The new Planning system

Let us welcome the idea of a simple map setting out general uses for land in each designated area of a Local Plan. Let us also agree the government needs to cut inward migration and prevent people trafficking.

The government suggests 3 categories on a map. One is Growth, the second is Renewal and the third is Protection.  Growth implies more or less any development is fine in principle, though subject to design and density requirements to be set in the Local Plan. Renewal we are told implies rebuild, change of use or some “gentle densification”. Protection implies keeping areas green with little or no building.

Maybe the government should look at three other use categories instead. They could demark land for housing, land for commercial development be it retail or industrial estate, and land for green gaps, farming and outdoor leisure for sports fields and other green spaces. I am all in favour of eroding the current complex uses classes and allowing greater freedom for building owners to flex from retail to homes or to industry. There do need to be special controls on the location of industrial businesses or leisure businesses that create noise or other nuisance, so they do not conflict with housing areas. Adjusting their categories, they could make it clear Growth includes employment sites as well as housing sites, whilst Renewal might like to stay more in keeping with current uses and styles of development.

The big issue to be resolved is the process of forming the Map, and the extent to which local wishes will be fully reflected in the results. The present system is deeply distrusted and disliked for the simple reason that the compromise which is a local Plan is soon broken by appeal decisions, forcing fast growing communities to absorb more housing development than they wanted. In communities that lack growth and investment the same process fails to lift the area to attract the new people and new investment they need to boost living standards and enterprise.

There is enthusiasm for levelling up both in  the fast growth areas suffering from too much building, and in  the slow and no growth areas desperate for new investment. How will this new system level up? What does it bring to the areas without investment that will drive a better distribution of building around the country? The government needs to make sure this is not just a new variant of systems to increase the pace of housebuilding in areas that are already relatively well off.

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  1. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the first priority should be to stop the forced destruction of existing facilities? Team Valley on the outskirts of Newcastle, a mixed industrial/megastore retail park has been decimated by owners knocking down warehouse facilities because they could not afford to pay the rates when they were empty. So while the area might retain its planning designation, having to unnecessarily rebuild it every time we go around the boom/bust roundabout. Is a serious and very annoying waste of resources.
    We need to enforce the age old Government policy of Repatriation of illegal immigrants no matter how long they have been hiding. Their children must go with them. Until we do this they will continue to come because any idiot can outwit Boris – assuming he’s honest about his desire to stop the flood.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      You said that you would demolish your properties if you didn’t get your own way, Lynn.

      Come on.

    • jerry
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      @Lynn Atkinson; Yes UBR needs to be revisited, to rip a roof off a building simply because currently there is no tenant with little prospect of one in the near future meaning the owner can not afford to pay the rates bill on the property is madness, no one would accept a Landlord of a house acting in such a way due to govt stupidity – replacing direct income/turnover taxation with indirect and stealth taxes – yet it appears acceptable to impair future industrial/commerce growth!

      VAT and other taxes (as applicable to the building trades) also needs to be revisited, how can it ever be cheaper to build new than rebuild/restore an older building.

      As for your nonsense about migrant, find a clue, whilst they are obviously a problem on other fronts they are not causing the current planning/building issues.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      This witless government is too afraid of the media to repatriate anybody

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I agree with your suggestion that current planning regs are formulised to identify and categorise owners and type of property to enable government to tax it…..its about control and revenue collection

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    The system certainly need to be relaxed and made simpler, cheaper and quicker. I am not sure this proposal is the right way to go though. I am still reading though it and thinking but it doesn’t look like a good plan to me so far.

    Excellent piece by Charles Moore today:- The Germans don’t worship their health service ­– that’s why it’s better than ours. A decentralised system that is not prey to party politics has given the country a great advantage

    Not that the German system is remotely perfect but hugely better than ours.

    I just check on the more recent deaths per case in Germany and the UK from the end of May to date. 2% in Germany and 12.7% in the UK. Had the UK health system performed as well as Germany’s we would have had 1300 deaths rather than 8300 over this period. The message seems to be if you get it go to a German hospital asap. The NHS is not learning from other much.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

      Simon Jenkins seems to think the planning proposals are dreadful.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      The UK has some of the laxest planning law in Europe, and a now byzantine system of privatised building “control” – involving the industry itself – which gives us disasters like the Grenfell Tower outrage, and the many similar death traps over the country.

      Counter-intuitively perhaps, this also sustains ridiculously high property prices. The fundamental component of them is land prices, and these are grossly inflated precisely because profiteering by shoddy development is so very easy.

      The landowners want their share of that pile of loot, thanks very much, and off the cycle goes.

      But the greedy always want more, and with the Tories they are used to getting things their own way.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Is ‘building control’ privatised Martin in the UK, I thought it was the local council that did planning and building control?

