Net Zero by 2050

Hydrogen: Testing the heating fuel of the FutureGrid

5th August 2020 – Journey to net zero

Hydrogen has the potential to be a lower-carbon, cleaner alternative to methane, but we still need to do further research and testing.

To reach net zero by 2050, we need to find new ways to heat the UK’s homes and businesses. Hydrogen could be central to this and a new test facility will look at how hydrogen might work within the existing gas network.

As a nation, we’re currently heavily reliant on methane gas in our homes and businesses with, for example, 85% of households using gas for their heating. The problem is that heating, cooking and industrial processes account for 37% of UK CO2 emissions. So, if we’re to lower those emissions and reach the national target of net zero by 2050, we need an alternative to natural gas.

A promising alternative heat source

Hydrogen has the potential to be a lower-carbon, cleaner alternative to methane, but we still need to do further research and testing to understand how it could work within the current energy system.

As Antony Green, National Grid’s  Project Director for Hydrogen, says: “If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen. Sectors such as heat are difficult to decarbonise and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means trial projects are crucial if we’re to deliver low-carbon energy reliably and safely to all consumers.”

Testing hydrogen in a ‘real’ system

With this in mind, National Grid has partnered with Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Fluxys Belgium to submit a bid to Ofgem to build a new hydrogen test facility in Cumbria: FutureGrid.

If funding is awarded, the aim is to start construction in 2021, with testing beginning in 2022. The first of its kind, the test centre will help us to gain an understanding of how hydrogen gas could be used in the future to heat homes and deliver green energy to industry.

Collaborating in Cumbria

The £10 million project will be delivered by DNV GL, with support provided by the Health and Safety Executive Science Division and academic partnerships with Durham University and the University of Edinburgh, and involves building the hydrogen test facility at DNV GL’s site at Spadeadam, Cumbria.

The FutureGrid facility will be built from existing equipment and infrastructure that’s ‘offline’ – not connected to the actual gas network – but mimics a real-life system. As the testing will happen in a controlled environment, there’s no risk to the safety and reliability of the existing gas network.

Blends of hydrogen up to 100% will be tested at the high pressures found in the existing network, to assess how the gas behaves and interacts with different parts of the system, such as pipes, valves and gas meters.

Thierry Bottequin, Engineering Manager from Fluxys Belgium, says: “This is an important step in investigating the conversion possibilities of our infrastructure for the transmission of hydrogen and natural gas blends, and pure hydrogen. The project perfectly complements our own research to document the reliability, safety and integrity of the existing gas infrastructure when used to transport hydrogen.”

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Why 300,000 houses?

Where does the Governments target to build 300,000 houses come from – and is it objectively justified?  Because it has been around for a while, and featured in the 2017 Conservative manifesto, I had never bothered to question it’s ‘credentials’.

The targets origins are by no means certain but, back in 2016, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in its report “Building more homes” strongly recommended that the Government must lift its target by 50% and build 300,000 homes each year to tackle the housing crisis. It also suggests that Local authorities and housing associations must be freed to build substantial numbers of homes for rent and for sale.

At Page 5. Para 1. The report notes “The Government’s target of one million new homes by 2020 is not based on a robust analysis. To address the housing crisis at least 300,000 new homes are needed annually for the foreseeable future. One million homes by 2020 will not be enough.”

And at Page 29. Para 81  “ The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury told the Lords that: The modelling suggests that in order to keep the house prices to earnings ratio constant, somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 homes per year need to be built.”

Interestingly, in the light of the current Planning for the Future consultations: Page 31. Para 85. of Building more homes notes:  “To achieve its target, the Government must recognise the inability of the private sector, as currently incentivised, to build the number of houses needed. Government action is required to address this, including helping local authorities and housing associations to increase their housebuilding.”

It appears from the report that the factors considered included (but were not limited to):  The current standard method for assessing local housing need – New mortgage affordability –  UK first time buyers – Live births and deaths,  England – Life expectancy at age 65 in England – UK immigration and emigration –  Government incentives to help home ownership.

Thinking about the current Planning for the Future consultation. The Government seem to be going round in small circles (or asking us to!). Their Lordships noted:

127. Adequately resourced planning departments are crucial to the effective delivery of development. It is possible to mitigate the effects of reductions in local authority spending on planning by increasing the fees that can be charged for planning applications. Builders and developers are willing to pay more.

