planning consultation

james armstrong james36armstrong at
Sun Feb 13 14:51:19 GMT 2011

My draft submission to teh planning consulttion.
Your commentsw are welcome 

Alan Scott

National Planning Policy Framework

Department for Communities and Local Government

Zone 1/H6

Eland House

London SW1E 5DU


Submission by  THE SELF BUILD NETWORK to :





policy tends to neglect this (self build) category of development”   ….   
Homebuilding in UK,OFT 2008 



In 2011 the lack of adequate supply and the quality of the
existing housing stock in UK is analogous to conditions
in post World War ll Britain after widespread
destruction from enemy bombing and  a six
year hiatus of building  new houses and failure
to repair damage. 


The UK background with which a 
credible new planning regime must cope is one of unprecedented  and still deteriorating , massive housing
need and deprivation , inequitable  reward to landowners in £million windfall
gains , out of reach house prices, rising land prices, hoarded land, land
speculation and  domination amounting to
market destruction of supply,  by a
handful of  giant corporate



 Supply is falling yet further  below already unprecedented levels of


Human rights are
daily violated  

Lack of access to adequate housing , in-accessible prices and
rents is a breach of human rights to home making and family life and unacceptable
when  remedies are available. Such
remedies are available as set out below. 


Human need, particularly at time of  massive human rights breech,   not  spatial  arrangements are the ultimate and prime goal
of an adequate planning regime as demonstrated by the goals of 

1947 planners.   Spatial  arrangements 
are  a vital consideration
yet  subsidiary to  exigent 
human distress . 

The new Planning Policy Framework should be motivated by this

The lessons of  1946/7
suggest the way forward in 2011


The explicit  motivation of
the sponsors*  of the 1946 Town and
Country Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill (leading to the 1947 Act)   was the need to arrange for the expected post
war avalanche of building new houses and to do so in the most advantageous way .
They  were not  motivated by spatial    considerations per se.  House building on an unprecedented scale
resulted,  and the planning system
regulated where they were to be built without having a marked effect in
reducing numbers.   Then, lack of house supply was  not an issue. In the years following 1947
houses were built in unprecedented numbers never since achieved .   

Responsibility  for house supply has been
by default  been delegated to the
market.  -  since 
funding for social housing has  largely been withdrawn . The market  has 
manifestly failed  over a period
of twenty years. It is more accurate to say the market has been deliberately
destroyed .   The planning regime is in danger of
exacerbating an already fraught situation, wheras the  intention of the instigators of the 1947
planning  Act, and the raison detre  of planning is to be pro-active and socially
positive, to be democratic and to protect 
people from  predatory interests* .  


A second explicit 
motivation was to bring forward 
the land required for houses which at the time was being withheld by
landowners except at monopoly prices . 
The threat posed by the Compulsory 
Purchase clause of the 1947 Act was effective. 


This is the background against which changes to the planning
regime should now be directed. 

We contend that the situation is worse than outlined above.  The destruction of an effective  housing  market fairly  operating , and delivering  supply in adequate numbers and at non-accessible
prices, is complete. This market  destruction
has  not  to date, stimulated  regulatory intervention.


The advantages to
society and to the industry of self build 

Self build is non corporate and 
self builders are not motivated to destroy the market, to generate
increased profits, satisfy shareholders, increase market share and by  amalgamation  eliminate competition.   Self build has been acknowledged as the  largest supplier of new houses (   OFT 2008) 
yet its potential  has not been
realized.   Self builders accumulate no
land banks   have no market power and are
not tempted to abuse it. . 

Because self builders  are
not motivated by  future expectations of
market behaviour but want to       

solve their own housing need as quickly  as possible the sector is dynamic at times
of  market downturns.  Typically self builders  build at half or two third the price at which
spec builders sell. 

There is a huge potential for self build to replace the corporate
sector as s-b is the growing  dynamic
force in the  market.  The present domination of the market in UK by giant plc’s
is  judged to be a temporary phenomenon (and
one past its sell-by date)  

 Team self build as in St
Minver in North Cornwall 
offers a method of  making this
approach to  solving housing needs
available to those   with limited  construction skills. 

Community Land Trusts ensure
that  self build houses remain at
accessible prices when re-sold. 

Self builders typically 
qualify for mortgages and so solve their own housing needs at no cost to
public funds.  Facilitating Team Self
build is a dynamic way for planners to help reduce rural housing waiting lists.


The Barker Review is

Barker in 2003/4 overlooked completely the largest and most
dynamic sector of supply in UK- self-build . Barker is therefore flawed and
culpable.   Self build was discovered by
the OFT Homebuilding Survey  only in 2008
, as the largest supplier. (see OFT Appx R”)


Plc house-builders’
bulk landbanks unlawfully inhibit  self
build dynamism  

Under the  1998 Competition
Act it is unlawful (and subject to 
£million fines) to use market power against the public interest . Out of
proportion landbanks and ‘trickling out’ of  supply by plc’s represent such abuses of market
power.    The industry regulator, relying on  the flawed Barker Review has not recognized
nor referred the unlawful landbanks for action and possible £million fines. .
But local planning officers  are aware
of  many instances of bulk land banks,
trickling out supply,  and other  use of market power ,which is unlawful,  by one local developer to obtain  high prices by  dominating competitors and fixing selling
prices high. .  

Plc housebuilders
and dominant local landowner/developers  unfairly dis-advantage self builders 

Neither of the two major reviews of Housebuilding in UK , by Barker and by
OFT  considers the detriment to the most
dynamic sector , self build, posed by the massive landbanks of the giant plc
corporations .  Barker was not aware of the
existence of self build. OFT recognized self build but relied on Barker’s
flawed  findings viz a viz landbanks.  OFT completely  failed to consider the detrimental effect of
landbanks viz a viz self builders (while agonizing   whether plc’s needed landbanks representing
many year’s reserves for commercial reasons !) 

