed of delivery and where to pause for impact. During the speech, it’s worth varying the tone and volume of your voice, so that you don’t sound monotonous. Consider, too, that slang and technical terms can confuse and turn off an audience. Remember that presentation isn’t just about what can be heard, but also involves what can be seen. The ESU believes that some gestures and movement add emphasis and interest. Eye contact, too, builds rapport with the audience. Finally, as planning meetings can have strict time limits, keep an eye on the time. But as the ESU suggests, even if you run out of time and are interrupted by the bell, take just a few seconds to sum up in one sentence; don’t just stop talking and sit down.

The English Speaking Union’s tips for a good presentation


Start by grabbing the audience’s attention with your opening words – perhaps with a rhetorical question, a quotation or a personal story.


Vary your tone and pace during your speech to help keep the audience’s attention. Project your voice clearly.


Structure your speech around a few key points Don’t rush – take pauses to let each point sink in.


Consider both sides of the topic but ultimately show that your line of reasoning leads to one clear conclusion.


Bring in some humour where appropriate but make sure it is inoffensive and relevant.

(6) (7)

Leave time for a good conclusion.

Give brief but relevant answers to questions. Where appropriate, introduce new material that wasn’t in your speech.

TREVOR MORTON has held marketing, consultant and management positions with Gartner-rated vendors in the UK and USA. He has spoken at conferences worldwide and writes about business performance and management.


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Plan ahead P The resilient city As the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting approaches, Clive Harridge, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Association of Planners, considers the critical role of planners in a rapidly urbanising world. The Commonwealth is home to two billion people and consists of 54 countries from all regions and continents of the world. It represents some of the world’s richest and poorest countries, some of the most populated and some of the smallest nations. As an accredited Commonwealth organisation, the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) has the opportunity to meet political leaders and influence thinking at a global level, via access to events such as the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings (CHOGM). The forthcoming 2013 CHOGM – under the theme of "Inclusive and Equitable Development" – is being held at time when the United Nations (UN) is assessing the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and what should replace them after they expire in 2015. CAP is already directly involved in this UN activity and the 2013 CHOGM provides an excellent opportunity to promote the role of planning in a post-2015 world. Resetting the goals The original eight MDGs sought to eradicate extreme poverty, achieve universal education, improve health, ensure environmental sustainability and more (see Eight goals for a better world, right). There has been substantial progress in meeting some of these goals –


for example, the 13 years since 2000 have seen the fastest reduction of poverty ever, with 500 million fewer people living below the international poverty line. In addition, child mortality rates have fallen by 30 per cent and deaths from malaria by a quarter. But it is widely acknowledged that the MDGs had significant shortcomings. The UN’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons reported earlier this year thaty did not sufficiently integrate the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development and lacked sufficient focus on reaching the poorest and most excluded people. In making its post-2015 recommendations, the panel identified the need for “transformative shifts” to eradicate extreme poverty and transform economies through sustainable development. A separate UN think-tank on sustainable cities has advocated a post-2015 sustainable development goal to “empower inclusive, productive and resilient cities”. A focus on cities Since the Millennium there has been massive global change. The global population has expanded by more than


a billion to seven billion and more than half of the world’s people now live in cities. These trends are expected to continue: experts predict that the global population will increase by another billion in the next 15 years, cities will continue to expand and by 2050, 80 per cent of all people will live in cities. In this global context the focus for a post-2015 world must be cities. Many of the world’s cities face major challenges of extreme poverty, poor living conditions and constraints on productivity due to poor infrastructure. Yet cities are also the drivers of growth and centres of economic activity, and will be where the challenges of population growth will be resolved. In many parts of the Commonwealth, cities are growing at enormous rates, with extensive areas of informal settlements combining inadequate or nonexistent infrastructure with extreme poverty and with little or no appropriate planning. CAP is very active in developing thinking around these themes to ensure that the value and role of planning is recognised at the highest levels. As well as contributing to the UN consultation earlier this year and participating in a UN Expert Roundtable consultation in Geneva, CAP has established an expert group to research and advise on a post-2015 urban agenda. The expert group will report later this year in time for CHOGM and provide a roadmap for action through to the next World Urban Forum and beyond. In addition, we are to hold a ‘thought leaders’ workshop at the Commonwealth

CHOGM 2013 What? Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Where? Colombo, Sri Lanka When? 10-17 November, 2013 Theme: Inclusive and Equitable Development Find out more:

People’s Forum in the wings of CHOGM to finalise our key messages to governments. At CHOGM itself we will meet with Commonwealth Foreign Ministers and others to stress the value of planning in addressing the approaching global challenges in a post2015 world.

