Monday, 31 March 2014

District Council to protest about 'planning bribes' ............. ............................ "Intimidating councils into allowing consent to build on inappropriate sites for fear of losing at appeal and then not receiving the New Homes Bonus."

A little light reading from last year from a planning law blog looked at the Chancellor's proposal to withdraw the 'new homes bonus' and the S106 cash (or the Community Infrastructure Levy) from Councils which oppose planning applications:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Planning topics in the Autumn Statement

For reasons that I have never been able to understand, George Osborne loves making announcements about changes in planning law and practice that the government is proposing to introduce. Despite his remit being strictly financial and economic, Gorgeous George has never hesitated to trample on Uncle Eric’s turf, not to mention the territory of various other ministers, whenever he wants to big up his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Saviour of the British Economy...

Another little wheeze is to withhold the New Homes Bonus where planning permissions are granted on appeal rather than by the authority itself. So yet more grief for NIMBY-loving Tory councillors in the green and pleasant land of Middle England. This is part of a general review of the New Homes Bonus, which is intended to be completed by Easter 2014. 

Some possible sugaring of the pill for NIMBYs is offered by a suggestion that the ‘bribes’ to accept new development offered to councils (in the form of the New Homes Bonus and the neighbourhood funding element of the Community Infrastructure Levy) might be extended to individual households in the affected areas. The government clearly hasn’t figured out yet how this might work, but it conjures up the intriguing possibility that NIMBYs might be directly bribed (officially and above-board, of course) not to object to development in their own backyard. 
Martin Goodall's Planning Law Blog: Planning topics in the Autumn Statement

This echoes concerns about 'bribes' being offered to - or withdrawn from - Councils:
Futures Forum: 'Planning gain' - the replacement for S106 cash from developers - the Community Infrastructure Levy - but is it still 'bribery' by a different name?
Futures Forum: Payments and patronage in East Devon

Cllr Claire Wright reports on the District Council's own concerns about the Chancellor's proposals:

EDDC committee will protest about “planning bribes”

Sunday, 30 March 2014 2 Comments by Claire
EDDC’s scrutiny committee was asked, at its meeting on Thursday (27 March), to contact the Local Government Association (LGA) to protest about bully boy tactics threatened by chancellor, George Osborne, designed to ensure more planning approvals.
At the committee’s meeting last week Cllr Roger Giles raised the issue of the threat made by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement in December 2013.
Mr Osborne had said that he was considering removing the entitlement to the new homes bonus from councils who refused planning permission to developers who subsequently won planning approval on appeal.
Roger Giles said that all planning applications should be decided entirely on their merits. By threatening to remove entitlement to the new homes bonus the chancellor of the exchequer was trying to bribe councils – particularly cash-strapped councils – to approve planning applications that would otherwise have been refused.
The Chancellor’s threat is a gross interference with the impartiality of the planning system. There is a danger that some councils might be tempted to approve inappropriate planning applications in order to receive financial benefit.  Other councils, who determined an application fairly, and reached a decision to refuse the application, could find themselves financially penalised. Overall there was a probability that there would be more approvals of inappropriate and damaging planning applications.
The scrutiny committee agreed that planning applications should be determined on merit, and expressed concern about the chancellor’s statement.  It was agreed to ask the LGA to seek to ensure that the chancellor’s statement should be abandoned.
Photograph:  The appeal result that many of us are waiting on tenterhooks for. Will Feniton get over two hundred houses, or will the planning inspector make the right decision. It all depends on her interpretation of the national planning policy framework.  We may know the outcome by the end of this week.
1. At 09:07 pm on 30th Mar Susie Bond wrote:
‘Bully boy’ tactics is a very apt description of the Coalition Government’s whole approach to planning. This latest suggestion of removing the New Homes Bonus where planning permission has been won at appeal is yet another. Let’s hope George Osborne has a rethink.
The entire planning system is already massively weighted in favour of landowners and developers … and yet the Government is offering them yet another advantage by intimidating councils into allowing consent to build on inappropriate sites (usually in open countryside) for fear of losing at appeal and then not receiving the NHB … a financial double whammy.
And yes, Feniton is waiting.
2. At 07:55 pm on 31th Mar Paul wrote:
I guess this shows George Osborne’s lack of understanding of council finances.
The planning process is already financially biased in favour of councils approving planning applications that (in the absence of financial bias) would not be approved due to the cost of defending an appeal by a developer against planning refusal.
Fining councils who lose appeals only makes the disincentive for unbiased planning decisions worse.
EDDC committee will protest about “planning bribes”

Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... report to be published as of Thurs 3rd April ...

There will be implications once the Inspector's report on the local plan is published:
Futures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... decision imminent ... and longer-term consequences ...

According to the Herald:

Mr Thickett intends to write to the council with his initial response by Monday (March 31).

Verdict imminent over district Local Plan - News - Sidmouth Herald

The District Council have just received the Inspector's report - but will not be making it available until the planning committee (the DMC) has met:


How fortuitous that the Local Plan Inspector’s letter (which EDDC has now received) will not be released until at least Thursday 3 April 2014, after yet another Development Control Committee meeting on 1 April 2014 where 629 more houses will be discussed, including a further 590 at Cranbrook.
Local Plan Inspector’s letter has been received by EDDC but will not be published by them before Thursday 3 April (after the next Development Management Committee on 1 April where 10 planning applications will be discussed | East Devon Alliance
Local Plan Inspector’s letter now in EDDC’s hands | Save Our Sidmouth

EDDC to make planning inspector local plan reaction public on Thursday

Monday, 31 March 2014 2 Comments by Claire
Senior officers at EDDC have confirmed that a letter has been received from Anthony Thickett, the planning inspector, who is assessing the local plan.
However, officers say the letter, which is thought to contain the planning inspector’s initial reaction to the local plan (and possibly his early view on proposed levels of housing and industrial land)  cannot be made public until late this Thursday because of instructions from Mr Thickett.
EDDC’s local plan has been controversial since it was first published in 2010.
A senior planning policy officer confirmed to me a few minutes ago: “We have received a letter from the inspector who has requested that it be made available after we have had a few days to digest it and consider its contents. It is anticipated that it will be available by the end of Thursday.”
Hundreds of houses are set to be determined at two planning committee meetings this week.
1. At 05:38 pm on 31th Mar Sandra Semple wrote:
Why on earth would a public letter be embargoed for several days?  It isn’t going to change.
2. At 06:15 pm on 31th Mar Roger Giles wrote:
Are we to expect tomorrow (and Thursday)`s Development Management Committee meetings to be postponed?
Imagine the situation where EDDC determined a planning application on 1 April or 3 April against certain planning criteria, and it was subsequently discovered that the Inspector had made a pronouncement on 31 March which changed the planning policy against which the planning application had been decided - but the Inspector`s comments had not been taken into account.

EDDC to make planning inspector local plan reaction public on Thursday.

Planning and sustainability at East Devon ........................ "No joking matter as DMC decides tomorrow, April 1st."

The latest controversial application for housing in East Devon 
13/1833/MOUT | Construction of 25 dwellings and 20-space car park for village hall (outline application discharging means of access only). | Land At Weeks Farm Talaton Exeter EX5 2RG

Planning Application 13/1833/MOUT, Land At Weeks Farm Talaton Exet... :: East Devon :: Openly Local

... has been recommended for refusal by planning officers - on the grounds that such a development would not be 'sustainable':



The application is in outline seeking approval for the construction of 10 dwellings. The application is seeking to discharge means of access only. This application is being presented to the committee because it needs to be considered along side a further application for 25 dwellings on this site and some adjoining land which also appears on the agenda by virtue of officers taking a contrary view on that application to the ward member. 

The site is slightly divorced from the southern settlement boundary for Talaton and is within the countryside on agricultural land. 

