Sunday, 19 November 2017

Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife in North Somerset

Developers are determined to avoid any obligations for affordable housing - and this means tweaking the classification
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home?

... to make developments 'viable':
Futures Forum: "Stop highly profitable developers gaming the system" >>> "Reduce the power of viability assessment studies and give councils the hard cash to start building houses again."

But planners are determined to push for affordables:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: developers lose appeal for 'retirement development' in Sidford >>> Reason: "lack of affordable housing is a critical issue in East Devon"

This is happening everywhere, not just in Sidmouth and East Devon.

In South Oxfordshire:
Extra care and its use class (C2/C3) - southoxon.gov.uk

And in North Somerset, where PegasusLife have also been at work:

The Council’s evidence is that assisted living developments are not sufficiently different in their overall development economics profile to other forms of C3 housing.

Anchor [aka PegasusLife] prefers to use the term ‘assisted living’ for their model, which would be considered a type of ‘extra care’ housing.  

Note on definition of C3 extra care housing and viability implications - n-somerset.gov.uk

Where the Council have argued very clearly against PegasusLife's definitions:

The distinction between C2 “use for the provision of residential accommodation and care to people in need of care (other than within class C3 (dwelling houses))” and C3 ‘extra care’ is recognised as highly problematic. 

This topic has been the subject of extensive discussion nationally as well as in this examination...

Taking into account the full range of evidence available to North Somerset Council, we propose: 
1. There is no case for a reduced or nil rate for any form of C3 specialist housing, whether sheltered or ‘extra care’. These must continue to be charged as per any other form of C3 housing. 
2. A definition of C2 extra care housing – for the purposes of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – as follows: 
“Accommodation available to rent or buy for older people or others in need of care and which meets the following criteria: 
 Residents are subject to an assessment of minimum care needs to establish eligibility to buy or lease a property; 
 Residents are required to purchase a ‘minimum care package’ as a condition of occupation, to include at least 2 hours of domiciliary care per week focused on the health and social care needs of those residents

North Somerset Council response to Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) - further submissions on C2/C3/extra care housing

Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife looking to classify their development as 'extra care housing' >>> >>> >>> "The advantage of a scheme falling within a C2 Use Class should not be underestimated."

The developer at Knowle says its plans would be rendered 'unviable' if it can't get a certain classification:

The appellant has submitted a viability report which indicates that in the event that the proposal is considered to fall within class C3 (rather than C2) the provision of affordable housing either on-site or off-site would make the proposal unviable.

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: District Council publishes 'proof of evidence' prepared by Cornwall Council planning officer

The District Council sees it rather differently, as a commentator has noted:

The applicants have put forward a proposal to build 113 units, which they believe meets the C2 classification and an age requirement (aged 60 and over) for a site with a Local Plan allocation of 50 (C3) out of a total allocation for Sidmouth of 150. 

The Local Plan clearly states in both its vision and strategy that "affordable homes are a top priority for this council" and that future developments should result in "more balanced communities". 

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and balanced communities

And before he changed his mind, the senior Planning Officer dealing with the original application made it clear that the applicant had certain obligations: 

Our conclusion based on this assessment and a Counsel opinion is that the proposed units should be classed as C3 (dwelling houses).

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife appeal >>> submission from Vision Group for Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: PegasusLife appeal >>> devastating critique of District Council's developer-commissioned Care Housing Needs Assessment
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home?

It is clear, then, that developers in general would rather have their development labelled as C2.

As this helpful little piece of legal advice suggests:

C3 or not C3: Planning Use Classes for Retirement Housing

Louise Crook is a solicitor in Worcester, specialising in Health and Social Care property

18th November, 2016

It is clear to all that an ageing population means that there is more of a need than ever for retirement housing to be delivered. This is, however, easier said than done, with a lack of understanding in local authorities about retirement accommodation often causing issues when seeking planning permission.

A particular problem in the planning process relates to the ambiguity over the appropriate Use Class for different types of housing. The debate over whether retirement housing falls within a C2 or C3 Use Class is still causing delays, or in some cases, preventing schemes coming forward altogether.

The issue centres around whether retirement housing falls within the definition of a normal ‘dwellinghouse’, which is a C3 planning use, or whether it falls within the definition of a C2 planning use, namely that it is ‘residential institution’ where care is provided to residents.

