Monday, 30 June 2014

Knowle relocation project ... and 'asset renovation'

There have been innumerable pieces on how the District Council could save considerably by renovating its current headquarters - rather than building new offices.

This piece from the LGA posted last month has come to the fore, thanks to research from the East Devon Alliance: 

Asset renovation

22 May 2014
In these tough financial times, why build new schools, council offices and other public buildings when you can renovate existing ones at a lower cost?

Scape, a national company based in Nottingham and owned by six local authorities, aims to bring economy and efficiency to the whole building process – including for new buildings and refurbishment projects – and it achieves this through the development of standard designs and strategic procurement arrangements.

It has developed a new initiative, called Renovate, to tackle the ever greater need for well designed, visually appealing and functional buildings delivered to very tight budgets.

Rather than brand new buildings, Renovate injects new life into tired and old building stock (pictured). This approach is much more cost-effective than new schemes and can be delivered across the public sector, including to schools, colleges, universities, housing, NHS, care homes, emergency services, civic buildings, leisure facilities, libraries and more.

Renovate boosts the value and income of property, creates buildings which are inspiring and visually appealing inside and out, and transforms property so it is affordable to run and operate.

Through Renovate, problems such as unusable and unlettable buildings, maintenance issues, high running costs, unpleasant working environments and health and safety challenges are all tackled. Unfit buildings can be transformed either for their current purpose or a new use.

Prolonged austerity measures are continuing to hurt public sector bodies as their resources continue to diminish. Core services take precedence and for many this means that new projects have to wait or are completely unworkable for the foreseeable future.

Renovate provides a solution to this problem by transforming ‘system build' properties. It is ideal for the thousands of properties of this type in the UK that have not weathered well and are expensive to maintain and run.

Mark Robinson is Group Chief Executive at Scape, see www.scapebuild.co.uk

Opinion | Local Government Association
Home | Local Government Association

Scape launches Renovation

AN EXCITING new product to transform existing public sector buildings so they are high quality, attractive and efficient – but delivered at a lower cost than new build projects – is being launched by Scape.
Renovate is the latest initiative from Scape – the public sector design, procurement and transformation specialists.  It will be launched on 30 April at the Academies Show in London and will tackle the ever greater client need for well designed, visually appealing and functional buildings delivered to very tight budgets.
Rather than brand new buildings, Renovate injects new life into tired and old building stock.  This approach is much more cost-effective than new schemes and can be delivered across the public sector including to schools, colleges, universities, housing, NHS, care homes, blue light, civic buildings, MoD, leisure facilities, libraries and more.
Renovate image 1 smaller
Renovate image 2 smaller
Renovate image 3 smaller
Mark Robinson, group chief executive at Scape, said: “Renovate boosts the value and income of property, creates buildings which are inspiring and visually appealing inside and out and transforms property so it is affordable to run and operate.
“Through Renovate, problems such as unusable and unlettable buildings, maintenance issues, high running costs, unpleasant working environments and health and safety challenges are all tackled.  Unfit buildings can be transformed either for their current purpose or a new use.
“Prolonged austerity measures are continuing to hurt public sector bodies as their resources continue to diminish,” Mark continued.
“Core services take precedence and for many this means that new projects have to wait or are completely unworkable for the foreseeable future. Renovate provides a solution to this problem.”
Renovate transforms system build properties.  It is ideal for the thousands of properties of this type in the UK that have not weathered well and are expensive to maintain and run.
Scape has a unique level of knowledge of system build properties, particularly in relation to CLASP but also in relation to Scola, Seac, Mace and Hills building systems.
Renovate has six services clients can choose from, or they can select the whole suite.
These include:
Renovate Diagnosis – Buildings are reviewed and audited and innovative solutions recommended.
Renovate Design – Architectural expertise backed by unique system build knowledge.  There are numerous design services including landscape and interior design.
Renovate Cladding – Building fabric is renewed to transform its appearance and energy use.
Renovate Interiors – Reconfigure space to breathe new life into buildings.
Renovate Services – Replace servicing systems, for example the provision of heating or lighting, to improve performance and efficiency.
Renovate Delivery – Ensuring that buildings are delivered efficiently and to the highest standard.
Renovate can be delivered to both the public and private sectors.  At the launch event, Scape will conduct a presentation to demonstrate Renovate and what it can offer.  Scape will have a custom stand and conduct social media activity by tweeting images throughout the day.
Scape will also demonstrate some of its other design solutions to address public sector needs.  For example, Sunesis which delivers standardised but visually impactful new schools, leisure facilities and extra care buildings built at an affordable price within short timescales.  Scape will also demonstrate Connect which delivers fixed-price extra classrooms in schools to accommodate growing pupil numbers.
Added on April 24, 2014