        Wasn’t Grenfell mainly Council housing? I read some people bought their Council flat in Grenfell but who was in charge of the building and shared areas and did the people that bought their flat have to contribute to the upkeep and the insurance of the building like private flat builders do?

        Is it the private sector that passed the materials used on Grenfell Tower as fit for purpose and did it have the EU pass mark or not? I hadn’t read that.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          Councils cannot afford to keep the necessary staff on the payroll, and are often compelled to outsource the work to private “consultancies”, which themselves may have connections with construction and development undertakings.

          The whole thing becomes very opaque, and assigning responsibility near-impossible.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 9, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

            Council staff numbers in my area rising every year.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Grenfell was failing of the state sector from beginning to end with few exceptions. They owned the building, clad it for green crap religion reasons, did this totally incompetently and then the fire risk officers, building control failed and fire brigade senior officers idiotically sent people back to their flats.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          Yes, and all crime is the fault of the State too, because its police fail to stop it all.

  3. Adam
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    A map showing where it is safe to walk on the street would be a good start.

    Protection should come first, before growth of worse.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Yes, Owen Jones would have found that very useful.

      But I assume that by “safe” you mean free of the danger of hearing anyone speak a language other than English, rather than from risk of violent assault?

      • agricola
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        In most cases the areas are synonimous.

      • Adam
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Safety is a wider issue than your erroneous narrow assumption can reach.

    • Andy
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      That would be a map of literally the entire country.

  4. agricola
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    You can agree whatever you like, but until you actually do something it is just politicians indulging in fart speak, which I define as much verbal noise resulting in nothing tangible. The art of using up much broadcasting time, but saying nothing. Farage will have his day yet.

    • jerry
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      @agricola; “The art of using up much broadcasting time, but saying nothing. Farage will have his day yet.”

      Many would argue he already has, you have Charactered his skill to a tee…

      • agricola
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Jerry, NF has never been in a position of real power to carry through his ideas. He has however at times offered th British people choices, ie:- do you wish to belong to the EU and would you prefer to be represented by the main political parties in the EU or by me. He gained a resounding No and Yes in both instances.

        Both main parties in the UK are under pressure to perform. One does not know what it stands for after its flirtation with Marxism. The current government is torn between retaining its support in the country and that of its funders in the establishment. For instance, much talk of correcting its citizens “Boris Mass Index” but the reality is tinkering on the fringe of the problem. When the food manufacturing industry and the retail industry are directed to sell only healthy food I will take note and accept that they are serious. It is ironic that UK citizens were at their healthiest in the 1939/1950 rationing period, in terms of BMI. A further step would be the mandatory inclusion of periods of vigorous exercise during the school working week. This is merely one instance where rhetoric flows but action is not discernable. I suspect that NF actually means what he says.

        • jerry
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          @agricola; “NF

          I had to stop and think for a moment, just who you were referring to…

          “[Mr Faraage] has never been in a position of real power to carry through his ideas.”

          Nonsense, nor was Corbyn, but he came very close to being elected PM, Farage couldn’t even get elected to parliament. More to the point, I believe he chose not to get elected, there were constituencies he could have won, but he went after the high profile seats that had offered little chance of winning but allowed maximum publicity. Farage knew his power base was always the EP – might also explain why he announced the Brexit referendum lost so early into the night…

    • Fred H
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I hope Farage is keeping his powder dry, waiting for the battle to take shape, with clearer identification of who the sides are. What on earth do LibnoDems want to do, and what WILL they do with any power? Labour full of minority ‘movements’, spent idealists, ancient deluded commies, and seemingly only a handful of respectable socialists left enduring the hostile knifing that epitomises the party.

      So what is the Conservative Party? A broad sprinkly of old G&T swillers, older experienced sages, ignored feet on the ground realists, change promoters, isolationists, a very large slice of closet Remainers hiding true views to keep the comfortable seat? Perhaps as evidenced by the choice of PM, now 3 times running, a majority of MPs are running scared in the face of significant trouble amongst the electorate. The Eton ‘intelligensia, the safe but untrustworthy vicar’s kid, the jolly prankster’. Stand up the real Conservative, we can’t see you!

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    An excellent and very worrying Spectator podcast “Holly Smoke” on the Vatican’s links with China that I have just listened too.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Speed is the most important for planning reform. If Boris want to win an election in 4 years time we need more planning approvals now and mechanical diggers in the ground quickly. Houses take time to plan & build. Especially with all the red tape and over the top & green crap building regulations and the rest. We also all need the stamp duty holiday to be made permanent and the higher rates to be cut too.

    • Peter
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Four out of eleven posts this morning, Lifelogic.

      You are definitely back in business again.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      When people realise what a devastating attack on local democracy these changes are, they may rightly make that known at the ballot box.

