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Why Does the Government Ignore Smallholders?
If you read your way through the recent Curry Commission report on Farming and Food, you wonÍt find the word smallholder once. All you will find, on page 53, is a few paragraphs on those farms ñwhich are considered part-timeî (which means farms that produce less than what is deemed necessary to provide a full-time minimum wage). These account for about 50 per cent of all farms in England, and in the CommissionÍs words ñplay a crucial role in the social and cultural fabric of rural areasî; yet only 0.3 per cent of the report is specifically devoted to them. The Commi ssion has no targeted policies to offer these farmers other than to advocate that they should become even more part time:
ñThe real driver of success for these farmers will not be changes in agricultural policy but the health of the rest of the economy in the rural areas in which they live. A vibrant rural economy, outside agriculture, will offer the opportunities for diversification upon which their future success lies . . . It is important for many of these farmers that the focus of government policy is switched away from just agriculture and towards a wider range of rural businessesî.
In other words, small farmers are expected to either become, or be replaced by businessmen. This special Chapter 7 News feature on smallholders takes a more searching look at the farmers the Curry Report ignores. We conclude that the nationsÍ smallholders are not going to go away; that the special benefits they bring need to be acknowledged and built on; and the problems they face need to be addressed.
Of Mice and Cormorants
Current policy towards smallholders is in line with the UK tradition of getting rid of peasants But there was one period in recent English history when small farmers were taken seriously.
The Curry reportÍs dismissive approach to half the agricultural workforce would be unthinkable in any other country in Europe; in England it is entirely in accord with the dismissive approach taken by the establishment towards peasants and small farmers over the last five centuries.
The process of enclosure has been well documented and there are many eloquent denunciations of the way in which the English gentry progressively forced peasants off their land, but none more graphic than that of Bishop Latimer who in 1552 complained:
ñSuch boldness have these covetous cormorants that now their robberies, extortion and oppression have no end . . As for turning the poor out of their holdings, they take it for no offence, but say their land is their own and they turn them out of their shrouds like mice. Thousands in England , through such, beg now from door to door, which have kept honest houses.î
The encl osure of the commons, and the anti-peasant ideology which accompanied it , continued for over 400 years in England. There was a good deal resistance from squatters, rioters and self-taught lawyers. But a parliament stacked with landowners ensured that the process continued to the point where farms are now on average over twice as large as anywhere in Western Europe, and the nation has a smaller agricultural work-force, relative to the population, than probably any other country in Europe.
Is there any connection between the concentration of farmland and the current crisis in the English contryside? Why, has UK agriculture acquired a reputation for being the most unhealthy and perverse in Europe? Why, as Kevin Cahill points out, does Ireland, with farms a third of the size of ours, have a booming agricultural economy? These are questions one might reasonably have expected the Curry Commission to examine „ were one not able to guess in advance that they were going to do their very best to ignore the issue.
Defeating the Machine
There was, however, one period in recent Engli sh history, from about 1900 to 1939, when smallholdings were openly espoused as a key solution to many of the problems caused by a serious agricultural recession. Various Smallholdings and Allotment Acts laid the basis for the County Farms estate which still offers an affordable way into farming for new entrants; the Liberal Party introduced tax legislation that helped to break up some of the large aristocratic estates ; and schemes such as the Government sponsored Land Settlement Association placed thousands of families onto holdings of a few acres.
The fact that smallholdings were not necessarily models of economic efficiency was not then seen to be a great problem, partly because there was no other work available and partly because then the ability to live and work on the land was perceived to have a value in itself. Sir John Russell, observed: ñLand settlement and food production are quite distinct problems, and we shall only confuse the issue if we mix them. If more men are to be put on the land it must be for the purpose of giving them occupation, and this can only be done by defeating the machine, either by settling the men on holdings too small to allow of the purchase or use of big implements, or by grouping them in col onies or communities that will forswear the use of machines for the purpose of displacing men.î
Smallholders have to work long hours to make ends meet, but, as Russell notes, they cheerfully accept this, because of their love of farming and their desire for independence. He goes on to compare English smallholders, with their more efficient counterparts in Denmark and New Zealand, who, in a given region produce: ñexactly the same things and of as nearly as possible the same quality, then collect their produce, assembling it at one central place run by experts who grade it, pack it and sell it in large consignments as one brand . . . They have to produce for export, and an export trade must be in large bulks of uniform produce.î
The English smallholder on the other hand ñsticks to his individual production because his local market accepts individual products: he may even be able to hawk them round and sell them retail.î Smallholders, Russell continues, could improve their market effectiveness by combining in co-operatives, but he then goes on to offer another solution: ñA promising alternative is for some interested group of people to organize a market to which smallholders are encouraged to bring their produce. This has been done at East Grinstead, where a collective market, run by Mrs Herbert Musgrave is held once a week. Tables are let to smallholders, cottagers and allotment-holders either as individuals or as groups . . . This market greatly encourages the smallholders because it offers them the prospect of retail prices for all that they can produce . . . Organised collection and transport by motor lorry would still further widen its scope.î Mrs Musgrave, if she were alive today, would no doubt be thrilled to see that her project in East Grinstead is being emulated by the farmersÍ markets popping up all over the country, even if they are arriving 70 years too late.
The resettlement schemes of the 1930s were not wildly successful, but they were by no means all failures „ in the early 1970s the average earnings of the tenants of the Land Settlement Association were well above the average agricultural wage. However the paternalistic structure of many of the settlements „ so at odds with the spirit of independence admired by Russell „ and the fact that these ventures were at the mercy of a fickle international market rather than embedded in the local community, led the majority of these ve ntures to collapse sooner or later. The surviving Land Settlement Schemes were privatized in 1982, and within 10 years many had fallen victim to the supermarketsÍ aggressive buying strategies.
How times have changed! In the 1930s there was great enthusiasm for land resettlement and smallholdings, but pace Mrs Musgrave (and leaving aside the boom period for local producers during World War II) this does not seem to have been backed up with any widespread strategy to protect these fledgling producers from the vagaries of the market or to pinpoint alternative markets for them .
Now we have the same lack of ñjoined-up thinkingî in reverse: local foods have become politically correct, there is a sudden proliferation of farmers markets, and local branding and adding value on the farm are seen as a key to survival „ all strategies enthusiastically supported in the Curry Report. Yet they are not backed up with a single land-focussed policy to encourage the formation or ensure the survival of the smaller holdings which are ideally suited to deliver goods at a local scale; instead small farms are expected to diversify into a ñwider range of businessesî.
There is a simple explanation for this contradictary approach: local food policies have been driven from the bottom by demand from environmentally aware consumers for better and fresher food, and by the keeness of some farmers to produce it; the push for diversification comes from the top „ from influential large-scale farmers who would rather move their land and buildings out of farming and into something more lucrative, than cede them at a realistic agricultural price to a new generation of farmers. They are represented by the CLA, which last year changed its name from the Country Landowners Association to the Country Land and Business Association; and by estate agents like Strutt and Parker, whose magazine Land Businessis written by and for modern day cormorants.
Small is Resilient
What future is there for smallholders in this conflicting policy context? One thing is certain: that there will continue to be a strong demand from those who cheerfully choose that way of life. Farming offers one of the few opportunities left for those who prefer manual labour, working outside, or working with animals. As mainstream society becomes more urbanized, plastic and ñvirtualî the number of people seeking an independent hands-on rural way of life is almost certain to increase. For much the same reasons it is also likely that the demand for locally marketed produce will contine to rise. But there are limits to local marketing, and these will depend upon the degree to which the green belt areas around large towns „ traditionally the stronghold of the market gardener „ can be recaptured for food production . The hope value on such property often places it beyond the reach of smallholders.
Indeed access to land may become an increasing problem for smallholders. At present it does not appear to be an overriding constraint; it is agricultural dwellings which are unaffordable for anyone wanting to make a modest living from agriculture. But pony -paddock prices are absurd, and there are signs that the demand for amenity land from wealthy incomers could inflate land prices in some areas to levels that are prohibitive„ particularly if, as Curry recommends, non-farmers get area-based grants for sticking a few pet sheep on it.
But there will always be a substantial body of people whose dream is to acquire a plot of land and make a modest or subsistence living from it „ and it will take a lot to stop the more determined of these. If property prices continue to rise then the only way to make smallholdings viable will be to buy bareland holdings with a view not just to farming them but alsoto living on them. This is what many of the smallholders featured in this issue are doing; and, as many of our readers know from personal experience, it can entail a fight against eviction, lasting five or even 15 years. In some ways things havenÍt changed that much since the time of Bishop Latimer „ although the dynamics of dispossession have become more subtle.
Faced with agricultural policy that takes it for granted that small farms will be diversified out of existence, planning policy that encourages the asset stripping of the agricultural patrimoine and development control policy which threaten those unable to afford a house with eviction from their land, smallholders are in for a bit of a battle. But this is nothing new, as a class they are used to battling. Peasants are societyÍs mice: no matter how often you try to get rid of them they keep coming back.
Smallholders Today: Who Are They? How Many Are There?
No one knows how many smallholders there are in this country, because nobody has bothered to count. In 1872, there were 217, 049 small proprietors with an average sized holding of 18 acres, plus 703, 289 cottagers; but as Kevin Cahill points out nothing even approximating such an analysis could be made today. There is a Devon Association of Smallholders which numbers nearly 2000 members. The Smallholder magazine has sales of around 13,000. NFU Countryside, a branch of the National FarmerÍs Union provides services for rural landowners has a membership of 80,000 members, which it considers will continue to grow as farms are fragmented or "downsized". But many smallholders belong to none of these bodies.
None of these bodies have any discernible political stance, (though NFU CountrysideÍs big sister certainly does) and the main reason is probably that they represent a very divided constituency. There are two rather different kinds of smallholding: which increasingly are becoming typified by those which have a house on their land , and those which donÍt. Twenty acres without a house in the South of England can be had for around £40-60,000. Twenty acres with a house will cost in the region of £250,000-£300,000. You are never going to be able to pay off the mortgage on a property like this by growing cabbages or keeping sheep
That is not to say that there are not many people who have bought or inherited smallholdings with a house who maintain productive and often exemplary farming enterprises. But it is easy to see why there may be a tendency for those who seek to make a living in the poorly paid agricultural sector to gravitate towards the cheaper ñbarelandî holdings, while the houses with land tend to get snapped up by well-to-do people who have a very minimal interest in farming, or none whatsoever.
We have an extraordinary situation in this country where anybody who has made half a million pounds in development, or the music industry or any other urban occupation can buy a few acres with a house and move into it, without having to provide a shred of evidence to anybody as to what they are going to do with the land, or how much money they are going to make from it, or why they need to be there „ while somebody who takes on a few acres of bare land, with a view to living on it and producing vegetables or free range eggs or coppice products, is subjected to unbelievable scrutiny as to the viability of the enterprise they are proposing and their ñfunctionalî need to live on the land, and is quite likely to remain under threat of eviction for years or even decades.
Even more extraordinary, we have had , in the space of 6 years, two rural White Papers and a farming Commission, all purporting to analyse the crisis in the rural economy, and all of totally ignoring this issue, even though what is happening is quite obvious to everyone who lives in the countryside. The drafters of these documents can hardly plead ignorance: Chapter 7 has submitted evidence to all of them , but we might as well have sent our submissions to Father Christmas.
So much for democracy! But , at Chapter 7, we still believe in it and the primary purpose of this issue is to give a voice to some of those who are struggling against this perverse approach to the management of the countryside.
Smallholders Speak Out
The next six pages tell, briefly, the stories of 13 different smallholders. These individuals represent a small fraction of those we have talked to over the last few years, which is a fraction of the number out there. We have selected each story to highlight one particular aspect of the general problem; and recounted them as far as practicable in the speaker’s words.
Margaret Young: Hiding in the Barn
Margaret Young grew up in the countryside and as a child developed a passion for goats that she retains to this day. When she met her husband 30 years ago they decided that they wanted to be farmers. They rented land for a while, and started keeping goats and growing vegetables on a part-time basis, but they wanted their own patch of ground. In the the mid 1990s they sold their cottage and bought 36 acres without living accommodation — a house would have been way out of their price range.
The Youngs needed to live on the land to attend to their animals, but they were afraid that they would not be given residential planning permission, because their enterprise was not up and running yet. They didn’t want to take a chance that they might not be allowed to live on the land, so they moved into two small caravans hidden inside a shed while they built up the herd.
Now, four years later, they have 80 dairy goats, 45 ewes, 2 horses, 7 donkeys, and pigs. The goats are hand-milked, and Margaret sells milk, yogurt and cheese for sale locally. She feels that they now have enough goats to show that they have a reason to be there, but she is still worried that they don’t make enough money from them to be considered viable by the planners. The Youngs have moved out of the sheds and are living in a more visible caravan now, but they are glad that they chose to move on to their land before starting their business. “If we had tried to start the business without being here, the planners might have said that that proved we didn’t need to be here at all.”
Margaret finds it strange that she should be viewed as a threat to the countryside because her farm may not be viable. "What the planners don't understand is that this is all we want out of life. We don’t need much money. I work 70 maybe 80 hours a week with my only holiday being a day at the local county show, but that should show that we are happy being where we are and living on our little farm."
Margaret believes that small scale enterprises are the life of the countryside because they are more eco-friendly and the animals are treated with pride and love — and without them the country side would be empty — the houses all full of commuters. "The land would not get looked after properly, all the wildlife and hedgerows would suffer — without us you end up with a countryside that is not very...well, not very nice."
Mary Harvey – 14 Years of Insecurity
Mary Harvey lives on an 8 acre smallholding , where she operates a free-range duck and chicken egg business, with a net profit hovering around £10,000-£14,000 per year. She recently won permission to live in a small timber building on the holding, after a 14 year long struggle, costing £25,000 in consultancy fees (paid for by a relative), in which the planners went to great lengths to try to expose her enterprise as a fraud.
Mary moved onto Horton Farm in 1985 after obtaining temporary permission for a caravan. She soon discovered that living in a caravan can be damp and uncomfortable, so she moved into one of the wooden buildings that was on their land Waverley Borough Counc il served her with an enforcement order saying she must remove the building.
Over the years the planning authority went to quite astonishing lengths to prove than she was not serious about her business. Mary has shown us the notes taken by a chief enforcement officer who spied on her movements on 26 occasions over a period of three weeks from a car parked outside her gates. On one occasion he followed her in his car to see where she was going. The object was to show that she spent almost no time on her holding, a conclusion which two Inspectors did not accept.
The planners calculated how many ducks might die in the 20 minutes it would take for her to travel from the village, arguing that the number was “acceptable”.
At appeal, the planning officer calculated how many ducks might die in the 20 minutes it would take for her to travel from the village in the event of an emergency, arguing that the number was “acceptable”. A vet wrote in Mary’s support saying that he was “amazed and apalled “ that the planners should suggest that she should lower her levels of stockmanship, by leaving her ducks unattended.
Towards the end of the saga, when the local authority won an appeal on the grounds that accommodation was available nearby, Mary was queue-jumped up the housing-list, and offered an unfilled council flat in a development designed for elderly people.
Mary got her permission in the end; but her story makes one wonder what it is that makes planners so obsessively opposed to the idea of smallholders living on their land.
Sue Place: The Inconvenience of Living Off-Site
The first time that we contacted Sue the shipping s ervice had dumped a polytunnel into her front garden and she was puzzling how to shift it to her land. Delivery companies won’t deliver there because it is not an official address. On another occasion a consignment of strawberry plants died because Sue wasn’t at home when they arrived and the company took them away again.
Sue and her husband Stephen have a herd of Jacob sheep and chickens and run a small organic vegetable scheme supplying people with fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat direct from the farm. They also have other jobs to pay off capital investment, but between them they do about 50 hours per week on the holding. There is plenty of produce and happy customers, but one problem is that the family lives about 10 minutes walk from the land.