Falling over backwards to pander to corporate interests is  absolutely typical of  government officers at local, national and
regulatory level. Individuals ( the house-needy , self builders etc ) are  rarely 
consulted, their concerns unheard , their  viewpoint unconsidered and their potential

Plc  landbank  represent  
in one case 33 years supply of scarce and surplus land for houses (Wilson
Bowden’s current (2002) rate of build,) 
see Barker IR p 81 This harmful action is reproduced on a national
scale. It follows that all bulk land for houses is off limits to self-build –
yet self build is potentially the most dynamic sector, it currently is the  biggest supplier and  - “access
to land was by far the biggest barrier preventing people from self building”….OFT

Poundbury is an example of trickling out supply  over a period of twentysix years!On scarce land  given planning permission in Dorset West in 1994,  to date only   800 out of 2,4000 housws have been buillt with compltion scheduled for 2020-30 .   

The key realization
is that landbanks of  plc housebuilders
are unlawful as a restraint of trade and should be broken up and  made available to self builders.  The justification is that there is a
manifest  public need.  There is no ‘other’ potential bulk  building land .  In condition of market destruction  planning is required to adopt an actively  positive role,  to ensure the provision of land for housing to
self builders and facilitate self–build and 
restore an effective market for houses and land for houses. .  


Enclosure of all UK land with potential for building is complete   

Landbanks and control of 
and speculation on land  explains
the  ever rising price of building land,  the £million windfall gains and the statement
In Barker  

builders are primarily  rewarded for
acquiring scarce land”  -

 the implication being that
this is more profitable than building houses- and explains why  house supply declines as need increases.   Land agents of plc builders scouring
the  countryside for  fifty years past have ensured that  the enclosure of all potential building land
in UK is complete.  

Otherwise you would have to believe that Wimpey had been grossly
inefficient for sixty  years. 


The role of  a planning regime, when open market land is
unavailable , is to actively pursue socially positive results by favouring and
facilitating  self build.

Needs based allocation of land for house-building is therefore
projected as the prime planning criterion. 
Planning is a socially beneficial regime or it has no
justification.  It is socially irrespons-
ible for planners  not to favour policies
to help disadvantaged self builders in housing need.  

To be neutral is to accede to market destruction.


 Plc builders’ bulk landbanks are the prime and unlawful  obstruction to self builders

The right to build initiative by the Housing Minister is welcomed

The support for self build in Open Source Planning is welcomed.

The regulators , in this case Office of Fair Trading, have been
approached to confiscate  potential
building land presently in huge bulk landbanks 
acquired  against the public
interest as an abuse of market power , the OFT to use existing  powers under the  1947 Compulsory Purchase  , and the 1998 Competition Acts.  

 The planning regime should
be prepared to adopt policies to 
facilitate the  utilization of
confiscated land for self occupy self builders in housing need.

There is a twenty year deficit to be made up by  planning regimes’ failure  to give  preference 
to applications by would-be self builders in order to  counteract the unlawful use of market power  locally exerted by  giant corporate house builders,  their well-housed executives and privileged
and well-housed land owners.         


Minimising car use 

The desirability of minimising car use suggests the need for more
public transport particularly for housing developments in rural areas.   We live in a post Beeching countryside.  Withdrawal of local stopping trains on feeder
lines makes car use necessary in rural areas. 
This describes the present 
situation.  Building new houses adjacent
to  isolated settlements is inhibited but
is environmentally and socially beneficial 
and meets a  desperate shortage
of  rural housing at accessible prices.   A planning policy supporting  a network of highways dedicated to shuttle
buses and cyclists would bring into use 
rural sites which would otherwise increase  car use.

And compliment a policy of self- building in the countryside which
is currently de-populated- the towns containing some 90% of the population and
attracting  net immigration in growing
annual numbers.   

Agricultural need 

For some twenty seven years since the accession of  UK to EEC, agriculture
has been massively subsidized  in UK.    In 2009 the amount was some  £3.4billion. 
The justification for this is that without such massive subsidies
agriculture in UK would be  unviable. 

Yet applicants for planning permission for rural  dwellings in connection with agriculture
however have to prepare a detailed business plan showing how they can
justify  sustaining themselves entirely  from agriculture  while living on site .  In contrast existing farmers are actively
encouraged to diversify  to supplement
incomes which are said to be insufficient from agriculture.

Land barons* , meantime are subsidized at up to £417,000 pa by an
annual CAP cheques. 

This is  gross inequity . Bulk
landowners and  existing agricultural
operators, invariably well- housed , receive privileged consideration and new
entrants  with limited means and a
housing need have to surmount huge difficulties put in their way by unrealistic
planning requirements. 

The new Welsh ‘one Planet development’ guidance should be



The key realization
is that landbanks of  plc housebuilders
are unlawful as a restraint of trade and should be broken up and the land made  available to self builders . In condition of
market destruction the role of planning is to ensure the provision of land for
housing to self builders by actively giving preferential consideration in all
planning policies to self-builders  and
teams of self builders acting in community 
land trusts.   


Planners should
actively support  self build as the
democratic and dynamic way forward. 



How better  can the planning regime be  amended to make a major contribution to
solving the  Failed supply of houses at
adequate prices and rents?   


see Hansard December,1946 

Drax estates  in North Dorset received a CAP
cheque for £417,000 in 2009 , 



James Armstrong

Self Build Network,

22,  Harveys Terrace, 

Dorchester DT1 1LE.

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