      This is utterly counter to any claims to “localism” on the part of the Tories.

      The control of the built environment in which people live is to be taken out of the hands of their locally-elected representatives, and put into the hands of private developers – as a sector, of Tory donors, that is.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      House Builders already have land banks with approval for all the UK’s needs for the next 10 years. So is approval that has to be speeded up or the Builders having the motivation to get on and build.

    • graham1946
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      The builders already have a million plan approved units to be built but are not doing it. Plenty of houses going up around my local market town – population about 20,000, new houses 4,000 so far with more land under planning and not a single road or piece of new infrastructure. The builders say they will put in drainage on flood plain then renege saying it is too expensive. They say they will build social housing, then halfway through the build of ‘executive’ homes say they won’t. The planning permission means nothing and the council cannot afford to take them to hold them to account, knowing the establishment will side with the builders. Planning permission slack enough for you?

      • Ian @Barkham
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Its the same through out the country.

        It is not local planning, its not anything other than virtual signaling by the government. This Government has forgotten that they are the problem not the solution. There is no reasoning to even broch the subject unless they intend to demonstrate how out of touch with there own dictates, rules and plain stupidness.

        The objection by local communities is the inability to create a proper infrastructure first. Put the local communities in charge, they will expand and thrive.

        Lets build a cart someone will invent a horse.

  7. Mark B
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Are there any ‘real world’ examples of what this government is proposing, or is this more blue sky thinking ?

    For ordinary people things are very simple, but for the politician, and especially the Civil Serpent, things must be as complex as possible in order to extract the maximum amount of time processing it.

    We do not need a map ! What we need is to say quite clearly that there will be no more people allowed to settle here for the next 10 years and that all Illegals will either be returned to their last place of origin or, interned on a remote Scottish Island until there application for asylum can be processed. Very simple and all doable. And if you started 10 years ago when you first came into office you’d wouldn’t have the problems now !

    Finally. Because things take so long to implement the risk of another party coming in and changing and implementing a new policy, so basically returning us back to where we started.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Scottish Islands would be a good idea to house illegal immigrants whilst being processed. They are not asylum seekers, they are illegals (just as I would be if I turned up on a US beach with no identification), so they should be held in custody until they can be identified and returned to their own country. Make it a condition of having diplomatic relations with the UK that any country must take responsibility for its citizens and take them back.
      Until this is done, the smuggling trade will continue. I bet recent events have already stimulated many more to embark on their journey.
      It’s no good expecting France doing anything about the cross-channel human trafficking trade, we need our own solution.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Dave the only problem with your suggestion is that Sturgeon would never allow it. She’s all for immigrants. Trouble is most of them abscond to England.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        It would be cheap to buy a north of Scotland football ground, convert to detention centre. Install thin tents on pitch. Transfer illegals to said location. The weather and tasteless porridge, followed by midday cold haggis would soon have them pleading to be given another dingy at Dover to go back.

    • IanT
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Yes, I’m afraid to say that if we cannot really stop people risking their lives coming across the channel, then it must be made unattractive to do so. The most obvious solution would be to simply return them to France. If we really cannot do that, then the Australian system of off-shore internment would be another option. Better than running out of 4-Star hotels rooms.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        It is sad but unless you have some very real deterrents they will just keep coming. The government might as well put a huge sign on the chalk cliffs at Dover saying come, come, come – all economic refugees are welcome to the UK.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Yes South Africa was run this way. Residential zones, industrial zones and retail/business zones. Everything else ‘protected’, no two houses the same – none of this ‘dull grey uniformity’. You could build what you lied as long as it complied with building regs. – PS 10% income tax too – the week lost it of course, it was not ours in the first place, it’s Africa.

  8. agricola
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Politicians are largely owners of dying retail shops that sell goods that are unwanted. The customers have gone elsewhere. Until you actually respond to customer need they will retain the initiative and control. You do nothing to control immigration, a BBC that acts as a tax collector, or the extremely expensive green lobby that you pray to and deny us cheap energy. Just to mention three items. Until your shop is full of goods we want to buy you are a waste of retail space. We the buying public will do whatever we feel we need to mitigate your presense.

    • Peter
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Except politicians are effectively monopoly retailers.

      There is nowhere else to go.

      The established two party system is still in place whether you like it or not. Corbyn and May almost managed to destroy their parties but they survived – though it was a close run thing.

      They don’t want to control the items you mention. If they did there is a simple solution. Viktor Orban completely controls the first in Hungary, despite pressure from much bigger neighbouring countries.

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Pungent comment which should have resulted in three direct hits, . . . . but only if there are any politicians awake and listening.
      Strength to the writing hand of Peter Hitchens.