Ten minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but it means that every time Sue wants to check her sheep, or pop the laundry in, or go to weed the carrots, or get something out of the computer, or open the polytunnel doors, or go back home to greet the kids after school, she waste s 20 minutes on a round trip. Sue and Steve are likely to do the round trip two to four times per day, often more. Sue may make special visits to her land at dawn and dusk to pick off the slugs. She remembers that one day during the foot and mouth crisis she had to disinfect 16 times!
When the kids were younger, she often had to stay with them, so her workday on the holding was cut short at 3:00 pm. Now the children spend much of the evening without their parents.
Sue and Stephen want to move onto their land and build a house, but when they spoke to the planners, they were told that it was becoming increasingly difficult to do this. If they do apply, the planners may well quote PPG7 at them: “Normally it will be as convenient for [agricultural and forestry] workers to live in nearby towns or villages.”
Sue who grew up on a smallholding in the days when farming was integrated with family life, doesn’t agree:
”Lots of people who visit our farm say ‘You should apply for permission to live here.’ Everybody can see what sense it would make. . . . Planning has to catch up with what’s going on. Everyone agrees we need more fresh and local food; If they value small farms, the planners should support us.”
John Gill: Widower Goes Back to the Land
Chapter 7 has heard from several older people who were born and bred in the countryside and wish to retire to a simple life working for themselves. Here are some excerpts from letters we received from John Gill.
“Your letter has really got me thinking and given me something to occupy my mind since losing my wife. I am now saving like mad and hope to be able to afford to buy a smal l plot and get back into the countryside again as I worked on a farm as a herdsman in the late 50’s. My day dreams send me back to the head herdsman’s house where I used to be sent to sleep listening to the rush of water going past the house that was was an old water mill where I lodged with the head herdsman and his wife (I suppose some rich person owns it now) I am now 59 years old and my wife of 32 years has died. My house is paid for and my children are grown up and scattered all over the country. So, I haven’t got anything to hold me back.
“To be honest I really want to have a load of animals so my grandkids will come and visit me. I remember my old granddad having his plot full of animal and we used to have such a time when we would go to visit him. The land is where I learned everything I know.
“M house is only worth £45,000 so a country house is way out of my price range, but I could get a coppice wood. Once I have got the plot, I will get in touch with Mr. Lloyd of Cumbria to learn about the trade of charcoal burning. I know now I’m not the only person with ancient back to basics beliefs. Mr. Lloyd sounds like my sort of person. Most people think I’m a daft dreamer.
“I don’t want to give my house up yet, though. What I’ll do is run the business from here, put a caravan on, stay there now and again, get the business up and running, take early retirement from my boring job of Council Car Park Attendant; put some livestock on like chickens, pigs (to clear the ground) and maybe a pony to pull the fallen trees out. Then tell the authorities I need to be there for the animals, and charcoal burning.
“When you say you believe that the poorer people in our society should get a chance to live and work in the country, it is as if you have read my thoughts as that is exactly what I think and I’ve always wondered why others don’t hanker for a small plot that they can keep a few animals on instead of spending thousands on household toys and big cars”
John hasn’t found any land yet for sale close enough to his wife’s grave, but he’s still looking .
Jim Aplin : Travellers Turn to Farming
At Warren Fruit Farm, in Gloucestershire, 60 acres of abandoned, but still productive orchards have been divided into 14 smallholdings and rented out — mainly to travellers who have settled and started small land-based enterprises, including fruit and veg, fruit juice, and poultry. But ,the eight or so travelling families who have moved onto the land have traded one set of hassles for another. Tewkesbury Borough Council are not only threatening enforcement action but even tried to ban them from selling goods at the farmers market.
For Jim Aplin and his partner Hayley Morland, who lived for years on the road doing seaso nal picking or planting, this was a rare opportunity to gain a bit of land at an affordable price. Hayley was pregnant and parking up got to be more and more difficult. So they decided to rent one of the plots.
Now Jim, and Hayley run a box scheme from one acre of their 3.7 acres. At present they produce 30 boxes, plus extra veg for the farmers markets, as well as plums, pears and free range eggs. They plan to double production next year. Box schemes have proved to be a a great way for them to be able to "carry on for ourselves, making our own decisions". Their scheme has proved successful, but not enough for the Tewkesbury planning department. After sitting on his application for a temporary caravan for over 9 months, they employed Reading Agricultural Consultants to pull his project to pieces, and then turned it down.
Jim is going to appeal, and despite years of being moved on by the authorities, remains hopeful:
& #8220;If you are sat on your arse doing nothing, then you're making the case for the people you want off the land. But if you're working hard for what you believe in,and letting people know the good you're doing for sustainability, the environment and the local economy, then you're building your own case, and you've got a fighting chance."
Tinkers Bubble: Community Smallholding
Tinkers Bubble is a community of 11 adults and 4 children who together manage an agricultural and forestry smallholding of forty acres. The original group of people who bought the land chipped in together because none could afford to buy their own little plot. Tinkers Bubble cost £1,300 per acre in 1994, while £5,000 per acre was the going price for pony-paddocks. Collective ownership also gave the community the opportunity to work cooperatively. The members of Tinkers Bubble now manage a wide variety of micro-enterprises including orchards, timber, vegetables, cheese, meat and g reen woodwork.
Tinker’s Bubble now has five-year temporary permission for a low impact settlement in association with agricultural and forestry business. But it took them five years to get it, during which time they went through three applications, enforcement notice, a failed Article 4 direction and stop notice, a public inquiry, High Court, Court of Appeal and refusal for the matter to be considered by the House of Lords. The legal costs of this process were over £20,000.
After all that, the local planning committee gave them permission, against the recommendation of the planning officers, because it was becoming apparent that the project was, potentially at least, a good one. Even some of the planning department ,who recommended against it, have signalled, that they were in favour of the project, but were constrained by national policy. As one of the original Bubblers commented “We knew from the start that we would never in a century get permission if we applied beforehand. The only way to get planning consent w as to move on without permission and show that the project worked.”
Why couldn’t Tinkers Bubble fit into national policy? Well firstly, while it might be possible to argue a functional need to live on the land for one or two people, there is no way that you can argue it for a whole tribe: communities are ruled out from the start by the guidance on functional need in PPG7.
Secondly, none of the agricultural and forestry businesses at Tinker’s Bubble are large enough to be considered viable by the standards usually applied. Most provide enough for subsistence and a minimal income averaging around £1,500 per year. This is adequate: each adult resident of Tinker’s Bubble pays no more than £20 cash per week for their food, shelter, water, heating, lighting, agricultural infrastructure, tools and insurance. But try explaining this to agricultural consultants like ADAS, who gave evidence against Tinker’s Bubble, or Reading Agricultural Consultants. Such firms claim that “the generally accepted standard is that enterprises should be able to provide a return at least equivalent to the minimum agricultural wage (£10-£11000) for each labour unit on the holding, as well as a small return on capital investment” — but there is no statutory basis for this figure.
“Policy allows little latitude for the new smallholder who wants to be self-sufficient and live and work in the countryside. We all claim to want a living, working countryside. Well, councillors will need to take some brave decisions to ensure that we achieve that .” Baroness Miller
Fortunately the majority of councillors on the planning committee had more vision than the “experts”. Sue Miller (now Baroness Miller), the leader of South Somerset district council at the time commented:
“Policy allows little latitude for the new smallholder who wants to be self-sufficient and live and work in the countryside. We all claim to want a living, working countryside. Well, councillors will need to take some brave decisions to ensure that we achieve that . . . Red tape and outdated policy have failed to strangle South Somerset and we are proud of that.”
Liz Bond: Fined for Living Where She Was Brought Up
Liz Bond and her partner Tony have lived for seven years in a mobile home on four acres in a the West Country , where they keep chickens, horses and other animals. At present they are both occupied looking after their youngest son who is seriously ill. Liz, who is 40, was brought up in the house next door and inherited the land from her father, who had sold the house.
For several years the couple have been living under threat of an enforcement notice, and two years ago they were taken to court and fined £250. Since then they have been left alone, although the planners have come to make inspections. Says Liz: “The insecurity and the worry about whether we are going to be thrown out of our home is very draining. The guy next door runs a scrap business, burning plastic and disposing of asbestos; yet the planners say that it is we who are spoiling the countryside by living and sleeping in the place where I was brought up.”
Charlie Cox: Affordable Home on an Acre
Charlie and his family live in Essex. They are ordinary people who work hard, don’t go for anything too posh, and in their words “haven’t a chance in hell of buying our own home”. For the past 20 years they have managed an acre (plus a bit next door that they have claimed through adverse possession), keeping themselves supplied in food with a vegetable plot, chickens, pigs and goats —“it’s surprising what you can get out of a little piece of ground”. On their little plot of land they have lived in a caravan part-time for the past five years, shuffling back and forth between their home and the plot. Charlie has finally gotten the caravan up to standard so that his 14 and 16 year old girls can “keep themselves in the manner that they are accustomed to”. Now, they are thinking of moving into their caravan full-time.
They aren’t sure what sort of reaction they will get, but they feel confident. As Charlie put it, “ the caravan has been on that bit of land for so long that the planners know someone will be able to live there. I get an offer from a gypsy every week for it, so they know what it ’s worth. “ Charlie (in a variation of a strategy known by development consultants as the “fall-back” approach) says that he will sell the land to Gypsies if he can’t get permission to live in the caravan, (in planning policy there are exceptions made for gypsies, which aren’t available for non-gypsies ). “Not that I’ve got anything against Gypsies: we’re just like them.”
The district council have recently revealed plans to build affordable housing in open countryside near Charlie’s plot. One might have thought that the council could allow caravans as affordable housing in the countryside — at least when they are linked to a land- based way of keeping costs down for an average family.
Chris Dixon: Temporary Permission Brings No Security
Getting temporary permission does not guarantee you a secure home, as permaculturalists Chris and Lynn Dixon have found out. They bought Tir Penrhos Isaf, a seven acre holding in Coed Y Brenin in the Snowdonia National Park, in 1986, when it was an over-grazed, close cropped sward with little variety under scattered mature trees. Wet areas were damaged by poaching, dry areas succumbed to drought.
For five years the Dixons lived four and a half miles from the land , but after lengthy negotiations with the National Park they acquired permission to live on their land in a caravan in 1991. Since moving on they have been able to devote more time to increasing the diversity and productivity of the holding and now have a deer-proofed, perennial forest garden which shelters raised annual beds designed to become more productive and easier to garden each year. The Park’s ecologists have been impressed by the Dixon’s permaculture experiments and this was helpful in getting renewals of permission in the 1990s.
However recently there has been a new flush of councillors, from livestock backgrounds, who are disdainful of the “chaotic” nature of the holding. On a site visit, the councillors couldn’t identify productive plants in complex, mixed systems or indeed many native species (well, it was January) — and their attitude was was characterised by one of the councillors who stated "what this place needs is a bit more order".
The Dixon’s 2001 application for a permanent low-impact dwelling was refused, and turned down at appeal, partly on the extraordinary grounds that their income was so low that they could not afford to build a house. Even worse, in 2002 their application for renewal of temporary permission was refused, so now, after living on their land for 11 years, the Dixons, with their young son, find themselves threatened with eviction.
Keith Burdett: The Costs of Commuting
In order to support their application Chapter 7 asked the family to draw up a rough estimate of the extra costs involved if they had to move to a house elsewhere, whilst continuing to farm their holding. We thought at first the figures provided were somewhat exaggerated, but the Burdetts were adamant that affordable housing was impossible to find (they had tried) and that the figures given are accurate.
Three scenarios are imagined: a house at the nearest town 12 miles away; a house in a 6 miles away; and a house in the up-market local vil lage, one mile away. At present, living on site, the family only runs one vehicle, a land-rover.
As can be seen, below, the total costs of living away from the holding are nearly the same as a minimum agricultural wage, which is also the approximate level of the average net farm income across the UK for 1999-2000 (£8,700) and 2000-2001 (£9,900).
Mike Fisher : It Can Be Done
It would be foolish to give the impression that it is impossible for smallholders to acquire planning permission. Mike Fisher operates a very successful organic vegetable box scheme on 12 acres near Basingstoke. In 1995 he received temporary planning permission for a dwelling on his property by submitting a “by the book” planning application illustrating how he met the financial and functional needs tests as a “stockless horticultural enterprise growing vegetables outdoors and in polytunnels”. The application included a business plan with very extensive documentation — itemized literally down to the last centimetre of distance between the rows of cabbages — to demonstrate that he would be able to generate £9,000 profit by the second year of business. Mike expected to go to appeal but was given temporary planning permission for three years. Since then his business has grown to a turnover of £50,000 and he has been given permanent permission for a wooden house.
“The functional and financial tests are quite valid measures, otherwise every builder would buy a field, put some sheep on it for a year, build a house, cash in and repeat the exercise until he retired to the Costa on the profits. The difficulty is that these guidelines are often seen as being applicable to farmers with substantial capital behind them, not small scale organic growers or permaculturalists. However with 12.5 acres, a lot of hard work and the support of frien ds and families, I’ve got temporary permission . . . But it has been won at some cost and only after the compromising of ideals”
Getting permission at the first application is comparatively rare. It has to be said that Mike is an unusually efficient and focused person, probably capable of getting Virgin trains to run on time, if he were given the chance. Many people don’t necessarily want to operate at quite this level, and a policy that excludes them from living in the countryside on that basis is not, in our view, a very constructive one. Besides, if Mike sold his permanent house and business on, there is no guarantee that the new occupant would operate the business efficiently or profitably.
Mike tells us that two other smallholdings which submitted applications along the lines developed by him have received temporary planning permission for dwellings.
For a copy of Mike Fisher’s application and his p aper How to Apply for Planning Permission, contact Chapter 7.
Ed Revell: Waiting for a Low Impact Use Class
Ed farms a 9 acre smallholding on Gower peninsula in Wales and is the only organic producer in the Swansea area. He operates a vegetable box scheme with 70 customers, supplying only seasonal vegetables — no imports. At present he lives in Holtsfield chalet village, right next to his own land, but does not think he will be able to carry on with this indefinitely.
He would like to be able to build a low impact dwelling on his land, but will not do that because his land is in a prime development zone. If he gets permission, that could later be passed on to someone who would build a “horrible posh housing estate". The man who sold him the land made Ed sign a statement saying Ed would have to give him half of the increased v alue in the property, if he gained planning permission for a dwelling. So in the future, Ed is particularly interested in the Welsh Assembly coming up with some clear distinctions between low-impact developments and high impact housing in planning law.
At the moment , however, Ed is simply trying to stay in business in the face of planners who hassle him unecessarily:
" I am trying to be an organic vegetable grower in an economic climate which favours cheap imports produced with high chemical inputs.
“I have been trying to get retrospective permission to retain four small sheds made primarily from straw and turf, used solely for the purpose of storing and packing my vegetables. After fruitless letters, scale drawings by architects, and now agricultural questionnaires and most expensive of all (unless I can somehow blag it) a consultant’s report. I have come to the following conclusion:
“We no longer need to do anything in this country except serve each other, as all our goods are now brought in from the developing countries. However, society says that it is not good to be unemployed. This need for lots of people who would be otherwise be producing things to do something else instead results in the generation of increasing amounts of bureaucracy and paperwork.
That would be fine if the people who choose to delve deeper into the endless details of our society's written rules didn't expect me to get drawn into their abyss."
Caroline Barry: Local Lass Builds Sustainable Home
Caroline Barry was born in the village of Butleigh, Somerset, where her parents kept the local pub for 20 years. After taking an NVQ in agricultur e, she started rearing calves. This was profitable, and in 1995 she sold her cottage to buy a smallholding in Butleigh with a caravan that had been lived in for many years. She applied for a certificate of lawful use, but was refused.
