Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Planning laws unveiled with pro-growth pledge

Softcapitalist | March 28 4:42pm | Permalink
The first priority is to meet asap the housing needs of the most expensive cities, starting w central London. 

Building in all non-historic/protected areas should be as easy as building on abandoned brownfield, i.e. obsolete hectares of terraced houses (most currently used as "conversions") should make room for modern, energy-efficient, spacious and affordable houses. 

By raising 4-6 storeys blocks, in gated complexes with parking spaces around/underneath the cost per sqm (perhaps per cubic meter) of dwelling would considerably go down. The Spanish / north European models should be inspiring. 

There are so many poor quality houses on expensive land that it is hilarious people talk about building on greenbelt. There is no need to grow the cities beyond their today limits. Why take the discussion into a completely wrong direction? There is so much room on the vertical! 

The infrastructure going out tens of miles from Leicester Square is unsustainable, is too big a wheel for its feeble spokes to cope with. Bring the rim closer to the axle. Britain needs higher density cities, supported by a more efficient transport infrastructure, eg trains with shorter journeys (assume the tube is 70% of the times empty on 50% of the length of its lines, because the lines are 20+ miles long. If these were under 10 miles, then the "filling" rates would go higher and the network could be expanded south of the river) 

Demolish should not be a taboo word. 


Unveiling the biggest shake-up of planning laws in half a century, ministers sought on Tuesday to assuage the green lobby’s fears that the countryside will be chewed up by new developments, while insisting that the reforms were “un-ashamedly pro-growth”.
Despite a more conciliatory tone on the need to preserve Britain’s green fields, the most controversial part of the reforms – the presumption in favour of “sustainable development” – was retained. Having sparked a six-month campaign from environmental activists and heritage bodies, Greg Clark, planning minister, said the clause meant that building would not be held up by local councils unless approving it went against the “collective interest”.





Replacing 1,300 pages of guidelines with just 50, the simplified policies are intended to speed up development. But local authorities that have an up-to-date local plan – a document that sets out where development is wanted and needed – have a 12-month window of transition, even if their plans are inconsistent with the new framework.
Councils can also amend their plans to reflect local interests, including, for example, protection for the local greenbelt. The move is expected to spark a flurry of action from local councils as they seek to strengthen their controls.
Analysts said much would rest on how the proposals were implemented. Leonie Oliva, director of planning at Drivers Jonas Deloitte, said: “It is more comforting to environmental campaigners but how it will hit the ground will be played out in appeals and courts for years to come. There is almost certainly a lot of discretion in how the rules are interpreted.”
Nevertheless, the final plan included several important changes. In a concession to green concerns, the document requires councils to favour previously used or “brownfield” sites for new development over previously undeveloped sites.
Town centres are more strongly protected, in line with the Mary Portas review which highlighted the need to promote town centre development over out-of-town retail parks. Support for converting offices to residential use were also encouraged as a means of increasing housing supply. Conversely, in areas where house prices are high, local authorities were given get-out clauses to prevent all office stock being converted to residential use.
In a stroke against Nimbyism the planning proposals also sought to constrain the ambitions of neighbourhood groups by insisting their interests need to be aligned with “the strategic needs and priorities of the local area”.
The changes were welcomed by housebuilders and developers. Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the House Builders Federation, said: “The proposals are sensible and will balance a community’s housing needs against environmental and other considerations. We now need to see the policies implemented quickly so we can start to tackle the country’s acute housing crisis.”
The National Trust, which had collected 230,000 signatures in opposition to the draft framework, also appeared to welcome the new version. “All these changes improve the document and give it a better tone and balance,” it said. “Now the serious business of planning begins.”
But the regulatory overhaul was pilloried by Labour, which accused the government of bringing in “untested” reforms that would cause “widespread delay and chaos”. Hilary Benn, shadow communities secretary, said developments would be held up while the courts decides how to interpret the “radical” new rules. “This would both harm the house building we desperately need and put our countryside and green spaces at risk of unwanted development,” he said.
The Woodland Trust also attacked failures to protect ancient trees. “The wording gives with one hand and takes away with the other,” it said. Shelter, the housing group, also warned that although the reforms backed the building of more homes, they would not help families struggling to buy first homes unless they were genuinely affordable.

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