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink


    • JoolsB
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Priti Patel talks tough on immigration but this Government have done absolutely nothing about it. Boris is actually on record as wanting to give amnesty to illegals. Meanwhile, we hear the BBC are forking out £800 million of our money to enforce over 75s pay their licence fee that so far has been free to them because there’s no money to cover them. You just couldn’t make it up.
      And all the while this pathetic toothless Government sit by and allow it to happen.

      • graham1946
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        8oo million spent to collect 750 million. About right.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Interesting take on current events – which I totally agree with

  9. Everhopeful
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    A new planning system?
    Seems to me that the govt. even more intent of the total ruination of this country, is again delving into the past for ideas. Just tack on an extra storey or two to house the growing family.
    Except that a 1930s ( or later) house with two more floors will not look quaint and beautiful like a Tudor one does.
    Imagine if your neighbour doubled the height of his house. Skyscrapers in suburban streets.
    Does Boris have ANY idea what he is doing?
    Except making panicky room for migrants.

    That Bullingdon Club photo makes so much sense now.
    Arrogantly surveying all they planned to destroy.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Oh..and just a thought.
      What a strange time to be fussing about planning…when we are “fighting a virus”!!
      Surely the economy-wrecking malady should take priority??
      Surely the sole focus should be on releasing the population from mask-servitude?
      Are there even any builders well enough to lay a single brick?

      • Mark B
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        You forget that the central plank of this government is to, “Level Up !”. We thinks we know what that means ? It means to raise the poorest to the richest, a noble cause you might think until start asking exactly how they intend to do that ? Here is a clue :

        “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”

        Where in the world where this tenant has been practiced has it ever worked except for those in power and their backers ? 😉

        • Everhopeful
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Haha! Oh yes I agree.
          Trajectory is only ever down.
          That’s what “equality” means. (Tax,tax,tax).
          Equally poor!
          And I guess that this releases a great deal of dosh to rise up into the 1%’s pockets?

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Ever hopeful. What a strange time to be tackling so called climate change too when the country is broke and so many people will be struggling to put bread and gruel on the table let alone worrying about electric cars and boilers. We simply cannot build houses quickly enough with the level of illegal immigrants coming at the moment. It was refreshing to hear a council leader say they cannot afford it much more. Are we all going to have to pay more council taxes only to find services lacking because the extra money has had to go on providing accommodation for people who turn up on our doorstep expecting everything? Our own citizens deserve more. Our elderly and our veterans and our children must come first. People are really becoming concerned at the level of incompetence from your government John and at the ballot next time I truly hope I can put my tick on the Brexit Party or whatever it’s new name will be.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink


      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        Why oh why would you need a builder? – oh yes – the little matter of houses for foreign freeloaders wanting – AND GETTING – a life on our taxes for doing nothing – while we get told to accept it, and get threatened with arrest, jail, fines and a record.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink


    • hefner
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Sir John’s last paragraph: ‘There is enthusiasm for levelling up both in the fast growth areas suffering from too much building, and in the slow and no growth areas desperate for new investment’. Wonderful to see how the English language can be so flexible that ‘levelling up’ can mean two opposite things at the same time (specially for politicians). We are getting into Alice in Wonderland territory: levelling up and going forward.

  10. Nigl
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Last paragraph absolutely. HMG should flex its targets to ‘force’ redistribution. Are these Free Trade areas real or another government mirage? If so get them up and running. Flex as the push, jobs = housing need, as the pull. What about using corporation tax to attract large companies subject to location in strictly defined areas?

    No doubt there will be more froth about what is happening in the Channel. Maybe people should now stop venting and offer achievable solutions, politically and legally. HMG has hung itself by spinning furiously and transparently, like the risible suggestion of using the Navy.

    They never learn it is ‘the cover up’ that causes the problem. Upfront honesty about the difficulties would have given us a better understanding and garnered even some sympathy.

    Gung ho solutions patently not workable and evidentially achieving nothing, certainly do the opposite as we now see.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I don’t believe its risible to use the Royal Navy in a survey, support and force projection role

      They have the means, capability and resources to continually put to sea ships that can identify at distance small boats and the network to communicate with border force and the French Navy (which are used)

      They have the means to rescue small boats, even take passengers and return them safely to Franch

      Its only a big problem if you make it so

      And it sends the right signal to others

      • Nigl
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        And the French are going to be happy with our navy in their waters and take these people back?

        Get real.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think I said anywhere in my comments that the Royal Navy should patrol the French waters

  11. Andy
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The trouble with any system is that nimbyism is now a way of life in this country – particularly, it must be said, among Conservative and older voters.

    Of course we need new homes – but not in my backyard. Of course we need a new school – but not here. New runway? Yes but somewhere else.

    Neighbour wants an extension? “But my light! It blocks the Sun from my utility room!” Our system really has become as pathetic as that.

