Tell Government about true sustainable development by Feb 28th!
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Feb 14 22:28:53 GMT 2011
Time running out to tell Government about true sustainable development
Simon Fairlie | Monday, 14th February 2011
Help tell the Government that we need the
conditions for true sustainable development in the countryside...
Truly sustainable rural living has not been easy...
The Government is consulting on a new national
planning framework for England until 28th
February. All the planning policy statements,
such as PPS7 on the Countryside and PPS1a on
Climate Change are likely to be replaced by one
document. The Government is allegedly looking to
reduce several hundred pages of guidance into ten or twenty pages.
This is really important for people involved in
low impact development, permaculture projects,
ecovillages etc. It is potentially a threat as
policies that have enabled projects to get
planning permission in the past may be removed.
However, it is also an important opportunity to
get supportive policies added at the national level.
Land reform campaign group Chapter 7 (
http://www.tlio.org.uk/chapter7/ ) has been
working with the Permaculture Association to
identify planning policies that we'd like to see
retained or added. Here in bullet point form are
the main points we have identified:
A definition of "Sustainable Development" in the
framework that is robust and stringent, and
emphasises ecologically sustainable development,
not just sustainable economic development.
Retention of a policy to allow agricultural,
forestry and other rural workers to build homes
in the open countryside. This is currently
contained in Annex A of PPS7 (Planning Policy Statement 7).
Introduction of a national policy for Low Impact
Development, similar to the "One Planet
Development" policy contained in TAN6 (Technical Advice Note 6) in Wales.
Introduction of policies that are supportive of
self-builders, particularly where homes are
ecologically sustainable and/or affordable.
We would like to see the encouragement of local
food production and forestry enterprises on green belt land.
Introduction of policies that provide for people
who wish to have part-time access to agricultural
land on the edge of existing settlements.
Introduction of policies that make it easier for
those who choose to live in a mobile home, cabin
or other low impact dwelling to do so whether
or not they are classed as gypsies or travellers.
We need to demonstrate to the Government that
there is a demand for these kinds of development.
If you agree with some or all of these points
please write a submission by the 28th February -
in your own words - and send it to:
planningframework at communities.gsi.gov.uk
National Planning Policy Framework
Department for Communities and Local Government
London SW1E 5DU
Below is Chapter 7's draft submission which
fleshes out some of these points in greater detail.
NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK
We welcome the proposal in the Green Paper Open
Source Planning to "establish a presumption in
favour of sustainable development". This will
require national planning guidance to provide a
robust definition of what "sustainable
development" constitutes. We submit that any
definition should include the following areas:
minimization of resource use (as defined for
example by 'ecological footprints')
climate change and carbon emissions
minimization of energy use, especially fossil fuels
minimization of transport demand and car use 'minimization of waste
enhancement of biodiversity
conservation and enhancement of natural resources
such as water, soil quality, woodland etc.
adequate access to land, resources and facilities
for all households within a given community.
Sustainable Rural Development
Rural development has been hampered in recent
years by restrictive locational policies that
have tended to equate sustainability with
location on the edge of settlements and required
development in the open countryside to be
"strictly controlled". While Chapter 7 agrees
that development in the open countryside needs
strict control, too often this has been
interpreted to mean "no development at all".
There are often obvious transport advantages in
siting developments on the edge of settlements,
but sometimes, particularly in the case of
land-based enterprises, these can be outweighed
by other sustainable advantages, such as more
effective land management, the opportunity to use
natural sources of energy, restoration of
moribund rural economies and agro-ecologies, the
avoidance of "reverse commuting" from town residence to rural employment etc.
We would therefore support a presumption in
favour of sustainable development in the open
countryside, provided that the definition of
sustainability is stringent, and that its
application is strictly controlled. We believe
there is a case for expanding the "country house"
policy, currently found in paragraph 11 of PPS 7
to include, not merely buildings exhibiting "the
highest standards of contemporary architecture"
(which anyway is highly subjective) but those
embodying the highest standards of rural
sustainabi!ity, as defined in national policy guidance.
We also suggest that framers of the new policy
guidance should look at the Welsh "One Planet
Development" policy in section 4.15 of Technical
Advice Note 6 (the Welsh equivalent of PPS7).
Whilst we would not advocate that this should be
copied word for word, and accept that it is too
detailed for the kind of policies envisaged in
the new national planning guidance, we submit
that something along these lines should be
introduced into English policy guidance.
Agricultural Tied Dwellings
We are concerned that the provision for
agricultural tied dwellings should not be swept
aside in the new reforms. Current agricultural
prices on the one hand, and rural house prices on
the other are respectively so low and so high
that farmers and horticulturalists cannot
possibly pay off the cost of a rural dwelling in
the open market through a normal agricultural enterprise.
It is therefore vital that some sort of
exceptions policy should remain so that farmers,
and particularly new entrants into farming, can
live close to their enterprise. However the
agricultural tied dwelling system has been open
to abuse, from people posing as agriculturalists
and then abandoning the enterprise that justified
the dwelling and getting the agricultural tie
removed. This in turn has meant that planning
officers are understandably resistant to
applications for agricultural dwellings, and bona
fide farmers often find it extraordinarily difficult to obtain permission.