128. We recommend that the Government:

(a) allows local authorities to set and vary planning fees in accordance with the needs of their local area. To prevent abuse there should be an upper limit or cap on the level of fees. To allow sufficient discretion to local authorities, this cap should be significantly higher than the current fees that can be charged; and

(b) provides that the money raised from these fees is ring-fenced for expenditure on planning and development.

Accelerating build out rates

129. The planning system could also have a role in altering the behaviour of private builders. A criticism made of the large house builders that we examined in Chapter 1 is that they hold land suitable and with permission for building, yet build at a slow pace and thus maximise the profit from each development.167 This part of our report considers how the planning system could be used to narrow that gap by using measures designed to speed up the rate at which sites are developed.

130. Witnesses proposed two types of incentive to address this issue. The first would put strict time limits on the use of planning consents; the second would use the tax system to impose financial penalties on builders who do not develop permissioned land.

Planning consents: ‘use it or lose it’

131.Planning permission is granted subject to a condition that specifies the time limit within which development must begin. The default time limit, which may be varied by the local authority, is three years.168 Once development has begun, there is no time limit on its completion. To fulfil the condition, work on the site must simply ‘begin’. “Any material operation” related to the development is sufficient.169 Once development has begun, there is no time limit on its completion.

132.Various ways of strengthening the existing regime have been proposed such as:

  • Developers should lose planning permission after three years unless they “use their best endeavors [sic] to develop a site”. 170

  • The lifespan of a planning consent should be limited to two years and a stricter test applied to what would count towards work on a site beginning.171

  • Local authorities should have the power to compulsorily purchase permissioned but undeveloped land at 50 per cent of its market value.172

And guess what. At Para 133 their Lordships note: Perhaps unsurprisingly, house builders did not favour any of the above schemes

Here is the full report:

1st Report of Session 2016-17 – published 15 July 2016 – HL Paper 20

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Calculating future housing needs

‘An algorithm solves the actual problem… whereas the formula is a tool used in the process’

Not Another Mutant Algorithm!

When The Prime Minister told a year 11 class “I’m afraid that your grades were derailed by a mutant algorithm” and “I know how stressful that must have been” the bemused pupils had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. They had not taken their GCSEs yet and had no grades to be affected by an algorithm – mutant or otherwise!    

On A-level results day the Prime Minister also described the results which had been through the algorithm as “robust”, “good” and “dependable for employers”.

Several hours after the mutant algorithm speech the permanent secretary of the Department for Education stood down from his post.

What! Another algorithm

So, it is little wonder that when the Government proposed to ‘improve’ the accuracy of the results produced by the long-standing formula, used by Local Authorities to calculate their area’s future housing needs, the word ‘algorithm’ was singled out for ‘special attention’ by critics of the Consultation White Paper.

Clearly, there are very serious and widespread concerns about the Governments latest housing proposals but, the well-used ‘standard’ formula, and the Government’s proposed changes to it, are not the real issue.  

What answer do you want?

Sure, it appears that the Government have pre-selected a build target of 300,000 houses a year, and now want to ‘adjust’ the formula so it produces an answer close to the target. But, household projections, which are based on publicly accessible data, freely available at a local authority level, are still the most robust estimates of future growth trends. These projections have been used for decades in the planning system as a basis for future housing land requirements due to their simple and relatable concept of linking housing growth to the population.

Household growth projections

Currently, the method for calculating the areas housing need comprises a baseline of household growth projections which are then adjusted to take account of affordability and capped to limit the increase for areas.

Three steps to…

Step 1 of the current method sets the baseline using a 10-year average of the 2014-based national household growth projections.

Step 2 goes on to adjust the Step 1 outcome based on the affordability of the area, using the most recent median workplace-based affordability ratios so that for each 1% the ratio is above 4, the average household growth is increased by a quarter of a percent (with a ratio of 8 representing a 100% increase).

Step 3 then applies a 40% cap to limit the increases an individual local authority can face. The way this cap is applied depends on the current status of an area’s strategic policies for housing.

