Friday, 31 August 2018

Sidford business park >> campaign group's latest update > EDDC's Landscape Architect 'damns the application's plans'

Over the last weeks, signatures for a petition have been collected - to show the opposition to the planned industrial estate north of Sidford:
Futures Forum: Sidford business park >> campaign group's latest update > collecting petition signatures

Here's the latest update from the Say No to Sidford Business Park campaign: 

Campaign Update 12

We hope that you have managed to spot the almost 40 "NO Sidford Business Park" poster boards that are now on display through Sidbury and across Sidford in Two Bridges Road, School Street, Church Street and High Street. Additionally, there is a poster board facing the entrance to East Devon District Council's offices at the Knowle. There is no way that the opposition locally to the planning application can be missed!

We are very pleased with the responses that we have had on the doorsteps to our invitation to residents to sign the petition against the planning application. We are taking a short break from this exercise for a few weeks but come mid September we will complete the job!

If the planning application is not recommended for refusal by EDDC's planning officers then it will go before Councillors on the Development Managment Committee, which is the Council's planning committee by another name. 

We have been told that the planning application will not be considered at the September Development Management Committee meeting. Following that there are two Committee meetings in October, on 2nd and 30th.

Dependent upon which, if any Committee meeting, the planning application is considered at, we would hope to hold a public meeting in Sidford to update you on the campaign activity to date and what is needed to do to prepare for the Committee's consideration of the application. So, watch this space!

Recently, EDDC's Landscape Architect has submitted a lengthy critique of the landscape aspects of the application. It is a lengthy 21 page document and a copy of this is attached. If you can, it is worth ploughing through this important document that damns the application's plans. Hopefully, a nail in its coffin!

Onwards and upwards!

Best wishes

Campaign Team

Say NO to Sidford Business Park - Facebook

The document is here:
Landscape Architect response_Aug18.pdf - Google Drive

‘Great British Sell-Off’ > "more than 4,000 publicly-owned buildings and spaces are being sold off by councils every single year" > or, the benefits of community ownership

The great East Devon sell-off:
Police to sell off part of Seaton station to raise cash for local policing - Devon Live (May 2018)
NHS plans to sell off hospital sites « SEATON & COLYTON matters (May 2017)
Exmouth protest march over Elizabeth Hall sell-off plan - BBC News (May 2012)
Sale of Knowle set to be ‘uncoupled’ from EDDC’s £10million relocation | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald (April 2017)
Town takes to streets over beauty spot threat as council faces scrutiny - Telegraph (November 2012)

From the Guardian, August 2013:

The great British seaside sell-off

In 1979, the state met almost all of British holidaymakers' needs, from transport to hotels to the fun stuff. Then Thatcherism changed everything. Neil Clark looks back at how our summers used to be

Neil Clark
Mon 26 Aug 2013


'I came by British rail. It only took seven hours and the egg sandwiches were delicious.' Photograph: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Seaside resorts were always about taking money off holidaymakers, but Thatcherism has pushed the tide out way too far. Today, it's too often about "profit centres": if this piece of land on the seafront doesn't make a big enough profit, let's build something else on it, even if that means destroying the character of the resort.

In my 1979 AA guide, Exmouth is described as a place that has "all the amenities of a popular resort whilst remaining free from excessive commercialisation". That just about holds true today, but won't for much longer if East Devon district council gets its way. Despite a petition that raised 12,000 signatures, the council has sold Elizabeth Hall, a popular community facility on the esplanade that dates from the Victorian era. It will now be demolished and replaced by a four-storey hotel. The council's "masterplan" for the redevelopment of the seafront includes more "retail areas" and "a large privately run play and recreation area".

The great British seaside sell-off | Travel | The Guardian

From the BBC, February 2015:
Devon and Cornwall councils make £50m from sell-offs - BBC News

And from the CEO of Locality, this week: 

The great British sell-off


Source: PSE Aug/Sept 2018

Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, takes a look at the number of publicly-owned assets being sold off to the private sector after bearing the brunt of austerity, and considers what can be done.

We have known for some time that many of our important local buildings and spaces are being lost. These are our swimming pools and libraries; our parks and play areas; our community centres and town halls. Local authorities, which have borne the brunt of austerity since 2010, have often found themselves struggling to keep them open, or have been seeking a short-term cash boost by selling them off to the private sector.

At Locality, we hear these stories every week from our member local community organisations. But with no official data available, it’s been impossible to gauge the overall scale of the sell-off.

We issued a Freedom of Information request to all local authorities in England to try and get a better picture of what’s happening in our communities. The results have been staggering: we found that more than 4,000 publicly-owned buildings and spaces are being sold off by councils every single year.

To give you a sense of just how big a number this is, it’s more than four times the number of Starbucks shops across the country being sold off by councils annually.

