Planning Portal News 23rd July 2015 – Local Plan ‘deadline’

Government announces local plan ‘deadline’ and urges more Inspectorate pragmatism


Planning Minister Brandon Lewis told Parliament this week that the government would intervene where local authorities had failed to produce a local plan by “early 2017”.

In a written Commons statement he said: “We will intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people, to accelerate production of a Local Plan.”

The minister’s comments came as Lewis’s colleague Communities Secretary Greg Clark wrote to the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate Simon Ridley voicing concern that some inspectors were taking too tough a line on shortcomings in some strategies.

The Secretary of State said: “We have recently seen significant positive plan-making progress: 82 per cent of authorities have now published local plans and 64 per cent adopted plans compared with 32 and 17 per cent in May 2010 respectively.

For the full report go to 


Planning Portal – 10 September 2015 – Housing Projections

The following is extracted form a Planning Round-up published by the Government Planning Portal on 10th September 2015.

Official figures showing a surge in net migration to the UK cast further doubt on the robustness of key household projections used by councils to assess their area’s housing need, Planning Magazine reported last week. 2013-P1060312

Concerns have resurfaced about the reliability of the government projections used by councils to help assess housing need, with recent official figures showing that net international migration to the UK has hit record levels.

Commentators say the new figures are evidence that the housing shortfall is worsening more quickly than expected, and some councils may need to look to increase their housing numbers locally.

Simon Coop, planning director at consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners is reported as warning that councils who relied on the projections risked an under-provision of housing need in their area.

Planning Portal News – 20th August 2015 – St Albans Green Belt Appeals Dismissed

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has dismissed two re-opened appeals, one for 116 dwellings and a care home and the other for 85 dwellings at a green belt location – largely open farmland – on the northern edge of St Albans in Hertfordshire. The site is located between the mainline railway and the A1081.

Both schemes had been refused by the local planning authority, St Albans City and District Council and dismissed on appeal by a planning inspector in 2013. However developer Hunston Properties mounted a successful High Court challenge which quashed the inspector’s decision. Subsequently the council went to the Court of Appeal which resulted in a ruling that the appeals should be reheard and redetermined.

The SoS agreed with the inspector that, despite the council having less than 3.7 years of housing land supply “the very special circumstances do not exist to justify allowing the inappropriate development”.

Clark’s decision letter concluded that the schemes represented “substantial green belt harm”. He also agreed with the inspector that the schemes posed “significant harm to the character and appearance of the area, diminishing its intrinsic character and beauty, causing real and serious harm with a lasting effect on the nature of the countryside”.

Ed: Go to the Government Planning Portal on the Links Page for more information about central Government planning news..

Planning Portal News – 3rd September 2015 – redefinition of traveller sites regime

The Government has revised its special planning policy for travellers. From this week it will only apply to those “who lead a genuine travelling lifestyle”.

Ministers insisted this would mean that any application for a permanent site, including caravan sites, by someone who does not travel will be considered in the same way as an application from the so-called settled population.

The policy, drawn up by the Department for Communities and Local Government stated that if a local planning authority cannot demonstrate an up–to-date five-year supply of deliverable sites, this should be a significant material consideration in any subsequent planning decision when considering applications for the grant of temporary planning permission for traveller pitches.

However, there will be exceptions, designed to buttress the protection of green belt land and sites in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and land designated as local green space or protected under the EC’s Birds and Habitat directives.

The policy states that inappropriate development is harmful to the green belt and should not be approved, except in very special circumstances.

DCLG claims the new policy made clear the need to ensure fairness in the system, with planning policy reflecting the requirement that caravan sites should be made available for those who travel permanently.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “I’m determined to ensure fairness in the planning system, so everyone abides by the same rules.

“This new policy strengthens the hand of councils to tackle unauthorised development in their area, ensures all communities are treated equally and that the protection of the green belt is enforceable.”

Planning minister Brandon Lewis added: “Unauthorised traveller sites can blight communities, causing misery for their neighbours and creating resentment that planning rules don’t seem to be applied fairly.”

(Ed: the Government Planning Portal can be reached on the  Links Page )

Planning Portal News – 27th August 2015 – Proposals for starter homes on rural exception sites

Relaxed planning rules covering the construction of low cost ‘starter homes’ for local residents could be extended to rural towns and villages in England as part of plans to boost the rural economy which also include moves to make neighbourhood planning more straightforward.

Last week the Treasury and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs unveiled a package of proposals aimed at boosting rural productivity.

A key element would involve amending planning rules to allow so-called ‘starter homes’ to be built on Rural Exception Sites for the first time.

According to the policy paper, the government intends to make it easier for local areas to establish their own neighbourhood plans. They could then use these to allocate land for new homes, including starter homes on rural exception sites. The government also intends to review the existing threshold for the conversion of agricultural buildings into residential buildings.

(The Links Page provides easy access to the Government Planning Portal)

Planning Portal News – 7th February 2013 – New Garden Cities concept

For your convenience we provide a link (on the Links Page) to the Government’s Planning Portal because it is always worth a browse. Sometimes we go further, and recommend selected articles to you.

Of particular interest, the 7th February Planning Portal News includes a heading:

Report finds Infrastructure funding is holding up major residential projects.

The Report referred to has been prepared by property consultants and  analysts, GVA under their own banner ‘National Policy Research Bulletin‘. Within their Bulletin is an article ‘Unlocking Garden Cities‘, which GVA themselves describe as ‘the Government’s Garden Cities and Suburbs Aspiration’:

Planning for large scale housing development lies at the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and features in the Government’s National Housing Strategy published in November 2011. The New Garden Cities concept features as one of the preferred delivery routes to achieving a significant increase in new housing numbers.

So, what is ‘the New Garden Cities’ concept?

You can find the answer to that by reading the article by GVA which can be reached via the Planning Portal for 7th February 2013 . Report finds Infrastructure funding is holding up major residential projects  It is very readable and contains much of educational value for anybody who has an interest in current planning issues and tensions at the national level. These are real issues which in the foreseeable future have the potential to impact most of us living in the South East of England, directly or indirectly.

We believe that WPAG members will find this an interesting read.