End Developers’ Right to Appeal say UKIP

The right to appeal against the decisions of government is enshrined in the statute and common law of the UK.  So it’s interesting to look at UKIP’s manifesto for the forthcoming County elections on 2 May.

UKIP hold themselves up to be the party of small government, of low taxation, and of local decision making.  This now goes as far as their proclamation that they will remove the “developers’ right to appeal against local planning decisions”.  So there will be no appeal against the decisions of local planning authorities, irrespective of how flawed that decision may be.  Presumably UKIP will also do away with all national planning guidance (why have it if all decisions are made locally) and remove the developer’s rights to seek remedy at law, for example the right to seek judicial review.  That will be quite a challenge to deliver!

Neighbourhood Planning Community Champions are Top Tip

Lynton and Lynmouth’s Neighbourhood Plan’s Community Champions have been highlighted as a top tip in a Government report.

Back in 2011/12 Lynton Town Council asked Julian and colleague James Shorten to come up with a process for developing their Neighbourhood Plan – one of the initial tranche of frontrunners.

Photo of Lynton and Lynmouth Neighbourhood Planning Community Champions

Underpinning our proposals was the principle of community engagement and making sure that the process was led by the community, not the planners.  One of the actions we proposed was to form a team of Neighbourhood Reps (later renamed Community Champions) to be the face of the process and to take the ideas into the community.  The Champions wouldn’t be councillors or people with official positions, instead they’d just be ordinary people with an interest in what the Plan could achieve.  In the end we recruited about 15 people, mostly by word of mouth.  We met with them, ran briefing sessions for them and over time crafted a team of people who became very influential in the overall shape of the plan.  And the great news is, they’ve now been given recognition by the Government.

The first piece of Government funded research into Neighbourhood Planning  “Neighbourhood Planning The rural frontrunners: research and case studies (April 2013)” has just been published and seeks to show what can be achieved, and what approaches could work or be considered elsewhere.  The research reports that most Neighbourhood Plan areas use “traditional methods such as exhibitions, leafleting, meetings, questionnaires, road shows, social media and websites”, but highlights the Lynton and Lynmouth Community Champions as a top tip for ‘spreading the word and encouraging involvement’.

You can find the report on the DEFRA website.  And more about the Lynton and Lynmouth plan at lynplan.org.uk

Cash for Houses

This from DCLG. Not sure if it is desperation, empowerment or what, but it is clear that the move is towards greater benefits for growth areas (especially edge of city) while more remote and undeveloped areas will lose out when it comes to funding “to re-roof a village hall, refurbish a municipal pool or take over a community pub”.


Communities to receive cash boost for choosing development

10 January 2013

Communities that tackle the legacy of inadequate house-building and choose to accept new housing will benefit directly from generous cash incentives, Planning Minister Nick Boles has announced.

Neighbourhoods that take a proactive approach by drawing up a neighbourhood development plan, and securing the consent of local people in a referendum, will receive 25 percent of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from the development that they choose to accept.

This cash boost will be paid directly to parish and town councils and can be used to back the community’s priorities – for example to re-roof a village hall, refurbish a municipal pool or take over a community pub.

Neighbourhoods without a neighbourhood development plan but where the levy is still charged will still receive a capped 15 percent share of the levy revenue arising from development in their area.

Communities without a parish or town council will still benefit from this incentive, with the local planning authority retaining it and spending it in accordance with the wishes of the community.

The Coalition Government believes that communities need to be persuaded that development is in everyone’s interest and that incentives are key to getting the homes built that we both need for today and for future generations.

The Government has also made clear that planning should encourage the effective use of land, including brownfield land that is not of high environmental value. The majority of all new homes – 76 per cent of those completed in 2010 – were built on brownfield land. But this will not be enough and the Government says some undeveloped (aka greenfield – ed) land will need to be made available for house-building.

Nick Boles said: “This Government is determined to persuade (force? – ed) communities to accept more house-building by giving them a tangible share of the benefits it brings.

“By undertaking a neighbourhood plan that makes space for new development, communities can secure revenues to make the community more attractive for everyone.”


More funding for neighbourhood plans

The government has announced £17m of additional funding over the next two years for neighbourhood planning.

From 2 January 2013 local planning authorities are able to claim up to a maximum of £50,000 (up from £20,000) for up to 10 area designations (applies to 2012/13).

From 1 April 2013 local planning authorities will be able to claim for up to 20 designations (£100,000) in the financial year 2013 to 2014.

In total, local planning authorities can claim up to £30,000 for each neighbourhood plan.  (This is £10,000 more than was received by the first front runners announced in May 2011). The first payment of £5,000 will be made following designation of a neighbourhood area recognising the officer time supporting and advising the community in taking forward a neighbourhood plan. The second payment of £5,000 will be made when the local planning authority publicises the neighbourhood plan prior to examination. The third payment of £20,000 will be made on successful completion of the neighbourhood planning examination.

This money recognises the duties that local authorities have in relation to neighbourhood planning. These are to: provide advice and assistance; to hold an examination; and to make arrangements for a referendum.

Businesses to get a vote on Neighbourhood Plans

The Localism Act 2011 gives local communities a far greater say on planning, enabling them to take a bigger role in shaping their local areas through Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders.

