Just-announced ‘Growth’ Bill to grow buildings on Village Greens

18 October 2012…..Picked up a tweet today that took me to this news item, dated today, from DEFRA: A Growth Bill is announced –  http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/10/18/ending-abuse-of-village-greens-legislation/
If you want to learn how to write propaganda: read it; study it for the tricks deployed. It’s a classic of its kind.
Nicholas Boles (onetime Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hove) has been attacked from all sides of his own party and in the wider world for his wish to allow people to fill up to half their garden with an extension to their homes if they want to do that and never mind the impact on neighbours or loss of green space (which is needed for drainage to prevent run-off into sewers or flooding elsewhere from rainfall as much as anything else).
The planning system is being salami-sliced away by this government in the name of the economy. This news release invokes housing need as the carrot. Well boo-hoo (not)!
Are construction jobs really so vital to the economy? Surely not. And are greenfield sites all that is available for housebuilding? The government is ignoring all the brownfield availability and empty buildings all over the country that developers already own and have LANDBANKED.  All the house-builders given as suffering in this press release will have brownfield holdings they can build on (less profitably, of course).
We have the example of the area from Ellen Street up to the railway line behind the Conway Street bus station on our own doorstep here in Hove.  It took Andy Lambor 3 years to buy up all the various holdings along there and do his deal with Roger French’s bus company. He was landbanking until he could do what he wanted on a grand scale (which is actually better than piecemeal) and which will continue to evolve and change a great deal before anything gets demolished or built.
Up at the Sackville Trading Centre there is another example: The Coal Pension Board owns all of it along with the area south of it down to the railway line – except for Rayner’s the optical lens producers (world-class, award-winning, by the way) who will be relocating to Worthing at some point and handing over their current space to the Pension Board (they did a deal). When Rayner’s go, all that remains is for the economic picture to improve and the developers P2 to either use existing planning consent (expires March 2013) or produce a new planning application for a revised scheme. In the meantime it is landbanked and expired long leases are being extended for short periods of time only to current tenants.
Up in Newtown Road the developer who owns the derelict factory behind the Goldstone Retail Park would love to build or sell. But I’m told he asks too much money for it. How come the public has to take an economic/planning/environmental hit, but developers don’t? He’s getting this email by the way. And I tried to help on this front. The council could build a school there. But is he asking too much money for this to happen? Gil Sweetenham at the Council is the man in charge of finding school space. Ask him what’s happening on this.
The Government has lost the plot on the planning front and seems oblivious of the value of the planning system for maintaining order and the integrity of the built environment.
I’d like to know what the extent of brownfield land holdings by developers is that is not being built on, wouldn’t you? And how many developers are as rich as Creosus and not building because nobody can afford to buy what they build? And where ARE these areas “which communities wish to see developed” that are not brownfield or back garden? Come on; where is their list of THOSE virgin greenfield/Village Green sites?
They write this press release like people are champing at the bit to see virgin, never-built-on areas dug up and built over.  In their dreams.  And refer to “after public consultation” as though people all supported when they probably objected.
Fact is, developers buy greenfield land to build on because it is cheaper to build on – nothing to first remove or decontaminate. But are their end-products any cheaper to buy than things built on brownfield? Why do I doubt this. And is the loss of arable land that COULD one day be needed for food worth it? Loss of ground to absorb water for the underground aquifers worth it?
Andy Lambor told me as I left the MATSIM office/exhibition last night that quite a lot of those viewing the plans tell him not to redevelop. To leave it all as it is. It might just be their fears or it may be the truth: people do not welcome development – even on previously developed land.
Do please provide our MP’s with your views on this part of the new ‘Growth’ bill.
Follow @CPRE on Twitter for developments and read this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/9616347/Fresh-assault-on-planning-rules-to-boost-economy.html
letters@theargus.co.uk – please use it!

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Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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