Clive Harridge Secretary General of the Commonwealth Association of Planners CAP is an alliance of national associations that represents 40,000 planners from all regions of the Commonwealth. www.

Eight goals for a better world All 189 United Nations member states agreed in 2000 to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015:

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger Achieve universal primary education Promote gender equality and empower women Reduce child mortality rates Improve maternal health Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases Ensure environmental sustainability Develop a global partnership for development.


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

NORTH REGION 11 October — Young Planners Conference With the theme of ‘Planning Out of Recession’, this event will feature a number of high profile speakers from influential organisations in the Planning System, including Nick Boles MP and planning minister, and Karin Taylor, head of land use planning for the National Trust. Venue: Leeds City Museum, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 8BH, UK Contact: Mia Vaughan – or 0207 929 9457 www.rtpiconferences. php?event=39762 14 October — Planning Law Update This conference examines the important developments in planning law over the past twelve months. It looks at key issues arising for the management of development, with presentations and debate led by speakers of national standing, such as David Bell, director of Jones Lang LaSalle, and Christopher Young, barrister at No.5 Chambers. Sponsored by Eversheds LLP. Venue: International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear NE1 4EP, UK Contact: northeast@rtpi. 16 October — Town Centres Focusing on the challenges for planners and local communities in finding new roles for our town centres. Hear about initiatives being tried in this region and beyond. Venue: 101 Barbirolli Square, Bridgewater, Manchester M2 3DL, UK Contact: www.rtpi. town-centres/

17 October — Strategic planning: filling the void With likely (partial) revocation of the Regional Strategy, is there a democratic and evidence void in strategic planning? Moving forward, how do we ensure a consistent collaborative approach? Venue: Holiday Inn, King’s Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 1XX, UK Contact: yorkshire@rtpi. 21 October — North East Young Planners (NEYP) Meeting The meeting is open to planning students, licentiates and corporate members with no more than 10 years postqualification experience. Venue: Planning Studio, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 7RU, UK Contact: Joe Ridgeon – joeridgeon@georgefwhite. 6 November — Urban Design An agenda for growth is putting increasing pressure on the sustainability of place. Planners are faced with the unenviable task of how to resolve potentially competing demands for land against the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of communities. This seminar will examine the contribution of urban design to creating and shaping resilient and sustainable communities. Venue: 101 Barbirolli Square, Bridgewater, Manchester M2 3DL, UK Contact: www.rtpi. urban-design/ 6 November — Planning for the Future of Retail in Town Centres Event reviewing the economic, social and environmental role of town

DON'T MISS IED Annual Conference 2013 'Going for Growth’, this year’s Institute of Economic Development conference, addresses ‘the most pressing issues in achieving true economic development and creating an enabling environment for economic growth’. Items on the agenda include the Single Local Growth Fund, unlocking the potential of town centres, and planning for economic development. Date: 20th November, Venue: etc.venues Victoria, London SW1V 2QQ Contact: www.economicdevelopment

centres now and into the future Venue: Watson Burton, 1 St James Gate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE99 1YQ, UK Contact: northeast@rtpi.

LONDON REGION 14 October — Housing Standards: the government consultation The government has launched a consultation on housing standards in the wake of the report Towards more Sustainable Homes from the Housing Standards Review Challenge Panel. John Perry on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Joanne Wheeler on behalf of the UK Green Building Council will introduce the topic and provoke discussion. Venue: RTPI Offices, Botolph Lane, London EC3R 8DL Contact: www.rtpi. housing-standards-thegovernment-consultation/ 15 October — Preparing an effective evidence base Briefing and workshop to help you better shape an effective evidence base to inform more robust policies and decision taking. Speakers include Matthew Spry, director, Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners,and Nigel Smith, principal planning officer, Stevenage Borough Council. Venue: The Hatton-etc. venues, 51-53 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8HN Contact: www.rtpi.