Talaton is a village at the bottom of the hierarchy of where development should go for reasons of sustainability. The emerging New Local Plan allocates Talaton 5 dwellings for the plan period until 2026 and this allocation is met through the resolution to grant planning permission for 6 dwellings at The Firs, Blackdown View. 

The provision of 10 additional dwellings is contrary to the strategy and policies of the adopted Local Plan and the NPPF as it provides for more than local needs in an unsustainable location. Talaton is considered to represent an unsustainable location to provide for more than local needs housing due to its lack of services and facilities. 

Talaton, whilst benefiting from a small shop, church, village hall and public house, does not benefit from any substantial employment provision, recreational facilities, shopping facilities, train station or reasonable public transport. Residents would therefore be reliant upon the use of the car for most of their everyday activities. As such the location for 10 dwellings is considered to be unsustainable. 

There are no concerns regarding flood risk, highways, ecology or impact upon the amenity of surrounding residents and whilst the Parish Council are supportive of the proposal, subject to inclusion of a car park for the nearby village hall, this is not necessary to mitigate any impact from the development and is not offered as part of this application. 


And in further comments, it is clear that, whatever the negative publicity given to the NPPF, it does have at its core the principle of 'sustainable development' - and planning officers at East Devon spell this out:

Although the built-up area boundary policies of the adopted Local Plan do not carry any significant weight in the absence of a 5-year housing land supply, as is currently the case in East Devon, an assessment still needs to be made to establish whether proposals near to the edge of settlements are in a sustainable location given the objectives of the Local Plan and NPPF that seek to locate new development close to facilities and public transport to reduce the need to travel by car and maximise the potential of other modes of transport. 

Moreover, there are three aspects to sustainable development as far as the NPPF is concerned:

The NPPF states that there are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. The proposal would provide some benefit in terms of jobs and sales from the construction of the houses but there are three dimensions to sustainability. The limited range of facilities in the settlement, very limited employment opportunities and infrequent bus service means that the site is not in the right place to meet the economic role. The restricted services would not reflect the needs of the new occupiers or adequately support its health and social well-being such that the social role would not be suitably addressed. As such, the proposal would not constitute sustainable development and the presumption in favour of sustainable development within the NPPF is not met. 


There is some local political baggage:  

Local District Councillor and member of the planning committee (the DMC) Martin Gammell has declared his support for the application - as have the Parish Council.
Consultee Comments - 13/1833/MOUT

However, the results of the public consultation show the majority of  constituents do not support this application:

17th September 2013
Parish Survey Results relating to development of a 10 /25 house development at Weeks Farm

460 questionnaires were delivered: 228 were returned.
> 108 said No to 10 houses: 81 said Yes to 10 houses
> 113 said No to 25 houses: 104 said yes to 25 houses

Consultee Comments - 13/1833/MOUT

Will the DMC/planning committee follow the officers' recommendation, based on the NPPF's principles of 'sustainable development'...?

The East Devon Alliance has asked for members of the public to attend tomorrow morning's meeting at the District Council:


Please note that the Weeks Farm application is up before EDDC’s Development Management Committee tomorrow morning ,Tuesday 1st April, from 9.30 am, at Knowle.
EDDC officers have recommended this application be refused on the grounds that the development will not be sustainable, given the lack of employment opportunities, access to schools, lack of adequate sewerage capacity, etc. But one local Councillor and DMC member has already declared his support for the application, despite a public consultation which shows the majority of his constituents do not.
The Talaton group would be most grateful if you can spare the time to attend in support of their objections, in their efforts to prevent yet another bad planning decision going ahead in the face of local opposition.
More East Devon farmland to be lost to development? No joking matter, as DMC decides tomorrow, April 1st. | East Devon Alliance

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Knowle relocation project: to be examined by District Council's scrutiny committee

The District Council's relocation project is moving fast:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: latest

With the leadership promising to engage further:
Council Leader says EDDC will be ‘engaging with customers and stakeholders’ on office relocation. | Save Our Sidmouth

