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National Trust up in arms at new planning laws

(44 Posts)
VenetiaLanyon Mon 12-Sep-11 12:59:05

Under the guise of promoting economic growth, the government is making it easier for developers to obtain planning permission; sounds like a lot of property development companies will be rubbing their hands with glee over new planning laws being brought in by the government....National Trust is protesting.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-Sep-11 13:58:41

We have millions that can't afford a home because there's a shortage, we're not building enough houses, and we live on a fairly thickly populated island. How do the NT propose we square that circle?

Seeline Mon 12-Sep-11 14:04:01

There has always been a presumption in favour of development unless other faactors outweigh that presumption. The new policy framework is really only consolidating all the previous guidance. Green Belt, AONBs etc are still protected. We also need more housing......

Solopower Tue 13-Sep-11 19:29:57

Thanks for posting this - I find it very worrying.

Of course people need somewhere to live. The answer is either fewer people or more (smaller) houses and flats. I'd like to see the government (not the National Trust, Cogito - how is it their problem?) addressing the population issue first. Then I'd like to see them insisting that people sell or let out all the empty properties. Then they need to deal with the house prices problem ...

These problems won't just go away by them allowing anyone to build virtually anywhere they want to. The consequence of uncontrolled growth are horrible - we need our green spaces!

SoupDragon Tue 13-Sep-11 19:45:09

"We have millions that can't afford a home because there's a shortage, we're not building enough houses, and we live on a fairly thickly populated island. How do the NT propose we square that circle?"

How about we cover every square inch with accommodation? That will solve the problem.

radiohelen Tue 13-Sep-11 22:34:53

This problem goes back decades and has come about because housing policy has been alternately ignored and buggered about with by lots of different governments centrally. You then have another layer of bureaucrats at a county level.
We are left with the stupid situation where there are lots of empty homes north of the Watford Gap and people fighting for space in the South East.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that all these developers will be building in the SE and they won't be putting in much social housing.
We need a long term planning policy set out by a small committee made up of architects and city planners and NO elected representatives.
We might get some quality developments of homes that aren't from 50s plans and all neo-Georgian/mock Tudor. We also might get a better distribution of social housing through developments. It would also allow for development to be targetted at areas that would benefit from it rather than areas drowning under concrete.
IMHO of course.

Solopower Wed 14-Sep-11 06:30:06

Agree, Radiohelen. Plus - let's hope they design houses with bigger windows! I can't believe the measly window size in some new builds.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 14-Sep-11 10:56:13

It's not a 'population issue' it's a 'number of households issue'. More people want to live solo than in the past so there are more households. And house prices are determined by demand. So 'dealing with the house price problem' means either building more houses in popular locations or shifting the population to other parts of the country. The National Trust's emphasis on 'tranquility and beauty' sounds like they are simply protecting some mythical idyll & not at all bothered about people in rural communities having places to work or affordable housing.

radiohelen Wed 14-Sep-11 11:20:57

Exactly Cogito so we need someone with half an ounce of common sense to make sure development is not just the new housing estates we have now - they are the slums of tomorrow. They don't weave the social housing through them so you get great sinks of unkempt houses (the housing associations no the tenants fault!) surrounded by 5 bedroom palaces of unhappy punters. We need to be able to build apartments in villages, we need to be able to break up some of the big sprawls and make the developers put the infra structure in first - none of this building the shops/school after their development is finished.
We also need to have long rentals as standard. You need to have more than a 6 month rolling contract. Maybe a 10/20 year contract like they do in Germany.
<reaches for tea and inhaler>

azazello Wed 14-Sep-11 12:55:39

There isn't a shortage of development land though. Most of the major housebuilders have a substantial housing land supply (with planning permission) which they are choosing not to build out - they want to make it cheaper to buy the next lot of landbanking.

What would actually be better (and incidentally the NT are supporting) is making it much much easier to convert existing buildings in city centres and develop brownfield sites to residential use by changing the VAT codes. At the moment conversion, repair and alteration of existing buildings for housing all attracts VAT at 20%. New built housing - nada.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 14-Sep-11 14:40:33

And the rural communities that aren't in city centres? They're the places that desperately need new-builds and commerce and the NT wants to pickle them in aspic.

Ormirian Wed 14-Sep-11 14:46:21

I'm with the NT.

I have no faith in the 'local consulation' process. And as for all the sancimonious pontificating the building industry has been doing on the issue - what a fucking joke! As if they are going to give an unbiased disinterested opinion hmm

azazello Wed 14-Sep-11 15:10:18

There are brownfield sites outside city centres. It means any land which has been previously built on either in whole or in part - there are a fair few redundant airfields for example. There are also derelict houses, even in villages.