The main reason for this is the weakness of the
standard agricultural tie, which does not tie the
dwelling to the enterprise, even though it is the
proposed enterprise which has to justify the
dwelling. The moment permanent planning
permission is acquired, the applicant can, and
sometimes does, sell the dwelling off separate
from the land which justified the permission.
This problem could be rectified by encouraging
local authorities to impose conditions that tie
the dwelling to the land or the enterprise which
justified it. We also suggest that England adopt
the occupancy condition now used in Wales,
whereby any tied dwelling which is no longer
suitable for agricultural or another rural
industry, should not be released onto the open
market, but should becoe prioritized for affordable housing (T AN6 4.13)
Self Built Homes
Chapter 7 was very heartened to see support for
self-built homes in Open Source Planning, and we
hope to find this reflected in policy guidance.
Self build provides the opportunity for some low
income people to house themselves at little or no
expense to the taxpayer and it is shameful that
it has been given so little support in planning
guidance over the last fifteen years. It is
particularly helpful for young people in villages
and rural situations who face very high house
prices, but often have good access to land and
neighbours with the necessary machinery and manual skills.
However the problem has been finding land with
permission at an affordable price. Even when land
is potentially available the rural exception
policy is of no use to an individual because it
does not accommodate one-off developments
(although the former South Shropshire District
Council found a way of allowing one-off dwellings
under the rural exceptions site policy). We therefore advocate:
(a) that local authorities should be encouraged
to provide mechanisms enabling one-off
self-builders to construct affordable housing,
with legal agreements ensuring that it remains
affordable over subsequent changes of ownership and occupation;
and (b) that potential
owner/occupier/self-builders requiring one-off
affordable housing should be deemed to constitute
a "need" irrespective of whether any local housing survey has been carried out.
We would also support a shift away from the
allocation of a restricted number of sites for
housing in and around villages (which causes land
scarcity and hence inflated land values) and
towards criteria-based policies which allow for
highly sustainable affordable housing on any site
within a prescribed wider area (for example, contiguous with the settlement).
The definition of affordable housing in PPS3 at
the moment restricts the use of the term solely
to housing for local people. This discriminates
against people who happen to have no historical
allegiance to any particular location. It is
right that local people should have priority over
incomers as regards access to a limited supply of
affordable housing. But people who have not been
resident in one location for the required amount
of time still have need of housing, and if they
are on a low income they will need affordable
housing, and should not be defined out of eligibility.
Since its founding in 1999 Chapter 7 has
experienced rising demand for houses in rural
locations from people who want to "downsize" and
establish a closer connection with the natural
and agricultural world, without necessarily
undertaking a full time profession in agriculture
(the boom in allotments and local food growing is part of the same trend).
To date the needs of these people have not been
catered for by the planning system, and some have
opted to buy bareland in the open countryside and
try and find a way around the planning system
(for example by pretending to be full time
agriculturalists, or by trying to obtain a
certificate of lawful use through the four year
or ten year rule). This has undermined the
credibility of the planning syste, and made
planning authorities unduly suspicious of bona
fide farmers and horticulturalists.
We believe it is the function of the planning
system to meet people's needs in a way that does
not damage, and preferably enhances, the local
and wider environment. We therefore urge that
there should be provision for these needs, which,
with the application of sensible policies, can be
accommodated sustainably on the edge of villages.
We view that Community Land Trusts offer an
appropriate vehicle for providing such housing.
We also consider that where access to land is
required, this is better achieved by providing
collective access to a co-operatively owned area
of agricultural land, rather than providing
houses with large individual plots or paddocks.
Individual plots could easily revert to domestic
use, or they might become neglected, and they
would lead to very low density development that
would be unhelpful on the edge of an existing
settlement, and unsustainable on a wider scale.
We are pleased that Open Source Planning, states
that Green Belts will continue to be protected.
These areas, close to conurbations are ideal for
providers of local foods, and woodland products,
and such enterprises would be invaluable fir
keeping urban schoolchildren in contact with the
source of their sustenance. Unfortunately
greenbelt land is mostly inaccessible to growers
and foresters, because the hope value makes it
prohibitively expensive. We advocate that green
belt policies should be adjusted to facilitate
the establishment of farms and forestry
enterprises providing goods for local consumption
- for example by allowing the development of
agricultural dwellings tied to productive
holdings, farm shops, training centres in land based activities etc.
Caravans, Cabins and Low Impact Dwellings
Caravans, mobile homes, wooden cabins, yurts and
other forms of temporary accommodation can be
highly sustainable as they are usually compact,
easy to heat, have low embodied energy, and have
a relatively low impact on the surrounding
natural landscape. We would like to see it made
easier for those people who prefer to live in
caravans, mobile homes, cabins, yurts or low
impact dwellings to do so whether or not they
be classed as gypsies or travellers (and we agree
that the settled population and travellers should
be treated equally). Mechanisms such as rural
exception sites should be open to mobile homes
and low impact dwellings as well as bricks and
mortar. The government would do well to
commission research into sustainable and
architecturally satisfying mobile home sites,
with a view to providing advice on best practice.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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