There is little dispute that a traditional residential care home where residents benefit from meals and other facilities being provided communally would fall within a C2 use. Extra Care Housing, however, where residents have self-contained accommodation, but combined with communal facilities and the availability of personal care is not as clear cut.

The advantage of a scheme falling within a C2 Use Class should not be underestimated. Whilst Local Authorities have rigid planning policies setting out appropriate locations for housing development, C2 schemes are not necessarily bound by these planning policy constraints. Planning permission is increasingly being granted for C2 retirement housing on sites where market housing would not be permitted, including town centre sites and in protected countryside, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Additionally, as more and more Local Authorities introduce Community Infrastructure Levy, Local Authorities are imposing a fixed charge per square metre of floorspace for C3 development. This can be up to £500 per square metre in some areas for C3, but there is usually a zero charge for all C2 development.

The value of a development falling within a C2 Use Class instead of C3 for the financial viability of a scheme has lead to this argument being considered by the Courts in a number of cases. Of particular interest was the Leelamb Homes v Maldon District Council case, which ruled that a minimum care package of two hours per week was sufficient for a scheme to be C2.

As a result, a it is increasingly common to see Local Authorities permit a scheme on the basis that it is C2 Use Class if a minimum care package of two hours per week is secured in a Section 106 obligation prior to planning permission being granted.

National planning policy has also changed this year to support the delivery of retirement housing. From March 2015 local authorities became required to use population projections to assess housing need by age group, and use this information to meet housing need.

These statistics have certainly given authorities food for thought: the current population projections predict that in 30 years’ time over 65s will make up more than 25% of the populations in the vast majority of local authorities, and up to 40% in some seaside areas.

The true impact of these changes to planning policy remains to be seen, but it looks hopeful that these changes, together with the possibility of securing a C2 use with a minimal care commitment, will give the sector more flexibility to deliver innovative and profitable schemes.

C3 or not C3: Planning Use Classes for Retirement Housing - Harrison Clark Rickerbys

The "vegangelical" cause on Radio 4's Food Programme

Yesterday saw a very successful vegan fair in Exeter:
Futures Forum: Christmas without cruelty festival: Exeter Corn Exchange: Saturday 18th November 

Veganism is really catching on - as today's Food Programme discovered:

Young and Vegan

The number of young people turning vegan is rising. Grace Dent meets some of the people opening vegan eateries and finds out how creatives are using social media to further the "vegangelical" cause.
Grace goes to the Hackney Downs Vegan Market to speak to Jay Brave who argues that adopting a vegan diet is as much about personal autonomy and challenging the status quo as it is an ethical step. He delivers a few bars of 'Vegan Shut Up', his parody of Stormzy's 'Shut Up' released on World Vegan Day, and tells Grace why veganism is becoming big in the London grime scene. She also speaks to Sean O'Callaghan AKA Fat Gay Vegan who set-up the market and has seen its popularity grow, and gives his reaction to the mainstream restaurants who are falling over themselves to come up with vegan menus.
Ian Theasby and Henry Firth from Bosh! create simple and imaginative vegan recipes which are filmed and broadcast to over 1.4m Facebook users. Toby Field visits them at their studio to find out what fuels their idea to create plant-based options and to ask why they keep out of the argument around the ethics of veganism.
Maria Rose has just opened a vegan cafe in Barnstaple and explains how it's slowly creating a more enlightened scene in North Devon.
So is this just a trend that's fine for the hipster herbivores of Camden, or can it gain traction across the country and start a food revolution?

BBC Radio 4 - The Food Programme, Young and Vegan

Your takeaway coffee cup is not recyclable - but it might soon be

One of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the UK is the disposable coffee cup:
Futures Forum: Your takeaway coffee cup is not recyclable
Futures Forum: Your takeaway coffee cup is not recyclable - really

There are solutions being developed:

Four solutions to the disposable coffee cup problem

disposable coffee cupsImage copyrightGETTY CREATIVE
Image captionIs the price of our growing addiction to takeaway hot drinks an ever higher mountain of landfill?