calendar/2013/october/ preparing-an-effectiveevidence-base/ 15 October —Autumn Legal Update Landmark Chambers again hosts the RTPI’s London Autumn Legal Update, providing three speakers to present on and discuss the year’s developments in planning law. Venue: Landmark Chambers, 180 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2HG Contact: www.rtpi. autumn-legal-update,london/ 16 October — Writing Skills for planning professionals With recent legislation changes, including the Localism Act, good communication skills have never been more vital. Attending this masterclass will help you to structure documents, letters and emails for impact and clarity and write faster and more fluently. Venue: Venue: The Hattonetc.venues, 51-53 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8HN Contact: www.rtpi. writing-skills-forplanning-professionals/ 17 October — Introduction to Sustainability Appraisals Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is a means for identifying and communicating the likely effects of a draft plan and alternatives on the economy, the community

and the environment. This masterclass will help guide participants through the four key steps in the SA process. Venue: The Hatton-etc. venues, 51-53 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8HN Contact: www.rtpi. introduction-tosustainability-appraisals(strategic-environmentalassessment)/ 5 November — Design in the planning system A masterclass teaching how to deal effectively with design and how having the right policy in place is the key to planning authorities winning in a large proportion of planning appeals. Venue: The Hatton-etc. venues, 51-53 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8HN Contact: http://www.rtpi. design-in-the-planningsystem/

NORTHERN IRELAND 15 October — Living Places Consultation Event Event will give an overview of the recently launched 'Living Places' document, the UK's first consultation on a joint urban stewardship and design guide. Venue: Belfast BT2 7AG Contact: www.rtpi. living-places-consultationevent/

WALES 6 December —RTPI Cymru Review Hear the review, witness the change of chairs and get to learn about what will be happening in 2014. Venue: Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff CF10 5AL Contact: www.rtpi. rtpi-cymru-annual-review/


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


A key aim of the RTPI is to lead policy debates, establish new approaches and ultimately to influence national planning policies. Everything we do is inspired by our mission to advance the art and science of town and country planning for the benefit of the public. We want to promote good planning and raise the standards of the profession. To help us to achieve this we provide a wealth of knowledge about planning, including detailed information on key planning topics and core issues, research activities and a range of publications. In future articles we will highlight the very important policy work our members are engaged in across the UK and Ireland. One key area of work I am coordinating at present is the production of a series of new policy papers, including ones on strategic planning, infrastructure transport and economic growth. These have two purposes. The first is to crystallise what the RTPI thinks about an important issue. This means we have an open call for evidence on the website and also run roundtables for invited experts around the UK. It is important to us that our take on a key issue is one which reflects common views across national boundaries. The second purpose is to broadcast our recommendations for putting some things right. For example, our Delivering Large Scale Housing paper (see Analysis, page 16) made 15 recommendations to help to solve the housing crisis in England and Scotland. We think it is important for governments, commentators and the public to have practical ideas and solutions to consider; often debates around planning matters tend towards the ideological. We also think it is vital that a profession as important as planning


has a powerful voice. Next year is the RTPI centenary. We are developing five centenary ‘Policy Futures’ papers. These will take a step back from immediate policy For more information on the policy work of the concerns and take a long term, as well as global RTPI and how you can view, of planning and the contribution it can make get involved visit www. to some of the major challenges we face in the 21st For information on our century. The projects are: Future proofing society; Centenary policy work Planning for economic growth and enterprise; visit Urbanisation and health; Spatial thinking in centenary policy; and Governance. In one sense, we face many of the same challenges now as we did a century ago – the need for quality affordable housing, improved public health (particularly in cities) and how to balance economic development with the protection of the countryside. In other respects we are confronted by a wholly new set of challenges, such as climate change, demographic shifts (including an ageing society), the rise of ‘lifestyle diseases’ and increasing competition in a globalised world. We welcome the engagement of members in these projects. We particularly welcome suggestions for UK and international case studies which demonstrate the role and value of planners and planning in relation to these challenges. Our policy work is ongoing. We regularly respond to key consultations from national governments, usually with input from the policy panels and committees established in each nation. We are frequently out of the office attending meetings with officials and other organisations, seeking to influence and raise the profile of planning this way. Quite often the response is “I’d no idea that was anything to do with planning!” In our experience this is a common fallacy which goes a long way to encouraging the marginalisation of planners within public and private enterprises. Our work on your behalf continually seeks to set the record straight. RICHARD BLYTH Head of Policy Practice & Research