... despite reservations:
EDDC Relocation..reality check? | Save Our Sidmouth

It is with this in mind, that the District Council has agreed to its Overview and Scrutiny Committee 'having a closer look' at the project details:

EDDC office relocation plans to be scrutinised in June

Friday, 28 March 2014 0 Comments by Claire
EDDC’s plans to relocate to Skypark are set to be examined by the overview and scrutiny committee in June, it was agreed at last night’s committee meeting.
I requested, in the forward plan section, that the controversial plans to move from Knowle and build new ones at Skypark, be scrutinised before going before the full council in July.
For some reason, there is no overview and scrutiny committee scheduled for June so I asked that one be arranged.  This was agreed by officers and councillors present.
Some councillors asked that the item be held with the press and public excluded, which I completely disagree with, given that virtually all decisions have been taken so far in private session.
Scrutiny is about examining issues of public concern. How can we do this effectively if the meeting is in private?
I have written again to the chairman of the committee, Cllr Tim Wood to ask that the item is held with the press and public allowed to be present.

The full, un-redacted Davis Langdon report should be made available by then for the Committee to consider:

This report had not been made available to the Inspector when considering the draft local plan:

Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... decision imminent ... and longer-term consequences ...

The Inspector should be giving his verdict on the District Council's draft local plan very soon:
Verdict imminent over district Local Plan - News - Sidmouth Herald
Planning inspector will report back on EDDC Local Plan by end of March - Claire WrightFutures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... SIDMOUTH: reports from 11th March

One should of course not attempt to second guess, but:

At the beginning of the month, the District Council's own planning committee rejected an application to build housing in Sidford on several grounds. 

The full agenda and minutes are now available:

This has serious implications, not only for what the Inspector might or might not decide in the coming days vis-a-vis the draft local plan - but also for future planning applications at critical sites in the Sid Valley.

The Save Our Sidmouth website points to the issues cited in the refusal to give planning permission at Sidford:

“Now if we were to apply the same logic to the proposed development the other side of the fence at Sidford or to development of the Knowle…?”

Here is the refusal in full:

1> In the absence of any robust evidence to the contrary, the site is considered to lie in an area where there is a high risk of flooding, as demonstrated by its location within flood zone 3 on the Environment Agency Flood Map. Following application of the Sequential Test it has been shown that there are other reasonably available sites within the district of East Devon with a lower probability of flooding than the application site that would be appropriate for the type of development proposed in this application. Therefore the development fails to satisfy the Sequential Test and would conflict with policy EN21 (River and Coastal Flooding) of the submitted New East Devon Local Plan and national planning policy as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. 

2> The proposed development would result in the loss of an established employment site but it has not been demonstrated there is a surplus of employment land in the locality, that options for its retention have been fully explored or that the site cannot be retained for employment use without adverse impacts on the quality of the locality. Therefore the proposal would be contrary to policy E3 (Safeguarding Employment Land and Premises) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan and E3 (Safeguarding Employment Land and Premises) of the submitted New East Devon Local Plan. 

This point was made in the summary:

It would not justify development on the remainder of the site because the significant flood risk and potential minor adverse impact on the AONB would strongly outweigh the need for housing in the district.

Together with some pertinent details in the officer's report:

Notwithstanding the status of the new local plan, the occupiers of the dwellings would have good access to a range of local facilities in Sidford as well as bus and cycle access to Sidmouth. Therefore the site is considered to be in a sustainable location. Although the number of dwellings would only make a small contribution to housing supply in the district, the lack of a 5 year supply, the sustainable location, and the proposed extension to the built-up area boundary to include the site all weigh in favour of the development. 


This has implications for the following 'hot issues':

Alexandria Rd employment land site:
Futures Forum: The future of the Alexandria Road Industrial Estate

Knowle employment land site:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: getting the figures straight
Futures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... Sidmouth: the issues: The Knowle, Port Royal, Manstone Depot Residential Allocations

Flooding and the relocation project:
Futures Forum: Building on floodplains in the South West
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: moving to Skypark... and... Flooding in the West Country...