Scape launches Renovation | Refurb Projects
Renovate - Public Sector Construction
Renovate Build by Scape
Scape targets public sector renovation work | Online News | Building

See also:
Futures Forum: Knowle: refurbishment vs redevelopment
Futures Forum: "A truly green alternative to EDDC's proposal"

Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon
Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon: pt 3
Futures Forum: Knowle plans: flats
Futures Forum: Knowle plans: expense
Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel and grounds ... application to English Heritage for national listing
Futures Forum: Knowle: relocation... costs of borrowing...?
Futures Forum: Knowle: relocation... costs of borrowing...? Another presentation to be given to 'stakeholders'... And another ‘confidential briefing for councillors’
Futures Forum: Costs of relocating District Council offices vs costs of refurbishing Knowle
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: getting the figures straight
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: moving to Skypark: £1 million
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: District Council vote to spend £1million on Skypark: blog reports

Clone Town Sidmouth?

There has been a lot of interest in the Town Council's consultation on the future of Sidmouth:
Futures Forum: What next for Sidmouth: VGS AGM: results in the press

Here is a very pertinent comment today from the Save Our Sidmouth website:

How to improve Sidmouth

June 30, 2014 by sidmouthsid Leave a comment

The Town Council’s consultation with the public on this matter, will have been well received. Sidmouth’s future needs to be carefully steered, of course, through changing times and needs, to ensure it continues to thrive.

Some insidious changes to Sidmouth are described in the following 2012 survey, and a lot has happened since then: 

Clone Town Britain – Sidmouth Survey

How to improve Sidmouth | Save Our Sidmouth

This is the analysis from two years ago 
- together with a full spreadsheet of the shops on the High Street in Sidmouth:

Clone Town Britain – Sidmouth Survey

October 29, 2012 by monstershark 1 Comment

View the Clone Town Britain, Sidmouth survey, May 2012, by Marianne Rixson

with postscript below:

Marianne writes:

“It’s almost six months since this nef (New Economics Forum) survey, Clone Town Britain, was done for Sidmouth. Some shops have changed in the interim. Has Sidmouth grown ever closer to clone town status? Yet I know some of the people I have worked with come from Exeter and Exmouth to shop because of our individual shops.

Exeter, of course, is a prime example of a shopping centre which has nothing but chain stores. In the main shopping street, can you name any shop which does not fall into this category (see reference to Exeter p.11, clone town report by nef)?”

‘Exeter, South West: The high street in Exeter, Devon, prides itself as ‘the heart of one of the West Country’s biggest and liveliest shopping centres…packed with many famous national names including Marks & Spencer, Laura Ashley, H & M, Dingles (House of Fraser), Next, Cargo Home Store, Boots, Country Casuals and Ann Harvey. Not surprisingly Exeter also takes the bottom score of the surveys received – a mere 6.9 out of 60. Amongst the shops counted on the high street, there was only one independent shop – the rest were chains. A broader range of independent shops can be found on side streets, however, but it was noted that few visitors or even locals find their way there.’

Marianne continues:

“Not only have most of the independent shops been driven off the high street, but Exeter is also bottom in terms of diversity of shop type, with only 10 out of 25 categories represented. Overall, there is little more than clothing retailers, a few electronics shops and some stationery or bookstores on the high street. Unsurprisingly, the rents on the high street are also extremely high. Information from the Exeter & District Consumer Group reveals that they rise upwards from around £30,000 a year, with the business rate adding at least another £120,000.

Nuff said, really!”

