Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Dear Mr Clark

At least until there is a new Prime Minister on 5 September we have Greg Clark MP as the Communities Secretary. He has responsibility for the work being carried out by inspectors, including the report issued to West Oxfordshire in respect of an Action Area Plan for the proposed Garden Village being called Salt Cross. In this case the inspector recommended the dismantling of the policies aiming to make the development zero carbon and this is the letter and attachment sent to the Mr Clark’s department. 

Dear Sir or Madam 

In congratulating Mr Cark on his appointment as Communities Secretary (and leveling up) I thought that he might like to have to hand his foreword to the NPPF 2012 and commitment to zero carbon housing that was shredded by George Osborn. This only makes sense if national standards were enabling zero carbon.(see extract below) Mr Clark might have become aware of a recommendation made by a development plan inspector during his predecessor’s time and this is admirably summarised by Hugh Ellis in his TCPA blog at https://tcpa.org.uk/pins-assault-on-an-exemplary-net-zero-planning-policy/  I would urge Mr Clark, as a champion of zero carbon, to stamp his authority on the Department and ensure that the inspector's (rogue) recommendation is withdrawn before it is acted on by West Oxfordshire District Council and accepted by the development industry as the position of the Government. 


Daniel Scharf MRTPI 

NPPF 2012 

Foreword by Greg Clark 

The purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development. Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves don’t mean worse lives for future generations. 


93. Planning plays a key role in helping shape places to secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change, and supporting the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure. This is central to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. 

94. Local planning authorities should adopt proactive strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change, taking full account of flood risk, coastal change and water supply and demand considerations. 

95. To support the move to a low carbon future, local planning authorities should: ●● plan for new development in locations and ways which reduce greenhouse gas emissions; ●● actively support energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings; and ●● when setting any local requirement for a building’s sustainability, do so in a way consistent with the Government’s zero carbon buildings policy and adopt nationally described standards. 

I would urge all readers who are concerned about the impact that this decision could have on the development of garden villages and new residential development more widely, to write in similar terms to the Department of Leveling –Up, Housing and Communities to limit the damage that could be caused by a failure to use the planning system to facilitate the transition to zero carbon.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Good law to climate rescue

This might not be a planning case but the judgement could and should have profound implications for the land use planning system. In The Queen (on the application of (1) Friends of the Earth Limited(2) Client Earth (3) Good Law Project and Joanna Wheatley v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [2022] EWHC 1841 (Admin) the judge (who had a planning background) decided that the Government is legally obliged to explain how it intends to meet the carbon budgets set out by the Climate Change Committee and officially adopted. The Government has been reluctant to do this because a) it hasn’t a clue or b) it realizes that some of the necessary measures might not be popular with its voters? Two areas that the CCC had highlighted as requiring more attention were home energy and food and agriculture. The rate and extent to which the energy efficiency of houses will have to be improved to meet the 5th and 6th carbon budgets falls outside anything that the Communities or Business Departments have hitherto dared to suggest or offer meaningful financial support. The Government should view the judgement as a blessing in disguise as it can reasonably blame the Courts for any inconvenience caused in bringing the nation’s building stock up to a decent standard. All those involved in the operating the planning system should be considering if its actions are consistent with the carbon budgets. Being an arm of government the planning system must be seen to be operating in line with carbon reduction budgets (and not just the targets). Both candidates for the election of the next Prime Minister have confirmed support for the net zero target for 2050 and both have identified home insulation as a primary target (having been ministers in a Government that has been in dereliction of its duty in that regard since 2010). Congratulations to Client Earth, Friends of the Earth, Ms Wheatley and Good Earth Project for eliciting the help of the Courts in ensuring the planning system plays its (important) part in facilitating the transition to net zero. Zero carbon housing is most likely to involve a reduction in new building and increase in subdivisions (even custom-splitting – see many previous blogs). A zero carbon agriculture (see National Farmers Union net zero by 2040 target) might also need support from the planning system if not a change to the law to bring agricultural practices under control? (see previous blogs)