Flooding and Sidford employment land site:
Futures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... SIDMOUTH
Futures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ..... Sidmouth: the issues: Sidford Employment Allocation

Development at Port Royal:
Futures Forum: Ham Lane Redevelopment Study - a mixed development for Port Royal

Building housing on AONB:
Futures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... HOUSING
Futures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan ... housing: numbers much too low for developers ... much too high for CPRE

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Greenfield vs Brownfield .......... which is 'more expensive' ........... and for whom?

Following on from the earlier blog entry
Futures Forum: Greenfield vs Brownfield: part two
here is a closer look at a comment posted on another Telegraph piece today:

Mafia-style behaviour in the planning system is traumatising villages, suggests Sir Simon Jenkins

Chairman of National Trust says planning decisions have led to eyesore developments that could only have happened in Sicily

By Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent 28 Mar 2014


It's because brownfield land can be more expensive to develop that the planning system should require its use first. 
And while greenfield sites may be cheaper for developers they're usually more expensive for the public purse, which has to fund the new infrastructure to service them.

Mafia-style behaviour in the planning system is traumatising villages, suggests Sir Simon Jenkins - Telegraph

Yes, developing on brownfield sites is more expensive:
Environment Agency - Brownfield Land Redevelopment: Position Statement
BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Brownfield and Greenfield sites
Boles: brownfield option sometimes costs too much | Planning Resource
HowStuffWorks "Pros and Cons to Developing a Brownfield"
Guide to Brownfield Redevelopment

In which case, the likes of the Economist say it's better to build on greenfield sites - because you're more likely to get nightingales in the middle of a city...

The brownfield delusion

May 2nd 2013, 14:41 by D.K

Update: some good further reading on why a brownfield first policy is a bad idea from Paul Cheshire, of the London School of Economics. He points out that much brownfield land is rich with wildlife, whereas much "greenfield" intensive farmland is pretty devoid of life. If you want to protect nightingales and water voles, it might be better to allow building on more greenfield land.

Planning and housing: The brownfield delusion | The Economist

On the other hand, whilst urban development already enjoys transport and other services, new housing in the countryside needs new infrastructure - paid for out of taxation:
happyurbanist: Going Brown-field: Alternative Strategies to Greenfield development
Greenfield and brownfield sites
The brownfield revolution | Risktec

It's a problem everywhere when it comes to expansion on the ground - that the 'infrastructure' just can't keep up - as in the sprawl of Melbourne and California:
Tomorrow's Suburbs

And in terms of 'sustainability' it makes very little sense to 'invest' in expensive 'infrastructure' when the whole point about developing for sustainability is >>> local production and local consumption...
Here are a couple of thought-provoking insights:

But what about the roads?

By socializing the costs of the transportation of goods amongst all people, rather than amongst those who produce and consume the goods, there is far less of an incentive for consumers to consume locally. As a result, this series of policies artificially suppresses local industry and benefits distant producers. This is to some degree responsible for the unnatural centralization of major market players like Walmart, who desperately needs the state to externalize the large costs of its goods’ transport.

Center for a Stateless Society » But what about the roads?
The Distorting Effects of Transportation Subsidies : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education
Center for a Stateless Society » Infrastructure is Not “Progressive”

Greenfield vs Brownfield: part two

The issue of 'greenfield' or 'brownfield' was considered by this blog six months ago:
Futures Forum: Greenfield vs Brownfield

The issue will not go away, with the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the National Trust raising serious concerns about how the National Planning Policy Framework is, literally, working out on the ground locally.

In East Devon, the pressures are considerable. For example: the District Council processes double the number of planning applications compared to other district councils:
Futures Forum: East Devon District Council proposes "to ... implement steps to reduce the length of planning committee meetings."