Could do better

Household projections, used in the current method, have attracted criticism for their volatility and the way in which they can result in artificially low projections in some places, where overcrowding and concealed households suppress the numbers. Crucially, they cannot in isolation forecast housing need –they project past trends forward

The new standard method

The proposed improvements on the current standard method are designed to:

a. Ensure it is more agile in using up-to-date data. The Government announced in the February 2019 it’s response to the technical consultation on updates to national planning policy and guidance 7, that the standard method would remain based on the 2014-based household projections. While this as an appropriate solution in the short-term, a new standard method is intended to be more agile in using the most recent data.

b. Achieve a better distribution of homes where homes are identified in more high-demand areas and in emerging demand areas across the. This will help avoid issues where unaffordable areas in high demand are planning for low numbers of homes due to past trends of suppressed household formation. In addition, the Government has heard powerful representations that the current formula underestimates demand for housing in the growing cities in the Northern Powerhouse by being based on historic trends.

c. Provide stability to the method by smoothing out areas of potential volatility so that the basis on which local authorities are expected to plan for is more predictable. 

d. Be consistent with the Government’s ambition for a housing market that supports 300,000 homes by creating a method with a suitable overall national number that enables achievement of this aim.

Counting housing stock

There is general support for incorporating housing stock into the methodology, as a way of balancing out some of the issues identified with relying on household projections in isolation. The Government have taken into consideration the varied and useful feedback, both on the individual data inputs and also on how these might be applied in informing options for consideration.

Revised standard method

In line with their commitments, they are now proposing a revised standard method which aligns with the Government’s aspirations for the housing market. This should provide stability and certainty for all stakeholders and seek to address the issues with the current approach and use of household projections identified above.

Supplying demand

The new standard method delivers a number nationally that is consistent with the commitment to plan for the delivery of 300,000 new homes a year, a focus on achieving a more appropriate distribution of homes, and on targeting more homes into areas where they are least affordable

The local area decides

The standard method results in a local authority-wide number that needs to be planned for. The local area then decides how and where in their authority that need is best met in accordance with national policy.

Existing housing stock levels

The Government propose to introduce a new element into the standard method, a percentage of existing housing stock levels, which takes into account the number of homes that are already in an area. This should ensure that diverse housing needs in all parts of the country are taken into account. It should also offer the stability and predictability which has been absent when solely relying on household projections.

Publicly accessible data available

However, household projections, which are based on freely and publicly accessible data available at a local authority level, are still the most robust estimates of future growth trends. Projections have been used for decades in the planning system as a basis for future housing land requirements due to their simple and relatable concept of linking housing growth to the population. Therefore, it is proposed to retain a role for them as part of the new blended approach which takes account of (housing) stock. This helps achieve the stability and distributional benefits offered by stock whilst not losing the benefits of using projections.

Affordability factor

The Government also proposes to introduce an affordability adjustment that takes into account changes over time, in addition to the existing approach of considering absolute affordability. This will increase the overall emphasis on affordability in the formula and ensure that the revised standard method is more responsive to changing local circumstances, so that homes are planned for where they are least affordable. For example, where affordability improves, this will be reflected by lower need for housing being identified.

Adjusting for market signals

It is proposed that the standard method will include two adjustments to the baseline using the workplace-based median house price to median earnings ratio. Initially it is proposed that the ratio for the most recent year for which data is available in order to address current affordability of homes would be used. Then how affordability has changed over the last 10 years of published data would be incorporated, using that same statistic

Removing the cap

The Government also proposes to remove the cap which artificially suppresses the level of housing identified.

It’s a start

This standard method provides the starting point and not the final housing requirement.

More information

These notes are based on extracts from the Consultation White Paper.

Further details of the proposals are set out in ‘Changes to the Current Panning System Consultation’

Mutate to survive!

The proposed formula:

‘An algorithm is in its most general definition is a way of achieving a desired goal. Formula are merely recipes or components.’