Having built up a part-time business around calves and pigs, in 1999 she was (somewhat unusually) given two year temporary permission for her caravan.
However Caroline’s caravan became increasingly damp and disagreeable and she learnt that in 1997, the guidance had been changed to allow temporary agricultural worker’s to reside in “wooden structures that can be easily dismantled” as an alternative to a caravan. So she bought a secondhand wooden frame and erected it with walls made of straw bales, and cordwood logs. (see photo)
Mendip local authority immediately put an enforcement notice on the structure, claiming it was a permanent house and Caroline went to appeal. The Inspector agreed with her that the structure was acceptable as a temporary house — but dismissed the appeal because her temporary permission had run out. Caroline now has 4 months before the enforcement notice comes into force.
Meanwhile other local organizations, including the local authority supported Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development have heaped praise upon Caroline’s house for its sustainable attributes — it is the first straw bale house in the area — and Caroline has been employed to help build a non-residential straw bale building at the County recycling centre.
Caroline feels under pressure to become a full-time farmer, even though she is more interested in a subsistence part-time approach: “I can live cheaply on my own land eating my home-grown vegetables: my lifestyle allows me to generate my own electricity via solar panels and a wind turbine and all my heating is provided by my own timber and dead trees from hedge-laying. I would find it impossible to carry on these activities if I lived some miles from my land.”
Chapter 7 has visited six of these holdings, has carried out agricultural appraisals for two of them, and has met eight of the people concerned, and so we are able, to some extent, to verify their stories. In two cases, names and minor details have been changed to protect the speaker’s anonymity. These case studies, along with others, will be presented as evidence to the Ministry when PPG7, the planning guidance on the countryside, comes up for revision in the near future.
At Chapter 7 we repeatedly hear allegations from smallholders about the tactics employed by some planning officers „ who are accused of being prejudiced, underhand, bullying, prying or corrupt. Almost everyone tells us that their own particular local a uthority is one of the worst. Mostly we do not print these allegations ,because we cannot verify them, though they are so widespread we cannot believe they are all without foundation. Here, however is a shortened version of an article by Tony Wrench , originally published in The County Echo, describing the tactics he claims have been used by Pembrokeshire National Park planners to orchestrate a refusal of the application for his roundhouse. We have invited Catherine Milner to respond to TonyÍs allegations.
Greetings to citizens of sustainable communities! That may be you. If you live in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park youÍre definitely living in one of these ñsustainableî communities. Its OK, you donÍt have to live more sustainably „ its just their way of getting kudos without actually doing anything.
Why do I care? Because IÍve been trying to live sustainably for 20 years. Our roundhouse eco-home was turned down again by planners last month. This time we asked simply for two years extension until the report into Low Impact Development, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly, and part funded by the Park, was taken on board. But no. Ms Catherine Milner, development control officer, says pla nning rules are fixed and unyielding. Dwellings in the open countryside must be ñstrictly controlledî, ie stamped out. Dwellings for ordinary live humans, that is. We could have had permission had I been a cow, a horse or a dead iron age chieftain.
The national Park is failing to safeguard this beautiful landscape of ours, which grew with and through the actions of people. They formed the small cottages, laid the hedges and walls, made the lanes. Their homes were part of the landscape. They lived where they worked. Its more sustainable that way, without cars and tractors. They wouldnÍt get permission nowadays.
What happens if someone challenges plannersÍ assumption that nature and people donÍt mix? Here are a few tricks played by one officer to ensure that the members of the Park committee did what she wanted.
´ Telling the committee that ñno case had or could be madeî for the functional test for an agricultural dwelling. Both Jane and I work at Brithdir full time. She gardens, milks the goats, makes cheese and a host of other things; I have built the goat and cow sheds, and carried out many other agricultural activities as well as making a livelihood turning bowls and platters. We have, because of this lifestyle, managed without our own car all the time we have been here.
On our first application, Ms Milner asked the Pembs County CouncilÍs Principal Estates surveyor, Geoff Kingston, to advise on this question. He visited us and wrote a report which stated: ñthe question of do the applicant and his partner have to live on site . . . If you look at the diverse range of work undertaken at Brithdir Mawr by the applicant and his partner, then it is fairly clear that in the terms of the functional requirements of the community, that the answer would be yes . . . not because of one overriding need, but because of the number of essential daily tasks and unforeseeable minor emergencies, coupled with input into group projects, which would make their alternative of living off site, in say Newport, totally impracticable.î
Kingston recommended a three year temporary permission. This was never reported to the members of the committee. If you are a member of the committee, you probably believe Ms Milner when she asserts ñno case has or could be made.î
´ Members have been subtly advised against seeing our house for themselves. Last year we had 950 visitors; not one of them was a member of the committee that turned us down. One member has seen it, our nearest councillor. He was advised that his interest in our case could be prejudicial so he cannot speak or vote on it.
´ I have been denied a request to address the committee. Two years ago I attended a committee at which a bunch of business smoothies presented a five minute long promotional video for a gaming alley in Tenby. WhatÍs the difference between a woodturner and a gaming alley owner? You tell me.
´ Planning laws are not carved in stone. Policies do not, says the law, have to be rigidly applied if there are ñmaterial considerationsî suggesting otherwise (Section 54a of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act). This is not something, as far as I can see, that all members are aware of. I asked three material considerations to be taken into account by the committee. How many did Ms Milner report. None.
´ Finally, Ms Milner reported to the committee that no comment had been received from Newport Town Council. In fact that council had had a long debate on our roundhouse the previous week and taken the decision to support it. Despite three separate attempts to make sure that this was made clear to the committee, it was not. DonÍt lets bother members with the facts, eh?
Now fellow Sustainable Community dwellers, what do we do? Take all this jiggery-pokery lying down? Appeal again and trust that the inspector likes turf roofs a bit more than the last one? Hundreds of people have visited our house and said: ñThey canÍt make you pull this down!î Well they can, even though they donÍt play fair and only tell their committee half the story.
To support Tony contact: www.thatroundhouse.info; Brithdir Mawr, Newport, Pembs.
The Food: Where Will It Grow?
How do we get fresh local food to the millions in the big cities? Could peri-urban smallholdings provide an answer? And how does this fit in with current thinking on the green belt?
The campaign for local foods has come a long way in the 10 years since the concept of ñfood milesî was first elaborated; the Curry report on food and farming gives the promotion of local foods strong backing, which is only one step short of it becoming Government policy.
But in the enthusiasm for box schemes, farmerÍs markets and other means of distributing food locally, one question seems to have been forgotten „ where is the local food going to be grown?
So far this has not proved a problem because the farmerÍs market phenomenon has evolved in smallish market towns, in areas like the West Country where there are plenty of small farmers. But the majority of people donÍt live in market towns „ they live in conurbations like London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester; and there are millions of them. Who is going to provide them with fresh local produce „ and where?
From a geographical point of view, the answer is self-evident: in the countryside immediately surrounding the conurbation. This is where fresh food production for cities has traditionally taken place: not so long ago many places in Bucks, Herts, Essex and Kent were centres for market gardeners who produced much of the veg for a city of 8 million people.
But thereÍs nothing like planning for making a simple solution complex. T hese areas are now ñgreenbeltsî: typically swathes of more or less blighted countryside, straddled by pylons, where nags keep the grass down while landowners let their farm buildings out for industrial storage and sit on their land in the hope that one day it will realize its development potential. Not the sort of area where a would-be organic grower can easily pick up a few acres of cultivable land at a reasonable price and stick a mobile home on it while they build up their business. Small wonder that organic veg growers tend to head for the West Country, where the land is cheaper and less tainted.
A solution to this problem is unlikely to come from organic producers (most of whom would prefer to live in the West Country anyway). But perceptive planners are working on it and the matter is creeping up the agenda. In C7 News No 4 we described a visionary proposal from Mark Fisher and colleagues for low impact smallholdings in the greenbelt around Bradford. Here are four other approaches from planners.
The Upminster Town Wall
Tom Young in his study of the West London suburb of Upminster1 looked at the problem f rom an urban plannerÍs perspective. ñSo much of UpminsterÍs boundary with the countryside is back garden fencing „ the ïUpminster Town WallÍ . . . Garden fencing or ordinary houses are fine grain elements, but repeated hundreds of times they take on the scale of the open land all around.
ñOur own research has revealed how divorced Upminster has become from agriculture. Food producers say local people have no interest in working on the land, preferring jobs in warm offices. They cite the supermarket-led transformation of food distribution in the 70s as the main reason for the disappearance of market gardens which supplied LondonÍs markets . . . Local farmers do not take part in the market for local waste products. The NFU say, disappointingly, that they plan no initiatives to integrate agricultural and suburban economies.î
Those of us familiar with the agricultural sector have long since learnt not to be disappointed by the NFU; but it is pleasantly surprising that an urban planner should think to consult them.
Sustaining The City Region
Meanwhile, Joe Ravetz, of t he University of Manchester has been putting together City Region 2020, a vision for the sustainable development of the entire city-region of Greater Manchester.2 One section of his very big picture focuses upon the fringe areas:
ñDoes sustainable farming mean local production for local markets? . . . If half of Greater ManchesterÍs grassland was converted to organic horticulture, which supplies an average of two households per acre with fresh native foods, up to 10 per cent of local seasonal food demand could be provided . . . It would generate up to 20,000 land based jobs, or six times existing farm employment.î
In fact RavetzÍs figures are underestimates since an acre of land will supply far more than two households with fresh seasonal veg, more like ten or twenty. An acre could provide two households with all their food. But heÍs got the right idea. He goes on to advocate US style ñcommunity land trustsÍ as a way of safeguarding land around cities (see C 7 News Nos 1 and 6) More recently Ravetz has reiterated these proposals in a report for the Countryside Agency which advocates: ñLow impact communities in selected locations to enable eco-restoration via organic farming, tele-working, local workshops and social economy.î
RavetzÍs report on Greater Manchester was published as a book by the The Town and Country Planning Association, and RavetzÍs ideas have been taken several steps further in a recent TCPA policy statement on green belts. 3The TCPA calls for a more environmentally positive approach to land use in green belts, including local food production, renewable energy and low impact dwellings for people carrying out these activities. The document states:
ñThe restrictive nature of green belts, and their large geographical extent around many conurbations inhibit the scope for encouraging new forms of development in rural areas and for diversification of their local communities . . . Progress towards the improvement of the environment in green belts has been slow, given the importance of such areas for recreation by the urban population, and has failed to encourage the production of food for local markets . . . ñTo make settlements more sustainable, green belts should now be conceived as eco-belts, so that land around towns becomes a zone for a range of ecological and sus tainable uses, such as smallholdings for organic market gardening, community woodlands, composting projects, wind farms, and small-scale biomass power stations . . . ñIn return for green belt status, local planning policies should make specific provision for countryside access; sport and outdoor recreation; landscape protection and enhancement; the reparation of damaged and derelict land; nature conservation; and farming, forestry and related uses. Policies to promote sustainable land management with mixed organic farming and community woodlands should allow, where appropriate, small-scale, low-impact, live-work units for those engaging in local food production, woodland crafts and other land-based activities . . .î
We couldnÍt have put it better. If all goes well, views like this could be seeping into planning policy guidance in about four years time. But before a good idea becomes accepted you have to take it to its logical conclusion. This job has been left to Swedish systems ecologist Folke G?nther, whose revolutionary proposals „ which fly in the face of conventional theories about cramming everybody into ñcompact citie sî „ prompted one of the authors of the TCPA policy statement cited above to comment: ñI think it is going a bit far .. . but it is interesting.î4
G?ntherÍs theory is that in order to return the nutrients (in particular phosphates) necessary for human survival back to the soil efficiently so that more can be grown, consumption will have to take place closer to production. He predicts a gradual ñruralizationî of urban communities as they integrate with the surrounding countryside, instead of importing resources and nutrients, with unsustainable energy use, from distant locations to which they cannot practically or economically be returned.
G?nther sees this taking place through eco-units of about 200 inhabitants, living off areas of about 50 hectares. These communities would be largely self-sufficient in terms of food, animal fodder, water, energy and waste return to the soil. He describes a scenario where an urban centre of 33,000, with a population in its surrounding area of 3,000, after 25 years has a population of only 12,000. with 24,000 living in the periphery. After 50 years the region would be ergonomically decentralized and self-sustaining, with the town centre serving mainly as a cultura l and decision-making centre.
This is permaculture on the grand scale. Whether G?ntherÍs vision for what could happen to a provincial town in sparsely populated Sweden can be applied to an overpopulated metropolis like Manchester is another matter. Gunther claims that to 0,2 hectare per person are required, which amounts to only half the land available per person across the UK.
His vision needs to be taken seriously, not least because it would be a good idea, before it is too late, to find ways of avoiding throwing hundreds of millions of third world peasants off their lands and herding them into unsustainable metropolises of 20 or 30 million people. Peasants (the word means people who live in a district) already have the ergonomic relationship with their land that G?nther believes civilized folk need to re-establish. Why throw this away? Why not use modern technology and know-how to build on this foundation?
What the Dinosaurs Think
All of this, of course, is above the heads of the mainstream planning establishment. In May there was a flurry of interes t in the future of greenbelts recently from organizations with huge memberships supporting small policy units, but they have come up with few new ideas.
In May, the Royal Town Planning Institute issued a policy statement on Green Belts 5 which called for a reassessment of policy (which is a mealy-mouthed way of saying ñwhy not let developers move in?î). The sum total of what it had to say about farming, in 16 pages of text, was this: ñThere need to be explicit strategies for farming and forestry in green belts.î What kind of strategies? ñFarming may have a limited future in the urban fringe . . Farming in the urban fringe has long been only marginally viable and can be expected to be the first to be abandonedî. Given that most land in the green belt is agricultural, this is a grotesque abdication from any kind of strategic thinking whatsoever.
The CLA (formerly the Country Landowners Association, recently reborn as the Country Land and Business Association) have issued their own policy statement on the green belt. As far as farming is concerned, their main worry seems to be that approvals for new buildings associated with ñagricultural diversification ñ (ie non-agricultural use of farmyards) are , horror of horrors, 12 per cent less likely to be given in the green belt than in the rest of the country, and something must be done.
The CLA and the RTPI (together with estate agents Strutt and Parker) advocate regular reviews of green belt policies „ which sounds well-meaning and innocuous enough, until you consider that this will encourage landowners to sit on their land in anticipation of the next ñreviewî and hike up its price, thereby increasing the blight.
The NFU is watching from the sidelines. Their members, spokesman David Glasson told us, have ñmixed interestsî, and while one of these is farming, another is selling land for development. No prizes for guessing which makes more money.
Meanwhile NIMBYs , represented by the Council for the Protection of Rural England have been quoted in the press as condemning any change to green belt policy,: ñWe donÍt see any evidence that green belts are not working. î ThereÍs none so blind as those who will not see; but the public (to the evident dismay of the RTPI) continues to support the CPREÍs stance, and quite understandably, because at the moment greenbelts, however unsatisfactory they may be, are the only strong mechanism we have to stop the inexorable spread of ghastly edge-of-town sprawl.
In the midst of this muddy debate, which has hardly advanced in the last ten years, the TCPAÍs policy statement stands out like a jewel. The TCPA has come under fire from Friends of the Earth and other environmentalists in recent years, sometimes justifiably, sometimes not. It is interesting to see that, 100 years after it first launched the idea of new towns, the TCPA can still come up with more original thinking than the rest of the big organizations put together.
1. Thomas Young, Reinvigorating Upminster, 80 Lamble St., NW5 4AB, 2001. 2.Joe Ravetz, City Region 2020, TCPA/Earthscan, 2000. 3. TCPA Policy Statement Greenbelts, May 2002. 4. Contact: Folke.Gunther@humecol.lu.se. 5 RTPI, Modernising Green Belts, May 2002. 6. CLA, A Living Working Greenbelt, May 2002.