We believe this ‘Great British Sell-Off’ is hugely damaging to our communities. These are the places where people come together, take their kids, exercise and get to know their neighbours. When the country feels more divided than ever, when social isolation is one of our biggest challenges, this loss of social space couldn’t be happening at a worse time. We are never going to bring our country back together if we don’t have welcoming places where people can come together.

That’s why we want to see our places protected through community ownership so they are there for all of us forever. Community ownership doesn’t just mean a building is saved. It can also mean revitalising a space that the council has struggled with and putting it to productive use for local people.

Take Bramley Baths in Leeds, for example (pictured). This is a beautiful local building – a Grade 2 listed Edwardian Bath House – that provides a crucial service. For years, it’s been where local families have taken their kids to learn to swim, or where young adults have learned to be lifeguards.

In 2013, the council was looking to close it due to budget cuts, but the community rallied round and took over the baths. It’s now a shining example of community ownership. Not only are the swimming baths now profitable, but opening hours have doubled and more children are being taught to swim.

The benefits of community ownership

Community ownership has such wide benefits. We want to see councils prioritising it when they think about the future of their property portfolios.

We know through our work at Locality that the community organisations who have been most resilient to recent ill winds have been those that own an asset. This gives an organisation a sustainable income stream, which makes them less dependent on grant funding or contracts. It gives them the independence to invest in the services their community really needs.

There is also a wider economic impact to be gained from community ownership. Community organisations provide spaces for business startups and social enterprises, creating hubs of local enterprises.

We’ve been working with NEF Consulting to measure the contribution this makes to the local economy: the economic value community organisations create not just through their own activities, but by hosting tenants.

We found that 10 Locality members had collectively enabled approximately 1,400 jobs and contributed £120m of gross value added to the local economy through their tenant organisations.

This economic contribution is particularly important because our members tend to work in the most deprived neighbourhoods – places the public sector finds ‘hard to reach’ and the private sector tends to forget. So community organisations are a critical way of boosting the economy in so-called ‘left behind’ areas and creating genuinely inclusive growth.

Community ownership fund

So community ownership not only guarantees that a building or space will be available for the whole community, it also invests in the local area and helps the community take control.

But we need more support for more communities to stop the sell-off. We’re calling for government to kickstart a Community Ownership Fund of £200m a year for five years, to provide communities with the resources they need to take on ownership of local buildings and spaces.

We also want to see local authorities put in place a Community Asset Transfer policy to make sure they give the community the consideration it deserves when making decisions about the long-term future of our crucial public buildings and spaces. We have lots of resources for how to do this and the key considerations available on our website.

There is no sign of an end coming soon to the spending squeeze, and we know the pressures on the public sector will only intensify. But while it’s an understandable urge, looking for a capital receipt from a public building or space can only ever offer temporary respite.

Local authorities need to think about how to maximise long-term social value for their places – and they can do this by saving our spaces through community ownership.

Image: Bramley Baths in Leeds

The great British sell-off - public sector executive

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Heritage Counts in the South West ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... but East Devon's Heritage Strategy is postponed again

Next Tuesday, the Strategic Planning Committee meets:
Strategic Planning Committee - East Devon

It will be almost exclusively be focussing on the government's demands for more housing and on the plans for expanding the Greater Exeter area:
Futures Forum: District Council to consider government's latest forecast for minimum number of new homes to be built in East Devon > "A second Cranbrook new town or more new villages"
Futures Forum: The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan and 57,000 new houses

It had been hoped that a draft Heritage Strategy would be going on to the agenda for this Strategic Planning Committee - but this has once again had to be postponed.

Here are a few points about the Strategy:
> The issue of the positive role that heritage has and can play in promoting our town centres and high streets, which is covered in the strategy with recommended actions, is apparently of particular interest.
Within the document a recommendation is made for a 'local list' Supplementary Planning Document, with guidance on selection criteria.
> The local list document produced in 2016 will be updated, once the heritage strategy has been approved for consultation, to reflect any recent changes to the guidance from Historic England and the revised National Planning Policy Framework.
> The draft heritage strategy currently aims to increase community involvement especially where there are strong neighbourhood planning groups and historic associations. 

Meanwhile, Historic England has put much store in the value of 'heritage' to the economy:
Heritage and the Economy | Historic England

It has produced a separate document for the South West:
Heritage Counts in the South West | Historic England

Meanwhile in Stroud:

A Heritage Strategy for Stroud District 

Valuing our historic environment and assets 

Proposed Supplementary Planning Advice Consultation Paper – July 2017

Why a heritage strategy? 