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The Benefits of Social Housing

Social Housing: The Case for Increased Provision

This House of Lords Library Briefing was prepared in advance of the
debate that took place on 31 January 2019 in the House of Lords on the
motion moved by Lord Whitty “that this House takes note of the case
for a long-term commitment to increased provision of social housing to help to reduce housing costs, homelessness and housing benefit expenditure”

Here is the full briefing

Housing policy is a devolved matter and so this briefing focuses on England.
The number of socially rented houses in England has been falling consistently
since the 1980s; between 1981 to 2016 social housing stock has decreased by
25%. In 2016 17% of houses were socially rented compared to 30% in 1981.
Some commentators have put this decrease down to aspects of government
housing policy. For example, right to buy, a policy introduced in 1980, allowed
local authority tenants to purchase their council houses at a reduced rate,
which has contributed to reducing social housing stock numbers.

A commitment to replace a proportion of the properties sold under the scheme
was introduced in 2011, although the latest statistics suggest that these
obligations are not being met. Over the same period, central government
funding for building new homes for social rent was also reduced, replaced in
part by funding for construction of homes for affordable rent, with rents up to
80 percent of market rates.

It has been argued that these housing trends have had implications for several
housing-related issues. Statistics show that private renters spend a higher
proportion of their income on rent than social renters. Although, in general,
rents have risen roughly in proportion to income, renters in London, 25 to
34-year olds and those on low incomes are facing increasing housing burdens.
Real-term spending on housing benefit has also increased substantially over the
past thirty years, with some attributing this to the lack of investment in social
housing. In addition, Crisis has argued that insecure housing in the private
sector has also led to increased rates of statutory homelessness, and that the
lack of available social homes has posed additional challenges for local
authorities when trying to house those which it owes a duty of prevention or

In 2017, the Government committed to working with local councils to build
more social homes, and its 2018 green paper outlined its strategy for achieving
this. However, its proposals have been criticised by housing groups and
homeless charities for being unambitious and failing to meet demand for social
housing. In addition, Labour denounced the plan saying that it did not include
any government investment for new homes.

Jess Sargeant
23 January 2019

Here is the full briefing

Here is the ‘Housing for the Many’ Green Paper

‘The Value of Social Housing’ – Shelter Scotland

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

How to Respond to Government Consultations

How to effectively and efficiently respond to any departmental consultation, ensuring that your voice are heard and listened to. 

The responses government departments receive to consultations are vital for the development of well informed policies. 

Feedback from departments confirms that they are keen to hear the views of voluntary organisations. Well designed, responsive policies benefit communities and citizens and improve the targeting of resources.

Note. The Consultation period for the ‘Planning for the Future‘ White Paper ends at 11:45PM October 29th 2020

Things you’ll need
  • The views of your supporters/members to ensure their voices are heard and the perspectives of other experts.

1. Short responses that just cover key issues are welcome

It is acceptable and useful for a voluntary organisations to produce a response that just covers the issues where you feel you can offer a unique perspective.

A number of government departments have pointed out that some of the most useful responses they receive consist of a few clear and concise points from the point of view of an expert. Don’t feel you have to answer every single question.

2. Give priority to the consultation answers

Background information on your organisation can be useful – but is not generally considered  part of the core analysis of responses. It’s suitable to include this information, but it is best to add this at the end, so departments can easily access the key parts of your response.

3. Responses from individuals are welcome

Most responses come from organisations but responses from service users or practitioners are equally welcome and are read in the same way as the others.

4. Collaborative and joint responses are encouraged

Collaborative and joint responses can save time for the organisations involved. If this method saves time and means responses are sent that might otherwise not have been, then this approach is especially useful. Joint responses can also help departments to understand how widely and strongly views are held. 

5. Ensure you provide references for evidence and research used

If it is unlikely that a department will have seen the evidence or research you are referring to in your response. You should ensure that it is referenced in full so departments can look at it first-hand and in its entirety.

6. There is no right format

There is no right or wrong way to submit your response. It will help departments, however, if you respond to the consultation using the same structure as the consultation paper. Use subheadings, answer the questions in the same order and then add your views.

7. Be clear, succinct and jargon-free

In addition to this – don’t worry about being direct if you have a particular message you wish to convey (as long as you stay within the boundaries of libel law and decency).

8. Responses are often logged, read and considered as soon as they arrive

With this in mind, it can be useful to try to submit your consultation before the deadline (though we appreciate this can be challenging when consultation periods are short).

9. Do share your views on how consultation processes could be improved

Feedback about what works in terms of the process is useful – include these thoughts at the end of your response.