Clone Town Britain – Sidmouth Survey | Save Our Sidmouth

nef's surveys from 2005 and 2010:
Clone Town Britain | New Economics Foundation
Reimagining the high street | New Economics Foundation

Plus comment on the 2010 report:

Paul Squires, the co-author of the report said: 'The towns most dependent on the big chains and out of town stores have proven to be most vulnerable to the economic crisis. The government’s “Big Society” idea cannot be built on these fractured local economies, represented so clearly by the empty shop fronts along our high streets.'

'It’s not all doom and gloom,' Paul continued; 'we found many towns that are thriving with initiatives to retain local diversity. The local currency schemes in Lewes and Brixton, for example; community buy-outs of post offices and pubs from Yorkshire to Cornwall; and loyalty cards for shopping at independent retailers from London to Penzance.'

Elizabeth Cox, co-author of the report added: 'We need to completely re-evaluate what we use our high streets for now that the age of mass retail is juddering to a halt. Our high streets could become places where shopping is just one small part of a rich mix of activities including working, sharing, exchanging, playing and learning new skills. As the hub of our communities, the high street could become the place where we begin to build a more sustainable world.'

Almost half of UK towns remain 'clone towns' lacking high street diversity: are High Street Transition Hubs the answer? | RUDI - Resource for Urban Development International

And further comment from nef in 2012 - which strikes a rather positive note on the NPPF:

Time is running out for clone towns

Photo credit: mr.beaver

Whatever other drawbacks there may be for the National Planning Framework, which came out last week, it marks a victory for nef’s seven-year campaign against clone towns – and to revitalise high streets as the beating hearts of local economies.

Planning minister Greg Clark spelled out the implications for out-of-town shopping centres in the House of Commons, making it clear that – in a framework dedicated to ‘sustainable development’ – out of town shoppingwas not sustainable.

The Planning Framework itself doesn’t go quite so far, but it is very clear that town centres come first. It is a slap down for those very powerful interests which have, in recent months, been calling for high streets to be abandoned. The retiring head of Land Securities, Francis Salway, interviewed on BBC Radio 4 last week, effectively admitted that it is in the business DNA of profit hungry retail chains to be fair weather friends to communities. For long term success and quality of life, town centres need local retailers who are bound by more than a desire to extract cash from consumers’ pockets.

What is also clear, reading the Framework in full, is that the coalition has taken on board many of the objectives of the Clone Town Britain campaign. It instructs planning authorities to “recognise town centres as the heart of their communities and pursue policies to support their viability and vitality”.

But that is not all:
Town centres will have to demonstrate their “individuality” and a “diverse” retail offer. Clone towns are clearly out.
Markets have to be enhanced and, where they can be, re-introduced. So the coalition has also listened to some of Mary Portas’ recommendations.
Bigger developments will require ‘impact assessments’ to see how they would affect “town centre vitality and viability” – not just now but five years ahead, taking a leaf out of the approach of several cities in the United States. The kind of superstore that corrodes the economy around it will not be allowed.

This is all subject to local interpretation, and there can be many slips between cup and lip. It may not work out as expected. It may, for the time being, put money into the hands of lawyers. But in the right hands, an imaginative and far-sighted local council, this is a huge tilt of the balance of power away from the big retailers.

The days of clone towns are running out, and local economies will thrive the better for it.

Time is running out for clone towns | New Economics Foundation

Indeed, how strong is the promise or threat from 'out-of-town' developments?
Futures Forum: The changing face of the high street ... the promise of the big box store
Futures Forum: The changing face of the high street ... the death of the shopping mall

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A wind farm for the Jurassic Coast?

There had been plans for a wind farm in Lyme Bay back in 2008, but they were rejected:
Wind farms for Dorset’s coast? (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
Crown Estate did not tell locals about huge off-shore windfarm - Telegraph
wind farm fish fear - News - Exmouth Journal

The problem is that many feel such a massive stretch of turbines will spoil the landscape:
Futures Forum: The aesthetics of development: power plants and windfarms

The latest proposal is further down the coast:

· The 2010 Round 3 allocation of sites for offshore wind farms by the Crown Estate involves a massive expansion of offshore wind power in the UK.
· After the relocation of this Zone 7 site from Lyme Bay to its present position at Poole Bay, NBDL finally identified an enormous sea area of 67 square miles.