0.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) advocates that local planning authorities should produce a clear and positive strategy for the conservation and management of their area’s heritage1 . Across the country, different local authorities have interpreted this in different ways. Some places identify a need to highlight a heritage which is somehow hidden, or bolster a heritage which is undervalued. For others, the impetus for producing a heritage strategy is closely bound up with trying to strengthen, reinvent or ‘rebrand’ their area, in conjunction with an ambitious cultural, economic or development vision for the future. Some areas have chosen to produce a strategy which looks at wider cultural heritage, encompassing built, natural and social assets, to reinforce a sense of community or paint a particular picture of their area. 

0.2 And rightly so, because our built, natural and cultural heritage is fundamental to our local identity, and often to our quality of life. 

0.3 In Stroud District, our heritage is certainly not invisible. Far from it: it is all around us. In fact, it is so much part of the scenery, so much a backdrop to our lives, that perhaps we don’t perceive its value or recognise its impact as much as visitors do. 

0.4 Stroud District has a genuinely exceptional collection of assets and a very high quality environment. So this Strategy is really about making sure that we value them, that we don’t take this resource for granted, and that we all manage the District’s assets in such a way that we hand on a positive legacy for the future.


Beach Management Plan: the official video

We have the official version of where the BMP should be going:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: a 'preferred option' is an extra half-a-metre high wall along Sidmouth's promenade
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: District Council press release on meeting of 10th May > "Outline business case makes steady progress"

With a series of interviews from earlier in the summer during 'public consultations':

Funding still needed for splashwall to protect Sidmouth from flooding - Devon Live

The problem is that 'the public' and the Sidmouth representatives taking part in the process do not agree with the official line:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: "There is widespread scepticism of the process and little regard shown to the local understanding of what the real issues might be."
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: "In the long-term, we need to build more offshore breakwaters across the front and these could be semi-submerged so that they would not be visible for most of the time."
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: and the consistency of the frustrations faced by the volunteer stakeholders >>> steering group to meet...

Brexit: and Plymouth demanding 'the truth about the impact of leaving'

Many businesses have been concerned about the economic impact of Brexit on the South West :
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the future for business in the South West
Futures Forum: Brexit: and looking backwards//looking forwards in the SouthWest

As are the universities:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and an uncertain future for Exeter University funding and students

And local authorities: 

Plymouth City Council becomes first to issue Brexit legal challenge to Government

Leader Tudor Evans demands truth about impact of leaving EU


Max Channon
29 AUG 2018

WATCH NEXT Summit hears how Plymouth could lose out in Brexit deal

Plymouth City Council has become the first local authority in the UK to issue a legal challenge to the Government over Brexit.

Labour and council leader Tudor Evans is pioneering the use of new legal powers to force the Government to "reveal the truth" about the impact leaving the EU will have on Plymouth. Councillor Evans is invoking the Sustainable Communities Act to make the Government share what it knows about what Brexit will mean for the city, even if it is considered confidential.

In a letter to James Brokenshire MP Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Councillor Evans invokes the Act to demand: “Immediate receipt by Plymouth City Council of all government departmental information and analysis pertaining to the impacts upon Plymouth’s communities and businesses of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, including any information deemed by the government to be confidential.”

Plymouth is believed to be the first council in the country to use the Act, set up to allow councils to challenge the Government to help the economic, social or environmental well-being of a local area, in this way.

Councillor Evans said: "Like many other cities, there is a big cloud of economic uncertainty hanging menacingly over our heads. Brexit is going to have an impact on Plymouth, that is for sure. But for this council to do the job of protecting businesses and residents, we have to know exactly what the government has planned for us because at the moment, we don't know.

"We've seen various dossiers released in the last few weeks. They have been at best woolly and do not address what Brexit means for individual communities.
Tudor Evans (Image: Penny Cross)

"This must change. They have to give us answers. Plymouth is a city that relies upon imports and exports. We have a fishing industry. We have a food industry. We have an engineering industry. The Council has to stand strong for them. The custom arrangements in post-Brexit Britain is a complete unknown and yet is crucial to the very existence of these important industries.

"As we stand today, half of our 20 biggest companies are foreign owned. They have invested in Plymouth because of the direct access to the EU market. What about them? How are we going to support them to stay in the city, to continue to employ local people? Whether is going to be hard Brexit, soft Brexit, or even no Brexit. What have the government found out and why are they keeping the answers from us?

"Although we are the first Council to use the act in this way, I don't expect us to be the last. I will be speaking to colleagues all around the country in the next few days to help put pressure on the government for answers.

"This doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. If there are advantages to Brexit then tell us so we can exploit them. But we must also know where there are disadvantages so that we can temper them. "We are already one step ahead. We have a scrutiny panel dedicated to looking at these issues and they have done a sterling job. But the need help and guidance to be able to serve the city properly.

“Under the terms of the Sustainable Communities Act, the government must finally answer our questions. So I ask, on behalf of 260,000 people: What does Brexit mean for Plymouth?" The next Brexit, Infrastructure and Legislative Change Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting takes place on Wednesday 5 September.