Note. The Consultation period for the ‘Planning for the Future‘ White Paper ends at 11:45PM October 29th 2020

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Assessing housing needs

Planning matters :-

Lichfields award winning blog which gives a fresh perspective on the latest trends in planning and development.

Setting a higher standard – a new method for assessing housing needs

Bethan Haynes 07 Aug 2020

Here is the Lichfield ‘Planning Matters’ blog

How many houses does the ‘New Standard‘ calculation predict for your area?

Simplifying how local authorities calculate their housing need number for the purposes of plan-making has been a key element of improving efficiency in plan-making and will continue to be as Government proceeds to ‘overhaul’ the planning system. The current standard method (introduced in 2018) was a step in the right direction, but it became quickly evident that it was not without its issues:

  • It relies upon authorities doing more – much more – than their minimum figure (which was a collective 270,000 nationally) to achieve 300,000 homes a year. There were too few ‘carrots and sticks’ to get authorities to do more, and little evidence that enough authorities were doing this voluntarily;

  • The method also relies heavily on household projections – in theory a sensible measure of housing need. But these are published every two years (much more frequently than a plan-making cycle), can be subject to significant fluctuations (creating real uncertainty over long-term prospects) and have a reinforcing negative cycle whereby housing under-supply in areas has the effect of lowering the trend (for migration and household formation) that in turn drives future projected growth;

  • At a national level the projections have recently yielded progressively lower figures, further undermining the 300,000 ambition (this led government to direct authorities to continue using 2014-based figures, even after more recent projections were published). More delay, more uncertainty; not the outcome government wanted from this method; and

  • The projections were also at odds with the desire to help ‘level up’ the midlands and north. It piled need into London and the wider south east where projected household growth was high and affordability was worse, whilst doing the opposite in the north. Significantly boosting housing supply across the country? Clearly not.

How will the changes affect the South West ?

What’s changed?

It became clear that government needed to set the bar high – really high – if it wanted anything close to 300,000 to be delivered. Aiming high and delivering fewer homes deemed far more likely to yield the desired result than setting the bar low and asking them to jump higher. Government has responded; in its consultation on Planning Reform published on 6th August it set out a new standard method which now yields 337,000 homes a year nationally. It follows a similar approach to the current method (Figure 1), but with some important changes:

1.The baseline was previously solely based on household projections. It now uses the higher of the household projections or 5% of stock growth. This helps level up authorities where projections are unduly low and implies a ‘fair share’ approach where each authority does its bit;

2. The affordability uplift is now designed “deliver greater overall emphasis on affordability than in the current standard method”. Instead of uplifting solely based on how unaffordable an area currently is, the method now also uplifts based on the change in the ratio over last 10 years.

The removal of the cap has also had a significant impact; previously in place to ensure the numbers were ‘deliverable’, Government now believes the cap is ‘not compatible’ with the objective to boost housing supply quickly (an interesting change of tune). This open-ended approach has now led to some significantly higher numbers across London and the south where affordability has significantly worsened since 2009. This will no doubt be a difficult pill to swallow for some areas, but Governments’ intention to concentrate need in areas of poor affordability is abundantly clear.Figure 1 – Difference between current standard method and proposed standard method for assessing housing needs (simplified)

This new method is clearly meant to induce a step-change in delivery (indeed it needs to); it’s around 140,000 more homes per year than planned for existing local plans and around 100,000 homes homes than were delivered last year (Figure 2). All this suggests there could still be land needed for around 4 million homes required by 2040*, but this assumes the method remains in place for the foreseeable future (and we already know that may not be the case due to White Paper proposals). But what can we actually expect to see, on the ground?Figure 2 – National totals – Current Local Plan requirements, recent delivery, current standard method and proposed standard method. Source: Lichfields analysis/MHCLG. Current Standard Method figure calculated as of August 2020 – this is lower than the 270,000 figure yielded when the current method was initially published for consultation in September 2017 due to changes in the underlying data 

London calling….for yet more housing

It cannot be ignored that London’s needs – at over 93,000 – account for almost a third of the national figure. This alone tells us that the 337,000 won’t be delivered, because London will fall short by at least around 50,000 homes per year (and that’s assuming it can sustain the recent peak in delivery of 40,000). Without the duty to co-operate to redistribute this need across the wider south east, this shortfall certainly won’t be picked up elsewhere. Read more about our thoughts on the implications for London in Harry Bennett’s blog.