Here are the main conclusions which Chapter 7 has drawn from our extensive contact with smallholders over the last few years.
1. The demand for smallholdings and number of smallholdings is likely to increase. Smallholdings offers one of the few opportunities left for those who prefer manual labour, working outside, or working with animals. It is true that in the near future much farmland is likely to be concentrated into bigger farms; but it only requires one farm to be subdivided to create a number of smallholdings „ and the financial advantage to be derived from subdivision is potentially greater than from concentration. Preventing subdivision would require draconian planning constraints
2. Small farmers have an important role to play in the provision of local food. Smallholders and small farm enterprises are in many respects better suited than large indstrial units for providing the public with locally distributed and fresher foods. In particular land will need to be provided for market gardeners and similar around large conurbations.
3. Smallholdings are a benefit to the local economy. Smallholdings employ more people per acre of land than large farms; typically they will provide a living for one family on every 10 or 20 acres, while industrial farming currently provides a living for one family every 100-200 acres. This will have obvious effects upon the viability of local village centres and rural economies.
4. Small labour intensive farms are potentially more productive per acre than large ones; However this potential will not be realized onn a widespread level unless it is recognized in policy. There is a shortage of training and extension services for smallholders (many smallholders are new entrants, whose enthusiasm is often greater than their experience); and there is a shortage of co-operative outlets for distributing food locally. Local authorities in particular have a role to play.
5. Small labour intensive units are potentially more responsive to environmental and animal welfare needs. It is evident that (other things being equal) the more workers there are per hectare, or per animal, the more attention can be given to ensuring that the environment and animals are properly cared for. However the extent to which this principle can be applied in practice is dependent upon the signals and financial incentives coming from Government.
6. Many smallholdings can support people living on the land, but not in the commuter economy. While a great many smallholdings can provide a living for a family living in modest but happy circumstances on the land they own, very few smallholdings provide sufficient surplus to pay for the costs of a house in a nearby village plus the costs of commuting to and from the land.
7. Existing policy which states that smallholders should live in nearby towns or villages is unrealistic. The statement in PPG7 that ñnormally it will be as convenient for [agricultural workers] to live in nearby towns or villagesî is simply not true. We have a great deal of testimony that it is highly inconvenient for smallholders and small farmers to live away from their holdings, and it causes unnecessary commuting.
8. The functional and financial tests in Annex I of PPG7 are unsuitable for assessing the needs of smallholders. Case law *( eg. Petter and H arris v SoS and Chichester DC 1999, Jarmain ) has confirmed that the detailed guidance in Annex I is not necessarily appropriate for assessing the performance of smallholdings in terms of ñthe underling purpose of the policyî. Annex I needs to be redrafted so as to allow bona fide smallholding projects to proceed, whilst precluding speculative development.
9. The need for research into solutions for this problem The current thrust of policy deterring smallholders from living on their land (although it derives from a well-intentioned attempt to stop speculative development in the countryside), causes extreme insecurity and anguish. Some of the people Chapter 7 deals with have lived for 15 years or more with the threat of eviction over their home. This sitation is unheard of in less developed contries unless they are in a state of war, is unacceptable in any society, and has a disastrous effect upon the rural economy. In order to resolve this dilemma, Chapter 7 advocates a move towards greater provision for sustainable low impact in the contryside. In he first instance we advocate that, as a matter of urgency, research is carried out into the benefits of smallholdings, the difficulties smallholders face, and the possible benfits that might result from providing for a measured amount of low impact development. Such research has already been initiated in Wales.
Who Owns Britain?
Who Owns Britain, by Kevin Cahill, Canongate, Edinburgh, 2002, hardback £25. Paperback sc heduled for September. Available from Chapter 7
Walk into the mairie of any village in France and ask to see the cadastre and no matter who you are you will be shown, free of charge, maps of the commune with all the plots of land numbered, and a tome in which is inscribed the current and past owners of each of these plots.
Just over a century ago you could do much the same in England. According to Kevin Cahill: ñEvery person in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland was within walking distance of a free list of those landowners who most affected their lives at the local parish office. In the last 120 years the parishes have not been abolished, but their landowning records have.î The centralized land registry we have now is between 30 and 50 per cent incomplete, is difficult to get access to and is prohibitively expensive for any systematic search.
Cahill's groundbreaking book has three main objectives: The first is to expose the lengths to which the British land-owning establishment have gone to ensure that the rest of us have as little information as possible about what they own. The second is to provide up to date information about landow nership patterns in the UK, which he does with copious tables. The third is to draw some conclusions about the effects of the UKÍs concentrated land ownership patterns, which he does most effectively by comparison with the situation in Republic of Ireland.
Cahill takes as his starting point the 1872 Return of Owners of Land, which was the last (indeed the only) comprehensive analysis of who owns Britain. It showed conclusively that 710 people „ the aristocracy „ owned more than one quarter of the whole country, and for this reason it was criticised for its inevitable inaccuracies and then buried by the government of the day, which was comprised in large part of those same seven hundred. The Return could have become the basis for a transparent land registry system in England. Instead to acquire the information today that in 1872 was on sale for the equivalent of £70 would cost ñabout £150 million if it were available, which it is notî.
Nonetheless the Return did provide ammunition for the liberal land reform governments of Asquith and Lloyd George, and in between 1918 and 1922 about a quarter of the country changed hands - a process which is unsatisfactorily glossed over in CahillÍs book.< /p>
The result, today is that land ownership in the UK is still highly concentrated by comparison to almost any country, but not in quite the same way as it was in 1872. CahillÍs tables for all the counties of the UK show that the massive aristocratic estates have typically halved in size since 1872 (except for those associated with the crown); but the numbers of smallholders with areas of 5 acres or so has declined even more catastrophically. In 1872, out of a population of less than 20 million, there we some 250,000 private owners of agricultural land, (and another 703,000 cottagers. Today there are only 189,000 families on a rather bigger acreage. The winners have been the large farms. There are now about 15 per cent more landowners with holdings over 500 acres in England than there were in 1872 „ although there is less rural land and three times as many people.
What makes CahillÍs research really interesting is that he also covers his home country, the Republic of Ireland, and here the pattern of landownership over the last 120 years has been in sharp contrast to that in England: ñOf the 17.3 million acres which comprise the land area of the republic, of which 14 million acres was farmland, 97 per cent was owned by landlords in 1881. In the space of about 60 ears, from 1870 to 1930, 13 million acres of that farmland had been taken over and sold to owner occupiers . . . The entire price of buying a nation for its people was between £5 billion and £7 billion , around two years of EU subsidyî.
Because of this land reform., while the number of landowners with more than 500 acres has gone up by 15 per cent in England, it has declined by 75 per cent in Ireland. There are 111,000 agricultural holdings owned in England, while in Ireland, with about half the amount of land, there are 153,000. Their average size of a farm in England is 204 acres; in the Republic of Ireland it is about 70 acres.
This is a staggering difference for two countries which have only been separated for 80 years, and according to Cahill the effects are now beginning to show. While England is undergoing an agricultural crisis, the rural economy in Ireland is booming. Both countries are eligible to receive massive subsidies from the EU; but while the £3.5 billion that the UK receives goes largely towards its 40,000 land millionaires, in Ireland ñthe number of small farms means that this income is widely distributed among the work ing population.î As Cahill also notes, the Irish policy of allowing ñone-offî houses in the countryside has also helped to distribute wealth (even if the architecture is contentious).
Cahill also notes that the Irish pay no council tax, yet still benefit from local services (unfortunately he doesnÍt explain what taxes do pay for these services). In the UK, on the other hand ñhidden behind the current pattern of ownership . . . is the fact that the 59 million people who live on just 4.4 million residential acres in this country are subject to a land tax called the Council Tax, averaging £550 per household, which totals 10.4 billion a year. The 189,000 families who live on 40 million acres, pa £103 million in Council Tax on their actual home, but not their acres, and receive a direct subsidy from the Ministry of Agriculture of £2.3 billion, plus other subsidies which probably brings the total closer to £4 billion or more. Each residential home coughs up an average of £550 in tax a year. Each landowning family gets an average handout of £12,169 per year.
Cahill finishes his book with an attack on the environmental lobby, particularly FoE and the National Trust who he says: ñcan be taken seriously w hen they . . . insist on a democratic Land Registry in which the rich landowner as well as the urban house dweller is identified. It seems strange that they campaign so hard for the countryside , but are unwilling that anyone should know who owns it. It also seems strange that the environmentalists do not always make clear who benefits from their fight. For if the environmental cause is effective, an extraordinary benefit will be conferred on a very small group of people, the landowners of the UK. They will have a new shield against the public use of the huge acreages, and they will have a new disguise for the continued public subsidy of the very rich.î
As C 7 News has pointed out in earlier issues (7 and 9), this disguise takes the form of environmental subsidies, countryside stewardship schemes and so forth meted out to landowners not according to what they provide but according to how many acres they own. Up until now Chapter 7 has been almost alone in highlighting the regressive, inegalitarian nature of area-based environmental subsidies. It is nice to find someone who agrees with us!
CahillÍs book, which is an unusual blend of statistical analysis and radical rhetoric, is far from perfect. Some of his arguments require further elucidation, and some numerical discrepancies need to be cleared up. The book could do with stronger editing and numerical proof-reading (though it does have a first-class index). I suspect that these deficiencies may be largely due to a lack of adequate funding; this is a work of monumental research, taking some 13 years to compile, it is unlikely to make the bestseller lists and one wonders how all this work was paid for.
Many of these deficiencies can be addressed through the website for amendments that Cahill has set up at who-owns-britain.com To harp on them would be worse than churlish; it would be to follow in the footsteps of those who rubbished the 1872 Return for its inevitable and anticipated inaccuracies.
By bringing the issue of land-ownership out into the open, and laying the foundations for a proper statistical analysis of the UKÍs landowners, Cahill has performed an immense service to the ordinary people of this country. It is up to the rest of us to build on these foundations: and the best way we can do that is by buying CahillÍs book, showing it to our friends, brandishing it at our enemies, and taking it along to our MPs surgeries to urge them to make complete and accessible land registration for the UK one of their priorities.
Report From The Margins of History
Cotters and Squatters: HousingÍs Hidden History, by Colin Ward, Five Leaves, PO Box 81, Nottingham NG5 4ER, 2002. Available from Chapter 7
Every so often at Chapter 7 we are asked whether there is any substance in the claim that you cannot be evicted from a house constructed between sunset and sunrise. Our response until recently was that we didnÍt know, but that we had heard Colin Ward was writing a book on the subject „ and if anybody knew about this particular issue, it would be he.
Now his book has come out, and the answer is that although there appears to be no reference to the one-night house in either case-law or legislation, examples of the belief can be found all over Europe: Ward cites cases from the UK, France, Italy, Turkey, Colombia and Peru. He also quotes a professor of law: ñThe universality of this supposed custom must mean that it der ives either from Roman Law (Ottoman Law is Roman Law as applied to the eastern empire) and Germanic customî.
Cotters and Squatters uses the theme of the one-night house as a framework for what, in effect, is a short history of squatting in the UK „ short, mainly because Ward was unable to get a grant for research on the scale which went into Arcadia for All , the study of the the plotlands he carried out with Dennis Hardy (see C7 News No 7).
Nonetheless the book is packed with fascinating accounts of squatter houses and communities throughout Britain, many of which have long since disappeared. The squatter village of Rhosllanerchrugog in Flintshire (population 3,467), for example, was unflatteringly regarded by observers as consisting of ñgrimy looking hutsî, and ñwigwamsî „ and a representative of the Welsh Education Commission commented: ñnothing could more forcibly illustrate the imperfect nature of indigenous civilization if isolated and unaided.î But another visitor, J H Jones, who adjudicated at an eistedfodd (or manifestation of the indigenous civilization) there in 1919, was fascinated by the place: ñThe shapes of the houses and the streets of Rhos are strange, very strange. The village would surely look very peculiar if seen from an aeroplane! Most of the people have succeeded in building their houses where they please and having the shape they please . . . I am sure there is not one figure in the whole of Geometry that could completely define Rhos. Rhos is the most visual living proof that man has a free will, because no laws and bye-laws imposed from outside authorities would ever have succeeded in building houses in this manner.î
Prize for the cheekiest squatter has to go to Ann Hicks whose apple stall at the eastern end of LondonÍs Hyde Park, in the early 19th century, gradually expanded to a lock up shop. ñThen a small back enclosure appeared including four walls with windows and a door. The height of the building was next increased and under the excuse of repairing the roof a chimney was provided. The next step was to get a hurdle erected to prevent the curious from peering in at the window. The fence by degrees was moved outwards until a fair amount of space was enclosed. At this stage the authorities interfered and secured possession of the domain of Ann Hicks, who was granted a small allowance.î
WardsÍ account of UK squatting rather cleverly advances both geographically around Britain (mainly its Western half) and historically „ from cave dwellers, via the Diggers of 1649 and 18th century battles over enclosures, to the mass squats of army camps after World War II, and the ñPure Geniusî occupation of Guinness's Gargoyle Wharf in 1997.
He ends his book with a quote from Chapter 7 News, no less, referring to those ñwho sort out their own housing , in self-built houses, mobile homes, trucks, benders or sheds at no cost to the taxpayer more or less in defiance of the planning system.î Recognition of the right of such people to establish their own homes, says Ward ñwhen it comes, will be an ultimate gesture towards the centuries of cotters and squatters who housed themselves in the margins of historyî.
Tall Buildings and Sustainability, Will Pank, Herbert Girardet and Greg Cox, Faber Maunsell 2002
ñEco-towers are coming to take root in London.î claim the authors of this report. It comes as no surprise that this latest attempt to rebrand hi-rise buildings as sustainable was commissioned by the Corporation of London. More surprisingly, one of its authors is Herbert Girardet, seasoned environmental campaigner and the editor of the 1976 book Land for the People . ItÍs somewhat odd to see Herbie arguing in favour of the plate-glass monstrosities which are sprouting up over London as a testament to Blairism „ but then thereÍs no accounting for taste; and heÍs not the only green to go high-rise.
The aim of the report is not to assess whether skyscrapers are sustainable; instead it starts with the unsupported premise that ñtall buildings are an inevitable building formî and then sets out to see how these unavoidably tall buildings can be made to ñfit within the contextî of sustainability.
This is a squeeze, but it can be done with the help of secondhand arguments about the advantages of compact cities, and by citing the benefits derived from economies of scale. It also helps that high-rise office blocks have been so extravagant in their energy use up until now that features taken for granted in normal buildings (like windows that actually open in hot weather) can be characterized as breakthroughs in sustainable skyscraper design .
A more devious advantage of high-rise buildings seems to be that because they put smaller buildings in the shade, they can hog solar energy „ like trees in a forest competing for light. However, by the end of the report, we are given a picture of a non-Darwinian future where the tall buildings are so eco-friendly and so PC that they not only grow like trees, and talk to each other like humans, they also respect each otherÍs space:
ñA zone in the north-east quarter of the City around Tower 42 has been identified as a possible site for tall buildings . . . In this setting the Swiss Reinsurance building will begin a dialogue with the CityÍs tallest tower in 2003. The Heron building may join the debate a few years later. Later a handful of other taller structures may spring up to form a unified group. All additions to this cluster of tall buildings will have to be respectful of the needs of the others and responsive to the environment in which they grow.î
New age anthropomorphism like this may make the reader wonder whether the authors havenÍt gone a little soft in the head. These new structures, however well-spoken they may be, will be about as respectful of other buildings as Paternoster Square was of t he Mappin and Webb building, or if this means nothing to you, as a clump of Japanese knotweed is of a cornflower.
Bizarre as it might seem to country folk, there are a lot of urban people who like extremely tall buildings „ in the same way that urban people like extraordinarily loud music „ and one of them is the Mayor of London. These people have to be catered for, I suppose, and there is something to be said for cramming all these buildings into a square mile where they can all chat with each other. ItÍs just a pity that square mile happens to be in the very centre of our still quite tolerable capital city. CouldnÍt they stick them all somewhere like Bracknell?