Plymouth City Council becomes first to issue Brexit legal challenge to Government - Devon Live

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan and 57,000 new houses

The GESP is growing in importance:
Futures Forum: Greater Exeter Strategic Plan for Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge and the plans for new housing >>> CPRE seminar with MP Hugo Swire: Friday 19th January

The process of putting this plan into place has been very much out of the public eye, however:
Futures Forum: Greater Exeter and excluding citizens from 'a strategy for inclusive growth'
Futures Forum: Top-down regeneration in East Devon
Futures Forum: The Return of the East Devon Business Forum >>> or, the ‘Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board'

Now East Devon will have to play its part in 'plans' for 'growth' - as dictated from Westminster:
Futures Forum: "Not enough new homes are being built in Devon" according to Government figures
Futures Forum: District Council to consider government's latest forecast for minimum number of new homes to be built in East Devon > "Planning for the future will ensure we are not subject to the whims of others."
Futures Forum: District Council to consider government's latest forecast for minimum number of new homes to be built in East Devon > "A second Cranbrook new town or more new villages"

All of this will have to fit into the bigger picture of Greater Exeter - all of which will be discussed next Tuesday at the District Council:

There could be 57,000 new homes in the Exeter area by 2040

The figure is revealed in the all-important Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) which lays down the amount of development we will see in the next two decades - and it also includes a major new sports and concert venue


Daniel Clark Local Democracy Reporter
29 AUG 2018

A major sports and concert venue, new park-and-ride sites, improvements to rail, bus and road routes, and 57,000 new homes by 2040 are all part of a Strategic Vision for the Greater Exeter Area.

East Devon, Exeter City, Mid Devon and Teignbridge councils are currently preparing the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan to cover strategic matters for their area.

Consultation on the vision is about to start to decide specific issues in October, with the aim to prepare a draft plan for consultation in the summer of 2019 after the local elections.

The Greater Area Exeter Plan

The consultation document includes the new vision for the area, explains what the Government has said the housing need is, asks people what the most important infrastructure projects they need to invest in are and includes the main points for a transport strategy for the area.


To improve transport around Exeter, the strategy proposals include:

> trains every 30 minutes, buses every 15 minutes and high-quality cycle routes between Exeter and key towns
> improve the M5 gateway, A30, A38, A303, A380 & junctions on A35/A361
> double the number of car parking spaces serving Exeter in park-and-ride sites on all main corridors
> a comprehensive network of walking and cycling routes
> a new integrated product which combines sustainable travel modes into a single subscription travel service
> a modern, reliable and low carbon network of urban bus routes


Since 2013, more than £320m has been spent on a range of large scale infrastructure projects in the area, including the South Devon Highway, the Exeter Flood Defence scheme and the Cranbrook education campus.

South Devon Highway

Around £135m of schemes are currently in the pipeline, including Exeter bus station, the upgrading of the A382 and Marsh Barton railway station.

But extra large-scale infrastructure that the area needs is likely to cost more than £1billion, the vision says, and will be determined to a large extent by future development sites in the plan that have not been determined. It may include:

> new primary and secondary schools
> relief to major junctions on the M5
> improvements to the A30/A303
> new park-and-ride sites
> improvements to walking and cycling routes
> improvements to rail and bus routes
> healthcare facilities


For the GESP area, 2,600 homes a year are needed, meaning over the 20 years of the plan to 2040, around 57,200 new homes will be built.

The vision says: “Meeting the need for homes and jobs is challenging and we will need to put more detailed thought into the infrastructure implications. However, we know that there are going to be some key areas and projects where investment is needed, irrespective of where the new homes and jobs are going.

“The Councils agree that homes and infrastructure are key issues which the GESP can deal with. As far as is possible, Councils would like to ensure both homes and infrastructure are planned together to provide high quality development.”

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan October 2018 document


In previous discussions regarding the GESP, the Deputy Leader of East Devon District Council has put forward the idea of developing a regionally or nationally significant sports arena and concert venue within the GESP area.

The consultation does not specifically refer to this concept as work in understanding the need for such a facility and how it could be delivered are at an early stage as it is focusesd at high level issues and does not talk in any detail about specific proposals.

It is however considered that the consultation asks about public aspirations for the delivery of infrastructure thus enabling respondents to raise the opportunity for such a facility and make suggestions for what it would be.


Councillors at each of the four councils will be asked to grant authority to consult on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan consultation document at upcoming meetings.

It will go before East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday, September 4, where the committee are recommended to consider whether the proposed Greater Exeter Strategic Plan consultation document “Our New Vision and How We Make It Real” meets their vision for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan and adequately addresses the associated infrastructure needs including previously indicated aspirations for a sports arena and concert venue.

Teignbridge District Council’s executive, who meet earlier that day, are only being recommended to agree the report in the basis for public consultation. No reference to a sports arena or concert venue is mentioned in the agenda papers for its meeting.