Once it became government policy to promote offshore wind power, a limited number of sites were developed around the coast in Rounds 1 and 2. Later, a massive expansion was felt necessary with Round 3 implemented through allocations by the Crown Estate. Nine development zones were to generate 32 GW of power nationally and bids were accepted from the wind industry in 2010. Having consulted with various bodies, the Crown Estate then shifted the location of this particular wind farm to the east. It is understood that representations from the Ministry of Defence were material in the decision to move the site from Lyme Bay to Poole Bay. Hence, the present location planned for the wind farm was never originally identified in Round 3 by the Crown Estate.


An interactive model produced by the developers:


New interactive three-dimensional model of Navitus plans produced - YouTube

However, there are fears for the tourism industry:

Navitus Bay offshore wind farm: Fears raised over tourism

Offshore wind farmThe wind farm would be located off the Dorset and Hampshire Coast
Bournemouth council has raised fears that a £3bn offshore wind farm could deter visitors from the south coast.
Navitus Bay plans to build up to 218 turbines off Dorset and Hampshire, 12.2 miles (175 sq km) from Bournemouth.
New research suggests that may put off some tourists from visiting the Dorset coast. Borough councillor Mike Greene said that could "devastate" tourism.
Navitus Bay has said it believes there will only be a small negative impact which is "not significant".
The results are part of an assessment done for the developers in which 302 businesses and 2,027 visitors to the south coast were interviewed.
Bournemouth borough councillor Mike Greene said: "For 14% of visitors, for one in seven, they state that the presence of the project would spoil the views and prevent them from returning. When you go forward to the construction period, which we know is going to be around four-ish years, that goes up to one in three. One in three of Bournemouth's visitors say they would not come purely because of the wind farm. We are talking about a tourism industry in Bournemouth that was worth £500m a year. This will absolutely devastate it."
Navitus Bay project director Mike Unsworth said: "We have done two years of detailed, extensive surveys and the results in my mind are positive. Eighty-six per cent of the visitors surveyed don't believe the wind farm would have any impact on them visiting the area, and of the tourist businesses we surveyed 92% were very positive and encouraging about their future which is fantastic for the area and 72% of those businesses didn't think that the wind farm would have any impact." He added: "The evidence clearly does not show that tourism is impacted significantly or negatively from these offshore wind farm developments."
Mr Unsworth said the project would bring about 2,000 jobs to the region and 200 long-term jobs in operations and maintenance. Developers claim the wind farm will provide enough renewable energy to power up to 790,000 homes.

Related Stories

BBC News - Navitus Bay offshore wind farm: Fears raised over tourism

On the other hand, a recent report highlight the benefits to the tourism industry:

Navitus Bay wind farm 'may add £960m to local economy'

Navitus Bay computer mock-upA report said the council should mention the "potential economic benefit" as well as "environmental impacts" of the scheme
The Navitus Bay wind farm could create more than 200 jobs and contribute up to £960m to the local economy over its lifetime, a new report has said.
The gross value added (GVA) as a result of the project, off the Isle of Wight, Dorset and Hampshire coasts, could grow by between £145m and £960m up to 2047.
The Weymouth and Portland District Council report is to be considered by its planning and traffic committee.
It looks in more detail at the potential local impact of the plan.
Visual impact
The report predicted none of the manufacturing of major components, including turbines, blades and cables, would take place in Dorset and instead was likely to be made in French ports.
It predicted between 60 and 220 local jobs would be created during the wind farm's installation phase, between 2017 and 2019, under its low and medium forecasts.
This would lead to between 20 and 210 operations and maintenance jobs from 2018 to 2047 in the service sector but may include a range of skill levels, from security operatives to professional staff, it said.
However, the report did conclude Navitus Bay had "under-assessed" the effects on parts of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in its own seascape and landscape visual impact assessment.
The report adds: "The council's initial statement should raise the issue of the potential economic benefit to Portland and surrounding areas of Weymouth and West Dorset; but subject to the caveat that the environmental impacts of the proposal need to be properly considered through the examination process."
BBC News - Navitus Bay offshore wind farm: Fears raised over tourism