Boat Dwellers respond to the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Affordable Housing
This paper will introduce you to a form of affordable housing you may not have thought of. The potential is limited in absolute numbers, but removing some of the barriers to this form of housing could ease housing problems in some areas or at some stages in peopleÍs lives. Living afloat is not necessarily a cheap option, but it is an attainable aspiration for many people who cannot afford to occupy houses generally available on the open market. A boat often occupies less space than a house, and residential mooring can be provided at a fraction of the cost of building a a house or flat.
We are not suggesting that waterway authorities become housing providers, but we see no reason why a system of grants and/or loans should not be available, perhaps through the Housing Corporation, to lease areas of land or waterscape and to construct residential moorings. Developers of adjoining land cold also be required by planning agreements or conditions to provide residential moorings available at controlled levels.
Residential boats and moorings are uniquely suited to become ñpioneerî communities in regeneration schemes. Low mooring fees are a major incentive. Why not offer free mooring for a limited period and kick start a new project?
What is a Residential Boat?
A survey carried out a few years ago suggested their could be around 15,000 people living on boats in Britain. Any covered vessel can be a home. A boat is legally a chattel. You can elect for a boat to be your main residence for income tax, you could claim tax relief on the interest for a loan to buy a boat if it was your home. However you can be made homelesss if you have legal costs awarded against you because it is houses that are protected, not homes that happen to be chattels.
Boat dwellers are diverse not only in location but in occupation and behaviour. A sociologistÍs study adjudicated us ñnot a sub-cultureî. We are however happy to be considered a ñlinear villageî extending along the waterways and around the coasts of Britain. We donÍt need much in the way of facilities. Most boats have all the necessary services and can be moved as necessar to take on water or dispose of rubbish and sewage. On canals and rivers we need a reasonable depth of water so we can tie to the bank. On tidal waters, rise and fall pontoons are marvellous, but rings fixed to runner posts in proximity to the shore are adequate.
Attempt to Insert Imagination into PPG3
We responded to the proposed revisions to Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 on Housing. We begged for the eight words ñBoats can be a form of affordable housingî to be inserted in the paper. We made several representations and eventally we were granted an audience with a civil servant. We spent a frustrating time having every point we made noted but blocked without reason. The expense of taking time off work and travelling to London to see someone who had clearly been instructed to reject any of our ideas was not the best use of our resources. All we wanted was for local authorities, via the Guidance, to be given permission to consider us. Without a mention in the Guidance local authorities can just reject us out of hand as they have no policy framework to link us to.
Radio 4 listeners who tune into Today in Parliament and In Committee will be aware that the MPs who act like spoilt children during Prime MinisterÍs question time are capable of behaving in a surprisingly mature and intelligent way when they find themselves in the investigative atmosphere of the committtee.
Chapter 7 recently submitted evidence to the sub-committee on Affordable Housing, which is part of the Transport, Local Government and Regions Comm ittee (the one from which Blair tried unsuccessfully to sack Gwynneth Dunwoody after they were so rude about John Birt). The timing of the process was impressive. There was a call for written evidence on 16 April, with a deadline of 18 May. By the end of June a 230 page volume containing all of the evidence had been sent out to all 75 organizations who submitted evidence.
Chapter 7Ís submission reminded MPÍs that many people were living in marginal circumstances in caravans, sheds, benders etc; and that many would be keen and able to provide their own housing if they had acesss to land with planning permission. Our submission had something in common with that of the Residential Boat OwnerÍs Association summarised above.
Financial Aid for Appeals
Angus Murdoch of the TravellerÍs Advice Team reports that he has had success securing free legal support for low income people fighting appeals relating to their residence. Up to £5,000 worth of advice can be secured, but this sum can only be spent on witnesses or on solicitors or other consultants preparing the case: it cannot be spent on the barrister or other a dvocate actually presenting the appeal.
In order to apply for this you need to go to a solicitor and apply for two hours free legal advice under the ñgreen formî scheme. When you do this you must be demonstrably of low income „ eg in receipt of income support, or with tax returns showing that you earn less than £80 per week. Your eligibility for help towards the appeal is dependent upon your financial position on the day you apply for the green form.
For more information, phone The TravellerÍs Advice Team, 0845 120 2980.
Alpacas Need TLC
An alpaca farmer in Gloucestershire has been given permission for a temporary mobile home on his farm. The inspector at the public inquiry accepted a vetÍs evidence that alpacas needed intensive on-site care when breeding. In case you may be wondering whether alpacas are the answer to your functional need problems, bear in mind that these animals are worth several thousand pounds each.
RoyÍs Alpacas, Cotswold DC, appeal date 23 April 2002.
Yurt Yes, Caravan No!
An appeal inspector has refused a certificate of lawful use (CLU) for leisure use of caravan, but allowed use of a yurt, together with a compost toilet. The CLU was refused because over the previous 10 years there had been a period of 5 months when the caravan was not on site.
The yurt was allowed because the appellant agreed to a personal permission and because of the ease with which it could be dismantled. However the Inspector viewed that yurt was a ñpermanent buildingî, because it took several people 6 hours to erect and because it had a wooden floor and an installed sink.
Ref APP/V2255/A/01/1073640, available from C7.
Human Rights Must Be Assessed Individually
More developments at Warren Fruit Farm , which has been divided into 14 smallholdings, each equipped with a wooden chalet for agricultural use. Last issue we reported that an appeal inspector found that the chalets were not caravans, nor permitted agricultural buildings.
Now Tew kesbury DC is trying to press ahead with enforcement proceedings against residents of the smallholdings, on the basis of a 1988 Enforcement Notice against residential use of caravans. Four of the families have responded by applying for temporary residence for a year. According to our source:
ñthe main ground for this is that although it may not be necessary in the long run for all of these people to be on the land all year, peopleÍs farm businesses have suffered bemuse of the insecurity here, made worse by local politics and the refusal of planners to answer questions and communicate with people here; and that a yearÍs residence without any insecurity would allow everyone to assess when and how long the needed to be on the land.î
At the committee meeting concerning the enforcement notice, the smallholders submitted that their Human Rights, specifically Article 8 (the right to respect for oneÍs home) had not been duly considered by the authority. One of them, Jim Aplin, claimed that enforcement against him could hardly have been determined by the local authority to be ñproportionalî and ñin the public interestî when the same authority had still not come to a decision on an application he had made for temporary residence, nine months previously.
In the face of the manifest logic of this objection, the committee accepted legal advice that they should only prosecute in individual cases after the borough solicitor was satisfied that the Human Rights issues had been taken into account in each individual case.
Permaculturist Loses Gypsy Wins
Chapter 7 was planning witness in two recent appeals in South Somerset.
Ann Morgan, of TurnerÍs Field has lost her appeal to stay on the permaculture plot where she has lived for 15 years. The Inspector accepted that AnnesÍ ñpursuit of a lifestyle based on permaculture derives from a genuinely held belief and that this was capable of falling within the rights conferred by Article 9î of the European Convention on Human Rights. Evicting her would be an interference with this belief, but justifiable on the grounds that not enough food production was being carried out on the site for her to claim that she was carrying out Permaculture(even though she had always claimed education was the source of her income). She has been given leave to take the matter to the High Court. (APP/R3325/C/00/1051594)
Lee Hughes, a gypsy, won his appeal to live on a 5 acre field close to Yeovilton airport, partly on the grounds that his horse-breaking business required a presence on the land. The Inspector did not consider the noise levels coming from the airport to be a significant objection. (APP/R3325/A/01/1075321)
Time is running out for two of the UKÍs best known eco-houses „ Tony WrenchÍs roundhouse at Brithdir Mawr and Jack EverettÍs house at Shutway Quarry in Glos, pictured here. Both are scheduled to be demolished after losing planning applications, appeals and in JackÍs case a court case. At the time of writing, both are still standing.
Jack works as a sculptor and architect and was generally agreed to have won the Palme dÍOr at this yearÍs Ecovillage Gathering with his slide show of low impact structures.
Petter and Harris Man Strikes Again!
The planning profession is not noted for producing champions of the people, but planning lawyer Jonathon Clay seems to be stepping into this role. Clay, (number 33 in Planning magazineÍs top 50 barristers), was the advocate who won ñPetter and Harrisî, the court of appeal case which has been so helpful for smallholders (see C7 News No 2). Now he has won another very useful victory in the High Court case „ Roger Raymond Jarmain v. Secretary of State and Welwyn Hatfield District Council.
The main importance of this case is that it effectively prevents local authorities and their land agents from distorting applicants accounts by incorporating fictitious expenses such as ñnotional rentî (the rent you would be paying for land you own, if you didnÍt own it.)
Jarmain was fighting an enforcement notice on the erection of a permanent single storey dwelling on the organic farm which he had managed for 17 years. It was accepted that he met the functional test (ie that he needed to live on the land for agricultural reasons).
But the Inspector in the Appeal concluded that the farm did not meet the viability test even though, for all practical purposes, Jarmain was making a decent living from the land. She assessed his holding in the light of an obscure 1992 MAFF document called LU1893*, which lays down a theoretical basis for assessing viability involving expenses such as ñnotional rentî and ñnotional return to labourî. When these were incorporated into JarmainÍs accounts „ even though they were expenses which he never in fact incurred „ then his healthy profit was reduced by over £4,000 to a very meagre one.
The judge, Lord Justice Gibbs, ruled that the Inspector had attached too much weight to this theoretical assessment:
ñWhilst she was entitled to take the theoretical gross margin as a guideline, it was wrong to accept as part of the actual expense figures those costs which were purely notional, such as rent which was never in fact incurred . . . The Injustice of this approach becomes yet more apparent when one considers the InspectorÍs approach to the actual as opposed to the theoretical margins obtainable from the holding. If one eliminates the notional figures mentioned, the actual margins obtained demonstrated a healthy surplus (albeit in the modest context of this particular holding).î
Gibbs LJ also indicated that the appropriateness or otherwise of planning policy guidance (in Annex I of PPG7) for small farms should be taken into account:
ñIt may be said that the reasoning gives no or no proper weight to the particular nature of the business in certain respects. For example, it does not specifically weigh the argument that the applicantÍs holding is one which does not require in conventional terms a high gross margin for survival . . . In other words it may not give proper weight to the underlying purpose of the policy, or the ñpolicy behind the policyî as their Lordships called it in the Petter case. The genuineness of the intention to farm the land was not in issue. Profits had been obtained in two of the three previous years and the other criteria were met. The fact that the holding had been sustained for almost two decades was not in issue. Under these circumstances the financial test could properly be said to carry significantly less weight than the Inspector in fact accorded to it.î
Roger Raymond Jarmain v. Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and Welwyn Hatfield District Council, Dec 2001.
*C7 phoned up DEFRA and they told us that as far as they were concerned LU 1893 was out of date. are at risk Tony Wrench and his partner jane lost a planning application to retain their faous turf-roofed roundhouse, which is de to be demolished before the Autumn. Mor info? Jarmain, one or two readers may recall from C7 News 4, is a smallholder who lost an earlier court case concerning a certificate of lawful use for a converted caravan. This time, however, Lord Justice Gibbs came down in his favour, ruling that the Inspector at an appeal had wrongly concluded that JarmainÍs farm was not viable.
Scottish Housing Policy Goes Low Impact
The draft version of Scottish NPPG 3 on Housing has been issued. As well as being quite significantly different from its English counterpart PPG3, it also contains some sensible guidance on low impact development in rural areas.
The Scottish document differs from the English in particular because it places more emphasis on the quality of housing development and less on the location. There are two paragraphs on ñenergy efficient housingî compared to a 13 word sentence in the English document. This is a vast improvement, though there is room for more guidance on what makes a house sustainable.
The rigid English ñsearch sequenceî, whereby local authorities are required to identify sites in urban areas, before turning to urban extensions and then to out of town sites, happily does not appear in the Scottish draft.
Instead planning authorities are advised to give preference to locations that are linked to public transport, jobs and services; and to give priority to brownfield sites, except where a greenfield site ñwould result in a more sustainable pattern of development than the redevelopment of available brownfield sitesî.
Paragraph 59 on low impact development states: ñNPPG 15 indicates that low-impact development, such as houses incorporating workspace, can provide both economic and environmental benefits. Developments using innovative, energy-efficient technologies with particularly low impacts on the environment may be acceptable at locations where more conventional buildings would not. The control of innovative low impact uses through the planning system is best achieved by a plan led approach. Proposals should be carefully assessed against specified sustainable d evelopment criteria and the wider policy objectives of the plan.î
We reckon that this is pretty good for a broad guidance and are only recommending that sentence 2 be altered to begin: ñDevelopments with particularly low impacts on the environment, for example through the use of innovative, energy-efficient technologies, . . .î
Welsh LID Report Due in September
The report on Low Impact Development in Wales, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly from the University of the West of England is now scheduled to be published in September.
Disappointing Royal Commission
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution report on Environmental Planning has appeared. It is a disappointing document „ in particular if you compare it to the CommissionÍs 1994 report on transport which successfully tore apart the Tory governmentÍs road policy „ and unsurprisingly has attracted little publicity.
As a strategic analysis of the planning system it is valueless because it does not even mention, let alone discuss the effect that different planning policies have upon land values, and hence upon access to land. Its recommendations on sustainability and environmental protection are waffley and mealy-mouthed.
The only area where the report distinguishes itself is in its opposition to the ñmajor projectsî elements of the Green paper. It supports a limited Third Party Right of Appeal and calls for limitations on Parliaments power to make instant decisions on major infrastructure projects.
Worst Low Impact Policy Yet
The Joint UDP for Pembrokeshire is the latest development plan to introduce a policy on low impact development. While Pembs are to be commended for actually having a policy on LID, it has to be said that it is the worst drafted policy on LID we have seen. This is perhaps because it has been cobbled together in a hurry to cope with the fact that Tony WrenchÍs notorious turf-roofed roundhouse at Brithdir Mawr just happens to be in Pembs.
The policy is reproduced below; here are some of our comments on it: < /p>
(i) Low Impact Development will only be permitted where the development lies outside the National Park. Tony WrenchÍs roundhouse, surprise surprise, is in the National Park. There is (we imagine) no equivalent policy in the plan saying that high impact development is only permissible outside the park. In other words high impact development might be allowed in the park, but low impact development wonÍt be!
(ii) The development is satisfactory in terms of ecological management, biodiversity, waste, energy, resource management, private vehicle use, etc. Satisfactory? What does that mean? Who is satisfied? ñSatisfactoryî is what teachers write on school reports when they canÍt think of anything else to say. A properly worded policy would, at the very least, stipulate conservation of energy, minimization of traffic or waste , protection or increase of biodiversity, etc.
(vi), (vii) and (ix) environmental education is an integral part of the venture; tourist activity will be restricted; and occupancy is limited to people engaged in sustainable land use.
The above three criteria together make a very thin tightrope; to com ply with them, you have to be providing environmental education, but without excess reliance on tourism, and whilst also finding time for ñsustainable land-basedî use.
The policy effectively rules out all full-time low impact tourist developments, all low impact educational projects which are not land based, and all low impact agricultural/forestry projects which are not educational. We donÍt imagine that the development plan categorically rules out high impact tourist developments, high impact educational projects which arenÍt land based, or high impact agricultural developments which arenÍt educational.
The effect will be that, if you want to get a development accepted in Pembs, and particularly in the National Park, for goodness sake donÍt make it too low impact, otherwise the planners may argue that you are in conflict with Policy 45.
The perversity comes from trying to apply a negatively phrased criteria-based policy „ ie one beginning ñwill only be permitted ifî „ solely to low impact developments; this automatically lets any development which does not aspire to be low impact off the hook. Negatively phrased policies only work if they apply to all developments in a given situation or of an identifiable use class: eg ñresidential developments in the open countryside will only be permitted if . . . î.