The Roundfield area of Ide

Ironically though, the item next on the agenda for their meeting is to officially make the Ide Neighbourhood Plan – which in doing so would preclude the Roundfield site beside the A30/A377 interchange being used to create a 566 parking space park-and-ride on the site to reduce the traffic levels along Alphington Road in Exeter, as had been hoped by Devon County Council, Exeter City Council and Teignbridge.

Neighbourhood plan for Ide backed by voters - which all but ends any hope of A30 park-and-ride plans

Mid Devon and Exeter City Councils have not yet announced dates for when the report will go before their committees for approval.

If approved, consultation will be held between October 5 and November 30.

There could be 57,000 new homes in the Exeter area by 2040 - Devon Live

Land value tax > A growing number of thinktanks and politicians support imposing a tax that would take a slice of rising land values.

The notion of a land value tax is steadily gaining ground:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: tax land values and give councils powers to benefit from planning approval windfalls
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: fix the broken land system
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: land value capture

The Sun carries the latest idea: 

Swapping business rates with land value tax would aid Britain’s Brexit heartlands, research claims


Research found that a huge income boost would be delivered to England's 'left behind' communities who voted in support of Brexit if hated business rates were replaced

By Matt Dathan, Political Correspondent
28th August 2018

REPLACING hated business rates with a land value tax would help Britain’s Brexit heartlands the most, a major review will say this week. Landowners would be taxed instead of tenants under proposals to scrap the rates-based system put forward in a joint report by ex-Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable and economist Adam Corlett.

They say it will deliver a huge income boost to England’s “left behind” communities who overwhelmingly backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

The move would deliver a 21 per cent tax cut for businesses located in the top 20 areas with the highest share of Brexit voters. This compares to the nationwide average tax cut of 6 per cent.

It would also help to rebalance the north-south divide, with London and the South East seeing small tax rises while the rest of the country - 92 per cent of areas - would get tax cuts of up to 46 per cent. This is because of the much higher value of land in London and the South East.

The “commercial landowner levy” would no longer calculate business taxes using the rentable value of buildings and utilities - and instead only tax the land value of a commercial site. It means that the tax would fall on the landlord or landowner rather than the current situation where the renter pays.

The move would deliver a tax cut for hundreds of thousands of small businesses because six in ten rent their premises. The Government’s current review of struggling high streets has refused to consider a change in business rates.

But piling pressure on ministers to widen their review ahead of the launch of his report later this week, Sir Vince told The Sun: “Many of the areas around the country that voted for Brexit feel they have been left behind. Great swathes of the country demand better, and this policy offers change to the manufacturing industry and the small towns passed over by economic growth.”

Business rates were a badly designed policy to begin with and have become an unacceptable drag on our economy.

Swapping business rates with land value tax would aid Britain's Brexit heartlands, research claims - The Sun

The Guardian notes a report out today: 

UK's wealth rises as land values soar by £450bn in a year

Land now 51% of UK’s net worth – a huge transfer of wealth to landowners, say campaigners

Phillip Inman

Wed 29 Aug 2018 

Land for a new housing development near Cambridge. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer

A dramatic rise in land values pushed Britain’s wealth to a fresh high of more than £10tn last year, highlighting the huge gains made by developers in property hotspots across the UK.

From London and the home counties to Cambridge and popular parts of Devon and Cornwall, land values have become the single largest element of wealth, dwarfing household wealth locked up in property and financial savings.

Official figures showed that the UK’s net worth rose by £492bn between 2016 and 2017 to £10.2tn, with the lion’s share of the increase accounted for by a £450bn jump in the value of land. The rise continues a trend since 2012 that has pushed the average assets held by each Briton to £155,000, up £6,000 from 2016.

The Office for National Statistics said consistent increases in the value of land meant it accounted for 51% of the UK’s net worth in 2016, higher than any other G7 country that produces similar statistics. In France, which has a land mass twice the size of the UK, land values account for 41% of wealth while in Germany they account for only 26%.

This week several landowners have outlined plans for developments, including the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Group, which said it was taking a growing interest in residential property outside central London. It said it would build thousands of homes on greenfield sites around Oxford and Cambridge, which are to benefit from Treasury plans to connect the two university towns with a cross-country rail link.

Analysts said much of the increase in land values was in response to Britain’s rising population, which has put pressure on the government to back house builders seeking to develop green field sites and farmland in south-east England and other development hotspots around the country.

The price of farmland can increase by 100 times when developers succeed in persuading ministers to redesignate it for housing. Areas of London that were previously derelict, especially in the east of the capital, have seen huge rises in values as regeneration efforts and improved transport links have fed into property prices.

Commercial property has also enjoyed an upswing in value since Britain’s recovery following the 2008 banking crash, more than offsetting recent declines in much of the retail sector.