    We are brainwashed into objecting to things. Indeed, I once objected to a plan near us. It didn’t actually affect my home but it did affect my neighbour and I objected to support him. They built it anyway and it has zero impact on either of us. I learned a lesson not to object again.

    What we really need to do is to work backwards. How many people in the country? How many households? This is how many homes we need. This is how many schools we need, how many hospitals, this is where we need them.

    We tell Council X you need 500 new homes. 100 detached, 200 semi-detached, the rest apartments – Council X then decides in consultation with locals where to build them. Council X loses all of its central government funding if it fails.

    We also need a ‘cash for bangers’ type scheme for houses. Perhaps pensions who trade down from houses which are too big for them get a stamp duty reduction on their new apartments. Get older people out of the massive detached homes and into apartments and put families the other way around. Easy.

    Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Your party and indeed every Tory MP are avoiding a multitude of existential issues with this planning nonsense issue.

    Farage has exposed you and he’s done it at considerable risk to himself. I admire that refusal to bow down to the authortiarian left unlike your party’s embrace of it.

    Thanks for destroying our nation, our freedoms and exposing us to vicious identity politics whose aim is to destroy all that we are

    If Trump falls in Nov the west will be consumed by a form of politics that will lead to dislocation

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      correct – We’d never know about the use of 4*hotels up and down the country if it wasn’t for Nigel Farage

  13. Alan Jutson
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Having read a number of Wokingham Council members comments on Social media yesterday about these new proposals, it would seem they are not too keen on them at all Aware you made comment about trying to protect certain areas in answer to my comment yesterday, but exactly who is going to choose to label all of these area categories of land, who will have the final say, and will developers still be able to appeal.

    Aware these are just proposals, but it would seem to me that central Government will hold all of the key decisions, and the Local Council will simply have to get on with it, and manage development agreed by some faceless person in London as best they can.

  14. Bryan Harris
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    “Protection implies keeping areas green with little or no building. “

    Shouldn’t we include design quality in that?

    Building low cost housing shouldn’t result in the creation of slums, but all too often it has…. Huge wandering council estates are often a blight, add to the dowdiness of an area and create the effect of being impoverished.
    If we have to build low quality it should at least be surrounded by a big wall or trees or something to isolate it’s infectious nature.

  15. Alan Jutson
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I would think the last thing we all need is more housing density, far too many new builds have rooms that are too small, windows too small, gardens (if lucky enough to have one) too small, too few parking places with narrow pavements and roads.

    Given the huge increase in lightweight materials now being used on modern construction, many seem to fail the test of time remarkably quickly before needing refurbishment.

    Are flood plains now going to be recognised as such, or are we still going to flood them with houses, which nature tends to claim back every few years.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Flood plains used to be sometimes flooded with water, in recent years they have been generally flooded with concrete and tarmac.

  16. JayGee
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    “The big issue to be resolved is the process of forming the Map, and the extent to which local wishes will be fully reflected in the results. ”

    How will the opinions of local residents be sought? How will ‘local wishes’ be fully reflected if opinions are not sought?

  17. The Prangwizard
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Sir John, much as you would wish, we cannot be diverted from the mass illegal immigration emergency. Nothing is being done, except talk. BBC this morning said Priti Useless had ‘called on’ France to take more action to stop it. Is that it? Tough? You must be joking. It’s only the French who are laughing.

    Government and everyone who does should stop referring to a ‘sustainable level’ of all immigration. When government speaks about it they are deceiving us all
    again. We have got past the numbers where any more is acceptable. On the contrary we must begin mass deportations.

    And may I congratulate ‘agricola’ on his expression ‘fart speak’. Boris and the whole government is full of that.

    And to end on topic. The planning reforms will be another disaster for us ordinary people.

    • JoolsB
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink


  18. Everhopeful
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Talking about planning.
    How very dovetailed that hotels etc are closed down just at the time when loads of newcomers come paddling across the Channel.
    Change of use really …hotels to hostels?
    Is this even legal under present rules?
    I note that the new “planning” seeks to facilitate change of use.
    Très convenient.
    Promise after promise re reducing immigration.
    And they can’t do it…because of all the compacts etc they have covertly signed up to.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Everhopeful, this government and the previous one got elected on false promises to control immigration. As you say very serendipitous this close down of hotels now repurposed at our expense, especially the suspiciously long lockdown and the public sector being the ones reluctant to get restarted and back to work! I bet a high percentage of them are off on their holidays for the month of August. All allowed to stay home on full pay, stuffing their mouths with cash to keep them quiet.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      As Sir John says ”we just don’t believe you”

  19. Nigl
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    The late great Tony Pidgely had very clear views that the market needed very serious reform to end the ‘contrived shortages’ created by the large house builders and how to achieve it.