Policies specific to low impact development need to be phrased positively as for example in Policy H11 of the Milton Keynes local plan:
ñAs an exception to Policy S10, planning permission may be granted for low impact dwellings in the open countryside, where the proposal meets all of the following criteria . . .î (See C7 News 5 for full text of this policy)
Low Impact Development will only be permitted where:
(i) the development lies outside the N ational Park; and
(ii) the development is well integrated into the landscape and does not have adverse visual effects; and
(iii) opportunities to reuse buildings which are available locally have been investigated and shown to be impracticable; and
(iv) the de velopment is satisfactory in terms of its ecological management; its implications for biodiversity, waste, energy and resource management; private vehicle use; impact on the surrounding community, and economic activity; and
(v) all buildings on site are of a temporary nature, sing local materials where possible; buildings must be removed and the land restored to its original state within 6 months of occupation ceasing; and
(vi) public access to the countryside and environment education are integral parts of the venture; and
(vii) any tourist activity associated with the venture will be restricted in terms of scale and time period; and
(viii) detailed documentary evidence is provided which demonstrates that the venture has been planned on a sound financial basis which will meet its needs for the duration of the permission; and
(ix) occupancy is restricted by legal agreement to those persons who are engaged in sustainable land use activity on the site.
There are now
10 do-it-yourself planning briefing sheets available. They have been reformatted
so that there are now more words on a page, and are priced on a basis of 20
pence per page. Minimum order 2.
Introduction to the Mysteries of the Planning System 6 pp. 1.20
Should I Move on First or Apply First? 3 pp. 0.60
Putting in a Planning Application 8 pp. 1.60
Caravans: Permitted Development and Seasonal Use 3 pp. 0.60
List of Low-Impact Friendly Consultants 3 pp. 0.60
Appeals 11 pp. 2.20
Certificates of Lawful Use: The Four and Ten Year Rules 3 pp 0.60
Agricultural Workers Dwellings: Annex I of PPG 7 8pp 1.60
Human Rights 5pp 1.00 No 10 Permitted Development Rights
or 9.00 for a modestly bound looseleaf edition of all 10
Chapter 7 has
a growing library of planning documents and reports relating to a number of
low impact and sustainable applications. If you telephone us at the office we
can research what you need and supply photocopied excerpts. Prices 12 to 15
pence per page, depending on size and research, inc p&p.
7 News Back Issues
2 each, 9 for
14, or complete set of 10 for 15. In the next issue we will provide an index.
The Planning Green Paper
Your Chance to Respond
This issue of Chapter 7 News is early because of the deadline for responding to the Green Paper on Planning, which was published by the Government in December. (Our special issue on smallholders has been postponed till summer) The Green Paper will introduce the most radical changes to the planning system for many years. Many of the changes the Labour Government is proposing are favourable to big business, and have been fiercely attacked by environmental groups. But Labour is adept at offering ñsomething for everyoneî, and not all the proposals are necessarily bad from the point of view of the sort of people Chapter 7 tries to speak for.
But there is one item in the Green Paper which will pose a serious threat to some readers. The proposal to make development without pla nning permission an offence will affect people who live in marginal situations; we estimate that it could turn several thousand people, who are doing nothing more harmful than living on their own land, into offenders (see sections 7 and 8 of our response).
Anybody can respond to the Green Paper, and there is nothing to lose if you let the Government know what you think „ especially, if you are at risk of being criminalized. We include a form and addressed envelope which makes it easy to support Chapter 7Ís submission, or to send in your own views. The deadline is 18 March, but if you are a little late, your views will probably still be taken into account.
In the next few pages you will find a brief synopsis of the main proposals in the Green Paper, followed by a summary of Chapter 7Ís submission, and then a slightly shortened version of the full text. Sorry to bore you with all this.
The Main Proposals in the Green Paper
(1) Heavier Enforcement Sanctions. The Government wants to review the law which states that development without planning consent is not an offence; and to apply punitive charges for retrospective applications. These proposals are probably not aimed at poor people living in shacks, caravans and benders, but may turn many such people into offenders. Chapter 7 is strongly opposed to them.
(2) Minority Groups The green paper invites submissions on minorities who are adversely affected by the planning system. Chapter 7 is submitting that low income rural settlers are such a minority.
(3) Changes in Development Plans The most radical part of the green paper is the proposal to move away from site-specific local plans, and towards ñLocal Development Frameworksî based around a core of criteria-based policies. Site specific policies would only be formulated where necessary. National Planning Policy Guidance will become less detailed, and PPG7 (the government guidance which lays down the rules for allowing agricultural dwellings) will be reviewed within two years. In principle, Chapter 7 supports such moves. We consider that draconian restrictions on where people can build create high land prices and speculation, and play into the hands of volume builders, who monopolize the land and build crap. We would like to see rural dev elopment permitted over a wider range, and much more strictly controlled in terms of environmental impact. Our fear is that the Government will not introduce strong enough sustainability criteria
(4) Increasing Public Participation For example, a Statement of Community Involvement, written into the local plan „ sorry, Local Development Framework „ which large-scale developments would have to comply with; and the obligation for local authorities to provide a îuser friendly check-listî to help individuals applying for permission to draw up well-supported applications. The editor of Planning magazine reckons that these proposals are ñload of flannelî, and we are afraid he is right.
(5) Making Things Easier for Big Business These are the proposals that rankle environmental groups, and are extremely unhelpful to objectors against major developments. The Government wants to take major infrastructure proposals out of the public inquiry system , and instead get them passed in parliament (ie by a government majority kept in line by whips). The Green Paper also comes out firmly against a Third Party Right of Appeal, a measure which a wide range of organizations, including Chapter 7, want to see because it would put objectors to a proposal on an equal footing with the developers.
The green paper is called Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change, published by DTLR, 2001, tel: 0870 1226 2326.
Summary of Chapter 7Ís Response to the Green Paper
1. We would like to see greater emphasis on sustainability.
2. We approve in principle of a move towards criteria-based policies, but we need to be reassured that the criteria will be sufficiently strong.
3. We have concerns about the abolition of structure plans and the emphasis on regional guidance and seek assurance about democratic accountability.
4. We are opposed to the replacement of Simplified Planning Zones by Business Planning Zones.
5. We support proposals to make the planning system more accessible for ordinary people.
6. We are opposed to charging individual applicants for pre-application discussions.
7. We consider that people living in temporary rural dwellings are a minority disadvantaged by the planning system.
8. We are opposed to the proposals to make development without planning consent an offence.
9. We are concerned about the advice that more decisions should be delegated
10. We support the concept of a Statement of Community Involvement.
11. We approve of the recommended changes to outline planning permission and would like to see the prospects for community participation in ñoutline planningî extended further.
12. We consider that local rules for permitted development rights would be confusing and unhelpful.
13 . We are opposed to the proposal to approve major infrastructure projects through Parliament.
14. We strongly urge the Government to reconsider its opposition to third party rights of appeal.
Chapter SevenÍs Response
1. We Would Like to See Greater Emphasis on Sustainability
We view that insufficient emphasis is given to sustainability of development throughout the Green Paper (even though it figures prominently in the companion paper on Planning Obligations). We consider that sustainability should be central to the core policies of Local Development Frameworks, rather than something merely subject to subsequent appraisal (4.25) PPG7 states that ñSustainability is the cornerstone of the GovernmentÍs . . . planning policiesî. It should remain so. While we welcome the increased emphasis upon community involvement in the planning process, it should be remembered that local communities do not necessarily have an interest in wider environmental issues such as carbon emissions and global resource depletion. It is the responsibility of national governments to ensure that these constraints are respected in a way that guarantees continued access to these resources to other people around the world and to fu ture generations. We would like to see firmer guidance in PPGs about what is, or is not sustainable development. At present there is ample guidance (in PPGs 3, 6, 7 and 13) about the sustainable location for development. There is very little guidance about sustainable forms of development: matters such as car-free development, the generation of waste, sustainable building materials, renewable energy, water and energy conservation etc are given much less attention. The result is that developments which are highly sustainable in many respects, but which are less than satisfactorily sited (and very often because of the intense competition to acquire the best sites) find themselves in conflict with the development plan; whilst many developments that are highly unsustainable in most respects are accorded planning permission because they can afford to buy a site in the favoured location. We need a planning system that allows for highly sustainable, low impact developments in difficult locations, and refuses unsustainable developments in easy locations.
2. We Approve in Principle of a Move towards Criteria-Based Policies But We Need to be Reassured that the Criteria will be Sufficiently Strong
C hapter 7 cautiously welcomes moves to simplify local plans in the form of Local Development Frameworks. We agree that the local plans are cumbersome and often out of date. In principle, we welcome the emphasis upon criteria-based policies and any shift away from site-specific policies, for the following reasons:
´ We agree with the statement in 4.5 that comprehensive site-specific policy making is slow and attracts numerous representations.
´ We agree with the Countryside Agency when they argue for ña greater use of criteria in planning policies so that ïlines on mapsÍ do not protect some areas whilst making others vulnerable.î1
´ We consider that over-reliance upon site-specific policies is undesirable because of the distorting effect this has upon land prices. This in turn fuels speculation, makes access to land for individuals and smaller developers difficult, and makes the provision of affordable housing very difficult. However we, and the public, need to be reassured that any criteria based policies will be precise, stringent and robust: fully capable of protecting resources and enhancing the environment. If criteria-based policies are vague, or a free for all for undesirable forms of development, then there will continue to be a need to retain a comprehensive range of site-specific policies to contain such developments, and nothing will have been gained.
On the other hand, if criteria-based policies are strong enough to direct developers into forms of development that are sustainable, environmentally sound, and socially beneficial, to that extent we will be able to dispense with site specific policies designed to contain undesirable developments, and the development plan system will be correspondingly simplified The ability of the private sector to deliver to demanding specifications is well proven. At present developers compete to acquire scarce areas of building land, pushing up prices to a point which is unaffordable for many, and which the business sector alleges is a constraint upon its international competitiveness. We would like to see developers competing to produce quality developments that conform with stringent criteria for sustainability, environmental protection, social provision and so on. This stimulus for best practice will, in the long run, enhance the countryÍs international competitiveness
3 . We Have Concerns About the Abolition of Structure Plans and Seek Assurance about Democratic Accountability
We recognize that the elimination of County Structure Plans is one way of reducing the number of tiers in the planning system. However we have some concerns. One is that regionally-based planning guidance, which emanates from large metropolises such as Bristol, may be rather urban focussed at the expense of rural strategies. Structure Plans for counties such as Devon and Cornwall have shown themselves able to produce strategies that reflect their rural nature. There is a worry that a regional basis for strategic planning will not be fine-grained enough to do this.
Regional Government Offices, Regional Planning Guidances and Assemblies have until now been remote to many people. We recognize that the Government is aware of the need for democratic accountability at regional level and welcome the statement in 4.52 that provision should be made for directly elected regional government. However, we are concerned about the statement that this will only be provided if people support it in a referendum. If the regional governments are to provide a greater focus for decision-making, then they must be subject to democratic electoral control.
4. We Are Opposed to the Replacement of Simplified Planning Zones by Business Planning Zones
We are not clear what are the differences between Business Planning Zones and Simplified Planning Zones2, and why there should be a need to abolish the former and introduce the latter.(par 5.36) As far as we can see the main difference is that BPZÍs are only open to business enterprises, whereas SPZÍs are open to any kind of development, including residential.
To restrict Planning Zones to Business Use is in conflict with existing planning guidance advocating mixed use development, since Mixed Use Planning Zones would no longer be permissible. BPZs threaten to produce up market ghettos of a certain kind of industry, unrelated to any balanced community or housing provision, and so likely to be very car dependent.
The Planning Zone concept is a valuable one, and causes no harm , so it should not be discarded. But it has not proved popular with the rather conventional business community. It is probably more valuable as a tool for experiment in new and sustainable forms of development.
5. We Support Proposals to Make the Planning System More Accessible for Ordinary People
In particular we support the proposal for a user-friendly check-list of points to cover in an application, written in plain English. (5.7) We agree that existing planning application forms are hard to understand and give no advice to applicants about how to support their case.
We also approve of the support given to advocacy services for individuals and community groups.(5.57) We would remind the government that as well as Planning Aid, there are other voluntary groups (including Chapter 7) providing services to particular sections of the population.
6. We are Opposed to Charging Individual Applicants for Pre-application Discussions
Charging fees for pre-application discussions (para 5.10) will discourage people from approaching planning departments in advance, and impair relations between the public and planners. We support pre-application fees for major developments which will affect a large number of people and where the fees represent a tiny proportion of the developerÍs total bud get.
7. We Consider that People Living in Temporary Rural Dwellings are a Minority Disadvantaged by the Planning System
The Green Paper invites submissions on minorities that are impinged upon by planning policies which are not necessarily targeted at them. (para 5.66)
Much planning policy guidance, and in particular PPG7, Annex I, makes it extremely difficult for low income people „ typically smallholders, coppice workers, and seasonal and casual workers „ to establish sustainable homes and livelihoods in rural areas. In particular the functional and financial tests in Annex I, which are designed for commercial farmers, are inappropriate for a wide range of other land users.
´ it is almost impossible for more than one or two people at the most to meet the functional test; this effectively rules out all agricultural communities larger than a family;
´ no allowance in the financial test is made for subsistence smallholders;
´ no allowance is made for part-time f armers, even though the NFU reports 60 per cent of all farmers rely on a secondary income;
´ the statement in PPG7 that ñnormally it will be as convenient for [agricultural workers] to live in nearby towns or villagesî is simply not true. Very often it is highly inconvenient for smallholders and small farmers to live away from their holdings, and it causes unnecessary commuting;
´ existing planning policies within villages are so restrictive that housing is unaffordable for people with low agricultural/forestry incomes;
´ the rural exceptions site policy outlined in PPG3 is rarely helpful , since it only relates to sites within or adjoining villages and only applies to local people. We agree that local people should have priority, but less wealthy incomers seeking livelihoods in the countryside need accommodation too.
The consequences of this guidance are that considerable numbers of people, (both locals and incomers) are living in mobile homes, caravans, shacks, tents, or other temporary accommodation, either without any planning permission at all, or through a continuing series of renewals of temporary permissions. Some people carry on living in conditions of insecurity, with the threat of eviction hanging over them for as long as 15 years. This is an unsatisfactory arrangement, and planning guidance should be amended to address this situation by providing for this demand in an environmentally benign way.
8. We are Opposed to the Proposals to Make Development without Planning Consent an Offence
Until the above matter is addressed Chapter 7 is fiercely opposed to the proposals to make development without permission an offence, and to charge punitive fees for retrospective applications. (para 5.69)
If this is introduced it will mean that thousands of low income people, presently in unregulated caravans, tents, shacks and similar, on their own land or land where they are the legal occupier, will become offenders. There is a risk that considerable numbers will be displaced, and this may result in another set of problems, such as a rise in the number of people living in touring caravans and vans and requiring transit sites. There are also serious questions of compatibility with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
< font size="4" color="#000000"> We prefer the suggestion in para 6.7 that there is scope for mediation as a way of obtaining negotiated solutions in these sort of enforcement cases. But the real solution is planning guidance and policies that provide for such people.
9. We are Concerned about the Advice that More Decisions should be Delegated
In particular we are worried that greater delegation (para 6.37, box) may result in decisions leading to the eviction of people from their homes being taken in camera. We appreciate the need to speed up the process, but view that there must be some safeguards. In particular, it is important that elected representatives have the opportunity to assess the human rights implications, in particular in relation to Article 8, the Right for Respect for a Home. We recommend that there should be advice that decisions which may lead to the eviction of people from their home should not be delegated.