The ONS figures go beyond a study last year by Lloyds bank that showed that Britain’s net worth had climbed above £10tn for the first time but did not single out the value of land.

The steady increase in land values is expected to trigger further calls for a land value tax or new rules allowing local authorities to reap the rise in values by allowing them buy land earmarked for development. A growing number of thinktanks and politicians support imposing a tax that would take a slice of rising land values.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has urged the Treasury to develop a scheme, while the Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas has tabled a private member’s bill proposing a land value tax. Labour said in its 2017 election manifesto that it would consider a similar tax.

Mark Wadsworth, the head of the Campaign for Land Value Taxation, said: “The minority with a vested interest in high land values will no doubt celebrate higher values, saying that is shows the importance of land to the UK economy. In truth, land values are not a net addition to national wealth, they merely represent the benefits that accrue to landowners because of government spending on public services funded out of general taxation; land values are actually just a measure of ongoing transfers of wealth from taxpayers to landowners and a zero-sum game.”

UK's wealth rises as land values soar by £450bn in a year | Business | The Guardian

The Campaign for Land Value Taxation has got some very interesting ideas:
Land rent for public revenue
What is LVT?

And these ideas are becoming so mainstream that even estate agents are taking note: 

Nine radical ways to reform the land market 

August 28, 2018 / Isla MacFarlane

The Progressive Policy Think Tank has called for an urgent reform of the land market, citing figures which suggest a plot of land now accounts for 70% of a property’s value.

Land is an essential factor in all economic activity but, if it is not properly managed and regulated, it can play a destabilising role in the housing market and the wider economy, the left-leaning think tank said in a recent report.

The UK’s dysfunctional land market and soaring land values have helped drive growing wealth inequality, create the conditions for a broken housing market, and are a root cause of an unproductive and unstable economy, it claimed.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, it even quotes Winston Churchill, who once said that a landowner “renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.”

Reform of the land market must therefore be focused on reducing the financial speculation that occurs in land and sharing the benefits of increases in land values for the benefit of the public good, the report concludes. It suggests:
> The government should reform compulsory purchase laws to allow local authorities and public bodies to buy land at a fair value that enables the delivery of high quality development.
> The government should give planning authorities in England the powers to ‘zone’ areas of land for development and freeze its price close to its current use value, as happens in Germany.
> The fire-sale of public land to the highest bidder should be ended. Public land should instead be prioritised for the delivery of genuinely affordable and high-quality developments.
> The cap on local authority borrowing to finance housebuilding in England should be abolished.
> The government should exempt borrowing for council housing under its measure for calculating UK debt, bringing the country in line with the accepted international criteria which does not include council housebuilding.
> Government should set new guidelines in England for the minimum proportion of new housing developments which must be genuinely affordable.
> The government should introduce an annual property tax to replace council tax and eventually stamp duty.
> The government should introduce a land value tax to replace business rates. > A land value tax on business land would be the most economically efficient means of taxing commercial land. It would support, rather than deter, productive investment; it would capture some of the unearned windfalls from the ownership of land; and it would reduce incentives for further speculation
> The government should reform macroprudential policy, both to counter systemic risk and limit house price inflation.

“The proposals set out in this paper for regulating our land and housing market, and for a more progressive taxation system focused on land, are a first step in ensuring that the unearned ‘economic rents’ which arise from landownership are shared for the public good,” the report said. “Our proposals will reduce speculation in land, lead to a decrease in wealth inequality, and allow for a greater focus on productive economic investment.

“They will also help to create a better-functioning housing market, capable of delivering the number of homes we need to meet demand, particularly genuinely affordable homes. Together, our proposals will make for a stronger, more just and prosperous economy.”

Nine radical proposals to reshape the land market - showhouse.co.uk

A year on from the Grenfell Tower fire, and the debate around social housing continues...

It is over a year ago now since the Grenfell Tower fire:
Futures Forum: "The Marks of Austerity" > Grenfell Tower one year on

All sorts of promises were made at the time and subsequently:
Futures Forum: "The Grenfell Tower fire revealed how humanity has been sucked out of the planning process: we must stop talking about ‘regeneration’ and start looking at neighbourhood restoration."

The government has started to address the issues around social housing:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: build social housing

And it has just brought out that long-awaited Green Paper:

James Brokenshire launches a new deal for social housing residents

Social housing green paper offers an opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety for residents living in social housing.

Published 14 August 2018

A ‘new deal’ for social housing residents, as part of the government’s commitment to make a housing market fit for the future has been launched by Secretary of State for Communities Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.

The social housing green paper aims to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords, tackle stigma and ensure that social housing can be both a safety net and springboard into home ownership.

With the experiences of those living in social housing brought to the forefront following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, over 8,000 residents from across the country have shared their views of social housing as part of the government’s listening exercise.