We do like to be beside the seaside… (and the Green Belt, the AONB, the SSSI and the national park)

The even greater emphasis on affordability has inevitably led to the greatest impact in the wider south east (in terms of the proportional difference between the new method and recent delivery rates, as shown in Figure 3). Many parts of the home counties would need to see the biggest step-change in housing delivery (shown in Table 1). But in many cases, these are highly constrained areas, be that in relation to the sea, Green Belt, flooding, environmental or heritage designations or a combination, for example Coastal West Sussex, Surrey and South Essex. With these scales of change needed in areas of such high constraint, coupled with commitments from Government to continue protecting such areas, further questions are raised in relation to whether 300,000 will be delivered. The message from Government remains a clear though – poor and worsening affordability = greatest need for housing.Table 1 – Top 10 increases by housing market area between proposed new method and recent delivery. Source: Lichfields analysis

Figure 3 – Difference between proposed new standard method and recent delivery (%) by housing market area. Source: Lichfields analysis. Recent delivery refers to 3 year average up to 2018/19 from MHCLG Live Table 125

Moving on up… to higher numbers in the midlands and north

With its reliance on projections and affordability, the current method resulted in a strange and undesirable situation across the midlands and north, suggesting that in the future many parts of those regions needed to deliver fewer homes than had actually been built in recent years. Although the new method does not completely resolve this issue (as evident from Figure 3 above), it does take a step in the right direction. In the North East, North West and Yorkshire, the proposed method yields a higher number than the current method across many areas. In the East and West Midlands though, the proposed method is higher than the current method and is a boost on recent delivery levels across virtually all areas, as shown in Figure 4.Figure 4 – Difference between proposed new standard method and current standard method (%) by housing market area. Source: Lichfields analysis. Current standard method figure calculated as of August 2020

The third (and final?) step

As I’ve already said, the introduction of the current standard method was a step in the right direction, helping shift debate away from number and on to how needs are addressed. The new method? It looks set to be another – potentially bigger – step in the right direction, creating an ambition somewhat more in line with the overall objective to build 300,000 homes a year. The message from Government is clear; it expects many areas to be faced with difficult decisions on how to significantly increase their housing delivery. Yet at the same time, there remains the perenial tension between the objective of really boosting housing supply and the physical, environmental, policy, fiscal and political barriers which lie in the way of doing so.But not for long. Because just as quickly as Government proposed this new method, it is laying the groundwork for a third (and hopefully final?) approach to housing numbers. Proposal 4 of the White Paper proposes a futher new standard method which distributes the national target of 300,000 homes, taking into account both need and constraints, removing the need for authorities to debate whether they can meet their need at all. In effect, it will do the balancing exercise to apply the ‘policy off’ estimate of need and review of constraints to arrive at the ‘policy on’ requirement That balancing exercise is the one that vexed regional planning, it has vexed localism, and now Government proposes a standard method to resolve it all nationally. All this of course creates more questions; not least around the practicalities of how this would even be calculated; but there is a feeling of coming full circle, away from true localism’ and back to the ‘top-down’ approach vilified just 10 years ago…Find out what the proposed method yields for individual local authorities and housing market areas, including how this compares with current plan requirements and recent housing delivery, here. Follow our blog for upcoming updates on what the consultation means for local regions across the country.For implications of what the New Standard Method means for other regions, see below perspectives:

London   |   North West   |   Thames Valley   |   South West   |   West Midlands   |   Yorkshire and The Humber

*For the period 2025-2040, assuming 5 years of current plan requirements (for the period 2025-30, yielding roughly 1m homes) and 15 years’ worth of need based on the proposed standard method (yielding 5m homes). Does not take account of increases in delivery due to stepped trajectory or backlog, thus true number may be lower.

Here is the Lichfield ‘Planning Matters’ blog

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Natural Health Service!

Landscapes for Life Week
19th – 27th September 2020    

Last year poet laureate Simon Armitage kick-started Landscapes for Life week with his new poem ‘Fugitives’, seeing landscapes as a ‘Natural Health Service’ for all to enjoy.