More info from the interested parties:
Current status | Navitus Bay
FAQ - Navitus Bay wind farm information, See proposed offshore wind turbines
Navitus - Jurassic Coast
BBC News - Dorset MPs object to Navitus Bay wind farm plan
West Dorset MP says "BBC have it wrong" over objections to Navitus Bay wind farm | Western Gazette
County council to lodge objection to offshore wind farm | Planning Resource

Planning permission, trees and who's bullying whom?

Accusing developers of bullying over awkwardly-placed trees is not uncommon:
We axed trees for good reason, says superstore (From Worcester News)
Trouble is that the northern boundary of the park has a magnificent row of London plane trees over 100 years old.Junction 27 developers accused of bullying at public meeting | Tiverton Mid Devon Gazette
Petition | Save our Trees! Oppose the Current Planning Application for Luneside East | Change.org
Oldham News | News Headlines | Locals in tears as trees come down at Foxdenton - Chronicle Online

There has been a lot of unpleasantness over the felling of oak trees in West Hill near Ottery St Mary - to make way for housing:
Ottery councillor “persecutes” developer over felling veteran oaks - Claire Wright
Futures Forum: Trees and planning

There have been efforts to protect trees in the District and County:
Futures Forum: Protecting trees in East Devon
Futures Forum: Protecting trees in East Devon: District Council to debate
Futures Forum: District Council moves to set up forum to protect trees in East Devon... next year
Futures Forum: Ancient woodland: under threat?
Futures Forum: Protecting trees in Devon

The same scandal which undid the career of Cllr Graham Brown
Video: 'If I can’t get planning, nobody will' says Devon councillor and planning consultant - Telegraph

... also highlighted how councillors have advised developers on getting rid of unwanted trees:
Planning investigation: 'we’d say cut down trees before they object’ - Telegraph
'Cut down trees before they can object': Council planning officers offer 'consultancy services' to help developers win applications | Mail Online

This is a little difficult if there is a TPO:

15. Can I cut down a tree on my property without permission?
Not if it is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or a planning condition, or is within a Conservation Area. Tree Preservation Orders are made by the District Council to protect important or individual groups of trees and, if worthwhile trees are threatened, a provisional order can be made quickly. Anyone wishing to trim or cut down a protected tree must obtain consent to work on trees from the District Council although, in an emergency, work on dead or dangerous trees may proceed without consent, providing they are replaced.

East Devon District Council - Planning Faq's

But such inconveniences can be surmounted:
Cedar felling must not set a wrecking precedent - Letters - Sidmouth Herald
We must all make planning concerns known - Letters - Sidmouth Herald
Vision Group for Sidmouth’s Fortfield concerns - News - Sidmouth Herald

... although recently, a property-owner with several mature trees in Sidmouth was told to take care of them rather than have them felled, following further investigation:

409 14/0284/TRE 
Fell 8 Scots Pine and 1 Sitka Spruce. 

DEFERRED to obtain further details and information regarding the condition of the trees, possible danger to neighbouring properties and any alternative management plan from the Arboricultural Officer who would attend a meeting of the Committee to present the report. 

(5 letters of comment were received) 

www.sidmouth.gov.uk/PDFs/planmin2014/PL MINS 26 03 14.pdf

Knowle now and then

A recent painting of the Knowle's Victorian frontage and parkland, with the limbs of the Monterrey Pine in the foreground:

A fine Victorian pavilion, the Knowle fa├žade offers a commanding edifice which nests handsomely on the garden terraces in the mature garden setting. 

   Its massing and scale which call out for a sympathetic restoration adds to the personality of          the resort. 

Graham Cooper, Environmental Artist, Art and Architecture, Space related

Plans for Port Royal: now and then

A painting of the frontage at Port Royal:

The sailing club image is acrylic on canvas painted last year.

