In May the CLA set out what it believes the priorities for the next government should be in the build up to the general election in June. In a very useful summary (CLA Priorities) they set out five priorities that they feel will help to shape the future of the rural economy and its communities. Read More
Category Archives: government-legislation
By Willy Browne-Swinburne
After reading this article in the Yorkshire Post recently, all of us at Rural Solutions offer a round of applause to the journalist. At last someone who has identified three important insights covering the desperate need for housing this country has and how rural settlements of all sizes could contribute. Read More
By James Podesta – Head of Planning
Gavin Barwell, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, has stated that it is ‘unlikely’ the Government will step in to enforce its ‘early 2017’ deadline for local plan production, until a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is in place (expected in summer). No action is likely to be taken until the Government’s consultation on standardising the methodology for assessing housing need has been published alongside the revised NPPF.
The government has won a legal challenge against a High Court ruling that quashed a national planning policy intended to exempt small sites from affordable housing obligations.
The Court of Appeal in London today backed government plans to exempt small development sites from the need to have affordable housing included on them.
Reading Borough Council and its neighbour West Berkshire District Council claimed that the new policy, introduced in a ministerial statement in November 2014, would drastically reduce the amount of affordable housing across the country by more than 20 per cent.
And they claimed that it would have a particular impact in their areas, as well as providing a windfall to landowners and developers.
Reading had claimed that the policy would result in a loss of up to 30 much-needed affordable homes per year in its area, out of a target of 167. And the more rural West Berkshire council said it would lose almost a quarter of its affordable housing under the policy.
In July 2015 Mr Justice Holgate backed their arguments and quashed the policy, which excluded developments of ten homes or fewer, or 1,000 square metres or less, from the requirement to provide or contribute to affordable housing provision.
However, today’s judgement of the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, and Lords Justices Laws and Treacy, which ran to more than 13,000 words, overturned the High Court ruling.
Lord Dyson, backed by two other Lords Justices, upheld all four appeal grounds brought by the government, and reversed Mr Justice Holgate’s decision to quash the policy.
However, the councils’ battle may not be over yet. There is still the possibility the matter could go to the Supreme Court for a further, last ditch appeal, in which today’s decision would be challenged.
West Berkshire District Council & Anr v The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: C1/2015/2559
Original taken from Planning Resource which can be accessed here.
A new Rural Planning Review will look to reduce regulatory burdens in support of new homes, jobs and innovation.
Rural entrepreneurs and housebuilders in England will have the opportunity to provide ideas on how the planning system can better support rural life, making it simpler for them to expand their businesses and to build much needed new homes.
The move comes as the government launches a planning review to reduce regulatory burdens in support of new homes, jobs and innovation. It will also review the rules for converting agricultural buildings to residential use, building on the success of the 2014 changes which have seen more than 2,000 agricultural buildings being allowed to be converted to much-needed homes.
The Rural Planning Review, jointly published by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is the latest milestone in the delivery of the Government’s Rural Productivity Plan, launched last summer by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss.
The plan sets out new measures to boost the rural economy by investing in education and skills, improving infrastructure and connectivity, and simplifying planning laws for rural businesses and communities. Already the Government is delivering on these objectives, designed to drive up productivity and ensure the countryside becomes an ever more attractive place for people to live, work, start a business and bring up a family.
Planning was one of the priorities for rural action included in the government’s response to the Lord Cameron Review on Rural Proofing published in December, which sets out a series of measures to ensure government departments fully understand rural issues to better protect the services delivered for rural communities, as well as boosting productivity in the countryside. Defra and Cabinet Office have since agreed with Lord Cameron that the development of rural proofing guidance should be given priority.
All evidence and comments are to be submitted by 21 April 2016.
Two national park authorities are gearing up to take control over planning in areas covered by new boundaries, but it is not yet clear how much government cash will be made available for the bodies’ extra responsibilities.
The Lake District authority’s head of development management David McGowan said it intends to pick up the extra work with existing staff. A lot of his authority’s relatively small extension “is open countryside with little in the way of population and not much development”, he explained.
The local authority that will hand over the biggest chunk of land is Eden District Council. But Gwyn Clark, its head of planning services, said the area represents just seven per cent of the applications it receives annually. “We get roughly 80 applications per year in the area that’s being taken over by the Yorkshire Dales and four to five for the Lake District,” he added.
As well as the other four affected local authorities, Eden will also have to pass on information on its development strategy. Stockton said the Yorkshire Dales, whose local plan does not currently apply to the extension area, will “be implementing the existing plans currently in place there”. He added that “perhaps eventually we’ll do a new local plan, but in the interim, we will implement the relevant bits of the Eden local plan and the other existing plans in those areas”. McGowan said the Lake District would do the same.