    Sadly this seems that have failed to sort out this structural problem and are now fiddling around the edges, ‘pushing the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic’ is the impression I am getting.

  20. turboterrier
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    For many of us it is not the fear of developing areas regardless of its designation. It is the total lack of infrastructure to support it and not add to the burden of the surrounding areas.

    Sadly if the current people who are in charge of planning and development of their areas is anything to go on with past performances , then we have not a cat in hell’s chance of getting it right to accommodate the ever increasing population illegal and otherwise.

    It is that line in the sand moment for both politicians and public service organisation to get a grip, get it got with sensible, manageable projects with all the long term infrastructure to maintain it and not become a burden to the rate payers or just clear their desks and walk away Fot too long the taxpayers have been screwed rotten by people paid very high salaries that produce nothing.

  21. alastair harris
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Perhaps try and solve the actual problems? The main one being how long it takes to get planning and the somwhat arbitrary decisions the planners make. If the rules were clear then it should be simple enough to grant and enforce. The other problem with property at the moment is past building regulations decisions that have made a large numbers of buildings worthless

  22. jerry
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    OT; With an increasing R#, now nationally at R1 (from below 0.8), with whole swaths of the UK now in local lock-downs, or in danger of having them imposed, when will the govt admit their reopening strategy was wrong?!

    When will they re-close the pubs and eat-in restaurants – perhaps even impose a Staycation mandate (preferably in the original meaning of the portmanteau) this summer and early Autumn.

    The govt wants as much commerce open as possible, it has started to tapper the various income protection schemes to achieve this, they have also decided getting all children physically back into schools is important, something clearly has to give…or we will be staring another national lock-down in the face just in time for Christmas.

    • Sinclair C5
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      You give Andy.
      You told me at the start of this I would have loved ones lost to Covid. The only thing I lost is my job thanks to your communist coup disguised as a virus. The games up old bean.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        The Tories have a majority of EIGHTY.

        They own every decision to act or to do nothing in relation to this epidemic – no one else, least of all any commenter here, especially those whom you keep calling by the wrong name for some weird reason.

    • Sinclair C5
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink


    • a-tracy
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Perhaps that is the plan jerry, a lockdown in October, kick the WA into the grass until after the American election.

      Hospital admittance is down, less than 1 person with covid per hospital in England, more people now recovering instead of the NHS giving treatments that didn’t work.

      To me, and things I’ve read and been told, we have imported thousands of covid 19 patients, some going straight from airport to hospital, other’s going to family homes for visits and big celebrations, then going shopping in big malls and not following the rules infecting the workers there and spreading the virus once again.

      This time we must protect care homes, but how can we monitor the workers in those care homes, this time perhaps the patients should wear a mask and visor other than if they require feeding (only to be done by tested covid free care home workers), when being washed or someone needs to come within 2m of them!

  23. RichardP
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    It sounds as though the “simple” plan is becoming more complex by the day. The Government are still treating the map of Britain like a grotesque board game, looking for places to shovel huge quantities of houses and warehouses.

    I would like to hear more about transport, electricity supply, where all the water will come from and how we will get to see a qualified doctor rather than waiting in a telephone queue.

    The Government seems to be fascinated with Hong Kong, is that what the South East of England will look like in a few years time?

  24. Andy
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I must admit I find the Tory hard right dinghy-gate fiasco really quite amusing. It was oh so easy for the Brexiteers to deal with this problem when they were whinging from the back benches. Now they have taken over the government the problem has got worse and the Home Secretary is now saying it is ‘complex’ and she wants France to help.

    France did help. EU rules allowed us to return migrants to the EU country they arrived in. And ……. you left the EU. You literally scrapped the rules which enabled you to legally deport asylum seekers. In the words of the great American philosopher Homer Simpson, “D’oh.”

    So now you are going to use the Navy. But there’s a problem there too. Under international law when migrants are found in British waters it is our legal duty to look after them. British ships can’t operate in French waters without France’s permission. It turns out France wants to protect its territorial waters as much as Brexiteers want to protect theirs. And and its narrowest point French and British territorial waters meet in the middle of the Channel. So our Navy can only get involved in our waters and when migrants are in our waters we have a legal duty under international law to help. Oops.

    Perhaps you all should have been nicer to France?

    Anyway, if you think it is bad for Brexiteers now wait til a migrant boat sinks and people on board drown. At that point there’s a public inquiry and things get really interesting. It turns out the grown up world is a hard place.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Ah, Andy reveals what this is all about, we’ve not left yet Andy, we can still return people to France from whence they came and we must. Just another bid from remainers and the EU.

      Just what did Mrs May and the last two conservative governments sign up to John allowing John?

    • Fred H
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Migrant dinghies (boats?) have already sunk and the occupants drowned. France has happily allowed the massive increase of sales, and those of paddles and shovels at the coast to the expoiting gangs.