Although face to face activities may not be possible this year, AONBs across the country are still keen to celebrate Landscapes for Life Week, albeit in a quieter way.

The ‘Week’ kicks off today (Saturday 19th September) at 2pm with a virtual National Moment – we are inviting people to share their #MyNationalLandscapes either from back yards and gardens, local green spaces or favourite National Landscape.

If you are out and about, we’d love to see photos of your favourite places and spaces in the South Devon AONB.   Each day the AONB family will be looking at different aspects of the landscape that enrich our lives.

Please stay safe when you are out and about. 

Special Qualities
Explore Startbay
Explore Wembury

South Devon AONB was designated for its 10 special qualities, each of them is important individually Together they create a sense of place and identity and  are what makes South Devon an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Wild and rugged coastline
Fine, undeveloped, wild and rugged coastline.

A network of streams, rivers and estuaries
Ria estuaries (drowned river valleys), combe valleys and the network of associated watercourses.

Rolling farmland
Deeply rural inland rolling patchwork agricultural landscape.

Open tops and hidden valleys
Naturally incised landscape that quickly turns intimate, hidden and secretive away from the plateau tops.

Long, unspoilt views
Iconic wide, unspoilt and expansive panoramic views and long framed dramatic views.

A long-lived in landscape
A landscape with a rich time depth, wealth of historic environment features, historic cores to picturesque villages and towns and well-known historic and cultural associations.

A landscape rich in wildlife
A breadth and depth of significant habitats, species and associated natural events.

An ancient network of routeways
An ancient and intricate network of winding lanes, the South West Coast Path and other strategic recreational routes.

Naturally tranquil
Areas of high tranquillity, natural nightscapes, distinctive natural soundscapes and visible movement.

Quality of views beyond the AONB boundary
A variety in the setting to the AONB formed by the marine environment, Plymouth City, Market and Coastal towns, rural South Hams and the southern fringe to Dartmoor National Park.


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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The wrong answers!

Countering the misconceptions driving the Government’s planning reform agenda


This is one of the most important reports on planning reform produced in the last decade. It is published at a crucial time for the future of democratic planning in England with the real prospect that a system designed to uphold the public interest will be effectively extinguished by the end of The report represents a serious heavyweight analysis from a group of the nation’s leading planning academics. Such collaborations are rare and demonstrate the depth of concern over the direction of planning reform. Each of the contributions shines a light on an aspect of the mythology that has driven planning reform. They demonstrate how these myths have led to a huge and misdirected effort by government which has failed to deliver the quantity of decent homes we need but has fatally damaged public trust and democratic accountability.

In short, the report notes:

Dysfunctional housing markets

Around 90% of applications for planning permission are approved in England. Consent has been granted for between 800,000 to 1,000,000 new houses that remain unbuilt. The planning system in England is already permissive and more than capable of supplying land to the market. The failure to build new housing is not a result of excessive state regulation, but of dysfunctional markets and a failure to invest in social housing. Further deregulating the planning system simply will not resolve the crisis of housing affordability.

Overstated costs

The government is overstating the costs of discretionary decision-making and the benefits of zoning. Evidence from other countries with zoning systems in place suggest that they do not necessarily improve efficiency or outcomes, and that they can lead to bad decisions because they are inflexible in the face of changing circumstances

More power to developers

These reforms will afford power to the already privileged to pursue development in their own self interest, irrespective of whether this benefits the wider community.

LA Planning resources cut

England has a poorly resourced (- 20 % since 2010*) and highly permissive planning system, which produces outcomes that favour the interests of property developers. There is no evidence to suggest that a more permissive approach will improve the quality of our built environment or address the inequalities generated by market-led development. Good design, for example, will not result from the automatic application of standardised codes and pattern books.

Half cut!

There are real dangers of digital exclusion of many in our community in any wholesale move towards e-participation. The proposals in the White Paper also cut in half existing opportunities to engage with the system by removing the public’s right to comment on planning applications and restricting it to plan making and design codes.

Change needed

Following decades of piecemeal reform and underfunding, our planning system is weak. It lacks the powers it needs to create high quality development. From the tragedy of Grenfell Tower to the scandalous shortage of decent, affordable housing and the looming threat of climate breakdown, there is overwhelming evidence that the prevailing model of light-touch regulation and market-driven change has failed.