10. We support the concept of a Statement of Community Involvement
We support the concept of a Statement of Community Involvement (4.21-4.23) and agree that compliance with su ch should be a material consideration in large developments.
11. We approve of the recommended changes to outline planning permission and would like to see the prospects for community participation in ñoutline planningî extended further. We approve of the recommended changes to outline planning permission (5.42) With large publicly accessible sites allocated for development we would like to see the prospects for community participation in ñoutline planningî extended further.
For example we would like to see planning-for-real exercises developing into ñcompetitionsî where community-based groups (working with professional architects, planners and engineers) could put forward proposals for new developments to be assessed by the community at large, alongside proposals from the private sector „ at, say, an exhibition in the public library. Some funding would have to be found to assist local groups in presenting proposals, but given government approval, this funding could be readily available from a large number of organizations.
12. We consider that local rules for permitted development rights would be confusing and unhelpful
13 . We are opposed to the proposal to approve major infrastructure projects through Parliament.
The premise of the box in paragraph 6.4 „ that investment in major projects like airports and reservoirs is essential to economic growth „ is not accepted by everybody. A significant number of informed people do not consider that airport expansion is necessary for economic growth, or that air travel is an equitable and sustainable mode of transport for all the 6 billion people that live in the world, or even that further economic growth in the rich countries is desirable. The Government is entitled to its views, and it has an electoral mandate. But if the government is serious about public participation then it needs to recognize that there are very different, and evolving, views on these matters. It is less than consistent to talk of ñclear statements of Government policy setting out our priorities for investmentî in the same breath as ñrobust arrangements for prior consultationî.
Chapter 7 is totally opposed to the proposal to approve projects in principle in parliament, and then leave only the detail to be hammered out at public inquiry. For objectors to a development there is nothing more frustrating than an inquiry where the main issues cannot be discussed. This is asking for trouble, possibly another round of direct action protests. The environmental movement fought a battle in the early 1990s to try to get the public inquiries into road schemes to be something more than mere rubber-stamping exercises.3 If inquiries are emasculated and the rubber-stamping is carried out by government whips, then there may well be resistance.
14. We Strongly Urge the Government to Reconsider its Opposition to Third Party Rights of Appeal
Chapter 7 is amongst the many groups that wish to see a third party right of appeal for major developments introduced and we strongly urge the Government to reconsider its opposition toward t his popular proposal (paras 6.19 to 6.23)
We consider it a disgrace that members of the public have no way of challenging consortia of developers who propose, for example, to change completely the face of a town centre . The writer of these words has seen this happen in his home town (Yeovil) and can vouch that the feeling of powerlessness can make ordinary people very angry. In this particular case, some threatened public spaces were eventually protected as a result of a two month long tree-squat, a week long occupation of the roof of a supermarket, and a near riot in a council meeting. But even despite the concessions made by the LPA as a result of this protest action, there was no way for concerned members of the public to challenge a development of breathtaking banality and blatant unsustainability being erected on the townÍs largest area of open space.
Clearly, occupations and riots are not a desirable way for the public to make their views known; but there will always be a risk of these happening if developers have a right of appeal while objectors do not. We know from experience that, in the mind of the protester, the moral justification for resorting to direct action is almost always tha t the decision-making process is weighted against the objector „ or in other words is considered to be a sham.
We do not understand the logic behind paragraph 6.20. If the fact that the councillors who make planning decisions are accountable to their electorate is an argument against third party right of appeal, surely it is also an argument against developersÍ right of appeal?
Like many other voluntary organizations, Chapter 7 is dismayed that the Government is taking such a dismissive stance towards the widespread calls for a limited third party right of appeal, and urges it to rethink.
1. Planning for Quality of Life in Rural England, Countryside Agency, 1999. 2. SPZs are special zones where blanket permission is given for certain kinds of development; the green paper proposes that these be available for hi-tec business but not for other uses. 3. At the outset of the 1993 Salisbury Bypass Inquiry the Inspector informed the public that he had sat on 35 previous road inquiries „ and allowed every one of them.
Where does the Government gets expressions like Local Development Framewo rk from?
Our mole in the Cabinet Office has sent us a document for internal use only entitled How to Write a Consultation Paper: a Guide for Civil Servants, from which this is taken.
RANDOM CONCEPT CLUSTERS
A useful exercise for students is to create ñrandom concept clustersî, through the use of the table given below. This works like a verbal fruit machine. The first column consists of adjectives, the second of nouns used as adjectives, and the third of straight nouns. Just think of three numbers under 25 and then string the ideas together. So, for example 2, 17, 15, gives us ñStrategic Customer Evaluationî, while 22, 21, 20 is ñKey Policy Check-Listî. There are over 15,000 different combinations.
Many of the concept clusters will sound perfectly normal, and it will not be long before you will select something that you have already met in a Government document. However if a combination sounds odd, do not give up on it. Try intoning the phrase over and over to yourself in an American accent. You will find that it will soon become familiar to you and then imbued with real meaning.
The next step is to string the concept clusters together with appropriate verbs such as ñdeliverî, ñaccessî, harnessî, ñimpactî, ñengageî, ñpromoteî, ñaddressî, ñaccommodateî, to create meaningful sentences. So for example if you choose 11, 12, 10 and 7, 19, 1, you can announce to the world that ñ Robust resource parameters will be harnessed to promote long-term investment solutions.î From here it is only a short step to writing a complete consultation paper.
1 Agreed Design Solutions
2 Strategic Action Package
3 Integrated Neighbourhood Procedures
4 Specific Supply Appraisal
5 Local Efficiency Framework
6 Spatial Regeneration Focus
7 Long-term Consultation Partnerships
8 Shared Community Timeframes
9 User-Friendly Development Statement
10 Major Planning Parameters
11 Robust Information Indicators
12 Responsive Resource Thresholds
13 Appropriate Business Clusters
14 Transparent Growth Options
15 Simplified Infrastructure Evaluation
16 Regional Performance Targets
17 Outline Customer Regime
18 Accountable Private sector Involvement
19 Co-ordinated Investment Objectives
20 Headline Project Check-list
21 Low Impact Policy Mechanisms
22 Key Access Gains
23 Statutory Best Practice Requirements
24 One-stop Quality Programmes
25 Sustainable Fast-track Priorities
By the way , all except two of these words can be found in the Green Paper on Planning
Local Food for Planners
The indefatigable Lucy Nichol has produced another excellent report, called How Can Planning Help the Local Food Economy? A Guide for Planners. Lucy identifies 15 ways planners could help. Her recommendations are likely to carry considerable clout, now that the Food and Farming Commission has come out so strongly in favour of local foods. Numbers 9 and 11 counsel planners, where appropriate, to consider low impact live-work units etc. Smallholders putting in applications might well find it appropriate to submit the appropriate sections of LucyÍs report, together with a quote or two from the Food and Farming Commission report, in support of their application. Available from Lucy Nichol, Oxford Brookes University, 01865 484065, £2.50.
Traveller Law Reform Bill
A new Traveller Law Reform Bill has been drafted by Luke Clements and Rachel Morris of the Traveller Law Research Unit at Cardiff University. The Bill has been prepared after four years of consultation with travellers and other interested parties. Clements and Morris hope that the Government will feel able to support the passage of the Bill in its entirety. A major objective of the Bill is to place gypsies and travellers on the same footing as other people, as regards rights to accommodation. Local authorities have a duty to ensure the provision of sufficient housing, but since the Criminal Justice Act of 1994 repealed the relevant parts of the 1968 Caravan Sites Act, they are under no obligation to ensure the provision of travellersÍ sites.
The Bill proposes that:
´ A Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Commission (analogous to the House Builders Federation) will be charged with ensuring that there is adequate accommodation for travellers throughout the country
; ´ Local authorities will be required to facilitate site provision (for example by providing for planning permis sions for owner-occupied sites); ´ Local authorities which fail to provide for sites, will have greater difficulty carrying out eviction and enforcement.
More information: The Traveller Law Research Unit, Cardiff Law School, Cardiff.
Park Home Residents against Rachman
A new radical group representing Park Home residents is being set up after a meeting in January. The meeting partly came out of the interest stirred up by Ron JoyceÍs pamphlet, The Hidden Scandal, which we quoted from last issue. The 1983 legislation offers very little protection for site residents, and increasingly park home sites are being bought up by unscrupulous operators who take buyers for a ride, and manage sites on Rachman-like lines. Chapter 7 News, together with Big Issue, has consistently warned about these problems
The group is taking advice about how to structure the organization, and are deciding on a name. Margaret Brown, who is acting secretary stated: ñI sincerely hope we do not go along the path of compromise. The industry is never going to reform and drive out the undesirables. What
the situation needs is not feeble gestures, but vigorous and well-organized action to bring about fundamental and comprehensive change.î Contact: 01902 373462
Radical groups on the margins of society often cause a chain reaction resulting in significant changes to the mainstream (for which they rarely get any credit). Without doubt the call of 1990s road protesters to ñreclaim the streetsî has been a help in introducing the Dutch concept of home zones: residential streets designed so that ñthere are no lengths of carriageway which allow drivers to believe that they have priority and subsequently achieve unacceptable speedsî. The Rowntree Foundation has recently published a design guide for home zones. Further features of home zones are that ñwherever possible they include no distinction between a road and a pavementî and use other methods to prevent cars driving too close to houses. The report concludes that ñalthough home zones can promote road safety, the main benefit for people is the altered perception of how the street can be used. Home zones allow for a wider range of activities in space formally (sic but perhaps they mean ïformerlyÍ) considered exclusively for vehicle use.î
Home Zones: A Planning and Design Guide, by Mike Biddulph, The Policy Press, £13.95, available from Marston Book Services, 01235 465500, fax 01235 465556. Four page summary available from JRF on 01904 615905 or www.jrf.org.uk
ñToo Poor to Build a Houseî
Chris and Llyn Dixon have had their application for a permanent low impact dwelling at Tir Penrhos Isaf, their permaculture holding in Snowdonia National Park turned down in a written appeal. The Dixons have lived there since 1991, their project featured as a case study in our own publication Low Impact Development (1996) and is also being assessed by University of the West of England in their report on Low Impact Development for the Welsh Assembly (see last issue)
The project was turned downpartly because its financial viability and functional need were half based on the keeping of horses. The inspector ruled that this was not relevant because horses do not class as agriculture; even though there are a number of appeals in England where Inspectors have decided that hor se keeping can be assessed under the functional and financial tests.*
The Inspector then proceeded to argue that the DixonÍs didnÍt have enough money to build the low impact dwelling anyway. Chris stated ñThis is particularly galling as we have been instrumental in establishing the Rhiw Goch Sawmill Co-operative (with local grant aid) to mill local timber, and the mill operates a LETS scheme for members making building materials affordable . . . Both the Snowdonia National Park planning committee and the Welsh AssemblyÍs planning inspector have completely ignored sustainability issues. This reaffirms suspicions that the high sounding moral statements on the Assembly web site regarding sustainability still carry no weight on the ground.î
Eg: ñEnforcement action against a caravan associated with equestrian use in Wilts has resulted in the use being allowed on a personal and limited basis. The inspector ruled that rural policy guidance in PPG7 encouraged farm diversification and took a positive approach to horse-based development. He noted that the appellant was an experienced international event rider who kept and trained event horses for their owners. These were high quality, high value animals and a permanent presence on the land was essential, he concluded. Hearing, N Wilts District Council, 7 Feb 2001. Information on Tir Penrhos Isaf: www.konsk.co.uk
Banned from FarmerÍs Market
The farm fragmentation project near Tewkesbury, where Warren Fruit Farm has been divided into 14 smallholdings each equipped with a polytunnel and an agricultural building, has really wound up the powers that be. Not content with placing an enforcement notice upon the agricultural buildings, the local authority also banned the occupiers from selling vegetables at Tewkesbury farmers market (eventually they relented, but the growers have switched to Stroud market).
Now, an appeals Inspector has refused to allow the agricultural buildings . . . and stung the appellants for costs. The buildings were erected under Permitted Agricultural Development Rights before the farm was completely fragmented, at least so the developer Mike Keeley claimed. However the Inspector thought differently: ñI fail to see how any building can be regarded as necessary for the purposes of agriculture when the unit it is intended to serve is unoccupied and the precise form of the agricultural enterprise is not known . . . I do not accept that Part 6 of the GPDO is intended to allow a developer to erect a building and then seek a particular agricultural use for it after, which is effectively what happened here,î In our view this doesnÍt seem to be what happened here; the use was already mapped out in the form of the polytunnel; it was an agricultural user that was sought. The Inspector also viewed that the buildings looked more like residential chalets: ñIt would be hard to imagine a building more poorly suited to agricultural purposes.
In our view these buildings have been designed not for agricultural purposes but, by the appellantÍs own admission, as structures which satisfy the definition of a caravan in the Caravan Sites Act 1968.î However the Inspector held that they werenÍt caravans either, as they had been assembled on site and because ñeach one has been provided with mains electricity and water and they have been placed on the land with no intention that they be movedî. At least two of the smallholders are putting in applications to keep the chalets as easily dismantled agricultural workerÍs dwellings. Appeal ref APP/G1630/C/01/1062797 , -798. -799 and -800
The folks at Holywell Fields, near Aylesbury, have not been banned from their FarmerÍs Market, probably because they are the only supplier of local organic veg there. But they have had just as much hassle in other respects from Aylesbury Vale DC, which has served enforcement notices on a number of structures, mainly caravans and mobile homes which were already on the farm when the group took it over. One of the caravans has been occupied for 4 years by Paul and Sarah and their two kids. Court action was threatened if the structures were not removed by February, but the local authority was eventually persuaded to withdraw this as the structures were all included either for use or removal in an outline planning application submitted in that month. The farm at the moment runs a box-scheme, a small herd of Jacobs sheep and about 120 chickens. The application is for workshops, educational buildings, shop and five houses; and has been submitted ñin the knowledge that our repeated requests for assistance in developing our project have been met with negative responses.î The group would welcome letters in support of their application. They can send you a copy o f the application by post or e-mail. All comments are supposed to be into the Council Offices by 21 of Feb, but as the application may well take a while, or go to appeal, it will still be worth writing. More info from Mike George, Pond Cottage East, Cuddington Road, Dinton, Aylesbury, HP18 0AD 01286 747737/748092, mike. email@example.com
Two in the Eye for Wealden
Wealden District Council have, for several years been at the forefront of the unofficial campaign to eliminate peasants from the countryside. Not once but twice Wealden planners have published full length articles in Planning magazine calling for increased powers of enforcement against the ñruses and wheezesî of smallholders, people ñhiding in the woods in a caravanî, people who ñare not genuine farmersî etc. Last issue we reported the SpareyÍs successful appeal against an enforcement notice from Wealden DC. Now we are happy to announce that David Heritage and Sibylle Pullen of Jera Farm have been given permanent planning permission for their wooden house (photo above) by a committee who voted unanimously against the recommendation for refusal of the Wealden planning officers. The farm, whic h has a flock of free range hens and plans for a vineyard, became profitable last year and conforms with all the guidance in PPG7, but the county land agent employed by Wealden still insisted that the operation was not sustainable. He quoted figures from NixÍs Farm Management Pocket Book, stating that the annual costs of keeping each hen were £9.49; but as David Heritage pointed out, the system to which Nix refers is one ñin which laying hens are slaughtered after only one yearÍs production, whereas in our environmentally friendly, humane, healthy environment our hens continue to lay for two or three years, making a nonsense of the officerÍs conclusions. Wealden D, WD/01/0970/FR.