Despite criticisms of Port Royal, this area does possess some character and picturesque qualities which I have tried to capture in a simplified manner using flat areas of colour. 
(The choice of colours are based on musical notation as per my book Spectral Waves!)

Having such personality and heritage value then there is no reason why the Drill Hall cannot be included in a new development which is programmed in a sensitive incremental fashion.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

'Planning gain' part two - S106 cash from developers - is it still 'bribery' by a different name?

Earlier in the year, the temptations of S106 cash [or the proposed new levy] were considered:
Futures Forum: 'Planning gain' - the replacement for S106 cash from developers - the Community Infrastructure Levy - but is it still 'bribery' by a different name?

In a debate covered by the East Devon Alliance, this question raises its ugly head once more:


27 June 2014
Recent debate in Westminster Hall on town centres and supermarkets differing views of a constituency MP and the Planning Minister:
John Pugh Lib Dem Southport (where Sainsbury’s wants to build an out of town supermarket by demolishing one of their Homebase stores but is refusing to consider an in-town site formerly occupied by a Morrisons store):
… When applying for … permission, supermarkets go armed with persuasive, expert consultants, planners and researchers and can offer a view of the whole retail environment that the council hearing the application cannot really judge for itself, because planning departments are, by and large, severely under resourced. The lack of resources is due to local authority cuts, but planning departments have never been particularly well resourced and are often short of independent data, which costs money. They are also unable to face up to the costs of refusal, leading to an expensive appeal process. Planning departments across the land are hurrying to get housing figures in place, but they are not doing much work, number-crunching or thinking about the retail environments that they often strive to protect.
… Ultimately, planning departments are also vulnerable to what I was going to call “bribery”, although I do not want to use that word because individual bribery is not involved. However, a supermarket wanting to get its way, whatever the effect on the town centre, will normally present its case by suggesting that, due to some attractive agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, something that the council wants, such as a traffic development, can be delivered as part and parcel of a new development. On one side is the threat of an expensive appeal and on the other is the bribe that granting permission may lead to some benefit that the council may not be able to accommodate through its own resources. That is generally what the monitoring of such developments shows..
… The onus is on local town planners and councils to have a positive view of where their town is going, which aligns with what is commercially viable. … To some extent, the problem for councils at the moment is that they are concerned—and the Minister is pleased about this—about finding forward-looking plans apropos housing, but are sometimes leaving retail and the commercial community to sort themselves out. They will not do so to everybody’s satisfaction.
Response by Nick Boles, Planning Minister
… I am firmly of the view that supermarkets have been a powerful force for social and economic good in this country for the past 50 years. I am firmly of the view that people on modest incomes around the country, in his constituency of Southport and in mine of Grantham and Stamford, have the opportunity to buy a range of quality food and other items that were unaffordable or unavailable to all but the very rich when I was growing up, and probably when my hon. Friend was growing up.
Nick Boles says supermarkets make it easier for poor people to buy quality goods | East Devon Alliance
House of Commons Hansard Debates for 24 Jun 2014 (pt 0002)

The debate also covered the issues of retail parks and the high street:
Out of Town Supermarkets: 24 Jun 2014: Westminster Hall debates - TheyWorkForYou

See also:
Futures Forum: The changing face of the high street ... the promise of the big box store
Futures Forum: The changing face of the high street ... the death of the shopping mall

The pressures to build on green fields: the NPPF ........... ........... where do we go from here?

There is quite a history behind the making of the National Planning Policy Framework:
Futures Forum: The pressures to build on green fields: the NPPF ........... how did we get here?

This is resulting in all sorts of building projects popping up all over the place:
Futures Forum: The pressures to build on green fields: in the Southwest - and across England

Several players are contributing comments to the Commons Committee on the NPPF:
Futures Forum: Parliamentary committee to inquire into the National Planning Policy Framework: "forcing councils to approve ad-hoc planning applications"

And meanwhile a Private Members Bill is making its way through the Commons:
Futures Forum: Private Bill to amend the National Planning Policy Framework: second reading: Friday 6th June

The Community Voice on Planning is clear about its concerns
- with one member appearing on tomorrow's Politics Show:
Futures Forum: Fragoff of Community Voice on Planning: discussing housing and greenbelt on the Sunday Politics Show

Here is CoVoP's latest contribution:

Parliamentary Enquiry

The Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework is now taking oral evidence. The inquiry follows research findings, published by the Committee, that some local planning authorities may be forced into perverse behaviour to meeting the NPPF policies and government targets. Written submissions can be seen at Communities and Local Government Inquiry Submissions. See more details on our Parliament Select Committee Inquiry page.