Since last year, when we were all made aware of the UK's unrecycled cup mountain, some of us have found it hard to buy a takeaway coffee without being wracked with guilt.
In the UK, we throw away an estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. In theory, they are "recyclable", but in practice, only a tiny percentage is dealt with sustainably.
Yet so far, there's no agreed way forward.
Parliament's environmental audit committee has been hearing the latest thoughts from campaigners and industry on how we can improve on our record in this area.
A lot of the biggest names in takeaway beverages, including Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, McDonald's, Pret A Manger and Starbucks, have signed up to a scheme to collect and recycle more of the current type of cups. Costa is also collecting cups from rival brands in its shops.
But others believe a more fundamental rethink would work better.
Here are four ways the coffee cup waste problem might be tackled.

1. Frugalpac: 'Just change the cups'

Conventional cups can be recycled, but only in special facilities, thanks to the lamination that makes them waterproof.
Frugalpac, based in Ipswich in the UK, manufactures cardboard cups that can be recycled in regular recycling plants.

Martin MyerscoughImage copyrightFRUGALCUP

"We looked at this three years ago: everyone was blaming someone else, the cup makers, the coffee shops, councils. We thought, why don't we go out there and solve the problem?" says Frugalpac's founder, Martin Myerscough.
He has a patent for his cup - made of recycled materials, with an only very lightly attached plastic lining (representing about 10% of the weight of the cup), that separates easily during recycling. It's a more pragmatic solution, he argues, than trying to set up specialist collection points for conventional cups, because we already have recycling bins.
He has done trials with independent coffee shops and is working with Starbucks.
Of course, consumers will still have to remember to put them in the right bin, and he is still working on replacing the plastic lid.

2. CupClub: 'Like city bike rental for cups'

Safia Qureshi points to chai wallahs in India as one of her initial inspirations. There, tea is poured into glasses that are washed and reused. We all used to drink milk and Coca Cola from returnable, reusable bottles.
So why not coffee?

Safia QureshiImage copyrightBAILEY-OSCAR

"The current model for reusable cups is that the consumer needs to buy the cup and take it in. The ratio of consumers doing that is 2% of all the total coffee sold," she points out.
Instead, she proposes that the customer joins Cup Club and picks up a reusable cup when they buy their coffee. It can be returned later to one of several collection points. Cup Club is responsible for collecting washing and redistributing the clean cups to participating retailers. Because the cups are tagged and registered to your account - using RFID, the same technology that's on an Oyster travel card - Cup Club can text you a reminder if you've forgotten to return a cup and charge you if you keep it.

Cup club cups and phoneImage copyrightCUP CLUB

"I'm very passionate about putting an end to products that are only used one time," says Ms Quereshi "It's a selfish and arrogant stance."
She's starting with company offices and universities, but is aiming ultimately for a London-wide scheme. Its success will rely on enough retailers subscribing, but she has received an Ellen MacArthur Circular Design Challenge award, which will support her in developing the idea further.

3. TrioCup: the origami cup

Tom Chan, an engineering student from Hong Kong studying in the US, said he saw the coffee cups piling up in the rubbish bins outside his university building and wanted to do something about it. He has now patented his TrioCup, a triangular-shaped cardboard cup, with sticking up flaps "like bunny ears". Those ears can be folded down and tucked in to close it.
The entire cup is recyclable and, without the need for a separate plastic lid, potentially cheaper than normal cups.

Tom Chan drinking from a TrioCupImage copyrightTRIOCUP

"I decided if I were to make a new cup, it needed to have more features than just being eco-friendly," he says. So he aimed for some other selling points too, such as spill-resistance.
"From my anecdotal research, a lot more people spill their coffee than you think." He says you can drop a TrioCup from waist height and most of the coffee will stay in the cup.
He thinks the shape makes the cups easier to hold and gives them "a cool aesthetic". Even the origami folding technique is pretty simple, he says.

TriocupImage copyrightTRIOCUP

Next month, Mr Chan, another recipient of an Ellen MacArthur award, will be making several thousand cups per week for use in the university coffee shop.

4. Cupffee: the edible cup

The ultimate waste-free cup, though, must be this: a coffee cup made of cereals that you can munch on like an ice cream cone, once you've downed your drink.

