Friday, December 18, 2020

Planning update

 This is not and cannot be a comprehensive update but the discovery of a the youtube site

could be of interest.  Five senior planning barristers share their recent experiences and cases. I think that it is fair to say that this will only be intelligible to people who have a good background in planning policy and practice - but there are some themes that can be followed if not  the finer points of law that keep these people in business.  Episode 12 on 8 December had Richard Bacon MP know as the self-build chamion or czar as their guest.  He could point to the realisation of the Government that it has fallen very far short of the ambition expressed by Ministers and the potential  of relevant legal framework to deliver more than the abysmal 7000 self build homes per year.£100m to make public sector land available and £2 billion towards Help to Build might sound a lot but would be unnecessary if the local councils were actually carrying out their statutory duties starting with the publicity and then dedicating permissions to this sector. 

Richard Bacon made the obvious point that the stimulus to the demand side (eg Help to Buy) had caused prices to rise but the proposed stimulus to the supply side would cause supply to increase ie through self and custom building. I wonder whether he voted against the extension to Help to Buy?

Paul Tucker QC ventured that the failure to provide serviced plots in the numbers required would be a material consideration in support of applications for self and custom building on sites not in accordance with the development plan and causing some less than serious harm.  Although there was an expectation that self and custom building would be of higher energy efficiency standards than the volume builder product.  However, there seems to be no understanding of the embodied carbon in new building and servicing and infrastructure.  The reservation of <5% of larger sites was supported but on condition that this was not the back and least salubrious corner of the site.

And on that point readers might be examining the sixth carbon budget and the Energy White Paper to see how carbon emissions from buildings and transport are being addressed. These are not strictly consultations but there is no harm in sending the authors (Committee on Climate Change and BEIS) relevant views.  in respect of  buildings it is construction carbon that needs urgent attention. The reliance on residential sub-divisions and refits so that space and fabric being heated and insulated is meeting genuine housing needs,  needs repeating. Provision of new homes in this way can be done with minimal materials and using existing services and infrastructure and local tradesmen and/or custom builders (see previous blogs on custom-splitting).

On the question of transport a lower speed limit would reduce or remove the comparative advantage of the ICE over the EV and the coach/bus.  This would add to the attractiveness and purchasing of EVs that would be adding pressure to the over-stretched charging infrastructure and energy supplied struggling to cope with the growth in heat pump use. However, EVs maximise their range at between 30mph and 50mph so the lower speed limit reduces demand for both re-charging and energy.

BEIS (and the CCC) seems to have missed these powerful messages.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Family planning

It has been and always will be a problem of describing the profession of 'Town Planning' without qualifying this by adding 'country planning' or resorting to 'land use planning'.  Using the label  'planner' implies some superiority or precedence over other forms of planning including financial planning and family planning - although the latter is normally left to individuals and couples.  Cross posting can be very annoying but visitors to this site can choose whether or not to read the wide-ranging notifications and arguments. So, with that excuse, this post is about the planning of families in a climate and ecological emergency putting land use planning into perspective.

Recent reports of the UN Director General's speech on climate change, and of unaccompanied children being traumatised by seeing their companions die and thrown into the sea between Africa and Europe (ie the Canary Islands), serve to clarify both the urgency of the need to reduce emissions (and possibly capture carbon) and remind us where the burden of environmental breakdown is already falling.


It is high emitting countries, states, companies, households and individuals that have to act fast if space is to be preserved for low emitters to secure their lives and livelihoods in a world moving inexorably from 1 to 3 degrees C of warming and towards a 6th great extinction. There are signs that the scale of the emergency has started to hit home.


A recent survey has shone a light on the phenomenon known a ‘birth strike’ where people in (over)developed countries are choosing not to have children due to the damaged state if the world into which they would be born and nurtured, and the knowledge of how such children are more than likely to add to carbon emissions. This sensitivity to the state of the planet has even led to feelings of regret in having children.


In high emitting countries there are many reasons to consider why family relationships are likely to be of growing importance in negotiating what could be a traumatic transition to a net carbon zero economy and society.  Families through mutual obligations and respect can encourage and cooperate in reducing their carbon footprints at the household level, but also offer mutual support where for example, children and, importantly, grandchildren, are born, or not.  The potential of family dynamics in this traumatic phase is discussed at  The case is also made for relying on extended families that have global reach to raise their game in reducing emissions and restoring wildlife.


While businesses keep their eye on commercial survival if not profit, and action by the state appears to be slow if not misdirected, taking action as a member of an extended family avoids individual feelings of isolation and futility and could include almost all citizens around the world in the effort to save the climate and its biodiversity.

Families with the resources to do so, and able to address their behaviours, should be spurred into reducing emissions by the knowledge that parents in Africa see the putting of their children in the hands of human traffickers in the hope of them finding a safe haven, as acts of kindness.