More and more new developments are being granted within the District - made easier by the absence of a local plan:
http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/implications_for_rest_of_east_devon_as_planning_committee_approves_350_houses outside local plan
“You have given permission for 1,200 homes” DMC Chair told | East Devon Alliance

Villages such as Feniton and Gittisham are threatened with large-scale greenfield developments - and even if the planning committee turns them down, the developers are likely to appeal:
BBC News - Hundreds join Feniton protest against homes
House builder admits to land banking in the South West | Susie Bond

A report from the CPRE is very critical of the NPPF:

Towns and villages "under siege" from developers

By Western Morning News | Posted: March 23, 2014
Comments (1)

Towns and villages across the Westcountry are “under siege” by developers, according to landscape campaigners who found that two-thirds of council decisions to block major schemes are being overturned on appeal.

The Government’s planning reforms are unnecessarily damaging the countryside and undermining local democracy, the Campaign to Protect 
Rural England (CPRE) has claimed in a new report published today. (Mon)

The research has discovered that recent reforms are forcing local councils to accept large developments against their will, citing the example of Feniton, in Devon, which is currently awaiting the result of a planning “super enquiry” held last month. The village faces multiple plans to build 285 homes in a community of just 1,796 residents, an increase of 38% and the second highest growth in the country in a table compiled by the CPRE.

Shaun Spiers, CPRE chief executive, said: “This report provides firm evidence from across England that the Government’s planning reforms are not achieving their stated aims. Far from community control of local development, we are seeing councils under pressure to disregard local democracy to meet top-down targets.”

The report - Community Control or Countryside Chaos - analyses the effect of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) two years after it scaled back thousands of pages of policy to around 50, adding a presumption in favour of allowing schemes which are considered sustainable.

The new guidance also increased the importance of local authorities having a local plan in place setting out housing targets, something which around a 100 councils have so far failed to do.

The planning authority for Feniton case, East Devon District Council, is among those without an approved local plan. This absence gives developers a stronger case in their battle to overturn local desires, expressed in the draft plan as a 5% rise in housing.

The council’s development management committee is next month to hear fresh plans for 470 homes in Gittisham, which if refused are expected to be subject to further appeal.

Susie Bond, independent councillor for Feniton, said it would be “perverse” for a planning inspector to allow a 38% rise when 5% was set to be enshrined in the local plan. “This is where democracy has fallen out of the picture completely as without a local plan in place it is the land owners and developers deciding where houses should go,” she added. “That’s not democracy by any stretch of the imagination and these are decisions that cannot be overturned – I can’t believe this is what the Government intended.”

The CPRE says there are plans for over 700,000 houses in the countryside, including 200,000 for the Green Belt. Sites earmarked for housing are being left undeveloped while councils are under increasing pressure to allocate more and more land for future development, it claims. This pressure, campaigners claim, has significantly slowed the rate at which local plans are being adopted, meaning councils are powerless to decide what land should be developed in the best interests of local communities.

Researchers analysed 58 planning appeal decisions covering proposals for ten or more houses between April 2013 and February 2014 and found 39 (67%) were granted. The latest Government figures to March 2013 show an increase in the proportion of “major” appeals granted to 46%, from 31.7% in 2008/9.

Mr Spiers added: “Local authorities are having to agree fanciful housing numbers and allocate huge areas of greenfield land to meet targets.. Where they lack an up to date plan, the countryside is up for grabs and many villages feel under siege from developers.”

Towns and villages "under siege" from developers | Western Morning News
Feniton cited in major planning study | Susie Bond

Planning changes 'causing frustration and anger at the local level'

24 March 2014 by Susie Sell, 4 comments

Report says NPPF is 'unnecessarily damaging the countryside'

Report says NPPF is 'unnecessarily damaging the countryside'

The government's changes to the planning system are forcing local authorities across the country to accept major developments against their will, countryside lobby group the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has said. In a report on the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on the countryside, CPRE said the changes are "unnecessarily damaging the countryside" and undermining local democracy.