Here is the full report THE WRONG ANSWERS TO THE WRONG QUESTIONS Countering the misconceptions driving the Government’s planning reform agenda

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Biodiversity is declining

Earth’s biodiversity ‘stands at a crossroads’
The world faces a catastrophic biodiversity collapse that threatens to wipe out beloved species and invaluable genetic diversity and endangers humanity’s food supply, health and security, according to a United Nations report issued on 15th September.
When governments act to protect and restore nature, the authors found, it works. But despite commitments made 10 years ago, nations have not come close to meeting the scale of the crisis, which continues to worsen because of unsustainable farming, overfishing, burning of fossil fuels and other activities. “Humanity stands at a crossroads,” the report said.
As with climate change, scientific alarms on biodiversity loss have gone largely unheeded as the problem intensifies. The report estimates that governments around the world spend $500 billion per year on environmentally harmful initiatives, while public and private financing for biodiversity totals £62 billion to 69.7 billion.
Warning signs: A global pandemic and devastating wildfires, worsened by climate change and land management policies, are just some of the potential consequences of an unhealthy relationship with nature. “These things are a sign of what is to come,” said one author. “These things will only get worse if we don’t change course.”

Humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy it leaves to future generations. Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying. None of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets will be fully met, in turn threatening the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and undermining efforts to address climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of the relationship between people and nature, and it reminds us all of the profound consequences to our own well-being and survival that can result from continued biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems.

Nevertheless, reports provided by the world’s governments, as well as other sources of evidence, reveal examples of progress which, if scaled up, could support the transformative changes necessary to achieve the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. A number of transitions pointing the way to the type of changes required are already in evidence, albeit in limited areas of activity. Examining how such incipient transitions can be replicated and built on, will be critical to using the short window available to make the collective vision of living in harmony with nature a reality.

Options are available to the global community that could simultaneously halt and ultimately reverse biodiversity loss, limit climate change and improve the capacity to adapt to it and meet other goals such as improved food security.

These pathways to a sustainable future rely on recognizing that bold, interdependent actions are needed across a number of fronts, each of which is necessary and none of which is sufficient on its own. This mix of actions includes greatly stepping up efforts to conserve and restore biodiversity, addressing climate change in ways that limit global temperature rise without imposing unintended additional pressures on biodiversity, and trans-forming the way in which we produce, consume and trade goods and services, most particularly food, that rely on and have an impact on biodiversity.

Navigating the available pathways to the 2050 vision involves consideration of all the multiple aspects of our relationship with nature and the importance we attach to it. Solutions need to seek an integrated approach that simultaneously address the conservation of the planet’s genetic diversity, species and ecosystems, the capacity of nature to deliver material benefits to human societies, and the less tangible but highly-valued connections with nature that help to define our identities, cultures and beliefs.

Here is the full United Nations Report

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Farming for the future

Frogmore Creek – ‘The jewel in the Crown of Devon’

It could be easy to disconnect our farming and food systems from a warming planet, but that would be to miss a trick. The way that farms are run can open up huge possibilities for carbon capture – and happily again, these are also great for nature!

With over 70% of the UK used for farming, there’s scope to make a big difference by moving to more sustainable and nature-friendly methods of farming. One of the ways farmers can do this is by integrating trees (yep, them again) within their farms. This is called agroforestry and has all kinds of benefits. The additional trees of course capture carbon themselves, as we’ve discussed, but they can also provide fodder for animals, shade and shelter from the elements and help to create corridors for wildlife to move across and through different landscapes.’With over 70% of the UK used for farming, there’s scope to make a big difference by moving to more sustainable and nature-friendly methods of farming.’

Farming in this way can also improve the health of the soil – another element of the countryside that we might barely notice but which, when healthy, can actually lock in carbon (and of course make for the best possible crops, destined for our tummies). And, better yet, it can actually be more productive and more sustainable than the big monoculture farms, meaning we can produce more of our food on less land.

We’re big fans of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, who bring together farmers wanting to work sustainably and in ways that support nature. It all adds up to mean that farming becomes an active part of solving climate change. We’re in awe of the farmers making these changes!

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.