    • beresford
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      You’ve got the wrong end of the stick here, Andy. Under normal international law we would be able (in theory anyway) to return them to France. But EU law says we have to return them to the point where they entered the EU, and the migrants are coached not to divulge that information.

      We are told by those who say the crossing is dangerous that migrants ARE drowning, caught in the propellers of cargo ships, but that ALL the evidence sinks to the bottom of the Channel. I am somewhat sceptical.

  25. Bill B.
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    You rightly point the finger at appeal decisions, JR. But who do the planning inspectors that take those decisions work for? And whose policy agenda are they working to?

    Surely the Government’s, which wants that policy agenda put through in the new legislation. So how much difference will that make?

    Some planning inspectors can be given a P45, OK. And that may help a bit, with the lockdown reckoning bill, OK. But not much else.

  26. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    My understanding here in Wokingham the local plan is already that decreed by Central Government. So the block to building is not local.

    However, the block to getting it ‘right’ should be with the community the housing is to serve. Again here in Wokingham the get out phrase used when it goes wrong, Central Government has decreed and the Local Council is doing what they are instructed. This has been going on for years.

    The wonderfully worded platitudes we have heard from our Government this week neither solve anything or cause anything to happen – its just the in vogue virtual signaling that is becoming the norm.

    If Central Government butts out with all their dictates and lets the Country and the People get on with things society would be the richer for it. The Conservative small Government has become a Socialist master plan to control for no reason other than ego.

    Lets build for the communities not the government.

  27. Anonymous
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Clearly EU France is inhumane and uncivilised regardless of what MiC, Andy and Newmania tell us.

    They keep refugees in swamp conditions.

    We are soon to have 4 million unemployed and the rest are going to be a lot poorer.

    Boris the Con Man better have plenty of funding for those seeing as he’s doling out 4* accommodation so freely to France’s escapees.

  28. a-tracy
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    This is very simple, you can see quite clearly where the local Councillors live on the local map plan for green space. I plotted it once, they put all the proposals for dumps, industrial land, etc ed and incinerator suggestions away from them and their homes and keep all the open land green space around their neighbourhood. So if you really want to protect your local area get elected.

  29. graham1946
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    When our Council was taking years and 2 million pounds of our money to produce a Local Development plan, we were assured this thing was needed to plan and protect the area from the cowboy speculative planning firms. Now it seems that this was just government lies and that Inspectors can overturn it any time they like and Jenrick has just binned it.
    As a concrete example, in my road (a country lane) permission was sought to put up 6 dwellings on land outside the planning envelope and in defiance of the LDP which marked the land as ‘of intrinsic beauty’. We objected, the council threw it out and an Inspector said only one could be established and no more. Along comes a clever planning firm to demand the other 5, thrown out by the Council again and another Inspector overules the LDP and the first Inspector and grants it. Is this your ‘gentle densification’? – euphemism for ‘anything goes’. Labour had plans to take over half my back garden. Is this next on the Tory agenda?

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink


      So many examples exist of what you outline, and if the inspector refuses a Developer, a Government Minister can overrule anyone, as indeed was the case here in Wokingham when as I understand it, the nice and cuddly Mr John Prescott forced the Council to accept 10,000 more homes to be built in the area, even though we were overloaded with new builds at the time.
      Result, Infrastructure completely overloaded.

  30. glen cullen
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Apart from nation wide infrastructure projects i.e roads, power distribution etc, the government should get out of the local planning business. Stick with building regs

    Tell me what my front door should be made from not where it should be positioned
    Tell me what my windows should be made from not how many
    Tell me if my shed interferes with my neighbour not if I should have one

    And get rid of ‘graded or listed’ buildings identification – it just keeps old buildings (and sometimes un-reparable) old

  31. a-tracy
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Government would do better linking up hospitals to key railway stations for a start.

    There has been a big reduction in hospitals and community hospitals in England (not Scotland Or Wales!). Main hospitals are specialising resulting in people having to travel longer and longer distances with no decent public transport from key areas into the hospital causing great stress on elderly patients and two hour trips to get to hospital, expensive parking and another two hour trip home, if you’re kept in visiting is virtually impossible for working family so adding further stress!

    Then you want to build more and more homes Where there is no public transport, insufficient services for local families already, insufficient jobs for the local community already – you are going to put so much stress into the system. Social homes need sharing out more fairly, no more than 10-15% in one Borough.

    Take Leighton Hospital built no where near Crewe Station – no 24 hour transport, not even 12 hour transport, no link from hospital to Station. Same for Stoke, the same for the Birmingham City hospital, ten minutes walking 30 minutes on bus £3 charge + cost of rail service from home town to Birmingham City + cost of getting to your home town station. All plans are made as though London is a similar to the rest of the Country – it isn’t!