The government’s Social Housing Green Paper has prompted a huge amount of debate among Inside Housing’s contributors. Carl Brown rounds up the main talking points so far.

It is now a week since the government published its long-awaited Social Housing Green Paper, and we have been inundated with different viewpoints on the merits of the document or otherwise.

Is it a seminal document that will change the face of tenant engagement? Does it show the government really supports social housing now? Or is it all a bit of a let down?

Here are six of the key debates about the green paper so far:

1. What should the role of the regulator be?

The Social Housing Green Paper notes that the proposals “present the opportunity to look afresh at the regulatory framework.” It suggests “sharper teeth” for the regulator and league tables in which landlords will be compared to each other using key performance indicators. This has opened a much wider debate in the sector about the role of the Regulator of Social Housing.

Julian Ashby, former chair of the regulator, argues here that the regulator’s role should be limited to dealing with systemic failure and that the Housing Ombudsman Service should deal with all tenant complaints.

On the other hand, David Bogle, chief executive of Hightown Housing Association, believes any enhanced role for the regulator should also include monitoring how associations assist homeless people. This, he says, should include looking at how associations help homeless people through lettings, minimising evictions and supporting councils’ homelessness work.

2. How could league tables and performance indicators actually work?

The green paper suggests grant decisions could be tied into the proposed new housing association league tables – meaning government cash could be awarded according to how well landlords meet the new performance indicator.

The prospect of landlords being ranked has already led to some sector figures voicing concern. Geeta Nanda, chief executive of Metropolitan, has warned that focusing on certain indicators “could drive the wrong behaviour”, while Paul Hackett of Optivo says they could be a “blunt instrument”

Mervyn Jones, director of Savills Housing Consultancy, agrees in this piece that strengthened measures of service delivery should inform grant funding decisions. However, he goes on to say that the “impact of poor performance is limited.”

Mr Jones suggests the regulator should be given the means to “issue fines and order payment of compensation to those let down by their landlords.”

Alistair McIntosh, chief executive of Housing Quality Network, also suggests league tables would bring “promotion and relegation” into play, with those doing well receiving grants and land.

Mr McIntosh does qualify this, however, by saying there is a “big if” as to whether league tables could be made to be reliable. “There is not enough information out there to make smart decisions about which landlords to back,” he writes.

Ross Fraser, former chief executive of Housemark, has warned that unless data collection and validation is rigorous, landlords could ‘game’ their data

3. Are the green paper proposals really a boost for resident involvement?

A large focus of the green paper is on improving tenant engagement, and the aforementioned plans for league tables and performance indicators are part of a plan to ‘arm’ tenants with information about their landlords.

The paper also asks whether there should be stronger representation for tenants at a national level and floats the idea of a programme to promote the transfer of council stock to community-based housing associations.

Jenny Osbourne, chief executive of Tpas, has welcomed the government’s “renewed focus” on tenant empowerment, but criticised the government for a “lack of link-up to welfare reform” and for a lack of social housing investment.­­

Melanie Rees, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said it is good that the government is looking at stronger representation at a national level. She said, however, when it comes to individual measures in the paper, there “are no real game changers”.

On challenging the stigmatisation of social housing tenants, Ms Rees says the government’s commitment to combating this problem is “welcome” but questions whether there is enough in the paper to achieve this.

She also, along with our blogger Jules Birch here, questions whether a government can really be said to value social housing if it uses the term ‘springboard’ to describe people moving out of it into homeownership.

Emma Maier, editor of Inside Housing, has called the measures on combating stigma “underwhelming” and says the government will need to “look at how it speaks with and about tenants”.

4. How concerned should we be about the lack of measures in the green paper to address supply?

Much of the immediate reaction to the green paper in the wider mediafocused on criticism from Shelter, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others about the absence of government funding for new social homes.

Jules Birch, in a blog for Inside Housing, notes that there is no new money for housebuilding, even though expanding supply is one of the green paper’s five key themes.

However, Boris Worrall, chief executive of Rooftop Housing Group, believes this “misses the point” and that tackling supply was never the point of the green paper, which was born in the aftermath of Grenfell.

5. Does the green paper signal a new chapter in the relationship between housing associations and the government?

For Mr Worrall, the paper is the culmination of a strategy from the sector to “reboot the relationship with government” after the sector was criticised by ministers three years ago. He says the tone of the document suggests the government now sees associations as “trusted partners” rather than enemies.

At the very least, notes Emma Maier, the government appears to be in “listening mode” and the sector should try to take advantage.

Jules Birch describes the green paper as “remarkable” in many ways, not least because the proposals would sweep away or amend a lot of housing policy over the past eight years.

Inside Housing has compiled a list of the main U-turns here.