The report, Community Control or Countryside Chaos?, said planning for housing was causing most concern and that NPPF policy on how local authorities should demonstrate a five-year supply of housing sites "have not been sufficiently clear".

"This is causing frustration and anger at the local level and not delivering the government’s aspirations for ‘localism’," it said. "This is largely because pressure from developers, legal action, and/or decisions by planning inspectors are restricting how local authorities can demonstrate land available for housing."

The report said in the past year at least 39 out of 58 major housing developments had been granted at appeal by the secretary of state or inspectors. It said the threat of appeal meant local authorities have felt they have had "no choice but to grant applications for major development".

CPRE said the rate at which local plans are being adopted has slowed, which has meant councils are "powerless to decide what land should be developed in the best interests of local communities".

It said that 34 per cent of local authorities are unlikely to have an up-to-date, finalised local plan in place before the general election.

CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers said councils are under pressure to disregard local democracy to meet top-down targets, and called on the government to rethink its planning policies. He said: "Local authorities are having to agree fanciful housing numbers and allocate huge areas of greenfield land to meet them. Where they lack an up to date plan, the countryside is up for grabs and many villages feel under siege from developers. But tragically the result is not more housing, and certainly not more affordable housing – just more aggro and less green space.’

CPRE called on the government to amend the NPPF so that there is not an automatic presumption in favour of granting planning permission where the local authority is unable to demonstrate a five-year land supply. It should also put a greater burden of proof on developers to show, when applying for planning permission, that proposed schemes are socially and environmentally sustainable, CPRE said.

Other recommendations include:

> Amend the NPPF to stress that brownfield land should be developed before greenfield.

> Revise footnote 11 of the NPPF so that land that already has planning permission is clearly considered as being part of the five year land supply.

> Drop the requirement in the NPPF to allocate an additional 20 per cent ‘buffer’ of ‘deliverable’ housing sites.

> Issue further guidance on the NPPF stating that development in and around villages should be properly considered through either the local plan or neighbourhood planning process.

> Give greater scope for planning applications to be refused on grounds of ‘prematurity’, in order to allow suitable time and space for local authorities and neighbourhoods to develop robust plans for the future of their area.

But planning minister Nick Boles has labelled the report "inaccurate, exaggerated and based on a spurious analysis of the facts".

Planning changes 'causing frustration and anger at the local level' | Planning Resource

The National Trust issued this statement earlier in the month - with a cautious welcome that central government was reconsidering its policies on allowing building on greenfield sites:

Our response to National Planning Guidance

Green Belt protected land

Latest update 06.03.2014 14:50

In response to the changes to the National Planning Practice Guidance issued this morning, Ingrid Samuel, our historic environment director said:

'We are pleased that the Government has acted on our concerns about Green Belt protection, and has altered the guidance to place greater emphasis on a brownfield first approach to development.

'Within this it is also important that local councils retain the tools they need to shape the provision of affordable housing in their communities, and the resources to provide local infrastructure. We will need to look at the detail of the guidance to make a full assessment of its impact.

'We will also be looking to ensure that National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our historic environment are protected from over development, and that this new guidance encourages communities to make the most of new powers to protect locally important green space.'

Our response to National Planning Guidance - National Trust

However, the National Trust remains deeply perturbed:

'War in the countryside' as planning reforms shred Conservative support, says National Trust boss Simon Jenkins

By Western Daily Press | Posted: March 29, 2014

The view from the George Inn at Norton St Philip, Somerset, where residents are fighting plans that will almost double the village's population

Swathes of the Cotswolds, Severn Vale and other parts of rural Gloucestershire are “at war” over planning reforms, the chairman of the National Trust has said.

And the same is true across the rest of the south of England, where green belt protections are proving worthless as developers ignore brownfield sites and leave the North to a future akin to that of Detroit, Sir Simon Jenkins says in an interview in the Telegraph today.

Long a fierce opponent of development in the countryside, Sir Simon’s latest outburst has been prompted by a visit to the Thames Valley, Cotswolds and Severn Valley where, he says, planning minister Nick Boles is proving to be Ukip’s most powerful weapon.