  32. Caterpillar
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    “Let us also agree the government needs to cut inward migration and prevent people trafficking”

    Patel’s plans do not seek to do this. Rather like the discussions of planning they are all to do with process (rearranging deck chairs) rather than a clear vision of what the country will look like. This either is or isn’t the intent – at the moment it isn’t.

    Could I also add more support for councils who are attempting to integrate asylum seekers into their communities. Also once cases have been lost then there should be immediate removal, rather than a £2 cut in weekly pocket money. (One can certainly debate whether asylum seekers should be distributed at all in this way).

    If the Govt wishes to continue with the population increase model (driven mainly by legal immigration and first generation offspring) then it should openly state this and also be honest about, at least, England’s options. As I suggested yesterday these are

    (1) house ownership and ghettoised sprawl (the current political parties just argue about the process to achieve this)
    (2) high quality rental model within interconnected vertical cities (which have many advantages).

  33. MWB
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    There is only one solution to this planning and immigration chaos, and that is to bide your time until the next election and then vote for anything other than Con/Lab/Lib.
    Payback time.
    Unfortunately, the English peoople won’t do this, and that’s what gets the corrupt Con/Lab/Lib politicians off and secures them another 5 years on the gravy train.
    Some do fall by the wayside, but never mind, because they will soon get sent to the so called house of lords where they can interfwere for evermore.

  34. Phil_Richmond
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    John – priority number one right now is the illegal immigrant invasion. Your government is an absolute disgrace in allowing this. Weak & pathetic.

  35. Polly
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Deary me……

    That didn’t last long !

    Did you read it ?


    Reply Please stop wasting my time. I have written to you explaining that I am not going to publish stories about alleged influence of named billionaires. Happy to publish critiques of government policy and decisions

  36. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    We already have Local Development Plans. We have on where I have moved to in Dorset. I consulted it carefully before buying my house. A few months later someone up the road puts in for 5 houses outside the Local Development Plan border. 5 bog standard, 3 or 4 bed detached houses. Nothing affordable. Nothing for local people. I.e. nothing that might justify ignoring the local plan. The access to the site is unbelievably dangerous. Access is between 2 cottages that are right on the road – there is no footpath – vehicles leaving the single existing property on the site have to edge out an inch at a time and pray that no vehicle is coming. Unbelievably Highways have not objected because they think the road is so dangerous already that traffic is already very slow (not as far as white van delivery drivers are concerned!) And the planners at the council are recommending approval as they ‘think the applicant will succeed on appeal’! I’m all for planning appeal inspectors overturning the ludicrous pre-disposition for council planners to turn down everything. But, now, we seem to have a council that will approve ANYTHING. It is very weird and makes we wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

  37. ian
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    It is clear to me that the UK should deploy its boat patrols 3 miles to 5 miles off the French coast with drones so that they can see all movements on the French beach and once picked up taking to the nears port in France, as usual, British gov is taking the Engish people for fools.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      ….and thats the mood of the country – this government must act

      • Everhopeful
        Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink acts in the most atrocious ways when it wants to.
        And quickly.
        Imprisoned us all!
        How many days did it take to come up with the COVID Act…all 300 odd pages of it?
        What has it done about out of control mass immigration?
        Sweet F.A.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

          wise words

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 8, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      But you want a small state with very few public sector employees.

      Who are these crew and staff on those patrol boats that you cite?

      • Fred H
        Posted August 9, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        we have thousands of land-based sailors who regret their inability to go to sea ( I know someone on Prince of Wales) – they’d jump at the chance to assert our territorial waters.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 9, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        There are millions employed by the State.
        Switch a few into a useful job.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 9, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

          Indeed release them to get a real job. Many in the state sector are not only doing little or nothing of value but many are doing active harm to the UK economy.

  38. Mark
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling the reality of a severe economic hit will intrude. Many people are going to become unemployed, while others are likely to suffer reduced incomes – BA workers, for instance. That means that some will no longer be able to afford the homes they bought, and will try to sell: they will aim to house themselves more cheaply by moving back in with parents, etc. There will be no great pool of ready buyers to pay top prices, and so we can expect housing transactions and house prices to fall. That is not a good environment for house builders. Options to buy land obtained when the outlook was rosier will simply expire unused. Likewise planning permissions. Building activity will fall. Changing the planning system won’t buck the market.

  39. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 9, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    “The government needs to cut immigration”. Yes, Sir John, but by how much? As a certain wise gentleman said as long ago as 1968, “Numbers are of the essence”. The amount of housing needed depends on the answer.

    Just saying “We will apply an Australian points system” is too vague. I would be perfectly happy if immigration was applied to ensure ZPG in the UK. Others may disagree but they should produce a number.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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