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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


Nikola Miller Planning Policy and Practice Officer ROYAL TOWN PLANNING INSTITUTE SCOTLAND (Want to tell your story? Please get in touch)

(1) What do you currently do? I’m the Planning Policy and Practice Officer for RTPI Scotland. Essentially my role is all about working to promote the planning profession and the institute by engaging with Scottish Government and politicians to influence planning policy at the national level in a positive and proactive way. I am also the co-editor of Scottish Planner journal and organise various CPD events to engage planners and other related professionals to share knowledge and discuss relevant planning issues.

(2) “If I wasn’t in planning, I’d probably be…" Well I like to think I’d be a rock star touring the world (I’m thinking Rod Stewart meets Lady Gaga)! But realistically? I’d be involved in the built environment or politics in some form. It’s much less rock and roll, but it’s my passion!

(3) What’s been your biggest career challenge to date? Being made redundant in 2011 and the real confidence knock that came with that. Like so many other planners, the recession has been an unsettling time with job security often low and new job opportunities few and far between. However, I think it really has been a blessing in disguise and everything I’ve done since then has given me more confidence and experience than ever, culminating with being named RTPI Young Planner of the Year last year, a huge honour and opportunity both personally and professionally.

(4) What attracted you to the profession? I wanted to use the skills that I have to really make a difference, and planning is the perfect way to do that. I really believe in the power that planning has to create great places for people, to enable the delivery of the right development in the right place and, crucially, to be a positive driving force for economic recovery.

(5) What single piece of advice would you give to young planner just starting out? I’d say don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do. In my experience so far, it’s the people that really care the most that make the most difference. And I don’t think it’s naïve to say that you really can make a difference and influence not only the profession, but your workplace, local area and the people around you.

(6) If you could change one thing about the planning profession, what would it be? I’d like to see planners being more confident. If we as a profession can’t be positive and confident in our abilities and the important role planning has, how can we expect the UK Government and other professions to have confidence in us and see the benefits of a plan-led system with people and placemaking at its core?

MEMBER SURVEY TO HELP IMPROVE RTPI SERVICES As we prepare to celebrate our centenary in 2014, the RTPI has launched a major survey to find out what you think of the RTPI and how you view your membership. The findings will help us to continue our commitment to providing members with the best possible services, benefits and support to assist you at every stage of your professional career. We are emailing members directly to take part and need as many

responses as possible. This is the first survey of this scale for a number of years. The survey is being carried out independently on behalf of RTPI by Enventure Research, a market research agency bound by the Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct. This ensures that your personal details will only be used for the purposes of the survey and will not be disclosed to any third parties.

> For further information visit

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL PLANNING A scheme to send RTPI members into schools to act as planning ambassadors, an audio and visual timeline history project, and a series of new policy ‘futures’ papers are just some of the ways in which the RTPI will be celebrating its centenary in 2014. A special logo (pictured) will help to give a distinctive branding and identity to all of our activity during the year. Members will receive a specially

designed lapel pin. Regions and nations also have their own active programmes of local centenary events. Our centenary provides a tremendous opportunity to raise the profile of planning, the Institute and its membership, and the planning profession as a whole. It gives us a unique chance to look forward to the future of planning while at the same time taking a chance to celebrate our rich history.