The proposed planning law will give a presumption that development will be approved anywhere except the green belt, the national park and sites of special interest and the only 'sustainability' argument which will count is economic sustainability. It will completely disregard access to schools, public transport, making best use of land etc - all of which are currently taken into account when determining sustainability.

Most planning applications are approved. Local authorities are under a duty to allocate land to meet the perceived housing needs for their area for the next 20 plus years through the local plan. Developers feed into the local planning process - they nominate sites, they can buy sites which have been allocated for residential development and then they submit applications.

To put it in perspective. 10 years ago, I was working in a professional capacity for a developer wanting planning permission for a residential development of 800 houses. It went to inquiry as it was being decided at the same time as three other applications - in total best part of 4000 houses. So far, about 500 have actually been built as the developers have been selling the land on, arguing again about the planning obligations, deciding they're not going to make enough profit etc.

We really aren't at a stage where this sort of legislation is needed.

SoupDragon Thu 15-Sep-11 09:22:21

You can't just keep on building houses. more people want to live solo? well perhaps they have to accept that they can't unless they want the whole of the UK to end up covered in housing.

A line needs to be drawn somewhere.

SoupDragon Thu 15-Sep-11 09:23:14

yes, make it easier to build on existing brownfield sites etc but leave the green alone.

Ormirian Thu 15-Sep-11 12:04:24

"well perhaps they have to accept that they can't "

or they have to accept that they have to live in apartments rather than houses.

Solopower Sat 17-Sep-11 08:35:58

Can someone explain what 'landbanking' is? I think it's when a developer buys up various plots of land (to stop competitors getting it) but doesn't build on it until they feel they'll make a big enough profit.

If that's happening, then the government should stop it, surely? A little law to say that you only buy land if you intend to build on it within 3 months, say. And if you don't, you have to sell it on to someone who will.

Basically we need more public-spirited developers. Companies who are happy to serve the community (while also employing local people and even making a profit - even if it is not such a big one). We had that once, I believe. It was called council housing. sad

WhollyGhost Sat 17-Sep-11 12:52:38

I expect that the increase in living solo is down to elderly people living longer. I don't know anyone <30 who lives alone. The cost of accomodation is just too high if you did not manage to get on the property ladder before the boom - or into social housing.

"well perhaps they have to accept that they can't "

so how would you make them accept it? The boomer generation are powerful. do you think they'll gladly give up their homes and move into shared accomodation?

The reality is that it is young families who are forced to manage in smaller and smaller spaces sad they are the ones that have to accept they can't afford to live comfortably

WhollyGhost Sat 17-Sep-11 12:54:17

and I guess that the greedy boomers who control the National Trust just think "I'm alright Jack" and smirk when they think how much it would cost to buy their own houses now.

SoupDragon Sat 17-Sep-11 12:56:59

WhollyGhost, do you think we should build on more and more green land then?

WhollyGhost Sat 17-Sep-11 13:52:31

Yes I do. It is not nice, but the alternative is children being raised in ever more cramped circumstances.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 17-Sep-11 13:55:21

I think we should build more full stop. Brownfield, greenfield... After all, there wasn't much there before new towns Milton Keynes, Harlow, the Garden City or Stevenage were created. Someone had some vision but it meant some green land had to be sacrificed when thousands needed rehoming after WWII. But, more recently, we've become very cowardly when it comes to development which is why John Prescott's pledge of 'a million new homes' had to be quietly shelved a few years ago and why young people can't afford homes now.

StuckInTheMiddleWithYou Sat 17-Sep-11 14:06:52

There are dozens of empty luxury apartments on the quayside here - maybe we should start filling them up before we start building on green land?

WhollyGhost Sat 17-Sep-11 14:08:36

I know several families where both parents are professional (e.g. one couple are both teachers) and they can't afford to live somewhere with space for a dining table. Not having a hall means that there is nowhere for prams, coats, boots... no storage space, no space to play.

But for a family, it is arguably better than being at the mercy of landlords' whims, with no security of tenure and no right to make your home your own.

WhollyGhost Sat 17-Sep-11 14:11:59

I think that council tax on empty properties should be higher than on those which are occupied to give owners an added incentive to fill them.

And yes, people in care homes should have their houses sold to help pay for their care. It is very wrong that they sit empty indefinitely, falling into disrepair, so that inheritances can be protected for the priveleged.

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