So what does the new national park designation mean for development? The most “topical” difference will concern permitted development rights that allow the conversion of agricultural buildings into certain other uses without the need for planning permission, said McGowan. One potential effect of last month’s announcement could be a “rush of people trying to convert their barns” while they can still use these rights, Stockton predicted.
Dorothy Fairburn, director for the north of England at the Country Land and Business Association, told Planning that the national parks’ exemption from the permitted development rights “makes it harder for people to either provide rural housing or rural jobs in national parks, and both of these are deeply needed in national parks”.
Overall, the national park planning regime is more restrictive, according to Tony Kernon, of Kernon Countryside Consulting. He pointed to paragraph 115 in the National Planning Policy Framework, which states that “great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in national parks, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty”. According to Fairburn, the added emphasis on landscape – and a stronger requirement on buildings to fit the local vernacular better – can make development more expensive.
The designation also means added bureaucracy, said Duncan Hartley, director of planning at Rural Solutions. The consultancy represented seven landowners opposing the Yorkshire Dales extension when it was first proposed three years ago. “One of the roles of national park authorities is to preserve the character and appearance of the area as well as the duty to mange the land to aid tourism and development,” Hartley said. But he added that “the perception among landowners is that the authorities put greater emphasis on the protection and less on their economic role”.
Announcement to create largest area of national park land in England welcomed by campaigners after two-year wait for decision.
Two of England’s most celebrated national parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, are being extended, the government has announced.
The additional 188 square miles (48,7oo hectares) of national park land will include parts of the Orton fells, the northern Howgill fells, Wild Boar fell and Mallerstang, as well as Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck fells in the Yorkshire Dales. In the Lake District, newly protected areas include from Birkbeck fells common to Whinfell common and an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh fell.
The extensions come into effect from August 2016. They follow a public enquiry and are in line with recommendations made by the government’s advisors at Natural England. Campaigners had been frustrated that it had taken the government two years to make a decision on the Planning Inspector’s report.
Environment secretary Liz Truss made the announcement during a visit to Wensleydale Creamery, based in the Yorkshire Dales national park and home of the protected Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese. She said the extensions would protect the land for future generations as well as boosting tourism and supporting rural businesses.
“The Dales and the Lakes have some of our country’s finest landscapes, beautiful vistas and exciting wildlife. They are part of our national identity,” she said. “National parks are fabulous national assets that welcome over 90 million tourists and contribute to our vibrant rural economy – we are committed to helping them thrive.”
Fiona Howie, chief executive of the Campaign for National Parks, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news. Very simply, these are beautiful, inspiring and important areas of the countryside that always deserved to be part of our national parks. They were originally excluded because of administrative reasons but now, after years of hard work by a lot of people, this is now going to be put right.”
Howie said proposed extension areas for the Lake District national park had been accepted in their entirety, and there were only two minor areas not accepted in the Yorkshire Dales park.
Emma Marrington, at the Campaign to Protect Rural England also welcomed the news. “This extension form[s] a ‘bridge’ that includes iconic landscapes such as the Orton and Howgill fells in Yorkshire and large tracts of common land in Cumbria. This announcement has been a long time coming.”
She said: “Only our finest landscapes are granted national park status. National parks enjoy the highest level of planning protection and are exemplars of sustainable development. The challenge now is to ensure that the two national park authorities have the resources they need to protect and enhance these landscapes in the long-term.”
Natural England chairman, Andrew Sells, said: “They represent some of England’s most treasured natural assets. With international appeal, their stunning landscapes stand out as a beacon to the people who come to enjoy them whilst their intrinsic value drives the communities, businesses and biodiversity they support.”
Original article from Guardian.com
The last week has seen a plethora of manifesto promises some of which will have effects on rural planning and much of which won’t have any. Here we highlight some of the key points raised by each party in their manifesto announcements last week.
The surprising outcome of these manifestos is actually how much the main parties agree. The common theme with all parties is the concentration of effort on Brownfield development, which is a pretty obvious and innocuous angle and will do little to actually address the housing crisis. Labour and the Lib Dems are very enthusiastic about garden cities, a policy that we at Rural Solutions have always seen as slightly unrealistic.
The Greens and UKIP are both keen to scrap the NPPF but for entirely different reasons and UKIP’s focus on heritage is an interesting angle. From our rural perspective, UKIP also talk sense around small housing schemes in rural settlements but this doesn’t go far enough to address the national housing crisis and the sustainability issues facing rural settlements.
We don’t see the NPPF being challenged but we expect to see continued guidance being added to the National Planning Policy Guidance document particularly where Green Belt is concerned as this seems to be a political ‘hot potato’.
