What Happened To Localism?




From the Telegraph yesterday:

Tens of thousands of new homes in greenfield areas in England will be given automatic planning permission amid fears that communities will have inappropriate developments forced on them.

Ministers have quietly given developers the right to be granted “planning in principle” in areas that are earmarked for new housing schemes.

Rural campaigners said the new powers will restrict the rights of council planning officers to ensure that the design, density, size and location of homes is in keeping with local areas.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to protect Rural England, said: “?The country needs more house building, but the way to achieve this is through well-planned developments that win public consent. Imposing development without local democratic oversight is a recipe for discord.

The full article is here.

We think this quote is particularly jarring:

Brandon Lewis, the Housing Minister, said: ?Our planning reforms have put an end to the top-down system of the past that pitted neighbours against developers, and instead put power back in the hands of local people.

?The Housing Bill means permission would be granted in principle where land has been identified for housebuilding in local and neighbourhood plans and on brownfield land ? but developers will still need to submit details of what they plan to build and how it will look for approval before they can put spades in the ground.

?And with over 80 per cent of councils having published a local plan, and over 100 communities having developed neighbourhood plans, it means millions of people will have a direct say over how their area is developed.?

Meanwhile this article on the BBC website shows how private developers may wish to slow down development on their sites:

Ebbsfleet, in Kent, would appear to be an ideal development opportunity, as estate agents put it.

In the Thames Estuary, it’s just 17 minutes from central London via high-speed rail, the giant Bluewater shopping centre is a short drive away and there’s planning permission for 15,000 new homes in a lovely landscaped setting.

And yet, eight years after construction started, there are only 350 housing units on this giant empty site, which was once four quarries.

That’s partly down to the recession and partly down to the way property developers work.

In a revealing article published last year, Francis Salway, former chief executive of the largest listed property company in the UK, Land Securities, explained that developers don’t relish huge empty sites like the former quarries at Ebbsfleet.

They like “established demand” and “existing communities”, he wrote, which prove people really do want to live there. The developers like to “limit the forthcoming supply” – that is, to ration how many homes come on to the market at one time so that the market is not flooded.

They don’t like long projects which risk being hit by a downturn and they don’t like high “up front” costs – cleaning up sites and building new roads and sewage plants.

About the author, admin

  • What Localism Act ? – it was always a sham ( pre-election smoke and mirrors ) ,
    now back in power we are seeing the oiling of the wheels to speed up the progress . We’ll be doffing our caps to the landed gentry next…..wake up England.

  • Localism a sham? Thats just the tip of the Iceberg. Local democracy is a sham. The public vote to give the few paid jobs to represent us. Instead they represent themselves by doing their paymasters bidding. Absolutely pointless. Local democracy is dead, unless you are on the gravy train. We get to pay the good old boys salaries though. Localism = tory doublespeak

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