The Battle of TurnerÍs Field
The battle lines are drawn at the appeal against an enforcement notice on TurnerÍs Field, in Compton Dundon, Somerset where Ann Morgan has run a permaculture demonstration site for the past 15 years. Ann has an impressive array of supporters behind her, but local residents appeared at the Appeal in force to object to her application for a wooden study centre and 3 yurts. One of them came out with a long litany of things that Ann had done wrong or had failed to do, alleging, without any evidence, that Ann has another home in Glastonbury. ñBut what harm has Ms MorganÍs development done to you?î asked AnnÍs barrister ñWe moved to the village because it was such a beautiful place, but now sheÍs moved in. . .î was the gist of the reply. The appeal provides the stage for a confrontation between starkly different visions of what the countryside is for and what it should look like. As we write the inquiry is adjourned for a second day.
Satanic Mill-Owner Spoils Leafy Somerset Retreat
Opposing visions of what the countryside is for also popped up in an interesting little application in South Somerset. Chris Black was successful in obtaining planning permission for one dwelling in an abandoned water mill (see photo )„ but not without a perverse battle. Local residents and Conservative members of the committee were outraged because Chris wants to return the mill (which stopped producing shaving brushes with water power in 1990) back to industrial use. Any normal developer would convert the whole thing into multiple residences. Now the neighbours living in the old the mill-workers cottages, who thought they h ad bought a quiet retreat in the countryside, find that they will be living next door to a water-powered factory. As one Tory councillor put it, ñthe only place for factories is on industrial estates.î South Somerset DC, Area East, Nimmer Mill.
Big Sheds and Tin Boxes
In January P&O submitted plans to Thurrock Council to convert a former Shell Oil refinery at the mouth of the Thames into EuropeÍs largest container port. The London Gateway scheme will turn 600 hectares of brownfield land into a 2..3 kilometre long quay and a 900,000 m2 business park . (see picture opposite) A decision on the scheme is expected in May and the developers expect to start work next year.
But some people at least in Stanford le Hope, Corringham and surrounding areas have their doubts about the benefits of more free trade. In a communiqu? sent to Chapter 7 they claim that the development will mean: ñIncreased traffic congestion ; increased air pollution; increased noise pollution ; compulsory purchases of peoplesÍ homes & land; erosion of public open spaces and walkways; destruction to the beauty of the landscape; increased cri me; and the storage of toxic and dangerous chemicals on your doorstep.î
It sounds familiar. Anyway, not content with merely objecting to the scheme, they have unveiled their own alternative proposal, which they call The Rainbow Gateway. Its a tad fanciful, and it probably doesnÍt conform to the development plan, but it sounds more fun than a million square metres of big shed. We suggest they put in an application for it as a Simplified Planning Zone (which doesnÍt cost anything), and quickly too, before the Labour government scraps them.
The Rainbow Gateway:
1. From the main road outside the densely populated areas, a tunnel will lead all traffic in and out of the port avoiding air and noise pollution to local residents
2. A tollgate will collect money for its use and profits will be channelled back into the local community
3. All major buildings, warehouses and carparks will be low impact and part subterranean with natural daylight to their frontage.
4. All buildings will be heated freely from sunlight by "heat exchange method".
5. All energy will be clean and created on site by solar, wind, and tide.
6. A small dock will also be created for yachts and small fishing boats.
7. Pleasant river frontage walkways will be developed with leisure facilities to attract local trade and tourism incorporating a hotel, multi purpose entertainment venue, bars and cafes, multi-screen cinema, local craft and produce markets, and health centre.
8. A monument will be built in honour of our local heroes Jack Straw & Watt Tyler whose noble actions triggered the Peasants Revolt. 9. All existing Farmland will be developed organically to supply the local needs.
10. The Farm Museum (occupying a listed building) and surrounding empty barns will be developed into a World-Class tourist attraction.
11. Part of the river frontage development will house a College specialising in New Technologies, Yacht Building and Organic Farming. 12. A dry dock will be developed for yacht building and repair.
13. Shell will be exp ected to dismantle and clean up their old oil refinery (as they promised) before building commences. (Perhaps they can train and employ a local workforce to do it for them from the proceeds of the value of the scrap materials).
14. Local wildlife will be preserved and enhanced.
15. A ban will be imposed on the transport of any materials that pose a major potential threat to the local community.
16. A smallish development of futuristic Eco-Houses will be constructed providing affordable economical low impact housing. Maybe 144 homes?
17. A Youth Zone will be developed away from the main development and wildlife where activities such motorbike scrambling, skateboarding and paintballing take place under instruction and supervision.
18. An application will be made to preserve Rainbow Lane for all time in name and character.
19. An application will be made to the local council for funding to develop this proposal.
e-mail contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twickenham: Open Space v Cinemas
Chapter 7 always likes to hear of alternative applications from local groups. In Twickenham, where Richmond BC are considering an application for the redevelopment of an unused swimming pool on their own Thames-side property (see picture), local resident K.R. Hathaway got in first. He put in an application proposing that the building should be lowered in height and the grounds should be turned into a public riverside park „ and was given permission because this ñdid not prejudice further development of the siteî. The council-backed scheme for shops, cinema, fitness centre etc, comes up before the committee as we go to press. If it gets turned down, Hathaway might have his way.
I do not see why The Land Is Ours is supporting these dodgy and selfish settler schemes. Simon Fairlie and TLIO are acting as the advance guard for Bovis, Crest Homes, the Country Land and Business Association and all the other big capital countryside destroyers. Whilst w e fight the destruction of ancient woodland for housing here in Sussex, at Ashenground, Clapham and Titnore Woods etc. etc, you lot waste your time in selfish back-to-the-land escapism, which just provide a left cover for the de-regulators of the right. Whilst the bloody biosphere disintegrates before our eyes, you lot waste your time on utopian escapism which was discredited 150 years ago, in the time of New Lanark Mills, Fergus OÍConnor and his stupid schemes.
You canÍt have socialism (or anarchism) on one cabbage patch, any more than you can have it in one country.
When will we have an organization really willing to argue for comprehensive land reform? You lot make Lloyd George look like a Bolshevik.
Dave Bangs, disgusted, of Brighton
We have already replied to an earlier letter from Dave Bangs making similar points, see C7 News 4 p.16.
I have received 2 copies of Chapter 7 News . I am not sure where you received my details from (as below) but I do not wish to receive your publications/ literature, so would be grateful if you could remove me from your mailing list. Thank you
A Forward Planning Officer
We replied: ñYou are receiving Chapter 7 News as a result of our Adopt-A-Planner service, whereby people pay us to send specified planners a copy of the magazine. I think people who pay for such a subscription feel that planners (particularly those in forward planning) ought to be taking account the ideas put forward in the magazine. It is a way for people to get their views across, a form of public participation in the planning process.î
This is the only complaint we have had from an ñadoptedî planner. We have also had a very constructive letter from another ñadoptedî local authority planner on the subject of plotlands in his district forwarded to us by a reader, but we canÍt print it. Where an authority, but no specific planner is named, we now have a policy of phoning up the planning department and finding out which officer is most likely to be interested in C7 News.
Land Prospector Writes:
We have just made it almost after 22 years , from caravans, benders, sheds and on to a ñresidential mobile home siteî. From scraping the money together to buy 5 acres of north facing hillside on the edge, but in the old heart of a Lancashire mill town built of stone and cotton. A land of magic but deserted, its trees counted on your fingers weary and weatherbeaten, waiting for the planners green belt, a certain mark of fields painted green, pale waves of bright green grass wafting forever in the Pennine breeze, a herd of wild sheep endlessly grazing, to one day find a young tree shoot to eat. And now, well weÍve recycled and weÍve lived like kings, they tried an eviction but we got a site licence and now we want to be 15, because we always was, so weÍre just going to adjust them and let them come and see. WeÍre not a bunch of ragamuffins living in ramshackle sheds but respectable people living in low impact accommodation. Yes we have mains water, a septic tank, mains electric and solar, windmills, dry compost toilets, but most importantly of all we have trees and hedgerows, and wildlife and yes the magic is back, and as a young woodland well perhaps theyÍll give us a ñtree protection orderî also as a mark of respect. Prospect Pete
The Sort of Letter We Like to Get
Just a note to thank-you for your help and advice on the planning permission subject. Thought you might like to know WE WON. I can now stay living on my smallholding and keep my business of duck egg production going. If I can help with any info, just let me know. MH. It took MH 14 years to get permission!
Learning to Live with Others
What Bill Metcalf says about co-operative housing not being sustainable (last issue p. 11) totally misses the point about what communal living is all about; learning to live together. We are living in a time of transition and communal housing, much like solar panels and electric cars are part of that transition. They may not be immediately sustainable but they are part of the move towards long-term sustainability. Just in striving/working toward living sustainably I have come up against the biggest barrier of all to radical social change „ my own inability to be the change I want to see. I am working towards it but it will take time. The point is that I am making the change and those who are attempting to make the change should not be slated for not being wholly sustainable, sustainability is a process of change and which will take time. In working toward sustainability we need to take into account the process of reconditioning ourselves to cope with this change or any change will be at risk of failure. It is one thing to know something intellectually, it is quite another to live it with ones entire being. Change takes time. Does this provide an insight into the greater failure rate of 'eco'-urban communities? Is the higher rate a reflection of the environmental exposure to the wider society in urban situations or a consequence of urban sites attracting people at different stages of their personal evolutionary process than rural? Do rural sites demand a greater degree of commitment and therefore greater likelihood of long-term sustainability than urban sites? I feel that these are important questions to ask and worth further investigation. Anyone who is interested please contact me and we could discuss how this might be best achieved. Regards, Ken PS 'îYou must be the change you wish to see in the world.'î(Mahatma Gandhi)
Wanted: Agricultural Experts< p> Do you have a degree in agriculture or forestry? Chapter 7 needs graduates prepared to carry out appraisals for smallholders and woodland workers for a reasonable but not outrageous fee. There is a shortage of experts able to assess the merits of small-scale, subsistence and sustainable agricuulture and forestry enterprises. Becca Laughton is doing this for us, but is already overloaded. Chapter7 will provide all the necessary back-up and planning expertise. For more information phone or e-mail the office.
This yearÍs Ecovillage Network gathering is going to be hosted by the Middlewood community in Lancs. It will be an opportunity for people living in ecovillages in the UK to exchange ideas and build on the connections made last year. For details send SAE to Pam at EVNUK, PO Box 1410, Bristol, BS99 3JP
The Big Green Gathering is on this year, all being well, from 24 to 28 July, though in a new location in Somerset. Chapter 7 will have a stall there; you are welcome to visit and unload all your planning problems on us, , and sample our cider. We may also have a stall at Glastonbury. Info on Big Green: 01932 229911
Hand and Horse Logging Course
TinkerÍs Bubble will be holding a weekend course on horse logging and felling large trees with hand-tools. No date has been fixed yet but it will probably be in September. For more info, phone Simon on 01460 249204 or 01935 881975
Re:solution Sustainable Development Re:solution are a Scottish based consultancy offer advice in the development of eco-communities. They research best practice sustainability projects throughout Europe and promote these concepts to Scottish communities. Neil Mackay, 53 Dublin Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6NL, tel: 0131 467 0913, 07786 348784; n.mackay@re:solution.co.uk, www.re:solution.co.uk
Build It YouÍve heard of Postman Pat and Bob the Builder, but what about Build-It Bob? You can find him on Build It magazineÍs website which is full of information for self-builders and renovators. There is a search service for those needing to find a plot of land orwanting to meet other people with whom they can share a plot. Also featured on the site are how-to guides, mortgage advice, product listings and case studies. The homes featured are mostly brick and timber frame, with little emphasis on eco-homes or lower cost low-impact dwellings. www.self-build.co.uk
For low impact dwellings, turn to the web-site of Dwell Well, the Totnes-based campaign for promoting low-impact homes, It contains examples from the slideshow created by Selena Merrett, of the beautiful homes that have been created in the UK and the planning problems these dwellings face. www.dwellwell.org
Low Impact News
Low Impact News, now coming up for its 28th handscribed issue has a new address: Mike Robinson, Dickie's Meadow, New House Cottage, Sandy lane, Accrington, Lancs, BB5 2OH.
Yes, that notorious one in Pembs National Park. Tony Wrench, builder of the turf-roofed roundhouse which is scheduled for demolition this summer, and author of the book on how to build it (see p. 15) now has a web-site: www.thatroundhouse.info. Brithdir Mawr Summer Camp Brithdir Mawr (where tha t roundhouse is) are holding a friendly midsummer camp for about 100 people interested in living simply on the earth. The location is beautiful and includes a forest and a stream. There will be live acoustic music, circle dancing, a ceilidh, craft workshops, a caf?, market, guided walks, a wholefood shop, working horses, and a big solstice celebration. Cost £100 waged, £80 low waged, £60 unwaged, children £30, little ones free. Send Sae to Melissa, Brithdir Mawr, Trefdraeth, Pembs SA42 0QJ.
Willing Workers on Organic Farms provides an opportunity for people to spend time working on organic farms around the world. In return for their work, WWOOF volunteers are given accommodation, food and new experiences. Write to : WWOOF, PO Box 2675, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1RB or see www.wwoof.org
Books and Reports
Low Impact Development, Simon Fairlie, published by Jon Carpenter, 1996. Why English rural planning is unjust and unsustainable, and how low impact development offers a solution. £10
Defining Rural Sustainability: 15 Criteria for Sustainab le Developments in the Countryside, together with 3 Model Policies for Local Plans, TLIO 1999 The document to give to your local planner or cite in your planning application; also available on our website: £5 www.oneworld.org/tlio/chapter7 (£3 conc)
Planning for Sustainable Woodlands, Lucy Nichol, Simon Fairlie, Ben Law and Russell Rowley, published by Chapter 7 and the National Small Woods Association, June 2000 Planning problems faced by woodland workers. £2.50
Permaculture A New Approach for Rural Planning, Rob Hopkins, 1996 A study of the success or failure of various different permaculture projects in acquiring planning permission. £8.50
The Sustainable Community: A Practical Guide, Hockerton Housing Project, Feb 2001Excellent guide for people starting communities. Good resource lists on all aspects from social to technical. £8.50
Building a Low Impact Roundhouse, Tony Wrench, published by Permanent Publications, 2001 How Tony built his house at Brithdir Mawr. £10.50
The Impact of the Planning System on Local Food Producers in Somerset, by Lucy Nichol PhD research into local foo d production and planning in Somerset in 1999. £7.50
Planning DIY Briefings
There are now eight do-it-yourself planning briefing sheets available:
No 1 Introduction to the Mysteries of the Planning System 6 pp. £1
No 2 Should I Move on First or Apply First? 4 pp. £0.75
No 3 Putting in a Planning Application 12 pp. £1.50
No 4 Caravans: Permitted Development and Seasonal Use 4 pp. £0.75
No 5 List of Low-Impact Friendly Consultants 2 pp. £0.50
No 6 Appeals 14 pp. £1.75
No 7 Certificates of Lawful Use: The Four and Ten Year Rules 4 pp £0.75
No 8 Agricultural Workers Dwellings: Annex I of PPG 7 (out soon)
or £6.50 for all 8
Chapter 7 has a growing library of planning documents and reports relating to a number of low impact and sustainabl e applications. If you telephone us at the office we can research what you need and supply photocopied excerpts. Prices 12 to 15 pence per page, depending on size and research, inc p&p.
Appeals: Tinkers Bubble, Brickhurst Farm, Par, Plants for a Future, Brithdir Mawr, Kings Hill, Dommett Wood, Hugletts Wood and many others.
Case Law: Petter and Harris (agricultural viability), Millington (food processing), Tinkers Bubble (permaculture), Chapman v UK, Varey v UK and Porter v S. Bucks (human rights).
Applications. We have the full submitted paperwork for successful planning applications for agricultural residence including: Northdown Orchard (box scheme), Guilden Gate (smallholding) and Rawhaw Wood (woodland management).
Section 106 Agreements: Tinkers Bubble and Lothian Lowland Crofting
Chapter 7 News Back Issues
£2 each, 7 for £10.50, or complete set of 8 for £12. Copies of Arcadia Revisited, £1 or £6 for 10.
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