6. To what extent do the green paper proposals help council house building?

The government has announced it will not go ahead with plans to force councils to sell their higher-value stock. It is also consulting, in a separate document published alongside the green paper, on proposals to change the way Right to Buy receipts can be spent, to help councils build more homes.

John Bibby, chief executive of the Association of Retained Council Housing, says the two measures in the green paper mentioned above are welcome, but “unlikely to see any significant overall increase in the current stock”. Mr Bibby wants to see Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps lifted to allow local authorities to borrow more for housebuilding.

Listen to the latest episode of The Housing Podcast, as we rate the Social Housing Green Paper out of 10 on different measures:

Social Housing Green Paper: full coverage

Social Housing Green Paper: full coverage
All our Social Housing Green Paper coverage in one place:
Green paper measures are not enough to create May’s ‘new generation’ of council homes Green paper proposals are welcome but much more is needed to support councils to build, writes John Bibby
Green paper shows ministers now sees associations as trusted partners Focusing on the failure of the green paper to address supply misses the point, writes Boris Worrall
Government should focus on building on what is already strongPhilippa Jones considers the Social Housing Green Paper through a slightly different lens
We need more than a week of delayed announcements bundled together Jules Birch reflects on the government’s ‘Housing Week’ announcements
The regulator should monitor how associations assist homeless people Government announcements this week are positive, but any enhanced role for the English regulator should include looking at homelessness prevention work, argues David Bogle
The regulator’s role should be limited to dealing with systemic failures Julian Ashby suggests the Housing Ombudsman Service should deal with all complaints
The green paper shows ministers are in listening mode Despite some glaring omissions, the government appears to be in listening mode and it is important the sector takes advantage, argues Emma Maier
A short history of social housing league tables Attempts to create league tables for housing associations are nothing new. Mervyn Joneslooks at how they have worked in the past
League tables could prove blunt and counter-productive, sector warns Housing figures criticise government proposals to measure social landlords against performance indicators
Government 'must decide how proactive regulator should be' on consumer standards Ministers now face a dilemma over the regulator’s focus, sector figures say
The Green Paper: a golden opportunity missed? Melanie Rees assesses the Social Housing Green Paper against recommendations drawn up by the Chartered Institute of Housing and finds the government comes up short
Longer strategic partnerships and guranteed debt to boost social housebuilding The Social Housing Green Paper outlines key ways of boosting supply
The green paper is remarkable progress but it is still not enoughThe green paper suggests the government appears to be re-writing much of its policy since 2010, but more needs to be done, writes Jules Birch
Green paper marks a "milestone" on resident involvement The government’s recognition residents need clear information is to be welcomed, now it up to the sector to embrace tenant involvement, writes Paul Hackett
Ministers consider stock transfer programme to community-led associations The stock transfer programme could be revived under proposals in the housing green paper.
Access to housing grant could be tied to new league tables Grant could be awarded according to how well landlords meet performance indicators, the paper suggests
Ofsted-style regulation of tenant services proposed The government is considering expanding the Regulator for Social Housing’s remit to intervene over tenant services and give it a more “proactive approach to enforcement"
Government proposes dropping one-for-one Right to Buy replacement commitment A consultation paper published alongside the green paper proposes a broader measurement to replace the one-for-one pledge
A list of recent housing policy u-turns The green paper confirms yet more housing policy u-turns from the government, which has spent the last two years dropping policy ideas developed under the David Cameron government. Here is a rundown of the major changes in policy direction
Sector welcomes green paper but calls for more 'ambitious investment' Reaction to the proposals, from the National Housing Federation, Chartered Institute of Housing and more
Morning Briefing: reaction to Green Paper announcements how the media reported the proposals trailed by the government overnight
Government drops plans to force councils to sell higher-value stock The government drops plans to force councils to sell higher value homes
League tables and 'sharper teeth' for regulator in social housing green paper Ministers reveal some of the things in the paper ahead of its publication
Grenfell survivors: green paper does not go far enough survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have said the measures published in the Social Housing Green Paper do not do enough to rectify issues in the social housing sector.


  • New 'league tables' of housing providers based on key performance indicators, surrounding services such as repairs and neighbourhood management. This could be linked to housing grant.
  • Consideration to scrapping of the current 'serious detriment' test, to allow 'Ofsted-style' tougher consumer regulation
  • New home ownership options such as allowing tenants to buy as little as 1% of their property each year through shared ownership. This would only apply to new shared ownership purchases.
  • Ditching of plans to force social landlords to offer fixed term tenancies rather than lifetime tenancies in social housing
  • Ditching of plans to force councils to sell off their most valuable social housing when it becomes vacant
  • The potential introduction a new stock transfer programme from councils to 'community-led' housing associations
  • The return of guaranteed debt funding to help the development of affordable homes, and longer term 'strategic partnerships' for developing housing associations

Inside Housing - Insight - Social Housing Green Paper one week on: the debate rages