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CLG vs National Trust, round 2

10 August 2012

Now that David Cameron has jumped on board the Treasury bandwagon in wanting to revise the National Planning Policy Framework, it’s looking like the Communities and Local Government department is going to be pitched into battle with the National Trust and other anti-development campaigners yet again. It’s not just that CLG ministers might be wary of opening up old wounds with organisations whose members tend to be Conservative voters, but that they already feel planning reform is truly done and dusted.

CLG sources point to the fact that out of the 480,000 units with outstanding planning permission, work has not yet started on 226,000, more than 81,500 are on hold and 136,700 are moving to the point where work will begin on site. They believe this is evidence that planning reform is already starting to take effect, but as is always the case with housebuilding, the effect is just taking longer to show. As James wrote in his column this week, Eric Pickles has sent in mediators to break up a stalemate between local authorities and developers where councils have insisted on unaffordable community benefit schemes. There are also fears that the slow trickle of starts is being caused by a lack of available credit, rather than continued difficulty negotiating the planning system.

I’ve also seen a 30-strong list of all the planning changes that are completed, active, due to be finalised and out for consultation to underline how much the department is already doing to change the system. But the Prime Minister clearly feels the need to show sleeves that are well and truly rolled up on this issue: Eric Pickles will need to show some mettle if he’s going to wrestle this policy back from Number 10.

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Show comments
  • James

    We don’t just need more land for residential development, we need better building regulations. A detached house was knocked down in my town recently and a terrace of three microscopic 2-bed, low-ceilinged, windowless-bathroomed houses* were thrown up in weeks (you know the score: wood frames and not a breeze block in sight – even between units – with a brick skin added almost last, just to keep the rain off the thin internal plasterboard walls).

    The width of each unit is the same as the length of a Ford Mondeo – yet includes a kitchen, entrance hallway (excluding stairwell – that takes up a quarter of the tiny “living and dining space”) and WC!

    “Modern living” said the sign. A steal at 230k each. All sold before completion; no doubt they will all come up for rent at over 1000pcm soon, judging by the local market.

    * houselets, as I now call such properties

  • The Wiganer

    At the moment there are a lot of planning officers whose jobs are mooted for redundancy. The last thing they can do is wave planning permission through; they must add conditions that require them to be employed to pass judgement upon them. Many of these conditions are now ‘front-loaded’ which means you must spend vast amounts of money on meeting them before you even put a spade in the ground.
    Every condition is a cost and a risk for developers, hence sites are getting permission and then not progressing.
    And the community benefit charges have simply become an opportunity for councils to screw developers to pay for maintenance of facilities that should already be covered by council tax. A studio flat in the worst part of town gets the same levy as a fivebed detached in the best part of town.
    Add the fact that financiers have become amazingly pedantic on planning and building conditions and you have a situation where only perfect or highly lucrative sites get developed.

    • alexsandr

      They can tinker with planning all they like. Without banks lending recklessly there wont be any house building in any quantity. Cos without mass availability of low deposit mortgages then first time buyers cant buy. And low deposit mortgages are what got us into this mess in the first place. So Jemima and Jeremy will have to live with mummy and save a little longer. Like we had to do in the old days when you didn’t apply for a mortgage, you grovelled.

  • telemachus

    Not many comments
    Worth looking at the adverising going on on the Shiraz Maher thread

  • In2minds

    This is Cameron digging another hole (see article below) into which he goes head first. Stupid man.

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