“You go to Shrivenham, Tetbury, Buckingham, Stow-on-the-Wold, go up the Severn Valley, go to the Cotswolds; all these places — many of them in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty — are at war,” he said.

'War in the countryside' as planning reforms shred Conservative support, says National Trust boss Simon Jenkins | Western Daily Press

Sir Simon Jenkins: 'We are creating Detroits in the north while we are eating up the countryside'

The chairman of the National Trust says the Coalition’s planning policy has left villages throughout the nation traumatised

By Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent 28 Mar 2014

The great and the good who run the National Trust, the organisation in charge of protecting the country’s finest buildings and landscapes, are not meant to get cross. But Sir Simon Jenkins is furious and — it seems — has been for a large part of his six years as chairman.

The reason for Sir Simon’s wrath is planning regulations and specifically the Coalition’s decision to rewrite them for England in the midst of the recession with a new bias in favour of “sustainable development”...

“People are seriously angry. They feel that the Government has betrayed something they love and they feel confident that what they love is loved by most English people and the evidence supports that view. And there is no necessity for this massive development. The idea that we need 250,000 new homes and therefore they must be in the countryside is a daft statement.”

This week’s meeting of the Trust’s ruling council, which he attended, was again dominated by planning concerns.

Protections for the green belt around towns and cities to control sprawl, trumpeted by the Prime Minister and others when the reforms were laid out, are proving to be virtually worthless.

“We shouldn’t have to fight for the green belt in 2014. At the present moment 150,000 applications are in for the green belt. This should be absolutely inconceivable,” he says. “The green belt is no longer sacrosanct — that is the fact. A sensible planning regime would consider how you would best protect greenfield land around the cities.

“At the moment there is absolutely no trust that the Government is serious about protecting the green belt.” Villages are left “traumatised” by councils which are “fighting, fighting, fighting with local communities” to push through large-scale developments as they try to meet the new five-year housing targets required under the planning changes.

Sir Simon is himself traumatised by what he finds on his regular tours across England. “You have got to go to Sicily to find some of the planning decisions now being taken in Britain,” he says.

His big complaint is that the Government has swallowed developers’ arguments that they should be allowed to build on greenfield areas instead of the scorched brown earth left by former industrial sites in towns and cities.

He says: “You can drive through the West Midlands, north of Manchester, South Yorkshire. You see acre upon acre upon acre of brownfield sites undeveloped — while the developers are pressing endlessly to build in the countryside outside. It is stupid.”

The real tragedy is that allowing builders to develop pristine greenfield land around towns and cities means some urban areas are “left to die”, as has happened in Detroit, the once-mighty home of America’s motor car industry. Sir Simon says: “These mill towns of the north, which I still think many of them are very attractive places, require a lot of public investment, jobs and other development. But they are the sane places for people to live.

“It doesn’t make sense to put people in the Durham, Cheshire and Lancashire countryside, and simply leaving these cities to die. It happened in America and is giving America huge problems — we are creating Detroits in the north while we are eating up the countryside...

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “was written by developers”, many of whom are large donors to the Conservative party. This was like putting the poachers in charge of the prison,” he says. “The housebuilders are a very powerful lobby. Many of them support the Conservative party. I have got no problem about this — it has always been thus. But I have never known a Government so susceptible to that particularly form of lobbying.” ...

“[Chancellor] George Osborne and Nick Boles wanted to do what the developers wanted and they thought that developers were jobs and growth — it was as naive as that. We are still picking up the pieces.” Sir Simon says the tax system could be altered to redress the balance and encourage developers to build on brownfield sites. He questions why builders have to pay 20 per cent VAT when they convert factories into flats, but newbuild sites are VAT-free. He says: “I am absolutely in no doubt that developed Britain could house all the new people apparently needing housing quite easily if the tax breaks, the planning and the will was there. There is no need to build on the countryside.”