> For information on the centenary visit


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RTPI { Positive influence YOU DON’T HAVE TO INVITE POLITICIANS TO EXPENSIVE DINNERS TO GAIN INFLUENCE. RTPI PRESIDENT DR PETER GERAGHTY REPORTS ON HOW THE INSTITUTE WORKS HARD TO HAVE A SAY OVER THE PLANNING AGENDA ACROSS THE UK AND IRELAND. Done in the right way, by making a powerful and compelling case, by putting forward ideas and practical solutions, often through face to face contacts, policy and legislation can be influenced in a positive way. In fact, across the UK and Ireland politicians often regard the knowledge and expertise of RTPI members as being invaluable in helping to get a policy right. These days almost every organisation is attempting to influence policy and devoting resources to doing this. From multinational companies with whole teams of lobbyists to the smallest of charities, ministers and senior civil servants are inundated with requests for meetings, telephone calls, briefing papers and proposals for amendments. One member of the House of Lords, who by his own admission was relatively unknown, told me he had received more than 80 briefings about aspects of planning when a piece of legislation was about to be considered. I am writing this article on the train coming back from the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. The train is crammed with officers from organisations doing exactly what we were trying to do – build political relationships and ultimately influence policy. Relationship building, over time and across the political divide, is crucial. Craig McLaren, our national director, Scotland and Ireland, told me: “In Scotland we have established very good working relationships with ministers and MSPs over many years. They know that they can rely on us to give impartial and expert advice that is solution focused. It is very important, while retaining your right to be critical of policy, to work constructively with the government of the day, as well as groups of MSPs, on a particular issue.” Reforms in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the Localism Act and the Growth and Infrastructure Acts are all better for the input of


DR PETER GERAGHTY RTPI president 2013-14 (pictured centre, with Welsh Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Planning Carl Sargeant to his left). For more information on the work we are doing to influence policy visit


the RTPI and the views of its members. Some of the work we do is very public – appearing on TV and radio to explain the way planning works and dispelling some of the rumours that still abound about planning. Some of the work is public but not so well reported – such as appearing before committees in Parliament, Stormont, Holyrood, and Cardiff Bay. Roisin Willmott, national director, RTPI Cymru and Northern Ireland, can be penning an article for a local newspaper one day, taking part in a ministerial advisory task force that afternoon and preparing to give evidence to a Welsh Assembly committee the following day. “It is vital to use every means possible to get your views across. Our members are our greatest asset because they have such a wealth of knowledge and experience and ministers realise this," she told me. Some of what we do is necessarily behind the scenes. At a recent Parliamentary reception, former Labour planning minister John Healey said the RTPI was one of the most effective bodies in influencing public policy that he had ever dealt with. Planning minister Nick Boles also recently praised the constructive work of the RTPI in helping to shape policy and paid a special tribute to chief executive Trudi Elliott for her ‘outstanding work’ on the Taylor Guidance Review. The Institute has provided information and advice to politicians on planning for almost 100 years. Influencing policy for the public good is part of our charter and central to what we do.


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RTPI members discuss their career-changing decisions PODCASTS HIGHLIGHT LIFE AS A PLANNER RTPI past president Martin Willey interviews longstanding member George McDonic in the first of a series of special podcasts to help celebrate the RTPI centenary in 2014. Martin is interviewing members in each of the decades, starting with the 1940s and George, who has a fascinating story to tell about life as a planner seventy years ago. Others in the series include former president John Dean talking about becoming a planner in the 1960s. If you know someone who was a planner in the 1930s, please contact us. Members can listen to a variety of podcasts via the RTPI website. Our lunchtime fringe events at the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative Party conferences, 'Can planning deliver the homes we need in the places we want?', are now available as podcasts.


Jennifer Winyard Senior Planner TURLEY ASSOCIATES

For further information visit­room

MEMBERSHIP: STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD The RTPI offers a class of membership to suit all levels of planning professionals. Becoming a member of the RTPI will enhance your career whether you are a student just starting out on your professional journey or an experienced planner at the peak of your career. For almost 100 years, membership of the RTPI has been the hallmark of professional expertise and integrity. Membership opens doors and gives you professional standing. The designation

Chartered Town Planner helps you stand out from the crowd in a competitive job market. It is also a requirement for many employers. It can increase your earning potential and speed up your career. The RTPI sets high standards for planning education. We support you in accessing the professional development you need to help you excel. Your membership will help you keep up to date with information on planning policy, best practice and research.