Overall the planning elements in the manifestos are ‘unsurprising’ and don’t really indicate any great change in the direction of travel under any of the coalition or main party options. Indeed it seems that the Tory perspective is more likely to see a watering down of the NPPF than either Lib Dem or Labour. Given that it was Tory policy to start with seems to indicate some political manoeuvring to secure the outraged Nimby’s in some of the strongest Conservative seats!
To discuss any of the above or indeed any other matters concerning rural planning please contact either Duncan Hartley or Rob Hindle at Rural Solutions on 01756 797501.
- They hit the ground running with an enthusiastic pledge to create a new generation of garden cities
- Restoration and development of ‘brownfield first’
- Support HS2
- ‘Use it or lose it’ to encourage developers to build out once they have received planning consent
- Mansion Tax on properties worth £2m plus
- Protect Green Belt with a £1b brownfield regeneration fund to aid development with local authorities required to have a register of what is available. This is to ensure that 90% of brownfield sites have residential planning permission by 2020.
- Change the law so that people have a final say on wind farm applications and end any new public subsidy for onshore wind turbines
- Build more homes that people can afford with 200,000 new homes for first time buyers under 40 and deliver an additional 275,000 affordable homes by 2020
- Grant 1.3m housing association tenants the right to buy
- Scrap office to residential permitted development rights
- Put ‘local authorities in the driving seat for plan-led development by requiring them to make a plan for 15 years of housing need, working collaboratively with neighbouring councils where necessary to identify sites’
- Measures to improve housing needs assessments to ensure that they ‘respond to demand’
- Creation of 10 new garden cities as part of their plan to build 300,000 homes a year
- Create a community right of appeal against planning decisions against the approved or emerging local plan and not allow developers appeals against planning decisions that are in line with the local plan
- Prioritise development on brownfield sites and town centres
- Scrap NPPF and its ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’
- Local authorities to work collaboratively to develop national spatial plans
- Require local authorities to map local ecological networks
- Concentrate on expanding mature renewable sources such as wind energy and solar PV until 2030 and reduce planning constraints for onshore wind
- Restrict ability of Secretary of State to call-in planning applications
- Restrict the right of applicants to appeal only where there has been an error in the process and introduce a community right of appeal where a development is non-compliant with a neighbourhood or local plan
- Prohibit developers from being allowed to destroy habitats by way of biodiversity offsetting and prevent new building on flood plains
- Require all new homes to be built to Passivhaus standard
- Ban all UK fracking
- Scrap NPPF and bring in new national planning guidelines prioritising brownfield sites for new housing and protecting green belt
- Free local authorities from government imposed minimum housing numbers
- Reverse current policy of facilitating large scale rural residential developments and promote smaller 6-12 unit developments in rural areas to extend existing villages
- Allow large scale developments to be overturned by binding local referendum
- Merge planning and building control in local authorities to reduce costs and bureaucracy
- Relax planning regulations for conversion of commercial and office space to affordable residential
- Introduce a ‘presumption in favour of heritage conservation’ as opposed to current presumption in favour of development’
- Ensure tax and planning policies support historic buildings and the countryside
- Drop all subsidies for wind and solar power to secure ‘survival and expansion’ of coal
Duncan Hartley, Director of Planning, Rural Solutions Ltd
It seems that every few days another piece of commentary or another report is released highlighting the situation the country is in regarding availability of housing.
The problem is now far worse than previously thought and is a critical issue for rural communities.
The Rural Housing Policy Group launched its Fair Deal for Rural Communities report on 23 February.
The group was set up to consider whether progress has been made taking forward recommendations from various affordable rural housing reports published during the last decade. The report concludes that the next generation of people who need to live and work in rural communities face a tougher future than ever.
Group chair Lord Best said ‘there are severe housing shortages throughout the UK but rural areas face special difficulties.’ Competition from commuters, retirees and second home owners means on average rural house prices are 26% higher than in urban areas. At the same time, local earnings are consistently lower in rural than urban areas averaging £19.700 in rural districts compared with £26,000 for the major urban areas. An additional challenge is the fact that 12% of rural housing stock is social housing compared with 19% in urban areas, so housing affordability is a much greater problem.
The report’s recommendations include the reversal of the government’s policy to remove from local authorities the power to require affordable homes on sites of less than 10 homes. Planning authorities should require all sites, whatever their size, to make an affordable housing contribution. The level of this contribution – in cash or kind – should be determined by what works in the housing market of that area it adds.
The report calls on the government to require local authorities to set local targets for delivery of affordable housing for their rural areas against needs. Some two-thirds of rural based people think politicians do not care about the issue of providing affordable housing in rural areas.
The full report can be downloaded here.