Cupffee publicity pictureImage copyrightCUPFFEE

Three friends from Plovdiv in Bulgaria, Miroslav Zapryanov, Mladen Dzhalazov and Simeon Gavrailov, came up with their "waffle" recipe containing no preservatives, colourings or coatings a few years ago and have been working on commercialising it ever since. Apparently slightly sweet and crisp, it will hold your coffee for up to 40 minutes. And if you decide not to snack on it, it will biodegrade within weeks.
They say they were inspired by a desire to change the world. They might only be changing the diets of a limited number of Bulgarian coffee drinkers, but they are ambitious. The founders say that with a shelf life of six months the Cupffee could meet the needs of the big High Street coffee chains.
But many other firms are thinking along similar lines, at least when it comes to compostable cups. Companies such as Bristol-based Planglow have successfully commercialised what they say is fully biodegradable food packaging, including coffee cups. And they boast clients from restaurants to contract caterers, sandwich shops to Parliament, so policy makers presumably are familiar with this option.

Four solutions to the disposable coffee cup problem - BBC News

Plastic pollution tax

Plastic is proving a real pollutant - and steps are being taken to tackle it:
Futures Forum: "Stop plastic pollution in our oceans" >>> Surfers Against Sewage bring their campaign to Devon
Futures Forum: Marine ecosystems and human health > UK to ban microbeads
Futures Forum: Encouraging tourists to stop using plastic water bottles
Futures Forum: "Bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans" >>> consultations, campaigns, petitions

And as this piece in the Express shows, people are very much in favour of doing something:
Plastic tax: Majority of people open to see levy on other products | UK | News | Express.co.uk

The news this weekend is that other plastics are to be targeted:
Chancellor considers tax on takeaway boxes and other plastics | The Independent
UK considers tax on single-use plastics to tackle ocean pollution | Environment | The Guardian
Budget will target plastic bottles with new taxes | News | The Times & The Sunday Times
Plan to tax throwaway plastic as Tories warn against 'middle-of-the-road' Budget - Telegraph
Philip Hammond to unveil bold plastic packaging tax in bid to clean up world's rubbish-strewn oceans - The Sun

Here's an overview from the BBC:

Budget 2017: Tax on takeaway boxes to be considered

18 NOV 2017
salads in plastic potsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
A tax on takeaway boxes is to be considered in an attempt to tackle the problem of plastic waste.
In Wednesday's Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to call for evidence on whether a tax on the use of the most environmentally damaging single-use plastics would help. Single-use plastics include packaging, bubble wrap, and polystyrene takeaway boxes.
Greenpeace said ocean plastic pollution was "a global emergency".
Meanwhile, Stephen Hammond, a close friend of the chancellor, has told the BBC the chancellor wants to use the Budget to "attack problems" that contributed to the Tories' poor election performance. He plans to use "headroom" in the public finances to target spending on housing and health, the former transport minister told Newsnight.


The Treasury said the work on a potential plastic tax would examine the lifecycle of single-use plastics.
It did not suggest the investigation would include plastic bottles, which can be recycled, although in practice many also end up in land-fill or the sea. However, the government has already said it would consider whether to introduce a "reward and return" scheme for plastic bottles to try to improve recycling rates.
The Treasury said the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK would fill London's Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times, and cited the success of the 5p charge on plastic bags to illustrate the feasibility of a levy.
Birds, sea mammals and turtles die from consuming or becoming tangled in plastic waste. Sir David Attenborough recently described the "heartbreaking" sight of an albatross feeding plastic to its young chick instead of fish.
Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said plastic was a "complete menace" in the marine environment. "It takes a long time to break down and it's almost indigestible if animals eat it. The real danger is that animals are starving to death with stomachs full of plastic."

'Dumped rubbish'

Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the move "recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution."
But shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman criticised the government for "warm words" on the environment while underfunding services and failing to enshrine EU protections in UK law. She said: "While we support initiatives to decrease the use of non-recyclable materials, the slump in recycling figures and significant increase in litter and dumped rubbish under this government requires a far more strategic approach."
The call for evidence is expected to be launched in early 2018

Budget 2017: Tax on takeaway boxes to be considered - BBC News

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Left behind: coastal communities on the fringe

We do like to be beside the seaside:
Futures Forum: Spending time in rural and coastal locations is more psychologically beneficial to individuals than time spent in urban green spaces

But life on the coast can be difficult:
Futures Forum: Coastal communities and building resilience

None more so than in Blackpool.

Here is an excerpt from an excellent piece of journalism from the weekend Financial Times 
- which points out 'Why the once-thriving seaside town embodies much of what is broken about modern Britain's economy':

Left behind: can anyone save the towns the economy forgot?

