Friday, August 26, 2016

Planning for food

Some blogs are too long, as are some of the gaps between blogs.  So here is the second blog of the day and it is very short.  However, this is a blog to listen to while you shell the peas or do the washing up.

Please forgive the stumbles as this was an unscripted presentation given in the Palace of Westminster to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agro-Ecology  (the reference to the unsustainable realm that the planners had helped to create was made as I looked out across the Thames at South London) and that it is a little out of date.  However, most of the points are still valid and I would just say that para 161 of the NPPF could have added weight to the argument, and the requirement to prove essential need is at NPPF 55 (not 105).

The importance of including the talk given in 2014 in a Blog in 2016 is that nothing has happened.

Planning to reduce carbon emissions correction

On the assumption that readers of Dantheplan would also have read Planning to reduce carbon emissions  or at 
  it may have come to your notice that there was nothing about opposing road building.  This was an unfortunate omission as under Action for Roads the current Government demonstrates its belief that road building is still a road to prosperity.  The Guide has been amended (new edition when more feedback received on original) to state that when the demand management measures have been put in palce it should become self evident (and even show up on the financial analyses that there would be no business case for building new roads, bridges or tunnels.

The preferred demand management measure was the reduction in the national speed limits to 50mph and 20mph that can be done tomorrow at little or no public expense and would be completely as well has having important knock on and cumulative effects (that is what happens with systemic change).  However, speed limits are also on the edge of planning controls whereas new road building is very much open to public engagement.

On the question of demand management the new Guide will have to deal with road pricing and congestion charging. These measures might have a place when the impact of lower speed limits has been assessed. However, they are not cheap and have a number of rebound effects and potential problems with privacy and how they fit into the system.  They should not be discarded as, like controls at the workplace and town centres, both could be used to discriminate in favour of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles; only ULEVs could enter urban areas without restriction and on roads between towns any charging would be heavily weighted to advantage ULEVs. Although it will be likely some  owners of the larger and faster vehicles might be prepared to pay (seeing it as a fee rather than a tax) costs could be increased to raise revenue until the penny drops.  These would also be the vehicles most likely to disappear if the national speed limits were at 50mph and 20mph.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A tax windfall that will harm housing provision

In a previous blog I suggested that all the claims being made for the Help to Buy scheme in attracting new entrants to the housing market were bogus, as putting money into the demand side (effectively to be shared between the landowner/seller and the developer) simply served to maintain if not inflate house prices (actually seen as an advantage by those appointed to assess the scheme!) thereby pricing even more people out than it helped people in.

That is by way of an introduction to another inspired intervention by the previous Chancellor George Osborne. Having torpedoed Gordon Brown before the election of 2010 by hinting at inheritance tax reductions, possibly hampered by his LibDem colleagues, he  waited until the Autumn Statement of 2015 to announce that the first £1 million of the primary residence could be exempt from  inheritance tax if the house was passed on to a family member.  All such measures should have an 'impact assessment' and I would like to know what effect this tax relief is expected to have on the very serious issue of under-occupation?  Passing large houses down the family line might not seem to be fair to those just looking for ways to own a small house and without the prospect of benefiting from such an inheritance?

My guess is that the prospect of shielding £1 million from the tax man will be a perverse incentive for a substantial number of people not to downsize.  As the tax relief is on second death the incentive seems to be for the surviving spouse to stay in any house worth more than £1 million until they die.  If Theresa May is really keen on being seen as an egalitarian and keen to see a fairer distribution of our limited housing resource, then this relief (due to take effect in April 2017) should be repealed by the new Chancellor Philip Hammond.

If not repealed, then regulations should allow the properties to be sub-divided, as will be necessary if the size of the housing stock is to better match the size of households (average 2.3 people and falling) or the owner occupier should be allowed to let out the property while they move to a smaller one, either owned or rented.

The impact of one move within a systems is usually hard to predict even when most of the relevant components of the system and their interrelationships are known.  However, it is doubtful that the Chancellor gave a thought to what effect this tax break might have for the distribution of housing.  Many people might believe that a Government should have more concern about the provision of housing than about handing out a windfall tax for the rich.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Planning to reduce carbon emissions

There are a range of scenarios or depictions of where the current trajectory of carbon emissions is leading, some of them very scary indeed.  For those users of the planning system who share a concern about the way in which the presumption in favour of sustainable development is being (ab)used; the 'golden thread' running through plan-making and decision-taking, a Guide has been produced which attempts to show all the many ways in which the land use planning system could and should be used to make a significant contribution in the mitigation of carbon emissions.

The Guide is available on the link below:

Planning to reduce carbon emissions