For further information visit

“The single most important decision I’ve made to date was undoubtedly when I was studying to be an architect and decided that I actually wanted to be a town planner. This was a very big turning point for me, a huge decision, and one I have never regretted. It literally transformed my career. "I’d wanted to be an architect from when I was just eleven years old. At university I was excited about studying to become an architect, and I then took a year out to work for an architectural practice. At that stage I had a lot of contact with planners and this made me think about the built environment in a much more holistic way instead of just concentrating on the design of buildings. “I became more interested in how spaces evolve and fit together. This inspired me and I became convinced that I had the skills to become a planner. "So I made my decision! I did a twelve month Masters in planning, which I really enjoyed, and then got a job as a planner at Turley Associates. With my background in architecture, I think I am a great asset to my company. I’m able to develop very good relationships with architects, and perhaps they are more open with me because they know I will be able to see things from their viewpoint. "The decision I made also indirectly led me to get involved in ‘Women in Property’, the national organisation that seeks to enhance the profile of women in the sector by encouraging and nurturing aspiring talent. I have been very involved in their students awards scheme and education roadshow. This means that I can explain what a town planner does to students and hopefully inspire a few more women to do what I did and enter the profession or at least let them know what great opportunities there are in planning. I get to share my experience and show how my career has progressed.” Want to tell us your big step up? Contact


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Plan B P D ATA D A Z E

THE STATISTICS OF DESPAIR Plan B has been alerted to the publication of “Accessiblity statistics” on the Department of Transport’s website which illustrate average journey times to key services by different modes of transport in different parts of the country. In theory, this should be an interesting overview of how efficiently people move around their environment and where resources might be directed to improve the lives of residents in town and country. But there seems to be a flaw in the figures. For while the report happily tells us where we’re going to (school, shops, work and the like), at no point does it explain where we’re presumed to be departing from. Are we meant to guess?

Apparently not. Buried in one of the separate guidance documents that accompany the report is the phrase: “Car and cycle users are assumed to be able to start at the population centroid.” Centroid. Really? Centroid?? Why not a population rhomboid? Or a civic trapezium? Or are we actually talking about, say, a town square? Plan B despairs. So, too, it seems, do the Department’s data monkeys: peppered throughout the paperwork are requests for feedback that, on reflection, seem almost poignant: “The accessibility statistics are currently being reviewed, and the Department is very keen to get feedback… on whether

these statistics are still needed, and if so, whether they meet user needs or could be improved.” Their creeping sense of futility is so great that the data gatherers didn’t even bother collecting figures for walking and public transport this year. Instead, they refer us to last year’s numbers, the implication being that nothing has changed. Nothing ever changes round here. Ever. Their ennui is almost tangible. Based on this (entirely madeup) sample, Plan B calculates that 73 per cent of Government statisticians are in a state of existential

despair; 27 per cent are thinking of retraining as Baristas and a whopping 83 per cent report that the highlight of their week is waiting to see what BBC reporter Simon McCoy is going to pick up next while bravely reading the news. Please, Department of Transport datagatherers, don’t give up hope just yet. You made Plan B’s cramped and slow commute to Planner HQ so much more amusing than it might have been. Anyway, stat fans, here are some figures on comparative average minimum car and cycling times from the population centroid in England, 2012:


While planners and house builders argue over who is to blame for a building lag that threatens to create a house price bubble (Growing concerns, p.28), the Chancellor seems strangely relaxed about the whole business. This is despite figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that London house prices have leapt by 10 per cent in a year and are almost back to pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, business secretary Vince Cable and others are getting jittery about the imminent help to buy scheme, which may well distort the market further next year. George Osborne, however, is surprisingly sanguine. “I don’t see the evidence of some housing boom out there,” he told the BBC in late September. “What I see is not only house prices 25 per cent lower than they were, but mortgage approvals half what they were, transactions two-thirds of what they were. In other words, we are a long way from a housing boom.” Maybe Plan B is pedantic, but surely the Chancellor means “housing bubble”? We know there’s no housing boom – and that’s the problem. Back to you, house builders…


The average minimum travel time across seven key services (work, primary school, secondary school, further education, GP, hospital, food store) for England, 2012:



mins BY CAR:



14 mins

* 2011 FIGURE


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The RTPI would like to thank all the winners, entrants, judges, sponsors and supporters of the 2013 Awards for Planning Excellence.

Winners include: Kings Heath Village Square; Birmingham County Council Beam Parklands; Arup Thame neighbourhood plan; Tibbalds planning and urban design Wales Coast Path; Natural Resource Wales (Silver Cup winners) A full list of the winners and shortlisted entries can all be found at

Entries for the 2014 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence will open later in the year

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The Planner - October 2013  
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