But a little known provision in the Act (Schedule 10 S.15 (3)) also gives businesses a vote in the referendum that will decide whether these plans or orders come into effect.  Business referendums will only happen in areas which are wholly or predominantly commercial in character (as defined by the local council under S.61H), but clearly raise many issues:

  • Will it be one business one vote or will big businesses get more than one vote? It seems to suggest it is one vote per business address.
  • What happens if a town centre plan developed and supported by local businesses gets voted down by local residents?  It doesn’t stop them applying for planning permission in the traditional way, but it sets up a significant tension.
  • What happens if a plan popular with residents is voted down by businesses owned by corporations based far away?  Maybe unlikely given that the corporations will only have one vote each, but you never know!

This is untested water, for businesses have never before been given a vote alongside residents on the electoral role.  But I’m not sure how much work has actually been put into considering how it will function, or how the contradictions are going to be resolved.

Neighbourhood Planning – the private sector view

Interesting perspective from Alder King on neighbourhood planning:

“a critical flaw in the process is the need for a Neighbourhood Plan to be adopted following a referendum at the end of the planning process. Placing such a critical hurdle at the end of what will be a costly and protracted process will we suspect deter community groups from taking part. Furthermore, on the basis that any Neighbourhood Plan must maintain conformity with Local Plans, and therefore cannot be used as a means to challenge development, again may deter community groups from engaging with the neighbourhood planning process….. There is a real risk that the only sectors of the community able to engage in the process will be those who have the deepest pockets and the ability to shout the loudest.”

Find the full article at Property News.

Carriageworks CPO given go-ahead

Yesterday Bristol City Council gave the go-ahead to start compulsory purchase proceedings on the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House on Stokes Croft.

The CPO process is supported by the Community Vision which 2MD facilitated.  Speaking at the Council’s Cabinet meeting, Cllr Anthony Negus described the vision as “encouraging and stimulating” and containing “not just pie in the sky but very very practical ways forward”.  He said that the Vision was “a model of consultation and engagement” in Bristol and that he commended everyone who had been involved. “I hope we learn by this process; the City will benefit by all of this”.

Cllr Jon Rogers went on to thank Lori, Simon, Julian and Hugh by name and added that it had been “a tremendous consultation not witnessed before…. The process was one that is inspiring”.

That’s a nice way to start the long weekend!

Lynton neighbourhood plan moves forward

I was at a well attended meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan in Lynton and Lynmouth last night where we brought together the neighbourhood reps (who are doing much of the work) and the town councillors (who will eventually approve the plan).

Lots of good feedback about how the first phase consultation went – 140 responses (not bad given that there are only about 700 households) although the focus on affordable housing clearly confused some people or made them think it wasn’t relevent to them.  There was also a strong response from local businesses saying that the plan must address the need for local jobs.

We also debated the issue of second homes – they push up prices and stand empty for much of the year so can undermine the socio-economic structure of the local community.  As a result, “the town is dying” one person said, noting that the primary school will only have six children enrolling in September!  Addressing the issue of second homes will require primary legislation – but will the Government have a stomach for it? This prompted someone to speculate on how many MPs have second homes!

We now have to plan a series of workshops with the neighbourhood reps where we will really dig into the information we’ve gathered and start working up proposals for the town.  Our initial focus will be on actions i.e. what we want to achieve.  We’ll then work out what policies we need to enable the actions happen.

Nigel Kersey from DCLG came along to observe and at the end told us that we were one of the better frontrunners.  “Your’re all doing very well” he said. Nice!

Public praise for 2MD consultation

The work that Hugh and Julian did at the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House has been praised in the Bristol Evening Post.  Cllr Dr Jon Rogers said “this was one of the best consultations that I have been involved in. Thanks are due to the consultation facilitators, Julian Mellor and Hugh Nettelfield from 2MD Regeneration Ltd.”

Read the full article at http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk.

Carriageworks Community Vision launched

Community Vision for the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House on Stokes Croft, Bristol was launched last night at an exhibition hosted by the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft.  Working with the project Stakeholder and Steering Groups 2MD facilitated the whole consultation process and produced the final vision. It’s been widely applauded for the way in which it has drawn together some quite dispirate communities and ambitions, and developed a cohesive set of ideas for the site.

This is what some people have been saying:

“Lots of people are stunned that we are going to them to ask what should be done. You guys are doing an absolutely amazing job and should be smiling ear to ear. We wanted exemplary public consultation of the sort never seen before and you guys are brining it. Thank you SO much.”

“Just been to your event this evening, very interesting. I look forward to the next stage in the renaissance of Stokes Croft, well done all of you: especially those who do the difficult work of brokering and negotiating different, strongly held, judgments: more of that will be needed if this all works!”

“You have done a nice job on this. Kudos.”

“Saw the excellent community vision last night. Well done to everyone at Carriageworks Action Group”

The exhibition is on for a week so, if you’re able, call in at Jamaica St studios, Bristol.

photo outside exhibition at New Gallery, Jamaica St, Bristol

Photo from Launch of Community Vision at New Gallery, Jamaica St, Bristol

Photo from Launch of Carriageworks Community Vision

photo from Launch of Carriageworks Community Vision

“Godwin is one of the most creative spirits of this century”