Soaring antidepressant usage, falling life expectancy: Blackpool embodies much of what is going wrong on the fringes of Britain

The elephants that lumbered up and down Blackpool’s beach have long gone. Britain’s political parties have stopped decamping to the town for their annual jamborees. Even the deckchairs have left: the local government sold all 6,000 of them three years ago to a company in the affluent county of Cheshire. The one thing that hasn’t disappeared is the people.
Outside London, this resort on England’s north-west coast is one of the most densely populated places in the country. Rather than the classic downward spiral of a place in decline, Blackpool is stuck in its own strange dynamic. The more the economy rots, the more some people come.
People such as Chris Hopkins, 37, a lanky man with a curious mind and a quick tongue. Five years ago, he was living 40 miles away, working for temp agencies in unskilled factory jobs. One day, after he complained about the state of his flat, his landlord told him to move out. He went on property website Zoopla and set the filter to rank by “lowest price”. Blackpool topped the list, so that is where he went.
The first flat the estate agent showed him was a single room the size of a large rug, with a bathroom shared by three others. “Only if the other three are Swedish models,” Hopkins quipped. But the next place was a keeper: a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom for £55 a week — £3 a week less than Zoopla’s listing for an underground parking space in central London.

A damaged seat on the Central Pier carousel © Christopher Nunn

In a country where affordable housing is hard to find, people are gravitating to coastal towns such as Blackpool, where the receding tide of tourism has left behind a surfeit of old B&Bs that have been turned into bedsits. But cheap flats are not the only draw. Many Brits have happy memories of Blackpool: the smell of salt and frying fish; the scream of the roller coasters; the thunder of the waves on windy days. Hopkins remembers sitting with his sister in the back of the car as his parents drove round the town at night, gazing up through the sunroof at the famous “illuminations”: miles of glowing decorations strung above the prom.
To hear Dr Arif Rajpura, Blackpool’s director of public health, tell it, this shabby seaside town has become, in effect, the nation’s halfway house. “People have a positive association from their childhood . . . When something’s not gone right in their lives, [when] there’s a problem, [when] they’re running away from something, then people do tend to come to Blackpool, and the cheap housing helps drive people here,” he says. One friend of Hopkins’ puts it more bluntly. “It’s a drop-out town.”
Blackpool is suffering from a highly concentrated dose of what seems to be going wrong in pockets of many developed countries. Economists in the US often contrast the dynamism of America’s coasts with the malaise of its heartlands. But in Britain, it is increasingly on the country’s physical edges, in its seaside towns, that you find people on the outside of the economy looking in. Blackpool exports healthy skilled people and imports the unskilled, the unemployed and the unwell. As people overlooked by the modern economy wash up in a place that has also been left behind, the result is a quietly unfolding health crisis. More than a tenth of the town’s working-age inhabitants live on state benefits paid to those deemed too sick to work. Antidepressant prescription rates are among the highest in the country. Life expectancy, already the lowest in England, has recently started to fall.
Doctors in places such as this have a private diagnosis for what ails some of their patients: “Shit Life Syndrome”. Rajpura laughs when I mention it. “Yeah, I’ve heard that from GPs in Blackpool.” The term isn’t meant to sound dismissive. People with SLS really do have mental or physical health problems, doctors say. But they believe the causes are a tangled mix of economic, social and emotional problems that they — with 10- to 15-minute slots per patient — feel powerless to fix.
The relationship between economics and health is blurry, complex and politically fraught. But it is too important to ignore. In America, white working-class people are falling prey to what economists call “deaths of despair” from opioids, alcohol and suicide. Populist politicians all over the world are making a potent appeal to those who feel the economy no longer works for them. Then there is the financial cost. In 2012, the UK’s official fiscal watchdog predicted that policy reforms would reduce government spending on benefits to people too sick to work from about £15bn a year to about £10bn by 2015. In reality, spending has barely budged.
The story of Blackpool is a story about the failure of national policies to support places on the edge. But it is also a story about how — in the face of necessity — people are trying new ideas to turn things around. “It’s fundamentally a hard problem, but that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done,” says Diane Coyle, an economics professor at Manchester University. “The idea it’s all God-given and can’t be changed is, I think, completely wrong.”


Left behind: can anyone save the towns the UK economy forgot? Financial Times