Letter to the media from CoVoP released on 24 May 2014

This is the letter we sent out to all the nationals and to various BBC programmes as well. Please send it to your local newspapers under the name of your group or as a member of the nationwide Community Voice on Planning; you will need to include a local name and address as a contact.

How amazing that so many politicians are surprised by the message that there is dissatisfaction with the political status quo and that this finds expression through rejection of the established political players. There were few elections in the rural districts or the message would have been even worse.

Since the inception of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) there has been a relentless attack upon the integrity of market towns and villages, on the greenbelt, and on the fabric of the English countryside. Democracy has been trampled on by an unholy alliance between the vested interests of some politicians and the mammoths of the construction industry. This has not resulted in affordable housing for the young rural dispossessed, but with disfiguring rashes of identikit houses and endless ruinous squabbles between the construction industry and local communities.

Our advice to politicians of every hue is to LISTEN to us. Don’t pretend to give us localism and democracy and then trample all over us and our opinions. Don’t call us names and condescend to us. We gave you power and through the ballot box we can take it away. If you learn nothing else from the experience of the elections of 2014, then learn this.

Time to give communities a real say in the planning process

On the 30th April 2014, Greg Mulholland MP introduced a bill, under the ten minute rule, for amendment of the NPPF. It is sponsored by MPs from all three major parties, and addresses a number of issues that affect us.
We believe that this Bill, which enjoys cross-party support, would have addressed most of the issues that have angered and frustrated us all since the inception of the NPPF. The relevant details can be seen via the link to Hansard but because of the timing this bill has lapsed.

We understand that Mr Mulholland is organising a roundtable for groups who share such a vision for the future of our planning system. The aim of the roundtable event is to produce a manifesto for the 2015 general election and make clear to both the current and next government the planning issues they must tackle.
We will be there to make our views clear. If we are ever to put right the many injustices and stupidities of the current planning system, then we need to change the NPPF.

Our submission to the Commons Select Committee on the Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework has now been published and can be seen on the Government Website.


The acronym NIMBY was popularised by Nicholas Ridley, Secretary of State for the Environment in the late 80s, who turned out to be one of the first. Nowadays the term is exploited by politicians and developers as a means of dismissing local people who object to contentious developments on green spaces.

But what if groups like The National Trust, Civic Voice, The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the recently formed Community Voice on Planning, who together represent the views of many many millions of people across the country, object to the very same thing? Is the whole country now a “nimby” when so many are standing up for it?

What about the BEGGERS (Build on Every Green Glade and Every Rural Space)?

NPPF not working

We want the government and other political groups to:
> Understand that the NPPF may not be working in the anticipated way. In particular, that the local voice is not being heard and that this is a cause of resentment, especially in rural communities.
> Recognise that there are serious short-comings to the definition of “sustainability” in current use and amend the NPPF and the guidance accordingly to give greater weight to heritage, ecology, transport and culture.
> Do more to ensure that development is preferred and prioritised on brownfield and city sites.
> Do more to protect green areas of special value to local areas.
> Scrap the current 5 year supply definition and allow permissions to be counted as part of this.
> Accept that the expectations for the production of Local Plans in the allotted time-scale were unrealistic and allow a further period of grace to those local authorities that are still struggling to achieve this.
> Seriously consider the short-comings of building-by-numbers.

We are starting a discussion on the definition on Sustainability so see our new page to comment.

Join the discussions

We have a new Forum so log-in and join the discussion.

Community Voice on Planning | A National Alliance to provide communities with an effective voice on planning, enabling them to protect their greenfield and green spaces.
Spectator letters: Ukip voters, royal tartans and a challenge for Dot Wordsworth » The Spectator